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7 Things to Know About Gilead Sciences - Stocks in the News

Madeleine Johnson

Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD) is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, and commercializes therapeutic treatments. Its portfolio of products and pipeline of untried drugs include treatments for HIV/AIDs, liver diseases, cancer, inflammatory and respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular conditions. The company also concentrates on antiviral drugs for patients infected with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.


Here are seven things to take note of the innovative drug maker:


1. Gilead’s name and logo is in reference to the Balm of Gilead.


In biblical terms, the Balm of Gilead is a rare perfume used medicinally; the expression originates from scholar William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible into English during the sixteenth century. The Balm of Gilead is named for the region of Gilead where it was made, and has come to mean a universal cure.


2. Michael Riordan founded Gilead when he was just 29 years old.

Back in 1987, Riordan was working at a clinic in the Philippines where he contracted dengue fever. It was this experience—seeing firsthand the determination of viruses and how they take over healthy cells—that led him to develop transformative antiviral medications.


3. The company’s first breakthrough drug was Viread.

The drug was based on a molecule the company acquired from a European lab in 1991. Viread became one of the most widely used elements of other HIV/AIDS treatments.


4. Gilead created the first once-a-day HIV single-tablet treatment.

After acquiring a company called Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Gilead gained access to a drug that could be combined with its Viread. Its name was Truvada, and was approved by the FDA in 2004. Soon after that, the company joined its Truvada with a drug from competitor Bristol-Myers Squibb, creating Atripla, the first once-a-day single tablet to treat HIV.


5. Gilead’s acquisition of biotech firm Pharmasset led to the news-making Sovaldi.

After the $11 billion acquisition cleared, Gilead gained access to a hepatitis C treatment called sofosbuvir, which they renamed Sovaldi. The drug, after a 12-week patient trial, saw cure rates of nearly 100%. Sovaldi was then combined with another drug in Gilead’s portfolio to create Harvoni, a once-daily pill that proved to be even more effective; patients had cure rates of up to 99%.


6. Sovaldi and Harvoni treatments, however, are expensive.

A 12-week treatment of Sovaldi costs patients $84,000, while a 12-week treatment of Harvoni can cost up to $94,500. Despite charging the same or less than its competitors, Gilead has experienced a large amount of backlash, with insurance companies accusing the company of trying to bankrupt the healthcare system.


7. Gilead is constantly developing innovative drug treatments.

Late last year, the company filed FDA approval for TAF, a single-tablet HIV regimen it says is safer for patients’ bones and kidneys. The FDA approved a drug called Zydelig, which can stop the progression of certain types of blood cancers. Currently, Gilead is in the clinical trial period for a new hepatitis C drug named 5816, a sequel to its Harvoni. 5816 aims to work across all genotypes, and is intended for patients in developing countries.



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