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Gilead 3Q profit grows 17 pct on HIV drug sales

FOSTER CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. said Tuesday that its third-quarter profit rose 17 percent on higher sales of its best-selling HIV drugs.

Net income was $788.6 million, or 47 cents per share, in the July-September period, compared with $675.5 million, or 43 cents per share, for the third quarter of 2012.

Excluding one-time items such as the cost related to paying employees with stock, the company would have earned 52 cents per share.

Revenue rose 15 percent to $2.78 billion, helped by sales of the combination antiviral pill Stribild, which launched in the third quarter of 2012.

Analysts polled by FactSet predicted earnings per share of 48 cents on revenue of $2.72 billion.

The company said its overhead and selling expenses increased as it prepares for the launch of sofosbuvir, Gilead's highly anticipated hepatitis C drug that is expected to win market approval later this year.

Last week a Food and Drug Administration panel unanimously voted in favor of sofosbuvir. The FDA is expected to make a decision on approving sofosbuvir by Dec. 8. The agency is not required to follow the advice of its panels.

More than 3 million people in the U.S. have hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that causes liver damage and is blamed for 15,000 deaths annually.

Current treatments can take up to a year of therapy and only cure about three out of four patients. Gilead's daily pill, sofosbuvir, can cure up to 90 percent of patients infected with the most common form of the virus in just 12 weeks. Gilead acquired the hepatitis C drug last year with the acquisition of Pharmasset for $11.1 billion.

The company also raised its product sales guidance for the year to a range of $10.3 billion to $10.4 billion from $10 billion to $10.2 billion.