Gilead shares at record after new hepatitis C data

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Gilead Sciences Inc. rose to all-time highs Monday after the company reported new mid-stage clinical data for an experimental hepatitis C treatment.

THE SPARK: The company said 25 patients who had not had any previous treatment had undetectable virus levels four weeks after taking Gilead's therapy. Gilead is now conducting a late-stage study, moving it closer to possible regulatory approval and sales of its drugs.

The trial tested Gilead's experimental pills sofosbuvir and GS-5885 when used with ribavirin, a pill that has been a standard part of hepatitis C treatments for decades.

Patients in the study had genotype 1 hepatitis C, which is the most common type in the Western world and the hardest to treat.

THE BIG PICTURE: The hepatitis C virus can cause to life-threatening liver damage and is the main cause of liver transplants in the United States. It has become a major area of research for drug companies because diagnoses are expected to increase as the Baby Boomers age. Standard treatments don't work for large numbers of patients, and one component, the drug Interferon, can cause side effects that last for months.

Gilead, of Foster City, Calif., sells several HIV drugs. It acquired sofosbuvir through its $11.1 billion purchase of drug developer Pharmasset in January. Gilead is studying the drug in several clinical trials in combination with numerous other drugs.

SHARE ACTION: Gilead shares advanced $6.99, or 11 percent, to $72 in afternoon trading. The stock has been trading around all-time highs for the last few months and peaked at $73.25 on Monday. Going into Monday, the shares had risen 40 percent since April 19, when Gilead said a regimen that included sofosbuvir cured almost all patients in an earlier study.