Gilead Shares Gain Following Positive Data From Final Remdesivir Trial

Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day called the final phase study the 'gold standard' for its key coronavirus treatment remdesivir, which was used in the treatment of President Donald Trump earlier this week.

Gilead Sciences Inc.  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Report shares moved higher Friday after the drugmaker published promising results from its late-stage study of remdesivir, a developing coronavirus therapy used by President Donald Trump.

Gilead said the results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed consistent and meaningful improvements in patients treated compared those given placebos in a double-blind Phase 3 study. The overall improvement lead to patient recoveries that were five days faster, the study found, a primary endpoint for the trial run by the National Institutes of Health that was originally launched earlier this spring.

Gilead CEO Daneil O'Day told CNBC Friday that the company will have 'enough supply' for patients both globally, and in the United States, by the end of this month. Gilead said yesterday it had shipped 20,300 doses -- enough to treat 3,400 patients -- to European Union health authorities.

“There is a critical need to generate data that can help healthcare providers make informed treatment decisions and offer their patients the best chance at recovery," said Gilead's chief medical officer Merdad Parsey. "These data from a rigorous, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial add to the breadth of evidence from additional randomized clinical trials supporting the use of Veklury as a standard of care for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients."

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“The robust evidence on the clinical benefits of Veklury, coupled with significantly expanded global supply, puts an important treatment option in the hands of healthcare providers around the world,” he added.

Gilead shares were marked 1.4% higher in early trading Friday to change hands at $64.20 each, a move that trim the stock's decline to around 12%.

President Trump was treated with a fifth and final dose of remdesivir earlier this week at the Walter Reed Medical Center, one of his physicians told reporters in Bethesda, Maryland. Trump has also received doses of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals RENG experimental REGN-COV2 antibody treatment, as well as the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone. 

"Remdesivir is emphatically not a miracle drug, particularly in the context of other highly active antibiotics or antivirals, it does appear to confer significant benefit in terms of reducing the risk of severe, complicated or fatal COVID," said SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges.

"As we have heard in recent days, national and supra-national governments are buying large stockpiles of remdesivir, and we expect significant revenue surprises when Gilead reports in Q3 and again in Q4," he added. "Our forecast for remdesivir sales this year is $5.4 billion, and for next year is $8.5 billion; by comparison consensus now forecasts revenue of $2.4 billion in 2020 and then $2.7 billion in 2021."