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Gilead Sciences

(GILD) - Get Free Report

announced Friday that the Food and Drug Administration has approved its antiviral drug Hepsera as a treatment for hepatitis B.

Gilead said it will begin shipping the drug to wholesalers next week. Drug regulators at an FDA panel last month unanimously

voted in favor of approving Hepsera, formerly called Adefovir. The company submitted its application in March and was granted priority review.

Hepatitis B affects as much as 5% of the world's population, including an estimated 1 million Americans.

Gilead closed Friday up 66 cents, or 2%, at $33.56. In after-hours trading it rose 44 cents, or 1.2%, to $34.