Not all patients who achieve an early response, or RVR, go on to reach a definitive hepatitis C cure. Thursday's sneak peek at the GS-7977 regimen, however, are a strong indication that this drug could achieve cure rates equal to or higher than what's achieved with current drugs like Vertex Pharmaceuticals' ( VRTX) Incivek or Merck's ( MRK) Victrelis without the need for injections.

The GS-7977 news boxed out what was a not-so-great fourth quarter for Gilead. The company reported earnings per share that missed consensus by 7% on revenue that slightly beat expectations. The company guided to 2012 total product sales in the range of $8.6 billion to $8.8 billion versus consensus of $8.8 billion. Gilead also said expenses in 2012 would be higher than previously estimated.

Ahead of its earnings report and the new GS-7977 data, Gilead shares closed Thursday at $49.31.

--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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