Gilead’s Hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi made headlines last week as developing countries like India wrangle over how the price of the groundbreaking drug can be adjusted to make it accessible to patients who simply cannot pay the prohibitive costs associated with the treatment in the U.S. and Europe. In spite of this issue, a new article in Forbes indicates that Gilead’s Sovaldi is on its way toward becoming a major success for the company, as all indications are that the drug will realize tremendous growth in 2014, as it is expected to become widely used throughout the world in order to combat the deadly liver disease.
Forbes writer Matthew Herper had pegged Sovaldi as the most important drug of 2013, given the alarming rise of Hepatitis C diagnoses throughout the world over the past few decades, and how the drug can effectively curtail the disease with a relatively easy-to-administer dose. In a new report, Herper notes that early data on prescriptions for the drug indicate that Sovaldi could go on to be “the fastest drug launch ever.”
This of course will come as great news to the 3 million Americans who are currently suffering with the disease — a number that, along with Hepatitis C statistics worldwide — surpass even that of AIDS. Gilead’s prescient vision to fulfill the unmet needs of Hepatitis C treatment appears to have paid dividends. The chart above, which was put together by ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum, quantifies Sovaldi prescriptions written thus far, using the IMS Health data tracker (TRx), comparing those numbers to rival Hepatitis C treatments, such as Vertex’s Incivek, and Merck’s competing drug, Victrelis. All in all, Schoenebaum has Sovaldi on pace to net at least $5 billion by the end 2014 — an estimate that, according to early data, Gilead could end up shattering.
For investors, Herper notes that are still enough unknown quantities in the Hepatitis C treatment segment to fully predict how valuation of Gilead’s brand and product will play out in the market over the remainder of the year, with patient populations, the pricing issue, and rival drug companies such as AbbVie and Merck still having their own hands to play in offering viable, competitively-priced Hepatitis C treatment options. However, from the perspective of Hepatitis C patients, the rise in usage of Sovaldi in mainstream medicine may in fact be proof enough that we’re witnessing one of the biggest treatment breakthroughs for the disease in recent years.