second-quarter earnings blew through year-ago levels, thanks in part to its blockbuster, and controversial, hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.
Sales of Sovaldi alone reached $3.5 billion in the second quarter and almost $6 billion for the first six months of the year, Gilead reported late Wednesday.
Overall, Gilead saw total revenue
for the second quarter increase to $6.53 billion compared with $2.77 billion for the second quarter of 2013.
Second-quarter net income hit $3.66 billion compared with $772.6 million in the same period last year.
At $1,000 a pill and $84,000 for a three-month course of treatment, Sovaldi has garnered widespread criticism and raised concerns about its cost impact on Medicare and Medicaid.
Gilead Sciences' CEO John Martin said during a Wednesday earnings call that as more people become cured of hepatitis C because of Sovaldi, price concerns will abate.
Since receiving FDA approval late last year, the drug has cured 9,000 people of the virus, he said. “Over time, the healthcare system will save a lot of money by these patients being healthy again,” Martin said.
Gilead revised its full-year revenue estimate to a range of $21 billion to $23 billion, double its earlier forecast of $11.3 billion to $11.5 billion, thanks to Sovaldi sales.
During the call, Martin credited some of Sovaldi's success to the wide buy-in of state Medicaid programs
. He said only three states don't currently cover the drug, but they are expected to do so once they finish drafting prior authorization requirements.
Private insures meanwhile continue to push for the price of the drug to be dropped, apparently not persuaded by Martin's comments.
“While it was a blockbuster quarter for Gilead, people who can't access the drug because of its price didn't fare nearly as well,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans
, said in a statement. “The current price cannot be justified by development costs, it's purely a reflection of Gilead believing that it has a blank check.”Follow Virgil Dickson on Twitter: @MHVDickson