What are the various genotypes of HCV?
There are six distinct genotypes of HCV (hepatitis C virus). If we know the genotype, recommending the treatment and duration becomes easier. In the United States, about 75% of HCV patients fall into genotype 1, while 20%–25% present with genotypes 2 and 3. A smaller patient population has genotypes 4, 5, and 6.
Gilead Sciences’ (GILD) HCV portfolio is comprised of Harvoni and Sovaldi, major HCV drugs, and the recently approved Epclusa. Around 45% of HCV patients in the United States are treated with Harvoni’s eight-week course. Considering the value proposition offered by the drug, it has proved to be a standard of care for genotype 1.
What’s behind the falling sales of HCV products?
Wall Street analysts expect Harvoni to record $10.4 billion in 2016 and $8.6 billion in 2017. Sovaldi is expected to bring in $4.5 billion and $2.5 billion in 2016 and 2017, respectively. For more information on these lead drugs, please read Gilead’s Hepatitis C Portfolio: 2 Key Drugs.
Within two to three quarters of its launch, Harvoni recorded peak patients in every country. As a result, 2015 revenues rose significantly for this HCV franchise. However, as severely ill patients have already been treated, there isn’t an urgency for immediate treatment for less severe HCV-infected patients. With a normal pace of patients, there will be a slower but steady rate of treatment for HCV-infected patients.
Gilead is now conducting four studies for triplet SOF/VEL/VOX, a combination of sofosbuvir, velpatasvir, and voxilaprevir. This triple combination therapy will help the treatment-experienced or failure patients. In the HCV products space, Gilead competes with AbbVie (ABBV), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), and Merck & Co. (MRK).
If you invest in the PowerShares Dynamic Pharmaceuticals ETF (PJP), you can gain exposure to Gilead, which accounts for 5.2% of PJP’s total holdings.
In the next part of the series, we’ll look at detailed information on Gilead’s HCV franchise.