Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD)
If you’re a Gilead Sciences follower, patient, or investor, you know what they do. The company is currently the leader in the treatment of hepatitis C. The company’s treatments Harvoni and Sovaldi have incredibly high cure rates, low side effects, and the patient needs to take less medication overall than other treatments on the market. Which brings us to the next option…
AbbVie Inc (NYSE: ABBV)
In an effort to take a piece of the very lucrative hepatitis C treatment pie, AbbVie has created their own treatment for hepatitis C; which hit the market late last year. The AbbVie treatment option unfortunately requires the patient to take several different medications through a series of pills. One of them being ribavirin; which has nasty side effects. However, it’s getting a ton of support because of the lower cost associated with treatment.
Bringing My Friends Into The GILD, ABBV Conversation
As a writer who’s work is viewed hundreds of thousands of times per month, I’ve made a ton of friends in the investing realm; a few of whom are currently being treated for hepatitis C. In interest of privacy, I would never disclose the names of these patients, but if you’re an investor or a patient yourself, I think that it’s important that you know what they’re saying. Keep in mind that one of my friends is using the AbbVie treatment and the other is using the treatment provided by Gilead Sciences.
Patient #1 – I met patient #1 very recently as the result of something I wrote about GILD in the past. After speaking with him, I found out that he is currently under the ABBV treatment option. When speaking with him, it was clear to see what he thought of ABBV. In short, he absolutely hated it. He explained to me that the side effects are horrible and that he doesn’t like having to take so many medications daily. What I found to be the worst part of all is the fact that he was essentially forced to go with this option.
Patient #1 currently resides in California; where Blue Cross & Blue Shield reigns supreme. Because of an agreement between his insurance provider, BCBSA has a deal with Express Scripts Hldg (NASDAQ: ESRX), he has no choice but to use the treatment offered under his plan, ABBV. Of course, he could pay out of pocket for GILD’s treatment, but the cost is far too high.
Patient #2 – I met patient #2 a few months ago through another friend of mine. It wasn’t until very recently that I found out that he was a hepatitis C patient. As a matter of fact, I didn’t chat with him about his treatment or what he thought of it until this morning.
After chatting with him, I found out that he is currently using the treatment provided by Gilead Sciences; a treatment his insurance carrier, ETNA is happy to provide. He explained that the side effects are there because, in his words, “You’re eating poison.” However, he also explained that it’s not painful. Instead, he deals with drowsiness. Nonetheless, he’s happy! He knows the stats on cure rates and is excited to be treated with what he believes to be the superior option.
In our conversation, patient #2 told me about a friend of his. This friend was treated with an alternative treatment and was incredibly happy about the results. Unfortunately however, three months after his treatment, the hepatitis C returned, and he was started on the GILD treatment. Since, he has had no issues with hepatitis C!
The Answer Is Clear
There’s no doubt that as a result of lower pricing, ABBV is going to cause problems for GILD. However, there’s also no doubt that Gilead Sciences provides the better treatment option. While I think it’s a shame that ESRX is currently forcing its customers to use the less effective treatment, I do see this playing a role in GILD sales moving forward. Nonetheless, I’m not sure that it will play as much of a role as other analysts have predicted. With GILD being the clear better choice, I couldn’t imagine seeing the company’s sales drop by 20 or 30%. All in all, I think GILD will maintain it’s stronghold on the hepatitis C market!
What Do You Think?
Let us know your opinion on the debate in the comments below!