|Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:GILD) was the kind of biotech everyone dreams of owning. First, it perfected the one-a-day pill regimen for diseases like HIV. But then it took off when it found a three-month regimen that would cure hepatitis C in nearly all patients with specific strains of the disease.
Hep C can live in the body undetected for decades, but as we age it tends to show itself, many times with devastating consequences. It attacks the liver and in many cases, the only cure was a liver transplant, which costs around $600,000. Given the graying of the U.S. population, insurance companies were not happy.
But then came GILD with Harvoni and Solvadi. A 12-week course of Harvoni costs about $94,000 by comparison. GILD got to price its drug incredibly high because the alternative was substantially higher.
GILD took off. But now, there are more competitors in the hep-C space, so GILD is losing market share and pricing power. It has a ton of cash but hasn’t bought anything with it to keep its pipeline active.
It’s off 23% year to date with more downside waiting and it’s only offering a 3.2% dividend.