Gilead Viread patents shot down as company posts strong fourth quarter results

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It's been a roller coaster week for Gilead Sciences as the company posted strong fourth quarter 2007 results Tuesday and had four patents for its combination AIDS drug Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) rejected Wednesday.

Viread is also sold as part of Gilead's two-drug combination AIDS pill Truvada and as a component of the newer Atripla, which combines Truvada with Bristol-Myers Squibb Sustiva into a single pill.
“The process may take some time, but we don't believe the exclusivity of our product is in jeopardy,” Gilead spokeswoman Amy Flood said in a published report.

Meanwhile, Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co. analyst Jim Reddoch upgraded Gilead stock from market perform to outperform following after the company posted strong fourth quarter results Tuesday for its Truvada franchise, which has continued to grow well at a time when many thought it would be contracting.

Truvada had a very strong fourth quarter, beating the Street by 8% and growing 10%
“It sounds like many patients are actually receiving Atripla first line, and then going on Truvada with a protease inhibitor in second line, which means Atripla is not necessarily a cannibalizing factor,” Reddoch wrote. “This is something we had not counted on. After 44% growth in 2007, Gilead's HIV franchise should be good for 28% growth in 2008, especially if the market continues to grow 9%. An expansion of Medicaid (as seems to be on the Democrats' agenda) could provide upside to Gilead's 2009 sales in the US”
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