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Gilead Sciences (GILD - Analyst Report) recently presented encouraging long-term data on its HIV therapy Stribild from two ongoing phase III studies (102 and 103) as a first-line therapy. Data from study 102 revealed that Stribild was non-inferior to Gilead’s Atripla after two years of treatment.

Data from study 103 demonstrated the non inferiority of Stribild to Norvir (ritonavir)-boosted Reyataz plus Truvada after a similar time period. While Norvir is marketed by Abbott Labs (ABT - Analyst Report), Reyataz is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY - Analyst Report). Gilead presented the encouraging results at the 11th international congress on drug therapy regarding HIV infection in the UK.

We note that Stribild, a combination pill, is a new addition to Gilead’s formidable HIV franchise. The drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2012 as a first-line therapy for treating adults suffering from HIV. The approval was based on encouraging 48 weeks data from studies 102 and 103. Stribild is under review for the same indication in the EU.

Neutral on Gilead

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Gilead. The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short run. We remain optimistic on the growth prospects of Gilead's HIV drugs, Truvada and Atripla. We are also encouraged by the sales ramp of Complera/Eviplera, which together with Stribild, has further fortified the HIV franchise and helped to mitigate the impact of upcoming patent expirations.

Gilead is looking to combat the threat of genericization by inking deals, making acquisitions and introducing new products. To further strengthen its hepatitis C virus portfolio, Gilead purchased Pharmasset earlier in the year, for approximately $11.1 billion.

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