Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) has made a major name for itself in the healthcare market; taking the hepatitis C virus and HIV treatment markets by storm. However, AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV) has recently stepped in to challenge Gilead’s position in the HCV market; and unfortunately we’re seeing a decline in GILD sales that’s lasting longer than normal. Today, we’ll take a look at the numbers and discuss what we can expect to see from GILD moving forward.

GILD HCV Sales Are Declining While ABBV Sales Are Looking Up

  • Gilead Sciences – Unfortunately for GILD, Harvoni prescriptions continue to fall in volume on a week over week basis. While there are short declines here and there naturally, declines in this case are lasting longer than usual. In the week ending May 15th, Harvoni prescriptions declined by 2%. Looking back, this is nothing new; GILD has been facing the Harvoni blues since the end of March.
  • AbbVie – ABBV on the other hand is doing the happy dance. Sales of Viekira Pak, the companies HCV treatment and competition for Harvoni are starting to move upward.

Why We’re Seeing This?

Harvoni doesn’t use ribavirin, it’s only one pill, and it has an amazing success rate. Why would people choose Viekira Pak? Viekira Pak includes ribavirin, a drug known to cause severe side effects. It also requires patients to take multiple medications per day; causing even more of an inconvenience. However, the reason for the change in momentum is actually pretty clear. Patients aren’t choosing Viekira Pak, they are taking what they can get!

Express Scripts Holding Company is the largest pharmacy-benefits manager in the United States. They also happen to have made a deal with AbbVie. Therefore, patients that have Blue Cross Blue Shield and several other insurance providers simply don’t have access to Harvoni unless they’re sick enough! So, for many patients, ABBV is really the only choice; unless they’re going to pay the incredibly high bill for the treatment themselves. Unfortunately, that’s something that most people simply can’t do.

This Isn’t The End Of Gilead Sciences Reign

While ABBV is making it’s way into the HCV market, I think that GILD will still maintain it’s position as the leader in the market. The reality is that even with declining sales, GILD prescriptions look like they’re headed toward $12 billion for the second quarter; which is right in line with analyst expectations. The bottom line is that while ABBV is a worthy contender, GILD offers the better product.

What We Can Expect To See Moving Forward

There’s no doubt that AbbVie will continue to gain traction in the HCV market. However, there’s also no doubt that GILD will continue to outpace it’s competitor. That being said, I do expect to see more declines in Harvoni sales in the near-term. However, in the long run, GILD will continue to reign supreme.