Jason Kolbert Is Confident Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Can Resolve Any Yescarta Patient Backlog Challenges

Though Yescarta launch has seen patients condemned to waiting lists, Maxim's Jason Kolbert is "inspired" by GILD's global plan to commercialize the drug.


Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) shares took a 2% dip yesterday after a Bloomberg story broke claiming a mere “tiny handful of patients have actually gotten the costly therapy” two months following the approval of the biotech giant’s breakthrough treatment. Whereas the company’s CAR-T therapy asset Yescarta in lymphoma garnered a domestic green light “to treat a deadly form of blood cancer,” the Bloomberg article is critical that most patients have been left in no man’s land, pushed aside on waiting lists.

There may be 15 cancer hospitals that have authorization to administer the CAR-T therapy, but with a 200-patient backlog and no known insurance reimbursement set up, Bloomberg’s rebuke has certainly hit at the heart of investors.

Maxim analyst Jason Kolbert calls “news like this […] heartbreaking,” but likewise recognizes “this is a new paradigm and we are confident it will be resolved.”

As such, the analyst maintains the bullish course on this biotech giant, reiterating a Buy rating on GILD stock with a $94 price target, which implies a 26% upside from where the shares last closed. (To watch Kolbert’s track record, click here)

Following Kolbert’s latest trip to Beijing, China, where EVP of Technical Operations Tim Moore coupled with Kite’s CEO Richard Wang laid out the manufacturing strategy for the forthcoming launch of Yescarta, the analyst sees every reason to keep betting on the company to rise to the challenge.

Highlighting the exciting prospects waiting in China, Kolbert asserts: “Suffice to say, we were impressed and left clear with the notion that Gilead (and Kite) can overcome manufacturing challenges to commercialize in the U.S. and globally, especially China, this new innovative therapy.”‘

Ultimately, “Cell therapy brings diversification. Yescarta’s initial approval for late stage B cell cancers (and not just in the U.S.) is the start. Approval is coming in Europe and both China and Japan should follow (partnerships with Fosun and Daaichi Sankyo {4568.T – NR}). We believe that concerns around manufacturing CART should be assuaged given the manufacturing and logistics platform Kite developed (Kite Konnect) which was on display at GE Healthcare’s Cell Therapy Regulatory & Technology Summit in Beijing earlier this month (we attended). With a global presence in late stage B cell cancer, Gilead is positioned to generate over $5B in outyears,” Kolbert contends, “inspired” by the company’s “level of details and planning that is now underway to commercialize Yescarta globally.”

TipRanks indicates a mostly positive opinion circulating on Wall Street as to whether Gilead is worth the investment. Out of 14 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 9 are bullish on Gilead stock while 5 remain sidelined. With a return potential of nearly 19%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $88.22.

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