Gilead Sciences Inc.’s revenue rose 17% in the third quarter, helped by sales of its antiviral drug remdesivir that has become a standard treatment for hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Yet sales of the company’s other drugs were hurt by pandemic-related shutdowns. And the company dialed back its forecast for overall revenue this year because of lower-than-expected hospitalization rates of Covid-19 patients.

Remdesivir, which sells under the brand name Veklury, brought in $873 million in sales in the latest quarter, beating analysts’ estimates of $771.7 million, according to FactSet. The drug has been approved in the U.S. to treat patients 12 years and older who require hospitalization for the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Gilead said sales in its HIV drug business increased 8% to $4.5 billion during the third quarter. Sales for its HCV franchise fell 31% to $464 million as people in the U.S. and Europe had fewer health screenings due to the pandemic. The company said in August that it planned to produce more than 2 million treatment courses of remdesivir by the end of the year and anticipated being able to make “several million more” in 2021.

“We do feel very strongly that Veklury will contribute to our overall sales, be an important source of cash for our business and allow us to pay down debt,” Mr. O’ Day said on the analyst call. Giles has said the pandemic and associated shutdowns weighed on sales of its hepatitis C and HIV-prevention medicines in the quarter. Gilead expects its portfolio of HIV treatments for infected patients to remain largely unaffected by the pandemic.

Widespread vaccinations for Covid-19 may not be available until late 2021, and the pandemic may continue to affect Gilead’s business into next year and possibly afterward, said Gilead Chief Financial Officer Andrew Dickinson on the analyst call. The company said it expects its core business to gradually recover in the fourth quarter and into the first half of 2021 and that acquisition of Immunomedics Inc. should immediately add to revenue growth. Immunomedics’s Trodelvy is among the brightest cancer-drug prospects, showing signs of success in treating lung and other cancers.

Todd Horwitz Chief Strategist
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