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Europe OKs Expanded Use of HIV Drug

May 28, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Gilead Sciences Inc., maker of the AIDS medicine Viread, said Tuesday that European regulators have approved the drug as a first-time therapy for HIV-infected patients. Shares in the company rose 7.6% to an all-time high.

The drug, Gilead's biggest product, was approved in Europe last year to treat patients who already received other AIDS medicines, the company said. Viread was approved for use with other treatments in the U.S. in 2001.

Gilead, based in Foster City, Calif., is targeting Europe to sell more Viread, which is expected to have as much as $500 million in revenue this year. About 560,000 people in Western Europe are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Gilead said.

The company last month reported a first-quarter net loss of $438.1 million, or $2.21 a share, compared with a loss of $3.9 million, or 2 cents, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding a $488.6-million one-time charge stemming from its January acquisition of rival Triangle Pharmaceuticals Inc., Gilead earned $50.5 million in the quarter, or 24 cents a share, beating analyst estimates of 15 cents compiled by Thomson First Call.

Shares of Gilead on Tuesday rose $3.64 to $51.64 on Nasdaq, the highest since they began trading in 1992. The stock has climbed 52% this year.

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