Gilead's Truvada faces Teva generics assault amid Descovy switching campaign
When its U.S. patent cliff for HIV med Truvada was still on the horizon, Gilead Sciences won approval for follow-up med Descovy and launched an aggressive campaign to switch patients to the new drug.
Now, that cliff is here, and Gilead will have to see if all its hard work has paid off.
Israeli drugmaker Teva could help put the nail in the coffin for Truvada's blockbuster sales after launching the first U.S. generics of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) therapy and a second Gilead HIV drug, Atripla, on Friday.
Teva launched its versions of Truvada and Atripla at list prices of $48.51 and $78.86, respectively, per tablet. In the first half of 2020, Truvada snared $753 million in global sales, and Atripla picked up a lighter $176 million.
Gilead does have some hope for its Truvada-to-Descovy switching campaign.
As of the end of the second quarter, Gilead said it had successfully switched 38% of PrEP patients from Truvada to Descovy, RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams told clients in July, and is well on its way to reaching its 40% to 45% goal.
Descovy snared FDA approval in October for men and transgender women for HIV prevention. A major consumer group immediately locked on to the drug's price, asking Gilead to "do the right thing" after citing the “countless billions” Gilead has made off its HIV/AIDS drugs.
Just months into that launch, Gilead reported better-than-expected success in its switching campaign, with 10% of Truvada patients moving over to the new drug.
But at least one market study found Descovy's price tag didn't offer a clear advantage over potential Truvada generics hitting the market.
In March, experts from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Yale School of Public Health determined that payers shouldn't cover more than $9,000 of Descovy's $16,600 list price, though Gilead disputed their methods.
The study calculated Descovy's cost-effectiveness based on publicly available data and aimed to determine how much of a premium the drug should command over Truvada generics.
With Truvada's sales expected to collapse even further now, Gilead is not only leaning into Descovy but also bestselling HIV med Biktarvy, which has seen gangbuster sales in its first two years on the market.
Biktarvy hit $2.76 billion in the first half of 2020 alone, a nearly $1 billion increase from the same time the previous year.
Oct 2, 2020