(Bloomberg) –Gilead Sciences Inc. generated $2.27 billion in sales for Sovaldi – an extremely expensive hepatitis C pill – in the first quarter.
Analysts say the huge early sales raise questions about whether insurers can do much to hold back use of the drug.
Each pill has a retail price of $1,000. A typical patient will need to take 84 pills over a 12-week course of treatment.
Gilead – a major maker of HIV drugs as well as the source of Sovaldi — reported a total of $5 billion in first-quarter revenue.
The Sovaldi sales were “above even the high end of buy-side expectations,” Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst with ISI Group L.L.C., said in a note to clients.
Schoenebaum called the Sovaldi launch the best drug introduction in history.
The cost of Sovaldi has attracted scrutiny from health insurers and lawmakers.
Pharmacy benefit managers including Express Scripts Holding Co. have said they may try to start a price war once competing medicines from AbbVie Inc. and Merck & Co. reach the market.