Gilead Sciences Earnings Call Insights: Reimbursement Outlook and Returning Cash To Shareholders

Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:GILD) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Reimbursement Outlook

Geoffrey Meacham – JPMorgan: Related on the Japan agreement, does the agreement for hep C speak to the review speed or the pace of reimbursement? And then related to that, I notice you guys are doing a similar study in India. So, just checking to see what other regions you expect to do – if you expect other regions to have a country-specific study?

Norbert W. Bischofberger, PhD – EVP, R&D and Chief Scientific Officer: So, Geoff, your first question has to do whether the agreement has anything to do (with old times)? Was that the question? The answer is no. We simply got agreement on (indiscernible) a Phase 3 strategy, and as I said the Phase 3 strategy in genotype 1 is a single-arm study of 12 weeks duration, sofosbuvir and ribavirin agreement on genotype 1. This is a two arm study of the fixed dose combination both with and without ribavirin for 12 weeks. We’re looking at another – a number of other geographies that require clinical studies, one of which we are actively enrolling that’s Russia and the other country we are looking at is China. So those are the only two. In China, we have not made the final decision as to what to do – and Kevin, you had a question about reimbursement in Japan.

Kevin Young – EVP, Commercial Operations: Yeah, Jeff, right now any of the timelines don’t include any reference to what we do from a reimbursement point of view. So, all of Norbert’s comments were relating to very health and positive descriptions we’ve had with PMDA and we’re now starting to build out our own organization in Japan. Our intention would be to launch sofosbuvir as Gilead with our own team and not requiring a partnership there.

Returning Cash To Shareholders

Mark Schoenebaum – ISI Group: Maybe I’ll ask Kevin a question and ask the four if I might, and that is, how many patients and I haven’t been able to get an answer yet, which I why I’m re-asking it, but how many patients in the U.S. and Europe do you estimate – hep C patients excuse me, under the active care of hepatitis C specialist right now. And if I can just get latest – if you won’t answer that perhaps I can get comments from Robin or John on your perspective on use of cash right now. I know your balance sheet continues to improve post Pharmasset deal there is a lot movement in press reports and the biotech landscape right now of M&A. It could be a nice time to get your updated thoughts on how Gilead plans to use cash and your view on larger deals.

Kevin Young – EVP, Commercial Operations: Yes, we are still essentially fine tuning the number that you are looking for. We are building Ipsos like HIV database, it’s based on a much smaller number of charts than we normally get per quarter relative to HIV. But we think once we’ve seen a couple of quarters and it look solid and it looks reproducible that we will be able to share that number. So, I think we are getting there. We want to have something that is not chopping and changing every quarter. There wasn’t a database there. Don’t forget that it’s taken us 10 years really to get something as good as what we got in HIV. So, we wanted to start this in the right way and try to give you a solid number that is going to be – that’s going to have credibility. So, later in the year I think and round about the launches of product, I think we will be able to say that with some conviction.

Robin L. Washington – SVP and CFO: Mark I’ll go ahead and answer your second question. As we saw it reported, we are very close on a rounded basis to our 1.5 debt-to-EBITDA ratio. So as a result of that we will be resuming during the second half of 2013 our share repurchase program, again focused primarily on dilution. I think regarding our overall capital strategy, there has really been no change to that. We talked about focusing on debt; we’ll continue to invest in our pipeline; and we’ll be selective relative to licensing and M&A opportunities focused on Phase 2, Phase 3 assets as appropriate. And as mentioned, we’ll be returning cash back to shareholders via share buybacks at this point in time.

A Closer Look: Gilead Sciences Earnings Cheat Sheet>>