Drug Development

What’s Gilead’s next deal going to look like? CEO Milligan cites blockbuster filgotinib pact

Gilead today managed to surprise the analysts who follow the company by guiding down on its shrinking revenue for its megablockbuster hep C franchise. But after they chewed on that awhile, the questions on the Monday evening call turned to a favorite topic: What will Gilead $GILD buy next?

Gilead CEO John Milligan

Gilead CEO John Milligan

Here’s CEO John Milligan’s carefully calibrated, if somewhat longwinded, response:

With regard to business development, obviously we are a company that has been open about being interested in doing more deals, especially deals of a certain size where we think we can get some leverage and use our organization to effectively accelerate or expand indications. We’ve done some good deals both with Galapagos…and we’re very interested in continuing that and add more things to our pipeline, especially in the non-antiviral area where we continue to see growth in franchises. It’s our hope that as we exit this year we’ll have a better, more complete story of programs internally and externally we can use to talk about why long-term prospects for growth are as good as we believe they are and thus will be focused on.

Gilead has considerable freedom of movement as far as its cash position goes. And that has had analysts thinking and hoping and dreaming of a deal that would rival its $11 billion Pharmasset deal, which set the wheels in motion on hepatitis C. Gilead paid Galapagos $725 million in a rich upfront for its drug filgotinib late last year, promising $1.35 billion in milestones, for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s. That’s not the same category, but it’s a clear indication that the company is thinking big when it comes to collaborations.

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