FILE PHOTO: Gilead Sciences Inc pharmaceutical company is seen after they announced a Phase 3 Trial of the investigational antiviral drug Remdesivir in patients with severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Gilead Sciences Inc. on Thursday posted a higher-than-expected second-quarter profit, helped by strong demand for its COVID-19 antiviral treatment, Veklury.

However, sales of its flagship HIV drugs lagged as the pandemic continued to limit visits to doctors.

Sales of HIV medicines, which have stalled during the coronavirus pandemic, fell 2% to $3.9 billion.

Gilead Chief Commercial Officer Johanna Mercier on a conference call with analysts said HIV sales in Europe have begun to recover, but U.S. demand has been slower. “It is clear that it will take several quarters for treatment to return to pre-pandemic levels,” she said.

Gilead shares, which closed at $69.83, were down more than 2% in extended trading.

Gilead, which has offices in Oceanside, reported adjusted quarterly earnings of $1.87 per share, beating Wall Street expectations by 12 cents.

The biotechnology company’s total revenue for the quarter rose 21% from a year earlier to $6.2 billion, slightly higher than the average analyst estimate of $6.07 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

The results were “driven by in-line performance of their core products and strength in Veklury, demonstrating the ability of their portfolio mix to hedge against any COVID-related headwinds. Oncology and hepatitis C businesses were encouragingly solid,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams said in a research note.

Sales of Veklury, known chemically as remdesivir, totaled $829 million for the quarter, easily topping Wall Street estimates of $675 million.

Gilead said Veklury sales would continue to be subject to uncertainty since they are tightly linked to COVID-19 hospitalization rates. The company also said it was no longer pursuing development of an inhaled version of the drug for COVID-19.

Chief Executive Daniel O’Day said Veklury, given intravenously to hospitalized patients, is effective against all known variants of the coronavirus, adding that the company continues to develop other pipeline products for treating COVID-19 outside of a hospital setting.

Sales of Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs bounced back in the quarter, rising 23% to $549 million.

For the full-year, Gilead narrowed its forecast for adjusted earnings per share to $6.90 to $7.25. Its prior projection was $6.75 to $7.45.

The company said it now expects product sales for the year of $24.4 billion to $25 billion, compared with a previous estimate of $23.7 billion to $25.1 billion.

(Reporting By Deena Beasley and editing by Bill Berkrot)

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