Hepatitis C

The rise and fall of hepatitis C drug sales

Source: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals 

Three years ago, Gilead Sciences was generating record sales and profits on the back of its hepatitis C pills. Now, Gilead's medicines are playing second fiddle to a competitor, and the drug that started it all, Sovaldi, has been relegated to a footnote.

The big picture: Gilead's drugs were a major reason why pharmaceutical spending shot up in 2014 and 2015, as patients flocked to the high-priced pills that cure the disease for a vast majority of people. Sales have gone down considerably, due to competing drugs and restrictive insurance coverage, even though a large number of hepatitis C patients remain untreated.

Gilead taps Roche pharma exec as new CEO

Gilead Sciences logo on a cell phone screen.
Gilead is known for making hepatitis C and HIV medicines. Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences has named Daniel O'Day, the chief of Roche's pharmaceuticals unit, as its new CEO, effective March 1.

Why it matters: Gilead is one of the largest and most profitable drug manufacturers on the planet, known for its hepatitis C and HIV medicines. O'Day will lead a company that has had falling sales of its hepatitis drugs and is investing more in new, expensive gene therapies.