July 23 (Reuters) - Gilead Sciences Inc said on Wednesday that its new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi had sales of $3.5 billion in the second quarter, crushing Wall Street estimates and demonstrating that the furor over its price has not curtailed early use.
Analysts had been forecasting Sovaldi sales of about $2.6 billion for the quarter.
In its first two industry record shattering full quarters on the market, Sovaldi has racked up about $5.8 billion in sales despite reports that thousands of patients are still waiting in the wings for Gilead’s two drugs in one pill, once a day combination treatment expected to gain U.S. approval this year.
Sovaldi, which won U.S. approval in December, has been a lightning rod for a fierce debate over prescription drug prices. Its $84,000 cost for a 12-week course of treatment that works out to $1,000 per pill has caused concerns that high demand will place a huge burden on government-run health plans and private health insurers.
Gilead said its net profit soared to $3.66 billion, or $2.20 per share, from $772.6 million, or 46 cents per share, a year ago.
Excluding one time items, the company earned $2.36 per share. Analysts on average expected $1.79, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Bernard Orr)