Gilead Sinks After-Hours As FDA Rejects Rheumatoid Arthritis Application

Gilead Sciences (GILD) has received a complete response letter (CRL) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the New Drug Application (NDA) for filgotinib, an investigational treatment for moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Shares in Gilead fell 3.4% in Tuesday’s after-hours trading.

The FDA issues CRLs to indicate that the review cycle for an application is complete and that the application is not ready for approval in its present form. Gilead is the market authorization holder for filgotinib in the United States and is responsible for potential commercialization in the U.S.

The FDA has requested data from the MANTA and MANTA-RAy studies before completing its review of the NDA. The MANTA and MANTA-RAy studies are designed to assess whether filgotinib has an impact on sperm parameters. The FDA also has expressed concerns regarding the overall benefit/risk profile of the filgotinib 200 mg dose.

“We are disappointed in this outcome and will evaluate the points raised in the CRL for discussion with the FDA. We continue to believe in the benefit/risk profile of filgotinib in RA, which has been demonstrated in the FINCH Phase 3 clinical program,” said Merdad Parsey, Chief Medical Officer of Gilead.

The MANTA and MANTA-RAy studies are fully recruited, with topline results anticipated in the first half of 2021. Filgotinib is currently under review by regulatory authorities around the world and recently received a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

The European committee recommended marketing authorization for filgotinib in the EU for the treatment of adults with moderate to severe RA who have responded inadequately or are intolerant of one or more disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

The decision also affects Gilead partner Galapagos NV (GLPG), as the two companies are collaborating on the global development and commercialization of filgotinib in rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory indications.

Under the terms of the agreement with Gilead, Galapagos is entitled to an approval milestone of $100 million for the approval of filgotinib in the US, which was included in the Galapagos cash burn guidance. Following this CRL, Galapagos revises its full year 2020 operational cash burn guidance to between €490 and €520 million.

Shares in Gilead are up 6% year-to-date and analysts have a cautiously optimistic Moderate Buy consensus on the stock’s outlook. That’s with ratings evenly split between hold and buy, and an average analyst price target of $83 (20% upside potential).

Maxim’s Jason McCarthy reiterated his hold rating on the stock after the company reported disappointing 2Q earnings with product sales of $5.1B, down (10%) y/y and (7%) sequentially, missing consensus of $5.2B.

Though the quarter was disappointing financially, McCarthy believes sales of GILD’s Covid-19 treatment remdesivir should help partially offset revenue decline stemming from COVID this year. (See Gilead stock analysis on TipRanks).

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