There are prophylactics, and then there are drugs as prophylactics.
Following news that three clinical trials suggest that healthy people should take HIV drugs to prevent infection with the virus that causes AIDS, noted in this Wall Street Journal story, shares of pharmaceutical companies that produce HIV treatments were trading higher.
It is, of course, a controversial prospect that some worry could lead to drug resistance as drug companies wring profits from pills losing patents.
The big winner would be Gilead Sciences (GILD), up nearly 3%, or $1.30, to $46.78. Other companies that make HIV drugs also traded higher. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) rose 1%, while GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer (PFE) were up nearly 1%.
Gilead makes Truvada, a two-drug regimen to treat HIV. Truvada is the first HIV treatment the FDA is reviewing for possible marketing as a preventative measure.Â But the studies may boost sales right now, since doctors who believe the drug will help an HIV-negative patient can write prescriptions for “off label” treatments when studies suggest a good outcome.
Gilead’s current price is about where the stock was after plunging in mid-February on news that a two-drug regime for Hepatitis C failed to suppress the virus in difficult-to-treat patients. At the time, Barrons.com said that Gilead shares remain attractive at about 12 times forward earnings, despite risks.