UPDATE 2-AbbVie expects hep C drug sales to top $3 billion per year

Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:24pm EST
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(Adds analyst comment)

By Bill Berkrot

Jan 30 (Reuters) - AbbVie Inc's chief executive said on Friday the company's new oral hepatitis C treatment Viekira Pak has the potential to capture a "meaningful share" of the U.S. market, where it is competing against Gilead Sciences .

AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez told investors the company expects an annualized sales run rate of more than $3 billion by the end of 2015, which could grow as more countries begin using Viekira Pak.

"We expect it to remain a large and attractive opportunity for many years to come," Gonzalez said.

AbbVie shares fell 3.6 percent to $60.85 as investors were disappointed by the Viekira forecast.

"It was carefully worded in the most optimistic way possible," BMO analyst Alex Arfaei said. An exit rate of above $3 billion in 2015, "indicates that sales in 2015 will be below $3 billion."

With Merck expected to launch its rival treatment in 2016, he said, "we expect additional price competition in this market."

Some analysts have forecast annual Gilead hepatitis C sales in excess of $15 billion.   Continued...