Strong COVID-19 drug sales help boost Gilead second-quarter results

July 29 (Reuters) - Gilead Sciences Inc on Thursday posted higher second-quarter earnings, helped by strong sales of its COVID-19 antiviral treatment, Veklury, as well as hepatitis drugs.

Total revenue for the quarter rose 21% from a year earlier to $6.2 billion, slightly higher than the average analyst estimate of $6.07 billion as compiled by Refinitiv.

Sales of the company’s flagship HIV medicines, which have stalled during the coronavirus pandemic, fell 2% to $3.9 billion. Gilead reported adjusted quarterly earnings of $1.87 per share, beating the average Wall Street estimate of $1.75 per share.

Sales of Veklury, known chemically as remdesivir, totaled $829 million for the quarter, easily beating Wall Street estimates of $675 million. Gilead said Veklury sales would continue to be subject to uncertainty since they are tightly linked to COVID-19 hospitalization rates.

For full-year 2021, Gilead narrowed its forecast for adjusted earnings per share to $6.90 to $7.25 from its prior projection of $6.75 to $7.45.

The company said it now expects product sales for the year of $24.4 billion to $25 billion, compared with a previous estimate of $23.7 billion to $25.1 billion.

Reporting By Deena Beasley Editing by Bill Berkrot