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Gilead said sales of its blockbuster hepatitis C medicines this year would be significantly lower than Wall Street had been expecting, sending shares in the biotech group down by 3.5 per cent in after hours trading.

The company said it expected its hepatitis C products to generate between $7.5bn and $9bn of revenue in 2017, well below the typical analyst estimate of $11.5bn.

Gilead gained fame for its Sovaldi drug, which can wipe out the once incurable disease in 12 weeks, as well as notoriety for initially pricing the medicine at $1,000 per pill.

But the group has suffered more recently from a perfect storm, amid pricing pressure, competition from rival groups AbbVie and Merck, and a smaller pool of patients that still needs to be treated.

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