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Gilead, the biotech company, missed Wall Street expectations for profits and sales in the first quarter, sending its shares down by 2 per cent in after-hours trading.

Sales of the company’s best-selling medicine, Harvoni, plummeted compared to a year ago as the group contended with fierce competition from rivals like AbbVie and Merck in what is quickly becoming a saturated market.

The hepatitis C drug generated $1.37bn of sales during the first three months of the year versus more than $3bn in the same period of last year, although revenues still came in ahead of the typical analyst estimate of $1.34bn.

A declining hepatitis C franchise has been baked into Gilead investor expectations for some time, but sales of other medicines fell short, including HIV treatments such as Truvada and Stribild.

Many investors believe that Gilead, which was once the fastest-growing biotech group, needs to acquire another drugmaker to revive its fortunes, and executives are sure to field questions on their intentions when they hold a call with analysts at 4.30pm ET.

Gilead posted adjusted earnings of $2.23 per share for the first quarter on sales of $6.5bn, versus the typical Wall Street forecast for adjusted EPS of $2.28 and revenues of $6.62bn.

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