Gilead Sciences Inc. filed a registration statement on Monday for apublic offering of 2.5 million common shares, which would raisenearly $50 million based on the stock's closing price Friday.

Underwriters Robertson, Stephens & Co. LP, of San Francisco, andHambrecht & Quist LLC, of New York, have overallotment optionscovering up to 375,000 additional shares.

Gilead, of Foster City, Calif., on March 31 reported having about 19million shares outstanding and $89 million in cash and equivalents.Its net loss for the year that ended March 31 was $31.2 million.

Gilead's stock (NASDAQ:GILD) lost $1.38 Friday to close at $19.13per share. At that price the offering would gross about $48 million.

The company is developing antiviral drugs based on nucleotides. Ithas programs in small molecule antivirals, cardiovasculartherapeutics and genetic code blockers. Gilead also is developingnon-nucleotide candidates.

The company, which has nearly three years of cash based on currentburn rates, said it intends to use the money for general corporatepurposes and to further develop its pipeline. Officials wouldn'tprovide further details about their strategy for the money because thecompany is under registration.

Gilead's lead product, Vistide, is being developed forcytomegalovirus (CMV) in AIDS patients. Results of a Phase II/IIItrial revealed earlier this year showed statistical significance indelaying the disease vs. deferred treatment in time to progression ofthe disease. Median time to progression in the trial was 120 days inthe immediate treatment group vs. 22 days in the deferred treatmentgroup.

Gilead has two pivotal trials of the nucleotide analogue ongoing forCMV retinitis. The company has said it intends to file a new drugapplication with the FDA in the second half of this year.

Gilead expects to begin human studies by the end of the year of aformulation of Vistide for direct injection into the eye for CMVretinitis.

Another formulation of the drug, cidofovir (formerly called GS 504),is in Phase I/II in a topical formulation for treatment of genital wartsassociated with human papillomavirus in AIDS patients, and in AIDSpatients who have herpes simplex virus that is resistant to acyclovir.A Canadian Phase I/II trial is evaluating the drug as a treatment forgenital herpes in those with normal immune systems.

GS 840, which also is a nucleotide analogue, is in Phase I/II trials forHIV and, separately, for hepatitis B.

Preclinical compounds are being developed for the influenza,respiratory syncytial virus and others. It has three lead compounds inits cardiovascular program with activity in animal models ofthrombosis and stroke. And Gilead is researching oligonucleotideanalogues that block disease-causing genes, particularly in the cancerarea.

The company has all rights to its products in the clinic, but said itintends to establish collaborations with pharmaceutical companies forcertain product candidates and research programs. n

-- Jim Shrine

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