What Can We Learn from Sovaldi©’s Google Trends Data?

Conner Mansfield, Mercer University College of Pharmacy 2016

Sovaldi© performed well in its first full quarter on the market. Gilead Sciences, Inc. reported US sales that exceeded revenue earned by each of the top four selling medications in Q4 2013.

Quarterly Sales Data

(Data Sources: Drugs.com and Gilead Sciences, Inc.)

Google provides open access to a database of search terms and their popularity called Google Trends. A value of 100 corresponds to the maximum search volume over the given period for the selected terms. Users searched for Sovaldi© less frequently than the four other drugs. 

Search Popularity

(Data Source: Google Trends)

Unfortunately, Google Trends only includes data from January 2004 to the present, so we can’t compare Sovaldi©’s performance post-approval to the other drugs. However, Crestor©’s approval date on August 13, 2003 isn’t too far away from the data limit.


(Data Source: Google Trends)

Crestor©’s popularity first spiked the week of March 7th, 2004 while it was most popular the week of November 21.  Sovaldi©’s life cycle has already passed Crestor©’s first Google Trends milestone, but search traffic seems to be driven primarily by consumers with Sovaldi© consumers apparently still in the discovery phase:

Top Search Phrase by Drug

Most Popular Search Phrase

(Data Source: Google Trends)

Payers and prescribers have been hesitant to encourage Sovaldi© use. At its price point, small unit sales have already generated huge revenues. Sovaldi©’s effectiveness should see it come into greater use in the future. I think that it will be interesting to see how Sovaldi©’s search terms and search volume change over its life cycle.


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