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    Gilead Sciences Inc.'s Sovaldi was a real breakthrough in the fight against the chronic liver disease hepatitis C (HCV). The condition may show no symptoms for years after initial infection but can slowly become debilitating.

    Hepatitis C affects as many as 200 million people worldwide, and before Sovaldi, the approved drug regimen could treat only about 50% of cases and could cause serious side effects. Treatment was generally long - 24 to 48 weeks - and arduous.

    Sovaldi, on the other hand, could cure more than 90% of cases in a matter of weeks at a cost, in the United States, of around $94,000. The pricing caused controversy, but the drug proved transformative for HCV patients, their families, and doctors.

    Sovaldi also proved a huge windfall for investors when it received FDA approval in 2013 and entered the pharmaceutical marketplace the following year.

    So far, Gilead shareholders have seen a 2:1 split, several dividend payouts, and gains of more than 155% since 2013. Sales of Sovaldi and Gilead's other HCV drug, Harvoni, topped $12.5 billion in 2015 alone.

    There's just one big, expensive problem...

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Why Pharmaceutical Stocks Are Crushing the Market [Chart]

Biotech Investing

Pharmaceutical stocks have crushed the broader markets in 2015.

The S&P Pharmaceuticals Select Industry Index has climbed 20.9% year to date. In the last 12 months, the index has climbed 42.5%.

Here's how that compares to the broader markets...

Finding the Blockbuster That Will Make You Rich

In the pharmaceutical industry, a "blockbuster" is any drug that brings in $1 billion or more in revenue per year.

It's the prize that every biotech hopes to win - and every biotech investor hopes to cash in on.

So how do you spot one in the making? If the market suspects a drug candidate has blockbuster potential, catalysts (events like positive clinical study results and regulatory milestones) will give its manufacturer's share price a big, big boost.

There is no crystal ball that's 100% accurate when experimental drugs are concerned, but here are some telling questions that can narrow your search...

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Actavis to Buy Forest Labs (NYSE: FRX) in $25 Billion Blockbuster Deal

best biotech investments 2014

Last week's $45.2 billion Time Warner-Comcast deal pushed the global deal tally to $336 billion so far this year - the most since 2007 - and another blockbuster deal announced this week will push that figure even higher.

On Tuesday Irish drugmaker Actavis PLC (NYSE: ACT), producer of generic and specialty urology and women's health products, agreed to buy New York-based Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: FRX) for $25 billion.

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