There was important news at the BIO-CEO conference in New York today. Achillion's CEO announced during his presentation that the FDA has allowed ACH-1095, the compound partnered with Gilead, to progress into the clinic. This compound is roughly 15x as potent as telaprivir. And because it hits a different target than ACH-1625, the two are compatible and could be combined in a combo tablet/capsule to be used with pegylated interferon or what immune modulator ultimately replaces it. Having Gilead develop and promote your antiviral has to be a dream come true for a small biotech with GILD's second to none excellence in the field. It would certainly make sense for Gilead just to sweep down and take out the entire company. Achillion has just brought on a well-known name in biotech business development, Joe Truitt, who got a heckuva deal for Lev Pharmaceuticals and Cinryze.
Vertex pays 375M for 2 molecules in phase 1b. If that does not show the eagerness & competitiveness of larger firms to acquire the latest and greatest I don't know what will. If you read to the bottom of the 2nd article, it states that they(Vertex) are not done yet either.
The four most likely firms for an Achillion HCV deal are Gilead, Merck(Schering), Roche, and Novartis. And with the potency and specificity of action we have seen clinically with ACH-1625 and preclinically with ACH-1095, and should Achillion hold off out-licensing ACH-1625 until doing the 42 day Phase II trial -- and until the ACH-1095 Phase Ib program is completed (both by Q2 2011), Achillion could very well sign the sweetest deal ever done for an antiviral, considerably bigger than the monster telaprivir deal Vertex signed with JNJ. This will be especially likely if ACH-1625 and ACH-1095 turn out to avoid causing rash such as telaprivir -- as well as being once a day drugs. Both would give Achillion an enormous competitive advantage over telaprivir or any other compound in development producing annual revenues in the multiple billion dollar range, not including very fat up-front and milestone fees. It is highly likely that a combo pill consisting of ACH-1625 & ACH-1095 (24 weeks) and a short regime (4 to 12 weeks) of pegylated interferon will turn out to be first line therapy in HCV shortly after it hits the market.