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Achillion's HCV Partnership with J&J Terminated, Stock Falls

Zacks Equity Research

Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ACHN announced that it has received a notice for the termination of the global license and collaboration agreement for developing hepatitis C treatments from its partner Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson JNJ.

We remind investors that the agreement with Janssen was signed in 2015, which provided Achillion a strong and experienced partner and a major source of funds. With the termination of the agreement, we believe investors have become wary due to uncertainty in funds for Achillion.

Shares of Achillion tumbled 22.1% on Monday. In fact, Achillion’s shares have fallen 7.4% so far this year, underperforming the industry’s gain of 15.9% in that period.

Achillion and Janssen were developing JNJ-4178 for treating patients with hepatitis C. Janssen took the decision to discontinue further development of the hepatitis C treatment regimen, JNJ-4178, as it believes there are several highly effective therapies available for this indication.

An ongoing phase IIa study is evaluating JNJ-4178, a triple combination regimen of J&J’s simeprevir & AL-335 and Achillion’s odalasvir. Data from the study announced in April demonstrated that the treatment regimen has the ability to shorten treatment duration in patients. Moreover, JNJ-4178 demonstrated a 100% cure rate after only six weeks of therapy, as published in the Journal of Hepatology. Janssen will complete this study as planned and stop further development thereafter.

Achillion stated that it will now focus on developing its factor D inhibitor, ACH-4471 for the treatment of patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). The interim results from the study, announced in August, showed clinically meaningful complement inhibition and a favorable tolerability profile for ACH-4471.

Multiple phase II studies are planned for evaluating ACH-4471 in the second half of 2017. The studies will include PNH patients with sub-optimal response to Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s ALXN Soliris or patients with C3G, a rare renal disorder.

In a separate press release, Achillion announced the promotion of current executive vice president, Joseph Truitt as chief operating officer and appointed Avner Ingerman as senior vice president and head of ophthalmology. Dr. Ingerman has 17 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He was previously employed with Ohr Pharmaceutical, Inc. OHRP, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. REGN and J&J.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Price and Consensus


Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Price and Consensus | Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Quote

Achillion currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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