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Achillion Pharma Slides After Hep C Deal Is Terminated

Chris Lange

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACHN) saw its shares slump early on Monday after the firm announced that its hepatitis C license and collaboration agreement with Janssen had been terminated. The termination notice follows the decision by Janssen to discontinue the development of the investigational hepatitis C treatment regimen JNJ-4178, a combination of three direct acting antivirals: AL-335, odalasvir and simeprevir.

Keep in mind that Janssen is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).

In August 2017, Achillion announced positive interim data from a Phase 2 trial with ACH-4471 for patients with untreated paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). In addition to its plans to continue this study of untreated PNH patients, Achillion anticipates initiating a second Phase 2 study in PNH patients who suboptimally respond to treatment with eculizamab, the current standard of care.

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Also during the second half of 2017, Achillion anticipates initiating patient dosing in two Phase 2 trials of ACH-4471.

Milind Deshpande, Ph.D., president and CEO of Achillion, commented:

We are disappointed by Janssen's decision to discontinue HCV development given the positive data presented in phase 2a with JNJ-41781, demonstrating a 100% cure rate after only six weeks of therapy. While we believe that patients worldwide would benefit from convenient, short-duration therapies like JNJ-4178, we remain fully focused on advancing our factor D portfolio of complement alternative pathway inhibitors in areas where patient needs are greatest, and using our strong balance sheet of almost $370 million in cash and cash equivalents at June 30, 2017 to do so.

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Shares of Achillion closed Friday at $4.91, with a consensus analyst price target of $7.14 and a 52-week trading range of $3.15 to $9.19. Following the announcement, the stock was down about 27% at $3.60 in early trading indications Monday.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson closed most recently at $130.98. The 52-week range is $109.32 to $137.08, and the consensus price target is $136.89.

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