Drug Development, Workforce

Abandoned by J&J, faded hep C star Achillion axes staff and maps path to PhII readouts

Five months after J&J threw in the towel on a big Phase III program for another hep C cocktail, its former partner — and once high-flying biotech — Achillion $ACHN is slashing staff and mounting a survival plan around a restructured pipeline.

Joseph Truitt

One in 5 workers are being pink slipped, which will leave 70 staffers at New Haven, CT-based Achillion.

The plan is to stay focused on complement alternative pathway work with a lead drug, ACH-4471, in Phase II for both C3 glomerulopathy and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. That oral factor D inhibitor should read out for C3G or IC-MPGN in the 3rd quarter.

J&J had once been a leader in the field of developers working on faster, better and cheaper hep C cocktails. But after Gilead cured the disease and AbbVie rolled out a lower cost rival, the market peaked and then quickly began to melt away, leaving little to fight over. The pharma giant abandoned their late-stage effort last September, which included Achillion’s once hotly sought after NS5A drug odalasvir (ACH-3102). The PNH trial will read out in the 4th quarter.

As part of the reorganization Joseph Truitt has been promoted to president and COO.

Truitt remarked:

I am particularly enthusiastic about our work in C3G where our market research has shed light on the underserved needs of these patients who have a debilitating disease that is believed to be caused by an overactive AP. C3G affects at least 8,000 people in the United States and the major European markets, specifically France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, and there are no approved treatments.


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