The hepatitis C virus is the most common cause of viral hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver. It is currently estimated that more than 150 million people suffer from hepatitis C (HCV) worldwide, including more than five million people in the United States. Three-fourths of the global HCV patient population is undiagnosed; it is a silent epidemic and major global health threat. Chronic hepatitis, if left untreated, can lead to permanent liver damage that can result in the development of liver cancer, liver failure or death. Few therapeutic options currently exist for the treatment of HCV infection.
Drug therapy for chronic HCV infection is evolving toward combination regimens that, ideally, produce sustained virologic response (SVR) – or high rates of cure – across genotypes, are well-tolerated and taken once-daily, and require a short duration of therapy. This ideal regimen will likely include a combination of NS5A, NS3, and nucleoside polymerase inhibitors.
Achillion Antivirals for HCV
Achillion discovered and developed a comprehensive portfolio of antivirals for the treatment of HCV, including a unique second-generation NS5A inhibitor, odalasvir (also known as ACH-3102); a novel nucleotide NS5B polymerase inhibitor, ACH-3422; and a NS3 protease inhibitor, sovaprevir.
To optimize clinical development and commercialization of these three lead compounds, and potentially provide a best-in-class triple-combination regimen, Achillion entered into a worldwide license and collaboration agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Janssen), one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, in May 2015. This transaction included a $225 million equity investment by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. in Achillion, the potential to realize clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones totaling up to $905 million, and double-digit royalties, from the mid-teens to low-twenties. Under the agreement, clinical development costs for the Achillion assets will be borne by Janssen.
Janssen is aggressively pursuing short-duration triple-combination regimen with odalasvir and its own agents Olysio® (simeprevir), an NS3/4A protease inhibitor, and ALS-335, an NS5B polymerase inhibitor (nuc) for HCV.