Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
) reported positive interim results from a phase II study (n=12) on
its hepatitis C virus (HCV) candidate, ACH-3102. The company's
shares jumped 9.6% following the news.
The mid-stage study is evaluating a ribavirin-free regimen of
ACH-3102 in combination with Gilead's (
) Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) for the treatment of patients suffering from
treatment-naïve genotype 1 chronic HCV infection for eight weeks.
Results from the study did not reveal any trace of the virus in any
of the 12 patients in the ACH-3102 arm four weeks after completion
Based on interim results, Achillion intends to start a six-week
treatment regimen of ACH-3102 and Sovaldi (n=12). The company
expects results from the study by the end of 2014.
We are encouraged by Achillion's progress with its HCV candidates.
Apart from ACH-3102, Achillion's HCV pipeline also include ACH-3422
(phase I ongoing) and sovaprevir (phase II). The company intends to
start a phase II study on ACH-3422 by the end of 2014 based on
results from the phase I study which is expected during the fall of
Earlier this year the FDA removed the clinical hold on sovaprevir
which was placed in Jun 2013 after elevated liver enzymes were
observed in a phase I study. This came as a huge relief to the
company. We expect investor focus to remain on Achillion's HCV
pipeline going forward.
The HCV market is currently led by Gilead's Sovaldi. The
blockbuster drug recorded sales of around $3.5 billion in the
second quarter of 2014. Apart from Gilead, several other companies
like Merck & Co. Inc. (
) are developing candidates targeting the lucrative HCV market.
Achillion carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some other stocks worth
considering in the same sector include Actelion Ltd. (
) and Gilead. Both stocks hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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