Achillion Promotes Science Chief Deshpande as New CEO

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACHN), the maker of experimental hepatitis C therapies, said the company’s top scientist Milind Deshpande had been chosen to succeed retiring Chief Executive Officer Michael Kishbauch.

Deshpande, also the president of research and development, will take over after a three-month transition, Achillion said today in a statement. He joined the New Haven, Connecticut-based company in 2001 and has been its top scientist since June 2007. Kishbauch, CEO since July 2004, will remain a member of the company’s board.

Achillion has three drugs in clinical testing for hepatitis C, a liver disease estimated to affect 170 million people worldwide. The company announced April 23 that one of the drugs, ACH-3102, appeared effective in five out of eight patients, reducing the amount of the liver-destroying virus in their bloodstream to undetectable levels after 12 weeks of treatment. It has started a 50-patient trial of the compound with its main hepatitis drug, sovaprevir.

“I am humbled by the board’s decision and excited for the opportunity to bring Achillion into late-stage clinical development,” Deshpande said in the statement.

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