Achillion Says Hepatitis C Drug Subdues Virus in 63% of Patients

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. said an experimental drug against hepatitis C suppressed the virus in 63 percent patients in a study.

Four weeks after completing a 12-week course of treatment with the medicine, ACH-3102, the liver-damaging virus was undetectable in the blood of five out of eight patients, New Haven, Connecticut-based Achillion said in a statement today. Two didn’t respond to the drug while on treatment, and in another the virus returned three weeks after therapy ended.

Achillion said last week it’s started a trial of ACH-3102 in combination with its lead drug, sovaprevir, in as many as 50 patients, and expects to report interim results in the third quarter. Other drugmakers, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., are also trying to develop treatments that are faster and safer than the current standard, and which don’t involve injections.

Achillion “will continue to explore and execute opportunities to combine our agents with other compounds that could further shorten the treatment duration or provide additional flexibility for treatment regimens to broadly cure HCV,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Kishbauch said in the statement.

Hepatitis C affects about 150 million people worldwide and kills more than 350,000 each year, according to the World Health Organization. It can cause liver damage and liver cancer, and spreads through contaminated blood, often among drug users who share needles.

The results of the trial were released today before the annual meeting in Amsterdam of the European Association for the Study of the Liver.

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