Achillion Is Focused on Advancing Drugs Rather Than Sale

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc., a maker of hepatitis C therapies, is focused on advancing the drugs it has in development rather than selling parts of the company, new Chief Executive Officer Milind Deshpande said.

In the two years since Achillion was in talks with potential buyers, its hepatitis C treatments “have progressed nicely” and put the company in a different position, Deshpande said in an interview. Deshpande, who was promoted to president and CEO in May, said the company isn’t interested in licensing or selling off just one or two of its experimental drugs.

If Achillion was to do a deal, it would be for the New Haven, Connecticut-based drugmaker’s entire portfolio, Deshpande said. His predecessor, Michael Kishbauch, said in 2011 that the company was looking to do licensing deals, asset sales or sell the entire company and was in advanced talks with potential partners and buyers.

“It is best for us to focus on clinical development on the assets we have,” Deshpande said. “Some things haven’t changed, hepatitis C remains a very significant opportunity in terms of overall market size as well as the good we can do for patients and if we continue to do development the way we have planned out good things will happen for the company.”

Achillion fell 1.5 percent to $7.18 at 4 p.m. in New York. The stock has dropped 5.4 percent since Deshpande was named CEO on May 28.

The company is competing with drugmakers including AbbVie Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc. to develop new treatments for the liver disease, a market that analysts’ estimate may be $20 billion. Hepatitis C affects 170 million people worldwide.

Achillion suffered a setback in July when a study of one of three drugs it has in clinical testing for hepatitis C was delayed because of abnormal liver results. The company expects to hear back from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of September on whether it can resume the study of the drug called sovaprevir, Deshpande said.

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