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Achillion Pharmaceuticals falls 25% after hepatitis C deal with J&J unit ends

Key Points
  • A Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical unit focused on the development of hepatitis C research said it will end its program amid a crowded market.
  • Janssen Sciences Ireland cited the increasing availability of a number of highly effective therapies addressing the medical need.
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Shares of biotech company Achillion Pharmaceuticals were more than 20 percent lower Monday in premarket trading after it announced its hepatitis C collaboration with a Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical unit ended.

Johnson & Johnson was down slightly in premarket trading after its Janssen Sciences Ireland said it would discontinue further development of the investigational hepatitis C treatment regimen JNJ-4178 amid a crowded market.

Janssen said there is an increasing availability of a number of highly effective therapies addressing the medical need. Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease which affects about 3.2 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a statement Monday, Achillion President and CEO Milind Deshpande said he was "disappointed" by the Janssen decision, given the positive data presented in a recent study.

Ongoing phase two studies with JNJ-4178 will be completed as planned, Janssen said in a statement, but will cease thereafter.

"Going forward, our hepatitis R&D efforts will focus on chronic hepatitis B, where a high unmet medical need still exists," Lawrence Blatt, global therapeutic area head, infectious disease therapeutics, Janssen, said in a statement.