J&J unit ends hepatitis C drug development in crowded market

Sept 11 (Reuters) - Janssen Sciences Ireland UC, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, said it would discontinue further development of its hepatitis C research, citing increased availability of a number of effective hepatitis C therapies.

Janssen said it would not continue the development of the investigational hepatitis C treatment regimen JNJ-4178, a combination of three direct acting antivirals.

The ongoing phase II studies with JNJ-4178 will be completed as planned, with no additional development thereafter, Janssen said in a statement on Monday.

Janssen's hepatitis research and development efforts will continue to focus on chronic hepatitis B, the unit said.

Janssen co-developed telaprevir, a first-in-class protease inhibitor used in combination therapy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus, a few years ago. In collaboration with Medivir AB, Janssen later launched the second-generation protease inhibitor OLYSIO, which is approved in several countries. (Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)