Shares of Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACHN) were down 15.5% to $4.15 in early trading on Monday, Sept. 11, after Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. terminated its license and collaboration pact with the New Haven, Conn.-based firm on a hepatitis C project.
Janssen Sciences Ireland UC announced Monday it has decided not to continue development of investigational hepatitis C treatment regimen JNJ-4178, pointing to the "increasing availability of a number of highly effective therapies addressing the medical need in hepatitis C." Shares of Johnson & Johnson were trading at $131.97, up 0.8%.
The ongoing Phase 2 studies of JNJ-4178 will be completed, but there won't be additional development beyond that.
Janssen will focus its hepatitis R&D efforts on chronic hepatitis B, "where a high unmet medical need still exists," said Lawrence M. Blatt, global therapeutic area head, infectious disease therapeutics at Janssen, in a statement.
In a separate statement, Achillion president and CEO Milind Deshpande expressed disappointment with Janssen's decision to discontinue hepatitis C development "given the positive data presented in phase 2a with JNJ-41781, demonstrating a 100% cure rate after only six weeks of therapy."
"While we believe that patients worldwide would benefit from convenient, short-duration therapies like JNJ-4178, we remain fully focused on advancing our factor D portfolio of complement alternative pathway inhibitors in areas where patient needs are greatest, and using our strong balance sheet of almost $370 million in cash and cash equivalents at June 30, 2017 to do so," Deshpande added.
Meanwhile, shares of Idera Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDRA) rose 16.5% to $2.27 after the company presented positive data from a Phase 1/2 study of IMO-2125, Idera's toll-like receptor (TLR) 9 agonist, in tandem with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s (BMY) ipilimumab (Yervoy) addressing patients with treatment-resistant melanoma. The presentation took place at the 2017 European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Madrid.
Other biotech movers include ContraVir Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CTRV) . Shares of the Edison, N.J.-based firm were up 4.3% to $0.53 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greenlighted ContraVir's investigational new drug application for its lead HBV compound, tenofovir exalidex, for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B.
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