Achillion Pharma shares soar after drugmaker updates on potential hepatitis C treatment

MarketsAssociated Press

Shares of Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. jumped Monday morning after the drug developer said a small group of patients who took its experimental hepatitis C treatment combination remained free of the liver-destroying virus three months after they stopped taking doses.

The New Haven, Connecticut, company said all 12 patients in its mid-stage clinical study were treated for six weeks with a combination of Achillion's potential treatment, labeled ACH-3102, and the Gilead Sciences drug Sovaldi. That represents about half the treatment duration that patients go through with other hepatitis C drugs.

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The patients had not received treatment yet for type 1 hepatitis C, a form of the disease that is considered the most common and the hardest to treat.

Achillion's potential treatment combination focuses on a hot area for hepatitis C care: regimens that do not include interferon or ribavirin, both of which have long been part of standard therapies for hepatitis C but come with harsh side effects.

Shares of Achillion climbed more than 11 percent, or $1.20, to $12.02 in Monday morning trading while broader indexes dropped slightly.

The shares more than tripled in value last year. That advance included a jump in December after Achillion had announced that patients taking its treatment combination remained cured six weeks after they stopped treatment.