Achillion wins patent for anti-hepatitis compound
(3/16/2011) New Haven - drug developer Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. says its new U.S. patent covering a key compound in its treatment for hepatitis C protects it while undergoing clinical trials to bring the drug to market but also widens the door to a takeover.
Achieving patent status for its "cornerstone compound'' also elevates Achillion's attractiveness as a partner to other drug developers as well as a more attractive takeover target for pharmaceutical giants, the CEO says.
"The answer is a pretty hard 'yes,''' said Michael D. Kishbauch, a veteran pharma executive and investor who also is Achillion's chairman. "We're probably a reasonable acquisition to begin with.''
Kishbauch said the company has had previous discussions with potential partners and suitors. He did not elaborate.
Achillion has three small-molecule drugs under development to treat blood-borne ailments, including HIV.
Drug giants, such as Pfizer Inc., which has R&D operations in Connecticut, face the loss of billions in annual sales to generics as patents on their popular drugs begin to expire.
Achillion's U.S. Patent No. 7,906,619 covers composition-of-matter and method of use claims for its ACH-1625 and structurally related compounds. The patent, entitled "4-amino-4-oxobutanoyl peptides as inhibitors of viral replication," expires in 2029.
Kishbauch said patent removes the air of uncertainty among other drug developers who might want to partner with, or license from Achillion, the intellectual property at the root of the compound.
d Achillion is currently in phase 2 clinical trials with its small-molecule protease inhibitor to treat the hepatitis C virus. It is racing against other drug makers to be the first to market with an effective treatment.
"This key patent grant provides a cornerstone for Achillion's intellectual property portfolio [and] ... will make this a transformational year for Achillion," Kishbauch said.
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