Janssen to Discontinue Hepatitis C Development Program

Johnson & Johnson unit will focus on hepatitis B instead

Janssen Sciences Ireland UC will discontinue further development of the investigational hepatitis C virus treatment regimen JNJ-4178, a combination of three direct acting antivirals—AL-335, odalasvir, and simeprevir.

Ongoing phase 2 studies with JNJ-4178 will be completed as planned, but there will be no additional development thereafter. This “strategic decision” was made “in light of the increasing availability of a number of highly effective therapies addressing the medical need in hepatitis C,” the company said.

"Going forward, our hepatitis R&D efforts will focus on chronic hepatitis B, where a high unmet medical need still exists. Our scientists are energized by this challenge and our research ambition is to achieve a functional cure of hepatitis B, which affects over a quarter of a billion people globally," said Lawrence M. Blatt, PhD, Global Therapeutic Area Head, Infectious Disease Therapeutics, Janssen.

Janssen pioneered the advancement of the first innovations in hepatitis C for nearly a decade when it codeveloped telaprevir, a first-in-class protease inhibitor used in combination therapy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus. In collaboration with Medivir AB, Janssen subsequently developed and launched the second generation protease inhibitor simeprevir (Olysio).

Sources: Janssen; September 11, 2017; Medivir; September 11, 2017.