David Apelian jumps ship from Achillion

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Apelian is leaving to “pursue another professional opportunity.”

David Apelian, M.D., Ph.D., has handed in his notice as EVP and chief medical officer at Achillion.

In a brief SEC filing, the biotech said he had “delivered his resignation […] effective December 28, 2017.”

The brief update said he was leaving to “pursue another professional opportunity,” though that was all she wrote on details. A retained search for a new CMO has begun, with help from Russell Reynolds Associates.

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This comes three months after Janssen, the biotech unit of Johnson & Johnson, said it was ditching work with Achillion on a cocktail hep C program, citing a crowded market of innovative meds in this area, namely those from Gilead.

Achillion, with a market cap of around $400 million, was hit hard by the decision as the biotech was working with Janssen on its NS5A inhibitor, odalasvir, for this program in a potential $1 billion biobucks deal before the plug was pulled.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson pulls plug on Medivir-Achillion hep C cocktail to focus on hep B

Some had seen Gilead or J&J as potential buyers of the company, but this has not come to fruition, and its shares have taken a hit since J&J’s decision to terminate its hep C deal.

Achillion is also now working on a midstage med, ACH-4471, in patients with untreated paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).