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Janssen Discontinues Hepatitis C Drug Development Program


Janssen Sciences announced last week that it will stop further development of its experimental hepatitis regimen containing AL-335, odalasvir, and simeprevir, as the market is saturated with effective therapies. It will instead focus on hepatitis B, which is seldom cured with existing antiviral medications.

With the recently approved pangenotypic hepatitis C coformulations Vosevi and Mavyret joining the armamentarium of effective direct-acting antivirals, most people with all types of hepatitis C virus (HCV) can be cured in 8 or 12 weeks. This includes difficult-to-treat groups such as previously treated patients, those with advanced liver disease, and those with HCV genotype 3. This success has led some to question whether we have reached the end of hepatitis C drug development.

Below is an edited excerpt from a Janssen press release announcing the company's decision.

Janssen to Discontinue Hepatitis C Development Program

Viral Hepatitis Research and Development to Focus on Addressing Significant Unmet Needs in Chronic Hepatitis B 

Cork, Ireland --September 11, 2017 -- Janssen Sciences Ireland UC (Janssen) today announced a strategic decision to discontinue further development of the investigational hepatitis C treatment regimen JNJ-4178, a combination of three direct acting antivirals -- AL-335, odalasvir and simeprevir. The ongoing phase II studies with JNJ-4178 will be completed as planned, but there will be no additional development thereafter. This decision was made in light of the increasing availability of a number of highly effective therapies addressing the medical need in hepatitis C.

"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. "At Janssen, we focus our research and development on areas of greatest unmet medical need where we can combine our excellent internal science with the best available external innovation to bring optimized solutions and maximum benefit to patients."

Janssen pioneered the advancement of the first innovations in hepatitis C for nearly a decade when it co-developed telaprevir [Incivek], 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 Olysio (simeprevir), which is approved in countries around the world.

Today, people living with hepatitis C have a much more diverse range of therapies available following a wave of innovative treatments securing approval. For most, the standard of care for hepatitis C therapy has a duration of 8-12 weeks offering a cure to around 92%-100% of people treated.

About Janssen

At the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, we are working to create a world without disease. Transforming lives by finding new and better ways to prevent, intercept, treat and cure disease inspires us. We bring together the best minds and pursue the most promising science. We are Janssen. We collaborate with the world for the health of everyone in it. Learn more at and follow us at @JanssenGlobal.



Janssen. Janssen to Discontinue Hepatitis C Development Program. Press release. September 11, 2017.