UPDATE 2-Achillion hepatitis drug shows promise in mid-stage trial

* Says 75-81 pct patients showed anitviral activity

* Plans to start a trial testing ACH-1625, ACH-2928 in 2012

* Shares up 4 pct in pre-market trade

(Adds background, updates share movement)

March 30 (Reuters) – Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc
said its experimental lead drug to treat chronic hepatitis C
infection showed strong antiviral activity in a mid-stage trial,
sending its shares up 4 percent in pre-market trade.

The company said 75-81 percent patients who took ACH-1625 in
combination with current standard of care (SoC)– Roche Holding
AG’s Pegasys and generic antiviral pill ribavirin —
showed potent antiviral activity in the fourth week.

The drug showed a promising safety and tolerability profile,
Achillion said.

Worldwide, more than 170 million people are suffering from
HCV and the American Association of Liver Disease estimates that
up to 80 percent of individuals become chronically infected
following exposure to the virus.

The mid-stage trial involving 64 patients tested three doses
of ACH-1625 given once daily or a dummy drug in combination with
current SoC treatment for four weeks.

“We look forward to selecting two of these doses and
beginning the second segment of the trial, dosing ACH-1625 with
SoC over 12 weeks,” Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Olek said.

The company expects to report complete early virology
response data from this trial by the end of this year.

Also, it expects to start a trial evaluating ACH-1625 in
combination with its other HCV drug ACH-2928 in 2012.

Shares of the company were up 30 cents at $7.35 in
pre-market trade. They closed at $7.05 on Tuesday on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Anand Basu in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian;
Editing by Maju Samuel)

UPDATE 2-Achillion hepatitis drug shows promise in mid-stage trial