Washington Editor

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Thursday closed a $10.4 million financing and announced the appointment of Michael Kishbauch as president and CEO.

Kishbauch, who came on board about a month ago, told BioWorld Today the $10.4 million fund raising is part of a larger Series D financing targeted for $25 million to $35 million to be raised by the end of the year. If successful, the firm likely would have enough cash to hold it until early 2006.

However, that forecast does not take into account Achillion's potential ability to partner its drug programs or to go public, Kishbauch said, adding that if the partnerships bear fruit, they would add to the company's runway.

The lead candidate, elvucitabine (also known as ACH-126,443 or Beta-L-Fd4C), is in Phase II studies for HIV. The program, which evaluates escalating doses of 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg, should be completed by late 2004. Achillion then intends to run a Phase IIb program and a Phase III. If all goes well, the product could reach the market by 2008, Kishbauch said.

Beyond HIV, the 4-year-old company has selected a lead candidate (referred to as ACH-806) in its hepatitis C virus program, and expects to submit an investigational new drug application during the first half of 2005. Toward the end of next year, Achillion anticipates submitting an IND for a candidate from its antibacterial program.

Outside of partnerships and financings, Kishbauch said Achillion might go public next year if the markets warrant such a move. Indeed, the new president and CEO has lofty goals for Achillion.

"In the near term, I hope to help this company have three drugs in humans within a 12-to-18-month period, and I would like to see this company become a candidate for the public markets within a 12-month period, market conditions permitting," he said. "More broadly, my goal with Achillion is to develop this company into a leading product-focused, anti-infectives company targeting HIV, viral hepatitis and bacterial infections by the end of this decade."

Before joining Achillion, Kishbauch founded and served as president and CEO of Warminster, Pa.-based OraPharma Inc., a commercial-stage pharmaceutical company focused on oral health care, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J.

And during his tenure at MedImmune Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., the company re-launched its first product, CytoGam, for the organ transplant market. At MedImmune, Kishbauch led sales and marketing efforts, and had functional responsibilities for manufacturing, quality assurance, and regulatory and medical affairs.

Before that, Kishbauch was at Ciba-Geigy Ltd. (the Basel, Switzerland-based company that merged with Sandoz Ltd. to become Novartis AG), where he spent 11 years launching and commercializing products. His key achievements were the development and implementation of revitalization programs to stimulate product growth, most notably, the launches of Voltaren for arthritis and Habitrol, a smoking-cessation product. Kishbauch also has held positions in brand management at Proctor & Gamble, of Cincinnati.

Achillion's top five investors in the present round were Atlas Ventures Ltd., Schroder Ventures Life Sciences and Advent International Corp., all of Boston; and SG Capital Partners and Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., both of New York. Kishbauch expects to bring in new investors to complete the Series D.

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