The founder and CEO of Triangle Pharmaceuticals Inc., David Barry, died suddenly Monday night, according to a statement released by the company Tuesday.

Barry founded the company, which focuses on antivirals, in July 1995 along with other former Wellcome plc leaders who invented and developed AZT for HIV and acyclovir for herpes.

“It’s certainly a personal loss,” said Chris Rallis, chief operating officer of the Durham, N.C.-based company. “I’ve known Dave for 20 years now and had worked together with him at Burroughs Wellcome and here at Triangle.”

Barry was at Wellcome for 18 years, where, along with others, he moved AZT from the test tube to FDA approval in two years and four months. He and others formed Triangle after Glaxo plc bought Wellcome.

“While it’s going to be difficult to replace him by any single person, we have the right team here that can move forward,” Rallis said. “We’re still in a state of sadness and in a state of shock and surprise.”

Rallis said Barry’s death would not affect the company’s plans to go forward early this fall with a new drug application for Coviracil in the treatment of HIV. It would be the company’s first product for which an NDA was submitted. Karen Young