November 22, 2011


Portola Pharma Raises $89M, Plans Phase III Clinical Trials In 2012

Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc. has surpassed $300 million in venture funding with the closing of an $89 million Series D round that will fund the company through global, Phase III clinical trials of a new anti-clotting drug.

New investors Eastern Capital Ltd. and Temasek Holdings led the round, according to Chief Financial Officer Mardi Dier. They were joined by nearly all of Portola's previous investors, including Advanced Technology Ventures, Alta Partners, Clarus Ventures, Frazier Healthcare Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures.

The round supports Portola through the end of 2014, which is when it expects to have data from a Phase III study of the Factor Xa inhibitor betrixaban, according to Dier. The product could be used to prevent venous thromboembolism in acute medically ill patients, according to Portola.

The round, which brings Portola's venture funding to $307 million, also will help Portola progress an antidote to this drug through clinical studies, according to Chief Executive William Lis. In addition to its venture backing, Portola raised $9 million in equity through a partnership with Biogen Idec formed last month. Its valuation is undisclosed, but Dier said it is a little higher than the total equity that has come into the company.

Portola still plans to look for its opportunities to go public, but this round takes the financial burden off the company as it prepares to launch its Phase III program, according to Dier.

In the first half of 2012 Portola plans to launch Phase III studies of some 6,000 patients for betrixaban, an oral drug that could be used in the hospital and after discharge in acute medically ill patients, or people who aren't having surgery but are at risk for blood clots. Portola had partnered betrixaban to Merck & Co. in 2009, but in March, Merck returned rights following a review of its investigational drugs.

The antidote to betrixaban, PRT064445, is expected to go through an expedited clinical-development pathway, according to Lis. After Phase I studies, the drug is expected to proceed directly into Phase III, he said.

In addition, Portola also intends to test the antidote in the Phase III study of betrixaban, according to Lis. The antidote has potential manage or reverse bleeding complications in patients treated with Factor Xa-inhibiting drugs, according to Portola.

In late October Portola closed a $554 million collaboration and license agreement with Biogen that calls for the companies to develop oral, Syk inhibitors for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. That deal provided Portola with $36 million in cash to go with the $9 million in equity it raised from Biogen.