Portola bags $470M Merck deal for anticlotting drug

Another one of this year's Fierce 15 is in the news this morning with a $470 million collaboration deal. Portola Pharmaceuticals will pocket a $50 million upfront fee and stands to gain an additional $420 million in milestones from Merck, which gains worldwide licensing rights to Portola's betrixaban, an investigational oral Factor Xa inhibitor anticoagulant.

"Betrixaban represents an important addition to our late-stage portfolio with the potential to be a significant medicine in the Factor Xa inhibitor class," said Luciano Rossetti M.D., senior vice president and franchise head, Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular, Merck Research Laboratories.  "This agreement reinforces Merck's focus on developing an innovative portfolio of products for the treatment and management of multiple aspects of cardiovascular disease."

Now in Phase II, Merck is taking responsibility for all development costs for the drug, including late-stage trials. Portola has the option to co-fund Phase III in exchange for additional royalties and a co-promotion role in the U.S. Betrixaban is intended to be a big improvement on warfarin, an old therapy with well-defined safety issues.

The deal announced today looks a lot like the $575 million pact that Portola signed with Novartis earlier this year. As Portola CEO Charles Homcy recently explained to FierceBiotech, betrixaban was ripe for a partnership deal as it neared Phase III. Today marks the start of harvest season.

- check out Merck's release
- read the story from Reuters