Portola raises $89M for late-stage betrixaban study

Just eight months after Merck ($MRK) dumped its collaboration with Portola Pharmaceuticals on the anti-clotting drug betrixaban, the South San Francisco biotech has rounded up $89 million in new financing to push the program through a late-stage program by itself. Existing investors joined hands with Temasek, an Asia investment company, and Eastern Capital Limited to put up the cash.

"With the capital raised, Portola can independently complete a pivotal Phase III betrixaban trial with the potential for it to be the first oral Factor Xa inhibitor to the market for both hospital and post-discharge prevention of pulmonary embolism in acute medically ill patients," said a confident William Lis, chief executive officer of Portola, a 2009 Fierce 15 company. "An estimated 426,000 hospitalizations and 180,000 deaths from pulmonary embolism occur annually in G7 nations, with the majority occurring in medical patients."

This has been a big year for Portola. Just a few weeks ago, Biogen Idec ($BIIB) agreed to partner up on a $553 million autoimmune drug pact, with $45 million in upfront and equity money. That helped take the sting out of Merck's decision to drop their $470 million deal on betrixaban, which included a $50 million upfront payment.

- here's the press release

Special Report: Portola Pharmaceuticals - 2009 Fierce 15