Issue Date: July 20, 2009
Merck And Portola In Heart Drug Alliance
Merck & Co. and Portola Pharmaceuticals are working together to develop betrixaban, an oral anticoagulant now in Phase II clinical trials for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm. Merck will pay Portola $50 million up front for an exclusive license to the Factor Xa inhibitor. Portola could receive as much as $420 million more if certain milestones are reached. Merck will take on all development costs, and Portola has kept an option to cofund Phase III trials in return for additional royalties. Earlier this year, Portola signed a similar $575 million deal with Novartis for another anticlotting candidate.
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