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Novartis AG's new partner Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc (South San Francisco CA) is in talks with other drugmakers about a blood thinner that works like German drugmaker Bayer AG's Xarelto, the company's finance chief said.

Closely held Portola, which said it may receive as much as $575 million from Novartis for the anti-clotting treatment elinogrel, has another experimental product known as betrixaban that may help avoid blood clots after hip and knee surgery and prevent strokes, Chief Financial Officer Mardi Dier said. The medicine could compete with experimental drugs made by Bayer and partners Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick NJ), Pfizer Inc. (New York), Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (New York) in a market that may be worth $20 billion by 2012, according to the London-based research company Datamonitor.

Drugmakers like Swiss-based Novartis, the U.K.'s AstraZeneca Plc and France's Sanofi-Aventis SA are hunting for new products to replace older drugs under threat from generic copies. "We're in discussions with multiple parties" about betrixaban, Dier said. "The financial opportunity is very similar" to elinogrel, the drug licensed by Novartis, which she described as "a multibillion-dollar compound." Elinogrel works like Sanofi and Bristol-Myers's bestseller Plavix, which had sales of $7.8 billion last year. Portola's betrixaban blocks an enzyme known as factor Xa used by the body to stop bleeding and form clots. It's in the second of three stages of clinical testing, according to the company.
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Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 16, 2009
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