SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 15, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Portola Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:PTLA) today announced the appointment of Tao Fu as executive vice president, chief commercial and business officer, effective immediately. Mr. Fu joins Portola from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), where he was vice president and head of mergers and acquisitions and alliance management. At Portola, Mr. Fu will be responsible for the company's commercial operations and business development and will serve on the Executive Committee.
"Tao is a proven leader with a track record of success in the biopharmaceutical industry," said William Lis, chief executive officer of Portola. "His strategic leadership and experience in both commercial strategy and business development in the areas of thrombosis and cardiovascular disease will serve Portola well as we advance toward the next exciting phase of our evolution to become a leading independent biopharmaceutical company with multiple marketed products."
"I am delighted to join Portola at such an exciting time for the Company -- with two innovative pipeline products in thrombosis in late-stage clinical development and approaching commercialization and a unique Syk/JAK inhibitor in early-stage development, all of which are targeting major unmet medical needs," said Mr. Fu. "I look forward to leveraging my experience by contributing to the continued success of Portola."
At BMS, Mr. Fu was responsible for the company's corporate development, alliance management and venture activities. Prior to that, he was vice president, business development at Janssen, the pharmaceuticals group of Johnson & Johnson. During his tenure there, he was responsible for the execution of the U.S. license and collaboration agreement with Bayer for the Factor Xa inhibitor XARELTO® (rivaroxaban). He also has experience in business development, commercial strategy and management consulting with Scios Inc., a biotech company that specialized in cardiovascular disease, as well as with McKinsey & Company and Becton Dickinson. Mr. Fu holds an M.S. in biology from the University of Rochester and an M.B.A in finance and marketing from Vanderbilt University. He is a chartered financial analyst.
About Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Portola Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company developing product candidates that could significantly advance the fields of thrombosis and other hematologic diseases. The Company is advancing its three wholly-owned programs using novel biomarker and genetic approaches that may increase the likelihood of clinical, regulatory and commercial success of its potentially life-saving therapies. Portola's partnered programs are focused on developing selective Syk inhibitors for inflammatory conditions.
Portola's wholly-owned, oral, once-daily Factor Xa inhibitor betrixaban is being evaluated in the only biomarker-based Phase 3 study for hospital-to-home prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in acute medically ill patients. Betrixaban's distinct properties may have the potential to allow the agent to demonstrate efficacy without the significant increase in the rate of major bleeding that was seen in this patient population with other Factor Xa inhibitors. If approved, betrixaban could be the first anticoagulant for both hospital and post-discharge VTE prophylaxis and the standard of care in this large market of more than 20 million patients in the G7 countries alone.
Andexanet alfa, an FDA-designated breakthrough therapy, is a recombinant protein designed to reverse the anticoagulant effect in patients treated with an oral or injectable Factor Xa inhibitor. Andexanet alfa has the potential to be a first-in-class antidote for anticoagulated patients who suffer a major bleeding episode or require emergency surgery. Portola has entered into Phase 3 clinical collaboration agreements with all of the manufacturers of direct Factor Xa inhibitors while retaining all commercial rights to andexanet alfa. The Company is currently evaluating andexanet alfa in the Phase 3 and Phase 4 ANNEXA™ (Andexanet Alfa a Novel Antidote to the Anticoagulant Effects of FXa Inhibitors) registration studies.
Portola's product candidate in the area of hematologic cancer, cerdulatinib, is an orally available molecule that uniquely inhibits two validated tumor proliferation pathways – spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) and janus kinase (JAK). It is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2a proof-of-concept study in patients with B cell leukemias or lymphomas with a focus on genetically-defined subtypes, as well as in patients who have failed therapy due to relapse or acquired mutations.
For more information, visit www.portola.com and follow the Company on Twitter @Portola_Pharma.
Statements contained in this press release regarding matters that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Because such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding: Portola's plans for future clinical studies and pursuit of an Accelerated Approval process for andexanet alfa, anticipated growth in the market for anticoagulants, the potential indications, efficacy, safety and activity of andexanet alfa, and the potential market and indications for its other product candidates. Risks that contribute to the uncertain nature of the forward-looking statements include: the accuracy of Portola's estimates regarding its ability to initiate and/or complete its clinical trials; the success of Portola's clinical trials and the demonstrated efficacy of Portola's product candidates thereunder; the accuracy of Portola's estimates regarding its expenses and capital requirements; Portola's ability to manufacture andexanet alfa; regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries; Portola's ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for its product candidates; and the loss of key scientific or management personnel. These and other risks and uncertainties are described more fully in Portola's most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K, which was filed on March 2, 2015, and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, which was filed on May 7, 2015. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date on which they were made. Portola undertakes no obligation to update such statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date on which they were made.