By Matthew Willett

Triangle Pharmaceuticals Inc. completed a $46.2 million private placement and added $12 million to the financing round's total through the sale of 200,000 Series B preferred shares to an undisclosed group of investors.

The $46.2 million placement, announced in January, consisted of 7.7 million shares. Of those shares, 1.3 million were sold to Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill. After the preferred shares are registered, which is likely to happen in May, Abbott's stake in Triangle will fall from 17.2 percent to 16.4 percent. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 1, 2001.)

Banc of America Securities LLC, of San Francisco, served as placement agent for the transaction.

Triangle, of Durham, N.C., now has about $120 million in cash and marketable securities and about 38.3 million shares outstanding, Chief Financial Officer Robert Amundsen Jr. said. Its burn rate is conservatively estimated at $9 million to $10 million per month.

"Both of the financings will be used for general corporate purposes," Amundsen told BioWorld Today. "For us, that's third-party development costs, indirect development costs and sales and general administration expenses. The funds will go to the continuing development of our four main drug candidates."

Of those candidates, lead candidate Coviracil, a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor formerly known as FTC, will likely take a large slice of the funding pie.

Triangle licensed worldwide rights to it for the treatment of HIV and hepatitis B from Emory University. It's currently in Phase III testing for hepatitis B and in a separate Phase III trial for HIV.

"We've completed two Phase III trials, and a third has begun enrollment, and we're not sure whether we need to complete the third one or not to be able to file a package for an NDA, but just in case we're doing the third one," Amundsen said.

In April, the South Africa Medicine Council sent Triangle a letter saying that a Phase III trial of Coviracil, called FTC-302, in South Africa should be terminated due to concerns of liver toxicity. Triangle's stock tumbled nearly 34 percent on the news. (See BioWorld Today, April 7, 2000.)

Amundsen said a timeline for a Coviracil NDA filing is up in the air until the FDA rules on whether the trial is necessary as a part of the filing package.

Triangle's pipeline also includes DAPD, for the treatment of resistant strains of HIV, in Phase I/II trials, and Coactinon, for HIV, in Phase III testing.

Triangle's shares (NASDAQ:VIRS) closed down 56.25 cents Monday, finishing the day at $5.625. n