By Lisa Seachrist

Washington Editor

Looking for funds to move two products through Phase III clinical trials, Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp. raised $23.3 million in a public offering of 9.5 million shares of common stock.

The San Diego-based company did a little bit better than expected when it proposed raising $20 million by selling 10 million shares. The shares sold for $2.45 each. Cruttenden Roth served as the placement agent for the offering.

"I think that we were pleased that it was done at $2.45," said Gwen Rosenberg, vice president of corporate communications for Alliance. "We were also pleased to bring in the amount of money that we were looking for - a little bit more, in fact."

Rosenberg said the financing included investors already established with the company as well as new funds in both the U.S. and Europe. With the offering the company has 43.4 million shares outstanding.

The funds raised will see the company through an extremely expensive period. Currently, it is funding pivotal clinical trials for both Oxygent and LiquiVent.

Oxygent is an intravascular oxygen carrier, or "blood substitute." Like blood, it carries oxygen to tissues through the bloodstream. Unlike blood, Oxygent contains no clotting factors or cells with immunologic function.

In May 1997, Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J., returned development rights for Oxygent to Alliance, but didn't sever the relationship, retaining the right of first offer for worldwide marketing.

LiquiVent is a liquid ventilation agent that carries 20 times more oxygen than water. It is in a Phase III trial testing it in adults on mechanical ventilation with acute lung injury from such bodily insults as near-drowning, pneumonia and burns.

Imagent, an ultrasound contrast agent, has completed a Phase III clinical trial and is being readied for a new drug application filing in the third quarter of this year.

"We remain on track to file in the third quarter," Rosenberg said.

Imagent is being developed with Schering AG, of Berlin. Alliance is in discussions with other potential partners for LiquiVent and Oxygent.

"We think that we are in a better position for partnering discussions now that the products are in Phase III studies," Rosenberg said.

The company also is developing its PulmoSpheres technology in the preclinical stage. That technology involves dry spheres that can encapsulate drugs such as antibiotics, peptides and proteins, as well as other drugs, so that they can be used with a wide variety of inhalation devices.

Alliance's stock (NASDAQ:ALLP) closed at $2.625 Friday up 12.5 cents per share.