By Mary Welch

Inhale Therapeutic Systems Inc. raised $37.2 million in a private placement aimed at scaling up operations for the planned commercialization of its pulmonary drug-delivery system.

"We have started Phase III trials on inhaled insulin and we need to prepare for its commercialization," said Joyce Strand, spokeswoman for San Carlos, Calif.-based Inhale. "We're building a 225,000-square-foot facility here, part of which will house the manufacturing operations. This placement allows us to scale up the manufacturing part of the building."

In the financing, Capital Research and Management Co., of Los Angeles, purchased 1.2 million newly issued shares of Inhale's common stock at $31 per share. Capital Research will divide the shares between two of the funds it manages: Smallcap World Fund Inc., and American Variable Insurance Series Growth Fund. The transaction was arranged by Volpe Brown Whelan & Co., of San Francisco.

Inhale is developing pulmonary delivery systems to enable a range of drugs, including peptides and proteins, to be delivered via the pulmonary route for systemic and local lung indications.

The company has six drugs in clinical trials, and partners include Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis; and Baxter Healthcare Corp., a subsidiary of Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter International Inc.

The trials, which will include patients with Type I and Type II diabetes, will take place at 117 sites in the U.S. and Canada. Pfizer Inc., of New York, and Hoechst Marion Roussel, of Frankfurt, Germany, will manufacture the insulin and co-develop and co-promote the inhaled formulation. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 12, 1998 p. 1.)

Inhale's product, about the size of a flashlight, disperses a dose of dry-powder insulin into a small standing cloud within a clear chamber. It delivers the dose through the mouth and directly into the lungs, where it enters the blood system as rapid-acting insulin.

Inhale's stock (NASDAQ: INHL) closed Thursday at $31, down $1.801. *