By Charles Craig

After signing two pharmaceutical partnerships worth a combined $35 million earlier this month, Inhale Therapeutic Systems Inc. said Thursday it generated another $32 million in a private placement to institutional investors.

Inhale, of Palo Alto, Calif., adapts injected or infused macromolecules, particularly large peptides and proteins, for delivery in a dry powder form through the lungs into the bloodstream.

In its private placement, Inhale sold 1.8 million shares at $18 per share for gross proceeds of $32.4 million. Vector Securities International Inc. managed the equity financing.

Inhale's stock (NASDAQ:INHL) closed Thursday unchanged at $18.625.

Robert Chess, Inhale's president and CEO, said the funding will be used to enhance the company's manufacturing capabilities in preparation for commercial launches of products.

The most advanced drug candidate is a dry powder pulmonary form of insulin, which is in Phase IIb clinical trials with Pfizer Inc., of New York.

Inhale has eight collaborations with pharmaceutical companies worth up to $200 million to the company for development of drugs delivered with its pulmonary system.

Chess said many companies are trying to deliver large molecules to the bloodstream in ways other than through injection. However, Inhale's pulmonary system is unique, he added, in that it takes advantage of the natural permeability of the lungs by delivering the therapeutic molecules deep into the region where oxygen is passed into the bloodstream.

Inhale's two most recent partnerships were negotiated this month with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, and Centeon LLC, of King of Prussia, Pa. The former is a potential $20 million collaboration and the latter alliance is worth up to $15 million.

In the Lilly deal, Inhale will make a pulmonary form of an undisclosed osteoporosis treatment. The Centeon collaboration focuses on producing a drug powder form of alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor for treatment of alpha-1 anti-
trypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder that can lead to emphysema in adults.

In March 1996, Inhale signed a potential $80 million agreement with Baxter International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., to develop pulmonary forms of four undisclosed compounds. The collaboration represented the first application of Inhale's technology to drugs other than peptides and proteins.

Although the identity of the Baxter compounds was not disclosed, Inhale officials said the drugs, in their injectable form, already are on the market.

In all the pharmaceutical company collaborations, Inhale receives licensing fees, research funds and milestone payments. It also will manufacture the dry powder form of the drugs and supply the inhalation devices. *