A Look at Portola Pharmaceuticals’ Breakthrough-Designated Drug, Andexanet Alfa


The Significance of Portola’s Andexanet Alfa

Portola Pharmaceutical’s Andexanet Alfa has been specifically designed to reverse the anticoagulant activity of both direct and indirect Factor Xa inhibitors. Approximately one to three percent of patients given anticoagulant Factor Xa inhibitors experience a major bleed, and another 1% of patients require emergency surgery. Major bleeding is associated with an increased risk of severe complications and death. If approved by the FDA, Andexanet Alfa would become the first universal antidote for Factor Xa inhibitors, thus the FDA has granted the drug Breakthrough Therapy designation.

The Situation

Andexanet Alfa’s breakthrough designation added significant pressures to Portola’s planned clinical studies, accelerating their pace and putting added stresses on the clinical supply chain. This necessitated speedy changes in logistics and clinical supply.  Running multiple trials in several countries, with finite drug supplies, complicated matters even further.

Clinical Supply Management Solutions

Sherpa Clinical Packaging’s built-in flexibility, creative problem-solving, and speed were instrumental in keeping Portola’s multiple clinical studies on track. Sherpa was responsive in the face of ever-changing clinical supply requirements, a common issue with trials for Breakthrough drugs.

As Portola was given rolling recommendations from the FDA on how to proceed, their clinical supply needs changed at a moment’s notice. Sherpa’s responsive project management, in-house label printing capabilities and rapid turnaround times on production and batch records allowed Portola to meet expedited timelines for all Andexanet Alfa studies.

The strength of Sherpa’s global depot network ensured that all of Portola’s international clinical sites had the necessary supplies as they were needed.


Sherpa and Portola created a trusted partnership and collaborated closely to keep Andexanet Alfa studies on track. Creative packaging, responsive and flexible project management and operational systems and a strong global depot network have kept disruptions to a minimum. All trials are running optimally, and Andexanet Alfa is poised for regulatory approval in the U.S. and E.U.


Download our story below for an in-depth look at how Sherpa and Portola managed the limited supply of a breakthrough-therapy designated drug.