Yesterday, one of the more interesting development-stage drugmakers, Alexza Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXA), announced its second-quarter financial results and an update on its drug pipeline. We've profiled Alexza previously, and also interviewed its president and CEO.

Alexza ended the second quarter with $134 million in cash and investments, counting the cash held in an account with Symphony Allegro. The company used $11 million cash in the quarter so its current financial position is secure. Current estimates are for its cash and investments on hand to last until the middle of 2009.

Alexza has estimated that its technology could work with nearly 200 already marketed drugs. While only a portion of these compounds will likely be commercially viable, this gives it a large stable of compounds to choose from when developing aerosolized versions of different drugs.

Yesterday, Alexza also announced that it had initiated meetings with the FDA to start clinical trials for a new pipeline drug candidate. The compound is an inhalable version of King Pharmaceuticals' (NYSE:KG) insomnia drug Sonata. Alexza expects to file an Investigational New Drug Application for this compound in the fourth quarter.

There's always a balance to strike between strengthening a drug development pipeline and conserving dwindling cash balances. To deal with its cash burn rate and investor concerns about the market potential for its drug candidates, Alexza needs to ink a healthy development deal for its lead drugs with a strong marketing partner like Cephalon (NASDAQ:CEPH) or Endo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ENDP). On this front it has guided for a potential deal by the end of 2007. The strength of this deal will be a big signal to investors of the viability of Alexza's future compounds.

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Fool contributor Brian Lawler does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.