SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM TO
Commission File Number
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to § 240.10D-1(b). ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $
The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of March 9, 2023 was
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Table of Contents
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to our management. All statements other than statements of historical facts are “forward-looking statements” for purposes of these provisions, including those relating to future events or our future financial performance. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “might,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “strive,” “project,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “intend” or “continue,” the negative of terms like these or other comparable terminology, and other words or terms of similar meaning. You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee that the future results, levels of activity, performance or events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur. All forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are based on information available to us on the date hereof, and we assume no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements can be affected by inaccurate assumptions we might make or by known or unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. We discuss many of these risks, uncertainties and other factors in this Annual Report on Form 10-K in greater detail under the heading “Item 1A—Risk Factors.” It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events and circumstances discussed in this Annual Report on 10-K may not occur and actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements.
Item 1. Business.
We are a clinical-stage fully integrated oncology company built on a foundation of drug discovery excellence to deliver novel precision cancer medicines to underserved patients. By leveraging our core competencies in cancer biology and medicinal chemistry, combined with our clinical development capabilities, we have built an efficient, fully-integrated drug discovery engine and the development expertise necessary to identify compelling biological targets and create new chemical entities, or NCEs, that we rapidly advance into clinical trials. We believe our approach could result in better targeted cancer therapies. Our discovery excellence has been validated by our rapid progress in creating a wholly-owned, internally developed pipeline. Since our inception in 2016, we have received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, for multiple investigational new drug applications, or INDs, and successfully advanced several programs into clinical trials. In addition, we have other unique programs in various stages of preclinical development.
By focusing on developing molecules using broad mechanisms that have multiple links to oncogenic driver pathways in select patients, we have developed a diverse pipeline consisting of multiple distinct programs spanning methyltransferases, kinases, protein-protein interactions, and targeted protein degraders. Our pipeline is designed to serve patients with high unmet medical need, where there are limited or no treatment options. We believe we can best address these diseases by developing therapies that target primary and secondary resistance mechanisms.
The following table summarizes our product candidate pipeline:
We have several drug candidates in clinical development, and we believe we can generate proof-of-concept clinical data in the next 12 to 24 months to guide our future regulatory pathways to approval. Our cyclin-dependent kinase 9, or CDK9, and MCL1 inhibitors are selective and potent, with potentially superior safety profiles. Our next generation CDK4/6 inhibitor is specifically designed to be a brain and tissue penetrant and our SMARCA2 molecule is a unique, first-in-class protein degrader, targeting specific patient populations.
Our CDK9 candidate, PRT2527, is designed to be a potent and selective CDK9 inhibitor. In preclinical studies, PRT2527 was shown to reduce MCL1 and MYC protein levels and was highly active in preclinical models at well-tolerated doses. Our preclinical studies suggest that PRT2527 demonstrates high kinase selectivity and potency, providing opportunity for a wider therapeutic index compared to less selective CDK9 inhibitors, allowing for rapid development in combinations.
Preclinical data demonstrated that treatment with PRT2527 depleted oncogenic drivers with short half-lives, such as MYC and MCL1, and effectively induced apoptosis. PRT2527 treatment demonstrated robust efficacy in both hematological malignancies and solid tumor models with MYC dysregulation. Dose dependent increases in exposure and target engagement were observed as evidenced by MYC and MCL1 depletion to levels associated with tumor regression in preclinical models. A Phase 1 trial is underway evaluating escalating intravenous, or IV, doses of PRT2527 as a monotherapy in patients with selected solid tumors. No adverse events leading to dose reduction or discontinuation have been reported, and we expect to select a Recommended Phase 2 Dose, or RP2D, in solid tumors. We plan to use this safety data to continue the cohort expansion study in solid tumors, as well as to inform and rapidly progress PRT2527 in a hematology malignancies clinical trial. We expect to present solid tumor dose escalation data at a medical conference in the first half of 2023, demonstrate a RP2D in hematological malignancies in the second half of 2023, and present initial clinical results for hematological malignancies at a medical conference in the second half of 2023.
Our MCL1 candidate, PRT1419, is designed to be a potent and selective inhibitor of the anti-apoptotic protein, MCL1. The potency and selectivity of PRT1419 is supported by preclinical data demonstrating nanomolar inhibition of MCL1 and no inhibition of related enzymes at 200 times higher concentration of our product candidate. The IV formulation of PRT1419 has demonstrated a desirable pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and safety profile with potential for differentiation from competitor compounds. We are enrolling patients in a Phase 1 solid tumor dose escalation and confirmation study, including a significant number of patients at the recommended expansion dose of 80 mg/m2. In this study, PRT1419 has been generally well tolerated, with no cardiotoxicity observed in these patients to date. Cardiovascular parameters including troponin levels and ejection fraction changes were evaluated, in addition to standard safety, pharmacokinetics and target engagement metrics. The clinical pharmacodynamic profile of PRT1419 demonstrates the desired level of target engagement, as measured by caspase activation in peripheral mononuclear cells and reduction of CD14+ monocytes to levels associated with tumor regressions in preclinical models of hematological cancers. We intend to evaluate PRT1419 in hematology malignancies in monotherapy, as well as in combinations, with the goal of establishing safety, clinical activity and a RP2D in hematology malignancies in 2023. Advancement in hematological cancers will include monotherapy expansions in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or NHL, based on a strong rationale for MCL1 inhibition and the need for
novel treatments in second line. We expect to present solid tumor data at a medical conference in the first half of 2023, demonstrate a RP2D in hematological malignancies in the second half of 2023, and present hematological malignancy data in the second half of 2023.
In July 2022, we received IND clearance for PRT3645, a brain and tissue penetrant molecule that potently targets CDK4/6 with a biased selectivity for CDK4. A Phase 1 clinical trial has been initiated for PRT3645 in biomarker enriched patients with select tumor types including sarcomas, mesothelioma, gliomas, head and neck cancers and non-small cell lung cancer, in addition to breast cancer with or without brain metastases, and our first patient was dosed in December 2022.
In October 2022, we received IND clearance for PRT3879, a potent and selective SMARCA2 protein degrader. SMARCA2 degradation has the greatest potential in patients with SMARCA4 deficient cancers, including approximately 5-10% of non-small cell lung cancers.
In November 2022, we announced that we will discontinue the internal development of our two clinical candidates that are designed to be oral, potent and selective inhibitors of protein arginine methyltransferase 5, or PRMT5. Discontinuation of the PRMT5 programs will allow us to focus our efforts on our CDK9, MCL1, CDK4/6 and SMARCA2 programs.
Prelude Discovery and Development Approach
We carefully evaluate and select our targets based on three key pillars, which provide a framework for optimizing our drug discovery and development efforts.
Once we have identified optimal targets using the three pillars above, we engage our unique discovery engine to rapidly and efficiently invent and develop molecules. We believe our expertise, capabilities and experience to select high value biological targets and invent molecules with an optimized balance of biological and chemical properties differentiates us from others in the precision oncology space. We believe our unique discovery engine will enable us to continue delivering a new IND every 12 to 18 months.
We design our clinical trials to leverage the broad utility of our compounds with a focus on efficient regulatory pathways to enable our potentially transformative medicines to quickly reach patients with high unmet medical need. By focusing on validated cancer signaling pathways and early clinical proof-of-concept, we seek to advance our programs through expedited approval processes, as available. We believe we can generate proof-of-concept clinical data in the next 12 to 24 months to guide our future regulatory pathways to approval.
We aim to create better targeted and more effective cancer therapies. Our goal is to transform the lives of patients with cancer by leveraging the core competencies of our experienced team in medicinal chemistry, cancer biology and clinical development to bring novel drugs to market. We intend to become a fully integrated oncology company on the foundation of drug discovery excellence to deliver novel precision oncology medicines to patients with underserved cancers by pursuing the following objectives:
Cancer Background and Treatment
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. Cancer is a disease of the genome caused by changes in DNA that alter cell behavior, growth, and division. These changes can cause cells to produce abnormal amounts of certain proteins and/or to make aberrant proteins that do not function properly. It is widely understood that cancer cells can eventually evade therapies through mutations or other resistance mechanisms, limiting the long-term success of drug therapies.
Historically, cancer has been treated with surgery, radiation and drug therapy with patients often receiving a combination of these treatment modalities. While surgery and radiation can be effective in patients with localized disease, drug therapies are often required when the cancer has spread beyond the primary site or is not amenable to resection.
Drug therapy is intended to kill or damage malignant cells by interfering with the biological processes that control development, growth, and survival of cancer cells. This treatment modality has evolved over time from the use of non-specific cytotoxic therapies to precision oncology medicines targeting molecular pathways or oncogenic drivers. These precision medicines are broadly known as targeted therapies.
Our Product Candidates
CDK9 has emerged as an essential regulator of cancer-promoting transcriptional programs, including those driven by MCL1, MYC and MYB. Inhibition of CDK9 is therefore an attractive therapeutic approach to target specifically genomically selected cancers. We have applied our internal expertise to design PRT2527 as a potent inhibitor of CDK9 that exhibits high kinome selectivity, PK properties and solubility that we believe may broaden the therapeutic window of CDK9 inhibition. A Phase 1 trial is underway evaluating escalating IV doses of PRT2527 as a monotherapy in patients with selected solid tumors, including sarcoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and other cancers with genomic alterations that lead to MYC dependence.
Cyclin dependent kinases, or CDKs, are a family of closely related serine/threonine kinases that have demonstrated activity in multiple cancers. The first inhibitors of two of the family members, CDK4 and CDK6, gained FDA approval for HR+ metastatic breast cancer in 2015 and are now broadly used. In contrast to CDK4 and CDK6, which regulate cell cycle progression and proliferation, it is now understood that other members of the CDK family play important roles in regulating
transcription. CDK9 specifically phosphorylates RNA polymerase II to generate mature mRNA. Given its fundamental role in transcription, CDK9 has emerged as a central node in the transcriptional addiction of cancer.
CDK9 regulates expression of several oncogenes that drive cancer cell growth and resistance
Importantly, inhibition of CDK9 in cancer has been shown to preferentially deplete short-lived transcripts including key anti-apoptotic genes such as MCL1 and oncogenic transcription factors such as MYC and MYB. Preclinical evidence demonstrates that CDK9 inhibition represses MCL1 and thereby overcomes resistance to the BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax. Additionally, preclinical studies suggest that CDK9 inhibition perturbs MYC-mediated signaling and produces synthetic lethality in nuclear protein of the testis midline carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and additional solid tumors. Our patient selection strategy in clinical trials will strive to exploit these relationships by identifying cancers with molecular evidence of MCL1 and/or MYC dysregulation.
Our CDK9 Inhibitor: PRT2527
Although various non-selective CDK9 inhibitors have progressed through clinical development, they have been significantly limited by narrow therapeutic windows due to adverse effects, including bone marrow suppression, nausea and GI effects. We have utilized structure-based design to identify a novel, structurally differentiated series of CDK9 inhibitors. Iterative synthesis and testing of over 600 compounds allowed for the identification of PRT2527, which has improved potency and kinase selectivity compared to AZ4573, the most advanced CDK9-selective inhibitor currently in development. The PK and physical properties of PRT2527 are suitable for IV or subcutaneous dosing.
In preclinical models, PRT2527 reduced MCL1 and MYC protein levels and was highly active in the MYC-amplified MV4-11 xenograft model at well-tolerated doses. Upon evaluation of additional models, PRT2527 treatment demonstrated robust efficacy in both hematological malignancies and solid tumor models with MYC dysregulation. Our preclinical studies suggest that PRT2527 demonstrates high kinase selectivity and potency, providing opportunity for a wider therapeutic index compared to less selective CDK9 inhibitors, allowing for rapid development in combinations.
A Phase 1 trial is underway evaluating escalating IV doses of PRT2527 as a monotherapy in patients with selected solid tumors, including sarcoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and other cancers with genomic alterations that lead to MYC dependence. Dose dependent increases in exposure and target engagement were observed as evidenced by MYC and MCL1 depletion to levels associated with tumor regression in preclinical models. No adverse events leading to dose reduction or discontinuation have been reported and we expect to select a RP2D in solid tumors. We intend to use this safety data to continue the cohort expansion study in solid tumors, as well as to inform and rapidly progress PRT2527 in a hematology malignancies clinical trial. We expect to present solid tumor dose escalation data at a medical conference in the first half of 2023, demonstrate a RP2D in hematological malignancies in the second half of 2023, and present initial clinical results for hematological malignancies at a medical conference in the second half of 2023. In February 2023, we signed an agreement with BeiGene for them to supply zanubrutinib, a BTK inhibitor, for further study in combination with PRT2527.
MCL1 Inhibitor: PRT1419
PRT1419 is designed to be a potent and selective inhibitor of the anti-apoptotic protein, MCL1. PRT1419 has been optimized to provide maximal coverage of the target while maintaining an adequate tolerability window. Based on our preclinical data, as well as published third-party data, we believe that hematological malignancies are particularly sensitive to MCL1 inhibitors. MCL1 upregulation has been noted as a mechanism of acquired resistance to venetoclax and Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors, or TKIs. The dose escalation portion of the Phase 1 trial of our IV formulation, which leverages the optimized physicochemical properties of PRT1419, is now underway in patients with solid tumors and hematological malignancies.
The ability to evade cell death is a hallmark of cancer because it is one of the unique acquired abilities that allows malignant transformation of a normal cell. MCL1 and BCL2 are both members of a family of proteins that regulate cell survival versus cell death. Under normal circumstances, MCL1 and BCL2 exert their pro-survival function by binding to and sequestering the pro-death proteins, BAK and BAX, and prevent the activation of a downstream cascade leading to apoptosis. In normal cells, cellular stressors such as DNA damage disrupt this interaction and result in cell death. Cancer cells, however, frequently upregulate pro-survival proteins to prevent activation of the apoptotic pathway, thus evading death. MCL1 has been shown to have a critical role in promoting cancer cell survival and is frequently found to be amplified or overexpressed in both solid tumors and hematologic cancers.
MCL1 Promotes Tumor Cell Survival by Inhibiting Apoptosis
Members of the BCL2 protein family control cell survival and cell death. MCL1, a member of the family, acts to suppress cell death and has emerged as a target for anti-cancer therapy and as a resistance mechanism to the BCL2 inhibitor, venetoclax.
Inhibition of MCL1 expression and/or function is therefore of considerable therapeutic interest in cancer. The importance of blocking the protein-protein interaction between pro-survival and pro-death proteins as a therapy to promote tumor cell death has been clinically validated with the BCL2 inhibitor, venetoclax. Venetoclax was approved in 2016 for R/R patients with CLL and in 2018 for patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, or AML. MCL1 is upregulated in response to BCL2 inhibition and has been implicated in mediating resistance to venetoclax, as well as to chemotherapeutic agents and other targeted therapies including TKIs. These studies have demonstrated the potentially broad clinical benefits of targeting cell survival through MCL1 inhibition in cancer.
Although the data on the importance of MCL1 in driving tumor growth and survival are compelling, complete ablation of MCL1 has been shown to result in cardiomyocyte apoptosis in mice. Mice with heterozygous deletion of MCL1 resulting
in a 50% reduction in MCL1 protein did not demonstrate cardiac abnormalities. These results suggest that an optimized profile for a pharmacological inhibitor of MCL1 should allow for maximal but limited duration of target engagement rather than prolonged coverage to maximize the therapeutic window of MCL1 inhibition in clinical development.
Potency and Selectivity
We investigated the in vitro potency of PRT1419 to inhibit the protein-protein interaction of human recombinant MCL1 with the pro-death protein, BIM, by measuring its IC50. In this assay, we observed the IC50 of PRT1419 to be 6.6 nM. We also investigated the in vitro selectivity of PRT1419 for MCL1 as compared to related family members, BCL-2 and BCLXL. We observed that PRT1419 showed >200 times weaker inhibition of BCL-2 and BCLXL compared to MCL1.
Tumor cells undergo apoptosis in response to MCL1 inhibition. Therefore, we investigated the potency of PRT1419 to inhibit the proliferation of cell lines representing both solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. Tumor cell lines were treated with various concentrations of PRT1419, and the number of viable cells was measured after two days in culture. We observed that cell lines representing multiple myeloma, lymphomas and leukemias were particularly sensitive to PRT1419 with IC50 values in the nanomolar range. The in vitro activity of PRT1419 was confirmed in vivo. Once weekly dosing of PRT1419 demonstrated robust efficacy in preclinical models of AML, DLBCL and multiple myeloma.
The IV formulation of PRT1419 has demonstrated a desirable pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and safety profile with potential for differentiation from competitor compounds. We are enrolling patients in a Phase 1 solid tumor dose escalation and confirmation study, including a significant number of patients at the recommended expansion dose of 80 mg/m2. In this study, PRT1419 has been generally well tolerated, with no cardiotoxicity observed in these patients to date. Cardiovascular parameters including troponin levels and ejection fraction changes were evaluated, in addition to standard safety, pharmacokinetics and target engagement metrics. The clinical pharmacodynamic profile of PRT1419 demonstrates the desired level of target engagement, as measured by caspase activation in peripheral mononuclear cells and reduction of CD14+ monocytes to levels associated with tumor regressions in preclinical models of hematological cancers. We intend to evaluate PRT1419 in hematology malignancies in monotherapy, as well as in combinations, with the goal of establishing safety, clinical activity and a RP2D in hematology malignancies in 2023. Advancement in hematological cancers will include monotherapy expansions in CLL and NHL based on a strong rationale for MCL1 inhibition and the need for novel treatments in second line. We expect to present solid tumor data at a medical conference in the first half of 2023, demonstrate a RP2D in hematological malignancies in the second half of 2023, and present hematological malignancy data in the second half of 2023.
Among the CDK subfamily of kinases, CDK4 and CDK6 are the master regulators that control entry of cells into cell cycle. Given the central roles that CDK4 and CDK6 play in cell cycle regulation, dysregulation of the CDK4/CDK6 pathway has been frequently observed in cancer and CDK4/CDK6 have been intensively investigated as potential therapeutic targets for cancer treatment. The approval of three CDK4/CDK6 selective inhibitors in combination with endocrine therapies, to treat hormone receptor, or HR, positive and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2, negative metastatic breast cancer, has further validated this hypothesis.
Next generation CDK 4/6 inhibitor with improved tolerability and tissue penetrance could translate into activity in areas of unmet need beyond HR+ breast cancer.
In addition to the role of CDK4/6 in ER+ metastatic breast cancer, large scale genomic studies revealed that the CDK4/CDK6 pathway is disrupted in the majority of gliomas, suggesting CDK4/CDK6 may be good targets for glioblastoma, or GBM. Genomic studies also identified the CDK4/6 pathway as one of three most altered and actionable genetic alternations in brain metastasis. However, despite positive preclinical data supporting targeting CDK4/CDK6 to treat CNS cancers, clinical development of CDK4/CDK6 inhibitors for GBM or brain metastases has not been successful, likely due to the inability of current inhibitors to penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and achieve effective concentrations in the brain. Recent studies have also demonstrated that CDK4/6 pathway activation can serve as a resistance mechanism to other targeted therapies, including inhibitors of the RAS and HER2 pathways, suggesting a combination potential in other tumor types with unmet need. Together, these data suggest that a next generation CDK4/6 inhibitor with improved tissue penetration and combinability could extend the therapeutic potential of this target class.
Our CDK4/6 Inhibitor: PRT3645
Structure based design, iterative compound synthesis and testing led to the identification of PRT3645, a highly brain and tissue penetrant molecule that potently targets CDK4/6 with biased selectivity for CDK4. In cellular assays, PRT3645 inhibits phosphorylation of RB, a substrate of CDK4/CDK6, with low nanomolar activity. Consistent with this, PRT3645 treatment results in concentration-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation in glioblastoma (GBM) cell lines, ER+/HER2- and HER2+ breast cancer lines and NSCLC cell lines. In vivo, orally administered PRT3645 was well tolerated and highly efficacious in a dose-dependent manner in orthotopic human breast cancer brain metastasis and GBM models. In addition, combined activity was observed when PRT3645 was dosed with inhibitors of the RAS pathway in NSCLC or CRC models or in combination with HER2 pathway inhibitors in HER2+ breast cancer models, suggesting a combination potential in other tumor types with unmet need. In a head to head comparison, PRT3645 demonstrated a tissue:plasma ratio that was >10x higher than approved CDK4/6 inhibitors. In July 2022, we received IND clearance for PRT3645. The first patient was dosed in December of 2022.
SMARCA2 (BRM) targeted degrader program
SMARCA2, or BRM, and its related family member, SMARCA4, or BRG1, are the enzymatic subunits of the SWI/SNF complex that regulates gene expression by allowing the DNA to be accessible for transcription to mature RNA, a process known as chromatin remodeling. SMARCA4 is mutated in multiple cancers, including 10-12% of NSCLC, resulting in loss of SMARCA4 protein. Because the activity of either SMARCA2 or SMARCA4 is required for chromatin remodeling to occur, the SMARCA4-deficient cancer cells become highly dependent on SMARCA2 for their survival. Therefore, we believe targeting SMARCA2 in SMARCA4-deficient cancers will produce a strong synthetic lethality, resulting in SMARCA4 mutant tumor cell death while sparing normal cells that express SMARCA4 protein.
Loss of SMARCA4 (BRG1) through mutation leads to dependency on SMARCA2 (BRM)
Our SMARCA2 Degrader Program
Due to the high homology between SMARCA2 and SMARCA4, there are few structural differences in the binding sites between the two proteins and thus selective SMARCA2 degradation has been a challenge for medicinal chemistry. Targeted protein degradation is a relatively new approach to degrade oncogenic proteins and has been shown to provide selective degradation of highly homologous proteins. A molecule capable of targeting a protein for degradation (degrader) typically contains a binding element to a targeted protein of interest (SMARCA2), a chemical linker and an E3 ligase binding element which allows for the formation of a ternary complex between the target, the degrader and the E3 ligase that induces ubiquitination and subsequent degradation of the targeted protein. Selectivity can be achieved, not only by the selective binding to the target (SMARCA2), but also through the optimization of the unique ternary complexes formed by the target (SMARCA2) versus its homologous protein (SMARCA4).
We used structure-based drug design to identify a novel series of potent SMARCA2 degraders that are outside the typical drug-like chemical space, being significantly larger and structurally more complex. Extensive structure activity relationships generated by the iterative synthesis and testing of >700 compounds as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K has allowed for the identification of specific structural motifs that provide >20-fold selectivity for SMARCA2 degradation over SMARCA4 while maintaining potent SMARCA2 degradation, DC50 < 10 nM. DC50 is a quantitative measure of how much of a compound is needed to inhibit the degradation of a protein by 50%. We have designed our SMARCA2 degraders to be potent and selective to specifically inhibit SMARCA4-deficient human NSCLC cell lines and primary patient derived samples in vitro and in vivo at well tolerated doses. We completed IND-enabling studies and received IND clearance in October 2022 for PRT3879, a SMARCA2 selective protein degrader. SMARCA2 inhibition has the greatest potential in patients with SMARCA4 deficient cancers. We have also identified orally bioavailable SMARCA2 degraders, which we expect to enter clinical development in the next 12-18 months.
PRMT5 controls a number of biological processes that drive cancer including transcription, translation, DNA repair and cell signaling. Overexpression and increased enzymatic activity of PRMT5 are associated with poor outcome and decreased survival in multiple human cancer settings.
In March 2022, we announced that we were winding down the development of PRT543 and concentrating our development efforts on PRT811 in biomarker-selected patients in specific cancer types. In November 2022, we announced the decision to discontinue the internal development of our PRMT5 program. While PRT811 demonstrated a potential best-in-class safety profile and evidence of clinical activity in biomarker-selected patients with glioma and splicing mutated uveal melanoma, our prioritization reflects the high benchmark we set for clinical and regulatory success.
We strive to protect the proprietary technologies that we believe are important to our business, including seeking and maintaining patent protection intended to cover the compositions of matter of our product candidates, their methods of use, related technology, and other inventions that are important to our business.
Our success will depend significantly on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for commercially important technology, inventions, and know-how related to our business, to defend and enforce our patents, to preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets, and to operate without infringing valid and enforceable patents and other proprietary rights of third parties. We also rely on know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop, strengthen, and maintain our proprietary position in the field of precision oncology.
As more fully described below, our patent portfolio includes, inter alia, patent families with claims directed to compositions of matter for, and methods of using, compounds PRT543, PRT811 PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and compounds that degrade SMARCA2. The patent portfolio currently comprises of 216 patents and patent applications:
As of the present filing, a total of nine U.S. patents have been issued, which are wholly owned by us. Specifically, a total of three U.S. patent directed to PRT543 have issued and are expected to expire no earlier than August 9, 2038. Similarly, three U.S. patents directed to PRT811 have issued and are expected to expire no earlier than March 14, 2039. Also, two U.S. patents directed to the PRMT5 program have issued and are expected to expire no earlier than June 2038. In addition, one U.S. patent directed to PRT1419 has issued and is expected to expire no earlier than November 8, 2039.
In addition to our filings in the U.S., we own patent applications that are pending in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Eurasia, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine. Included in these applications are claims directed to the PRT543, PRT811, PRT1419, PRT2527, and SMARCA compositions and methods of using the same therapeutically. Claims directed to the PRT3645 compositions and methods of using the same therapeutically are expected to be filed in these jurisdictions in March 2023 or thereafter. For the PRT543 compound, the patents from these applications, if issued, are expected to expire in August 2038, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. For the PRT811 compound, the patents from these applications, if issued, are expected to expire in March 2039, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. For the PRT1419 compound, the patents from these applications, if issued, are expected to expire in November 2039, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. For the PRT2527 compound, the patents from these applications, if issued, are expected to expire in September 2040, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. For the SMARCA compounds, the patents from these applications, if issued, are expected to expire in June 2041, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. For the PRT3645 compound, the patents from these applications, if issued, are expected to expire in September 2041, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The patent portfolios for our most advanced programs are summarized below.
Our PRT1419 patent portfolio is wholly owned by us. The portfolio includes one issued U.S. patent, which claims among other things, PRT1419 and other compounds, pharmaceutical compositions comprising PRT1419, and methods of using such compounds. The patent is expected to expire no earlier than November 8, 2039, subject to any disclaimers or extensions available under the Hatch-Waxman Act. A U.S. continuation application, which claims among other things, PRT1419 related compounds, pharmaceutical compositions comprising PRT1419 related compounds, and methods of using such compounds. Any patents issued from this application would be expected to expire no earlier than November 8, 2039,
subject to any disclaimers or extensions. A related PCT application was filed, and corresponding national phase applications were filed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Eurasia, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine. Any patents resulting from these national patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than November 8, 2039, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT1419 portfolio also includes one pending U.S. non-provisional patent application which is the national stage application of a PCT application, which claims among other things, PRT1419 crystalline forms and salts and methods of using such compounds. Any patents issued from this application would be expected to expire no earlier than May 13, 2041, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. Corresponding national phase applications also were filed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Eurasia, Europe, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine. Any patents resulting from these national patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than May 13, 2041, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
Our PRT2527 patent portfolio is wholly owned by us. The portfolio includes two pending U.S. applications claiming, among other things, PRT2527 and other compounds, pharmaceutical compositions comprising PRT2527, and methods of using PRT2527. A related PCT application was filed, and corresponding national phase applications were filed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Eurasia, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine. Any patents resulting from the above mentioned applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than September 11, 2040, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT2527 portfolio also includes a pending U.S. non-provisional application, and a corresponding PCT application, directed to additional uses of PRT2527 and related compounds. Any patents resulting from the above mentioned applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than September 30, 2042, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT2527 portfolio also a PCT application which claims, among other things, crystalline forms and salts of PRT2527. Any patents resulting from the above mentioned applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than October 14, 2042, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT2527 patent portfolio also includes two pending U.S. provisional applications that relate to among other things, methods of inhibiting CDK9 using PRT2527 related compounds and methods of treating certain cancers. Any patents granted that claim priority to these provisional applications could expire as early as 2043.
PRT3645 and Other CDK 4/6 Inhibitors
Our PRT3645 patent portfolio is wholly owned by us. The portfolio includes five pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications and six PCT applications claiming, among other things, genera of compounds that encompass PRT3645 and other compounds, and/or related inhibitors, pharmaceutical compositions comprising those inhibitors, and methods of treating cancer with those inhibitors, and solid forms and salts of PRT3645. Any patents issued from the U.S. patent applications would be expected to expire no earlier than September 21, 2041, and December 17, 2041, January 20, 2043, February 2, 2043 ,and March 8, 2043, respectively, subject to any disclaimers or extensions available under the Hatch-Waxman Act.
The PRT3645 patent portfolio also includes three pending U.S. provisional applications that, among other things, encompass PRT3645 and/or related CDK inhibitors, pharmaceutical compositions comprising those inhibitors, and methods of treating cancer with those inhibitors. Any patents granted that claim priority to these provisional applications could expire as early as 2043.
The SMARCA2 degrader patent portfolio includes two pending non-provisional U.S. applications and two pending PCT applications, which claim, among other things, genera of compounds that encompass SMARCA2 and/or related inhibitors, pharmaceutical compositions comprising those inhibitors, and methods of treating cancer with those inhibitors. Any patents issued from the U.S. patent applications would be expected to expire no earlier than June 9, 2041, and November 8, 2041, respectively, subject to any disclaimers or extensions available under the Hatch-Waxman Act. Any patents resulting from the PCT applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than November 8, 2041 and July 12, 2042 subject to any disclaimers or extensions. Another SMARCA2 PCT application was filed, and corresponding national phase applications were filed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Eurasia, Europe, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa,
South Korea, and Ukraine. Any patents resulting from these national patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than June 9, 2041, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The SMARCA2 patent portfolio also includes ten pending U.S. provisional applications that, among other things, encompass SMARCA2 and/or related inhibitors, pharmaceutical compositions comprising those inhibitors, and methods of treating cancer with those inhibitors. Any patents granted that claim priority to this provisional application could expire as early as 2043.
Our PRT543 patent portfolio is wholly owned by us. The portfolio includes three issued U.S. patents, which claim, among other things, PRT543, pharmaceutical compositions comprising PRT543, methods of inhibiting PRMT5 using PRT543, and methods of treating certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers, using PRT543. These U.S. patents are expected to expire no earlier than August 9, 2038, subject to any disclaimers or extensions available, including under the Hatch-Waxman Act. A few of the corresponding patents have been issued in Europe, Mexico, South Africa, Eurasia, Israel, Ukraine, and Hong Kong, which are expected to expire no earlier than August 9, 2038, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. Also, several corresponding patent applications are pending in other countries and regions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea. Any patents resulting from these patent applications, if issued, are also expected to expire no earlier than August 9, 2038, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT543 patent portfolio also includes four pending U.S. and one pending PCT patent applications, which claim, among other things, a genus of compounds that encompass PRT543, PRT543 salts and crystalline forms, methods of preparing PRT543, and additional methods of treatment using PRT543. Any U.S. patents issuing from these applications would be expected to expire no earlier than August 9, 2038; February 13, 2040; April 3, 2040; and December 9, 2041, respectively, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT543 patent portfolio also includes two pending U.S. provisional applications that relate to among other things, methods of inhibiting PRMT5 using PRT543, methods of treating certain cancers, and associated clinical studies. Any patents granted that claim priority to this provisional application could expire as early as 2043.
Our PRT811 patent portfolio is wholly owned by us. The portfolio includes three issued U.S. patents, which claim, among other things, PRT811, pharmaceutical compositions comprising PRT811, methods of inhibiting PRMT5 using PRT811, and methods of treating certain cancers, including glioblastoma, using PRT811. The patents are expected to expire no earlier than March 14, 2039, subject to any disclaimers or extensions available under the Hatch-Waxman Act. A related PCT application was filed, and corresponding national phase applications were filed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Eurasia, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine. Any patents resulting from these national patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire no earlier than March 14, 2039, subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT811 patent portfolio also includes three pending U.S. non-provisional applications that claim compositions of matter, and methods of treatment. Any patents issuing from the three pending U.S. non-provisional applications would be expected to expire no earlier than March 14, 2039, September 18, 2040, and April 3, 2040 subject to any disclaimers or extensions.
The PRT811 patent portfolio also includes two pending U.S. provisional applications that relate to among other things, methods of making PRT811, methods of inhibiting PRMT5 using PRT811, and methods of treating certain cancers, and associated clinical studies. Any patents granted that claim priority to this provisional application could expire as early as 2043.
In addition, we have patent portfolios that are directed to a number of different compounds other than PRT543, PRT811, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, SMARCA2 degraders, and CDK inhibitors. We have patent applications directed to compounds that target resistance mechanisms in cancer. We expect to maintain some of these applications in the United States and to also file in foreign countries.
In addition to the applications described above, we wholly own two issued U.S. patents directed to PRMT5 inhibitors, six pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications, five pending U.S. provisional applications, and four pending foreign applications covering compositions and methods of making and using those compounds to treat cancer and other diseases.
The term of individual patents depends upon the legal term of the patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In the countries in which we file, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest non-provisional filing date, subject to any disclaimers or extensions. The term of a patent in the United States can be adjusted due to any failure of the United States Patent and Trademark Office following certain statutory and regulation deadlines for issuing a patent.
In the United States, the patent term of a patent that covers an FDA-approved drug may also be eligible for patent term extension, which permits patent term restoration as compensation for a portion of the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the original expiration of the patent. The protection provided by a patent varies from country to country, and is dependent on the type of patent granted, the scope of the patent claims, and the legal remedies available in a given country.
Obtaining patent protection is not the only method that we employ to protect our proprietary rights. We also utilize other forms of intellectual property protection, including trademark, copyright, and trade secrets, when those other forms are better suited to protect a particular aspect of our intellectual property. Our belief is that our proprietary rights are strengthened by our comprehensive approach to intellectual property protection. It is our policy to require our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships with us. These agreements provide that all confidential information concerning our business or financial affairs developed or made known to the individual during the course of the individual’s relationship with us is to be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties except in specific circumstances. In the case of employees, the agreements provide that all inventions conceived by the individual, and which are related to our current or planned business or research and development or made during normal working hours, on our premises or using our equipment or proprietary information, are our exclusive property.
We do not own or operate, and currently have no plans to establish, any manufacturing facilities. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely for the foreseeable future, on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing, including pharmaceutical ingredients and clinical drug supply, as well as for commercial manufacture of any drugs that we may commercialize. We obtain our supplies from these manufacturers on a purchase order basis and do not have long-term supply arrangements in place. We do not own in-house warehouse facilities. We rely on third parties for storage and distribution of drug substance and drug product. We do not currently have arrangements in place for redundant supply for active pharmaceutical ingredients and drug product. As our development programs progress and we build new process efficiencies, we expect to continually evaluate this strategy with the objective of satisfying demand for registration trials and, if approved, the manufacture, sale and distribution of commercial products.
Given our stage of development, we have not yet established a commercial organization or distribution capabilities. If we are successful in obtaining necessary regulatory approval, we may pursue commercialization on our own or seek to collaborate with a third party for commercialization, particularly outside the United States.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by the rapid evolution of technologies and understanding of disease etiology, intense competition and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. We believe that our approach, strategy, scientific capabilities, know-how and experience provide us with competitive advantages. However, we expect substantial competition from multiple sources, including major pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical, and existing or emerging biotechnology companies, academic research institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions worldwide. Many of our competitors, either alone or through collaborations, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and marketing approved products than we do. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient enrollment in clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to,
or necessary for, our programs. As a result, our competitors may discover, develop, license or commercialize products before or more successfully than we do.
We face competition from segments of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other related markets that pursue the development of precision oncology therapies optimized to target the key driver mechanisms in cancers with high unmet need. Several biopharmaceutical companies, including Arvinas Inc., Aurigene, Black Diamond Therapeutics, Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim, C4 Therapeutics, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, F. Hoffman-La Roche, Foghorn Therapeutics Inc., Fochon Pharmaceuticals, G1 Therapeutics Inc., Genentech, Kronos Bio, Inc., Kura Oncology, Inc., Kymera Therapeutics Inc., Mirati Therapeutics Inc., Nuvation Bio Inc. Repare Therapeutics Inc., Revolution Medicines, Inc., Relay Therapeutics, Inc., Springworks Therapeutics, Inc., Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., are developing precision oncology medicines. In addition, we may face competition from companies developing product candidates that are based on targeting pathways of adaptive resistance, including Amgen Inc., AbbVie Inc., AstraZeneca plc, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Ideaya Biosciences, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Tango Therapeutics, Inc., Vincerx Pharma, Inc., Novartis AG, and Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Furthermore, we also face competition more broadly across the oncology market for cost-effective and reimbursable cancer treatments. The most common methods of treating patients with cancer are surgery, radiation and drug therapy, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biologic therapy, such as monoclonal and bispecific antibodies, immunotherapy, cell-based therapy and targeted therapy, or a combination of any such methods. There are a variety of available drug therapies marketed for cancer. In many cases, these drugs are administered in combination to enhance efficacy. While our product candidates, if any are approved, may compete with these existing drugs and other therapies, to the extent they are ultimately used in combination with or as an adjunct to these therapies, our product candidates may not be competitive with them. Some of these drugs are branded and subject to patent protection, and others are available on a generic basis. Insurers and other third-party payors may also encourage the use of generic products or specific branded products. As a result, obtaining market acceptance of, and gaining significant share of the market for, any of our product candidates that we successfully introduce to the market may pose challenges. In addition, many companies are developing new oncology therapeutics, and we cannot predict what the standard of care will be as our product candidates progress through clinical development.
For our product candidate PRT1419, other companies are developing MCL1 inhibitors with monotherapy and/or combination trials ongoing, including Amgen (AMG176), AstraZeneca (AZD5991), Novartis (MIK665), and Gilead (GS-9716). For our CDK9 program, PRT2527, AstraZeneca (AZD4573), Vincerx (VIP512), and Kronos (KB-0742) have CDK9 programs in Phase 1 clinical trials. For our CDK4/6 inhibitor program, PRT3645 Novartis (ribociclib), Lilly (abemaciclib), Pfizer (palbociclib), G1 Therapeutics (G1T38), and Fochon Pharmaceuticals (FCN-437) have clinical trials ongoing. For our SMARCA 2 (BRM) degrader program, other companies, including Amgen, Aurigene, C4 Therapeutics, F. Hoffman-La Roche, Foghorn Therapeutics, Inc., Kymera Therapeutics, Arvinas, Genentech, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Lilly have publicly disclosed their pre-clinical research efforts.
We could see a reduction or elimination in our commercial opportunity if our competitors develop and commercialize drugs that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient to administer, are less expensive or with more favorable labeling than our product candidates. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their drugs more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. The key competitive factors affecting the success of all of our product candidates, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience, price, the level of generic competition and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.
Government authorities in the U.S., at the federal, state and local level, and in other countries and jurisdictions extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, approval, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, labeling, advertising, promotion, distribution, marketing, post-approval monitoring and reporting, and import and export of pharmaceutical products. The processes for obtaining regulatory approvals in the United
States and in foreign countries and jurisdictions, along with subsequent compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and other regulatory authorities, require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.
FDA Approval Process
In the U.S., pharmaceutical products are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FD&C Act, and other federal and state statutes and regulations govern, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, storage, recordkeeping, approval, labeling, promotion and marketing, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, sampling and import and export of pharmaceutical products. Failure to comply with applicable U.S. requirements may subject a company to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, such as clinical hold, FDA refusal to approve pending NDAs, warning or untitled letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, civil penalties and criminal prosecution.
Pharmaceutical product development for a new product or certain changes to an approved product in the U.S. typically involves preclinical laboratory and animal tests, the submission to FDA of an IND which must become effective before clinical testing may commence, and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and effectiveness of the drug for each indication for which FDA approval is sought. Satisfaction of FDA pre-market approval requirements typically takes many years and the actual time required may vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product or disease.
Preclinical tests include laboratory evaluation of product chemistry, formulation and toxicity, as well as animal trials to assess the characteristics and potential safety and efficacy of the product. The conduct of the preclinical tests must comply with federal regulations and requirements, including good laboratory practices. The results of preclinical testing are submitted to FDA as part of an IND along with other information, including information about product chemistry, manufacturing and controls, and a proposed clinical trial protocol. Long-term preclinical tests, such as animal tests of reproductive toxicity and carcinogenicity, may continue after the IND is submitted. A 30-day waiting period after the submission of each IND is required prior to the commencement of clinical testing in humans. If FDA has neither commented on nor questioned the IND within this 30-day period, the clinical trial proposed in the IND may begin. Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational new drug to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of a qualified investigator. Clinical trials must be conducted: (i) in compliance with federal regulations; (ii) in compliance with good clinical practice, or GCP, an international standard meant to protect the rights and health of patients and to define the roles of clinical trial sponsors, administrators, and monitors; as well as (iii) under protocols detailing the objectives of the trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Each protocol involving testing on U.S. patients and subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to FDA as part of the IND.
FDA may order the temporary, or permanent, discontinuation of a clinical trial at any time, or impose other sanctions, if it believes that the clinical trial either is not being conducted in accordance with FDA requirements or presents an unacceptable risk to the clinical trial patients. Imposition of a clinical hold may be full or partial. The study protocol and informed consent information for patients in clinical trials must also be submitted to an institutional review board, or IRB, and ethics committee for approval. The IRB will also monitor the clinical trial until completed. An IRB may also require the clinical trial at the site to be halted, either temporarily or permanently, for failure to comply with the IRB’s requirements, or may impose other conditions. Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. This group provides authorization for whether a trial may move forward at designated checkpoints based on access to certain data from the trial.
Clinical trials to support NDAs for marketing approval are typically conducted in three sequential phases, but the phases may overlap. In Phase 1, the initial introduction of the drug into healthy human subjects or patients, the drug is tested to assess metabolism, pharmacokinetics, pharmacological actions, side effects associated with increasing doses, and, if possible, early evidence of effectiveness. Phase 2 usually involves trials in a limited patient population to determine the effectiveness of the drug for a particular indication, dosage tolerance and optimum dosage, and to identify common adverse effects and safety risks. If a drug demonstrates evidence of effectiveness and an acceptable safety profile in Phase 2 evaluations, Phase 3 trials are undertaken to obtain the additional information about clinical efficacy and safety in a larger number of patients, typically at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites, to permit FDA to evaluate the overall benefit-risk relationship of the drug and to provide adequate information for the labeling of the drug. In most cases FDA requires two adequate and well-controlled Phase 3 clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of the drug. A single Phase 3 trial may be sufficient in rare instances, including (1) where the study is a large multicenter trial demonstrating internal consistency and a
statistically very persuasive finding of a clinically meaningful effect on mortality, irreversible morbidity or prevention of a disease with a potentially serious outcome and confirmation of the result in a second trial would be practically or ethically impossible or (2) when in conjunction with other confirmatory evidence.
These Phases may overlap or be combined. For example, a Phase 1/2 clinical trial may contain both a dose-escalation stage and a dose-expansion stage, the latter of which may confirm tolerability at the recommended dose for expansion in future clinical trials (as in traditional Phase 1 clinical trials) and provide insight into the anti-tumor effects of the investigational therapy in selected subpopulation(s).
Typically, during the development of oncology therapies, all subjects enrolled in Phase 1 clinical trials are disease-affected patients and, as a result, considerably more information on clinical activity may be collected during such trials than during Phase 1 clinical trials for non-oncology therapies. A single pivotal trial may be sufficient in rare instances to provide substantial evidence of effectiveness (generally subject to the requirement of additional post-approval studies).
The manufacturer of an investigational drug in a Phase 2 or 3 clinical trial for a serious or life-threatening disease is required to make available, such as by posting on its website, its policy on evaluating and responding to requests for expanded access.
After completion of the required clinical testing, an NDA is prepared and submitted to FDA. FDA approval of the NDA is required before marketing of the product may begin in the U.S. The NDA must include the results of all preclinical, clinical and other testing and a compilation of data relating to the product’s pharmacology, chemistry, manufacture and controls.
The cost of preparing and submitting an NDA is substantial. The submission of most NDAs is additionally subject to a substantial application user fee. Fee waivers or reductions are available in certain circumstances, including a waiver of the application fee for the first application filed by a small business. Additionally, no user fees are assessed on NDAs for products designated as orphan drugs, unless the product also includes a non-orphan indication. The applicant under an approved NDA is also subject to annual program fees. The FDA adjusts the user fees on an annual basis, and the fees typically increase annually.
FDA reviews each submitted NDA before it determines whether to file it, based on the agency’s threshold determination that it is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review, and FDA may request additional information. The FDA must make a decision on whether to file an NDA within 60 days of receipt, and such decision could include a refusal to file by the FDA. Once the submission is filed, FDA begins an in-depth review of the NDA. FDA has agreed to certain performance goals in the review of NDAs. Most applications for standard review drug products are reviewed within ten to twelve months; most applications for priority review drugs are reviewed in six to eight months, including the 60-day validation period. Priority review can be applied to drugs that FDA determines offer major advances in treatment or provide a treatment where no adequate therapy exists. The review process for both standard and priority review may be extended by FDA for three additional months to consider certain late-submitted information, or information intended to clarify information already provided in the submission. The FDA does not always meet its goal dates for standard and priority NDAs, and the review process can be extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification.
FDA may also refer applications for novel drug products, or drug products that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy, to an outside advisory committee—typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts—for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions, if any. FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it generally follows such recommendations.
Before approving an NDA, FDA will conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facilities for the new product to determine whether they comply with cGMP requirements. FDA will not approve the product unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. The FDA also typically inspects one or more clinical trial sites to ensure compliance with GCP requirements and the integrity of the data supporting safety and efficacy.
After FDA evaluates the NDA and the manufacturing facilities, it issues either an approval letter or a complete response letter. A complete response letter, or CRL, generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing, or information, in order for FDA to reconsider the application, such as additional clinical data, additional pivotal clinical trial(s), and/or other significant and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, preclinical studies
or manufacturing. If a CRL is issued, the applicant may resubmit the NDA addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, withdraw the application, engage in formal dispute resolution or request an opportunity for a hearing. FDA has committed to reviewing resubmissions in two or six months depending on the type of information included. Even if such data and information are submitted, the FDA may decide that the NDA does not satisfy the criteria for approval.
If, or when, the deficiencies identified in the CRL have been addressed to FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmission of the NDA, FDA will issue an approval letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications. As a condition of NDA approval, FDA may require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, to help ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks to patients. A REMS can include medication guides, communication plans for healthcare professionals, and elements to assure safe use, or ETASU. ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring, and the use of patient registries. The requirement for a REMS can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the drug. Moreover, product approval may require substantial post-approval testing and surveillance to monitor the drug’s safety or efficacy. Once granted, product approvals may be withdrawn if compliance with regulatory standards is not maintained or problems are identified following initial marketing.
Changes to some of the conditions established in an approved application, including changes in indications, labeling, or manufacturing processes or facilities, require submission and FDA approval of an NDA supplement or, in some case, a new NDA, before the change can be implemented. An NDA supplement for a new indication typically requires clinical data similar to that in the original application, and FDA uses the same procedures and actions in reviewing NDA supplements as it does in reviewing NDAs.
Disclosure of Clinical Trial Information
Sponsors of clinical trials of FDA regulated products, including drugs, are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information. Information related to the product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators, and other aspects of the clinical trial is then made public as part of the registration. Sponsors are also obligated to discuss the results of their clinical trials after completion. Disclosure of the results of these trials can be delayed in certain circumstances for up to two years after the date of completion of the trial. Competitors may use this publicly available information to gain knowledge regarding the progress of development programs.
Expedited Development and Review Programs
Fast Track Designation
Fast track designation may be granted for a product that is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition for which there is no effective treatment and preclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. The sponsor of an investigational drug product may request that FDA designate the product candidate for a specific indication as a fast-track drug concurrent with, or after, the submission of the IND for the product candidate. FDA must determine if the product candidate qualifies for fast-track designation within 60 days of receipt of the sponsor’s request. For fast track products, sponsors may have greater interactions with the FDA and the FDA may initiate review of sections of a fast track product’s NDA before the application is complete. This “rolling review” is available if the FDA determines, after preliminary evaluation of clinical data submitted by the sponsor, that a fast track product may be effective. The sponsor must also provide, and the FDA must approve, a schedule for the submission of the remaining information and the sponsor must pay applicable user fees. At the time of NDA filing, the FDA will determine whether to grant priority review designation. FDA will grant such designation if the proposed drug would be a significant improvement in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, prevention, or diagnosis of a serious condition. Additionally, fast track designation may be withdrawn if FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process.
Accelerated approval may be granted for a product that is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and that generally provides a meaningful therapeutic advantage to patients over existing treatments. A product eligible for accelerated approval may be approved on the basis of either a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity,
rarity or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. The accelerated approval pathway is most often used in settings in which the course of a disease is long and an extended period of time is required to measure the intended clinical benefit of a product, even if the effect on the surrogate or intermediate clinical endpoint occurs rapidly. Thus, accelerated approval has been used extensively in the development and approval of products for treatment of a variety of cancers in which the goal of therapy is generally to improve survival or decrease morbidity and the duration of the typical disease course requires lengthy and sometimes large studies to demonstrate a clinical or survival benefit. The accelerated approval pathway is contingent on a sponsor’s agreement to conduct additional post-approval confirmatory studies to verify and describe the product’s clinical benefit. These confirmatory trials must be completed with due diligence and, in most cases, the FDA may require that the trial be designed, initiated, and/or fully enrolled prior to approval. Failure to conduct required post-approval studies, or to confirm a clinical benefit during post-marketing studies, would allow the FDA to withdraw the product from the market on an expedited basis. All promotional materials for product candidates approved under accelerated regulations are subject to prior review by the FDA.
Breakthrough Therapy Designation
FDA is also required to expedite the development and review of applications for approval of drugs that are intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition where preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints. Under the breakthrough therapy program, the sponsor of a new product candidate may request that FDA designate the product candidate for a specific indication as a breakthrough therapy concurrent with, or after, the filing of the IND for the product candidate. FDA must determine if the product candidate qualifies for breakthrough therapy designation within 60 days of receipt of the sponsor’s request. The FDA may take certain actions with respect to breakthrough therapies, including but not limited to holding meetings with the sponsor throughout the development process, providing timely advice to the product sponsor regarding development and approval, involving more senior staff in the review process, assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the review team, granting priority review status or fast track designation, and taking other steps to design the clinical studies in an efficient manner.
Under the Orphan Drug Act, FDA may grant orphan drug designation to drugs intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or more than 200,000 individuals in the United States but for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the product for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product in the United States.
Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. After FDA grants orphan drug designation, the identity of the drug and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by FDA. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.
The first NDA applicant to receive FDA approval for a particular active moiety to treat a rare disease for which it has such designation is entitled to a seven-year exclusive marketing period in the U.S. for that product, for that indication. During the seven-year exclusivity period, FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug for the same disease, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity by means of greater effectiveness, greater safety, or providing a major contribution to patient care, or in instances of drug supply issues. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent FDA from approving a different drug for the same disease or condition, or the same drug for a different disease or condition. Other benefits of orphan drug designation include tax credits for certain research and an exemption from the NDA user fee.
Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, NDAs or supplements to NDAs must contain data to assess the safety and effectiveness of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the drug is safe and effective. FDA may grant full or partial waivers, or deferrals, for submission of data. Unless otherwise required by regulation, PREA does not apply to any drug for an indication for which orphan designation has been granted except that PREA will apply to an original NDA for a new active ingredient that is orphan-designated if the drug is a molecularly targeted cancer product intended for the treatment of
an adult cancer and is directed at a molecular target that FDA determines to be substantially relevant to the growth or progression of a pediatric cancer.
The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, or BPCA, provides NDA holders a six-month extension of any exclusivity—patent or nonpatent—for a drug if certain conditions are met. Conditions for exclusivity include FDA’s determination that information relating to the use of a new drug in the pediatric population may produce health benefits in that population, FDA making a written request for pediatric studies, and the applicant agreeing to perform, and reporting on, the requested studies within the statutory timeframe. Applications under the BPCA are treated as priority applications, with all of the benefits that designation confers.
Once an NDA is approved, a product will be subject to certain post-approval requirements. For instance, FDA closely regulates the post-approval marketing and promotion of drugs, including standards and regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising, off-label promotion, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities and promotional activities involving the internet. Drugs may be marketed only for the approved indications and in a manner consistent with the approved labeling.
Adverse event reporting and submission of periodic reports are required following FDA approval of an NDA. FDA also may require post-marketing testing, known as Phase 4 testing, risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, or REMS, and surveillance to monitor the effects of an approved product, or FDA may place conditions on an approval that could restrict the distribution or use of the product. In addition, quality control, drug manufacture, packaging and labeling procedures must continue to conform to cGMPs after approval. Drug manufacturers and certain of their subcontractors are required to register their establishments with FDA and certain state agencies. Registration with FDA subjects entities to periodic unannounced inspections by FDA, during which the Agency inspects manufacturing facilities to assess compliance with cGMPs. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the areas of production and quality-control to maintain compliance with cGMPs. Regulatory authorities may withdraw product approvals or request product recalls if a company fails to comply with regulatory standards, if it encounters problems following initial marketing, or if previously unrecognized problems are subsequently discovered.
The Hatch-Waxman Amendments
Orange Book Listing
Under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly referred to as the Hatch Waxman Amendments, NDA applicants are required to identify to FDA each patent whose claims cover the applicant’s drug or approved method of using the drug. Upon approval of a drug, the applicant must update its listing of patents to the NDA in timely fashion and each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, commonly known as the Orange Book.
Drugs listed in the Orange Book can, in turn, be cited by potential generic competitors in support of approval of an abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA. An ANDA provides for marketing of a drug product that has the same active ingredient(s), strength, route of administration, and dosage form as the listed drug and has been shown through bioequivalence testing to be therapeutically equivalent to the listed drug. An approved ANDA product is considered to be therapeutically equivalent to the listed drug. Other than the requirement for bioequivalence testing, ANDA applicants are not required to conduct, or submit results of, pre-clinical or clinical tests to prove the safety or effectiveness of their drug product. Drugs approved under the ANDA pathway are commonly referred to as “generic equivalents” to the listed drug and can often be substituted by pharmacists under prescriptions written for the original listed drug pursuant to each state’s laws on drug substitution.
The ANDA applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents identified for the reference listed drug in the Orange Book. Specifically, the applicant must certify to each patent in one of the following ways: (i) the required patent information has not been filed; (ii) the listed patent has expired; (iii) the listed patent has not expired but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (iv) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product. A certification that the new product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents, or that such patents are invalid, is called a Paragraph IV certification. For patents listed that claim an approved method of use, under certain circumstances the ANDA applicant may also elect to submit a section viii statement certifying that its proposed ANDA label does not contain (or carves out) any language regarding the patented method-of-use rather than certify to a listed
method-of-use patent. If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents through a Paragraph IV certification, the ANDA application will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired. If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA-holder and patentee(s) once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA (referred to as the “notice letter”). The NDA and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice letter. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA until the earlier of 30 months from the date the notice letter is received, expiration of the patent, the date of a settlement order or consent decree signed and entered by the court stating that the patent that is the subject of the certification is invalid or not infringed, or a decision in the patent case that is favorable to the ANDA applicant.
The ANDA application also will not be approved until any applicable non-patent exclusivity listed in the Orange Book for the referenced product has expired. In some instances, an ANDA applicant may receive approval prior to expiration of certain non-patent exclusivity if the applicant seeks, and FDA permits, the omission of such exclusivity-protected information from the ANDA prescribing information.
Upon NDA approval of a new chemical entity, or NCE, which is a drug that contains no active moiety that has been approved by FDA in any other NDA, that drug receives five years of marketing exclusivity during which FDA cannot receive any ANDA seeking approval of a generic version of that drug unless the application contains a Paragraph IV certification, in which case the application may be submitted one year prior to expiration of the NCE exclusivity. If there is no listed patent in the Orange Book, there may not be a Paragraph IV certification, and, thus, no ANDA for a generic version of the drug may be filed before the expiration of the exclusivity period.
Certain changes to an approved drug, such as the approval of a new indication, the approval of a new strength, and the approval of a new condition of use, are associated with a three-year period of exclusivity from the date of approval during which FDA cannot approve an ANDA for a generic drug that includes the change. In some instances, an ANDA applicant may receive approval prior to expiration of the three-year exclusivity if the applicant seeks, and FDA permits, the omission of such exclusivity-protected information from the ANDA package insert.
Patent Term Extension
The Hatch Waxman Amendments permit a patent term extension as compensation for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. Patent term extension, however, cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. After NDA approval, owners of relevant drug patents may apply for the extension. The allowable patent term extension is calculated as half of the drug’s testing phase (the time between IND application and NDA submission) and all of the review phase (the time between NDA submission and approval) up to a maximum of five years. The time can be reduced for any time FDA determines that the applicant did not pursue approval with due diligence.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration. However, the USPTO may not grant an extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than requested.
The total patent term after the extension may not exceed 14 years, and only one patent can be extended. The application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent, and for patents that might expire during the application phase, the patent owner may request an interim patent extension. An interim patent extension increases the patent term by one year and may be renewed up to four times. For each interim patent extension granted, the post-approval patent extension is reduced by one year. The director of the USPTO must determine that approval of the drug covered by the patent for which a patent extension is being sought is likely. Interim patent extensions are not available for a drug for which an NDA has not been submitted.
FDA Regulation of Companion Diagnostics
If use of an in vitro diagnostic is essential to safe and effective use of a drug product, then the FDA generally will require approval or clearance of the diagnostic, known as a companion diagnostic, at the same time that the FDA approves the drug product. FDA has generally required in vitro companion diagnostics intended to select the patients who will respond to cancer treatment to obtain a pre-market approval, or PMA, for that diagnostic simultaneously with approval of the drug. The review of these in vitro companion diagnostics in conjunction with the review of a cancer therapeutic involves coordination of review by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and by the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Approval and clearance of a companion diagnostic also requires a high level of coordination between the drug manufacturer and device manufacturer, if different companies.
The PMA process, including the gathering of clinical and preclinical data and the submission to and review by the FDA, can take several years or longer. It involves a rigorous premarket review during which the applicant must prepare and provide the FDA with reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness and information about the device and its components regarding, among other things, device design, manufacturing and labeling. PMA applications are subject to a substantial application fee, which is typically increased annually.
In addition, PMAs must generally include the results from extensive preclinical and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and effectiveness of the device for each indication for which FDA approval is sought. In particular, for a diagnostic, the applicant must demonstrate that the diagnostic has adequate sensitivity and specificity, has adequate specimen and reagent stability, and produces reproducible results when the same sample is tested multiple times by multiple users at multiple laboratories. As part of the PMA review, the FDA will typically inspect the manufacturer’s facilities for compliance with the Quality System Regulation, or QSR, which imposes elaborate testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance requirements.
PMA approval is not guaranteed, and the FDA may ultimately respond to a PMA submission with a not approvable determination based on deficiencies in the application and require additional clinical trial or other data that may be expensive and time-consuming to generate and that can substantially delay approval. If the FDA’s evaluation of the PMA application is favorable, the FDA typically issues an approvable letter requiring the applicant’s agreement to specific conditions, such as changes in labeling, or specific additional information, such as submission of final labeling, in order to secure final approval of the PMA. If the FDA concludes that the applicable criteria have been met, the FDA will issue a PMA for the approved indications, which can be more limited than those originally sought by the applicant. The PMA can include post-approval conditions that the FDA believes necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the device, including, among other things, restrictions on labeling, promotion, sale and distribution.
After a device is placed on the market, it remains subject to significant regulatory requirements. Medical devices may be marketed only for the uses and indications for which they are cleared or approved. Device manufacturers must also register their establishment(s), including payment of an annual establishment registration fee, and list their device(s) with the FDA. A medical device manufacturer’s manufacturing processes and those of its suppliers are required to comply with the applicable portions of the QSR, which cover the methods and documentation of the design, testing, production, processes, controls, quality assurance, labeling, packaging and shipping of medical devices. Domestic facility records and manufacturing processes are subject to periodic unscheduled inspections by the FDA. The FDA also may inspect foreign facilities that export products to the United States.
Other Healthcare Laws
In addition to FDA restrictions on marketing of pharmaceutical products, several other types of state and federal laws have been applied to restrict certain general business and marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry. These laws include anti-kickback, false claims, transparency and health information privacy laws and other healthcare laws and regulations.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce, or in return for, purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any healthcare item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or other federally financed healthcare programs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, collectively, the ACA, amended the intent element of the federal statute so that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to commit a violation. This statute has been interpreted
to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers and formulary managers, among others, on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting certain common activities from prosecution or other regulatory sanctions, the exceptions and safe harbors - once implemented - are drawn narrowly, and practices that involve remuneration intended to induce prescribing, purchases or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Additionally, the ACA amended the federal Anti-Kickback Statute such that a violation of that statute can serve as a basis for liability under the federal civil False Claims Act.
Federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the federal civil False Claims Act, prohibit any person or entity from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment to the federal government, or knowingly making, or causing to be made, a false statement to have a false claim paid. This includes claims made to programs where the federal government reimburses, such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as programs where the federal government is a direct purchaser, such as when it purchases off the Federal Supply Schedule. Pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies have been prosecuted under these laws for, among other things, allegedly inflating drug prices they report to pricing services, which in turn were used by the government to set Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, and for allegedly providing free product to customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal programs for the product. In addition, certain marketing practices, including off-label promotion, may also violate false claims laws. Most states also have statutes or regulations similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and civil False Claims Act, which apply to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payor.
Other federal statutes pertaining to healthcare fraud and abuse include the civil monetary penalties statute, which prohibits, among other things, the offer or payment of remuneration to a Medicaid or Medicare beneficiary that the offeror or payor knows or should know is likely to influence the beneficiary to order a receive a reimbursable item or service from a particular supplier, and the additional federal criminal statutes created by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing or attempting to execute a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or obtain by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises any money or property owned by or under the control of any healthcare benefit program in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services.
In addition, HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published on January 25, 2013, impose obligations on certain healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses, known as covered entities, as well as their business associates and their subcontractors that perform certain services involving the storage, use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security, and transmission of individually identifiable health information, and require notification to affected individuals and regulatory authorities of certain breaches of security of individually identifiable health information. HITECH increased the civil and criminal penalties that may be imposed against covered entities, business associates and possibly other persons, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, many state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, and often are not pre-empted by HIPAA.
Further, pursuant to the ACA, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has issued a final rule that requires certain manufacturers of prescription drugs to collect and annually report information on certain payments or transfers of value to physicians, as defined by such law, and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. The reported data is made available in searchable form on a public website on an annual basis. Failure to submit required information may result in civil monetary penalties. Beginning calendar year 2021, manufacturers must collect information regarding payments and other transfers of value to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants and certified nurse- midwives for reporting in 2022. The reported information is made publicly available on a searchable website.
We may also be subject to analogous state and foreign anti-kickback and false claims laws that may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third party payors, including private insurers, or that apply regardless of payor. In addition, several states now require prescription drug companies to report certain expenses relating to the marketing and promotion of drug products and to report gifts and
payments to individual healthcare practitioners in these states. Other states prohibit various marketing-related activities, such as the provision of certain kinds of gifts or meals.
Still other states require the posting of information relating to clinical studies and their outcomes. Some states require the reporting of certain drug pricing information, including information pertaining to and justifying price increases. In addition, certain states require pharmaceutical companies to implement compliance programs and/or marketing codes. Several additional states are considering similar proposals. Certain states and local jurisdictions also require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives. Compliance with these laws is difficult and time consuming, and companies that do not comply with these state laws face civil penalties. Additionally, we may also be subject to state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
Efforts to ensure that business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations involve substantial costs. If a drug company’s operations are found to be in violation of any such requirements, it may be subject to significant penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, the curtailment or restructuring of its operations, loss of eligibility to obtain approvals from the FDA, exclusion from participation in government contracting, healthcare reimbursement or other federal or state government healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, integrity oversight and reporting obligations, imprisonment, and reputational harm. Although effective compliance programs can mitigate the risk of investigation and prosecution for violations of these laws, these risks cannot be entirely eliminated. Any action for an alleged or suspected violation can cause a drug company to incur significant legal expenses and divert management’s attention from the operation of the business, even if such action is successfully defended.
U.S. Healthcare Reform
In the United States there have been, and continue to be, proposals by the federal government, state governments, regulators and third-party payors to control or manage the increased costs of health care and, more generally, to reform the U.S. healthcare system. The pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and has been significantly affected by major legislative initiatives For example, in March 2010, the ACA was enacted, which intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of healthcare spending, enhance remedies against fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for the healthcare and health insurance industries, impose new taxes and fees on the health industry and impose additional health policy reforms, substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacts the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The ACA, among other things, (i) subjected therapeutic biologics to potential competition by lower-cost biosimilars by creating a licensure framework for follow-on biologic products, (ii) proscribed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs and therapeutic biologics that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, (iii) increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, (iv) established annual nondeductible fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs and therapeutic biologics, apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government healthcare programs (v) established a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% (now 70%) point of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs and therapeutic biologics to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs and therapeutic biologics to be covered under Medicare Part D, (vi) expanded eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to additional individuals and by adding new mandatory eligibility categories for individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability, (vii) expanded the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health program (viii) created a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research, and (ix) established a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at CMS to test innovative payment and service delivery models to lower Medicare and Medicaid spending, potentially including prescription drug spending.
There have been legislative and judicial efforts to modify, repeal, or otherwise invalidate all, or certain provisions of, the ACA, including measures taken during the Trump administration. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or the Tax Reform Act, among other things, included a provision that repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year
that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate.” In November 2020, the United States Supreme Court held oral arguments on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision that held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. It is uncertain how the United States Supreme court will rule on this case or how healthcare measures of the Biden administration will impact the ACA and our business. Additionally, the 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the ACA-mandated “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and medical device tax and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminates the health insurer tax. Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or the BBA, among other things, amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, to increase from 50% to 70% the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” In addition, CMS published a final rule that would give states greater flexibility, effective January 1, 2020, in setting benchmarks for insurers in the individual and small group marketplaces, which may have the effect of relaxing the essential health benefits required under the ACA for plans sold through such marketplaces. We cannot predict the ultimate content, timing or effect of any healthcare reform legislation or the impact of potential legislation on us.
Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted to reduce healthcare expenditures. United States federal government agencies also currently face potentially significant spending reductions, which may further impact healthcare expenditures. On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year. These reductions went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, including the BBA, will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken. The CARES Act, which was signed into law in March 2020 and is designed to provide financial support and resources to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and extended the sequester through 2031. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 extended the suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester through March 31, 2021. Moreover, on January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. If federal spending is further reduced, anticipated budgetary shortfalls may also impact the ability of relevant agencies, such as the FDA or the National Institutes of Health to continue to function at current levels. Amounts allocated to federal grants and contracts may be reduced or eliminated. These reductions may also impact the ability of relevant agencies to timely review and approve research and development, manufacturing, and marketing activities, which may delay our ability to develop, market and sell any products we may develop.
Recently, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. At the federal level, the Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 included a $135 billion allowance to support legislative proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs.
In particular, July 24, 2020 and September 13, 2020, the Trump administration announced several executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that seek to implement several of the administration’s proposals. As a result, the FDA also released a final rule on September 24, 2020 providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. The Trump and Biden administrations both issued executive orders intended to favor government procurement from domestic manufacturers. In addition, the Trump administration issued an executive order specifically aimed at the procurement of pharmaceutical products, which instructed the federal government to develop a list of “essential” medicines and then buy those and other medical supplies that are manufactured, including the manufacture of the API, in the United States. It is unclear whether this executive order or something similar will be implemented by the Biden Administration.
Further, on November 20, 2020, HHS finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. CMS
also published an interim final rule that establishes an MFN Model for Medicare Part B drug payment. This regulation would substantially change the drug reimbursement landscape as it bases Medicare Part B payment for 50 selected drugs on prices in foreign countries instead of ASP and establishes a fixed add-on payment in place of the current 6% (4.3% after sequestration) of ASP. The MFN drug payment amount is expected to be lower than the current ASP-based limit because U.S. drug prices are generally the highest in the world. On December 28, 2020, the United States District Court in Northern California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of the interim final rule, and it faces uncertain prospects for implementation.
At the state level, legislatures are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in most cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.
It is possible that additional governmental action is taken to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For example, on April 18, 2020, CMS announced that qualified health plan issuers under the ACA may suspend activities related to the collection and reporting of quality data that would have otherwise been reported between May and June 2020 given the challenges healthcare providers are facing responding to the COVID-19 virus.
Additionally, on May 30, 2018, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017 was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase I clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA authorization under an FDA expanded access program; however, manufacturers are not obligated to provide investigational new drug products under the current federal right to try law.
Coverage and Reimbursement
Patients in the United States and elsewhere generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse part or all of the costs associated with their prescription drugs. Accordingly, market acceptance of our drug products is dependent on the extent to which third-party coverage and reimbursement is available from government health administration authorities (including in connection with government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid in the United States), private healthcare insurers and other healthcare funding organizations. Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any drug products for which we may obtain regulatory approval. Coverage decisions may not favor new drug products when more established or lower-cost therapeutic alternatives are already available. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless reimbursement is adequate to cover all or a significant portion of the cost of our drug products.
Coverage and reimbursement policies for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor as there is no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug products among third-party payors in the United States. There may be significant delays in obtaining coverage and reimbursement as the process of determining coverage and reimbursement is often time-consuming and costly which will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage or adequate reimbursement will be obtained. It is difficult to predict at this time what government authorities and third-party payors will decide with respect to coverage and reimbursement for our drug products. Additionally, we may develop, either by ourselves or with collaborators, companion diagnostic tests for our product candidates for certain indications. We, or our collaborators, if any, will be required to obtain coverage and reimbursement for these tests separate and apart from the coverage and reimbursement we seek for our product candidates, once approved.
The market for our product candidates will depend significantly on access to third-party payors’ drug formularies or lists of medications for which third-party payors provide coverage and reimbursement. Competition to be included in such formularies often leads to downward pricing pressures. In particular, third-party payors may refuse to include a particular reference listed drug in their formularies or otherwise restrict patient access to a reference listed drug when a less costly generic equivalent or other alternative is available.
The U.S. government, state legislatures and foreign governmental entities have shown significant interest in implementing cost containment programs to limit the growth of government-paid healthcare costs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and coverage and requirements for substitution of generic products for branded prescription
drugs. Adoption of government controls and measures and tightening of restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures could exclude or limit our drugs products from coverage and limit payments for pharmaceuticals.
In addition, we expect that the increased emphasis on managed care and cost containment measures in the United States by third-party payors and government authorities to continue and will place pressure on pharmaceutical pricing and coverage. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more drug products for which we receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.
As of December 31, 2022, we had 122 full-time employees. Women represent approximately 49% of our employees with approximately 34% holding senior management level/leadership roles. Of our employees, 49% have an M.D. or a Ph.D. From time to time, we also retain independent contractors to support our organization. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered by collective bargaining agreements, and we believe our relationship with our employees is good.
Diversity & Inclusion
We are committed to creating and maintaining a workplace free from discrimination or harassment on the basis of color, race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification or expression or any other status protected by applicable law. Our management team and employees are expected to exhibit and promote honest, ethical, and respectful conduct in the workplace. All of our employees must adhere to a code of conduct that sets standards for appropriate behavior and are required to attend training to help prevent, identify, report and stop any type of discrimination and harassment. Our recruitment, hiring, development, training, compensation, and advancement at our company is based on qualifications, performance, skills, and experience without regard to gender, race and ethnicity.
Competitive Pay & Benefits
We strive to provide pay, comprehensive benefits and services that help meet the varying needs of our employees. Our total rewards package includes competitive pay; comprehensive healthcare benefits package for employees, with family member healthcare benefits covered at approximately 80%; a health savings account with company contribution; 20 days of paid time off and paid holidays; family medical leave and flexible work schedules. In addition, we offer every full-time employee, both exempt and non-exempt, the benefit of equity ownership in the company through stock option grants and our employee stock purchase plan. We sponsor a 401(k) plan that includes a discretionary matching contribution.
Employee Development & Training
We focus on attracting, retaining, and cultivating talented individuals. Employees are encouraged to attend job specific scientific, clinical and technological meetings and conferences and have access to resources they need to be successful.
The safety, health and wellness of our employees is a top priority. To support a culture of safety, management has established a safety committee that meets regularly to assess and discuss compliance with and potential changes to the Company's policy, procedures, and training needs. Our protocols are designed to comply with health and safety standards as required by federal, state and local government agencies, taking into consideration guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health authorities.
We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware in February 2016. Our principal executive offices are located at 200 Powder Mill Road, Wilmington, DE 19803, and our telephone number is (302) 467-1280. Our website address is www.preludetx.com. The information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of, and is not
incorporated by reference into, this Annual Report. Investors should not rely on any such information in deciding whether to purchase our common stock.
The mark “Prelude Therapeutics,” the Prelude logo and all product names are our common law trademarks. All other service marks, trademarks and trade names appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and tradenames referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K appear without the ® and symbols, but those references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights, or the right of the applicable licensor to these trademarks and tradenames.
We make available free of charge electronic versions of our Annual Report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports on our website, preludetx.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file or furnish such materials to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. The reports are also available at www.sec.gov.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. Before making your decision to invest in shares of our common stock, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties that we are unaware of, or that we currently believe are not material, may also become important factors that affect us. We cannot assure you that any of the events discussed below will not occur. These events could have a material and adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If that were to happen, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
Summary of Risk Factors
Our business is subject to several risks and uncertainties, including those immediately following this summary. Some of these risks are:
Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need for Capital
We have a limited operating history, which may make it difficult to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability. We have incurred significant operating losses since our inception and have not generated any revenue. We expect to incur continued losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
Investment in drug development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. We commenced operations in 2016 and are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. We have not yet commercialized any product, and we do not expect to generate revenue from sales of any products for several years, if at all. Consequently, there have been limited operations upon which we or you can evaluate our business. Predictions about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history or a history of successfully developing and commercializing cancer therapies. For the year ended December 31, 2022, we reported a net loss of $115.4 million. As of December 31, 2022, we had an accumulated deficit of $334.6 million. We expect to continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations.
Since our inception, we have focused substantially all of our efforts and financial resources on the research, preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates, PRT543, PRT811, PRT1419, and PRT2527, and our research efforts on other potential product candidates targeting PRMT5, MCL1, CDK9, and BRM, otherwise known as SMARCA2. As of December 31, 2022, our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities were $201.7 million.
We expect to incur increasing levels of operating losses for the foreseeable future, particularly as we advance PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789 through clinical development. Our prior losses, combined with expected future losses, have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital. We expect our research and development expenses to significantly increase in connection with our additional planned clinical trials for our lead product candidates, including the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trials for both the oral formulation and IV formulation of PRT1419, the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial for PRT2527, the Phase 1 clinical trials for PRT3645 and PRT3789, and development and subsequent INDs of other future product candidates we may choose to pursue, including a kinase inhibitor. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we will incur significant sales, marketing and outsourced manufacturing expenses in connection with the commercialization. We will also continue to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. As a result, we expect to continue to incur significant and increasing operating losses for the foreseeable future. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with developing pharmaceutical products, we are unable to predict the extent of any future losses or when we will become profitable, if at all. Even if we do become profitable, we may not be able to sustain or increase our profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. We expect our financial condition and operating results to fluctuate significantly from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Accordingly, you should not rely upon the results of any quarterly or annual periods as indications of future operating performance.
Our ability to become profitable depends upon our ability to generate revenue. To date, we have not generated any revenue and we do not know when, or if, we will generate any revenue. We do not expect to generate significant revenue unless and until we obtain marketing approval for, and begin to sell, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or another product candidate. Our ability to generate revenue depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, our ability to:
To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in designing, developing, and eventually commercializing products that generate significant revenue. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical testing and clinical trials for our product candidates, designing additional product candidates, establishing arrangements with third parties for the manufacture of clinical supplies of our product candidates, obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates and manufacturing, marketing and selling any products for which we may obtain marketing approval. We are only in the preliminary stages of most of these activities. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we do, may never generate revenues that are significant enough to achieve profitability.
In cases where we are successful in obtaining regulatory approval to market one or more of our product candidates, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which we gain regulatory approval, the accepted price for the product, the ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement, and whether we own the commercial rights for that territory. If the number of our addressable patients is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect, or the treatment population is narrowed by competition, physician choice or treatment guidelines, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of such products, even if approved.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses we will incur or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. If we decide to or are required by the FDA or regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions to perform studies or clinical trials in addition to those currently expected, or if there are any delays in establishing appropriate manufacturing arrangements for, in initiating or completing our current and planned clinical trials for, or in the development of, any of our product candidates, our expenses could increase materially and profitability could be further delayed.
Even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would depress the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, maintain our research and development efforts, diversify our product offerings or even continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company could also cause you to lose all or part of your investment.
We will require substantial additional funding to pursue our business objectives. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on terms acceptable to us, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research or drug development programs, any future commercialization efforts or other operations.
We expect our expenses to increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we advance our product candidates, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789 and other pipeline product candidates through clinical development, and seek to design additional product candidates from our discovery programs. We expect increased expenses as we continue our research and development, expand our operations and build our new facility, initiate additional clinical trials, and seek marketing approval for our lead programs and our other product candidates. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution. Furthermore, we expect to continue to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on favorable terms, or at all. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on favorable terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs, our commercialization plans or other operations.
We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities will enable us to fund our operating expenses, and capital expenditure requirements through the fourth quarter of 2024. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could use our capital resources sooner than we currently expect. Changes beyond our control may occur that would cause us to use our available capital before that time, including changes in and
progress of our drug development activities and changes in regulation. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
We will require additional capital to complete our planned clinical development programs for our current product candidates to obtain regulatory approval. Our ability to raise additional funds will depend on financial, economic and market conditions and other factors, over which we may have no or limited control. If adequate funds are not available on commercially acceptable terms when needed, we may be forced to delay, reduce or terminate the development or commercialization of all or part of our research programs or product candidates or we may be unable to take advantage of future business opportunities. Furthermore, any additional capital-raising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our current and future product candidates, if approved.
Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.
Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenue, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances and marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations, even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a common stockholder. Debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making acquisitions or capital expenditures or declaring dividends.
If we raise additional funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or product candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings or other arrangements when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our research, product development or future commercialization efforts or grant rights to third parties to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.
We may be adversely affected by the effects of inflation.
Inflation has the potential to adversely affect our liquidity, business, financial condition and results of operations by increasing our overall cost structure. The existence of inflation in the economy has resulted in, and may continue to result in, higher interest rates and capital costs, supply shortages, increased costs of labor, components, manufacturing and shipping, as well as weakening exchange rates and other similar effects. As a result of inflation, we have experienced and may continue to experience cost increases. Although we may take measures to mitigate the effects of inflation, if these measures are not effective, our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity could be materially adversely affected. Even if such measures are effective, there could be a difference between the timing of when these beneficial actions impact our results of operations and when the costs of inflation are incurred.
Risks Related to Design and Development of our Product Candidates
We are highly dependent on the success of our product candidates, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789 which are in early clinical development. We have not completed successful late-stage pivotal clinical trials or obtained regulatory approval for any product candidate. We may never obtain approval for any of our product candidates or achieve or sustain profitability.
Our future success is highly dependent on our ability to obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize, our product candidates, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789. We are early in our development efforts and our lead product candidates, PRT1419, PRT2527, and PRT3645, are each currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial. Our other product candidates are in earlier stages of development. We currently have no products that are approved for sale in any jurisdiction. There can be no assurance that PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or our other product candidates in development will achieve success in their clinical trials or obtain regulatory approval.
Our ability to generate product revenues, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend heavily on the successful development and eventual commercialization of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or other product candidates in development. The success of our product candidates, including PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789 will depend on several factors, including the following:
Many of these factors are beyond our control, and it is possible that none of our product candidates will ever obtain regulatory approval even if we expend substantial time and resources seeking such approval. If we do not achieve one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully commercialize our product candidates, which would materially harm our business. For example, our business could be harmed if results of our ongoing clinical trials of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, or PRT3789 vary adversely from our expectations.
Drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, and clinical testing is uncertain as to the outcome.
We currently have three product candidates in Phase 1 clinical development and additional product candidates in preclinical development, and the risk of failure for each is high. We are unable to predict when or if our product candidates will prove effective or safe in humans or will obtain marketing approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical development and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is uncertain as to the outcome.
A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. The outcome of preclinical testing and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials or of clinical trials of the same product candidates in other indications, and interim or preliminary results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. Later-stage clinical trials could differ in significant ways from early-stage clinical trials, including changes to inclusion and exclusion criteria, efficacy endpoints, dosing regimen and statistical design. In particular, the small number of patients in our current Phase 1 clinical trials may make the results of these trials less predictive of the outcome of later clinical trials.
We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete the development and/or commercialization of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or our other product candidates.
Before we can initiate clinical trials of a product candidate in any indication, we must submit the results of preclinical studies to the FDA or to comparable foreign authorities, respectively, along with other information, including information about the product candidate’s chemistry, manufacturing and controls and our proposed clinical trial protocol, as part of an IND or comparable foreign regulatory filings.
The FDA may require us to conduct additional preclinical studies for any product candidate before it allows us to initiate subsequent clinical trials under any IND, which may lead to additional delays and increase the costs of our preclinical development programs.
Any delays in the commencement or completion of our ongoing, planned or future clinical trials could significantly affect our product development costs. We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to obtain marketing approval or commercialize our product candidates, including:
Delays, including delays caused by the above factors, can be costly and could negatively affect our ability to complete a clinical trial or obtain timely marketing approvals. We do not know whether any of our planned preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin on a timely basis or at all, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. For example, the FDA may place a partial or full clinical hold on any of our clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including safety concerns and noncompliance with regulatory requirements. If we are not able to complete successful clinical trials, we will not be able to obtain regulatory approval and will not be able to commercialize our product candidates.
Significant preclinical or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do and impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations.
If we experience delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our ongoing or planned clinical trials, our receipt of necessary regulatory approval could be delayed or prevented.
We may not be able to initiate or continue our ongoing or planned clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to identify and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. In addition, some of our competitors currently have ongoing clinical trials for product candidates that would treat the same patients as our clinical product candidates, and patients who would otherwise be eligible for our clinical trials may instead enroll in clinical trials of our competitors’ product candidates. Patient enrollment is also affected by other factors, including:
Our inability to enroll and maintain a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials would result in significant delays or may require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. Enrollment delays in our clinical trials, including due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may result in increased development costs, which would cause the value of our company to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could adversely impact our business, including our clinical trials and clinical trial operations.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and in other countries in which we have planned or have active clinical trial sites and where our third-party manufacturers operate, could cause significant disruptions that could severely impact our business and clinical trials, including:
Such disruptions could impede, delay, limit or prevent completion of our ongoing clinical trials and preclinical studies or commencement of new clinical trials and ultimately lead to the delay or denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates, which would seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses. We are in close contact with our CROs, CMOs and clinical sites as we seek to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on our studies and current timelines. Measures we have taken in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic include, where feasible, conducting remote clinical trial site activations and data monitoring, and limiting on-site patient visits by adjusting patient assessments and protocol. However, despite these efforts, we have experienced limited delays in trial site initiations, patient participation and patient enrollment in some of our clinical trials and we may continue to experience some delays in our clinical trials and preclinical studies and delays in data collection and analysis. These delays so far have had a limited impact, but this may change as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the response to such ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and could have an adverse impact on our timelines and our business. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could also affect the business of the FDA, EMA or other health authorities, which could result in delays in meetings related to planned or completed clinical trials and ultimately of reviews and approvals of our product candidates. The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may impact our business and clinical trials will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the pandemic, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.
Adverse side effects or other safety risks associated with PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or our other product candidates could delay or preclude approval, cause us to suspend or discontinue clinical trials or abandon further development, limit the commercial profile of an approved product, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.
Results of our ongoing and planned clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects or unexpected characteristics. Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could result in the delay, suspension or termination of clinical trials by us or regulatory authorities for a number of reasons. Furthermore, clinical trials by their nature utilize a sample of the potential patient population. With a limited number of subjects and limited duration of
exposure, rare and severe side effects of our product candidates or those of our competitors may only be uncovered with a significantly larger number of patients exposed to the drug.
Additionally, due to the high mortality rates of the cancers for which we are initially pursuing development and the pretreated nature of many patients in our ongoing clinical trials of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789 a material percentage of patients in these clinical trials may die during a trial, which could impact development of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789, respectively. If we elect or are required to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial, the commercial prospects of our product candidates will be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues from this product candidate will be delayed or eliminated. Serious adverse events observed in clinical trials could hinder or prevent market acceptance of our product candidates. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations significantly.
Moreover, if our product candidates are associated with undesirable side effects in clinical trials or have characteristics that are unexpected, we may elect to abandon or limit their development to more narrow uses or subpopulations in which the undesirable side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective, which may limit the commercial expectations for our product candidates, if approved. We may also be required to modify our study plans based on findings in our clinical trials. Such side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial. Many drugs that initially showed promise in early stage testing have later been found to cause side effects that prevented further development. In addition, regulatory authorities may draw different conclusions, require additional testing to confirm these determinations, require more restrictive labeling, or deny regulatory approval of the product candidate.
It is possible that, as we test our product candidates in larger, longer and more extensive clinical trials, including with different dosing regimens, or as the use of our product candidates becomes more widespread following any regulatory approval, illnesses, injuries, discomforts and other adverse events that were observed in earlier trials, as well as conditions that did not occur or went undetected in previous trials, will be reported by patients. If such side effects become known later in development or upon approval, if any, such findings may harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects significantly.
In addition, if any of our product candidates receive marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by treatment with such drug, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved, and could significantly harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Preliminary, interim and topline data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.
From time to time, we may publicly disclose preliminary, interim or topline data from our clinical trials. These updates are based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the data related to the particular study or trial. Additionally, interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Therefore, positive interim results in any ongoing clinical trial may not be predictive of such results in the completed study or trial. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Topline data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, topline data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. In addition, we may report interim analyses of only certain endpoints rather than all endpoints. Adverse changes between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business and prospects. Further, additional disclosure of interim data by us or by our competitors in the future could result in volatility in the price of our common stock. See the description of risks under the heading “Risks Related to our Common Stock” for more disclosure related to the risk of volatility in our stock price.
Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate or product and our company in general. In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or clinical trial is typically selected from a more extensive amount of available information. You or others may not agree with what we determine is the material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure, and any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular product, product candidate or our business. If the preliminary or topline data that we report differ from late, final or actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, or PRT3789, or any other product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus on research programs and product candidates that we identify for specific indications. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate.
We may not be successful in our efforts to design additional potential product candidates.
A key element of our strategy is to identify molecular targets and intervention points leading to treatment failure, and then apply our expertise of cancer biology and medicinal chemistry, as well as our in-depth understanding of the current landscape of oncology treatments, to design solutions that can be precisely tailored in a target class agnostic fashion. The therapeutic design and development activities that we are conducting may not be successful in developing product candidates that are safe and effective in treating cancer or other diseases. Our research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential product candidates, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including:
Research programs to identify and design new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. We may choose to focus our efforts and resources on a potential product candidate that ultimately proves to be unsuccessful. If we are unable to identify and design suitable product candidates for preclinical and clinical development, we will not be able to obtain revenues from the sale of products in future periods, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely impact our stock price.
Risks Related to Government Regulation
The development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products are subject to extensive regulation, and we may not obtain regulatory approvals for PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or any other product candidates, on a timely basis or at all.
The clinical development, manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, advertising, promotion, export, import, marketing, distribution, adverse event reporting, including the submission of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, and other possible activities relating to PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789, currently our only product candidates in planned or ongoing clinical trials, as well as any other product candidate that we may develop in the future, are subject to extensive regulation. Marketing approval of drugs in the United States requires the submission of an NDA to the FDA, and we are not permitted to market any product candidate in the United States until we obtain approval from the FDA of the NDA for that product. An NDA must be supported by extensive clinical and preclinical data, as well as extensive information regarding pharmacology, chemistry, manufacturing and controls. Our product candidates must be approved by comparable regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions prior to commercialization.
FDA approval of an NDA is not guaranteed, and the review and approval process is an expensive and uncertain process that may take several years. Of the large number of drugs in development in the United States, only a small percentage will successfully complete the FDA regulatory approval process and will be commercialized. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that any of our product candidates will receive regulatory approval in the United States, or other jurisdictions.
The FDA also has substantial discretion in the approval process. The number and types of preclinical studies and clinical trials that will be required for NDA approval varies depending on the product candidate, the disease or the condition that the product candidate is designed to treat and the regulations applicable to any particular product candidate. Despite the time and expense associated with preclinical studies and clinical trials, failure can occur at any stage. The results of preclinical and early clinical trials of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or any other product candidate may not be predictive of the results of our later-stage clinical trials.
Clinical trial failure may result from a multitude of factors including flaws in trial design, dose selection, placebo effect, patient enrollment criteria and failure to demonstrate favorable safety or efficacy traits, and failure in clinical trials can occur at any stage. Companies in the pharmaceutical industry frequently suffer setbacks in the advancement of clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Based upon negative or inconclusive results, we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or preclinical studies. In addition, data obtained from clinical trials are susceptible to varying interpretations, and regulators may not interpret our data as favorably as we do, which may further delay, limit or prevent marketing approval.
The FDA could delay, limit or deny approval of a product candidate for many reasons, including because the FDA:
In addition, we may experience delays or rejections based upon additional government regulation from future legislation or administrative action, or changes in regulatory authority policy during the period of product development, clinical trials, and the review process. For example, the Oncology Center of Excellence, or OCE, within the FDA has recently advanced Project Optimus, which is an initiative to reform the dose optimization and dose selection paradigm in oncology drug development to emphasize selection of an optimal dose, which is a dose or doses that maximizes not only the efficacy of a drug but the safety and tolerability as well. This shift from the prior approach, which generally determined the maximum tolerated dose, may require sponsors to spend additional time and resources to further explore a product candidate’s dose-response relationship to facilitate optimum dose selection in a target population. Other recent OCE initiatives have included Project FrontRunner, a new initiative with a goal of developing a framework for identifying candidate drugs for initial clinical development in the earlier advanced setting rather than for treatment of patients who have received numerous prior lines of therapies or have exhausted available treatment options. We are considering these policy changes as they relate to our programs. We have not obtained FDA approval for any product. This lack of experience may impede our ability to obtain FDA approval in a timely manner, if at all, for our clinical product candidates.
We have not obtained FDA approval for any product. This lack of experience may impede our ability to obtain FDA approval in a timely manner, if at all, for our clinical product candidates.
If we experience delays in obtaining approval or if we fail to obtain approval of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, or PRT3789, our commercial prospects will be harmed and our ability to generate revenues will be materially impaired which would adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
The accelerated approval pathway for our product candidates may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
Under the FDA’s accelerated approval program, the FDA may approve a drug for a serious or life-threatening illness that provides meaningful therapeutic benefit to patients over existing treatments based upon a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. We may seek accelerated approval for one or more of our product candidates on the basis of ORR with an acceptable duration of response, a surrogate endpoint that we believe is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit.
For drugs granted accelerated approval, post-marketing confirmatory trials are required to describe the anticipated effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit. These confirmatory trials must be completed with due diligence and, in some cases, the FDA may require that the trial be designed, initiated, and/or fully enrolled prior to granting accelerated approval. If any of our competitors were to receive full approval on the basis of a confirmatory trial for an indication for which we are seeking accelerated approval before we receive accelerated approval, the indication we are
seeking may no longer qualify as a condition for which there is an unmet medical need and accelerated approval of our product candidate would be more difficult or may not occur. Moreover, the FDA may withdraw approval of our product candidate approved under the accelerated approval pathway if, for example:
Recently, the accelerated approval pathway has come under scrutiny within the FDA and by Congress. The FDA has put increased focus on ensuring that confirmatory studies are conducted with diligence and, ultimately, that such studies confirm the benefit. For example, FDA has convened its Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee to review what the FDA has called dangling or delinquent accelerated approvals where confirmatory studies have not been completed or where results did not confirm benefit. In addition, the OCE has recently announced Project Confirm, which is an initiative to promote the transparency of outcomes related to accelerated approvals for oncology indications and provide a framework to foster discussion, research and innovation in approval and post-marketing processes, with the goal to enhance the balance of access and verification of benefit for therapies available to patients with cancer and hematologic malignancies. Furthermore, Congress is considering various proposals to potentially make changes to the accelerated approval pathway, including proposals to increase the likelihood of withdrawal of approval in such circumstances.
Our failure to obtain marketing approval in foreign jurisdictions would prevent our product candidates from being marketed in those jurisdictions, and any approval we are granted for our product candidates in the United States would not assure approval of product candidates in foreign jurisdictions.
In order to market and sell our products in any jurisdiction outside the United States, we must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. The approval procedure varies among countries and can involve additional testing. The time required to obtain approval may differ substantially from that required to obtain FDA approval. The regulatory approval process outside the United States generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. In addition, in many countries outside the United States, it is required that the product be approved for reimbursement before the product can be approved for sale in that country. We may not obtain approvals from regulatory authorities outside the United States on a timely basis, if at all. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions, and approval by one regulatory authority outside the United States does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions or by the FDA. We may not be able to submit for marketing approvals and may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our products in any market.
We may not be able to obtain or maintain orphan drug designation or exclusivity for our product candidates.
Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as “orphan drugs.” Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a drug as an orphan drug if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or if the disease or condition affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States and there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug for the type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product in the United States.
Orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives, such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. Additionally, if a product that has orphan designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug for the same indication for seven years, except in certain circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority (i.e., another product is safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care) over the product with orphan exclusivity or where the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient product quantity. Competitors, however, may receive approval of different products for the same indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity, or obtain approval for the same product but for a different indication than that for which the orphan product has exclusivity.
We may apply for an orphan drug designation in the United States or other geographies for our product candidates, where such designation is available, in the future. However, obtaining an orphan drug designation can be difficult, and we may not be successful in doing so. Even if we obtain orphan drug designation for our product candidates in specific indications, we may not be the first to obtain regulatory approval of these product candidates for the orphan-designated indication, due to the uncertainties associated with developing pharmaceutical products. In addition, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan-designated indication or may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for orphan designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. Orphan drug designation does not ensure that we will receive marketing exclusivity in a particular market, and we cannot assure you that any future application for orphan drug designation in any other geography or with respect to any other product candidate will be granted. Orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug, nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process.
A Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA for any of our current or future product candidates may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and it would not increase the likelihood that the product candidate will receive marketing approval.
We may seek a Breakthrough Therapy Designation for one or more of our current or future product candidates. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For drugs that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens. Drugs designated as breakthrough therapies by the FDA are also eligible for priority review if supported by clinical data at the time of the submission of the NDA.
Designation as a breakthrough therapy is at the discretion of the FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe that one of our product candidates meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of a Breakthrough Therapy Designation for a drug may not result in a faster development process, review, or approval compared to drugs considered for approval under conventional FDA procedures and it would not assure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our product candidates qualify as breakthrough therapies, the FDA may later decide that the product candidate no longer meets the conditions for qualification or that the time period for FDA review or approval will not be shortened.
If we are unable to successfully develop, validate, obtain regulatory approval of and commercialize companion diagnostic tests for any product candidates that require such tests, or experience significant delays in doing so, we may not realize the full commercial potential of these product candidates.
A companion diagnostic is a medical device, often an in vitro device, which provides information that is essential for the safe and effective use of a corresponding therapeutic drug product. A companion diagnostic can be used to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from the therapeutic product. In the future, we may evaluate opportunities to develop, either by ourselves or with collaborators, companion diagnostic tests for our product candidates for certain indications.
A companion diagnostic is generally developed in conjunction with the clinical program for an associated therapeutic product. To date, the FDA has required premarket approval of the vast majority of companion diagnostics for cancer therapies. Generally, when a companion diagnostic is essential to the safe and effective use of a drug product, the FDA requires that the companion diagnostic be approved before or concurrent with approval of the therapeutic product and before a product can be commercialized. The approval of a companion diagnostic as part of the therapeutic product’s labeling limits the use of the therapeutic product to only those patients who express the specific genetic alteration that the companion diagnostic was developed to detect.
Development of a companion diagnostic could include additional meetings with regulatory authorities, such as a pre-submission meeting and the requirement to submit an investigational device exemption application. In the case of a companion diagnostic that is designated as “significant risk device,” approval of an investigational device exemption by the
FDA and IRB is required before such diagnostic is used in conjunction with the clinical trials for a corresponding product candidate.
To be successful in developing, validating, obtaining approval of and commercializing a companion diagnostic, we or our collaborators will need to address a number of scientific, technical, regulatory and logistical challenges. We have no prior experience with medical device or diagnostic test development. If we choose to develop and seek FDA approval for companion diagnostic tests on our own, we will require additional personnel. We may rely on third parties for the design, development, testing, validation and manufacture of companion diagnostic tests for our therapeutic product candidates that require such tests, the application for and receipt of any required regulatory approvals, and the commercial supply of these companion diagnostics. If these parties are unable to successfully develop companion diagnostics for these therapeutic product candidates, or experience delays in doing so, we may be unable to enroll enough patients for our current and planned clinical trials, the development of these therapeutic product candidates may be adversely affected, these therapeutic product candidates may not obtain marketing approval, and we may not realize the full commercial potential of any of these therapeutics that obtain marketing approval. For any product candidate for which a companion diagnostic is necessary to select patients who may benefit from use of the product candidate, any failure to successfully develop a companion diagnostic may cause or contribute to delayed enrollment of our clinical trials, and may prevent us from initiating a pivotal trial. In addition, the commercial success of any of our product candidates that require a companion diagnostic will be tied to and dependent upon the receipt of required regulatory approvals and the continued ability of such third parties to make the companion diagnostic commercially available to us on reasonable terms in the relevant geographies. Any failure to do so could materially harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If we decide to pursue a Fast Track Designation by the FDA, it may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process.
We may seek Fast Track Designation for one or more of our product candidates. If a drug is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and the drug demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for this condition, the product sponsor may apply for FDA Fast Track Designation. The FDA has broad discretion whether to grant this designation, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for this designation, we cannot assure you that the FDA would decide to grant it. Even if we do receive Fast Track Designation, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. The FDA may withdraw Fast Track Designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program.
Even if we obtain marketing approval for our product candidates, the terms of approvals, ongoing regulation of our products or other post-approval restrictions may limit how we manufacture and market our products and compliance with such requirements may involve substantial resources, which could materially impair our ability to generate revenue.
Any product candidates for which we receive accelerated approval from the FDA are required to undergo one or more confirmatory clinical trials. If such a product candidate fails to meet its safety and efficacy endpoints in such confirmatory clinical trials, the regulatory authority may withdraw its conditional approval. There is no assurance that any such product will successfully advance through its confirmatory clinical trial(s). Therefore, even if a product candidate receives accelerated approval from the FDA, such approval may be withdrawn at a later date.
Even if marketing approval of a product candidate is granted, an approved product and its manufacturer and marketer are subject to ongoing review and extensive regulation, which may include the requirement to implement a REMS or to conduct costly post-marketing studies or clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of the product.
We must also comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for any of our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs are subject to a variety of legal and regulatory restrictions and must be consistent with the information in the product’s approved labeling. Thus, we will not be able to promote any products we develop for indications or uses for which they are not approved.
In addition, manufacturers of approved products and those manufacturers’ facilities are required to ensure that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs, which include requirements relating to quality control and quality assurance as well as the corresponding maintenance of records and
documentation and reporting requirements. We and our CMOs could be subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA to monitor and ensure compliance with cGMPs.
Accordingly, assuming we obtain marketing approval for one or more of our product candidates, we and our CMOs will continue to expend time, money and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production, product surveillance and quality control. If we are not able to comply with post-approval regulatory requirements, we could have the marketing approvals for our products withdrawn by regulatory authorities and our ability to market any future products could be limited, which could adversely affect our ability to achieve or sustain profitability. As a result, the cost of compliance with post-approval regulations may have a negative effect on our operating results and financial condition.
Any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval will be subject to ongoing enforcement of post-marketing requirements by regulatory agencies, and we could be subject to substantial penalties, including withdrawal of our product from the market, if we fail to comply with all regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our products, when and if any of them are approved.
Any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval, along with the manufacturing processes, post-approval clinical data, labeling, advertising and promotional activities for such product, will be subject to continual requirements of and review by the FDA and other regulatory authorities. These requirements include, but are not limited to, restrictions governing promotion of an approved product, submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration and listing requirements, cGMP requirements relating to manufacturing, quality control, quality assurance and corresponding maintenance of records and documents, and requirements regarding drug distribution and the distribution of samples to physicians and recordkeeping.
The FDA and other federal and state agencies, including the Department of Justice, closely regulate compliance with all requirements governing prescription drug products, including requirements pertaining to marketing and promotion of drugs in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling and manufacturing of products in accordance with cGMP requirements. For example, the FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. Violations of such requirements may lead to investigations alleging violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and other statutes, including the False Claims Act and other federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws as well as state consumer protection laws. Our failure to comply with all regulatory requirements, and later discovery of previously unknown adverse events or other problems with our products, manufacturers or manufacturing processes, may yield various results, including:
Non-compliance by us or any future collaborator with regulatory requirements, including safety monitoring or pharmacovigilance, and with requirements related to the development of products for the pediatric population can also result in significant financial penalties.
Our current and future relationships with customers and third-party payors may be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, transparency, health privacy, and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to significant penalties, including criminal, civil, and administrative penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.
Healthcare providers, including physicians, and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our current and future arrangements with healthcare providers, third-party payors and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we research, as well as, market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain marketing approval. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations that may be applicable to our business include the following:
Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional integrity reporting and oversight obligations, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.
Health care policy changes, including U.S. health care reform legislation, may have a material adverse effect on our business.
In response to perceived increases in health care costs in recent years, there have been and continue to be proposals by the federal government, state governments, regulators, and third-party payors to control these costs and, more generally, to reform the U.S. health care system. Certain of these proposals could limit the prices we are able to charge for our products or the amounts of reimbursement available for our products and could limit the acceptance and availability of our products. Further, while the United States has begun shifting to pay-for-performance rather than fee-for-service models and has been embracing many shared-risk arrangements, CMS and OIG specifically excluded medical device manufacturers from utilizing the new, more flexible Stark Law exceptions and Anti-Kickback Statute safe harbors under the Final Rules, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care, which were published on December 2, 2020 in the Federal Register and were largely effective January 19, 2021. The exclusion of manufacturers from utilizing these exceptions and safe harbors will not allow us to avail ourselves of immunity from liability under the laws, potentially inviting greater scrutiny over our shared risk arrangements.
Comprehensive healthcare legislation, signed into law in the United States in March 2010, titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively, the ACA, imposes certain stringent compliance, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements on companies in various sectors of the life sciences industry, and enhanced penalties for non-compliance. Despite the ACA going into effect over a decade ago, there have been numerous legal and Congressional challenges to the law’s provisions and the effect of certain provisions have made compliance costly. More recently, in June 2021, a case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate (California v. Texas) was overturned at the Supreme Court.
We cannot predict what additional new legislation, agency priorities, and rulemakings may be on the horizon as the United States continues to reassess how it pays for healthcare. As a result, we cannot quantify or predict what impact any changes might have on our business and results of operations. However, any changes that lower reimbursement for our products could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Other legal, regulatory and commercial policy influences are subjecting our industry to significant changes, and we cannot predict whether new regulations or policies will emerge from U.S. federal or state governments, foreign governments, or third-party payors. Government and commercial payors may, in the future, consider healthcare policies and proposals intended to curb rising healthcare costs, including those that could significantly affect reimbursement for healthcare products such as our systems. These policies have included, and may in the future include: basing reimbursement policies and rates on clinical outcomes, the comparative effectiveness, and costs, of different treatment technologies and modalities; imposing price controls and taxes on medical device providers; and other measures. These policies recently culminated in the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, in August 2022, which will, among other things, allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, to negotiate the selling price of certain drugs and biologics that CMS reimburses under Medicare Part B and Part D, although this will only apply to high-expenditure single-source drugs that have been approved for at least 7 years (11 years for biologics). The negotiated prices, which will first become effective in 2026, will be capped at a statutory ceiling price beginning in October 2023, penalize drug manufacturers that increase prices of Medicare Part B and Part D drugs at a rate greater than the rate of inflation. The IRA permits the Secretary of HHS to implement many of these provisions through guidance, as opposed to regulation, for the initial years. Manufacturers that fail to comply with the IRA may be subject to various penalties, including civil monetary penalties. The IRA also extends
enhanced subsidies for individuals purchasing health insurance coverage in ACA marketplaces through plan year 2025. These provisions will take effect progressively starting in 2023, although they may be subject to legal challenges. Future significant changes in the healthcare systems in the United States or elsewhere could also have a negative impact on the demand for our current and future products. These include changes that may reduce reimbursement rates for our products and changes that may be proposed or implemented by the current or future laws or regulations.
Governments outside of the United States tend to impose strict price controls, which may adversely affect our revenues, if any.
In some countries, particularly the countries of the European Union, or the EU, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidates to other available therapies. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business could be harmed. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various EU member states, and parallel trade, such as arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any products, if approved in those countries. In addition, the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from its membership in the EU, often referred to as “Brexit”, could lead to legal and regulatory uncertainty in the United Kingdom and may lead to the United Kingdom and EU adopting divergent laws and regulations, including those related to the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals, as the United Kingdom determines which EU laws to replicate or replace. If the United Kingdom were to significantly alter its regulations affecting the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals, we could face significant new costs. As a result, Brexit could impair our ability to transact business in the EU and the United Kingdom.
Laws and regulations governing any international operations we may have in the future may preclude us from developing, manufacturing and selling certain product candidates and products outside of the United States and require us to develop and implement costly compliance programs.
If we expand our operations outside of the United States, we must dedicate additional resources to comply with numerous laws and regulations in each jurisdiction in which we plan to operate. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, prohibits any U.S. individual or business from paying, offering, authorizing payment or offering anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of such third party in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with certain accounting provisions requiring the company to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the company, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.
Compliance with the FCPA is expensive and difficult, particularly in countries in which corruption is a recognized problem. In addition, the FCPA presents particular challenges in the pharmaceutical industry, because, in many countries, hospitals are operated by the government, and doctors and other hospital employees are considered foreign officials. Certain payments to hospitals in connection with clinical trials and other work have been deemed to be improper payments to government officials and have led to FCPA enforcement actions.
Various laws, regulations and executive orders also restrict the use and dissemination outside of the United States, or the sharing with certain non-U.S. nationals, of information classified for national security purposes, as well as certain products and technical data relating to those products. If we expand our presence outside of the United States, it will require us to dedicate additional resources to comply with these laws, and these laws may preclude us from developing, manufacturing or selling certain product candidates and products outside of the United States, which could limit our growth potential and increase our development costs.
The failure to comply with laws governing international business practices may result in substantial civil and criminal penalties and suspension or debarment from government contracting. The Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, also may suspend or bar issuers from trading securities on U.S. exchanges for violations of the FCPA’s accounting provisions.
If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could harm our business.
We and our third-party contractors are subject to numerous foreign, federal, state and local environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources, including any available insurance.
In addition, our leasing and operation of real property may subject us to liability pursuant to certain of these laws or regulations. Under existing U.S. environmental laws and regulations, current or previous owners or operators of real property and entities that disposed or arranged for the disposal of hazardous substances may be held strictly, jointly and severally liable for the cost of investigating or remediating contamination caused by hazardous substance releases, even if they did not know of and were not responsible for the releases.
We could incur significant costs and liabilities which may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results for failure to comply with such laws and regulations, including, among other things, civil or criminal fines and penalties, property damage and personal injury claims, costs associated with upgrades to our facilities or changes to our operating procedures, or injunctions limiting or altering our operations.
Although we maintain liability insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations, which are becoming increasingly more stringent, may impair our research, development or production efforts. Our failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
We are subject to certain U.S. and certain foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export
control, sanctions and other trade laws and regulations. We can face serious consequences for violations.
U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions and other trade laws and regulations prohibit, among other things, companies and their employees, agents, CROs, CMOs, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting, or receiving directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from recipients in the public or private sector. Violations of these laws can result in substantial criminal fines and civil penalties, imprisonment, the loss of trade privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm and other consequences. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities and other organizations. We also expect our non-U.S. activities to increase over time. We expect to rely on third parties for research, preclinical studies and clinical trials and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations and other marketing approvals. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents, or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities.
Any violations of the laws and regulations described above may result in substantial civil and criminal fines and penalties, imprisonment, the loss of export or import privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm and other consequences.
Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties
We rely, and intend to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and perform some of our research and preclinical studies. If these third parties do not satisfactorily carry out their contractual duties, fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements or do not meet expected deadlines, our development programs may be delayed or subject to increased costs or we may be unable to obtain regulatory approval, each of which may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We do not have the ability to independently conduct all aspects of our preclinical testing or clinical trials ourselves. As a result, we are dependent on third parties to conduct our ongoing and planned clinical trials of PRT1419. PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789 and any preclinical studies and clinical trials of any other product candidates. The timing of the initiation and completion of these trials will therefore be partially controlled by such third parties and may result in delays to our development programs. Specifically, we expect CROs, clinical investigators and consultants to play a significant role in the conduct of these trials and the subsequent collection and analysis of data. However, these CROs and other third parties are not our employees, and we will not be able to control all aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each clinical trial is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol and legal, regulatory and scientific standards, and our reliance on the CROs and other third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and our CROs are required to comply with good clinical practices, or GCP, requirements, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA for product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, clinical trial investigators and clinical trial sites. If we or any of our CROs or clinical trial sites fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, the data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable, and the FDA may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that, upon inspection, the FDA will determine that our clinical trials comply with GCPs. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under cGMP regulations. Our failure or the failure of third parties on whom we rely on to comply with these regulations may require us to stop and/or repeat clinical trials, which would delay the marketing approval process.
There is no guarantee that any such CROs, clinical trial investigators or other third parties on which we rely will devote adequate time and resources to our development activities or perform as contractually required. If any of these third parties fail to meet expected deadlines, adhere to our clinical protocols or meet regulatory requirements, otherwise perform in a substandard manner, or terminate their engagements with us, the timelines for our development programs may be extended or delayed or our development activities may be suspended or terminated. If our clinical trial site terminates for any reason, we may experience the loss of follow-up information on subjects enrolled in such clinical trial unless we are able to transfer those subjects to another qualified clinical trial site, which may be difficult or impossible.
Furthermore, these third parties may also have relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other pharmaceutical product development activities that could harm our competitive position. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated protocols, we will not be able to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, marketing approvals for PRT1419. PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or any other product candidates and will not be able to, or may be delayed in our efforts to, successfully commercialize our products.
Manufacturing pharmaceutical products is complex and subject to product loss for a variety of reasons. We rely on third-party suppliers, including single source suppliers, to manufacture preclinical and clinical supplies of our product candidates and we intend to rely on third parties to produce commercial supplies of any approved product candidate. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or products or such quantities at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.
We do not have any manufacturing facilities. We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing, product development purposes, to support regulatory application submissions, as well as for commercial manufacture if any of our product candidates obtain marketing approval. In addition, we expect to contract with analytical laboratories for release and stability testing of our product candidates. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or products or such quantities at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts. In addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may result in disruptions to the operations or an extended shutdown of certain businesses, which could include certain of our contract manufacturers.
We may be unable to establish any agreements with third-party manufacturers or do so on favorable terms. Even if we are able to establish agreements with third-party manufacturers, reliance on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:
We have only limited supply arrangements in place with respect to our product candidates, and these arrangements do not extend to commercial supply. We acquire many key materials on a purchase order basis. As a result, we do not have long-term committed arrangements with respect to our product candidates and other materials. We will need to establish one or more agreements with third parties to develop and scale up the drug manufacturing process, conduct drug testing, and generate data to support a regulatory submission. If we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we will need to establish an agreement for commercial manufacture with a third party.
In addition, we are dependent on a sole supplier for certain components of our manufacturing process. Even if we are able to replace any raw materials or other materials with an alternative, such alternatives may cost more, result in lower yields or not be as suitable for our purposes. In addition, some of the materials that we use to manufacture our product candidates are complex materials, which may be more difficult to substitute. Therefore, any disruptions arising from our sole suppliers could result in delays and additional regulatory submissions.
Third-party manufacturers may not be able to comply with cGMP regulations or similar regulatory requirements outside of the United States. If the FDA determines that our CMOs are not in compliance with FDA laws and regulations, including those governing cGMPs, the FDA may deny a new drug application, or NDA, approval until the deficiencies are corrected or we replace the manufacturer in our application with a manufacturer that is in compliance. Moreover, our failure, or the failure of our third-party manufacturers and suppliers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, seizures or recalls of product candidates or products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our products. In addition, approved products and the facilities at which they are manufactured are required to maintain ongoing compliance with extensive FDA requirements and the requirements of other similar agencies, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to cGMP requirements. As such, our CMOs are subject to continual review and periodic inspections to assess compliance with cGMPs. Furthermore, although we do not have day-to-day control over the operations of our CMOs, we are responsible for ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including cGMPs.
In addition, our third-party manufacturers and suppliers are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of waste products, and failure to comply with such laws and regulations could result in significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for such third parties. Based on the severity of regulatory actions that may be brought against these third parties in the future, our clinical or commercial supply of drug and packaging and other services could be interrupted or limited, which could harm our business.
Our product candidates and any products that we may develop may compete with other product candidates and products for access to manufacturing facilities. As a result, we may not obtain access to these facilities on a priority basis or at all.
There are a limited number of manufacturers that operate under cGMP regulations and that might be capable of manufacturing for us.
As we prepare for later-stage clinical trials and potential commercialization, we will need to take steps to increase the scale of production of our product candidates. We have not yet scaled up the manufacturing process for any of our product candidates. Third party manufacturers may be unable to successfully increase the manufacturing capacity for any of our product candidates in a timely or cost-effective manner, or at all. In addition, quality issues may arise during scale-up or commercial activities. For example, if microbial, viral or other contaminations are discovered in our product candidates or in the manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates are made, such manufacturing facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination.
Any performance failure on the part of our existing or future manufacturers could delay clinical development or marketing approval. We do not currently have arrangements in place for redundant supply or a second source for bulk drug substance. If our current CMOs for preclinical and clinical testing cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such CMOs. Although we believe that there are several potential alternative manufacturers who could manufacture our product candidates, we may incur added costs and delays in identifying and qualifying any such replacement manufacturer or be able to reach agreement with any alternative manufacturer. Further, our third-party manufacturers may experience manufacturing or shipping difficulties due to resource constraints or as a result of natural disasters, labor disputes, unstable political environments, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, or public health epidemics such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If our current third-party manufacturers cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such manufacturers and we may be unable to replace them on a timely basis or at all.
Our current and anticipated future dependence upon others for the manufacture of our product candidates or products may adversely affect our future profit margins and our ability to commercialize any products that obtain marketing approval on a timely and competitive basis.
We may enter into collaborations with third parties for the development and commercialization of our product candidates. If those collaborations are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of these product candidates.
We may seek third-party collaborators for the development and commercialization of some of our product candidates on a select basis. We have not entered into any collaborations to date. Our likely collaborators for any future collaboration arrangements include large and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, regional and national pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies. We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Our ability to reach a definitive agreement for a future collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the future collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors.
If we do enter into any such arrangements with any third parties, we will likely have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our future collaborators dedicate to the development or commercialization of our product candidates. Our ability to generate revenues from these arrangements will depend on our future collaborators’ abilities and efforts to successfully perform the functions assigned to them in these arrangements. Collaborations with future collaborators involving our product candidates would pose numerous risks to us, including the following:
If we establish one or more collaborations, all of the risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described herein would also apply to the activities of any such future collaborators.
Risks Related to Commercialization of our Product Candidates
The incidence and prevalence for target patient populations of our product candidates have not been established with precision. If the market opportunities for our product candidates are smaller than we estimate or if any approval that we obtain is based on a narrower definition of the patient population, our revenue potential and ability to achieve profitability will be adversely affected.
The total addressable market opportunity for PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 and any other product candidates we may develop will ultimately depend upon, among other things, the diagnosis criteria included in the final labeling for each such product candidate if our product candidates are approved for sale for these indications, acceptance by the medical community, patient access, drug and any related companion diagnostic pricing and their reimbursement. We may initially seek regulatory approval of some of our product candidates as therapies for relapsed or refractory patients. The number of patients in our targeted commercial markets and elsewhere may turn out to be lower than expected, patients may not be otherwise amenable to treatment with our drugs, or new patients may become increasingly difficult to identify or gain access to, all of which would adversely affect our results of operations and our business.
Even if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.
If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. For example, current cancer treatments, such as existing targeted therapies, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, are well established in the medical community, and doctors may continue to rely on these treatments. If our product candidates do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:
We currently have no marketing and sales organization and have no experience as a company in commercializing products and we may have to invest significant resources to develop these capabilities. If we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell our products, we may not be able to generate revenue.
We currently have no sales or marketing infrastructure and have no experience in the sale, marketing or distribution of pharmaceutical products. To achieve commercial success for any product for which we obtain marketing approval, we will need to establish sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, either ourselves or through collaboration or other arrangements with third parties.
There are risks involved with establishing our own sales and marketing capabilities. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time-consuming and could delay any product launch. If the commercial launch of a product candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. These efforts are expected to be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.
Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our products on our own include:
If we enter into arrangements with third parties to perform sales and marketing services, our product revenues and our profitability, if any, are likely to be lower than if we were to market and sell any products that we develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to market and sell our product candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are acceptable to us. We likely will have little control over such third parties, and any of these third parties may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our products effectively. If we do not establish sales and marketing capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third parties, we will not be successful in commercializing any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval.
We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.
The development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products is highly competitive. We face competition with respect to our current product candidates and will face competition with respect to any product candidates that we may seek to develop or commercialize in the future, from major pharmaceutical companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and existing or emerging biotechnology companies, academic research institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions worldwide. There are a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that currently are pursuing the development of precision oncology therapies optimized to effectively target the key driver mechanisms in cancers with high unmet need, including Arvinas Inc., Aurigene, Black Diamond Therapeutics, Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim, C4 Therapeutics, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, F. Hoffman-La Roche, Foghorn Therapeutics Inc., Fochon Pharmaceuticals, G1 Therapeutics Inc., Genentech, Kronos Bio, Inc., Kura Oncology, Inc., Kymera Therapeutics Inc., Mirati Therapeutics Inc., Nuvation Bio Inc. Repare Therapeutics Inc., Revolution Medicines, Inc., Relay Therapeutics, Inc., Springworks Therapeutics, Inc., Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In addition, we may face competition from companies developing product candidates that are based on targeting pathways of adaptive resistance, including Amgen Inc., AbbVie Inc., AstraZeneca plc, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Ideaya Biosciences, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Tango Therapeutics, Inc., Vincerx Pharma, Inc., Novartis AG, and Gilead Sciences, Inc.
For our MCL1 program, PRT1419, other companies are developing MCL1 inhibitors with monotherapy and/or combination trials ongoing, including Amgen (AMG176), AstraZeneca (AZD5991), Novartis (MIK665), and Gilead (GS-9716). For our CDK9 program, PRT2527, both AstraZeneca (AZD4573), Vincerx (VIP512), and Kronos (KB-0742) have CDK9 programs in Phase 1 clinical trials. For our CDK4/6 program, PRT3645, Novartis (ribociclib), Lilly (abemaciclib), Pfizer (palbociclib), G1 Therapeutics (G1T38), and Fochon Pharmaceuticals (FCN-437) have clinical trials ongoing. For our SMARCA2 (BRM) degrader program, other companies, including Amgen, Aurigene, C4 Therapeutics, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Foghorn Therapeutics, Inc., Kymera Therapeutics, Arvinas, Genentech, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Lilly have publicly disclosed their pre-clinical research efforts.
Many of the companies against which we are competing or against which we may compete in the future, either alone or through collaborations, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and marketing approved products than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller and other early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These third parties compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, management and sales and marketing personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.
Furthermore, we also face competition more broadly across the oncology market for cost-effective and reimbursable cancer treatments. There are a variety of available drug therapies marketed for cancer. In many cases, these drugs are administered in combination to enhance efficacy. While our product candidates, if any are approved, may compete with these existing drugs and other therapies, to the extent they are ultimately used in combination with or as an adjunct to these therapies, our product candidates may not be competitive with them. Some of these drugs are branded and subject to patent protection, and others are available on a generic basis. Insurers and other third-party payors may also encourage the use of generic products or specific branded products. As a result, obtaining market acceptance of, and gaining significant share of the market for, any of our product candidates that we successfully introduce to the market may pose challenges. In addition, many companies are developing new oncology therapeutics, and we cannot predict what the standard of care will be as our product candidates progress through clinical development.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient to administer, are less expensive or with a more favorable labeling than our current or future product candidates. Our competitors also may obtain FDA, foreign regulatory authority, or other marketing or regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than any approval we may obtain for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. The key competitive factors affecting the success of all of our product candidates, if approved, are likely to be their
efficacy, safety, convenience, price, the level of generic competition and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.
Even if we are able to commercialize any product candidates, the products may become subject to unfavorable pricing regulations, third-party reimbursement practices or healthcare reform initiatives, which would harm our business.
The regulations that govern marketing approvals, pricing, coverage and reimbursement for new drug products vary widely from country to country. Current and future legislation may significantly change the approval requirements in ways that could involve additional costs and cause delays in obtaining approvals. Some countries require approval of the sale price of a drug before it can be marketed. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidate to other available therapies. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we might obtain marketing approval for a product candidate in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay our commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenues, if any, we are able to generate from the sale of the product in that country. Adverse pricing limitations may hinder our ability to recoup our investment in one or more product candidates, even if such product candidates obtain marketing approval.
Our ability to commercialize any product candidates successfully also will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from third-party payors, including government healthcare programs, private health insurers and other organizations. Third-party payors decide which medications they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the CMS, which decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payors often, but not always, follow CMS’s decisions regarding coverage and reimbursement.
A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. Coverage and reimbursement may not be available for any product that we commercialize and, even if these are available, the level of reimbursement may not be satisfactory. Reimbursement may affect the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. Obtaining and maintaining coverage and adequate reimbursement for our products may be difficult. We may be required to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies to justify coverage and reimbursement or the level of reimbursement relative to other therapies. If coverage and adequate reimbursement are not available or reimbursement is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.
Additionally, we may develop, either by ourselves or with collaborators, companion diagnostic tests for our product candidates for certain indications. We, or our collaborators, if any, will be required to obtain coverage and reimbursement for these tests separate and apart from the coverage and reimbursement we seek for our product candidates, once approved. While we have not yet developed any companion diagnostic test for our product candidates, if we do, there is significant uncertainty regarding our ability to obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement for the same reasons applicable to our product candidates.
There may also be significant delays in obtaining coverage and reimbursement for newly approved drugs, and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the drug is approved by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States. Moreover, eligibility for coverage and reimbursement does not imply that a drug will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, intellectual property, manufacture, sale and distribution expenses. Interim reimbursement levels for new drugs, if applicable, may also not be sufficient to cover our costs and may not be made permanent. Reimbursement rates may vary according to the use of the drug and the clinical setting in which it is used, may be based on reimbursement levels already set for lower cost drugs and may be incorporated into existing payments for other services. Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States. Third-party payors often rely upon
Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own reimbursement policies, but also have their own methods and approval process apart from Medicare determinations. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement rates from third-party payors for any approved products that we develop could have a material adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize products and our overall financial condition.
Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and to limit commercialization of any products that we may develop.
We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the testing of our product candidates in human clinical trials and will face an even greater risk if we commercialize any products that we may develop. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against any claims that our product candidates or products caused injuries, we will incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
Our current product liability insurance coverage for the United States and certain other jurisdictions may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. We likely will need to increase our insurance coverage as we expand our clinical trials or if we commence commercialization of our product candidates. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise. A successful product liability claim or series of claims brought against us could decrease our cash and adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Risks Related to Employee Matters and Our Operations
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key employees and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel and manage our human capital.
Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract, motivate and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and medical personnel. We are highly dependent on the development and management expertise of Kris Vaddi, Ph.D., our founder and Chief Executive Officer, as well as the other principal members of our management, scientific and clinical team. We currently do not maintain key person insurance on these individuals. Although we have entered into employment agreements with our executive officers, each of them may terminate their employment with us at any time.
Our industry has experienced a high rate of turnover in recent years. Our ability to compete in the highly competitive pharmaceuticals industry depends upon our ability to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled and experienced personnel with scientific, clinical, regulatory, manufacturing and management skills and experience. We conduct our operations in the greater Delaware area, a region that is home to other pharmaceutical companies as well as many academic and research institutions and in addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased companies’ willingness to hire remote workers, resulting in fierce competition for qualified personnel. We may not be able to attract or retain qualified personnel in the future due to the intense competition for a limited number of qualified personnel among pharmaceutical companies. Many of the other pharmaceutical companies against which we compete have greater financial and other resources, different risk profiles and a longer history in the industry than we do. Our competitors may provide higher compensation, more diverse opportunities and/or better opportunities for career advancement. Any or all of these competing factors may limit our ability
to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, which could negatively affect our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates and to grow our business and operations as currently contemplated.
We expect to expand our development and regulatory capabilities and potentially implement sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, and as a result, we may encounter difficulties in managing our growth, which could disrupt our operations.
As of December 31, 2022, we had 122 full-time employees. We expect significant growth in the number of our employees and the scope of our operations, particularly in the areas of clinical development, clinical operations, manufacturing, regulatory affairs and, if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, sales, marketing and distribution. To manage our anticipated future growth, we must continue to implement and improve our managerial, operational and financial systems, expand our facilities and continue to recruit and train additional qualified personnel. Due to our limited financial resources and the limited experience of our management team in managing a company with such anticipated growth and with developing sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure, we may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. The expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert our management and business development resources.
Further, we currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain third-party contract organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services, including assuming substantial responsibilities for the conduct of our clinical trials and the manufacture of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789, or any future product candidates. We cannot assure you that the services of such third-party contract organizations, advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed, or that we can find qualified replacements. In addition, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality or accuracy of the services provided by our vendors or consultants is compromised for any reason, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain marketing approval of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or any future product candidates or otherwise advance our business. We cannot assure you that we will be able to properly manage our existing vendors or consultants or find other competent outside vendors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, or at all.
If we are not able to effectively manage growth and expand our organization, we may not be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, or PRT3789, our other pipeline product candidates or any future product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.
Our employees, clinical trial investigators, CROs, CMOs, consultants, vendors and any potential commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, clinical trial investigators, CROs, CMOs, consultants, vendors and any potential commercial partners. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct or disclosure of unauthorized activities to us that violates: (i) FDA regulations or those of comparable foreign regulatory authorities, including those laws that require the reporting of true, complete and accurate information, (ii) manufacturing standards, (iii) federal and state health and data privacy, security, fraud and abuse, government price reporting, transparency reporting requirements, and other healthcare laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, (iv) sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct, or (v) laws that require the true, complete and accurate reporting of financial information or data. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation.
We have adopted a code of conduct applicable to all of our employees, as well as a disclosure program and other applicable policies and procedures, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional integrity reporting and oversight obligations, and the curtailment or
restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.
Our internal information technology systems, or those of our third-party CROs, CMOs, or other vendors, contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, cyber-attacks, loss or leakage of data and other disruptions, which could result in a material disruption of our development programs, compromise sensitive information related to our business or prevent us from accessing critical information, potentially exposing us to liability or otherwise adversely affecting our business.
We are increasingly dependent upon information technology systems, infrastructure and data to operate our business. In the ordinary course of business, we collect, store and transmit confidential information (including but not limited to intellectual property, proprietary business information and personal information). It is critical that we do so in a secure manner to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of such confidential information. We also have outsourced elements of our operations to third parties, and as a result we manage a number of third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors, and other contractors and consultants who have access to our confidential information. Our internal information technology systems and infrastructure are also vulnerable to damage from natural disasters, terrorism, war, telecommunication and electrical failures. System failures or outages, including any potential disruptions due to significantly increased global demand on certain cloud-based systems during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, could compromise our ability to perform these functions in a timely manner, which could harm our ability to conduct business or delay our financial reporting. Such failures could materially adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.
Despite the implementation of security measures, given their size and complexity and the increasing amounts of confidential information that they maintain, our internal information technology systems and those of our third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors and other contractors and consultants are potentially vulnerable to breakdown or other damage or interruption from service interruptions, system malfunction, accidents by our employees or third party service providers, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures, as well as security breaches from inadvertent or intentional actions by our employees, third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors, contractors, consultants, business partners and/or other third parties, or from cyber-attacks by malicious third parties (including the deployment of harmful malware, ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, social engineering and other means to affect service reliability and threaten the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information), which may compromise our system infrastructure, or that of our third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors and other contractors and consultants, or lead to data leakage. The risk of a security breach or disruption, particularly through cyber-attacks or cyber intrusion, including by computer hackers, foreign governments, and cyber terrorists, has generally increased as the number, intensity and sophistication of attempted attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is generally increasing the attack surface available for exploitation, as more companies and individuals work online and work remotely, and as such, the risk of a cybersecurity incident potentially occurring, and our investment in risk mitigations against such an incident, is increasing. For example, there has been an increase in phishing and spam emails as well as social engineering attempts from “hackers” hoping to use the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage. We may not be able to anticipate all types of security threats, nor may we be able to implement preventive measures effective against all such security threats. The techniques used by cyber criminals change frequently, may not be recognized until launched and can originate from a wide variety of sources, including outside groups such as external service providers, organized crime affiliates, terrorist organizations or hostile foreign governments or agencies. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or those of our third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors and other contractors and consultants, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and reputational damage and the further development and commercialization of PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or any future product candidates could be delayed. Any breach, loss or compromise of clinical trial participant personal data may also subject us to civil fines and penalties, including under HIPAA, and other relevant state and federal privacy laws in the United States. The costs related to significant security breaches or disruptions could be material and exceed the limits of the cybersecurity insurance we maintain against such risks. If the information technology systems of our third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors and other contractors and consultants become subject to disruptions or security breaches, we may have insufficient recourse against such third parties and we may have to expend significant resources to mitigate the impact of such an event, and to develop and implement protections to prevent future events of this nature from occurring.
While we have not experienced any such system failure, accident or security breach to date, and believe that our data protection efforts and our investment in information technology reduce the likelihood of such incidents in the future, we cannot assure you that our data protection efforts and our investment in information technology will prevent significant
breakdowns, data leakages, breaches in our systems, or those of our third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors and other contractors and consultants, or other cyber incidents that could have a material adverse effect upon our reputation, business, operations or financial condition. For example, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, or those of our third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors and other contractors and consultants, it could result in a material disruption of our programs and the development of our product candidates could be delayed. In addition, the loss of clinical trial data for PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, PRT3789 or any other product candidates could result in delays in our marketing approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Furthermore, significant disruptions of our internal information technology systems or those of our third-party CROs, CMOs, vendors and other contractors and consultants, or security breaches could result in the loss, misappropriation and/or unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of, or the prevention of access to, confidential information (including trade secrets or other intellectual property, proprietary business information and personal information), which could result in financial, legal, business and reputational harm to us. For example, any such event that leads to unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of personal information, including personal information regarding our clinical trial subjects or employees, could harm our reputation directly, compel us to comply with federal and/or state breach notification laws and foreign law equivalents, subject us to mandatory corrective action, and otherwise subject us to liability under laws and regulations that protect the privacy and security of personal information, which could result in significant legal and financial exposure and reputational damages that could potentially have an adverse effect on our business.
Failure to comply with health and data protection laws and regulations could lead to government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation and/or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business.
We and any potential collaborators may be subject to federal, state and foreign data protection laws and regulations (i.e., laws and regulations that address privacy and data security). In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including federal health information privacy laws, state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws and federal and state consumer protection laws (e.g., Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act), that govern the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health-related and other personal information could apply to our operations or the operations of our collaborators. In addition, we may obtain health information from third parties (including research institutions from which we obtain clinical trial data) that are subject to privacy, data protection and security requirements under HIPAA, as amended by HITECH. Depending on the facts and circumstances, we could be subject to criminal penalties if we knowingly obtain, use, or disclose individually identifiable health information maintained by a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA.
International data protection laws, including Regulation 2016/679, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, may also apply to health-related and other personal information obtained outside of the United States. The GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR introduced new data protection requirements in the EU, as well as potential fines for noncompliant companies of up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenue. The regulation imposes numerous new requirements for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, including more stringent requirements relating to consent and the information that must be shared with data subjects about how their personal information is used, the obligation to notify regulators and affected individuals of personal data breaches, extensive new internal privacy governance obligations and obligations to honor expanded rights of individuals in relation to their personal information (e.g., the right to access, correct and delete their data). In addition, the GDPR includes restrictions on cross-border data transfer. The GDPR will increase our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the new EU data protection rules. In addition, the GDPR prohibits the transfer of personal data to countries outside of the European Economic Area, or EEA, such as the United States, which are not considered by the European Commission to provide an adequate level of data protection. Switzerland has adopted similar restrictions. Although there are legal mechanisms to allow for the transfer of personal data from the EEA and Switzerland to the United States, they are subject to pending legal challenges that, if successful, could invalidate these mechanisms, restrict our ability to process personal data of Europeans outside of Europe and adversely impact our business. For example, in July 2020, the European Courts of Justice invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which enabled the transfer of personal data from EU to the U.S. for companies that had self-certified to the Privacy Shield. On August 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission announced new discussions to evaluate the potential for an enhanced EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework to comply with the July 16 judgment of the Court of Justice. While the Court of Justice upheld the use of other data transfer mechanisms, such as the Binding Corporate Rules, the decision has led to some uncertainty regarding the use of such mechanisms for data transfers to the United States, and the court made clear that reliance on Binding Corporate Rules alone may not necessarily be sufficient in all circumstances. Use of the data transfer mechanisms must now be assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into account the legal regime applicable
in the destination country, in particular applicable surveillance laws and rights of individuals. The European Data Protection Board issued additional guidance regarding the Court of Justice’s decision on November 11, 2020 which imposes higher burdens on the use of data transfer mechanisms, such as the Binding Corporate Rules, for cross-border data transfers. To comply with this guidance, we may need to implement additional safeguards to further enhance the security of data transferred out of the European Economic Area, which could increase our compliance costs, expose us to further regulatory scrutiny and liability, and adversely affect our business. To the extent that we were to rely on Privacy Shield, we will not be able to do so in the future, which could increase our costs and our ability to efficiently process personal data from the EU.
Further, Brexit has created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the United Kingdom. In particular, while the Data Protection Act of 2018, that “implements” and complements the GDPR achieved Royal Assent on May 23, 2018 and is now effective in the United Kingdom, it is still unclear whether transfer of data from the EEA to the United Kingdom will remain lawful under GDPR. Beginning in 2021, the United Kingdom became a “third country” under the GDPR. We may, however, incur liabilities, expenses, costs, and other operational losses under GDPR and applicable EU Member States and the United Kingdom privacy laws in connection with any measures we take to comply with them.
In addition, the state of California recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which creates new individual privacy rights for California consumers (as defined in the CCPA) and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling certain personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA requires covered companies to provide new disclosure to consumers about such companies’ data collection, use and sharing practices, provide such consumers new ways to opt-out of certain sales or transfers of personal information, and provide consumers with additional causes of action. The CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020 and became enforceable by the California Attorney General on July 1, 2020, along with related regulations which came into force on August 14, 2020 and may impact our business activities and exemplifies the vulnerability of our business to the evolving regulatory environment related to personal data and protected health information. Additionally, although not effective until January 1, 2023, the California Privacy Rights Act, or the CPRA, which expands upon the CCPA, was passed in the election on November 3, 2020. The CCPA gives (and the CPRA will give) California residents expanded privacy rights, including the right to request correction, access, and deletion of their personal information, the right to opt out of certain personal information sharing, and the right to receive detailed information about how their personal information is processed. The CCPA and CPRA provide for unlimited civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches that is expected to increase data breach litigation. The CCPA and CPRA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability, particularly in the event of a data breach. Additionally, the CCPA has prompted a number of proposals in the U.S. for new federal and state-level privacy legislation that, if passed, could increase our potential liability, increase our compliance costs, and adversely affect our business. Other states are also seeking to regulate consumer privacy stringently, and both Virginia and Colorado signed comprehensive privacy legislation in 2021. These laws (the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act and the Colorado Privacy Act) are set to come into force in 2023 and a number of other state legislatures are actively considering passing similar consumer privacy laws, including those in New York and Washington.
Compliance with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could require us to take on more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to collect, use and disclose data, or in some cases, impact our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions. Failure to comply with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (which could include civil, criminal, and administrative penalties), private litigation and/or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Moreover, clinical trial subjects about whom we or our potential collaborators obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose the information. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights, failed to comply with data protection laws, or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.
We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by natural disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.
Our company is located in Delaware. Any unplanned event, such as flood, fire, explosion, earthquake, extreme weather condition, medical epidemic, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, power shortage, telecommunication failure or other natural or manmade accidents or incidents that result in us being unable to fully utilize our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party CMOs, may have a material and adverse effect on our ability to operate our business, particularly on a daily basis, and have significant negative consequences on our financial and operating conditions. For example, our operations are concentrated primarily on the east coast of the United States, and any adverse weather event
or natural disaster, such as a hurricane or heavy snowstorm, could have a material adverse effect on a substantial portion of our operations. Extreme weather conditions or other natural disasters could further disrupt our operations, and have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. In addition, the long-term effects of climate change on general economic conditions and the pharmaceutical industry in particular are unclear, and may heighten or intensify existing risk of natural disasters. If a natural disaster, power outage or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as our research facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party CMOs, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible, for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place may prove inadequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. As part of our risk management policy, we maintain insurance coverage at levels that we believe are appropriate for our business. However, in the event of an accident or incident at these facilities, we cannot assure you that the amounts of insurance will be sufficient to satisfy any damages and losses. If our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party CMOs, are unable to operate because of an accident or incident or for any other reason, even for a short period of time, any or all of our research and development programs may be harmed. Any business interruption could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Changes in tax laws or regulations that are applied adversely to us may have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, financial condition or results of operations.
New income, sales, use or other tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be enacted at any time, which could adversely affect our business operations and financial performance. Further, existing tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be interpreted, changed, modified or applied adversely to us. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted many significant changes to the U.S. tax laws. Future guidance from the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities with respect to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may affect us, and certain aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could be repealed or modified in future legislation. For example, the CARES Act modified certain provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the CARES Act, or any newly enacted federal tax legislation. Changes in corporate tax rates, the realization of net deferred tax assets relating to our operations, the taxation of foreign earnings, and the deductibility of expenses under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the CARES Act or future reform legislation could have a material impact on the value of our deferred tax assets, could result in significant one-time charges, and could increase our future U.S. tax expense.
Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
We have incurred substantial losses during our history and do not expect to become profitable in the near future, and we may never achieve profitability. Unused losses incurred in taxable years beginning on or prior to December 31, 2017, will carry forward to offset future taxable income, if any, until such unused losses expire. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as modified by the CARES Act, unused U.S. federal net operating losses generated in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, will not expire and may be carried forward indefinitely but the deductibility of such federal net operating losses (particularly those generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020) in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020, is limited to 80% of current year taxable income. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or the CARES Act. In addition, both our current and our future unused losses and other tax attributes may be subject to limitation under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Code) if we undergo, or have undergone, an “ownership change,” generally defined as a greater than 50 percentage point change (by value) in our equity ownership by certain stockholders over a three-year period. We have not completed a Section 382 study to assess whether an ownership change has occurred or whether there have been multiple ownership changes since our formation due to the complexity and cost associated with such a study and the fact that there may be additional ownership changes in the future. As a result, our net operating loss carryforwards generated in taxable years beginning on or before December 31, 2017, may expire prior to being used, and the deductibility of our net operating loss carryforwards generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020, may be limited, and, if we undergo an ownership change (or if we previously underwent such an ownership change), our ability to use all of our pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes (such as research tax credits) to offset our post-change income or taxes may be limited. Similar provisions of state tax law may also apply to limit our use of accumulated state tax attributes. In addition, at the state level, there may be periods during which the use of net operating losses is suspended or otherwise limited, which could accelerate or permanently increase state taxes owed. As a result, even if we attain profitability, we may be unable to use all or a material portion of our net operating losses and other tax attributes, which could adversely affect our future cash flows.
We may engage in strategic transactions that could impact our liquidity, increase our expenses and present significant distractions to our management.
From time to time, we may consider strategic transactions, such as acquisitions of companies, businesses or assets and out-licensing or in-licensing of products, product candidates or technologies. Additional potential transactions that we may consider include a variety of different business arrangements, including spin-offs, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, restructurings, divestitures, business combinations and investments. Any such transaction may require us to incur non-recurring or other charges, may increase our near term or long-term expenditures and may pose significant integration challenges or disrupt our management or business, which could adversely affect our operations and financial results. For example, these transactions may entail numerous operational and financial risks, including:
Our portfolio of investments or bank deposits may be subject to market, interest and credit risk that may reduce in value.
The value of our investments may decline due to increases in interest rates, downgrades of the bonds and other securities included in our commercial money market account portfolio and instability in the global financial markets that reduces the liquidity of securities included in our portfolio. In addition, we are aware of the closure of Silicon Valley Bank, or SVB, and appointment of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver. In addition to an operating account at SVB, we have a line of credit with SVB (see note 8 to our financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K) which we may not be able to access in the future. Furthermore, a possible recession, rising inflation, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has and may continue to adversely affect the financial markets in some or all countries worldwide. Each of these events may cause us to record charges to reduce the carrying value of our investment portfolio or sell investments for less than our acquisition cost. Although we attempt to mitigate these risks through diversification of our investments and continuous monitoring of our portfolio’s overall risk profile, the value of our investments may nevertheless decline.
Risks Related to Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain and maintain sufficient patent protection for our product candidates, or if the scope of the patent protection is not sufficiently broad, third parties, including our competitors, could develop and commercialize products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to commercialize our product candidates successfully may be adversely affected.
Our success depends in large part on our ability to protect our proprietary technologies that we believe are important to our business, including pursuing, obtaining and maintaining patent protection in the United States and other countries intended to cover the compositions of matter of our product candidates, for example, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645, and PRT3789, their methods of use, related technologies and other inventions that are important to our business. In addition to patent protection, we also rely on trade secrets to protect aspects of our business that are not amenable to, or that we do not consider appropriate for, patent protection. If we do not adequately pursue, obtain, maintain, protect or enforce our intellectual property, third parties, including our competitors, may be able to erode or negate any competitive advantage we may have, which could harm our business and ability to achieve profitability.
To protect our proprietary position, we have currently filed patent applications in the United States related to our product candidates that we consider important to our business, including patent applications relating to compositions of matter covering our compounds, the processes for manufacturing such compounds and use of such compounds in therapies. We have also filed patent applications in foreign jurisdictions relating to PRT543, PRT811, PRT1419, PRT2527, PRT3645 and PRT3789.
The patent application and approval process is expensive, time-consuming and complex. We may not be able to file, prosecute and maintain all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner or in all jurisdictions. We also cannot predict whether the patent applications we are currently pursuing will issue as patents in any particular jurisdictions. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. Moreover, depending on the terms of any future license agreements to which we may become a party, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing, and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology licensed from third parties. Therefore, these patents and patent applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business.
Furthermore, the patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain. No consistent policy regarding the breadth of claims allowed in biotechnology and pharmaceutical patents has emerged to date in the United States or in many foreign jurisdictions. The standards applied by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO, and foreign patent offices in granting patents are not always applied uniformly or predictably. In addition, the determination of patent rights with respect to biological and pharmaceutical products commonly involves complex legal and factual questions, which have in recent years been the subject of much litigation. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Thus, we cannot offer any assurances about which, if any, patents will issue, the breadth of any such patents, whether any issued patents will be found invalid and unenforceable or will be threatened by third parties or whether any issued patents will effectively prevent others from commercializing competing technologies and product candidates. While we have filed patent applications covering aspects of our current product candidates, we currently have four issued U.S. patents covering PRT543 that is expected to expire no
earlier than August 9, 2038, three issued U.S. patents covering PRT811 that are expected to expire no earlier than March 14, 2039; and one issued U.S. patent covering PRT1419 that is expected to expire no earlier than November 8, 2039. We do not yet have issued patents on all of our product candidates.
Our pending patent applications cannot be enforced against third parties practicing the technology claimed in such applications unless and until at least one patent issues from such applications. Assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, currently, the first to file a patent application is generally entitled to the patent. However, prior to March 16, 2013, in the United States, the first to invent was entitled to the patent. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing, and some remain so until issued, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file or invent (prior to March 16, 2013) any patent application related to our product candidates. In addition, we enter into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to confidential or patentable aspects of our research and development output, such as our employees, collaborators, CROs, CMOs, hospitals, independent treatment centers, consultants, independent contractors, suppliers, advisors and other third parties; however, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose such output before a patent application is filed, thereby jeopardizing our ability to seek patent protection. Furthermore, if third parties have filed patent applications related to our product candidates or technology, we may not be able to obtain our own patent rights to those product candidates or technology.
Moreover, because the issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, our patents or pending patent applications may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. For example, we may be subject to a third-party pre-issuance submission of prior art to the USPTO or become involved in post-grant review procedures, oppositions, derivations, revocation, reexaminations, inter partes review or interference proceedings, in the United States or elsewhere, challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or products and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party rights. Moreover, we may have to participate in interference proceedings declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention or in post-grant challenge proceedings, such as oppositions in a foreign patent office, that challenge priority of invention or other features of patentability. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or in our patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products or limit the duration of the patent protection of our technology and products. Such challenges also may result in substantial cost and require significant time from our scientists and management, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
In addition, given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, our patents protecting such product candidates might expire before or shortly after such product candidates are commercialized. As a result, our intellectual property may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours. Moreover, some of our patents and patent applications may in the future be co-owned with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third-party co-owners’ interest in such patents or patent applications, such co-owners may be able to license their rights to other third parties, including our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. In addition, we may need the cooperation of any such co-owners of our patents in order to enforce such patents against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
Our pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued that protect our product candidates, in whole or in part, or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive products. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection. In addition, the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the United States. For example, European patent law restricts the patentability of methods of treatment of the human body more than United States law does.
Even if our patent applications issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors or other third parties from competing with us or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage. Moreover, the coverage claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued and its scope can be reinterpreted after issuance. Consequently, we do not know whether any of our product candidates will be protectable or remain protected by valid and enforceable patents. Our competitors and other third parties may be able to circumvent our patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or products in a non-infringing manner. Our competitors and other third parties may also seek approval to market their own products similar to or otherwise competitive with our products. Alternatively, our competitors or other third parties may seek to market generic versions or “follow-on” versions of any approved products by submitting abbreviated new drug applications, or ANDAs, or new drug applications under Section 505(b)(2) of the FDCA, respectively, to the FDA during which they may claim that patents owned by us are invalid, unenforceable or not infringed. In these circumstances, we may need to defend or assert our patents, or both, including by filing lawsuits alleging patent infringement. In any of these types of proceedings, a court or other agency with jurisdiction may find our patents invalid or unenforceable, or that our competitors are competing in a non-infringing manner. Thus, even if we have valid and enforceable patents, these patents still may not provide protection against competing products or processes sufficient to achieve our business objectives. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
Furthermore, future patents may be subject to a reservation of rights by one or more third parties. For example, to the extent the research resulting in future patent rights or technologies is funded in the future in part by the U.S. government, the government could have certain rights in any resulting patents and technology, including a non-exclusive license authorizing the government to use the invention or to have others use the invention on its behalf for non-commercial purposes. If the U.S. government then decides to exercise these rights, it is not required to engage us as its contractor in connection with doing so. These rights may also permit the government to disclose our confidential information to third parties and to exercise march-in rights to use or allow third parties to use our licensed technology. The government may also exercise its march-in rights if it determines that action is necessary because we failed to achieve practical application of the government-funded technology, because action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs, to meet requirements of federal regulations, or to give preference to U.S. industry. In addition, our rights in such government-funded inventions may be subject to certain requirements to manufacture products embodying such inventions in the United States. Any exercise by the government of aforementioned proprietary rights could harm our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
Changes to the patent law in the United States and other jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
As is the case with other pharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the pharmaceutical industry involves both technological and legal complexity and is therefore costly, time consuming and inherently uncertain. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. Recent patent reform legislation in the United States and other countries, including the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, signed into law in September 2011, could increase those uncertainties and costs. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and provide more efficient and cost-effective avenues for competitors to challenge the validity of patents. For example, the Leahy-Smith Act allows third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent by USPTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings. In addition, the Leahy-Smith Act has transformed the U.S. patent system from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system in which, assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether a third party was the first to invent the claimed invention. The first-to-file provisions, however, only became effective on March 16, 2013. It is not yet clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. However, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could make it more difficult to obtain patent protection for our inventions and increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our or our future collaboration partners’ patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our or our future collaboration partners’ issued patents, all of which could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.
In addition, the patent positions of companies in the development and commercialization of biologics and pharmaceuticals are particularly uncertain. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either
narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. This combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the validity and enforceability of patents, once obtained. Additionally, there have been recent proposals for additional changes to the patent laws of the United States and other countries that, if adopted, could impact our ability to enforce our proprietary technology. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. courts, the USPTO and the relevant law-making bodies in other countries, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that could have a material adverse effect on our existing patent portfolio and weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.
We may become involved in lawsuits or administrative disputes to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.
Competitors and other third parties may infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate our patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets or other intellectual property. To counter infringement, misappropriation or other violations, we may be required to file infringement, misappropriation or other violation claims, which can be expensive and time consuming and divert the time and attention of our management and business and scientific personnel. In addition, many of our adversaries in these proceedings may have the ability to dedicate substantially greater resources to prosecuting these legal actions than we can.
Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their patents or their other intellectual property, in addition to counterclaims asserting that our patents are invalid or unenforceable, or both. In patent litigation in the United States, counterclaims challenging the validity, enforceability or scope of asserted patents are commonplace. Similarly, third parties may initiate legal proceedings against us seeking a declaration that certain of our intellectual property is non-infringed, invalid or unenforceable. The outcome of any such proceeding is generally unpredictable.
In any patent infringement proceeding, there is a risk that a court will decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, and that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue. There is also a risk that, even if the validity of such patents is upheld, the court will construe the patent’s claims narrowly or decide that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue on the grounds that our patent claims do not cover the invention. An adverse outcome in a litigation or proceeding involving our patents could limit our ability to assert our patents against those parties or other competitors, and may curtail or preclude our ability to exclude third parties from making and selling similar or competitive products. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability of our patents covering one of our product candidates, we could lose at least a part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection covering such a product candidate. Competing drugs may also be sold in other countries in which our patent coverage might not exist or be as strong. If we lose a foreign patent lawsuit, alleging our infringement of a competitor’s patents, we could be prevented from marketing our drugs in one or more foreign countries. Any of these occurrences could adversely affect our competitive business position, business prospects and financial condition. Similarly, if we assert trademark infringement claims, a court may determine that the marks we have asserted are invalid or unenforceable, or that the party against whom we have asserted trademark infringement has superior rights to the marks in question. In this case, we could ultimately be forced to cease use of such trademarks.
Even if we establish infringement, the court may decide not to grant an injunction against further infringing activity and instead award only monetary damages, which may or may not be an adequate remedy. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of shares of our common stock. Moreover, there can be no assurance that we will have sufficient financial or other resources to file and pursue such infringement claims, which typically last for years before they are concluded. Even if we ultimately prevail in such claims, the monetary cost of such litigation and the diversion of the attention of our management and scientific personnel could outweigh any benefit we receive as a result of the proceedings.
Furthermore, third parties may also raise invalidity or unenforceability claims before administrative bodies in the United States or foreign authorities, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, inter partes review, post-grant review, interference proceedings, derivation proceedings and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in revocation, cancellation or amendment to our
patents in such a way that they no longer cover and protect our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness, non-enablement or written description. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with the prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution of the patent. With respect to the validity of our patents, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art of which we, our licensors, our patent counsel and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. Moreover, it is possible that prior art may exist that we are aware of but do not believe is relevant to our current or future patents, but that could nevertheless be determined to render our patents invalid. If a third party were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we could lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on one or more of our product candidates. Any such loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may not be able to effectively protect or enforce our intellectual property and proprietary rights throughout the world.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents with respect to our product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. The requirements for patentability may differ in certain countries, particularly in developing countries. In addition, any future intellectual property license agreements may not always include worldwide rights. Consequently, competitors and other third parties may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and, further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we may obtain patent protection, but where patent enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States and where our ability to enforce our patents to stop infringing activities may be inadequate. These products may compete with our products in such territories and in jurisdictions where we do not have any patent rights or where any future patent claims or other intellectual property or proprietary rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing with us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Moreover, our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property and proprietary rights may be adversely affected by unforeseen changes in foreign intellectual property laws. Additionally, the laws of some countries outside of the United States and Europe do not afford intellectual property protection to the same extent as the laws of the United States and Europe. Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property and proprietary rights in certain foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of some countries, including, for example, India, China and other developing countries, do not view favorably the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property or proprietary rights, particularly those relating to biotechnology products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement, misappropriation or other violation of our patents or other intellectual property or proprietary rights. For example, many foreign countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner must grant licenses to third parties. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in certain countries outside the United States and Europe. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of such patent. If we are forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents relevant to our business, our competitive position may be impaired, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects may be adversely affected. Proceedings to enforce our intellectual property and proprietary rights in foreign jurisdictions, whether or not successful, could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and resources from other aspects of our business, could put our patents, trademarks or other intellectual property and proprietary rights at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing, and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Furthermore, while we intend to protect our intellectual property and proprietary rights in major markets for our products, we cannot ensure that we will be able to initiate or maintain similar efforts in all jurisdictions in which we may wish to market our products. Accordingly, our efforts to protect our intellectual property and proprietary rights in such countries may be inadequate.
Further, the complexity and uncertainty of European patent laws have increased in recent years. In Europe, a new unitary patent system has been introduced in early 2023, which could significantly impact European patents, including those granted before the introduction of such a system. Under the unitary patent system, European applications have the option, upon grant of a patent, of becoming a Unitary Patent which will be subject to the jurisdiction of the Unitary Patent Court, or the UPC. As the UPC is a new court system, there is no precedent for the court, increasing the uncertainty of any litigation.
Patents granted before the implementation of the UPC have the option of opting out of the jurisdiction of the UPC and remaining as national patents in the UPC countries. Patents that remain under the jurisdiction of the UPC could be potentially vulnerable to a single UPC-based revocation challenge that, if successful, could invalidate the patent in all countries who are signatories to the UPC. We cannot predict with certainty the long-term effects of any potential changes.
If we are sued for infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating intellectual property or proprietary rights of third parties, such litigation or disputes could be costly and time consuming and could prevent or delay us from developing or commercializing our product candidates.
Our commercial success depends, in part, on our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property and other proprietary rights of third parties. If any third-party patents, patent applications or other proprietary rights are found to cover our product candidates or any related companion diagnostics or their compositions, methods of use or manufacturing, we may be required to pay damages, which could be substantial, and we would not be free to manufacture or market our product candidates or to do so without obtaining a license, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.
We may in the future become party to, or threatened with, adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property or proprietary rights with respect to our product candidates and technologies we use in our business. Our competitors or other third parties may assert infringement claims against us, alleging that our product candidates are covered by their patents. We cannot be certain that we do not infringe existing patents or that we will not infringe patents that may be granted in the future. Furthermore, because patent applications can take many years to issue and may be confidential for 18 months or more after filing, and because patent claims can be revised before issuance, there may be applications now pending which may later result in issued patents that may be infringed by the manufacture, use or sale of our product candidates. If a patent holder believes our product candidate infringes its patent rights, the patent holder may sue us even if we have received patent protection for our technology. Moreover, we may face patent infringement claims from non-practicing entities that have no relevant drug revenue and against whom our own patent portfolio may thus have no deterrent effect.
There is a substantial amount of intellectual property litigation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and we may become party to, or threatened with, litigation or other adversarial proceedings regarding intellectual property or proprietary rights with respect to our product candidates, including interference proceedings before the USPTO. Third parties may assert infringement, misappropriation or other claims against us based on existing or future intellectual property or proprietary rights. The outcome of intellectual property litigation and other disputes is subject to uncertainties that cannot be adequately quantified in advance. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have produced a significant number of patents, and it may not always be clear to industry participants, including us, which patents cover various types of products or methods of using or manufacturing products. The coverage of patents is subject to interpretation by the courts, and the interpretation is not always uniform. If we were sued for patent infringement, we would need to demonstrate that our product candidates, products or methods of use, manufacturing or other applicable activities either do not infringe the patent claims of the relevant patent or that the patent claims are invalid or unenforceable, and we may not be successful in doing so. However, proving invalidity or unenforceability is difficult. For example, in the United States, proving invalidity requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption of validity enjoyed by issued patents. Even if we believe third-party intellectual property claims are without merit, there is no assurance that a court would find in our favor on questions of infringement, validity, or enforceability. Even if we are successful in these proceedings, we may incur substantial costs and the time and attention of our management and business and scientific personnel could be diverted in pursuing these proceedings, which could significantly harm our business and operating results. In addition, we may not have sufficient resources to bring these actions to a successful conclusion.
If we are found to infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate a third party’s intellectual property or proprietary rights and we are unsuccessful in demonstrating that such intellectual property or proprietary rights are invalid or unenforceable, we could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing, manufacturing or commercializing the infringing product candidate or product. Alternatively, we may be required to obtain a license from such third party in order to use the infringing technology and continue developing, manufacturing or marketing the infringing product candidate. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain such a license, it could be granted on non-exclusive terms, thereby giving our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us. In addition, we could be found liable for significant monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed such third-party patent rights. A finding of infringement could
prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations, which could materially harm our business. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar negative impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may be subject to claims by third parties asserting that our employees or consultants or we have misappropriated their intellectual property, or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.
Some of our employees and consultants are currently or have been previously employed at universities or at other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. These employees and consultants may have executed proprietary rights, non-disclosure and non-competition agreements, or similar agreements, in connection with such other current or previous employment. Although we try to ensure that our employees and consultants do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or these individuals have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of third parties. Litigation may be necessary to defend against such claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property or personnel or sustain damages. Such intellectual property could be awarded to a third party, and we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to commercialize our technology or products. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to our management. Any of the foregoing would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees, consultants and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own, which may result in claims by or against us related to the ownership of such intellectual property. In addition, such agreements may not be self-executing such that the intellectual property subject to such agreements may not be assigned to us without additional assignments being executed, and we may fail to obtain such assignments. In addition, such agreements may be breached. In addition, we have multiple sponsored research agreements relating to our lead product candidates with various academic institutions. Some of these academic institutions may not have intellectual property assignments or similar agreements with their employees and consultants, which may result in claims by or against us related to ownership of any intellectual property. Accordingly, we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. If we fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property. Even if we are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to our senior management and scientific personnel, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Rights to improvements to our product candidates may be held by third parties.
In the course of testing our product candidates, we have entered into agreements with third parties to conduct clinical testing, which provide that improvements to our product candidates may be owned solely by a party or jointly between the parties. If we determine that rights to such improvements owned solely by a third party are necessary to commercialize our product candidates or maintain our competitive advantage, we may need to obtain a license from such third party in order to use the improvements and continue developing, manufacturing or marketing the product candidates. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain such a license, it could be granted on non-exclusive terms, thereby giving our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us. Failure to obtain a license on commercially reasonable terms or at all, or to obtain an exclusive license, could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations, which could materially harm our business. If we determine that rights to improvements jointly owned between us and a third party are necessary to commercialize our product candidates or maintain our competitive advantage, we may need to obtain an exclusive license from such third party. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive licens