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DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement to be filed for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III hereof. Such proxy statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the end of the fiscal year covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
CORVUS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this report are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “could,” “will,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “intend,” “predict,” “seek,” “contemplate,” “potential” or “continue” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
|●||The extent to which the COVID-19 coronavirus (“COVID-19”) and related governmental regulations and restrictions may impact our business, including our research, clinical trials, manufacturing and financial condition;|
|●||our expectations and beliefs regarding the potential benefits of our product candidates;|
|●||our expectations regarding the clinical effectiveness of our product candidates and utility of our biomarker data;|
|●||the anticipated timing, costs and conduct of our ongoing and planned clinical trials for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant (formerly CPI-444), and planned preclinical studies and clinical trials for other product candidates in our development programs;|
|●||our ability to develop, acquire and advance product candidates into, and successfully complete, clinical trials;|
|●||the timing of the completion of our ongoing clinical trials of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and the timing and availability of clinical data from such clinical trials;|
|●||clinical and regulatory development plans with respect to CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and our other product candidates;|
|●||our expectations regarding the potential market size and the size of the patient populations for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and our other product candidates, if approved for commercial use;|
|●||our ability to commercialize CPI-006 and our other product candidates, if approved;|
|●||our commercialization, marketing and manufacturing capabilities and strategy;|
|●||the pricing and reimbursement of our product candidates, if approved;|
|●||the scope of protection we are able to establish and maintain for intellectual property rights covering our product candidates, including the projected terms of patent protection;|
|●||our or any existing or future collaborator’s ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our technologies and product candidates and our ability to operate our business without infringing the intellectual property rights of others;|
|●||our ability to establish and maintain collaborations and retain commercial rights for our product candidates in such collaborations;|
|●||the potential benefits of strategic collaborations, including our collaboration with Angel Pharmaceuticals, and our ability to enter into strategic arrangements;|
|●||developments and projections relating to our competitors and our industry, including competing therapies;|
|●||our estimates regarding the effect of changes in the tax code as a result of recent federal tax legislation and uncertainty as to how some of those changes may be applied;|
|●||our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements and needs for additional financing; and|
|●||our financial performance.|
Any forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K reflect our current views with respect to future events or to our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those listed under Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors and discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, even if new information becomes available in the future.
This Annual Report on Form 10-K also contains estimates, projections and other information concerning our industry, our business and the markets for certain drugs, including data regarding the estimated size of those markets, their projected growth rates and the incidence of certain medical conditions. Information that is based on estimates, forecasts, projections or similar methodologies is inherently subject to uncertainties, and actual events or circumstances may differ materially from events and circumstances reflected in this information. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, business, market and other data from reports, research surveys, studies and similar data prepared by third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data and similar sources. In some cases, we do not expressly refer to the sources from which this data is derived. In that regard, when we refer to one or more sources of this type of data in any paragraph, you should assume that other data of this type appearing in the same paragraph is derived from the same sources, unless otherwise expressly stated or the context otherwise requires.
Except where the context otherwise requires, in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, “we,” “us,” “our” and the “Company” refer to Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes trademarks, service marks and trade names owned by us or other companies. All trademarks, service marks and trade names included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners.
Risk Factor Summary
Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. This summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, and other risks that we face, can be found below under the heading “Risk Factors” and should be carefully considered, together with other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before making investment decisions regarding our common stock.
|●||We have a limited operating history, have incurred significant operating losses since our inception and expect to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We may never generate any revenue or become profitable or, if we achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain it.|
|●||We will require substantial additional financing to achieve our goals, and a failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed on acceptable terms, or at all, could force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development, other operations or commercialization efforts.|
|●||The COVID-19 pandemic could adversely impact our business, including our clinical trials, and financial condition.|
|●||Our product candidates are in various stages of development and may fail or suffer delays that materially and adversely affect their commercial viability. If we are unable to advance our product candidates through clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize such product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.|
|●||Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and the results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials are not necessarily predictive of future results. Any product candidate we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators advance into clinical trials, including CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, may not have favorable results in later clinical trials, if any, or receive regulatory approval.|
|●||Any termination or suspension of, or delays in the commencement or completion of, our planned clinical trials could result in increased costs to us, delay or limit our ability to generate revenue and adversely affect our commercial prospects.|
|●||Our product candidates are subject to extensive regulation, compliance with which is costly and time consuming, and such regulation may cause unanticipated delays or prevent the receipt of the required approvals to commercialize our product candidates.|
|●||We are conducting clinical trials for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, and we and Angel Pharmaceuticals may in the future, conduct additional clinical trials of product candidates, at sites outside the United States, and the FDA may not accept data from trials conducted in foreign locations.|
|●||If we encounter difficulties enrolling subjects in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.|
|●||The occurrence of serious complications or side effects in connection with use of our product candidates, either in clinical trials or post-approval, could lead to discontinuation of our clinical development programs, refusal of regulatory authorities to approve our product candidates or, post-approval, revocation of marketing authorizations or refusal to approve new indications, which could severely harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.|
|●||We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates.|
|●||We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our clinical trials. If these third parties do not meet our deadlines or otherwise conduct the trials as required, our clinical development programs could be delayed or unsuccessful and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates when expected, or at all.|
|●||We rely on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of our manufacturing, research and preclinical and clinical testing, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily.|
|●||We, or our third-party manufacturers, may be unable to successfully scale-up manufacturing of our product candidates in sufficient quality and quantity, which would delay or prevent us from developing our product candidates and commercializing approved products, if any.|
|●||If we are unable to commercialize our product candidates or if we experience significant delays in obtaining regulatory approval for, or commercializing, any or all of our product candidates, our business will be materially and adversely affected.|
|●||If we do not achieve our projected development goals in the time frames we announce and expect, the commercialization of our products may be delayed and, as a result, our stock price may decline.|
|●||We face competition from entities that have developed or may develop product candidates for cancer, including companies developing novel treatments and technology platforms. If these companies develop technologies or product candidates more rapidly than we do or their technologies are more effective, our ability to develop and successfully commercialize product candidates may be adversely affected.|
|●||An active, liquid and orderly market for our common stock may not be sustained.|
|●||The trading price of the shares of our common stock could be highly volatile, and investors in our common stock could incur substantial losses.|
Item 1. Business
We are a clinical stage, immunology focused biopharmaceutical company developing drugs and antibodies that target the most critical cellular elements of the immune system. Our strategy is to focus our efforts on the development of immune modulator product candidates to treat COVID-19, T-cell lymphomas, other cancers and autoimmune diseases. We have built a pipeline of five programs, three of which are in clinical development.
Our lead product candidate is CPI-006, a potent humanized monoclonal antibody that is designed to react with a specific site on CD73. In both preclinical and in vivo studies in cancer patients and patients with COVID-19, CPI-006 has demonstrated binding to various immune cells and the inducement of a humoral adaptive immune response. We believe CPI-006 has the potential to be an important new therapeutic agent with a novel mechanism of action for the treatment of a broad range of infectious diseases and cancers.
We are evaluating CPI-006 in a global, randomized, double-blind, Phase 3 trial designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of CPI-006 compared to placebo in hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. The primary endpoint of the trial is the proportion of patients progressing to respiratory failure or death during the 28 days after dosing. The trial was designed based on feedback received from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA.
Our next product candidate, CPI-818, is a selective, covalent inhibitor of ITK and is in a multi-center Phase 1/1b clinical trial in patients with various malignant T-cell lymphomas. CPI-818 is designed to inhibit the proliferation of certain malignant T-cells, and we believe it also has the potential to regulate the growth of abnormal T cells involved in autoimmunity.
Our third product candidate, ciforadenant (formerly CPI-444), is an oral, small molecule antagonist of the A2A receptor for adenosine with which we completed a Phase 2 expansion protocol in combination with Genentech, Inc.’s cancer immunotherapy, Tecentriq® (atezolizumab) for patients with either advanced or refractory renal cell cancer (“RCC”). We have identified a novel biomarker that may enable us to select patients that we believe will be most likely to benefit from ciforadenant. In studies presented at the American Society of Oncology (“ASCO”) meeting in June 2020, patients expressing this marker in their tumor had a 17% response rate. Activity was seen with both CPI-444 as a monotherapy and in combination with Tecentriq. We have refined our strategy with ciforadenant and plan to collaborate with an academic consortium to evaluate ciforadenant in a front line RCC Phase 2 trial as a triplet combination with pembrolizumab and a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (“TKI”).
Our product candidates are designed to exhibit a high degree of specificity, which we believe has the potential to provide greater safety compared to other cancer therapies and may facilitate their development either as monotherapies or in combination with other cancer therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors or chemotherapy.
We believe the breadth and status of our pipeline demonstrates our management team’s expertise in understanding and developing immunology focused assets as well as in identifying product candidates that can be in-licensed and further developed internally to treat many types of cancer. We hold worldwide rights to all of our product candidates (other than in greater China).
In October 2020, we announced the formation and launch of Angel Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd. (“Angel Pharmaceuticals”), a new China based biopharmaceutical company with a mission to bring innovative quality medicines to Chinese patients for treatment of serious diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases. We formed Angel Pharmaceuticals as a wholly owned subsidiary and it launched with a post-money valuation of approximately $106.0 million, based on an approximate $41.0 million cash investment from a Chinese investor group that includes funds associated with Tigermed and Betta Pharmaceuticals, Hisun Pharmaceuticals and Zhejiang Puissance Capital. Such cash is not available for our use. Contemporaneously with the financing, Angel Pharmaceuticals licensed the rights to develop and commercialize our three clinical-stage candidates – CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant – in greater China and obtained global rights to our BTK inhibitor preclinical programs. Under the collaboration, we
currently have a 49.7% equity interest in Angel Pharmaceuticals, excluding 7% of Angel’s equity reserved for issuance under the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”), and are entitled to designate three individuals on Angel’s five-person Board of Directors.
Our product candidate pipeline includes the following:
CPI-006, B-Cell Activating anti-CD73 antibody. CPI-006 is an investigational, humanized, engineered anti CD73 monoclonal antibody that is designed to activate various immune cells including B cells, which are the cells responsible for antibody production. CPI-006 is also designed to inhibit the production of adenosine by blocking catalytic conversion of adenosine monophosphate to adenosine. We in-licensed this antibody from Scripps in December 2014. We have modified CPI-006 to potentially improve binding to CD73 and increase its inhibition of catalytic activity. CD73 is an ectonucleotidase often found on lymphocytes, tumors and other tissues and is believed to play an important role in tumor immune suppression by catalyzing the production of extracellular adenosine. CD73 is a cellular adhesion molecule involved in lymphocyte activation and trafficking to lymphoid tissues. CD73 is expressed in lymph nodes where it plays a role in immune response to antigens. These functions of CD73 are independent of adenosine production. CPI-006 is designed to activate B cells and other immune cells resulting in the proliferation, migration and differentiation of B cells into antibody producing plasma cells and memory B cells. In preclinical and clinical studies, both cancer patients and patients with COVID-19 treated with CPI-006 experienced activation of B cells into antigen specific antibody producing cells. Enhancement of antibody production and development of memory B cells are thought to improve immunity to diseases such as viral infections and cancer, and also lead to immunologic memory preventing reinfection upon subsequent exposure to pathogens.
As depicted above, Phase 1 study results, along with preclinical research, shows that CPI-006 activates antigen specific B cells, triggering the body’s inherent immune response to generate a robust and durable humoral response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These results included the stimulation of the generation of high titers of durable, polyclonal IgG and IgM antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 and increased levels of memory B cells. This novel mechanism of action has several advantages over passively administered monoclonal antibodies and could potentially be used to treat other infectious diseases.
As compared to other anti-CD73 antibodies, in in vitro studies using human immune cells, CPI-006 led to activation of B cells and differentiation into antibody producing plasmablasts. Changes on monocytes were also observed and included increased expression of cell surface markers involved in enhanced antigen presentation. Together, we believe these results suggest that CPI-006 has the potential to function as an immunostimulant. We are not aware of any other anti-CD73 antibody that has been reported to possess these properties.
We believe that CPI-006 may have distinct advantages for the treatment of COVID-19, including:
|●||designed to enhance anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to multiple viral variants;|
|●||has the potential to improve long term immunity and protection from re-infection;|
|●||could accelerate viral clearance and reduce the risk of spreading; and|
|●||potential to increase cross-protection to mutants of SARS-COV-2 and other coronaviruses.|
Based on all of these properties and early results, we believe that CPI-006 could, if successfully developed and approved, become a foundational therapy for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 and possibly, other infectious diseases.
CPI-006 COVID-19 Phase 1 Clinical Trial
In June 2020, we initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial to investigate CPI-006 as a novel immunotherapy approach for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 based on CPI-006’s potential immunomodulatory effects.
The open-label, Phase 1 clinical trial has enrolled 29 hospitalized COVID-19 high-risk patients with mild to moderate symptoms as of March 4, 2021. Cohorts of patients received a single dose of CPI-006, with doses of 0.3, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 5.0 mg/kg. Patients received medications, therapies, and interventions per standard treatment protocols for COVID-19 for the duration of the study. The primary efficacy endpoint was the change in serum immunoglobulin (IgM and IgG) anti-SARS-CoV-2 levels compared to baseline at day 28. Safety and clinical outcomes were also assessed. No drug related toxicities were observed at any of the dosing levels. Of the 29 patients, no patients progressed to requiring mechanical ventilation and the median time to discharge from the hospital was three days. These results are favorable, as published reports suggest that approximately 20% of such patients will progress to requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Patients in the study generated high titers of polyclonal antibodies against a diverse range of targets on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that were sustained over several months. They also had increased levels of circulating memory B cells, which could produce long-term immunity. Our Phase 1 data showed that this response occurred quickly. We believe the polyclonal antibody response and the potential mechanism of action of CPI-006 could reduce the potential for immune evasion due to viral mutation and emergence of variants.
Magnitude and Duration of Anti-SARS-Cov2 Responses
The diagram below shows the anti-SARS-CoV-2 response generated in patients treated with CPI-006 in the Phase 1 study. The level and duration of antibody production has been shown in other third-party studies to be a good predictor of clinical outcome.
In the four panels on the left of the slide, the serum titers over time from the pre-treatment to the day 28, day 66 and day 84 for IgG and IgM antibodies to trimeric spike protein and its receptor binding domain, or RBD, are shown. Cohorts are color coded, with 0.3 mg/kg in green, 1 mg/kg in blue, 3 mg/kg in purple and 5 mg/kg in brown, with a convalescent plasma control on the far right in gray. A dose response was observed from the lowest dose of 0.3mg/kg to higher doses and titers are higher than those seen in convalescent plasma samples tested. Antibody responses were increased out to day 28 to very high titers and these high titers were sustained for 84-plus days. Titers well above 100,000 were observed. For example, at 1 mg/kg, Day 56 IgG to spike was >200,000 and IgM to spike was >100,000.
We observed a dose response with 0.3mg/kg being least effective and a plateau being reached at 1-3mg/kg.
We reported data from the Phase 1 clinical trial in November at the 2020 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting (“SITC”). The data presented at SITC included results from 22 patients enrolled in the Phase 1 study utilizing a cut-off date of November 4, 2020. This included enrollment in four dosing cohorts of the study (0.3, 1.0, 3.0 and 5.0 mg/kg). All patients received a single dose of CPI-006 administered via a 5-10 minute intravenous (“IV”) infusion. The median age of the patients was 58 years (range 23-76 years). All of the patients had comorbidities that increased their COVID-19 risk including diabetes, coronary disease, hypertension, obesity, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease and/or cancer. 95% of patients were from minority populations that are at high risk of COVID-19 complications. The key highlights of the data reported include:
Results Support the Further Evaluation of CPI-006 in COVID-19
|●||All patients had relatively low titers of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the time of hospitalization despite having varying durations of prior COVID-19 symptoms from 1-21 days (median 5 days); all patients had a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis by positive PCR nasal swab testing.|
|●||All evaluable patients showed prompt anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses within 7 days of administration of CPI-006 at all dose levels.|
|●||All patients recovered and were discharged from the hospital at a median of 3.5 (range 2-23) days.|
|●||As of the November 4, 2020 cut-off date, there were no drug-related toxicity or safety issues reported.|
Antibody Response Results
|●||Four of four evaluable patients that received the 0.3 mg/kg dose had sustained high titers of IgG antibodies to trimeric spike (“TS”) protein out to 84+ days (one patient 100+ days), without evidence of diminution of response. In these patients, IgM antibody titers peaked at 28-56 days and remained elevated out to 84+ days. Similar trends were seen in IgG and IgM antibody response to receptor binding domain (“RBD”).|
|●||A dose response was observed comparing the 3.0 and 1.0 mg/kg dose to the 0.3 mg/kg dose. Higher and more sustained titers of both IgG and IgM to both spike protein and RBD were seen out to 56 days when comparing the 1.0 to 0.3 mg/kg doses. The IgM responses were noteworthy for the sustained prolonged elevation.|
|●||Antibody responses from 3.0 and 5.0 mg/kg doses appeared similar to the 1.0 mg/kg dose, but the follow up period for such doses was shorter as of the cut-off date.|
|●||In viral neutralization assays, three of three patients developed anti-viral antibody responses out to day 56 that blocked infectivity of receptor bearing cells in a pseudovirus neutralization assay.|
|●||Memory B cells were elevated in 6 of 6 tested patients following treatment with CPI-006. Memory T effector cells were also elevated following treatment and produced interferon-gamma and interleukin-2 in response to SARS-CoV-2 antigen consistent with antigen specific Th1 biasing.|
Polyclonal Antibody Response
The magnitude and diversity of the polyclonal responses were evaluated by mapping of antibody responses to the subdomains of the TS protein including the N-terminal, RBD, S1 and S2 subdomains. Polyclonality and reactivity to multiple antigenic determinants on the virus were found, which have the potential to lead to viral neutralization and elimination and to reduce the potential for escape due to emergence of mutant forms of the virus. The mapping shows:
|●||IgG responses were polyclonal, polyspecific and directed to all subdomains.|
|●||IgM responses were polyclonal and directed to all subdomains but are preferentially directed to the RBD.|
We believe the totality of the data from the Phase 1 clinical trial supports the potential of CPI-006 as a treatment for COVID-19. CPI-006, when administered at low doses, and has demonstrated a boost in antibody responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The responses were long-lived and the data reflect a dose response relationship with the 1.0 mg/kg dose having produced higher and more prolonged titers than the 0.3 mg/kg dose.
CPI-006 COVID-19 Phase 3 Clinical Trial
In February 2021, we initiated a randomized double-blind Phase 3 clinical trial of CPI-006 for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The Phase 3 study will evaluate the efficacy and safety of CPI-006 compared to placebo in hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and is expected to enroll approximately 1,000 patients at sites in North America, Europe, South Africa and Latin America. Patients will be randomized in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive a single intravenous dose of either 2.0 mg/kg or 1.0 mg/kg dose of CPI-006 intravenously or placebo; all patients will receive standard of care treatments for COVID-19. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patients progressing to respiratory failure or death during the 28 days after dosing. Respiratory failure is defined as requiring non-invasive or invasive mechanical ventilation. Additional secondary endpoints include time to recovery, time to resolution of COVID-19 symptoms, anti-viral antibody responses, etc. An interim futility and efficacy analysis will be conducted by an independent data monitoring committee when approximately 60% of subjects complete the 28-day post-treatment visit. We expect to complete enrollment in the study in the fourth quarter of 2021.
CPI-006 Oncology Phase 1/1b Clinical Trial
In February 2018, we initiated a Phase 1/1b clinical trial with CPI-006 administered alone and in combination with ciforadenant and in combination with pembrolizumab and in a triplet combination of CPI-006, ciforadenant and pembrolizumab. As of February 2021, we have enrolled over 95 patients on this trial at doses of up to 24 mg/kg every
three weeks. Key findings from this trial as of March 4, 2021 include the observation that CPI-006 was well-tolerated and evidence of B-cell activation and lymphocyte trafficking was observed in patients that received single doses as low as 1 mg/kg. Treatment with CPI-006 was also associated with increases in memory B-cells, the emergence of new B-cell clones and, in some patients, the production of novel anti-tumor antibodies. Anti-tumor activity was observed in certain patients receiving triplet combination therapy.
With our current focus on our Phase 3 trial with CPI-006 to treat COVID-19, we do not plan any further enrollment in this trial at this time.
We hold a nonexclusive, worldwide license (except for greater China) for all fields of use under Scripps’ rights in a hybridoma clone expressing an anti-CD73 antibody, and to progeny, mutants or unmodified derivatives of such hybridoma and any antibodies expressed by such hybridoma. In 2016, we filed a patent application covering the composition of matter of CPI 006. In 2019, we filed patent applications covering the use of CPI-006 for immunomodulation and enhancement of anti-tumor immunity. In 2020, we filed a provisional U.S. patent application directed to the use of CPI-006 in the treatment of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
CPI-818, ITK Inhibitor. CPI-818 is an investigational selective, orally bioavailable, covalent inhibitor of ITK designed to have low nanomolar affinity. ITK, an enzyme that functions in T cell signaling and differentiation, is expressed predominantly in T cells, which are lymphocytes that play a vital role in immune responses. One of the key survival mechanisms of tumors is believed to be the reprogramming of T cells to create an inflammatory environment that inhibits anti-tumor immune response and favors tumor growth. We believe highly selective inhibitors of this enzyme will facilitate induction of T cell anti-tumor immunity and also may be useful in the treatment of T cell lymphomas.
ITK is an enzyme expressed predominantly in T cells where it plays a key role in T cell signaling. T cell signaling involving ITK is required in the development of T cells within the thymus, where ITK regulates the production of various T cell subsets and functions. The ITK cell signaling pathway is similar to the signaling that occurs in B cells, which is mediated by a homologous enzyme known as BTK, the target of ibrutinib, an approved treatment for patients with B cell lymphomas and leukemias. We believe that inhibiting ITK in malignant T cells may be of therapeutic benefit in patients with T cell leukemias and lymphomas, analogous to the effects of ibrutinib on B cell lymphomas and leukemias. In malignant T cells, ITK was found to be over expressed specifically in certain T cell lymphomas, including peripheral T cell lymphoma (“PTCL”), angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma (“AITL”) and in a subgroup of T lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoma (“T ALL”).
In ITK genetic knockout mice, which completely lack expression of ITK, T cells exhibit defects in T helper cell differentiation and cytokine secretion but retain the ability to differentiate into cytotoxic T cells that secrete IL 2 and IFNg, which are the cells responsible for tumor rejection. We believe that skewing T helper cell differentiation to favor cytotoxic T cells may be beneficial in treating many types of cancer.
We have developed CPI-818 by targeting the cysteine amino acid residue at position 442 in the ITK protein. We believe covalent targeting of ITK has the potential to provide a selective and prolonged duration of activity without the need for high systemic exposures and thereby improve the therapeutic window. This approach was previously used by our cofounders to generate ibrutinib. We believe that the potential selectivity of CPI-818 could mimic the immune properties seen in ITK knockout mice and skew the immune response toward a more favorable anti-tumor immune response. In addition, ITK plays a role in the proliferation of some T-cell lymphomas and we believe its inhibition could lead to growth arrest and/or tumor cell cytotoxicity. In our preclinical studies of CPI-818, objective tumor responses were observed in dogs with spontaneous T-cell lymphomas.
CPI-818 is orally bioavailable and has achieved cellular occupancy of the target in vivo in various animal models. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that CPI-818 was well-tolerated in vivo and resulted in inhibition of T-cell activation. In March of 2019, we initiated a phase 1/1b study of CPI-818 in patients with advanced refractory T-cell lymphomas.
CPI-818 is currently being studied in a Phase 1/1b clinical trial that was designed to select the recommended dose of CPI-818 and evaluate its safety, pharmacokinetics (“PK”), target occupancy, biomarkers and efficacy. The study employed an adaptive, expansion cohort design, with an initial phase that evaluated escalating doses (100, 200, 400, 600
mg taken twice a day) in successive cohorts of patients, followed by a second phase that is designed to evaluate safety and tumor response to the recommended dose of CPI-818 in disease-specific patient cohorts. By protocol design, treatment is discontinued after one year or upon disease progression. The study enrolled 25 patients from the United States, Australia and South Korea with several types of advanced, refractory T cell lymphomas, including nine patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma (“PTCL”), 12 patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (“CTCL”), and four patients with other T-cell lymphomas. All patients had failed multiple prior therapies.
In December 2020 at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting, we presented preliminary Phase 1/1b clinical data with CPI-818in refractory T cell lymphomas in patients receiving adequate doses of the drug. The data presented was as follows:
|●||Of the seven evaluable patients with PTCL, there were two objective tumor responses as of the cut-off date of October 5, 2020:|
|o||One patient, who previously failed chemotherapy and high dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow transplantation, achieved a complete response (“CR”) with CPI-818 at month 8 that remained ongoing after 12 months on study. The patient received CPI-818 for 12 months and the CR persisted beyond discontinuation of therapy (per the study protocol, the patient stopped receiving therapy after 12 months on study). As of December 1, 2020, this patient was off all therapy for lymphoma and remains disease free at 14+ months.|
|o||One patient who failed multiple prior therapies achieved a partial response at four months on therapy and remained on study as of October 5, 2020.|
|●||Of the 11 evaluable patients with CTCL:|
|o||One patient achieved a complete response in lymph node disease and continued to have stable cutaneous disease at more than 12 months on therapy as of November 2, 2020.|
|o||Three patients achieved stable disease on therapy for between 3 and 5 months.|
|●||There was a dose dependent increase in receptor occupancy, with trough occupancy >75% observed at the 200, 400 and 600 mg doses.|
|●||No dose limiting toxicities and no grade 3 or 4 treatment related adverse events were observed as of October 5, 2020.|
Based on the interim results from our Phase 1/1b clinical trial, Angel Pharmaceuticals, together with us, plans to initiate a global Phase 2 study of CPI-818 in peripheral T cell lymphomas. PTCL is more common in China than the United States representing approximately 26% of non-Hodgkins lymphomas in China.
Presentation of Preclinical Data in ALPS at ASH meeting December 2020
Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (“ALPS”) is a rare genetic disease affecting children that manifests with lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, cytopenias (low blood counts) and autoimmunity. The disease is caused by a mutation in the Fas gene, which provides instructions for making a signaling protein involved in the induction of apoptosis. The mutation results in immune dysregulation due to abnormally high levels of “double negative” T cells (CD4 and CD8 double negative), which infiltrate the blood, spleen and lymphoid tissues. A similar mutation occurs in Fas-deficient MRL/lpr mice, which are used as a model for this disease. These mice are frequently also used as a model for autoimmune disease. CPI-818 has been studied in vivo in MRL/lpr mice and in vitro using abnormal cells from ALPS patients. These data were presented in December 2020 at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting.
Key highlights from the presentation include:
|●||ITK was expressed in double negative T cells from ALPS patients.|
|●||In vitro, CPI-818 inhibited the activation of stimulated abnormal double negative T cells in ALPS patients.|
|●||In vivo studies in MRL/lpr mice demonstrated that treatment with CPI-818 reduced lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, and autoimmune skin and kidney disease.|
The animal preclinical data and in vitro data with lymphocytes from ALPS patients support the use of CPI-818 in autoimmunity and potentially as a treatment for ALPS.
We have filed patent applications covering composition of matter and uses of our ITK inhibitors and hold exclusive worldwide rights (except for greater China) for all indications.
Ciforadenant Adenosine A2A Receptor Antagonist. Ciforadenant is an oral, small molecule antagonist of the A2A receptor for adenosine that we in-licensed from Vernalis (R&D) Limited (“Vernalis”) in February 2015. Since licensing ciforadenant, we have conducted extensive laboratory studies in vitro and in vivo in animal models to evaluate ciforadenant’s immune enhancing and anti-tumor properties. In these studies, orally administered ciforadenant inhibited tumor growth in multiple mouse models of cancer as a single agent, in combination with anti-PD-1, in combination with anti-PD-L1, in combination with other immuno oncology agents and in combination with certain chemotherapy drugs. We also have shown in vitro that ciforadenant bound potently and selectively to human activated T cells and blocked adenosine mediated immunosuppression by restoring T cell function. In addition, we have shown anti-tumor activity in mice for a significant time following oral administration, which appeared to be mediated through a long lasting memory immune response.
Adenosine activates an immune checkpoint, the adenosine A2A receptor, that is used by the body to limit inflammation and immune responses. It is produced during acute, inflammatory processes in two steps. Increased levels of adenosine seen in tumors interact with the A2A and A2B receptors expressed on several cells of the immune system, including T cells, NK cells, macrophages, dendritic cells and myeloid derived suppressor cells, as well as other cells, which has the effect of dampening the immune response to the tumor.
A significant body of data indicates that targeting the adenosine cancer axis through the A2A receptor can promote anti-tumor immune responses leading to tumor regression. Consistent with studies of the inhibition of the A2A receptor, A2A receptor gene knockout mice, which completely lack expression of the A2A receptor, exhibit improved anti-tumor immunity. In addition, several preclinical tumor model studies have shown that treatment with A2A receptor inhibitors leads to tumor regression that is enhanced when administered in combination with various other checkpoint inhibitors, such as anti-PD-1 therapies and anti-CTLA 4 therapies.
In January 2016, we began enrolling patients in a large expansion cohort trial for ciforadenant. This Phase 1/1b clinical trial is designed to examine safety, tolerability, biomarkers and preliminary efficacy of ciforadenant in several solid tumor types, both as a single agent and in combination with Genentech, Inc.’s cancer immunotherapy, Tecentriq, a fully humanized monoclonal antibody targeting PD-(L)1. In 2018, we amended our Phase 1/1b protocol to enroll patients in a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial with RCC who have failed therapies with both anti-PD-(L)1 antibodies and TKIs.
Interim Results Published in the Journal Cancer Discovery
Results in 68 patients with treatment-refractory RCC demonstrated an overall survival (“OS”) of 90% at more than 25 months follow-up with ciforadenant administered in combination with atezolizumab. The OS for patients receiving ciforadenant alone was over 69% at 16 months. At the time of enrollment, study participants had advanced refractory disease and a poor prognosis. They had been treated with a median of three prior therapies (range: 1 to 5), and approximately 72% had failed prior anti-PD-(L)1 therapy. The results from this study were published in January 2020 in the journal Cancer Discovery.
Key findings from the published results include:
|●||Disease control for more than 6 months was observed in 39% and 17% of patients receiving combination therapy and monotherapy, respectively.|
|●||For patients receiving combination therapy, 11% experienced a confirmed partial response (“PR”) (as determined by RECIST criteria). Several additional patients experienced tumor regression not meeting the criteria for a PR. For patients receiving monotherapy, one patient experienced a confirmed PR, one experienced an unconfirmed PR, and several patients experienced tumor regression not meeting the PR criteria.|
|●||Responses were seen in both the combination therapy and monotherapy arms, and in patients who failed prior anti-PD-(L)1 therapy.|
|●||Progression-free survival (as assessed by RECIST criteria) was 5.8 months with combination therapy and 4.1 months with monotherapy.|
|●||OS was 90% at 25 months follow-up with combination therapy and 69% at 16 months follow-up with monotherapy.|
|●||Combination therapy was superior to monotherapy with respect to OS, response rate, disease control rate and progression-free survival.|
|●||The recently described adenosine gene signature showed a statistically significant correlation with tumor response and disease control rates (p<0.008). We evaluated adenosine gene signatures in pretreatment biopsies from 30 patients. Of the patients showing a low adenosine gene signature, none exhibited signs of tumor regression. In contrast, patients with a high adenosine gene signature had a 17% (N=18) overall response rate by RECIST criteria.|
|●||Ciforadenant was well tolerated with grade 3 adverse events that were infrequent (less than 5%) and reversible.|
This study supports the tumor immune enhancing potential of adenosine pathway blockade. The unique mechanism of action and safety results suggest that this treatment, if successfully developed and approved, may be valuable, particularly in patients who have failed anti-PD-(L)1 therapy or as a combination to prevent the development of resistance. The studies also demonstrate that RCC exhibited high levels of adenosine pathway related genes. We expect to be able to utilize this biomarker in future studies to target patients most likely to benefit from therapy with ciforadenant.
Updated Data at the ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program
Updated data on 51 RCC patients that were treated with ciforadenant monotherapy or in combination with Genentech’s Tecentriq® (atezolizumab), an anti-PD-L1 antibody, and whose tumors were biopsied to test with the adenosine gene signature was reported at ASCO 2020. The key updates from the presentation include:
|●||31 patients (30 evaluable) were positive for the and 20 patients were negative. Patients had a median of three prior therapies, including 86% that failed a prior anti-PD-(L)1 therapy.|
|●||In the AdenoSig positive group, there were five PRs, (as assessed by RECIST criteria) for an ORR of 17% and six additional patients that had tumor regression not meeting the criteria for a PR.|
|●||In the AdenoSig negative group, there were no PRs and no patients with tumor regression.|
|●||In the AdenoSig positive group, the progression free survival curve plateaued at 23% at 40 weeks, compared to declining to 0% in the AdenoSig negative group.|
Refractory, late-line RCC has become a crowded space, with several recently approved drugs resulting in extensive patient heterogeneity and complexities, making development of combinations with new agents difficult. Given these considerations, our prioritization of CPI-006 in COVID-19, and the potential mechanism of action and safety results for ciforadenant, we have decided to pursue a strategy in front line RCC. In front line RCC, the field is most interested in strategies that increase response rate; especially complete response rate or deep responses.
We are now planning a Phase 2 study of ciforadenant in a triplet combination with pembrolizumab and lenvatinib. We plan to do this study with the Kidney Cancer Consortium. The trial is planned to enroll approximately 60 patients. The endpoint goal will be to show that 35% or more of the patients achieve deep tumor responses, defined as greater than 80% reduction of tumor volume. This compares to historical levels of 20% of patients achieving a deep response with pembro plus TKIs. The adenosine signature biomarker will also be evaluated.
Ciforadenant is also being evaluated in combination with the anti-CD38 antibody, daratumumab (Darzalex) in patients with advanced refractory multiple myeloma. The objective of this Phase 1 clinical trial is to evaluate whether ciforadenant can overcome resistance in patients who have failed daratumumab treatment.
The issued U.S. patents that we in licensed from Vernalis for ciforadenant are directed to the composition of matter of ciforadenant and its method-of-use for treating disorders treatable by purine receptor blocking. The composition of matter patent covering ciforadenant is expected to expire in the United States in July 2029, excluding any patent term extension that may be available. We hold an exclusive, worldwide license (except for greater China) under these patent rights and related know how, including a limited right to grant sublicenses, for all fields of use, to develop, manufacture and commercialize products containing certain adenosine receptor antagonists, including ciforadenant. We have also filed patent applications covering the use of ciforadenant in combination with other checkpoint inhibitors, and the use of various biomarkers to select and monitor patients receiving therapy.
CPI-182, Anti-CXCR2 Antibody designed to block inflammation and Myeloid Suppression. In 2017, we in-licensed this monoclonal antibody designed to block CXCR2, a novel target expressed on neutrophils and various inflammatory cells including myeloid derived suppressor cells (“MDSC”). Preclinical studies have demonstrated that this antibody blocked neutrophil function and migration, and MDSCs. MDSCs are involved in tumor immunosuppression and blockade of these cells may improve anti-tumor immunity. A publication describing this antibody was published in the journal MABS in January 2021. Preclinical data in vivo in mice demonstrated that CPI-182 was active in models of rheumatoid arthritis and in models of atopic dermatitis. We believe these data support the role of CXCR in inflammatory diseases and demonstrate that CPI-182 may have the potential to treat these conditions. This product candidate is now in Investigational New Drug application (“IND”)-enabling studies and scale-up manufacturing.
CPI-935, Adenosine A2B Receptor Antagonist. Adenosine A2B receptors have been found to play an important role in the immune response to tumors as well as in inflammation and fibrosis. Similar to adenosine A2A receptors, adenosine binds to adenosine A2B receptors, which leads to immunosuppression. Preclinical models have shown that inhibition of A2B receptors prevented fibrosis. In 2018, we selected a development candidate for this program, a small molecule antagonist of the A2B receptor.
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, on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for clinical testing, as well as for manufacture of any products that we may commercialize. We are able to internally produce small quantities of our product candidates required for relatively short preclinical animal studies. We believe that this allows us to accelerate the drug development process by not having to rely on third parties for all of our research and development needs. However, we currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on a number of contract manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of our product candidates for use in more lengthy preclinical development and clinical trials and in relation to any future commercialization of our product candidates. Additional contract manufacturers are used to fill, label, package and distribute investigational drug products. This strategy allows us to maintain a more efficient infrastructure, avoid depending on our own manufacturing facility and equipment while simultaneously enabling us to focus our expertise on developing our products. Although we believe we have multiple potential sources for the
manufacturing of our product candidates, we currently rely on several different manufacturers who supply different components of the ciforadenant and CPI-818 molecules, on one manufacturer for CPI-006 drug substance and other third-party manufacturers to produce our other product candidates.
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are characterized by intense competition and rely heavily on the ability to move quickly, adapt to changing medical and market needs, and develop and maintain strong intellectual property positions. We believe that the development experience of our scientific and management teams, as well as the strength and promise of our product candidates, provides us with a competitive advantage; nevertheless, we face potential competition from myriad sources, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions, governmental agencies and public and private research institutions.
Kyowa Hakko Kirin has approval in Japan and the United States for istradefylline, an A2A antagonist, in Parkinson’s disease. Within oncology, Novartis has announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Palobiofarma SL and is conducting a Phase 1 trial with an A2A antagonist. AstraZeneca plc is conducting clinical trials with an A2A antagonist for use in cancer therapy. Merck KgaA has entered into a pre-clinical collaboration with Domain Therapeutics Inc. to develop programs targeting the adenosine pathway. In addition, Redoxtherapies, which was acquired by Juno Therapeutics and subsequently by Celgene, and Arcus Biosciences are developing A2A receptor antagonists for cancer. Astra Zeneca, Bristol-Myers Squib, and Novartis, in partnership with Surface Oncology, have initiated clinical trials with anti-CD73 antibodies in cancer patients. More generally, in the field of immuno-oncology, there are large pharmaceutical companies with approved products or products in late-stage development that target other immune checkpoints, including PD-1, PD-L1 or CTLA-4. These companies include Bristol-Myers Squibb (nivolumab, ipilimumab), Merck (pembrolizumab), Genentech (atezolizumab) and AstraZeneca (durvalumab, tremelimumab). Janssen Pharmaceuticals and AbbVie are co-marketing Imbruvica (ibrutinib), which is a small molecule inhibitor of the kinase BTK that has also been reported to inhibit ITK.
We strive to protect and enhance the proprietary technology, inventions, and improvements that are commercially important to our business, including seeking, maintaining and defending patent rights, whether developed internally or licensed from our collaborators or other third parties. We do not yet own any issued patents relating to our product candidates. Our policy is to seek to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, filing patent applications in the United States and in jurisdictions outside of the United States covering our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements and product candidates that are important to the development and implementation of our business. We also rely on trade secrets and know-how relating to our proprietary technology and product candidates, continuing innovation, and in-licensing opportunities to develop, strengthen and maintain our proprietary position in the field of immuno-oncology. We also plan to rely on data exclusivity, market exclusivity, and patent term extensions when available. Our commercial success will depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for our technology, inventions, and improvements; to preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets; to obtain and maintain licenses to use intellectual property owned by third parties; to defend and enforce our proprietary rights, including any patents that we may own in the future; and to operate without infringing on the valid and enforceable patents and other proprietary rights of third parties.
We have in-licensed patents and patent applications directed to certain of our product candidates and related uses thereof. We also possess and in-license substantial know-how and trade secrets relating to the development and commercialization of our product candidates, including related manufacturing processes and technology. As of March 2, 2020, our owned and licensed patent portfolio consisted of fourteen licensed U.S. issued patents, four licensed U.S. pending patent applications, twelve owned U.S. pending patent applications, four owned U.S. provisional patent applications, and seven owned PCT International patent applications directed to ciforadenant, CPI-006, and CPI-818, and certain of our other proprietary technology, inventions, improvements or other potential product candidates. In addition, our owned and licensed patent portfolio included forty-four licensed patents, nine licensed patent applications, and sixty-three owned patent applications pending in jurisdictions outside of the United States that are foreign
counterparts to one or more of the foregoing U.S. patents and patent applications. The patents and patent applications outside of the United States in our portfolio are held primarily in Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia and China.
With respect to the immuno-oncology product candidates and processes we intend to develop and commercialize in the normal course of business, we intend to pursue patent protection covering, when possible, compositions, methods of use, dosing and formulations. We may also pursue patent protection with respect to manufacturing and drug development processes and technologies.
Issued patents can provide protection for varying periods of time, depending upon the date of filing of the patent application, the date of patent issuance, and the legal term of patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In general, patents issued for applications filed in the United States can provide exclusionary rights for 20 years from the earliest effective filing date. In addition, in certain instances, the term of an issued United States patent that covers or claims an FDA approved product can be extended to recapture a portion of the term effectively lost as a result of the FDA regulatory review period, which is called patent term extension. The restoration period cannot be longer than five years and the total patent term, including the restoration period, must not exceed 14 years following FDA approval. The term of patents outside of the United States varies in accordance with the laws of the foreign jurisdiction, but typically is also 20 years from the earliest effective filing date. The issued United States patents we license from Vernalis directed to the composition of matter of ciforadenant and its method of use for treating disorders treatable by purine receptor blocking are expected to expire between January 2022 and July 2029, excluding any patent term extension that may be available. The pending U.S. patent application and PCT International patent applications, if granted as patents, that we own directed to the composition of matter and methods of treatment for CPI-006 are expected to expire between December 2036 and June 2037, excluding any patent term extension that may be available. The pending U.S. and foreign patent applications, if granted as patents, that we own directed to the composition of matter and methods of treatment for CPI 818 are expected to expire November 2037, excluding any patent term extension that may be available. However, the actual protection afforded by a patent varies on a product-by-product basis, from country-to-country, and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of regulatory-related extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular country, and the validity and enforceability of the patent.
The patent positions of companies like ours are generally uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions. No consistent policy regarding the scope of claims allowable in patents in the field of immuno-oncology has emerged in the United States. The relevant patent laws and their interpretation outside of the United States is also uncertain. Changes in either the patent laws or their interpretation in the United States and other countries may diminish our ability to protect our technology or product candidates and enforce the patent rights that we license, and could affect the value of such intellectual property. In particular, our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing products that infringe our intellectual property will depend in part on our success in obtaining and enforcing patent claims that cover our technology, inventions, and improvements. With respect to both licensed and company-owned intellectual property, we cannot guarantee that patents will be granted with respect to any of our pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications we may file in the future, nor can we be sure that any patents that may be granted to us in the future will be commercially useful in protecting our products, the methods of use or manufacture of those products. Moreover, even the issued patents that we license do not guarantee us the right to practice our technology in relation to the commercialization of our products. Patent and other intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology space are evolving and involve many risks and uncertainties. For example, third parties may have blocking patents that could be used to prevent us from commercializing our product candidates and practicing our proprietary technology, and the issued patents that we in-license and those that may issue in the future may be challenged, invalidated, or circumvented, which could limit our ability to stop competitors from marketing related products or could limit the term of patent protection that otherwise may exist for our product candidates. In addition, the scope of the rights granted under any issued patents may not provide us with protection or competitive advantages against competitors with similar technology. Furthermore, our competitors may independently develop similar technologies that are outside the scope of the rights granted under any issued patents that we own or exclusively in-license. For these reasons, we may face competition with respect to our product candidates. Moreover, because of the extensive time required for development, testing and regulatory review of a potential product, it is possible that, before any particular product candidate can be commercialized, any patent protection for such product may expire or remain in
force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby reducing the commercial advantage the patent provides.
Licenses and Collaborations
Vernalis Licensing Agreement
In February 2015, we entered into a license agreement with Vernalis, pursuant to which we were granted an exclusive, worldwide license under certain patent rights and know-how, including a limited right to grant sublicenses, for all fields of use to develop, manufacture and commercialize products containing certain adenosine receptor antagonists, including ciforadenant. The issued U.S. patents that we in-licensed from Vernalis pursuant to this agreement are directed to the composition of matter of ciforadenant and its method of use for treating disorders treatable by purine receptor blocking. These patents are expected to expire in the United States between January 2022 and July 2029, excluding any patent term extension that may be available. Vernalis has the first right to prosecute and maintain the licensed patent rights worldwide, subject to our right with respect to certain of the licensed patents to continue prosecution and maintenance if Vernalis elects not to do so. We also have the right to prosecute and maintain any patent rights that we may own that cover the licensed compounds that do not fall within the licensed patent rights. Pursuant to this agreement, we are required to use commercially reasonable efforts to conduct certain activities to obtain marketing authorizations for licensed products and to conduct certain preclinical and clinical studies for ciforadenant. We also must use commercially reasonable efforts to conduct certain preclinical and clinical studies to support the use of ciforadenant as an immunotherapeutic agent for cancer studies, and to meet certain specified development, regulatory and commercial milestones within specified time periods.
Pursuant to this agreement, we made a one-time cash payment to Vernalis in the amount of $1.0 million upon entering into the agreement. We are also required to make cash milestone payments to Vernalis upon the successful completion of clinical and regulatory milestones for licensed products depending on the indications for which such licensed products are developed and upon achievement of certain sales milestones. In February 2017, we made a milestone payment of $3 million to Vernalis following the expansion of a cohort of patients with renal cell cancer treated with single-agent ciforadenant in our Phase 1/1b clinical trial. The aggregate potential milestone payments are approximately $220 million for all indications.
We have also agreed to pay Vernalis tiered incremental royalties based on the annual net sales of licensed products containing ciforadenant on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis, subject to certain offsets and reductions. The tiered royalty rates for products containing ciforadenant range from the mid-single digits up to the low-double digits on a country-by-country net sales basis. The royalties on other licensed products that do not include ciforadenant also increase with the amount of net sales on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis and range from the low-single digits up to the mid-single digits on a country-by-country net sales basis.
The agreement will expire on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis upon the expiration of our payment obligations to Vernalis in respect of a particular product and country. Both parties have the right to terminate the agreement in the event of an uncured material breach by the other party. We may also terminate the agreement at our convenience by providing 90 days written notice, provided that we have not received notice of our own default under the agreement at the time we exercise such termination right. Vernalis may also terminate the agreement if we challenge a licensed patent or undergo a bankruptcy event.
Scripps Licensing Agreement
In December 2014, we entered into a license agreement with Scripps, pursuant to which we were granted a non-exclusive, world-wide license for all fields of use under Scripps’ rights in certain know-how and technology related to a mouse hybridoma clone expressing an anti-human CD73 antibody, and to progeny, mutants or unmodified derivatives of such hybridoma and any antibodies expressed by such hybridoma, from which we developed CPI-006. Scripps also granted us the right to grant sublicenses in conjunction with other proprietary rights we hold, or to others collaborating with or performing services for us. Under this license agreement, Scripps has agreed not to grant any additional commercial licenses with respect to such materials, other than march-in rights granted to the U.S. government.
Upon execution of the agreement, we made a one-time cash payment to Scripps of $10,000 and are also obligated to pay a minimum annual fee to Scripps of $25,000. The first minimum annual fee payment is due on the first anniversary of the effective date of the agreement and will be due on each subsequent anniversary of the effective date for the term of the agreement. We are also required to make performance-based cash payments upon successful completion of clinical and sales milestones. The aggregate potential milestone payments are $2.6 million. We are also required to pay royalties on net sales of licensed products (including CPI-006) sold by us, our affiliates and our sublicensees at a rate in the low-single digits. In addition, should we sublicense the rights licensed under the agreement, we have agreed to pay a percentage of sublicense revenue received at single digit percentages based on the achievement of development milestones.
Our license agreement with Scripps will terminate upon expiration of our obligation to pay royalties to Scripps under the license agreement. The license agreement is terminable by the consent of the parties, at will by us or upon providing 90 days written notice to Scripps, or by Scripps for certain material breaches by us, or if we undergo a bankruptcy event. In addition, Scripps may terminate our license on a product-by-product basis, or the entire agreement, if we fail to meet specified diligence obligations related to the development and commercialization of licensed products. Scripps may also terminate the agreement after the third anniversary of the effective date of the agreement if it reasonably believes, based on reports we provide to Scripps, that we have not used commercially reasonable efforts as required under the agreement, subject to a specified notice and cure period.
Genentech Collaboration Agreements
In October 2015, we entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement with Genentech to evaluate the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of ciforadenant combined with Genentech’s investigational cancer immunotherapy, Tecentriq, a fully humanized monoclonal antibody targeting PD-L1, in a variety of solid tumors in our Phase 1/1b clinical trial. Pursuant to this agreement, we will be responsible for the conduct and cost of the relevant studies, under the supervision of a joint development committee made up of our representatives and representatives of Genentech. Genentech will supply Tecentriq. As part of the agreement, we granted Genentech certain rights of first negotiation to participate in future clinical trials that we may conduct evaluating the administration of ciforadenant in combination with an anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 antibody. If we do not reach agreement on the terms of any such participation by Genentech within a specified time period, we retain the right to collaborate with third parties in such activities. We also granted Genentech certain rights of first negotiation should we decide to license development and commercialization rights to ciforadenant. Should we not reach agreement on the terms of such a license within a specified time period, we retain the right to enter into a license with another third party.
We and Genentech each have the right to terminate the agreement for material breach by the other party. In addition, the agreement may be terminated by either party due to safety considerations, if directed by a regulatory authority or if development of ciforadenant or Tecentriq is discontinued. Further, the agreement will expire after a set period of time following the provision by us of the final clinical study report to Genentech.
In May 2017, we entered into a second clinical trial collaboration agreement with Genentech. Under the new agreement, ciforadenant administered in combination with Tecentriq will be evaluated in a Phase 1b/2 randomized, controlled clinical study as second-line therapy in patients with NSCLC who are resistant and/or refractory to prior therapy with an anti-PD-(L)1 antibody. It is anticipated that the study will enroll up to 65 patients in the treatment arm. Genentech will be responsible for the conduct of the study and we will share the cost of the Phase 1b/2 trial, which began enrolling patients in the fourth quarter of 2017. We are responsible for supplying ciforadenant and retain global development and commercialization rights to ciforadenant. We and Genentech each have the right to terminate the agreement for material breach by the other party. In addition, the agreement may be terminated by either party due to safety considerations, if directed by a regulatory authority or if development of ciforadenant or Tecentriq is discontinued. Further, the agreement will expire after a set period of time following the provision by us of the final clinical study report to Genentech.
Monash License Agreement
In April 2017, we entered into a license agreement with Monash University (“Monash”), pursuant to which we were granted an exclusive, sublicensable worldwide license under certain know-how, patent rights and other intellectual property rights controlled by Monash to research, develop, and commercialize certain antibodies directed to CXCR2 for the treatment of human diseases.
Upon execution of the agreement, we made a one-time cash payment to Monash of $275,000 and reimbursed Monash for certain patent prosecution costs incurred prior to execution of the agreement. We are also obligated to pay an annual license maintenance fee to Monash of $25,000 until a certain development milestone is met with respect to the licensed product, after which no further maintenance fee will be due. We are also required to make development and sales milestone payments to Monash with respect to the licensed products in the aggregate of up to $45.1 million. We are also required to pay to Monash tiered royalties on net sales of licensed products sold by us, our affiliates and our sublicensees at a rate ranging in the low-single digits. In addition, should we sublicense our rights under the agreement, we have agreed to pay a percentage of sublicense revenue received at specified rates that are currently at low double digit percentages and decrease to single digit percentages based on the achievement of development milestones.
The term of our agreement with Monash continues until the expiration of our obligation to pay royalties to Monash thereunder. The license agreement is terminable at will by us upon providing 30 days written notice to Monash, or by either party for material breaches by the other party. In addition, Monash may terminate the entire agreement or convert the license to a non-exclusive license if we have materially breached our obligation to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize a licensed product, subject to a specified notice and cure mechanism.
Government authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level, and other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, approval, labeling, packaging, storage, record-keeping, promotion, advertising, distribution, marketing and export and import of products such as those we are developing. A new drug must be approved by the FDA through the New Drug Application (“NDA”) process and a new biologic must be approved by the FDA through the Biologics License Application (“BLA”) process before it may be legally marketed in the United States.
United States Drug Development Process
In the United States, the FDA regulates drugs under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), and in the case of biologics, also under the Public Health Service Act (“PHSA”), and their implementing regulations. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval may subject an applicant to administrative or judicial sanctions. These sanctions could include the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, a clinical hold, warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement or civil or criminal penalties. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us.
The process required by the FDA before a drug or biologic may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:
|●||completion of preclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies in accordance with Good Laboratory Practice (“GLP”) regulations and other applicable regulations;|
|●||submission to the FDA of an IND, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;|
|●||approval by an institutional review board (“IRB”) or ethics committee at each clinical site before the trial is|
|●||performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials in accordance with Good Clinical Practice (“GCP”) regulations to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed drug, or safety, purity and potency of the proposed biologic for its intended use;|
|●||submission to the FDA of an NDA or BLA after completion of all clinical trials;|
|●||satisfactory completion of an FDA Advisory Committee review, if applicable;|
|●||a determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of an NDA or BLA to file the application for review;|
|●||satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities at which the drug is produced to assess compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practice (“cGMP”) requirements to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the drug’s identity, strength, quality and purity, and of selected clinical investigation sites to assess compliance with GCP; and|
|●||FDA review and approval of the NDA or BLA to permit commercial marketing of the product for particular indications for use in the United States.|
Once a pharmaceutical candidate is identified for development, it enters the preclinical testing stage. Preclinical tests include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as animal studies. An IND sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, to the FDA as part of the IND. The sponsor will also include a protocol detailing, among other things, the objectives of the first phase of the clinical trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated, if the first phase lends itself to an efficacy evaluation. Some preclinical testing may continue even after the IND is submitted. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA, within the 30-day time period, places the clinical trial on a clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. Clinical holds also may be imposed by the FDA at any time before or during clinical trials due to safety concerns about on-going or proposed clinical trials or non-compliance with specific FDA requirements, and the trials may not begin or continue until the FDA notifies the sponsor that the hold has been lifted. All clinical trials must be conducted under the supervision of one or more qualified investigators in accordance with GCP regulations. They must be conducted under protocols detailing the objectives of the trial, dosing procedures, subject selection and exclusion criteria and the safety and effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Each protocol must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND, and timely safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and the investigators for serious and unexpected adverse events. An IRB at each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve each protocol before a clinical trial commences at that institution and must also approve the information regarding the trial and the consent form that must be provided to each trial subject or his or her legal representative, monitor the study until completed and otherwise comply with IRB regulations.
Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap or be combined:
|●||Phase 1: The product candidate is initially introduced into healthy human subjects and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution and excretion. In the case of some products for severe or life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, especially when the product may be too inherently toxic to ethically administer to healthy volunteers, the initial human testing is often conducted in patients. Sponsors sometimes designate their Phase 1 trials as Phase 1a or Phase 1b. Phase 1b trials are typically aimed at confirming dosing, pharmacokinetics and safety in larger number of patients. Some Phase 1b studies evaluate biomarkers or surrogate markers that may be associated with efficacy in patients with specific types of diseases.|
|●||Phase 2: The product candidate is evaluated in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance and appropriate dosage.|
|●||Phase 3: The product candidate is administered to an expanded patient population to provide statistically significant evidence of clinical efficacy and further test for safety, generally at geographically dispersed clinical study sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk-benefit ratio of the product candidate and provide, if appropriate, an adequate basis for product labeling.|
Post-approval trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 studies, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication. In certain instances, the FDA may mandate the performance of Phase 4 clinical trials as a condition of approval of an NDA or BLA.
The FDA or the sponsor may suspend a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the drug has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients. In addition, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. Depending on its charter, this group may determine whether a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the trial.
During the development of a new drug or biologic, sponsors are given opportunities to meet with the FDA at certain points. These points may be prior to submission of an IND, at the end of Phase 2, and before an NDA or BLA is submitted. Meetings at other times may be requested. These meetings can provide an opportunity for the sponsor to share information about the data gathered to date, for the FDA to provide advice, and for the sponsor and the FDA to reach agreement on the next phase of development. Sponsors typically use the meetings at the end of the Phase 2 trial to discuss Phase 2 clinical results and present plans for the pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial that they believe will support approval of the new drug or biologic.
Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional animal studies and must also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug and finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and, among other things, the manufacturer must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final drug. In addition, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life. While the IND is active and before approval, progress reports summarizing the results of the clinical trials and nonclinical studies performed since the last progress report must be submitted at least annually to the FDA, and written IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and investigators for serious and unexpected suspected adverse events, findings from other studies suggesting a significant risk to humans exposed to the same or similar drugs, findings from animal or in vitro testing suggesting a significant risk to humans, and any clinically important increased incidence of a serious suspected adverse reaction compared to that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure.
There are also requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and completed trial results to public registries. Sponsors of certain clinical trials of FDA-regulated products are required to register and disclose specified clinical trial information, which is publicly available at www.clinicaltrials.gov.
United States Review and Approval Process
Assuming successful completion of all required testing in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements, the results of product development, preclinical and other non-clinical studies and clinical trials, along with descriptions of the manufacturing process, analytical tests conducted on the chemistry of the drug, proposed labeling and other relevant information are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA or BLA requesting approval to market the product. The submission of an NDA or BLA is subject to the payment of user fees; a waiver of such fees may be obtained under certain limited circumstances.
Within 60 days following submission of the application, the FDA reviews all NDAs and BLAs submitted to ensure that they are sufficiently complete for substantive review before it accepts them for filing. The FDA may request additional information rather than accept an NDA or BLA for filing. In this event, the NDA or BLA must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application also is subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing.
Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in depth substantive review. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether a product is safe and effective for its intended use and whether its manufacturing is cGMP compliant to assure and preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity. The FDA reviews a BLA to determine, among other things whether the product is safe, pure and potent and the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packed or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, purity and potency. Before approving an NDA or BLA, the FDA will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA may refer the NDA or BLA to an advisory committee for review, evaluation and recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it generally follows such recommendations. The approval process is lengthy and often difficult, and the FDA may refuse to approve an NDA or BLA if the applicable regulatory criteria are not satisfied or may require additional clinical or other data and information. Even if such data and information are submitted, the FDA may ultimately decide that the NDA or BLA does not satisfy the criteria for approval.
After the FDA evaluates an NDA or BLA, it will issue an approval letter or a Complete Response Letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with prescribing information for specific indications. A Complete Response Letter indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete and the application will not be approved in its present form. A Complete Response Letter usually describes the specific deficiencies in the NDA or BLA identified by the FDA and may require additional clinical data, such as an additional pivotal Phase 3 trial or other significant and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, nonclinical studies or manufacturing. If a Complete Response Letter is issued, the sponsor must resubmit the NDA or BLA, addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, or withdraw the application. Even if such data and information are submitted, the FDA may decide that the NDA or BLA does not satisfy the criteria for approval. If a product receives regulatory approval, the approval may be significantly limited to specific diseases and dosages or the indications for use may otherwise be limited, which could restrict the commercial value of the product. In addition, the FDA may require a sponsor to conduct Phase 4 testing, which involves clinical trials designed to further assess a drug’s safety and effectiveness after NDA or BLA approval, and may require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the safety of approved products which have been commercialized. The FDA may also place other conditions on approval including the requirement for a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (“REMS”) to assure the safe use of the drug. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the NDA must submit a proposed REMS. The FDA will not approve the NDA without an approved REMS, if required. A REMS could include medication guides, physician communication plans or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. Any of these limitations on approval or marketing could restrict the commercial promotion, distribution, prescription or dispensing of products. Marketing approval may be withdrawn for non-compliance with regulatory requirements or if problems occur following initial marketing.
The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (“FDASIA”) made permanent the Pediatric Research Equity Act (“PREA”), which requires a sponsor to conduct pediatric clinical trials for most drugs and biologics, for a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration. Under PREA, original NDAs, BLAs and supplements thereto must contain a pediatric assessment unless the sponsor has received a deferral or waiver. The required assessment must evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The sponsor or FDA may request a deferral of pediatric clinical trials for some or all of the pediatric subpopulations. A deferral may be granted for several reasons, including a finding that the drug or biologic is ready for approval for use in adults before pediatric clinical trials are complete or that additional safety or effectiveness data needs to be collected before the pediatric clinical trials begin. The FDA must send a non-compliance letter to any sponsor that fails to submit the required assessment, keep a deferral current or fails to submit a request for approval of a pediatric formulation.
Orphan Drug Designation
Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a drug or biologic intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States or, if it affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States, there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making a drug or biologic product available in the United States for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product. Orphan designation must be requested before submitting an NDA or BLA. After the FDA grants orphan designation, the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process.
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 product exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug or biological product for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity or inability to manufacture the product in sufficient quantities. The designation of such drug or biologic also entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. However, competitors may receive approval of different products for the indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity or obtain approval for the same product but for a different indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity. Orphan exclusivity also could block the approval of a product candidate for seven years if a competitor obtains approval of the same drug or biologic as defined by the FDA or if such product candidate is determined to be contained within the competitor’s product for the same indication or disease. If an orphan designated product receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what is designated, it may not be entitled to orphan exclusivity. Orphan drug status in the European Union has similar but not identical benefits in that jurisdiction.
Expedited Development and Review Programs
The FDA has a Fast Track program that is intended to expedite or facilitate the process for reviewing product candidates that meet certain criteria. Specifically, new drugs and biologics are eligible for Fast Track designation if they are intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and nonclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the disease or condition. Fast Track designation applies to the combination of the product candidate and the specific indication for which it is being studied. The FDA may consider for review sections of the NDA or BLA for a Fast Track review designation on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted, if the sponsor provides a schedule for the submission of the sections of the NDA or BLA, the FDA agrees to accept sections of the NDA or BLA and determines that the schedule is acceptable, and the sponsor pays any required user fees upon submission of the first section of the NDA or BLA.
Any product candidate submitted to the FDA for approval, including a product candidate with a Fast Track designation, may also be eligible for other types of FDA programs intended to expedite development and review, such as priority review and accelerated approval. A product candidate is eligible for priority review if it is designed to treat a serious condition, and if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness compared to marketed products. The FDA will attempt to direct additional resources to the evaluation of an application designated for priority review in an effort to facilitate the review. The FDA endeavors to review applications with priority review designations within six months of the filing date as compared to ten months for review of original BLAs and new molecular entity NDAs under its standard review goals.
In addition, a product candidate may be eligible for accelerated approval. Drug and biologic product candidates intended to treat serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions may be eligible for accelerated approval upon a determination that the product candidate has an effect on 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. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug or biologic receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. A product receiving accelerated approval may be subjected to expedited
withdrawal procedures if the sponsor fails to conduct any required post-marketing trials in a timely manner, or if such trials fail to verify the predicted clinical benefit. In addition, the FDA currently requires as a condition for accelerated approval pre-approval of promotional materials, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product.
FDASIA established a category of drugs and biologics referred to as “breakthrough therapies” that may be eligible to receive Breakthrough Therapy designation. A sponsor may seek FDA designation of a drug or biologic candidate as a “breakthrough therapy” if the product is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other products, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The designation includes all of the Fast Track program features, as well as more intensive FDA interaction and guidance. The Breakthrough Therapy designation is a distinct status from both accelerated approval and priority review, which can also be granted to the same drug if relevant criteria are met. If a product is designated as breakthrough therapy, the FDA will expedite the development and review of such drug. All requests for breakthrough therapy designation will be reviewed within 60 days of receipt, and the FDA will either grant or deny the request.
Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, priority review and accelerated approval do not change the standards for approval but may expedite the development or approval process.
Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product may result in restrictions on the product or even complete withdrawal of the product from the market. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, certain manufacturing changes and additional labeling claims, are subject to further FDA review and approval. Drug and biologics manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs and biologics are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with cGMP regulations and other laws and regulations.
Any drug products manufactured or distributed by us or our partners pursuant to FDA approvals will be subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, record-keeping requirements, reporting of adverse experiences with the drug, providing the FDA with updated safety and efficacy information, drug sampling and distribution requirements, complying with certain electronic records and signature requirements, and complying with FDA promotion and advertising requirements. The FDA strictly regulates labeling, advertising, promotion and other types of information on products that are placed on the market and imposes requirements and restrictions on drug and biologics manufacturers, such as those related to direct-to-consumer advertising, the prohibition on promoting products for uses or in patient populations that are not described in the product’s approved labeling (known as “off-label use”), industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and promotional activities involving the internet. Discovery of previously unknown problems or the failure to comply with the applicable regulatory requirements may result in restrictions on the marketing of a product or withdrawal of the product from the market as well as possible civil or criminal sanctions. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval, may subject an applicant or manufacturer to administrative or judicial civil or criminal sanctions and adverse publicity. FDA sanctions could include refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, clinical hold, warning or untitled letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, mandated corrective advertising or communications with doctors, debarment, restitution, disgorgement of profits, or civil or criminal penalties.
Patent Term Restoration and Marketing Exclusivity
Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of FDA approval of our product candidates, some of the U.S. patents that we may be granted in the future may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent restoration term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. However, patent term restoration cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. The patent term restoration period is generally one-half the time between the effective date of an IND and the submission date of an NDA or BLA, plus the time between the submission date of an NDA or BLA and the approval of that application, less any time the applicant did not act with due diligence. Only one patent applicable to an approved drug is eligible for the extension, and the extension must be applied for prior to expiration of the patent. The United States Patent and Trademark Office, in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration. In the future, we intend to apply for restorations of patent term for patents that may be issued to us, depending on the expected length of clinical trials and other factors involved in the filing of the relevant marketing application.
Market exclusivity provisions under the FDCA can also delay the submission or the approval of certain marketing applications. The FDCA provides a five-year period of non-patent marketing exclusivity within the United States to the first applicant to obtain approval of an NDA for a new chemical entity. A drug is a new chemical entity if the FDA has not previously approved any other new drug containing the same active moiety, which is the molecule or ion responsible for the action of the drug substance. During the exclusivity period, the FDA may not approve or even accept for review an abbreviated new drug application (“ANDA”) or a NDA submitted under Section 505(b)(2), or 505(b)(2) NDA, submitted by another company for another drug based on the same active moiety, regardless of whether the drug is intended for the same indication as the original innovative drug or for another indication, where the applicant does not own or have a legal right of reference to all the data required for approval. However, an application may be submitted after four years if it contains a certification of patent invalidity or non-infringement to one of the patents listed with the FDA by the innovator NDA holder. The FDCA alternatively provides three years of marketing exclusivity for an NDA, or supplement to an existing NDA if new clinical investigations, other than bioavailability studies, that were conducted or sponsored by the applicant are deemed by the FDA to be essential to the approval of the application, for example new indications, dosages or strengths of an existing drug. This three-year exclusivity covers only the modification for which the drug received approval on the basis of the new clinical investigations and does not prohibit the FDA from approving ANDAs or 505(b)(2) NDAs for drugs containing the active agent for the original indication or condition of use. Five-year and three-year exclusivity will not delay the submission or approval of a full NDA. However, an applicant submitting a full NDA would be required to conduct or obtain a right of reference to all of the preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.
Pediatric exclusivity is a type of marketing exclusivity available in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity under the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act provides for an additional six months of marketing exclusivity if a sponsor conducts clinical trials in children in response to a written request from the FDA. If such written request does not include clinical trials in neonates, the FDA is required to include its rationale for not requesting those clinical trials. The FDA may request studies on approved or unapproved indications in separate written requests. The issuance of a written request does not require the sponsor to undertake the described clinical trials. In addition, orphan drug exclusivity, as described above, may offer a seven-year period of marketing exclusivity, except in certain circumstances.
Biosimilars and Exclusivity
The Affordable Care Act includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (“BPCIA”), which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biological product. The FDA has issued several guidance documents outlining an approach to review and approval of biosimilars.
Biosimilarity, which requires that there be no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity, and potency, can be shown through analytical studies, animal studies, and a clinical study or studies. Interchangeability requires that a product is biosimilar to the reference product
and the product must demonstrate that it can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product in any given patient and, for products that are administered multiple times to an individual, the biologic and the reference biologic may be alternated or switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biologic. However, complexities associated with the larger, and often more complex, structures of biological products, as well as the processes by which such products are manufactured, pose significant hurdles to implementation of the abbreviated approval pathway that are still being addressed by the FDA.
Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first licensed by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until twelve years from the date on which the reference product was first licensed. During this twelve-year period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a full BLA for the competing product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency of their product. The BPCIA also created certain exclusivity periods for biosimilars approved as interchangeable products. At this juncture, it is unclear whether products deemed “interchangeable” by the FDA will, in fact, be readily substituted by pharmacies, which are governed by state pharmacy law.
The BPCIA is complex and continues to be interpreted and implemented by the FDA. In addition, recent government proposals have sought to reduce the twelve-year reference product exclusivity period. Other aspects of the BPCIA, some of which may impact the BPCIA exclusivity provisions, have also been the subject of recent litigation. As a result, the ultimate impact, implementation and meaning of the BPCIA is subject to significant uncertainty.
FDA Regulation of Companion Diagnostics
We expect that certain of our product candidates may require an in vitro diagnostic to identify appropriate patient populations for our product candidates. These diagnostics, often referred to as companion diagnostics, are regulated as medical devices. In the United States, the FDCA and its implementing regulations, and other federal and state statutes and regulations govern, among other things, medical device design and development, preclinical and clinical testing, premarket clearance or approval, registration and listing, manufacturing, labeling, storage, advertising and promotion, sales and distribution, export and import, and post-market surveillance. Unless an exemption applies, diagnostic tests require marketing clearance or approval from the FDA prior to commercial distribution. The two primary types of FDA marketing authorization applicable to a medical device are premarket notification, also called 510(k) clearance, and premarket approval (“PMA”). We expect that any companion diagnostic developed for our product candidates will utilize the PMA pathway.
If use of companion diagnostic is essential to safe and effective use of a drug or biologic product, then the FDA generally will require approval or clearance of the diagnostic contemporaneously with the approval of the therapeutic product. On August 6, 2014, the FDA issued a final guidance document addressing the development and approval process for “In Vitro Companion Diagnostic Devices.” According to the guidance, for novel product candidates, a companion diagnostic device and its corresponding drug candidate should be approved or cleared contemporaneously by FDA for the use indicated in the therapeutic product labeling. The guidance also explains that a companion diagnostic device used to make treatment decisions in clinical trials of a drug generally will be considered an investigational device, unless it is employed for an intended use for which the device is already approved or cleared. If used to make critical treatment decisions, such as patient selection, the diagnostic device generally will be considered a significant risk device under the FDA’s Investigational Device Exemption (“IDE”) regulations. Thus, the sponsor of the diagnostic device will be required to comply with the IDE regulations. According to the guidance, if a diagnostic device and a drug are to be studied together to support their respective approvals, both products can be studied in the same investigational study, if the study meets both the requirements of the IDE regulations and the IND regulations. The guidance provides that depending on the details of the study plan and subjects, a sponsor may seek to submit an IND alone, or both an IND and an IDE.
The FDA has generally required companion diagnostics intended to select the patients who will respond to cancer treatment to obtain approval of a PMA for that diagnostic simultaneously with approval of the therapeutic. 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. In addition, PMAs for certain devices 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 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 (“QSR”),which imposes elaborate testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance requirements.
If the FDA evaluations of both the PMA application and the manufacturing facilities are favorable, the FDA will either issue an approval letter or an approvable letter, which usually contains a number of conditions that must be met in order to secure the final approval of the PMA, 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.
If the FDA’s evaluation of the PMA or manufacturing facilities is not favorable, the FDA will deny approval of the PMA or issue a not approvable letter. A not approvable letter will outline the deficiencies in the application and, where practical, will identify what is necessary to make the PMA approvable. The FDA may also determine that additional clinical trials are necessary, in which case the PMA approval may be delayed for several months or years while the trials are conducted and then the data submitted in an amendment to the PMA. Once granted, PMA approval may be withdrawn by the FDA if compliance with post approval requirements, conditions of approval or other regulatory standards is not maintained or problems are identified following initial marketing. 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.
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 establish registration and device listings 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.
Government Regulation Outside of the United States
In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical studies and any commercial sales and distribution of our product candidates.
Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product candidate, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical studies or marketing of the product candidates in those countries. The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical studies, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. Failure to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.
Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical study application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical studies. In the European Union (“EU”), for example, a clinical trial authorization (“CTA”) must be submitted to each country’s national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and the IRB, respectively. Once the CTA is approved by the national health authority and the ethics committee has granted a positive opinion in relation to the conduct of the trial in the relevant member state(s),in accordance with a country’s requirements, clinical study development may proceed.
The CTA must include, among other things, a copy of the trial protocol and an investigational medicinal product dossier containing information about the manufacture and quality of the medicinal product under investigation. Currently, CTAs must be submitted to the competent authority in each EU member state in which the trial will be conducted. Under the new Regulation on Clinical Trials, which is currently expected to take effect by early 2022, there will be a centralized application procedure where one national authority takes the lead in reviewing the application and the other national authorities have only limited involvement. Any substantial changes to the trial protocol or other information submitted with the CTA must be notified to or approved by the relevant competent authorities and ethics committees. Medicines used in clinical trials must be manufactured in accordance with GMP. Other national and European Union-wide regulatory requirements may also apply.
Clinical studies of medicinal products in the European Union must be conducted in accordance with EU and national regulations and the International Conference on Harmonization (“ICH”) guidelines on GCP as well as the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki. If the sponsor of the clinical trial is not established within the EU, it must appoint an EU entity to act as its legal representative. The sponsor must take out a clinical trial insurance policy, and in most EU countries, the sponsor is liable to provide ‘no fault’ compensation to any study subject injured in the clinical trial.
To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational medicinal product under European Union regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application. The application used to file the NDA or BLA in the United States is similar to that required in the European Union, with the exception of, among other things, country-specific document requirements. The process for doing this depends, among other things, on the nature of the medicinal product.
The centralized procedure results in a single marketing authorization, issued by the European Commission, based on the opinion of the EMA’s Committee for Human Medicinal Products (“CHMP”), which is valid across the entire territory of the EU. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human medicines that are: (i) derived from biotechnology processes, such as genetic engineering, (ii) contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune and other immune dysfunctions and viral diseases, (iii) designated orphan medicines and (iv) advanced therapy medicinal products, or ATMPs, such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy or tissue-engineered medicines. The centralized procedure may at the request of the applicant also be used in certain other cases. It is likely that the centralized procedure would apply to the products we are developing.
Under the centralized procedure, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a MAA by the EMA is 210 days. In exceptional cases, the CHMP might perform an accelerated review of a marketing authorization in no more than 150 days (not including clock stops). Innovative products that target an unmet medical need and are expected to be of major public health interest may be eligible for a number of expedited development and review programs, such as the PRIME scheme, which provides incentives similar to the breakthrough therapy designation in the U.S. PRIME is a voluntary scheme aimed at enhancing the EMA’s support for the development of medicines that target unmet medical needs. It is based on increased interaction and early dialogue with companies developing promising medicines, to optimize their product development plans and speed up their evaluation to help them reach patients earlier. Product developers that benefit from PRIME designation can expect to be eligible for accelerated assessment but this is not guaranteed. The benefits of a PRIME designation include the appointment of a CHMP rapporteur before submission of a marketing authorization application, early dialogue and scientific advice at key development milestones, and the potential to qualify products for accelerated review earlier in the application process.
MAs have an initial duration of five years. After these five years, the authorization may be renewed for an unlimited period on the basis of a reevaluation of the risk-benefit balance.
Data and Marketing Exclusivity
The European Union also provides opportunities for market exclusivity. Upon receiving marketing authorization, new chemical entities generally receive eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity. If granted, data exclusivity prevents regulatory authorities in the European Union from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic or biosimilar application. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic or biosimilar marketing authorization application can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic or biosimilar product can be marketed until the expiration of the market exclusivity. . The overall ten-year market exclusivity period may be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years a new therapeutic indication with significant clinical benefit over existing therapies is approved. However, there is no guarantee that a product will be considered by the European Union’s regulatory authorities to be a new chemical entity, and products may not qualify for data exclusivity.
Orphan Medicinal Products
The criteria for designating an “orphan medicinal product” in the European Union are similar in principle to those in the United States. A medicinal product may be designated as orphan if (1) it is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition; (2) either (a) such condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the European Union when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the European Union to justify investment; and (3) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the European Union, or if such a method exists, the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition. The application for orphan drug designation must be submitted before the application for marketing authorization. Orphan medicinal products are eligible for financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and are, upon grant of a marketing authorization, entitled to ten years of market exclusivity for the approved therapeutic indication. During the ten-year market exclusivity period, the EMA cannot accept a marketing authorization application for the same indication, in respect of a similar medicinal product. An orphan product can also obtain an additional two years of market exclusivity in the European Union for pediatric studies. No extension to any supplementary protection certificate can be granted on the basis of pediatric studies for orphan indications. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.
The 10-year market exclusivity may be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation, for example, if the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. In addition, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if (1) the second applicant can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior; (2) the applicant consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or (3) the applicant cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.
Similar to the United States, both marketing authorization holders and manufacturers of medicinal products are subject to comprehensive regulatory oversight by the EMA, the European Commission and/or the competent regulatory authorities of the member states. The holder of a marketing authorization must establish and maintain a pharmacovigilance system and appoint an individual qualified person for pharmacovigilance who is responsible for oversight of that system. Key obligations include expedited reporting of suspected serious adverse reactions and submission of periodic safety update reports, or PSURs.
All new marketing authorization applications must include a risk management plan, or RMP, describing the risk management system that the company will put in place and documenting measures to prevent or minimize the risks associated with the product. The regulatory authorities may also impose specific obligations as a condition of the marketing authorization. Such risk-minimization measures or post-authorization obligations may include additional safety monitoring, more frequent submission of PSURs, or the conduct of additional clinical trials or post-authorization safety studies.
The advertising and promotion of medicinal products is also subject to laws concerning promotion of medicinal products, interactions with physicians, misleading and comparative advertising and unfair commercial practices. All advertising and promotional activities for the product must be consistent with the approved summary of product characteristics, and therefore all off-label promotion is prohibited. Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines is also prohibited in the EU. Although general requirements for advertising and promotion of medicinal products are established under EU directives, the details are governed by regulations in each member state and can differ from one country to another.
Failure to comply with EU and member state laws that apply to the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing approval, marketing authorization of medicinal products and marketing of such products, both before and after grant of the MA, manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, statutory health insurance, bribery and anti-corruption or with other applicable regulatory requirements may result in administrative, civil or criminal penalties. These penalties could include delays or refusal to authorize the conduct of clinical trials, or to grant marketing authorizations, product withdrawals and recalls, product seizures, suspension, withdrawal or variation of the marketing authorization, total or partial suspension of production, distribution, manufacturing or clinical trials, operating restrictions, injunctions, suspension of licenses, fines and criminal penalties.
Approval and Regulation of Companion Diagnostics
In the EU, in vitro diagnostic medical devices are regulated by Directive 98/79/EC which regulates the placing on the market, the CE-marking, the essential requirements, the conformity assessment procedures, the registration obligations for manufactures and devices as well as the vigilance procedure. In vitro diagnostic medical devices must comply with the requirements provided for in the Directive, and with further requirements implemented at national level (as the case may be).
The regulation of companion diagnostics will be subject to further requirements as of the entry into force of the in-vitro diagnostic devices Regulation (No 2017/746) which introduces a new classification system for companion diagnostics which are now specifically defined as diagnostic tests that support the safe and effective use of a specific medicinal product, by identifying patients that are suitable or unsuitable for treatment. Companion diagnostics will have to undergo a conformity assessment by a notified body. Before it can issue a CE certificate, the notified body must seek a scientific opinion from the EMA on the suitability of the companion diagnostic to the medicinal product concerned if the medicinal product falls exclusively within the scope of the centralized procedure for the authorization of medicines, or the medicinal product is already authorized through the centralized procedure, or a marketing authorization application for the medicinal product has been submitted through the centralized procedure. For other substances, the notified body can seek the opinion from a national competent authorities or the EMA.
The aforementioned EU rules are generally applicable in the European Economic Area (“EEA”), which consists of the 27 EU member states plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
For other countries outside of the European Union, such as countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical studies, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, again, the clinical studies are conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.
If we fail to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.
Other Healthcare Laws
In addition to FDA restrictions on marketing of pharmaceutical and biological products, other U.S. federal and state healthcare regulatory laws restrict business practices in the pharmaceutical industry, which include, but are not limited to, state and federal anti-kickback, fraud & abuse, false claims, price reporting, consumer fraud and physician payment transparency laws. These laws may affect our sales, marketing and other promotional activities by limiting the kinds of financial arrangements we may have with physicians, customers and third-party payors including discount practices, customer support, education and training programs, physician consulting and other service arrangements. In addition, manufacturers can be held liable under the False Claims Act even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims by, for example, providing inaccurate billing or coding information to customers or promoting a product off-label. These laws are broadly written, and it is often difficult to determine precisely how these laws will be applied to specific circumstances. Such laws include:
|●||The federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting, receiving or providing any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, to induce or in return for purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for or recommending the purchase, lease or order of any item or service reimbursable, in whole or in part, under Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;|
|●||The federal false claims laws, including the False Claims Act, which prohibit any person or entity from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false, fictitious or fraudulent claim for payment to, or approval by, the federal government or knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim to the federal government. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;|
|●||The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), which prohibits, among other actions, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a healthcare benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;|
|●||The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which imposed, among other things, new annual reporting requirements for covered manufacturers for certain payments and “transfers of value” provided to physicians (as defined by statute) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members and will be expanded to include certain other healthcare professionals in 2022 for payments made in 2021; and|
|●||Analogous state laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers.|
If our operations are found to be in violation of any of such laws or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including, without limitation, administrative, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs and
individual imprisonment, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our financial results.
To the extent that any of our product candidates, once approved, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws and regulations, which may include, for instance, applicable post-marketing requirements, including safety surveillance, anti-fraud and abuse laws, and implementation of corporate compliance programs and reporting of payments or other transfers of value to healthcare professionals.
Coverage and Reimbursement
Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any pharmaceutical or biological product for which we obtain regulatory approval. In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products. Sales of any product candidates for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will therefore depend, in part, on the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors. Third- party payors include government authorities, managed care plans, private health insurers and other organizations.
The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide coverage for a pharmaceutical or biological product typically is separate from the process for setting the price of such product or for establishing the reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved products for a particular indication. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover our product candidates could reduce physician utilization of our products once approved and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a pharmaceutical or biological product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development. In addition, coverage and reimbursement for new products can differ significantly from payor to payor. One third-party payor’s decision to cover a particular medical product or service does not ensure that other payors will also provide coverage for the medical product or service, or will provide coverage at an adequate reimbursement rate. As a result, the coverage determination process will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately and will be a time consuming process.
The containment of healthcare costs has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments, and the prices of pharmaceutical or biological products have been a focus in this effort. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged for medical products and services, examining the medical necessity and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of pharmaceutical products, biological products, medical devices and medical services, in addition to questioning safety and efficacy. If these third-party payors do not consider our product candidates to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our products after FDA approval or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products at a profit.
A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and other third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medical products. For example, in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, was enacted, which, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program; introduced a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected; extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans; imposed mandatory discounts for certain Medicare Part D beneficiaries as a condition for manufacturers’ outpatient drugs coverage under Medicare Part D; subjected drug manufacturers to new annual fees based on pharmaceutical companies’ share of sales to federal healthcare programs, and 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.
Since its enactment, there have been judicial, executive and Congressional legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA.
For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, which, among other things, removed penalties for not complying with the ACA’s individual mandate to carry health insurance. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas, ruled that the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. On December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court's decision that the individual mandate was unconstitutional but remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case, although it is unclear how the Supreme Court will rule. It is also unclear how other efforts, if any, to challenge, replace, modify, repeal or otherwise invalidate the ACA will impact the law or our business.
In addition, the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 led to aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year that will remain in effect through 2030, with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, unless additional Congressional action is taken. On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act 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.
Moreover, there has recently 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 legislation designed, among other things, to bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for pharmaceutical products. In addition, individual states in the United States have also become increasingly active in implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures and, in some cases, mechanisms to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. Furthermore, there has been increased interest by third party payors and governmental authorities in reference pricing systems and publication of discounts and list prices.
Similar political, economic and regulatory developments are occurring in the EU and may affect the ability of pharmaceutical companies to profitably commercialize their products. In addition to continuing pressure on prices and cost containment measures, legislative developments at the EU or member state level may result in significant additional requirements or obstacles. The delivery of healthcare in the EU, including the establishment and operation of health services and the pricing and reimbursement of medicines, is almost exclusively a matter for national, rather than EU, law and policy. National governments and health service providers have different priorities and approaches to the delivery of health care and the pricing and reimbursement of products in that context. In general, however, the healthcare budgetary constraints in most EU member states have resulted in restrictions on the pricing and reimbursement of medicines by
relevant health service providers. Coupled with ever-increasing EU and national regulatory burdens on those wishing to develop and market products, this could restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect the ability of pharmaceutical companies to commercialize their products. In international markets, reimbursement and healthcare payment systems vary significantly by country, and many countries have instituted price ceilings on specific products and therapies
In the future, there may continue to be additional proposals relating to the reform of the U.S. healthcare system and international healthcare systems. We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in limited coverage and reimbursement and reduced demand for our products, once approved, or additional pricing pressures. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government-funded programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our product candidates.
Data Privacy and Security
Numerous state, federal and foreign laws, including consumer protection laws and regulations, govern the collection, dissemination, use, access to, confidentiality and security of personal information, including health-related information. In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including data breach notification laws, health information privacy and security laws, including HIPAA, and federal and state consumer protection laws and regulations (e.g., Section 5 of the FTC 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 partners. In addition, certain state and non-U.S. laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, or the CCPA, the California Privacy Rights Act, or the CPRA, and the EU General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, govern the privacy and security of personal information, including health-related information in certain circumstances, some of which are more stringent than HIPAA and many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts. Failure to comply with these laws, where applicable, can result in the imposition of significant civil and/or criminal penalties and private litigation. Privacy and security laws, regulations, and other obligations are constantly evolving, may conflict with each other to complicate compliance efforts, and can result in investigations, proceedings, or actions that lead to significant civil and/or criminal penalties and restrictions on data processing.
Research and Development Expenses
Our research and development expenses were $31.8 million, $38.0 million and $38.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019, and 2018, respectively. Please see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Research and Development Expenses” for additional detail regarding our research and development activities.
Our third-party manufacturers are subject to inspections by the FDA for compliance with cGMP and other U.S. regulatory requirements, including U.S. federal, state and local regulations regarding environmental protection and hazardous and controlled substance controls, among others. Environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have tended to become more stringent over time. We have incurred, and may continue to incur, significant expenditures to ensure we are in compliance with these laws and regulations. We would be subject to significant penalties for failure to comply with these laws and regulations.
Human Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2020, we had 42 total employees, all of whom were full-time and 31 of whom were primarily engaged in research and development activities.
We currently lease a total of approximately 27,280 square feet of office and research and development facilities in Burlingame, California. Our lease expires in 2023. We regularly explore alternatives which would provide us with additional space to accommodate our anticipated growth.
We are not currently a party to any material legal proceedings.
We were incorporated in Delaware on January 27, 2014 and began operations in November 2014. Our principal executive offices are located at 863 Mitten Road, Suite 102, Burlingame, California 94010, and our telephone number is (650) 900-4520. Our website address is http://www.corvuspharma.com. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in any other filings we make with the SEC.
We are an emerging growth company as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (JOBS Act). We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) December 31, 2021, (2) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion, (3) the last day of the fiscal year in which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeded $700.0 million as of the last business day of the second fiscal quarter of such fiscal year, or (4) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during the prior three-year period. An emerging growth company may take advantage of specified reduced reporting requirements and is relieved of certain other significant requirements that are otherwise generally applicable to public companies. As an emerging growth company,
|●||We may present only two years of audited consolidated financial statements, plus unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements for any interim period, and related management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations;|
|●||We may avail ourselves of the exemption from the requirement to obtain an attestation and report from our auditors on the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“Sarbanes-Oxley”);|
|●||We may provide less extensive disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements; and|
|●||We may not require stockholder non-binding advisory votes on executive compensation or golden parachute arrangements.|
We have chosen to opt out of the extended transition periods available to emerging growth companies under the JOBS Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. Section 107 of the JOBS Act provides that our decision to opt out of the extended transition periods for complying with new or revised accounting standards is irrevocable.
Financial Information about Segments
We view our operations and manage our business as one reportable segment. See Note 2 to our audited consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Additional information required by this item is incorporated herein by reference to Part II, Item 6, “Selected Financial Data.”
We file electronically with the SEC our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and
current reports on Form 8-K pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. We make available on our website at http://www.corvuspharma.com, free of charge, copies of these reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. The public may read or copy any materials we file with the SEC. The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that website is www.sec.gov. The information on or accessible through the SEC and our website is not incorporated into, and is not considered part of, this filing. Further, our references to the URLs for these websites are intended to be inactive textual references only.
Our business involves significant risks, some of which are described below. You should consider carefully the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” If any of the following risks are realized, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected. Many of the following risks and uncertainties are, and will be, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and any worsening of the global business and economic environment as a result. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations.
Risks Related to Our Limited Operating History, Financial Condition and Capital Requirements
We have a limited operating history, have incurred significant operating losses since our inception and expect to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We may never generate any revenue or become profitable or, if we achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain it.
We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. Biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. To date, we have focused primarily on developing our lead product candidates, CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, and researching additional product candidates. We have incurred significant operating losses since we were founded in January 2014 and have not yet generated any revenue from sales. If our product candidates are not approved, we may never generate any revenue. We incurred a net loss of $6.0 million, $46.7 million and $46.9 million for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. We had an accumulated deficit of $223.1 million as of December 31, 2020. We expect to continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future, and we anticipate these losses will increase as we continue our development of, seek regulatory approval for and, if approved, begin to commercialize CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, and as we develop other product candidates. Even if we achieve profitability in the future, we may not be able to sustain it in subsequent periods. Our prior losses, combined with expected future losses, have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and results of operations.
We will require substantial additional financing to achieve our goals, and a failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed on acceptable terms, or at all, could force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development, other operations or commercialization efforts.
Since commencing our operations in 2014, the majority of our efforts have been focused on the research and development of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant. We believe that we will continue to expend substantial resources for the foreseeable future as we continue clinical development of, seek regulatory approval for and, if approved, prepare for the commercialization of ciforadenant, CPI-006, and CPI-818, as well as product candidates under our other development programs. These expenditures will include costs associated with research and development, conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals, manufacturing and supply, sales and marketing and general operations. In addition, other unanticipated costs may arise. Because the outcome of any clinical trial and/or
regulatory approval process is highly uncertain, we may not be able to accurately estimate the actual amounts necessary to successfully complete the development, regulatory approval process and commercialization of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any other product candidates.
As of December 31, 2020, we had capital resources consisting of cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $44.3 million. We do not expect our existing capital resources to be sufficient to enable us to fund the completion of all of our ongoing and planned clinical trials and remaining development program of any of ciforadenant, CPI-006 or CPI-818 through commercialization. In addition, while Angel Pharmaceuticals has received outside investment of approximately $41.0 million in connection with its formation and licensing of certain of our intellectual property, such cash is not available for our use. Our operating plan may change as a result of many factors, including those described below as well as others currently unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned, through public or private equity, including pursuant to the Sales Agreement with Jefferies, debt financings or other sources, such as strategic collaborations. Such financing would result in dilution to stockholders, imposition of debt covenants and repayment obligations or other restrictions that may affect our business. If we raise additional capital through strategic collaboration agreements, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our product candidates, including possible future revenue streams. For example, in October 2020 we formed Angel Pharmaceuticals with a group of investors in China to create a new China-based biopharmaceutical company with a mission to bring innovative quality medicines to Chinese patients for treatment of serious diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases. We granted Angel Pharmaceuticals a license to rights to develop and commercialize our three clinical-stage candidates – CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant – in greater China and Angel obtained global rights to our BTK inhibitor preclinical programs. In addition, additional funding may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all, and any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates. Furthermore, even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations.
The amount and timing of any expenditures needed to implement our development and commercialization programs will depend on numerous factors, including, but not limited to:
|●||the type, number, scope, progress, expansions, results of and timing of our ongoing and planned clinical trials of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and any of our planned preclinical studies and clinical trials of other product candidates which we are pursuing or may choose to pursue in the future;|
|●||whether our current Phase 3 clinical trial of CPI-006 is successful;|
|●||the impact of changes in the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of vaccines and therapeutic treatments;|
|●||the need for, and the progress, costs and results of, any additional clinical trials of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any of our other product candidates we may initiate based on the results of our planned clinical trials or discussions with the FDA, including any additional trials the FDA or other regulatory agencies may require;|
|●||the costs of obtaining, maintaining and enforcing our patents and other intellectual property rights;|
|●||the costs and timing of obtaining or maintaining manufacturing for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and our other product candidates, including commercial manufacturing if any product candidate is approved;|
|●||the costs and timing of establishing sales and marketing capabilities;|
|●||our ability to achieve sufficient market acceptance, coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors and adequate market share for our product candidates;|
|●||the terms and timing of establishing collaborations, license agreements and other partnerships;|
|●||whether the FDA accepts data from any clinical trials of our product candidates conducted by Angel Pharmaceuticals in China;|
|●||costs associated with any new product candidates that we may develop, in-license or acquire;|
|●||Angel Pharmaceuticals’ ability to develop and commercialize product candidates in China;|
|●||the effect of competing technological and market developments;|
|●||our ability to attract, hire and retain qualified personnel;|
|●||our ability to establish and maintain partnering arrangements for development; and|
|●||the costs associated with being a public company.|
Several of these factors are outside of our control and if we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we will be unable to complete the clinical trials for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and our other product candidates, and we may be required to significantly curtail some or all of our activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic could adversely impact our business, including our clinical trials, and financial condition.
In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, was reported to have surfaced in Wuhan, China. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to most countries, including the United States and European and Asia-Pacific countries, including countries in which we have planned or active clinical trial sites. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the globe, we will likely experience disruptions that could severely impact our business and clinical trials, including:
|●||delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our clinical trials;|
|●||delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;|
|●||diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;|
|●||interruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others or interruption of clinical trial subject visits and study procedures, the occurrence of which could affect the integrity of clinical trial data;|
|●||risk that participants enrolled in our clinical trials will contract the COVID-19 pandemic while the clinical trial is ongoing, which could impact the results of the clinical trial, including by increasing the number of observed adverse events;|
|●||limitations in employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people;|
|●||delays in receiving authorization from local regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;|
|●||delays in clinical sites receiving the supplies and materials needed to conduct our clinical trials;|
|●||interruption in global shipping that may affect the transport of clinical trial materials, such as investigational drug product used in our clinical trials;|
|●||changes in local regulations as part of a response to the COVID-19 pandemic which may require us to change the ways in which our clinical trials are conducted, which may result in unexpected costs, or to discontinue such clinical trials altogether;|
|●||interruptions or delays in preclinical studies due to restricted or limited operations at our research and development laboratory facilities;|
|●||delays in necessary interactions with local regulators, ethics committees and other important agencies and contractors due to limitations in employee resources or forced furlough of government employees; and|
|●||refusal of the FDA to accept data from clinical trials in affected geographies outside the United States.|
In addition, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact and may continue to severely impact the trading price of shares of our common stock and could further severely impact our ability to raise additional capital on a timely basis or at all.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our business, including our clinical trials, and financial condition 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.
Risks Related to the Discovery and Development of Our Product Candidates
Our product candidates are in various stages of development and may fail or suffer delays that materially and adversely affect their commercial viability. If we are unable to advance our product candidates through clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize such product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.
We have invested a significant portion of our efforts and financial resources in the development of our most advanced product candidates, CPI-006, ciforadenant and CPI-818, which are being evaluated in Phase 3, Phase 1b/2 and Phase 1/1b clinical trials, respectively. Although we believe our Phase 3 trial of CPI-006 for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, if it meets its primary endpoint, may be sufficient to support submission of a Biologics License Application (”BLA”) by the FDA, the FDA may disagree and we may be required to conduct additional trials to support the submission of a BLA CPI-006. We have no products on the market and our ability to achieve and sustain profitability depends on obtaining regulatory approvals for and successfully commercializing our product candidates, either alone or with third parties. Before obtaining regulatory approval for the commercial distribution of our product candidates, we or our collaborator must conduct extensive preclinical tests and clinical trials to demonstrate sufficient safety and efficacy of our product candidates in patients.
As a result, we may not have the financial resources to continue development of, or to modify existing or enter into new collaborations for, a product candidate if we experience any issues that delay or prevent regulatory approval of, or our ability to commercialize, product candidates, including:
|●||negative or inconclusive results from our clinical trials, the clinical trials of our collaborators, including Angel Pharmaceuticals, or the clinical trials of others for product candidates similar to ours, leading to a decision or requirement to conduct additional preclinical testing or clinical trials or abandon a program;|
|●||changes in the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of vaccines and therapeutic treatments;|
|●||product-related side effects experienced by participants in our clinical trials, the clinical trials of our collaborators or by individuals using drugs or therapeutic biologics similar to our product candidates;|
|●||the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our clinical trials;|
|●||delays in submitting INDs or comparable foreign applications or delays or failure in obtaining the necessary approvals from regulators to commence a clinical trial, or a suspension or termination of a clinical trial once commenced;|
|●||conditions imposed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) or comparable foreign authorities regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials;|
|●||delays in enrolling research subjects in clinical trials;|
|●||high drop-out rates of research subjects;|
|●||inadequate supply or quality of product candidate components or materials or other supplies necessary for the conduct of our clinical trials or the clinical trials of our collaborators;|
|●||greater than anticipated clinical trial costs;|
|●||delay in the development or approval of companion diagnostic tests for our product candidates;|
|●||unfavorable FDA or other regulatory agency inspection and review of a clinical trial site;|
|●||failure of our third-party contractors or investigators to comply with regulatory requirements or otherwise meet their contractual obligations in a timely manner, or at all;|
|●||delays and changes in regulatory requirements, policy and guidelines, including the imposition of additional regulatory oversight around clinical testing generally or with respect to our technology in particular; or|
|●||varying interpretations of data by the FDA and similar foreign regulatory agencies.|
In addition, disruptions at the FDA and other regulatory agencies that are unrelated to our company or our products could also cause delays to the regulatory approval process for our products. For example, over the last several years, including from December 2018 into January 2019, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, including the FDA, have had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions.
We could find that the product candidates we or our collaborators pursue are not safe or effective. Furthermore, if one or more of our product candidates, particularly in relation to the adenosine pathway, generally prove to be ineffective, unsafe or commercially unviable, the development of our entire platform and pipeline could be delayed, potentially permanently. Any of these occurrences may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Of the large number of drugs in development in the pharmaceutical industry, only a small percentage result in the submission of a New Drug Application (“NDA”) or BLA to the FDA or comparable marketing applications to foreign regulatory authorities, and even fewer are approved for commercialization. Furthermore, even if we do receive regulatory approval to market ciforadenant, CPI-006 or CPI-818, any such approval may be subject to limitations on the indicated uses for which we may market the product. Accordingly, even if we are able to obtain the requisite financing to
continue to fund our development programs, we cannot assure our stockholders that ciforadenant, CPI-006 or CPI-818 will be successfully developed or commercialized. If we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators are unable to develop, or obtain regulatory approval for, or, if approved, successfully commercialize ciforadenant, CPI-006 or CPI-818, we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to continue our business.
Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and the results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials are not necessarily predictive of future results. Any product candidate we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators advance into clinical trials, including CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, may not have favorable results in later clinical trials, if any, or receive regulatory approval.
Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy traits despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials.
Furthermore, our ongoing and planned clinical trials will need to demonstrate sufficient safety and efficacy for approval by regulatory authorities in larger patient populations. Since the initiation of our Phase 1/1b clinical trial in January 2016, ciforadenant has been administered to more than 300 cancer patients and, while it has generally been well tolerated, there have been possibly drug-related or drug-related serious adverse events observed during the trial, and limited information is available concerning long-term safety and efficacy. It remains possible that patients enrolled in our Phase 1/1b clinical trial or our amended Phase 1b/2 clinical trial for ciforadenant could respond in unexpected ways. Our Phase 1/1b and our amended Phase 1b/2 clinical trials are conducted in patients with advanced cancers who have failed other approved therapies for their disease, and as such, it may be difficult to establish safety and efficacy in this type of patient population. Furthermore, a portion of our Phase 1/1b clinical trial, our amended Phase 1b/2 clinical trial and Genentech’s Phase 1b/2 clinical trial under our collaboration agreement, includes the administration of ciforadenant in combination with Genentech’s cancer immunotherapy, Tecentriq, which could exacerbate immune system related adverse events, cause increased toxicity or otherwise lead to unexpected adverse events. As a result, there can be no assurance that the results of historical clinical studies of ciforadenant conducted by third parties or the results of our clinical studies to-date will be indicative of the ongoing results of our Phase 1/1b clinical trial or amended Phase 1b/2 clinical trial, Genentech’s Phase 1b/2 clinical trial or any future clinical trial of ciforadenant.
In March 2018, we began enrolling patients in our Phase 1/1b trial evaluating CPI-006 in cancer patients. The protocol is designed to enroll successive cohorts of patients with advanced cancers who will receive increasing doses of CPI-006 both alone, or in combination with ciforadenant or an anti-PD-1. CPI-006 has been well tolerated in the clinical trial at doses up to 24 mg/kg, although a limited number of patients have been enrolled and the follow-up period has necessarily been short, and we have observed one patient with Grade 3 anemia. We have seen 1 patient develop Grade 3 hyponatremia at a dose of 24 mg/kg. However, CD73 is involved in several physiological systems and the administration of anti-CD73 antibodies such as CPI-006 could result in unforeseen safety issues. Similar to our Phase 1/1b clinical trial of ciforadenant, it is possible that patients enrolled in our Phase 1/1b clinical trial for CPI-006 could respond in unexpected ways and that the administration of CPI-006 in combination with ciforadenant and pembrolizumab could exacerbate immune system related adverse events. As a result, there can be no assurance that we will be able to establish the safety and efficacy of CPI-006 or that we will be able to successfully complete our Phase 1/1b clinical trial.
In July 2020, we initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial with CPI-006 in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. As of March 4, 2021, we have enrolled 29 patients in our Phase 1 trial and have not observed any safety issues. In February 2021, we initiated a Phase 3 trial with CPI-006 in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The Phase 3 trial is planned to enroll approximately 1,000 patients and in such a larger patient population there may be unforeseen safety issues and there can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully complete our Phase 3 clinical trial.
In March 2019, we initiated a multi-center Phase 1/1b clinical trial evaluating CPI-818 in patients with various malignant T-cell lymphomas. Similar to our clinical trials of ciforadenant and CPI-006, it is possible that patients enrolled in our Phase 1/1b clinical trial for CPI-818 could respond in unexpected ways.
Under our collaboration with Angel Pharmaceuticals, it will be responsible for the clinical development and commercialization, including all related expenses, of the licensed pipeline programs in greater China, and for the pre-clinical BTK program globally. It plans to initiate clinical trials in greater China for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant in the next 12 to 18 months and such trials will be subject to many of the same risks as our ongoing clinical programs.
For the foregoing reasons, we cannot be certain that our ongoing or planned clinical trials or any other future clinical trials will be successful. Any safety concerns observed in any one of our clinical trials in our targeted indications could limit the prospects for regulatory approval of our product candidates in those and other indications, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Any termination or suspension of, or delays in the commencement or completion of, our planned clinical trials could result in increased costs to us, delay or limit our ability to generate revenue and adversely affect our commercial prospects.
Before we can initiate clinical trials in the United States for any of our product and development candidates, we must submit the results of preclinical testing to the FDA along with other information, including information about product candidate chemistry, manufacturing and controls and our proposed clinical trial protocol, as part of an IND application. In addition, we may rely in part on preclinical, clinical and quality data generated by clinical research organizations (“CROs”) and other third parties for regulatory submissions for our product candidates. If these third parties do not make timely regulatory submissions for our product candidates, it will delay our plans for our clinical trials. If those third parties do not make this data available to us, we will likely have to develop all necessary preclinical and clinical data on our own, which will lead to significant delays and increase development costs of the product candidate. In addition, the FDA may require us to conduct additional preclinical testing for any product candidate before it allows us to initiate clinical testing under any IND, which may lead to additional delays and increase the costs of our preclinical development. Delays in the completion of our planned clinical trials for product candidates could significantly affect our product development costs.
While we initiated our Phase 1/1b clinical trial for ciforadenant in January 2016, our Phase 1/1b clinical trial for CPI-006 in cancer in March 2018, our Phase 1/1b clinical trial for CPI-818 in March 2019 and our Phase 3 clinical trial for CPI-006 for COVID-19 patients in February 2021, we do not know whether any of our other planned trials, including a planned front-line Phase 2 trial of ciforadenant in RCC patients, will begin on time in the future or whether any of our trials will be completed on schedule, if at all. The commencement and completion of clinical trials can be delayed for a number of reasons, including delays related to:
|●||the FDA failing to grant permission to proceed or placing the clinical trial on hold;|
|●||subjects failing to enroll or remain in our trial at the rate we expect;|
|●||subjects choosing an alternative treatment or vaccine for the indication for which we are developing CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or other product candidates, or participating in competing clinical trials;|
|●||lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial;|
|●||subjects experiencing severe or unexpected drug-related adverse effects;|
|●||a facility manufacturing CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, any of our other product candidates or any of their components being ordered by the FDA or other regulatory authorities to temporarily or permanently shut down due to violations of good manufacturing practice (“cGMP”) regulations or other applicable requirements, or infections or cross-contaminations of product candidates in the manufacturing process;|
|●||any changes to our manufacturing process that may be necessary or desired;|
|●||any failure or delay in reaching an agreement with CROs and clinical trial sites;|
|●||third-party clinical investigators losing the licenses or permits necessary to perform our clinical trials, not performing our clinical trials on our anticipated schedule or consistent with the clinical trial protocol, good clinical practices (“GCP”) or regulatory requirements or other third parties not performing data collection or analysis in a timely or accurate manner;|
|●||third-party contractors becoming debarred or suspended or otherwise penalized by the FDA or other government or regulatory authorities for violations of regulatory requirements, in which case we may need to find a substitute contractor, and we may not be able to use some or all of the data produced by such contractors in support of our marketing applications;|
|●||one or more Institutional Review Boards (“IRBs”) refusing to approve, suspending or terminating the trial at an investigational site, precluding enrollment of additional subjects, or withdrawing its approval of the trial; or|
|●||patients failing to complete a trial or return for post-treatment follow-up.|
In addition, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the likelihood that we encounter such difficulties or delays in initiating, enrolling, conducting or completing our planned and ongoing clinical trials. We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by the Data Safety Monitoring Board for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities may impose such a suspension or termination due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. In addition, changes in regulatory requirements and policies may occur, and we may need to amend clinical trial protocols to comply with these changes. Amendments may require us to resubmit our clinical trial protocols to IRBs for reexamination, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial.
If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of our product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenues. See also the risk factor below titled “If we encounter difficulties enrolling subjects in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.”
In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, termination or suspension of, or a delay in the commencement or completion of, clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of a product candidate. For example, if we make manufacturing or formulation changes to our product candidates, we may need to conduct additional studies to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. Further, if one or more clinical trials are delayed, our competitors may be able to bring products to market before we do, and the commercial viability of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or other product candidates could be significantly reduced. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
From time to time, we may publicly disclose interim, top-line or preliminary data from our clinical trials, which is 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. 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 top-line or preliminary 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. Top-line or preliminary data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the top-line or preliminary data we previously published. As a result, top-line and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available.
From time to time, we may also disclose interim data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials. For instance, in September and October 2020, we reported interim data from our Phase 1 clinical trial of CPI-006 for the treatment of COVID-19 and in December 2020 we reported interim data from our Phase 1/1b clinical trial of CPI-818 for the treatment of T-cell lymphoma. 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. Adverse differences between interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects. Further, disclosure of interim data by us or by our competitors could result in volatility in the price of our common stock.
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 based on what is typically extensive information, and you or others may not agree with what we determine is material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure.
If the interim, top-line or preliminary data that we report differ from actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, our product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition.
Our product candidates are subject to extensive regulation, compliance with which is costly and time consuming, and such regulation may cause unanticipated delays or prevent the receipt of the required approvals to commercialize our product candidates.
The clinical development, manufacturing, labeling, storage, record-keeping, advertising, promotion, import, export, marketing and distribution of our product candidates are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA in the United States and by comparable authorities in foreign markets. In the United States, we are not permitted to market our product candidates until we receive regulatory approval from the FDA. The process of obtaining regulatory approval is expensive, often takes many years and can vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved, as well as the target indications and patient population. Approval policies or regulations may change, and the FDA has substantial discretion in the drug approval process, including the ability to delay, limit or deny approval of a product candidate for many reasons. Despite the time and expense invested in clinical development of product candidates, regulatory approval is never guaranteed.
The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, including in China, can delay, limit or deny approval of a product candidate for many reasons, including:
|●||such authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our or any of our existing or potential future collaborators’ clinical trials;|
|●||we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or other regulatory authorities that a product candidate is safe and effective for any indication;|
|●||such authorities may not accept clinical data from trials which are conducted at clinical facilities or in countries where the standard of care is potentially different from that of the United States;|
|●||we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators may be unable to demonstrate that a product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;|
|●||such authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;|
|●||approval may be granted only for indications that are significantly more limited than what we apply for and/or with other significant restrictions on distribution and use;|
|●||such authorities may find deficiencies in the manufacturing processes or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators contract for clinical and commercial supplies; or|
|●||the approval policies or regulations of such authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our or any of our existing or potential future collaborators’ clinical data insufficient for approval.|
With respect to foreign markets, approval procedures vary among countries and, in addition to the foregoing risks, may involve additional product testing, administrative review periods and agreements with pricing authorities. In addition, events raising questions about the safety of certain marketed pharmaceuticals may result in increased cautiousness by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities, including in China, in reviewing new drugs based on safety, efficacy or other regulatory considerations and may result in significant delays in obtaining regulatory approvals. Any delay in obtaining, or inability to obtain, applicable regulatory approvals would prevent us or any of our existing or potential future collaborators from commercializing our product candidates.
We are conducting clinical trials for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, and we and Angel Pharmaceuticals may in the future, conduct additional clinical trials of product candidates, at sites outside the United States, and the FDA may not accept data from trials conducted in foreign locations.
We are currently conducting our Phase 3 trial with CPI -006 in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 at sites in North America, Europe, South Africa and South America. We are also conducting oncology clinical trials with CPI-818, ciforadenant and CPI-006 in North America, Australia and South Korea. In addition, Angel Pharmaceuticals currently intends to initiate clinical trials in China for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant in the next 12 to 18 months, and we expect its clinical trial activity in China to be part of our planned global pivotal study for ciforadenant. While the FDA may accept data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States, acceptance of this data is subject to certain conditions imposed by the FDA. For example, the clinical trial must be well designed and conducted in accordance with GCP requirements, and the FDA must be able to validate the clinical trial data through an on-site inspection, if necessary. If a marketing application is based solely on foreign clinical data, the FDA also requires such data to be applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice, and for the clinical trials to have been performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence. There can be no assurance the FDA will accept data from trials conducted outside of the United States, including any trials conducted by us or Angel Pharmaceuticals. If the FDA does not accept the data from our or Angel Pharmaceuticals’ clinical trials for ciforadenant, CPI-006 or CPI-818, or any other product candidates, it would likely result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay or permanently halt our development of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any other product candidates.
If we are required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities to obtain approval, clearance or certification of a companion diagnostic device in connection with approval of one of our product candidates, and we do not obtain or face delays in obtaining approval, clearance or certification of a companion diagnostic device, we will not be able to commercialize the product candidate and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.
According to FDA guidance, if the FDA determines that a companion diagnostic device is essential to the safe and effective use of a novel therapeutic product or indication, the FDA generally will not approve the therapeutic product or new therapeutic product indication if the companion diagnostic is not also approved or cleared for that indication. We plan to collaborate with patient diagnostic companies during our clinical trial enrollment process to help identify patients with tumor gene alterations that we believe are most likely to respond to our product candidates. If a satisfactory companion diagnostic is not commercially available, we may be required to create or obtain one that would be subject to regulatory approval requirements. The process of obtaining or creating such diagnostic is time consuming and costly.
Companion diagnostics are developed in conjunction with clinical programs for the associated product and are subject to regulation as medical devices by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities, and, to date, the FDA has required premarket approval of all companion diagnostics for cancer therapies. Generally, when a companion diagnostic is essential to the safe and effective use of a therapeutic 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.
If the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority requires approval, certification or clearance of a companion diagnostic for any of our product candidates, whether before or after the product candidate obtains marketing approval, we and/ or third-party collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing and obtaining approval, clearance of certification for these companion diagnostics. Any delay or failure by us or third-party collaborators to develop or obtain regulatory approval, clearance of certification of a companion diagnostic could delay or prevent approval or continued marketing of our related product candidates. We may also experience delays in developing a sustainable, reproducible and scalable manufacturing process for the companion diagnostic or in transferring that process to commercial partners or negotiating insurance reimbursement plans, all of which may prevent us from completing our clinical trials or commercializing our product candidates, if approved, on a timely or profitable basis, if at all.
Approval, clearance or certification of companion diagnostics may be subject to further legislative or regulatory reforms notably in the EU. On May 25, 2017, the new In Vitro Medical Devices Regulation (“IVDR”) entered into force. The IVDR repeals and replaces the EU In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Directive. Unlike directives, which must be implemented into the national laws of the EU member states, regulations are directly applicable, i.e., without the need for adoption of EU member states laws implementing them, in all EU member states and are intended to eliminate current differences in the regulation of medical devices among EU member states. The IVDR, among other things, is intended to establish a uniform, transparent, predictable and sustainable regulatory framework across the EU for medical devices and ensure a high level of safety and health while supporting innovation. The IVDR will, however, only become applicable in May 2022.
The regulation of companion diagnostics will be subject to further requirements as of the entry into force of the IVDR which introduces a new classification system for companion diagnostics which are now specifically defined as diagnostic tests that support the safe and effective use of a specific medicinal product, by identifying patients that are suitable or unsuitable for treatment. Companion diagnostics will have to undergo a conformity assessment by a notified body. Before it can issue a CE certificate, the notified body must seek a scientific opinion from the EMA on the suitability of the companion diagnostic to the medicinal product concerned if the medicinal product falls exclusively within the scope of the centralized procedure for the authorization of medicines, or the medicinal product is already authorized through the centralized procedure, or a marketing authorization application for the medicinal product has been submitted through the centralized procedure. For other substances, the notified body can seek the opinion from a national competent authorities or the EMA.
These modifications may make it more difficult and costly for us to obtain regulatory clearances or approvals for our companion diagnostics or to manufacture, market or distribute our products after clearance or approval is obtained.
If we encounter difficulties enrolling subjects in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.
Subject enrollment, a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials, is affected by many factors including the size and nature of the patient population, the proximity of patients to clinical sites, the eligibility criteria for the trial, the design of the clinical trial, the risk that enrolled patients will not complete a clinical trial, our ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience, competing clinical trials and clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs that may be approved for the indications we are investigating. We will be required to identify and enroll a sufficient number of subjects for each of our clinical trials. Potential subjects for any planned clinical trials may not be adequately diagnosed or identified with the diseases which we are targeting or may not meet the entry criteria for our studies. We also may encounter difficulties in identifying and enrolling subjects with a stage of disease appropriate for our planned clinical trials. We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials if we are unable to locate a sufficient number of eligible subjects to participate in the clinical trials required by the FDA or other foreign regulatory agencies. In addition, the process of finding and diagnosing subjects may prove costly.
In February 2020, we initiated a Phase 3 trial with CPI-006 in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. This trial is planned to enroll 1,000 patients at multiple sites in North America, Europe, South Africa and South America. The completion of enrollment of this trial will be affected by many factors including whether vaccines reduce the population of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the impact of a number of clinical trials that are recruiting from the same patient population as our trial the potential unwillingness of clinical trial sites to put patients on our trial due to a lack of hospital resources. We are also enrolling patients with T-cell lymphomas in our Phase 1/1b clinical trial of CPI-818. If patients are unwilling to participate in our studies for any reason, including the existence of competitive clinical trials for similar patient populations, the availability of approved therapies or negative perceptions of the safety or efficacy of our product candidates, the timeline for recruiting subjects, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates may be delayed. Our inability to enroll a sufficient number of subjects for any of our future clinical trials would result in significant delays or may require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether.
We believe we have appropriately considered the above factors in our trials when determining expected clinical trial timelines, but we cannot assure our stockholders that our assumptions are correct or that we will not experience delays in enrollment, which would result in the delay of completion of such trials beyond our expected timelines. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic could significantly affect enrollment in our future and planned clinical trials to an extent that we have not considered within our expected timelines.
The occurrence of serious complications or side effects in connection with use of our product candidates, either in clinical trials or post-approval, could lead to discontinuation of our clinical development programs, refusal of regulatory authorities to approve our product candidates or, post-approval, revocation of marketing authorizations or refusal to approve new indications, which could severely harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.
During the conduct of clinical trials, patients report changes in their health, including illnesses, injuries and discomforts, to their study doctor. Often, it is not possible to determine whether or not the product candidate being studied caused these conditions. It is possible that as we test our product candidates in larger, longer and more extensive clinical programs with different dosing regimens and in combination with other immunotherapies, or as use of these product candidates becomes more widespread if they receive 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 subjects. For example, possibly drug-related or drug-related serious adverse events have been observed during our Phase 1/1b clinical trial and our amended Phase 1b/2 clinical trial in patients receiving combination therapy with ciforadenant and Tecentriq include hemolytic anemia, encephalitis, hepatitis, pneumonitis, mucositis, myocarditis and dermatitis. Other toxicities observed during our Phase 1/1b clinical trial and our amended
Phase 1b/2 clinical trial were mild and are commonly seen in patients with advanced cancers, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, rash, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, cough, constipation and decreased appetite. Other immune-oncology drugs also have been found occasionally to induce immune related toxicities such as colitis, hepatitis, pneumonitis, meningitis, myocarditis and various endocrine diseases. Such side effects could also be exacerbated when ciforadenant is administered in combination with Tecentriq which is provided for in a portion of our Phase 1/1b clinical trial and amended Phase 1b/2 clinical trial as well as in Genentech’s Phase 1b/2 clinical trial under our collaboration agreement, or when ciforadenant is administered in higher doses, which we added as part of a protocol amendment.
In March 2018, we began enrolling patients in our Phase 1/1b clinical trial evaluating CPI-006. We have completed the dose escalation stage where patients receive CPI-006 alone and in combination with ciforadenant and we selected the recommended dose of 18 mg/kg and initiated the disease expansion phase in both the monotherapy and the combination arm with ciforadenant of our CPI-006 clinical trial. We are also enrolled patients in the dose escalation phase in the pembrolizumab combination arm of the trial. To date, only a limited number of patients have been enrolled and the follow-up period has been short. No dose-limiting toxicities have been observed at doses up to and including 18 mg/kg. In July 2020, we began enrolling COVID-19 patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial, and in February 2021, a Phase 3 clinical trial of CPI-006. As of March 4, 2021,no serious adverse events have been observed, however, the follow-up period has necessarily been short. COVID-19 is a poorly understood disease with multiple organ dysfunction and potential adverse effects of CPI-006 in these patients may be difficult to predict.
In March 2019, we initiated a multi-center Phase 1/1b clinical trial evaluating CPI-818 in patients with various malignant T-cell lymphomas and have completed enrollment in the dose escalation portion of the trial. As of March 4, 2021, a limited number of patients have been enrolled and, although no serious adverse events have been observed, the follow-up period has necessarily been short.
Many times side effects are only detectable after investigational products are tested in large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials or, in some cases, after they are made available to patients on a commercial scale after approval. Results of our current clinical trials and any future clinical trials we undertake could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of these or other side effects. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated, and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Drug-related side effects could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
In addition, if one or more of our product candidates receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
|●||regulatory authorities may withdraw approvals of such product;|
|●||regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;|
|●||we may be required to create a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;|
|●||we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients; and|
|●||our reputation may suffer.|
Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product candidate, if approved, and could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.
We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates.
The success of our business depends primarily upon our ability to develop and commercialize CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant. Although CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant are currently in clinical development, our research programs may fail to identify other potential product candidates, or advance them into and through clinical development for a number of reasons. Our research methodology may be unsuccessful in identifying other potential product candidates or our other potential product candidates may be shown to have harmful side effects or may have other characteristics that may make the products unmarketable or unlikely to receive marketing approval. It may also take greater human and financial resources to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through our research programs than we will possess, thereby limiting our ability to diversify and expand our product candidate portfolio.
Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties
We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our clinical trials. If these third parties do not meet our deadlines or otherwise conduct the trials as required, our clinical development programs could be delayed or unsuccessful and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates when expected, or at all.
We do not have the ability to conduct all aspects of our preclinical testing or clinical trials ourselves. As a result, we are dependent on third parties to conduct our Phase 3 clinical trial for CPI-006, our Phase 1/1b clinical trial and our amended Phase 1b/2 clinical trial for ciforadenant, our Phase 1/1b and Phase 1 clinical trials for CPI-006, and our Phase 1/1b clinical trial for CPI-818, and expect to continue to be dependent on third parties to conduct any future clinical studies of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and preclinical and clinical trials for our other product candidates. The timing of the initiation and completion of these trials will therefore be controlled by such third parties and may occur at times substantially different from our estimates. Specifically, we use and rely on medical institutions, clinical investigators, CROs and consultants to conduct our trials in accordance with our clinical protocols and regulatory requirements. Such CROs, investigators and other third parties play a significant role in the conduct of these trials and subsequent collection and analysis of data, and we will control only certain aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies 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 GCP requirements, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the member states of the European Union and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for all of our product candidates in clinical development.
Regulatory authorities enforce these GCPs through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of our CROs or trial sites fail to comply with applicable GCPs, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable, and the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under cGMP regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.
There is no guarantee that any such CROs, investigators or other third parties will devote adequate time and resources to such trials 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, or otherwise performs in a substandard manner, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated. These difficulties may be exacerbated as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
If any of our clinical trial sites terminates for any reason, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may experience the loss of follow-up information on subjects enrolled in such clinical trials unless we are able to transfer those subjects to another qualified clinical trial site, which may be difficult or impossible.
In addition, principal investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and may receive cash or equity compensation in connection with such services. If these relationships
and any related compensation result in perceived or actual conflicts of interest, or the FDA concludes that the financial relationship may have affected the interpretation of the study, the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site may be questioned and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized, which could result in the delay or rejection of any NDA or BLA we submit by the FDA. Any such delay or rejection could prevent us from commercializing CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates.
We rely on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of our manufacturing, research and preclinical and clinical testing, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily.
We do not expect to independently conduct all aspects of our manufacturing, research and preclinical and clinical testing. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties with respect to these items. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our studies in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated study plans and protocols, we may not be able to complete, or may be delayed in completing, the preclinical and clinical studies required to support future IND submissions and approval of our product candidates. These difficulties may be exacerbated as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, any of these third parties may terminate its engagement with us at any time. If we need to enter into alternative arrangements, it could delay our product development activities, and we may not be able to negotiate alternative arrangements on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.
We and our contract manufacturers are subject to significant regulation with respect to manufacturing our products and the contract manufacturers on which we rely may not continue to meet regulatory requirements.
We do not currently have nor do we plan to acquire the infrastructure or internal capability to manufacture our clinical drug supplies for use in the conduct of our trials, and we lack the resources and the capability to manufacture any of our product candidates on a clinical or commercial scale. We currently rely on several different manufacturers who supply different parts of the ciforadenant and CPI-818 molecules, on one manufacturer for CPI-006 drug substance and on other third-party manufacturers to produce our other product candidates.
All entities involved in the preparation of therapeutics for clinical studies or commercial sale, including our existing contract manufacturers for our product candidates, are subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or used in late-stage clinical studies must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP requirements. These regulations govern manufacturing processes and procedures, including record keeping, and the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of investigational products and products approved for sale. Poor control of production processes can lead to the introduction of adventitious agents or other contaminants, or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of our product candidates that may not be detectable in final product testing. We or our contract manufacturers must supply all necessary documentation in support of an NDA or BLA on a timely basis and must adhere to the FDA’s Good Laboratory Practice regulations and cGMP regulations enforced by the FDA through its facilities inspection program. Our facilities and quality systems and the facilities and quality systems of some or all of our third-party contractors must pass a pre-approval inspection for compliance with the applicable regulations as a condition of regulatory approval of our product candidates or any of our other potential products. In addition, the regulatory authorities may, at any time, audit or inspect our manufacturing facilities or those of our third-party contractors involved with the preparation of our product candidates or the associated quality systems for compliance with the regulations applicable to the activities being conducted. We do not control the manufacturing process of, and are completely dependent on, our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with cGMPs.
The regulatory authorities also may, at any time following approval of a product for sale, audit the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contractors. If any such inspection or audit identifies a failure to comply with applicable regulations or if a violation of our product specifications or applicable regulations occurs independent of such an inspection or audit, we or the relevant regulatory authority may require remedial measures that may be costly and/or time-consuming for us or a third party to implement and that may include the temporary or permanent suspension of a clinical study or commercial sales or the temporary or permanent closure of a facility. Such violations could also result in civil and/or criminal penalties, and the FDA may impose regulatory sanctions including, among other things, refusal
to approve a pending application for a new drug product or biologic product, revocation of a pre-existing approval or closing one or more manufacturing facilities.
In addition, if supply from an approved manufacturer is interrupted, there could be a significant disruption in commercial supply. An alternative manufacturer would need to be qualified through an NDA or BLA supplement which could result in further delay. The regulatory agencies may also require additional studies if a new manufacturer is relied upon for commercial production. Changing manufacturers may involve substantial costs and is likely to result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.
We, or our third-party manufacturers, may be unable to successfully scale-up manufacturing of our product candidates in sufficient quality and quantity, which would delay or prevent us from developing our product candidates and commercializing approved products, if any.
In order to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates, we will need to manufacture them in large quantities. We, or any manufacturing partners, 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 activities. If we or any manufacturing partners are unable to successfully scale up the manufacture of our product candidates in sufficient quality and quantity, the development, testing and clinical trials of that product candidate may be delayed or become infeasible, and regulatory approval or commercial launch of any resulting product may be delayed or not obtained, which could significantly harm our business.
In addition, the supply chain for the manufacturing of our product candidates is complicated and can involve several parties. If we were to experience any supply chain issues, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our product supply could be seriously disrupted. We expect that the logistical challenges associated with our supply chain will grow more complex as we expand enrollment in our clinical trials for CPI-006 and CPI-818 and as we commence any clinical trials for additional product candidates.
Our reliance on third parties requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor will discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.
Because we rely on third parties to research and develop and to manufacture our product candidates, we must share trade secrets with them. We seek to protect our proprietary technology in part by entering into confidentiality agreements and, if applicable, material transfer agreements, consulting agreements or other similar agreements with our advisors, employees, third-party contractors and consultants prior to beginning research or disclosing proprietary information. These agreements typically limit the rights of the third parties to use or disclose our confidential information, including our trade secrets. Despite the contractual provisions employed when working with third parties, the need to share trade secrets and other confidential information increases the risk that such trade secrets become known by our competitors, are inadvertently incorporated into the technology of others, or are disclosed or used in violation of these agreements. Given that our proprietary position is based, in part, on our know-how and trade secrets, a competitor’s independent discovery of our trade secrets or other unauthorized use or disclosure would impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business.
In addition, these agreements typically restrict the ability of our advisors, employees, third-party contractors and consultants to publish data potentially relating to our trade secrets, although our agreements may contain certain limited publication rights. For example, any academic institution that we may collaborate with in the future will likely expect to be granted rights to publish data arising out of such collaboration. In the future we may also conduct joint research and development programs that may require us to share trade secrets under the terms of our research and development or similar agreements. Despite our efforts to protect our trade secrets, our competitors may discover our trade secrets, either through breach of our agreements with third parties, independent development or publication of information by any of our third-party collaborators. A competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and have an adverse impact on our business.
Risks Related to Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
If we are unable to commercialize our product candidates or if we experience significant delays in obtaining regulatory approval for, or commercializing, any or all of our product candidates, our business will be materially and adversely affected.
Our ability to generate product revenue will depend heavily on our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates. We do not expect that such commercialization of any of our product candidates will occur for at least the next several years, if ever. Our ability to commercialize our product candidates effectively will depend on several factors, including the following:
|●||successful completion of preclinical studies and clinical trials, including the ability to demonstrate safety and efficacy of our product candidates;|
|●||managing the complexity of our clinical trial designs;|
|●||receipt of marketing approvals from the FDA and similar foreign regulatory authorities;|
|●||establishing commercial manufacturing capabilities by making arrangements with third-party manufacturers;|
|●||successfully launching commercial sales of any approved products, whether alone or in collaboration with others;|
|●||acceptance of any approved products by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;|
|●||establishing market share while competing with other therapies;|
|●||a continued acceptable safety profile of any approved products;|
|●||maintaining compliance with post-approval regulation and other requirements; and|
|●||qualifying for, identifying, registering, maintaining, enforcing and defending intellectual property rights and claims covering our product candidates.|
If we experience significant delays or an inability to commercialize our product candidates, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be materially adversely affected.
If we do not achieve our projected development goals in the time frames we announce and expect, the commercialization of our products may be delayed and, as a result, our stock price may decline.
We estimate the timing of the accomplishment of various scientific, clinical, regulatory and other product development goals, which we sometimes refer to as milestones. These milestones may include the commencement or completion of scientific studies and clinical trials and the submission of regulatory filings. From time to time, we may publicly announce the expected timing of some of these milestones. All of these milestones will be based on a variety of assumptions, and the actual timing of these milestones can vary dramatically compared to our estimates, in some cases for reasons beyond our control. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the ability of biopharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials and, while we have not yet experienced delays resulting from the pandemic, there can be no assurance that we will be able to avoid such delays in the future. If we do not meet these milestones as publicly announced, the commercialization of our products may be delayed and, as a result, our stock price may decline.
Any approved products could be subject to restrictions or withdrawal from the market, and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates, when and if any of them are approved.
Following potential approval of any of our product candidates, the FDA may impose significant restrictions on a product’s indicated uses or marketing or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly and time consuming post-approval studies, post-market surveillance or clinical trials. Following approval, if any, of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any other product candidate, such candidate will also be subject to ongoing FDA requirements governing the labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, safety surveillance, advertising, promotion, recordkeeping and reporting of safety and other post-market information. If we or a regulatory agency discovers previously unknown problems with a product, such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured, a regulatory agency may impose restrictions on that product, the manufacturing facility or us, including requesting recall or withdrawal of the product from the market or suspension of manufacturing.
If we or the manufacturing facilities for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any other product candidate that may receive regulatory approval, if any, fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency may:
|●||issue warning letters or untitled letters;|
|●||seek an injunction or impose civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines;|
|●||suspend or withdraw regulatory approval;|
|●||suspend any ongoing clinical trials;|
|●||refuse to approve pending applications or supplements or applications filed by us;|
|●||suspend or impose restrictions on operations, including costly new manufacturing requirements; or|
|●||seize or detain products, refuse to permit the import or export of product or request that we initiate a product recall.|
The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our ability to commercialize our product candidates and generate revenue.
The FDA has the authority to require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (“REMS”) as part of an NDA or BLA or after approval, which may impose further requirements or restrictions on the distribution or use of an approved drug, such as limiting prescribing to certain physicians or medical centers that have undergone specialized training, limiting treatment to patients who meet certain safe-use criteria and requiring treated patients to enroll in a registry.
In addition, if CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any of our other product candidates is approved, our product labeling, advertising and promotion will be subject to regulatory requirements and continuing regulatory review. The FDA strictly regulates the promotional claims that may be made about prescription products. In particular, a product may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the FDA as reflected in the product’s approved labeling. If we receive marketing approval for a product candidate, physicians may nevertheless prescribe it to their patients in a manner that is inconsistent with the approved label. If we are found to have promoted such off-label uses, we may become subject to significant liability. 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 sanctions. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed.
Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response, and could generate negative publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates.
Further, the FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. For instance, the EU has adopted the Clinical Trials Regulation (“CTR”) in April 2014, which is expected to come into application in 2022. The CTR will be directly applicable in all EU member states, repealing the current Clinical Trials Directive. Conduct of all clinical trials performed in the European Union will continue to be bound by currently applicable provisions until the new CTR becomes applicable. The extent to which ongoing clinical trials will be governed by the CTR will depend on when the CTR becomes applicable and on the duration of the individual clinical trial. If a clinical trial continues for more than three years from the day on which the CTR becomes applicable the CTR will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial. The CTR harmonizes the assessment and supervision processes for clinical trials throughout the EU via a Clinical Trials Information System, which will notably contain a centralized EU portal and database.
We also cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad. For example, the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election may impact our business and industry. Namely, the Trump administration took several executive actions, including the issuance of a number of Executive Orders, that could impose significant burdens on, or otherwise materially delay, the FDA’s ability to engage in routine oversight activities such as implementing statutes through rulemaking, issuance of guidance, and review and approval of marketing applications. It is difficult to predict whether or how these orders will be implemented, or whether they will be rescinded and replaced under the Biden administration. The policies and priorities of the new administration are unknown and could materially impact the regulations governing our product candidates. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may be subject to enforcement action and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.
Disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could hinder their ability to hire, retain or deploy key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified products from being developed, approved or commercialized in a timely manner or at all, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and/or approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, statutory, regulatory, and policy changes, the FDA’s ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. Average review times at the FDA have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.
Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies such as the EMA, following its relocation to Amsterdam and resulting staff changes, may also slow the time necessary for new drugs and biologics or modifications to approved drugs or biologics to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, including for 35 days beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA employees and stop critical activities.
Separately, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, on March 10, 2020 the FDA announced its intention to postpone most inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities, and subsequently, on March 18, 2020, the FDA announced its intention to temporarily postpone routine surveillance inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities. Subsequently, on July 10, 2020 the FDA announced its intention to resume certain on-site inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities subject to a risk-based prioritization system. The FDA intends to use this risk-based assessment system to identify the categories of regulatory activity that can occur within a given geographic area, ranging from mission critical inspections to resumption of all regulatory activities. Regulatory authorities outside the United States may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a prolonged
government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA or other regulatory authorities to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Even if we receive regulatory approval we still may not be able to successfully commercialize CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any other product candidate, and the revenue that we generate from sales, if any, could be limited.
Even if CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any of our other product candidates receive regulatory approval, they may not gain market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payors or the medical community. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates will depend on a number of factors, including:
|●||demonstration of clinical efficacy and safety compared to other more-established products;|
|●||the indications for which our product candidates are approved;|
|●||the limitation of our targeted patient population and other limitations or warnings contained in any FDA-approved labeling;|
|●||acceptance of a new formulation by healthcare providers and their patients;|
|●||our ability to obtain and maintain sufficient third-party coverage and reimbursement from government healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, private health insurers and other third-party payors;|
|●||the willingness of patients to pay out-of-pocket in the absence of third-party coverage and reimbursement;|
|●||the prevalence and severity of any adverse effects;|
|●||pricing and cost-effectiveness;|
|●||the timing of market introduction of our product candidates as well as competitive drugs;|
|●||the effectiveness of our or any of our existing or potential future collaborators’ sales and marketing strategies; and|
|●||unfavorable publicity relating to the product candidate.|
If any product candidate is approved but does not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, hospitals, healthcare payors or patients, we may not generate sufficient revenue from that product candidate and may not become or remain profitable. Our efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payors regarding the benefits of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any of our other product candidates may require significant resources and may never be successful.
Failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved, could limit our ability to market those products and decrease our ability to generate revenue.
Successful commercial sales of any approved products will depend on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other third-party payors. Each third-party payor separately decides which products it will cover and establishes the reimbursement level, and there is no guarantee that any of our product candidates that may be approved for marketing by regulatory authorities will receive adequate coverage or reimbursement levels. Obtaining and maintaining coverage approval for a product candidate is time-consuming, costly and may be difficult. We may be required to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic
studies to justify coverage and reimbursement or the level of coverage and reimbursement relative to other therapies. If coverage and adequate reimbursement are not available or limited, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. Government authorities and 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 drugs and biologics. Even if we obtain coverage for a given product, the resulting reimbursement rates may be inadequate and may affect the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.
Recently enacted legislation, future legislation and healthcare reform measures may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval for and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may obtain.
In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and we expect there will continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the healthcare system, including cost-containment measures that may reduce or limit coverage and reimbursement for newly approved drugs and biologics and affect our ability to profitably sell any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval.
For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, collectively referred to as the ACA, was enacted with a goal of reducing the cost of healthcare and substantially changing the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers. TheACA, among other things, subjected biological products to potential competition by lower-cost biosimilars; addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected; increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program; extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations; established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain prescription drugs; created a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D; and established a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.
Since its enactment, there have been judicial, executive and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, which, among other things, removes penalties for not complying with the ACA’s individual mandate to carry health insurance. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas, ruled that the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. On December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court's decision that the individual mandate was unconstitutional but remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case, although it is unclear when a decision will be made or how the Supreme Court will rule. In addition, there may be other efforts to challenge, replace, modify, repeal, or otherwise invalidate the ACA. We are continuing to monitor any changes to the ACA that, in turn, may potentially impact our business in the future.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. These new laws, among other things, included aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year that will remain in effect through 2030, with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, unless additional Congressional action is taken. In addition, in January 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. 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 bills designed to, among other things, reform government program reimbursement methodologies. Additionally, individual states in the United States have also become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical
product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.
We expect that the ACA, these new laws and other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, more rigorous coverage criteria, new payment methodologies and additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our product candidates, if approved.
In the European Union, similar political, economic and regulatory developments may affect our ability to profitably commercialize our product candidates, if approved. In addition to continuing pressure on prices and cost containment measures, legislative developments at the European Union or member state level may result in significant additional requirements or obstacles that may increase our operating costs. The delivery of healthcare in the European Union, including the establishment and operation of health services and the pricing and reimbursement of medicines, is almost exclusively a matter for national, rather than European Union, law and policy. National governments and health service providers have different priorities and approaches to the delivery of health care and the pricing and reimbursement of products in that context. In general, however, the healthcare budgetary constraints in most European Union member states have resulted in restrictions on the pricing and reimbursement of medicines by relevant health service providers. Coupled with ever-increasing European Union and national regulatory burdens on those wishing to develop and market products, this could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved. In markets outside of the United States and European Union, reimbursement and healthcare payment systems vary significantly by country, and many countries have instituted price ceilings on specific products and therapies.
We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action in the United States, the European Union or any other jurisdiction. If we or any third parties we may engage are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we or such third parties are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, our product candidates may lose any regulatory approval that may have been obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.
Any product candidates for which we intend to seek approval as biologic products may face competition sooner than anticipated.
The ACA includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (“BPCIA”), which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biological product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first licensed by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until twelve years from the date on which the reference product was first licensed. During this twelve-year period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a full BLA for the competing product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency of its product. The law is complex and is still being interpreted and implemented by the FDA. Any processes adopted by the FDA to implement the BPCIA could have a material adverse effect on the future commercial prospects for our biological products.
Though ciforadenant and CPI-818 are small molecules and will not be regulated as biological products, CPI-006, which we are evaluating in a Phase 1/1b oncology clinical trial and a Phase 1 COVID-19 clinical trial, is a biological product. We believe that any of our future product candidates approved as a biological product under a BLA should qualify for the twelve-year period of exclusivity. However, there is a risk that this exclusivity could be shortened due to Congressional action or otherwise, or that the FDA will not consider our product candidates to be reference products for competing products, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated.
Other aspects of the BPCIA, some of which may impact the BPCIA exclusivity provisions, have also been the subject of recent litigation. Moreover, the extent to which a biosimilar, once approved, could be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biological products will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing.
We may fail to obtain orphan drug designations from the FDA for our product candidates, and even if we obtain such designations, we may be unable to maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug designation, including the potential for market exclusivity.
Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan drug designation to a drug or biologic intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is defined as one occurring in a patient population of fewer than 200,000 in the United States, or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug or biologic will be recovered from sales in the United States. 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. In addition, if a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease 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, including a full NDA or BLA, to market the same drug or biologic for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity or where the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient product quantity.
While we have not obtained nor have we sought to obtain orphan designation for any product candidate, we believe many of the potential indications of our product candidates, if approved, could qualify for orphan drug designation. For instance, if ciforadenant, CPI-006 or CPI-818 is approved for the treatment of certain solid tumors with small patient populations, such as melanoma, renal or triple-negative breast cancer, it is possible that it could qualify for orphan drug designation with respect to such indications. As a result, we may seek to obtain orphan drug designation for our product candidates for any qualifying indications they may be approved for in the future. Even if we obtain such designations, we may not be the first to obtain marketing approval of our product candidate 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 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. Further, even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs with different active moieties can be approved for the same condition. Even after an orphan product is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve the same drug with the same active moiety for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care. 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. In addition, while we may seek orphan drug designation for our product candidates, we may never receive such designations.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate and fail to capitalize on product candidates 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 specific product candidates, including CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant. As a result, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates 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 product candidates. 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 establishing and maintaining development or other strategic collaborations, which could adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize product candidates.
In connection with our Phase 1/1b clinical trial for ciforadenant, we entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement with Genentech in October 2015. Pursuant to the agreement, Genentech provides access to, and supplies of, its cancer immunotherapy, Tecentriq, to be used in combination with ciforadenant during the clinical trial. The collaboration operates under a joint development committee with equal representation from both companies. In May 2017, we signed a second clinical trial collaboration agreement with Genentech. Under this second agreement, ciforadenant administered in combination with Tecentriq is being evaluated in a Phase 1b/2 randomized, controlled clinical study as second-line therapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer who are resistant and/or refractory to prior therapy with an anti-PD-(L)1 antibody. However, we and Genentech each have the right to terminate the respective collaboration agreements due to material breach by either party, for safety considerations, if directed by a regulatory authority or if development of ciforadenant or Tecentriq is discontinued. If we fail to maintain these strategic collaborations with Genentech (1) the development of ciforadenant in combination with Tecentriq may be terminated or delayed; (2) our cash expenditures related to development of ciforadenant could increase significantly, and we may need to seek additional financing; (3) we may be required to hire additional employees or otherwise develop expertise for which we have not budgeted; (4) we will bear all of the risk related to the development of ciforadenant as a combination therapy; and (5) we will need to seek collaborations with other companies that have anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 antibodies, which will significantly delay our development program and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may form strategic alliances and collaborative partnerships in the future, and we may not realize the benefits of such alliances.
In addition to our collaboration agreements with Genentech, we may form additional strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations or enter into licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our existing business, including for the continued development or commercialization of our product candidates. These relationships may result in or include non-recurring and other charges, increased near- and long-term expenditures, the issuance of securities that dilute our existing stockholders or disruptions to our management and business. In addition, we face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish a strategic partnership or other alternative arrangements for our product candidates because third parties may view the risk of failure in future clinical trials as too significant or the commercial opportunity for our product candidates as too limited. We cannot be certain that, following a strategic transaction or license, we will achieve the revenue or specific net income that justifies such transaction.
Even if we are successful in our efforts to establish strategic alliances or collaborative partnerships, the terms that we agree upon may not be favorable to us, and we may not be able to maintain such strategic alliances or collaborative partnerships if, for example, development or approval of a product candidate is delayed, the safety of a product candidate is questioned or sales of an approved product candidate are unsatisfactory. In addition, any existing or potential future strategic alliances or collaborative partnerships may be terminable by our strategic partners, and we may not be able to adequately protect our rights under these agreements. Furthermore, strategic partners may negotiate for certain rights to control decisions regarding the development and commercialization of our product candidates, if approved, and may not conduct those activities in the same manner as we do. Any termination of strategic alliances or collaborative partnerships we enter into in the future, or any delay in entering into collaborative partnership agreements related to our product candidates, could delay the development and commercialization of our product candidates and reduce their competitiveness if they reach the market, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In October 2020, we formed Angel Pharmaceuticals with a group of investors in China to create a new China-based biopharmaceutical company with a mission to bring innovative quality medicines to Chinese patients for treatment of serious diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases. We granted Angel Pharmaceuticals a license to rights to develop and commercialize our three clinical-stage candidates – CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant – in greater China and obtained global rights to our BTK inhibitor preclinical programs. While certain of our executive
officers and directors will initially be on the board of directors of Angel Pharmaceuticals, we have limited control over it and so we will be subject to many of the same risks set forth above with respect to all collaborations. Angel Pharmaceuticals will also be subject to many of the same risks that are set forth in this “Risk Factors” section pertaining to operations, government regulation, and intellectual property, which may adversely affect Angel Pharmaceuticals’ ability to develop and commercialize products.
We face competition from entities that have developed or may develop product candidates for cancer, including companies developing novel treatments and technology platforms. If these companies develop technologies or product candidates more rapidly than we do or their technologies are more effective, our ability to develop and successfully commercialize product candidates may be adversely affected.
Our competitors have developed, are developing or will develop product candidates and processes competitive with our product candidates. Competitive therapeutic treatments include those that have already been approved and accepted by the medical community and any new treatments that enter the market. We believe that a significant number of products are currently under development, and may become commercially available in the future, for the treatment of conditions for which we may attempt to develop product candidates. In particular, there is intense and rapidly evolving competition in the immunoregulatory therapeutics field. Our competitors include larger and better funded pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, biotechnological and therapeutics companies. Moreover, we also compete with universities and other research institutions that may be active in oncology research and could be in direct competition with us. We also compete with these organizations to recruit management, scientists and clinical development personnel, which could negatively affect our level of expertise and our ability to execute our business plan. We will also face competition in establishing clinical trial sites, registering subjects for clinical trials and in identifying and in-licensing new product candidates. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.
Kyowa Hakko Kirin has approval in Japan and the US for istradefylline, an A2A antagonist, in Parkinson’s disease. Within oncology, Novartis has announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Palobiofarma SL and is conducting a Phase 1 trial with an A2A antagonist. AstraZeneca plc is conducting clinical trials with an A2A antagonist for use in cancer therapy. Merck KgaA has entered into a pre-clinical collaboration with Domain Therapeutics Inc. to develop programs targeting the adenosine pathway. In addition, Redoxtherapies, Inc., which was acquired by Juno Therapeutics and subsequently by Celgene, and Arcus Biosciences, Inc. are developing A2A receptor antagonists for cancer. Astra Zeneca, Bristol-Myers Squib, and Novartis in partnership with Surface Oncology, Inc. have initiated clinical trials with anti-CD73 antibodies in cancer patients. More generally, in the field of immuno-oncology, there are large pharmaceutical companies with approved products or products in late-stage development that target other immune checkpoints, including PD-1, PD-L1 or CTLA-4. These companies include Bristol-Myers Squibb (nivolumab, ipilimumab), Merck (pembrolizumab), Genentech (atezolizumab) and AstraZeneca (durvalumab, tremelimumab). There is also intense competition to develop COVID-19 therapeutic drugs and vaccines, many of which are further along in clinical development than CPI-006. If any such therapeutic drugs or vaccines were to gain approval, the utility of CPI-006 as a therapeutic for the treatment of COVID-19 could be negated.
Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, technical, manufacturing, marketing, sales and supply resources or experience than we do. If we successfully obtain approval for any product candidate, we will face competition based on many different factors, including the safety and effectiveness of our products, the ease with which our products can be administered and the extent to which patients accept relatively new routes of administration, the timing and scope of regulatory approvals for these products, the availability and cost of manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities, price, reimbursement coverage and patent position. Competing products could present superior treatment alternatives, including by being more effective, safer, less expensive or marketed and sold more effectively than any products we may develop. Competitive products may make any products we develop obsolete or noncompetitive before we recover the expense of developing and commercializing our product candidates.
The market opportunities for our product candidates may be limited to those patients who are ineligible for or have failed prior treatments and may be small.
Cancer therapies are sometimes characterized as first-line, second-line or third-line, and the FDA often approves new therapies initially only for third-line use. When cancer is detected early enough, first line therapy is sometimes adequate to cure the cancer or prolong life without a cure. Whenever first-line therapy, usually chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery or a combination of these, proves unsuccessful, second-line therapy may be administered. Second-line therapies often consist of more chemotherapy, radiation, antibody drugs, tumor targeted small molecules or a combination of these. Third-line therapies can include bone marrow transplantation, antibody and small molecule targeted therapies, more invasive forms of surgery and new technologies. In markets with approved therapies, we expect to initially seek approval of our product candidates as a later stage therapy for patients who have failed other approved treatments. Subsequently, for those drugs that prove to be sufficiently beneficial, if any, we would expect to seek approval as a second-line therapy and potentially as a first-line therapy, but there is no guarantee that our product candidates, even if approved, would be approved for second-line or first-line therapy. In addition, we may have to conduct additional clinical trials prior to gaining approval for second-line or first-line therapy.
Our projections of both the number of people who have the cancers we are targeting, as well as the subset of people with these cancers in a position to receive later stage therapy and who have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new studies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these cancers. The number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected. In addition, the potentially addressable patient population for our product candidates may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates. Even if we obtain significant market share for our product candidates, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining regulatory approval for additional indications, including use as a first or second-line therapy.
We have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities, and we may have to invest significant resources to develop these capabilities.
We have no internal sales, marketing or distribution capabilities. If CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any of our other product candidates ultimately receives regulatory approval, we may not be able to effectively market and distribute the product candidate. We may have to seek collaborators or invest significant amounts of financial and management resources to develop internal sales, distribution and marketing capabilities, some of which will be committed prior to any confirmation that CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any of our other product candidates will be approved, if at all. We may not be able to enter into collaborations or hire consultants or external service providers to assist us in sales, marketing and distribution functions on acceptable financial terms or at all. Even if we determine to perform sales, marketing and distribution functions ourselves, we could face a number of additional related risks, including:
|●||we may not be able to attract and build an effective marketing department or sales force;|
|●||the cost of establishing a marketing department or sales force may exceed our available financial resources and the revenue generated by CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or any other product candidates that we may develop, in-license or acquire; and|
|●||our direct sales and marketing efforts may not be successful.|
Governments may impose price controls, which may adversely affect our future profitability.
We intend to seek approval to market our product candidates in both the United States and in foreign jurisdictions. In some foreign countries, particularly in the European Union, 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 candidate. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct clinical trials to compare the cost-effectiveness of our
product candidates to other available therapies, which is time-consuming and costly. If reimbursement of our future products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability.
Risks Related to Our Business Operations
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes our future operating results difficult to predict and could cause our operating results to fall below expectations or any guidance we may provide.
Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes it difficult for us to predict our future operating results. These fluctuations may occur due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control, including, but not limited to:
|●||the timing and cost of, and level of investment in, research, development and commercialization activities relating to our product candidates, which may change from time to time;|
|●||coverage and reimbursement policies with respect to our product candidates, if approved, and potential future drugs that compete with our product candidates;|
|●||the cost of manufacturing our product candidates, which may vary depending on the quantity of production and the terms of our agreements with manufacturers;|
|●||expenditures that we may incur to acquire, develop or commercialize additional product candidates and technologies;|
|●||the level of demand for any approved products, which may vary significantly;|
|●||future accounting pronouncements or changes in our accounting policies; and|
|●||the timing and success or failure of clinical trials for our product candidates or competing product candidates, or any other change in the competitive landscape of our industry, including consolidation among our competitors or partners.|
The cumulative effects of these factors could result in large fluctuations and unpredictability in our quarterly and annual operating results. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful. Investors should not rely on our past results as an indication of our future performance.
This variability and unpredictability could also result in our failing to meet the expectations of industry or financial analysts or investors for any period. If our revenue or operating results fall below the expectations of analysts or investors or below any forecasts we may provide to the market, or if the forecasts we provide to the market are below the expectations of analysts or investors, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. Such a stock price decline could occur even when we have met any previously publicly stated revenue or earnings guidance we may provide.
We are dependent on the services of our President and Chief Executive Officer, Richard A. Miller, M.D., and other key executives, and if we are not able to retain these members of our management or recruit additional management, clinical and scientific personnel, our business will suffer.
We are dependent on the principal members of our management and scientific staff. The loss of service of any of our management could harm our business. In addition, we are dependent on our continued ability to attract, retain and motivate highly qualified management, clinical and scientific personnel. If we are not able to retain our management, particularly our President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Miller, and to attract, on acceptable terms, additional qualified personnel necessary for the continued development of our business, we may not be able to sustain our
operations or grow. Although we have executed employment agreements with each member of our current executive management team, including Dr. Miller, these agreements are terminable at will with or without notice and, therefore, we may not be able to retain their services as expected.
We will need to expand and effectively manage our managerial, operational, financial and other resources in order to successfully pursue our clinical development and commercialization efforts. We may not be able to attract or retain qualified management and scientific and clinical personnel in the future due to the intense competition for qualified personnel among pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other businesses, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our industry has experienced a high rate of turnover of management personnel in recent years. If we are not able to attract, integrate, retain and motivate necessary personnel to accomplish our business objectives, we may experience constraints that will significantly impede the achievement of our development objectives, our ability to raise additional capital and our ability to implement our business strategy.
In addition, we do not currently maintain “key person” life insurance on the lives of our executives or any of our employees. This lack of insurance means that we may not have adequate compensation for the loss of the services of these individuals.
We may encounter difficulties in managing our growth and expanding our operations successfully.
We will need to grow our organization substantially to continue development and pursue the potential commercialization of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and our other product candidates. As we seek to advance CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant and other product candidates, we will need to expand our financial, development, regulatory, manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities or contract with third parties to provide these capabilities for us. As our operations expand, we expect that we will need to manage additional relationships with various strategic partners, suppliers and other third parties. Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates and to compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to manage any future growth effectively.
We are subject to various federal and state healthcare laws and regulations, and our failure to comply with these laws and regulations could harm our results of operations and financial condition.
Although we do not currently have any products on the market, if we obtain FDA approval for any of our product candidates and begin commercializing those products in the United States, our operations may be directly, or indirectly through our customers and third-party payors, subject to various U.S. federal and state healthcare laws and regulations. These laws will affect our operations, sales and marketing practices, and our relationships with physicians and other customers and third-party payors. Such laws include:
|●||the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons or entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;|
|●||the federal False Claims Act, which imposes criminal and civil penalties, including through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government; in addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal False Claims Act;|
|●||the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), which imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or|
|entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;|
|●||the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which requires manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to the government information related to payments or other “transfers of value” made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, and requires applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to report annually to the government ownership and investment interests held by the physicians described above and their immediate family members and payments or other “transfers of value” to such physician owners (manufacturers are required to submit reports to the government by the 90th day of each calendar year). Additional reporting and transparency requirements for payments to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, anesthesiology assistants and certified nurse midwives go into effect in 2022 for payments made in 2021; and|
|●||analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers; state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government; and state laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures and pricing information.|
Ensuring that our internal operations and business arrangements with third-parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations could involve substantial costs. If our operations are found to be in violation of such laws or any other governmental laws and regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, exclusion from U.S. government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.
We and our current and any existing or future collaborators, third-party manufacturers and suppliers will or may use biological materials and may use hazardous materials, and any claims relating to improper handling, storage or disposal of these materials could be time consuming or costly.
We and our current and any existing or future collaborators, third-party manufacturers or suppliers will or may use biological materials and may use hazardous materials, including chemicals and biological agents and compounds that could be dangerous to human health and safety of the environment. Our operations and the operations of our third-party manufacturers and suppliers also produce hazardous waste products. Federal, state and local laws and regulations govern the use, generation, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these materials and wastes. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations may be expensive, and current or future environmental laws and regulations may impair our product development efforts. In addition, we cannot eliminate the risk of accidental injury or contamination from these materials or wastes. We do not carry specific biological or hazardous waste insurance coverage, and our property, casualty and general liability insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for damages and fines arising from biological or hazardous waste exposure or contamination. In the event of contamination or injury, we could be held liable for damages or be penalized with fines in an amount exceeding our resources, and our clinical trials or regulatory approvals could be suspended.
If product liability lawsuits are brought against us, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates.
We face an inherent risk of product liability as a result of the clinical testing of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant, and the planned clinical testing of our other product candidates and will face an even greater risk if we commercialize our product candidates. For example, we may be sued if CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other
product candidates allegedly cause injury or are found to be otherwise unsuitable during product testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product candidate, negligence, strict liability and a breach of warranties. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts.
If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit or cease the commercialization of our product candidates. Even a successful defense would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
|●||decreased demand for CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates;|
|●||injury to our reputation;|
|●||withdrawal of clinical trial participants;|
|●||costs to defend the related litigation;|
|●||a diversion of management’s time and our resources;|
|●||substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;|
|●||product recalls, withdrawals or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;|
|●||loss of revenue;|
|●||the inability to commercialize CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates; and|
|●||a decline in our stock price.|
We have product liability insurance coverage in an amount and on terms and conditions that are customary for similarly situated companies and that are satisfactory to our board of directors. Our inability to retain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates. Although we plan to maintain such insurance, any claim that may be brought against us could result in a court judgment or settlement in an amount that is not covered, in whole or in part, by our insurance or that is in excess of the limits of our insurance coverage. Our insurance policies will also have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We may have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts.
We and any of our existing or potential future collaborators will be required to report to regulatory authorities if any products that may be approved in the future cause or contribute to adverse medical events, and any failure to do so would result in sanctions that would materially harm our business.
If we and any of our existing or potential future collaborators are successful in commercializing our products, the FDA and foreign regulatory authorities would require that we and any of our existing or potential future collaborators report certain information about adverse medical events if those products may have caused or contributed to those adverse events. The timing of our obligation to report would be triggered by the date we become aware of the adverse event as well as the nature of the event. We and any of our existing or potential future collaborators or CROs may fail to report adverse events within the prescribed timeframe. If we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators or CROs fail to comply with such reporting obligations, the FDA or a foreign regulatory authority could
take action, including criminal prosecution, the imposition of civil monetary penalties, seizure of our products or delay in approval or clearance of future products.
Our employees, independent contractors, principal investigators, CROs, consultants and vendors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.
We are exposed to the risk that our employees, independent contractors, principal investigators, CROs, consultants and vendors may engage in misconduct or other illegal activity. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct involving the improper use or misrepresentation of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, the creation of fraudulent data in our preclinical studies or clinical trials or illegal misappropriation of drug product, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct by employees and other third parties, 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 be in compliance with such laws or regulations. In addition, we are subject to the risk that a person or government could allege such fraud or other misconduct, even if none occurred. 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 fines and other sanctions.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
Our rights to develop and commercialize our product candidates are subject in part to the terms and conditions of licenses granted to us by other companies. The patent protection, prosecution and enforcement for some of our product candidates may be dependent on third parties.
We currently are heavily reliant upon licenses of certain patent rights and proprietary technology from third parties that is important or necessary to the development of our technology and products, including technology related to our product candidates. For example, we rely on our license agreement with Vernalis for rights with respect to the intellectual property covering ciforadenant and certain development candidates under our A2B receptor antagonist program. Further, we rely on our license agreement with The Scripps Research Institute for rights related to our lead development candidate for our anti-CD73 program, CPI-006. These and other licenses we may enter into in the future may not provide adequate rights to use such intellectual property and technology in all relevant fields of use or in all territories in which we may wish to develop or commercialize our technology and products in the future. As a result, we may not be able to develop and commercialize our technology and products in fields of use and territories for which we are not granted rights pursuant to such licenses.
Licenses to additional third-party technology that may be required for our development programs may not be available in the future or may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
In some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing, prosecution and enforcement of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we license from third parties. In addition, some of our agreements with our licensors require us to obtain consent from the licensor before we can enforce patent rights, and our licensor may withhold such consent or may not provide it on a timely basis. Therefore, we cannot be certain that our licensors or collaborators will prosecute, maintain, enforce and defend such intellectual property rights in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business, including by taking reasonable measures to protect the confidentiality of know-how and trade secrets, or by paying all applicable prosecution and maintenance fees related to intellectual property registrations for any of our product candidates. We also cannot be certain that our licensors have drafted or prosecuted the patents and patent applications licensed to us in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, which may affect the validity and enforceability of such patents or any patents that may issue from such applications. If they fail to do so, this could cause us to lose rights in any applicable intellectual property that we in-license, and as a result our ability to develop and commercialize products or product candidates may be adversely affected and we may be unable to prevent competitors from making, using and selling competing products.
Our success depends on our ability to protect our intellectual property and our proprietary technologies.
Our commercial success depends in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection and trade secret protection for our product candidates, proprietary technologies and their uses as well as our ability to operate without infringing upon the proprietary rights of others. We generally seek to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our product candidates, proprietary technologies and their uses that are important to our business. There can be no assurance that our patent applications or those of our licensors will result in additional patents being issued or that issued patents will afford sufficient protection against competitors with similar technology, nor can there be any assurance that the patents issued will not be infringed, designed around or invalidated by third parties. Even issued patents may later be found invalid or unenforceable or may be modified or revoked in proceedings instituted by third parties before various patent offices or in courts. The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain. Only limited protection may be available and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep any competitive advantage. This failure to properly protect the intellectual property rights relating to our product candidates could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
While we have rights to an issued composition-of-matter patent in the United States and corresponding issued patents in certain foreign territories covering ciforadenant, we cannot be certain that the claims in any of our patent applications covering composition-of-matter of our other product candidates will be considered patentable by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), courts in the United States or by the patent offices and courts in foreign countries, nor can we be certain that the claims in our issued composition-of-matter patents will not be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged.
The patent application process is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, and there can be no assurance that we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators will be successful in protecting our product candidates by obtaining and defending patents. These risks and uncertainties include the following:
|●||the USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other provisions during the patent process, the noncompliance with which can result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application, and partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction;|
|●||patent applications may not result in any patents being issued;|
|●||patents that may be issued or in-licensed may be challenged, invalidated, modified, revoked, circumvented, found to be unenforceable or otherwise may not provide any competitive advantage;|
|●||our competitors, many of whom have substantially greater resources than we do and many of whom have made significant investments in competing technologies, may seek or may have already obtained patents that will limit, interfere with or eliminate our ability to make, use and sell our potential product candidates;|
|●||there may be significant pressure on the U.S. government and international governmental bodies to limit the scope of patent protection both inside and outside the United States for disease treatments that prove successful, as a matter of public policy regarding worldwide health concerns; and|
|●||countries other than the United States may have patent laws less favorable to patentees than those upheld by U.S. courts, allowing foreign competitors a better opportunity to create, develop and market competing product candidates.|
The patent prosecution process is also expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. 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. Although we enter into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to
patentable aspects of our research and development output, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, CROs, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties, any of these parties may breach such agreements and disclose such output before a patent application is filed, thereby jeopardizing our ability to seek patent protection.
The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and our patents, if issued, or the patent rights that we license from others, may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical products, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our products and product candidates. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such 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.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
In addition, we rely on the protection of our trade secrets, including unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information to maintain our competitive position. Although we have taken steps to protect our trade secrets and unpatented know-how, including entering into confidentiality agreements with third parties, and confidential information and inventions agreements with employees, consultants and advisors. Despite these efforts, we cannot provide any assurances that all such agreements have been duly executed, and any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. Moreover, third parties may still obtain this information or may come upon this or similar information independently, and we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of these events occurs or if we otherwise lose protection for our trade secrets, the value of this information may be greatly reduced and our competitive position would be harmed. If we do not apply for patent protection prior to such publication or if we cannot otherwise maintain the confidentiality of our proprietary technology and other confidential information, then our ability to obtain patent protection or to protect our trade secret information may be jeopardized.
Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing the patents and other proprietary rights of third parties. Claims by third parties that we infringe their proprietary rights may result in liability for damages or prevent or delay our developmental and commercialization efforts.
Our commercial success depends in part on our avoiding infringement of the patents and proprietary rights of third parties. Other entities may have or obtain patents or proprietary rights that could limit our ability to make, use, sell, offer for sale or import our product candidates and future approved products or impair our competitive position. There is a substantial amount of litigation, both within and outside the United States, involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including patent infringement lawsuits, interferences, oppositions, reexaminations, inter partes review (“IPR”) proceedings and post-grant review (“PGR”) proceedings before the USPTO and/or corresponding foreign patent offices. Numerous third-party U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications exist in the fields in which we are developing product candidates. There may be third-party patents or patent applications with claims to materials, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment related to the use or manufacture of our product candidates. For example, we are aware of an issued patent in Australia that may be relevant to commercialization of ciforadenant in that country. That Australian patent is expected to expire in 2022. Our ability to commercialize ciforadenant in Australia prior to 2022 could be adversely affected if we do not obtain a license under such patent. We are also aware of a corresponding patent application that has been issued in the United States and which is expected to expire in 2023. However, to the extent that any claims of this patent may be interpreted to cover our potential uses of ciforadenant, we do not believe that such claims would be valid and enforceable if asserted. We have filed a PGR petition challenging the patentability of certain claims of the patent and the
patentee subsequently disclaimed every challenged claim. As the biotechnology industry expands and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may be subject to claims of infringement of the patent rights of third parties. Because patent applications are maintained as confidential for a certain period of time, until the relevant application is published we may be unaware of third-party patent applications that, if issued as patents, may be infringed by commercialization of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates, and cannot be certain that we were the first to file a patent application related to a product candidate or technology. Moreover, because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently-pending patent applications that may later result in issued patents that our product candidates may infringe. In addition, identification of third-party patent rights that may be relevant to our technology is difficult because patent searching is imperfect due to differences in terminology among patents, incomplete databases and the difficulty in assessing the meaning of patent claims. Any claims of patent infringement asserted by third parties would be time consuming and could:
|●||result in costly litigation;|
|●||divert the time and attention of our technical personnel and management;|
|●||cause development delays;|
|●||prevent us from commercializing CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates until the asserted patent expires or is held finally invalid or not infringed in a court of law;|
|●||require us to develop non-infringing technology, which may not be possible on a cost-effective basis; or|
|●||require us to enter into royalty or licensing agreements, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.|
Although no third party has asserted a claim of patent infringement against us as of the date of this report, others may hold proprietary rights that could prevent CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates from being marketed. Any patent-related legal action against us claiming damages and seeking to enjoin commercial activities relating to our product candidates or processes could subject us to potential liability for damages, including treble damages if we were determined to willfully infringe, and require us to obtain a license to manufacture or market CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates.
Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. We cannot predict whether we would prevail in any such actions or that any license required under any of these patents would be made available on commercially acceptable terms, if at all. Moreover, even if we or our future strategic partners were able to obtain a license, the rights may be nonexclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same intellectual property. In addition, we cannot be certain that we could redesign our product candidates or processes to avoid infringement, if necessary. Accordingly, an adverse determination in a judicial or administrative proceeding, or the failure to obtain necessary licenses, could prevent us from developing and commercializing CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates, which could harm our business, financial condition and operating results. In addition, intellectual property litigation, regardless of its outcome, may cause negative publicity and could prohibit us from marketing or otherwise commercializing our product candidates and technology.
We may be involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or the patents of our licensors, which could be expensive, time consuming, and unsuccessful. Further, our issued patents could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court.
Competitors may infringe our intellectual property rights or those of our licensors. To prevent infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in a patent infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent we own or in-license is not valid, is unenforceable and/or is not infringed. If we or any of our existing or potential future collaborators were to initiate legal
proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent directed at one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that our patent is invalid and/or unenforceable in whole or in part. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge include an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could include an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO or made a misleading statement during prosecution. Third parties may also raise similar claims before the USPTO, even outside the context of litigation. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable, and prior art could render our patents or those of our licensors invalid. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on such product candidate. Such a loss of patent protection would have a material adverse impact on our business.
Interference proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us or declared by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions with respect to our patents or patent applications or those of our licensors. An unfavorable outcome could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. Our defense of litigation or interference proceedings may fail and, even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. In addition, the uncertainties associated with litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our clinical trials, continue our research programs, license necessary technology from third parties or enter into development or manufacturing partnerships that would help us bring our product candidates to market.
Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to our intellectual property rights may cause us to incur significant expenses, and could distract our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could compromise our ability to compete in the marketplace.
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 this type of 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 our common stock.
Recent patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents.
On September 16, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“Leahy-Smith Act”) was signed into law. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and may also affect patent litigation. In particular, under the Leahy-Smith Act, the United States transitioned in March 2013 to a “first to file” system in which the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent. Third parties are allowed to submit prior art before the issuance of a patent by the USPTO, and may become involved in post-grant proceedings including opposition, derivation, reexamination, inter-partes review or interference proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope or enforceability of, or invalidate, our patent rights, which could adversely affect our competitive position.
We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to our product candidates through acquisitions and in-licenses.
We currently have rights to the intellectual property, through licenses from third parties and under patents that we own, to develop our product candidates. Because our programs may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business will depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights. For example, our product candidates may require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently and the rights to these formulations may be held by others. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify as necessary for our product candidates. The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment.
We have collaborated with U.S. academic institutions and may in the future collaborate with U.S. and foreign academic institutions to accelerate our preclinical research or development under written agreements with these institutions. These institutions may provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such option, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified timeframe or under terms that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to other parties, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program.
If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of that program and our business and financial condition could suffer.
We may fail to comply with any of our obligations under existing agreements pursuant to which we license or have otherwise acquired intellectual property rights or technology, which could result in the loss of rights or technology that are material to our business.
Licensing of intellectual property is of critical importance to our business and involves complex legal, business and scientific issues. We are party to various agreements that we depend on for rights to use various technologies that are material to our business, including intellectual property rights covering ciforadenant and methods relating to its use and manufacture. In each of these cases, our rights to use the licensed intellectual property are subject to the continuation of and our compliance with the terms of these agreements. Disputes may arise regarding our rights to intellectual property licensed to us from a third party, including but not limited to:
|●||the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues;|
|●||the extent to which our technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;|
|●||the sublicensing of patent and other rights;|
|●||our diligence obligations under the license agreement and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;|
|●||the ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the creation or use of intellectual property by us, alone or with our licensors and collaborators;|
|●||the scope and duration of our payment obligations;|
|●||our rights upon termination of such agreement; and|
|●||the scope and duration of exclusivity obligations of each party to the agreement.|
If disputes over intellectual property and other rights that we have licensed or acquired from third parties prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates. If we fail to comply with our obligations under current or future licensing agreements, these agreements may be terminated or the scope of our rights under them may be reduced and we might be unable to develop, manufacture or market any product that is licensed under these agreements.
We may be subject to claims that we have wrongfully hired an employee from a competitor or that we or our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged confidential information or trade secrets of their former employers.
As is common in the pharmaceutical industry, in addition to our employees, we engage the services of consultants to assist us in the development of our product candidates. Many of these consultants, and many of our employees, were previously employed at, or may have previously provided or may be currently providing consulting services to, other pharmaceutical companies including our competitors or potential competitors. We may become subject to claims that we, our employees or a consultant inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed trade secrets or other information proprietary to their former employers or their former or current clients. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, which could adversely affect our business. Even if we are successful in defending against these claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to our management team.
We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our patents and other intellectual property.
We may also be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an ownership interest in our patents or other intellectual property. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or ownership. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and distraction to management and other employees.
If we do not obtain patent term extension for our product candidates, our business may be materially harmed.
Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of potential FDA marketing approval of ciforadenant, CPI-006 , CPI-818 or other product candidates, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term restoration under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (“Hatch-Waxman Amendments”). The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent restoration term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. However, we may not be granted an extension because of, for example, 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 we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or restoration or the term of any such extension is less than we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration, and our revenue could be reduced, possibly materially.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.
Our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names, which we need to build name recognition among potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. At times, competitors may adopt trade names or trademarks similar to ours, thereby impeding our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to market confusion. In addition, there could be potential trade name
or trademark infringement claims brought by owners of other registered trademarks or trademarks that incorporate variations of our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names. Over the long term, if we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, then we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. Our efforts to enforce or protect our proprietary rights related to trademarks, trade secrets, domain names, copyrights or other intellectual property may be ineffective and could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and could adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations.
Changes in U.S. patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our product candidates.
As is the case with other biopharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biopharmaceutical industry involve a high degree of technological and legal complexity. Therefore, obtaining and enforcing biopharmaceutical patents is costly, time consuming and inherently uncertain. In addition, Congress may pass patent reform legislation that is unfavorable to us. The 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. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on decisions by Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents we might obtain in the future.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
While we have issued patents directed at ciforadenant in the United States and certain foreign territories, and pending patent applications directed at CPI-006, CPI-818, ciforadenant and other product candidates in the United States and other countries, filing, prosecuting and defending patents on CPI-006, CPI-818, ciforadenant and our other product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors 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 have patent protection but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our product candidates, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.
The legal systems of many foreign countries do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and 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. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.
Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our competitive advantage.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. For example:
|●||others may be able to make adenosine antagonists that are similar to our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or have exclusively licensed;|
|●||we or our licensors or future collaborators might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patent or pending patent application that we own or have exclusively licensed;|
|●||we or our licensors or future collaborators might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions;|
|●||others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;|
|●||it is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents;|
|●||issued patents that we own or have exclusively licensed may be held invalid or unenforceable, as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;|
|●||our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;|
|●||we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable; and|
|●||the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.|
Should any of these events occur, they could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to Our Common Stock
An active, liquid and orderly market for our common stock may not be sustained.
Although our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Global Market (“Nasdaq”), an active trading market for our common stock may not be sustained on Nasdaq or any other exchange in the future. The lack of an active market may impair our stockholders’ ability to sell their shares at the time they wish to sell them or at a price that they consider reasonable. If an active market for our common stock is not sustained, it may also be difficult for our stockholders to sell shares without depressing the market price for the shares or at all. An inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling shares and may impair our ability to acquire other businesses, applications or technologies using our shares as consideration, which, in turn, could materially adversely affect our business. In any event, we have a limited public float and, as a result, our common stock has been and will likely continue to be less liquid than many other listed companies and trading may be adversely affected.
The trading price of the shares of our common stock could be highly volatile, and investors in our common stock could incur substantial losses.
Our stock price has been volatile. The stock market in general and the market for stock of pharmaceutical companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance
of particular companies. The market price for our common stock may be influenced by those factors discussed in this “Risk Factors” section and many others, including:
|●||our ability to enroll subjects in our planned clinical trials;|
|●||results of the clinical trials, and the results of trials of our competitors or those of other companies in our market sector;|
|●||results for our Phase 1 clinical trial of CPI-006 for COVID-19 expected in the fourth quarter of 2020;|
|●||regulatory approval of CPI-006, CPI-818, ciforadenant and our other product candidates, or limitations to specific label indications or patient populations for its use, or changes or delays in the regulatory review process;|
|●||Angel Pharmaceuticals’ ability to develop and commercialize product candidates in China;|
|●||regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;|
|●||changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems, especially in light of current reforms to the U.S. healthcare system;|
|●||the success or failure of our efforts to acquire, license or develop additional product candidates;|
|●||innovations or new products developed by us or our competitors;|
|●||announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments;|
|●||manufacturing, supply or distribution delays or shortages;|
|●||any changes to our relationship with any manufacturers, suppliers, collaborators or other strategic partners;|
|●||achievement of product sales and profitability;|
|●||variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;|
|●||market conditions in the pharmaceutical sector and issuance of securities analysts’ reports or recommendations;|
|●||trading volume of our common stock;|
|●||an inability to obtain additional funding;|
|●||sales of our stock by insiders and stockholders;|
|●||general economic, industry and market conditions other events or factors, many of which are beyond our control, including recession or depression resulting from the current COVID-19 pandemic;|
|●||additions or departures of key personnel; and|
|●||intellectual property, product liability or other litigation against us.|
As a result of this volatility, investors may experience losses on their investment in our common stock.
In addition, in the past, stockholders have initiated class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies following periods of volatility in the market prices of these companies’ stock. Such litigation, if instituted against us, could cause us to incur substantial costs and divert management’s attention and resources, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our failure to meet the continued listing requirements of Nasdaq could result in a delisting of our common stock.
If we fail to satisfy the continued listing requirements of Nasdaq, such as the corporate governance requirements or the minimum closing bid price requirement, Nasdaq may take steps to delist our common stock. Such a delisting would likely have a negative effect on the price of our common stock and would impair our stockholders’ ability to sell or purchase our common stock when they wish to do so. In the event of a delisting, we can provide no assurance that any action taken by us to restore compliance with listing requirements would allow our common stock to become listed again, stabilize the market price or improve the liquidity of our common stock, prevent our common stock from dropping below the Nasdaq minimum bid price requirement or prevent future non-compliance with Nasdaq’s listing requirements.
Because a small number of our existing stockholders own a majority of our voting stock, a stockholder’s ability to influence corporate matters will be limited.
As of December 31, 2020, our executive officers, directors and greater than 5% stockholders, in the aggregate, owned approximately 50% of our outstanding common stock, including 1,458,000 shares of our common stock subject to prefunded warrants as described in Note 1 in Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data. As a result, such persons, acting together, have the ability to control our management and affairs and substantially all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval, including the election and removal of directors and approval of any significant transaction. This concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control, impeding a merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination involving us, or discouraging a potential acquiror from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of our business, even if such a transaction would benefit other stockholders.
We do not currently intend to pay dividends on our common stock, and, consequently, our stockholders’ ability to achieve a return on their investment will depend on appreciation, if any, in the price of our common stock.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividend on our common stock. We currently anticipate that we will retain future earnings for the development, operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation of their stock. There is no guarantee that shares of our common stock will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which stockholders have purchased their shares.
To the extent that we raise additional capital by issuing equity securities, the share ownership of existing stockholders will be diluted. For example, on April 3, 2017, we filed a Registration Statement on Form S-3 (File No. 333-217102), covering the offering of up to $250 million of shares of common stock, preferred stock, warrants and units. In March 2018, we sold 8,117,647 shares of our common stock for net proceeds of $64.9 million in an underwritten public offering pursuant to our Registration Statement on Form S-3 (File No. 333-217102). On March 9, 2020 we filed a Registration Statement on Form S-3 (File No. 333-237040), covering the offering of up to $200 million of shares of common stock, preferred stock, warrants and units and entered into the Sales Agreement with Jefferies to sell shares of our common stock, from time to time, with aggregate gross sales proceeds of up to $50,000,000, through an at-the-market equity offering program under which Jefferies will act as our sales agent. As of December 31, 2020, we had sold 310,734 shares of common stock pursuant to the Sales Agreement. As of December 31, 2020, $48.7 million remained for sale under the Sales Agreement.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock by our existing stockholders in the public market could cause our stock price to fall.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market could occur at any time. These sales, or the perception in the market that the holders of a large number of shares intend to sell shares, could reduce the market price of our common stock. Moreover, certain holders of shares of our common stock have rights, subject to certain conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other stockholders. We have registered and intend to continue to register all shares of common stock that we may issue under our equity compensation plans. Once we register these shares, they can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to volume limitations applicable to affiliates.
We are an emerging growth company, and the reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the JOBS Act. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including, but not limited to, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our Annual Report on Form 10-K and our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) December 31, 2021, (2) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion, (3) the last day of the fiscal year in which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeded $700.0 million as of the last business day of the second fiscal quarter of such fiscal year, or (4) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during the prior three-year period. Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we may still qualify as a “smaller reporting company” which may allow us to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. If investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal control over financial reporting, our ability to produce accurate and timely consolidated financial statements could be impaired, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting and the trading price of our common stock may decline.
Pursuant to Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, if we are an accelerated filer when we lose our status as an “emerging growth company”, our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. The rules governing the standards that must be met for management to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing and possible remediation. To continue to comply with the requirements of being a reporting company under the Exchange Act, as we continue to grow, we will need to upgrade our systems including information technology; implement additional financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures; and hire additional accounting and finance staff. If we or, if required, our auditors are unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting and the trading price of our common stock may decline.
We cannot assure our stockholders that there will not be material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting in the future. Any failure to maintain internal control over financial reporting could severely inhibit our ability to accurately report our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. If we are unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm determines we have a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal control over financial reporting once that firm begin its Section 404 reviews, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, the market price of our common stock could decline, and we could be subject to
sanctions or investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Failure to remedy any material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or to implement or maintain other effective control systems required of public companies, could also restrict our future access to the capital markets.
Provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law could discourage a takeover that stockholders may consider favorable and may lead to entrenchment of management.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that could significantly reduce the value of our shares to a potential acquiror or delay or prevent changes in control or changes in our management without the consent of our board of directors. The provisions in our charter documents include the following:
|●||a classified board of directors with three-year staggered terms, which may delay the ability of stockholders to change the membership of a majority of our board of directors;|
|●||no cumulative voting in the election of directors, which limits the ability of minority stockholders to elect director candidates;|
|●||the exclusive right of our board of directors, unless the board of directors grants such right to the stockholders, to elect a director to fill a vacancy created by the expansion of the board of directors or the resignation, death or removal of a director, which prevents stockholders from being able to fill vacancies on our board of directors;|
|●||the required approval of at least 66 2/3% of the shares entitled to vote to remove a director for cause, and the prohibition on removal of directors without cause;|
|●||the ability of our board of directors to authorize the issuance of shares of preferred stock and to determine the price and other terms of those shares, including preferences and voting rights, without stockholder approval, which could be used to significantly dilute the ownership of a hostile acquiror;|
|●||the ability of our board of directors to alter our amended and restated bylaws without obtaining stockholder approval;|
|●||the required approval of at least 66 2/3% of the shares entitled to vote to adopt, amend or repeal our amended and restated bylaws or repeal the provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation regarding the election and removal of directors;|
|●||a prohibition on stockholder action by written consent, which forces stockholder action to be taken at an annual or special meeting of our stockholders;|
|●||an exclusive forum provision providing that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the exclusive forum for certain actions and proceedings;|
|●||the requirement that a special meeting of stockholders may be called only by the board of directors, which may delay the ability of our stockholders to force consideration of a proposal or to take action, including the removal of directors; and|
|●||advance notice procedures that stockholders must comply with in order to nominate candidates to our board of directors or to propose matters to be acted upon at a stockholders’ meeting, which may discourage or deter a potential acquiror from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquiror’s own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.|
We are also subject to the anti-takeover provisions contained in Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. Under Section 203, a corporation may not, in general, engage in a business combination with any holder of 15% or more of its capital stock unless the holder has held the stock for three years or, among other exceptions, the board of directors has approved the transaction.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws provide that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws provide that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, any action asserting a breach of fiduciary duty, any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws, or any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and other employees. Alternatively, if a court were to find this provision in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business and financial condition. This provision would not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the U.S. federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction.
Our future growth may depend, in part, on our ability to operate in foreign markets, where we would be subject to additional regulatory burdens and other risks and uncertainties.
Our future growth may depend, in part, on our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates in foreign markets. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our product candidates before we receive regulatory approval from applicable regulatory authorities in foreign markets, and we may never receive such regulatory approvals for any of our product candidates. To obtain separate regulatory approval in many other countries we must comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements regarding safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, commercial sales, pricing and distribution of our product candidates. If we obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates and ultimately commercialize our product candidates in foreign markets, we would be subject to additional risks and uncertainties, including the burden of complying with complex and changing foreign regulatory, tax, accounting and legal requirements and the reduced protection of intellectual property rights in some foreign countries.
Recent U.S. tax legislation and future changes to applicable U.S. or foreign tax laws and regulations may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to income and other taxes in the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions. Changes in laws and policy relating to taxes or trade may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, the U.S. government recently enacted significant tax reform, and certain provisions of the new law may adversely affect us. Changes include, but are not limited to, a federal corporate tax rate decrease from 35% to 21% for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the transition of U.S. international taxation from a worldwide tax system to a more generally territorial system, and a one-time transition tax on the mandatory deemed repatriation of foreign earnings. The legislation is unclear in many respects and could be subject to potential amendments and technical corrections, and will be subject to interpretations and implementing regulations by the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service, any of which could mitigate or increase certain adverse effects of the legislation. In addition, it is unclear how these U.S. federal income tax changes will affect state and local taxation. Generally, future changes in applicable U.S. or foreign tax laws and regulations, or their interpretation and application could have an adverse effect on our business, financial conditions and results of operations.
Our internal computer systems, or those of any of our existing or potential future collaborators, CROs or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our product development programs.
We maintain sensitive company data on our computer networks, including our intellectual property and proprietary business information. We face a number of threats to our networks from unauthorized access, security breaches and other system disruptions. Despite the implementation of security measures, our information technology and other internal computer systems and those of our current and any future CROs and other contractors, consultants and collaborators are vulnerable to damage from cyberattacks, “phishing” attacks, computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. Attacks upon information technology systems are increasing in their frequency, levels of persistence, sophistication and intensity, and are being conducted by sophisticated and organized groups and individuals with a wide range of motives and expertise. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may also face increased cybersecurity risks due to our reliance on internet technology and the number of our employees who are working remotely, which may create additional opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. Furthermore, because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access to, or to sabotage, systems change frequently and often are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or implement adequate preventative measures. We may also experience security breaches that may remain undetected for an extended period. Any such security breach may compromise information stored on our networks, or those of our vendors, and may result in significant data losses or theft of our intellectual property or proprietary business information. Further, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations, whether due to a loss of our trade secrets or other similar disruptions. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. In addition, such a breach may require notification to governmental agencies, the media or individuals pursuant to various federal and state privacy and security laws, if applicable, including HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and regulations implemented thereunder, as well as regulations promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission and state breach notification laws. We would also be exposed to a risk of loss, including financial assets or litigation and potential liability, which could materially adversely affect our business, reputation, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. We also rely on third parties to manufacture our product candidates, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.
Changes in and failures to comply with U.S. and foreign privacy and data protection laws, regulations and standards may adversely affect our business, operations and financial performance.
We are subject to or affected by numerous federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, as well as regulatory guidance, governing the collection, use, disclosure, retention, and security of personal data, such as information that we collect about patients and healthcare providers in connection with clinical trials in the United States and abroad. The global data protection landscape is rapidly evolving, and implementation standards and enforcement practices are likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. This evolution may create uncertainty in our business, affect our or our collaborators’, service providers’ and contractors’ ability to operate in certain jurisdictions or to collect, store, transfer use and share personal information, necessitate the acceptance of more onerous obligations in our contracts, result in liability or impose additional costs on us. In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations could apply to our operations or the operations of our partners, including state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws, and federal and state consumer protection laws and regulations (e.g. Section 5 of the FTC Act), that govern the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information. 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 and security requirements under HIPAA. Depending on the facts and circumstances, we could be subject to criminal penalties if we knowingly obtain, use, or disclose individually identifiable health information that was provided to us by a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA.
Further, California enacted the CCPA, on June 28, 2018, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA gives California residents expanded rights to access and delete their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing, and receive detailed information about how their personal information is used. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches that is expected to increase data breach litigation. Although there are limited exemptions for health-related information, including clinical trial data, the CCPA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. Further, the CPRA, recently passed in California, which will impose additional data protection obligations on covered businesses, including additional consumer rights processes, limitations on data uses, new audit requirements for higher risk data, and opt outs for certain uses of sensitive data. It will also create a new California data protection agency authorized to issue substantive regulations and could result in increased privacy and information security enforcement. The majority of the provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2023, and additional compliance investment and potential business process changes may be required. Similar laws have been proposed in other states and at the federal level, and if passed, such laws may have potentially conflicting requirements that would make compliance challenging.
Our operations abroad may also be subject to increased scrutiny or attention from data protection authorities. Many countries in these regions have established or are in the process of establishing privacy and data security legal frameworks with which we, our collaborators, service providers, including our CRO, and contractors must comply. For example, the GDPR, which went into effect in May 2018, imposes strict requirements for processing the personal data of individuals within the EEA, including clinical trial data. The GDPR has and will continue to increase compliance burdens on us, including by mandating potentially burdensome documentation requirements and granting certain rights to individuals to control how we collect, use, disclose, retain and process information about them. The processing of sensitive personal data, such as physical health condition, may impose heightened compliance burdens under the GDPR and is a topic of active interest among foreign regulators. Further, recent legal developments in Europe have created complexity and uncertainty regarding transfers of personal data from the EEA to the United States, e.g. on July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or the CJEU invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework, or the Privacy Shield under which personal data could be transferred from the EEA to US entities who had self-certified under the Privacy Shield scheme. While the CJEU upheld the adequacy of the standard contractual clauses (a standard form of contract approved by the European Commission as an adequate personal data transfer mechanism, and potential alternative to the Privacy Shield), it made clear that reliance on them alone may not necessarily be sufficient in all circumstances. Use of the standard contractual clauses 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 and additional measures and/or contractual provisions may need to be put in place, however, the nature of these additional measures is currently uncertain. As supervisory authorities issue further guidance on personal data export mechanisms, including circumstances where the standard contractual clauses cannot be used, and/or start taking enforcement action, we could suffer additional costs, complaints and/or regulatory investigations or fines, and/or if we are otherwise unable to transfer personal data between and among countries and regions in which we operate, it could affect the manner in which we provide our services, the geographical location or segregation of our relevant systems and operations, and could adversely affect our financial results. In addition, the GDPR provides for robust regulatory enforcement and fines of up to €20 million or 4% of the annual global revenue of the noncompliant company, whichever is greater. Further, from January 1, 2021, we will have to comply with the GDPR and the UK GDPR, which, together with the amended UK Data Protection Act 2018, retains the GDPR in United Kingdom national law, the latter regime having the ability to separately fine up to the greater of £17.5 million or 4% of global turnover. The relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU in relation to certain aspects of data protection law remains unclear, and it is unclear how United Kingdom data protection laws and regulations will develop in the medium to longer term, and how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated in the long term. Currently there is a four to six-month grace period agreed in the EU and United Kingdom Trade and Cooperation Agreement, ending June 30, 2021 at the latest, whilst the parties discuss an adequacy decision. However, it is not clear whether (and when) an adequacy decision may be granted by the European Commission enabling data transfers from EU member states to the United Kingdom long term without additional measures. These changes may lead to additional costs and increase our overall risk exposure.
As we expand into other foreign countries and jurisdictions, we may be subject to additional laws and regulations that may affect how we conduct business. The cost of compliance with these laws, regulations and standards is high and is likely to increase in the future. Any failure or perceived failure by us or our collaborators, service providers and contractors to comply with federal, state or foreign laws or regulation, our internal policies and procedures or our contracts governing processing of personal information could result in negative publicity, diversion of management time and effort and proceedings against us by governmental entities or others. In many jurisdictions, enforcement actions and consequences for noncompliance are rising.
Our operations could be subject to earthquakes, power shortages, telecommunications failures, water shortages, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, fires, extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics and pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and other natural or manmade disasters or business interruptions, for which we are predominantly self-insured. We currently rely on several different manufacturers who supply different parts of the ciforadenant molecule and CPI-818 molecule, on one manufacturer for CPI-006 drug substance and on other third-party manufacturers to produce our other product candidates. Our ability to obtain clinical supplies of CPI-006, CPI-818 and ciforadenant or our other product candidates could be disrupted if the operations of these suppliers were affected by a man-made or natural disaster or other business interruption. The occurrence of any of these business disruptions could seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have limited the use of our physical facilities and many of our employees work remotely. We intend to make full use of our physical facilities after national, state and local authorities have indicated that it is safe to do so. In the event of a continuation of shelter-in-place orders or mandated local travel restrictions, our employees conducting research and development activities may not be able to access our facilities and our activities may be significantly limited or curtailed, possibly for an extended period of time. Furthermore, it is possible that over the long term our operational efficiency may be decreased if our employees and third-party collaborators are unable to meet and work in the same physical location.
Our ability to use net operating loss carryforwards and 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. To the extent that we continue to generate taxable losses, unused losses will carry forward to offset future taxable income, if any, until such unused losses expire. As of December 31, 2020, we had federal net operating loss (“NOL”) carryforwards of approximately $177.2 million and state NOL carryforwards of approximately $206.7 million available to offset future taxable income. If not utilized, the federal and state NOL carryforwards will begin to expire in various years beginning in 2034. As of December 31, 2020, we also had $6.8 million of federal and $3.9 million of state research and development tax credit carryforwards available to reduce future income taxes. The federal research and development tax credits will begin to expire in 2035, if not utilized. The state research and development tax credits have no expiration date. Utilization of NOL carryforwards and credits may be subject to an annual limitation due to the “ownership change” provisions under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. An “ownership change” is generally defined as a cumulative change in the ownership interest of significant stockholders over a rolling three-year period in excess of 50 percentage points. Similar provisions under state tax law may also apply. If finalized, Treasury Regulations currently proposed under Section 382 of the Code may further limit our ability to utilize our pre-change NOLs or credits if we undergo a future ownership change. We may experience an ownership change in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership, some of which changes are outside our control. Such ownership changes could result in the expiration of our NOL carryforwards and other tax attributes before they can be utilized and, if we are profitable, our future cash flows could be adversely affected due to our increased tax liability.
Additionally, under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”), as modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), NOL carryforwards arising in tax years beginning after December 31, 2020 are limited to 80% of taxable income. Under the Tax Act, federal NOL carryforwards arising in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 may be carried forward indefinitely. Under the CARES Act, federal NOL carryforwards arising in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2021 may be carried back to each of the five tax years preceding the tax year of such loss. The changes in the carryforward and carryback periods as well as the limitation on use of NOL carryforwards may significantly impact our ability to use NOL carryforwards, particularly for tax years
beginning after December 31, 2020, as well as the timing of any such use, and could adversely affect our results of operations.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports or publish unfavorable research or reports about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock is influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us or our business. If any of the analysts who cover us issue an adverse or misleading opinion regarding us, our business model, our intellectual property or our stock performance, or if our target studies and operating results fail to meet the expectations of analysts, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
We currently lease approximately 27,280 square feet of office and research and development facilities in Burlingame, California. Our lease expires in 2023. We frequently explore alternatives that would provide us with additional space to accommodate our anticipated growth.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
We are not currently a party to any material litigation or legal proceedings; however, we may from time to time be involved in various legal proceedings incident to the ordinary course of our business.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market Information for Common Stock
Our common stock has been listed on The Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “CRVS” since March 23, 2016. Prior to that there was no public trading market for our common stock. The following table sets forth for the indicated periods the high and low sales prices per share for our common stock on the Nasdaq stock market.
Holders of Record
As of March 25, 2021, there were approximately 23 stockholders of record of our common stock. The actual number of stockholders is greater than this number of record holders, and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners, but whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees. This number of holders of record also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.
We currently intend to retain future earnings, if any, for use in operation of our business and to fund future growth. We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Payment of cash dividends, if any, in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, operating results, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects and other factors our board of directors may deem relevant.
Stock Performance Graph
The following graph shows the total stockholder’s return on an investment of $100 in cash at market close on March 23, 2016 (the first day of trading of our common stock), through December 31, 2020 for (i) our common stock, (ii) the Nasdaq Composite Index and (iii) the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index.
Pursuant to applicable Securities and Exchange Commission rules, all values assume reinvestment of the full amount of all dividends, however, no dividends have been declared on our common stock to date. The stockholder return shown on the graph below is not necessarily indicative of future performance, and we do not make or endorse any predictions as to future stockholder return. This graph and the table below it shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or be deemed “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as amended (the “Exchange Act”), or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any
of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in any such filing.
$100 investment in stock or index
NASDAQ Composite Index (IXIC)
NASDAQ Biotech Index (˄NBI)
Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans
The information required by this Item regarding equity compensation plans is incorporated by reference to the information set forth in PART III Item 12 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Use of Proceeds from Registered Securities
Recent Sales of Unregistered Equity Securities
In November 2019, we entered into an exchange agreement (the “Exchange Agreement”) with entities affiliated with Biotechnology Value Fund, L.P. (the “Exchanging Stockholders”), pursuant to which we exchanged an aggregate of 1,458,000 shares of our common stock owned by the Exchanging Stockholders for warrants (the “Exchange Warrants”) to purchase an aggregate of 1,458,000 shares of common stock (subject to adjustment in the event of stock splits, recapitalizations and other similar events affecting common stock), with an exercise price of $0.0001 per share. The Exchange Warrants were issued without registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), in reliance on the exemption from registration contained in Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
You should read the following selected financial data together with the information under “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10 K. The selected consolidated statement of operations data for each of the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The consolidated statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements which are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our historical results of any prior periods are not necessary indicative of results to be expected in any future period.
Year Ended December 31,
Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Loss Data:
(In thousands, except share and per share amounts)
Research and development
General and administrative
Total operating expenses
Loss from operations
Interest income and other expense, net.
Gain on deconsolidation of Angel Pharmaceuticals
Loss from equity method investment
Net loss per share, basic and diluted
Shares used to compute net loss per share, basic and diluted
Other comprehensive income (loss):
Unrealized gain (loss) on marketable securities
Year Ended December 31,
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities