glto-10k_20201231.htm

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM                      TO                     

Commission File Number: 001-39655

 

GALECTO, INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

37-1957007

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

Ole Maaloes Vej 3

DK-2200 Copenhagen N

Denmark

N/A

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (+45) 70 70 52 10

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share

 

GLTO

 

The Nasdaq Global Select Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files).  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  YES  NO 

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the shares of common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on November 2, 2020, was $246.3 million.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of March 25, 2021 was 25,261,832.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

The registrant intends to file a definitive proxy statement pursuant to Regulation 14A relating to the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders within 120 days of the end of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. Portions of such definitive proxy statement are incorporated by reference into Part II and Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein.

 

 

 

 


 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

38

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

90

Item 2.

Properties

90

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

90

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

91

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

92

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

94

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

95

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

106

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

106

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

106

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

106

Item 9B.

Other Information

107

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

108

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

108

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

108

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

108

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

108

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

109

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

110

 

 

 

 


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Summary of Material Risks Associated with Our Business

 

Our business is subject to numerous material and other risks and uncertainties that you should be aware of in evaluating our business. These risks include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

 

We have incurred significant net losses since inception and we expect to continue to incur significant net losses for the foreseeable future.

 

 

We have a limited operating history, which may make it difficult to evaluate our prospects and likelihood of success.

 

 

Our business is highly dependent on the success of our product candidates, GB0139, GB1211 and GB2064, as well as any other product candidates that we advance into the clinic. All of our product candidates may require significant additional preclinical and clinical development before we may be able to seek regulatory approval for and launch a product commercially.

 

 

We are modifying the protocol of our Phase 2b clinical trial of GB0139 and such modification may not be satisfactory to regulatory agencies, institutional review boards, the data monitoring safety board or patients, or otherwise allow us to conduct a successful trial.

 

 

If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected, and these delays may cause us to reprioritize our planned trials and use of funds for planned trials.

 

 

Our ongoing and future clinical trials may reveal significant adverse events or unexpected drug-drug interactions not seen in our earlier clinical trials, if any, or preclinical studies.

 

 

The design or execution of our ongoing and future clinical trials may not support marketing approval.

 

 

We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates in the future.

 

 

We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.

 

 

Even if we obtain approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of any of our product candidates, we may never obtain approval or commercialize such products outside of the United States, which would limit our ability to realize their full market potential.

 

 

Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with document submission, fee payment and various other procedural requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.

 

 

We rely on third parties to conduct certain aspects of our preclinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or comply with regulatory requirements, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize any potential product candidates.

 

 

The global pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has, and may continue to, adversely impact our business, including delays to our preclinical studies and clinical trials and these delays may cause us to reprioritize our planned trials and the use of funds for planned trials.

 

 

There has been no prior public market for our common stock, the stock price of our common stock may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance and you may not be able to resell your shares at or above the initial public offering price.

 

 

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our common stock.

The material and other risks summarized above should be read together with the text of the full risk factors below and in the other information set forth in this Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes, as well as in

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other documents that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. If any such material and other risks and uncertainties actually occur, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. The risks summarized above or described in full below are not the only risks that we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us, or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

 

 

CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including “Business” in Item 1, “Risk Factors” in Item 1A and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7 includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. All statements other than statements of historical fact are “forward-looking statements” for purposes of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. 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,” “project,” “continue,” “potential,” “ongoing,” “goal,” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding:

 

 

the success, cost and timing of our product development activities and planned initiation and completion of clinical trials of our lead product candidate, GB0139, including our ability to enroll patients in our ongoing Phase 2b randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of GB0139 at anticipated rates and our ability to complete such trial with fewer dosage groups;

 

 

our ability to modify the protocol of our Phase 2b clinical trial of GB0139 to the satisfaction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, or other regulatory agencies based on the interim unblinded analysis of the data conducted by a data safety monitoring board;

 

 

the success, cost and timing of our product development activities and planned initiation and completion of clinical trials or our other current product candidates and any future product candidates;

 

 

our need to raise additional funding before we can expect to generate any revenues from product sales;

 

 

our ability to obtain regulatory approval for our current or future product candidates that we may identify or develop, including our expectation that the FDA or other regulatory agencies would agree with our belief that our Phase 2b clinical trial of GB0139 is registrational;

 

 

our ability to ensure adequate supply of our current or future product candidates;

 

 

our ability to maintain third-party relationships necessary to conduct our business;

 

 

our heavy dependence upon the success of our research to generate and advance additional product candidates;

 

 

our ability to establish an adequate safety or efficacy profile for our current or future product candidates that we may pursue;

 

 

the implementation of our strategic plans for our business, our current or future product candidates we may develop and our technology;

 

 

our intellectual property position, including the scope of protection we are able to establish and maintain for intellectual property rights covering our product candidates and technology;

 

 

the rate and degree of market acceptance and clinical utility for our current or future product candidates we may develop;

 

 

our estimates about the size of our market opportunity;

 

 

our ability to use the proceeds of the IPO in ways that increase the value of your investment;

 

 

our expectations related to the use of proceeds from the IPO, and estimates of our expenses, future revenues, capital requirements and our needs for additional financing;

iii


 

 

our ability to maintain and establish collaborations;

 

 

our financial performance and liquidity;

 

 

our ability to effectively manage our potential growth;

 

 

developments relating to our competitors and our industry, including the impact of government regulation;

 

 

our ability to retain the continued service of our key professionals and consultants and to identify, hire and retain additional qualified professionals;

 

 

the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, including mitigation efforts and economic effects, on any of the foregoing or other aspects of our business operations and those of our collaborators, service providers and other vendors;

 

 

our ability to maintain adequate internal controls over financial reporting; and

 

 

other risks and uncertainties, including those listed under the section titled “Risk Factors.”

These statements relate 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 set forth in Part II, Item 1A - “Risk Factors” below and for the reasons described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Any forward-looking statement in this Annual Report on Form 10-K reflects our current view with respect to future events and is subject to these and other risks, uncertainties, and assumptions relating to our operations, results of operations, industry, and future growth. 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 these 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 these data are derived.

Except where the context otherwise requires, in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, “we,” “us,” “our,” “Galecto,” and the “Company” refer to Galecto, Inc. and, where appropriate, its consolidated subsidiaries.

Trademarks

We have applied for various trademarks that we use in connection with the operation of our business. 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. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and trade names in this report may be referred to without the ® and ™ symbols, but such references should not be construed as any indicator that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto.

 

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PART I

Item 1. Business.

Overview

We are a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing therapeutics that are designed to target the biological processes that lie at the heart of fibrosis and impact a broad range of fibrotic and related diseases, including cancer. Our initial focus is on the development of small-molecule inhibitors of galectin-3 and lysyl oxidase-like 2, or LOXL2, which play key roles in regulating fibrosis and cancer. We believe our product candidates are distinct from the current generation of antifibrotic and anticancer agents and have the potential to significantly improve patients’ clinical outcomes and enhance their quality of life.

Our lead product candidate, GB0139, is an inhaled small molecule inhibitor of galectin-3. We are developing GB0139 for the treatment of severe fibrotic lung diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, a life-threatening progressive fibrotic disease of the lung that affects approximately 100,000 people in the United States. While there are currently two approved therapies for the treatment of lung fibrosis, neither has been associated with improvements in overall survival, and both therapies have been associated with significant side effects leading to poor therapeutic adherence. In our clinical trials completed to date, we found orally inhaled GB0139 to be generally well-tolerated and that the compound inhibited galectin-3 in the lungs, in a dose-dependent manner, and that it decreased levels of a range of plasma biomarkers, such as YKL-40 and PDGF, that have been linked to mortality, severity and/or progression in IPF. We are currently conducting a potentially registrational, randomized Phase 2b trial in 450 IPF patients. In March 2021, we were notified by a data safety monitoring board, or DSMB, for this Phase 2b trial that it recommended modifying the trial protocol to discontinue dosing in patients who were on concomitant nintedanib or pirfenidone, and for patients on the 10 mg dose. based on the DSMB’s interim unblinded analysis of the data. The DSMB’s determination was based on an identification of an imbalance in the serious adverse events across the study groups, but not an imbalance between the groups in mortality. We expect to continue the Phase 2b trial consistent with the recommendations of the DSMB, with continued dosing in the 3 mg arm, in patients who are not on nintedanib or pirfenidone, and expect topline results from this ongoing trial to be available in the second half of 2022.

Our product candidate portfolio includes GB2064, a selective small molecule oral inhibitor of LOXL2 that we initially plan to develop for the treatment of myelofibrosis, a malignant disease of the bone marrow in which fibrosis reduces the ability to form blood cells. The Phase 2 study is planned to start in the first half of 2021.

Our product candidate portfolio also includes a second and distinct galectin-3 inhibitor, GB1211, a potent small molecule selective oral galectin-3 inhibitor that we are developing for the treatment of cancer (initially in non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC), and fibrosis (initially in liver cirrhosis). We expect to initiate a Phase 2a clinical trial for GB1211 for NSCLC in the second half of 2021, and Phase 1b/2a for liver cirrhosis in mid-2021.

Our Pipeline

We have retained global development and commercialization rights to all of the product candidates in our pipeline. The chart below summarizes key information about our programs. We are also progressing several preclinical assets against other proteins that have been associated with disease.

 

 

*Pending regulatory acceptance of protocol amendment.

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Our initial focus is developing GB0139 for the treatment of IPF, but we plan to further develop GB0139 with the goal of treating most of the forms of lung fibrosis. GB0139 targets galectin-3, one of the key regulators of fibrosis. The overexpression of galectin-3 is ubiquitous in fibrotic tissue, including in fibrotic lung tissue, and is linked to both disease severity and disease progression, as well as acute exacerbations of IPF. However, there are no therapeutics approved that specifically target galectin-3. In our clinical, preclinical and in vitro testing to date, we have demonstrated that GB0139 can directly target galectin-3 in the lungs and markedly lowers the plasma levels of biomarkers of fibrosis in patients.

In our Phase 1/2a trial in both healthy volunteers and IPF patients, GB0139 was generally well-tolerated, showed consistent and tight pharmacokinetics measured as plasma levels of the compound, and inhibited galectin-3 in the lungs of IPF patients in a dose-dependent manner. We are currently conducting a Phase 2b randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of GB0139 in 450 IPF patients. The primary endpoint of the trial is to assess annual rate of decline in forced vital capacity, or FVC. Reduction in the decline of FVC is the endpoint that was accepted by the FDA for the approval of both of the current therapeutic treatments for IPF. We anticipate that results from this trial will become available in the second half of 2022. In mid-March 2021 it was recommended by the DSMB, who had access to unblinded safety and efficacy data, to discontinue dosing of GB0139 in patients on nintedanib or pirfenidone, and in patients receiving the 10 mg dose. The study protocol is being amended to reflect these changes. We continue to believe, pending feedback from regulatory authorities on our protocol amendment adopting the DSMB’s recommendations and on the final data set, that this trial has the potential to support an application for conditional approval of GB0139 in the EU and that this trial also has the potential to be regarded as a registrational trial in the United States. In addition, on August 27, 2020, we announced that GB0139 for the treatment of IPF had been granted Orphan Drug Designation by both U.S. and European regulatory authorities.

We are also developing GB2064, a selective oral inhibitor of LOXL2 that has demonstrated antifibrotic activity in lung, liver and kidney preclinical models of fibrosis. Our initial focus is developing GB2064 in myelofibrosis, one of the several types of cancer and multiple fibrotic diseases in which expression of LOXL2 is significantly increased. Myelofibrosis is a disease with significant morbidity and mortality that affects between 16,000 and 18,500 patients in the United States. The current standard of care for myelofibrosis consists of inhibitors of the JAK2 protein kinase, which alleviate the disease symptoms through inhibition of cell proliferation but do not directly target fibrosis. GB2064 has successfully completed a Phase 1 trial in 78 healthy volunteers, in which GB2064 administered orally led to dose-dependent inhibition of LOXL2 in serum. We believe that GB2064 has the potential to have a direct impact on the fibrotic process and to slow the progression of the disease as opposed merely to treating the underlying symptoms, which could have a positive impact on the bone marrow. We anticipate initiating a Phase 2 trial of GB2064 in myelofibrosis in the first half of 2021, with data expected in 2022.

In addition, we are developing GB1211, an orally delivered galectin-3 inhibitor, which is chemically distinct from GB0139. We believe GB1211 has the potential to treat multiple types of cancer and fibrotic diseases. Our initial target indications for GB1211 are NSCLC, a cancer indication with a high unmet need, and liver cirrhosis, a severe, progressive disease that ultimately leads to liver failure and for which there are limited treatment options. GB1211 demonstrated an anti-cancer effect and antifibrotic activity in multiple preclinical models and has successfully completed a Phase 1 trial in 78 healthy volunteers. In the Phase 1 trial, GB1211 was well-tolerated and had dose-dependent pharmacokinetics. We are planning to initiate a Phase 2a trial of GB1211 in NSCLC in the second half of 2021 in approximately 30 patients, with data expected in the second half of 2022. We are also planning on initiating a Phase 1b/2a trial of GB1211 in liver cirrhosis in mid-2021 in 54 patients, with data expected in the second half of 2022.

We are built upon more than ten years of research into galectin and fibrosis modulators and were founded by leading researchers on the galectin family of proteins, including one of the discoverers of the galectin family of proteins, the first chemist to develop selective galectin inhibitors, and the discoverer of galectin-3’s role in fibrosis. We have developed from a university spin-out, with only one part-time employee at inception in December 2011, to a company with three different potential drugs in clinical development.

We believe that our founders’ and management’s experience provides unique insights into the targets that underlie the biological processes of fibrosis and other related diseases. We are led by Hans T. Schambye, MD, Ph.D., our Chief Executive Officer and President, a biotechnology executive who previously served as CEO of Recepticon and Gastrotech Pharma. Professor Bertil Lindmark, M.D., Ph.D., our Chief Medical Officer, has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry and previously held globally leading positions at AstraZeneca and Almirall. Anders Pedersen, our Chief Operating Officer, has over 25 years of experience in process development and discovery of pharmaceuticals including at CMC Biologics and Novo Nordisk. Jonathan Freve, our Chief Financial Officer, served as CFO with Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals and has extensive experience in public and private financings, licensing deals and acquisitions. We are supported by our board of directors and clinical advisory boards.

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Our Strategy

Our goal is to become a leader in developing and commercializing therapeutics that directly target the biological processes at the heart of fibrosis across a broad range of fibrotic and cancer diseases with significant unmet medical need. Our strategy is focused on the following key components:

 

Efficiently advance GB0139 in IPF through clinical development. We are currently conducting a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled Phase 2b trial of GB0139 in 450 patients with IPF with data expected in 2022. This orphan disease is therapeutically underserved, and we believe that GB0139 may have the ability to become the first true disease modifying therapy. In mid-March 2021 the DSMB, who had access to unblinded interim safety and efficacy data, recommended that we discontinue dosing of GB0139 in patients on nintedanib or pirfenidone, and in patients receiving the 10 mg dose. The study protocol is being amended to reflect these changes. We still believe, pending feedback from regulatory authorities on our protocol amendment and the final data set, that this trial has the potential to support an application for conditional approval of GB0139 in the EU and that the trial also has the potential to be regarded as a registrational trial in the United States. Assuming positive results from the Phase 2b trial, we intend to expeditiously initiate a Phase 3 trial in IPF.

 

Leverage our understanding of the LOXL2 pathway to advance GB2064 through a Phase 2 trial in myelofibrosis and continue evaluating GB2064 in subsequent indications. We intend to initiate a Phase 2 trial of GB2064, our lead product candidate targeting LOXL2, in myelofibrosis, and we expect to report data for this trial in 2022, which may potentially to lead to an accelerated development path for GB2064 in this orphan and underserved disease. We will subsequently evaluate GB2064 in other fibrotic indications as a monotherapy or in combination with our other product candidates.

 

Build on our understanding of the galectin-3 target to advance GB1211 through a Phase 2a trials in NSCLC and a phase 1b/2a trial in liver cirrhosis, and subsequently in additional indications. We are developing GB1211 for the treatment of NSCLC and liver cirrhosis and intend to conduct two Phase 2a trials with data expected in the second half of 2022. Additionally, we believe that GB1211 has the potential to treat multiple other cancer forms and organ fibroses.

 

Evaluate data on GB0139’s potential in COVID-19. The University of Edinburgh is conducting a trial of various potential drug candidates, including GB1039, to treat COVID-19 and its symptoms, and published research has suggested that galectin-3 levels could be a biomarker for, and play a significant role in, COVID-19 respiratory complications. Data from the University of Edinburg’s trial, called DEFINE, is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2021. Depending on the DEFINE data and our continuing research about the role of galectin-3 in COVID-19, we may determine to focus our resources to conduct further clinical trials exploring GB0139’s potential to help defend against severe respiratory symptoms caused by COVID-19.

 

Expand our fibrosis and cancer portfolio by opportunistically advancing our research and development efforts beyond our current expertise in the galectin-3 and LOXL2 pathways. We intend to expand our leadership as a company dedicated to developing therapies that directly target the biological processes at the heart of fibrosis by developing product candidates against other targets involved in the regulation, formation, or maintenance of fibrosis. We also intend to selectively pursue business development opportunities to expand our current product portfolio, which may include product candidates targeting fibrosis or cancer that work through mechanisms that we believe are complimentary to, or independent of, galectin-3 or LOXL2.

 

Continue to build a patient-focused company targeting fibrosis and cancer. In building a patient-focused company to address the needs of patients with fibrotic diseases and cancer, we will work with clinicians, patient advocacy groups, medical centers of excellence and medical key opinion leaders to better understand the symptoms and consequences of these diseases, to expeditiously develop and provide better treatments to patients, and to increase awareness of these diseases.

 

Maximize the commercial value of our product candidates. We have retained worldwide development and commercial rights to all of our product candidates. We intend to commercialize any products in our portfolio for which we receive regulatory approvals in certain rare indications in the United States and the EU with a limited and targeted commercial team. We also intend to retain the flexibility to evaluate strategic collaborations and to seek partners to commercialize our products in other geographies and for our products in highly prevalent indications such as NSCLC, which require significant investment to build a commercial infrastructure.


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Galectin-3 and LOXL2 mediated fibrosis and cancer background

We are developing small-molecule inhibitors focusing on galectin-3 and LOXL2, two of the targets that are believed to underlie the biological processes that drive fibrosis and certain types of cancers.

Fibrosis is the development of abnormal fibrous connective tissue in response to injury, damage or dysfunctional gene regulation. This fibrous connective tissue consists of elongated proteins such as collagen and elastin fibers that provide support to surrounding key functional cells in all tissue and all organs. Production and break-down of collagen is tightly regulated to preserve optimal organ function. The deposition of excess collagen and the formation of fibrosis can cause remodeling of surrounding healthy tissue and the loss of normal organ or tissue function. Fibrotic disease can affect tissues throughout the body including the lungs, liver, heart, kidneys and vascular system. Fibrosis typically progresses slowly and can ultimately lead to organ failure and death. Fibrosis is also a hallmark of solid tumors, with up to 20 percent of cancers linked to chronic inflammation-linked fibrosis. It has been estimated that fibrosis contributes to up to 45 percent of all deaths in the developed world.

The currently approved therapeutic treatments for IPF are associated with significant side effects leading to significant discontinuation rates with median time on treatment only between 7.5 and 8.9 months, and they have not been linked to improvements in overall survival. Scientific literature supports the understanding that there are common biological mechanisms that drive fibrosis that are distinct from those regulating inflammation. It is these mechanisms that we are targeting with our proprietary product candidates.

Both LOXL2 and Galectin-3 have been shown to also play central roles in tumor cell growth, the formation of fibrosis associated with the tumor and in the tumor microenvironment (TME). These effects help tumors grow, metastasize and evade anti-cancer treatments. Hence, by inhibiting LOXL2 and Galectin-3, it may be possible to reduce tumor growth, enhance the effect of anti-cancer treatments and hence reduce disease progression and potentially improve survival.

Galectin-3

Galectin-3 is a lectin central to the development of fibrotic disease across multiple tissue types and is part of a pre-innate galectin immune defense developmentally conserved for over 500 million years, which steers local inflammation and when chronically activated, drives the development of fibrosis via several pathways and several cell inflammatory cell types and fibrocytes.

 

 

Figure 1. Galectin-3 increase in fibrotic tissues from patients with liver, kidney, lung and artery fibrosis

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While it is expressed in various tissues throughout the body at a low level, galectin-3 is overexpressed, sometimes profoundly, in damaged or inflamed tissues. Galectin-3 drives fibrosis by activating multiple pathways involved in tissue repair. The presence of excess galectin-3 triggers the fibrotic process by converting quiescent fibroblast cells into cells called myofibroblasts. This triggering effect takes place when galectin-3 stimulates the signaling of growth factor receptors such as TGF-beta, a master regulator of cell growth. Myofibroblasts are harmful in the context of fibrosis, since they secrete excess collagen and elastin, and as such are the key cellular drivers of fibrosis. Furthermore, galectin-3 reduces apoptosis, or programmed cell death, of inflammatory cells called neutrophils, allowing these cells to persist and potentially cause further pathology in fibrotic tissue. Finally, galectin-3 also promotes the activation of macrophages, resulting in increased fibrosis as well as further galectin-3 expression, which leads to a feed-forward cycle that can accelerate the fibrotic process.

 

 

 

 

Figure 2. Comparison of galectin-3 in a normal lung versus a fibrotic lung

The galectin-3 mediated fibrosis is central to IPF and to several cancer types. The galectin-3 inhibitors inhibit the carbohydrate recognition domain stopping the attachment of galectin-3 to sugar moieties on cell surfaces receptors, and therefore stops its activation of key molecules like the receptors for TGF-beta and VEGF. Given its central role in fibrosis, there are FDA-cleared diagnostics for the detection of galectin-3 used for assessing the prognosis of patients diagnosed with chronic heart failure.

 

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Figure 3. Multiple roles of galectin-3 in fibrosis

Interestingly, studies have shown that galectin-3 is not expressed during the first trimester of pregnancy and intra-uterine surgery during this time period leaves no scars. The inability of first trimester fetuses to scar further demonstrates that fibrotic tissue cannot develop if galectin-3 is missing or blocked. Preclinical studies have also shown that mice deficient in galectin-3 exhibit decreased fibrosis in models of liver, kidney, and lung disease. Furthermore, inhibition of galectin-3 has been shown to slow the development of lung, liver and cardiac fibrosis in preclinical models.

In patients with IPF, elevated galectin-3 is found in the fibrotic patches in the lung, in bronchoalveolar lavage, or BAL, fluid and in plasma. Patients with liver cirrhosis have highly elevated galectin-3 levels in biopsies of their liver nodules. Elevated galectin-3 is also found in serum of patients with fibrosis related to diseases characterized by fibrosis such as cancer, cardiac disease and renal disease. The level of galectin-3 expression in fibrotic tissue correlates with the degree of fibrosis.

Despite galectin-3’s proximity to and involvement in fibrosis disease pathology, no approved drugs specifically target galectin-3. However, there are FDA-cleared diagnostics for the detection of galectin-3 in plasma to assess the prognosis of patients diagnosed with chronic heart failure.

Galectin-3 is widely expressed in several cell types such as macrophages, fibroblasts, activated T-lymphocytes and epithelial cells and is highly expressed in high fatality cancers such as NSCLC. In NSCLC, particularly in adenocarcinoma, increased galectin-3 expression in tumors, lymph nodes and serum correlate with metastases and is a negative prognostic indicator. The galectin-3 genetic polymorphism rs4652 associated with impaired galectin-3 secretion has been linked to increased survival and response to chemotherapy in NSCLC. Galectin-3 can directly enhance cell proliferation, apoptosis resistance and metastatic potential, as well as lung cancer stemness. It is also an important constituent of the tumor microenvironment acting on endothelial cells to promote angiogenesis. Furthermore, many studies have revealed the inhibitory effects of galectin-3 on activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), and we have shown in preclinical trials that it is essential for M2 macrophage differentiation. In a recent study it was shown that patients with high levels of galectin-3 expression in NSCLC tumors did not respond to anti-programmed cell death receptor 1 (anti-PD1) treatment, whereas patients with lower levels of galectin-3 expression did respond to the treatment, indicating a central role of galectin-3 in the tumor defense mechanisms.

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LOXL2

Lysyl oxidases are a family of enzymes that are secreted from the cell. Once outside the cell membrane, these enzymes help create and strengthen connective tissue by catalyzing the crosslinking of proteins such as collagen and elastin in the extracellular matrix, which is essential for normal tissue function, but can become fibrotic and lead to organ dysfunction in the diseased state. There are five members of the LOX family in humans, LOX and LOXL1 through LOXL4. Each of these family members is believed to play a specific role in the formation and maintenance of the extracellular matrix. Any therapy that is not sufficiently specific to LOXL2 (i.e., that also interacts with other members of the LOX family) is at risk for creating toxicity. Mice deficient in the gene for LOX, for example, die soon after birth as a result of defects in the formation of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

We have chosen to target only the LOXL2 enzyme because it plays a key role in the development of fibrosis. In fibrotic diseases such as lung, liver, and kidney fibrosis, increased levels of LOXL2 are observed. The level of LOXL2 expression correlates with the degree of liver fibrosis, with the highest levels of LOXL2 being found in cirrhosis and in decompensated liver disease.

 

 

 

Figure 4. LOXL2 expression correlates with degree of liver damage in patients with chronic hepatitis B

LOXL2 is also increased in cancer-related fibrosis across a wide range of cancers, including breast, colon, and pancreatic cancers. The presence of LOXL2 is a negative prognostic for survival in pancreatic cancer with patients with tumors expressing LOXL2 having an overall survival of approximately half of those with LOXL2 negative tumors.

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Figure 5. Pancreatic tumors expressing LOXL2 are associated with a poor prognosis

 

LOXL2 is significantly upregulated in mesenchymal stromal cells, which are bone marrow cells that support hematopoietic stem cell differentiation, isolated from patients with myelofibrosis compared to healthy adults. The levels of other LOX family members do not significantly change between healthy and diseased mesenchymal stromal cells.

 

 

 

Figure 6. LOXL2 is highly overexpressed in myelofibrosis stromal cells (expression level in myeloid biopsies from myelofibrosis patients relative to expression in healthy individuals)

Clinical experience with drugs specifically targeting LOXL2 has been limited. Simtuzumab, an antibody targeting LOXL2 that is administered by a subcutaneous or intravenous injection, has been evaluated in a number of clinical trials, including a Phase 2b trial in patients with myelofibrosis. These trials failed to show a positive effect on the reduction of fibrosis and further development of simtuzumab has been discontinued. Simtuzumab binds to LOXL2 without fully inhibiting its catalytic activity. This activity is, we believe, the critical feature of LOXL2 that needs to be blocked in order to achieve maximal antifibrotic activity. Small molecules that directly inhibit the catalytic activity of LOXL2, such as our product candidate GB2064, and which have the ability to penetrate deeper into fibrotic tissue than a large molecule antibody, may show greater activity as antifibrotic agents, given that small molecules can more readily bind to the catalytic site of an enzyme deep in fibrotic tissue. Inhibitors that preferentially target LOXL2 over other LOX family members may avoid triggering adverse events due to the ubiquitous and important roles that lysyl oxidases have in maintaining tissue structure throughout the body.

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Our product candidate portfolio

GB0139 for the treatment of IPF

GB0139 is an inhaled small-molecule inhibitor of galectin-3 that we are developing for the treatment of IPF. The molecule is delivered via oral inhalation utilizing a dry powder inhaler, a standard capsule-based inhaler that has been previously approved by the FDA for use in the delivery of other compounds.

IPF Background and Market Opportunity

IPF is a rare life-threatening disease characterized by progressive fibrosis of the lungs leading to their deterioration and destruction. The most common symptoms of IPF are shortness of breath and a dry persistent cough, and a decreasing ability to perform normal daily activities. Over time, as a result of the unrelenting progress of the disease, breathing difficulties increase and lack of oxygen to tissues triggers weight loss, aching muscles, chronic fatigue, generally deteriorating health and can ultimately lead to death, often within 2 to 5 years.

IPF is a rare disease affecting approximately 100,000 people in the United States and occurs primarily in persons between the ages of 50 and 70. Between 30,000 and 40,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. The exact cause of IPF is not known, but a family history of the disease and environmental exposure to toxins, such as smoking, are known to increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Some patients with IPF develop other serious lung conditions such as lung cancer, pulmonary embolisms, pneumonia and pulmonary hypertension. Patients with IPF generally have a poor prognosis with a mean survival between two to five years depending on the stage of diagnosis and the rate of lung deterioration.

Current treatments for IPF and their limitations

Some IPF patients with mild or moderate symptoms are treated with either nintedanib, marketed as Ofev by Boehringer Ingelheim, or pirfenidone, marketed as Esbriet by Roche/Genentech. These drugs have been shown to slow progression of decrease in lung function associated with IPF and deterioration of pulmonary function, but neither drug has been associated with improvements in overall survival, and both have been associated with significant side effects. Over 60 percent of patients dosed with nintedanib have diarrhea and 14 percent experience elevated levels of liver enzymes. Thirty percent of patients treated with pirfenidone have skin rash, and nine percent experience photosensitivity, both of which can lead to dose reductions or discontinuations. Both agents have some efficacy in patients with more advanced disease, but high rates of discontinuations due to adverse events in these more frail patients limit their use. A survey of 290 physicians published by a third party in 2017 found that over half of IPF patients are not being treated with either agent for multiple reasons, including physicians not having sufficient confidence in clinical benefit and concerns about safety. A retrospective cohort analysis of prescription records conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic and presented in 2019 found that the adoption of pirfenidone and nintedanib by IPF patients was approximately ten percent for each therapy, supporting the earlier observation that the majority of IPF patients are not actively being treated. Despite this, total worldwide sales of pirfenidone and nintedanib in 2019 were over $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively.

Given the poor prognosis and the lack of therapies that impact survival, patients diagnosed with IPF are routinely referred for lung transplantations and it is generally recommended that all patients without contraindications for surgery be added to transplant lists. IPF patients represent the majority of all lung transplantations. However, the survival rate of IPF patients following transplant is lower than that observed for other diseases due to their advanced age and associated comorbidities.

Our solution - GB0139

We are developing GB0139 for inhaled delivery to target the IPF disease site directly in the periphery of the lung while limiting potential systemic toxicity. GB0139 is differentiated from current IPF therapies because it is designed to directly target galectin-3. By inhibiting the carbohydrate binding domain of galectin-3, GB0139 is designed to prevent the binding of galectin-3 to cell surface receptors, and hence reduce the profibrotic activity of galectin-3. GB0139 has been generally well-tolerated in clinical trials we have completed to date both in healthy adults and in IPF patients. In both populations, dosing with GB0139 resulted in highly consistent drug exposure and led to reductions in galectin-3 levels in macrophages isolated by BAL in the IPF patients. In our Phase 2a clinical trial, local therapy in the lungs of IPF patients with GB0139 also led to markedly decreased levels of plasma biomarkers, such as YKL-40 and PDGF, that have been linked to mortality, severity and/or progression in IPF. We initiated a 52-week, 450-patient randomized double-blind placebo-controlled Phase 2b trial of GB0139 in IPF in March 2019. We anticipate data on the primary endpoint of annual rate of decline in FVC in these patients following 12-month dosing with GB0139 to be available in the second half of 2022. In mid-March 2021 the DSMB, who had access to unblinded interim safety and efficacy data, recommended that we discontinue dosing of GB0139 in patients on nintedanib or pirfenidone, and in patients receiving the 10 mg dose. The study protocol is being amended to reflect these changes and the study will continue dosing

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patients with the 3 mg dose and disallow concomitant dosing of nintedanib or prifenidone. We are currently in the process of amending our Phase 2b protocol to adopt these recommendations. In the clinical phase 1b/2a study, both the 3 and the 10 mg dose were shown to reach the periphery of the lung at high concentrations and to reduce the extracellular levels of galectin-3 on alveolar macrophages harvested from the lung of IPF patients. Several plasma fibrosis biomarkers were shown to be reduced by GB0139.

Overview of Clinical Trials

Data from our completed clinical trials data to date on GB0139 in IPF patients demonstrated that:

 

High exposure of GB0139 can be delivered to the target tissue with low systemic exposure;

 

Inhalation dosing of IPF patients is feasible and results in highly reproducible drug levels;

 

GB0139 was generally well-tolerated, including daily dosing;

 

GB0139 leads to dose-dependent decreases in galectin-3 levels; and

 

GB0139 leads to decreases in multiple fibrosis biomarkers that are present in the diseased lung tissue and measured in plasma, including YKL-40 and PDGF, which is consistent with GB0139 having direct antifibrotic activity.

Ongoing Phase 2b Clinical Trial

In our Phase 2b clinical trial, we are seeking to evaluate whether GB0139 leads to improvements in clinically meaningful outcomes in IPF patients.

We are currently conducting a 52-week randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled Phase 2b trial in IPF patients. The primary endpoint is the annual rate of decline in FVC at one year. FVC is a common test that measures the total amount of air that a person can expel from the lungs. A decline in FVC is an indirect measure of worsening fibrosis and increased lung stiffness and has become the most commonly accepted measure of disease progression in IPF. Reduction in decline of FVC is the endpoint that was accepted by the FDA for the approval of both pirfenidone and nintedanib.

In the original clinical trial design, patients in this trial are receiving inhaled daily doses of 3 mg or 10 mg of GB0139 or placebo for one year. In mid-March 2021 the DSMB, who had access to unblinded interim safety and efficacy data, recommended that we discontinue dosing of GB0139 in patients on nintedanib or pirfenidone, and in patients receiving the 10 mg dose. The study protocol is being amended to adopt these recommendations. The annual rate of decline in FVC will be assessed as the primary endpoint using baseline FVC and several FVC measurements during the year to establish the rate of decline, and to compare that measure between patients on active treatment, with the annual rate of decline in FVC measured in patients who were treated with placebo. Secondary endpoints we will measure include the absolute decline in FVC; time to first hospitalization related to IPF, including acute IPF exacerbation; overall survival; and patient outcome measures such as 6-minute walk test distance and quality of life as determined by standard instruments. All patients will continue receiving their blinded treatments for up to two years until the last patient completes one year of dosing enabling the generation of extended safety and efficacy data. 


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Figure 7. GB0139 Phase 2b revised trial design (pending regulatory approval)

 

In mid-March 2021 the DSMB, who had access to unblinded interim safety and efficacy data, recommended that we discontinue dosing of GB0139 in patients on nintedanib or pirfenidone, and in patients receiving the 10 mg dose. The study protocol is being amended to adopt these recommendations.

We still plan to enroll a total 450 IPF patients (including those patients already randomized in the study) in this trial across approximately 128 clinical sites in the United States, the EU, and other countries. As the design is being amended to adopt the recommendations of the DSMB, the numbers per dose will be changed. We anticipate completion of this trial in the second half of 2022. Pending feedback from the EMA, we believe that a positive result in this trial has the potential to support an application for conditional approval of GB0139 in the EU and, pending feedback from the FDA on the amended protocol and final data set, that the trial also has the potential to be regarded as a registrational trial in the United States.

This table shows an overview of the interim blinded safety data in the study. As the data has not been fully cleaned, since the study is ongoing, this table should not be seen as the final and definitive adverse event table, but is included here to provide investors with an impression of the character of the serious adverse events that have been reported in the study as treatment emergent, or TEAE, (i.e. starting after the onset of dosing of the experimental drug inhalations). Since the table represents a blend of patients on placebo, and 3 mg dose of GB0139 and the 10 mg dose of GB0139, including those taking concomitant nintedanib and pirfenidone, no firm conclusion can be made that these reported serious treatment emergent adverse events are related to GB0139 and conversely neither that they are unrelated to the GB0139 therapy.


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Completed Phase 1/2a Clinical Trial - Phase 2a Part in IPF Patients

We have conducted a randomized placebo-controlled Phase 1/2a multi-dose trial of GB0139 in the U.K., with the Phase 2a part conducted in 24 IPF patients. Patients in this part received 0.3, 3, or 10 mg of GB0139 or placebo control by inhalation once daily for 14 days. All patients completed the 14-day dosing, and BAL samples were obtained for all patients before dosing and at the conclusion of dosing.

GB0139 was generally well-tolerated in these patients with no serious drug-related adverse events, and there were no discontinuations in the trial. There were four incidents of mild adverse events (fever, upper respiratory tract infection, abnormal taste in mouth, dry throat) that were deemed possibly or probably drug related.

Despite the presence of lung damage from IPF in patients entering this trial, inhalation of GB0139 resulted in highly reproducible drug levels (see Fig. 8 which shows very tight standard deviation intervals) that were very consistent between patients and demonstrated higher systemic uptake of GB0139 than in healthy adult males in the Phase 1 part of the trial. This indicates that IPF patients are able to receive an inhaled drug to the peripheral parts of their lungs, which is the site of disease. Although observed at very low plasma concentrations, the higher plasma levels of GB0139 observed in the IPF patients is probably due to a loss of alveolar barrier integrity with increased epithelial permeability, which is present in the fibrotic lung.

 

 

 

Figure 8. Consistent exposure of GB0139 among IPF patients in Phase 2a part of Phase 1/2a trial

We also observed dose-dependent increases in GB0139 levels in alveolar macrophages obtained from the BAL fluid, confirming drug exposure in situ in the lung. There was a significant correlation between plasma levels of GB0139 and levels in the macrophages in BAL fluid (Pearson correlation coefficient 0.89 with p<0.0001). However, inhaled dosing of GB0139 resulted in drug levels that were between 567 and 1,930 times higher in alveolar macrophages than in plasma at two hours post-dose on day 14. This large difference in drug levels between plasma and alveolar lung macrophages supports our approach of delivering GB0139 through inhalation to maximize the exposure of the target lung tissue to the drug, while minimizing systemic exposure, which we believe will improve patient safety and tolerability.

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Figure 9. Correlation between GB0139 levels in alveolar macrophages (AM) and plasma

Dosing with GB0139 led to dose-dependent decreases in galectin-3 levels on the cell surface of macrophages harvested from the BAL fluid, providing further evidence that GB0139 was able to reach the target tissue and significantly reduce the levels of the galectin-3 target protein attached to macrophages. These cells play an active part in the pathobiology in IPF.

 

 

 

Figure 10. GB0139 led to dose-dependent decrease of galectin-3 in AM

Treatment of IPF patients with GB0139 resulted in decreases in serum levels of a broad panel of biomarkers associated with fibrosis and progression of IPF, as well as decreases in levels of galectin-3. The clear reduction in the serum levels of several fibrosis biomarkers may suggest that treatment with GB0139 had a measurable effect on the parenchymal disease process in the lungs. We believe no other IPF therapeutic has presented data of similar type and magnitude. These include:

 

YKL-40, an inflammation-related glycoprotein, the levels of which have been used to predict survival in IPF patients;

 

PAI-1, or plasminogen activator inhibitor type -1, a regulator of tissue homeostasis and wound repair that is elevated in fibrosis;

 

PDGF-BB, or platelet-derived growth factor, a stimulator of fibroblast growth; and

 

CCL-18, or CC Chemokine Ligand 18, a small protein derived from alveolar macrophages that acts as a chemo-attractant and is negatively correlated to pulmonary function tests in IPF patients.


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Placebo

3 mg GB0139

10 mg GB0139

 

 

 

 

PDGF-AA

MCP-1

 

Figure 11. Inhaled GB0139 leads to significant reduction in serum levels of a panel of fibrosis biomarkers and correlation between reduction of the plasma biomarkers and the AM surface galectin-3 levels

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The observation that these fibrosis-related biomarkers in plasma are concertedly and markedly reduced upon dosing IPF patients with GB0139 supports the key role of galectin-3 in IPF and the potential of GB0139 to generate antifibrotic activity in these patients. The levels of galectin-3 in alveolar macrophages directly correlate with the levels of serum biomarkers of fibrosis, including YKL-40, which has been shown to have prognostic significance in IPF. Four highly relevant disease biomarkers, PDGF, MCP-1, PAI-1 and YKL-40, have been shown to have prognostic significance in IPF and have a well described relationship with myofibroblast activity in vitro. In our completed Phase 2a clinical trial, these biomarkers were reduced from baseline in several dose groups compared to placebo and may offer a less invasive measure of pharmacodynamic effects going forward. In a post-hoc analysis of the ASCEND trial and the two CAPACITY trials, which were the three phase 3 clinical trials used for the approval of pirfenidone, YKL-40 was prognostic for progression in the test cohort. However, there was no association between pirfenidone treatment and the longitudinal concentration of any biomarker. In another study comparing treatment naïve IPF patients with those on anti-fibrotic treatment (pirfenidone or nintedanib), CA-125, CXCL13, MMP7, YKL-40 and OPN predicted differential transplant free survival in treated patients, but at higher thresholds than treatment naïve individuals. There is therefore substantial evidence that several biomarkers are related to disease severity and prognosis, several of which were significantly reduced in plasma of IPF patients after 2 weeks of treatment with inhaled GB0139.

 

Completed Phase 1/2a Clinical Trial - Phase 1 Part in Healthy Adult Males

In the Phase 1 part of our Phase 1/2a clinical trial conducted in the U.K., we conducted a single ascending dose escalation study in 36 healthy adult males investigating six doses of GB0139 ranging from 0.15 mg to 50 mg. Inhaled GB0139 was generally well-tolerated in this trial with a half-life of 7 hours, and we observed predictable and well-characterized pharmacokinetics. No drug-related severe adverse events were reported, and other adverse events were mild in severity, and all resolved without intervention.

GB2064 for the treatment of myelofibrosis

We are leveraging our knowledge of mechanisms underlying fibrosis and other related diseases to develop product candidates for indications beyond lung fibrosis and targeting pathways that are complementary to alectin-3. We are currently developing GB2064, an oral selective LOXL2 inhibitor, for the treatment of myelofibrosis.

Myelofibrosis disease background

Myelofibrosis is one of a number of progressive blood cancers known as myeloproliferative neoplasms and is associated with significantly reduced quality of life and shortened survival. In myelofibrosis, the bone marrow produces fewer blood cells, which leads to multiple negative impacts, including thrombocytopenia, or greater incidence of low platelet counts; anemia, or low red blood cell counts; and an increased need for red-blood-cell transfusions. When bone-marrow based production of blood cells is significantly reduced, myelofibrosis patients also suffer from enlarged spleens due to overabundance of blood-forming stem cells. Myelofibrosis is considered to be a chronic leukemia which, in a subset of patients, can transform into an acute form of leukemia. Median overall survival is approximately 2.25 to 11.25 years. Transformation to acute leukemia is the most common cause of death from myelofibrosis, followed by cardiovascular complications.

Myelofibrosis affects between 16,000 and 18,500 patients in the United States with significant morbidity and mortality. Although the precise cause of myelofibrosis remains unknown, overactive Janus-associated kinase, or JAK, pathway signaling is present in all patients with the disease.

Current treatments for myelofibrosis and their limitations

The only currently approved specific therapeutic treatments for myelofibrosis are inhibitors of JAK2, consisting of ruxolitinib marketed as Jakafi by Incyte and fedratinib, marketed as Inrebic by Celgene/BMS. These kinase inhibitors provide symptomatic benefit, but only modest reductions in bone marrow fibrosis. In patients dosed for four or more years with ruxolitinib, for example, only one-third of patients showed reductions in fibrosis. Additionally, 60% of patients on Jakafi become transfusion dependent, versus 38% of patients in the placebo group. 16.8% of patients treated with Jakafi and 0.7% of patients treated with placebo developed newly occurring or worsening Grade 1 elevations in cholesterol. The incidence of Grade 2 cholesterol elevations was 0.6% for Jakafi with no Grade 3 or 4 cholesterol elevations.

The only curative treatment for myelofibrosis is an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant, or HSCT. However, HSCT in myelofibrosis patients is a procedure associated with a high treatment-related mortality rate. Even when HSCT is restricted to the subpopulation of patients who are deemed healthy enough to withstand the treatment, there is a one-year treatment-related mortality rate of between 12 percent and 25 percent. Due to the only modest reductions in fibrosis demonstrated by JAK inhibitors and the high mortality rate associated with HSCT, we believe that significant unmet need remains for new therapeutic options.


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Our solution - GB2064

We have chosen to pursue myelofibrosis as our first indication for GB2054 due to the upregulation of the LOXL2 in a number of fibrotic diseases, including myelofibrosis, the drug activity seen in preclinical data, the rapid rate of progression of the disease, and the relative ease of following disease progression through serum samples and bone marrow biopsies. In preclinical models, GB2064 is approximately 400-fold more selective for human LOXL2 over other human LOX enzymes. GB2064 has shown activity in a number of preclinical models of fibrosis; has demonstrated good pharmacokinetics; and was generally well-tolerated in a Phase 1 trial in healthy adults.

Overview of Clinical trials

We are planning to initiate a Phase 2 clinical trial of GB2064 in myelofibrosis in the first half of 2021. The trial will include 16 evaluable patients with myelofibrosis, who will be dosed for nine months with 1000 mg of oral GB2064 BID. Endpoints include safety and tolerability as well as bone marrow fibrosis, spleen size, transfusion dependency, fibrosis markers, and quality of life.

 

Completed Phase 1 Clinical Trial

We have completed a Phase 1 single ascending dose and multiple ascending dose trial of GB2064 in 78 healthy volunteers. Volunteers received single doses of 150, 450, 1000, 2000 or 2500 mg of GB2064 or daily doses of 150, 750, 2000 mg or placebo for seven days. Dose-dependent increases in serum levels of GB2064 were observed, and using a proprietary assay, we determined that our oral selective inhibitor GB2064 led to dose-dependent inhibition of LOXL2 in serum.

No serious adverse events were reported, and the reported adverse events included nausea, headache, and dizziness that were mild in severity and frequency.

Preclinical data

In preclinical studies, GB2064 showed activity in multiple models of fibrosis including lung, liver and kidney fibrosis. In a bleomycin-induced model of lung fibrosis, treatment of mice with bleomycin leads to lung fibrosis. Prophylactic dosing of GB2064 led to a significant reduction in fibrosis development in this model. Where fibrosis had already developed, therapeutic dosing of GB2064 led to reductions in further fibrosis development. In Figure 12 below, AM152 refers to an LOXL2 antibody that was used by both Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Arresto Biosciences, Inc. (which was acquired by Gilead Sciences, Inc. in 2010) to study the effect of LOXL2 inhibition in mice. A copy of AM152 was manufactured to test GB2064 against the antibody.

 

Figure 12. GB2064 can both prevent and reverse fibrosis in a bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis model

LOXL2 is highly expressed in other fibrotic diseases such as renal fibrotic disease. The mouse Col4A3 model of kidney disease is based on a genetic mutation that is found in patients with Alport Syndrome, a rare disease characterized by fibrosis that leads to progressive loss of kidney function among other symptoms such as progressive loss of hearing and retinopathy. LOXL2 expression is significantly elevated in both the kidney cortex and glomeruli in this mouse model. In

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preclinical studies, treatment of Col4A3 mice with GB2064 has demonstrated an ability to prevent glomerular sclerosis and a scarring of the blood filtering vessels in the kidney and resulted in lower fibrosis scores in the kidney.

Figure 13. GB2064 (PAT-1251) prevents the development of renal fibrosis in a mouse model of Alport syndrome

GB1211 for the treatment of NSCLC and liver cirrhosis

We are developing GB1211, an oral selective galectin-3 inhibitor, initially for the treatment of NSCLC, a disease with high mortality and few treatment options, and for liver cirrhosis, a disease with no regulatory approved treatments except for symptomatic therapy or liver transplant. We may also consider developing GB1211 for other cancers and fibrotic diseases.

NSCLC background

Lung cancer is a common fatal malignancy in the developed world accounting for approximately 1.7 million deaths per year world-wide. In the United States in 2021, it is estimated that there were approximately 236,000 new cases of lung cancer and approximately 132,000 deaths from lung cancer. NSCLC is believed to account for about 85% of all lung cancers.

Current treatments for NSCLC and their limitations

NSCLCs are relatively insensitive to available treatments, which include surgery, irradiation and cytochemical therapy. With the advent of immunotherapy, a new understanding of the interplay between the immune system and cancer has evolved, and it is now increasingly understood that cancer can avoid immune detection and immune killing by a series of mechanisms. The readiness of the immune cells that can detect and kill cancer (including T-cells), the tumor micro-environment, or TME, in which they work, and cancer cell characteristics determine whether or not the immune system will be successful in killing cancer cells. A certain class of immune stimulation therapies have been developed and approved for treating lung cancer. The class is called checkpoint inhibitors, as these are compounds that specifically target and inhibit cell surface molecules, so-called “checkpoints”, that inhibit the activity of the immune system. The most well characterized class, the anti-programmed cell death receptor 1 (anti-PD1) antibodies, have been shown to reduce mortality and increase progression free survival. However, even though these have been introduced in the clinic, mortality from lung cancer remains very high: Only approximately 30% of patients respond to anti-PD1 therapies, and approximately 20% of the patients treated with anti-PD1 therapy show significant adverse lung effects, including inflammation and fibrosis.

One of the reasons the anti-PD1 medicines is believed to only show limited efficacy is that the TME is T-cell unfriendly. We believe one of these TME factors is high levels of galectin-3 in the tumor micro-environment.


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Liver cirrhosis

Fibrous tissue accumulation is seen in the liver as result of continued liver injury driven by a different stimulus or the autoimmune processes. The process of chronic inflammation leads to a progressive accumulation of extracellular matrix, or a scar tissue. Although different chronic liver diseases are characterized by distinct patterns of fibrosis deposition, the development of cirrhosis represents a common outcome and leading to similar clinical consequences, and ultimately liver related death.

Cirrhosis is defined histologically as a diffuse process in which the normal anatomical lobules are gradually replaced by architecturally abnormal nodules separated by fibrous tissue. Different histological scoring systems have been defined to describe the stages of transformation from lack of fibrosis through formation of a portal, periportal and bridging fibrosis to cirrhosis.

Current treatments for liver cirrhosis and their limitations

There are no FDA approved drugs for liver cirrhosis. In general, therapeutic interventions are limited to supportive care relating to complications caused by the liver not functioning, and, in advanced cases, liver transplantation. As such, this is an area of unmet medical need.

Our solution – GB1211

We have demonstrated anti-cancer and fibrosis activity of GB1211 in several preclinical models and have completed a Phase 1 safety trial in 78 healthy volunteers, where GB1211 had good pharmacokinetics and was generally well-tolerated. We anticipate initiating a Phase 2a clinical trial in NSCLC patients in the second half of 2021 and a Phase 1b/2a clinical trial in liver cirrhosis patients in mid-2021.

Galectin-3 in NSCLC

We believe that galectin-3 inhibition has the potential to both increase T-cell function as a single agent as well as to increase the efficacy of check-point inhibitors for NSCLC. In an animal model, we have shown oral administration of one of our galectin-3 inhibitors reduced human and mouse lung adenocarcinoma growth and blocked metastasis. Treatment with one of our galectin-3 inhibitors also potentiated the effects of a PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor. Furthermore, in the clinic, a retrospective study showed that patients with high tumor staining for galectin-3 were resistant to treatment with pembrolizumab, an anti-PD1 antibody approved for the treatment of NSCLC, and, by contrast, patients with low galectin-3 had a good response to pembrolizumab and a reduction in tumor volume. Galectin-3 could be a biomarker for anti-PD1 resistance and, therefore, for patients who may benefit from galectin-3 inhibition. We intend to use galectin-3 staining in NSCLC to select patients with high galectin-3 levels in the tumor tissue, who may respond to the combination of an anti-PD1 therapy and our galectin-3 inhibitor GB1211.

Galectin-3 in liver cirrhosis

Galectin-3 is a central regulator of chronic inflammation and fibrogenesis. Although not present in normal hepatocytes, galectin-3 expression is markedly increased in cirrhotic human liver secondary to a wide range of etiologies including viral-induced liver disease (Hepatitis B and C), NASH, autoimmune, copper or iron overload, primary biliary cirrhosis and alcohol-induced liver disease. Galectin-3 levels are highest in the F3/F4 fibrotic stages compared to F0/F1 and may arise by the impaired hepatic removal and/or by higher hepatic synthesis of galectin-3. Systemic galectin-3 is also increased in alcoholic liver disease and negatively correlates with liver function and Child-Pugh score.

In rodent models, galectin-3 expression is increased temporally in areas of bridging fibrosis and at the periphery of the hepatocyte nodules in the liver following CCl4 administration. Galectin-3 is also increased in other models of liver fibrosis including thioacetamide-induced and nutritionally deficient, dietary models of hepatocelluar and billiary injury in mice. In models of primary biliary cirrhosis, galectin-3 may mediate injury in these models via activation of the inflammasome and IL33/sT2 pathways. Global genetic deletion of galectin-3 results in reduced fibrosis in several models of toxin-induced, dietary- and surgically induced liver fibrosis in mice. These data suggest that galectin-3 up-regulation within the liver is a basic response to liver injury, irrespective of the initiating agent or disease process. As a result, we believe galectin-3 inhibitors have the potential to be a therapy for NASH or liver cirrhosis.


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The most advanced clinical studies investigating the blockade of galectin-3 in liver fibrosis have used modified pectins such as belapectin. However, these large complex carbohydrates demonstrate low affinity for the galectin-3 carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD, 11) and with human PK data showing levels of systemic drug at orders of magnitude lower than KD, this predicts a low chance of any meaningful target engagement in a clinic setting.

We have developed small molecule orally active galectin-3 inhibitors, including GB1211, which demonstrate high (nM) affinity for human galectin-3 and good systemic exposure. GB1211 has been shown to reduce CCl4-induced liver fibrosis and fibrotic gene expression in mice. GB1211 is now being progressed into a phase 2a trial in liver cirrhosis patients.

Preclinical data

The effect of GB1211 was evaluated in a mouse model of carbon-tetrachloride-induced liver fibrosis. In two separate studies, fibrosis was induced in mice, which were then given either GB1211 or placebo. Mice dosed with 10 mg/kg GB1211 twice a day had significantly lower levels of liver fibrosis compared to mice given placebo as detected by histological staining of liver sections with a collagen-specific dye, picrosirius red, as demonstrated by Figure 14 below. This reduction in fibrosis was observed in the absence of changes in liver weight or body weight. These findings were consistent when compared with a standard measurement of collagen content using levels of hydroxyproline, a major component of collagen.

Figure 14. Oral GB1211 blocks carbon tetrachloride-induced-liver fibrosis (indicated as red contour stains) as determined by histological staining for collagen in liver sections

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Figure 15. GB1211 leads to a significant reduction in collagen levels in a carbon tetrachloride fibrosis model

Overview of Clinical trials

Planned Phase 2a Clinical Trial in NSCLC

We plan to perform a randomized, double blind study in NSCLC using GB1211 in combination with pembrolizumab in 30 participants. The intervention will be six months and the primary variable will be tumor shrinkage. We will use central read of tumor images to ensure consistency and rigor.

Planned Phase 1b/2a Clinical Trial in liver cirrhosis

The study in liver cirrhosis will be primarily for safety and tolerability. We will initially study PK and safety and tolerability in a smaller cohort of participants. After determination of effects on PK and safety and tolerability, we intend to start a second cohort with randomized, double blind placebo controlled in 30 participants of various etiology, primarily to look at safety and tolerability over 12 weeks, but also measuring liver function, fibrosis biomarkers, and fibrosis detection of liver echo reactivity. The randomized portion of this study will focus on patients with liver cirrhosis of the Child-Pugh B class.

Completed Phase 1 Clinical Trial

We have completed a Phase 1 single ascending dose and multiple ascending dose trial of GB1211 in seventy-eight healthy volunteers in the U.K. GB1211 was generally well-tolerated with no drug-related serious adverse events at any doses up to the maximum dose tested of 400 mg.

GB0139 in COVID-19

GB0139 is being investigated in the DEFINE trial as part of the University of Edinburgh’s rapid experimental program for COVID-19 respiratory failure, or STOPCOVID. The aim of STOPCOVID is to develop new treatments, and also re-purpose existing treatments for application with COVID-19 patients, with the aim of revealing and targeting the mechanisms controlling the harmful lung injury, inflammation and failure of repair that occur in severe COVID-19 disease. We are responsible for supplying GB0139. All other costs of the DEFINE trial are met by the STOPCOVID program

We believe that GB0139’s mechanism of action suggests it may have potential to prevent infection with COVID-19, as well as treat cytokine release syndrome, one of the major complications of the infection that can cause long-term damage in the lungs.

GB0139 will be investigated for the treatment of hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection. Patients will be dosed daily for up to four weeks, with the primary endpoint of improvement on a 9-point scale. Preliminary, topline results are expected in the first half of 2021.

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Competition

The biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. While we believe that our technology, the expertise of our management team, clinical capabilities, research and development experience and scientific knowledge provide us with competitive advantages, we face increasing competition from many different sources, including biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, governmental agencies and public and private research institutions. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future.

There are a large number of large biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies that are currently pursuing the development of products for the treatment of fibrosis and cancer, and smaller number of companies seeking to develop treatments for liver cirrhosis. Companies that we are aware of that are targeting the treatment of fibrotic and related diseases include large companies with significant financial resources such as Pharmaxis Ltd, Biogen, Inc., AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., Pliant Therapeutics, Inc., Galectin Therapeutics, Inc., FibroGen, Inc., Liminal BioSciences, Inc., Galapagos NV, Bristol Myers Squibb Co., Madrigal, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inventiva, Akero Therapeutics, Inc., Roche Holding AG and Novartis AG. However, we know of no other companies currently in clinical development with an inhaled or orally available small-molecule inhibitor of galectin-3 or an orally available small-molecule inhibitor of LOXL2 for myelofibrosis.

Many of our competitors, either alone or with their collaborators, have significantly greater resources, established presence in the market, expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical and clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals and reimbursement and marketing approved products than we do. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, sales, marketing and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. Additional mergers and acquisitions may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors.

Our commercial potential could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or regulatory approval from comparable foreign regulatory authorities for their product candidates more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market or make our development more complicated. The key competitive factors affecting the success of our product candidates are likely to be efficacy, safety, cost, and convenience.

Intellectual property

Our owned patents and patent applications relate to our fibrosis-inhibiting compounds and include patents and patent applications directed to new compositions of matter and to methods of treating lung, kidney and liver disorders. As we continue to develop our product candidates, we intend to seek additional patent protection in the United States, EU and in other key commercial markets worldwide.

GB0139

As of March 25, 2021, we owned six patent families that included eight issued U.S. patents, two pending U.S. patent applications, and issued and pending foreign counterpart patents and patent applications, relating to our product candidate, GB0139. These patent families include U.S. Patent No. 9,243,021, which is directed to composition of matter of and methods of treatment using compound GB0139; and U.S. Patent Nos. 10,307,403 and 10,369,136, which are directed to composition of matter of and methods of treatment using a polymorphic form of compound GB0139. U.S. Patent No. 9,243,021 is expected to expire in 2033, and U.S. Patent Nos. 10,307,403 and 10,369,136 are expected to expire in 2036, absent any patent term extension. The other issued U.S. patents are expected to expire between 2025 and 2036, absent any patent term extension. If we continue to pursue patent protection, and if any patents issue based on our pending applications, we expect such patents to expire between 2033 and 2036, absent any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the United States.

GB1211

As of March 25, 2021, we owned two patent families that included two issued U.S. patents, one pending U.S. patent application, and pending foreign counterpart patent applications, and one international patent application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, relating to our product candidate, GB1211. One patent family includes U.S. Patent No. 10,526,360 and U.S. Patent No. 10,774,102 which are directed to composition of matter of D-galactopyranose compounds of which compound

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GB1211 is a species. The issued U.S. patents are expected to expire in 2036, absent any patent term extension. If we continue to pursue patent protection, and if any patents issue based on our pending applications, we expect such patents to expire in 2036, absent any patent term extension in the United States.

The other patent family includes the international PCT patent application, which is not eligible to become an issued patent until, among other things, we file a patent application in regional or national patent offices within 30 or 31 months of the earliest-filed patent application in the chain of priority. If we continue to pursue patent protection and file one or more patent applications with respect to our international PCT patent application, and if any patents issue based on the international PCT patent application, we expect such patents, if issued, to expire in 2039, absent any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the United States.

GB2064

As of March 25, 2021, we owned three patent families that included three issued U.S. patents, four pending U.S. patent applications, and issued and pending foreign counterpart patent and patent applications, relating to our product candidate, GB2064. These patent families include U.S. Patent Nos. 10,150,732 and 10,570,094, which are directed to composition of matter of and methods of treatment using compound GB2064. The issued U.S. patents are expected to expire in 2036, absent any patent term extension. The third issued patent U.S. Patent No 10,774,069 is directed to crystalline forms of GB2064. This patent is expected to expire in 2037, absent any patent term extension. If we continue to pursue patent protection, and if any patents issue based on our pending applications, we expect such patents to expire between 2036 and 2037, absent any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the United States.

For a discussion of the risks associated with our intellectual property, see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property.”

Government Regulation

The FDA and comparable regulatory authorities in state and local jurisdictions and in other countries impose requirements upon companies involved in the clinical development, manufacture, marketing and distribution of drugs, such as those we are developing. These agencies and other federal, state and local entities regulate, among other things, the research and development, testing, manufacture, quality control, safety, effectiveness, labeling, packaging, storage, record keeping, approval, advertising and promotion, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, sampling and export and import of our product candidates.

U.S. government regulation of drug products

In the United States, the FDA regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and its implementing regulations. The FDA also regulates biological products under the FDCA and the Public Health Service Act, or PHSA. If we advance clinical development of a biologic candidate in the future, these development activities will be subject to additional regulatory requirements specific to biologics. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with applicable federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires 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 a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, such as the FDA’s refusal to approve pending New Drug Applications, or NDAs, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold, issuance of 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.

The process required by the FDA before a drug may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:

 

 

Completion of preclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies in compliance with the FDA’s good laboratory practice, or GLP, regulations;

 

 

 

Submission to the FDA of an IND application, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;

 

 

 

Approval of the protocol and related documentation by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, or ethics committee at each clinical site before each trial may be initiated;

 

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Performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials in accordance with good clinical practice, or GCP, requirements and any additional requirements for the protection of human research subjects and their health information, to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed drug product for each indication;

 

 

 

Submission to the FDA of an NDA, including payment of application user fees;

 

 

 

A determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of an NDA to accept the marketing application for review;

 

 

 

Satisfactory completion of an FDA advisory committee review, if applicable;

 

 

 

Satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities where the product is produced to assess compliance with current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, requirements and to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity;

 

 

 

Satisfactory completion of FDA audits of clinical trial sites that generated the data in support of the NDA to assure compliance with GCPs and the integrity of the clinical data; and

 

 

 

FDA review and approval of the NDA.

Preclinical studies

Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluation of product chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as in vitro and animal studies to assess potential safety and efficacy. The conduct of preclinical studies is subject to federal regulations and requirements, including GLP regulations for safety/toxicology studies.

Prior to commencing an initial clinical trial in humans with a product candidate in the United States, an IND sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data and any available clinical data or literature and plans for clinical studies, among other things, to the FDA as part of an IND application. An IND application is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational product to humans and must become effective before human clinical trials may begin. Some preclinical testing, such as animal tests of reproductive adverse events and carcinogenicity, may continue even after the IND application is submitted. An IND application automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time the FDA raises concerns or questions related to one or more proposed clinical trials and 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. As a result, submission of an IND may or may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to initiate.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials involve the administration of the product candidate to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators, generally physicians not employed by or under the control of the trial sponsor, in accordance with GCP requirements, which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent in writing for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND application. In addition, an IRB representing each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial before it is initiated at that institution, and the IRB must conduct continuing review and reapprove the trial at least annually. The IRB also must review and approve the informed consent form and other clinical trial documentation that must be provided to each clinical trial subject or his or her legal representative and must monitor the clinical trial until completion.

Certain information about certain clinical trials must be submitted within specific timeframes to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, for public dissemination on their www.clinicaltrials.gov website. Information related to the product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration of the clinical trial. Although sponsors are obligated to disclose the results of their clinical trials after completion, disclosure of the results can be delayed in some cases for up to two years after the date of completion of the trial. Failure to timely register a covered clinical study or to submit study results as required can give rise to civil monetary penalties and also prevent the non-compliant party from receiving future grant funds from the federal government. The NIH’s Final Rule on ClinicalTrials.gov registration and reporting requirements became effective in 2017, and both the NIH and FDA signaled the government’s willingness to begin enforcing those requirements against non-compliant clinical trial sponsors.

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Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases, which may overlap or be combined:

 

Phase 1: The investigational product is initially introduced into healthy human subjects or patients with the target disease or condition and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion and, if possible, to gain an early indication of its effectiveness.

 

Phase 2: The investigational product is administered to 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 optimal dosage.

 

Phase 3: The investigational product is administered to an expanded patient population, generally at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites, in well-controlled clinical trials to generate enough data to statistically evaluate the efficacy and safety of the product for approval, to establish the overall risk-benefit profile of the product, and to provide adequate information for the labeling of the product.

Post-approval trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, 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.

During all phases of clinical development, regulatory agencies require extensive monitoring and auditing of all clinical activities, clinical data, and clinical trial investigators. Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and more frequently if serious adverse events occur. Written IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and investigators for serious and unexpected suspected adverse events, findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human subjects and any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. The sponsor must submit an IND safety report within 15 calendar days after the sponsor determines that the information qualifies for reporting. The sponsor also must notify the FDA of any unexpected fatal or life-threatening suspected adverse reaction within seven calendar days after the sponsor’s initial receipt of the information.

Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, or at all. Furthermore, the FDA or the sponsor may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution, or an institution it represents, if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the product candidate has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients. Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. This group provides authorization as to whether or not a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the trial and may recommend halting the clinical trial if it determines that there is an unacceptable safety risk for subjects or other grounds, such as no demonstration of efficacy.

Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional animal studies and also must develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the product candidate as well as 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 product and, among other things, companies must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final product. Additionally, 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.

NDA submission and marketing approval

Assuming successful completion of the required clinical testing, the results of preclinical studies and clinical trials, together with detailed information relating to the product candidate’s chemistry, manufacture, controls and proposed labeling, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product candidate for one or more indications. In most cases, the submission of an NDA is subject to a substantial application user fee. The FDA will initially review an NDA for completeness before it accepts it for “filing.” Under the FDA’s procedures, the agency has 60 days from its receipt of the NDA to determine whether the application will be accepted for filing based on the agency’s threshold determination that the application is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, the FDA has a goal of ten months from the date of “filing” in which to complete its initial review of a standard NDA for a new molecular entity, and six months from the filing date of a new molecular entity NDA with priority review. Accordingly, this review process typically takes 12 months and eight months, respectively from the date the NDA is submitted to the FDA. The

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FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard or priority NDAs, and the review process is often extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification.

In addition, under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003, or PREA, as amended, certain NDAs or supplements to an NDA must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations, and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may, on its own initiative or at the request of the applicant, grant deferrals for submission of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults, or full or partial waivers from the pediatric data requirements. A sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration must submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within 60 days of an end-of-Phase 2 meeting or, if there is no such meeting, as early as practicable before initiation of the Phase 3 or Phase 2/3 study. The initial PSP must include an outline of the pediatric study or studies that the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The FDA and the sponsor must reach an agreement on the PSP. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon initial PSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from preclinical studies, early phase clinical trials and/or other clinical development programs.

The FDA may request additional information rather than accept an NDA for filing. In this event, the application must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application is also 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 the drug is safe and effective and whether the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packaged or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, quality and purity.

The FDA may refer an application for a novel drug or a drug that presents difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee. An advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, which reviews, evaluates and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

The FDA also may require the submission of a REMS if it determines that a REMS is necessary to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks and to assure the safe use of the drug. A REMS may include one or more elements, including medication guides, physician communication plans, patient package insert and/or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries or other risk minimization tools. The FDA determines the requirement for a REMS, as well as the specific REMS provisions, on a case-by-case basis. 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 a REMS, if required.

Before approving an NDA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving an NDA, the FDA may inspect one or more clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCP requirements.

After evaluating the NDA and all related information, including the advisory committee recommendation, if any, and inspection reports regarding the manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites, the FDA may issue an approval letter, or, in some cases, a Complete Response Letter. A Complete Response Letter generally describes all of the deficiencies that the FDA has identified in the NDA and contains a statement of specific conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the NDA and may require additional clinical or preclinical testing in order for FDA to reconsider the application. If a Complete Response Letter is issued, the applicant may either resubmit the NDA, addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, or withdraw the application. Even with submission of this additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. If and when those conditions have been met to the FDA’s satisfaction, the FDA will typically issue an approval letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications.

Even if the FDA approves a product, it may limit the approved indications for use of the product, require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a drug’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS, which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing studies or surveillance programs.

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After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes, and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval. In addition, new government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could impact the timeline for regulatory approval or otherwise impact ongoing development programs.

Orphan drug designation and exclusivity

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a product candidate intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally a disease or condition that affects either (i) fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or (ii) more than 200,000 individuals in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the product available in the United States for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product. A company must request orphan drug designation before submitting an NDA. If the request is granted, the FDA will disclose the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential use. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process.

If a product candidate with orphan status receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation or for a select indication or use within the rare disease or condition for which it was designated, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity. Orphan product exclusivity means that the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same product for the same indication for seven years, except in certain limited circumstances. If a product candidate designated as an orphan drug ultimately receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what it was designated for, it may not be entitled to exclusivity. Orphan exclusivity will not bar approval of another product under certain circumstances, including if a subsequent product with the same active ingredient for the same indication is shown to be clinically superior to the approved product on the basis of greater efficacy or safety, or providing a major contribution to patient care, or if the company with orphan drug exclusivity is not able to meet market demand. Further, the FDA may approve more than one product for the same orphan indication or disease as long as the products contain different active ingredients. Moreover, 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 drug has exclusivity. Orphan drug designation entitles sponsors to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers.

Expedited development and priority review programs

The FDA maintains several programs intended to facilitate and expedite development and review of new drugs to address unmet medical needs in the treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. These programs include Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, Priority Review and Accelerated Approval, and the purpose of these programs is to either expedite the development or review of important new drugs to get them to patients earlier than under standard FDA development and review procedures.

The FDA has a Fast Track program that is intended to expedite or facilitate the process for reviewing new drugs that meet certain criteria. Specifically, new drugs are eligible for Fast Track designation if they are intended to treat a serious or life threatening condition and preclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. Fast Track designation applies to both the product and the specific indication for which it is being studied. The sponsor can request the FDA to designate the product for Fast Track status any time before receiving NDA approval, but ideally no later than the pre-NDA meeting. Fast Track designation provides increased opportunities for sponsor interactions with the FDA during preclinical and clinical development, in addition to the potential for rolling review once a marketing application is filed, meaning that the agency may review portions of the marketing application before the sponsor submits the complete application, as well as priority review, discussed below.

Additionally, a drug may be eligible for designation as a breakthrough therapy if the product is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over currently approved therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints. The benefits of Breakthrough Therapy designation include the same benefits as Fast Track designation, plus intensive guidance from the FDA to ensure an efficient drug development program. A product may also be eligible for priority review if it treats a serious or life-threatening condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety and effectiveness compared to available therapies. The FDA determines at the time that the marketing application is submitted, on a case-by-case basis, whether the proposed drug represents a significant improvement in treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease when compared with other available therapies. The FDA will attempt to direct additional resources to the evaluation of an application for a new drug designated for priority review in an effort to facilitate the review and to shorten the FDA’s goal for taking action on an NDA for a new molecular entity from ten months to six months from the date of filing.

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A product may also be eligible for accelerated approval if it treats a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, generally provides a meaningful advantage over available therapies and demonstrates 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, or IMM, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on IMM or other clinical benefit. As a condition of accelerated approval, the FDA requires that a sponsor perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. If the FDA concludes that a drug shown to be effective can be safely used only if distribution or use is restricted, it will require such post-marketing restrictions, as it deems necessary to assure safe use of the product.

Even if a product qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification or decide that the time period for FDA review or approval will not be shortened. Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation and Priority Review designation do not change the standards for approval but may expedite the development or review process. Drugs granted accelerated approval also must meet the same statutory standards for safety and effectiveness as those granted traditional approval.

U.S. marketing exclusivity

Market exclusivity provisions under the FDCA can delay the submission or the approval of certain follow-on applications. The FDCA provides a five-year period of non-patent marketing exclusivity within the United States to the first applicant to gain 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 accept for review an Abbreviated New Drug Application, or ANDA, for a generic version of the drug or a 505(b)(2) NDA for another version of such drug where the applicant does not own or have a legal right of reference to all the data required for approval. However, such a follow-on application may be submitted after four years if it contains a certification of patent invalidity or non-infringement. The FDCA also provides three years of market exclusivity for an NDA, 505(b)(2) 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 period covers only the conditions of use associated with the new clinical investigations and does not prohibit the FDA from approving follow-on applications that do not reference the protected clinical data. 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 another type of regulatory market exclusivity in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity, if granted, adds six months to existing regulatory exclusivity periods or listed patents. This six-month exclusivity may be granted based on the voluntary completion of a pediatric trial in accordance with an FDA-issued “Written Request” for such a trial.

Post-approval requirements

Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising and promotion and reporting of adverse experiences with the product. After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims are subject to prior FDA review and approval. There are continuing, annual user fee requirements for any marketed products.

The FDA may impose a number of post-approval requirements as a condition of approval of an NDA. For example, the FDA may require post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization.

FDA regulations require that products be manufactured in specific facilities and in accordance with cGMP regulations which require, among other things, quality control and quality assurance, the maintenance of records and documentation and the obligation to investigate and correct any deviations from cGMP. In addition, drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and these state agencies for compliance with cGMP requirements. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP requirements and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon the sponsor and any third-party manufacturers that the sponsor may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance.

Once an approval of a drug is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of

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previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in mandatory revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program. Any of these limitations on approval or marketing could restrict the commercial promotion, distribution, prescription or dispensing of products. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

 

Restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, complete withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;

 

Fines, warning letters or holds on post-approval clinical trials;

 

Refusal of the FDA to approve pending NDAs or supplements to approved NDAs, or suspension or withdrawal of product approvals;

 

Product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; and

 

Injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of products that are placed on the market. Drugs may be promoted by a sponsor and any third parties acting on behalf of a sponsor only for the approved indications and in a manner consistent with the approved label for the product. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability.

Other healthcare laws

Healthcare providers, physicians, and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of drug products for which we obtain marketing approval. Arrangements with third-party payors, healthcare providers and physicians, in connection with the clinical research, sales, marketing and promotion of products, once approved, and related activities, may expose a pharmaceutical manufacturer to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations. In the United States, these laws include, without limitation, state and federal anti-kickback, false claims, physician transparency, and patient data privacy and security laws and regulations, including but not limited to those described below:

 

 

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, or AKS, which makes it illegal for any person or entity, including a prescription drug manufacturer (or a party acting on its behalf) to knowingly and willfully solicit, receive, offer or pay any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, that is intended to induce or reward, referrals including the purchase, recommendation, order or prescription of a particular drug for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The AKS has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between therapeutic product manufacturers on one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. Further, courts have found that if “one purpose” of remuneration is to induce referrals, the AKS is violated. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal False Claims Act, or FCA. On November 20, 2020, the Office of Inspector General, or OIG, finalized further modifications to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Under the final rule, OIG added safe harbor protections under the Anti-Kickback Statute for certain coordinated care and value-based arrangements among clinicians, providers, and others. This rule (with exceptions) became effective January 19, 2021. We continue to evaluate what effect, if any, this rule will have on our business;

 

the federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the FCA, which can be enforced by private citizens through “qui tam” or “whistleblower” actions, and civil monetary penalty laws, which impose criminal and civil penalties against individuals or entities for, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment or approval from Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal health care programs that are false or fraudulent; knowingly making or causing a false statement material to a false or fraudulent claim or an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the federal government; or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing such an obligation. Pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies have been, and continue to be, prosecuted under these laws, among other things, for allegedly providing free product to

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customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal programs for the product and for causing false claims to be submitted because of the companies’ marketing of the product for unapproved, off-label, and thus generally non-reimbursable, uses. Similar to the AKS, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of these statutes or specific intent to violate them in order to have committed a violation;

 

HIPAA, which created additional federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any healthcare benefit program, regardless of the payor (e.g., public or private) and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters. Like the AKS, the ACA amended the intent standard for certain healthcare fraud statutes under HIPAA such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

 

HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose requirements on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their respective business associates that perform services for them that involve the creation, use, receipt, maintenance or disclosure of individually identifiable health information, relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. HITECH also created four new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce HIPAA and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;

 

the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under the ACA, and its implementing regulations, which require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report annually to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, under the Open Payments Program, information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made during the previous year to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners; and

 

analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state and foreign anti-kickback, false claims, consumer protection and unfair competition laws which may apply to pharmaceutical business practices, including but not limited to, research, distribution, sales and marketing arrangements as well as submitting claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial 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 that otherwise restricts payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources; state laws that require drug manufacturers to file reports with states regarding pricing and marketing information, such as the tracking and reporting of gifts, compensations and other remuneration and items of value provided to healthcare professionals and entities; state and local laws requiring the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives; and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors available, it is possible that some of a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. Efforts to ensure that business arrangements comply with applicable healthcare laws involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental and enforcement authorities will conclude that a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s business practices do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law interpreting applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If any such actions are instituted against a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and it is not successful in defending itself or asserting its rights, those actions could have a significant impact on its business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, disgorgement, imprisonment, monetary fines, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to integrity and oversight agreements to resolve allegations of non-compliance, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and curtailment of operations, any of which could adversely affect a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s ability to operate its business and the results of operations. In addition, commercialization of any drug product

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outside the United States will also likely be subject to foreign equivalents of the healthcare laws mentioned above, among other foreign laws.

In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws, and federal and state consumer protection laws, govern the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information. For example, in June 2018, the State of California enacted the CCPA, which came into effect on January 1, 2020 and provides new data privacy rights for consumers and new operational requirements for companies, which may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. 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. While there is currently an exception for protected health information that is subject to HIPAA and clinical trial regulations, as currently written, the CCPA may impact certain of our business activities. The CCPA could mark the beginning of a trend toward more stringent state privacy legislation in the United States, which could increase our potential liability and adversely affect our business.

In the event we decide to conduct clinical trials or continue to enroll subjects in our ongoing or future clinical trials, we may be subject to additional privacy restrictions. The collection, use, storage, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the EEA, including personal health data, is subject to the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is wide-ranging in scope and imposes numerous requirements on companies that process personal data, including requirements relating to processing health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, providing information to individuals regarding data processing activities, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data, providing notification of data breaches, and taking certain measures when engaging third-party processors. The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EEA, including the United States, and permits data protection authorities to impose large penalties for violations of the GDPR, including potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues, whichever is greater. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. In addition, the GDPR includes restrictions on cross-border data transfers. The GDPR may increase our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process where such processing is subject to the GDPR, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Compliance with the GDPR will be a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices, and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation, and reputational harm in connection with our European activities. Further, the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU, often referred to as Brexit, has created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the U.K. In particular, it is unclear how data transfers to and from the U.K. will be regulated now that the U.K. has left the EU.

Current and future healthcare reform legislation

In both the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the health care system. Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality and/or expanding access. In the United States, the pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and has been significantly affected by major legislative initiatives. In particular, in 2010, the ACA was enacted, which, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, subjected manufacturers to new annual fees and taxes for certain branded prescription drugs, and provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research.

There remain judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Act. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. On March 2, 2020, the United States Supreme Court granted the petitions for writs of certiorari to review this case, and held oral arguments, on November 10, 2020. In addition, the Trump Administration has issued various Executive Orders that eliminated cost sharing subsidies and various provisions that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. Additionally, Congress has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or repealing the ACA. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended. We cannot predict what affect further changes to the ACA would have on our business, especially given the new administration.

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In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in 2013, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken. However, the Medicare sequester reductions under the Budget Control Act of 2011 have been suspended from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposed legislation, if passed, would extend this suspension until the end of the pandemic. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, also amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, by increasing the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and closing the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.”

Additionally, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny in the United States of pharmaceutical pricing practices in light of the rising cost of prescription drugs and biologics. At the federal level, the former Trump administration’s budget proposal for the fiscal year 2021 includes a $135 billion allowance to support legislative proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs. On March 10, 2020, the former Trump administration sent “principles” for drug pricing to Congress, calling for legislation that would, among other things, cap Medicare Part D beneficiary out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses, provide an option to cap Medicare Part D beneficiary monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and place limits on pharmaceutical price increases. Moreover, the former Trump administration also previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contained proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out-of-pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has already started the process of soliciting feedback on some of these measures and, at the same time, is immediately implementing others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020. However, it is unclear whether the Biden administration will challenge, reverse, revoke or otherwise modify these executive and administrative actions after January 20, 2021.

In addition, there have been several changes to the 340B drug pricing program, which imposes ceilings on prices that drug manufacturers can charge for medications sold to certain health care facilities. On December 27, 2018, the District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated a reimbursement formula change under the 340B drug pricing program, and CMS subsequently altered the FYs 2019 and 2018 reimbursement formula on specified covered outpatient drugs (“SCODs”). The court ruled this change was not an “adjustment” which was within the Secretary’s discretion to make but was instead a fundamental change in the reimbursement calculation. However, most recently, on July 31, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the district court’s decision and found that the changes were within the Secretary’s authority. On September 14, 2020, the plaintiffs-appellees filed a Petition for Rehearing En Banc (i.e., before the full court), but was denied on October 16, 2020. It is unclear how these developments could affect covered hospitals who might purchase our future products and affect the rates we may charge such facilities for our approved products in the future, if any.

In 2020, former President Trump announced several executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that seek to implement several of the administration's proposals. In response, the FDA released a final rule on September 24, 2020, which went into effect on November 30, 2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. Further, on November 20, 2020 CMS issued an Interim Final Rule implementing the Most Favored Nation, or MFN, Model under which Medicare Part B reimbursement rates will be calculated for certain drugs and biologicals based on the lowest price drug manufacturers receive in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries with a similar gross domestic product per capita. The MFN Model regulations mandate participation by identified Part B providers and would have applied in all U.S. states and territories for a seven-year period beginning January 1, 2021 and ending December 31, 2027. However, in response to a lawsuit filed by several industry groups, on December 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining government defendants from implementing the MFN Rule pending completion of notice-and-comment procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act. On January 13, 2021, in a separate lawsuit brought by industry groups in the U.S. District of Maryland, the government defendants entered a joint motion to stay litigation on the condition that the government would not appeal the preliminary injunction granted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and that performance for any final regulation stemming from the MFN Interim Final Rule shall not commence earlier than 60 days after publication of that regulation in the Federal Register. Further, authorities in Canada have passed rules designed to safeguard the Canadian drug supply from shortages. If implemented, importation of drugs from Canada and the MFN Model may materially and adversely affect the price we receive for any of our product candidates.

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Additionally, on December 2, 2020, HHS published a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. Pursuant to an order entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the portion of the rule eliminating safe harbor protection for certain rebates related to the sale or purchase of a pharmaceutical product from a manufacturer to a plan sponsor under Medicare Part D has been delayed to January 1, 2023. Further, implementation of this change and new safe harbors for point-of-sale reductions in price for prescription pharmaceutical products and pharmacy benefit manager service fees are currently under review by the Biden administration and may be amended or repealed. Although a number of these and other measures may require additional authorization to become effective, and the Biden administration may reverse or otherwise change these measures, Congress has indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare and other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payers.

In addition, individual states in the United States have also increasingly passed legislation and implemented 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.

Further, on May 30, 2018, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017, or the Right to Try Act, was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no obligation for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to make its drug products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act, although the FDA recently published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require manufacturers who do so to make annual reports of those programs to the FDA.

Legislative and regulatory proposals and enactment of laws, at the foreign federal and state levels, directed at containing or lowering the cost of healthcare, will continue into the future. We cannot predict the initiatives that may be adopted in the future, including repeal, replacement or significant revisions to the ACA. The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare and/or impose price controls may adversely affect:

 

the demand for our product candidates, if we obtain regulatory approval;

 

our ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our products;

 

our ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement approval for a product;

 

our ability to generate revenue and achieve or maintain profitability;

 

the level of taxes that we are required to pay; and

 

the availability of capital.

Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors, which may adversely affect our future profitability.

Regulation outside 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 trials and any commercial sales and distribution of our products. The cost of establishing a regulatory compliance system for numerous varying jurisdictions can be very significant. Although many of the issues discussed above with respect to the United States apply similarly in the context of the EU and in other jurisdictions, the approval process varies between countries and jurisdictions and can involve additional product testing and additional administrative review periods. The time required to obtain approval in other countries and jurisdictions might differ from and be longer than that required to obtain FDA approval. Regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction does not ensure regulatory approval in another, but a

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failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction may negatively impact the regulatory process in others.

Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries. Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In the EU, for example, a clinical trial authorization application, or CTA, must be submitted for each clinical protocol to each country’s national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and IRB, respectively. Once the CTA is accepted in accordance with a country’s requirements, the clinical trial may proceed.

The requirements and processes governing the conduct of clinical trials vary from country to country. In all cases, the clinical trials are conducted in accordance with GCP, the applicable regulatory requirements, and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational medicinal product under EU regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application. The content of the NDA filed in the United States is similar to that required in the EU, with the exception of, among other things, country-specific document requirements.

For other countries outside of the EU and the United States, such as countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing product development, the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing, distribution, marketing approval, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country.

Countries that are part of the EU, as well as countries outside of the EU, have their own governing bodies, requirements, and processes with respect to the approval of drug products. 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.

Additionally, to the extent that any of our product candidates, once approved, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to 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.

Authorization Procedures in the EU

In the EEA (comprised of the EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), medicinal products must be authorized for marketing by using either the centralized authorization procedure or one of the national authorization procedures.

 

Centralized procedureIf pursuing marketing authorization of a product candidate for a therapeutic indication under the centralized procedure, following the opining of the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP, the European Commission issues a single marketing authorization valid across the EEA. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human medicines derived from biotechnology processes or advanced therapy medicinal products (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products), products that contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, viral diseases, and officially designated orphan medicines. For medicines that do not fall within these categories, an applicant has the option of submitting an application for a centralized marketing authorization to the EMA, as long as the medicine concerned contains a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA, or is a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation, or if its authorization would be in the interest of public health in the EEA. Under the centralized procedure, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application, or MAA, by the EMA is 210 days, excluding “clock stops”, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the CHMP, and which can add materially to the timeframe. Accelerated assessment might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, particularly from the point of view of therapeutic innovation. The timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA under the accelerated assessment procedure is 150 days, excluding clock stops, but it is possible that the CHMP may revert to the standard time limit for the centralized procedure if it determines that the application is no longer appropriate to conduct an accelerated assessment.

Now that the UK (which comprises Great Britain and Northern Ireland) has left the EU, Great Britain will no longer be covered by centralized marketing authorizations (under the Northern Irish Protocol, centralized

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marketing authorizations will continue to be recognized in Northern Ireland). All medicinal products with a current centralized marketing authorization were automatically converted to Great Britain marketing authorizations on January 1, 2021. For a period of two years from January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, the UK medicines regulator, may rely on a decision taken by the European Commission on the approval of a new marketing authorization in the centralized procedure, in order to more quickly grant a new Great Britain marketing authorization. A separate application will, however, still be required.

 

National authorization proceduresThere are also two other possible routes to authorize products for therapeutic indications in several countries, which are available for products that fall outside the scope of the centralized procedure:

 

Decentralized procedure—Using the decentralized procedure, an applicant may apply for simultaneous authorization in more than one EEA country of medicinal products that have not yet been authorized in any EEA country and that do not fall within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure.

 

Mutual recognition procedure—In the mutual recognition procedure, a medicine is first authorized in one EEA member state, in accordance with the national procedures of that country. Following this, additional marketing authorizations can be sought from other EEA countries in a procedure whereby the countries concerned recognize the validity of the original, national marketing authorization.

In the EEA, new products for therapeutic indications that are authorized for marketing (i.e., reference products) qualify for eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity upon marketing authorization. The data exclusivity period prevents generic or biosimilar applicants from relying on the preclinical and clinical trial data contained in the dossier of the reference product when applying for a generic or biosimilar marketing authorization in the EEA during a period of eight years from the date on which the reference product was first authorized in the EEA. The market exclusivity period prevents a successful generic or biosimilar applicant from commercializing its product in the EEA until ten years have elapsed from the initial authorization of the reference product in the EEA. The ten-year market exclusivity period can be extended to a maximum of 11 years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies.

The criteria for designating an “orphan medicinal product” in the EEA are similar in principle to those in the United States. In the EEA, 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 EU when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the EU to justify investment; and (3) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the EU, or if such a method exists, the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition. 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 this ten-year orphan market exclusivity period, no marketing authorization application shall be accepted, and no marketing authorization shall be granted for a “similar medicinal product” for the same indication. A “similar medicinal product” is defined as a medicinal product containing a similar active substance or substances as contained in an authorized orphan medicinal product, and which is intended for the same therapeutic indication. An orphan product can also obtain an additional two years of market exclusivity in the EU for pediatric studies. The ten-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. Additionally, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if (i) the second applicant can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior; (ii) the marketing authorization holder of the authorized orphan product consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or (iii) the marketing authorization holder of the authorized orphan product cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.

As in the United States, the various phases of non-clinical and clinical research in the EU are subject to significant regulatory controls.

The Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC, the Directive 2005/28/EC on GCP and the related national implementing provisions of the individual EU Member States govern the system for the approval of clinical trials in the EU. Under this system, an applicant must obtain prior approval from the national competent authority, or NCA, of the EU Member States in which the clinical trial is to be conducted. Furthermore, the applicant may only start a clinical trial at a specific trial site after an independent ethics committee, or EC, has issued a favorable opinion. The clinical trial application must be accompanied by, among other

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documents, an investigational medicinal product dossier (the Common Technical Document) with supporting information prescribed by Directive 2001/20/EC, Directive 2005/28/EC, and the implementing national provisions of the relevant individual EU Member States and further detailed in applicable guidance documents. Under the current regime all suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions to the investigated drug that occur during the clinical trial have to be reported to the NCA and ECs of the Member State where they occurred.

In April 2014, the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 or Clinical Trials Regulation, was adopted. It is expected that the Clinical Trials Regulation will apply following confirmation of full functionality of the Clinical Trials Information System, the centralized EU portal and database for clinical trials foreseen by the regulation, through an independent audit, which is currently expected to occur in December 2021. The Clinical Trials Regulation will be directly applicable in all the EU Member States, repealing the current Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. Conduct of all clinical trials performed in the EU will continue to be bound by currently applicable provisions until the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable. The new Clinical Trials Regulation will overhaul the current system of approvals for clinical trials in the EU and aims at simplifying and streamlining the approval of clinical trials in the EU.

The main characteristics of the regulation include (i) a streamlined application procedure via a single-entry point, the “EU portal,” a single set of documents to be prepared and submitted for the application as well as simplified reporting procedures for clinical trial sponsors; and (ii) a harmonized procedure for the assessment of applications for clinical trials, which is divided in two parts. Part I is assessed by an elected Reference Member State, with the support of the competent authorities of all EU Member States in which an application for authorization of a clinical trial has been submitted (Member States Concerned). Part II is assessed separately by each Member State Concerned. Strict deadlines have been established for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The role of the relevant ethics committees in the assessment procedure will continue to be governed by the national law of the concerned EU Member State. However, overall related timelines will be defined by the Clinical Trials Regulation.

Should we utilize third-party distributors, compliance with such foreign governmental regulations would generally be the responsibility of such distributors, who may be independent contractors over whom we have limited control.

Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom

On June 23, 2016, the electorate in the UK voted in favor of leaving the EU, commonly referred to as “Brexit.” Thereafter, on March 29, 2017, the country formally notified the EU of its intention to withdraw pursuant to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Pursuant to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK ceased being a Member State of the EU on January 31, 2020, however there was an initial transition period during which EU medicinal product laws continued to apply in the UK. This transition period ended on December 31, 2020. Since the regulatory framework in the UK covering quality, safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from EU Directives and Regulations, Brexit could materially impact the future regulatory regime which applies to products and the approval of product candidates in the UK, now that UK legislation has the potential to diverge from EU legislation. It remains to be seen how Brexit will impact regulatory requirements for product candidates and products in the UK in the long term. The MHRA has recently published detailed guidance for industry and organizations to follow from January 1, 2021 now that the transition period is over, which will be updated as the UK’s regulatory position on medicinal products evolves over time.

Coverage and reimbursement

Successful commercialization of new drug products depends in part on the extent to which reimbursement for those drug products will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers, and other organizations. In the United States, government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which drug products they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. The availability and extent of reimbursement by governmental and private payors is essential for most patients to be able to afford a drug product. Sales of drug products depend substantially, both domestically and abroad, on the extent to which the costs of drugs products are paid for by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or reimbursed by government health administration authorities, private health coverage insurers and other third-party payors.

A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular drug products. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products, therapies and services, in addition to questioning their safety and efficacy. Obtaining reimbursement for our products may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with branded drugs and drugs administered under the supervision of a physician. We may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the

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medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of our products, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA approvals. Our product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost-effective. Obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval of a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time-consuming and costly process that could require us to provide to each payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our product on a payor-by-payor basis, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained. A payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage for the product. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on its investment in product development. If reimbursement is not available or is available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate that we successfully develop.

In many countries, the prices of drug products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. In general, the prices of drug products under such systems are substantially lower than in the United States. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for drug products but monitor and control company profits. Accordingly, in markets outside the United States, the reimbursement for drug products may be reduced compared with the United States.

In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new drug products are typically made by CMS, an agency within the HHS. CMS decides whether and to what extent a new drug product will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare, and private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree. However, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors and coverage and reimbursement levels for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. Coverage and reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including the third-party payor’s determination that use of a drug product is:

 

a covered benefit under its health plan;

 

safe, effective and medically necessary;

 

appropriate for the specific patient;

 

cost-effective; and

 

neither experimental nor investigational.

We cannot be sure that coverage or reimbursement will be available for any product that we commercialize and, if coverage and reimbursement are available, what the level of reimbursement will be. Coverage may also be more limited than the purposes for which the product is approved by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any product for which we obtain regulatory approval.

The MMA established the Medicare Part D program to provide a voluntary prescription drug benefit to Medicare beneficiaries. Under Part D, Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in prescription drug plans offered by private entities that provide coverage of outpatient prescription drugs. While all Medicare drug plans must give at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare, Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs, and each Part D prescription drug plan can develop its own drug formulary that identifies which drugs it will cover and at what tier or level. However, Part D prescription drug formularies must include drugs within each therapeutic category and class of covered Part D drugs, though not necessarily all the drugs in each category or class. Any formulary used by a Part D prescription drug plan must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs may increase demand for drugs for which we obtain marketing approval. Any negotiated prices for any of our products covered by a Part D prescription drug plan will likely be lower than the prices we might otherwise obtain. Moreover, while the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payors often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own payment rates. Any reduction in payment that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from non-governmental payors.

For a drug product to receive federal reimbursement under the Medicaid or Medicare Part B programs or to be sold directly to U.S. government agencies, the manufacturer must extend discounts to entities eligible to participate in the 340B drug pricing program. The required 340B discount on a given product is calculated based on the average manufacturer price, or AMP, and Medicaid rebate amounts reported by the manufacturer. As of 2010, the ACA expanded the types of entities eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing, although under the current state of the law these newly eligible entities (with the exception of children’s hospitals) will not be eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing on orphan drugs. As the required 340B discount is determined based on average manufacturer price, or AMP, and Medicaid rebate data, the revisions to the Medicaid rebate formula and AMP definition described above could cause the required 340B discount to increase. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of

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2009 provides funding for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness. The plan for the research was published in 2012 by HHS, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the NIH, and periodic reports on the status of the research and related expenditures are made to Congress. Although the results of the comparative effectiveness studies are not intended to mandate coverage policies for public or private payors, it is not clear what effect, if any, the research will have on the sales of our product candidates, if any such drug or the condition that they are intended to treat are the subject of a trial. It is also possible that comparative effectiveness research demonstrating benefits in a competitor’s drug could adversely affect the sales of our product candidate. If third-party payors do not consider our drugs to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our drugs after approval as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our drugs on a profitable basis.

These laws and future state and federal healthcare reform measures may be adopted in the future, any of which may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product candidate is prescribed or used.

Outside of the United States, the pricing of pharmaceutical products and medical devices is subject to governmental control in many countries. For example, in the EU, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost effectiveness of a particular therapy to currently available therapies or so-called health technology assessments, in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. Other countries may allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control product volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Efforts to control prices and utilization of pharmaceutical products and medical devices will likely continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures.

Human Capital

As of March 1, 2021, we had 28 full-time employees, who together hold ten Ph.D. or M.D. degrees and twenty-one of whom are engaged in research and development activities. None of our employees are represented by labor unions or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good. We focus on identifying, recruiting, developing and retaining a team of highly talented and motivated employees. The principal purposes of our equity and cash incentive plans are to attract, retain and reward personnel through the granting of stock-based and cash-based compensation awards, in order to increase stockholder value and the success of our company by motivating such individuals to perform to the best of their abilities and achieve our objectives. The success of our business is fundamentally connected to the well-being, health and safety of our employees. In an effort to protect the health and safety of our employees, we took proactive action from the earliest signs of the COVID-19 outbreak, which included having employees work remotely while management monitored and implemented additional safety measures on-site in preparation for an eventual return to the office.

Available Information

Our Internet address is www.galecto.com. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, including exhibits, proxy, and information statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a), 14, and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, are available through the “Investors” portion of our website free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Information on our website is not part of this Form 10-K or any of our other securities filings unless specifically incorporated herein by reference. In addition, our filings with the SEC may be accessed through the SEC's Interactive Data Electronic Applications system at www.sec.gov. All statements made in any of our securities filings, including all forward-looking statements or information, are made as of the date of the document in which the statement is included, and we do not assume or undertake any obligation to update any of those statements or documents unless we are required to do so by law.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” before deciding whether to invest in our common stock. The occurrence of any of the events or developments described below could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In such an event, the market price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may impair our business operations.

Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need for Additional Capital

We have incurred significant net losses since inception and we expect to continue to incur significant net losses for the foreseeable future.

We have incurred significant net losses since our inception and have financed our operations principally through equity and debt financing. We continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we reported a net loss of $34.8 million and $36.5 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $104.4 million. We have devoted substantially all of our resources and efforts to research and development, and we expect that it will be several years, if ever, before we generate revenue from product sales. Even if we receive marketing approval for and commercialize one or more of our product candidates, we expect that we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other expenses in order to develop and market additional potential product candidates.

We expect to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future, and we anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if, and as, we:

 

advance our lead product candidate, GB0139, our other current product candidates and any future product candidates through clinical development, and, if successful, later-stage clinical trials;

 

advance our preclinical development programs into clinical development;

 

experience delays or interruptions to preclinical studies, clinical trials, our receipt of services from our third-party service providers on whom we rely, or our supply chain, including delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

seek regulatory approvals for any product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;

 

commercialize GB0139, our other current product candidates and any future product candidates, if approved;

 

increase the amount of research and development activities to discover and develop product candidates;

 

hire additional clinical development, quality control, scientific and management personnel;

 

expand our operational, financial and management systems and increase personnel, including personnel to support our clinical development and manufacturing efforts, general and administrative functions and our operations as a public company;

 

establish a sales, marketing, medical affairs and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain marketing approval and intend to commercialize on our own or jointly with third parties;

 

maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio; and

 

invest in or in-license other technologies or product candidates.

To become and remain profitable, we must develop and eventually commercialize products with significant market potential. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtaining marketing approval for product candidates, manufacturing, marketing and selling products for which we may obtain marketing approval and satisfying any post-marketing requirements. We may never succeed in any or all of these

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activities and, even if we do, we may never generate revenue that is significant enough to achieve profitability. If we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would decrease the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our research and development efforts, expand our business or continue our operations.

We will require substantial additional capital to finance our operations. If we are unable to raise such capital when needed, or on acceptable terms, we may be forced to delay, reduce and/or eliminate one or more of our research and drug development programs, future commercialization efforts or other operations.

Developing biotechnology and biopharmaceutical products, including conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, is a very time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete. Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception. We expect our expenses to increase in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we conduct our planned clinical trials of GB0139, our other current product candidates and any future product candidates that we may develop, seek regulatory approvals for any of our product candidates and to launch and commercialize any products for which we receive regulatory approval. We also expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in order to maintain our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on acceptable terms, we may be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate one or more of our research and drug development programs or future commercialization efforts.

As of December 31, 2020, we had $163.6 million in cash and cash equivalents. Based on our current operating plan, we believe that the existing cash and cash equivalents, will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into 2024. However, our future capital requirements and the period for which our existing resources will support our operations may vary significantly from what we expect, and in any event, we will require additional capital in order to complete clinical development of any of our current programs. Our monthly spending levels will vary based on new and ongoing development and corporate activities. Because the length of time and activities associated with development of our product candidates is highly uncertain, we are unable to estimate the actual funds we will require for development, marketing and commercialization activities. Our future funding requirements, both near and long-term, will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:

 

the initiation, progress, timing, costs and results of preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates;

 

the clinical development plans we establish for these product candidates;

 

the timelines of our clinical trials and the overall costs to finish the clinical trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

the number and characteristics of product candidates that we develop;

 

the outcome, timing and cost of meeting regulatory requirements established by the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities;

 

whether we are able to enter into and maintain collaboration agreements, including the terms of and timing of payments under any such agreements;

 

the cost of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing our patent claims and other intellectual property rights;

 

the cost of defending intellectual property disputes, including patent infringement actions brought by third parties against us or our product candidates;

 

the effect of competing clinical, technological and market developments;

 

the cost and timing of completion of commercial-scale outsourced manufacturing activities; and

 

the cost of establishing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities for any product candidates for which we may receive regulatory approval in regions where we choose to commercialize our products on our own.

We do not have any committed external source of funds or other support for our development efforts, and we cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, if at all. Until we can generate sufficient revenue to finance our cash requirements, which we may never do, we expect to finance our future cash needs through a combination of

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public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, licensing arrangements and other marketing or distribution arrangements. If we raise additional funds through public or private equity offerings, the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect the rights of our common stockholders. Further, to the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of common stock or securities convertible or exchangeable into common stock, your ownership interest will be diluted. In addition, any debt financing may subject us to fixed payment obligations and covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends. If we raise additional capital through marketing and distribution arrangements or other collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish certain valuable intellectual property or other rights to our product candidates, technologies, future revenue streams or research programs or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. We also may be required to seek collaborators for any of our product candidates at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable or relinquish our rights to product candidates or technologies that we otherwise would seek to develop or commercialize ourselves. Market volatility resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic or other factors could also adversely impact our ability to access capital as and when needed. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of one or more of our product candidates or one or more of our other research and development initiatives. Any of the above events could significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and cause the price of our common stock to decline.

The amount of our future losses is uncertain and our operating results may fluctuate significantly or may fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, each of which may cause our stock price to fluctuate or decline.

Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate significantly in the future due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control and may be difficult to predict, including the following:

 

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;

 

our ability to successfully recruit and retain subjects for clinical trials, and any delays caused by difficulties in such efforts;

 

our ability to obtain marketing approval for our product candidates, and the timing and scope of any such approvals we may receive;

 

the timing and cost of, and level of investment in, research and development activities relating to our product candidates, which may change from time to time;

 

the cost of manufacturing our product candidates, which may vary depending on the quantity of production and the terms of our agreements with manufacturers;

 

our ability to attract, hire and retain qualified personnel;

 

expenditures that we will or may incur to develop additional product candidates;

 

the level of demand for our product candidates should they receive approval, which may vary significantly;

 

the risk/benefit profile, cost and reimbursement policies with respect to our product candidates, if approved, and existing and potential future therapeutics that compete with our product candidates;

 

general market conditions or extraordinary external events, such as a recession or the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

the changing and volatile U.S. and global economic environments; and

 

future accounting pronouncements or changes in our accounting policies.

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. 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

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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 guidance we may provide.

Risks Related to Research and Development and the Biotechnology and Biopharmaceutical Industry

We have a limited operating history, which may make it difficult to evaluate our prospects and likelihood of success.

We are a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a limited operating history. We were founded as Galecto Biotech AB, a Swedish operating company, in 2011 and incorporated in Delaware as Galecto, Inc. in October 2019, have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue. Our operations to date have been limited to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, establishing our intellectual property portfolio and performing research and development of our product candidates. Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates is unproven, and we do not know whether we will be able to develop any products of commercial value. In addition, our product candidates, including GB0139, for the treatment of IPF, GB1211 for treatment of NSCLC and liver cirrhosis, and GB2064 for the treatment of myelofibrosis, are in the early stages of clinical development. These three programs will require substantial additional development and clinical research time and resources before we would be able to apply for or receive regulatory approvals and begin generating revenue from product sales. We have not yet demonstrated the ability to progress any product candidate through later-stage clinical trials leading to successful marketing authorization. We may be unable to obtain regulatory approval, manufacture a commercial scale product, or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, achieve market access, and acceptance with insurers and health care providers, or conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Investment in biotechnology and biopharmaceutical product development is highly speculative because it entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential product candidate will fail to demonstrate adequate efficacy or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval and become commercially viable. In addition, as a business with a limited operating history, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors and risks frequently experienced by early-stage biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies in rapidly evolving fields. Consequently, we have no meaningful history of operations upon which to evaluate our business, and predictions about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history or a history of successfully developing and commercializing drug products.

Our business is highly dependent on the success of our lead product candidate, GB0139, as well as GB1211, GB2064 and any other product candidates that we advance into the clinic. All of our product candidates may require significant additional preclinical and clinical development before we may be able to seek regulatory approval for and launch a product commercially.

We currently have no products that are approved for commercial sale and may never be able to develop marketable products. We are very early in our development efforts, and our product candidates, including GB0139, are in early clinical development. Because GB0139 is our lead product candidate, if GB0139 encounters safety or efficacy problems, development delays, regulatory issues or other problems, our development plans and business would be significantly harmed. We have conducted a placebo-controlled Phase 2a multi-dose trial of GB0139 in 24 IPF patients. We are currently conducting a Phase 2b placebo-controlled clinical trial of GB0139 in 450 IPF patients. The primary endpoint of the trial is to assess annual rate of decline in FVC after one year of dosing. Reduction in decline of FVC is the surrogate endpoint that was accepted by the FDA for the approval of both of the currently approved treatments for IPF. We anticipate that results from this trial will become available in 2022. We believe that a positive result in this trial has the potential to support an application for conditional approval of GB0139 in the EU, and that the trial also has the potential to be regarded as a registrational trial in the United States, but the EMA and FDA ultimately may not agree and may require us to enroll additional patients or initiate one or more additional clinical trials, including a Phase 3 clinical trial or trials. If FDA or the EMA require us to conduct one or more clinical trials, including a Phase 3 clinical trial or trials, the design, duration, and scope of such clinical trials will be decided upon after further discussions with FDA or the EMA, as applicable, and at this time are not ascertainable. As a result, we are unable to predict with certainty the estimated timing or scope of any future clinical trials of GB0139 we may be required to conduct.

Before we can generate any revenue from sales of our lead product candidate, GB0139, or any of our other product candidates, we must undergo additional preclinical and clinical development, regulatory review and approval in one or more jurisdictions. In addition, if one or more of our product candidates are approved, we must ensure access to sufficient commercial

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manufacturing capacity and conduct significant marketing efforts in connection with any commercial launch. These efforts will require substantial investment, and we may not have the financial resources to continue development of our product candidates.

We may experience setbacks that could delay or prevent regulatory approval of, or our ability to commercialize, our product candidates, including:

 

negative or inconclusive results from our preclinical studies or clinical trials or positive results from the clinical trials of others for product candidates similar to ours leading to their approval, and evolving to a decision or requirement to conduct additional preclinical testing or clinical trials or abandon a program;

 

product-related side effects experienced by patients or subjects in our clinical trials or by individuals using drugs or therapeutics that we, DSMBs, IRBs, the FDA, other regulators or others view as relevant to the development of our product candidates;

 

delays in submitting investigational new drug, or IND, applications 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 FDA or comparable foreign authorities regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials, including our clinical endpoints;

 

delays in enrolling subjects in clinical trials, including due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

high drop-out rates of subjects from clinical trials;

 

inadequate supply or quality of product candidates or other materials necessary for the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

greater than anticipated clinical trial costs;

 

inability to compete with other therapies;

 

poor efficacy of our product candidates during clinical trials;

 

trial results taking longer than anticipated;

 

trials being subjected to fraud or data capture failure or other technical mishaps leading to the invalidation of our trials in whole or in part;

 

the results of our trials not supporting application for conditional approval in the EU;

 

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 related to the impact of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of COVID-19 on the FDA’s ability to continue its normal operations;

 

delays and changes in regulatory requirements, policy and guidelines, including the imposition of additional regulatory oversight around clinical development generally or with respect to our technology in particular; or

 

varying interpretations of data by the FDA and similar foreign regulatory agencies.

We do not have complete control over many of these factors, including certain aspects of clinical development and the regulatory submission process, potential threats to our intellectual property rights and our manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales efforts or that of any future collaborator.

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Clinical development involves a lengthy, complex and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome, and the results of preclinical studies and early-stage clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials.

To obtain the requisite regulatory approvals to commercialize any product candidates, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our product candidates are safe and effective in humans. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. In particular, the general approach for FDA approval of a new drug is dispositive data from two well-controlled, Phase 3 clinical trials of the relevant drug in the relevant patient population. Phase 3 clinical trials typically involve hundreds of patients, have significant costs and take years to complete. A product candidate can fail at any stage of testing, even after observing promising signals of activity in earlier preclinical studies or clinical trials. 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. For example, in our earlier clinical trials, we did not identify any imbalance in the serious adverse events, in contrast to what was reported to us by the DSMB in our ongoing Phase 2b trial of GB0139. In addition, initial success in clinical trials may not be indicative of results obtained when such trials are completed. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as therapeutic products, and there can be no assurance that any of our future clinical trials will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development of GB0139 or any of our other product candidates. Product candidates that appear promising in the early phases of development may fail to reach the market for several reasons, including:

 

preclinical studies or clinical trials may show the product candidates to be less effective than expected (e.g., a clinical trial could fail to meet its primary endpoint(s)) or to have unacceptable side effects or toxicities;

 

failure to establish clinical endpoints that applicable regulatory authorities would consider clinically meaningful;

 

failure to receive the necessary regulatory approvals;

 

manufacturing costs, formulation issues, pricing or reimbursement issues, or other factors that make a product candidate uneconomical; and

 

the proprietary rights of others and their competing products and technologies that may prevent one of our product candidates from being commercialized.

In addition, differences in trial design between early-stage clinical trials and later-stage clinical trials make it difficult to extrapolate the results of earlier clinical trials to later clinical trials. Moreover, clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their products.

Additionally, several of our past, planned and ongoing clinical trials utilize an “open-label” trial design, where both the patient and investigator know whether the patient is receiving the investigational product candidate or either an existing approved drug or placebo. Most typically, open-label clinical trials test only the investigational product candidate and sometimes may do so at different dose levels. Open-label clinical trials are subject to various limitations that may exaggerate any therapeutic effect as patients in open-label clinical trials are aware when they are receiving treatment. Open-label clinical trials may also be subject to a “patient bias” where patients perceive their symptoms to have improved merely due to their awareness of receiving an experimental treatment. In addition, open-label clinical trials may be subject to an “investigator bias” where those assessing and reviewing the physiological outcomes of the clinical trials are aware of which patients have received treatment and may interpret the information of the treated group more favorably given this knowledge. The results from an open-label trial may not be predictive of future clinical trial results with any of our product candidates for which we include an open-label clinical trial when studied in a controlled environment with a placebo or active control.

In addition, the standards that the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities use when regulating our product candidates require judgment and can change, which makes it difficult to predict with certainty how they will be applied. Although we are initially focusing our efforts on development of small-molecule drug products, we may in the future pursue development of biological products, which could make us subject to additional regulatory requirements. Any analysis we perform of data from preclinical and clinical activities is subject to confirmation and interpretation by regulatory authorities, which could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. We may also encounter unexpected delays or increased costs due to new government regulations. Examples of such regulations include future legislation or administrative action, or changes in FDA policy during the period of

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product development and FDA regulatory review. We cannot predict whether legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA or foreign regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be. The FDA may also require a panel of experts, referred to as an Advisory Committee, to deliberate on the adequacy of the safety and efficacy data to support approval. The opinion of the Advisory Committee, although not binding, may have a significant impact on our ability to obtain approval of any product candidates that we develop.

We are currently conducting clinical trials in foreign countries, as well as in the United States. If we continue to seek to conduct clinical trials in foreign countries or pursue marketing approvals in foreign jurisdictions, we must comply with numerous foreign regulatory requirements governing, among other things, the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing authorization, pricing and third-party reimbursement. The foreign regulatory approval process varies among countries and may include all of the risks associated with FDA approval described above as well as risks attributable to the satisfaction of local regulations in foreign jurisdictions. Moreover, the time required to obtain approval from foreign regulatory agencies may differ from that required to obtain FDA approval. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities outside the United States and vice versa.

Successful completion of clinical trials is a prerequisite to submitting a marketing application to the FDA and similar marketing applications to comparable foreign regulatory authorities, for each product candidate and, consequently, the ultimate approval and commercial marketing of any product candidates. We may experience negative or inconclusive results, which may result in our deciding, or our being required by regulators, to conduct additional clinical studies or trials or abandon some or all of our product development programs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of GB0139 or any of our other product candidates in development.

We may experience delays in initiating or completing clinical trials. We also may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, any future clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval for, or to commercialize, GB0139 or any of our other product candidates in development, including:

 

regulators or institutional review boards, or IRBs, or ethics committees may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;

 

the FDA or other comparable regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design, including with respect to dosing levels administered in our planned clinical trials, which may delay or prevent us from initiating our clinical trials with our originally intended trial design;

 

we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with prospective trial sites and prospective contract research organizations, or CROs, which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;

 

the number of subjects required for clinical trials of any product candidates may be larger than we anticipate, or subjects may drop out of these clinical trials or fail to return for post-treatment follow-up at a higher rate than we anticipate;

 

our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, or may deviate from the clinical trial protocol or drop out of the trial, which may require that we add new clinical trial sites or investigators;

 

due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have experienced delays in certain of our studies, including (i) a delay in recruitment for our ongoing Phase 2b trial of GB0139 in IPF patients, which has resulted in certain trial protocol amendments and increased costs and (ii) a delay in the initiation of our planned clinical trials of GB1211 and GB2064, and may continue to experience delays and interruptions to our preclinical studies and clinical trials, we may experience delays or interruptions to our manufacturing supply chain, or we could suffer delays in reaching, or we may fail to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with third-party service providers on whom we rely;

 

additional delays and interruptions to our clinical trials could extend the duration of the trials and increase the overall costs to finish the trials as our fixed costs are not substantially reduced during delays;

 

we may elect to, or regulators, IRBs, Data Safety Monitoring Boards, or DSMBs, or ethics committees may require that we or our investigators, suspend or terminate clinical research or trials for various reasons, including

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noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;

 

we may not have the financial resources available to begin and complete the planned trials, or the cost of clinical trials of any product candidates may be greater than we anticipate;

 

the supply or quality of our product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient or inadequate to initiate or complete a given clinical trial; and

 

the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to submit additional data such as long-term toxicology studies or impose other requirements before permitting us to initiate a clinical trial.

Our product development costs will increase if we experience additional delays in clinical testing or in obtaining marketing approvals. We do not know whether any of our clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. If we do not achieve our product development goals in the time frames we announce and expect, the approval and commercialization of our product candidates may be delayed or prevented entirely. Significant clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates and may allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, potentially impairing our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and harming our business and results of operations. Any delays in our clinical development programs may harm our business, financial condition and results of operations significantly.

Our ongoing and future clinical trials may reveal significant adverse events or unexpected drug-drug interactions not seen in our preclinical studies and may result in a safety profile that could delay or prevent regulatory approval or market acceptance of any of our product candidates.

We have completed a placebo-controlled Phase 2a multi-dose trial of GB0139 in 24 IPF patients and, with the exception of a number of minor reported adverse events (fever, upper respiratory tract infection, abnormal taste in mouth, dry throat), GB0139 was observed to be generally well-tolerated in these patients with no serious drug-related adverse events. We are currently conducting a double-blind placebo-controlled Phase 2b trial of GB0139 with the goal of enrolling 450 IPF patients. In this trial, the DSMB recommended that, based upon a safety analysis of the data, the company discontinue dosing and enrolling patients in the 10 mg arm along with patients in the 3 mg arm who are receiving combination treatment with the currently approved treatments of IPF, nintedanib and pirfenidone. The DSMB informed the company, based on unblinded safety and efficacy data, that there was an imbalance in the serious adverse events across the study groups, but not an imbalance between the groups in mortality.

Our product candidates are designed to inhibit galectin-3 or LOXL2, and we believe such inhibition can play a key role in regulating fibrosis and cancer. However, our products are still in the testing phase. If significant adverse events or other side effects are observed in any of our ongoing or future clinical trials, including of GB0139 for the treatment of IPF, GB02064 for fibrosis indications or GB1211 for fibrosis or cancer, we may have difficulty recruiting patients to our clinical trials, patients may drop out of our trials, or we may be required to abandon the trials or our development efforts altogether. Some potential therapeutics developed in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industry that initially showed therapeutic promise in early-stage trials have later been found to cause side effects that prevented their further development. Even if the side effects do not preclude the product candidate from obtaining or maintaining marketing approval, undesirable side effects may inhibit market acceptance of the approved product due to its tolerability versus other therapies.

If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.

To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in certain of our studies, including (i) a delay in recruitment for our ongoing Phase 2b trial of GB0139 in IPF patients, which has resulted in certain trial protocol amendments and increased costs and (ii) a delay in the initiation of our planned clinical trials of GB1211 and GB2064. We may continue to experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons. The timely completion of clinical trials in accordance with their protocols depends, among other things, on our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients who remain in the trial until its conclusion. The enrollment of patients depends on many factors, including:

 

the patient eligibility and exclusion criteria defined in the protocol;

 

the size of the patient population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints and the process for identifying patients;

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the willingness or availability (including legality under applicable COVID-19 shelter-in-place regulations) of patients to participate in our trials (including due to fears of contracting COVID-19) or known or perceived risks associated with our product candidates);

 

the willingness of investigators and other third parties to support patient enrollment due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

the proximity of patients to trial sites;

 

the design of the trial;

 

our ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;

 

clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages and risks of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new products that may be approved for the indications we are investigating;

 

the availability of competing commercially available therapies and other competing product candidates’ clinical trials;

 

our ability to obtain and maintain patient informed consents; and

 

the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the trials before completion.

For example, we are initially developing GB0139 for the treatment of IPF, which is an orphan indication. In the United States, IPF is estimated to affect approximately 140,000 patients. As a result, we may encounter difficulties enrolling subjects in our clinical trials of GB0139 due, in part, to the small size of this patient population. In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials in such clinical trial site. Certain of our planned clinical trials may also involve invasive procedures such as bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage, or BAL, procedure, which may lead some patients to drop out of trials to avoid these follow-up procedures.

Further, timely enrollment in clinical trials is reliant on clinical trial sites which may be adversely affected by global health matters, including, among other things, pandemics. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected certain of our clinical trial sites as they have not been allowed to enroll or recruit patients and other sites have not been able to receive patient visits, which has resulted in the need to amend our protocol. Further, certain sites have not been able to receive visits from us or our representatives and the opening of such sites has been stalled. In addition, after enrollment in these trials, if patients contract COVID-19 during participation in our trials or are subject to isolation or shelter-in-place restrictions, they may drop out of our trials, miss scheduled doses or follow-up visits or otherwise fail to follow trial protocols. If patients are unable to follow the trial protocols or if our trial results are otherwise disputed due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or actions taken to mitigate its spread, the integrity of data from our trials may be compromised or not accepted by the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which would represent a significant setback for the applicable program.

Some factors from the COVID-19 pandemic that we believe may adversely affect enrollment in our trials include:

 

the diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trial matters to focus on pandemic concerns, including the attention of infectious disease physicians serving as our clinical trial investigators, hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

given that our clinical trial of GB0139 will be enrolling patients who have a respiratory illness, some patients who would otherwise be candidates for enrollment in this clinical trial are at increased risk of severe effects of the coronavirus, which may kill some patients and render others too ill to participate, limiting the available pool of participants for our trials;

 

the inability of patients to come to hospitals and universities to participate in our trials, which may force us to change our protocols, rendering the trials more difficult and costly to conduct;

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the fact that there can be no guarantee that any proposed changes to our protocols, if necessary, would be acceptable to regulators;

 

limitations on travel that interrupt key trial activities, such as clinical trial site initiations and monitoring;

 

interruption in global shipping affecting the transport of clinical trial materials being used in our trials; and

 

employee furlough days that delay necessary interactions with local regulators, ethics committees and other important agencies and contractors.

These and other factors arising from the COVID-19 pandemic could worsen in countries that are already afflicted with the virus or could continue to spread to additional countries, each of which may further adversely impact our clinical trials. The global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and the conduct of our trials may continue to be adversely affected, despite efforts to mitigate this impact.

Delays in patient enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of our future clinical trials, which could cause us to reprioritize our planned trials and use of funds for planned trials, prevent completion of these trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our product candidates.

The design or execution of our ongoing and future clinical trials may not support marketing approval or commercialization.

The design or execution of a clinical trial can determine whether its results will support marketing approval and successful commercialization, and flaws in the design or execution of a clinical trial may not become apparent until the clinical trial is well advanced. Additionally, in some instances, there can be significant variability in safety or efficacy results between different trials with the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including differences in trial protocols, size and type of the patient populations, variable adherence to the dosing regimen or other protocol requirements and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. We do not know whether any clinical trials we conduct will demonstrate consistent or adequate efficacy and safety to obtain marketing approval to market our product candidates, or commercial acceptance thereafter. For example, we have designed our product candidates to be selective, but they may not be selective enough to achieve the desired safety or efficacy or gain marketing approval.

Additionally, we have in the past and may in the future develop our product candidates in combination with other therapeutics. Although we may be able to observe activity our candidates as a monotherapy, it may be difficult to observe activity of our candidates when administered with approved agents or investigational products. For example, based on an interim review of unblinded safety and efficacy data by a DSMB, the addition of GB0139 to nintedanib or pirfenidone was determined to potentially give rise to side effects that were not anticipated based on preclinical studies or early clinical studies in which GB0139 was given as a monotherapy, and, as a result, we are modifying our ongoing Phase 2b clinical for GB0139. Such discoveries may lead to discontinuations of certain dosing groups and the modification or termination of our clinical trials. We are unable to predict how the results of our combination therapy trial cohorts could affect the prospects for securing marketing approval of GB0139 or commercial acceptance thereafter.

Further, the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and in determining when or whether marketing approval will be obtained for any of our product candidates. Our product candidates may not be approved even if they achieve their primary endpoints in future Phase 3 clinical trials or registrational trials. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our trial designs and our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials. In addition, any of these regulatory authorities may change the requirements for the approval of a product candidate even after reviewing and providing comments or advice on a protocol for a pivotal Phase 3 or registrational clinical trial. In addition, any of these regulatory authorities may also approve a product candidate for fewer or more limited indications than we request or may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not approve the labeling claims that we believe would be necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates, if approved.

We have obtained orphan drug designation for GB0139; however, we may be unable to maintain this designation or obtain orphan drug designation for our other product candidates, and we may not be able to realize the benefits of such designation, including potential marketing exclusivity of our product candidates, if approved.

As part of our business strategy, we sought and have received orphan drug designation for treatment of IPF for GB0139; however, we may not be able to maintain this status. We may also seek orphan drug designation for future product candidates, and we may be unsuccessful in obtaining this designation. Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and other major markets, may designate drugs intended to treat conditions or diseases affecting relatively small

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patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, or the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a product candidate as an orphan drug if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as having a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals annually 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 will be recovered from sales 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.

Similarly, in Europe, the European Commission grants orphan drug designation after receiving the opinion of the EMA Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products on an orphan drug designation application. Orphan drug designation is intended to promote the development of drugs that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting not more than 5 in 10,000 persons in Europe and for which no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention, or treatment has been authorized (or the product would be a significant benefit to those affected). Additionally, designation is granted for drugs intended for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in Europe would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the drug. In Europe, orphan drug designation entitles a party to a number of incentives, such as protocol assistance and scientific advice specifically for designated orphan medicines, and potential fee reductions depending on the status of the sponsor.

Generally, if a product candidate with an orphan drug designation receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to a period of marketing exclusivity, which precludes the FDA or EMA from approving another marketing application for a product that constitutes the same drug treating the same indication for that marketing exclusivity period, except in limited circumstances. The applicable period is seven years in the United States and ten years in Europe. The European exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if a drug or biologic no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation or if the drug or biologic is sufficiently profitable such that market exclusivity is no longer justified. Orphan drug exclusivity may be revoked if any regulatory agency determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.

Even though we have obtained orphan drug designation for GB0139, and even if we are able to obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a future product candidate, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the relevant product candidate from competition because different therapies can be approved for the same condition and the same therapies can be approved for different conditions but used off-label for the orphan disease. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA may subsequently approve another product for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the latter product is not the same product or is clinically superior to the protected orphan drug because it is shown to be safer or more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care. The FDA may reevaluate the Orphan Drug Act and its regulations and policies. We do not know if, when, or how the FDA may change the orphan drug regulations and policies in the future, and it is uncertain how any changes might affect our business. Depending on what changes the FDA may make to its orphan drug regulations and policies, our business could be adversely impacted.

In addition, a designated orphan drug may not receive orphan drug exclusivity if it is approved for a use that is broader than the orphan indication for which it was designated. Moreover, orphan drug exclusive marketing rights in the United States 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 quantity of the drug to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. 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. While we have obtained orphan drug designation for GB0139, we may not be able to maintain such designations; and while we may seek orphan drug designation for applicable indications for any future product candidates, we may never receive such designations. Even though we have received such designations for GB0139, and may receive further such designations in the future, there is no guarantee that we will enjoy the benefits of those designations.

Breakthrough Therapy designation and Fast Track designation by the FDA, neither of which has been obtained, even if granted for any of our current or future product candidates, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review process, and such designations do not increase the likelihood that any of our product candidates will receive marketing approval in the United States.

We intend to evaluate regulatory strategies that could enable us to take advantage of expedited development pathways for certain of our product candidates, although we cannot be certain that our product candidates will qualify for any expedited development pathways or that regulatory authorities will grant, or allow us to maintain, the relevant designations. Potential expedited development pathways that we could pursue include breakthrough therapy and Fast Track designation.

Breakthrough Therapy designation is intended to expedite the development and review of product candidates that are designed to treat serious or life-threatening diseases when preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate

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substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The designation of a product candidate as a breakthrough therapy provides potential benefits that include more frequent meetings with FDA to discuss the development plan for the product candidate and ensure collection of appropriate data needed to support approval; more frequent written correspondence from FDA about such things as the design of the proposed clinical trials and use of biomarkers; intensive guidance on an efficient drug development program, beginning as early as Phase 1; organizational commitment involving senior managers; and eligibility for rolling review and priority review.

Fast Track designation is designed for product candidates intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, where nonclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need for this disease or condition. The designation of a product candidate as Fast Track provides potential benefits that include more opportunities for frequent interaction and communication with FDA during product development and eligibility for rolling review and priority review.

Even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for Breakthrough Therapy or Fast Track designation, we cannot assure you that the FDA would decide to grant such a designation in response to our written requests. Breakthrough Therapy designation and Fast Track designation do not change the standards for product approval, and there is no assurance that such designation will result in expedited review or approval or that the approved indication will not be narrower than the indication covered by the Breakthrough Therapy designation or Fast Track designation. Thus, even if we do receive Breakthrough Therapy or Fast Track designation for any of our product candidates, we may not experience a faster development process, review or marketing approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. The FDA may withdraw Breakthrough Therapy or Fast Track designation if it believes that the product no longer meets the qualifying criteria. Our business may be harmed if we are unable to avail ourselves of these or any other expedited development and regulatory pathways.

Changes in methods of product candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay.

As product candidates progress through preclinical to late-stage clinical trials to marketing approval and commercialization, various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and the product’s formulation, may be altered along the way in an effort to optimize yield, manufacturing batch size, minimize costs and achieve consistent quality and results. These changes carry the risk that they will not achieve their intended objectives. Any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and jeopardize our ability to commercialize our product candidates and generate revenue.

In addition, there are risks associated with process development and large-scale manufacturing for clinical trials or commercial scale including, among others, cost overruns, potential problems with process scale-up, process reproducibility, stability issues, compliance with good manufacturing practices, lot consistency and timely availability of raw materials. Even if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, there is no assurance that our third-party manufacturers will be able to manufacture the approved product to specifications acceptable to the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities, to produce it in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements for the potential commercial launch of the product or to meet potential future demand. Additionally, if we advance a biological candidate into IND-enabling studies, the manufacturing processes for biological products are more complex and expensive than with small-molecule products and additional manufacturing suppliers may be needed to manufacture clinical supplies for these programs. If our contract manufacturers are unable to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials or for commercialization, our development and commercialization efforts would be impaired, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.

We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates in the future.

Our research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential product candidates, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including:

 

our inability to design such product candidates with the pharmacological properties that we desire or attractive pharmacokinetics;

 

our inability to design and develop a suitable manufacturing process; or

 

potential product candidates may, on further study, be shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be medicines that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance.

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Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. If we are unable to identify suitable compounds for preclinical and clinical development, we will not be able to obtain product revenue in future periods, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely impact our stock price.

Due to our limited resources and access to capital, we must make decisions on the allocation of resources to certain programs and product candidates; these decisions may prove to be wrong and may adversely affect our business.

We have limited financial and human resources and intend to initially focus on research programs and product candidates for a limited set of indications. As a result, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential or a greater likelihood of success. In addition, we may seek to accelerate our development timelines, including by initiating certain clinical trials of our product candidates before earlier-stage studies have been completed. This approach may cause us to commit significant resources to prepare for and conduct later-stage trials for one or more product candidates that subsequently fail earlier-stage clinical testing. Therefore, our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities or expend resources on product candidates that are not viable.

There can be no assurance that we will ever be able to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through internal research programs, which could materially adversely affect our future growth and prospects. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential product candidates or other potential programs that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.

If product liability lawsuits are brought against us, we may incur substantial financial or other liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.

We face an inherent risk of product liability as a result of testing GB0139 and any of our other product candidates in clinical trials and will face an even greater risk if we commercialize any products. For example, we may be sued if our product candidates cause or are perceived to cause injury or are found to be otherwise unsuitable during clinical trials, 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, negligence, strict liability or 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 commercialization of our product candidates. Even a successful defense of these claims would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

inability to bring a product candidate to the market;

 

decreased demand for our products;

 

injury to our reputation;

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants and inability to continue clinical trials;

 

initiation of investigations by regulators;

 

fines, injunctions or criminal penalties;

 

costs to defend the related litigation;

 

diversion of management’s time and our resources;

 

substantial monetary awards to trial participants;

 

product recalls, withdrawals or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;

 

loss of revenue;

 

exhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;

 

the inability to commercialize any product candidate, if approved; and

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decline in our share price.

Our inability to obtain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of products we develop. We will need to obtain additional insurance for clinical trials as GB0139, and any of our other product candidates continue clinical development and as additional product candidates enter the clinic. However, we may be unable to obtain, or may obtain on unfavorable terms, clinical trial insurance in amounts adequate to cover any liabilities from any of our clinical trials. Our insurance policies may 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. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.

We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.

The development and commercialization of new drug products is highly competitive. We may face competition with respect to any product candidates that we seek to develop or commercialize in the future from major biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, specialty biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, and other biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies worldwide. Potential competitors also include academic institutions, government agencies, and other public and private research organizations that conduct research, seek patent protection, and establish collaborative arrangements for research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization.

There are a number of large biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies that are currently pursuing the development of products for the treatment of the biological processes that drive fibrosis and other indications we are pursuing. Companies that we are aware of that are targeting the treatment of various fibrosis indications include large companies with significant financial resources such as Pharmaxis Ltd, Biogen, Inc., AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., Pliant Therapeutics, Inc., Galectin Therapeutics, Inc., FibroGen, Inc., Liminal BioSciences, Inc., Galapagos NV, Bristol Myers Squibb Co., Madrigal, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inventiva, Akero Therapeutics, Inc., Roche Holding AG and Novartis AG. However, we know of no other companies currently in clinical development with an inhaled or orally available small-molecule inhibitor of galectin-3 or an orally available small-molecule inhibitor of LOXL2 for myelofibrosis. For additional information regarding our competition, see “Business—Competition.”

Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their strategic partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals, and marketing approved products than we do.

Mergers and acquisitions in the biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, more convenient, or less expensive than any products that we may develop. Furthermore, products currently approved for other indications could be discovered to be effective treatments of the biological processes that drive fibrosis as well, which could give such products significant regulatory and market timing advantages over GB0139 or other product candidates that we may identify. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we do, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. Additionally, products or technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential product candidates uneconomical or obsolete and we may not be successful in marketing any product candidates we may develop against competitors. The availability of competitive products could limit the demand, and the price we are able to charge, for any products that we may develop and commercialize.

We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. If our remediation of this material weakness is not effective, or if we experience additional material weaknesses or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition or results of operations.

In connection with our preparation and the audits of our financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, as concluded on September 2, 2020, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness as defined under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) in our internal control over financial reporting. A material weakness

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is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

The material weakness related to our financial statement closing process, primarily related to the lack of sufficient skilled personnel with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or U.S. GAAP, and Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, reporting knowledge and expertise for purposes of timely and reliable financial reporting and our dependence on third-party service providers for the preparation and closing of our financial records. Specifically, the material weakness identified relates to the lack of appropriate internal controls over the work performed by the third-party service providers and that, as a result thereof, management failed to timely identify material misstatements in accounting for our debt and equity instruments, research and development, and taxation.

We are working to remediate the material weakness and are taking steps to strengthen our internal control over financial reporting such as the hiring of Jonathan Freve as Chief Financial Officer in Q2 2020 and a Corporate Controller in the fourth quarter of 2020. Additionally, we plan to further develop and implement formal policies, processes and documentation procedures relating to our financial reporting, including the oversight of third-party service providers. The actions that we are taking are subject to ongoing executive management review and will also be subject to audit committee oversight. If we are unable to successfully remediate the material weakness, or if in the future, we identify further material weaknesses in our internal controls over financial reporting, we may not detect errors on a timely basis, and our financial statements may be materially misstated. We or our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting, which could harm our operating results, cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information and cause the trading price of our stock to fall. In addition, as a public company, we will be required to file accurate and timely quarterly and annual reports with the SEC under the Exchange Act. Any failure to report our financial results on an accurate and timely basis could result in sanctions, lawsuits, delisting of our shares from The Nasdaq Global Select Market or other adverse consequences that would materially harm our business. In addition, we could become subject to investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC, and other regulatory authorities, and become subject to litigation from investors and stockholders, which could harm our reputation and our financial condition, or divert financial and management resources from our core business.

Neither our management nor an independent registered public accounting firm has performed an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, because no such evaluation has been required. Had we or our independent registered public accounting firm performed an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, additional material weaknesses may have been identified.

Risks Related to Marketing, Reimbursement, Healthcare Regulations and Ongoing Regulatory Compliance

Even if a product candidate we develop receives marketing approval, it may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.

Even if GB0139 or any other product candidate we develop receives marketing approval, it may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors, such as Medicare and Medicaid programs and managed care organizations, and others in the medical community. In addition, the availability of coverage by third-party payors may be affected by existing and future health care reform measures designed to reduce the cost of health care. If the product candidates we develop do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues and we may not become profitable.

The degree of market acceptance of any product candidate, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

the efficacy and potential advantages of our current or future product candidates compared to alternative treatments;

 

limitations or warnings contained in the labeling approved for our current or future product candidates by the FDA or other applicable regulatory authorities;

 

the clinical indications for which our current or future product candidates are approved;

 

availability of alternative treatments already approved or commercially launched in the future;

 

the ability to offer our products, if approved, for sale at competitive prices;

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convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;

 

the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe these therapies;

 

the recommendations with respect to our product candidates in guidelines published by various scientific organizations applicable to us and our product candidates;

 

the strength of marketing and distribution support;

 

the ability to obtain sufficient third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement; and

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects.

Sales of medical products also depend on the willingness of physicians to prescribe the treatment, which is likely to be based on a determination by these physicians that the products are safe, therapeutically effective and cost effective. In addition, the inclusion or exclusion of products from treatment guidelines established by various physician groups and the viewpoints of influential physicians can affect the willingness of other physicians to prescribe the treatment. We cannot predict whether physicians, physicians’ organizations, hospitals, other healthcare providers, government agencies or private insurers will determine that our products are safe, therapeutically effective and cost effective as compared with competing treatments. If any product candidate is approved but does not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by such parties, we may not generate or derive sufficient revenue from that product candidate and may not become or remain profitable. If government and other third-party payors do not provide coverage and adequate reimbursement levels for any products we commercialize, market acceptance and commercial success would be reduced.

Coverage and reimbursement may be limited or unavailable in certain market segments for our product candidates, if approved, which could make it difficult for us to sell any product candidates profitably.

In the United States and in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatment for their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval. In the United States, sales of any products for which we may receive regulatory marketing approval will depend, in part, on the availability of coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government authorities such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and the Veterans Administration, managed care providers, private health insurers, and other organizations. Patients who are provided medical treatment for their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Coverage and adequate reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Patients are unlikely to use our product candidates unless coverage is provided, and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost. We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for, or accurately estimate the potential revenue from, our product candidates or assure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any product that we may develop.

Government authorities and other third-party payors decide which drugs and treatments they will cover and the amount of reimbursement. Coverage and reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including the third-party payor’s determination that use of a product is:

 

a covered benefit under its health plan;

 

safe, effective and medically necessary;

 

appropriate for the specific patient;

 

cost-effective; and

 

neither experimental nor investigational.

Our ability to commercialize any products successfully will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from third-party payors, including government health care programs and private health insurers. Moreover, a payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. If coverage and adequate reimbursement is not available, or is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates. Even if coverage is

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provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment.

In the United States, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for our products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval of a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time-consuming and costly process that could require us to provide to each payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our products on a payor-by-payor basis, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained. Even if we obtain coverage for a given product, the resulting reimbursement payment rates might not be adequate for us to achieve or sustain profitability or may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Additionally, third-party payors may not cover, or provide adequate reimbursement for, long-term follow-up evaluations required following the use of product candidates, once approved. It is difficult to predict at this time what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved.

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, also called the Medicare Modernization Act, or the MMA, established the Medicare Part D program to provide a voluntary prescription drug and biologic benefit to Medicare beneficiaries. Under Part D, Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in prescription drug plans offered by private entities that provide coverage of outpatient prescription drugs and biologics. Unlike Medicare Parts A and B, Part D coverage is not standardized. Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs and biologics, and each drug plan can develop its own formulary that identifies which drugs and biologics it will cover, and at what tier or level. However, Part D prescription drug formularies must include products within each therapeutic category and class of covered Part D drugs, though not necessarily all the drugs and biologics in each category or class. Any formulary used by a Part D prescription drug plan must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs and biologics may increase demand for products for which we obtain marketing approval. Any negotiated prices for any of our products covered by a Part D prescription drug plan will likely be lower than the prices we might otherwise obtain. Moreover, while the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payors often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own payment rates. Any reduction in payment that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from non-governmental payors.

For a drug or biologic product to receive federal reimbursement under the Medicaid or Medicare Part B programs or to be sold directly to U.S. government agencies, the manufacturer must extend discounts to entities eligible to participate in the 340B drug pricing program. The required 340B discount on a given product is calculated based on the average manufacturer price, or AMP, and Medicaid rebate amounts reported by the manufacturer. As of 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively the ACA, expanded the types of entities eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing, although under the current state of the law these newly eligible entities (with the exception of children’s hospitals) will not be eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing on orphan drugs. As the required 340B discount is determined based on AMP and Medicaid rebate data, the revisions to the Medicaid rebate formula and AMP definition described above could cause the required 340B discount to increase. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has previously and may in the future implement reductions in Medicare Part B reimbursement for 340B drugs through notice and comment rulemaking. Recently, on December 27, 2018, the District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated a reimbursement formula change under the 340B drug pricing program, and CMS subsequently altered the FYs 2019 and 2018 reimbursement formula on specified covered outpatient drugs (“SCODs”). The court ruled this change was not an “adjustment” which was within the Secretary’s discretion to make but was instead a fundamental change in the reimbursement calculation. However, most recently, on July 31, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the district court’s decision and found that the changes were within the Secretary’s authority. On September 14, 2020, the plaintiffs-appellees filed a Petition for Rehearing En Banc (i.e., before the full court), but were denied on October 16, 2020. On February 10, 2021, the plaintiffs-appellees filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to overturn two appeals court decisions upholding Medicare payment cuts for 340B drugs and off-campus hospital outpatient office visits. It is unclear how these developments and other such reimbursement reductions could affect covered hospitals who might purchase our products in the future and affect the rates we may charge such facilities for our approved products.

Changes to these current laws and state and federal healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product candidate is prescribed or used.

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Even if we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates, we may never obtain approval or commercialize such products outside of the United States, which would limit our ability to realize their full market potential.

In order to market any products outside of the United States, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries regarding safety and efficacy. Clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries, and regulatory approval in one country does not mean that regulatory approval will be obtained in any other country. Approval procedures vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods. Seeking foreign regulatory approvals could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and may require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials which would be costly and time consuming. Regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in those countries. Satisfying these and other regulatory requirements is costly, time consuming, uncertain and subject to unanticipated delays. In addition, our failure to obtain regulatory approval in any country may delay or have negative effects on the process for regulatory approval in other countries. We do not have any product candidates approved for sale in any jurisdiction, including international markets, and we do not have experience in obtaining regulatory approval in international markets. If we fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required approvals, our ability to realize the full market potential of our products will be harmed.

We currently have no marketing and sales organization and have no experience as a company in commercializing products, and we may have to invest significant resources to develop these capabilities. If we are unable to establish marketing and sales capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell any products for which we obtain regulatory approval, we may not be able to generate product revenue.

We have no internal sales, marketing or distribution capabilities, nor have we commercialized a product. If any of our product candidates ultimately receives regulatory approval, we expect to establish a marketing and sales organization with technical expertise and supporting distribution capabilities to commercialize each such product in major markets, which will be expensive and time consuming. We have no prior experience as a company in the marketing, sale and distribution of pharmaceutical products, and there are significant risks involved in building and managing a sales organization, including our ability to hire, retain and incentivize qualified individuals, generate sufficient sales leads, provide adequate training to sales and marketing personnel and effectively manage a geographically dispersed sales and marketing team. Any failure or delay in the development of our internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities would adversely impact the commercialization of these products. We may also choose to collaborate with third parties that have direct sales forces and established distribution systems, either to augment our own sales force and distribution systems or in lieu of our own sales force and distribution systems. 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. In addition, our product revenues and our profitability, if any, may be lower if we rely on third parties for these functions than if we were to market, sell and distribute any products that we develop and for which we receive regulatory approval ourselves. We likely will have little control over such third parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our products effectively. If we are not successful in commercializing our products, either on our own or through arrangements with one or more third parties, we may not be able to generate any future product revenue and we would incur significant additional losses.

Our relationships with healthcare providers, physicians, prescribers, purchasers, third-party payors, charitable organizations and patients will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of biotechnology and biopharmaceutical products. Arrangements with third-party payors and customers can expose biotechnology and biopharmaceutical manufacturers to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, or AKS, and the federal False Claims Act, or FCA, which may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which such companies sell, market and distribute biotechnology and biopharmaceutical products. In particular, the research of our product candidates, as well as the promotion, sales and marketing of healthcare items and services, as well as certain business arrangements in the healthcare industry, are subject to extensive laws designed to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, structuring and commission(s), certain customer incentive programs and other business arrangements generally. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of patient recruitment for clinical trials. The applicable federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations laws that may affect our ability to operate include, but are not limited to:

 

the AKS, which prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or

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in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual, or the purchase, lease, order or recommendation of any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The term “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value. A person or entity can be found guilty of violating the statute without actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it. In addition, a claim submitted for payment to any federal health care program that includes items or services that were made as a result of a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the FCA. The AKS has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between biotechnology and biopharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers, among others, on the other. There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution. On December 2, 2020, the OIG published further modifications to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Under the final rules, OIG added safe harbor protections under the Anti-Kickback Statute for certain coordinated care and value-based arrangements among clinicians, providers, and others. These rules (with exceptions) became effective January 19, 2021. We continue to evaluate what effect, if any, these rules will have on our business;

 

the federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the FCA, and civil monetary penalty laws which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, false, fictitious or fraudulent claims for payment to, or approval by Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal healthcare programs; knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim or an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the federal government; or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing or concealing an obligation to pay money to the federal government. A claim that includes items or services resulting from a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim under the FCA. Manufacturers can be held liable under the FCA even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. The FCA also permits a private individual acting as a “whistleblower” to bring qui tam actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the FCA and to share in any monetary recovery;

 

the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created additional federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any healthcare benefit program, regardless of the payor (e.g., public or private) and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters. Similar to the AKS, a person or entity can be found guilty of violating HIPAA without actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it;

 

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose, among other things, requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses, known as covered entities, as well as their respective “business associates,” those independent contractors or agents of covered entities that perform services for covered entities that involve the creation, use, receipt, maintenance or disclosure of individually identifiable health information. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;

 

the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under the ACA, and its implementing regulations, which require some 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 CMS information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made in the previous year to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners;

 

federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers; and

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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 third-party payors, including private insurers, and may be broader in scope than their federal equivalents; state and foreign laws that require biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies to comply with the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources; state and foreign laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers, marketing expenditures or drug pricing; state and local laws that require the registration of biotechnology and biopharmaceutical sales representatives; and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

The distribution of biotechnology and biopharmaceutical products is subject to additional requirements and regulations, including extensive record-keeping, licensing, storage and security requirements intended to prevent the unauthorized sale of biotechnology and biopharmaceutical products.

The scope and enforcement of each of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform, especially in light of the lack of applicable precedent and regulations. Ensuring business arrangements comply with applicable healthcare laws, as well as responding to possible investigations by government authorities, can be time- and resource-consuming and can divert a company’s attention from other aspects of its business.

It is possible that governmental and enforcement authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law interpreting applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, reputational harm, possible exclusion from participation in federal and state funded healthcare programs, contractual damages and the curtailment or restricting of our operations, as well as additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws. Further, if any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs. Any action for violation of these laws, even if successfully defended, could cause a biotechnology and biopharmaceutical manufacturer to incur significant legal expenses and divert management’s attention from the operation of the business. Prohibitions or restrictions on sales or withdrawal of future marketed products could materially affect business in an adverse way.

Even if we receive regulatory approval of any product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing post-marketing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates.

If any of our product candidates are approved, they will be subject to ongoing post-marketing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping, conduct of post-marketing studies and submission of safety, efficacy and other post-market information, including both federal and state requirements in the United States and requirements of comparable foreign regulatory authorities. In addition, we will be subject to continued compliance with current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, for any drug products we distribute and with good clinical practice, or GCP requirements for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval.

Manufacturers and their facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authority requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to cGMP regulations. As such, we and our contract manufacturers will be subject to continual review and inspections to assess compliance with cGMP and adherence to commitments made in any marketing application, and previous responses to inspection observations. Accordingly, we and others with whom we work must continue to expend time, money, and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production and quality control.

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, as a condition of approval of our product candidates, which could entail requirements for long-term patient follow-up, a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other

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risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our product candidates, we will have to comply with requirements including submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports and registration.

Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our product candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution restrictions or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of our products, withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;

 

fines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;

 

refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or suspension or withdrawal of approvals;

 

product seizure or detention or refusal to permit the import or export of our product candidates; and

 

consent decrees or injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

Products may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. However, companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is not inconsistent with the labeling. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. The policies of the FDA and of other regulatory authorities may change, and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. We 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. 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 lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.

Ongoing healthcare legislative and regulatory reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example, changes to our manufacturing arrangements; additions or modifications to product labeling; the recall or discontinuation of our products; or additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.

In the United States, there have been and likely will continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the ACA was passed, which substantially changed the way health care is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacted the U.S. biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries. The ACA, among other things, 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 and extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs, and created a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% (increased to 70% pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, effective as of January 1, 2019) point-of-sale discounts from the 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.

Since its enactment, there have been numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or Tax Act. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. On March 2, 2020, the United States Supreme Court granted the petitions for writs of certiorari to review this case

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and held oral arguments on November 10, 2020. It is unclear how such litigation and other efforts to repeal and replace the ACA will impact the ACA and our business, especially under the Biden administration.

In addition, the prior Trump administration issued various Executive Orders, which eliminated cost sharing subsidies and various provisions that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. In response, on August 14, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in two separate cases that the federal government is liable for the full amount of unpaid cost-sharing subsidies, or CSRs, for the years preceding and including 2017. For CSR claims made by health insurance companies for years 2018 and later, further litigation will be required to determine the amounts due, if any. Further, on June 14, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the federal government was not required to pay more than $12 billion in ACA risk corridor payments to third-party payors who argued the payments were owed to them. On April 27, 2020, the United States Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's decision and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, concluding the government has an obligation to pay these risk corridor payments under the relevant formula. It is unclear what impact these rulings will have on our business.

Additionally, Congress has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or repealing the ACA. On December 20, 2019, former President Trump signed into law the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1865), which repeals the Cadillac tax, the health insurance provider tax, and the medical device excise tax. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended. We cannot predict what affect further changes to the ACA would have on our business.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. The Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs, including aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year. These reductions went into effect on April 1, 2013 and subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, including the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or BBA, will remain in effect through 2030, unless additional congressional action is taken. However, these Medicare sequester reductions have been suspended from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposed legislation, if passed, would extend this suspension until the end of the pandemic. The BBA also amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, by increasing the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and closing the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole”. On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for newly approved products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs.

At the federal level, the prior Trump administration’s budget for fiscal year 2021 included a $135 billion allowance to support legislative proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs. On March 10, 2020, the prior Trump administration sent “principles” for drug pricing to Congress, calling for legislation that would, among other things, cap Medicare Part D beneficiary out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses, provide an option to cap Medicare Part D beneficiary monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and place limits on pharmaceutical price increases. The prior Trump administration also previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contained proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out-of-pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has solicited feedback on some of these measures and has implemented others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule that would allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy, a type of prior authorization, for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020. This final rule codified CMS’s policy change that was effective January 1, 2019. However, it is unclear whether the Biden administration will challenge, reverse, revoke or otherwise modify these executive and administrative actions after January 20, 2021.

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In 2020, former President Trump announced several executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that seek to implement several of the prior administration's proposals. In response, the FDA released a final rule on September 24, 2020, which went into effect on November 30, 2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. Further, on November 20, 2020 CMS issued an Interim Final Rule implementing the Most Favored Nation, or MFN, Model under which Medicare Part B reimbursement rates will be calculated for certain drugs and biologicals based on the lowest price drug manufacturers receive in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries with a similar gross domestic product per capita. The MFN Model regulations mandate participation by identified Part B providers and would have applied in all U.S. states and territories for a seven-year period beginning January 1, 2021 and ending December 31, 2027. However, in response to a lawsuit filed by several industry groups, on December 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining government defendants from implementing the MFN Rule pending completion of notice-and-comment procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act. On January 13, 2021, in a separate lawsuit brought by industry groups in the U.S. District of Maryland, the government defendants entered a joint motion to stay litigation on the condition that the government would not appeal the preliminary injunction granted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and that performance for any final regulation stemming from the MFN Interim Final Rule shall not commence earlier than 60 days after publication of that regulation in the Federal Register. Further, authorities in Canada have passed rules designed to safeguard the Canadian drug supply from shortages. If implemented, importation of drugs from Canada and the MFN Model may materially and adversely affect the price we receive for any of our product candidates.

Additionally, on December 2, 2020, HHS published a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. Pursuant to an order entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the portion of the rule eliminating safe harbor protection for certain rebates related to the sale or purchase of a pharmaceutical product from a manufacturer to a plan sponsor under Medicare Part D has been delayed to January 1, 2023. Further, implementation of this change and new safe harbors for point-of-sale reductions in price for prescription pharmaceutical products and pharmacy benefit manager service fees are currently under review by the Biden administration and may be amended or repealed. Although a number of these and other measures may require additional authorization to become effective, and the Biden administration may reverse or otherwise change these measures, Congress has indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare and other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors.

At the state level, legislatures are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biologic 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.

These laws, and future state and federal healthcare reform measures may be adopted in the future, any of which may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any of our product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product candidate is prescribed or used. Additionally, we expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any future approved product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations, cost containment initiatives and additional legislative changes.

Inadequate funding for the FDA, the SEC and other government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.

The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of the SEC and other government agencies on which our operations may rely, including those 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 may also slow the time necessary for new drugs to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, including beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government has shut down several times, and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and the SEC, have had to furlough critical FDA, SEC, and other government employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to review and process

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our regulatory submissions timely, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.

Separately, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 10, 2020, the FDA announced its intention to postpone most inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities while local, national and international conditions warrant. On March 18, 2020, the FDA announced its intention to temporarily postpone routine surveillance inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities and provided guidance regarding the conduct of clinical trials, which the FDA continues to update. As of June 23, 2020, the FDA noted it was continuing to ensure timely reviews of applications for medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic in line with its user fee performance goals and it was conducting mission critical domestic and foreign inspections to ensure compliance of manufacturing facilities with FDA quality standards. On July 10, 2020, the FDA announced its goal of restarting domestic on-site inspections during the week of July 20, 2020, but such activities will depend on data about the virus’ trajectory in a given state and locality and the rules and guidelines that are put in place by state and local governments. The FDA has developed a rating system to assist in determining when and where it is safest to conduct prioritized domestic inspections. Should the FDA determine that an inspection is necessary for approval and an inspection cannot be completed during the review cycle due to restrictions on travel, the FDA has stated that it generally intends to issue a complete response letter. Further, if there is inadequate information to make a determination on the acceptability of a facility, the FDA may defer action on the application until an inspection can be completed. In 2020, several companies announced receipt of complete response letters due to the FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. Regulatory authorities outside the U.S. may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities.

EU drug marketing and reimbursement regulations may materially affect our ability to market and receive coverage for our products in the European member states.

We intend to seek approval to market our product candidates in both the United States and in selected foreign jurisdictions. If we obtain approval in one or more foreign jurisdictions for our product candidates, we will be subject to rules and regulations in those jurisdictions. In some foreign countries, particularly those in the EU, the pricing of drugs is subject to governmental control and other market regulations which could put pressure on the pricing and usage of our product candidates. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after obtaining marketing approval of a product candidate. In addition, the recent United Kingdom referendum on its membership in the EU resulted in a majority of United Kingdom voters voting to exit the European Union, often referred to as Brexit. Brexit could lead to legal uncertainty and potentially divergent national laws and regulations, including those related to the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals, as the United Kingdom determines which EU laws to replicate or replace. If the United Kingdom were to significantly alter its regulations affecting the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals, we could face significant new costs. As a result, Brexit could impair our ability to transact business in the European Union and the United Kingdom. Market acceptance and sales of our product candidates will also depend significantly on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors for our product candidates and may be affected by existing and future health care reform measures.

Much like the AKS prohibition in the United States, the provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is also prohibited in the EU. The provision of benefits or advantages to reward improper performance generally is governed by the national anti-bribery laws of the EU Member States, and in respect of the United Kingdom, or U.K. (which is no longer a member of the EU), the Bribery Act 2010. Infringement of these laws could result in substantial fines and imprisonment. EU Directive 2001/83/EC, which is the EU Directive governing medicinal products for human use, further provides that, where medicinal products are being promoted to persons qualified to prescribe or supply them, no gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplied, offered or promised to such persons unless they are inexpensive and relevant to the practice of medicine or pharmacy. This provision has been transposed into the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 and so remains applicable in the U.K. despite its departure from the EU.

Payments made to physicians in certain EU member states must be publicly disclosed. Moreover, agreements with physicians often must be the subject of prior notification and approval by the physician’s employer, his or her competent professional organization and/or the regulatory authorities of the individual EU member states. These requirements are provided in the national laws, industry codes or professional codes of conduct, applicable in the EU member states. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in reputational risk, public reprimands, administrative penalties, fines or imprisonment.

In addition, in most foreign countries, including the European Economic Area, or EEA, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing and reimbursement vary widely from country to country. For example, the EU provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. Reference pricing used by various EU member states and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-

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priced member states, can further reduce prices. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product, or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. In some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical study or other studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of any of our product candidates to other available therapies in order to obtain or maintain reimbursement or pricing approval. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for biotechnology and biopharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products. Historically, products launched in the EU do not follow price structures of the United States, and generally, prices tend to be significantly lower. Publication of discounts by third-party payors or authorities may lead to further pressure on the prices or reimbursement levels within the country of publication and other countries. If pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels or if reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, our revenues from sales and the potential profitability of any of our product candidates in those countries would be negatively affected.

We may incur substantial costs in our efforts to comply with evolving global data protection laws and regulations, and any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with such laws and regulations may harm our business and operations.

The global data protection landscape is rapidly evolving, and we may be or become subject to or affected by numerous federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, as well as regulatory guidance, governing the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, security and processing of personal data, such as information that we collect about participants and healthcare providers in connection with clinical trials. Implementation standards and enforcement practices are likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future, which may create uncertainty in our business, affect our or our service providers’ ability to operate in certain jurisdictions or to collect, store, transfer use and share personal data, result in liability or impose additional compliance or other costs on us. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with federal, state, or foreign laws or self-regulatory standards could result in negative publicity, diversion of management time and effort and proceedings against us by governmental entities or others. Recently, California passed the California Data Privacy Protection Act of 2018, or the CCPA, which went into effect in January 2020 and provides new data privacy rights for consumers and new operational requirements for companies, which may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. 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. While there is currently an exception for protected health information that is subject to HIPAA and clinical trial regulations, as currently written, the CCPA may impact certain of our business activities. The CCPA may lead to similar laws in other U.S. states or at a national level, which could increase our potential liability and adversely affect our business.

In addition to our operations in the United States, which may be subject to healthcare and other laws relating to the privacy and security of health information and other personal information, we have operations in Europe and are subject to European data privacy laws, regulations and guidelines. The General Data Protection Regulation, (EU) 2016/679, or GDPR, became effective on May 25, 2018, and deals with the collection, use, storage, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data, including personal health data, regarding individuals in the EEA. The GDPR imposes a broad range of strict requirements on companies subject to the GDPR, including requirements relating to having legal bases for processing personal information relating to identifiable individuals and transferring such information outside the EEA, including to the United States, providing details to those individuals regarding the processing of their personal health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, keeping personal information secure, having data processing agreements with third parties who process personal information, responding to individuals’ requests to exercise their rights in respect of their personal information, reporting security breaches involving personal data to the competent national data protection authority and affected individuals, appointing data protection officers, conducting data protection impact assessments, and record-keeping. The GDPR increases substantially the penalties to which we could be subject in the event of any non-compliance, including fines of up to €10 million or up to 2% of our total worldwide annual turnover for certain comparatively minor offenses, or up to €20 million or up to 4% of our total worldwide annual turnover, whichever is greater, for more serious offenses. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. In addition, the GDPR includes restrictions on cross-border data transfers.

Further, national laws of member states of the EU are in the process of being adapted to the requirements under the GDPR, thereby implementing national laws which may partially deviate from the GDPR and impose different obligations from country to country, so that we do not expect to operate in a uniform legal landscape in the EEA. Also, as it relates to processing and transfer of genetic data, the GDPR specifically allows national laws to impose additional and more specific requirements or restrictions, and European laws have historically differed quite substantially in this field, leading to additional uncertainty. The U.K.’s decision to leave the EU, often referred to as Brexit, has created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the U.K. In particular, it is unclear how data transfers to and from the U.K. will be regulated now that the U.K. has left the EU.

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We are conducting clinical trials in the EEA, and the GDPR increases our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process where such processing is subject to the GDPR, and we are required to have in place additional mechanisms and safeguards to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Compliance with the GDPR is a rigorous and time-intensive process that increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices, and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation, and reputational harm in connection with our European activities. We expect that we will continue to face uncertainty as to whether our efforts to comply with any obligations under European privacy laws will be sufficient. If we are investigated by a European data protection authority, we may face fines and other penalties. Any such investigation or charges by European data protection authorities could have a negative effect on our existing business and on our ability to attract and retain new clients or biotechnology and biopharmaceutical partners. We may also experience hesitancy, reluctance, or refusal by European or multi-national vendors or biotechnology and biopharmaceutical partners to continue to use our products due to the potential risk exposure as a result of the current (and, in particular, future) data protection obligations imposed on them by certain data protection authorities in interpretation of current law, including the GDPR. Such vendors or biotechnology and biopharmaceutical partners may also view any alternative approaches to compliance as being too costly, too burdensome, too legally uncertain, or otherwise objectionable and therefore decide not to do business with us. Any of the forgoing could materially harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Legal, political and economic uncertainty surrounding the exit of the U.K. from the EU may be a source of instability in international markets, create significant currency fluctuations, adversely affect our operations in the U.K. and pose additional risks to our business, revenue, financial condition, and results of operations.

On June 23, 2016, the U.K. held a referendum in which a majority of the eligible members of the electorate voted to leave the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit. Pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on EU, the U.K. ceased being a member state of the EU on January 31, 2020. The implementation period began February 1, 2020 and continued until December 31, 2020, during which U.K. continued to follow all of the EU’s rules, the EU’s pharmaceutical law remained applicable to the U.K. and the U.K.’s trading relationship remained the same. The U.K. and the EU have signed an EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, or TCA, which became provisionally applicable on January 1, 2021 and will become formally applicable once ratified by both the U.K. and the EU. This agreement provides details on how some aspects of the U.K. and EU’s relationship will operate going forwards however there are still many uncertainties and how the TCA will take effect in practice is still largely unknown. This lack of clarity on future U.K. laws and regulations and their interaction with the EU laws and regulations may negatively impact foreign direct investment in the U.K., increase costs, depress economic activity and restrict access to capital.

The uncertainty concerning the U.K.’s legal, political and economic relationship with the EU after Brexit may be a source of instability in the international markets, create significant currency fluctuations, and/or otherwise adversely affect trading agreements or similar cross-border co-operation arrangements (whether economic, tax, fiscal, legal, regulatory or otherwise) beyond the date of Brexit.

These developments may have a significant adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets and could significantly reduce global market liquidity and limit the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. In particular, it could also lead to a period of considerable uncertainty in relation to the U.K. financial and banking markets, as well as on the regulatory process in Europe. Asset valuations, currency exchange rates and credit ratings may also be subject to increased market volatility.

In addition, if other EU Member States pursue withdrawal, barrier-free access among the EEA overall could be diminished or eliminated. The long-term effects of Brexit will depend on how the terms of the TCA take effect in practice and any further agreements (or lack thereof) between the U.K. and the EU.

Such a withdrawal from the EU is unprecedented, and it is unclear how the restrictions on the U.K.’s access to the European single market for goods, capital, services and labor within the EU, or single market, and the wider commercial, legal and regulatory environment, will impact our current and future operations (including business activities conducted by third parties and contract manufacturers on our behalf) and clinical activities in the U.K. In addition to the foregoing, our U.K. operations support our current and future operations and clinical activities in the EU and EEA, and these operations and clinical activities could be disrupted by Brexit.

We may also face new regulatory costs and challenges that could have an adverse effect on our operations. The U.K. will lose the benefits of global trade agreements negotiated by the EU on behalf of its members, which may result in increased trade barriers that could make our doing business in the EU and the EEA more difficult. Since the regulatory framework in the U.K. covering quality, safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from EU directives and regulations, Brexit could materially impact the future regulatory regime with respect to the approval of our product candidates in the U.K. now that the U.K. legislation can

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diverge from EU legislation. For instance, Great Britain will now no longer be covered by the centralized procedures for obtaining EEA-wide marketing and manufacturing authorizations from the EMA (under the Northern Irish Protocol, centralized marketing authorizations will continue to be recognized in Northern Ireland) and a separate process for authorization of drug products will be required in Great Britain, resulting in an authorization covering the United Kingdom or Great Britain only. Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, any regulatory approvals, as a result of Brexit or otherwise, would prevent us from commercializing our product candidates in the U.K. and/or the EU and restrict our ability to generate revenue and achieve and sustain profitability. If any of these outcomes occur, we may be forced to restrict or delay efforts to seek regulatory approval in the U.K. and/or EU for our product candidates, which could significantly and materially harm our business. Even prior to any change to the U.K.’s relationship with the EU, the announcement of Brexit has created economic uncertainty surrounding the terms of Brexit, and its consequences could adversely impact customer confidence resulting in customers reducing their spending budgets on our product candidates, if approved, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

Additional laws and regulations governing international operations, and the complexity associated with maintaining geographically diverse operations, could negatively impact or restrict our operations and ability to grow.

We have offices and operations in six cities and in five countries. If we are unable to manage the risks of our global operations, including the potential for fluctuations in foreign exchange and inflation rates, international hostilities, the need for our executives to travel internationally, natural disasters, security breaches, failure to maintain compliance with internal control requirements and multiple legal and regulatory systems, our results of operations and ability to grow could be materially adversely affected.

We must dedicate additional resources to comply with numerous laws and regulations in each jurisdiction in which we plan to operate. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the FCPA, prohibits any U.S. individual or business entity from paying, offering, authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the foreign entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business.

Compliance with the FCPA is expensive and difficult, particularly in countries in which corruption is a recognized problem. In addition, the FCPA presents particular challenges in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industry, because, in many countries, hospitals are operated by the government, and doctors and other hospital employees are considered foreign officials. Certain payments to hospitals and healthcare providers in connection with clinical trials and other work have been deemed to be improper payments to government officials and have led to FCPA enforcement actions.

Various laws, regulations and executive orders also restrict the use and dissemination outside of the United States, or the sharing with certain non-U.S. nationals, of information products classified for national security purposes, as well as certain products, technology and technical data relating to those products. As we expand our operations throughout the world, we will be required to dedicate additional resources to comply with these laws, and these laws may preclude us from developing, manufacturing, or selling certain products and product candidates outside of the United States, which could limit our growth potential and increase our development costs.

The failure to comply with laws governing international business practices may result in substantial civil and criminal penalties and suspension or debarment from government contracting. The SEC may also suspend or bar issuers from trading securities on U.S. exchanges for violations of the FCPA’s accounting provisions.

We are subject to certain U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations. We can face serious consequences for violations.

Among other matters, U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations, which are collectively referred to as Trade Laws, prohibit companies and their employees, agents, clinical research organizations, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors, and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting, or receiving directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from recipients in the public or private sector. Violations of Trade Laws can result in substantial criminal fines and civil penalties, imprisonment, the loss of trade privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm, and other consequences. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations. We plan to engage third parties for clinical trials and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other regulatory approvals, and we could be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents, or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities.

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Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

Our success depends in part on our ability to protect our intellectual property. It is difficult and costly to protect our proprietary rights and technology, and we may not be able to ensure their protection.

Our business will depend in large part on obtaining and maintaining patent, trademark and trade secret protection of our proprietary technologies and our product candidates, their respective components, synthetic intermediates, formulations, combination therapies, methods used to manufacture them and methods of treatment, as well as successfully defending these patents against third-party challenges. Our ability to stop unauthorized third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our product candidates is dependent upon the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents that cover these activities and whether a court would issue an injunctive remedy. If we are unable to secure and maintain patent protection for any product or technology we develop, or if the scope of the patent protection secured is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to commercialize any product candidates we may develop may be adversely affected.

The patenting process is 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. The patenting process is subject to numerous risks and there can be no assurance that we will be successful in obtaining patents for which we have applied. In addition, we may not pursue, obtain, or maintain patent protection in all relevant markets. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. Moreover, in some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we license from or license to third parties and are reliant on our licensors or licensees.

The strength of patents in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical fields involves complex legal and scientific questions and can be uncertain. The patent applications that we own, or in-license, may fail to result in issued patents with claims that cover our product candidates or uses thereof in the United States or in other foreign countries. Even if the patents do successfully issue, third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our technology, including our product candidates, or prevent others from designing around the claims in our patents. If the breadth or strength of protection provided by the patent applications, we hold with respect to our product candidates is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to develop, and threaten our ability to commercialize, our product candidates. Further, if we encounter delays in our clinical trials, the period of time during which we could market our product candidates under patent protection would be reduced.

We cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our technology, including our product candidates, and, if we were not, we may be precluded from obtaining patent protection for our technology, including our product candidates.

We cannot be certain that we are the first to invent the inventions covered by pending patent applications and, if we are not, we may be subject to priority disputes. Furthermore, for United States applications in which all claims are entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, an interference proceeding can be provoked by a third-party or instituted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications. Similarly, for U.S. applications in which at least one claim is not entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, derivation proceedings can be instituted to determine whether the subject matter of a patent claim was derived from a prior inventor’s disclosure.

We may be required to disclaim part or all of the term of certain patents. There may be prior art of which we are not aware that may affect the validity or enforceability of a patent or patent application claim. There also may be prior art of which we are aware, but which we do not believe affects the validity or enforceability of a claim, which may, nonetheless, ultimately be found to affect the validity or enforceability of a claim. No assurance can be given that if challenged, our patents would be declared by a court to be valid or enforceable or that even if found valid and enforceable, would adequately protect our product candidates, or would be found by a court to be infringed by a competitor’s technology or product. We may analyze patents or patent applications of our competitors that we believe are relevant to our activities and consider that we are free to operate in relation to our product candidates, but our competitors may achieve issued claims, including in patents we consider to be unrelated, which block our efforts or may potentially result in our product candidates or our activities infringing such claims. The possibility exists that others will develop products that have the same effect as our products on an independent basis and that do not infringe our patents or other intellectual property rights or will design around the claims of patents that may issue that cover our products.

Recent or future 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. Under the enacted Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or

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the America Invents Act, after March 2013, the United States moved from a “first-to-invent” to a “first-inventor-to-file” system. Under a “first-inventor-to-file” system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to a patent on the invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. The America Invents Act includes a number of other significant changes to U.S. patent law, including provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and establish a new post-grant review system. The effects of these changes are currently unclear, as the USPTO only recently developed new regulations and procedures in connection with the America Invents Act and many of the substantive changes to patent law, including the “first-inventor-to-file” provisions. In addition, the courts have yet to address many of these provisions and the applicability of the America Invents Act and new regulations on specific patents discussed herein, for which issues have not been determined and would need to be reviewed. However, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain because legal means afford only limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep our competitive advantage. For example:

 

others may be able to make or use compounds that are similar to the compositions of our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of our patents or those of our licensors;

 

we or our licensors, as the case may be, may fail to meet our obligations to the U.S. government in regards to any in-licensed patents and patent applications invented or developed using U.S. government funding, leading to the loss of patent rights;

 

we or our licensors, as the case may be, might not have been the first to file patent applications for these inventions;

 

others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies;

 

it is possible that our pending patent applications will not result in issued patents;

 

it is possible that there are prior public disclosures that could invalidate our or our licensors’ patents, as the case may be, or parts of our or their patents;

 

it is possible that others may circumvent our owned or in-licensed patents;

 

it is possible that there are unpublished applications or patent applications maintained in secrecy that may later issue with claims covering our products or technology similar to ours;

 

the laws of foreign countries may not protect our or our licensors’, as the case may be, proprietary rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States;

 

the claims of our owned or in-licensed issued patents or patent applications, if and when issued, may not cover our product candidates;

 

our owned or in-licensed issued patents may not provide us with any competitive advantages, may be narrowed in scope, or be held invalid or unenforceable as a result of legal challenges by third parties;

 

the inventors of our owned or in-licensed patents or patent applications may become involved with competitors, develop products or processes which design around our patents, or become hostile to us or the patents or patent applications on which they are named as inventors;

 

it is possible that our owned or in-licensed patents or patent applications omit individual(s) that should be listed as inventor(s) or include individual(s) that should not be listed as inventor(s), which may cause these patents or patents issuing from these patent applications to be held invalid or unenforceable;

 

we have engaged in scientific collaborations in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Such collaborators may develop adjacent or competing products to ours that are outside the scope of our patents;

 

we may not develop additional proprietary technologies for which we can obtain patent protection;

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it is possible that product candidates or diagnostic tests we develop may be covered by third parties’ patents or other exclusive rights; or

 

the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.

We may enter into license or other collaboration agreements in the future that may impose certain obligations on us. If we fail to comply with our obligations under such future agreements with third parties, we could lose license rights that may be important to our future business.

In connection with our efforts to expand our pipeline of product candidates, we may enter into certain licenses or other collaboration agreements in the future pertaining to the in-license of rights to additional product candidates. Such agreements may impose various diligence, milestone payment, royalty, insurance or other obligations on us. If we fail to comply with these obligations, our licensor or collaboration partners may have the right to terminate the relevant agreement, in which event we would not be able to develop or market the products covered by such licenses or agreements.

Moreover, disputes may arise regarding intellectual property subject to a licensing agreement, including:

 

the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues;

 

the extent to which our product candidates, 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 under our collaborative development relationships;

 

our diligence obligations under the license agreement and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;

 

the inventorship and ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our partners; and

 

the priority of invention of patented technology.

In addition, the agreements under which we may license intellectual property or technology from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

In addition, we may have limited control over the maintenance and prosecution of these in-licensed patents and patent applications, or any other intellectual property that may be related to our in-licensed intellectual property. For example, we cannot be certain that such activities by any future licensors have been or will be conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations or will result in valid and enforceable patents and other intellectual property rights. We have limited control over the manner in which our licensors initiate an infringement proceeding against a third-party infringer of the intellectual property rights or defend certain of the intellectual property that is licensed to us. It is possible that the licensors’ infringement proceeding, or defense activities may be less vigorous than had we conducted them ourselves.

If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, the value of our technology could be negatively impacted, and our business and competitive position would be harmed.

In addition to patent protection, we rely heavily upon know-how and trade secret protection, as well as non-disclosure agreements and invention assignment agreements with our employees, consultants and third parties, to protect our confidential and proprietary information, especially where we do not believe patent protection is appropriate or obtainable. In addition to contractual measures, we try to protect the confidential nature of our proprietary information using physical and technological security measures. Such measures may not, for example, in the case of misappropriation of a trade secret by an employee or third party with authorized access, provide adequate protection for our proprietary information. Our security measures may not prevent an employee or consultant from misappropriating our trade secrets and providing them to a competitor, and recourse we take

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against such misconduct may not provide an adequate remedy to protect our interests fully. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, trade secrets may be independently developed by others in a manner that could prevent legal recourse by us. If any of our confidential or proprietary information, such as our trade secrets, were to be disclosed or misappropriated, or if any such information was independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position could be harmed.

In addition, courts may be unwilling to protect trade secrets. If we choose to go to court to stop a third-party from using any of our trade secrets, we may incur substantial costs. These lawsuits may consume our time and other resources even if we are successful. Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information and trade secrets, including through contractual means with our employees and consultants, third parties may independently develop substantially equivalent proprietary information and techniques or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or disclose our technology.

Thus, we may not be able to meaningfully protect our trade secrets. It is our policy to require our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships with us. These agreements provide that all confidential information concerning our business or financial affairs developed or made known to the individual or entity during the course of the party’s relationship with us is to be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties except in specific circumstances. In the case of employees, the agreements provide that all inventions conceived by the individual, and which are related to our current or planned business or research and development or made during normal working hours, on our premises or using our equipment or proprietary information, are our exclusive property. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary technology by third parties. We also plan to adopt policies and conduct training that provides guidance on our expectations, and our advice for best practices, in protecting our trade secrets.

Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement may be costly and time consuming to defend, and could prevent or delay our product discovery, development and commercialization efforts.

Our commercial success depends in part on our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation involving patents and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries, as well as administrative proceedings for challenging patents, including interference, derivation, inter partes review, post grant review, and reexamination proceedings before the USPTO or oppositions and other comparable proceedings in foreign jurisdictions. We may be exposed to, or threatened with, future litigation by third parties having patent or other intellectual property rights alleging that our product candidates and/or proprietary technologies infringe their intellectual property rights. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are developing our product candidates. As the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others. Moreover, it is not always clear to industry participants, including us, which patents cover various types of drugs, products or their methods of use or manufacture. Thus, because of the large number of patents issued and patent applications filed in our fields, there may be a risk that third parties may allege they have patent rights encompassing our product candidates, technologies or methods.

If a third-party claims that we infringe its intellectual property rights, we may face a number of issues, including, but not limited to:

 

infringement and other intellectual property claims which, regardless of merit, may be expensive and time-consuming to litigate and may divert our management’s attention from our core business;

 

substantial damages for infringement, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the product candidate or technology at issue infringes on or violates the third party’s rights, and, if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay treble damages and the patent owner’s attorneys’ fees;

 

a court prohibiting us from developing, manufacturing, marketing or selling our product candidates, or from using our proprietary technologies, unless the third party licenses its product rights to us, which it is not required to do;

 

if a license is available from a third party, we may have to pay substantial royalties, upfront fees and other amounts, and/or grant cross-licenses to intellectual property rights for our product candidates and any license that is available may be non-exclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same intellectual property; and

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the need to redesign our product candidates or processes so they do not infringe, which may not be possible or may require substantial monetary expenditures and time.

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. This type of litigation or proceeding could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce our resources available for development activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our operations or could otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation or administrative proceedings, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure.

Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization.

There may be third-party patents of which we are currently unaware with claims to compositions of matter, materials, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment that encompass the composition, use or manufacture of our product candidates. There may be currently pending patent applications of which we are currently unaware which may later result in issued patents that our product candidates or their use or manufacture may infringe. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents. If any third-party patent were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover our product candidates, intermediates used in the manufacture of our product candidates or our materials generally, aspects of our formulations or methods of manufacture or use, the holders of any such patent may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the product candidate unless we obtained a license or until such patent expires or is finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. In either case, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. If we are unable to obtain a necessary license to a third-party patent on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, our ability to commercialize our product candidates may be impaired or delayed, which could in turn significantly harm our business. Even if we obtain a license, it may be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates.

Parties making claims against us may seek and obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize our 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. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, obtain one or more licenses from third parties, pay royalties or redesign our infringing products, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. We cannot predict whether any such license would be available at all or whether it would be available on commercially reasonable terms. Furthermore, even in the absence of litigation, we may need to obtain licenses from third parties to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all. In that event, we would be unable to further develop and commercialize our product candidates, which could harm our business significantly.

Third parties may assert that our employees or consultants have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information or misappropriated trade secrets.

As is common in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries, we employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although no claims against us are currently pending, and although we try to ensure that our employees and consultants do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of a former employer or other third parties. 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 or personnel. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims 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. This type of litigation or proceeding could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce our resources available for development activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors

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may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their substantially greater financial resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other intellectual property related proceedings could adversely affect our ability to compete in the marketplace.

Others may claim an ownership interest in our intellectual property, which could expose us to litigation and have a significant adverse effect on our prospects.

A third party may claim an ownership interest in one or more of our or our licensors’ patents or other proprietary or intellectual property rights. A third party could bring legal actions against us and seek monetary damages and/or enjoin clinical testing, manufacturing and marketing of the affected product or products. While we are presently unaware of any claims or assertions by third parties with respect to our patents or other intellectual property, we cannot guarantee that a third party will not assert a claim or an interest in any of such patents or intellectual property. If we become involved in any litigation, it could consume a substantial portion of our resources and cause a significant diversion of effort by our technical and management personnel. If any of these actions are successful, in addition to any potential liability for damages, we could be required to obtain a license to continue to manufacture or market the affected product, in which case we may be required to pay substantial royalties or grant cross-licenses to our patents. We cannot, however, assure you that any such license will be available on commercially acceptable terms, if at all. Ultimately, we could be prevented from commercializing a product candidate or be forced to cease some aspect of our business operations as a result of claims of patent infringement or violation of other intellectual property rights. Further, the outcome of intellectual property litigation is subject to uncertainties that cannot be adequately quantified in advance, including the demeanor and credibility of witnesses and the identity of any adverse party. This is especially true in intellectual property cases that may turn on the testimony of experts as to technical facts upon which experts may reasonably disagree.

We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to develop any future product candidates on acceptable terms.

Because our programs may involve additional product candidates that may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business may depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights.

Our product candidates may also require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently, and these rights may be held by others. We may develop products containing our compounds and pre-existing biotechnology and biopharmaceutical compounds. 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 or important to our business operations. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all, which would harm our business. We may need to cease use of the compositions or methods covered by such third-party intellectual property rights and may need to seek to develop alternative approaches that do not infringe on such intellectual property rights which may entail additional costs and development delays, even if we were able to develop such alternatives, which may not be feasible. Even if we are able to obtain a license, it may be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In that event, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology.

The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and companies that may be more established, or that have greater resources than we do, may also be pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider necessary or attractive in order to commercialize our product candidates. More established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully complete such negotiations and ultimately acquire the rights to the intellectual property surrounding the additional product candidates that we may seek to acquire.

We may be involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or the patents of our licensors, or challenging the patent rights of others, which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful.

Competitors or other third parties such as chemical and reagent suppliers may infringe our patents or the patents of our current or future licensors. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that one or more of our patents is not valid or is unenforceable, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question or for other reasons. An adverse result in any litigation or defense proceedings could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated, held unenforceable, or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing. 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 may choose to challenge the patentability of claims in a third party’s U.S. patent by requesting that the USPTO review the patent claims in an ex-parte re-examination, inter partes review or post-grant review proceedings. These proceedings are expensive and may consume our time or other resources. We may choose to challenge a third party’s patent in patent opposition proceedings in the European Patent Office, or EPO, or other foreign patent offices. The costs of these opposition

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proceedings could be substantial, and may consume our time or other resources. If we fail to obtain a favorable result at the USPTO, EPO or other patent offices then we may be exposed to litigation by a third-party alleging that the patent may be infringed by our product candidates or proprietary technologies.

In addition, because some patent applications in the United States may be maintained in secrecy until the patents are issued, patent applications in the United States and many foreign jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, and publications in the scientific literature often lag behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain that others have not filed patent applications for technology covered by our owned and in-licensed issued patents or our pending applications, or that we or, if applicable, a licensor were the first to invent or first to file a patent application covering the technology. Our competitors may have filed, and may in the future file, patent applications covering our products or technology similar to ours. Any such patent application may have priority over our owned and in-licensed patent applications or patents, which could require us to obtain rights to issued patents covering such technologies. If another party has filed a U.S. patent application on inventions similar to those owned by or in-licensed to us, we or, in the case of in-licensed technology, the licensor may have to participate in an interference or derivation proceeding declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention in the United States. If we or one of our licensors is a party to an interference or derivation proceeding involving a U.S. patent application on inventions owned by or in-licensed to us, we may incur substantial costs, divert management’s time and expend other resources, even if we are successful.

Interference or derivation 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 result in a loss of our current patent rights and 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 or at all, or if a non-exclusive license is offered and our competitors gain access to the same technology. Litigation or interference proceedings may result in a decision adverse to our interests and, even if we are successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, misappropriation of our trade secrets or confidential information, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States.

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. In addition, there could 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 substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock.

Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.

Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on our owned and in-licensed issued patents and patent applications are or will be due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages over the lifetime of the patent. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other provisions during the patent application process and following the issuance of a patent. While an inadvertent lapse can, in many cases, be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Noncompliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. In certain circumstances, even inadvertent noncompliance events may permanently and irrevocably jeopardize patent rights. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

Any patents, if issued, covering our product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court or the USPTO.

If we or one of our licensors initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate, as applicable, is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace, and there are numerous grounds upon which a third party can assert invalidity or unenforceability of a patent. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, inter partes review, post-grant review, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment to our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is

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unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we, our patent counsel and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, or if we are otherwise unable to adequately protect our rights, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business and our ability to commercialize or license our technology and product candidates.

Our earliest patents may expire before, or soon after, our first product achieves marketing approval in the United States or foreign jurisdictions. Upon the expiration of our current patents, we may lose the right to exclude others from practicing these inventions. The expiration of these patents could have a similar material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.

Changes in patent law in the United States and in other jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.

Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States or in other jurisdictions could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. Assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, prior to March 16, 2013, in the United States, the first to invent the claimed invention was entitled to the patent, while outside the United States, the first to file a patent application was entitled to the patent. On March 16, 2013, under the America Invents Act, enacted in September 2011, the United States transitioned to a “first-inventor-to-file” system in which, assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether a third party was the first to invent the claimed invention. A third party that files a patent application in the USPTO on or after March 16, 2013, but before us could therefore be awarded a patent covering an invention of ours even if we had made the invention before it was made by such third party. This will require us to be cognizant of the time from invention to filing of a patent application. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing or until issuance, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to either (i) file any patent application related to our product candidates or (ii) invent any of the inventions claimed in our or our licensor’s patents or patent applications.

The America Invents Act also includes a number of significant changes that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and also may affect patent litigation. These include allowing third party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent by USPTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in U.S. federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. Therefore, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our owned or in-licensed patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our owned or in-licensed issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

In addition, the patent positions of companies in the development and commercialization of biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals are particularly uncertain. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. This combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the validity and enforceability of patents, once obtained. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that could have a material adverse effect on our existing patent portfolio and our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property in the future.

We have limited foreign intellectual property rights and may not be able to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

We have limited intellectual property rights outside the United States. Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on 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 where enforcement is not as strong as that in the

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United States. These products may compete with our products in jurisdictions where we do not have any issued patents and our patent claims or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.

Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of, and may require a compulsory license to, patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biotechnology and biopharmaceutical products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products against third parties in violation of our proprietary rights generally. The initiation of proceedings by third parties to challenge the scope or validity of our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial cost and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business. 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.

Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our product candidates for an adequate amount of time.

Patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest claimed U.S. non-provisional filing date. Various extensions such as patent term adjustments and/or extensions, may be available, but the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our product candidates are obtained, once the patent life has expired, we may be open to competition from competitive products. 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 owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.

If we do not obtain patent term extension and data exclusivity or similar non-U.S. legislation extending the term of protection covering any product candidates we may develop, our business may be materially harmed.

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of any FDA marketing approval of any product candidates we may develop, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Action of 1984, also known as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent term extension of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval, only one patent may be extended, and only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. However, we may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failure to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failure to apply within applicable deadlines, failure to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents, or otherwise failure 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 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 business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be materially harmed.

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 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 or may be forced to stop using these names, which we need for name recognition by potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. If we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected.

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Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties

We rely on third parties to conduct certain aspects of our preclinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or comply with regulatory requirements, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize any potential product candidates.

We depend, or may depend in the future, upon third parties to conduct certain aspects of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, under agreements with universities, medical institutions, CROs, strategic collaborators and others. We expect to have to negotiate budgets and contracts with such third parties, which may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs.

We will rely especially heavily on third parties over the course of our clinical trials, and, as a result, will have limited control over the clinical investigators and limited visibility into their day-to-day activities, including with respect to their compliance with the approved clinical protocol. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards, and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with GCP requirements, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, clinical investigators and trial sites. If we or any of these third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to suspend or terminate these trials or perform additional preclinical studies or clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot be certain that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with the GCP requirements.

Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.

Any third parties conducting aspects of our preclinical studies or clinical trials will not be our employees and, except for remedies that may be available to us under our agreements with such third parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our preclinical studies and clinical programs. These third parties may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other product development activities, which could affect their performance on our behalf. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced, or if the quality or accuracy of the preclinical or clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our protocols or regulatory requirements or for other reasons or if, due to federal or state orders or absenteeism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unable to meet their contractual and regulatory obligations, our development timelines, including clinical development timelines, may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to complete development of, obtain regulatory approval of or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our financial results and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.

If any of our relationships with these third-party CROs or others terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or other third parties or to do so on commercially reasonable terms.

Switching or adding additional CROs involves additional cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO begins work. As a result, delays may occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired development timelines. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.

We rely on third parties for materials, including tissue samples, required for our research and development activities, and if we are unable to reach agreements with these third parties, our research and development activities would be delayed.

We rely on third parties, primarily hospitals, health clinics and academic institutions, for the provision of tissue samples and other materials required in our research and development activities. Obtaining these materials requires various approvals as well as reaching a commercial agreement on acceptable terms with the hospital or other provider of the materials. While we currently have agreements in place with the institutions from which we receive our tissue samples, we do not have any exclusive arrangements with such sources, and there is no guarantee that we will be able to maintain or renew such agreements on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. If we were unable to maintain or renew such agreements, we would be forced to seek new

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arrangements with new hospitals, clinics or health institutions. If so, we may not be able to reach agreements with alternative partners or do so on terms acceptable to us. If we are unable to enter into such agreements, our research and development activities will be delayed and our ability to implement a key part of our development strategy will be compromised.

We contract with third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical development, clinical testing, and expect to continue to do so for commercialization. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or products or such quantities at an acceptable cost, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.

We rely on third-party contract manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates for preclinical studies and clinical trials. We do not own manufacturing facilities for producing any clinical trial product supplies. There can be no assurance that our preclinical and clinical development product supplies will not be limited or interrupted, or that they will be of satisfactory quality or continue to be available at acceptable prices. For example, the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our ability to procure sufficient supplies for the development of our product candidates will depend on the severity and duration of the spread of the virus and the actions undertaken to contain COVID-19 or treat its effects. Several vaccines for COVID-19 were granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA in late 2020 and early 2021, and more may be authorized in the future. The resultant demand for vaccines and potential for manufacturing facilities and materials to be commandeered under the Defense Production Act of 1950, or equivalent foreign legislation, may make it more difficult to obtain materials or manufacturing slots for the products needed for our clinical trials, which could lead to delays in these trials. In particular, any replacement of our manufacturer could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number of qualified replacements.

The manufacturing process for a product candidate is subject to FDA and foreign regulatory authority review. Suppliers and manufacturers must meet applicable manufacturing requirements and undergo rigorous facility and process validation tests required by regulatory authorities in order to comply with regulatory standards, such as cGMPs. In the event that any of our manufacturers fails to comply with such requirements or to perform its obligations to us in relation to quality, timing or otherwise, or if our supply of components or other materials becomes limited or interrupted for other reasons, we may be forced to manufacture the materials ourselves, for which we currently do not have the capabilities or resources, or enter into an agreement with another third party, which we may not be able to do on reasonable terms, if at all. In either scenario, our clinical trials could be delayed significantly as we establish alternative supply sources. In some cases, the technical skills or technology required to manufacture our product candidates may be unique or proprietary to the original manufacturer and we may have difficulty, or there may be contractual restrictions prohibiting us from, transferring such skills or technology to a back-up or alternative supplier, or we may not be able to transfer such skills or technology at all. Furthermore, a manufacturer may possess technology related to the manufacture of our product candidate that such manufacturer owns independently. These factors would increase our reliance on such manufacturer or require us to obtain a license from such manufacturer in order to have another third party manufacture our product candidates.

In addition, if we are required to change manufacturers for any reason, we will be required to verify that the new manufacturer maintains facilities and procedures that comply with quality standards and with all applicable regulations and guidelines. We will also need to verify, such as through a manufacturing comparability study, that any new manufacturer or manufacturing process will produce our product candidate according to the specifications previously submitted to the FDA or another regulatory authority. We may be unsuccessful in demonstrating the comparability of clinical supplies which could require the conduct of additional clinical trials. The delays associated with the verification of a new manufacturer could negatively affect our ability to develop product candidates in a timely manner or within budget.

We expect to continue to rely on third-party manufacturers if we receive regulatory approval for GB0139 or any other product candidate. To the extent that we have existing, or enter into future, manufacturing arrangements with third parties, we will depend on these third parties to perform their obligations in a timely manner consistent with contractual and regulatory requirements, including those related to quality control and assurance. If we are unable to obtain or maintain third party manufacturing for product candidates, or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to develop and commercialize our product candidates successfully. Our or a third party’s failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements and comply with cGMP could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:

 

an inability to initiate or continue clinical trials of product candidates under development;

 

delay in submitting regulatory applications, or receiving regulatory approvals, for product candidates;

 

loss of the cooperation of an existing or future collaborator;

 

subjecting third-party manufacturing facilities or our manufacturing facilities to additional inspections by regulatory authorities;

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requirements to cease distribution or to recall batches of our product candidates; and

 

in the event of approval to market and commercialize a product candidate, an inability to meet commercial demands for our products.

We rely on a sole supplier or, in some cases, a limited number of suppliers for the manufacture of components of GB0139 and our other current product candidates. If these suppliers are unable to supply necessary materials to us in the quantities we require, or at all, or otherwise default on their supply obligations to us, we may not be able to obtain alternative supplies from other suppliers on acceptable terms, in a timely manner, or at all. We also do not have long-term supply agreements with any of our suppliers. Our current contracts with certain suppliers may be canceled or not extended by such suppliers and, therefore, do not afford us with protection against a reduction or interruption in supplies. Moreover, in the event any of these suppliers breach their contracts with us, our legal remedies associated with such a breach may be insufficient to compensate us for any damages we may suffer.

In addition, we contract with fill and finishing providers with the appropriate expertise, facilities and scale to meet our needs. Failure to maintain cGMP can result in a contractor receiving FDA sanctions, which can impact our ability to operate or lead to delays in any clinical development programs. We believe that our current fill and finish contractor is operating in accordance with cGMP, but we can give no assurance that FDA or other regulatory agencies will not conclude that a lack of compliance exists. In addition, any delay in contracting for fill and finish services, or failure of the contract manufacturer to perform the services as needed, may delay any clinical trials, registration and launches, which could negatively affect our business. In the future, if we were to advance a biological product candidate into IND-enabling studies, we would need to identify and contract with suppliers who are able to produce biological product candidates and adhere to additional cGMP compliance obligations required for biologicals.

We may in the future seek to enter into collaborations with third parties for the development and commercialization of our product candidates, and our future collaborations will be important to our business. If we are unable to enter into collaborations, or if these collaborations are not successful, our business could be adversely affected.

A part of our strategy is to consider partnerships in indications and geographies where we believe partners can add significant commercial and/or development capabilities. Further, we have limited capabilities for product development and do not yet have any capability for commercialization. Accordingly, we have entered and may in the future enter into collaborations with other companies to provide us with important technologies and funding for our programs and technology.

Any future collaborations we enter into may pose a number of risks, including the following:

 

collaborators have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply;

 

collaborators may not perform their obligations as expected;

 

collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of any product candidates that achieve regulatory approval or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs or license arrangements based on clinical trial results, changes in the collaborators’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as a strategic transaction that may divert resources or create competing priorities;

 

collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial program, stop a clinical trial or abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;

 

collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our products and product candidates if the collaborators believe that the competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours;

 

product candidates discovered in collaboration with us may be viewed by our collaborators as competitive with their own product candidates or products, which may cause collaborators to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of our product candidates;

 

collaborators may fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements regarding the development, manufacture, distribution or marketing of a product candidate or product;

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collaborators with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates that achieve regulatory approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such product or products;

 

collaborators may not provide us with timely and accurate information regarding development progress and activity under any future license agreement, which could adversely impact our ability to report progress to our investors and otherwise plan development of our product candidates;

 

disagreements with collaborators, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development, might cause delays or terminations of the research, development or commercialization of product candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to product candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;

 

collaborators may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;

 

collaborators may infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability;

 

if a collaborator of ours is involved in a business combination, the collaborator might deemphasize or terminate the development or commercialization of any product candidate licensed to it by us; and

 

collaborations may be terminated by the collaborator, and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates.

If any future collaborations we enter into do not result in the successful discovery, development and commercialization of product candidates, if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under such collaboration. All of the risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K also apply to the activities of our collaborators.

Additionally, if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may find it more difficult to attract new collaborators and our perception in the business and financial communities could be adversely affected.

We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators for our product candidates, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. In order for us to successfully establish a collaboration for one or more of our product candidates, potential collaborators must view these product candidates as economically valuable in markets they determine to be attractive in light of the terms that we are seeking and other available products for licensing by other companies. Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators. Our ability to reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable collaborators on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to increase our expenditures to fund development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we fail to enter into future collaborations or do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates, bring them to market and generate revenue from sales of drugs or continue to develop our technology, and our business may be materially and adversely affected. Even if we are successful in our efforts to establish new strategic collaborations, the terms that we agree upon may not be favorable to us, and we may not be able to maintain such strategic collaborations if, for example, development or approval of a product candidate is delayed or sales of an approved product are disappointing. Any delay in entering into new strategic collaboration agreements related to our product candidates could delay the development and commercialization of our product candidates and reduce their competitiveness even if they reach the market.

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Risks Related to Managing Our Business and Operations

The global pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has, and may continue to, adversely impact our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials.

In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus disease that causes COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China. As of September 2020, the novel coronavirus (also called SARS-CoV-2) has spread to a number of countries globally, including the United States, and the disease outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. The outbreak and government measures taken in response have also had a significant impact, both direct and indirect, on businesses and commerce, as worker shortages have occurred; supply chains have been disrupted; facilities and production have been suspended; and demand for certain goods and services, such as medical services and supplies, has spiked, while demand for other goods and services, such as travel, has fallen. In response to the spread of COVID-19, we closed our executive offices with our administrative employees continuing their work outside of the office. As of June 15, 2020, we have reopened our executive office and are analyzing the plan to open the remainder on a case-by-case basis in compliance with applicable local regulation. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have experienced disruptions such as the delay of our planned clinical trials of GB1211 and GB2064 and opening of our clinical trial sites, and may continue to experience disruptions that could severely impact our business, preclinical studies and clinical trials, including:

 

delays or difficulties in commencing enrollment of patients in our clinical trials, including our Phase 2b clinical trial of GB0139 in IPF, our planned Phase 2a clinical trial of GB1211 and our planned Phase 2 clinical trial of GB2064;

 

the impact from potential delays, including potential 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 data 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 that are deemed non-essential, which may impact the integrity of subject data and clinical study endpoints;

 

interruption or delays in the operations of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which may impact review and approval timelines;

 

interruption of, or delays in receiving, supplies of our product candidates from our contract manufacturing organizations due to staffing shortages, production slowdowns or stoppages and disruptions in delivery systems;

 

interruptions in preclinical studies due to restricted or limited operations at our laboratory facility;

 

limitations on employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people; and

 

interruption or delays to our sourced discovery and clinical activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the outbreak ultimately impacts our business, preclinical studies and clinical trials will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the pandemic, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.

The study of GB0139 in the University of Edinburgh’s STOPCOVID program for COVID-19 is at an early stage and subject to many risks. A COVID-19 product candidate may be unable to receive approval in a timely manner, if at all, and GB0139 may never be approved for the treatment of COVID-19.

GB0139 is being investigated in the DEFINE trial, an investigator-initiated Phase 2 clinical trial, as part of the University of Edinburgh’s rapid experimental program for COVID-19, STOPCOVID. This program aims to develop and re-

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purpose treatments for COVID-19 patients, with the aim of revealing and targeting the mechanisms controlling the harmful lung injury, inflammation and failure of repair that occur in severe COVID-19 disease. While the first patient has been dosed with GB0139 in a Phase 2 trial, the University of Edinburgh may experience difficulties or delays in enrolling additional patients in clinical trials due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or other reasons. In addition to the University of Edinburgh running the trial, many of the risks related to the development of GB0139 for the treatment of COVID-19 are beyond our control, including risks related to clinical development, the regulatory submission process, and manufacturing delays or difficulties. The results of any early-stage clinical trials may not be predictive of the results of any later-stage clinical trials. There can be no assurance that any clinical trial for GB0139 for the treatment of COVID-19 respiratory failure will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development. In addition, the interpretation of the data from the DEFINE clinical trial of GB0139 for the treatment of COVID-19 by the FDA and other regulatory agencies may differ from the University of Edinburgh or our interpretation of such data and the FDA or other regulatory agencies may require that we conduct additional studies or analyses. Any of these factors could delay or prevent us from receiving regulatory approval of GB0139 for the treatment of COVID-19 and there can be no assurance that it will be approved in a timely manner, if at all. In addition, two vaccines for COVID-19 were granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA in late 2020, and more are likely to be authorized in the coming months. If the COVID-19 outbreak is effectively contained or the risk of coronavirus infection is diminished or eliminated before we can successfully develop and manufacture our product candidate, the commercial viability of such product candidate may be diminished or eliminated. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully establish a competitive market share for GB0139 for COVID-19, if any.

Further, running a GB0139 trial in COVID-19 patients may result in adverse events in patients that may or may not be attributable to GB0139, but which may have a negative impact on the further development on the GB0139 for IPF program.

The regulatory pathway for COVID-19 treatments is continually evolving, and may result in unexpected or unforeseen challenges.

The speed at which parties are acting to create and test many therapeutics for COVID-19 is unusual, and evolving or changing plans or priorities within the FDA, including those based on new knowledge of COVID-19 and how the disease affects the human body, may significantly affect the regulatory timeline for any COVID-19 product candidates, including GB0139. Results from ongoing clinical trials, including the DEFINE trial conducted by the University of Edinburgh with GB0139, and discussions with regulatory authorities may raise new questions and require the redesign of any proposed clinical trials, including revising proposed endpoints or adding new clinical trial sites or cohorts of subjects. Any such developments could delay the development timeline for GB0139 as a COVID-19 product candidate and materially increase the cost of the development.

The COVID-19 pandemic may also cause interruptions in logistics necessary for transport of sensitive biological samples, making them invalid for testing of certain biological compounds, and thus invalidating certain analyses which would have been important for interpreting the results of the DEFINE study.

We may encounter difficulties in managing our growth, which could adversely affect our operations.

As of March 1, 2020, we had 28 full-time employees. As our clinical development and commercialization plans and strategies develop, and as we transition into operating as a public company, we will need to expand our managerial, clinical, regulatory, sales, marketing, financial, development, manufacturing and legal 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 collaborators, suppliers and other third parties. Our future growth would impose significant added responsibilities on members of management, including:

 

identifying, recruiting, integrating, maintaining and motivating additional employees;

 

managing our development and commercialization efforts effectively, including the clinical and FDA review process for GB0139 and any other product candidates, while complying with our contractual obligations to contractors and other third parties; and

 

improving our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.

Our ability to continue to develop and, if approved, commercialize our product candidates will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth. Our management may also have to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from day-to-day activities in order to devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities.

We currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain independent organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services, including contract manufacturers and companies focused on research and development and discovery activities. There can be no assurance that the services of independent organizations,

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advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed, or that we can find qualified replacements. In addition, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality, accuracy or quantity of the services provided is compromised for any reason, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain, or may be substantially delayed in obtaining, regulatory approval of our product candidates or otherwise advance our business. There can be no assurance that we will be able to manage our existing consultants or find other competent outside contractors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, or at all.

If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our groups of consultants and contractors, we may not be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize GB0139 or any other product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.

We recently acquired PharmAkea Inc., or PharmAkea, and may acquire additional technology and complementary businesses in the future. Acquisitions involve many risks, any of which could materially harm our business, including the diversion of management’s attention from core business concerns, failure to effectively exploit acquired technologies, failure to successfully integrate the acquired business or realize expected synergies or the loss of key employees from either our business or the acquired businesses.

If we lose key management personnel, or if we fail to recruit additional highly skilled personnel, our ability to develop current product candidates or identify and develop new product candidates will be impaired, could result in loss of markets or market share and could make us less competitive.

Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and medical personnel. We are highly dependent on our management, scientific and medical personnel, including Hans T. Schambye, M.D., Ph.D., our Chief Executive Officer and President, Anders Pedersen, our Chief Operating Officer, Bertil Lindmark, M.D., Ph.D., our Chief Medical Officer and Jonathan Freve, our Chief Financial Officer. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers, other key employees, and other scientific and medical advisors, and our inability to find suitable replacements could result in delays in product development and harm our business.

We conduct our operations globally from several locations including Copenhagen, Denmark, the United States, the U.K. and Canada. Competition for skilled personnel in our industry is intense and may limit our ability to hire and retain highly qualified personnel on acceptable terms or at all.

To induce valuable employees to remain with us, in addition to salary and cash incentives, we have provided stock options that vest over time. The value to employees of stock options that vest over time may be significantly affected by movements in our stock price that are beyond our control, and may at any time be insufficient to counteract more lucrative offers from other companies. Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Our key employees are at-will employees, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. We do not maintain “key person” insurance policies, but we may enter into such policies, on the lives of these individuals or the lives of certain of our employees. There is no guarantee that any “key person” insurance policy we may enter into would adequately compensate us for the loss of any key employee. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior, mid-level and senior scientific and medical personnel.

We may be unable to adequately protect our information systems from cyberattacks, which could result in the disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, including personal data, damage our reputation, and subject us to significant financial and legal exposure.

Our internal computer systems and those of any future collaborators and other contractors or consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, phishing or other unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. If such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a disruption of our development programs and our business operations, financial loss, a loss of our trade secrets or other proprietary information and damage to our reputation and otherwise negatively impact us. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. 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, our competitive position could be harmed and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.

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We rely on information technology systems that we or our third-party providers operate to process, transmit and store electronic information in our day-to-day operations. In connection with our product discovery efforts, we may collect and use a variety of personal data, such as names, mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and clinical trial information. A successful cyberattack could result in the theft or destruction of intellectual property, data, or other misappropriation of assets, or otherwise compromise our confidential or proprietary information and disrupt our operations. Cyberattacks are increasing in their frequency, sophistication and intensity, and have become increasingly difficult to detect. Cyberattacks could include wrongful conduct by hostile foreign governments, industrial espionage, wire fraud and other forms of cyber fraud, the deployment of harmful malware, denial of service, social engineering fraud or other means to threaten data security, confidentiality, integrity and availability. A successful cyberattack could cause serious negative consequences for us, including, without limitation, the disruption of operations, the misappropriation of confidential business information, including financial information, trade secrets, financial loss and the disclosure of corporate strategic plans. Although we devote resources to protect our information systems, we realize that cyberattacks are a threat, and there can be no assurance that our efforts will prevent information security breaches that would result in business, legal, financial or reputational harm to us, or would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. Any failure to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to, use of, or disclosure of our clinical data or patients’ personal data could result in significant liability under state (e.g., state breach notification laws), federal (e.g., HIPAA, as amended by HITECH), and international (e.g., the GDPR) law and may cause a material adverse impact to our reputation, affect our ability to conduct new studies and potentially disrupt our business.

We rely on our third-party providers to implement effective security measures and identify and correct for any such failures, deficiencies or breaches. If we or our third-party providers fail to maintain or protect our information technology systems and data integrity effectively or fail to anticipate, plan for or manage significant disruptions to our information technology systems, we or our third-party providers could have difficulty preventing, detecting and controlling such cyberattacks, and any such attacks could result in the losses described above as well as disputes with physicians, patients and our partners, regulatory sanctions or penalties, increases in operating expenses, expenses or lost revenues or other adverse consequences, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, prospects and cash flows. Any failure by such third parties to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to or disclosure of such information could have similarly adverse consequences for us. If we are unable to prevent or mitigate the impact of such security or data privacy breaches, we could be exposed to litigation and governmental investigations, which could lead to a potential disruption to our business. By way of example, the CCPA, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, creates individual privacy rights for California consumers and increases the privacy and security obligations of entities handling certain personal data. 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. The CCPA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability, and many similar laws have been proposed at the federal level and in other states. By way of example regarding foreign laws and regulations with respect to data privacy and security, the GDPR went into effect in the EU in May 2018 and introduces strict requirements for processing the personal data of EU data subjects. Companies that must comply with the GDPR face increased compliance obligations and risk, including more robust regulatory enforcement of data protection requirements and potential fines for noncompliance of up to €20 million or 4% of the annual global revenues of the noncompliant company, whichever is greater.

We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by earthquakes or other natural disasters, and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from any such serious disaster.

Any unplanned event, such as flood, fire, explosion, earthquake, extreme weather condition, medical epidemics, power shortage, telecommunication failure or other natural or man-made accidents or incidents that result in us being unable to fully utilize our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, may have a material and adverse effect on our ability to operate our business, particularly on a daily basis, and have significant negative consequences on our financial and operating conditions. Loss of access to these facilities may result in increased costs, delays in the development of our product candidates or interruption of our business operations. Earthquakes or other natural disasters could further disrupt our operations and have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage or other event were to occur that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as our research facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible, for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time.

The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place may prove inadequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. As part of our risk management policy, we maintain insurance coverage at levels that we believe are appropriate for our business. However, in the event of an accident or incident at these facilities, we cannot assure you that the amounts of insurance will be sufficient to satisfy any damages and losses. If our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, are unable to operate because of an accident or

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