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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 001-38584

 

CONSTELLATION PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

Delaware

26-1741721

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

 

215 First Street, Suite 200

Cambridge, Massachusetts

02142

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (617714-0555

 

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

Title of Class

Trading symbol(s)

Name of Exchange on Which Registered

Common Stock, $0.0001 par value per share

CNST

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, a 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 

As of June 30, 2020, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant computed by reference to the price of the registrant’s Common Stock (based on the last reported sale price on the Nasdaq Global Select Market as of such date) was $1.4 billion.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of February 19, 2021 was 47,856,552.

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 III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein.

 

 


 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

1

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

35

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

75

Item 2.

Properties

75

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

75

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

75

 

 

 

PART II

 

76

Item 5.

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

76

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

77

Item 7.

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

78

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

89

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

90

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

115

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

115

Item 9B.

Other Information

116

 

 

 

PART III

 

117

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

117

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

117

Item 12.

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

117

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

117

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

117

 

 

 

PART IV

 

118

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

118

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

120

 

 

 

SIGNATURE

 

121

 

 

 

 

i


References to Constellation

 

Throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the “Company,” “Constellation,” “Constellation Pharmaceuticals,” “we,” “us,” and “our,” except where the context requires otherwise, refer to Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiary, and “our board of directors” refers to the board of directors of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

 

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements and Industry Data

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements regarding, among other things, our future discovery and development efforts, our future operating results and financial position, our business strategy, and other objectives for our operations. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “would” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. There are a number of important risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those indicated by forward-looking statements.

 

The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, among other things, statements about:

 

our ongoing clinical trials, including our Phase 3 and 2 clinical trials of pelabresib (CPI-0610), MANIFEST-2 and MANIFEST, respectively and our Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CPI-0209;

 

our plans to advance our clinical-stage product candidates into later stage trials;

 

the initiation, timing, progress and results of our current and future preclinical studies and clinical trials and our research and development programs;

 

our plans to develop and, if approved, subsequently commercialize pelabresib, CPI-0209 and any other product candidates, including in combination with other drugs and therapies;

 

the timing of and our ability to submit applications for, obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for pelabresib, CPI-0209 and other product candidates;

 

our expectations regarding our ability to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements with our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities;

 

the potential advantages of our product candidates;

 

our estimates regarding the potential market opportunity for our product candidates;

 

our manufacturing, commercialization and marketing capabilities and strategy;

 

our intellectual property position;

 

our ability to identify products, product candidates or technologies with significant commercial potential that are consistent with our commercial objectives;

 

our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, timing of any future revenue, capital requirements and needs for additional financing;

 

the impact of government laws and regulations;

 

our competitive position;

 

developments relating to our competitors and our industry;

 

our ability to maintain and establish collaborations or obtain additional funding; and

 

the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our ability to enroll and monitor patients in our clinical trials, collect data, secure needed supplies, initiate new clinical trials, meet our current milestones and timeline, and continue to successfully execute on our plans and operations.

ii


We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Actual results or events could differ materially from the plans, intentions and expectations disclosed in the forward-looking statements we make. We have included important factors in the cautionary statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, particularly in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in Part I that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements that we make. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures or investments that we may make.

 

You should read this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the documents that we have filed as exhibits to this Annual Report on Form 10-K completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. The forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are made as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and we do not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes statistical and other industry and market data, which we obtained from our own internal estimates and research, as well as from industry and general publications and research, surveys, and studies conducted by third parties. Industry publications, studies, and surveys generally state that they have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, although they do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. While we believe that each of these studies and publications is reliable, we have not independently verified market and industry data from third‑party sources. While we believe our internal company research is reliable and the market definitions are appropriate, neither such research nor these definitions have been verified by any independent source.

iii


Risk Factor Summary:

 

We have incurred significant operating losses since our inception. Our net loss was $126.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, $85.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 and $59.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. We expect to incur losses over the next several years and may never achieve or maintain profitability.

 

We expect to devote substantial financial resources to our ongoing and planned activities, particularly as we continue our Phase 2 clinical trial of pelabresib, MANIFEST, our Phase 3 clinical trial of pelabresib, MANIFEST-2, our Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CPI-0209, and complete our Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of CPI-1205. We will need substantial additional funding to complete clinical development of our product candidates. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.

 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may affect our ability to conduct our ongoing clinical trials, delay the initiation of planned and future clinical trials, disrupt regulatory activities, or have other adverse effects on our business and operations. We have enrolled, and will seek to enroll, cancer patients in our clinical trials at sites located both in the United States and internationally. Most of our clinical trial sites are in areas affected by COVID-19 and, as a result, our trials are being impacted.  

 

Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates based on the inhibition of epigenetic regulators by small molecules is an emerging field and the scientific discoveries that form the basis for our efforts to discover and develop product candidates are relatively new. We do not know whether we will be able to successfully develop any products.

 

We have product candidates in clinical development and preclinical development. The risk of failure for each of our product candidates is high. Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

 

If serious adverse events or unacceptable side effects are identified during the development of our product candidates, we may need to abandon or limit our development of some of our product candidates.

 

We are currently pursuing the development of pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib, which is marketed by Incyte, Inc. If the FDA revokes approval of ruxolitinib or any other therapeutic that we develop product candidates in combination with, or if safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues arise with any therapeutic that we use in combination with one of our product candidates in the future, we may be unable to further develop and/or market our product candidate or we may experience significant regulatory delays or supply shortages, and our business could be materially harmed.

 

Even if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success, and the market opportunity for any of our product candidates, if approved, may be smaller than we estimate.

 

We face substantial competition with respect to our current product candidates, and will face competition with respect to any product candidates that we may seek to develop or commercialize in the future, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.

 

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and to manufacture our product candidates, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to complete clinical trials or commercialize our product candidates.

 

We may enter into collaborations with third parties for the development or commercialization of our product candidates. If our collaborations are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of these product candidates and our business could be adversely affected.

 

If we are unable to obtain, maintain, enforce and protect patent protection for our technology and product candidates or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our technology and product candidates may be adversely affected.

 

The price of our common stock is volatile and fluctuates substantially, which could result in substantial losses for our stockholders.

 

Because we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our capital stock in the foreseeable future, capital appreciation, if any, will be our stockholders’ sole source of gain.

 

 

iv


 

 

PART I

Item 1. Business.

 

Overview

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company using our expertise in epigenetics to discover and develop novel therapeutics that address serious unmet medical needs in patients with cancers associated with abnormal gene expression or drug resistance. Our integrated epigenetics platform enables us to validate targets and generate small molecules impacting these targets to selectively modulate gene expression in tumor and immune cells to drive anti-tumor activity. This platform reflects our deep understanding of the biology of regulation of gene expression by epigenetic regulatory proteins, or epigenetic regulators, the development of small-molecule product candidates that selectively modulate their activity, and the design of clinical development programs supported by novel biomarker strategies. We are able to target a broad variety of epigenetic regulators using our platform and have generated development candidates acting against distinct classes of those regulators. Our vision is to become a fully integrated pharmaceutical company, with a broad pipeline of hematology and oncology development and discovery programs as well as commercial products in the future.

We have utilized our epigenetics platform to discover and design our wholly owned product candidates, pelabresib (CPI-0610) and CPI-0209. We continue to leverage this platform and our clinical experience to develop these product candidates and to discover and develop additional product candidates. Pelabresib inhibits the function of bromodomain and extra terminal domain, or BET, proteins. CPI-0209 inhibits the enzymatic function of zeste homolog 2, or EZH2, protein. In addition to our product candidates, we are also exploring CPI-482, which inhibits the function of the lysine-specific demethylase 1, or LSD1 (aka KDM1A) protein. We believe that our approach to targeting these central gene regulatory mechanisms associated with cancer proliferation may enable us to provide therapeutic benefits to cancer patients. We are currently conducting clinical trials of these product candidates.

Our most advanced clinical trial is MANIFEST-2, a global, double-blinded, randomized pivotal Phase 3 clinical study of pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib (marketed as Jakafi®/Jakavi®) versus placebo with ruxolitinib in Janus-kinase-1/2 (“JAK”)- inhibitor-naïve patients with myelofibrosis (“MF”). We decided to proceed with this trial based on the preliminary evidence of clinical activity in patients with MF treated with pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib in MANIFEST, our ongoing open-label Phase 2 clinical trial of pelabresib as a monotherapy and in combination with ruxolitinib. We believe that preliminary data from MANIFEST suggest that pelabresib has the potential to offer meaningful benefits beyond the current standard of care in MF. For additional information on our pelabresib trials, see the section below titled Our Product Candidates/Pelabresib—BET Inhibitor/Clinical Development.

In addition, we are currently conducting the Phase 1 portion of a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CPI-0209, our second-generation EZH2 inhibitor. For more information on our CPI-0209 trial, see section below titled Our Product Candidates/CPI-0209 – Second Generation EZH2 Inhibitor.    

Pelabresib

Pelabresib is a small molecule designed to promote anti-tumor activity by specifically inhibiting the function of BET proteins, which normally enhance target gene expression. The FDA granted orphan drug designation to pelabresib for the treatment of MF in November 2019.

We believe there is a significant opportunity to improve treatment of MF patients. Ruxolitinib and fedratinib (marketed as Inrebic®) are the two approved drug therapies for MF in the United States, and ruxolitinib is the worldwide standard of care for the disease. In clinical trials, ruxolitinib has been shown to reduce spleen volume and improve patient-reported symptoms in a minority of patients. However, ruxolitinib has been associated with worsening hematological parameters, including thrombocytopenia, anemia, and transfusion dependence. The product also has demonstrated a limited ability to improve bone marrow fibrosis, which has been documented as a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in MF. Some patients cannot start treatment with ruxolitinib, in some cases because of low platelet levels, low hemoglobin levels, or RBC transfusion dependence. Other patients treated with ruxolitinib do not achieve targeted clinical outcomes, such as a 35% or greater reduction in spleen volume or a 50% improvement in symptom scores. Approximately three-quarters of patients in clinical trials discontinued use of ruxolitinib within five years, in part due to side effects or relapse / recurrence of their disease.    

In our MANIFEST trial, we enrolled MF patients who are JAK-inhibitor-naïve, a first-line, or 1L, setting, and continue to enroll patients who are refractory to or intolerant of, or have had a sub-optimal response to, ruxolitinib, a second-line, or 2L, setting. In the 1L setting, we are testing pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib in JAK-inhibitor-naïve patients with the aim of measuring spleen volume reduction and symptom improvement, among other relevant parameters. In the 2L setting, we are stratifying patients for dependence on red-blood-cell, or RBC, transfusions. In transfusion-dependent, or TD, patients,

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we are measuring conversion to transfusion independence, or TI, in addition to spleen volume reduction and symptom improvement. In non-TD patients, we are measuring spleen volume reduction and symptom improvement, among other parameters.

At the American Society of Hematology, or ASH, annual meeting in December 2020, we presented preliminary clinical and translational data based on a September 29, 2020 data cutoff date that showed signs of activity for pelabresib across a broad range of parameters as both a first-line and second-line treatment for patients with MF.  Specifically, we have observed preliminary evidence of activity of pelabresib as a monotherapy and in combination with ruxolitinib across a range of parameters in MF, including reduction in spleen volume as measured by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI; improvements in patient-reported symptoms; improvements in anemia and conversion from transfusion dependence to transfusion independence; and improvements in bone marrow fibrosis. and red blood cell precursors. While these preliminary data need to be confirmed in a larger dataset, we believe that these data suggest that pelabresib may have disease-modifying effects. As of September 29, 2020, pelabresib, both as monotherapy and in combination with ruxolitinib, was generally well-tolerated in each arm of the MANIFEST trial.  See the section below titled Our Product Candidates/Pelabresib—BET Inhibitor/Clinical Development for more information.

Based on the preliminary evidence from our MANIFEST trial, we are currently conducting MANIFEST-2 in combination with ruxolitinib in JAK-inhibitor-naïve patients with MF who have splenomegaly and symptoms requiring therapy.

CPI-0209

CPI-0209 is a small molecule designed to promote anti-tumor activity by specifically inhibiting EZH2, an enzyme that suppresses target gene expression. We believe that targeting EZH2 has the potential for broad therapeutic application in a variety of tumor types. Based on preclinical data, we believe that CPI-0209, our second-generation and potentially best-in-class EZH2 inhibitor, may enable us to address additional patient populations beyond those that have been targeted by first-generation EZH2 inhibitors such as our earlier program CPI-1205, which we discontinued further development of in 2020. Based on this belief, we designed CPI-0209 to achieve comprehensive coverage of EZH2. We have seen evidence of preclinical activity of CPI-0209 both as a single agent and in combination with other agents. We believe this compound has potentially broad application in several solid tumors and hematological malignancies. We initiated a Phase 1 dose-escalation trial with CPI-0209 in September 2019, which is the Phase 1 portion of our Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CPI-0209and is designed to determine the recommended Phase 2 dose for CPI-0209.  See section below titled Our Product Candidates/CPI-0209 – Second Generation EZH2 Inhibitor for more information.  

 

LSD1 Inhibitor - CPI-482

CPI-482 is an inhibitor of Lysine Specific Demethylase 1 (LSD1), a critical regulator of gene expression, required for hematopoietic stem cell maintenance and proper differentiation of megakaryocyte and erythroid lineages.  In myelofibrosis, aberrant megakaryocyte biology is responsible for elevated inflammatory cytokine production and bone marrow dysfunction. Inhibition of LSD1 by CPI-482 suppressed megakaryocyte formation in ex vivo differentiation experiments and reduced spleen volume and bone marrow fibrosis and improved survival in myelofibrosis and leukemia mouse models. We are exploring the potential of CPI-482 as a potential clinical candidate and therapeutic option in hematologic malignancies, including in myeloproliferative neoplasms (“MPNs”) and plan to complete IND enabling studies by the end of 2021.

 

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Our Pipeline

The following table summarizes key information about our most advanced programs:

We have retained global development and commercial rights to all of our product candidates. Our goal is to become a fully integrated pharmaceutical company, with a broad pipeline of hematology and oncology development and discovery programs as well as commercial products in the future. Our management team has extensive experience, including senior roles at leading pharmaceutical companies in the discovery, development, regulatory review, and commercialization of cancer therapeutics.

We have a preclinical pipeline of compounds that target the microenvironment of solid tumors and hematological malignancies, as well as compounds that target innate immunity in solid tumors. We aim to test these molecules in clinical trials in indications with a defined biological rationale, utilizing trial designs that are supported by biomarkers for patient enrichment.

Our Strategy and 2021 Milestones

Our objective is to discover, develop, and commercialize innovative drugs that address the serious unmet medical needs of patients with cancers that are associated with abnormal gene expression or drug resistance. To achieve our objective, we aim to:

 

Continue to study the safety and efficacy of our clinical-stage compounds. Building on the preliminary evidence of clinical activity that we have observed to date in our ongoing clinical trials of pelabresib and CPI-0209, we aim to advance our BET and EZH2 programs further in 2021.

 

Execute on the pivotal development, launch preparation, and expansion of the pelabresib opportunity. Having generated preliminary clinical data demonstrating evidence of activity of pelabresib across a broad range of parameters in patients with MF, we are focused on executing the Phase 3 clinical trial, MANIFEST-2, and completing the Phase 2 clinical trial, MANIFEST. We currently expect to provide an update on the translational data from MANIFEST in mid-2021 and an update on the clinical data from MANIFEST and potential new indications by the end of 2021.  

 

Advance clinical testing of CPI-0209. We believe CPI-0209 is a potential best-in-class EZH2 inhibitor. In 2021, we aim to determine the recommended Phase 2 dose for CPI-0209 in order to begin Phase 2 expansion cohorts in patients with certain hematologic cancers and solid tumors. We currently expect to provide an update on Phase 1 by mid-2021 and an update on the monotherapy cohorts from our Phase 2 trial by the end of 2021.

 

Advance our preclinical portfolio by strategically investing in discovery efforts to generate additional assets with compelling clinical development paths. We are leveraging our platform to discover and develop programs focused on the inhibition of epigenetic regulators of tumor and/or immune cells that may lead to the killing or reprogramming of cancer cells and/or result in anti-tumor immune activity.

 

Maximize the global commercial potential of our product candidates. We currently plan to retain commercial rights to our product candidates in the United States while selectively evaluating strategic partnerships that could maximize their commercial potential by expanding our geographic reach or by development in additional indications.

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Cancer and Epigenetics

Cancer is a heterogeneous group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled cell division and growth. Cancer can arise when the dysregulation of the affected cell’s gene expression program alters the identity and function of normal cells. This dysregulation can arise when there are changes in genes that control cell identity. Cancer cells can utilize modulation of gene expression in part by using epigenetic regulators to activate pro-tumor genes or deactivate tumor suppressor genes. Furthermore, cancer cells can also use epigenetic regulators to activate resistance mechanisms against cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, and render the treatments less effective.

Epigenetics refers to a broad regulatory system that controls gene expression by modifying chromatin, which consists of DNA wrapped around an assembly of proteins called histones. The DNA included in chromatin is identical in each cell in the body. The identity and function of each cell is determined by the specific set of genes that are expressed, or turned on or off, in a given cell. Whether a specific set of genes is turned on or off depends on the action of epigenetic regulators.

Our Approach

We are a pioneer in the discovery and development of novel therapeutics that target various classes of epigenetic regulators and modulate gene expression in a more selective manner than early epigenetic drugs. Our efforts have demonstrated that these distinct classes of epigenetic regulators are broadly druggable and that selective reprogramming of gene expression is a promising therapeutic approach not only to induce cancer cell killing but also to enhance anti-tumor immunity.

Integrated Platform

Our integrated epigenetics platform includes a deep understanding of the biological context in which epigenetic regulators operate, the development of small-molecule product candidates that selectively modulate their activity, and the design of clinical development programs supported by novel biomarker strategies.

Our approach to therapeutic agents to date has been focused on epigenetic targets:

 

whose inhibition modulates gene expression in a highly selective manner;

 

with broad development opportunities, including biomarker-defined contexts, which we believe may expand the applicability of our product candidates to cancers with immune evasion or acquired drug resistance; or

 

whose inhibition may reprogram immune-suppressive immune cells in the tumor microenvironment to enhance anti-tumor activity.

Our epigenetics platform allows us to identify potential product candidates that intervene in diseases by targeting distinct classes of epigenetic regulators, including the following examples:

 

BET proteins—a group of epigenetic readers—are proteins that bind to chromatin and enhance target gene expression. Certain cancer cells can use BET proteins to promote growth of cancer cells and inflammatory disorders;

 

EZH2—an epigenetic writer—is an enzyme that suppresses target gene expression by adding modifications to chromatin. Certain cancer and immune cells can use EZH2 to promote growth of cancer cells or suppress an anti-tumor immune responses; and

 

LSD1 – an epigenetic eraser- is an enzyme that suppresses target gene expression by removing modifications to chromatin. Leukemia stem cell maintenance requires LSD1 function and certain hematological cancer and solid tumor cells require LSD1 function to sustain growth.

We are also currently advancing several discovery programs against undisclosed epigenetic regulators focused on the tumor microenvironment and the immune microenvironment.

Our Product Candidates

Pelabresib (CPI-0610)—BET Inhibitor

Overview

BET proteins are epigenetic readers that turn on specific genes by binding unique regions of the genome through their ability to read specific chemical tags on chromatin. In some instances, BET proteins turn on genes that are abnormally expressed in a variety of human cancers. BET inhibitors downregulate the expression of oncogenes, which are key genes that have the potential to cause cancer, such as MYC or NF-κB target genes, and effectively kill many cancer cell lines in in vitro models.

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These observations resulted in the generation and clinical investigation of BET inhibitors in several cancer subtypes. We have observed preclinical activity in cancer subtypes that are driven by NF-κB signaling.

Pelabresib is a small molecule designed to promote anti-tumor activity by specifically inhibiting the bromodomain function of BET proteins, which normally enhance target gene expression. Our epigenetics platform reflects our deep understanding of the biological contexts in which BET proteins operate, including cancer pathways that are highly sensitive to pelabresib. A combination of our preclinical studies, as well as translational insights from our first-in-human study of pelabresib, led us to prioritize the clinical development of pelabresib in MF.

We are currently conducting two clinical trials of pelabresib in patients with MF. We recently initiated MANIFEST-2, a global, double-blinded, randomized, pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib (marketed as Jakafi®/Jakavi®) versus placebo with ruxolitinib in patients with MF. Additionally, we are continuing to enroll patients in the second line arms of MANIFEST, our ongoing open-label Phase 2 clinical trial of pelabresib both as a monotherapy and in combination with ruxolitinib in patients with MF.  See the section below titled Our Product Candidates/Pelabresib—BET Inhibitor/Clinical Development for more information.  

BET Inhibition in Cancer

Abnormal BET function has been implicated in cancer through several means, including chromosomal translocation and gene amplification and overexpression whereby oncogenic and inflammatory signals are turned on in cancer cells through altered BET activity.

Of note, BET proteins control the expression of the target genes of NF-κB, a key immune signaling pathway that is abnormally activated in various diseases, including cancer and immune disorders. NF-κB signaling has been shown to be abnormally high in some hematological malignancies, such as MF and activated B cell-like diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, or ABC-DLBCL. In preclinical studies in MF, animals treated with BET inhibitors alone or in combination with a JAK inhibitor displayed a reduction in NF-κB target gene expression, improvement in bone marrow fibrosis, and reduced disease burden.

In addition, BET proteins promote the generation of megakaryocytes from hematopoietic stem cells. We believe that the blood cells most responsible for bone marrow scarring in MF are dysfunctional megakaryocytes, which proliferate and produce inflammatory molecules in part through elevated NF-κB signaling.  Additionally, compromised erythroid differentiation (or the process by which immature bone marrow derived cells specialize and become red blood cells) leads to anemia in MF patients. By blocking BET protein function with pelabresib, we believe that we promote erythroid cell differentiation which may result in improved hemoglobin levels and ameliorate anemia in patients with MF. As the result of the effect on both erythroid and megakaryocyte differentiation, we believe that pelabresib has the potential to improve the health of the bone marrow of MF patients.

Myelofibrosis

MF is part of a collection of progressive blood cancers known as myeloproliferative neoplasms and is associated with significantly reduced quality of life and shortened survival. MF can occur either as primary MF, which develops on its own, or as secondary MF, which develops in some patients as a result of essential thrombocythemia, or ET, or polycythemia vera, or PV, resulting in post-ET MF or post-PV MF.  As the disease progresses, the bone marrow produces fewer red blood cells, often leading to severe anemia (a condition characterized by low red-blood-cell counts) and red-blood-cell transfusion requirements. In addition, within one year of diagnosis, the incidence of thrombocytopenia increases significantly. Thrombocytopenia is a condition characterized by low platelet counts in the blood. Among other complications, most patients with MF have enlarged spleens as well as many other physical symptoms, including abdominal discomfort, bone pain, and extreme fatigue.

There are limited treatment options for patients with MF. Currently the JAK inhibitors ruxolitinib and fedratinib are the only approved products for MF, and there are no approved products for patients whose MF progresses after treatment with these products. Ruxolitinib is the current standard of care in intermediate- to high-risk MF. Ruxolitinib inhibits dysregulated janus kinase 1 and 2 (collectively referred to herein as “JAK”), signaling that is associated with MF. Ruxolitinib produces spleen reduction and symptom improvement in MF patients. However, its side effects include increased anemia and transfusion dependence. In the SIMPLIFY-1 clinical trial of ruxolitinib in JAK-inhibitor-naïve patients, transfusion dependence increased from 24.0% to 40.1% after 24 weeks of treatment with ruxolitinib. Ruxolitinib has not been shown to significantly reverse bone marrow fibrosis, a condition that has been documented as a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in MF. As a result of these factors, many patients cannot, or choose not to, initiate ruxolitinib therapy. Many other patients may not tolerate treatment with, or will have an insufficient response to, ruxolitinib. Patients generally have poor prospects for survival following discontinuation of therapy with ruxolitinib.

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We believe there are approximately 30,000 to 35,000 intermediate- or high-risk MF patients in the United Stated and Europe that are therefore eligible for systemic treatment, including ruxolitinib. Incyte Corporation, or Incyte, which markets ruxolitinib, has estimated that about half of these eligible patients in the United States receive treatment with ruxolitinib, which is the standard of care. Based on preliminary data from the MANIFEST trial, we aim to demonstrate that virtually all patients eligible for, or taking, ruxolitinib could benefit from taking the combination of pelabresib and ruxolitinib. We aim to show that pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib is associated with increased spleen volume reduction and symptom improvement compared to ruxolitinib alone. In addition, some MF patients, such as anemic patients, who might delay taking ruxolitinib due to anemia associated with the disease or with ruxolitinib therapy may benefit from initiating on the pelabresib/ruxolitinib combination due to preliminary evidence of hemoglobin improvement and conversion to transfusion independence. Pelabresib monotherapy may also provide benefit for patients who have discontinued treatment with ruxolitinib due to side effects or MF progression.

Clinical Development

Phase 3 Clinical Trial. We have initiated MANIFEST-2, a global, blinded, randomized Phase 3 clinical trial with pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib (marketed as Jakafi®/Jakavi®) versus placebo with ruxolitinib in JAK-inhibitor-naïve patients with primary MF or post-ET MF or post-PV MF who have splenomegaly and symptoms requiring therapy. We plan to enroll approximately 310 JAK-inhibitor-naïve patients. Patients are randomized 1:1 to the pelabresib with ruxolitinib arm or the placebo with ruxolitinib arm. Patients in the active arm are treated in a 21-day dosing cycle with 14 days on treatment and seven days off treatment and are administered pelabresib starting at 125 mg once per day, which may be later titrated up to 175 mg once per day provided protocol-defined criteria are met; in the control arm the patients are treated with a placebo administered on the same schedule. Patients in both the active and control arms receive a starting dose of either 10 mg or 15 mg twice per day of ruxolitinib, depending on the platelet count at baseline, with a mandatory up-titration, if safety criteria are met, to 15 or 20 mg twice per day respectively (ruxolitinib label dose) after 1 cycle of therapy.  Subsequent ruxolitinib dose modifications follow the ruxolitinib label.

The primary endpoint of the trial is the proportion of patients who achieve a ≥35% reduction in spleen volume from baseline, or SVR35, after 24 weeks of treatment. A key secondary endpoint of the trial is the proportion of patients who achieve a 50% or greater improvement in Total Symptom Score from baseline, or TSS50, after 24 weeks of treatment. Based on prior discussions with the FDA, we believe we need to meet both of these endpoints. Other endpoints include bone marrow fibrosis grade improvements, duration of transfusion independence, rate of red-blood-cell transfusion for the first 24 weeks, and hemoglobin response.

 

Phase 2 Clinical Trial. We are continuing to conduct MANIFEST, a Phase 2 clinical trial of pelabresib as a monotherapy and in combination with ruxolitinib in patients with MF. In this trial, we are treating patients who are JAK inhibitor-naïve, a first-line (“1L”) setting, as well as patients who are refractory to or intolerant of, or have had a sub-optimal response to, ruxolitinib, a second-line (“2L”) setting.  Preliminary data based on a September 29, 2020 data cut off showed signs of clinical activity across a broad range of parameters, suggesting possible disease-modifying effects of pelabresib. Additionally, the preliminary data indicated evidence of hemoglobin improvement with pelabresib, which we believe may provide a benefit to patients with anemia, a condition that is associated with both MF itself and treatment with ruxolitinib.

In the 1L setting (Arm 3), we are testing pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib in JAK-inhibitor-naïve patients. The primary endpoint in the 1L setting is the proportion of patients who achieve at least SVR35 after 24 weeks of treatment. Patient enrollment in the Arm 3 has completed at approximately 80 patients. We continue to enroll patients in the 2L arms of MANIFEST (Arms 1 and 2). In the 2L setting, we are stratifying patients for dependence on red-blood-cell, or RBC, transfusions. In transfusion-dependent, or TD, patients, the primary endpoint is the proportion of patients who are TD, at baseline who convert to transfusion independence, or TI. TD, based on Gale criteria, is defined to mean two or more units of RBC transfusions per month during the 12 weeks prior to enrollment. TI is defined to mean an absence of RBC transfusions over any consecutive 12-week period following enrollment. For non-TD patients in the 2L setting, the primary endpoint is the

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proportion of patients who achieve SVR35. In each setting, we are also measuring improvements in Total Symptom Score, or TSS, as measured by the Myelofibrosis Symptom Assessment form, version 4.0, which is a patient-reported outcome that asks patients to rate the severity of their MF symptoms. We are also measuring morphological change in bone marrow fibrosis.

Preliminary Data from Our MANIFEST Trial

We presented preliminary clinical and translational data from MANIFEST for pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib and as a monotherapy in oral and poster presentations at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology, or ASH, in December 2020, based on a September 29, 2020 data cutoff date. The preliminary data, which are summarized below, reflect an analysis of 63 1L patients in Arm 3 and 94 2L or later patients in Arms 1 and 2. We believe that these preliminary data from MANIFEST suggest that pelabresib has the potential to offer meaningful benefits beyond the current standard of care in MF and may have disease-modifying effects.

Arm 3: Combination of Pelabresib and Ruxolitinib in JAK-Inhibitor-Naïve Patients (1L)

In Arm 3, we are evaluating the combination of pelabresib and ruxolitinib in JAK-inhibitor-naïve patients with MF. Patients are treated with pelabresib according to the schedule as in Arm 1 and receive a starting dose of either 10 mg or 15 mg twice per day of ruxolitinib, depending on the platelet count at baseline, up to a maximum dose of 25 mg twice per day. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patients who achieve a SVR35.

The table below presents preliminary data as of September 29, 2020 from Arm 3 of MANIFEST.

 

Arm 3

SVR35 at 24 weeks(1)

42 of 63 evaluable (67%)

SVR (%), median change at 24 weeks

-50%

TSS50 at 24 weeks(1)

34 of 60 evaluable (57%)

TSS (%), median change at 24 weeks

-59%

 

(1)

Patients are evaluable for efficacy at week 24 if they had a week 24 spleen volume assessment or TSS assessment, as applicable, by the data cutoff date or discontinued prior to week 24 for any reason.

Arm 1: Pelabresib Monotherapy in Ruxolitinib-Relapsed, - Refractory, -Intolerant or -Ineligible Patients (2L)

In Arm 1, we are evaluating pelabresib, as a monotherapy in ruxolitinib-refractory or -relapsed or -intolerant or -ineligible patients with MF. Patients are treated in a 21-day dosing cycle and are administered pelabresib starting at 125 mg once per day, which may be titrated up to 225 mg, with 14 days on treatment and seven days off treatment. The primary endpoints are the proportion of patients who achieve a SVR35 for non-TD patients and the rate at which TD patients convert to TI for the cohort of patients who were TD at baseline.

The table below presents preliminary data as of September 29, 2020 from Arm 1 of MANIFEST.

 

Arm 1A: TD

Arm 1B: non-TD

SVR35 at 24 weeks(1)

1 of 13 evaluable (8%)

7 of 23 evaluable (30%)

SVR (%), median change at 24 weeks

-11%

-29%

TSS50 at 24 weeks(1)

1 of 13 evaluable (8%)

10 of 21 evaluable (48%)

TSS (%), median change at 24 weeks

-22%

-56%

TD to TI conversion(3)

3 of 14 evaluable (21%)

N/A

Median duration of TI

32 weeks

N/A

 

(1)

Patients are evaluable for SVR35 or TSS50 at week 24 if they had a week-24 assessment by the data cutoff date or discontinued treatment after having a week-12 assessment.

(2)

Patients are evaluable for hemoglobin increase if they had been on treatment for at least 12 weeks and did not have any transfusions for 12 weeks prior to starting treatment.

(3)

Patients are evaluable for conversion to TI if they started treatment at least 24 weeks prior to the data cutoff date or if they had been on treatment for at least 12 weeks by the data cutoff day and achieved the conversion or would have failed to achieve the conversion by week 24.

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Arm 2: Pelabresib Add-on to Ruxolitinib in Patients with Suboptimal Response to Ruxolitinib (2L)

In Arm 2, we are evaluating pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib, in patients with MF with suboptimal response to ruxolitinib.  Pelabresib is added to treatment with ruxolitinib and pelabresib is dosed according to the schedule as in Arm 1 and patients continue treatment with ruxolitinib at their last stable dose with no titration of ruxolitinib. The primary endpoints are the proportion of patients who achieve a SVR35 for non-TD patients and the rate at which TD patients convert to TI for the cohort of patients who were TD at baseline.

The table below presents preliminary data as of September 29, 2020 from Arm 2 of MANIFEST.

 

Arm 2A: TD

Arm 2B: non-TD

SVR35 at 24 weeks(1)

7 of 33 evaluable (21%)

6 of 21 evaluable (29%)

SVR (%), median change at 24 weeks

-19%

-17%

TSS50 at 24 weeks(1)

15 of 33 evaluable (46%)

8 of 21 evaluable (38%)

TSS (%), median change at 24 weeks

-58%

-45%

TD to TI conversion(3)

13 of 36 evaluable (36%)

N/A

Median duration of TI

27 weeks

N/A

 

(1)

Patients are evaluable for SVR35 or TSS50 at week 24 if they had a week-24 assessment by the data cutoff date or discontinued treatment after having a week-12 assessment.

(2)

Patients are evaluable for hemoglobin increase if they had been on treatment for at least 12 weeks and did not have any transfusions for 12 weeks prior to starting treatment.

(3)

Patients are evaluable for conversion to TI if they started treatment at least 24 weeks prior to the data cutoff date or if they had been on treatment for at least 12 weeks by the data cutoff day and achieved the conversion or would have failed to achieve the conversion by week 24.

Translational Data

Patients are evaluable for improvement in bone marrow fibrosis if they have a baseline bone marrow biopsy and at least one post-baseline biopsy after 24 weeks. Bone marrow assessments were made based on a local pathology read. The translational data for change in bone marrow fibrosis is as of the September 29, 2020 data cutoff date.

In Arm 3, 16 of 48 evaluable patients (33%) with evaluable samples had at least one grade improvement in bone marrow fibrosis, and in 14 of these 16 patients (88%), the improvements occurred within six months of starting treatment in the trial. Two of the 48 evaluable patients had worsening in bone marrow fibrosis.

In Arm 1, 6 of 29 evaluable patients (21%) with evaluable samples had at least one grade improvement in bone marrow fibrosis, and in five of these six patients (83%), the improvements occurred within six months of starting treatment in the trial. Two of the 29 evaluable patients had worsening in bone marrow fibrosis.

In Arm 2, 16 of 39 evaluable patients (41%) with evaluable samples had at least one grade improvement in bone marrow fibrosis, and in 13 of these 16 patients (81%), the improvements occurred within six months of starting treatment in the trial. Three of the 39 evaluable patients had worsening in bone marrow fibrosis.

Clinical Safety Data

We believe that pelabresib may have a differentiated safety profile compared with some other BET inhibitors. Prior to initiating the MANIFEST trial, we treated a total of 138 patients with a variety of hematological malignancies in three Phase 1 clinical trials. In a Phase 1 trial in lymphoma, we identified the maximum tolerated dose of 225 mg per day. In this trial, we saw evidence of clinical activity at a range of doses below this maximum tolerated dose, including the 125 mg starting dose being used in MANIFEST and MANIFEST-2.

As of September 29, 2020, pelabresib, both as monotherapy and in combination with ruxolitinib, was generally well tolerated in each arm of the MANIFEST trial. In Arm 1, 23 patients remained on active treatment and 23 had discontinued. In Arm 2, 40 patients remained on active treatment and 38 had discontinued. In Arm 3, 66 patients remained on active treatment and 12 had discontinued.

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The most common treatment-emergent adverse events, or TEAEs, of any grade irrespective of causality observed in 46 evaluable patients in Arm 1 were nausea, diarrhea, thrombocytopenia, asthenic conditions, dysgeusia, respiratory tract infections, cough, weight decrease and constipation, each of which occurred in 20% or more of patients. A total of 29 patients (63%) reported at least one grade 3 or higher TEAE. A total of 14 patients reported thrombocytopenia of any grade and seven patients reported anemia of any grade. Of the most common TEAEs, those that were grade 3 were thrombocytopenia (seven patients), diarrhea (two patients) and constipation, respiratory tract infection and weight decrease (one patient each). Other grade 3 or higher TEAEs included anemia (six patients), hyperuricemia (four patients), hyperkalemia (three patients) and dyspnea (three patients). Nine patients discontinued treatment due to TEAEs.

The most common TEAEs of any grade irrespective of causality observed in 78 evaluable patients in Arm 2 were diarrhea, thrombocytopenia, respiratory tract infections, nausea, asthenic conditions, cough and dysgeusia, each of which occurred in 20% or more of patients. A total of 35 patients reported thrombocytopenia of any grade and 11 patients reported anemia of any grade. A total of 45 patients (58%) reported at least one grade 3 or higher TEAE. Of the most common TEAEs, those that were grade 3 or grade 4 were thrombocytopenia (18 patients with grade 3 and two patients with grade 4), respiratory tract infection (four patients with grade 4), diarrhea (three patients with grade 3), asthenic conditions (three patients with grade 3) and nausea (two patients with grade 3). A total of eight patients reported anemia of grade 3 and one patient reported anemia of grade 4. Nine patients discontinued treatment due to TEAEs, including six grade 5 TEAEs. The grade 5 TEAEs consisted of acute kidney injury, traumatic subdural hematoma (patient tripped and fell), brain stem hemorrhage (no concomitant thrombocytopenia), disease progression, congestive heart failure, and transformation to AML.  

The most common TEAEs of any grade irrespective of causality observed in 78 evaluable patients in Arm 3 were anemia, thrombocytopenia, diarrhea, dysgeusia, asthenic conditions, musculoskeletal pain, respiratory tract infections, nausea, abdominal pain and dizziness, each of which occurred in 15% or more of patients. A total of 26 patients reported anemia of any grade and 25 patients reported thrombocytopenia of any grade. A total of 34 patients (44%) reported at least one grade 3 or higher TEAE. Of the most common TEAEs, those that were grade 3 or grade 4 were anemia (22 patients with grade 3 and one patient with grade 4) and thrombocytopenia (four patients with grade 4 and two patients with Grade 4). Four patients discontinued treatment due to TEAEs, including two grade 5 TEAEs. The grade 5 TEAEs consisted of one patient with multiorgan failure due to sepsis secondary to bacterial endocarditis and one patient with multiorgan failure due to sepsis secondary to community acquired pneumonia.

Potential Indication Expansion

We are exploring potential opportunities to expand our pelabresib indications. For example, we are planning to add a new cohort (Arm 4) in MANIFEST to study pelabresib monotherapy in essential thrombocythemia, or ET. ET is a myeloproliferative disorder that can progress to MF and AML and is characterized by excessive production of platelets, as well as symptoms such as fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches, vision changes, and an increased risk of blood clots.  We believe there is a strong mechanistic rationale for pelabresib in ET, given observed reductions in platelet counts in clinical studies. In MANIFEST we observed normalization of platelet numbers in some patients with very high platelet levels at baseline. We plan to enroll approximately 20 hydroxyurea-resistant or -intolerant patients with ET in this arm. The primary endpoint of this arm of the trial will be Complete Hematological Response within 24 weeks as measured by normalization of platelet count and white blood cell count, with a key secondary endpoint of TSS50 at 24 weeks. 

CPI-0209— Second Generation EZH2 Inhibitor

Overview

Historically, the primary focus of EZH2 as a drug target has been the role of EZH2 mutations or overexpression in cancer. We believe these genetically defined approaches to EZH2 inhibition may underestimate the broader therapeutic potential of the target in cancer. EZH2 genomic aberrations and overexpression are frequently correlated with late-stage cancer and a poor prognosis for a wide variety of cancers. Furthermore, EZH2 also cooperates with other cancer-promoting pathways, such as androgen receptor signaling and immune signaling. Therefore, we believe EZH2 inhibition can synergistically enhance the effectiveness of existing cancer therapies.

EZH2 Inhibition in Cancer

EZH2 acts as an epigenetic writer and normally regulates gene expression by placing one or more methyl groups on a histone protein leading to the suppression of gene expression programs. While this effect of EZH2 on gene expression is a normal part of cellular development, some cancers depend on an abnormal pattern of gene expression and re-direct EZH2 to genes that become abnormally repressed. Cancer cells with these abnormal gene expression programs may be more resistant to anti-cancer therapies.

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Abnormal EZH2 function has been implicated in cancer in a number of ways:

 

Cancer genetics: mutations in the gene encoding EZH2 result in the altered enzymatic activity of EZH2, and cancer cells become dependent on this abnormal activity for tumor growth. Alternatively, mutations in other epigenetic regulators can change the genes expressed by cancer cells and indirectly create a dependence on EZH2 for cancer cell growth;

 

Acquired drug resistance: therapeutic agents promote EZH2-mediated gene silencing that may lead to acquired resistance to these agents;

 

Immune suppression: EZH2 mediates reprogramming of immune cells within the tumor, e.g., T-cells, and tumor cells to create an immune-suppressive tumor microenvironment; and

 

Oncogenic driver synergy: EZH2 suppresses the expression of sets of genes that promote tumor progression in the context of validated oncogenic drivers, such as the androgen receptor signaling pathway in prostate cancer. Combined inhibition of EZH2 and the oncogenic driver pathway may elicit a synergistic impact on tumor growth.

Development of CPI-0209

We designed CPI-0209, our second-generation EZH2 inhibitor, to achieve comprehensive coverage of EZH2 to potentially enable rapid and durable tumor regression. We believe that such a product could enable us to expand the addressable patient populations beyond those that have been targeted by first-generation EZH2 inhibitors. We are currently conducting the Phase 1 dose escalation portion of a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CPI-0209 in solid tumors. The Phase 1 dose escalation phase of the clinical trial studies CPI-0209 as a monotherapy in advanced cancer patients. At the 2021 J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference, we disclosed preliminary data showing dose-dependent increases in pharmacodynamic markers in the blood of patients who received CPI-0209. After determining the recommended Phase 2 dose as a monotherapy, we intend to pursue monotherapy expansion arms in selected solid tumor and hematologic indications, as well as assessing combination therapy development and a biomarker strategy that includes ARID1A and other mutations.

In preclinical studies, we observed that CPI-0209 bound to EZH2 more durably and with higher affinity when compared to first-generation EZH2 inhibitors. We believe that these characteristics may enable CPI-0209 to increase the level and duration of EZH2 inhibition compared to that of first-generation EZH2 inhibitors. Product candidates that provide more comprehensive and longer inhibition of EZH2 may treat certain cancer types requiring that effect. We believe that the level of EZH2 inhibition necessary to produce a therapeutic effect varies across cancer types based on our preclinical studies where we have observed that the dose required to affect tumor growth is higher in certain cancer types. As illustrated below left, we have also observed that CPI-0209 produced tumor regression beginning after five days of initiation of treatment in a lymphoma xenograft mouse model. At right, CPI-0209 demonstrated greater tumor regression in a mutated ARID1A model in bladder cancer compared to other EZH2 inhibitors.  Based on this, we hypothesize that CPI-0209 can potentially be effective in other tumor models where first-generation EZH2 inhibitors would be less effective.

Rapid and Durable Tumor Regression in Lymphoma Xenograft Mutated EZH2 Model (left) and Bladder Cancer Mutated ARID1A Model (right)

 

 

We plan to develop CPI-0209 for the treatment of hematologic and solid tumors. We believe that mutations can render tumor cells dependent on the activity of EZH2 and that cancer cells can use EZH2 as a resistance mechanism against therapeutic agents. We are considering developing CPI-0209 in one or more of these contexts.

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CPI 1205

CPI-1205 is a small molecule designed to promote anti-tumor activity by specifically inhibiting EZH2. ProSTAR is an open-label Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of CPI-1205, a potent and highly selective small-molecule EZH2 inhibitor, in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) in the second-line setting. The ProSTAR study evaluated CPI-1205 in combination with either enzalutamide or abiraterone / prednisone (“abiraterone”), which are ARS inhibitors, in mCRPC patients who experienced disease progression while receiving the other ARS inhibitor. In June 2020, we announced that we plan to discontinue development of CPI-1205 after completion of the Phase 2 ProSTAR study in mCRPC and to prioritize further clinical development of CPI-0209. The decision was based on a review of ProSTAR data, which did not demonstrate the definitive signal of activity necessary to advance the program into pivotal studies. We intend to present a full data set from ProSTAR at a future medical meeting. 

Discovery Programs

We are currently advancing several programs against additional epigenetic regulators focused on the tumor and the immune microenvironment. To date, our epigenetics efforts in cancer have been focused on pathways relevant for immune cell re-programming to drive tumor rejection or to increase direct tumor cell killing. We remain committed to advancing programs that normalize abnormal cell gene expression within cancer cells.

Sales and Marketing

In light of our stage of development, we have not yet established a full commercial organization or distribution capabilities. To date, we have retained worldwide commercial rights for our product candidates. If our product candidates receive marketing approval, we plan to commercialize them in the United States with our own focused specialty sales force.

Manufacturing

We do not have any manufacturing facilities. We currently rely on, and expect to continue to rely on, third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing, as well as for commercial manufacture if our product candidates receive marketing approval. We have entered into clinical supply agreements with contract manufacturers.

We obtain clinical trial materials for our product candidates using multiple third-party contract manufacturing organizations. We engage separate third-party manufacturers for producing active pharmaceutical ingredients and other manufacturers for making solid oral drug products

All of our product candidates are small molecules and are manufactured in reliable and reproducible synthetic processes from readily available starting materials. The chemistry is amenable to scale up and does not require unusual equipment. We expect to continue to develop product candidates that can be produced cost-effectively at contract manufacturing facilities.

Competition

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition, and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. While we believe that our technologies, knowledge, experience, and scientific resources provide us with competitive advantages, we face competition from many sources, including major pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and 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 companies developing or marketing treatments for cancer, including many large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. In addition, many companies are developing cancer therapies that work by targeting epigenetic mechanisms.

Many of the companies against which we are competing or against which we may compete in the future have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, clinical testing, regulatory review, and marketing than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry 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, establishing clinical trial sites, and enrolling patients in clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to or competitive with our programs.

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The key competitive factors affecting the success of all of our therapeutic product candidates, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience, and price, the availability and effectiveness of related companion diagnostics in guiding the use of related therapeutics, the level of generic competition, and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payers.

Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer or more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient, or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we can for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we can enter the market. In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payers seeking to encourage the use of generic products. Generic products that broadly address these indications are currently on the market for the indications that we are pursuing, and additional products are expected to become available on a generic basis over the coming years. If our product candidates achieve marketing approval, we expect that they will be priced at a significant premium over competitive generic products.

The most common methods of treating patients with cancer are surgery, radiation, and drug therapy. There are a variety of available drug therapies marketed for cancer. In many cases, these drugs are administered in combination to enhance efficacy. While our product candidates may compete with many existing drug and other therapies, to the extent they are ultimately used in combination with or as an adjunct to these therapies, our product candidates will not compete with them. Some of the currently approved drug therapies are branded and subject to patent protection, and others are available on a generic basis. Many of these approved drugs are well established therapies and are widely accepted by physicians, patients, and third-party payers.

In addition to currently marketed therapies, there are also a number of products in late-stage clinical development to treat cancer. These products in development may provide efficacy, safety, convenience, and other benefits that are not provided by currently marketed therapies. As a result, they may provide significant competition for any of our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval.

If our lead product candidates are approved for the indications that we are currently pursuing in our on-going clinical trials, they will compete with the therapies and currently marketed drugs discussed below.

Pelabresib / Myelofibrosis

Ruxolitinib, a JAK inhibitor developed and marketed by Incyte, was approved by the FDA in 2011 as a first-line treatment for intermediate- and high-risk MF patients. Fedratinib (Inrebic®), a JAK2/FLT3 selective inhibitor was approved by the FDA in August 2019 and is now marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb. Many companies are developing product candidates or combination regimens that may compete with pelabresib, if approved.

Incyte is developing treatments for first- and second-line therapy in patients with MF that combine ruxolitinib with PI3 kinase inhibitors, activin-like receptor kinase 2 (ALK2), CXCR4 enriched, allogeneic, umbilical cord blood-derived T-regulatory cells, and BET inhibitors. Incyte may develop these combinations in a co-formulated oral dosage form, which could increase the convenience of these combination regimens.

There are several other companies developing JAK inhibitors as a first-line and second-line treatment of patients with MF. Celgene Corporation (Celgene”), acquired fedratinib in January 2018 as part of its acquisition of Impact Biosciences, Inc. In November 2019, Bristol-Myers Squibb (“BMS”) acquired Celgene. Fedratinib has been evaluated in clinical trials as first- and second-line treatments for MF. BMS has initiated a substudy of the FREEDOM Phase 3 trial to evaluate fedratinib in combination with the erythroid maturation agent luspatercept in relapsed/refractory MF patients. CTI Biopharma Corp. (“CTI”) is conducting a Phase 3 trial of pacritinib in MF patients with severe thrombocytopenia in the United States. On February 10, 2020, CTI disclosed that it had reached agreement with the FDA on an accelerated approval pathway for pacritinib, subject to submission of SVR data from the first 168 patients enrolled in the ongoing Phase 3 PACIFICA trial. Nippon Shinyaku is conducting a Phase 2 trial with NS-018 in patients with MF. Sierra Oncology is developing momelotinib, a JAK1/ACVR1 inhibitor for MF and associated anemia.

Pelabresib could face competition from products with different biological targets that are in development as a therapeutic option for patients with MF with prior exposure to ruxolitinib, including as a monotherapy or in combination with ruxolitinib. These products include kinase inhibitors, telomerase inhibitors, Bcl-2 inhibitors, and other epigenetic inhibitors. Geron Corporation is conducting a Phase 2 trial evaluating imetelstat, a telomerase inhibitor, in patients with MF who have relapsed after or are refractory to prior treatment with a JAK inhibitor. Imago BioSciences, Inc., is conducting a Phase 1 trial of IMG-7289, an inhibitor of LSD1, which is an epigenetic target, in patients with MF. MEI Pharma, Inc., and Helsinn are conducting a Phase 2 trial of pracinostat, a histone deacetylase inhibitor in MF patients on treatment with ruxolitinib.  AbbVie is

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conducting Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials of navitoclax, a Bcl-2/XL inhibitor in combination with ruxolitinib in JAK-inhibitor-naive MF patients and MF patients already on treatment with ruxolitinib.

We are aware of several companies that are developing BET inhibitors, including AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Incyte, Boehringer Ingelheim, TG Therapeutics, Nuvation Bio, and Zenith Epigenetics.

CPI-0209

CPI-0209 could face competition from tazemetostat (marketed as TAZVERIK by Epizyme, Inc.).  Tazverik was approved in January 2020 for patients with epithelioid sarcoma, and in June 2020 for patients with relapsed/refractory follicular lymphoma.  Epizyme is conducting Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials with tazemetostat in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.  We are aware of several companies that are developing EZH1/EZH2 inhibitors, including Daiichi Sankyo Company, Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., Ltd., and Pfizer Inc.  Novartis AG, Oric Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Ascentage Pharma are developing embryonic ectoderm development (EED) inhibitors, which target an alternative subunit of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), which can also inhibit EZH1/EZH2 activity.    

Intellectual Property

We strive to protect and enhance the proprietary technology, inventions and improvements that are commercially important to the development of our business, including by seeking, maintaining and defending patent rights, whether developed internally or licensed from third parties. We also rely on trade secrets, know-how, continuing technological innovation and in-licensing opportunities to develop, strengthen and maintain our proprietary position in the field of epigenetic small molecule drug discovery.

Our future commercial success depends, in part, on our ability to: obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for commercially important technology, inventions and know-how related to our business; defend and enforce our patents; preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets; and operate without infringing, misappropriating or violating the valid and enforceable patents and proprietary rights of third parties. Our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our products may depend on the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents or trade secrets that cover these activities. With respect to both our owned and licensed intellectual property, we cannot be sure that patents will issue with respect to any of our owned or licensed pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications that we or our licensors may file in the future, nor can we be sure that any of our owned or licensed patents or any patents that may be issued in the future to us or our licensors will be commercially useful in protecting our product candidates and methods of manufacturing the same. Moreover, we may not be able to obtain patent protection for certain of our product candidates generally as well as with respect to certain indications. See “Risk factors—Risks related to our intellectual property” for a more comprehensive description of risks related to our intellectual property. We generally file patent applications directed to our key programs, including CPI-0209 and pelabresib, in an effort to establish our intellectual property positions regarding new compositions relating to these programs as well as uses of these and similar compositions in the treatment of relevant diseases. We also seek patent protection with respect to methods of making these compositions and to biomarkers that may be useful in establishing or monitoring the efficacy of these compositions in patients. As of January 1, 2021, we owned 25 issued or allowed U.S. patents, 14 U.S. pending non-provisional patent applications, 192 issued or allowed foreign patents, 79 foreign pending patent applications, 24 pending Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, applications and 4 U.S. provisional patent applications.  Additionally, our epigenetics platform is not protected by any patented intellectual property.

The intellectual property portfolios for our most advanced programs as of January 1, 2021, are summarized below. Prosecution is a lengthy process, during which the scope of the claims initially submitted for examination by the USPTO can be significantly narrowed by the time they issue, if they issue at all. We expect this could be the case with respect to some of our pending patent applications referred to below.

Pelabresib / BET Inhibitor Program

The intellectual property portfolio for our pelabresib program includes patents and applications directed to compositions of matter generically and specifically covering pelabresib and related BET inhibitors, as well as to methods for using and making these novel compositions. We also have patents and applications covering extended uses of pelabresib for treating select patient subtypes, such as myelofibrosis.  As of January 1, 2021, we owned four issued or allowed U.S. patents, two issued or allowed European Patent Office patents, seven pending PCT applications, one U.S. provisional patent application, and approximately 89 foreign patents and patent applications in a number of other jurisdictions relating to our pelabresib program. The U.S. or ex-U.S. issued patents or patents issuing from these pending applications, if any, for our pelabresib

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program are projected to have a statutory expiration date from December 2031 to June 2041, excluding any additional term for patent term adjustments or patent term extensions.

In addition to patent protection, we rely upon unpatented trade secrets and confidential know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. However, trade secrets and confidential know-how are difficult to protect. We seek to protect our proprietary information, in part, using confidentiality agreements with any future collaborators, scientific advisors, employees and consultants, and invention assignment agreements with our employees. We also have agreements requiring assignment of inventions with selected consultants, scientific advisors and collaborators. These agreements may not provide meaningful protection. These agreements may also be breached, and we may not have an adequate remedy for any such breach. In addition, our trade secrets and/or confidential know-how may become known or be independently developed by a third party or misused by any collaborator to whom we disclose such information. Despite any measures taken to protect our intellectual property, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy aspects of our products or to obtain or use information that we regard as proprietary. Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information, third parties may independently develop the same or similar proprietary information or may otherwise gain access to our proprietary information. As a result, we may be unable to meaningfully protect our trade secrets and proprietary information. See “Risk factors—Risks related to our intellectual property” for a more comprehensive description of risks related to our intellectual property.  

CPI-0209 / Second-Generation EZH2 Inhibitor Program

The intellectual property portfolio for our CPI-0209 program includes patents and applications directed to compositions of matter generically and specifically covering CPI-0209 and related EZH2 inhibitors, as well as to methods for using and making these novel compositions. As of January 1, 2021, we owned one issued U.S. patent, one pending U.S. non-provisional applications, three pending PCT applications, one U.S. provisional patent application, and 28 foreign patent applications in a number of other jurisdictions relating to our CPI-0209 program. The U.S. or ex-U.S. issued patents or patents issuing from the pending applications, if any, for our CPI-0209 program are projected to have a statutory expiration date from April 2039 to July 2041. While we intend to timely file non-provisional patent applications relating to our provisional patent application, we cannot predict whether any of our future patent applications for CPI-0209 or any other future product candidates will result in the issuance of patents that effectively protect CPI-0209 and any other future product candidates, or if any of our or our licensors’ issued patents will effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive products. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing or in some cases not at all until they are issued as a patent. Therefore, we and our licensors cannot be certain that we were the first to make the inventions claimed in our licensed patents, patents we own in the future, or pending patent applications, or that we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions.

License and Collaboration Agreements

Research, Development and Commercialization Agreement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

In July 2012, we entered into a research, development and commercialization agreement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or LLS. We refer to the agreement as the LLS Agreement. Under the LLS Agreement, LLS agreed to provide funding for the development of a compound targeted toward certain tandem bromodomain-containing proteins, designed for and researched for use in the treatment of lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome, acute myelogenous leukemia or multiple myeloma, or the Field, in accordance with an agreed-upon budget and milestones, which we call the research program. The LLS Agreement initially required us to perform the development activities on a compound that we are no longer developing. We and LLS amended the LLS Agreement in April 2013 to allow us to propose alternative compounds to LLS and for LLS to decide whether it would fund the research program for an alternative compound. We proposed pelabresib, and LLS agreed to fund pelabresib as the alternative compound in June 2013. We and LLS further amended the LLS Agreement in June 2013, June 2014 and March 2016 to reflect changes to the research program milestones.

LLS has agreed to pay us up to $7.5 million, or the LLS Funding, toward the costs of the research program. We may use such funding solely to pay or reimburse expenses of the research program in accordance with an agreed-upon budget. As of December 31, 2018, LLS has paid us $7.3 million in aggregate, and no additional funding was paid in the year ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively. We are obligated, and have to date provided funding, to match LLS’s funding to support the research program.

We are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to conduct the research program substantially in accordance with an agreed-upon research plan with the goal of developing an LLS Product for commercial sale. Once the research program is complete, we are obligated to use, at our own expense, commercially reasonable efforts to develop at least one LLS Product in the Field in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom or Japan, or the major market countries, and, following receipt of regulatory approval for at least one LLS Product in any major market country, to commercialize the

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LLS Product in the Field in such country. If we fail to meet the foregoing obligation, then, under certain circumstances, LLS may terminate the agreement and LLS may exercise the exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license we granted LLS in certain of our intellectual property to develop and commercialize pelabresib.

We are obligated to pay to LLS up to $25 million, which would be payable in variable portions based on our execution of any agreement to license or permanently transfer rights to pelabresib or an LLS Product to an unaffiliated third party, on the closing of a change of control of our company, or on the receipt of regulatory approval in certain of the major market countries, which we refer to as the Payment Cap Payments. Our payment obligations to LLS continue until satisfied and otherwise only terminate upon a termination of the LLS Agreement by us in the event of a material breach by LLS. The LLS Agreement expires when there are no longer any payment obligations owing from one party to the other with respect to any of these provisions.

We and LLS may terminate the LLS agreement for a material breach by the other party that is not cured within a specified period. LLS may terminate the LLS Agreement if we are debarred by the FDA or excluded from health care programs, or if we knowingly use for any services under the LLS Agreement any individual or entity who is debarred or excluded, or if we undergo certain bankruptcy events. If LLS terminates the LLS Agreement because we are debarred by the FDA or excluded from health care programs, or knowingly use the services of any individual or entity who is debarred or excluded for any services under the LLS Agreement, or we materially breach the LLS Agreement and do not cure within the specified time period, we are obligated to repay LLS the LLS Funding and, if we continue development of the LLS Product thereafter, we also must pay LLS the Payment Cap Payments.

Government Regulation and Product Approvals

Government authorities in the United States at the federal, state and local level, and in other countries and jurisdictions, including the European Union, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, pricing, reimbursement, quality control, approval, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, labeling, advertising, promotion, distribution, marketing, post-approval monitoring and reporting, and import and export of biopharmaceutical products. The processes for obtaining marketing approvals in the United States and in foreign countries and jurisdictions, along with compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and other regulatory authorities, require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

Approval and Regulation of Drugs in the United States

In the United States, drug products are regulated under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and applicable implementing regulations and guidance. The failure of an applicant to comply with the applicable regulatory requirements at any time during the product development process, including non-clinical testing, clinical testing, the approval process or post-approval process, may result in delays to the conduct of a study, regulatory review and approval and/or administrative or judicial sanctions.

An applicant seeking approval to market and distribute a new drug in the United States generally must satisfactorily complete each of the following steps before the product candidate will be approved by the FDA:

 

preclinical testing including laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies, which must be performed in accordance with the FDA’s good laboratory practice, or GLP, regulations and standards;

 

submission to the FDA of an IND for human clinical testing, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;

 

approval by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, representing each clinical site before each clinical trial may be initiated;

 

performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety, potency and purity of the product candidate for each proposed indication, in accordance with current good clinical practices, or GCP;

 

preparation and submission to the FDA of a new drug application, or NDA, for a drug product which includes not only the results of the clinical trials, but also detailed information on the chemistry, manufacture and quality controls for the product candidate and proposed labelling for one or more proposed indication(s);

 

review of the product candidate by an FDA advisory committee, where appropriate or if applicable;

 

satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities, including those of third parties, at which the product candidate or components thereof are manufactured to assess compliance with current good

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manufacturing practices, 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 any FDA audits of the non-clinical and clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCP and the integrity of clinical data in support of the NDA;

 

payment of user fees and securing FDA approval of the NDA to allow marketing of the new drug product; and

 

compliance with any post-approval requirements, including the potential requirement to implement a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, and the potential requirement to conduct any post-approval studies required by the FDA.

Preclinical Studies

Before an applicant begins testing a product candidate with potential therapeutic value in humans, the product candidate enters the preclinical testing stage, including in vitro and animal studies to assess the safety and activity of the drug for initial testing in humans and to establish a rationale for therapeutic use. Preclinical tests include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, formulation and stability, as well as other studies to evaluate, among other things, the toxicity of the product candidate. Some long-term preclinical testing, such as animal tests of reproductive adverse events and carcinogenicity and long-term toxicity studies may continue after the IND is submitted.

The IND and IRB Processes

An IND is an exemption from the FDCA that allows an unapproved product candidate to be shipped in interstate commerce for use in an investigational clinical trial and a request for FDA authorization to administer such investigational product to humans. Such authorization must be secured prior to interstate shipment and administration of any product candidate that is not the subject of an approved NDA. In support of a request for an IND, applicants must submit a protocol for each clinical trial, and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. In addition, the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data or literature and plans for clinical trials, among other things, must be submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. The FDA requires a 30-day waiting period after the filing of each IND before clinical trials may begin. This waiting period is designed to allow the FDA to review the IND to determine whether human research subjects will be exposed to unreasonable health risks. At any time during this 30-day period or thereafter, the FDA may raise concerns or questions about the conduct of the trials as outlined in the IND and impose a clinical hold or partial clinical hold. In these cases, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before clinical trials can begin.

Following commencement of a clinical trial under an IND, the FDA may also place a clinical hold or partial clinical hold on that trial. Clinical holds are imposed by the FDA whenever there is concern for patient safety and may be a result of new data, findings, or developments in clinical, nonclinical, and/or chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC).  A clinical hold is an order issued by the FDA to the sponsor to delay a proposed clinical investigation or to suspend an ongoing investigation. A partial clinical hold is a delay or suspension of only part of the clinical work requested under the IND. For example, a specific protocol or part of a protocol may not be allowed to proceed, while other protocols may be allowed. No more than 30 days after imposition of a clinical hold or partial clinical hold, the FDA will provide the sponsor a written explanation of the basis for the hold. Following issuance of a clinical hold or partial clinical hold, a clinical trial may only resume after the FDA has so notified the sponsor. The FDA will base that determination on information provided by the sponsor correcting the deficiencies previously cited or otherwise satisfying the FDA that the clinical trial can proceed.

A sponsor may choose, but is not required, to conduct a foreign clinical study under an IND. When a foreign clinical study is conducted under an IND, all FDA IND requirements must be met unless waived. When a foreign clinical study is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor must ensure that the study complies with certain regulatory requirements of the FDA in order to use the study as support for an IND or application for marketing approval. The FDA’s regulations are intended to help ensure the protection of human subjects enrolled in non-IND foreign clinical studies, as well as the quality and integrity of the resulting data. They further help ensure that non-IND foreign studies are conducted in a manner comparable to that required for IND studies.

In addition to the foregoing IND requirements, an IRB representing each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial before it commences at that institution, and the IRB must conduct continuing review and reapprove the study at least annually. The IRB must review and approve, among other things, the study protocol and informed consent information to be provided to study subjects. An IRB must operate in compliance with FDA regulations. An IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution, or an institution it represents,

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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 trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee, or DSMB. This group provides authorization as to whether or not a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access that only the group maintains to available data from the study. Suspension or termination of development during any phase of clinical trials can occur if it is determined that the participants or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Other reasons for suspension or termination may be made by us based on evolving business objectives and/or the competitive environment.

Information about clinical trials must be submitted within specific timeframes to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, for public dissemination on its ClinicalTrials.gov website.  

Expanded Access to an Investigational Drug for Treatment Use

Expanded access, sometimes called “compassionate use,” is the use of investigational new drug products outside of clinical trials to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases or conditions when there are no comparable or satisfactory alternative treatment options. The rules and regulations related to expanded access are intended to improve access to investigational drugs for patients who may benefit from investigational therapies. FDA regulations allow access to investigational drugs under an IND by the company or the treating physician for treatment purposes on a case-by-case basis for: individual patients (single-patient IND applications for treatment in emergency settings and non-emergency settings); intermediate-size patient populations; and larger populations for use of the drug under a treatment protocol or Treatment IND Application.

When considering an IND application for expanded access to an investigational product with the purpose of treating a patient or a group of patients, the sponsor and treating physicians or investigators will determine suitability when all of the following criteria apply: patient(s) have a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition, and there is no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy to diagnose, monitor, or treat the disease or condition; the potential patient benefit justifies the potential risks of the treatment and the potential risks are not unreasonable in the context or condition to be treated; and the expanded use of the investigational drug for the requested treatment will not interfere initiation, conduct, or completion of clinical investigations that could support marketing approval of the product or otherwise compromise the potential development of the product.

There is no obligation for a sponsor to make its drug products available for expanded access; however, as required by the 21st Century Cures Act (the “Cures Act”), passed in 2016, if a sponsor has a policy regarding how it responds to expanded access requests, it must make that policy publicly available. This requirement applies upon the earlier of initiation of a Phase 2 or Phase 3 study; or 15 days after the investigational drug or biologic receives designation as a breakthrough therapy, fast track product, or regenerative medicine advanced therapy.

In addition, on May 30, 2018, 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 drug manufacturer to make its drug products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act, but the manufacturer must develop an internal policy and respond to patient requests according to that policy.

Human Clinical Trials in Support of an NDA

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product candidate to human subjects under the supervision of a qualified investigator in accordance with GCP requirements, which include, among other things, the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent in writing before their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under written clinical trial protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, inclusion and exclusion criteria, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated.

Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases, but the phases may overlap or be combined. Additional studies may also be required after approval.

Phase 1 clinical trials are initially conducted in a limited population to test the product candidate for safety, including adverse effects, dose tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion and pharmacodynamics in healthy humans or in patients. During Phase 1 clinical trials, information about the investigational drug product’s pharmacokinetics and pharmacological effects may be obtained to permit the design of well-controlled and scientifically valid Phase 2 clinical trials.

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Phase 2 clinical trials are generally conducted in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, evaluate the efficacy of the product candidate for specific targeted indications and determine dose tolerance and optimal dosage. Multiple Phase 2 clinical trials may be conducted by the sponsor to obtain information prior to beginning larger and more costly Phase 3 clinical trials. Phase 2 clinical trials are well controlled, closely monitored and conducted in a limited patient population.

Phase 3 clinical trials proceed if the Phase 2 clinical trials demonstrate that a dose range of the product candidate is potentially effective and has an acceptable safety profile. Phase 3 clinical trials are undertaken within an expanded patient population to further evaluate dosage, provide substantial evidence of clinical efficacy and further test for safety in an expanded and diverse patient population at multiple, geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. A well-controlled, statistically robust Phase 3 clinical trial may be designed to deliver the data that regulatory authorities will use to decide whether or not to approve, and, if approved, how to appropriately label a drug. Such Phase 3 studies are referred to as “pivotal.”

In some cases, the FDA may approve an NDA for a product candidate but require the sponsor to conduct additional clinical trials to further assess the product candidate’s safety and effectiveness after approval. Such post-approval trials are typically referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials. These studies are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of a larger number of patients in the intended treatment group and to further document a clinical benefit in the case of drugs approved under Accelerated Approval regulations. Failure to exhibit due diligence with regard to conducting Phase 4 clinical trials could result in withdrawal of approval for products.

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. In addition, IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA for any of the following: serious and unexpected suspected adverse reactions; findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk in humans exposed to the product; and any clinically important increase in the case of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, or at all. The FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP and the integrity of the clinical data submitted.

Concurrent with clinical trials, companies often complete additional animal studies.  They must also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug 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 the drug candidate and, among other things, must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality, purity and potency of the final drug. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the drug candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.

Pediatric Studies

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003, an NDA or supplement thereto must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the product 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. Sponsors must also submit pediatric study plans prior to the assessment data. Those plans must contain an outline of the proposed pediatric study or studies the applicant plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, any deferral or waiver requests and other information required by regulation. The applicant, the FDA, and the FDA’s internal review committee must then review the information submitted, consult with each other and agree upon a final plan. The FDA or the applicant may request an amendment to the plan at any time.

For drugs intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, the FDA must, upon the request of an applicant, meet to discuss preparation of the initial pediatric study plan or to discuss deferral or waiver of pediatric assessments. In addition, the FDA will meet early in the development process to discuss pediatric study plans with sponsors, and the FDA must meet with sponsors by no later than the end-of-phase 1 meeting for serious or life-threatening diseases and by no later than ninety (90) days after the FDA’s receipt of the study plan.

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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. Additional requirements and procedures relating to deferral requests and requests for extension of deferrals are contained in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA.  The FDA maintains a list of diseases that are exempt from PREA requirements due to low prevalence of disease in the pediatric population. Congress amended the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, or FDARA. Previously, drugs that had been granted orphan drug designation were exempt from the requirements of the Pediatric Research Equity Act. Under the amended section 505B, beginning on August 18, 2020, the submission of a pediatric assessment, waiver or deferral will be required for certain molecularly targeted cancer indications with the submission of an application or supplement to an application.

The FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 established new requirements to govern certain molecularly targeted cancer indications. Any company that submits an NDA three years after the date of enactment of that statute must submit pediatric assessments with the NDA if the drug is intended for the treatment of an adult cancer and is directed at a molecular target that FDA determines to be substantially relevant to the growth or progression of a pediatric cancer. The investigation must be designed to yield clinically meaningful pediatric study data regarding the dosing, safety and preliminary efficacy to inform pediatric labeling for the product.

Review and Approval of an NDA

In order to obtain approval to market a drug product in the United States, a marketing application must be submitted to the FDA that provides sufficient data establishing the safety, purity and potency of the proposed drug product for its intended indication. The application includes all relevant data available from pertinent preclinical and clinical trials, including negative or ambiguous results as well as positive findings, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacturing, controls and proposed labeling, among other things. Data can come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and effectiveness of a use of a product, or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by independent investigators. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety, purity and potency of the drug product to the satisfaction of the FDA.

The NDA is a vehicle through which applicants formally propose that the FDA approve a new product for marketing and sale in the United States for one or more indications. Every new non-biologic drug product candidate must be the subject of an approved NDA before it may be commercialized in the United States. Biologic Licensing Applications, of BLAs, are submitted for approval of biologic products. Under federal law, the submission of most NDAs is subject to an application user fee, which for federal fiscal year 2021 is $2,875,842 for an application requiring clinical data. The sponsor of an approved NDA is also subject to an annual program fee, which for fiscal year 2021 is $336,432. Certain exceptions and waivers are available for some of these fees, such as an exception from the application fee for products with orphan designation, an exception from the program fee when the program does not engage in manufacturing the drug during a particular fiscal year and a waiver for certain small businesses.

The FDA conducts a preliminary review of the application, generally within 60 calendar days of its receipt, and strives to inform the sponsor within 74 days whether the application is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. The FDA may request additional information rather than accept the application 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 has agreed to specified performance goals in the review process of NDAs. Under that agreement, 90% of applications seeking approval of New Molecular Entities, or NMEs, are meant to be reviewed within ten months from the date on which the FDA accepts the application for filing, and 90% of applications for NMEs that have been designated for Priority Review are meant to be reviewed within six months of the filing date. For applications seeking approval of products that are not NMEs, the ten-month and six-month review periods run from the date that the FDA receives the application. The review process and the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, goal date may be extended by the FDA for three additional months to consider new information or clarification provided by the applicant to address an outstanding deficiency identified by the FDA following the original submission.

Before approving an application, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is being or will be manufactured. These pre-approval inspections may cover all facilities associated with an NDA submission, including component manufacturing, finished product manufacturing and control testing laboratories. 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 will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP. Under the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, the FDA must implement a protocol to expedite review of responses to inspection reports pertaining to certain applications, including applications for products in shortage or those for which approval is dependent on remediation of conditions identified in the inspection report.

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The FDA may refer an application for a novel product to an advisory committee or explain why such referral was not made. Typically, an advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that review, evaluate and provide 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 the FDA considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, Priority Review and Regenerative Advanced Therapy Designations

The FDA is authorized to designate certain products for expedited review if they are intended to address an unmet medical need in the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition. These programs are referred to as Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, Priority Review designation and Regenerative Advanced Therapy designation.

Specifically, the FDA may designate a product for Fast Track review if it is intended, whether alone or in combination with one or more other products, for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and it demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. For Fast Track products, sponsors may have greater interaction with the FDA, and the FDA may initiate review of sections of a Fast Track product’s application before the application is complete. This rolling review may be available if the FDA determines, after preliminary evaluation of clinical data submitted by the sponsor, that a Fast Track product may be effective. The sponsor must also provide, and the FDA must approve, a schedule for the submission of the remaining information, and the sponsor must pay applicable user fees. However, the FDA’s time-period goal for reviewing a Fast Track application does not begin until the last section of the application is submitted. In addition, the Fast Track designation may be withdrawn by the FDA if the FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process.

A product may be designated as a Breakthrough Therapy if it is intended, either alone or in combination with one or more other products, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The FDA may take certain actions with respect to Breakthrough Therapies, including holding meetings with the sponsor throughout the development process; providing timely advice to the product sponsor regarding development and approval; involving more senior staff in the review process; assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the review team and taking other steps to design the clinical trials in an efficient manner.

The FDA may designate a product for Priority Review if it treats a serious condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness. The FDA determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether the proposed product represents a significant improvement when compared with other available therapies. Significant improvement may be illustrated by evidence of increased effectiveness in the treatment of a condition, elimination or substantial reduction of a treatment-limiting product reaction, documented enhancement of patient compliance that may lead to improvement in serious outcomes, and evidence of safety and effectiveness in a new subpopulation. A Priority Review designation is intended to direct overall attention and resources to the evaluation of such applications and to shorten the FDA’s goal for taking action on a marketing application from ten months to six months.

With passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, or the Cures Act, in December 2016, Congress authorized the FDA to accelerate review and approval of products designated as Regenerative Advanced Therapies. A product is eligible for this designation if it is a regenerative medicine therapy that is intended to treat, modify, reverse or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and if preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition. The benefits of a Regenerative Advanced Therapy designation include early interactions with the FDA to expedite development and review, benefits available to breakthrough therapies, potential eligibility for Priority Review and Accelerated Approval based on surrogate or intermediate endpoints.

Accelerated Approval Pathway

The FDA may grant Accelerated Approval to a product for a serious or life-threatening condition that provides meaningful therapeutic advantage to patients over existing treatments based upon a determination that the product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. The FDA may also grant Accelerated Approval for such a condition when the product has an effect on an intermediate clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality, or IMM, and that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on IMM or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. Products granted Accelerated Approval must meet the same statutory standards for safety and effectiveness as those granted traditional approval.

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For the purposes of Accelerated Approval, a surrogate endpoint is a marker, such as a laboratory measurement, radiographic image, physical sign or other measure that is thought to predict clinical benefit but is not itself a measure of clinical benefit. Surrogate endpoints can often be measured more easily or more rapidly than clinical endpoints. An intermediate clinical endpoint is a measurement of a therapeutic effect that is considered reasonably likely to predict the clinical benefit of a drug, such as an effect on IMM. The FDA has limited experience with Accelerated Approvals based on intermediate clinical endpoints but has indicated that such endpoints generally may support Accelerated Approval where the therapeutic effect measured by the endpoint is not itself a clinical benefit and basis for traditional approval, if there is a basis for concluding that the therapeutic effect is reasonably likely to predict the ultimate clinical benefit of a product.

The Accelerated Approval pathway is most often used in settings in which the course of a disease is long and an extended period of time is required to measure the intended clinical benefit of a product, even if the effect on the surrogate or intermediate clinical endpoint occurs rapidly. Thus, Accelerated Approval has been used extensively in the development and approval of products for treatment of a variety of cancers in which the goal of therapy is generally to improve survival or decrease morbidity and the duration of the typical disease course requires lengthy and sometimes large trials to demonstrate a clinical or survival benefit. Thus, the benefit of Accelerated Approval derives from the potential to receive approval based on surrogate endpoints sooner than possible for trials with clinical or survival endpoints, rather than deriving from any explicit shortening of the FDA approval timeline, as is the case with Priority Review.

The Accelerated Approval pathway is usually contingent on a sponsor’s agreement to conduct, in a diligent manner, additional post-approval confirmatory studies to verify and describe the product’s clinical benefit. As a result, a product candidate approved on this basis is subject to rigorous post-marketing compliance requirements, including the completion of Phase 4 or post-approval clinical trials to confirm the effect on the clinical endpoint. Failure to conduct required post-approval studies, or to confirm a clinical benefit during post-marketing studies, would allow the FDA to initiate expedited proceedings to withdraw approval of the product. All promotional materials for product candidates approved under accelerated regulations are subject to prior review by the FDA.

The FDA’s Decision on an NDA

On the basis of the FDA’s evaluation of the application and accompanying information, including the results of the inspection of the manufacturing facilities, the FDA may issue an approval letter or a complete response letter, or CRL. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the product with specific prescribing information for specific indications. A CRL generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing or information in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. If and when those deficiencies have been addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmission of the NDA, the FDA will issue an approval letter. The FDA has committed to reviewing such resubmissions in two or six months depending on the type of information included. Even with submission of this additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval.

If the FDA approves a new product, it may limit the approved indications for use of the product, require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, or require that post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess the drug’s safety after approval. The agency may also require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution restrictions or other risk management mechanisms, including a REMS, to help ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh the potential risks. REMS programs can include medication guides, communication plans for health care professionals, and elements to assure safe use, or ETASU. ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring and the use of patent registries. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-market studies or surveillance programs. The FDA may require a REMS before or after approval if it becomes aware of a serious risk associated with use of the product. The requirement for a REMS can materially affect the potential market and profitability of a product. After approval, many types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, changing manufacturing processes and adding labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.

Post-Approval Regulation

If regulatory approval for marketing of a product or new indication for an existing product is obtained, the sponsor will be required to comply with all regular post-approval regulatory requirements as well as any post-approval requirements that the FDA may have imposed as part of the approval process. The sponsor will be required to report, among other things, certain adverse reactions and manufacturing problems to the FDA, provide updated safety and efficacy information and comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotional labeling requirements. Manufacturers and certain of their subcontractors are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements, including cGMP regulations, which impose certain procedural and documentation requirements upon manufacturers.

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Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. Accordingly, the sponsor and its third-party manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the areas of production and quality control to maintain compliance with cGMP regulations and other regulatory requirements.

A product may also be subject to official lot release, meaning that the manufacturer is required to perform certain tests on each lot of the product before it is released for distribution. If the product is subject to official release, the manufacturer must submit to the FDA samples of each lot, together with a release protocol showing a summary of the history of manufacture of the lot and the results of all of the manufacturer’s tests performed on the lot. The FDA may also perform certain confirmatory tests on lots of some products before releasing the lots for distribution. Finally, the FDA will conduct laboratory research related to the safety, purity, potency and effectiveness of pharmaceutical products.

Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of 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 revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess safety risks; or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program. 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 applications or supplements to approved applications, or suspension or revocation of product license approvals;

 

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

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates the marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of prescription drug products placed on the market. This regulation includes, among other things, standards and regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising, communications regarding unapproved uses, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and promotional activities involving the Internet and social media. Promotional claims about a drug’s safety or effectiveness are prohibited before the drug is approved. After approval, a drug product generally may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the FDA, as reflected in the product’s prescribing information. In the United States, health care professionals are generally permitted to prescribe drugs for such uses not described in the drug’s labeling, known as off-label uses, because the FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine. However, FDA regulations impose rigorous restrictions on manufacturers’ communications, prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses. It may be permissible, under very specific, narrow conditions, for a manufacturer to engage in nonpromotional, non-misleading communication regarding off-label information, such as distributing scientific or medical journal information.

If a company is found to have promoted off-label uses, it may become subject to adverse public relations and administrative and judicial enforcement by the FDA, the Department of Justice, or the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as state authorities. This could subject a company to a range of penalties that could have a significant commercial impact, including civil and criminal fines and agreements that materially restrict the manner in which a company promotes or distributes drug products. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion and has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed.

Abbreviated New Drug Applications for Generic Drugs

In 1984, with passage of the Hatch-Waxman Amendments to the FDCA, Congress established an abbreviated regulatory scheme authorizing the FDA to approve generic drugs that are shown to contain the same active ingredients as, and to be bioequivalent to, drugs previously approved by the FDA pursuant to NDAs.

Specifically, in order for an ANDA to be approved, the FDA must find that the generic version is identical to the RLD with respect to the active ingredients, route of administration, dosage form, strength and conditions of use of the drug. At the same time, the FDA must also determine that the generic drug is bioequivalent to the innovator drug. Under the statute, a generic drug is bioequivalent to a RLD if “the rate and extent of absorption of the drug do not show a significant difference from the rate and extent of absorption of the listed drug.” Upon approval of an ANDA, the FDA indicates whether the generic product is “therapeutically equivalent” to the RLD in its publication “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” also referred to as the “Orange Book.” Physicians and pharmacists consider a therapeutic equivalent generic

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drug to be fully substitutable for the RLD. In addition, by operation of certain state laws and numerous health insurance programs, the FDA’s designation of therapeutic equivalence often results in substitution of the generic drug without the knowledge or consent of either the prescribing physician or the patient.

Under the Hatch-Waxman Amendments, the FDA may not approve an ANDA until any applicable period of non-patent exclusivity for the RLD has expired. The FDCA provides a period of five years of non-patent data exclusivity for a new drug containing a new chemical entity. For the purposes of this provision, a new chemical entity, or NCE, is a drug that contains no active moiety that has previously been approved by the FDA in any other NDA. An active moiety is the molecule or ion responsible for the physiological or pharmacological action of the drug substance. In cases where such NCE exclusivity has been granted, an ANDA may not be filed with the FDA until the expiration of five years unless the submission is accompanied by a Paragraph IV certification, in which case the applicant may submit its application four years following the original product approval.

Hatch-Waxman Patent Certification and the 30-Month Stay

Upon approval of an NDA or a supplement thereto, NDA sponsors are required to list with the FDA each patent with claims that cover the applicant’s product or an approved method of using the product. Each of the patents listed by the NDA sponsor is published in the Orange Book. When an ANDA applicant files its application with the FDA, the applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the reference product in the Orange Book, except for patents covering methods of use for which the ANDA applicant is not seeking approval. To the extent that the Section 505(b)(2) applicant is relying on studies conducted for an already approved product, the applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the approved product in the Orange Book to the same extent that an ANDA applicant would.

Specifically, the applicant must certify with respect to each patent that:

 

the required patent information has not been filed;

 

the listed patent has expired;

 

the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or

 

the listed patent is invalid, unenforceable or will not be infringed by the new product.

A certification that the new product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents or that such patents are invalid or unenforceable is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents or indicates that it is not seeking approval of a patented method of use, the application will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired (other than method of use patents involving indications for which the applicant is not seeking approval).

If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA and patent holders once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days after the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA until the earlier of 30 months after the receipt of the Paragraph IV notice, the expiration of the patent, or a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA applicant.

Pediatric Exclusivity

Pediatric exclusivity is another type of non-patent marketing exclusivity in the United States and, if granted, provides for the attachment of an additional six months of marketing protection to the term of any existing regulatory exclusivity, including the non-patent and orphan exclusivity. This six-month exclusivity may be granted if an NDA sponsor submits pediatric data that fairly respond to a written request from the FDA for such data. The data do not need to show the product to be effective in the pediatric population studied; rather, if the clinical trial is deemed to fairly respond to the FDA’s request, the additional protection is granted. If reports of requested pediatric studies are submitted to and accepted by the FDA within the statutory time limits, whatever statutory or regulatory periods of exclusivity or patent protection cover the product are extended by six months. This is not a patent term extension, but it effectively extends the regulatory period during which the FDA cannot approve another application.

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Orphan Drug Designation and Exclusivity

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a drug product as an “orphan drug” if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, generally meaning that it affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or more in cases in which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making a product available in the United States for treatment of the disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product. A company must seek orphan drug designation before submitting an NDA for the candidate product. If the request is granted, the FDA will disclose the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential use. Orphan drug designation does not shorten the PDUFA goal dates for the regulatory review and approval process, although it does convey certain advantages such as tax benefits and exemption from the PDUFA application fee.

If a product with orphan designation 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 generally will receive orphan drug exclusivity. Orphan drug exclusivity means that the FDA may not approve another sponsor’s marketing application for the same drug for the same condition for seven years, except in certain limited circumstances. Orphan exclusivity does not block the approval of a different product for the same rare disease or condition, nor does it block the approval of the same product for different conditions. If a drug designated as an orphan drug ultimately receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what was designated in its orphan drug application, it may not be entitled to exclusivity.

Orphan drug exclusivity will not bar approval of another product under certain circumstances, including if a subsequent product with the same drug for the same condition 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. This is the case despite an earlier court opinion holding that the Orphan Drug Act unambiguously required the FDA to recognize orphan exclusivity regardless of a showing of clinical superiority.

Patent Term Restoration and Extension

A patent claiming a new drug product may be eligible for a limited patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act, which permits a patent restoration of up to five years for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review. The restoration period granted on a patent covering a product is typically one-half the time between the effective date of a clinical investigation involving human beings is begun and the submission date of an application, plus the time between the submission date of an application and the ultimate approval date. Patent term restoration cannot be used to extend the remaining term of a patent past a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension, and only those claims covering the approved product, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. Additionally, the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent in question. A patent that covers multiple products for which approval is sought can only be extended in connection with one of the approvals. The United States Patent and Trademark Office reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration in consultation with the FDA.

FDA Approval of Companion Diagnostics

If safe and effective use of a therapeutic depends on an in vitro diagnostic, then the FDA generally will require approval or clearance of that diagnostic, known as a companion diagnostic, at the same time that the FDA approves the therapeutic product.  In August 2014, the FDA issued final guidance clarifying the requirements that will apply to approval of therapeutic products and in vitro companion diagnostics. According to the guidance, if FDA determines that a companion diagnostic device is essential to the safe and effective use of a novel therapeutic product or indication, FDA generally will not approve the therapeutic product or new therapeutic product indication if the companion diagnostic device is not approved or cleared for that indication.  Approval or clearance of the companion diagnostic device will ensure that the device has been adequately evaluated and has adequate performance characteristics in the intended population.

The 2014 guidance also explains that a companion diagnostic device used to make treatment decisions in clinical trials of a biologic product candidate generally will be considered an investigational device, unless it is employed for an intended use for which the device is already approved or cleared. If used to make critical treatment decisions, such as patient selection, the diagnostic device generally will be considered a significant risk device under the FDA’s Investigational Device Exemption, or IDE, regulations. Thus, the sponsor of the diagnostic device will be required to comply with the IDE regulations. According to the guidance, if a diagnostic device and a product are to be studied together to support their respective approvals, both products can be studied in the same investigational study, if the study meets both the requirements of the IDE regulations and the IND regulations. The guidance provides that depending on the details of the study plan and subjects, a sponsor may seek to submit an IND alone, or both an IND and an IDE.

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The FDA previously has required in vitro companion diagnostics intended to select the patients who will respond to the product candidate to obtain pre-market approval, or PMA, simultaneously with approval of the therapeutic product candidate.  The PMA process, including the gathering of clinical and preclinical data and the submission to and review by the FDA, can take several years or longer. It involves a rigorous premarket review during which the applicant must prepare and provide the FDA with reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness and information about the device and its components regarding, among other things, device design, manufacturing and labeling.  PMA applications are subject to an application fee, for federal fiscal year 2021, the standard fee is $365,657 and the small business fee is $91,414.

A clinical trial is typically required for a PMA application and, in a small percentage of cases, the FDA may require a clinical study in support of a 510(k) submission. A manufacturer that wishes to conduct a clinical study involving the device is subject to the FDA’s IDE regulation. The IDE regulation distinguishes between significant and non-significant risk device studies and the procedures for obtaining approval to begin the study differ accordingly. Also, some types of studies are exempt from the IDE regulations. A significant risk device presents a potential for serious risk to the health, safety, or welfare of a subject. Significant risk devices are devices that are substantially important in diagnosing, curing, mitigating, or treating disease or in preventing impairment to human health. Studies of devices that pose a significant risk require both FDA and an IRB approval prior to initiation of a clinical study. Non-significant risk devices are devices that do not pose a significant risk to the human subjects. A non-significant risk device study requires only IRB approval prior to initiation of a clinical study.

Health Care Law and Regulation

Health care providers and third-party payers play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of drug products that are granted marketing approval. Arrangements with providers, consultants, third-party payers and customers are subject to broadly applicable fraud and abuse, anti-kickback, false claims laws, patient privacy laws and regulations and other health care laws and regulations that may constrain business and/or financial arrangements. Restrictions under applicable federal and state health care laws and regulations, include the following:

 

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, paying, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal health care program such as Medicare and Medicaid;

 

the federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the civil False Claims Act, and civil monetary penalties laws, which prohibit individuals or entities from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false, fictitious or fraudulent or knowingly making, using or causing to made or used a false record or statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;

 

the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created additional federal criminal laws that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any health care benefit program or making false statements relating to health care matters;

 

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and their respective implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published in January 2013, which impose obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;

 

the federal false statements statute, which prohibits knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing  or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits, items or services;

 

the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, which prohibits companies and their intermediaries from making, or offering or promising to make improper payments to non-U.S. officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or otherwise seeking favorable treatment;

 

the federal transparency requirements known as the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care Education Reconciliation Act, or the Affordable Care Act, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies to report annually to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, within the United States Department of Health and Human

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Services, information related to payments and other transfers of value made by that entity to physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members; and

 

analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to health care items or services that are reimbursed by non-government third-party payers, including private insurers.

Further, some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government in addition to requiring manufacturers to report information related to payments to physicians and other health care providers or marketing expenditures. Additionally, some state and local laws require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives in the jurisdiction. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage and Health Care Reform

In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payers to reimburse all or part of the associated health care costs. Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of products approved by the FDA and other government authorities. Thus, even if a product candidate is approved, sales of the product will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payers, including government health programs in the United States such as Medicare and Medicaid, commercial health insurers and managed care organizations, provide coverage and establish adequate reimbursement levels for, the product. The process for determining whether a payer will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payer will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payers are increasingly challenging the prices charged, examining the medical necessity and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payers may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication.

In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, a company may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable marketing approvals. Nonetheless, product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A decision by a third-party payer not to cover a product could reduce physician utilization once the product is approved and have a material adverse effect on sales, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, a payer’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payer’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payers will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product, and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payer to payer.

The containment of health care costs also has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments and the prices of products have been a focus in this effort. Governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit a company’s revenue generated from the sale of any approved products. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which a company or its collaborators receive marketing approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.

There have been a number of federal and state proposals during the last few years regarding the pricing of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, limiting coverage and reimbursement for drugs and biologics and other medical products, government control and other changes to the health care system in the United States.

In March 2010, the United States Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, which, among other things, includes changes to the coverage and payment for drug products under government health care programs.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted 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. These changes included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and will remain in effect through 2030 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief,

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and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act.  The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. These laws 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.

Since enactment of the ACA, there have been, and continue to be, numerous legal challenges and Congressional actions to repeal and replace provisions of the law. For example, with enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was signed by President Trump on December 22, 2017, Congress repealed the “individual mandate.” The repeal of this provision, which requires most Americans to carry a minimal level of health insurance, became effective in 2019. Further, on December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled that the individual mandate portion of the ACA is an essential and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore because the mandate was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. On December 18, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit court affirmed the lower court’s ruling that the individual mandate portion of the ACA is unconstitutional, and it remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration of the severability question and additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA.  Thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear this case. Oral argument in the case took place on November 10, 2020.  On February 10, 2021, the Biden Administration withdrew DOJ’s support for this lawsuit.  A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is expected sometime this year. Litigation and legislation over the ACA are likely to continue, with unpredictable and uncertain results.

The Trump Administration also took executive actions to undermine or delay implementation of the ACA, including directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the ACA to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the ACA that would impose a fiscal or regulatory burden on states, individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices.  On January 28, 2021, however, President Biden rescinded those orders and issued a new Executive Order which directs federal agencies to reconsider rules and other policies that limit Americans’ access to health care and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access.  Under this Order, federal agencies are directed to re-examine: policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19; demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the ACA that may reduce coverage or undermine the programs, including work requirements; policies that undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or other markets for health insurance; policies that make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and the ACA; and policies that reduce affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents.

The costs of prescription pharmaceuticals have also been the subject of considerable discussion in the United States To date, there have been several recent U.S. congressional inquiries, as well as proposed and enacted state and federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, reduce the costs of drugs under Medicare and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products.  To those ends, President Trump issued five executive orders intended to lower the costs of prescription drug products, but it is unclear whether, and to what extent, these orders will remain in force under the Biden Administration.  Further, on September 24, 2020, the Trump Administration finalized a rulemaking allowing states or certain other non-federal government entities to submit importation program proposals to the FDA for review and approval. Applicants are required to demonstrate that their importation plans pose no additional risk to public health and safety and will result in significant cost savings for consumers.  The FDA has issued draft guidance that would allow manufacturers to import their own FDA-approved drugs that are authorized for sale in other countries (multi-market approved products).  

At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. In addition, regional health care authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other health care programs. These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing. We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.

Review and Approval of Medicinal Products in the European Union

In order to market any product outside of the United States, a company must also comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries and jurisdictions regarding quality, safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of products. Whether or not it obtains

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FDA approval for a product, an applicant will need to obtain the necessary approvals by the comparable non-U.S. regulatory authorities before it can commence clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries or jurisdictions. The approval process ultimately 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 failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction may negatively impact the regulatory process in others. Specifically, however, the process governing approval of medicinal products in the European Union, or EU, generally follows the same lines as in the United States. It entails satisfactory completion of preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the product for each proposed indication. It also requires the submission to the relevant competent authorities of a marketing authorization application, or MAA, and granting of a marketing authorization by these authorities before the product can be marketed and sold in the EU.

Clinical Trial Approval

The Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC, the Directive 2005/28/EC on GCP and the related national implementing provisions of the individual member states of the European Union, or 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 competent national authority 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 study site after the competent ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion. The clinical trial application must be accompanied by, among other documents, an investigational medicinal product dossier (the Common Technical Document) with supporting information prescribed by Directive 2001/20/EC, Directive 2005/28/EC, where relevant the implementing national provisions of the individual EU Member States and further detailed in applicable guidance documents.

In April 2014, the EU adopted a new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014, which is set to replace the current Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. The new Clinical Trials Regulation will become directly applicable to and binding in all 28 EU Member States without the need for any national implementing legislation. It will overhaul the current system of approvals for clinical trials in the EU. Specifically, the new legislation aims at simplifying and streamlining the approval of clinical trials in the EU. Under the new coordinated procedure for the approval of clinical trials, the sponsor of a clinical trial will be required to submit a single application for approval of a clinical trial to a reporting EU Member State (RMS) through an EU Portal. The submission procedure will be the same irrespective of whether the clinical trial is to be conducted in a single EU Member State or in more than one EU Member State.  

The Regulation was published on June 16, 2014 but has not yet become effective.  In January 2020, the website of the European Commission reported that the implementation of the Clinical Trials Regulation was dependent on the development of a fully functional clinical trials portal and database, which would be confirmed by an independent audit, and that the new legislation would come into effect six months after the European Commission publishes a notice of this confirmation. The website indicated that the audit was expected to commence in December 2020. In late 2020, the EMA indicated that it plans to focus on the findings of a system audit; improving the usability, quality and stability of the clinical trial information system; and knowledge transfer to prepare users and their organizations for the new clinical trial system.  The EMA has indicated that the system will go live in December 2021.

Parties conducting certain clinical studies must, as in the U.S., post clinical trial information in the European Union at the EudraCT website: https://eudract.ema.europa.eu.

PRIME Designation in the EU

In March 2016, the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, launched an initiative to facilitate development of product candidates in indications, often rare, for which few or no therapies currently exist. The PRIority MEdicines, or PRIME, scheme is intended to encourage drug development in areas of unmet medical need and provides accelerated assessment of products representing substantial innovation reviewed under the centralized procedure. Products from small- and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, may qualify for earlier entry into the PRIME scheme than larger companies. Many benefits accrue to sponsors of product candidates with PRIME designation, including but not limited to, early and proactive regulatory dialogue with the EMA, frequent discussions on clinical trial designs and other development program elements, and accelerated marketing authorization application assessment once a dossier has been submitted. Importantly, a dedicated Agency contact and rapporteur from the Committee for Human Medicinal Products, or CHMP, or Committee for Advanced Therapies, or CAT, are appointed early in PRIME scheme facilitating increased understanding of the product at EMA’s Committee level. A kick-off meeting initiates these relationships and includes a team of multidisciplinary experts at the EMA to provide guidance on the overall development and regulatory strategies.

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Paediatric Studies

Prior to obtaining a marketing authorization in the European Union, applicants must demonstrate compliance with all measures included in an EMA-approved PIP covering all subsets of the pediatric population, unless the EMA has granted a product-specific waiver, a class waiver, or a deferral for one or more of the measures included in the PIP. The respective requirements for all marketing authorization procedures are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006, the so-called Paediatric Regulation. This requirement also applies when a company wants to add a new indication, pharmaceutical form or route of administration for a medicine that is already authorized. The Paediatric Committee of the EMA, or PDCO, may grant deferrals for some medicines, allowing a company to delay development of the medicine for children until there is enough information to demonstrate its effectiveness and safety in adults. The PDCO may also grant waivers when development of a medicine for children is not needed or is not appropriate, such as for diseases that only affect the elderly population. Before an MAA can be filed, or an existing marketing authorization can be amended, the EMA determines that companies actually comply with the agreed studies and measures listed in each relevant PIP.

Marketing Authorization

To obtain a marketing authorization for a product under EU regulatory systems, an applicant must submit an MAA either under a centralized procedure administered by the EMA, or one of the procedures administered by competent authorities in the EU Member States (decentralized procedure, national procedure or mutual recognition procedure). A marketing authorization may be granted only to an applicant established in the EU. Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006 provides that prior to obtaining a marketing authorization in the EU, applicants have to demonstrate compliance with all measures included in an EMA-approved Paediatric Investigation Plan, or PIP, covering all subsets of the pediatric population, unless the EMA has granted (1) a product-specific waiver, (2) a class waiver or (3) a deferral for one or more of the measures included in the PIP.

The centralized procedure provides for the grant of a single marketing authorization by the European Commission that is valid across the European Economic Area (i.e., the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 726/2004, the centralized procedure is compulsory for specific products, including for medicines produced by certain biotechnological processes, products designated as orphan medicinal products, advanced therapy medicinal products and products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, including products for the treatment of cancer. For products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of other diseases and products that are highly innovative or for which a centralized process is in the interest of patients, the centralized procedure may be optional. The centralized procedure may at the request of the applicant also be used in certain other cases. We anticipate that the centralized procedure will be mandatory for the product candidates we are developing.

Under the centralized procedure, the CHMP is responsible for conducting the initial assessment of a product and for several post-authorization and maintenance activities, such as the assessment of modifications or extensions to an existing marketing authorization. Under the centralized procedure in the EU, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA is 210 days, excluding clock stops, when additional information or written or oral explanation is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions of the CHMP. Accelerated evaluation might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is of major interest from the point of view of public health and in particular from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation. If the CHMP accepts such request, the time limit of 210 days will be reduced to 150 days but it is possible that the CHMP can revert to the standard time limit for the centralized procedure if it considers that it is no longer appropriate to conduct an accelerated assessment. At the end of this period, the CHMP provides a scientific opinion on whether or not a marketing authorization should be granted in relation to a medicinal product. Within 15 calendar days of receipt of a final opinion from the CHMP, the European Commission must prepare a draft decision concerning an application for marketing authorization. This draft decision must take the opinion and any relevant provisions of EU law into account. Before arriving at a final decision on an application for centralized authorization of a medicinal product the European Commission must consult the Standing Committee on Medicinal Products for Human Use. The Standing Committee is composed of representatives of the EU Member States and chaired by a non-voting European Commission representative. The European Parliament also has a related “droit de regard”. The European Parliament’s role is to ensure that the European Commission has not exceeded its powers in deciding to grant or refuse to grant a marketing authorization.

The European Commission may grant a so-called “marketing authorization under exceptional circumstances”. Such authorization is intended for products for which the applicant can demonstrate that it is unable to provide comprehensive data on the efficacy and safety under normal conditions of use, because the indications for which the product in question is intended are encountered so rarely that the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to provide comprehensive evidence, or in the present state of scientific knowledge, comprehensive information cannot be provided, or it would be contrary to generally accepted principles of medical ethics to collect such information. Consequently, marketing authorization under exceptional circumstances may be granted subject to certain specific obligations, which may include the following:

 

the applicant must complete an identified program of studies within a time period specified by the competent authority, the results of which form the basis of a reassessment of the benefit/risk profile;

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the medicinal product in question may be supplied on medical prescription only and may in certain cases be administered only under strict medical supervision, possibly in a hospital and in the case of a radiopharmaceutical, by an authorized person; and

 

the package leaflet and any medical information must draw the attention of the medical practitioner to the fact that the particulars available concerning the medicinal product in question are as yet inadequate in certain specified respects.

A marketing authorization under exceptional circumstances is subject to annual review to reassess the risk-benefit balance in an annual reassessment procedure. Continuation of the authorization is linked to the annual reassessment and a negative assessment could potentially result in the marketing authorization being suspended or revoked. The renewal of a marketing authorization of a medicinal product under exceptional circumstances, however, follows the same rules as a “normal” marketing authorization. Thus, a marketing authorization under exceptional circumstances is granted for an initial five years, after which the authorization will become valid indefinitely, unless the EMA decides that safety grounds merit one additional five-year renewal.

The European Commission may also grant a so-called “conditional marketing authorization” prior to obtaining the comprehensive clinical data required for an application for a full marketing authorization. Such conditional marketing authorizations may be granted for product candidates (including medicines designated as orphan medicinal products), if (i) the risk-benefit balance of the product candidate is positive, (ii) it is likely that the applicant will be in a position to provide the required comprehensive clinical trial data, (iii) the product fulfills an unmet medical need and (iv) the benefit to public health of the immediate availability on the market of the medicinal product concerned outweighs the risk inherent in the fact that additional data are still required. A conditional marketing authorization may contain specific obligations to be fulfilled by the marketing authorization holder, including obligations with respect to the completion of ongoing or new studies, and with respect to the collection of pharmacovigilance data. Conditional marketing authorizations are valid for one year, and may be renewed annually, if the risk-benefit balance remains positive, and after an assessment of the need for additional or modified conditions and/or specific obligations. The timelines for the centralized procedure described above also apply with respect to the review by the CHMP of applications for a conditional marketing authorization.

The EU medicines rules expressly permit the EU Member States to adopt national legislation prohibiting or restricting the sale, supply or use of any medicinal product containing, consisting of or derived from a specific type of human or animal cell, such as embryonic stem cells. While the products we have in development do not make use of embryonic stem cells, it is possible that the national laws in certain EU Member States may prohibit or restrict us from commercializing our products, even if they have been granted an EU marketing authorization.

Unlike the centralized authorization procedure, the decentralized marketing authorization procedure requires a separate application to, and leads to separate approval by, the competent authorities of each EU Member State in which the product is to be marketed. This application is identical to the application that would be submitted to the EMA for authorization through the centralized procedure. The reference EU Member State prepares a draft assessment and drafts of the related materials within 120 days after receipt of a valid application. The resulting assessment report is submitted to the concerned EU Member States who, within 90 days of receipt, must decide whether to approve the assessment report and related materials. If a concerned EU Member State cannot approve the assessment report and related materials due to concerns relating to a potential serious risk to public health, disputed elements may be referred to the European Commission, whose decision is binding on all EU Member States.

The mutual recognition procedure similarly is based on the acceptance by the competent authorities of the EU Member States of the marketing authorization of a medicinal product by the competent authorities of other EU Member States. The holder of a national marketing authorization may submit an application to the competent authority of an EU Member State requesting that this authority recognize the marketing authorization delivered by the competent authority of another EU Member State.

Regulatory Data Protection in the EU

In the EU, innovative medicinal products approved on the basis of a complete independent data package qualify for eight years of data exclusivity upon marketing authorization and an additional two years of market exclusivity pursuant to Directive 2001/83/EC. Regulation (EC) No 726/2004 repeats this entitlement for medicinal products authorized in accordance the centralized authorization procedure. Data exclusivity prevents applicants for authorization of generics of these innovative products from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic (abridged) application for a period of eight years. During an additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic marketing authorization application can be submitted and authorized, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic medicinal product can be placed on the EU market until the expiration of the market exclusivity. The overall ten-year period will 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

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significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies. Even if a compound is considered to be a new chemical entity so that the innovator gains the prescribed period of data exclusivity, another company nevertheless could also market another version of the product if such company obtained marketing authorization based on an MAA with a complete independent data package of pharmaceutical tests, preclinical tests and clinical trials.

Periods of Authorization and Renewals

A marketing authorization has an initial validity for five years in principle. The marketing authorization may be renewed after five years on the basis of a re-evaluation of the risk-benefit balance by the EMA or by the competent authority of the EU Member State. To this end, the marketing authorization holder must provide the EMA or the competent authority with a consolidated version of the file in respect of quality, safety and efficacy, including all variations introduced since the marketing authorization was granted, at least six months before the marketing authorization ceases to be valid. The European Commission or the competent authorities of the EU Member States may decide, on justified grounds relating to pharmacovigilance, to proceed with one further five-year period of marketing authorization. Once subsequently definitively renewed, the marketing authorization shall be valid for an unlimited period. Any authorization which is not followed by the actual placing of the medicinal product on the EU market (in case of centralized procedure) or on the market of the authorizing EU Member State within three years after authorization ceases to be valid (the so-called sunset clause).

Orphan Drug Designation and Exclusivity

Regulation (EC) No. 141/2000, as implemented by Regulation (EC) No. 847/2000 provides that a drug can be designated as an orphan drug by the European Commission if its sponsor can establish: that the product is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of (1) a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition affecting not more than five in ten thousand persons in the EU when the application is made, or (2) a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition in the EU and that without incentives it is unlikely that the marketing of the drug in the EU would generate sufficient return to justify the necessary investment. For either of these conditions, the applicant must demonstrate that there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the condition in question that has been authorized in the EU or, if such method exists, the drug will be of significant benefit to those affected by that condition.

Once authorized, orphan medicinal products are entitled to 10 years of market exclusivity in all EU Member States and in addition a range of other benefits during the development and regulatory review process including scientific assistance for study protocols, authorization through the centralized marketing authorization procedure covering all member countries and a reduction or elimination of registration and marketing authorization fees. However, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar medicinal product with the same orphan indication during the 10-year period with the consent of the marketing authorization holder for the original orphan medicinal product or if the manufacturer of the original orphan medicinal product is unable to supply sufficient quantities. Marketing authorization may also be granted to a similar medicinal product with the same orphan indication if this product is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior to the original orphan medicinal product. The period of market exclusivity may, in addition, be reduced to six years if it can be demonstrated on the basis of available evidence that the original orphan medicinal product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity.

Paeditric Exclusivity

If an applicant obtains a marketing authorization in all EU Member States, or a marketing authorization granted in the centralized procedure by the European Commission, and the study results for the pediatric population are included in the product information, even when negative, the medicine is then eligible for an additional six-month period of qualifying patent protection through extension of the term of the Supplementary Protection Certificate, or SPC.

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Regulatory Requirements After a Marketing Authorization has been Obtained

In case an authorization for a medicinal product in the EU is obtained, the holder of the marketing authorization is required to comply with a range of requirements applicable to the manufacturing, marketing, promotion and sale of medicinal products. These include:

 

Compliance with the EU’s stringent pharmacovigilance or safety reporting rules must be ensured. These rules can impose post-authorization studies and additional monitoring obligations.

 

The manufacturing of authorized medicinal products, for which a separate manufacturer’s license is mandatory, must also be conducted in strict compliance with the applicable EU laws, regulations and guidance, including Directive 2001/83/EC, Directive 2003/94/EC, Regulation (EC) No 726/2004 and the European Commission Guidelines for Good Manufacturing Practice. These requirements include compliance with EU cGMP standards when manufacturing medicinal products and active pharmaceutical ingredients, including the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients outside of the EU with the intention to import the active pharmaceutical ingredients into the EU.

 

The marketing and promotion of authorized drugs, including industry-sponsored continuing medical education and advertising directed toward the prescribers of drugs and/or the general public, are strictly regulated in the EU notably under Directive 2001/83EC, as amended, and are also subject to EU Member State laws. Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines is prohibited across the EU.

Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom

On June 23, 2016, the electorate in the United Kingdom voted in favor of leaving the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit. Following protracted negotiations, the United Kingdom left the EU on January 31, 2020. Under the withdrawal agreement, there is a transitional period until December 31, 2020 (extendable by up to two years). On December 24, 2020, the United Kingdom and the European Union entered into a Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The agreement sets out certain procedures for approval and recognition of medical products in each jurisdiction. Since the regulatory framework for pharmaceutical products in the United Kingdom 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, as the UK legislation now 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 the transition period is over, which will be updated as the UK’s regulatory position on medicinal products evolves over time.

Furthermore, while the Data Protection Act of 2018 in the United Kingdom that “implements” and complements the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, has achieved Royal Assent on May 23, 2018 and is now effective in the United Kingdom, it is still unclear whether transfer of data from the European Economic Area, or EEA, to the United Kingdom will remain lawful under GDPR. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for a transitional period during which the United Kingdom will be treated like an European Union member state in relation to processing and transfers of personal data for four months from January 1, 2021.  This may be extended by two further months. After such period, the United Kingdom will be a “third country” under the GDPR unless the European Commission adopts an adequacy decision in respect of transfers of personal data to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has already determined that it considers all of the EU 27 and EEA member states to be adequate for the purposes of data protection, ensuring that data flows from the United Kingdom to the EU/EEA remain unaffected.

 

General Data Protection Regulation

 

The collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the EU, including personal health data, is subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (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 EU, including the U.S., 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.  

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Compliance with the GDPR will be a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase the cost of doing business or require companies to change their business practices to ensure full compliance.

Pricing Decisions for Approved Products

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 product candidate to currently available therapies or so-called health technology assessments, in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, EU Member States have the option to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. EU Member States may approve a specific price for a product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other EU Member States allow companies to fix their own prices for products, but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Recently, many countries in the EU have increased the amount of discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage health care expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the EU. The downward pressure on health care costs in general, particularly prescription products, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various EU Member States, and parallel trade, i.e., arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced EU Member States, can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any products, if approved in those countries.

Human Capital Resources

As of February 19, 2021, we had 154 full-time employees, including a total of 62 employees with M.D. or Ph.D. degrees. Of these full-time employees, 106 employees were engaged in research and development and all are located in the U.S.

Our employees are our greatest asset and we strive to create a work environment that is inclusive, challenging and fun.  We are committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DE&I”) and in 2021 we added a dedicated resource overseeing our efforts in these areas with a commitment to provide awareness training to all employees and support under-represented groups and vendors where possible. We plan to create greater awareness and capability in our organization through leadership accountability and transparency by providing opportunities for employees across the organization to contribute to our DE&I plans, decisions and initiatives.

We consider the intellectual capital of our employees to be an essential driver of our business and key to our future prospects and we provide updates to our Board of Directors on our organization on an ongoing basis. Historically we have had employee turnover that is in line with our industry, but the competition for talent remains strong as the number of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the Boston area has increased dramatically in the past three years. Given our financial resources and our track record, we believe that we will continue to be able to fill positions and grow our headcount in support of our expanding pipeline of research and development programs and product candidates and potential commercialization.

We are committed to providing our employees with compensation that meets the expectations of the market and industry norms.  We monitor our compensation programs closely using comprehensive industry surveys and data to guide us, and we provide what we consider to be a competitive mix of long and short term incentives including competitive salaries, health and welfare benefits and participation in our equity programs. We regularly review our compensation practices and analyze the equity of our compensation decisions for all employees.  None of our employees is subject to a collective bargaining agreement or represented by a trade or labor union. We consider our relations with our employees to be good.

We believe our company culture is one that aims to support each individual fully not just their contribution as an employee.  The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the creation of a more fluid and flexible work environment to allow individuals to meet the needs of themselves and family members while contributing to the success of the company.  In the current virtual world we have moved from regular onsite wellness activities to those that can be enjoyed virtually from meditation and yoga, to access to online tutoring for children learning remotely in addition to more time off for selfcare.

The health and safety of our onsite employees was a primary focus in 2020 due to the pandemic.  We implemented a series of safeguards following CDC and State recommendations including increased, regular cleaning, social distancing and occupancy limitations, work station barriers, and online scheduling and seating selection along with access to regular COVID-19 testing paid for by the company.  These will remain in place until CDC guidance indicates they are no longer necessary.

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Facilities

We currently occupy approximately 47,546 square feet of office space in Cambridge, Massachusetts under a lease that originally expired in June 2023. In November 2020, we executed an amendment to update the term of the current lease to terminate 60 days after the commencement date of our new lease.

In November 2020, we executed a lease in Watertown, Massachusetts (the “new lease”) with ARE-MA Region No. 75, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (the “Landlord”), effective as of November 13, 2020, pursuant to which we will lease approximately 79,155 square feet of office and laboratory space located at 100 Talcott Street in Watertown, Massachusetts (the “New Premises”), which will commence on or around December 24, 2021, with a term of 10 years.

Scientific Advisory Board

We have established a scientific advisory board and we regularly seek advice and input from these leading scientists and physicians on matters related to our research and development programs. The members of our advisory board consist of experts across a range of key disciplines relevant to our programs. Our advisors are not our employees and may have commitments to, or consulting or advisory contracts with, other entities that may limit their availability to us. In addition, our advisors may have arrangements with other companies to assist those companies in developing products or technologies that may compete with ours. All of our advisors are affiliated with other entities and devote only a small portion of their time to us. The current members of our scientific advisory board are:

 

Name

 

Positions

David Livingston, M.D.

 

Deputy Director, Dana Farber Harvard Cancer Center and Professor of Medicine and Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Scott Lowe, Ph.D.

 

Chair of the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center, Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, Sloan-Kettering Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Robert Schreiber, Ph.D.

 

Professor of Pathology and Immunology, Professor Molecular Microbiology and Director of the Center of Human Immunology and Immunotherapy programs, Washington University School of Medicine

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

We were incorporated as a Delaware corporation in 2008. Our principal executive offices are located at 215 First Street, Suite 200, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, and our telephone number is (617) 714-0555. Our wholly owned subsidiary is Constellation Securities Corporation.

Our Internet address is www.constellationpharma.com. Through a link on the “Investor Relations” section of this website,  ir.constellationpharma.com, we make available, free of charge, our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, proxy statement on Form DEF 14A, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material or furnish them to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. In addition, we will provide electronic or paper copies of our filings free of charge upon request. Information contained on our corporate website or any other website is not incorporated into this Annual Report and does not constitute a part of this Annual Report.

The SEC also maintains a website containing reports, proxy materials and information statements, among other information, at http://www.sec.gov.

 

 

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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Our business is subject to numerous risks. The following important factors, among others, could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements made by us or on our behalf in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, press releases, communications with investors, and oral statements. Actual future results may differ materially from those anticipated in our forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Risks related to our financial position and need for additional capital

We have incurred significant losses since our inception. We expect to incur losses over the next several years and may never achieve or maintain profitability.

Since inception, we have incurred significant operating losses. Our net loss was $126.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, $85.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 and $59.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $445.7 million. To date, we have financed our operations primarily though sales of convertible preferred stock, payments received in connection with collaboration agreements, borrowings under loan agreements and proceeds from our public and private offerings of our common stock. All of our revenue to date has been collaboration revenue. We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to research and development, including clinical trials and preclinical studies. We are still in the early stages of development of our product candidates, and we have not completed development of any product candidates. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses over the next several years. Our net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year. We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially as we continue to advance our goal to become a fully integrated pharmaceutical company, with a broad pipeline of hematology and oncology development and discovery programs as well as commercial products in the future including:

 

advancing our MANIFEST-2 trial, and other aspects of pivotal development of pelabresib (CPI-0610), continue our MANIFEST trial, and our Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CPI-0209, our second-generation EZH2 inhibitor;

 

advance certain of our clinical-stage product candidates into later stage trials;

 

continue the research and development of our other product candidates;

 

seek to discover and develop additional product candidates;

 

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

 

ultimately establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval;

 

scale up our manufacturing processes and capabilities, or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, to support our clinical trials of our product candidates and commercialization of any of our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval;

 

acquire or in-license products, product candidates or technologies;

 

maintain, expand, enforce, defend and protect our intellectual property portfolio;

 

hire additional personnel to support our product development and planned future commercialization efforts and our operations as a public company; and

 

add operational, financial and administrative personnel, including personnel to support our product development and planned future commercialization efforts and our operations as a public company.

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To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in developing, and eventually commercializing, a product or products that generate significant revenue. The ability to achieve this success will require us to be effective in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical testing and clinical trials of our product candidates, discovering additional product candidates, obtaining regulatory approval for these product candidates and manufacturing, marketing and selling any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval. We are only in the preliminary stages of most of these activities. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we do, may never generate revenues that are significant enough to achieve profitability. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. Our expenses will increase if, among other things:

 

we are required by the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or the EMA, or other regulatory authorities to perform trials or studies in addition to those currently expected;

 

there are any delays in completing our clinical trials or the development of any of our product candidates, including due to the COVID-19 pandemic; or

 

there are any third-party challenges to our intellectual property, or we need to defend against any intellectual property-related claim.

Even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would depress the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, maintain our research and development efforts, diversify our product offerings or even continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company could also cause our stockholders to lose all or part of their investment.

We will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.

We expect to devote substantial financial resources to our ongoing and planned activities, particularly as we continue our Phase 2 clinical trial of pelabresib, MANIFEST, our Phase 3 clinical trial of pelabresib, MANIFEST-2, our Phase 1/2 clinical trial of CPI-0209, and complete our Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of CPI-1205. We plan to continue research and development and initiate additional clinical trials of, and seek regulatory approval for, these and other product candidates, and we also plan to build out our organization for the potential commercialization of pelabresib.  We expect our expenses to increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities. In addition, if we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution. Furthermore, we will incur additional costs associated with operating as a more mature public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on acceptable terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or any future commercialization efforts.

Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

 

the progress, costs and results of our on-going clinical trials;

 

the scope, progress, results and costs of discovery research, preclinical development, laboratory testing and clinical trials for any other product candidates we may develop in the future;

 

the number and development requirements of other product candidates that we pursue;

 

the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;

 

our ability to establish and maintain strategic collaborations, licensing or other arrangements and the financial terms of such arrangements;

 

milestones and other collaboration-based revenues, if any;

 

the costs and timing of future commercialization activities, including infrastructure build out, product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;

 

the amount and timing of revenue, if any, received from commercial sales of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;

 

the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property and proprietary rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;

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the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and operations; and

 

the extent to which we acquire or in-license other products, product candidates or technologies.

As of December 31, 2020, we had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of approximately $421.4 million. We expect that our existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, will enable us to fund our planned operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into mid-2023. However, we have based these estimates on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and our operating plan may change as a result of many factors currently unknown to us. As a result, we could deplete our capital resources sooner than we currently expect.

Identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain regulatory approval and achieve product sales. In addition, our product candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Commercial revenues, if any, will not be derived unless and until we can achieve sales of commercially available products, which we do not anticipate for many years, if at all. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional financing to achieve our business objectives. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations, even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans. If adequate funds are not available to us on a timely basis, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate preclinical studies, clinical trials or other development activities for one or more of our product candidates or delay, limit, reduce or terminate our establishment of sales and marketing capabilities or other activities that may be necessary to commercialize our product candidates.

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.

Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenues, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances and marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements. We do not have any committed external source of funds. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, our stockholders’ ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders’ rights as a common stockholder. Debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, selling or licensing our assets, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.

If we raise additional funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or product candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or future commercialization efforts or grant rights to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.

Our limited operating history may make it difficult for our stockholders to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability.

We commenced active operations in early 2008, and our operations to date have been limited to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, developing our technology, identifying potential product candidates, undertaking preclinical studies and conducting clinical trials. All but three of our product candidates are still in preclinical development. We have not yet demonstrated our ability to successfully develop any product candidate, obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture a commercial scale product or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Consequently, any predictions our stockholders make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history.

In addition, as our business grows, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors. We will need to transition at some point from a company with a research and development focus to a company capable of supporting commercial activities. We may not be successful in such a transition.

We expect our financial condition and operating results to fluctuate significantly from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Accordingly, our stockholders should not rely upon the results of any quarterly or annual periods as indications of future operating performance.

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Changes in tax laws or in their implementation or interpretation may adversely affect our business and financial condition.

Recent changes in tax law may adversely affect our business or financial condition. On December 22, 2017, the U.S. government enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the TCJA, which significantly revised the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code. The TCJA, among other things, contained significant changes to corporate taxation, including reduction of the corporate tax rate from a top marginal rate of 35% to a flat rate of 21%, limitation of the tax deduction for net interest expense to 30% of adjusted taxable income (except for certain small businesses), the limitation of the deduction for net operating losses arising in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 to 80% of annual taxable income and elimination of net operating loss carrybacks, in each case, for losses arising in taxable years ending after December 31, 2017 (though any such net operating losses may be carried forward indefinitely), the imposition of a one-time taxation of offshore earnings at reduced rates regardless of whether they are repatriated, the elimination of U.S. tax on foreign earnings (subject to certain important exceptions), the allowance of immediate deductions for certain new investments instead of deductions for depreciation expense over time, and the modification or repeal of many business deductions and credits.

As part of Congress’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or FFCR Act, was enacted on March 18, 2020, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was enacted on March 27, 2020. COVID-19 relief provisions were also included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, or CAA, which was enacted on December 27, 2020.  The FFCR Act, the CARES Act, and the CAA contain numerous tax provisions.  In particular, the CARES Act retroactively and temporarily (for taxable years beginning before January 1, 2021) suspends application of the 80%-of-income limitation on the use of net operating losses, which was enacted as part of the TCJA.  It also provides that net operating losses arising in any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2021, are generally eligible to be carried back up to five years. The CARES Act also temporarily (for taxable years beginning in 2019 or 2020) relaxes the limitation on the tax deductibility of net interest expense by increasing the limitation from 30 to 50% of adjusted taxable income.  

Regulatory guidance under the TCJA, the FFCR Act, the CARES Act, and the CAA is and continues to be forthcoming, and such guidance could ultimately increase or lessen impact of these laws on our business and financial condition. It is also likely that Congress will enact additional legislation in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which could have an impact on our company. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the TCJA, the FFCR Act, the CARES Act, or the CAA.

We might not be able to utilize a significant portion of our net operating loss carryforwards and research and development tax credit carryforwards.

As of December 31, 2020, we had federal net operating loss carryforwards of $440.5 million and federal research and development tax credit carryforwards of $19.5 million, all of which will, if not utilized, begin to expire in 2028. To the extent that they expire unused, these net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards will not be available to offset our future income tax liabilities. Federal net operating losses incurred in 2019 and in future years may be carried forward indefinitely.  

In general, under Section 382 of the Code and corresponding provisions of state law, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” which is generally defined as a greater than 50% change, by value, in its equity ownership by certain stockholders over a three-year period, the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss and credit carryforwards to reduce its tax liability for post-change periods may be limited. We have not conducted a study to assess whether a change of control has occurred since 2011. We also may experience ownership changes in the future as a result of shifts in our stock ownership, some of which may be outside of our control. In addition, we have not conducted a detailed study to document whether our historical activities qualify to support the research and development credits currently claimed as a carryforward. A detailed study could result in adjustment to our research and development credit carryforwards. If we determine that an ownership change has occurred and our ability to use our historical net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards is materially limited, or if our research and development carryforwards are adjusted, our use of those attributes to offset future income tax liabilities would be limited.

There is also a risk that due to regulatory changes, such as suspensions on the use of net operating losses, or other unforeseen reasons, our existing net operating losses could expire or otherwise become unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities.  As described above in “Changes in tax laws or in their implementation or interpretation may adversely affect our business and financial condition,” the TCJA, as amended by the CARES Act, includes changes to U.S. federal tax rates and the rules governing net operating loss carryforwards that may significantly impact our ability to utilize our net operating losses to offset taxable income in the future. In addition, state net operating losses generated in one state cannot be used to offset income generated in another state. For these reasons, even if we attain profitability, we may be unable to use a material portion of our net operating losses and other tax attributes.

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Risks Related to the Discovery and Development of our Product Candidates

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may affect our ability to conduct our ongoing clinical trials, delay the initiation of planned and future clinical trials, disrupt regulatory activities, or have other adverse effects on our business and operations. In addition, this pandemic has adversely impacted economies worldwide, which could result in adverse effects on our business, operations and ability to raise capital.

The COVID-19 outbreak and government measures taken in response have 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. The future progression of the outbreak and its effects on our business and operations are uncertain.

We and our third-party contract manufacturers, contract research organizations and clinical sites may experience disruptions in supply of product candidates and/or procuring items that are essential for our research and development activities, including raw materials used in the manufacturing of our product candidates, medical and laboratory supplies used in our clinical trials or preclinical studies or animals that are used for preclinical testing, in each case, for which there may be shortages because of ongoing efforts to address the outbreak. For instance, in the third quarter of 2020 we experienced a delay of supply of raw materials necessary to manufacture pelabresib from one of our contract manufacturers in China. We also experienced a delay of supply of drug substance necessary to manufacture pelabresib from one of our contract manufacturers in India. We also experienced a brief delay in the manufacturing of pelabresib tablets at a manufacturer in the United States due to COVID-19 safety policies at the manufacturing site. While these delays have not materially impacted our overall manufacturing supply chain operations to date, we continue to establish backup sources of supply and manufacturing to avoid any future disruption in the supply chain from the COVID-19 outbreak, and any potential future outbreak could have a material adverse impact on our clinical trial plans and business operations.  

Additionally, we have enrolled, and will seek to enroll, cancer patients in our clinical trials at sites located both in the United States and internationally. Most of our clinical trial sites are in areas affected by COVID-19 and, as a result, our trials are being impacted.  For example, patient enrollment in MANIFEST began to slow toward the end of the first quarter of 2020, and several sites temporarily halted enrollment due to the pandemic. We cannot predict how long or impactful these delays may be on our clinical trials.] In addition, even if sites are initiating and actively recruiting, we may face difficulties recruiting or retaining patients in our clinical trials if patients are affected by the virus or are unable to or fearful of visiting or traveling to our clinical trial sites because of the outbreak. For example, some locations such as the UK and Germany are experiencing periods of government lockdown, hospital staff re-deployment to COVID-19 patients and/or prioritization of COVID-19-related clinical trials. [In addition, our supplier of the laboratory kits used to collect biologic samples in our clinical trials is experiencing, and may continue to experience supply chain issues due to the increased demand for kits associated with the pandemic. An inability to obtain such laboratory kits could result in delays in initiating certain sites and patient enrollment, as investigators may be hesitant to initiate patients in our clinical trials without the trial-specific sample collection kits, [as well as an increased risk of potential data loss from enrolled patients. Prolonged delays or closure to enrollment in our trials or patient discontinuations could have a material adverse impact on our clinical trial plans and timelines. In addition, our ability to collect and verify data requested of patients enrolled in our clinical trials during this pandemic is being impacted to varying degrees by COVID-19. Clinical trial data collection continues for each of our clinical trials but at a slower pace, and with challenges and interruptions in data collection, including, in some instances, disruption of collection of complete study data. This could have a material adverse impact on our data quality and analysis. In addition, clinical trial sites may be unable or unwilling to initiate a new trial if factors relevant to the pandemic render this impracticable.  These COVID-19 related issues may prolong the time required to conduct our ongoing clinical trials, and/or impact the quality of the data obtained from one or more of these studies.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic may redirect resources with respect to regulatory and intellectual property matters in a way that would adversely impact our ability to progress regulatory approvals and protect our intellectual property. In addition, we may face impediments to regulatory meetings and approvals due to measures intended to limit in-person interactions.

Additionally, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in Massachusetts has resulted in capacity limitations at our facilities and laboratory. Any prolonged capacity limitations or future facility closures may substantially impact our discovery and translational activities and may delay the experimentation needed to identify novel product candidate targets, prosecute such targets, identify development candidates for such targets and identify biomarkers that inform the potential clinical development paths for such targets.  Furthermore, any negative impact that the outbreak has on the ability of our contract research organizations to deliver data sets and execute on experimentation could cause substantial delays for our discovery activities and materially impact our ability to fuel our pipeline with new product candidates.

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Any negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on recruiting or retaining patients in our clinical trials, obtaining complete clinical trial data or on the ability of our suppliers to provide materials for our product candidates could cause additional delays to clinical trial and developmental activities, which could materially and adversely affect our ability to obtain regulatory approval for and to commercialize our product candidates, increase our operating expenses, affect our ability to raise additional capital, and have a material adverse effect on our financial results.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly impacted economies worldwide, which could result in adverse effects on our business, operations and ability to raise capital. We cannot be certain what the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on our business. It has the potential to adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates based on the inhibition of epigenetic regulators by small molecules is an emerging field, and we do not know whether we will be able to successfully develop any products.

 

The discovery and development of small molecules that inhibit epigenetic regulators to restore normal gene expression is an emerging field, and the scientific discoveries that form the basis for our efforts to discover and develop product candidates are relatively new. Although epigenetic regulation of gene expression plays an essential role in biological function, few drugs premised on the inhibition of epigenetic regulators have been developed.

Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of such product candidate in humans. We have not yet completed a pivotal clinical trial of any product candidate. Clinical trials may fail to demonstrate that our product candidates are safe for humans and effective for indicated uses. Even if the clinical trials are successful, changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment or promulgation of additional statutes, regulations or guidance or changes in regulatory review for each submitted product application may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. Regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. As a result of these factors, it is more difficult for us to predict the time and cost of product candidate development, and we cannot predict whether the application of our epigenetic platform, or any similar or competitive epigenetic platforms, will result in the development and regulatory approval of any products. There can be no assurance that any development problems we experience in the future related to our epigenetics platform or any of our research programs will not cause significant delays or unanticipated costs, or that such development problems can be solved.

In addition, adverse developments in preclinical studies or clinical trials conducted by others of epigenetic product candidates or adverse events in patients treated with epigenetic products may cause the FDA or other regulatory agencies to require modifications to clinical trials of epigenetic product candidates, revise the requirements for approval of epigenetic product candidates or limit the use of epigenetic products, any of which could materially harm our business. Moreover, there have been significant adverse side effects in clinical trials of epigenetic product candidates of our competitors. For example, with respect to our EZH2 programs, one competitor reported that some patients in its Phase 1 clinical trial of an EZH2 inhibitor had developed secondary hematological malignancies following treatment. This same company previously reported that in the course of the preclinical safety studies of its EZH2 inhibitor, it had observed the development of lymphoma in juvenile rats at higher doses than the labeled dose for adult humans. We have no clinical data from our studies to date to suggest that patients are likely to experience similar side effects with our product candidates that inhibit EZH2. However, due to concerns regarding hematological malignancies, the FDA previously inquired about our plans for typical long-term toxicology studies of CPI-1205, and required that we include the development of a rare leukemia as a potential risk in the informed consent for our CPI-1205 and CPI-0209 trials. The FDA required us to update the investigator’s brochure and informed consent for our trials of CPI-1205 and the investigator’s brochure and the study protocol for CPI-0209 to include the risk of the development of T-cell lymphoma.

As per FDA guidance, we have conducted a long-term toxicology study in rats, to explore whether the development of lymphoma is associated with exposure to these product candidates. The final reports from the 90-day repeat-dose toxicology study indicated once daily oral administration of CPI-1205 in the main study group rats resulted in malignant T-cell lymphoma in four out of ten female rats in the high dose (300 mg/kg/day) group. This finding was not observed in male rats.  Although lymphoma can occur spontaneously in young rats, these findings were considered related to administration of CPI-1205 due to the high incidence in the females at 300 mg/kg/day relative to controls.  As of May 1, 2020, a total of 194 patients have been treated with CPI-1205 in clinical trials.  Based on a review of all treatment-emergent adverse events reported by 194 patients as of May 1, 2020, there have been no findings of secondary hematological malignancies. We have notified the FDA of these preclinical toxicology findings and have updated our investigator brochure and informed consent form for CPI-1205 to include information about the findings of the toxicology study.  

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With respect to our BET inhibitor program, non-clinical studies have confirmed that pelabresib has the potential to be genotoxic, or damaging to DNA.  We do not currently believe that the finding will have an impact on our clinical development plans for pelabresib in MF; however, we cannot guarantee that such finding will not do so in this indication or in any others. As previously disclosed, following our initial discussions with the FDA, we have updated our investigator brochure and informed consent form for pelabresib to include information about the findings of the genotoxicity studies.

Adverse events in our or our competitors’ preclinical studies and/or clinical trials of epigenetic product candidates, even if not ultimately attributable to the product candidate under exploration, and the resulting negative publicity, could result in increased governmental regulation, unfavorable public perception, inadequate acceptance in the medical community, potential regulatory delays in the testing or approval of our product candidates and any additional product candidates that we may identify and develop, stricter labeling requirements for those product candidates that are approved, and a decrease in demand for any such product candidates.

Any of these factors may prevent us from completing our preclinical studies, completing any clinical trials that we may initiate or commercializing any product candidates we may develop, on a timely or profitable basis, if at all.

We are early in our development efforts. If we are unable to commercialize our product candidates or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.

 

All of our product candidates are still in development.  We are currently developing pelabresib for the treatment of myelofibrosis, or MF, in Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials and conducting a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for our second generation EZH2 inhibitor CPI-0209. Additional product candidates are still in preclinical development. We previously announced that we will not be advancing CPI-1205 beyond the ongoing clinical trial. We have invested substantially efforts and financial resources in our integrated epigenetics platform to discover and develop new drugs that selectively modulate gene expression that may lead to the killing or reprogramming of cancer cells or result in anti-tumor immune activity. Our ability to generate product revenues, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend heavily on the successful development and eventual commercialization of our product candidates. The success of our product candidates will depend on several factors, including the following:

 

successfully completing preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

expanding and maintaining a workforce of experienced scientists and others with relevant experience to continue to develop our product candidates;

 

successfully applying for and receiving marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;

 

obtaining and maintaining intellectual property protection and regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates;

 

making arrangements with third-party manufacturers for, or establishing, commercial manufacturing capabilities;

 

establishing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities and successfully launching commercial sales of the products, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others;

 

acceptance of the products, if and when approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;

 

effectively competing with other therapies;

 

obtaining and maintaining coverage, adequate pricing and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors, including government payors;

 

maintaining, enforcing, defending and protecting our rights in our intellectual property portfolio;

 

not infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating others’ intellectual property or proprietary rights; and

 

maintaining a continued acceptable safety profile of the products following approval.

If we do not achieve one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates, which would materially harm our business.

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We may not be successful in our efforts to use our product platform to build a pipeline of product candidates.

 

One element of our strategy to date has been to use our integrated epigenetics product platform to build a pipeline of small molecule product candidates that selectively modulate gene expression in tumor and immune cells to drive anti-tumor activity and progress these product candidates through clinical development for the treatment of a variety of different types of cancer.

 

We may not be able to identify additional compelling potential product candidates.  Even if we are successful in continuing to build our pipeline, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development, including as a result of being shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize product candidates based upon our technological approach, we will not be able to obtain product revenues in future periods, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely affect our stock price.

Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

We have product candidates in clinical development and preclinical development. The risk of failure for each of our product candidates is high. It is impossible to predict when or if any of our product candidates will prove effective or safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical development and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans.

Product candidates are subject to continued preclinical safety studies, which may be conducted concurrent with our clinical testing. The outcomes of these safety studies may delay the launch of or enrollment in future clinical trials.

Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is uncertain as to outcome. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. The outcome of preclinical testing and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their products. Furthermore, the failure of any of our product candidates to demonstrate safety and efficacy in any clinical trial could negatively impact the perception of our other product candidates and/or cause the FDA or other regulatory authorities to require additional testing before approving any of our product candidates. In addition, results from compassionate use protocols or investigator-sponsored trials may not be confirmed in company-sponsored trials and/or may negatively impact the prospects for our programs.

We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval or commercialize our product candidates, including:

 

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

 

we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable clinical trial contracts or clinical trial protocols with prospective trial sites;

 

clinical trials of our product candidates may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon product development programs;

 

we may be unable to establish clinical endpoints that applicable regulatory authorities would consider clinically meaningful;

 

preclinical testing may produce results based on which we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional preclinical studies before we proceed with certain clinical trials, limit the scope of our clinical trials, halt ongoing clinical trials or abandon product development programs;

 

the number of patients required for clinical trials of our product candidates may be larger than we anticipate, enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower than we anticipate or participants may drop out of these clinical trials at a higher rate than we anticipate;

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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;

 

we may amend our protocols or suspend or terminate clinical trials of our product candidates for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;

 

regulators or IRBs may require that we or our investigators suspend or terminate clinical research for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;

 

clinical or regulatory developments with competitive product candidates could impact our clinical trial enrollment and/or requirements, costs and timelines for potential approval of our own product candidates;

 

regulators or IRBs may require us to perform additional or unanticipated clinical trials to obtain approval or we may be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements to maintain regulatory approval;

 

regulators may revise the requirements for approving our product candidates, or such requirements may not be as we anticipate;

 

the cost of clinical trials of our 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 delayed, insufficient or inadequate;

 

our product candidates may have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics, causing us or our investigators, regulators or IRBs to suspend or terminate the trials; and

 

regulators may withdraw their approval of a product or impose restrictions on its distribution, such as in the form of a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS.

We may use new or novel endpoints or methodologies and the FDA or other regulatory authorities may not consider the endpoints of our clinical trials to provide clinically meaningful results. Even if applicable regulatory authorities do not object to our proposed endpoints in an earlier stage clinical trial, such regulatory authorities may require evaluation of additional or different clinical endpoints in later-stage clinical trials. Even if the FDA does find our clinical trial success criteria to be sufficiently validated and clinically meaningful, we may not achieve the pre-specified endpoint to a degree of statistical significance in any pivotal or other clinical trials we may conduct for our product candidates. Further, even if we do achieve the pre-specified criteria, our trials may produce results that are unpredictable or inconsistent with the results of the more traditional efficacy endpoints in the trial. The FDA also could give overriding weight to other efficacy endpoints over a primary endpoint, even if we achieve statistically significant results on that primary endpoint, if we do not do so on our secondary efficacy endpoints. The FDA also weighs the benefits of a product against its risks and the FDA may view the efficacy results in the context of safety as not being supportive of approval. Other regulatory authorities in Europe and other countries may make similar findings with respect to these endpoints.

If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we currently contemplate, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates or other testing, if the results of these trials or tests are not positive or are only modestly positive or if there are safety concerns, we may:

 

be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates;

 

not obtain marketing approval at all;

 

obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;

 

obtain approval with labeling or a REMS that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings;

 

be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements; or

 

have the product removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.

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Our product development costs will also increase if we experience delays in testing or in obtaining marketing approvals. We do not know whether any of our preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. We may also determine to change the design or protocol of one or more of our clinical trials, including to add additional arms or patient populations, which could result in increased costs and expenses and/or delays. Significant preclinical study or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do and impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations.

If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of patients in clinical trials, our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals could be delayed or prevented.

We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States. In particular, because certain of our products may be focused on specific patient populations, our ability to enroll eligible patients may be limited or may result in slower enrollment than we anticipate. In addition, some of our competitors have ongoing clinical trials for product candidates that may treat the broader patient populations within which our product candidates are being developed for the treatment of a subset of identifiable patients with cancer and other diseases, and patients who would otherwise be eligible for our clinical trials (for example, JAK-naïve MF patients that would be eligible our Phase 3 trial MANIFEST-2) may instead enroll in clinical trials of our competitors’ product candidates.

Patient enrollment is affected by a variety of other factors, including:

 

the prevalence and severity of the disease under investigation;

 

the eligibility criteria for the trial in question;

 

the perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under trial;

 

the existence of existing treatments for the indications for which we are conducting clinical trials;

 

the efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;

 

the patient referral practices of physicians;

 

the ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment;

 

the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients;

 

the conducting of clinical trials by competitors for product candidates that treat the same indications as our product candidates;

 

the ability to identify specific patient population for biomarker-defined trial cohort(s); and

 

the cost to, or lack of adequate compensation for, prospective patients.

Most of our clinical trial sites are in areas affected by COVID-19 and, as a result, our trials are being impacted.  See the Risk Factor above entitled “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may affect our ability to conduct our ongoing clinical trials, delay the initiation of planned and future clinical trials, disrupt regulatory activities, or have other adverse effects on our business and operations.  In addition, this pandemic has adversely impacted economies worldwide, which could result in adverse effects on our business, operations and ability to raise capital.” Our inability to locate and enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials would result in significant delays, could require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether and could delay or prevent our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals. Enrollment delays in our clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our product candidates, which would cause the value of our company to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing.

If serious adverse events or unacceptable side effects are identified during the development of our product candidates, we may need to abandon or limit our development of some of our product candidates.

If our product candidates, either alone or in combination with other therapeutics, are associated with serious adverse events or undesirable side effects or unacceptable drug-drug interactions in clinical trials or have characteristics that are unexpected in clinical trials or preclinical testing, we may need to abandon their development or limit development to more narrow uses or

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subpopulations in which the serious adverse events, undesirable side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective. In pharmaceutical development, many compounds that initially show promise in early-stage or clinical testing for treating cancer are later found to cause side effects that prevent further development of the compound. In addition, if third parties manufacture or use our product candidates without our permission, and generate adverse events or unacceptable side effects, this could also have an adverse impact on our development efforts.

We are currently pursuing the development of our product candidates in combination with other approved therapeutics. If the FDA revokes approval of any such therapeutic, or if safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues arise with any therapeutic that we use in combination with one of our product candidates in the future, we may be unable to further develop and/or market our product candidate or we may experience significant regulatory delays or supply shortages, and our business could be materially harmed.

We are conducting MANIFEST-2, our pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of pelabresib in combination with ruxolitinib, which is marketed by Incyte, Inc., and is currently approved to treat intermediate or high-risk MF, for the treatment of intermediate or high risk MF patients not previously treated with ruxolitinib.  We are also conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial of pelabresib as a monotherapy or in combination with ruxolitinib in intermediate or high-risk MF patients ineligible for, intolerant to, or refractory to, ruxolitinib. We may commence additional clinical trials of our product candidates in combination with other approved therapeutics. We may also seek to develop our product candidates in combination with other therapeutics in the future.

We did not develop or obtain regulatory approval for, and we do not manufacture or sell, any of these approved therapeutics. In addition, these combinations have not been tested before and may, among other things, fail to demonstrate synergistic activity, may fail to achieve superior outcomes relative to the use of single agents or other combination therapies, may exacerbate adverse events associated with one of our product candidates when used as monotherapy or may fail to demonstrate sufficient safety or efficacy traits in clinical trials to enable us to complete those clinical trials or obtain marketing approval for the combination therapy.

If the FDA revokes its approval of any of these therapeutics, we will not be able to continue clinical development of or market pelabresib or any other product candidate in combination with such revoked therapeutic. If safety or efficacy issues arise with these or any other therapeutics that we seek to combine with our product candidates in the future, we may experience significant regulatory delays, and the FDA may require us to redesign or terminate the applicable clinical trials. Moreover, if these therapeutics were to receive regulatory approval in combination with a different therapeutic in any indication for which we are pursuing approval, such approval could impact the feasibility and design of any subsequent clinical trials that we may seek to conduct evaluating pelabresib or any other product candidate in combination with such therapeutic. If manufacturing, cost or other issues result in a supply shortage of this therapeutic or any other combination therapeutics, we may not be able to complete clinical development of pelabresib on our current timeline or at all, or any other product candidate we may develop in the future.

In addition, we may need, for supply, data referencing or other purposes, to collaborate or otherwise engage with the companies who market these approved therapeutics. If we are unable to do so on a timely basis, on acceptable terms or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate or indication, reduce or delay its development program, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities.

Even if pelabresib, or any other product candidate, were to receive regulatory approval and be commercialized for use in combination with ruxolitinib or another therapeutic, we would continue to be subject to the risk that the FDA could revoke its approval of such therapeutic, that safety, efficacy, manufacturing, cost or supply issues could arise with one of these therapeutic agents, or that the current standard of care may be replaced. This could result in pelabresib or any such other product candidate, if approved, being removed from the market or being less successful commercially.

We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus on research programs and product candidates that we identify for specific indications. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. For example, in June 2020, we announced that we plan to discontinue development of CPI-1205 after completion of ProSTAR and to prioritize further clinical development of CPI-0209. The decision was based on a  review of ProSTAR data, which we determined did not demonstrate the definitive signal of activity necessary to advance the program into pivotal studies in mCRPC. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially

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viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate.

We currently conduct clinical trials for product candidates at sites outside the United States, and the FDA may not accept data from trials conducted in such locations.

We currently conduct clinical trials outside the United States. Although the FDA may accept data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States, acceptance of these data is subject to conditions imposed by the FDA. For example, the clinical trial must be well designed and conducted and be performed by qualified investigators in accordance with ethical principles. The trial population must also adequately represent the U.S. population, and the data must be applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice in ways that the FDA deems clinically meaningful. In addition, while these clinical trials are subject to the applicable local laws, FDA acceptance of the data will depend on its determination that the trials also complied with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. If the FDA does not accept the data from any trial that we conduct outside the United States, it would likely result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and could delay or permanently halt our development of the applicable product candidates.

Risks Related to the Commercialization of Our Product Candidates

Even if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success, and the market opportunity for any of our product candidates, if approved, may be smaller than we estimate.

If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. For example, current cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy are well established in the medical community, and doctors may continue to rely on these treatments. If our product candidates do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

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

 

our ability to offer our products for sale at competitive prices;

 

the clinical indications for which the product is approved;

 

the 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 strength of marketing and distribution support;

 

the timing of market introduction of competitive products;

 

the availability of third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement;

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects; and

 

any restrictions on the use of our products together with other medications.

Our assessment of the potential market opportunity for our product candidates is based on industry and market data that we obtained from industry publications and research, surveys and studies conducted by third parties. Industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies generally indicate that their information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, although they do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. While we believe these industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies are reliable, we have not independently verified such data. Our estimates of the potential market opportunities for our product candidates include several key assumptions based on our industry knowledge, industry publications, third-party research and other surveys, which may fail to accurately reflect market opportunities. While we believe that our internal assumptions are reasonable, no independent source has verified such assumptions. If any of our assumptions or estimates, or these publications, research, surveys or studies prove to be inaccurate, then the actual market for any of our product candidates may be smaller than we expect, and as a result our product revenue may be limited and it may be more difficult for us to achieve or maintain profitability.

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If we are unable to establish sales, marketing and distribution capabilities or enter into sales, marketing and distribution agreements with third parties, we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates if and when they are approved.

We do not have a sales or marketing infrastructure and are beginning to build our team with experience in the sale, marketing or distribution of pharmaceutical products. To achieve commercial success for any product for which we have obtained marketing approval, we will need to establish a sales, marketing and distribution organization, either ourselves or through collaborations or other arrangements with third parties.

In the future, we expect to build a focused, specialty sales and marketing infrastructure to market some of our product candidates in the United States, if and when they are approved. There are risks involved with establishing our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time-consuming and could delay any product launch. If the commercial launch of a product candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. These efforts may be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.

Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our products on our own include:

 

our inability to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;

 

the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians or persuade adequate numbers of physicians to prescribe any future products;

 

the lack of complementary products to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines; and

 

unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.

If we are unable to establish our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities and enter into arrangements with third parties to perform these services, our product revenues and our profitability, if any, are likely to be lower than if we were to market, sell and distribute any products that we develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to sell, market and distribute our product candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are acceptable to us. We likely will have little control over such third parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our products effectively. If we do not establish sales, marketing and distribution capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third parties, we will not be successful in commercializing our product candidates.

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 face competition with respect to our current product candidates, and will face competition with respect to any product candidates that we may seek to develop or commercialize in the future, from major pharmaceutical companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies worldwide. There are a number of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that currently market and sell products or are pursuing the development of products for the treatment of many of the disease indications for which we are developing our product candidates. Some of these competitive products and therapies are based on scientific approaches that are the same as or similar to our approach, and others are based on entirely different approaches. 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.

Specifically, there are a large number of companies developing or marketing treatments for cancer and hematologic diseases, including many large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. In addition, many companies are developing cancer therapies that work by targeting epigenetic mechanisms, including through BET and EZH2 inhibition, such as AbbVie Inc., AstraZeneca PLC, BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, CellCentric Ltd, Daiichi Sankyo Company, Eli Lilly & Company, Epizyme, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Incyte, Inc., Novartis AG, Pfizer Inc., Nuvation Bio, TG Therapeutics, and Zenith Epigenetics Ltd.

Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products before we do, or that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products

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more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in additional challenges to our regulatory approval strategy and/or our competitors establishing a stronger market position before we are able to enter the market. In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payors seeking to encourage the use of generic products. Generic products are currently on the market for many of the indications that we are pursuing, and additional products are expected to become available on a generic basis over the coming years. If our product candidates achieve marketing approval, we expect that they will be priced at a significant premium over competitive generic products.

Many of the companies against which we are competing or against which we may compete in the future have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and marketing approved products than we do.

Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller and other early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These third parties compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific 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.

If our contracted manufacturing facilities experience production issues for any reason, and/or we experience import/export issues for any reason, we may be unable to manufacture or supply clinical supplies or commercial quantities of our product candidates for a substantial amount of time, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to manufacture clinical supplies of our product candidates and commercial supplies of our products, if and when approved for marketing by applicable regulatory authorities, as well as for packaging, sterilization, storage, distribution and other production logistics. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or manufacture and release our product candidates in accordance with regulatory requirements, if there are disagreements between us and such parties, or if such parties are unable to expand capacities to support commercialization of any of our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval, we may not be able to fulfill, or may be delayed in producing sufficient product candidates to meet, our supply requirements.

Similarly, we previously reported that we were closely monitoring our pelabresib supply due to potential production shortages with our manufacturers.  In addition, the various manufacturing facilities with which we do business may also be affected by natural disasters, such as floods or fire, or societal disruptions or outbreaks such as the recently identified coronavirus. Further, facilities could face manufacturing issues, such as contamination or regulatory concerns following a regulatory inspection of such facility. In such instances, we may need to locate an appropriate replacement third-party facility and establish a contractual relationship, which may not be readily available or on acceptable terms, which would cause additional delay and increased expense, including as a result of additional required FDA approvals, and may have a material adverse effect on our business.

Our third-party manufacturers are subject to inspection and approval by the FDA before we can commence the manufacture and sale of any of our product candidates, and thereafter subject to FDA inspection from time to time. Failure by our third-party manufacturers to pass such inspections and otherwise satisfactorily complete the FDA approval regimen with respect to our product candidates may result in regulatory actions such as the issuance of FDA Form 483 notices of observations, warning letters or injunctions or the loss of operating licenses.

We or our third-party manufacturers may also encounter shortages in the raw materials or active pharmaceutical ingredient necessary to produce our product candidates in the quantities needed for our clinical trials or, if our product candidates are approved, in sufficient quantities for commercialization or to meet an increase in demand, as a result of capacity constraints or delays or disruptions in the market for the raw materials or active pharmaceutical ingredient, including shortages caused by the purchase of such raw materials or active pharmaceutical ingredient by our competitors or others. The failure of us or our third-party manufacturers to obtain the raw materials or active pharmaceutical ingredient necessary to manufacture sufficient quantities of our product candidates, may have a material adverse effect on our business.

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In addition, these third parties may be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, we experienced a delay of supply of raw materials necessary to manufacture pelabresib from one of our contract manufacturers in China.  We also experienced a delay of supply of drug substance necessary to manufacture CPI-0209 from one of our contract manufacturers in India. We also experienced a delay in the manufacturing of pelabresib tablets at a manufacturer in the US due to COVID-19 safety policies at the manufacturing site. While these delays have not materially impacted our overall manufacturing supply chain operations to date, and we continue to establish back up sources of supply, any future disruption in the supply chain from the recent COVID-19 outbreak, or any potential future outbreak could have a material adverse impact on our clinical trial plans and business operations.  

Some of our manufacturing activities take place outside of the United States.  In addition, with respect to clinical trial or manufacturing activities that take place outside of the United States, changes in import/export regulations or practices could impact our ability to obtain critical materials, drug substance, or product candidates across international borders.  Such challenges could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Even if we are able to commercialize any product candidates, the products may become subject to unfavorable pricing regulations, third-party coverage or reimbursement practices or healthcare reform initiatives, which could harm our business.

The regulations that govern marketing approvals, pricing, coverage and reimbursement for new drug products vary widely from country to country. Current and future legislation may significantly change the approval requirements in ways that could involve additional costs and cause delays in obtaining approvals. Some countries require approval of the sale price of a drug before it can be marketed. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we might obtain marketing approval for a product in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay our commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenues we are able to generate from the sale of the product in that country. Adverse pricing limitations may hinder our ability to recoup our investment in one or more product candidates, even if our product candidates obtain marketing approval.

Our ability to commercialize any product candidates successfully also will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other organizations. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which medications they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. 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 medications. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. Coverage and reimbursement may not be available for any product that we commercialize and, even if these are available, the level of reimbursement may not be satisfactory. Reimbursement may affect the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. Obtaining and maintaining adequate reimbursement for our products may be difficult. We may be required to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies to justify coverage and reimbursement or the level of reimbursement relative to other therapies. If coverage and adequate reimbursement are not available or reimbursement is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.

There may be significant delays in obtaining coverage and reimbursement for newly approved drugs, and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the drug is approved by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States. Moreover, eligibility for coverage and reimbursement does not imply that a drug will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, manufacture, sale and distribution expenses. Interim reimbursement levels for new drugs, if applicable, may also not be sufficient to cover our costs and may not be made permanent. Reimbursement rates may vary according to the use of the drug and the clinical setting in which it is used, may be based on reimbursement levels already set for lower cost drugs and may be incorporated into existing payments for other services. Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States. Third-party payors often rely upon Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own reimbursement policies. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement rates from both government-funded and private payors for any approved products that we develop could have a material adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize products and our overall financial condition.

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There can be no assurance that our product candidates, even if they are approved for sale in the United States or in other countries, will be considered medically reasonable and necessary for a specific indication or cost-effective by third-party payors, or that coverage and an adequate level of reimbursement will be available or that third-party payors’ reimbursement policies will not adversely affect our ability to sell our product candidates profitably.

Product liability lawsuits against us could divert our resources and could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and to limit commercialization of any products that we may develop.

We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the testing of our product candidates in human clinical trials and use of our product candidates through compassionate use, and we will face an even greater risk if we commercially sell any products that we may develop. For example, on January 17, 2017, a participant dosed in one of the Company’s clinical trials filed a complaint against us in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, alleging negligence, lack of informed consent, strict products liability and loss of consortium. The parties reached agreement with regards to a resolution, and the court dismissed the case with prejudice.  

If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our product candidates or products caused injuries, we will incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

decreased demand for any product candidates or products that we may develop;

 

injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

 

significant costs to defend any related litigation;

 

substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;

 

loss of revenue;

 

reduced resources of our management to pursue our business strategy; and

 

the inability to commercialize any products that we may develop.

We currently hold $10 million in product liability insurance coverage in the aggregate, with a per incident limit of $10 million, which may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. We may need to increase our insurance coverage as we expand our clinical trials or if we commence commercialization of our product candidates. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise.

Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our clinical trials, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily, including failing to meet deadlines for the completion of such trials.

We currently rely on third-party clinical research organizations to conduct our ongoing clinical trials and we anticipate we would rely on third-party clinical research organizations or third-party research collaboratives to conduct future clinical trials. We expect to continue to rely on third parties, such as clinical research organizations, clinical data management organizations, medical institutions and clinical investigators, to conduct our clinical trials. These agreements might terminate for a variety of reasons, including a failure to perform by the third parties. If we need to enter into alternative arrangements, our product development activities might be delayed.

Our reliance on these third parties for research and development activities will reduce our control over these activities but will not relieve us of our responsibilities. For example, we will remain responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the trial. Moreover, the FDA requires us to comply with standards, commonly referred to as good clinical practices, or GCPs, for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of trial participants are protected. We also are required to register ongoing clinical trials and post the results of completed clinical trials on a government-sponsored database, ClinicalTrials.gov, within specified timeframes. Failure to do so can result in fines, adverse publicity and civil and criminal sanctions.

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If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated protocols, we will not be able to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, marketing approvals for our product candidates and will not be able to, or may be delayed in our efforts to, successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates. Furthermore, these third parties may also have relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors.

We also expect to rely on other third parties to store and distribute drug supplies for our clinical trials. Any performance failure on the part of our distributors could delay clinical development or marketing approval of our product candidates or commercialization of our products, producing additional losses and depriving us of potential product revenue.

We contract with third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and 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 or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.

We do not have any manufacturing facilities, and we rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing, as well as for commercial manufacture if any of our product candidates receive marketing approval. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or products or such quantities at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.

We also expect to rely on third-party manufacturers or third-party collaborators for the manufacture of commercial supply of any other product candidates for which we or our collaborators obtain marketing approval. We may be unable to establish any agreements with third-party manufacturers or to do so on acceptable terms. Even if we are able to establish agreements with third-party manufacturers, reliance on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:

 

reliance on the third party for regulatory compliance and quality assurance;

 

the possible breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third party;

 

the possible misappropriation of our proprietary information, including our trade secrets and know-how; and

 

the possible termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third party at a time that is costly or inconvenient for us.

Third-party manufacturers may not be able to comply with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, regulations or similar regulatory requirements outside of the United States. Our failure, or the failure of our third-party manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of product candidates or products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our products.

Our product candidates and any products that we may develop may compete with other product candidates and products for access to manufacturing facilities. There are a limited number of manufacturers that operate under cGMP regulations and that might be capable of manufacturing for us.

Any performance failure on the part of our existing or future manufacturers could delay clinical development or marketing approval. For example, in the second quarter of 2020, we experienced a delay in batch release for pelabresib due to an extended testing period to rule out specification impurities.  The matter was resolved and the batch was subsequently released. However, if we had been unable to release this batch of pelabresib, our ability to timely complete the MANIFEST clinical trial may have been materially affected. In addition to our primary supply chain, we currently do not have alternative suppliers established to provide secondary sources of bulk starting materials and drug substance. If our current contract manufacturers or sources of drug substance cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such manufacturers. Although we believe that there are several potential alternative manufacturers who could manufacture our product candidates, we may incur added costs and delays in identifying and qualifying any such replacement.

Our current and anticipated future dependence upon others for the manufacture of our product candidates or products may adversely affect our future profit margins and our ability to commercialize any products that receive marketing approval on a timely and competitive basis.

 

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We may enter into collaborations with third parties for the development or commercialization of our product candidates. If our collaborations are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of these product candidates and our business could be adversely affected.

We may utilize collaboration, distribution and other marketing arrangements with third parties to develop and commercialize pelabresib, CPI-0209 and/or any other product candidates for which we seek to obtain marketing approval in markets outside the United States. We also may enter into arrangements with third parties to perform these services in the United States if we do not establish our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities in the United States for our product candidates or if we determine that such third-party arrangements are otherwise beneficial. We also may seek third-party collaborators for development and commercialization of other product candidates. Our likely collaborators for any sales, marketing, distribution, development, licensing or broader collaboration arrangements include large and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, regional and national pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies. We will likely have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our collaborators dedicate to the development or commercialization of our product candidates. Our ability to generate revenues from these arrangements will depend on our collaborators’ abilities and efforts to successfully perform the functions assigned to them in these arrangements.

Collaborations that we enter into may pose a number of risks, including the following:

 

collaborators have significant discretion in determining the amount and timing of efforts and resources that they will apply to these collaborations;

 

collaborators may not perform their obligations as expected;

 

collaborators may not pursue development of our product candidates or may elect not to continue or renew development programs based on results of clinical trials or other studies, changes in the collaborators’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;

 

collaborators may not pursue commercialization of any product candidates that achieve regulatory approval or may elect not to continue or renew commercialization programs based on results of clinical trials or other studies, changes in the collaborators’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, 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 product candidates and products 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;

 

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

 

a collaborator 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;

 

disagreements with collaborators, including disagreements over intellectual property or 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 obtain, maintain, enforce, defend or protect our intellectual property or proprietary rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to potentially lead to disputes or legal proceedings that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;

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

 

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

Collaboration agreements may not lead to development or commercialization of product candidates in the most efficient manner, or at all. If any collaborations that we enter into do not result in the successful development and commercialization of products or if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under the collaboration. If we do not receive the funding we expect under these agreements, our development of our product candidates could be delayed and we may need additional resources to develop our product candidates. All of the risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described herein also apply to the activities of our collaborators.

Additionally, subject to its contractual obligations to us, 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. 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.

If we are not able to establish collaborations, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans and our business could be adversely affected.

For some of our product candidates, we may decide to collaborate with pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies for the development and potential commercialization of those product candidates. We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Whether we 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. Those factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of approval by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, the potential market for the subject product candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such product candidate to patients, the potential of competing products, the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge, and industry and market conditions generally. The collaborator may also consider alternative product candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to collaborate on and whether such a collaboration could be more attractive than the one with us for our product candidate. We may also be restricted under future license agreements from entering into agreements on certain terms with potential collaborators. Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators.

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 fund and undertake 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 collaborations and 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 or bring them to market or continue to develop our product platform.

If we are required by FDA to develop a companion diagnostic to identify patients who are likely to benefit from a therapeutic product, we will by reliant on third parties to develop a diagnostic and their failure to do so may delay or prevent approval of the therapeutic product.

In July 2014, the FDA issued final guidance that stated that if safe and effective use of a therapeutic depends on an in vitro diagnostic, then the FDA generally will not approve the therapeutic unless the FDA approves or clears this “in vitro companion diagnostic device” at the same time that the FDA approves the therapeutic. We may be required by FDA to develop companion diagnostics to identify patients who are likely to benefit from our therapeutic product candidates. We expect to rely on third parties for much of the development, testing and manufacturing of such diagnostics. We will likely rely on such third parties to also obtain any required regulatory approval for and then commercially supply such diagnostics. We have very limited experience in the development of diagnostics and, even with the help of third parties with greater experience, may fail to obtain the required diagnostic product marketing approval, which could prevent or delay approval of the therapeutic product. Because we expect to rely on third parties for various aspects of the development, testing and

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manufacture, as well as for regulatory approval for and commercial supply, of our diagnostics, the commercial success of any of our product candidates that require a diagnostic will be tied to and dependent on the continued ability of such third parties to make the diagnostic commercially available on reasonable terms in the relevant geographies.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If we are unable to obtain, maintain, enforce and protect patent protection for our technology and product candidates or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our technology and product candidates may be adversely affected.

Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection in the United States and other countries with respect to any proprietary technology and product candidates we develop, including pelabresib and CPI-0209. We seek to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our technologies and product candidates that are important to our business and by in-licensing intellectual property related to such technologies and product candidates. If we are unable to obtain or maintain patent protection with respect to any proprietary technology or product candidate, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially harmed. In particular, we do not own or in-license any patented intellectual property related to our epigenetics platform. Accordingly, we may not be able to prevent third parties from developing and commercializing a similar platform or technology to compete with us.

The patent prosecution process is expensive, time-consuming and complex, and we may not be able to file, prosecute, maintain, defend or license all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. Moreover, in some circumstances, we do not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain, enforce and defend the patents, covering technology that we license from third parties. Therefore, these in-licensed patents and applications may not be prepared, filed, prosecuted, maintained, defended and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business.

Although we enter into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to confidential or patentable aspects of our research and development output, such as our employees, collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose such output before a patent application is filed, thereby jeopardizing our ability to seek patent protection.

The patent position of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. In addition, the scope of patent protection outside of the United States is uncertain and laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. For example, European patent law restricts the patentability of methods of treatment of the human body more than United States law does. With respect to both owned and in-licensed patent rights, we cannot predict whether the patent applications we and our licensors are currently pursuing will issue as patents in any particular jurisdiction or whether the claims of any issued patents will provide sufficient protection from competitors. In addition, publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not published at all. Therefore, neither we nor our licensors can know with certainty whether either we or our licensors were the first to make the inventions claimed in the patents and patent applications we own or in-license now or in the future, or that either we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our owned and in-licensed patent rights are highly uncertain.

Moreover, our owned and in-licensed pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued which protect our technology and product candidates, in whole or in part, or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and products. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents and our ability to obtain, protect, maintain, defend and enforce our patent rights, narrow the scope of our patent protection and, more generally, could affect the value or narrow the scope of our patent rights.

Moreover, we or our licensors may be subject to a third-party reissuance submission of prior art to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, or become involved in opposition, derivation, revocation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference proceedings challenging our patent rights. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or product candidates and compete directly with us, without payment to us. If the breadth or

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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. Furthermore, such proceedings also may result in substantial cost and require significant time from our management and employees, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us.

Additionally, the coverage claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued, and its scope can be reinterpreted after issuance. Even if our owned and in-licensed patent applications issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors from competing with us or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage. The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and our owned and in-licensed patents may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our technology and product candidates. Such proceedings also may result in substantial cost and require significant time from our management and employees, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us. 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. Furthermore, our competitors may be able to circumvent our owned or in-licensed patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or products in a non-infringing manner. As a result, our owned and in-licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing technology and products similar or identical to any of our technology and product candidates.

Moreover, some of our owned and in-licensed patents and patent applications are, and may in the future be, co-owned with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third-party co-owners’ interest in such patents or patent applications, such co-owners may be able to license their rights to other third parties, including our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. In addition, we may need the cooperation of any such co-owner of our patents in order to enforce such patents against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

Furthermore, our owned and in-licensed patents may be subject to a reservation of rights by one or more third parties. For example, the research resulting in certain of our in-licensed patent rights and technology was funded in part by the U.S. government. As a result, the government may have certain rights, such as march-in rights, to such patent rights and technology. When new technologies are developed with government funding, the government generally obtains certain rights in any resulting patents, including a non-exclusive license authorizing the government to use the invention for non-commercial purposes. These rights may permit the government to disclose our confidential information to third parties and to exercise march-in rights to use or allow third parties to use our licensed technology. The government can exercise its march-in rights if it determines that action is necessary because we fail to achieve practical application of the government-funded technology, because action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs, to meet requirements of federal regulations, or to give preference to U.S. industry. In addition, our rights in such inventions may be subject to certain requirements to manufacture products embodying such inventions substantially in the United States. Any exercise by the government of such rights could harm our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. In addition, under the Research, Development and Commercialization Agreement, or the LLS Agreement, with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or LLS, we are required to use commercially reasonable efforts to research, develop and commercialize pelabresib. If we fail to meet the foregoing obligation, then, under certain circumstances, LLS may terminate the LLS Agreement and may exercise the exclusive, sublicensable and worldwide license we granted LLS in and to certain of our intellectual property to develop and commercialize pelabresib.

If we do not obtain patent term extension for any product candidates we may develop, our business may be materially harmed.

In the United States, depending upon the timing, duration, and specifics of any FDA marketing approval of a product candidate, the patent term of a patent that covers an FDA-approved drug may be eligible for limited patent term extension, which permits patent term restoration as compensation for the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, also known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. The length of the patent term extension is related to the length of time the drug is under regulatory review. Patent extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval, and only one patent applicable to an approved drug 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. Similar provisions are available in Europe and other non-United States jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug. While, in the future, if and when our product candidates receive FDA approval, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on patents covering those product candidates, there is no guarantee that the

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applicable authorities will agree with our assessment of whether such extensions should be granted, and even if granted, the length of such extensions. We may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of the relevant patents, or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. If we are unable to obtain any patent term extension or the term of any such extension is less than we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following the expiration of our patent rights, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be materially harmed.

Changes to patent laws in the United States and 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 patent laws in the United States, including patent reform legislation such as the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our owned and in-licensed patent applications and the maintenance, enforcement or defense of our owned and in-licensed issued patents. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to United States patent law. These changes include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art, provide more efficient and cost-effective avenues for competitors to challenge the validity of patents, and enable third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent at USPTO-administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings. Assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, prior to March 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. After March 2013, under the Leahy-Smith Act, the United States transitioned to a first-to-file system in which, assuming that the other statutory 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. As such, the Leahy-Smith 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, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

In addition, the patent positions of companies in the development and commercialization of biologics and pharmaceuticals 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 patent rights and our ability to protect, defend and enforce our patent rights in the future.

We or our licensors may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patent or other intellectual property rights, which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful.

Competitors and other third parties may infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate our or our licensor’s issued patents or other intellectual property. As a result, we or our licensors may need to file infringement, misappropriation or other intellectual property related claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke such parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their intellectual property. In addition, in a patent infringement proceeding, such parties could counterclaim that the patents we or our licensors have asserted are invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness, or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties may institute such claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post-grant review, inter partes review, interference proceedings, derivation proceedings, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings).

An adverse result in any such proceeding could put one or more of our owned or in-licensed patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, and could put any of our owned or in-licensed patent applications at risk of not yielding an issued patent. A court may also refuse to stop the third party from using the technology at issue in a proceeding on the grounds that our owned or in-licensed patents do not cover such technology. 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 or trade secrets could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. Any of the foregoing could

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allow such third parties to develop and commercialize competing technologies and products and have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.

Our commercial success depends upon our ability and the ability of our collaborators to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property and proprietary rights of third parties. There is considerable patent and other intellectual property litigation in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. We may become party to, or threatened with, adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our technology and product candidates, including interference proceedings, post grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings before the USPTO and similar proceedings in foreign jurisdictions such as oppositions before the European Patent Office.

The legal threshold for initiating litigation or contested proceedings is low, so that even lawsuits or proceedings with a low probability of success might be initiated and require significant resources to defend. Litigation and contested proceedings can also be expensive and time-consuming, and our adversaries in these proceedings may have the ability to dedicate substantially greater resources to prosecuting these legal actions than we can. The risks of being involved in such litigation and proceedings may increase if and as our product candidates near commercialization and as we gain the greater visibility associated with being a public company. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future, regardless of merit. We may not be aware of all such intellectual property rights potentially relating to our technology and product candidates and their uses. Thus, we do not know with certainty that our technology and product candidates, or our development and commercialization thereof, do not and will not infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate any third party’s intellectual property.

Even if we believe that third party intellectual property claims are without merit, there is no assurance that a court would find in our favor on questions of misappropriation, infringement, validity, enforceability, or priority. A court of competent jurisdiction could hold these third-party patents are valid, enforceable, and infringed, which could materially and adversely affect our ability to commercialize any technology or product candidate covered by the asserted third-party patents. In order to successfully challenge the validity of any such U.S. patent in federal court, we would need to overcome a presumption of validity. As this burden is a high one requiring us to present clear and convincing evidence as to the invalidity of any such U.S. patent claim, there is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction would invalidate the claims of any such U.S. patent. If we are found to infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate a third party’s intellectual property rights, we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing, manufacturing and marketing our technology and product candidates. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us and could require us to make substantial licensing and royalty payments. We could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing, manufacturing and commercializing the infringing technology or product. In addition, we could be found liable for significant monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent or other intellectual property right and could be forced to indemnify our customers or collaborators. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations, which could materially harm our business. In addition, we may be forced to redesign our product candidates, seek new regulatory approvals and indemnify third parties pursuant to contractual agreements. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

Intellectual property litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property could cause us to spend substantial resources and distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities.

Even if resolved in our favor, 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. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and may also have an advantage in such proceedings due to their more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of intellectual property litigation or other proceedings could compromise our ability to compete in the marketplace.

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Obtaining and maintaining 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, renewal and annuity fees and various other government fees on any issued patent and pending patent application must be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages or annually over the lifetime of our owned and in-licensed patents and patent applications. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. In certain circumstances, we rely on our licensing partners to pay these fees to, or comply with the procedural and documentary rules of, the relevant patent agency. With respect to our patents, we rely on an annuity service to remind us of the due dates and to make payment after we instruct them to do so. 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. Non-compliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. In such an event, potential competitors might be able to enter the market with similar or identical products or technology. If we or our licensors fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our product candidates, it would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

If we fail to comply with our obligations in our intellectual property licenses and funding arrangements with third parties, we could lose rights that are important to our business.

We are party to license and funding agreements that impose, and we may enter into additional licensing and funding arrangements with third parties that may impose, diligence, development and commercialization timelines, milestone payment, royalty, insurance and other obligations on us. Under our existing licensing and funding agreements, we are obligated to pay royalties on net product sales of product candidates or related technologies to the extent they are covered by the agreements. If we fail to comply with such obligations under current or future license and funding agreements, our counterparties may have the right to terminate these agreements or require us to grant them certain rights. Such an occurrence could materially adversely affect the value of any product candidate being developed under any such agreement. For example, under the LLS Agreement, we are required to use commercially reasonable efforts to research, develop and commercialize pelabresib. If we fail to meet the foregoing obligation, then, under certain circumstances, LLS may terminate the LLS Agreement and may exercise the exclusive, sublicensable and worldwide license we granted LLS in and to certain of our intellectual property to develop and commercialize pelabresib. Termination of these agreements or reduction or elimination of our rights under these agreements may result in our having to negotiate new or reinstated agreements with less favorable terms, or cause us to lose our rights under these agreements, including our rights to important intellectual property or technology, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

Additionally, these and other license agreements may not provide exclusive rights to use the licensed intellectual property and technology in all relevant fields of use and in all territories in which we may wish to develop or commercialize our technology and products in the future. As a result, we may not be able to prevent competitors from developing and commercializing competitive products and technology in fields of use and territories not included in such agreements. In addition, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing, prosecution, maintenance, enforcement, and defense of patents and patent applications covering the technology that we license from third parties. Therefore, we cannot be certain that these patents and patent applications will be prepared, filed, prosecuted, maintained, and defended in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. If our licensors fail to prosecute, maintain, enforce, and defend such patents, or lose rights to those patents or patent applications, the rights we have licensed may be reduced or eliminated, and our right to develop and commercialize any of our products that are the subject of such licensed rights could be adversely affected.

We may need to obtain additional licenses from others to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates. It is possible that we may be unable to obtain additional licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all, or such licenses may be non-exclusive. The licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and several more established companies may pursue strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive or necessary. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, capital resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment or at all.

If we are unable to obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to redesign our technology, product

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candidates, or the methods for manufacturing them or to develop or license replacement technology, all of which may not be feasible on a technical or commercial basis. If we are unable to do so, we may be unable to develop or commercialize the affected technology and product candidates, which could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects significantly.

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 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 currently 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 technology and product candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

Our licensors may have relied on third-party consultants or collaborators or on funds from third parties such that our licensors are not the sole and exclusive owners of the patents and patent applications we in-licensed. If other third parties have ownership rights to our in-licensed patents, they may be able to license such patents to our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. This could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

In spite of our best efforts, our licensors might conclude that we have materially breached our license agreements and might therefore terminate the license agreements, thereby removing our ability to develop and commercialize product candidates and technology covered by these license agreements. If these in-licenses are terminated, or if the underlying intellectual property fails to provide the intended exclusivity, competitors would have the freedom to seek regulatory approval of, and to market, products and technologies identical to ours. This could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property and proprietary rights throughout the world.

Filing, prosecuting, and defending patents on product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. 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 or licenses but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our products, and our patents 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 patents, trade secrets, and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biotechnology products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our intellectual property and proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our intellectual property and proprietary 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, could put our patent applications at risk of

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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 and proprietary rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.

Many countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of such patent. If we or any of our licensors is forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents relevant to our business, our competitive position may be impaired, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects may be adversely affected.

We may be subject to claims by third parties asserting that our employees, consultants, contractors or we have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their current or former employers or claims asserting we have misappropriated their intellectual property, or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.

Many of our employees, consultants and contractors were previously employed at universities or other pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees and contractors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that these individuals or we have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such individual’s current or former employer. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims.

In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees, consultants and contractors who may be involved in the development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. Our intellectual property assignment agreements with them may not be self-executing or may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Such claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

If we fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel, which could have a material adverse effect on our competitive business position and prospects. Such intellectual property rights could be awarded to a third party, and we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to commercialize our technology or products, which license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, or such license may be non-exclusive. Even if we are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to our management and employees.

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

In addition to seeking patents for some of our technology and product candidates, we also rely on trade secrets and confidentiality agreements to protect our unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our trade secrets and other proprietary technology, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to them, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. We cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or has had access to our trade secrets or proprietary technology. Despite these efforts, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Detecting the disclosure or misappropriation of a trade secret and enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside of the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third party, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate it, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor or other third party, our competitive position would be materially and adversely harmed.

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Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats.

The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations and may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. For example:

 

our epigenetics platform is not protected by any patented intellectual property, and we may not be able to develop, acquire or in-license any patentable technologies or other intellectual property related to such platform;

 

we, or our license partners or current or future collaborators, might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patent or pending patent applications that we license or may own in the future;

 

we, or our license partners or current or future collaborators, might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our or their inventions;

 

others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our owned or in-licensed intellectual property rights;

 

it is possible that our owned and in-licensed pending patent applications or those we may own or in-license in the future will not lead to issued patents;

 

issued patents that we hold rights to may be held invalid or unenforceable, including as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;

 

our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;

 

we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;

 

the patents of others may harm our business; and

 

we may choose not to file a patent in order to maintain certain trade secrets or know-how, and a third party may subsequently file a patent covering such intellectual property.

Should any of these events occur, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

Risks Related to Regulatory Approval of Our Product Candidates and Other Legal Compliance Matters

Even if we complete the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials, the marketing approval process is expensive, time-consuming and uncertain and may prevent us from obtaining approvals for the commercialization of some or all of our product candidates. If we are not able to obtain, or if there are delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals, we will not be able to commercialize our product candidates, and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.

Our product candidates and the activities associated with their development and commercialization, including their design, testing, manufacture, safety, efficacy, recordkeeping, labeling, storage, approval, advertising, promotion, sale and distribution, export and import are subject to comprehensive regulation by the FDA and other regulatory agencies in the United States and by the EMA and similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States. Failure to obtain marketing approval for a product candidate will prevent us from commercializing the product candidate. We have not submitted an application for or received marketing approval for any of our product candidates in the United States or in any other jurisdiction.

We have only limited experience in filing and supporting the applications necessary to gain marketing approvals and expect to rely on third-party clinical research organizations or other third-party consultants or vendors to assist us in this process. Securing marketing approval requires the submission of extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information, including manufacturing information, to regulatory authorities for each therapeutic indication to establish the product candidate’s safety and efficacy. Our product candidates may not be effective, may be only moderately effective or may prove to have undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude our obtaining marketing approval or prevent or limit commercial use. New cancer drugs frequently are indicated only for patient populations that have not responded to an existing therapy or have relapsed. If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, the accompanying label may limit the approved use of our drug in this way, which could limit sales of the product or not make it commercially viable.

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The process of obtaining marketing approvals, both in the United States and abroad, is expensive, may take many years, if approval is obtained at all, and can vary substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. Changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for each submitted product application, may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. Regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that our data is insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies. In addition, varying interpretations of the data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing could delay, limit or prevent marketing approval of a product candidate.

Finally, disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may prolong 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, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.  The Trump Administration also took several executive actions that could impose significant burdens on, or otherwise materially delay, the FDA’s ability to engage in routine regulatory and oversight activities.

If we experience delays in obtaining approval or if we fail to obtain approval of our product candidates, the commercial prospects for our product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate revenues will be materially impaired.

We may not be able to obtain orphan drug exclusivity for each of our product candidates and, even if we do, that exclusivity may not prevent the FDA or the EMA from approving other competing products.

Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and Europe, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a product as an orphan drug if it is a drug intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States. For example, in November 2019, we received FDA orphan drug designation for pelabresib for the treatment of myelofibrosis, and in February 2020 we received EMA orphan drug designation for pelabresib for the treatment of myelofibrosis.

 

Generally, if a product with an orphan drug designation subsequently 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 the EMA from approving another marketing application for the same drug for that time period. The applicable period is seven years in the United States and ten years in Europe. The exclusivity period in Europe can be reduced to six years if a drug no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation or if the drug is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified. Orphan drug exclusivity may be lost if the FDA or EMA 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.

Even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition. In addition, even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve the same drug for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care.

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.

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A Fast Track or Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and does not assure FDA approval of our product candidates.

If a product candidate is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and the product candidate demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical need for this condition, the sponsor may apply to the FDA for fast track designation. We received Fast Track designation for pelabresib for the treatment of myelofibrosis in November 2018, and we may seek Fast Track designation for some of our additional product candidates. In addition, an applicant may seek designation of its product as a breakthrough therapy, which is a drug that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For drugs and biologics that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens.

The FDA has broad discretion with respect to whether or not to grant these designations to a product candidate, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for such designation or status, the FDA may decide not to grant it. Moreover, a fast track or breakthrough therapy designation does not necessarily mean a faster regulatory review process or necessarily confer any advantage with respect to approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. As a result, while we may seek and receive these designations for our product candidates, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. In addition, the FDA may withdraw these designations if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program.

Failure to obtain marketing approval in foreign jurisdictions would prevent our product candidates from being marketed abroad.

In order to market and sell our products in the European Union and many other foreign jurisdictions, we or our potential third-party collaborators must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. The approval procedure varies among countries and can involve additional testing. The time required to obtain approval may differ substantially from that required to obtain FDA approval. The regulatory approval process outside of the United States generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. In addition, in many countries outside of the United States, it is required that the product be approved for reimbursement before the product can be approved for sale in that country. We or our potential third-party collaborators may not obtain approvals from regulatory authorities outside of the United States on a timely basis, if at all. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions, and approval by one regulatory authority outside of the United States does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions or by the FDA. However, a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country may have a negative effect on the regulatory process in other countries. We may not be able to file for marketing approvals and may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our products in any market.

Additionally, we could face heightened risks with respect to seeking marketing approval in the United Kingdom as a result of the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit. Pursuant to the formal withdrawal arrangements agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union, effective December 31, 2020. On December 24, 2020, the United Kingdom and European Union entered into a Trade and Cooperation Agreement.  The agreement sets out certain procedures for approval and recognition of medical products in each jurisdiction. Since the regulatory framework for pharmaceutical products in the United Kingdom covering the quality, safety, and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales, and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from European Union directives and regulations, Brexit could materially impact the future regulatory regime that applies to products and the approval of product candidates in the United Kingdom. Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, any marketing approvals, as a result of Brexit or otherwise, would prevent us from commercializing any product candidates in the United Kingdom and/or the European Union 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 United Kingdom and/or European Union for any product candidates, which could significantly and materially harm our business.

If we are required by the FDA to obtain approval of a companion diagnostic in connection with approval of a therapeutic product candidate, and we do not obtain or face delays in obtaining FDA approval of a diagnostic device, we will not be able to commercialize the product candidate and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.

According to FDA guidance, if the FDA determines that a companion diagnostic device is essential to the safe and effective use of a novel therapeutic product or indication, the FDA generally will not approve the therapeutic product or new

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therapeutic product indication if the companion diagnostic is not also approved or cleared for that indication. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, companion diagnostics are regulated as medical devices, and the FDA has generally required companion diagnostics intended to select the patients who will respond to cancer treatment to obtain Premarket Approval, or a PMA, for the diagnostic. The PMA process, including the gathering of clinical and preclinical data and the submission to and review by the FDA, involves a rigorous premarket review during which the applicant must prepare and provide the FDA with reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness and information about the device and its components regarding, among other things, device design, manufacturing and labeling.

For example, a clinical trial is typically required for a PMA application and, in a small percentage of cases, the FDA may require a clinical study in support of a 510(k) submission. A manufacturer that wishes to conduct a clinical study involving the device is subject to the FDA’s IDE regulation. The IDE regulation distinguishes between significant and non-significant risk device studies and the procedures for obtaining approval to begin the study differ accordingly. Also, some types of studies are exempt from the IDE regulations. A significant risk device presents a potential for serious risk to the health, safety, or welfare of a subject. Significant risk devices are devices that are substantially important in diagnosing, curing, mitigating, or treating disease or in preventing impairment to human health. Studies of devices that pose a significant risk require both FDA and an IRB approval prior to initiation of a clinical study. Non-significant risk devices are devices that do not pose a significant risk to the human subjects. A non-significant risk device study requires only IRB approval prior to initiation of a clinical study.

Thus, a PMA is not guaranteed and may take considerable time, and the FDA may ultimately respond to a PMA submission with a “not approvable” determination based on deficiencies in the application and require additional clinical trial or other data that may be expensive and time-consuming to generate and that can substantially delay approval. As a result, if we are required by the FDA to obtain approval of a companion diagnostic for a therapeutic product candidate, and we do not obtain or there are delays in obtaining FDA approval of a diagnostic device, we may not be able to commercialize the product candidate on a timely basis or at all and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.

Any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval could be subject to post-marketing restrictions or withdrawal from the market and we may be subject to substantial penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our products, when and if any of them are approved.

Any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval, along with the manufacturing processes, post-approval clinical data, labeling, advertising and promotional activities for such product, will be subject to continual requirements of and review by the FDA and other regulatory authorities. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration and listing requirements, cGMP requirements relating to manufacturing, quality control, quality assurance and corresponding maintenance of records and documents, requirements regarding the distribution of samples to physicians and recordkeeping. Even if marketing approval of a product candidate is granted, the approval may be subject to limitations on the indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, including the requirement to implement a REMS. New cancer drugs frequently are indicated only for patient populations that have not responded to an existing therapy or have relapsed. If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, the accompanying label may limit the approved use of our drug in this way, which could limit sales of the product.

The FDA may also impose requirements for costly post-marketing studies or clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of the product, including the adoption and implementation of REMS. The FDA and other agencies, including the Department of Justice, or the DOJ, closely regulate and monitor the post-approval marketing and promotion of drugs to ensure they are marketed and distributed only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling. The FDA and DOJ impose stringent restrictions on manufacturers’ communications regarding off-label use, and if we do not market our products for their approved indications, we may be subject to enforcement action for off-label marketing. Violations of the FDCA and other statutes, including the False Claims Act, relating to the promotion and advertising of prescription drugs may lead to investigations and enforcement actions alleging violations of federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws, as well as state consumer protection laws.

In addition, later discovery of previously unknown adverse events or other problems with our products, manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may have various consequences, including:

 

restrictions on such products, manufacturers or manufacturing processes;

 

restrictions and warnings on the labeling or marketing of a product;

 

restrictions on product distribution or use;

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requirements to conduct post-marketing studies or clinical trials;

 

warning letters or untitled letters;

 

withdrawal of the products from the market;

 

refusal to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications that we submit;

 

recall of products;

 

fines, restitution or disgorgement of profits or revenues;

 

suspension or withdrawal of marketing approvals;

 

damage to relationships with any potential collaborators;

 

unfavorable press coverage and damage to our reputation;

 

refusal to permit the import or export of our products;

 

product seizure;

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties; or

 

litigation involving patients using our products. Non-compliance with European Union requirements regarding safety monitoring or pharmacovigilance, and with requirements related to the development of products for the pediatric population, can also result in significant financial penalties. Similarly, failure to comply with the European Union’s requirements regarding the protection of personal information can also lead to significant penalties and sanctions.

In addition, manufacturers of approved products and those manufacturers’ facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to cGMPs applicable to drug manufacturers or quality assurance standards applicable to medical device manufacturers, which include requirements relating to quality control and quality assurance as well as the corresponding maintenance of records and documentation and reporting requirements. We, any contract manufacturers we may engage in the future, our future collaborators and their contract manufacturers will also be subject to other regulatory requirements, including submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration and listing requirements, requirements regarding the distribution of samples to clinicians, recordkeeping, and costly post-marketing studies or clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of the product such as the requirement to implement a REMS.

Our relationships with healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, transparency, health information privacy and security, and other healthcare laws and regulations, which, in the event of a violation, could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens and diminished profits and future earnings.

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our future arrangements with healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain marketing approval. In addition, we may be subject to transparency laws and patient privacy regulation by U.S. federal and state governments and by governments in foreign jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations include the following:

 

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation or arranging of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid;

 

the federal False Claims Act imposes criminal and civil penalties, including through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, against individuals or entities for, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, false or fraudulent claims for payment by a federal healthcare program or making a false statement or record material to payment of a false claim or avoiding, decreasing or concealing an obligation to pay money to the federal government, with potential liability including mandatory treble damages and significant per-claim penalties;

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the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters;

 

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, and their respective implementing regulations, also imposes obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;

 

the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires applicable manufacturers of covered drugs to report payments and other transfers of value to physicians and teaching hospitals; and

 

analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws and transparency statutes, may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers.

Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government and may require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures. Additionally, some state and local laws require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives in the jurisdiction. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion of products from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from participation in government funded healthcare programs.

Recently enacted and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may obtain for any products that are approved in the United States or foreign jurisdictions.

In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. The pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and have been significantly affected by legislative initiatives. Current laws, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any FDA approved product.

In the United States, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, or the MMA, changed the way Medicare covers and pays for pharmaceutical products. The legislation expanded Medicare coverage for drug purchases by the elderly and introduced a new reimbursement methodology based on average sales prices for physician-administered drugs. In addition, this legislation provided authority for limiting the number of drugs that will be covered in any therapeutic class. Cost reduction initiatives and other provisions of this legislation could decrease the coverage and price that we receive for any approved products. 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 reimbursement rates. Therefore, any reduction in reimbursement that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors.

In March 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively the ACA. In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the PPACA 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. These changes

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included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and will remain in effect through 2029 unless additional Congressional action is taken. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and extended the sequester by one year, through 2030. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. These new laws 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.

Since enactment of the PPACA, there have been, and continue to be, numerous legal challenges and Congressional actions to repeal and replace provisions of the law. For example, with enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “TCJA”), Congress repealed the “individual mandate.” The repeal of this provision, which requires most Americans to carry a minimal level of health insurance, became effective in 2019.  Further, on December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled that the individual mandate portion of the ACA is an essential and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore because the mandate was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. On December 18, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit court affirmed the lower court’s ruling that the individual mandate portion of the ACA is unconstitutional and it remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration of the severability question and additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA.  Thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear this case. Oral argument in the case took place on November 10, 2020.  On February 10, 2021, the Biden Administration withdrew the federal government’s support for overturning the ACA.  A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is expected sometime this year. Litigation and legislation over the ACA are likely to continue, with unpredictable and uncertain results.

The Trump Administration also took executive actions to undermine or delay implementation of the ACA, including directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the ACA to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the ACA that would impose a fiscal or regulatory burden on states, individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices.  On January 28, 2021, however, President Biden issued a new Executive Order that directs fedefral agencies to reconsider rules and other policies that limit Americans’ access to health care and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access.  Under this Order, federal agencies are directed to re-examine: policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19; demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the ACA that may reduce coverage or undermine the programs, including work requirements; policies that undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or other markets for health insurance; policies that make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and the ACA; and policies that reduce affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents. This Executive Order also directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a special enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The prices of prescription pharmaceuticals in the United States and foreign jurisdictions is subject to considerable legislative and executive actions and could impact the prices we obtain for our products, if and when licensed.

 

The prices of prescription pharmaceuticals have also been the subject of considerable discussion in the United States.  To date, there have been several recent U.S. congressional inquiries, as well as proposed and enacted state and federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, reduce the costs of drugs under Medicare and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for products.  To those ends, President Trump issued several executive orders intended to lower the costs of prescription drug products. Certain of these orders are reflected in recently promulgated regulations, including an interim final rule implementing President Trump’s most favored nation model, but such final rule is currently subject to a nationwide preliminary injunction.  It remains to be seen whether these orders and resulting regulations will remain in force during the Biden Administration.  Further, on September 24, 2020, the Trump Administration finalized a rulemaking allowing states or certain other non-federal government entities to submit importation program proposals to the FDA for review and approval. Applicants are required to demonstrate that their importation plans pose no additional risk to public health and safety and will result in significant cost savings for consumers.  The FDA has issued draft guidance that would allow manufacturers to import their own FDA-approved drugs that are authorized for sale in other countries (multi-market approved products).  

 

At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. In addition, regional health care authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other health care organizations. These measures could reduce the

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ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing.  We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.

 

In countries outside of the United States, particularly the countries of the European Union, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidate to other available therapies. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business could be harmed, possibly materially.

Compliance with global privacy and data security requirements could result in additional costs and liabilities to us or inhibit our ability to collect and process data globally, and the failure to comply with such requirements could subject us to significant fines and penalties, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The regulatory framework for the collection, use, safeguarding, sharing, transfer and other processing of information worldwide is rapidly evolving and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Globally, virtually every jurisdiction in which we operate has established its own data security and privacy frameworks with which we must comply. For example, the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the European Union, including personal health data, is subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, which took effect across all member states of the European Economic Area, or EEA, in May 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 increases our obligations with respect to clinical trials conducted in the EEA by expanding the definition of personal data to include code