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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
þANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023
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: 001-37507
_____________________________________
IMMUNITYBIO, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware43-1979754
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
3530 John Hopkins Court
San Diego, California
92121
(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (844) 696-5235
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class Trading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.0001 per shareIBRXThe 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 þ
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ¨ No þ
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 þ 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 þ 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
þ
Smaller reporting company
þ
Emerging growth company
¨
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ¨
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b). ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ¨ No þ
The aggregate market value of the registrant’s voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates, computed based on the closing price of shares of common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on June 30, 2023 was approximately $315.9 million.
The number of shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding as of March 14, 2024 was 673,952,278 (excluding 163,800 shares held by a majority owned subsidiary of ours that are treated as treasury shares for accounting purposes).
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
As noted herein, the information called for by Part III of this Annual Report is incorporated by reference to specified portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement to be filed in conjunction with the registrant’s 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which is expected to be filed not later than 120 days after the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2023.



IMMUNITYBIO, INC.
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
PART I
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 1C.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
PART II
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
Item 9C.
PART III
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
PART IV
Item 15.
Item 16.



Defined Terms
Unless expressly indicated or the context required otherwise, the terms “ImmunityBio,” “the company,” “the combined company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” in this Annual Report refer to ImmunityBio, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and, where appropriate, its subsidiaries. We have also used several other terms in this Report, the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included herein, most of which are defined below:
TermDefinition
2014 PlanNantKwest, Inc. 2014 Equity Incentive Plan
2015 PlanImmunityBio, Inc. 2015 Equity Incentive Plan
2015 Share Repurchase ProgramBoard of Directors-approved share repurchase program
3M IPC3M Innovative Properties Company
401(k) Plan401(k) retirement and savings plan
AAHIAccess to Advanced Health Institute
ACAAffordable Care Act
ADCCantibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity
AltorAltor BioScience, LLC
America Invents ActLeahy-Smith America Invents Act
AMLacute myeloid leukemia
AmyrisAmyris, Inc.
Anktiva®
Proposed proprietary name for N-803, our novel antibody-cytokine fusion protein (nogapendekin alfa inbakicept-pmln) in the non-muscle invasive bladder cancer indication. The FDA has not yet approved this proposed proprietary name for such use, and this proposed proprietary name will be approved at the time the BLA is approved, if at all.
Annual ReportAnnual Report on Form 10-K
ARTanti-retroviral therapy
ASCAccounting Standards Codification
ASCOAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology
ASUAccounting Standards Update
AthenexAthenex, Inc.
ATM“at-the-market” sales agreement
ATRAAmerican Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
BARDABiomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
BCGbacillus Calmette-Guérin
BeikeShenzhen Beike Biotechnology Co. Ltd.
BICRblinded independent central review
BLABiologics License Application
BPCIABiologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009
bNAbsbroadly-neutralizing antibodies
BrinkBrink Biologics, Inc.
CambridgeCambridge Equities, LP
CARchimeric antigen receptor
CCPACalifornia Consumer Privacy Act of 2018
CEOchief executive officer
CFOchief financial officer
cGMPcurrent Good Manufacturing Practice
Chinawhen used in connection with the RIPA, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and any territories controlled by the People’s Republic of China
i


TermDefinition
CIconfidence interval
CIOchief information officer
CIScarcinoma in situ
ClinicImmuno-Oncology Clinic, Inc.
Closing Datewhen used in connection with the RIPA, December 29, 2023
CMCChemistry, Manufacturing and Controls
CMOcontract manufacturing organization
CMSCenters for Medicare & Medicaid Services
CodeInternal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended
Company Common Stockcommon stock, par value $0.0001 per share, of the company
CPRACalifornia Privacy Rights Act of 2020
CRcomplete response
CRADACooperative Research and Development Agreement
CRLcomplete response letter
CROcontract research organization
CVRcontingent value right
Cynviloq
IG-101 (paclitaxel nanoparticle polymeric micelle)
DGCLDelaware General Corporation Law
DSCSADrug Supply Chain Security Act
Duley RoadDuley Road, LLC
Dunkirk Facilitya leasehold interest in a cGMP ISO Class 5 pharmaceutical manufacturing space in
   western New York
EGFRepidermal growth factor receptor
EMAEuropean Medicines Agency
ERMEnterprise Risk Management
EtubicsEtubics Corporation
EUEuropean Union
EUAemergency use authorization
Exchange ActSecurities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended
Exchange Ratio
a right to receive 0.8190 newly issued shares of Company Common Stock
ExyteExyte U.S., Inc.
FASBFinancial Accounting Standards Board
FCAFalse Claims Act
FCPAU.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
FD&C ActFederal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
FDAU.S. Food and Drug Administration
FDASIAFood and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012
FSMCFort Schuyler Management Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with the
   state of New York
FTCFederal Trade Commission
FTOfreedom-to-operate
FVOfair value option
GBMglioblastoma multiforme
ii


TermDefinition
GCPGood Clinical Practice
GDPRGeneral Data Protection Regulation
GlobeImmuneGlobeImmune, Inc.
GLPGood Laboratory Practice
GMPGood Manufacturing Practice
hAd5human adenovirus serotype 5
Hatch-Waxman ActDrug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984
HCWHCW Biologics, Inc.
HHSU.S. Department of Health and Human Services
HIPAAHealth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
HITECHHealth Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act
HIVhuman immunodeficiency virus
ICBimmune checkpoint blockade
IDEInvestigational Device Exemption
IDRIInfectious Disease Research Institute
IgDraSolIgDraSol, Inc., a subsidiary of the company
IL-15novel interleukin 15
INDinvestigational new drug
InfinityInfinity SA LLC, as purchaser agent for affiliates of Oberland
IPR&DIn-process research and development
IRAInflation Reduction Act of 2022
IRBInstitutional review boards
IRSInternal Revenue Service
LadRxLadRx Corporation
LMIClow- and middle-income countries
Lung-MAPLung Cancer Master Protocol
M-ceNKmemory-like cytokine-enhanced NK cells
mAbsmonoclonal antibodies
MDSCmyeloid-derived suppressor cells
MHCmajors histocompatability
MNCmononuclear cells
Nant CapitalNant Capital, LLC
NantBioNantBio, Inc.
NantCellNantCell, Inc., a subsidiary of the company
NANTibodyImmunotherapy NANTibody, LLC, a subsidiary of the company
NantKwestNantKwest, Inc.
NantMobileNantMobile, LLC
NantPharmaNantPharma, LLC
NantWorksNantWorks, LLC, a related-party
NC 2015 PlanNantCell, Inc. 2015 Stock Incentive Plan
NCINational Cancer Institute
NCSCNantCancerStemCell, LLC
NCTNNational Clinical Trials Network
iii


TermDefinition
NDANew Drug Application
NEOnamed executive officer
NHPnon-human primate
NIAIDNational Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
NIDCDNational Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
NIHNational Institutes of Health
NIH GuidelinesNIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules
NKnatural killer
NLCnanostructured lipid carrier
NMIBCnon-muscle invasive bladder cancer
NOLnet operating loss
NSCLCnon-small cell lung cancer
OBANIH Office of Biotechnology Activities
OberlandOberland Capital Management LLC and its affiliates (including Purchasers as
   defined in the RIPA)
OFACU.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control
OSHAOccupational Safety and Health Administration
OWSOperation Warp Speed
PCAOBPublic Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States)
PDMAU.S. Prescription Drug Marketing Act
PDUFA dateuser fee goal date
PFphysical function
PHIProtected Health Information
PHSAPublic Health Service Act
PIKpaid-in-kind
PMApremarket approval
PREAPediatric Research Equity Act
PROPatient Recorded Outcomes
Proxy StatementSchedule 14A in connection with our 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders
QMSRQuality Management System Regulation
QSRQuality System Regulation
R&Dresearch and development
R&Eresearch and experimental expenditures
RACRecombinant DNA Advisory Committee
RECISTresponse evaluation criteria in solid tumors
REMSRisk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy
RIPARevenue Interest Purchase Agreement
RiptideRiptide Bioscience, Inc.
RSUrestricted stock unit
Sarbanes-OxleySarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
saRNAself-amplifying RNA
SARS-CoV-2novel strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19)
iv


TermDefinition
SBRTstereotactic body radiotherapy
SECU.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Section 404Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
Securities ActSecurities Act of 1933, as amended
SCLCsmall cell lung cancer
SorrentoSorrento Therapeutics, Inc.
SPOAStock Purchase and Option Agreement
SRLYseparate return limitation year
SWOGSWOG Cancer Research Network
TAAtumor-associated antigen
TCJATax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
Term SOFRTerm Secured Overnight Financing Rate
Test Datewhen used in connection with the RIPA, December 31, 2029
TLRtoll-like receptor
TregRegulatory T cells
U.S. GAAPaccounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America
USPTOU.S. Patent and Trademark Office
VBC HoldingsVBC Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of the company
VIEvariable interest entity
ViractaViracta Therapeutics, Inc.
VivaBioCellVivaBioCell, S.p.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of VBC Holdings
v

PART I
ITEM 1.     BUSINESS.
Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act that are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to our management. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
our ability to develop next-generation therapies and vaccines that complement, harness, and amplify the immune system to defeat cancers and infectious diseases;
our ability to obtain additional financing to fund our operations and complete the development and commercialization of our various product candidates;
whether or not the FDA will ultimately determine that the BLA resubmission and related actions successfully address and resolve the issues identified in the CRL;
our ability, and the ability of our third-party CMOs, to adequately address the issues raised in the FDA’s CRL;
whether the FDA approval milestone after which Oberland may purchase $100.0 million in Revenue Interests will be achieved;
our ability to meet our payment obligations under the RIPA and to service the interest on our related-party promissory notes and repay such notes, to the extent required;
our ability to comply with the terms, conditions, covenants, restrictions, and obligations set forth in the RIPA and related transaction documents;
our expectations regarding the potential benefits of our strategy and technology;
our ability to forecast operating results and make period-to-period comparisons predictive of future performance due to fluctuations in warrant values;
our expectations regarding the operation and effectiveness of our product candidates and related benefits;
our ability to utilize multiple modes to induce cell death;
our beliefs regarding the benefits and perceived limitations of competing approaches, and the future of competing technologies and our industry;
details regarding our strategic vision and planned product candidate pipeline;
our beliefs regarding the success, cost and timing of our product candidate development activities and current and future clinical trials and studies, including study design and the enrollment of patients;
the timing of the development and commercialization of our product candidates;
our expectations regarding our ability to utilize the Phase I/II aNK and haNK® clinical trials data to support the development of our product candidates, including our haNK, taNK, t‑haNK, MSC, and M-ceNK product candidates;
our expectations regarding the development, application, commercialization, marketing, prospects and use generally of our product candidates, including Anktiva, hAd5 and saRNA constructs, and PD-L1 t‑haNK and M-ceNK;
the timing or likelihood of regulatory filings or other actions and related regulatory authority responses, including any planned IND, BLA or NDA filings or pursuit of accelerated regulatory approval pathways or orphan drug status and Breakthrough Therapy designations;
our ability to implement an integrated discovery ecosystem and the operation of that planned ecosystem, including being able to regularly add neoepitopes and subsequently formulate new product candidates;
the ability and willingness of strategic collaborators to share our vision and effectively work with us to achieve our goals;
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the ability and willingness of various third parties to engage in R&D activities involving our product candidates, and our ability to leverage those activities;
our ability to attract additional third-party collaborators;
our expectations regarding the ease of administration associated with our product candidates;
our expectations regarding patient compatibility associated with our product candidates;
our beliefs regarding the potential markets for our product candidates and our ability to serve those markets;
our expectations regarding the timing of enrollment and submission of our clinical trials, and protocols related to such trials;
our ability to produce an antibody-cytokine fusion protein, a DNA, RNA, or recombinant protein vaccine, or a cell therapy;
our beliefs regarding the potential manufacturing and distribution benefits associated with our product candidates, and our third-party CMOs’ abilities to follow cGMP standards to scale up the production of our product candidates;
our plans regarding our manufacturing facilities and our belief that our manufacturing is capable of being conducted in‑house;
our belief in the potential of our antibody-cytokine fusion proteins, DNA, RNA, or recombinant protein vaccines, or cell therapies, and the fact that our business is based upon the success individually and collectively of these platforms;
our belief regarding the magnitude or duration for additional clinical testing of our antibody-cytokine fusion proteins, DNA, RNA or recombinant protein vaccines, or cell therapies, along with other product candidate families;
even if we successfully develop and commercialize specific product candidates like our N-803 or PD-L1 t‑haNK, our ability to develop and commercialize our other product candidates either alone or in combination with other therapeutic agents;
the ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval of any of our product candidates, and any related restrictions, limitations and/or warnings in the label of any approved product candidate;
our ability to commercialize any approved products;
the rate and degree of market acceptance of any approved products;
our ability to attract and retain key personnel;
the accuracy of our estimates regarding our future revenue, as well as our future operating expenses, capital requirements and needs for additional financing;
our ability to obtain, maintain, protect, and enforce patent protection and other proprietary rights for our product candidates and technologies;
the terms and conditions of licenses granted to us and our ability to license additional intellectual property relating to our product candidates and technology;
any government shutdown, which could adversely affect the U.S. and global economies, and materially and adversely affect our business and/or our BLA submission;
the impact on us, if any, if the CVRs held by former Altor stockholders become due and payable in accordance with their terms; and
regulatory developments in the U.S. and foreign countries.
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Forward-looking statements include statements that are not historical facts and can be identified by terms such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “continues,” “goal,” “could,” “estimates,” “scheduled,” “expects,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” “potential,” “predicts,” “indicate,” “projects,” “seeks,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “strategy,” and variations of such words or similar expressions. and the negatives of those terms. In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. Statements of past performance, efforts, or results of our preclinical and clinical trials, about which inferences or assumptions may be made, can also be forward-looking statements and are not indicative of future performance or results. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report, and although we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted a thorough inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain, and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.
This Annual Report also contains estimates, projections and other information concerning our industry, our business, and the markets for certain diseases, including data regarding the estimated size of those markets, and the incidence and prevalence of certain medical conditions. Information that is based on estimates, forecasts, projections, market research or similar methodologies is inherently subject to uncertainties and actual events or circumstances may differ materially from events and circumstances reflected in this information. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, business, market, and other data from reports, research surveys, studies, and similar data prepared by market research firms and other third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data, and similar sources.
Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance, or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. We discuss these risks in greater detail in Item 1A. “Risk Factors” of this Annual Report. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame. Also, forward-looking statements represent our management’s beliefs and assumptions only as of the date of this Annual Report.
Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future. You should read this Annual Report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.
ImmunityBio, NantKwest, Anktiva, VesAnktiva, ThAnktiva, NK-92, ceNK, M-ceNK, haNK, taNK, t-haNK, GlobeImmune, Tarmogen, VivaBioCell, Nant001, NantXL, Nant Cancer Vaccine, QUILT, IPRT, Outsmart Your Disease, Smart Therapies for Difficult Diseases, and Nature’s First Responder are trademarks of ImmunityBio, Inc., its subsidiaries, or its affiliates.
Our product candidates, including N-803, are investigational agents that are restricted by federal law to investigational use only. Safety and efficacy have not been established by any agency, including the FDA.
This Annual Report contains references to our trademarks and trademarks belonging to other entities. Solely for convenience, trademarks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report, including logos, artwork, and other visual displays, may appear without the ® or TM symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or the rights of the applicable licensor to these trademarks and trade names. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names or trademarks to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us, by any other companies.
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Our Business
We are an integrated clinical-stage biotechnology company discovering, developing, and commercializing next-generation immuno- and cellular therapies that bolster the natural immune system to drive and sustain an immune response. Using our proprietary platforms that amplify both the innate and adaptive branches of the immune system, our teams of clinical, scientific, and manufacturing experts, advance novel therapies and vaccines aimed at defeating urologic and other cancers, as well as infectious diseases. Although such designations may not lead to a faster development process or regulatory review and may not increase the likelihood that a product candidate will receive approval, N-803 (Anktiva), our lead biologic commercial product candidate, has received Breakthrough Therapy and Fast Track designations and is currently under review by the FDA for treatment in combination with BCG of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease and has a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024.
Our platforms and their associated product candidates are designed to attack cancer and infectious pathogens by activating both the innate immune system, including—NK cells, dendritic cells, and macrophages, as well as—the adaptive immune system comprising—B and T cells,—in an orchestrated manner. The goal of this potentially best-in-class approach is to generate immunogenic cell death thereby eliminating rogue cells from the body whether they are cancerous or virally-infected. Our ultimate goal is to overcome the limitations of current treatments, such as checkpoint inhibitors, and/or reduce the need for standard high-dose chemotherapy in cancer by employing this coordinated approach to establish “immunological memory” that confers long-term benefit for the patient.
Our proprietary platforms for the development of biologic product candidates include: (i) antibody-cytokine fusion proteins, (ii) DNA, RNA, and recombinant protein vaccines, and (iii) cell therapies. These platforms have generated 9 novel therapeutic agents for which clinical trials are either underway or planned in solid and liquid tumors. Specifically, our clinical focus includes bladder, lung, and colorectal cancers and GBM, which are among the most frequent and lethal cancer types, and where there are high failure rates for existing standards of care or no available effective treatment.
Our lead biologic commercial product candidate Anktiva is an IL-15 superagonist antibody-cytokine fusion protein. In May 2022, we announced the submission of a BLA to the FDA for Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease. On May 9, 2023, the FDA delivered a CRL to us regarding the BLA filed in May 2022, indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the original BLA submission in its initial form, and the FDA made recommendations to address the issues raised. The deficiencies in the CRL related to the FDA’s pre-license inspection of the company’s third-party CMOs, among other items. Satisfactory resolution of the observations noted at the pre-license inspection would be required before the BLA could be approved. At the time, the FDA further provided recommendations specific to additional CMC issues and assays to be resolved. The CRL did not request new preclinical studies or Phase III clinical trials to evaluate safety or efficacy. The FDA requested that the company provide updated duration of response data for the efficacy population as identified by the FDA in the company’s resubmission, as well as a safety update.
On October 23, 2023, we announced that we had completed the resubmission of the BLA addressing the issues in the CRL. As part of our resubmission, we provided an update of the duration of response regarding the responders identified by the FDA in the efficacy population for BCG unresponsive subjects with high-risk CIS disease. On October 26, 2023, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA resubmission for review and considered it as a complete response to the CRL. The FDA has set a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024. While we believe the BLA resubmission addresses the issues identified in the CRL, there is no guarantee that the FDA will ultimately agree that such issues have been successfully addressed and resolved. It is unclear when the FDA will approve our BLA, if at all.
Further late-stage efforts for Anktiva are in development within the broader bladder cancer space, including BCG-naïve NMIBC. In addition, data from multiple clinical trials suggest N-803 has potential to enhance the activity of therapeutic mAbs, including checkpoint inhibitors (e.g., pembrolizumab/Keytruda), across a wide range of tumor types. We believe there is potential for N-803 to become a therapeutic foundation across all phases of treatment, including in adjunctive therapy, to amplify, reactivate or extend the efficacy of standard of care. In addition to N-803, we have active clinical programs evaluating therapeutic candidates from our DNA and RNA vaccine technology platforms and our NK cell-based therapy platforms in oncology and infectious disease indications.
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On December 29, 2023, we entered into the RIPA with Infinity and Oberland. Pursuant to the RIPA, Oberland acquired certain Revenue Interests (as defined in the RIPA) from us for a gross purchase price of $200.0 million paid on closing, less certain transaction expenses. In addition, Oberland may purchase additional Revenue Interests from us in exchange for the $100.0 million Second Payment upon satisfaction of certain conditions specified in the RIPA, including following the receipt of approval by the FDA of the company’s BLA for N-803 in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease on or before June 30, 2024 (the Second Payment). Under the RIPA, Oberland has the right to receive quarterly payments from us based on, among other things, a certain percentage of our worldwide net sales, excluding those in China, during such quarter.
Also, on December 29, 2023 and in connection with the RIPA, we entered into an SPOA with Oberland pursuant to which we sold an aggregate of approximately $10.0 million of our common stock at $4.1103 per share in a private placement. Oberland also has an option to purchase up to an additional $10.0 million of our common stock, at a price per share to be determined by reference to the 30-day trailing volume weighted-average price of our common stock calculated from the date of exercise.
I.Our Strategy
We seek to become a leading global immunological therapeutics company by creating next-generation immuno- and cell therapies to address serious unmet needs within urologic and other cancers as well as infectious diseases. To achieve this goal, the key elements of our strategy include:
advancing the approval and commercialization of our lead IL-15 superagonist antibody-cytokine fusion protein, N-803, as an integral component of immunotherapy combinations, including those with checkpoint inhibitors;
continuously scrutinizing our clinical pipeline;
accelerating product candidates generated from our immunotherapy platforms with registrational intent to address difficult-to-treat oncological and infectious disease indications;
continuing to prospect, license, and acquire technologies to complement and strengthen our platforms and product candidates, both as single agent and combination therapies, in order to optimize responses of the innate and adaptive immune systems to generate cellular memory against multiple tumor types and infectious diseases;
investing in our discovery, development, and manufacturing capabilities for our next-generation product candidates in both oncology and infectious disease; and
cultivating new and expanding existing collaborations for our multi-stage pipeline to reach global scale efficiently.
II.Our Next-Generation Platforms
Antibody-Cytokine Fusion Proteins
Antibody-cytokine fusion proteins, such as N-803, are a novel class of biologics that enhance the therapeutic potential of cytokines, and promote lymphocyte infiltration at a site of disease, improving immune response. N-803 is an IL-15 superagonist fusion protein consisting of high-affinity mutant IL-15N72D fused to the IL-15 receptor α sushi subunit and linked to the Fc portion of IgG1 Fc that exerts its effects via enhanced IL-2 receptor β site binding. N-803 specifically increases proliferation and activation of two critical cell types of the immune system – NK cells and cytotoxic (tumor cell killing) CD8+T-cells – but not immunosuppressive T-reg cells, leading to the establishment of memory T cells. Anktiva has received Breakthrough Therapy and Fast Track designations by the FDA for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease as well as Fast Track designation for BCG-unresponsive NMIBC papillary and BCG-naïve NMIBC with CIS. We note such designations may not lead to a faster development process or regulatory review and may not increase the likelihood that a product candidate will receive approval.
As described above, on October 26, 2023, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA resubmission for review and considered it as a complete response to the CRL. The FDA has set a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024. It is unclear when the FDA will approve our BLA, if at all.
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We believe that other N-803 indications with registration potential include BCG-unresponsive papillary, BCG-naïve CIS and BCG-naïve papillary, lung and colorectal cancers, and GBM in oncology and HIV in infectious diseases.
N-803
04-IL-15.jpg
In addition to N-803, we are developing bi-specific fusion proteins targeting PD-L1, IL-12, and TGF-ß to further enhance NK and T-cell activation directed to the infectious disease or tumor microenvironment, and to modulate the systemic and local immune response to accelerate immunogenic cell death. Prioritized product candidates in preclinical development include antibody-cytokine fusion proteins N-809 (targeting PD-L1), N-812 (delivering IL-12 to necrotic tumor cells), and N-830 (delivering a TGF-ß Trap to necrotic tumor cells).
DNA, RNA, and Recombinant Protein Vaccines
We have developed and/or acquired rights to multiple vaccine delivery technologies for oncology to deliver common TAAs, and neoepitopes (expressed only by cancer cells) and for infectious diseases to target key viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. These technologies can deliver DNA, saRNA, and subunit proteins to induce B- and T-cell memory due to the activation of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells along with antibody (humoral) responses.
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Our key vaccine delivery technologies include:
a.Second-generation hAd5 vector
Adenovirus is a well-established viral vector and can be utilized as a vaccine platform to stimulate the immune system. Our hAd5 technology has unique deletions in the early 1, (E1), early 2 (E2b) and early 3 (E3) regions (hAd5 [E1-, E2b-, E3-]), which allows it to be effective in the presence of pre-existing adenovirus immunity and lowers the risk of generating de novo vector-directed immunity. We have developed several hAd5 product candidates that have been studied in multiple clinical trials as potential vaccines for the treatment of infectious diseases and certain cancers. Importantly, these product candidates have shown an ability to overcome previous adenovirus immunity in preclinical models and in cancer patients. In oncology, we are exploring the delivery of N-803 in combination with hAd5 TAAs like CEA, MUC1, Brachyury, [E6/E7] and PSA, which we believe could yield immunological memory.
b.saRNA in an NLC formulation
Synthetic RNA technology has quickly come to the forefront for use in prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines in part because it allows for rapid, scalable, and cell-free manufacturing as evidenced by the adoption of SARS-CoV-2 RNA vaccines. Our saRNA technology (licensed from AAHI, formerly known as IDRI), includes an NLC formulation that protects the saRNA cargo and is important for thermal stability. The platform technology facilitates substitution of genetic sequences to generate novel vaccines and has an ability to vaccinate with multivalent strains. The self-replicating capability allows for increased potency by maintaining auto-replicative activity derived from the RNA virus vector, while the self-amplifying capability may increase the duration and breadth of immunity. Preclinical studies in small animal and NHP models have shown that NLC saRNA delivery elicits potent humoral and cell-based immunogenicity. Phase I first-in-human trials of saRNA for COVID-19 began in 2022. Results to date have demonstrated limited adverse events of the saRNA S construct and are being analyzed to inform future studies in oncology and infectious disease.
c.Recombinant protein vaccine platforms
Our yeast vaccine platforms have been studied in both oncology and infectious diseases, including our Tarmogen platform (licensed from our subsidiary GlobeImmune), which has been administered to over 400 patients with cancer or infectious diseases in FDA-regulated clinical trials. This platform technology consists of a heat-killed, recombinant S cerevisiae yeast-based vaccine engineered to express immunogens such as TAAs, pathogen antigens, and tumor-specific neoepitopes. Immunization with this platform elicits CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses capable of eliminating tumor cells or pathogen-infected cells.
Cell Therapies
We believe that we have one of the most comprehensive clinical-stage cell-based platforms in development. Our engineered NK cells have demonstrated the ability to induce cell death in cancers and virally-infected cells through a variety of concurrent mechanisms including innate killing, antibody-mediated killing, CAR-directed killing, and a combination of the latter.
a.Off-the-shelf NK cells
NK cells are a type of cytotoxic lymphocyte critical to the innate immune system. NK cells show spontaneous cytolytic activity against cells under stress such as tumor cells and virally-infected cells. After activation, NK cells secrete several cytokines such as interferon-γ (IFN-γ), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM‑CSF), and chemokines that can modulate the function of other innate and adaptive immune cells. Our NK-92 cytotoxic cell line was established from a patient with clonal NK-cell lymphoma. These NK cells can be expanded in culture in the presence of cytokines (IL-2, IL-15). Our “off-the-shelf” aNK cell platform has been molecularly engineered in a variety of ways to boost its killing capabilities against cancers and virally-infected cells. Unlike normal NK cells, our aNK cells do not express the key inhibitory receptors that diseased cells often exploit to turn off the killing function of NK cells and escape elimination. Further, we have genetically engineered our aNK cell platform to overexpress high-affinity CD16 receptors that bind to antibodies. These antibody-targeted haNK cells are designed to directly bind to IgG1-type antibodies, such as avelumab, trastuzumab, cetuximab, and rituximab, with the intention of enhancing the cancer-killing efficacy of these antibodies by boosting the population of competent NK cells that can kill cancer cells through ADCC.
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Our most advanced off-the-shelf NK cell, t-haNK, is an innovative, bioengineered cell line that incorporates all the features of our haNK platform together with a CAR, such as programmed PD-L1. Product candidates under this platform have three modes of killing: innate, antibody-mediated, and CAR-directed killing. These product candidates also include one or more additional expression elements such as functional cytokines, chemokines, and trafficking factors. These product candidates are intended to be combined with commercially-available therapeutic antibodies to effectively target either two different epitopes of the same cancer-specific protein or two entirely different cancer-specific proteins. Clinical trials to assess our thaNK product candidates were initiated—PD-L1 t-haNK in a Phase I trial in triple-negative breast cancer, and a Phase II trial in pancreatic cancer—and CD19 t-haNK has been cleared to commence Phase I testing.
Findings from a preclinical study performed in collaboration with the NCI demonstrated our PD-L1 t-haNK cells exert potent antitumor effects against MDSC and overcome T cell escape in multiple types of resistant tumors. The contribution of PD-L1 t‑haNK to antitumor efficacy is further evidenced by data reported at the ASCO meeting in June 2022 and updated at ASCO GI in January 2023 from the QUILT 88 trial of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who were administered PD-L1 t-haNK, aldoxorubicin and N-803. The multi-modal therapy resulted in a median overall survival of 6.3 months (95% CI: 5.0, 7.2 months) in patients who had progressed after two prior lines of therapy, more than doubling the historical survival rate.
We believe our pipeline that includes t-haNK cells engineered to express other CARs, including those targeting EGFR, which is advancing through clinical-enabling studies, will facilitate our ability to potentially address an even broader range of cancers as part of a chemotherapy-free combination regimen.
b.Autologous and allogeneic M-ceNK
M-ceNK cells are generated from lymphocytes collected from donors that are then pre-activated ex-vivo by exposure to interleukins-12 (IL-12), -15 and -18, which results in differentiation and acquisition of enhanced responses to cytokine re-stimulation. M-ceNK have increased antitumor characteristics, including enhanced IFN-γ production and cytotoxicity against leukemic cell lines. M-ceNK cells are further distinguished by their unique cell-surface marker profile and their highly desirable feature of immune-memory, marked by their pronounced anti-cancer activity for weeks to months in duration, which has made these cells a research focus for more than a decade. We have developed a unique ability to generate a portfolio of distinct M-ceNK cell products through the application of our proprietary technology and cytokines and our proprietary methods and overall expertise in scale manufacturing of NK cell-based products. A Phase I first-in-human trial is open and actively enrolling patients to study the M-ceNK platform in solid tumors (QUILT 3076). We anticipate commencement of Phase II trials of M-ceNK plus N-803 in patients with AML (QUILT 102) and platinum-resistant ovarian cancer (QUILT 108) in the near term.
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III.Our Pipeline
As of March 2024, our platforms have generated 9 first-in-human therapeutic agents that are currently being or planned to be studied in 24 clinical trials across 12 indications in liquid and solid tumors, including bladder, lung and colorectal cancers, and GBM. These indications are among the most frequent and lethal cancer types for which there are high failure rates for existing standards of care or, in some cases, no available effective treatment. We are constantly monitoring and prioritizing clinical development based upon the availability of our resources and the efficacy and market developments of our competitors’ products and product candidates, among other factors.
IBRX Pipeline March 2024.jpg
Bladder Cancer
In the U.S., bladder cancer is the fourth most commonly-diagnosed solid malignancy in men. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 83,190 new cases and 16,840 deaths from bladder cancer in 2024. There is an urgent, unmet need to treat NMIBC and avoid radical cystectomy of the bladder in an attempt to control the disease. Although such designations may not lead to a faster development process or regulatory review and may not increase the likelihood that a product candidate will receive approval, Anktiva has received Breakthrough Therapy and Fast Track designations by the FDA for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS (Cohort A) with or without Ta or T1 disease as well as Fast Track designation for BCG-unresponsive NMIBC papillary (Cohort B) and BCG-naïve NMIBC with CIS. In our QUILT 3032 trial, the company reported in November 2022, as published in NEJM Evidence, that the primary end points were met for both BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with a complete response rate of 71%, and BCG-unresponsive NMIBC papillary with a 12-month disease-free rate of 55%. As presented at ASCO 2022, the combination of BCG plus N-803 (as measured in BCG-unresponsive NMIBC patients, Cohorts A and B combined) was well-tolerated with 1% treatment-related serious adverse events, 0% immune-related serious adverse events, and 100% bladder cancer-specific overall survival at 24 months. Low-grade treatment-related adverse events include dysuria (22%), pollakiuria (20%), hematuria (17%), fatigue (16%), and urgency (12%), and all other treatment-related adverse events were seen at 7% or less. Seminal patents covering intravesical administration of BCG and N-803 were issued providing term coverage until 2035.
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BCG Unresponsive NMIBC CIS (Cohort A) – QUILT 3032
In our Phase II/III open-label multi-center trial of BCG-unresponsive high grade NMIBC patients, the patients are receiving BCG plus N-803 weekly for six consecutive weeks during induction. The patients also receive additional treatment including three weekly maintenance instillations every three months for up to 12 months and then at month 18. Patients with no disease or low-grade Ta disease at months 24, 30, and 36 are eligible for continued BCG plus N-803 (Cohort A) or N-803 alone (Cohort C) treatment (3 weekly instillations), at the principal investigators’ discretion.
The primary endpoint of the BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS trial is a complete response rate at any time equal to or greater than 30% and the lower bound of the 95% CI must be greater than or equal to 20% for success. Complete response, or the disappearance of measurable disease in response to treatment, is evaluated at three months or six months following initial administration of BCG plus N-803 (and every three months thereafter until 24 months). This endpoint would be achieved once at least 24 of the 80 patients in the trial achieve a complete response.
A data cutoff occurred in January 2022, which provided a median follow-up in Cohort A of approximately 24 months. Data as published in NEJM Evidence in November 2022 showed a complete response in 58 of 82 patients with a 71% complete response rate (95% CI: 59.6, 80.3) and a median duration of CR of 26.6 months (95% CI: 9.9, [upper bound not reached]). At 24 months in patients with a complete response, the probability of avoiding cystectomy and disease-specific survival was 91.4% and 100%, respectively. Also, at 24 months in all patients in Cohort A, the probability of avoiding cystectomy and of disease-specific survival was 84.1% and 100%, respectively.
As part of planned analyses, BCG-unresponsive patients in the QUILT 3032 trial of N-803 plus BCG completed PRO questionnaires, which revealed stability of both mean physical function and global health from baseline to 24 months on-study for those participants who had reached the 24-month assessment. Further, at month 6, Cohort A (CIS disease) patients that achieved a complete response reported higher physical function scores than those without a CR (P = 0.0659). Summary scores for the NMIBC-specific questionnaire also remained stable. These PROs, taken together with efficacy findings from both the NEJM Evidence report and subsequent follow-up, suggest a favorable risk-benefit ratio for the novel therapeutic combination.
In May 2022, we submitted a BLA to the FDA for our product candidate, Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease for which we received a target PDUFA action date of May 23, 2023. On May 9, 2023, the FDA delivered a CRL to us regarding the BLA filed in May 2022, indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the original BLA submission in its initial form, and the FDA made recommendations to address the issues raised. The deficiencies in the CRL related to the FDA’s pre-license inspection of the company’s third-party CMOs, among other items. Satisfactory resolution of the observations noted at the pre-license inspection would be required before the BLA could be approved. At the time, the FDA further provided recommendations specific to additional CMC issues and assays to be resolved. The CRL did not request new preclinical studies or clinical trials to evaluate safety or efficacy. The FDA requested that the company provide updated duration of response data for the efficacy population as identified by the FDA in the company’s resubmission, as well as a safety update.
On October 23, 2023, we announced that we had completed the resubmission of the BLA addressing the issues in the CRL. As part of our resubmission, we provided an update of the duration of response regarding the responders identified by the FDA in the efficacy population for BCG-unresponsive subjects with high-risk CIS disease. On October 26, 2023, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA resubmission for review and considered it as a complete response to the CRL. The FDA has set a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024. While we believe the BLA resubmission addresses the issues identified in the CRL, there is no guarantee that the FDA will ultimately agree that such issues have been successfully addressed and resolved. It is unclear when the FDA will approve our BLA, if at all.
BCG Unresponsive NMIBC Papillary (Cohort B) – QUILT 3032
In our Phase II, open-label multi-center trial of BCG-unresponsive high grade NMIBC papillary patients (Cohort B), the patients are receiving BCG plus N-803 weekly for six consecutive weeks during induction. The patients also receive additional treatment including three weekly maintenance instillations every three months for up to 12 months and then every nine months for up to 24 months. The primary endpoint of the trial is a 12-month disease free rate greater than or equal to 30% and the lower bound of the 95% CI must be greater than or equal to 20% for success. To meet the primary endpoint, 24 out of 80 patients must be disease free at 12 months.
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A data cutoff occurred in January 2022, which provided a median follow-up in Cohort B of approximately 21 months. Data as published in NEJM Evidence in November 2022 showed a 12-month disease-free survival rate of 55% (95% CI: 42.0, 66.8), with median disease-free survival of 19.3 months (95% CI: 7.4, [upper bound not reached]). At the cutoff date 67 of 72 patients, 93.1%, had not progressed to radical cystectomy and the 24-month disease-free survival rate was 97.7%.
We met with the FDA in December 2022, and the FDA advised us that when there is a time-to-event endpoint a randomized trial is required. We are continuing to evaluate trial designs while we work with the FDA on BCG-unresponsive CIS pending approval.
BCG-Naïve – QUILT 2005
As discussed above, Anktiva has been awarded Fast Track designation by the FDA for the treatment of BCG-naïve NMIBC with CIS. We are currently enrolling patients in our Phase IIb blinded, randomized, two-cohort, open-label, multi-center trial of intravesical BCG plus N-803 versus BCG alone, in BCG-naïve patients with high-grade NMIBC with CIS (Cohort A) and NMIBC papillary (Cohort B). Planned enrollment for Cohort A (CIS) and Cohort B (papillary) is 366 patients and 230 patients, respectively. As part of our October 2023 BLA resubmission for Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease, we provided an update on the long-term follow-up (QUILT 205) of BCG-naïve subjects in QUILT 2005 receiving N-803 plus BCG for CIS± Ta/T1 in the Phase Ib trial, examining the survival of the 9 subjects who entered the trial since 2014. As initially reported in 2021, all 9 subjects (100%) achieved a complete response, and in an 8-year follow up, the 6 evaluable patients remain disease-free (two were deceased from causes other than bladder cancer and one was lost to follow-up) with bladder preservation over a median survival period of 8.8 years.
Lung Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. In 2024, it is estimated that 234,580 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. and 125,070 deaths will be attributed to the disease. NSCLC accounts for about 80% to 85% of all lung cancers diagnoses and there are very few successful treatment options for these patients once the cancer spreads beyond the lungs. The development of checkpoint inhibitors in NSCLC has been revolutionary, doubling the median overall survival in some settings; however, patient response may be short lived, due to late response and/or progression after achieving an initial response. As with bladder cancer, N-803 enhances the proliferation and activation of NK and T cells critical for targeting and killing lung cancer cells. There is therefore a strong rationale to evaluate N-803 in addition to an anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor for patients with NSCLC who have relapsed after achieving an initial response to PD-1 or PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy. SCLC accounts for about 10% to 15% of all lung cancers. About two-thirds of patients with SCLC are diagnosed with extensive-stage disease, which is associated with especially poor prognosis, and a median survival of 10–13 months.
Analysis of pooled data from a Phase I/II trial conducted from January 2016 to June 2017 in 23 patients, and a subsequent investigator-initiated Phase II trial conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina, yielded confirmation of activity of the combination of checkpoint inhibitors and N-803 in relapsed NSCLC. In 15 patients with PD-L1 greater than 50%, the overall response rate was 38% and the median overall survival rate was 17.1 months. These preliminary findings were favorable relative to the historical response rate seen in this patient population in the first-line setting with checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer – QUILT 3055
On the basis of these findings discussed above, we initiated a single-arm Phase IIb multi-cohort basket trial of N-803 and checkpoint inhibitor combinations in patients who have previously received treatment with PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors per an FDA-approved indication. Patients enrolled in this trial were eligible if actively progressing on checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Upon enrollment, patients continued on the same checkpoint inhibitor but with the addition of N-803. Despite progressing on checkpoint inhibitor therapy upon entry into the trial, the majority of patients reverted to stable disease and demonstrated durability of stable disease, some extending as long as nine months. Data presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting in 2021 showed that despite the patients’ prior progression on checkpoint inhibitor therapy alone, upon entry into the trial the majority of patients experienced clinical benefit either as stable disease (49%) or a partial response (9%).
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Among 140 patients enrolled in QUILT 3055, the common N-803 attributed grade 1 and 2 adverse events included: injection-site reaction (71%), chills (34%), fatigue (27%), pyrexia (24%), flu-like illness (13%), and decreased appetite (10%). A total of 18 grade 3 and 4 adverse events attributed to N-803 have been reported among 16 patients (12%) in the trial as of February 2021. All reported grade 3 and 4 adverse events occurred at a frequency of 5% or less; two patients reported increased alanine amino transferase, increased aspartate amino transferase or increased blood alkaline phosphatase, anemia, injection-site reaction, or injection-site pain. All other occurrences of grade 3 or 4 adverse events that the clinical trial site investigators reported as suspected as being due to N-803 include: decreased lymphocyte count; weight loss; influenza-like illness; injection-site pruritus; cellulitis; injection-site cellulitis; sepsis; deep vein thrombosis; hypovolemic shock; colitis; diarrhea; delirium; respiratory failure; and maculopapular rash. Although further studies are warranted, based on this relatively well-tolerated adverse event profile, coupled with NK and CD8+ T cell stimulatory effects, we believe that N-803 has the potential to become a standard in combination with other immunotherapies for multiple indications.
In March 2023, we reviewed the updated QUILT 3055 data, through February 5, 2023, from several cohorts of NSCLC patients who have progressed after check point inhibitor therapy. These cohorts are:
Cohort 1a – NSCLC patients with initial response on single-agent checkpoint inhibitor therapy and subsequently progressed on or after that therapy.
Cohort 2 – NSCLC patients having high PD-L1 expression (tumor proportion score ≥50%) and disease progression on a PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor after experiencing an initial response when received checkpoint inhibitor as a single-agent for first-line treatment.
Cohort 3 – NSCLC patients with initial response but subsequently relapsed on maintenance PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy when initially received checkpoint inhibitor therapy in combination with chemotherapy as first-line treatment.
Cohort 4 – NSCLC patients currently receiving PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy that progressed after experiencing stable disease for at least 6 months during previous treatment with PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
The results are listed in the table below:
QUILT 3055: Overall Survival – NSCLC Subjects Safety Population
VariableCohort 1a
(N=19)
Cohort 2
(N=9)
Cohort 3
(N=20)
Cohort 4
(N=38)
All Subjects
(N=86)
Number of Deaths13 (68%)6 (67%)15 (75%)21 (55%)55 (64%)
Median Survival (months)14.118.515.812.6
13.9
95% CI for Median Survival11.7, 28.7
6.1, –
7.5, 24.9
8.8, 25.511.7, 17.4
These results show a median overall survival of 13.9 months in the 86 patients in the pooled analysis. This is in contrast to the overall survival of 6.1 months reported by Freeman et al. for patients who received any therapy post-checkpoint inhibitor therapy progression or an overall survival of 7.5 months, as reported by Brueckl et al., for patients who received docetaxel plus ramucirumab after initial failure of first-line chemotherapy plus checkpoint inhibitor.
Small Cell Lung Cancer – QUILT 211
Recently approved therapeutics for SCLC include checkpoint inhibitors in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy as first-line and lurbinectedin for second-line therapy. Nonetheless, only a subset of patients respond, a limit attributed to low MHC class I expression in SCLC. NK cells do not require such expression and preclinical studies have demonstrated M-ceNK are effective in killing SCLC cells of all subtypes as well as neuroendocrine prostate cancer. Based on these and similar findings, a Phase III, open-label, randomized clinical trial of N-803 and M-ceNK in combination with standard of care versus standard of care alone for previously treated patients with extensive-stage SCLC was designed, with enrollment expected to commence in 2024. The primary endpoint is the objective response rate with secondary endpoints of progression-free survival, overall survival, duration of response and disease control rate based on RECIST 1.1 criteria, and quality of life based on PROs.
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Colorectal Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. in men and the fourth-leading cause in women, but it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths when numbers for men and women are combined. Colorectal cancer is expected to cause about 53,010 deaths during 2024.
Lynch syndrome is the most common cause of hereditary colorectal cancer. People with this syndrome are at high risk of developing colorectal cancer. Lynch syndrome causes about 4,300 colorectal cancers per year. These cancers are more likely to develop at earlier ages, often before the age of 50. If someone has Lynch syndrome, it means that their close relatives (parents, siblings, and children) have a 50% chance of having the mutation that causes it too.
Lynch Syndrome (NCI) – QUILT 5015
The Lynch syndrome trial, sponsored by the NCI, focuses on the ability of Tri-Ad5–a combination of three vaccines targeting different TAAs–used in combination with N-803 to reduce the incidence of onset of cancer. People with Lynch syndrome harbor mutations in mismatch repair genes that put them at high risk for development of cancer, particularly colon cancer. Recently, we announced full accrual of participants in the first two open-label phases of the Lynch syndrome trial. The trial plans to enroll up to 186 participants, and the randomized controlled portion of the trial is now recruiting.
Glioblastoma Multiforme
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, GBM is the most common malignant brain tumor accounting for approximately 48% of all primary brain tumors. GBM has a low survival rate of approximately 40% in the first year after diagnosis and only 17% in the second year. In a preclinical study, we evaluated the activity of N-803 alone and in combination with an anti-PD-1 antibody or stereotactic radiosurgery in a murine GL261-luc GBM model and demonstrated that N-803 as mono-or combination therapy exhibits a robust antitumor immune response resulting in prolonged survival including complete remission in tumor bearing mice. In addition, N-803 treatment resulted in long-term immune memory against GBM tumor rechallenge.
Recurrent or Progressive GBM – QUILT 3078
A multi-center, open-label Phase II/III trial has been developed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of combination therapy with N-803, PD-L1 t-haNK, and bevacizumab in patients with recurrent or progressive GBM. In Phase II, safety of the combination will be assessed prior to Phase III wherein participants will be randomized to either combination therapy or bevacizumab monotherapy as the current standard of care.
Pilot (Part A). Enrollment will initiate with a single-arm study of 10 patients to receive N-803, PD-L1 t-haNK, and bevacizumab combination therapy. Continued development of the experimental arm in Part B will be based on the overall risk/benefit of the combined treatment regimen observed in Part A.
Randomized Comparison of Combination Therapy versus Bevacizumab Monotherapy (Part B). Part B will enroll patients to be randomly assigned (1:1) to the experimental arm or to the control arm.
Ovarian Cancer
According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, in 2024 about 19,680 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer and about 12,740 women will die from ovarian cancer. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime is about 1 in 87 and her chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 130.
Planned Platinum-Resistant Ovarian Cancer – QUILT 108
An open-label Phase II trial of M-ceNK plus N-803 in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer has been designed. In this trial, patients with platinum-resistant high-grade ovarian cancer will receive M-ceNK adoptive cell therapy in combination with N-803 and gemcitabine or investigator’s choice chemotherapy. The study consists of two arms, with participants in the control arm receiving investigator’s choice chemotherapy such as pegylated liposomal doxorubicin or gemcitabine, and participants in the experimental arm receiving M-ceNK adoptive cell therapy in combination with N-803 and gemcitabine. Only
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the experimental arm participants will undergo mononuclear cell collection for M-ceNK generation, day 8 induction and every 28-day (if M-ceNK are available) maintenance dosing, along with N-803. The goal for enrollment has not been established, and is pending statistician recommendation. The primary endpoint is tumor response by BICR using RECIST 1.1 criteria and secondary endpoints are overall survival, overall response rate, duration of response, disease control rate, and CA-125 levels, with safety endpoints of adverse events, treatment-emergent adverse events and significant adverse events, graded using NCI Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events Version 5.0.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia
According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, in 2024 there will be about 20,800 new cases of AML (mostly in adults) and about 11,220 people will die from AML (almost all in adults). AML is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults but is fairly rare overall, accounting for only about 1% of all cancers. The average age of people when they are first diagnosed is about 68. People above 60 years of age generally don’t respond as well as younger people to conventional treatment as they often have trouble tolerating intensive treatment.
Planned AML – QUILT 102
An open-label Phase II trial of M-ceNK plus N-803 in patients with AML has been designed. In this trial, patients either between 2- and 15-years of age (Cohort 1) or patients 16 years or older (Cohort 2) with relapsed/refractory AML will receive subcutaneous N-803 and M-ceNK following hematopoietic stem cell transplant. N-803 will be given both before collection of mononuclear cells and M-ceNK generation, and after M-ceNK infusion to activate NK/M-ceNK cells. Participants will also receive standard graft versus host disease prophylaxis. Up to 200 participants will be enrolled in each cohort. The primary endpoints are overall survival and leukemia-free survival rates, and incidence of relapse in those that achieve a complete response. Secondary endpoints are incidence of significant adverse events and overall adverse events.
Infectious Disease Indications
In addition to the trials listed above in oncology, we are exploring or pursuing several other company-sponsored and investigator-initiated studies of our product candidates in infectious diseases, including HIV.
HIV
HIV affects tens of millions of people globally and while ART has increased survival of infected HIV individuals, there is currently no cure. One strategy for curing HIV is known as the “kick and kill” approach. The “kick” is to induce HIV out of its latent resting state in T cells, revealing infected cells to the immune system, and the “kill” is to eliminate the infected cells via an immune response or immunotherapy. N-803 is a promising molecule to elicit “kick and kill” because of its ability to activate viral transcription in CD4+ T cells (“kick”) while strongly activating CD8+ effector memory cells and NK cells important for recognizing and killing HIV infected cells (“kill”), as well as directing these cells to sites of viral reservoirs.
HIV Cure Studies
In June 2021, we announced the opening of a clinical trial sponsored by the AIDS Clinical Trials Group and the NIAID (the HIV Cure Study) that will evaluate whether N-803 alone or together with bNAbs can control HIV following interruption of ART. The Phase I open-label, randomized trial will enroll 46 people living with HIV whose virus has been suppressed by ART for approximately two years, including at least 30% cisgender women or transgender men. An additional and companion trial utilizing N-803 and 2 different bNAbs sponsored by The Rockefeller University opened in December 2022. Both of these trials are actively enrolling as of January 2024.
Thai Red Cross and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program
In April 2021, we announced the launch of a Phase II trial sponsored by the Thai Red Cross and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program. The trial enrolled 14 patients and was designed to investigate the safety, tolerability and immunostimulatory effects of administering N-803 during acute HIV infection. N-803 was administered subcutaneously at weeks zero, three and six (for a total of three doses) and was initiated together with antiretroviral therapy in order to determine if the immunostimulatory
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effects of N-803 will reduce the amount of HIV present during acute infection. The trial duration for individual participants was approximately 12 weeks. It is hypothesized that N-803 initiated with anti-retroviral therapy during acute HIV infection will not result in complications or additional toxicities compared with anti-retroviral therapy alone, and may result in a reduced viral load in these patients by inhibiting early establishment of HIV reservoirs in infected individuals. The trial was recently completed and data analyses are ongoing.
NIAID University of Minnesota Trials
Based on the hypothesis that in HIV-infected individuals treated with N-803, CD8+ T cells will migrate to B cell follicles and reduce the frequency of cells with an inducible HIV provirus, a Phase I proof-of-concept non-randomized, open-label dose-escalation clinical trial sponsored by the University of Minnesota in collaboration with the NIAID was conducted. The primary assessment is the safety of N-803 in ART-suppressed people living with HIV, along with exploratory analysis of effects on the HIV reservoir. In a 2022 report, no significant laboratory adverse events attributable to N-803 were recorded and N-803 was associated with proliferation and/or activation of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and NK cells, with a small but significant decrease in the frequency of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with an inducible HIV provirus. The trial results are complete and a publication is expected during late 2024.
A separate small HIV Cure Phase I trial evaluating N-803 in combination with haploidentical NK cells in HIV-infected patients was completed in 2023. Reported data from the study validate the hypothesis that N-803 combined with NK cells has the potential to reduce viral load in people living with HIV, showing a marked decrease in HIV-producing cells in lymph nodes. The approach was well tolerated with no unexpected adverse events. The trial is complete and results were published online in January 2024, with print edition expected in March 2024. A follow-on trial is being planned to further investigate the above regimen in additional patients.
Other Infectious Diseases
We previously developed COVID-19 vaccine candidates based on our hAd5 and NLC-saRNA platforms that delivered DNA or RNA, respectively, for SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins that underwent early clinical testing in the U.S. and South Africa. These trials demonstrated the tolerability of the platforms, which elicited no severe adverse events, and provided evidence of effective antigen delivery. Given the development and adoption of other approved vaccine candidates, we have prioritized our pipeline to focus on delivery of TAAs with these platforms for cancer indications. Our latest TAA vaccine is currently being tested with the NCI as discussed above.
Manufacturing and Distribution
We have adopted a strategic position to be vertically integrated and develop our products according to the FDA’s GMP standards for large-scale manufacturing, even during Phase II clinical trial development. Biological upstream and downstream manufacturing capabilities, with its attendant know-how and regulatory compliance for approval, have long lead times. We have adopted an approach for preparedness to provide our vaccine, immunotherapy, and cell therapy products at a global scale. As such, we have established our own plants and have access to facilities on a global basis.
Our ability to create an efficient manufacturing process and supply chain will be important in enabling us to develop novel therapies. Our strategy is to anticipate the needs of our early-stage research and development initiatives for preclinical and eventual clinical product candidates with a focus on rapid capability to produce at scale fusion proteins, hAd5, saRNA, subunit proteins, toll receptor activators, and NK cell products. We believe members of our management team, many of whom have experience in both nanoparticle commercialization and large-scale injectable drug production, are capable of constructing the processes and commissioning the facilities necessary to meet our development and commercialization goals. For well-known processes, we currently work, and plan to continue working, with established third-party CMOs to produce drug substance and drug products. In addition, we plan to further enhance our in-house manufacturing capabilities for drug substances, drug products, and labeling and packaging.
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Overview of our Manufacturing Model
Our manufacturing capabilities include advanced technology facilities to produce and test various drug substances and drug products. Our experienced operations and quality team focuses on internal manufacturing and testing with a constant endeavor to create robust, high quality, efficient and consistent supply that meets target product profiles. Our Phase I manufacturing process is designed to efficiently scale-up through all phases of clinical development to commercial manufacturing to drive successful commercialization.
Commercial cGMP Production
For our N-803 product candidate, we have contracted with multiple multi-national biologics manufacturers with several cGMP-compliant facilities in the U.S., Europe and Asia for our current clinical trials and future commercial sales, if approved. We believe the facilities have robust process development and validation and quality oversight with high-capacity production suites operating multiple 2,000-20,000L production bioreactors and high-capacity fill lines. On May 9, 2023, the FDA delivered a CRL to us regarding the BLA filed in May 2022, indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the original BLA submission in its initial form. The deficiencies in the CRL related to the FDA’s pre-license inspection of the company’s third-party CMOs, among other items. Satisfactory resolution of the observations noted at the pre-license inspection would be required before the BLA could be approved. At the time, the FDA further provided recommendations specific to additional CMC issues and assays to be resolved. On October 23, 2023, we announced that we had completed the resubmission of the BLA addressing the issues in the CRL. On October 26, 2023, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA resubmission for review and considered it as a complete response to the CRL. The FDA has set a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024. While we believe the BLA resubmission addresses the issues identified in the CRL, there is no guarantee that the FDA will ultimately agree that such issues have been successfully addressed and resolved. It is unclear when the FDA will approve our BLA, if at all.
Clinical Trial GMP Antibody and Fusion Protein Production
We are establishing a cGMP-compliant multi-platform facility in California, which includes a large space for the production of antibodies and fusion proteins (including N-803) to treat cancers and infectious diseases. This facility will include fully integrated biologic upstream and downstream production suites and a quality assurance/quality control release laboratory for high-capacity antibody and fusion protein production.
Clinical Trial GMP saRNA, Adenovirus, and Yeast Production
We have established other cGMP-compliant facilities for saRNA, adenovirus, and yeast production in multiple sites in California and a site in Colorado for oncology and infectious diseases. One of our sites in California is dedicated to adenovirus product candidates for the production of vaccine candidates to treat infectious diseases and oncology TAAs. These facilities generally have fully-integrated biologic upstream and downstream production suites and quality assurance/quality control release laboratories for high capacity, continuous, or personalized just-in-time vaccine production.
Clinical Trial GMP NK Cell Therapy Production
We have established other cGMP-compliant facilities for NK cell therapy product production in multiple sites in California for oncology. One of our sites in California is dedicated to our off-the-shelf product candidates (including PD-L1 t‑haNK), while another is primarily focused on our M-ceNK product candidates, including a training lab for our second-generation offerings.
cGMP ISO Class 5 Manufacturing Facility
On February 14, 2022, we acquired a leasehold interest in the Dunkirk Facility. This facility has construction needs that may require an additional 12 to 18 months to complete in order for it to be used as intended, and which needs remain as a result of an ongoing dispute with the Dunkirk Facility’s general contractor and a stay in resolving the dispute related to Athenex’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. See Item 1A. Risk Factors We are party to a public-private partnership regarding our manufacturing facility in Dunkirk, New York, and if we or our counterparties fail to meet the obligations of those agreements, it could materially impact our development, operations and prospects for more information. We believe this facility will provide us with a state-of-the-art biotech production center that will substantially expand and diversify our existing manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and the ability to scale production associated with certain of our product candidates.
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Manufacture of Platform Product Candidates
ImmunityBio’s diverse product candidate portfolio and pipeline requires a broad knowledge of various manufacturing and quality assurance methods. We have invested heavily in the processes, systems, and technology to build an extensive range of manufacturing programs spanning various levels of development from IND-enablement through BLA preparation of our first commercial product.
We believe our plan to selectively use third-party CMOs for certain of our assets at various stages, coupled with internal development, will give us assurance that any products will have backup manufacturing options.
Distribution
If and when our lead product candidate, or another one of our product candidates is approved for commercial sale, we plan to work with a leading third-party logistic provider in a title model while we finish establishing direct licenses in the remaining states where we cannot receive a license until after our first approval. We also plan on contracting with the large specialty distributors to make our product available across relevant clinics, hospitals, infusion centers, and government entities.
Competition
We face potential competition from many different sources, including major and specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic research institutions, governmental agencies, and public and private research institutions. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with current therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future. We believe that the key competitive factors affecting the success of any of our product candidates will include efficacy, safety profile, convenience, cost, market access, level of promotional activity devoted to them, competitive intensity, and intellectual property protection.
We have focused our efforts on urologic and other oncological and infectious disease indications that are difficult to treat and with large unmet needs, and we believe our platform will be broadly applicable across multiple tumor types and infections. Based on the breadth and depth of our platforms, we believe our competitors will range from large pharmaceutical companies to emerging novel biotechnology companies.
Oncology
Antibody-Cytokine Fusion Proteins. This platform primarily competes with large pharmaceutical companies marketing checkpoint inhibitors. However, the potential exists for some of these large pharmaceutical companies to seek collaboration for combination of N-803 with their marketed checkpoint inhibitor. This platform will also compete with immunotherapy fusion protein companies developing similar approaches, including Nektar Therapeutics, Neoleukin Therapeutics, Inc., Novartis International AG (Novartis), F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Roche), Sanofi, S.A. (Sanofi), Xencor, Inc., and in the context of NMIBC, CG Oncology Inc., Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Janssen)/Johnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co., Inc. (Merck).
DNA, RNA, and Recombinant Protein Vaccines. This platform and the associated product candidates will likely compete with other cancer vaccines. Other potential cancer vaccine competitors include Achilles Therapeutics, BioNTech SE (BioNTech), Geneos Therapeutics, Inc., Hangzhou Neoantigen Therapeutics, Inc., Gritstone Bio, Inc., Merck, Moderna, Inc., and Roche.
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Cell Therapies. This platform’s product candidates (haNK, taNK, t‑haNK and M-ceNK) face competition from several companies focused on NK cell-based approaches, including Artiva Biotherapeutics Inc./Merck, Catamaran Bio Inc., Celularity, Inc. (Celularity), Century Therapeutics, Inc., Fate Therapeutics, Inc., Gamida Cell, Ltd., INmune Bio Inc., Nkarta Therapeutics, Inc., NKGen Biotech, Inc., Sanofi, Shoreline Biosciences, Inc., and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (Takeda). In addition, our NK cell product candidates compete with other cell and molecule-based immunotherapy approaches using or targeting NK cells, NKT cells, T cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. There are currently six approved T cell-based treatments marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) (two marketed products), Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead)/Kite Pharma (two marketed products), Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis. Additional companies focused on CAR T-related treatment approaches include Allogene Therapeutics, Inc., BMS, Cellectis SA, Celularity, Gilead, Janssen, Novartis, Pfizer, Inc., Poseida, and Takeda. Competitor companies focused on other T cell-based approaches include Adaptimmune Ltd., Adicet Bio, Inc., Autolus Therapeutics, plc, Beam Therapeutics Inc., BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline plc., Precision Biosciences, Inc., Sensei Biotherapeutics, Inc., Senti Biosciences, Inc., and TCR² Therapeutics Inc.
Other potential immunotherapy competitors in oncology include Affimed GmbH, MiNK Therapeutics, Inc., Appia Bio, Inc., Compass Therapeutics, Inc., Glycostem Therapeutics BV, GT Biopharma, Inc., and Lyell Immunopharma, Inc.
Infectious Diseases
Currently, our infectious disease product candidates are primarily focused on HIV. In this space, we have product candidates that use N-803 that will likely compete with companies who have approved therapeutics for HIV, including Gilead Sciences, ViiV Healthcare Limited (a joint venture between GSK, Pfizer, and Shionogi, Inc.), Merck & Co., BMS, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).
Intellectual Property
We strive to protect and enhance the proprietary technology, inventions, and improvements that are commercially important to our business, including seeking, maintaining, and defending patent rights, whether developed internally or licensed from third parties. Our policy is to seek to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, filing patent applications in the U.S. and in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. related to our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements, and product candidates that are important to the development and implementation of our business. We also rely on trade secrets and know-how relating to our proprietary technology and product candidates, continuing innovation, and in-licensing opportunities to develop, strengthen, and maintain our proprietary position in the field of cancer therapeutics and immunotherapy. We expect to rely on data exclusivity, market exclusivity, patent term adjustment and patent term extensions when available, as well as on regulatory protection afforded through orphan drug designations. Our commercial success will depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for our product candidates, technology, inventions, and improvements; to preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets; to maintain our licenses to use intellectual property owned by third parties; to defend and enforce our proprietary rights, including our patents; and to operate without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the valid and enforceable patents and other proprietary rights of third parties.
We have developed, acquired, and in-licensed patents and patent applications across platforms as previously described for: (1) activated NK and T cells; (2) memory T cell activation; and (3) activated tumoricidal macrophages. With respect to activated NK and T cells, we have developed N-803, an N72D variant IL-15 complexed to a dimeric IL-15Ra/Fc fusion protein; with respect to memory T cell activation, we have developed adenoviral and yeast immunotherapies expressing tumor antigens such as CEA, MUC1, and Brachyury, and in-licensed saRNA technologies; and with respect to activated tumoricidal macrophages, we have in-licensed intellectual property licensed to aldoxorubicin, a tumor-targeted doxorubicin conjugate, from LadRx.
We own patents and patent applications related to the development and commercialization of N-803. As of December 31, 2023, our owned patent portfolio directed to N-803, methods of use of N-803, and combinations with additional therapeutics consists of approximately 27 issued U.S. patents and 14 pending U.S. patent applications, as well as approximately 82 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including Europe, China, Japan, Canada, and Australia. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to N-803, methods of use of N-803 and combinations with additional therapeutics are expected to expire from 2028 to 2040. Excluding any applicable extensions, the issued foreign
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patents are expected to expire from 2028 to 2039. If patents issue from our pending U.S. patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, such patents will be expected to expire from 2031 to 2043. The validity of one of our European patents, EP Patent No. 3601363, is being challenged in an opposition proceeding. This patent is directed to methods of using N-803-based combination therapy with anti-CD38 antibodies to treat cancer, which does not directly relate to any of our current programs. We intend to defend our patent and believe we have meritorious defenses against this opposition.
For example, these patents and patent applications include claims directed to:
N-803 compositions of matter;
uses of N-803 in methods of treating cancers;
uses of N-803 in treating HIV; and
combination treatments using N-803 and additional therapeutics.
We own, co-own, and in-license patents and patent applications related to the development and commercialization of cell-based therapies. As of December 31, 2023, our owned and co-owned patent portfolio directed to NK, haNK, and t-haNK cell lines, methods of use of these cells, and combinations with additional therapeutics consists of approximately 19 issued U.S. patents and 23 pending U.S. patent applications, as well as approximately 58 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including Europe, China, Japan, and Australia. As of December 31, 2023, our in-licensed patent portfolio directed to NK, haNK, and t-haNK lines, methods of use of these cells, and combinations with additional therapeutics consists of approximately 4 issued U.S. patents, as well as approximately 41 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including Europe, Canada, and Australia. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to these cell therapies, methods of use, and combinations with additional therapeutics are expected to expire from 2025 to 2040. Excluding any applicable extensions, the issued foreign patents are expected to expire from 2025 to 2040. If patents issue from our pending U.S. patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, such patents will be expected to expire from 2034 to 2042. For example, these patents and patent applications include claims directed to:
NK cells;
haNK cells;
EGFR t-haNK cells;
CD19 t-haNK cells;
HER2 t-haNK cells; and
PD-L1 t-haNK cells.
We own patents and patent applications related to development and commercialization of N-820, N-809, N-812, and N-830. As of December 31, 2023, our owned patent portfolio directed to N-820, N-809, N-812, and N-830 and methods of use of N-820, N-809, N-812, and N-830 consists of approximately 15 issued U.S. patents and 3 pending U.S. patent applications, as well as approximately 57 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to N-820, N-809, N-812, and N-830 are expected to expire from 2028 to 2039. If patents issue from our pending U.S. patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, these patents will be expected to expire from 2028 to 2038. For example, these patents and patent applications include claims directed to fusions of checkpoint inhibitor and TAA antibodies and binding molecules with IL-15/IL-15Ra/Fc fusion proteins complexes.
We co-own and exclusively in-license patents and patent applications from LadRx related to the development and commercialization of aldoxorubicin. As of December 31, 2023, our licensed patent portfolio directed to aldoxorubicin and methods of use of aldoxorubicin consists of approximately 4 issued U.S. patents, as well as approximately 23 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including Europe, Japan, Korea, and Australia. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to aldoxorubicin are expected to expire from 2030 to 2034. Excluding any applicable extensions, the issued foreign patents are expected to expire from 2033 to 2034. For example, these patents and this patent application include claims directed to:
Aldoxorubicin formulations; and
Aldoxorubicin formulations for use in treating cancer.
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We exclusively own, and co-own with and in-license from the HHS, patents and patent applications related to the development and commercialization of adenovirus-based cancer and viral immunotherapies. As of December 31, 2023, our patent portfolio directed to adenovirus and methods of use of adenovirus in treating or preventing cancer and viral diseases consists of approximately 30 issued U.S. patents and approximately 8 pending U.S. patent applications, as well as approximately 88 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to adenovirus-based cancer and viral immunotherapies are expected to expire from 2024 to 2039. If patents issue from our pending U.S. patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, such patents will be expected to expire from 2028 to 2041. For example, these patents and patent applications include claims directed to:
Adenovirus vectors and virus particles comprising TAAs; and
uses of adenovirus vectors and virus particles in methods of treating cancers.
We own, co-own with HHS and in-license from HHS and the University of Colorado, patents and patent applications related to the development and commercialization of yeast-based cancer and viral immunotherapies. As of December 31, 2023, our patent portfolio directed to yeast-based cancer and viral immunotherapies and methods of use of yeast-based cancer and viral immunotherapies in treating or preventing cancer and viral diseases consists of approximately 21 issued U.S. patents and approximately 4 pending U.S. patent applications, as well as approximately 155 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to yeast-based cancer and viral immunotherapies are expected to expire from 2027 to 2036. If any patents issue from our pending U.S. patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, such patents will be expected to expire from 2030 to 2039. For example, these patents and patent applications include claims directed to:
yeast and yeast vehicles expressing TAAs and neoepitopes; and
uses of yeast and yeast vehicles expressing TAAs and neoepitopes in methods of treating cancers.
We own approximately 2 issued U.S. patents and 3 pending U.S. patent applications directed to therapeutics for COVID-19. Some of these patent applications are directed to the use of our adenovirus and yeast technologies for a COVID-19 vaccine. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to therapeutics for COVID-19 expire in 2040. If any patents issue from our pending U.S. patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, such patents will be expected to expire from 2040 to 2042.
We in-license patents and patent applications from AAHI related to the development and commercialization of adjuvant formulations and saRNA based vaccines. As of December 31, 2023, our licensed patent portfolio directed to adjuvant formulations and saRNA vaccine platforms consists of approximately 5 issued U.S. patents and approximately 5 pending U.S. patent applications, as well as 1 issued patent in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to adjuvant formulations and saRNA-based vaccines are expected to expire from 2027 to 2038. If any patents issue from our pending U.S. patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, such patents will be expected to expire from 2033 to 2038. In November 2023, the validity of one of our in-licensed issued European patents, EP Patent No. 2068918, previously challenged in an opposition proceeding was upheld upon appeal. This patent is directed to vaccine compositions comprising certain lipid adjuvants.
We own patents and patent applications related to the development and commercialization of GMP-in-a-Box. As of December 31, 2023, our patent portfolio directed to GMP-in-a-Box consists of approximately 8 issued U.S. patents and approximately 2 pending U.S. patent applications as well as approximately 65 patents issued in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. Excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, the issued U.S. patents directed to GMP-in-a-Box are expected to expire in 2030 and 2037. If patents issue from our pending patent applications, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension, such patents will be expected to expire in 2035 and 2039. For example, these patents and patent applications include claims directed to methods, bioreactors, and apparatuses for monitoring and culturing cells.
The terms of individual patents extend for varying periods of time, depending upon the date of filing of the patent application, the date of patent issuance, and the legal term of patents in the countries in which they are obtained. Generally, patents issued for applications filed in the U.S. are effective for 20 years from the earliest effective filing date of a non-provisional patent application. The patent term may be adjusted to compensate for delayed patent issuance when such delays are caused by the USPTO or successful appeals against USPTO actions. There is no statutory limit on this patent term adjustment, which is generally the length of any such delays caused by the USPTO. In addition, in certain instances, a patent term can be extended to
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recapture a portion of the term effectively lost as a result of the FDA regulatory review period. The restoration period cannot be longer than five years, the total patent term, including the restoration period, must not exceed 14 years following FDA approval, 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. While we plan to seek such patent term adjustments and extensions where applicable, there is no guarantee that the USPTO and/or FDA will agree with our assessment of whether such adjustments or extensions should be granted, and if granted, the length of such adjustments or extensions. The duration of patents outside of the U.S. varies in accordance with provisions of applicable local law, but typically is also 20 years from the earliest effective filing date. However, the actual protection afforded by a patent varies on a product-by-product and country-to-country basis and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of regulatory-related extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular country, and the validity and enforceability of the patent.
The patent positions of companies like ours are generally uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions. No consistent policy regarding the scope of claims allowable in patents in the field of immunotherapy has emerged in the U.S. The patent situation outside of the U.S. is even more uncertain. Changes in either the patent laws or their interpretation in the U.S. and other countries may diminish our ability to protect our inventions and enforce our intellectual property rights, and more generally could affect the value of our intellectual property. In particular, our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing products that infringe our intellectual property will depend in part on our success in obtaining and enforcing patent claims that cover our technology, inventions, and improvements. With respect to both licensed and owned intellectual property, we cannot be sure that patents will be granted with respect to any current pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications filed in the future, nor can we be sure that any existing patents or any patents that may be granted in the future will be commercially useful in protecting our product candidates and the methods used to manufacture those product candidates. Moreover, even our issued patents do not guarantee us the right to practice our technology in relation to the commercialization of our product candidates. The area of patent and other intellectual property rights in biotechnology is an evolving one with many risks and uncertainties, and third parties may have blocking patents that could be used to prevent us from commercializing our product candidates and practicing our technology. Our issued patents and those that may issue in the future may be challenged, invalidated, or circumvented, which could limit our ability to stop competitors from marketing related products or limit the length of the term of patent protection that we may have for our product candidates. In addition, the rights granted under any issued patents may not provide us with protection or competitive advantages against competitors with similar technology. Furthermore, our competitors may independently develop similar technologies. For these reasons, we may have competition for our product candidates. Moreover, because of the extensive time required for development, testing and regulatory review of a potential product candidate, it is possible that, before any particular product candidate can be commercialized, any related patent may expire or remain in force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby reducing any advantage of the patent.
Our registered trademark portfolio currently contains approximately 23 registered trademarks in the U.S., approximately 217 registered trademarks in foreign jurisdictions, approximately 42 pending trademark applications in the U.S., and approximately 64 pending trademark applications in foreign jurisdictions. We may also rely, in some circumstances, on trade secrets to protect our technology. However, trade secrets are difficult to protect. We seek to protect our trade secrets and other proprietary information, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with those who have access to our confidential information, including our employees, contractors, consultants, collaborators, and advisors. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our proprietary technology and processes by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. Although we have confidence in these individuals, organizations, and systems, agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or may be independently discovered by competitors. To the extent that our employees, contractors, consultants, collaborators, or advisors use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions. See Item 1A. Risk Factors “Risks Related to Intellectual Property” and Item 3. “Legal Proceedings” of this Annual Report for risks related to our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements, and products.
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Collaboration and License Agreements
We anticipate that strategic collaborations will continue to be an integral part of our operations, providing opportunities to leverage our partners’ expertise and capabilities to gain access to new technologies and further expand the potential of our technologies and product candidates across relevant platforms. We believe we are well positioned to become a leader in immunotherapy due to our broad and vertically-integrated platforms and through complementary strategic partnerships. Agreements shown below have been arranged in alphabetical order.
The following description of certain of our collaboration and license agreements is not a comprehensive listing of all such agreements to which we are a party, and the inclusion of a description of any collaboration or license agreement is not an indication that we consider such agreement(s) to be material to our business and operations as a whole, which is a dynamic and evolving analysis and may change over time.
Collaboration Agreements
Amyris Joint Venture
In December 2021, Immunity Bio and Amyris entered into a 50:50 joint venture arrangement and formed a new limited liability company to conduct the business of the joint venture. The purpose of the joint venture was to accelerate commercialization of a next-generation COVID-19 vaccine utilizing an RNA vaccine platform license. As part of the limited liability agreement, Amyris agreed to contribute, in part, rights to its license agreement with AAHI for an RNA platform for the field of COVID-19, and ImmunityBio agreed to contribute, in part, priority access to its manufacturing capacity for the joint venture product. In August 2023, Amyris announced that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Amyris bankruptcy case remains ongoing, and there can be no assurance that we will receive any recovery on account of our claims against Amyris, including for Amyris’ portion of expenses incurred by the joint venture. As of December 31, 2023, the carrying amount of our equity investment in the joint venture was zero.
National Cancer Institute
The company and its subsidiaries began their relationship with HHS, as represented by the NCI of the NIH in 2015. Pursuant to the CRADAs, the NCI provides scientific staff and other support necessary to conduct research and related activities as described in the CRADAs. During the term of the initial and amended CRADAs, we collaborated with the NCI on the preclinical and clinical development of an adenovirus technology expressing TAAs for cancer immunotherapy, the preclinical and clinical development of our proprietary yeast-based Tarmogens expressing TAAs, and the proprietary adenovirus technology expressing TAAs for cancer immunotherapy.
In 2021, the CRADA was amended and the research plan was modified to include the preclinical and clinical development of ImmunityBio’s proprietary adenovirus platform expressing TAAs; proprietary yeast platform expressing TAAs; proprietary agent N-803 and derivatives, agent N-809 and derivatives, and/or TxM product candidates; proprietary recombinant NK cells and mAbs; proprietary RNA vaccines and adjuvants; and other proprietary agents owned or controlled by ImmunityBio for cancer immunotherapy. The term of the CRADA was extended through May 2026. Under this agreement, we agreed to pay NCI funding totaling $1.3 million per year, payable in semi-annual installments each year through 2025.
License Agreements
3M IPC and AAHI License Agreement
We have licensed rights to 3M-052, a synthetic TLR7/8 agonist, 3M-052 formulations and related technology from 3M IPC and its affiliates and AAHI. In November 2021 we obtained nonexclusive rights in the field of SARS-CoV-2 and in June 2022 we modified those rights and expanded the scope of the license to include (1) SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious diseases including malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, hookworm and varicella zoster on an exclusive basis in countries other than LMIC, and (2) oncology applications, when used in combination with our proprietary technology and/or IL-15 agonists. Adjuvants are either synthetic or naturally occurring molecules that activate TLRs thereby enhancing the humoral and cell-mediated immune response of vaccines. There are 10 human TLRs expressed either on the inside or outside of the immune cell and their function is to recognize foreign substances expressed by pathogens. Once activated, these TLRs stimulate danger signals to the immune cells
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initiating an immune response. The synthetic imidazoquinolinone 3M-052 is structurally similar to resiquimod. The 3M-052/Alum adjuvant formulation is in Phase I trials in the U.S. with an HIV antigen and has been well-tolerated and immunogenic. In consideration for the license, we agreed to make certain periodic license payments, including $2.25 million each year through June 2025. We have also agreed to make payments upon the achievement of certain regulatory milestone events and tiered royalties ranging from the low to high single-digits as a percentage of net sales. Beginning in April 2026, the annual minimum licensing payment is $1.0 million, which can be credited against any royalty payments due under this agreement. We may terminate this license for any reason after providing 3M and AAHI sixty (60) days written notice.
AAHI License Agreements
In May 2021, we entered into two license agreements with the AAHI pursuant to which we received a license to certain patents and know-how relating to AAHI’s (i) adjuvant formulations for the treatment, prevention and/or diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 (the AAHI Adjuvant Formulation License Agreement) and (ii) RNA vaccine platform as further described below (the AAHI RNA License Agreement). Under both agreements, we were obligated to pay one-time, non-creditable, non-refundable upfront cash payments totaling $2.0 million. In addition, under the AAHI Adjuvant Formulation License Agreement we owe milestone payments to a total of up to $2.5 million based on the achievement of certain development and regulatory milestones for the first licensed product and royalties on annual net sales of licensed products on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis of a low-single digit percentage, subject to certain royalty-reduction provisions.
In September 2021, we amended and restated the AAHI RNA License Agreement, pursuant to which AAHI granted us an exclusive, worldwide, sublicensable license to AAHI’s rights to an RNA vaccine platform for the development and commercialization of certain therapeutic, diagnostic, or prophylactic products for the prevention, treatment or diagnosis of any indication, other than those subject to pre-existing third-party license grants, including, without limitation, SARS-CoV-2. Pursuant to the terms of the amended and restated AAHI RNA License Agreement, we made an additional one-time, non-creditable, non-refundable, upfront payment to AAHI of $1.5 million. We paid a license fee of $3.0 million in 2022 and $5.5 million in 2023. We are also required to pay a license maintenance fee to AAHI of $5.5 million annually from 2024 through 2030. The company may terminate the restated agreement without cause by paying AAHI a $10.0 million one-time early termination fee. In addition, the milestone payments to AAHI based on the achievement of certain development and regulatory milestones for the first licensed product were amended to a total of up to $4.0 million. We are required to pay royalties on annual net sales of licensed products on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis of a low- to mid-single digit percentage.
In connection with the license agreements, in May 2021 we also entered into a sponsored research agreement with AAHI pursuant to which we will fund continued research of at least $2.0 million per year, payable in four equal quarterly installments each year until May 2024, or such year of earlier termination.
GlobeImmune, Inc.
In 2020, we entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with GlobeImmune, a consolidated entity of the company, pursuant to which we obtained worldwide, exclusive licenses under certain patents, know-how, and other intellectual property to use, research, develop and commercialize products with GlobeImmune’s COVID-19 vaccine program, other Tarmogen-based programs, and neoepitopes programs in exchange for a license fee for the first two years of the agreement totaling $1.2 million, up to $345.0 million in milestone payments related to the successful completion of clinical and regulatory milestones and up to $240.0 million in total milestone payments based on licensed product net sales milestones, and a royalty on net sales of licensed products, on a product-by-product basis ranging in percentage from the mid-single digits to the mid-teens. We may terminate this agreement, in whole or on a licensed-product-by-licensed-product and/or country-by-country basis, at any time upon sixty (60) days written notice to GlobeImmune.
LadRx Corporation
In 2017, we entered into an agreement with LadRx pursuant to which we obtained a royalty-bearing, exclusive, worldwide license, with the right to sublicense, LadRx’s applicable intellectual property to research, develop and commercialize aldoxorubicin for all indications. Under the terms of the license agreement, LadRx is entitled to receive milestone payments of up to $345.7 million related to regulatory approvals and commercial milestones for aldoxorubicin. In addition, LadRx will receive
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increasing low double-digit percentage royalties on net sales of aldoxorubicin for the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas and mid-to-high single-digit percentage royalties on net sales of aldoxorubicin for all other indications. We may terminate the agreement in its entirety at any time upon twelve (12) months written notice to LadRx. Upon termination of the agreement, any licenses granted to us under the agreement are terminated, and we must cease the development, manufacture, and commercialization of aldoxorubicin.
Sanford Health
In 2017, and as amended in November 2021, we entered into a license agreement with Sanford pursuant to which we obtained a worldwide, exclusive license under Sanford’s applicable patent and know-how rights to use, make, have made, sell, offer to sell, export and import products for all uses and applications of polynucleotides encoding mutant E16 antigen (mutant HPV16 E6 antigen + mutant HPV16 E7 antigen) and the encoded mutant E16 antigen, in exchange for consideration that includes the amount equal to the patent prosecution costs incurred by Sanford for the prosecution of the licensed patent rights, milestone payments payable upon the achievement of certain contractual and regulatory milestones of up to $2.0 million, a low single-digit percentage royalty on net sales of the resulting licensed products, and a low to high-teen percentage share of non-royalty sublicensing revenue. Our obligation to pay royalties continues, on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis, until the date on which such licensed product is no longer covered by a valid claim of a patent licensed pursuant to the agreement in such country. We must use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize the licensed products. Sanford is responsible for the prosecution and maintenance of the patents licensed pursuant to the agreement. We are required to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and make available the licensed products, which include achieving certain regulatory objectives within certain specific time periods. We have the first right to enforce the patents licensed pursuant to the agreement, subject to Sanford’s ability to exercise such right if we fail to do so. We may terminate this agreement at any time upon 60 days’ written notice to Sanford. Sanford may terminate the agreement in the event of an uncured material breach by us.
In June 2023, we filed an IND for QUILT 3100 exploring the use of an hAd5 [E6/E7] construct known as IBRX-042 in a Phase I open-label trial to evaluate safety and determine the maximum tolerated dose in subjects with HPV-associated tumors. During the second half of 2023, we received correspondence from the FDA that it was placing the IND on clinical hold, and requesting additional toxicology studies. The company submitted a complete response to the hold letter in 2024.
Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Co. Ltd.
In 2014, Altor entered into a license, development and commercialization agreement with Beike, which agreement was amended and restated in 2017, pursuant to which Altor granted to Beike an exclusive license under certain of its intellectual property rights in order to use, research, develop and commercialize products based on N-803 in China for human therapeutic uses, in exchange for consideration that includes up to $195.5 million in total milestone payments based on the successful completion of regulatory and sales milestones for each resulting product, and a royalty on net sales of licensed products, on a product-by-product basis ranging in percentage from the mid-single digits to the mid-teens. Beike’s obligation to pay royalties continues, on a licensed product-by-licensed product basis, until the later of (i) the date on which such licensed product is no longer covered by a valid claim of a patent licensed pursuant to the agreement in China and (ii) ten years after the first commercial sale of such licensed product in China. Altor has the sole right to prosecute and maintain the patents licensed pursuant to the agreement. Altor has the first right to enforce the patents licensed pursuant to the agreement, subject to Beike’s ability to exercise such right if Altor fails to do so. Altor and Beike each have the right to terminate the agreement in the event of a material breach by the other party. In 2020, we received a Request for Arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce, International Court of Arbitration, served by Beike asserting breach of contract under our subsidiary Altor’s license agreement with them. See Item 3. “Legal Proceedings” for more information.
Viracta Therapeutics, Inc.
In 2017, we entered into an agreement with Viracta under which we were granted exclusive worldwide rights to Viracta’s Phase II drug candidate, nanatinostat, for use in combination with our platform of NK cell therapies. In consideration for the license, we are obligated to pay Viracta mid-single digit percentage royalties on net sales of licensed products for therapeutic use and milestone payments ranging from $10.0 million to $25.0 million up to an aggregate maximum of $100.0 million for various regulatory approvals and cumulative net sales levels. We may terminate the agreement, at our sole discretion, in whole or on a product-by-product and/or country-by-country basis, at any time upon 90 days’ prior written notice. In addition, either party may terminate the agreement in the event of a material breach or for bankruptcy of the other party.
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Government Regulation
In the U.S., the FDA regulates biopharmaceuticals under the FD&C Act and the PHSA. Biopharmaceuticals also are subject to other federal, state, and local statutes and regulations. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or post-market may subject an applicant to administrative or judicial sanctions. These sanctions could include, among other actions, the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, a clinical hold, untitled or warning letters, product recalls or market withdrawals, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement and civil or criminal penalties. Any FDA or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us. Failure to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements subjects a manufacturer to possible legal or regulatory action, including warning letters, the seizure or recall of products, injunctions, consent decrees placing significant restrictions on or suspending manufacturing operations and civil and criminal penalties. Contract manufacturers often encounter difficulties involving production yields, quality control and quality assurance, as well as shortages of qualified personnel. Any of these actions or events could have a material impact on the availability of our product candidates.
The FDA and other regulatory authorities at federal, state, and local levels, as well as in foreign countries, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, import, export, safety, effectiveness, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, record keeping, approval, advertising, promotion, marketing, post-approval monitoring, and post-approval reporting of small molecule and biologics such as those we are developing. We, along with third-party contractors, will be required to navigate the various , and commercial approval requirements of the governing regulatory agencies of the countries in which we wish to conduct studies or seek approval or licensure of our product candidates. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local, and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.
The process required by the FDA before biopharmaceutical product candidates may be marketed in the U.S. generally involves the following:
completion of preclinical laboratory tests and animal studies performed in accordance with the FDA’s GLP guidelines;
submission to the FDA of an IND, which must become effective before clinical trials may begin and must be updated annually or when significant changes are made;
approval by an independent IRB or ethics committee for each clinical site before the clinical trial is begun;
performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety, purity, and potency of the proposed biologic product candidate for its intended purpose;
preparation of and submission to the FDA of a BLA or NDA, after completion of all required clinical trials;
a determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of a BLA/NDA to file the application for review;
satisfactory completion of an FDA Advisory Committee review, if applicable;
satisfactory completion of an FDA pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities at which the proposed product is produced to assess compliance with cGMP and to assure that the facilities, methods, and controls are adequate to preserve the product candidates’ continued safety, quality, purity and potency or efficacy, and of selected clinical investigational sites to assess compliance with GCP guidelines;
FDA review and approval of the BLA or NDA to permit commercial marketing of the product for particular indications for use in the U.S.; and
compliance with any post-approval requirements, including the potential requirement to implement a REMS, and the potential requirement to conduct post-approval studies.
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The testing and approval process requires substantial time, effort, and financial resources, and we cannot be certain that any approvals for our product candidates will be granted on a timely basis, if at all. Prior to beginning the first clinical trial with a product candidate, we must submit an IND to the FDA. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an IND product to humans. The central focus of an IND submission is on the general investigational plan and the protocol(s) for clinical trials. The IND also includes results of animal and in vitro studies assessing the toxicology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacology, and pharmacodynamic characteristics of the product; chemistry, manufacturing, and controls information; and any available human data or literature to support the use of the investigational product. An IND must become effective before human clinical trials may begin. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA, within the 30-day time period, raises safety concerns or questions about the proposed clinical trial. In such a case, the IND may be placed on clinical hold and the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns or questions before the clinical trial can begin. Submission of an IND therefore may or may not result in FDA authorization to begin a clinical trial.
When a clinical trial using genetically engineered cells is conducted at, or sponsored by, institutions receiving NIH funding for wild-type DNA research, prior to the submission of an IND to the FDA, a protocol and related documentation is submitted to and the study is registered with the OBA pursuant to the NIH Guidelines. Compliance with the NIH Guidelines is mandatory for investigators at institutions receiving NIH funds for research involving wild-type DNA, and many companies and other institutions not otherwise subject to the NIH Guidelines voluntarily follow them. The NIH is responsible for convening the RAC, a federal advisory committee that discusses protocols that raise novel or particularly important scientific, safety, or ethical considerations at one of its quarterly public meetings. The OBA will notify the FDA of the RAC’s decision regarding the necessity for full public review of a protocol. RAC proceedings and reports are posted to the OBA web site and may be accessed by the public. If the FDA allows the IND to proceed, but the RAC decides that full public review of the protocol is warranted, the FDA will request at the completion of its IND review that sponsors delay initiation of the protocol until after completion of the RAC review process.
Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with GCP guidelines, which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A separate submission to the existing IND must be made for each successive clinical trial conducted during product development and for any subsequent protocol amendments. Furthermore, an independent IRB, for each site proposing to conduct the clinical trial, must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial and its informed consent form before the clinical trial begins at that site and must monitor the study until completed. Regulatory authorities, the IRB or the sponsor may suspend a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk or that the trial is unlikely to meet its stated objectives. Some studies also include oversight by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board, which provides authorization for whether or not a study may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the study and may halt the clinical trial if it determines that there is an unacceptable safety risk for subjects or other grounds, such as no demonstration of efficacy. There are also requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and clinical trial results to public registries.
For purposes of BLA or NDA approval, human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap:
Phase I. The investigational product is initially introduced into healthy human subjects and tested for safety. In the case of some products for severe or life-threatening diseases, the initial human testing is often conducted in patients.
Phase II. The investigational product is evaluated in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy or potency of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance, optimal dosage, and dosing schedule.
Phase III. Clinical trials are undertaken to further evaluate dosage, clinical efficacy or potency, and safety in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk to benefit ratio of the product and provide an adequate basis for product labeling.
Phase IV. Companies may voluntarily pursue additional clinical trials after a product is approved to gain more information about the product for that approved indication.
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In some cases, the FDA may require an additional trial after a product is approved, and these so-called Phase IV trials may be a condition to approval of the BLA or NDA.
Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III testing may not be completed successfully within a specified period, if at all, and there can be no assurance that the data collected will support FDA approval or licensure of the product. Concurrent with clinical trials, companies may complete additional animal studies and develop additional information about the biological characteristics of the product candidate and must finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. To help reduce the risk of the introduction of adventitious agents with use of biological products, the PHSA emphasizes the importance of manufacturing control for products whose attributes cannot be precisely defined. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and, among other things, must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final product, or for biologics, the safety, purity and potency. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested, and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.
BLA/NDA Submission and Review by the FDA
Assuming successful completion of all required testing in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements, the results of product development, nonclinical studies and clinical trials are submitted to the FDA as part of a BLA for a biologic product candidate or an NDA for a small molecule product candidate requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications. Unless agreed to in advance with the FDA, the BLA/NDA must include all data 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 the product or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators, including government agencies (e.g., NIH). The submission of a BLA/NDA requires payment of a substantial user fee to the FDA, and the sponsor of an approved BLA/NDA is subject to annual product and establishment user fees. These fees typically increase annually. A waiver of user fees may be obtained under certain limited circumstances.
Within 60 days following submission of the application, the FDA reviews a BLA/NDA to determine if it is substantially complete before the agency accepts it for filing. The FDA may refuse to file any BLA or NDA that it deems incomplete or not properly reviewable at the time of submission and may request additional information. In this event, the BLA/NDA must be resubmitted with the additional information. Once a BLA/NDA has been submitted, the FDA’s goal is to review the application within ten months after it accepts the application for filing, or, if the application relates to an unmet medical need in a serious or life-threatening indication, the FDA may review the application six months after the FDA accepts the application for filing. The review process is often significantly extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification. The FDA reviews a BLA/NDA to determine, among other things, whether a product is safe and effective, or safe, pure, and potent for the proposed indication(s) and the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packed or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, purity and potency or efficacy. The FDA may convene an advisory committee to provide clinical insight on application review questions. Before approving a BLA/NDA, the FDA will typically inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities comply with cGMP requirements and are adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. If applicable, FDA regulations also require tissue establishments to register and list their human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products with the FDA and to evaluate donors through screening and testing. Additionally, before approving a BLA/NDA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP guidelines. If the FDA determines that the application, manufacturing process or manufacturing facilities are not acceptable, it will outline the deficiencies in the submission and often will request additional testing or information. Notwithstanding the submission of any requested additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval.
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The testing and approval process require substantial time, effort, and financial resources, and each may take several years to complete. The FDA may not grant approval on a timely basis, or at all, and we may encounter difficulties or unanticipated costs in our efforts to secure necessary governmental approvals, which could delay or preclude us from marketing our product candidates. After the FDA evaluates a BLA/NDA and conducts inspections of manufacturing facilities where the investigational product and/or its drug substance will be produced, the FDA may issue an approval letter or a CRL. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the product with specific prescribing information for specific indications. A CRL indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete, and the application is not ready for approval. A CRL may request additional information or clarification. The FDA may delay or refuse approval of a BLA/NDA if applicable regulatory criteria are not satisfied, require additional testing or information and/or require post-marketing testing and surveillance to monitor safety or efficacy of a product.
If regulatory approval of a product is granted, such approval may entail limitations on the indicated uses for which such product may be marketed. For example, the FDA may approve the BLA/NDA with a REMS plan to mitigate risks, which could include medication guides, physician communication plans, or other restrictions to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries, and other risk minimization tools. The FDA also may condition approval on, among other things, changes to proposed labeling or the development of adequate controls and specifications. Once approved, the FDA may withdraw the product approval if compliance with pre- and post-marketing regulatory standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the marketplace. The FDA may require one or more Phase IV post-market trials and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization and may limit further marketing of the product based on the results of these post-marketing studies. In addition, new government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could delay or prevent regulatory approval of our product candidates under development.
A sponsor may seek approval of its product candidate under programs designed to accelerate the FDA’s review and approval of new drugs and biological products that meet certain criteria. Specifically, new drugs and biological products are eligible for Fast Track designation if they are intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. For a Fast Track product, the FDA may consider sections of the BLA/NDA for review on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted if relevant criteria are met. A Fast Track-designated product candidate may also qualify for priority review. Priority review is granted when there is evidence that the proposed product would be a significant improvement in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of a serious condition. If criteria are not met for priority review, the application is subject to the standard FDA review period. Priority review designation does not change the scientific/medical standard for approval or the quality of evidence necessary to support approval.
Under the accelerated approval program, the FDA may approve a BLA/NDA on the basis of either a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. Post-marketing studies or completion of ongoing studies after marketing approval are generally required to verify the product’s clinical benefit in relationship to the surrogate endpoint or ultimate outcome in relationship to the clinical benefit. The Food and Drug Omnibus Reform Act made several changes to the FDA’s authorities and its regulatory framework, including, among other changes, reforms to the accelerated approval pathway, such as requiring the FDA to specify conditions for post-approval study requirements and setting forth procedures for the FDA to withdraw a product on an expedited basis for non-compliance with post-approval requirements.
In addition, the FDASIA established Breakthrough Therapy designation. A sponsor may seek FDA designation of its product candidate as a Breakthrough Therapy if the product candidate is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the therapy may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. Sponsors may request the FDA to designate a Breakthrough Therapy at the time of, or any time after, the submission of an IND, but ideally before an end-of-Phase II meeting with the FDA. If the FDA designates a Breakthrough Therapy, it may take actions appropriate to expedite the development and review of the application, which may include holding meetings with the sponsor and the review team throughout the development of the therapy; providing timely advice to, and interactive communication with, the sponsor regarding the development of the product
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candidate to ensure that the development program to gather the nonclinical and clinical data necessary for approval is as efficient as practicable; involving senior managers and experienced review staff, as appropriate, in a collaborative, cross-disciplinary review; assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the FDA review team to facilitate an efficient review of the development program and to serve as a scientific liaison between the review team and the sponsor; and considering alternative clinical trial designs when scientifically appropriate, which may result in smaller or more efficient clinical trials that require less time to complete and may minimize the number of patients exposed to a potentially less efficacious treatment. Breakthrough Therapy designation also allows the sponsor to file sections of the BLA/NDA for review on a rolling basis. We may seek designation as a Breakthrough Therapy for some or all of our product candidates.
Breakthrough Therapy and/or Fast Track designations and priority review do not change the standards for approval. The receipt of such designations may not lead to a faster development process or regulatory review and may not increase the likelihood that a product candidate will receive approval.
In addition, the PREA requires a sponsor to conduct pediatric clinical trials for certain drugs and biological products, for a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration. Under PREA, original NDAs/BLAs and supplements must contain a pediatric assessment unless the sponsor has received a deferral or waiver. The required assessment must evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The sponsor or FDA may request a deferral of pediatric clinical trials for some or all of the pediatric subpopulations. A deferral may be granted for several reasons, including a finding that the product candidate is ready for approval for use in adults before pediatric clinical trials are complete or that additional safety or effectiveness data needs to be collected before the pediatric clinical trials begin. The FDA must send a non-compliance letter to any sponsor that fails to submit the required assessment, keep a deferral current or fails to submit a request for approval of a pediatric formulation.
Orphan Drugs
Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a drug or biologic intended to treat a rare disease or condition, defined as a disease or condition with a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., or a patient population greater than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. and when there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available the drug or biologic in the U.S. will be recovered from sales in the U.S. for that drug or biologic. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting a BLA or NDA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the generic identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA.
If a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for a particular active ingredient for the disease for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including a full BLA or NDA, to market the same biologic or drug product for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity or if the FDA finds that the holder of the orphan drug exclusivity has not shown that it can assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the orphan drug to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving a different drug or biologic for the same disease or condition, or the same drug or biologic for a different disease or condition. Among the other benefits of orphan drug designation are tax credits for certain research and a waiver of the BLA application user fee.
A designated orphan drug may not receive orphan drug exclusivity if it is approved for a use that is broader than the indication for which it received orphan designation. In addition, orphan drug exclusive marketing rights in the U.S. may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.
Post-Approval Requirements
Any products manufactured or distributed by us pursuant to FDA approval are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to record keeping, reporting of adverse experiences, periodic reporting, distribution, and advertising and promotion of the product. After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims, are subject to prior FDA review and approval. There also are
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continuing, annual user fee requirements for any marketed products and the establishments at which such products are manufactured, as well as new application fees for supplemental applications with clinical data. Biopharmaceutical manufacturers and 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 cGMP, which impose certain procedural and documentation requirements upon us and any third-party manufacturers that we may decide to use. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and, depending on the significance of the change, may require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP and impose reporting requirements upon us, and any third-party manufacturers, that we may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain compliance with cGMP and other aspects of regulatory compliance. We cannot be certain that we or our present or future suppliers will be able to comply with cGMP regulations and other FDA regulatory requirements. If our present or future suppliers are not able to comply with these requirements, the FDA may, among other things, halt our clinical trials, require us to recall a product from distribution, or withdraw approval of the BLA or NDA.
In the U.S., once a drug is approved, its manufacture is subject to comprehensive and continuing regulation by the FDA. FDA regulations require that drugs be manufactured in specific facilities per the BLA or NDA approval and in accordance with cGMP. Drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with cGMP and other laws. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance. These regulations also impose certain organizational, procedural, and documentation requirements with respect to manufacturing and quality assurance activities. BLA or NDA holders using contract manufacturers, laboratories or packagers are responsible for the selection and monitoring of qualified firms, and, in certain circumstances, qualified suppliers to these firms. These firms and, where applicable, their suppliers are subject to inspections by the FDA at any time, and the discovery of violative conditions, including failure to conform to cGMP, could result in enforcement actions that interrupt the operation of any such facilities or the ability to distribute drugs manufactured, processed, or tested by them.
Future FDA and state inspections may identify compliance issues at our facilities or at the facilities of contract manufacturers that may disrupt production or distribution, or require substantial resources to correct. In addition, discovery of previously unknown problems with a product or the failure to comply with applicable requirements may result in restrictions on a product, manufacturer, or holder of an approved BLA or NDA, including withdrawal or recall of the product from the market or other voluntary, FDA-initiated or judicial action that could delay or prohibit further marketing.
Post-Marketing Requirements
Following approval of a new drug, a biopharmaceutical company and the approved drug are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, establishment registration and drug listing, monitoring and recordkeeping activities, reporting to the applicable regulatory authorities of adverse experiences with the drug, providing the regulatory authorities with updated safety and efficacy information, drug sampling and distribution requirements, and complying with promotion and advertising requirements, which include, among others, standards for direct-to-consumer advertising, restrictions on promoting drugs for uses or in patient populations that are not described in the drug’s approved labeling, limitations on industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and requirements for promotional activities involving the internet.
In the U.S., once a drug is approved, its manufacture is subject to comprehensive and continuing regulation by the FDA. FDA regulations require that drugs be manufactured in specific facilities per the NDA approval and in accordance with cGMP. We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the production of clinical and commercial quantities of its drugs in accordance with cGMP regulations. cGMP regulations require among other things, quality control and quality assurance as well as the corresponding maintenance of records and documentation and the obligation to investigate and correct any deviations from cGMP.
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Drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with cGMP and other laws. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance. These regulations also impose certain organizational, procedural, and documentation requirements with respect to manufacturing and quality assurance activities. NDA holders using contract manufacturers, laboratories or packagers are responsible for the selection and monitoring of qualified firms, and, in certain circumstances, qualified suppliers to these firms. These firms and, where applicable, their suppliers are subject to inspections by the FDA at any time, and the discovery of violative conditions, including failure to conform to cGMP, could result in enforcement actions that interrupt the operation of any such facilities or the ability to distribute drugs manufactured, processed, or tested by them. Discovery of problems with a drug after approval may result in restrictions on a drug, manufacturer, or holder of an approved NDA, including, among other things, recall or withdrawal of the drug from the market, and may require substantial resources to correct.
The FDA may also require post-approval testing, sometimes referred to as Phase IV testing, risk minimization action plans, and post-marketing surveillance to monitor the effects of an approved drug or place conditions on an approval that could restrict the distribution or use of the drug. The FDA may withdraw approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards 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 new safety risks; or imposition of distribution restrictions or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:
restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of 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 closely regulates the marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of biologics or drug products. A company can make only those claims relating to safety and efficacy, purity and potency that are approved by the FDA and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in, among other things, adverse publicity, warning letters, corrective advertising and potential civil and criminal penalties, and exclusion from participation in governmental health programs, like Medicare and Medicaid. Physicians may prescribe legally available products for uses that are not described in the product’s labeling and that differ from those tested by us and approved by the FDA. Such off-label uses are common across medical specialties. Physicians may believe that such off-label uses are the best treatment for many patients in varied circumstances. The FDA does not regulate the behavior of physicians in their choice of treatments. The FDA does, however, restrict manufacturer’s communications on the subject of off-label use of their products. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion of off-label use and has enjoined companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA and other regulatory agencies have also required that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed. However, companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with a product’s FDA-approved labelling. Modifications or enhancements to the drug or its labeling or changes of the site or process of manufacture are often subject to the approval of the FDA and other regulators, which may or may not be received or may result in a lengthy review process.
Prescription drug advertising is subject to federal, state, and foreign regulations. In the U.S., the FDA regulates prescription drug promotion, including direct-to-consumer advertising. Prescription drug promotional materials must be submitted to the FDA in conjunction with their first use. Any distribution of prescription drugs and pharmaceutical samples must comply with the U.S. PDMA, a part of the FD&C Act. The DSCSA, enacted in 2013, aims to build an electronic system to identify and
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trace certain prescription drugs distributed in the U.S. The DSCSA mandates phased-in and resource-intensive obligations for pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and dispensers. The law’s requirements include the quarantine and prompt investigation of a suspect product to determine if it is illegitimate and notifying trading partners and the FDA of any illegitimate product. Drug manufacturers and their collaborators are also required to place a unique product identifier on prescription drug packages.
Premarket Clearance and Approval Requirements for Medical Devices
Each medical device we seek to commercially distribute in the U.S., including our bioreactors, will require a prior 510(k) clearance, unless it has received a PMA from the FDA. Generally, if a new device has a predicate that is already on the market under a 510(k) clearance, the FDA will allow that new device to be marketed under a 510(k) clearance; otherwise, a PMA is required. Medical devices are classified into one of three classes: Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3, depending on the degree of risk associated with each medical device and the extent of control needed to provide reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. Class 1 devices are deemed to be low risk and are subject to the general controls of the FD&C Act, such as provisions that relate to: adulteration; misbranding; registration and listing; notification, including repair, replacement, or refund; records and reports; and good manufacturing practices. Most Class 1 devices are classified as exempt from premarket notification under section 510(k) of the FD&C Act, and therefore may be commercially distributed without obtaining 510(k) clearance from the FDA. Class 2 devices are subject to both general controls and special controls to provide reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. Special controls include performance standards, post market surveillance, patient registries and guidance documents. A manufacturer may be required to submit to the FDA a premarket notification requesting permission to commercially distribute some Class 2 devices. Devices deemed by the FDA to pose the greatest risk, such as life-sustaining, life-supporting or implantable devices, or devices deemed not substantially equivalent to a previously cleared 510(k) device, are placed in Class 3. A Class 3 device cannot be marketed in the U.S. unless the FDA approves the device after submission of a PMA. However, there are some Class 3 devices for which FDA has not yet called for a PMA. For these devices, the manufacturer must submit a premarket notification and obtain 510(k) clearance in orders to commercially distribute these devices. The FDA can also impose sales, marketing, or other restrictions on devices in order to assure that they are used in a safe and effective manner.
510(k) Clearance Pathway
When a 510(k) clearance is required, we must submit a premarket notification to the FDA demonstrating that our proposed device is substantially equivalent to a predicate device, which is a previously cleared and legally marketed 510(k) device or a device that was in commercial distribution before May 28, 1976. By regulation, a premarket notification must be submitted to the FDA at least 90 days before we intend to distribute a device. As a practical matter, clearance often takes significantly longer. To demonstrate substantial equivalence, the manufacturer must show that the proposed device has the same intended use as the predicate device, and it either has the same technological characteristics, or different technological characteristics and the information in the premarket notification demonstrates that the device is equally safe and effective and does not raise different questions of safety and effectiveness. The FDA may require further information, including clinical data, to make a determination regarding substantial equivalence. If the FDA determines that the device, or its intended use, is not substantially equivalent to a previously cleared device or use, the FDA will place the device into Class 3.
There are three types of 510(k)s: traditional; special; and abbreviated. Special 510(k)s are for devices that are modified and the modification needs a new 510(k) but does not affect the intended use or alter the fundamental scientific technology of the device. Abbreviated 510(k)s are for devices that conform to a recognized standard. The special and abbreviated 510(k)s are intended to streamline review, and the FDA intends to process special 510(k)s within 30 days of receipt.
De Novo Classification
Medical device types that the FDA has not previously classified as Class 1, 2 or 3 are automatically classified into Class 3 regardless of the level of risk they pose. The Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 established a new route to market for low to moderate risk medical devices that are automatically placed into Class 3 due to the absence of a predicate device, called the Request for Evaluation of Automatic Class 3 Designation (or the De Novo Classification Process).
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This procedure allows a manufacturer whose novel device is automatically classified into Class 3 to request down-classification of its medical device into Class 1 or Class 2 on the basis that the device presents low or moderate risk, rather than requiring the submission and approval of a PMA application. Prior to the enactment of the FDASIA, a medical device could only be eligible for De Novo classification if the manufacturer first submitted a 510(k) premarket notification and received a determination from the FDA that the device was not substantially equivalent. The FDASIA streamlined the De Novo classification pathway by permitting manufacturers to request De Novo classification directly without first submitting a 510(k) premarket notification to the FDA and receiving a not substantially equivalent determination. Under the FDASIA, the FDA is required to classify the device within 120 days following receipt of the De Novo application. If the manufacturer seeks reclassification into Class 2, the manufacturer must include a draft proposal for special controls that are necessary to provide a reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the medical device. In addition, the FDA may reject the reclassification petition if it identifies a legally marketed predicate device that would be appropriate for a 510(k) or determines that the device is not low to moderate risk or that general controls would be inadequate to control the risks and special controls cannot be developed.
Premarket Approval Pathway
A PMA application must be submitted to the FDA for Class 3 devices for which the FDA has required a PMA. The PMA application process is much more demanding than the 510(k) premarket notification process. A PMA application must be supported by extensive data, including but not limited to technical, preclinical, clinical trials, manufacturing and labeling to demonstrate to the FDA’s satisfaction reasonable evidence of safety and effectiveness of the device.
After a PMA application is submitted, the FDA has 45 days to determine whether the application is sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review and thus whether the FDA will file the application for review. The FDA has 180 days to review a filed PMA application, although the review of an application generally occurs over a significantly longer period of time and can take up to several years. During this review period, the FDA may request additional information or clarification of the information already provided. Also, an advisory panel of experts from outside the FDA may be convened to review and evaluate the application and provide recommendations to the FDA as to the approvability of the device.
Although the FDA is not bound by the advisory panel decision, the panel’s recommendations are important to the FDA’s overall decision making process. In addition, the FDA may conduct a preapproval inspection of the manufacturing facility to ensure compliance with the QSR. The agency also may inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with FDA’s regulations.
Upon completion of the PMA review, the FDA may: (i) approve the PMA application which authorizes commercial marketing with specific prescribing information for one or more indications, which can be more limited than those originally sought; (ii) issue an approvable letter which indicates the FDA’s belief that the PMA application is approvable and states what additional information the FDA requires or the post-approval commitments that must be agreed to prior to approval; (iii) issue a not approvable letter which outlines steps required for approval, but which are typically more onerous than those in an approvable letter, and may require additional clinical trials that are often expensive and time consuming and can delay approval for months or even years; or (iv) deny the application. If the FDA issues an approvable or not approvable letter, the applicant has 180 days to respond, after which the FDA’s review clock is reset.
Clinical trials are almost always required to support PMA and are sometimes required for 510(k) clearance. In the U.S., for significant risk devices, these trials require submission of an application for an IDE to the FDA. The IDE application must be supported by appropriate data, such as animal and laboratory testing results, showing it is safe to test the device in humans and that the testing protocol is scientifically sound. The IDE must be approved in advance by the FDA for a specific number of patients at specified trial sites. During the trial, the sponsor must comply with the FDA’s IDE requirements for investigator selection, trial monitoring, reporting and recordkeeping. The investigators must obtain patient informed consent, rigorously follow the investigational plan, and trial protocol, control the disposition of investigational devices and comply with all reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Clinical trials for significant risk devices may not begin until the IDE application is approved by the FDA and the appropriate IRBs at the clinical trial sites. An IRB is an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor medical research involving subjects and which has the authority to approve, require modifications in, or disapprove research to protect the rights, safety, and welfare of human research subjects. A nonsignificant
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risk device does not require FDA approval of an IDE; however, the clinical trial must still be conducted in compliance with various requirements of FDA’s IDE regulations and be approved by an IRB at the clinical trial sites. The FDA or the IRB at each site at which a clinical trial is being performed may withdraw approval of a clinical trial at any time for various reasons, including a belief that the risks to study subjects outweigh the benefits or a failure to comply with FDA or IRB requirements. Even if a trial is completed, the results of clinical testing may not demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the device, may be equivocal or may otherwise not be sufficient to obtain approval or clearance of the product.
Sponsors of clinical trials of devices are required to register with clinical trials.gov, a public database of clinical trial information. Information related to the device, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration.
Ongoing Medical Device Regulation by the FDA
Even after a device receives clearance or approval and is placed on the market, numerous regulatory requirements apply. These include:
establishment registration and device listing;
the QSR, which requires manufacturers, including third-party manufacturers, to follow stringent design, testing, control, documentation, and other quality assurance procedures during all aspects of the manufacturing process;
labeling regulations and the FDA prohibitions against the promotion of products for uncleared, unapproved or off-label uses and other requirements related to promotional activities;
medical device reporting regulations, which require that manufactures report to the FDA if their device may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury, or if their device malfunctioned and the device or a similar device marketed by the manufacturer would be likely to cause or contribute to a death or serious injury if the malfunction were to recur;
corrections and removal reporting regulations, which require that manufactures report to the FDA field corrections or removals if undertaken to reduce a risk to health posed by a device or to remedy a violation of the FD&C Act that may present a risk to health; and
post market surveillance regulations, which apply to certain Class 2 or 3 devices when necessary to protect the public health or to provide additional safety and effectiveness data for the device.
After a device receives 510(k) clearance, any modification that could significantly affect its safety or effectiveness, or that would constitute a major change in its intended use, will require a new clearance or possibly a PMA. The FDA requires each manufacturer to make this determination initially, but the FDA can review any such decision and can disagree with a manufacture’s determination. If the FDA disagrees with our determination not to seek a new 510(k) clearance, the FDA may retroactively require us to seek 510(k) clearance or possibly a PMA. The FDA could also require manufacturer to cease marketing and distribution and/or recall the modified device until 510(k) clearance or PMA is obtained. Also, in these circumstances, the manufacturer may be subject to significant regulatory fines and penalties.
Some changes to an approved PMA device, including changes in indications, labeling or manufacturing processes or facilities, require submission and FDA approval of a new PMA application or PMA supplement, as appropriate, before the change can be implemented. Supplements to a PMA application often require the submission of the same type of information required for an original PMA application, except that the supplement is generally limited to that information needed to support the proposed change from the device covered by the original PMA. The FDA uses the same procedures and actions in reviewing PMA supplements as it does in reviewing original PMA applications.
FDA regulations require us to register as a medical device manufacturer with the FDA. Additionally, some states require us to register as a medical device manufacturer within the state. Because of this, the FDA and similar state agencies may inspect us on a routine basis for compliance with the QSR. In February 2024, the FDA issued a final rule replacing the QSR with the QMSR, which incorporates by reference the quality management system requirements of ISO 13485:2016. The FDA has stated
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that the standards contained in ISO 13485:216 are substantially similar to those set forth in the existing QSR. This final rule does not go into effect until February 2026. These regulations require that the manufacturer maintain proper documentation in a prescribed manner with respect to manufacturing, testing and control activities. Further, the FDA requires medical device manufacturers to comply with various FDA regulations regarding labeling.
Failure by us or by our suppliers to comply with applicable regulatory requirements can result in enforcement action by the FDA or state authorities, which may include any of the following sanctions:
warning or untitled letters, fines, injunctions, consent decrees and civil penalties;
customer notifications, voluntary or mandatory recall or seizure of our medical device product candidates;
operating restrictions, partial suspension, or total shutdown of production;
delay in processing submissions or applications for new products or modifications to existing products;
withdrawing approvals that have already been granted; and
criminal prosecution.
The Medical Device Reporting laws and regulations require medical device manufacturers to provide information to the FDA when they receive or otherwise become aware of information that reasonably suggests the device may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury as well as a device malfunction that likely would cause or contribute to death or serious injury if the malfunction were to recur. In addition, the FDA prohibits an approved device from being marketed for off-label use. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability, including substantial monetary penalties and criminal prosecution.
Newly discovered or developed safety or effectiveness data may require changes to a product’s labeling, including the addition of new warnings and contraindications, and also may require the implementation of other risk management measures. Also, new government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could delay or prevent regulatory clearance or approval of our medical device product candidates under development. Medical device manufacturers are also subject to other federal, state, and local laws and regulations relating to safe working conditions, laboratory and manufacturing practices.
Other Healthcare Laws and Compliance Requirements
Manufacturing, sales, promotion, and other activities following drug approval are also subject to regulation by numerous regulatory authorities in addition to the FDA, including, in the U.S., CMS, other divisions of HHS, the Drug Enforcement Administration for controlled substances, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the FTC, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and state and local governments. In the U.S., sales, marketing, and scientific/educational programs must also comply with state and federal fraud and abuse laws. Pricing and rebate programs must comply with the Medicaid rebate requirements of the U.S. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 and more recent requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the ACA. If drugs are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. The handling of any controlled substances must comply with the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. Drugs must meet applicable child-resistant packaging requirements under the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Manufacturing, sales, promotion, and other activities are also potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws.
We are subject to numerous foreign, federal, state, and local environmental, health, and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment, and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. In addition, our leasing and operation of real property may subject us to liability pursuant to certain U.S. environmental laws and regulations, under which current or previous owners or operators of real property and entities that disposed or arranged for the disposal of hazardous substances may be held strictly, jointly, and severally liable for the cost of investigating or remediating contamination caused by hazardous substance releases, even if they did not know of and were not responsible for the releases.
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The distribution of pharmaceutical drugs is subject to additional requirements and regulations, including extensive record-keeping, licensing, storage, and security requirements intended to prevent the unauthorized sale of pharmaceutical drugs. The failure to comply with regulatory requirements subjects firms to possible legal or regulatory action. Depending on the circumstances, failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements can result in criminal prosecution, fines, or other penalties, injunctions, voluntary recall, or seizure of drugs, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of product approvals, or refusal to allow a firm to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts. In addition, even if a firm complies with FDA and other requirements, new information regarding the safety or efficacy of a product could lead the FDA to modify or withdraw product approval. Prohibitions or restrictions on sales or withdrawal of future products marketed by us could materially affect our business in an adverse way.
Changes in regulations, statutes, or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.
Our sales, promotion, medical education, clinical research, and other activities following product approval will be subject to regulation by numerous regulatory and law enforcement authorities in the U.S. in addition to the FDA, including potentially the FTC, the Department of Justice, the CMS, other divisions of HHS and state and local governments. Our promotional and scientific/educational programs must comply with the AKS, the FCA, physician payment transparency laws, privacy laws, security laws, and additional federal and state laws similar to the foregoing. If drugs are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. Drugs must meet applicable child-resistant packaging requirements under the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Manufacturing, sales, promotion, and other activities are also potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws. Changes in regulations, statutes, or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.
The AKS prohibits, among other things, the knowing and willing, direct or indirect offer, receipt, solicitation, or payment of remuneration in exchange for or to induce the referral of patients, including the purchase, order or lease of any good, facility, item or service that would be paid for in whole or part by Medicare, Medicaid or other federal health care programs. Remuneration has been broadly defined to include anything of value, including cash, improper discounts, and free or reduced-price items and services. The AKS has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on one hand and prescribers, purchasers, formulary managers, and beneficiaries on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchases or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the AKS. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all its facts and circumstances. Several courts have interpreted the statute’s intent requirement to mean that if any one purpose of an arrangement involving remuneration is to induce referrals of federal healthcare covered business, the AKS has been violated. The government has enforced the AKS to reach large settlements with healthcare companies based on sham research or consulting and other financial arrangements with physicians. Further, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the FCA. Many states have similar laws that apply to their state health care programs, as well as private payors.
Federal false claims and false statement laws, including the FCA, imposes liability on persons or entities that, among other things, knowingly present or cause to be presented claims that are false or fraudulent or not provided as claimed for payment or approval by a federal health care program. The FCA has been used to prosecute persons or entities that cause the submission of claims for payment that are inaccurate or fraudulent, by, for example, providing inaccurate billing or coding information to customers, promoting a product off-label, submitting claims for services not provided as claimed, or submitting claims for services that were provided but not medically necessary. Actions under the FCA may be brought by the Attorney General, or as a
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qui tam action by a private individual, in the name of the government. Violations of the FCA can result in significant monetary penalties and treble damages. The federal government is using the FCA, and the accompanying threat of significant liability, in its investigation and prosecution of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies throughout the country, for example, in connection with the promotion of products for unapproved uses and other illegal sales and marketing practices. The government has obtained multi-million and multi-billion dollar settlements under the FCA in addition to individual criminal convictions under applicable criminal statutes. In addition, certain companies that were found to be in violation of the FCA have been forced to implement extensive corrective action plans and have often become subject to consent decrees or corporate integrity agreements, restricting the manner in which they conduct their business.
The HIPAA created additional federal criminal statutes that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors; knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services; and willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense. Like the AKS, the ACA amended the intent standard for certain healthcare fraud statutes under HIPAA such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
Given the significant size of actual and potential settlements, it is expected that the government will continue to devote substantial resources to investigating healthcare providers’ and manufacturers’ compliance with applicable fraud and abuse laws. In addition, many states have similar fraud and abuse statutes or regulations that may be broader in scope and may apply regardless of payor, in addition to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs. Additionally, to the extent that our product candidates, once commercialized, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws.
In addition, there has been a recent trend of increased federal and state regulation of payments made to physicians and certain other healthcare providers and teaching hospitals. The ACA, among other things, under the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act, imposed reporting requirements on certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with specific exceptions, for payments or other transfers of value made by them to certain covered recipients, including physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations with respect to covered recipients have been extended to include payments and transfers of value made to non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Covered manufacturers are required to collect and report detailed payment data and submit legal attestation to the accuracy of such data to the government each year. Failure to submit required information may result in civil monetary penalties for all payments, transfers of value or ownership or investment interests that are not timely, accurately, and completely reported in an annual submission. Additionally, entities that do not comply with mandatory reporting requirements may be subject to a corporate integrity agreement. Certain states also mandate implementation of commercial compliance programs, impose restrictions on covered manufacturers’ marketing practices and/or require the tracking and reporting of gifts, compensation and other remuneration to physicians and other healthcare professionals.
We may also be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by HITECH and their respective implementing regulations, impose specified requirements on certain health care providers, plans, and clearinghouses, or collectively, covered entities, and their business associates, relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s security standards directly applicable to business associates, which includes independent contractors or agents of covered entities that create, receive, maintain, or transmit protected health information in connection with providing a service for or on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also increased the civil and criminal penalties that may be imposed against covered entities, business associates and possibly other persons, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce HIPAA and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, certain states have their own laws that govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other and/or HIPAA in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.
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If our operations are found to be in violation of any of such laws or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including, without limitation, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs, imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, and diminished profits and future earnings, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our financial results. If any of the physicians or other providers, independent contractors, or entities with whom we do business are found to not be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs and imprisonment, which could affect our ability to operate our business. Further, defending against any such actions can be costly, time-consuming and may require significant personnel resources. Therefore, even if we are successful in defending against any such actions that may be brought against us, our business may be impaired.
In addition to the foregoing health care laws, we are also subject to the FCPA and similar worldwide anti-bribery laws, which generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to government officials or private-sector recipients for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. The anti-corruption policy mandates compliance with the FCPA and similar anti-bribery laws applicable to our business throughout the world. However, we cannot assure you that such a policy or procedures implemented to enforce such a policy will protect us from intentional, reckless, or negligent acts committed by our employees, distributors, partners, collaborators or agents. Violations of these laws, or allegations of such violations, could result in fines, penalties or prosecution and have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and reputation.
Coverage and Reimbursement
Sales of pharmaceutical products depend significantly on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement are provided by third-party payors. Third-party payors include state and federal government health care programs, managed care providers, private health insurers and other organizations. Although we currently believe that third-party payors will provide coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved, we cannot be certain of this. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price, examining the cost-effectiveness, and reducing reimbursement for medical products and services. In the U.S., no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drugs or biological products exists, and one payor’s determination to provide coverage and adequate reimbursement for a product does not assure that other payors will make a similar determination. In the U.S., the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the CMS, an agency within the HHS, as the CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private third-party payors tend to follow Medicare coverage and reimbursement limitations to a substantial degree, but also have their own methods and approval process apart from Medicare determinations. Significant uncertainty exists as to the reimbursement status of newly approved healthcare products.
The U.S. government, state legislatures and foreign governments have continued implementing cost containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on coverage and 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 our revenues and results. We may need to conduct expensive clinical trials to demonstrate the comparative cost-effectiveness of our product candidates. The product candidates that we develop may not be considered cost-effective and thus may not be covered or sufficiently reimbursed. It is time consuming and expensive for us to seek coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors, as each payor will make its own determination as to whether to cover a product and at what level of reimbursement. Thus, one payor’s decision to provide coverage and adequate reimbursement for a product does not assure that another payor will provide coverage or that the reimbursement levels will be adequate. Moreover, a payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Reimbursement may not be available or sufficient to allow us to sell our product candidates on a competitive and profitable basis.
Healthcare Reform
The U.S. and some foreign jurisdictions are considering or have enacted a number of legislative and regulatory proposals to change the healthcare system in ways that could affect our ability to sell our product candidates profitably. Among policy makers and payors in the U.S. and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality and/or expanding access. In the U.S., the pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and has been significantly affected by major legislative initiatives.
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By way of example, in March 2010, the ACA was signed into law, intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of healthcare spending, enhance remedies against fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for the healthcare and health insurance industries, impose new taxes and fees on the health industry and impose additional health policy reforms. Among the provisions of the ACA of importance to our potential product candidates are:
an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports specified branded prescription drugs and biologic agents, apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government healthcare programs;
an increase in the statutory minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to 23.1% and 13.0% of the average manufacturer price for branded and generic drugs, respectively;
a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected;
a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% (increased pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, effective as of 2019) point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for a manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D;
extension of a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability to covered drugs dispensed to individuals who are enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations;
expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to additional individuals and by adding new mandatory eligibility categories for certain individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability;
expansion of the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health Service pharmaceutical pricing program; and
a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. These changes include, among others, the Budget Control Act of 2011, which mandates aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year effective April 1, 2013, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will remain in effect through 2032. In January 2013, President Obama signed into law the ATRA, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. These new laws may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, which could have a material adverse effect on customers for our product candidates, if approved, and, accordingly, our financial operations.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the statutory cap on Medicaid Drug Rebate Program rebates that manufacturers pay to state Medicaid programs was eliminated. Elimination of this cap may require pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay more in rebates than it receives on the sale of products, which could have a material impact on our business. Further, in July 2021, the Biden administration released an executive order, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” with multiple provisions aimed at increasing competition for prescription drugs. In August 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes prescription drug provisions that have significant implications for the pharmaceutical industry and Medicare beneficiaries, including allowing the federal government to negotiate a maximum fair price for certain high-priced single source Medicare drugs, imposing penalties and excise tax for manufacturers that fail to comply with the drug price negotiation requirements, requiring inflation rebates for all Medicare Part B and Part D drugs, with limited exceptions, if their drug prices increase faster than inflation, and redesigning Medicare Part D to reduce out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for beneficiaries, among other changes. Various industry stakeholders have initiated lawsuits against the U.S. government asserting that the price negotiation provisions of the IRA are unconstitutional. The impact of these judicial challenges, legislative, executive, and administrative actions and any future healthcare measures and agency rules implemented by the Biden administration on us and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole is unclear. The impact of these regulations and any future
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healthcare measures and agency rules implemented by the Biden administration on us and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole is currently unknown. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability, or commercialize our product candidates if approved. Complying with any new legislation and regulatory changes could be time-intensive and expensive, resulting in a material adverse effect on our business.
Since the enactment of the ACA, there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. In June 2021, the United States Supreme Court held that Texas and other challengers had no legal standing to challenge the ACA, dismissing the case without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. Accordingly, the ACA remains in effect in its current form. It is possible that the ACA will be subject to judicial or Congressional challenges in the future. It is unclear how additional challenges and healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the ACA. Complying with any new legislation or changes in healthcare regulation could be time-intensive and expensive, resulting in material adverse effect on our business.
At the state level, individual states are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures. For example, a number of states are considering or have recently enacted state drug price transparency and reporting laws that could substantially increase our compliance burdens and expose us to greater liability under such state laws once we begin commercialization after obtaining regulatory approval for any of our products. For example, the FDA recently authorized the state of Florida to import certain prescription drugs from Canada for a period of two years to help reduce drug costs, provided that Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration meets the requirements set forth by the FDA. Other states may follow Florida. These measures could reduce the demand for our products, if approved, or impose additional pricing pressures on how much we can charge for our products if approved.
We expect that the ACA, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and lower reimbursement and in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government-funded programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our product candidates. Furthermore, the current presidential administration and Congress may continue to attempt broad sweeping changes to the current health care laws. We face uncertainties that might result from modifications or repeal of any of the provisions of the ACA, including as a result of current and future executive orders and legislative actions. The impact of those changes on us and potential effect on the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as a whole is currently unknown. However, any changes to the ACA are likely to have an impact on our results of operations and may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. We cannot predict what other healthcare programs and regulations will ultimately be implemented at the federal or state level or the effect any future legislation or regulation in the U.S. may have on our business.
Foreign Regulation
In addition to regulations in the U.S., we will be subject to a variety of foreign regulations governing clinical trials and commercial sales and distribution of our product candidates to the extent we choose to develop or sell any product candidates outside of the U.S. The approval process varies from country to country and the time may be longer or shorter than that required to obtain FDA approval. The requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary greatly from country to country.
Human Capital
Our Human Capital talent strategy relies on attracting, retaining and developing top talent that align with our culture and mission to “Outsmart Your Disease.” We promote a culture that is focused on delivering treatments utilizing natural immunities, and we seek to harness our science first focus to deliver solutions to patients and families. As of December 31, 2023, we had 628 employees located across the U.S. and Italy. Among our employees, 40% are focused on research and development, 34% on manufacturing and quality, and 26% on general and administrative functions. We have not been subject to labor action or union activities, and our management considers its relationships with employees to be good.
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We believe that fostering a workplace that celebrates differences and strengths creates an environment that supports the inclusion and value of diverse thoughts, backgrounds and perspectives. A well rounded culture allows for ongoing dialogue and discussions that challenge the status quo and create a learning environment that supports diversity, equity and inclusion. As part of our commitment, we continue to encourage a culture where employees can freely ask questions and raise concerns. Our annual performance review process helps support our commitment to develop and retain top talent by providing an opportunity to have open dialogue, establish goals, discuss milestones and continue to engage in opportunities to develop and cultivate the talent. Additionally, our management team makes themselves available to all employees including 1:1s, Department Meetings and Town Hall events.
Our ongoing success will continue to depend on our ability to attract, engage and retain top talent in an ever growing competitive market. We offer a competitive compensation package to help meet the needs of our employees. In addition to salaries, these programs include the potential to receive annual bonuses and equity awards, and a 401(k) plan, healthcare and insurance benefits, flexible spending accounts, paid time off, family leave, flexible work schedules, and an employee assistance program, among others. We work to ensure pay equity by assessing our compensation practices and working with external benchmarks and compensation consultants to design and benchmark our programs.
Organization and Development of ImmunityBio, Inc.
ImmunityBio, Inc. was established following a series of mergers and name changes. We were incorporated in Illinois on October 7, 2002 under the name ZelleRx Corporation. Our name was later changed to Conkwest, Inc., and we were reincorporated in the state of Delaware in March 2014. On July 10, 2015, we changed our name to NantKwest.
NantCell, LLC was originally organized as a Delaware limited liability company in November 2014. In April 2015, it was converted to a Delaware corporation, NantCell, Inc., and in May 2019 changed its name to ImmunityBio, Inc. (a private company). On December 21, 2020, NantKwest and NantCell entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the Merger Agreement), pursuant to which NantKwest and NantCell agreed to combine their businesses. The Merger Agreement provided that a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company would merge with and into NantCell (the Merger), with NantCell surviving the Merger as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company. We believe that the Merger, which closed on March 9, 2021, combined two companies to create a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing next-generation therapies and vaccines that complement, harness, and amplify the immune system to defeat cancers and infectious diseases.
ImmunityBio is incorporated in Delaware and its principal executive offices are located in San Diego, California.
Available Information
Financial and other information about our company is available on our website at https://www.immunitybio.com. We make available on our website, free of charge, copies of our Annual Report, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it, to the SEC. All reports we file with the SEC are available free of charge via EDGAR through the SEC website at https://www.sec.gov. We have included the web addresses of ImmunityBio and the SEC as inactive textual references only. Except as specifically incorporated by reference into this Annual Report, information on these websites is not part of this filing.
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ITEM 1A.     RISK FACTORS.
Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks described below, any of which may be relevant to decisions regarding an investment in or ownership of our stock. The occurrence of any of these risks could have a significant adverse effect on our reputation, business, financial condition, results of operations, growth, and ability to accomplish our strategic objectives. We have organized the description of these risks into groupings in an effort to enhance readability, but many of the risks interrelate or could be grouped or ordered in other ways, so no special significance should be attributed to the groupings or order below.
Risk Factor Summary
Risks Related to Our Limited Operating History, Financial Condition and Capital Requirements
We are a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a limited operating history and no products approved for commercial sale. We have a history of operating losses, and we expect to continue to incur losses and may never be profitable, which together with our limited operating history, makes it difficult to assess our future viability.
We anticipate needing additional financing to fund our operations and complete the development and commercialization of our various product candidates, and if we are unable to obtain such financing when needed, or on acceptable terms, we may be unable to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates.
The RIPA imposes Revenue Interest Payments (as defined in the RIPA) obligations, which may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations, as well as affirmative and negative covenants, which restrict our business operations. The breach of our obligations under the RIPA could give rise to a default, triggering a Put Option (as defined in the RIPA) and/or foreclosure on our assets.
Our debt and revenue interest liability could adversely affect our cash flows and limit our flexibility to raise additional capital.
The value of our warrants outstanding and the revenue interest liability are subject to potentially material increases and decreases based on fluctuations in the price of our common stock or projected sales and the probability of specific events, which may affect our results of operations and financial position and could adversely affect our stock price.
Risks Related to the Discovery, Development and Commercialization of our Product Candidates
We will be substantially dependent on the success of our product candidates and cannot guarantee that these product candidates will successfully complete development, receive regulatory approval or be successfully commercialized.
The CRL we received from the FDA for the BLA has delayed, and may decrease the likelihood of, ultimate approval and successful commercialization of our lead product candidate in the U.S. and potentially other markets.
We are developing product candidates in combination with other therapies, which exposes us to additional risks.
Our clinical trials may fail to adequately demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.
Risks Related to Reliance on Third Parties
We have relied and will continue to rely on third parties and related parties to conduct many of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, manufacture products, and perform many essential services for any products that we commercialize. Any failure by a third party, related party, or by us to perform as expected, to comply with legal and regulatory requirements or to conduct the clinical trials according to GCP guidelines, and in a timely manner, may delay or prevent our ability to seek or obtain regulatory approval for or commercialization of our product candidates and subject us to regulatory sanctions.
If third-party manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors fail to perform as expected, or fail to devote sufficient time and resources to our product candidates, our clinical development may be delayed, our costs may be higher than expected or our product candidates may fail to be approved, or we may fail to commercialize any product candidates if approved.
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We use the Clinic, a related party, in some of our clinical trials which may expose us to significant regulatory risks. If our data for this site is not sufficiently robust or if there are any data integrity issues, we may be required to repeat such studies or contract with other clinical trial sites, which could delay and/or increase the cost of our development plans.
We have formed, and may in the future form or seek, strategic alliances or enter into collaborations with third parties or additional licensing arrangements, and we may not realize the benefits of such alliances or licensing arrangements. Conflicts may arise between us and our collaborators or strategic partners, and such strategic alliances, collaborations or licensing arrangements may not be successful.
Risks Related to Healthcare and Other Government Regulations
We may be unable to obtain U.S. or foreign regulatory approval and, as a result, be unable to commercialize our product candidates.
Even if we receive regulatory approval for our lead product candidate or any other product candidates, we will continue to be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements, which may result in significant additional expenses. Additionally, our product candidates, if approved, could be subject to labeling and other restrictions, and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates.
If we are unable to adequately establish sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, we may not be successful commercializing our product candidates if and when they are approved.
Problems related to large-scale commercial manufacturing could cause delays in product launches, an increase in costs, product recalls or product shortages.
Risks Related to Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain, maintain, protect and enforce patent protection and other proprietary rights for our product candidates and technologies, we may not be able to compete effectively or operate profitably and our ability to prevent our competitors from commercializing similar or identical technology and product candidates would be adversely affected.
If any of our owned or in-licensed patent applications do not issue as patents in any jurisdiction, we may not be able to compete effectively.
We or our licensors, collaborators, or any future strategic partners may become subject to third-party claims or litigation alleging infringement of patents or other proprietary rights or seeking to invalidate patents or other proprietary rights, and we may need to resort to litigation to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property or the patents or other intellectual property of our licensors, all of which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful, may delay or prevent the development and commercialization of our product candidates, or may put our patents and other proprietary rights at risk.
Risks Related to Our Common Stock and CVRs
Dr. Soon-Shiong, our Executive Chairman, Global Chief Scientific and Medical Officer and principal stockholder, has significant interests in other companies which may conflict with our interests.
Dr. Soon-Shiong, through his voting control of the company, has the ability to control actions that require stockholder approval.
Conversion of certain related-party promissory notes, exercise of outstanding warrants and options to purchase our common stock, the achievement of the milestone under our outstanding CVRs, and potential additional equity issuances may dilute the ownership interest of existing stockholders or may otherwise depress the price of our common stock.
The market price of our common stock has been and may continue to be volatile, and investors may have difficulty selling their shares.
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Risks Related to Our Limited Operating History, Financial Condition and Capital Requirements
We are a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a limited operating history and no products approved for commercial sale. We have a history of operating losses, and we expect to continue to incur losses and may never be profitable, which together with our limited operating history, makes it difficult to assess our future viability.
We are a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a limited operating history upon which you can evaluate our business and prospects, and we have a broad portfolio of product candidates at various stages of development. None of our products have been approved for commercial sale, and we have not generated any revenue from product sales, although we have generated revenues from non-exclusive license agreements related to our cell lines, the sale of our bioreactors and related consumables and grant programs. In addition, we have limited experience and have not yet demonstrated an ability to successfully overcome many of the risks and uncertainties frequently encountered by companies in new and rapidly evolving fields, particularly in the biotechnology industry, including in connection with obtaining marketing approvals, manufacturing a commercial-scale product or arranging for a third party to do so on our behalf or conducting sales and marketing activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with our product development efforts, we are unable to predict when we may become profitable, if at all.
Since the commencement of our operations, we have incurred significant losses each year, and, as of December 31, 2023, we had an accumulated deficit of $3.0 billion. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses as we seek to expand our business, including in connection with conducting research and development across multiple therapeutic areas, participating in clinical trial activities, continuing to acquire or in-license technologies, maintaining, protecting and expanding our intellectual property, seeking regulatory approvals, increasing our manufacturing capabilities and, upon successful receipt of FDA approval, commercializing our products. Moreover, if our lead product candidate is not approved, we do not expect to have significant product sales or revenue in the near term, if ever. Furthermore, even if approved, the timing and magnitude of product sales and revenue remain uncertain, and may take a significant amount of time to materialize, if ever.
If we are required by the FDA or any equivalent foreign regulatory authority to perform clinical trials or studies in addition to those we currently expect to conduct, or if there are any delays in completing the clinical trials of our product candidates, our expenses could increase substantially. We have submitted a BLA for our product candidate, Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease. On May 9, 2023, the FDA delivered a CRL to us regarding the BLA filed in May 2022, indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the original BLA submission in its initial form, and the FDA made recommendations to address the issues raised.
On October 23, 2023, we announced that we had completed the resubmission of the BLA addressing the issues in the CRL. On October 26, 2023, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA resubmission for review and considered it as a complete response to the CRL. The FDA has set a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024. While we believe the BLA resubmission addresses the issues identified in the CRL, there is no guarantee that the FDA will ultimately agree that such issues have been successfully addressed and resolved. It is unclear when the FDA will approve our BLA, if at all, for commercialization and even if approved, the resulting revenue may not enable us to achieve profitability. Even if we obtain regulatory approval to market a product candidate, our future revenues will depend upon the size of any markets in which our product candidates have received approval, and our ability to achieve sufficient market acceptance, reimbursement from third-party payors and adequate market share for our product candidates in those markets.
We expect our expenses and net losses to increase significantly as we prepare to potentially commercialize our product candidate, Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease, if approved by the FDA, continue our development of, and seek regulatory approvals for, our other product candidates, and begin to commercialize other approved products, if any, as well as hire additional personnel, protect our intellectual property and incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Our net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year, depending on the timing of our clinical studies and trials, associated manufacturing needs, commercialization activities if our product candidates are approved and our expenditures on other research and development activities.
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If our research and development efforts are successful, we may also face the risks associated with the shift from development to commercialization of new products based on innovative technologies. Our ability to achieve profitability, if ever, is dependent upon, among other things, obtaining regulatory approvals for our product candidates and successfully commercializing our product candidates alone or with third parties. However, our operations may not be profitable even if one or more of our product candidates under development are successfully developed and produced and thereafter commercialized. Even if we do become profitable, we may not be able to sustain or increase our profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. As a result, it may be more difficult for you to assess our future viability than it could be if we had a longer operating history.
We anticipate needing additional financing to fund our operations and complete the development and commercialization of our various product candidates, and if we are unable to obtain such financing when needed, or on acceptable terms, we may be unable to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates.
The development of biopharmaceutical products, including conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, is a very time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete. Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception. A significant portion of our funding had been in the form of promissory notes totaling $735.0 million in indebtedness (consisting of related-party promissory notes and accrued and unpaid interest) outstanding as of December 31, 2023 held by entities affiliated with Dr. Soon-Shiong.
As of December 31, 2023, we held cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities totaling $267.4 million. We will need to obtain additional financing to fund our future operations, including completing the development and commercialization of our product candidates. Changing circumstances may cause us to increase our spending significantly faster than we currently anticipate and we may need to raise additional funds sooner than we presently anticipate. Moreover, research and development and our operating costs and fixed expenses such as rent and other contractual commitments, including those for our research collaborations, are substantial and are expected to increase in the future.
Unless and until we can generate a sufficient amount of revenue, we may finance future cash needs through public or private equity offerings, license agreements, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, marketing or distribution arrangements, or exchange additional future Revenue Interests for the Second Payment in the RIPA agreement. However, we may be unable to raise additional funds or enter into such other arrangements when needed on favorable terms, or at all.
To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or equity-linked securities (including warrants), convertible debt or under the ATM, our shelf registration statement, or other offerings, or if any of our current debt is converted into equity or if our existing warrants are exercised, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the liquidation or other preferences may adversely affect your rights as a stockholder. If we incur additional indebtedness, our fixed payment obligations will increase and we may have to comply with certain restrictive covenants that are similar to those associated with the revenue interest liability, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. If we raise additional funds through strategic partnerships and alliances and licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies or product candidates, or grant licenses on terms unfavorable to us, or exercise our Call Option (as defined in the RIPA) to purchase the outstanding revenue interest liability which will require us to generate a significant amount of cash flow to offset these outflows. Absent the Second Payment under the RIPA, subject to satisfaction of certain conditions specified in the RIPA, we have no committed source of additional capital and if we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to delay or reduce the scope of or eliminate one or more of our research or development programs or our commercialization efforts. See Our payment obligations under the RIPA may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations and our ability to raise additional capital which in turn may increase our vulnerability to adverse regulatory developments or economic or business downturns and Note 9, Revenue Interest Purchase Agreement, of the “Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements” that appears in Part II, Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report for more information. Our current license and collaboration agreements may also be terminated if we are unable to meet the payment obligations under those agreements. As a result, we may seek to access the public or private capital markets whenever conditions are favorable, even if we do not have an immediate need for additional capital at that time.
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Our payment obligations under the RIPA may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations and our ability to raise additional capital which in turn may increase our vulnerability to adverse regulatory developments or economic or business downturns.
On December 29, 2023, we entered into the RIPA with Infinity and Oberland. Pursuant to the RIPA, Oberland acquired certain Revenue Interests from us for a gross purchase price of $200.0 million paid on closing, less certain transaction expenses. In addition, Oberland may purchase additional Revenue Interests from us in exchange for the $100.0 million Second Payment subject to certain conditions specified in the RIPA, including following the receipt of approval by the FDA of the company’s BLA for Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease on or before June 30, 2024. As consideration for the aforementioned payments, Oberland has the right to receive quarterly Revenue Interest Payments from us based on, among other things, our worldwide net sales, excluding those in China, which will be tiered payments initially ranging from 3.00% to 7.00% (or after funding of the Second Payment, 4.50% to 10.00%), subject to increase or decrease, following December 31, 2029 depending on whether the aggregate payments made to Oberland as of that date met or exceeded the Cumulative Purchaser Payments (as defined in the RIPA). In addition, if the aggregate payments to Oberland as of December 31, 2029 do not equal or exceed the amount of the Cumulative Purchaser Payments, then we are obligated to make a one-time payment to Oberland in an amount equal to 100% of the Cumulative Purchaser Payments, less the aggregate amount of our previous payments to Oberland as of December 31, 2029 (the True-Up Payment, as defined in the RIPA). See Note 9, Revenue Interest Purchase Agreement, of the “Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements” that appears in Part II, Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report for more information.
The RIPA and our payment obligations to Oberland could have important negative consequences to holders of our securities. For example, a portion of our cash flow from operations will be needed to make required payments to Oberland and will not be available to fund future operations.
Payment requirements under the RIPA will increase our cash outflows. Our future operating performance is subject to market conditions and business factors that are beyond our control. If our cash inflows and capital resources are insufficient to allow us to make required payments, we may have to reduce or delay capital expenditures, sell assets or seek additional capital. If we raise funds by selling additional equity, such sale would result in dilution to our stockholders. There is no assurance that if we are required to secure funding we can do so on terms acceptable to us, or at all. Failure to pay amounts owed to Oberland when due would result in a default under the RIPA and could result in foreclosure on all or substantially all of our assets, which would have a material adverse effect.
The RIPA contains affirmative and negative operational covenants and events of default, which may prevent us from capitalizing on business opportunities and taking some corporate actions, and gives rise to a Put Option in favor of Oberland, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and business operations.
The RIPA contains affirmative and negative covenants and events of default, including covenants and restrictions that, among other things, restrict our ability to incur liens, incur additional indebtedness, make loans and investments, enter into transactions with affiliates, engage in mergers and acquisitions, engage in asset sales and exclusive licensing arrangements, and declare dividends to our stockholders, in each case, subject to certain exceptions set forth in the RIPA. Additionally, Oberland has a Put Option enabling them to terminate the RIPA and to require the company to repurchase the Revenue Interests upon enumerated events such as a bankruptcy event, failure to make a payment, an uncured material breach, default on certain third-party agreements, a breach or default under any subordination agreements with respect to indebtedness to existing stockholders, any right to repurchase or accelerate debt instruments like permitted convertible notes, existing stockholder indebtedness, or subordinated notes during certain time periods, judgments in excess of certain amounts against us, a material adverse effect, the loss of regulatory approval of our product candidates or a change of control. The triggering of the Put Option, including by our failure to comply with these covenants, would permit Oberland to declare certain amounts to be immediately due and payable. If we were to default under the terms of the RIPA, including by failure to make such accelerated payments, Oberland could exercise remedies, including initiating foreclosure proceedings against all or substantially all of our assets. Oberland’s right to repayment is senior to the rights of the holders of our common stock. Any triggering of the Put Option or other declaration by Oberland of an event of default under the RIPA could significantly harm our financial condition, business and prospects and could cause the price of our common stock to decline.
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Our debt and revenue interest liability could adversely affect our cash flows and limit our flexibility to raise additional capital.
We have a significant amount of debt and revenue interest liability and may need to incur additional debt to support our growth. As of December 31, 2023, our indebtedness totaled $735.0 million, (consisting of related-party promissory notes and accrued and unpaid interest), held by entities affiliated with Dr. Soon-Shiong along with a $200.0 million revenue interest liability with Oberland.
Our substantial amount of debt could have important consequences and could:
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash and cash equivalents to make interest and principal payments on our debt and revenue interest liability payments, reducing the availability of our cash and cash equivalents and cash flow from operations to fund future capital expenditures, working capital, execution of our strategy and other general corporate requirements;
increase our cost of borrowing and even limit our ability to access additional debt to fund future growth;
increase our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions and adverse changes in governmental regulations;
limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and industry, which may place us at a disadvantage compared with our competitors; and
limit our ability to borrow additional funds, even when necessary to maintain adequate liquidity, which would also limit our ability to further expand our business.
The occurrence of any of the foregoing factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Further, the company’s ability to make scheduled payments of the principal of, potential Test Date payments of, to pay interest or royalties on, or to refinance any current or future indebtedness, including the related-party promissory notes or the revenue interest liability, depends on our future performance, which is subject to economic, financial, competitive and other factors beyond our control. Our business may not generate sufficient cash flows from operations in the future to service our indebtedness, pay the revenue interest liability, and make necessary capital expenditures. If we are unable to generate such cash flows, we may be required to adopt one or more alternatives, such as selling assets, restructuring indebtedness, including the revenue interest liability, or obtaining additional equity or equity-linked capital on terms that may be onerous or highly dilutive. Our ability to refinance our indebtedness, including the revenue interest liability, at maturity or otherwise, will depend on the capital markets and our financial condition at such time. We may not be able to engage in any of these activities or engage in these activities on desirable terms, which could result in a default on our debt obligations.
There can be no assurance that we can refinance the related-party promissory notes or revenue interest liability or what terms will be available in the market at the time of refinancing. Furthermore, if prevailing interest rates or other factors at the time of refinancing result in higher interest rates upon refinancing, then the interest expense relating to the refinancing would increase. These risks could materially adversely affect our financial condition, cash flows and results of operations.
The value of our warrants outstanding and the revenue interest liability are subject to potentially material increases and decreases based on fluctuations in the price of our common stock or projected sales and the probability of specific events, which may affect our results of operations and financial position and could adversely affect our stock price.
In connection with our registered direct offerings, during the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 we entered into warrant agreements with certain institutional investors that allows such investors to purchase up to an aggregate total of 37,732,820 shares of our common stock at exercise prices ranging from $3.2946 per share to $6.60 share. As of December 31, 2023, all of the warrants were exercisable and had expiration dates ranging from December 12, 2024 to July 24, 2026.
We account for the warrants as derivative instruments, and changes in the fair value of the warrants are included in other expense, net, on the consolidated statement of operations for each reporting period. At December 31, 2023, the fair value of warrant liabilities included in the consolidated balance sheet was $118.8 million. We use the Black-Scholes option pricing model
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to determine the fair value of the warrants. As a result, the valuation of these derivative instruments is subjective, and the Black-Scholes option pricing model requires the input of subjective assumptions, including the expected stock price volatility and probability of a fundamental transaction (a strategic merger or sale). Changes in these assumptions can materially affect the fair value estimate. We could, at any point in time, ultimately incur amounts different than the carrying value, which could have a significant impact on our results of operations and financial position.
We account for the revenue interest liability as a liability, net of a debt discount comprised of deferred issuance costs, the fair value of a freestanding option agreement related to the SPOA, and the fair value of embedded derivatives requiring bifurcation on the consolidated balance sheet. The company imputes interest expense associated with this liability using the effective interest rate method. The effective interest rate is calculated based on the rate that would enable the debt to be repaid in full over the anticipated life of the arrangement. Interest expense is recognized over the estimated term on the consolidated statement of operations. The interest rate on the liability and the underlying value of the bifurcated embedded derivative may vary during the term of the agreement depending on a number of factors, including the level of actual and forecasted net sales, and in the case of the derivative, specific probabilities associated with RIPA Put/Call events or Test Date payments underlying our Monte Carlo analysis. The company evaluates the interest rate quarterly based on actual and forecasted net sales utilizing the prospective method. A significant increase or decrease in actual or forecasted net sales will materially impact the revenue interest liability and/or the bifurcated embedded derivative, interest expense, and the time period for repayment.
Fluctuations in warrant, revenue interest liability, and derivative values and changes in the assumptions and factors used in the model may impact our operating results, making it difficult to forecast our operating results and making period-to-period comparisons less predictive of future performance. In one or more future quarters, our results of operations may fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. In that event, the market price of our common stock could decline. In addition, the market price of our common stock may fluctuate or decline regardless of our operating performance.
The accounting method for convertible debt securities could have a material effect on our reported financial results.
In accordance with FASB ASC Topic 470-50, Debt – Modifications and Extinguishments (ASC 470-50), we recorded amendments to our related-party promissory notes entered into on September 11, 2023 under the debt modification accounting model, as the amendments were not substantially different than the terms of the promissory notes prior to the amendment. Under this model, the unamortized debt discounts from the promissory notes are amortized as an adjustment of interest expense over the remaining term of modified promissory notes using the effective interest rate method. Also, the increase in fair value of the embedded conversion feature from the debt modification was accounted for as a debt discount to the $200.0 million convertible note that is not recorded at fair value with a corresponding increase in additional paid-in capital. In addition, we recorded amendments to our related-party promissory notes entered into on December 29, 2023 under the debt extinguishment model, and as a result recognized a total net gain on extinguishment of $36.1 million, which was recorded in additional paid-in capital, on the consolidated statement of stockholders’ deficit, as the debt was acquired from entities under common control. As a result of the debt amendments, we will be required to record a greater amount of non-cash interest expense in current periods presented as a result of the amortization of the discount associated with certain promissory notes. We will either report lower net income or a higher net loss in our consolidated financial results because FASB ASC Topic 470-20, Debt with Conversion and Other Options, requires interest to include both the current period’s amortization of the debt discount and the instrument’s coupon interest, which could adversely affect our reported or future financial results and the trading price of our common stock.
We invest our cash on hand in various financial instruments which are subject to risks that could adversely affect our business, results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.
We have typically invested our cash in a variety of financial instruments, including investment-grade short- to intermediate-term corporate debt securities, government-sponsored securities and European bonds; however, after our entry into the RIPA, we can no longer invest our excess funds in corporate or European bonds. Certain of our investments are subject to credit, liquidity, market, and interest rate risk. Such risks, including the failure or severe financial distress of the financial institutions that hold our cash, cash equivalents and investments, may result in a loss of liquidity, impairment to our investments, realization of substantial future losses, or a complete loss of the investments in the long-term, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, liquidity and financial condition. To manage the risk to our investments, we maintain an investment policy that, among other things, limits the amount that we may invest in any one issue or any single issuer and requires us to only invest in high credit quality securities to preserve liquidity.
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Our ability to use NOLs and research and development credits to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.
In general, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Code, a corporation that undergoes an ownership change is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change NOLs or credits, to offset future taxable income or taxes. For these purposes, an ownership change generally occurs where the aggregate stock ownership of one or more stockholders or groups of stockholders who owns at least 5% of a corporation’s stock increases its ownership by more than 50 percentage points over its lowest ownership percentage within a specified testing period. We have not conducted a complete study to assess whether a change of control has occurred or whether there have been multiple changes of control since inception due to the significant complexity and cost associated with such a study. If we have experienced a change of control, as defined by Section 382, at any time since inception (including as a result of the March 2021 merger which pursuant to which NantKwest and NantCell combined their businesses), utilization of the NOL carryforwards or research and development tax credit carryforwards would be subject to an annual limitation under Section 382. Any limitation may result in expiration of a portion of the NOL carryforwards or research and development tax credit carryforwards before utilization. In addition, our NOLs or credits may also be impaired under state law. Accordingly, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of our NOLs or credits.
Since we will need to raise substantial additional funding to finance our operations, we may experience further ownership changes in the future, some of which may be outside of our control. Limits on our ability to use our pre-change NOLs or credits to offset U.S. federal taxable income could potentially result in increased future tax liability to us if we earn net taxable income in the future. In addition, under the legislation commonly referred to as the TCJA, as modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the amount of NOLs generated in taxable periods beginning after December 31, 2017, that we are permitted to deduct in any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2020 is limited to 80% of our taxable income in such year, where taxable income is determined without regard to the NOL deduction itself. The TCJA allows post-2017 unused NOLs to be carried forward indefinitely. Similar rules may apply under state tax laws.
Our transfer pricing policies may be subject to challenge by the IRS or other taxing authorities.
Our intercompany relationships are subject to complex transfer pricing regulations administered by taxing authorities in various jurisdictions. The relevant taxing authorities may disagree with our determinations as to the value of assets sold or acquired or income and expenses attributable to specific jurisdictions. If such a disagreement were to occur, and our position were not sustained, we could be required to pay additional taxes, interest and penalties, which could result in one-time tax charges, higher effective tax rates, reduced cash flows, and lower overall profitability of our operations. We believe that our consolidated financial statements reflect adequate reserves to cover such a contingency, but there can be no assurances in that regard.
Unanticipated changes in effective tax rates or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income or other tax returns could expose us to greater than anticipated tax liabilities.
The tax laws applicable to our business, including the laws of the U.S. and other jurisdictions, are subject to interpretation and certain jurisdictions may aggressively interpret their laws in an effort to raise additional tax revenue. It is possible that tax authorities may disagree with certain positions we have taken, are currently taking or will take, and any adverse outcome of such a review or audit could have a negative effect on our financial position and results of operations. Further, the determination of our provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment by management, and there are transactions where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. Although we believe that our estimates are reasonable, the ultimate tax outcome may differ from the amounts recorded on the consolidated financial statements and may materially affect our financial results in the period or periods for which such determination is made.
In addition, tax laws are dynamic and subject to change as new laws are passed and new interpretations of the law are issued or applied. For example, in August 2022, the U.S. enacted the IRA, which imposes a 15% minimum tax on the adjusted financial statement income of certain large corporations, as well as a 1% percent excise tax on corporate stock repurchases by publicly-traded companies. Additionally, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, the Code eliminated the right to deduct research and development expenditures currently and requires taxpayers to capitalize and amortize U.S. and foreign research and development expenditures over 5 and 15 tax years, respectively. These updates, as well as any other changes to tax laws that are enacted, could adversely affect our tax liability.
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Risks Related to the Discovery, Development and Commercialization of our Product Candidates
We will be substantially dependent on the success of our product candidates and cannot guarantee that these product candidates will successfully complete development, receive regulatory approval or be successfully commercialized.
From inception through the date of this Annual Report, we have generated minimal revenue from non-exclusive license agreements related to our cell lines, the sale of our bioreactors and related consumables, and grant programs. We have no clinical products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue from product candidates that are under development. In May 2022, we announced the submission of a BLA to the FDA for our product candidate, Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease. On May 9, 2023, the FDA delivered a CRL to us regarding the BLA filed in May 2022, indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the original BLA submission in its initial form, and the FDA made recommendations to address the issues raised. On October 23, 2023, we announced that we had completed the resubmission of the BLA addressing the issues in the CRL. On October 26, 2023, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA resubmission for review and considered it as a complete response to the CRL. The FDA has set a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024. While we believe the BLA resubmission addresses the issues identified in the CRL, there is no guarantee that the FDA will ultimately agree that such issues have been successfully addressed and resolved. It is unclear when the FDA will approve our BLA, if at all.
We have invested a significant portion of our efforts and financial resources in the development of our main product candidates, N-803, our novel antibody-cytokine fusion protein, second-generation hAd5 and saRNA vaccine candidates, and our NK cell therapy candidates. Our product candidates will require additional clinical and non-clinical development, regulatory approval, commercial manufacturing arrangements, enhancement of our commercial organization and service providers, significant marketing efforts, and further investment before we can generate any revenues from product sales. We expect to invest heavily in these product candidates as well as in our other existing product candidates and in any future product candidates that we may develop. Our product candidates are susceptible to the risks of failure inherent at any stage of product development, including the appearance of unexpected adverse events or failure to achieve primary endpoints in clinical trials. Furthermore, we cannot assure you that we will meet our timelines for current or future clinical trials, which may be delayed or not completed for a number of reasons. Additionally, our ability to generate revenues from our combination therapy products will also depend on the availability of the other therapies, including BCG, with which our products are intended to be used. We currently generate no meaningful revenues from the sale of any product candidates, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a product.
The CRL we received from the FDA for the BLA has delayed, and may decrease the likelihood of, ultimate approval and successful commercialization of our lead product candidate in the U.S. and potentially other markets.
In May 2022, we announced the submission of a BLA to the FDA for our product candidate, Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease. In July 2022, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA for review and set a target PDUFA action date of May 23, 2023. On May 9, 2023, the FDA delivered a CRL to us regarding the BLA filed in May 2022, indicating that it had determined that it could not approve the original BLA submission in its initial form, and the FDA made recommendations to address the issues raised. On October 23, 2023, we announced that we had completed the resubmission of the BLA addressing the issues in the CRL. On October 26, 2023, we announced that the FDA had accepted our BLA resubmission for review and considered it as a complete response to the CRL. The FDA has set a new user fee goal date (PDUFA date) of April 23, 2024.
There can be no assurance that the FDA will ultimately agree that the issues raised in the CRL have been successfully addressed and resolved in the BLA resubmission. Further, any inability to successfully work with the FDA to find a satisfactory solution to address any concerns in a timely manner or at all during the review process for the BLA, including any inability to provide the FDA with data, analysis or other information sufficient to support an approval of the BLA, may adversely impact the prospects for FDA approval. In addition, the results from any FDA re-inspection of any facility including those of our third-party CMOs may further delay, or adversely impact, potential approval. It is unclear when the FDA will approve our BLA, if at all. The CRL and any subsequent resulting delay in the development and approval of such product candidate may prevent, decrease and/or delay expected revenue. Any of these risks could have a material impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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We are developing product candidates in combination with other therapies, which exposes us to additional risks.
We are developing product candidates in combination with one or more other therapies. We are studying N-803 therapy along with other products and product candidates, such as BCG, PD-L1 t-haNK, hAd5 and yeast TAAs, and aldoxorubicin. If we choose to develop a product candidate for use in combination with an approved therapy, we are subject to the risk that the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions could revoke approval of, or that safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues could arise with the therapy used in combination with our product candidate. The FDA may require us to use more complex clinical trial designs in order to evaluate the contribution of each product and product candidate to any observed effects. To the extent that we do not have rights to already approved products, this may require us to work with another company to satisfy such a requirement or increase our cost of development. It is possible that the results of these trials could show that any positive results are attributable to the already approved product. Following product approval, the FDA may require that products used in conjunction with each other be cross labeled for combined use. If the therapies we use in combination with our product candidates are replaced as the standard of care for the indications we choose for any of our product candidates, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to conduct additional clinical trials. The occurrence of any of these risks could result in our own products, if approved, being removed from the market or being less successful commercially.
In addition, unapproved therapies face the same risks described with respect to our product candidates currently in development and clinical trials, including the potential for serious adverse effects, delays in clinical trials and lack of FDA approval. If the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities do not approve or revoke their approval of these other therapies, or if safety, efficacy, quality, manufacturing or supply issues arise with, the therapies we choose to evaluate in combination with any of our product candidates, we may be unable to obtain approval of or market such combination therapy.
Our clinical trials may fail to adequately demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.
Our research and development programs are at various stages of development. The clinical trials of our product candidates as well as the manufacturing and marketing of our product candidates will be subject to extensive and rigorous review and regulation by numerous government authorities in the U.S. and in other countries where we intend to test and market our product candidates. Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of any of our product candidates, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive preclinical testing and clinical trials that our product candidates are safe, pure, and potent for use in their target indications. Each product candidate must demonstrate an adequate risk versus benefit profile in its intended patient population and for its intended use. The risk/benefit profile required for product licensure will vary depending on these factors and may include not only the ability to show tumor shrinkage, but also adequate duration of response, a delay in the progression of the disease, and/or an improvement in survival. For example, response rates from the use of our product candidates or their contribution of effect, may not be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval unless we can also show an adequate duration of response. The clinical trials for our product candidates under development may not be completed on schedule and regulatory authorities may ultimately disagree with our chosen endpoints or may find that our studies or study results do not support product approval and we cannot guarantee that the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities will interpret the results as we do or accept the therapeutic effects as valid endpoints in clinical trials necessary for market approval or they may find that our clinical trial design or conduct does not meet the applicable approval requirement and more trials could be required before we submit our product candidates for approval. Success in early clinical trials does not ensure that large-scale clinical trials will be successful, nor does it predict final results. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety, tolerability and efficacy traits despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials and after reviewing test results, we or our collaborators may abandon projects that we might previously have believed to be promising.
In addition, we do not have data on possible harmful long-term effects of our product candidates and do not expect to have this data in the near future. As a result, our ability to generate clinical safety and effectiveness data sufficient to support submission of a marketing application or commercialization of our product candidates is uncertain and is subject to significant risk.
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The ongoing shortage of BCG may adversely impact market uptake of our product candidate, Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease, if such product candidate receives regulatory approval and it may delay our ability to execute our clinical trials or seek new approvals.
There is an ongoing shortage of BCG, which may adversely impact market uptake of our product candidate, Anktiva in combination with BCG for the treatment of patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease, if such product candidate receives regulatory approval. The BCG shortage may impact the number of patients who are treated with BCG for NMIBC with CIS with or without Ta or T1 disease, therefore limiting the pool of BCG-unresponsive patients who may be candidates for our product, if approved. In addition, the BCG shortage may also constrain the number of patients we can treat with our product since our product, if approved, will be administered along with BCG. In addition, Anktiva was awarded Fast Track designation by the FDA for the treatment of BCG-naïve NMIBC with CIS. We are currently enrolling patients in our Phase IIb blinded, randomized, two-cohort, open-label, multi-center trial of intravesical BCG plus Anktiva versus BCG alone, in BCG-naïve patients with high-grade NMIBC with CIS (Cohort A) and NMIBC papillary (Cohort B), which is impacted by the availability of BGC. If we do not complete new trials timely, our ability to generate clinical safety and effectiveness data sufficient to support submission of a marketing application or commercialization of our product candidates in new indications could harm our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition.
We may choose to expend our limited resources on programs that do not yield successful product candidates as opposed to indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
We do not have sufficient resources to pursue development of all or even a substantial portion of the potential opportunities that we believe will be afforded to us by our product candidates. Because we have limited resources and access to capital to fund our operations, our management must make strategic decisions as to which product candidates and indications to pursue and how much of our resources to allocate to each. Our management must also evaluate the benefits of developing in‑licensed or jointly-owned technologies, which in some circumstances we may be contractually obligated to pursue, relative to developing other product candidates, indications or programs. Our management has broad discretion to suspend, scale down, or discontinue any or all of these development efforts, or to initiate new programs to treat other diseases. If we select and commit resources to opportunities that we are unable to successfully develop, or we forego more promising opportunities, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be adversely affected.
Our projections regarding the market opportunities for our product candidates may not be accurate, and the actual market for our products, if approved, may be smaller than we estimate.
Since our current product candidates and any future product candidates will represent novel approaches to treating various conditions, it may be difficult, in any event, to accurately estimate the potential revenues from these product candidates. Accordingly, we may spend significant capital trying to obtain approval for product candidates that have an uncertain commercial market. Our projections of addressable patient populations that may benefit from treatment with our product candidates are based on our beliefs and estimates, and estimates of the therapeutic benefit and adverse event profile of our product candidates. These estimates, which have been derived from a variety of sources, including scientific literature, preclinical and clinical studies, surveys of clinics, patient foundations, or market research by third parties, may prove to be incorrect. Further, new studies or approvals of new therapeutics may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected. Additionally, the potentially addressable patient population for our product candidates may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates and may also be limited by the cost of our treatments and the reimbursement of those treatment costs by third-party payors. Even if we obtain significant market share for our product candidates, because the potential target populations may be small, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining regulatory approval for additional indications.
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There can be no assurance that we will complete a strategic partnership transaction on acceptable terms in accordance with our anticipated timeline, or at all.
Following our BLA resubmission, we continue to explore potential global strategic partnership transactions for commercialization of N-803 for certain indications. There is a risk that our ability to enter into such a strategic partnership transaction may be impacted by the CRL and BLA resubmission and associated review process. Further, there are other factors that may impact our ability, or decision, to enter into such a strategic partnership, including without limitation the put/call features of the RIPA that may be triggered by entry into a strategic partnership depending on its scope and terms, and ultimately there can be no assurance that we will complete a transaction on acceptable terms, or at all. If we do not execute a strategic partnership transaction in the near-term, it would eliminate a potential source of near-term funding, and may impact our ability to raise additional funds to meet our business needs. In addition, there are significant risks involved with building and managing a commercial infrastructure on a stand-alone basis, which could materialize in the event we do not execute a strategic partnership transaction, or depending on the geographic scope of any executed transaction.
Interim, initial, top-line and preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.
From time to time, we may publicly disclose preliminary, interim or top-line data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials, which are based on preliminary analyses of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the data related to the particular study or trial. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available or as patients from our clinical trials continue other treatments for their disease, or as inclusion and exclusion criteria is discussed with regulators. We also may make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the interim, top-line or preliminary results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Top-line data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, top-line data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects. Further, disclosure of interim data by us or by our competitors could result in volatility in the price of our common stock.
In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or clinical trial is typically selected from a more extensive amount of available information, and you or others may not agree with what we determine is material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure. If the interim, top-line or preliminary data that we report differ from actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, our product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition.
Our clinical trials may not be initiated or completed when we expect, or at all, they may take longer and cost more to complete than we project, our clinical trial costs may be higher than for more conventional therapeutic technologies or drug products, and we may be required to conduct additional clinical trials or modify current or future clinical trials based on feedback we receive from the FDA.
We cannot guarantee that any current or future clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all, or that any of our product candidates will receive regulatory approval. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of the clinical trial process, other events may cause us to stop a clinical trial temporarily or permanently, and our future clinical trials may not be successful.
Because our product candidates include, and we expect our future product candidates to include, candidates based on advanced therapy technologies, we expect that they will require extensive research and development and have substantial manufacturing costs. In addition, costs to treat patients and to treat potential side effects that may result from our product
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candidates can be significant. Some clinical trial sites may not bill, or obtain coverage from Medicare, Medicaid, or other third-party payors for some or all of these costs for patients enrolled in our clinical trials, and clinical trial sites outside of the U.S. may not reimburse for costs typically covered by third-party payors in the U.S., and as a result we may be required by those trial sites to pay such costs. Accordingly, our clinical trial costs are likely to be significantly higher per patient than those of more conventional therapeutic technologies or drug products.
Collaborations with other entities may be subject to additional delays because of the management of the trials, contract negotiations, the need to obtain agreement from multiple parties and the necessity of obtaining additional approvals for therapeutics used in the combination trials. These combination therapies will require additional testing and clinical trials will require additional FDA approval and will increase our future costs.
Any inability to successfully complete preclinical and clinical development could result in additional costs to us, slow down our product development and approval process or impair our ability to commence product sales and generate revenues. In addition, if we make manufacturing changes to our product candidates, we may be required to, or we may elect to, conduct additional trials to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. These changes may require FDA approval or notification and may not have their desired effect. The FDA may also not accept data from prior versions of the product to support an application, delaying our clinical trials or programs or necessitating additional clinical trials or preclinical studies. We may find that this change has unintended consequences that necessitates additional development and manufacturing work, additional clinical and preclinical studies, or that results in refusal to file or non-approval of a BLA and/or NDA.
Clinical trial delays could shorten any periods during which our product candidates have patent protection and may allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, which could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations. In addition, we have in the past experienced clinical holds imposed upon certain of our or investigator-led clinical trials for various reasons, and we may experience further clinical trial holds in the future. If we fail to commence or complete, or experience delays in, any of our planned clinical trials, our stock price and our ability to conduct our business as currently planned could be harmed.
Even if one of our product candidates is approved and commercialized, we may not become profitable.
If approved for marketing by applicable regulatory authorities, our ability to generate revenues from our product candidates will depend on our ability to:
price our product candidates competitively such that third-party and government reimbursement leads to broad product adoption;
prepare a broad network of clinical sites for administration of our product;
create market demand for our product candidates through our own or our partner’s marketing and sales activities, and any other arrangements to promote these product candidates that we may otherwise establish;
receive regulatory approval for the targeted patient population(s) and claims that are necessary or desirable for successful marketing;
manufacture product candidates through third-party CMOs or in our own manufacturing facilities or facilities owned by entities affiliated with Dr. Soon-Shiong in sufficient quantities and at acceptable quality and manufacturing cost to meet regulatory requirements and commercial demand at launch and thereafter;
establish and maintain agreements with wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and group purchasing organizations on commercially reasonable terms;
obtain, maintain, protect and enforce patent and other intellectual property protection and regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates;
successfully commercialize any of our product candidates that receive regulatory approval;
maintain compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and guidance specific to commercialization including interactions with health care professionals, patient advocacy groups, and communication of health care economic information to payors and formularies;
achieve market acceptance of our product candidates by patients, the medical community, and third-party payors;
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achieve appropriate reimbursement for our product candidates;
maintain a distribution and logistics network capable of product storage within our specifications and regulatory guidelines, and further capable of timely product delivery to commercial clinical sites;
effectively compete with other therapies or competitors; and
following launch, ensure that our product will be used as directed and that additional unexpected safety risks will not arise.
Even if the FDA approves N-803 for certain indications or in combination with other therapeutic products, and even if we obtain significant market share for it, because the potential target population may be small, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining regulatory approval for additional indications. The FDA often approves new therapies initially only for use in patients with relapsed and/or refractory metastatic disease, which may limit our patient population. Additionally, we may not be able to obtain the labeling claims necessary or desirable for the promotion of our product candidates.
In connection with our 2017 acquisition of Altor, we issued CVRs under which we agreed to pay the prior stockholders of Altor approximately $304.0 million of contingent consideration upon calendar-year worldwide net sales of N-803 exceeding