Company Quick10K Filing
ProLung
Price-0.00 EPS-1
Shares4 P/E0
MCap-0 P/FCF0
Net Debt4 EBIT-3
TEV4 TEV/EBIT-1
TTM 2019-03-31, in MM, except price, ratios
10-K 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-03-15
10-Q 2020-09-30 Filed 2020-11-13
S-1 2020-09-04 Public Filing
10-Q 2020-06-30 Filed 2020-09-16
10-Q 2020-03-31 Filed 2020-08-25
S-1 2020-02-28 Public Filing
10-K 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-07-15
10-Q 2019-09-30 Filed 2020-05-08
10-Q 2019-06-30 Filed 2020-03-04
10-Q 2019-03-31 Filed 2019-06-20
10-K 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-04-16
10-Q 2018-09-30 Filed 2018-11-14
10-Q 2018-06-30 Filed 2018-08-14
10-Q 2018-03-31 Filed 2018-05-21
10-K 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-04-17
10-Q 2017-09-30 Filed 2017-11-14
10-Q 2017-06-30 Filed 2017-08-14
10-Q 2017-03-31 Filed 2017-05-22
10-K 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-04-17
10-Q 2016-09-30 Filed 2016-11-14
10-Q 2016-06-30 Filed 2016-08-15
10-Q 2016-03-31 Filed 2016-05-16
10-K 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-04-14
10-Q 2015-09-30 Filed 2015-11-16
10-Q 2015-06-30 Filed 2015-08-13
10-Q 2015-03-31 Filed 2015-05-13
10-K 2014-12-31 Filed 2015-03-31
10-Q 2014-09-30 Filed 2014-11-14
10-Q 2014-06-30 Filed 2014-08-15
10-Q 2014-03-31 Filed 2014-05-14
10-K 2013-12-31 Filed 2014-04-03
10-Q 2013-09-30 Filed 2013-12-09
10-Q 2013-03-31 Filed 2013-10-17
10-Q 2013-03-31 Filed 2013-10-17
10-K 2012-12-31 Filed 2013-08-30
10-Q 2012-09-30 Filed 2012-11-19
10-Q 2012-06-30 Filed 2012-08-17
10-Q 2012-03-31 Filed 2012-05-21
8-K 2020-05-27
8-K 2020-05-22
8-K 2020-03-09
8-K 2020-02-27
8-K 2020-02-13
8-K 2020-02-12
8-K 2019-11-27
8-K 2019-11-26
8-K 2019-08-07
8-K 2019-08-07
8-K 2019-08-02
8-K 2019-06-10
8-K 2018-12-03
8-K 2018-11-01
8-K 2018-10-25
8-K 2018-10-23
8-K 2018-10-02
8-K 2018-10-01
8-K 2018-09-19
8-K 2018-09-13
8-K 2018-09-05
8-K 2018-08-27
8-K 2018-08-15
8-K 2018-07-30
8-K 2018-07-10
8-K 2018-06-26
8-K 2018-02-22

LUNG 10K Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Information
Part III
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions
Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16. Form 10 - K Summary.
EX-4.3 exhibit4_3descriptionofcom.htm
EX-10.13 exhibit10_13davidlehmanoff.htm
EX-21.1 exhibit21_1listofsubsidiar.htm
EX-23.1 exhibit23_1bdoconsentfy20.htm
EX-31.1 exhibit31_1x123120.htm
EX-31.2 exhibit31_2x123120.htm
EX-32.1 exhibit32_1x123120.htm
EX-32.2 exhibit32_2x123120.htm

ProLung Earnings 2020-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow
3.72.00.3-1.3-3.0-4.72012201420172020
Assets, Equity
0.3-0.1-0.5-1.0-1.4-1.82012201420172020
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
2.61.81.00.3-0.5-1.32012201420172020
Ops, Inv, Fin

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission File Number 001-39562
PULMONX CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware
77-0424412
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification Number)
700 Chesapeake Drive
Redwood City, California 94063
1-650-364-0400
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of registrant’s principal executive offices)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $0.001 par value per shareLUNGThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
Securities registered pursuant to section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well‑known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. ☐ Yes ☒ No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ☐ Yes ☒ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. ☒ Yes ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S‑T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). ☒ Yes ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). ☐ Yes No
As of March 4, 2021 there were 35,689,881 shares of the Registrant’s Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share, outstanding.
The Registrant was not a public company as of the last business day of its most recently completed second fiscal quarter and, therefore, cannot calculate the aggregate market value of its voting equity held by non-affiliates as of such date.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement relating to its 2021 annual meeting of stockholders (the “2021 Proxy Statement”) are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K where indicated. The 2021 Proxy Statement will be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which this Annual Report on Form 10-K relates.




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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
PART I
PART II
PART III
PART IV



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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or Exchange Act. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends affecting the financial condition of our business. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time those statements are made and/or management’s good faith beliefs as of that time with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical facts. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “might,” “will,” “objective,” “intend,” “should,” “could,” “can,” “would,” “expect,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “project,” “target,” “design,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “plan” or the negative of these terms, or similar expressions and comparable terminology intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and are based on assumptions and subject to risks and uncertainties, including those set forth in Part I, Item 1A “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
our ability to design, develop, manufacture and market innovative products to treat patients with challenging medical conditions, particularly those with COPD and emphysema;
our expectations regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;
our expected future growth, including growth in international sales;
our expected future growth of our sales and marketing organization;
the size and growth potential of the markets for our products, and our ability to serve those markets;
the rate and degree of market acceptance of our products;
coverage and reimbursement for procedures performed using our products;
the performance of third parties in connection with the development of our products, including third-party suppliers;
regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;
our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval or clearance of our products on expected timelines;
our plans to research, develop and commercialize our products and any other approved or cleared product;
our ability to retain and hire our senior management and other highly qualified personnel;
the development, regulatory approval, efficacy and commercialization of competing products and technologies in our industry;
our expectations regarding the period during which we qualify as an emerging growth company under the JOBS Act;
our ability to develop and maintain our corporate infrastructure, including our internal controls;


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our financial performance and capital requirements; and
our expectations regarding our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our products, as well as our ability to operate our business without infringing the intellectual property rights of others.
All forward-looking statements are based on information available to us on the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and we will not update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, except as required by law. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and other written and oral forward-looking statements made by us from time to time, are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward- looking statements, and you should not regard these 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, or at all. Factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to, those discussed in the following discussion and within Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, 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.
All brand names or trademarks appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective holders. Unless the context requires otherwise, references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to “Pulmonx” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Pulmonx Corporation.
Risk Factors Summary
Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. Importantly, this summary does not address all the risks and uncertainties that we face. Additional discussion of the risks and uncertainties summarized in this risk factor summary, as well as other risks and uncertainties that we face, can be found under “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statement” and Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The below summary is qualified in its entirety by those more complete discussions of such risks and uncertainties. You should consider carefully the risks and uncertainties described under Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K as part of your evaluation of an investment in our common stock:
We have a history of significant net losses, which we expect to continue, and we may not be able to achieve or sustain profitability in the future;
We have limited experience marketing and selling our solution;
We currently rely on a single product, the Zephyr Valve, which can only be marketed for limited indications, and if we are not successful in commercializing the Zephyr Valve, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be negatively affected;
Our business is dependent on hospital, physician and patient adoption of our solution as a treatment for severe emphysema. If hospitals, physicians or patients are unwilling to change current practices to adopt our solution, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations;
If we fail to receive access to hospital facilities our sales may decrease;
A pandemic, epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease in the United States or worldwide, including the outbreak of the novel strain of coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has adversely affected our business;
Use of the Zephyr Valve involves risks and may result in complications, including pneumothorax or death, and is contraindicated in certain patients, which may limit adoption and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations;


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If we are unable to achieve and maintain adequate levels of coverage or reimbursement for our solution, or any future products we may seek to commercialize, or if patients are left with significant out-of-pocket costs, our commercial success may be severely hindered;
If we fail to retain marketing and sales personnel and, as we grow, fail to increase our marketing and sales capabilities or develop broad awareness of our solution in a cost-effective manner, we may not be able to generate revenue growth;
We have limited long-term data regarding the safety and effectiveness of our solution, including the Zephyr Valve. The only safety and effectiveness data of our solution, including the Zephyr Valve, is limited to one year following placement and we are required to conduct extension studies to follow up on safety and effectiveness out to five years;
We have limited experience manufacturing our products in significant commercial quantities and we face manufacturing risks that may adversely affect our ability to manufacture our products, reduce our gross margins and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations;
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes our future operating results difficult to predict and could cause our operating results to fall below expectations or any guidance we may provide;
The sizes of the markets for our current and future products have not been established with precision and may be smaller than we estimate and may decline. Certain patients may not have regions of the lung with little to no collateral ventilation, making them poor candidates for the Zephyr Valve. In addition, if the overall rate of smokers continues to decline, this may eventually decrease the number of patients suffering from COPD and emphysema and, accordingly, who would benefit from our solution;
We expect to continue to incur net losses for the next several years and we expect to require substantial additional capital to finance our planned operations, which may include future equity and debt financings. This additional capital may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. Our failure to obtain additional financing when needed on acceptable terms, or at all, could force us to delay, limit, reduce or eliminate our commercialization, sales and marketing efforts, product development programs or other operations;
Our products and operations are subject to extensive government regulation and oversight both in the United States and abroad. If we fail to obtain and maintain necessary regulatory approvals for the Zephyr Valve and related products, or if approvals for future products and indications are delayed or not issued, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations; and
We may become a party to intellectual property litigation or administrative proceedings that could be costly and could interfere with our ability to sell and market our products.


Table of Contents
PART I
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Overview
We are a commercial-stage medical technology company that provides a minimally invasive treatment for patients with severe emphysema, a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Our solution, which is comprised of the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve (Zephyr Valve), the Chartis Pulmonary Assessment System (Chartis System) and the StratX Lung Analysis Platform (StratX Platform), is designed to treat severe emphysema patients who, despite medical management, are still profoundly symptomatic and either do not want or are ineligible for surgical approaches. We estimate our solution currently addresses approximately 500,000 patients in the United States and 700,000 patients in select international markets, which represents a global market opportunity of approximately $12 billion.
We have a compelling body of clinical evidence with over 100 scientific articles published regarding the clinical benefits of Zephyr Valves, including in The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Multiple randomized controlled clinical trials have demonstrated that patients selected with the Chartis System and successfully treated with Zephyr Valves have shown statistically and clinically significant improvements in lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life compared to medical management alone.
In June 2018, we received pre-market approval (PMA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a result of our breakthrough technology designation. The Zephyr Valve is now commercially available in more than 25 countries, with over 80,000 valves used to treat more than 20,000 patients. We have established reimbursement in major markets in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific and the Zephyr Valve has been included in treatment guidelines for COPD worldwide.
lung-20201231_g1.jpg
There are several treatment options for patients with emphysema, depending on the level of severity of the disease, ranging from medical management to more invasive surgical options. However, these treatment options have significant limitations for patients with severe emphysema.
Initial treatment for emphysema is generally limited to medications that primarily target airway obstruction and reduce inflammation, but do not address the underlying lung tissue destruction. As the disease worsens, symptoms increase despite optimized drug therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation exercises and supplemental oxygen.
As patients enter the severe phase, many become increasingly unable to engage in the most basic daily activities as a result of the persistent feeling of breathlessness and this reduces their overall health status each year. At this point, physicians may refer patients to thoracic surgeons for single or double lung transplantation or for lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), in which hyperinflated tissue is cut away and removed. These invasive surgical
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procedures involve substantial risk of complications, prolonged hospital stays and high mortality. In addition, many patients do not qualify for these procedures. Patients with severe emphysema generally experience a worse quality of life than patients with lung cancer. We believe there is both an urgent clinical need and a strong market opportunity for a solution that is safe, effective and minimally invasive.
Our solution, which is comprised of the Zephyr Valve, Chartis System and StratX Platform, is designed to address the need for a more effective, minimally invasive treatment option for patients with severe emphysema, offering bronchoscopic lung volume reduction without surgery and its associated risks. Zephyr Valves are indicated for bronchoscopic treatment of adult patients with hyperinflation associated with severe emphysema in regions of the lung that have little to no collateral ventilation. During the one-time bronchoscopic procedure, Zephyr Valves are placed in the airways to occlude the most diseased parts of the lung, allowing trapped air to escape until the lobe is reduced in size. The intended result is a reduction in lung volume and hyperinflation in the targeted lobe, allowing healthier parts of the lung to expand and take in more air. Patients who are successfully treated with the Zephyr Valve report improved breathing and the ability to go back to doing everyday tasks more easily.
We believe our solution provides the following important benefits:
Significant, durable improvements in lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life, demonstrated in a substantial body of clinical data;
Well-characterized safety profile, evidenced by the inclusion in global treatment recommendations and more than 20,000 patients treated globally with the Zephyr Valve;
High procedural success driven by innovative and effective patient assessment tools; and
Minimally invasive procedure typically lasting less than an hour.
Over 100 scientific articles have been published regarding the clinical benefits of Zephyr Valves, including multiple meta-analyses, review articles, cost-effectiveness analyses and risk-benefit analyses. The Zephyr Valve showed statistically significant improvements in lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life when compared to medical management alone in multiple randomized controlled clinical trials. Additionally, independent studies have demonstrated that Zephyr Valves deliver increases in the BODE Index (a multi-dimensional health status scoring system for patients with COPD) that have been associated with survival benefits.
The LIBERATE study, our pivotal study published in 2018, was a multicenter, multinational, randomized controlled clinical trial of Zephyr Valves that included 190 patients with severe emphysema and little to no collateral ventilation. All primary and secondary endpoints were statistically significant, including the proportion of patients achieving a clinically significant improvement in lung function as well as the mean improvements in exercise capacity, hyperinflation and quality of life. These outcomes were the result of a high rate of procedural success, with 84% of patients achieving a clinically meaningful reduction in treated lobe volume.
We market and sell our products in the United States through a direct sales organization. Our sales territory managers are focused on promoting awareness and increasing adoption of our solution primarily among the approximately 800 pulmonologists performing interventional pulmonary procedures and across approximately 500 high volume hospitals in the United States. We are expanding our commercial operations in the United States while continuing to foster our international growth. In international markets, we employ both direct and distributor-based sales models, with over 90% of our revenue generated in markets where we sell directly.
In the United States, our solution is reimbursed based on established Category I CPT and ICD-10 Procedure Coding System (PCS) codes and associated APC and MS-DRG payment groupings. Current reimbursement in the United States is believed to cover the hospital costs of the procedure and related inpatient care. Commercial payors such as Aetna, Humana, Health Care Service Corporation, and Highmark have issued positive coverage policies for the Zephyr Valve, and United Healthcare no longer considers the procedure unproven or experimental. Medicare covers our solution for patients when medically necessary, and other commercial insurers are approving pre-authorization
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requests on a case-by-case basis. Outside the United States, our solution is covered by major health systems across much of Europe, Australia and South Korea.
We generated revenue of $32.7 million, with a gross margin of 64.8% and a net loss of $32.2 million, for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to revenue of $32.6 million, with a gross margin of 68.8% and a net loss of $20.7 million, for the year ended December 31, 2019. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $242.7 million. We currently generate most of our revenue from the sales of Zephyr Valves and delivery catheters. We also generate a smaller amount of our revenue from our Chartis System, which is comprised of sales of the balloon catheters, usage fees and sales of the Chartis console. The StratX Platform, while used to identify patients eligible for treatment with Zephyr Valves, does not independently generate any revenue for us.
Our Market Opportunity
Overview of COPD and Emphysema
COPD refers to a group of lung diseases characterized by obstruction of airflow that interferes with normal breathing. In 2015, it affected approximately 175 million patients and was responsible for 3.2 million deaths globally. We estimate that there are approximately 8.5 million severe COPD patients in developed markets globally as of 2019. In the United States, COPD is the third leading cause of death and affected approximately 16 million Americans as of 2013.
Emphysema, a form of COPD, which accounts for approximately 25% of all COPD patients, is a debilitating and life-threatening disease that progressively destroys lung tissue, resulting in a diminishing ability to breathe and engage in the most basic daily activities, leading to a high mortality rate. Of the approximately 8.5 million global severe COPD patients, we estimate approximately 3.2 million have severe emphysema and approximately 5 million have severe chronic bronchitis. Of the approximately 3.2 million severe emphysema patients, we estimate that approximately 1.2 million may be eligible for treatment with Zephyr Valves, and an additional number may be able to be treated in the future with other technologies under development by us. We estimate this represents a global market opportunity of approximately $12 billion.
As of 2018, approximately 3.8 million patients in the United States were diagnosed with emphysema, of which roughly 1.5 million have severe emphysema. Of these 1.5 million severe emphysema patients, we estimate that approximately 500,000 patients would qualify for treatment with our Zephyr Valves, and an additional number may be able to be treated in the future with other technologies under development by us if successfully developed and approved. We estimate this represents a U.S. market opportunity of approximately $5 billion.
The lung damage caused by emphysema is irreversible. In patients with emphysema, diseased portions of the lung lose their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide due to damage to the air sacs, or alveoli. The diseased portions of the lung also lose elasticity, become over-inflated, and crowd out the healthier lung tissue. As a result, patients with emphysema experience shortness of breath, gradually losing their ability to engage in the most basic daily activities such as climbing a flight of stairs, walking or showering. Based on published literature, the five-year mortality rate for patients with severe emphysema is approximately 50%.

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The following graph shows an increased mortality rate for patients with more hyperinflation relative to patients with less hyperinflation.
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The inspiratory capacity-to-total-lung capacity (IC/TLC) ratio is an indirect measurement of lung hyperinflation. The graph above depicts two Kaplan-Meier survival analyses of (1) patients with an IC/TLC ratio greater than 25% and (2) patients with an IC/TLC less than or equal to 25%.
Emphysema is diagnosed through a combination of breathing tests and computed tomography (CT) imaging of the lungs. The diagnosis is typically done by a radiologist or a pulmonologist. Emphysema severity is evaluated using a standardized test called spirometry as well as the degree of patient symptoms.
Current Treatments for Emphysema and Their Limitations
There are several treatment options for patients with emphysema, depending on the level of severity of the disease, ranging from medical management to surgery. However, these treatment alternatives have significant limitations and in some cases are highly invasive.
Initial treatment for emphysema is generally limited to prescribing inhaled medications such as drugs that open the airways and reduce inflammation, which primarily target airway obstruction. However, as the disease becomes more severe, the effectiveness of drug therapy is diminished, and patients feel increasingly breathless. As the disease progresses, physicians may prescribe pulmonary rehabilitation exercises and supplemental oxygen, but these can be poorly tolerated by patients and often lose effectiveness with time. As patients enter the severe phase, many become increasingly unable to engage in the most basic daily activities as a result of the persistent feeling of breathlessness and this reduces their overall health status each year. At this point, physicians may refer patients to thoracic surgeons for LVRS, in which hyperinflated tissue is cut away and removed, or for single or double lung transplantation.
LVRS is an invasive surgery that involves cutting away diseased tissue to create space for the remaining lung to more fully inflate. LVRS was studied extensively in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT), which showed that while a broad group of patients gained quality of life and exercise capacity from the surgery, it also involved substantial risks of complications, prolonged hospital stays and even death. As a result of the NETT study, use of LVRS was restricted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to a subgroup of patients and can only be offered at a limited number of highly specialized medical centers.
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Lung transplantation involves surgically removing one or both lungs and replacing them with donor lungs. This procedure is highly time and resource intensive due to the complexity of the surgery. Even with a successful procedure and consistent use of anti-rejection medications, lung transplantation patients have a five-year survival rate on average. Due to these limitations, and constraints from limited donor supply, LVRS and lung transplantation combined have fewer than 2,000 procedures performed for COPD each year in the United States.
In addition to recently approved endobronchial valves, there are other approaches to a minimally invasive alternatives to LVRS, including the use of airway bypass, coils and vapor. However, to date, only endobronchial valves have demonstrated safety and effectiveness in FDA-approved investigational device exemption (IDE) studies in the United States.
Our Solution
Our solution, which is comprised of the Zephyr Valve, Chartis System and StratX Platform, is designed to treat severe emphysema patients who, despite medical management, are still profoundly symptomatic and either do not want or are ineligible for surgical approaches. Our solution is designed to address the need for a more effective, minimally invasive treatment option for patients with severe emphysema, offering bronchoscopic lung volume reduction without surgery and its associated risks.
Zephyr Valves are indicated for bronchoscopic treatment of adult patients with hyperinflation associated with severe emphysema in regions of the lung that have little to no collateral ventilation. During the one-time bronchoscopic procedure, Zephyr Valves are placed in the airways to occlude the most diseased parts of the lung, allowing trapped air to escape until the lobe is reduced in size. The intended result is a reduction in lung volume and hyperinflation in the targeted area, allowing healthier parts of the lung to expand and take in more air. Patients who are successfully treated with the Zephyr Valve report improved breathing and the ability to go back to doing everyday tasks more easily. When combined with the Chartis System for informed patient selection and treatment planning, Zephyr Valves have been shown to have successful procedure rates of 84-90% in clinical trials.
lung-20201231_g3.jpg
We believe our solution provides the following important benefits:
Significant, durable improvements in lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life, demonstrated in a substantial body of clinical data;
Well-characterized safety profile, evidenced by the inclusion in global treatment recommendations and more than 20,000 patients treated globally with Zephyr Valve;
High procedural success driven by innovative and effective patient assessment tools; and
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Minimally invasive procedure typically lasting less than an hour.
In addition, we believe our solution provides several benefits to other key stakeholders:
For hospitals, the Zephyr Valve represents a new service line with potential economic benefits, driving additional patients to their facilities. Patients who are evaluated require a comprehensive workup that may unveil other health conditions such as heart disease or cancer, which also may require treatment.
For physicians, the Zephyr Valve enables treatment for a patient population with few alternatives, and the combination of using the StratX Platform and Chartis System are designed to enable a simple, predictable and efficient patient selection process.
For payors, treatment with the Zephyr Valve has been demonstrated to result in fewer complications and quicker recovery than invasive surgical alternatives and may reduce hospital stays for COPD and incidence of respiratory failure. We believe the combination of using the StratX Platform and Chartis System enables selection and treatment of patients most likely to benefit from our solution.
Treatment with Zephyr Valves
Patient Selection and Treatment Planning
Patients with advanced COPD routinely undergo a thorough diagnostic workup, which typically includes a high-resolution CT scan of their lungs to determine if they have severe emphysema and hyperinflation. If the patient meets medical eligibility criteria for Zephyr Valves, their CT scan data will be uploaded to our secure cloud-based CT analysis service, the StratX Platform. The treating physician receives an easy-to-read report that we designed for our solution (StratX Lung Report) and based on the report, CT scan and other clinical data, decides if the patient is a good candidate for treatment with Zephyr Valves and which lobes may be the best target for treatment. On the day of the procedure, a flexible camera called a bronchoscope is inserted into the lungs, and using the balloon catheter and console comprising the Chartis System, the physician can determine the presence or absence of collateral ventilation and confirm if the target lobe is likely to respond to treatment. If the assessment shows that there is little to no collateral ventilation to the target lobe (which would refill the lobe with air and limit benefit from the valves), the physician then proceeds to place Zephyr Valves in all airways leading to the target lobe. If there is collateral ventilation in the lobe, the physician may measure another lobe for possible treatment, or decide not to treat the patient with valves.
Placement of the Zephyr Valves
The Zephyr Valve is typically implanted under general anesthesia or conscious sedation. Using our Endobronchial Delivery Catheter (EDC) in a simple, one-step process, physicians select the optimal valve size for each airway. The valves are loaded into the delivery catheter and deployed through the bronchoscope using a controlled release mechanism to enable optimal placement. We offer four valve sizes to accommodate a broad range of airway anatomy that physicians may encounter. Following placement of valves, the patient is kept in the hospital, typically for three nights, to monitor for any side effects including pneumothorax. If a patient develops a pneumothorax, their hospital stay is typically extended by a week.
Zephyr Valves
Each of the Zephyr Valves consists of a one-way silicone duckbill valve suspended inside a self-expanding frame made of shape-memory metal, called Nitinol. The Zephyr Valve is designed to be easily and accurately sized and offers controlled and accurate deployment at the target location. The Zephyr Valve is also designed to resist fractures or breakage, adapt to changes in airway size and stay in place following deployment.
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The following diagram depicts the four sizes of Zephyr Valves (two different diameters and four lengths).
lung-20201231_g4.jpg
4.0-LP EBV4.0 EBV
5.5-LP EBV
5.5 EBV
Physicians select the optimal valve size for each airway to be treated using an EDC that includes sizing wings and depth markers, which allows the physician to perform quick and accurate sizing.
lung-20201231_g5.jpg
The Zephyr Valve is then loaded into the EDC.
lung-20201231_g6.jpg
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Zephyr Valves offer a controlled, stepwise deployment for easy and accurate placement in the target airway. Once deployed, the valve is held in place by the radial expansion force of the housing. Typically, multiple valves are used to obstruct all airways leading to the target lobe; in clinical studies, an average of four valves per patient were used.
lung-20201231_g7.jpg
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Once the lobe is fully obstructed, air vents out of the treated lobe and is unable to re-enter, causing a reduction in hyperinflation. The treated lobe shrinks in volume over time, allowing the remaining portions of the lung to expand and to restore diaphragm position, making breathing easier.
lung-20201231_g11.jpg
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The Zephyr Valve is designed to be a permanent implant, but unlike surgery, the procedure can be reversed if necessary.
The most common serious complications of treatment with Zephyr Valves can include pneumothorax, worsening of COPD symptoms, hemoptysis, pneumonia, dyspnea, respiratory failure and, in rare cases, death. See “Clinical Trials and Results” for a discussion of complications related to Zephyr Valve, including pneumothoraces and death.
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StratX Platform
The StratX Platform is a cloud-based quantitative CT analysis service that provides physicians with an easy-to-read report that we designed for our solution (StratX Lung Report) that includes information on emphysema destruction, fissure completeness and lobar volume to help identify target lobes for treatment with Zephyr Valves. The StratX Platform is designed to enable physicians to:
Screen treatment candidates non-invasively;
Prioritize between multiple potential treatment targets, if applicable;
Enhance case planning and optimize procedure time; and
Educate themselves and their patients using the simple to read StratX Lung Report.
In order to make the StratX Platform available to physicians, we contract with a third-party cloud service provider. This third-party cloud service enables physicians to upload CT scan data while removing protected health information (PHI) of patients from that data, in case the physicians have, inadvertently, not removed the PHI themselves. We also contract with additional third-party service providers to analyze the CT scan data using their proprietary software, and provide quantitative results via the StratX Lung Report. The StratX Lung Report is then made available to physicians in the third-party cloud service. The software of each of these third-party service providers has received either 510(k) approval or a CE mark. We provide exclusive access to physicians to their StratX accounts and cases and monitor this CT scan upload and analysis process to ensure quality control.
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A sample StratX Lung Report is below, with each section briefly described afterwards.
lung-20201231_g13.jpg
1.Summary Graphic: The goal of the Zephyr Valve treatment is to completely obstruct and reduce the volume of a target lobe, thereby reducing hyperinflation and improving breathing. In selecting a target lobe, physicians are instructed to look for higher levels of emphysema destruction and presence of complete or nearly complete fissures with neighboring lobes (which has been associated with absence of collateral ventilation and likely response to therapy). The StratX Lung Report contains tabulated data on fissure completeness by lobe, destruction score by lobe and lobar volume. An infographic “key” for easy interpretation of the data is also included. This infographic includes color coding representing the level of emphysema destruction (with darker colors representing lobes with more destruction) and different levels of fissure completeness relative to a target lobe (with darker and more complete lines having greater completeness).
2.Fissure Completeness: Fissure completeness has been shown to be a predictor of success and a surrogate for collateral ventilation between the target and the neighboring lobes. The StratX Lung Report displays fissure completeness values “by lobe,” meaning the values are computed as a percentage of the total area of the fissure across the lobar boundary. The value of fissure completeness between each lobar region is represented with a dark solid, light solid or dotted line. The dark solid line represents fissures that are ≥95% intact. The light solid line represents fissures that are 80-95% intact. The dotted line represents fissures that are <80% intact. A fissure completeness score of <80% indicates the likely presence of collateral ventilation in that lobe, indicating that the lobe should not be considered for treatment with Zephyr Valves.
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For fissure completeness values of >80%, fissure completeness should be confirmed using the Chartis System to confirm lobe eligibility.
3.Emphysema Destruction Scoring: Lobar destruction values of greater than 50% at -910 Hounsfield Units (a measure of tissue density) have been commonly used as an inclusion criterion for various clinical trials of Zephyr Valve treatment. The StratX Lung Report also includes lobar destruction values using -950 Hounsfield Units. In the report and summary view, the degree of shading of a lobe and the numbers within the lobe represent the level of destruction. Lobes with less than 50% destruction are colored white and are usually not considered as potential targets for Zephyr Valve treatment.
4.Inspiratory Volume: The inspiratory volume represents the volume of each lobe in mL. The inspiratory volume can help to identify the lobes with the largest volume representing hyperinflation and ones that may be a good target for Zephyr Valve treatment.
To use the StratX Platform, users must have an account set up with us. After the physician captures a CT scan of the patient’s chest according to the StratX parameters, the CT scan is de-identified of patient information and the hospital staff uploads the CT scan to our secure encrypted server where it is analyzed using validated algorithms within the StratX Platform. The StratX Platform generates a report that is checked by a trained technician for accuracy and completeness and uploaded to the hospital’s account within two to three working days, where it can be downloaded and reviewed by the treating physician.
We continue to gather scan data and refine our algorithms in the StratX Platform. We believe that our high volume of reports and data are a source of durable competitive advantage.
Chartis Pulmonary Assessment System
The Chartis System is a proprietary balloon catheter and console system with flow and pressure sensors designed to assess the presence of collateral ventilation and to accurately predict responders to Zephyr Valve treatment. The Chartis System consists of a single-patient-use catheter with a central lumen and a balloon at its tip and a console to allow for the assessment of airflow in the targeted lobe.
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When the balloon is inflated, the target lobe is blocked, and air can only escape through the catheter’s central lumen.
lung-20201231_g15.jpg
Airflow and pressure are displayed on the console of the Chartis System allowing for a measurement of collateral ventilation in the targeted lobe. The system works with spontaneous breathing or mechanical ventilation. If the flow of air leaving the occluded lobe is trending towards zero, there is likely no collateral ventilation in the target lobe and it can be successfully treated with Zephyr Valves. By contrast, if the measurement shows continuous airflow from the lobe, the lobe is being refilled through collateral air channels and will likely not respond to Zephyr Valve treatment.
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The Chartis System has been validated in multiple randomized controlled clinical trials to predict likely responders to the Zephyr Valve treatment.
The Chartis System offers a physiologic technique for measuring collateral ventilation and complements non-invasive estimates of fissure completeness. Other methods, such as using fissure analysis as a proxy measurement of collateral ventilation allows detection of an incomplete boundary between the lobes but does not measure how much air is flowing across this gap. Without assessment by the Chartis System, physicians may treat a lobe that has collateral ventilation, which will likely not respond to valve treatment, or unnecessarily rule out a patient who could have potentially benefitted from valve treatment.
For example, in one early study not sponsored by us that treated patients with a broad range of fissure completeness, approximately 60% of patients who had fissure completeness of 80-90% in the treated lobe had a successful procedure. If a physician was using only quantitative computed tomography (QCT) and a 90% fissure completeness cutoff to select patients, the physician would inappropriately screen out patients in the 80-90% completeness range that could benefit from valve treatment. In that same study, only 72% of patients with a fissure completeness of 90-100% had successful volume reduction in the target lobe. By comparison, patients selected using the Chartis System in four randomized controlled clinical trials had a success rate of 84%, 88%, 89% and 90%. Thus, while
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quantitative fissure analysis is an important tool for non-invasively screening out ineligible lobes, we believe it is insufficient for identifying responders to treatment with high accuracy.
Treatment Steps
The following graphic illustrates the typical treatment steps associated with our solution.
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Clinical Trials and Results
The safety, effectiveness and clinical benefits of the Zephyr Valve in patients selected using the Chartis System have been evaluated in multiple randomized controlled clinical trials that have collectively evaluated approximately 450 patients in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The results of our LIBERATE study, which served as the basis for the FDA approval of our PMA application, were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in 2018 and met all its primary and secondary effectiveness endpoints. In addition, over 100 scientific articles have been published on the clinical benefits of Zephyr Valves, including multiple meta-analyses, review articles, cost-effectiveness analyses and risk-benefit analyses.
Four randomized controlled clinical trials using the Chartis System to select eligible patients (with little to no collateral ventilation) have been completed comparing the treatment of severe emphysema patients with Zephyr Valves with medical management versus medical management alone (which may include drug therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen). All four studies demonstrated statistically and clinically significant benefits across a broad range of endpoints, including measures of lung function, exercise capacity, and quality of life. Patients who received the Zephyr Valve treatment together with medical management experienced increased lung function, a better quality of life and increased exercise capacity—they could walk farther, could do more daily life activities, such as walking, gardening, and getting ready in the morning, with less shortness of breath. This was due in part to the high rate of procedural success in deflating the target lobe of the lung, ranging from 84-90% in the studies. When the target lobe was properly occluded and isolated from airflow, trapped air in that lobe escaped only through the Zephyr Valves until the lobe volume was reduced. The remaining lobes were then able to expand more fully and work more efficiently, improving overall lung function. Additionally, studies have evaluated the impact of Zephyr Valves on the BODE Index, showing magnitudes of improvement that have been associated with survival benefits.
We are following patients enrolled in the LIBERATE study for up to five years for safety and effectiveness (FEV1) assessments. We have also established a patient registry to collect additional data on the safety and effectiveness of the Zephyr Valve (FEV1) in the United States. We have established a similar registry in France.
Summary of Key Clinical Results
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As seen in the table below, the results from multiple randomized clinical trials have consistently shown statistically significant and clinically meaningful benefits of Zephyr Valves across multiple measures of effectiveness.
Improvement in:
Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials
Size and
Follow-up Period
Procedural Success
(TLVR %)
Lung Function (FEV1%)
MCID = 10%-15%
Exercise Capacity
(6MWD)
MCID = 26 m
Quality of Life
(SGRQ)
MCID = -4 pts
LIBERATE
n = 190
12 Mo
84%
18.0%
p<0.001
39 m
p=0.002
-7.1 pts
p=0.004
TRANSFORM
n = 97
6 Mo
90%
29.3 %
p<0.001
79 m
p<0.001
-6.5 pts
p=0.031
IMPACT
n = 93
6 Mo
89%
16.3 %
p<0.001**
28 m
p=0.016**
-7.5 pts
p<0.001**
STELVIO
n = 68
6 Mo
88%
17.8 %
P=0.001
74 m
p<0.001
-14.7 pts*
P<0.001
_______________
Difference between Zephyr Valve and control groups
* Per protocol, all other values listed are intention to treat (ITT)
** Data included in FDA-approved instructions for use (IFU)
The complications of treatment with Zephyr Valves can include but are not limited to pneumothorax, worsening of COPD symptoms, hemoptysis, pneumonia, dyspnea and, in rare cases, death. The most common side effect of Zephyr Valve placement is a pneumothorax, which is the collapse of a lung due to an air leak inside the lung. Pneumothoraces are believed to be a direct result of rapid shifts in air volume in the chest as the target lobe deflates and the neighboring lobe expands. A pneumothorax typically requires placement of a chest tube to manage the air leak. While most pneumothoraces can be readily managed with standard medical care, in rare cases they can be life-threatening, particularly if left untreated. In the event the pneumothorax does not resolve with standard management, one or more valves can be removed to re-inflate the lung; these are typically replaced later when the pneumothorax has resolved. In clinical trials, pneumothoraces occurred in 18-34% of patients treated with the Zephyr Valve, and in the LIBERATE Study, 17% of the pneumothorax events required no intervention and resolved on their own. Patients who have had their pneumothoraces successfully treated had comparable outcomes to those who did not experience a pneumothorax, other than that their hospital stays were extended by approximately a week compared to the three nights for patients without pneumothoraces.
Further, our current products are contraindicated, and therefore should not be used, in certain patients, including patients (i) for whom bronchoscopic procedures are contraindicated, (ii) with evidence of active pulmonary infection, (iii) with known allergies to Nitinol (nickel-titanium) or its constituent metals (nickel or titanium) or silicone, (iv) who have not quit smoking or (v) with large bullae encompassing greater than 30% of either lung.
Summary of the LIBERATE Study (Pivotal IDE Study)
LIBERATE, our pivotal study, was a multicenter, multinational, randomized controlled trial of Zephyr Valves in patients with heterogeneous emphysema and little to no collateral ventilation. The study was conducted between October 2013 and September 2017, and the results were published in May 2018 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Key inclusion criteria were emphysema patients with heterogeneous disease (≥15 difference in destruction scores between the target and adjacent lobes), ex-smokers between 40 and 75 years of age, with post-bronchodilator (BD) forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) between 15% and 45% predicted, Total Lung Capacity (TLC) greater than 100% predicted, residual volume (RV) equal to or greater than 175% predicted, diffuse capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide equal to or greater than 20% predicted, a Six-Minute Walk Distance (6MWD) between 100 and 500 meters after a supervised pulmonary rehabilitation program and little to no collateral ventilation. Patients with two or more COPD exacerbations requiring hospitalization in the last year, two or more instances of
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pneumonia in the last year, uncontrolled pulmonary hypertension, myocardial infarction or congestive heart failure in prior six months, and prior lung transplantation, LVRS, bullectomy or lobectomy were excluded from the study.
The Chartis System was used to confirm that all 190 patients had little to no collateral ventilation and would be likely responders to the Zephyr Valve treatment, and were evaluated initially at six months with follow-up for an additional six months.
One hundred ninety patients with hyperinflation were randomized two-to-one for Zephyr Valves plus medical management (Zephyr Valve Group) or medical management alone (which may include drug therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen) (Control Group) (128 Zephyr Valves patients: 62 Control Group patients) and followed for 12 months. Patients in the Zephyr Valve Group had Zephyr Valves placed in the target lobe to achieve lobar occlusion. Both the Zephyr Valve Group and Control Group patients continued to receive optimal medical management according to current clinical practice. Following their 12-month evaluation, the Control Group patients had an option to receive Zephyr Valve treatment, of which 47 out of 59 (80%) elected to do so. The LIBERATE study had high patient retention with 94% of patients completing follow-up for evaluation for 12 months.
The primary effectiveness endpoint was the percentage of patients enrolled in the Zephyr Valve Group who met the threshold of ≥15% improved FEV1 as compared to the Control Group at 12 months.
The secondary effectiveness endpoints included standard validated assessments commonly used in COPD studies:
1)FEV1, a measure of lung function: Difference between the Zephyr Valve Group and the Control Group in absolute change from baseline for FEV1 at 12 months;
2)6MWD, a measure of exercise capacity: Difference between the Zephyr Valve Group and Control Group in absolute change from baseline for 6MWD at 12 months; and
3)St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), a measure of quality of life: Difference between the Zephyr Valve Group and Control Group in absolute change from baseline for SGRQ score at 12 months.
Other endpoints included additional measures of lung function, exercise capacity, breathlessness and quality of life. Adverse events and serious adverse events were evaluated for the Treatment Period (day of procedure to 45 days), and Long-Term Period (46 days after procedure to 12 months) to assess safety.
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Results
Effectiveness
The study met its primary and secondary endpoints at 12 months.
In the Zephyr Valve Group, 47.7% of patients achieved an FEV1 improvement of ≥15% from baseline to 12 months compared to 16.8% of patients in the Control Group (p<0.001).
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Figure shows the primary endpoint of FEV1 Responders (FEV1 improvement of ≥15%) at 12 months
The absolute change in FEV1 showed significantly greater mean improvement (improved forced expiratory volume) in the Zephyr Valve Group compared to the Control Group (Δ Zephyr Valve - Control = +0.106L, p<0.001); the 6MWD showed significantly greater mean improvement (increased distance walked) in the Zephyr Valve Group compared to the Control Group (Δ Zephyr Valve - Control = +39.31 meters, p=0.002), and the SGRQ showed significantly greater mean improvement (score reduction) in the Zephyr Valve Group compared to the Control Group (Δ Zephyr Valve - Control = −7.05, p=0.004).
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Figure above presents secondary endpoints as mean changes ± standard error of the mean (SEM) from baseline to 12 months for the Zephyr Valve and Control Groups
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Target lobe volume reduction was successfully achieved with 84% of patients having volume reductions of 350 mL or greater, where 350 mL lobe volume reduction is considered to be the Minimal Clinically Important Difference (MCID). Across a broad range of effectiveness endpoints, patients in the Zephyr Valve Group showed a substantially higher rate of clinically meaningful benefits when compared to patients in the Control Group, with responder rates ranging from 42-62% for individual measures.
73% of patients in the Zephyr Valve Group had a clinically meaningful response to at least one of FEV1, 6MWD and SGRQ score. Responder rates based on the individual MCID for the various endpoints at 12 months are shown in the figure below.
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Figure above shows Responder rates based on individual MCID for various endpoints at 12 months
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Safety
The safety of the treatment with Zephyr Valves was assessed by comparing adverse event profiles of patients in the Zephyr Valve Group and Control Group occurring over two time periods: Treatment Period (day of procedure to 45 days) and the Longer-Term Period (46 days after procedure to 12 months). Serious adverse events included pneumothorax, COPD exacerbation, pneumonia, respiratory failure and death.
Proportion of Patients Experiencing Pulmonary Serious Adverse Events
Occurring in at Least 3% of Patients in Zephyr Valve and Control Groups
Treatment Period
0 to 45 days
Longer-Term Period
46 days to 12 months
Zephyr Valve Group
N=128
Control
Group
N=62
∆ Zephyr Valve - Control
Zephyr Valve
N=128
Control
N=62
∆ Zephyr Valve - Control
Death3.1%0%3.1%0.8%1.6%-0.8%
Pneumothorax26.6%0%26.6%6.6%0%6.6%
COPD Exacerbation7.8%4.8%3.0%23.0%30.6%-7.6%
Pneumonia0.8%0%0.8%5.7%8.1%-2.4%
Respiratory Failure1.6%0%1.6%0.8%3.2%-2.4%
There were a higher number of serious adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group compared to the Control Group during the Treatment Period. The most common serious adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group versus the Control Group during the Treatment Period were pneumothorax and COPD exacerbations.
The majority of pneumothoraces (76%) occurred within three days following a bronchoscopy procedure. Four deaths occurred in the Treatment Period in the Zephyr Valve Group and none in the Control Group. Three of the four deaths were deemed by the investigators to be definitely related to treatment with Zephyr Valves and the remaining one was deemed by the investigators to be probably related to treatment with Zephyr Valves. Each patient that died experienced pneumothorax, with three deaths directly attributed to the pneumothorax and the fourth death the result of respiratory failure after the pneumothorax had resolved. In order to more closely monitor patients, the study protocol was subsequently amended to keep patients in the hospital for five nights. Based on the full study data, current practice is to keep patients in hospital for a minimum of three nights post-treatment. Post-hoc analysis has helped us identify risk factors for the group of patients at higher risk of having a complex pneumothorax event (complex pneumothorax defined as requiring removal of all valves or resulting in death) should one occur. Such high-risk patients include those who are not treated in the most diseased lobe and have greater than 60% destruction of the untreated lung. All four patients who experienced a pneumothorax and died were within this high-risk group. Further, all four pneumothorax events occurred in subjects that were not treated in the most diseased lobe and had more than 60% emphysema destruction in the contralateral lung. This learning is incorporated in our physician training program for physicians to identify such high-risk patients and to consider alternative targets or other risk mitigation strategies. During the Longer-Term Period, there was one death (0.8%) in the Zephyr Valve Group from a COPD exacerbation, deemed by the investigators not to be related to treatment with Zephyr Valves, and one cardiac arrhythmia death in the Control Group (1.6%).
Patients who experienced a pneumothorax following treatment with Zephyr Valves and whose pneumothorax had been resolved, experienced meaningful clinical benefit once they recovered from the pneumothorax event, with benefits comparable to patients who did not experience such pneumothorax events.
In the Longer-Term Period, the Zephyr Valve Group showed a non-statistically meaningful trend towards a reduction in COPD exacerbations requiring hospitalization and statistically significant reductions in respiratory failure events.
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There were a number of secondary bronchoscopy procedures (consistent with study protocol) either to adjust a valve or to manage adverse events. There were 11 adjustment procedures in 11 patients following verification of lobar occlusion from the HRCT-assessment at 45-days. There were 21 procedures purely for valve removal (related to an adverse event) in 17 patients, and ten valve replacement procedures in eight patients (valve replacement procedures could entail simultaneous removal and replacement, or replacement for a valve previously removed). Five patients experienced a pneumothorax event following a valve adjustment procedure. See also Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Strategy—Use of the Zephyr Valve involves risks and may result in complications, including pneumothorax or death, and is contraindicated in certain patients, which may limit adoption and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
Additional Post Hoc Analysis of LIBERATE Data
In July 2020, Dransfield et al. published a post hoc analysis of patient reported outcomes (PRO) from the LIBERATE trial which found that patients with severe emphysema and hyperinflation who achieve lung volume reduction following treatment with Zephyr Valves experience moderate to large improvements in multidimensional scores for breathlessness, activity, and psychosocial parameters that may permit re-engagement in activities of daily living out to at least 12 months. Patients treated with the Zephyr Valves also reported experiencing significantly more days when their symptoms were “better” and fewer days that were “worse” over 12 months compared to the control group. The authors concluded that interruption of the downward spiral of symptom-induced inactivity, muscle deconditioning, and ensuing weakness allows patients to experience improved activity, feeling of well-being, more confidence, and a better quality of life.
Summary of the TRANSFORM Study
The TRANSFORM study was a company-sponsored, multicenter, prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Zephyr Valve treatment in patients with heterogeneous severe emphysema and little to no collateral ventilation conducted at 17 study sites in Europe. The study was conducted between January 2014 and April 2017, and the results were published in September 2017 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Key inclusion criteria were severe emphysema patients with heterogeneous disease (≥10 difference in destruction scores between the target and adjacent lobes), ex-smokers over 40 years of age, with post- BD FEV1 between 15% and 45% predicted, TLC greater than 100% predicted, RV equal to or greater than 180% predicted, and a 6MWD
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between 100 and 450 meters and little to no collateral ventilation. Patients with two or more COPD exacerbations requiring hospitalization in the last year, known pulmonary hypertension, myocardial infarction or other cardiovascular events in prior six months, and prior lung transplantation, LVRS, bullectomy or lobectomy were excluded from the study. Eligible patients were randomly assigned at a 2:1 ratio into either the Zephyr Valve treatment plus medical management (Zephyr Valve Group) or medical management alone (which may include drug therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen) (Control Group) (65 Zephyr Valve patients: 32 Control Group patients).
The Chartis System was used to confirm that all 97 patients had little to no collateral ventilation and would be likely responders to the Zephyr Valve treatment, and were evaluated initially at six months with follow-up for an additional six months.
Patients in both groups were observed at 45-day, three-month and six-month periods. Patients in the Control Group were required to complete a minimum six-month follow-up. Following their six-month evaluation, the Control Group patients had an option to receive Zephyr Valve treatment, if eligible, which is commercially available in Europe, or remain in the Control Group for an additional six months. Only two Control Group patients elected to continue for an additional six months and the other patients opted to seek Zephyr Valve treatment commercially.
The primary effectiveness endpoint was the percentage of patients in the Zephyr Valve Group meeting the MCID of ≥12% improved post- BD FEV1 at three months post-treatment compared to the percentage of patients in the Control Group.
Other endpoints included additional measures of lung function, exercise capacity, breathlessness, hyperinflation, health status and quality of life measures. Adverse events and serious adverse events were evaluated for the Treatment Period (day of procedure to 45 days) and Longer-Term Period (46 days from procedure day to six months).
Results
Effectiveness
The study met its primary and secondary endpoints at three months.
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At three months, 55% of patients on an ITT basis and 67% of patients on a per protocol (PP) basis achieved a ≥12% change in FEV1 from baseline, compared to 6.5% for the ITT and 6.7% for the PP patients in the Control Group (p<0.001 for both). This was statistically superior to medical management alone.
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Figure above shows the responder rate (primary endpoint) for the Intention-to-Treat and Per Protocol Populations at three months
The study met its secondary endpoints, with durable and statistically significant benefits in favor of the Zephyr Valve Group out to six months across multiple measures. Lung function assessed by FEV1 showed a 29% (p<0.001) improvement in the Zephyr Valve Group over the Control Group, exercise capacity assessed by 6MWD improved by 79 meters (p<0.001), quality of life assessed by the SGRQ score improved by 6.5 points (p=0.031), hyperinflation assessed by a decrease in residual volume improved by 670 mL (p=0.002), and health status assessed by the BODE Index improved by 1.75 points (p<0.001). Target lobe volume reduction was successfully achieved with 90% of patients having volume reductions of greater than MCID.
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Figures above show the improvements over time for FEV1, 6MWD, SGRQ, RV, and BODE Index out to six months.
Safety
At six months, 47.7% patients in the Zephyr Valve Group compared to 9.4% patients in the Control Group (p<0.001) had a respiratory related serious adverse event, with most events occurring within 45 days of the procedure. In the Zephyr Valve Group, there were 13 pneumothorax events in 13 patients (20%) during the 45-day Treatment Period (p=0.004). None of the other respiratory serious adverse events were statistically different between groups during the same period. Over the longer term (46 days through six months), there was no difference in respiratory serious adverse events between groups. There was one death in the Zephyr Valve Group due to an in-hospital cardiac arrest as a complication of a pneumothorax and was deemed by the investigator to be related to treatment with Zephyr Valves. See also “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Strategy—Use of the Zephyr Valve involves risks and may result in complications, including pneumothorax or death, and is contraindicated in certain patients, which may limit adoption and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
Summary of the IMPACT Study
The IMPACT Study was a company sponsored, multicenter, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Zephyr Valves in patients with severe homogeneous emphysema at eight investigational sites in Europe. The study was conducted between August 2014 and March 2017, and the results of the primary endpoint at three months were published in August 2016 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
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Key inclusion criteria were emphysema patients with homogeneous disease (<15 difference in destruction scores between the target and adjacent lobes), ex-smokers over 40 years of age, with post- BD FEV1 between 15% and 45% predicted, TLC greater than 100% predicted, RV equal to or greater than 200% predicted, a 6MWD equal to or greater than 150 meters and little to no collateral ventilation. Patients with three or more COPD exacerbations requiring hospitalization in the last year, known pulmonary hypertension, myocardial infarction or other relevant cardiovascular events in prior six months, and prior LVR or LVRS, and greater than 20% difference in perfusion between the left and right lung were excluded from the study. Eligible patients were randomly assigned at a 1:1 ratio into either the Zephyr Valve procedure plus medical management (Zephyr Valve Group) or medical management alone (which may include drug therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen) (Control Group) (43 Zephyr Valve patients: 50 Control Group patients).
The Chartis System was used to confirm that all 93 patients had little to no collateral ventilation and would be likely responders to the Zephyr Valve treatment, and were evaluated initially at six months with follow-up for an additional six months.
The primary effectiveness endpoint was the percentage change in FEV1 at three months relative to baseline in the Zephyr Valve Group, compared to the Control Group.
Other endpoints included additional measures of lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life measures. Adverse events and serious adverse events were evaluated for the Treatment Period (day of procedure to 30 days), and Long-Term Period (31 days after procedure to six months).
Results
Effectiveness
The study met its primary effectiveness endpoint. The mean percent change in FEV1 (L) from baseline to three months in the Zephyr Valve Group was an increase of 15.3% compared to a decrease of 3.4% in the Control Group. The mean group difference for the change in FEV1 from baseline to three months was 18.8 ± 22.1% (mean ± SD; p <0.001). Similar changes were observed in the ITT population. The mean percent change in FEV1 (L) from baseline to three months in the Zephyr Valve Group was an increase of 13.7% compared to a decrease of 3.2% in the Control Group. The mean group difference (Zephyr Valve - Control) for the change in FEV1 from baseline to three-months was 17.0 ± 21.4% (mean ± SD; p <0.001).
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lung-20201231_g31.jpg
Figure above shows the percent change of FEV1 from baseline (primary endpoint) for the ITT groups at three months
The study also met its secondary outcomes. There were statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements from baseline in the Zephyr Valve Group versus the Control Group at three months and six months with differences between the Zephyr Valve Group and Control Group for FEV1 (120 mL at 3 months and 120 mL at six months; p<0.001), RV (480 mL at three months and 430 mL at six months; p=0.011 and p=0.015, respectively), 6MWD (40 meters at three months and 28 meters at six months; p=0.002 and p=0.0156, respectively), SGRQ score (-9.6 at three months and -7.5 at six months; p<0.001), and Modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) Dyspnea Scale scores (-0.6 at three months and -0.4 at six months; p=0.01 and p=0.048, respectively). Target lobe volume reduction was successfully achieved with 89% of patients having volume reductions of greater than MCID.
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Figure above presents secondary endpoints as mean changes ± SEM from baseline to six months for the Zephyr Valve and Control Groups
Safety
There were a higher number of respiratory serious adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group compared to the Control Group during the Treatment Period (day of procedure to 30 days; 44.2% patients versus 2.0% patients). The
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most common respiratory serious adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group versus the Control Group during the Treatment Period were pneumothorax in 23.3% versus 0.0%, respectively; and COPD exacerbations in 14.0% versus 2.0% patients, respectively. All pneumothoraces were managed using standard techniques that included chest tube placement and careful observation. There were a comparable number of serious respiratory adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group compared to the Control Group during the Longer-Term Period (31 days to six months; 34.9% patients versus 26.0% patients, respectively).
The most common respiratory adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group versus Control Group during the Longer-Term Period were COPD exacerbations in 18.6% versus 20.0% patients, respectively; dyspnea in 4.7% versus 0.0% patients, respectively; pneumothorax in 4.7% versus 0.0% patients, respectively; pneumonia in 2.3% versus 4.0% patients, respectively; and hypercapnia in 0.0% versus 6.0% patients, respectively. There were no deaths in the Zephyr Valve Group and two deaths in the Control Group that occurred in the Longer-Term Period. There was one death in the Zephyr Valve Group that occurred beyond 12-months after the Zephyr Valve implantation following severe COPD exacerbation after an abdominal surgery and was not related to treatment with Zephyr Valves. See also Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Strategy—Use of the Zephyr Valve involves risks and may result in complications, including pneumothorax or death, and is contraindicated in certain patients, which may limit adoption and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
Summary of the STELVIO Study
The STELVIO study was an independent, non-company sponsored, randomized, controlled clinical trial conducted at a single center in the Netherlands that evaluated 68 patients with severe emphysema and hyperinflation. The study was conducted between June 2011 and November 2014, and the results of the primary endpoint were published in November 2015 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Key inclusion criteria were severe emphysema patients with heterogeneous and homogeneous disease, ex-smokers over 35 years of age, with post- BD FEV1 less than 60% predicted, TLC greater than 100% predicted, RV greater than 150% predicted, dyspnea score of equal to or greater than two on the mMRC Dyspnea Scale, a 6MWD equal to or greater than 140 meters, and little to no collateral ventilation. Key exclusion criteria were prior LVRS, lung transplantation or lobectomy and evidence of other disease that may compromise survival or would interfere with completion of study. Eligible patients were randomly assigned at a 1:1 ratio to either Zephyr Valve treatment plus medical management (Zephyr Valve Group) or medical management alone (which may include drug therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen) (Control Group) (34 Zephyr Valve patients: 34 Control Group patients).
The Chartis System was used to confirm that all 68 patients had little to no collateral ventilation and would be likely responders to the Zephyr Valve treatment, and were evaluated initially at six months with follow-up for an additional six months.
The primary outcome measures included differences between groups for changes in FEV1, Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) and 6MWD from baseline to six months.
Secondary outcome measures, among patients who completed the study, were improvements from baseline to six months in FEV1, FVC, 6MWD, SGRQ score and other health related measures.
Results
Effectiveness
The study met its primary and secondary effectiveness outcomes.
There were significantly greater improvements in the Zephyr Valve Group than in the Control group from baseline to six months with a between group increase in FEV1 of 140 mL (95% confidence interval (CI), 55 to 225), in FVC of 347 mL (95% CI, 107 to 588), in the 6MWD of 74 m (95% CI, 47 to 100) (p<0.01 for all comparisons). The data
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are depicted in the figure and table below. Target lobe volume reduction was successfully achieved with 88% of patients having volume reductions of greater than MCID.
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Figure above presents the co-primary endpoints as mean changes with 95% confidence intervals from baseline to six months for the Zephyr Valve and Control Groups
Effectiveness Outcomes for the Zephyr Valve and Control Groups at Six Months
Values are Mean Change from Baseline for ITT Population
Zephyr Valve Group
N=34
Control Group
N=34
Difference Between Groups
(Zephyr Valve - Control)
FEV1 (%)
20.93.117.8
FVC (%)18.3414.4
6MWD (%)19.6-3.623.3
STELVIO was also the first randomized trial that evaluated outcomes in patients with homogeneous disease versus heterogeneous disease and showed that both groups benefited from treatment with Zephyr Valves. In general, the clinical outcomes after Zephyr Valve treatment were lower in the homogeneous patients compared to the heterogeneous patients but were still clinically meaningful (i.e., were greater than the MCID for each measure).
Effectiveness Outcomes for the Zephyr Valve Group who Completed the Study
Values are Mean Change from Baseline
Homogeneous Emphysema
N=29
Heterogeneous Emphysema
N=22
FEV1 (%)
20.132.6
RV (%)-16.3-16.6
6MWD (meters)6972
SGRQ score (points)-13-19
In subsequent follow-up of patients in the STELVIO study, these results were shown to be durable to at least one year. Furthermore, the BODE index at one year showed an improvement from baseline of -1.13 points (95% CI, -1.5 to -0.7; p <0.001); a reduction of more than one point in the BODE Index being associated with a decrease in mortality.
Safety
Over the six months, there were 23 serious adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group, as compared with five in the Control group (p<0.001). Serious treatment related adverse events in the Zephyr Valve Group included pneumothorax (18% of patients) and events requiring valve replacement (12%) or removal (15%). There was one
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death in the Zephyr Valve Group due to end-stage COPD with respiratory failure 58 days after treatment which was deemed by the investigator to be unrelated to treatment with Zephyr Valves.
There was one death during the six-month to 12-month period in the Zephyr Valve Group due to a myocardial infarction (313 days after treatment) unrelated to treatment with Zephyr Valves. In the Control Group, there were two deaths recorded at 160 and 267 days after the screening visit, both due to COPD progression. See also Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Strategy—Use of the Zephyr Valve involves risks and may result in complications, including pneumothorax or death, and is contraindicated in certain patients, which may limit adoption and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
Other Clinical Trials
The VENT study was a multicenter randomized clinical trial conducted in the mid-2000s by Emphasys Medical evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the Zephyr Valve. The study enrolled 321 patients in the United States. While the study showed statistically significant improvement in FEV1 and 6MWD (co-primary endpoints), these were only clinically significant in a post hoc subset of patients that had complete fissures (a surrogate for absence of collateral ventilation) and lobar occlusion. The study did not meet its primary endpoints.
The BeLieVeR-HIFi study was a single center randomized, controlled, independent, non-company-sponsored study conducted in the early 2010s that enrolled 50 patients with complete fissures and severe heterogeneous emphysema. Patients were randomized to treatment with Zephyr Valves and medical management or a sham procedure and medical management. While Chartis assessment was performed to assess collateral ventilation prior to the procedure, inclusion in the study was based on visual assessment of complete fissures. The study showed clinical benefit in the Zephyr Valve treated patients although the outcomes were better in patients in whom collateral ventilation was ruled out using the Chartis System.
We are not aware of any prospective data regarding survival rates of patients who have undergone endobronchial valve treatment. There are two survival studies, however, that retrospectively evaluate patients treated with endobronchial valves. These studies compared survival rates between patients with significant volume reduction in the treated lobe (also called atelectasis) against those who did not have atelectasis. In one study, the patient population consisted of 449 patients with either heterogeneous or homogeneous emphysema five years following treatment with Zephyr Valves or other endobronchial valves. The majority of patients in this study were treated with Zephyr Valves. The results of this study suggested that patients with atelectasis were approximately 45% more likely to survive than patients without. Another study of 19 patients with only heterogeneous emphysema ten years following treatment with Zephyr Valves suggested that patients with atelectasis were approximately 166% more likely to survive than patients without atelectasis. We believe these studies are relevant because treatment with Zephyr Valves is intended to cause atelectasis in poorly functioning, hyperinflated lobes of the lung. In addition, the results of these studies add to the body of evidence showing the benefits of atelectasis in patients with severe
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emphysema and hyperinflation, including the potential for increased survival rates when compared to valve treatment without atelectasis.
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Gompelmann et. al (2019): Survival after Endoscopic Valve Therapy in Patients with Severe Emphysema. Respiration; 97; 145-152.
Garner et al (2016): Survival after Endobronchial Valve Placement for Emphysema: A 10-Year Follow-up Study. Amer J Respir Crit Care Med.194 (4): 519-521.
Reprinted with permission of S. Karger AG, Basel and Respiration. Copyright © 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel. Respiration is an official journal of the Swiss Respiratory Society and the European Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology.
Reprinted with permission of the American Thoracic Society. Copyright © 2020 American Thoracic Society. The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine is an official journal of the American Thoracic Society.
Our Commercial Strategy
We have established a stepwise approach to market development which centers on active engagement across three key stakeholders in addressing severe emphysema: hospitals, physicians and patients.
We sell Zephyr Valves primarily through a direct sales force that engages with pulmonologists in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific. Zephyr Valves are typically implanted by an interventional pulmonologist at a hospital, and patients are often evaluated in a multi-disciplinary team approach that includes other lung physicians, radiologists, respiratory therapy specialists or surgeons. Our sales personnel work closely with these stakeholders to ensure quality outcomes. We offer an in-depth training program developed in conjunction with leading global thought leaders and the largest pulmonary society in the United States. Our sales personnel work with hospitals to leverage their existing resources to efficiently establish and market Zephyr Valves as a service line. Our sales territory managers also call on community physicians and pulmonary rehabilitation centers to raise awareness of Zephyr Valves as a treatment option.
We seek to recruit sales territory managers with strong sales backgrounds, with direct experience developing markets with new technologies and an understanding of medical device reimbursement and the prior authorization process. In the United States, our territory managers are managed by region directors. We plan to expand our commercial organization, recruiting and training talented sales territory managers in existing and new markets in the United States to help facilitate further adoption and broaden awareness of Zephyr Valves. We believe investing in a scalable, efficient direct sales force and continuing the development of our marketing efforts will help us broaden adoption of our solution in order to drive revenue growth.
Our strategy is to identify territories with high unmet need, identify leading hospitals and work with champions of our solution to build emphysema centers of excellence. We believe there is a significant growth opportunity for hospitals to provide high quality comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for advanced COPD patients. We believe
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we can efficiently serve the United States market, focusing on approximately 500 high volume hospitals, of which we currently cover a small fraction.
We intend to continue to promote awareness of our solution through training and educating physicians, pulmonary rehabilitation centers, key opinion leaders and various medical societies on the proven clinical benefits of Zephyr Valves. We continue to develop our relationships with credible third parties, such as our partnership with the American College of Chest Physicians, on continuing medical education-accredited training and with the COPD Foundation on patient and physician education. We also intend to continue helping physicians in their outreach to patients and other healthcare providers. In addition, we intend to continue to publish additional clinical data in various industry and scientific journals, online and through presentations at various industry conferences. We believe that many patients who suffer from severe emphysema are eager for a minimally invasive option such as the Zephyr Valve. We also plan to continue building patient awareness through our direct-to-patient marketing initiatives, which include advertising, social media and online education. We also intend to continue helping physicians in their outreach to patients and other healthcare providers.
The objective of this outreach is to bring patients to our website, where they can find educational materials on Zephyr Valves, determine if they may be eligible, find contact information for physicians in their area and sign up for support and news.
We conduct our international business through direct sales in markets with established reimbursement and substantial market potential, and through a distributor-based sales model in smaller markets or markets where we are still developing reimbursement.
Our strategy is to offer limited distribution and develop champions of our solution in high potential markets, and as reimbursement becomes available, change from a distributor-based sales model to a direct sales model. We have successfully followed this approach in most markets outside the United States in which we sell and we anticipate following a similar approach in the future.
Third-Party Reimbursement
There are three key components for reimbursement in the United States: (1) coding, (2) payment and (3) coverage. Our patient access team is responsible for all aspects of our reimbursement processes and initiatives. In the United States, our solution is reimbursed based on established Category I CPT and ICD-10 PCS codes and associated APC and MS-DRG payment groupings.
Coding
In the United States, we sell our products to hospitals. These customers in turn bill various third-party payors, such as commercial payors and government agencies, for the cost required to treat each patient.
Third-party payors require physicians and hospitals to identify the items and services for which they are seeking reimbursement by using standard codes for both physician and facility payments. “Coding” refers to distinct numeric and alphanumeric billing codes that are used by healthcare providers to report the provision of medical services procedures and the use of supplies for specific patients to payors. CPT codes are published by the American Medical Association and are used to report medical services and procedures performed by or under the direction of physicians. Medicare generally pays physicians for services based on submission of a claim using one or more specific CPT codes. Physician payment for procedures may vary according to site of service. Hospitals are reimbursed for inpatient procedures based on MS‐DRG classifications derived from patient demographic information and ICD-10-CM diagnosis and ICD-10 PCS codes that describe the patient’s diagnoses and procedures performed during the hospital stay.
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Payment
Payment refers to the amount paid to providers for specific procedures and supplies. Physician reimbursement under Medicare generally is based on a defined fee schedule (Physician Fee Schedule) through which payment amounts are determined by the relative values of the service rendered. Medicare provides reimbursement to our hospital customers as a lump sum intended to cover all costs under a single MS-DRG payment. Reimbursement from commercial payors is typically based on a similar methodology but rates vary depending on the procedure performed, the hospital, the commercial payor, contract terms and other factors.
These ICD-10 PCS codes map to the MS-DRG classifications for Major Chest Procedures, with national average reimbursement rates between $12,000 and $32,000, for the year 2020, depending on co-morbidities and complications. MS‐DRG classifications calibrate payment for groups of services based on the severity of a patient’s illness and clinical cohesiveness of care. One single MS‐DRG payment is intended to cover all hospital costs associated with treating a patient during his or her hospital stay, while physician charges associated with performing medical procedures are reimbursed to physicians through a different payment system based on the codes they submit. Payment for Zephyr Valve is expected to, on average, be sufficient to cover costs of the procedure.
If a patient is positive for collateral ventilation following an assessment by the Chartis System, the patient is typically discharged the same day and the procedure therfore billed as an outpatient procedure. The CPT code used to provide payment for the Chartis procedure, for patients who do not receive the Zephyr Valve due to collateral ventilation, maps to an Ambulatory Payment Classification, with a national average payment of $5,823. If a patient receives the Zephyr Valve, there is no separate reimbursement for the Chartis System procedure; rather, the provider receives payment for the endobronchial valve procedures as described above.
The national Medicare average payment for physicians performing the endobronchial valve procedure is generally consistent with other complex bronchoscopic procedures.
Commercial Payor and Government Program Coverage
Coverage refers to decisions made by commercial third-party payors and government programs as to whether or not to provide their members access to and pay for specific procedures and related supplies, and if so, what conditions, such as specific diagnoses and clinical indications, are covered. Commercial payors typically base coverage decisions on reviews of clinical evidence presented in published peer-reviewed medical literature.
A majority of our patients are Medicare-eligible beneficiaries. Without a national coverage determination (NCD) or a local coverage determination (LCD), Medicare claims are processed by Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs), which assess coverage under Medicare’s reasonable and necessary standard. We estimate that roughly 75% of the potential Zephyr Valve patient population are Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries of which approximately 25% have managed Medicare/Medicaid and the remaining 50% have traditional fee-for-service Medicare/Medicaid. Approximately 25% of the potential Zephyr Valve patient population is under third-party commercial payor policies. A key element of our strategy remains to broaden our coverage by private third-party payor policies.
Commercial payors such as Aetna, Humana, Health Care Service Corporation, and Highmark have issued positive coverage policies for the Zephyr Valve, and United Healthcare no longer considers the procedure unproven or experimental. We continue to engage with commercial payors to establish positive national coverage policies by highlighting our compelling and robust clinical data, unique patient selection tools, favorable cost profile to more invasive options, increased patient demand and support from global treatment recommendations for the management of COPD and emphysema.
Prior Authorization Approval Process
A second key element of our reimbursement strategy includes leveraging our patient reimbursement support team and knowledge of the published data to assist patients and physicians in obtaining appropriate prior authorization approvals in advance of treatment for payers that require it. We believe our patient reimbursement support team is
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highly effective in working with patients and physicians to obtain appropriate prior authorizations for the Zephyr Valve treatment even when a non-coverage policy exists. We believe patients and providers will continue to benefit from support through the prior authorization process until widespread coverage is established across most commercial payors.
Reimbursement Outside of the United States
Outside of the United States, reimbursement levels vary significantly by country and by patient. Reimbursement is obtained from a variety of sources, including government sponsors, hospital budgets or private health insurance plans, or combinations thereof. We have established reimbursement access in countries across Europe and Asia Pacific, including Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, the United Kingdom and other countries.
Research, Development and Clinical Programs
Our research and development team continues to design, develop and test new innovations to improve patient outcomes and expand our addressable market. We also work with external vendors in the design and testing of new technologies.
Since the early development of the Zephyr Valve, our company has produced a stream of innovations to increase the success rate of using the Zephyr Valve. This includes innovations in our airway sizing and delivery catheters, the introduction of new sizes of Zephyr Valves, improvements to the user interface of the Chartis System to accommodate a variety of anesthesia options and the StratX Platform to assist with patient selection and procedure planning.
We have had discussions with the FDA regarding expanding the Zephyr Valve indication to include the management of persistent air leaks. We believe there are approximately 7,000 patients who suffer from a persistent air leak per year in the United States that could benefit from treatment with Zephyr Valves.
Our pipeline of products that we are currently considering includes innovations in image analysis to support advanced patient selection and optimize patient outcomes, catheter technologies to improve valve deliverability and reduce procedure time and the AeriSeal system for addressing the needs of severe emphysema patients who are not eligible for Zephyr Valves due to collateral ventilation. In December 2020, AeriSeal received designation as a Breakthrough Device by the FDA. The breakthrough designation will provide prioritized and potentially accelerated review by the FDA, and provides eligibility for Medicare Coverage of Innovation Technology (MCIT), a rule which enables receipt of Medicare coverage as early as the same day as FDA market authorization for breakthrough devices and provides coverage for four years.
AeriSeal is a polymerizing sealant that can be delivered via a bronchoscope to a targeted region of the lung to reduce volume in the treated area. We intend to submit an IDE to the FDA for commencing a clinical trial with the AeriSeal system. We have only conducted initial feasibility research on AeriSeal to date. We believe that positive results from this clinical trial would enable the treatment of patients with collateral ventilation, which would complement the screening of patients for Zephyr Valves. We have secured CE mark and Therapeutic Goods Administration approval in Australia for AeriSeal and have completed initial feasibility research. We further have funded a feasibility study using AeriSeal to expand the number of patients that can be treated with Zephyr Valves and are exploring additional studies. If successfully developed and approved, AeriSeal could further expand the addressable market of our solution.
For the years ended December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2019, we incurred research and development expenses, including our clinical trials, of $7.5 million and $6.0 million, respectively.
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Competition
Our industry is highly competitive and subject to rapid change from the introduction of new products and technologies and other activities of industry participants.
We are positioning our solution as an alternative to existing treatments of severe emphysema. These treatments include medical management, other minimally invasive treatments, LVRS and lung transplantations. The major competitive products include the Spiration Valve System (Olympus Corporation) and the InterVapor System (Broncus Medical, Inc.; not approved for use in the United States). The Spiration Valve System is an endobronchial technology designed to offer patients with severe emphysema a minimally invasive treatment option for lung volume reduction by redirecting air away from diseased areas of the lung to healthier tissue so that patients may breathe easier. Like Zephyr Valves, the Spiration Valve System is indicated to treat patients with heterogeneous emphysema; however, the Spiration Valve System is contraindicated for patients with homogeneous emphysema. We believe our solution competes favorably with the Spiration Valve System for several reasons, including the strength of our published clinical data, differentiated patient selection tools and our comprehensive technical and reimbursement support. InterVapor System offers a non-surgical and non-implant therapy developed for lung disease including emphysema and lung cancer where vapor ablation is simply the application of heated pure water to tissue.
Some of our current or future competitors may have several competitive advantages, including established relationships with pulmonologists who commonly treat patients with emphysema, significantly greater name recognition and significantly greater sales and marketing resources.
In addition to competing for market share, we also compete against these companies for personnel, including qualified sales and other personnel that are necessary to grow our business.
We believe the principal competitive factors in our market include the following:
patient outcomes and adverse event rates;
product safety, reliability and durability;
patient experience;
effective marketing to and education of patients, physicians and hospitals;
acceptance by treating physicians and referral sources;
physician learning curve;
ease-of-use and reliability;
patient recovery time and level of discomfort;
economic benefits and cost savings;
availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement; and
strength of clinical evidence.
In addition to existing competitors, other companies may acquire or in-license competitive products and could directly compete with us. These competitors may also try to compete with us on price both directly, through rebates and promotional programs to high volume physicians and coupons to patients, and indirectly, through attractive product bundling with complementary products that offer convenience and an effectively lower price compared to
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the total price of purchasing each product separately. Larger competitors may also be able to offer greater customer loyalty benefits to encourage repeat use of their products and finance a sustained global advertising campaign to compete with commercialization efforts of our products. Our competitors may seek to discredit our products by challenging our short operating history or relatively limited number of scientific studies and publications. Smaller companies could also launch new or enhanced products and services that we do not offer and that could gain market acceptance quickly. Additionally, certain of our competitors may challenge our intellectual property, may develop additional competing or superior technologies and processes and compete more aggressively and sustain that competition over a longer period of time than we could. Our technologies and products may be rendered obsolete or uneconomical by technological advances or entirely different approaches developed by one or more of our competitors. As more companies develop new intellectual property in our market, there is the possibility of a competitor acquiring patents or other rights that may limit our ability to update our technologies and products which may impact demand for our products.
Intellectual Property
We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws and confidentiality and invention assignment agreements to protect our intellectual property rights. As of December 31, 2020, we had 39 patent families in force worldwide. As of December 31, 2020, we had rights to 60 issued United States patents, 17 pending United States patent applications, 133 issued foreign patents and 13 pending foreign patent applications. Our most material foreign patents issued and patent applications pending are in the European Union, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. Our patents cover aspects of our current Zephyr Valve, loading system, airway sizing, EDC, Chartis System, AeriSeal and future product concepts. The term of individual patents depends on the legal term for patents in the countries in which they are granted. In most countries, including the United States, the patent term is generally 20 years from the earliest claimed filing date of a nonprovisional patent application in the applicable country. Our patents expire between 2021 and 2038. We have applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) seeking an extension for the term of a material Zephyr Valve patent from 2023 to 2027 under the Patent Term Extension which allows additional term to be added to a patent to compensate for the FDA approval process. Once a patent expires, the protection ends, and an invention enters the public domain; that is, anyone can commercially exploit the invention without infringing the patent.
There is no active patent litigation involving any of our patents and we have not received any notices claiming that our activities infringe a third party’s patent.
We cannot guarantee that patents will be issued from any of our pending applications or that, if patents are issued, they will be of sufficient scope or strength to provide meaningful protection for our technology. Notwithstanding the scope of the patent protection available to us, a competitor could develop treatment methods or devices that are not covered by our patents. Furthermore, numerous United States and foreign-issued patents and patent applications owned by third parties exist in the fields in which we are developing products. Because patent applications can take many years to publish, there may be applications unknown to us, which may later result in issued patents that our existing or future products or technologies may be alleged to infringe.
There has been substantial litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights in the medical device industry. In the future, we may need to engage in litigation to enforce patents issued or licensed to us, to protect our trade secrets or know-how, to defend against claims of infringement of the rights of others or to determine the scope and validity of the proprietary rights of others. Litigation could be costly and could divert our attention from other functions and responsibilities. Furthermore, even if our patents are found to be valid and infringed, a court may refuse to grant injunctive relief against the infringer and instead grant us monetary damages or ongoing royalties. Such monetary compensation may be insufficient to adequately offset the damage to our business caused by the infringer’s competition in the market. Adverse determinations in litigation could subject us to significant liabilities to third parties, require us to seek licenses from third parties or could prevent us from manufacturing, selling or using the product accused of infringement, any of which could severely harm our business. See Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Intellectual Property” for additional information regarding these and other risks related to our intellectual property portfolio and their potential effect on us.
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We also rely upon trademarks to build and maintain the integrity of our brand. As of December 31, 2020, we had eight registered trademark filings, some of which may apply to multiple countries, and several pending trademark applications in various countries.
We also rely, in part, upon unpatented trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation, and licensing arrangements, to develop and maintain our competitive position. We protect our proprietary rights through a variety of methods, including confidentiality and assignment agreements with suppliers, employees, consultants and others who may have access to our proprietary information.
Cross-Licensing Agreement with Spiration/Olympus
In January 2005, Emphasys Medical (Emphasys), a company we later acquired, entered into a cross-license agreement (Spiration Cross-License) with Spiration, Inc. (Spiration) (later acquired by Olympus Medical Systems Corp.). Since both companies were developing products in the same field, they entered into this agreement to minimize the risk of intellectual property disputes in the future and their associated cost. When we acquired Emphasys in 2009, we became the successor-in-interest to Emphasys’ rights under the Spiration Cross-License. Under the agreement, each company non-exclusively licensed the other party to make, have made (solely for such other party), sell, offer for sale, import and export specific products under their respective patent portfolio at that time that covers such products or a method of use thereof. The license granted to us by Spiration is limited to devices where the outer perimeter of the device seals with the airway wall and the device allows fluid flow only through one or more openings in the device radially inward of such outer perimeter. It does not give us a license under Spiration’s patent rights to valve devices that allow fluid flow only between the outer perimeter of the device and the airway wall. Similarly, the license granted to Spiration by us is limited to devices that allow fluid flow only between the outer perimeter of the device and the airway wall. It does not give Spiration a license under our patent rights to make or sell valve devices where the outer perimeter of the device seals with the airway wall and the device allows fluid flow only through one or more openings in the device radially inward of such outer perimeter. The licenses cannot be sublicensed. Furthermore, each license also includes a covenant not to sue the other party for infringement with respect to specified product elements, designs and features. The Spiration Cross-License can be terminated by either party upon 60 days’ written notice to the other in the event certain patents are no longer owned by the other party or such patents are no longer in force; provided, that, the parties are required to negotiate in good faith during such 60-day notice period to attempt to enter into a replacement cross-license prior to such termination. Neither party may assign or otherwise transfer the Spiration Cross-License without the written consent of the other party, except in connection with certain change-of-control transactions. We do not have any relationship with Spiration other than with respect to this cross-license agreement.
Manufacturing and Supply
We manufacture all our products — valves, delivery catheters, balloon catheters and the Chartis System console — at our headquarters located at 700 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063 where we lease approximately 25,000 square feet of space. Our lease terminates on July 31, 2025. This facility supports production and distribution operations, including manufacturing, quality control, raw material and finished goods storage. We have manufactured all our products at this facility for over 10 years and to date we have manufactured over 80,000 Zephyr Valves. We also store finished goods at other facilities in Redwood City, California where we lease approximately 8,000 square feet and 17,000 square feet of space under lease agreements that terminates on May 31, 2024 and September 30, 2024, respectively. There is a mutual early termination option starting November 30, 2021 on the 8,000 square feet of space.
We rely on a combination of in-house processing and third-party suppliers for raw materials and components. We have supply agreements with a few critical suppliers while procuring most of our materials on a purchase order basis. Suppliers are routinely evaluated based on industry standards including on-site audits, as required, to be approved. We have a strict change control policy with our suppliers to ensure that no design or process changes are made without our prior approval. Based on our prior experience with such suppliers to manufacture products for commercialization both inside and outside the United States, we believe these suppliers are capable of continuing to meet our specifications and maintaining quality. Several components used in our devices rely on single source
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suppliers and we routinely prioritize, evaluate and qualify backup sources. We typically maintain several months of product in inventory however if one or more of our single source suppliers were to encounter a manufacturing issue or chooses to end supply, we estimate that some of our custom components could take between one and two years to qualify a second source supplier in all markets. The manufacture of AeriSeal, which is still in development, is completely outsourced to a contract manufacturer. The StratX Platform’s QCT service is currently outsourced as well. We host the customer-facing web portal for the StratX Platform’s QCT service while using a third-party cloud service provider to direct CT scan uploads from customers to qualified radiological image analysis providers.
We perform the final assembly, inspection, testing, packaging and product release testing for the Zephyr Valve, the EDC and Chartis System at our headquarters in Redwood City. These products are sterilized using ethylene oxide at a qualified sterilization supplier in Los Angeles, California. In the United States, we generally ship products from our third party logistics provider in Memphis, Tennessee and our facilities in Redwood City to our direct sales territory managers, who deliver these products to our hospital customers. Once they are trained and proficient in the procedure, we may also sell our products directly to our hospital customers. Internationally, we ship our products to a qualified third-party logistics provider in the Netherlands who, in turn, may either ship directly to our customers in Europe, Australia and other international markets on a consignment basis or directly to our sales territory managers in these countries who then sell these products to our customers. We also ship from our Redwood City facilities to distributors in Asia Pacific and other international markets.
Our manufacturing and distribution operations are subject to regulatory requirements of the FDA’s QSR for medical devices sold in the United States, set forth in 21 CFR part 820, and the EU’s Medical Device Directive (MDD) or Medical Device Regulation (MDR) for medical devices marketed in the European Union. We are also subject to applicable local regulations relating to the environment, waste management and health and safety matters, including measures relating to the release, use, storage, treatment, transportation, discharge, disposal, sale, labeling, collection, recycling, treatment and remediation of hazardous substances.
The FDA monitors compliance with the QSR through periodic inspections of our facilities, which may include inspection of our suppliers’ facilities as well. Our European Union Notified Body, British Standards Institute (BSI), monitors compliance with the MDD requirements through both annual scheduled audits and periodic unannounced audits of our manufacturing facilities as well as our contract third-party suppliers’ facilities.
Our failure, or the failure of our third-party suppliers, to maintain acceptable quality requirements could result in the shutdown of our manufacturing operations or the recall of our products. If one of our suppliers fails to maintain acceptable quality requirements, we may have to qualify a new supplier, which could adversely affect manufacturing of our products and result in manufacturing delays as well as have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Our quality management system in our Redwood City manufacturing facility is currently ISO 13485:2016 certified, MDD certified and licensed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Food and Drug Branch. Our manufacturing facility is an FDA-registered medical device establishment. BSI will audit our facility to the MDR during 2021.
The FDA conducted a total of two establishment inspections of our manufacturing facility in 2014 and 2016. We believe that we are in compliance, in all material respects, with all applicable FDA and QSR requirements.
Manufacturing of the materials and components of our products are provided by approved suppliers, all of which are single source suppliers of key components, sub-assemblies and materials. The suppliers for the products are evaluated, qualified and approved through a stringent supplier management program, which includes various evaluations, assessments, qualifications, validations, testing and inspection to ensure the supplier can meet acceptable quality requirements. We implement a strict change control policy with our key suppliers to ensure that no component or process changes are made without our prior approval.
Order quantities and lead times for components purchased from suppliers are based on our forecasts derived from historical demand and anticipated future demand. Lead times for components may vary depending on the size of the
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order, time required to manufacture and test the components, specific supplier requirements and current market demand for the components, sub-assemblies and materials. We perform assembly, testing, inspection and final product release activities for our products.
Government Regulation
United States Food and Drug Administration
Our products and operations are subject to extensive and ongoing regulation by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 and its implementing regulations (FDCA), as well as other federal and state regulatory bodies in the United States. The laws and regulations govern, among other things, product design and development, pre-clinical and clinical testing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, storage, record keeping and reporting, clearance or approval, marketing, distribution, promotion, import and export and post-marketing surveillance.
Unless an exemption applies, each new or significantly modified medical device we seek to commercially distribute in the United States will require either a premarket notification to the FDA requesting permission for commercial distribution under Section 510(k) of the FDCA, also referred to as a 510(k) clearance, or approval from the FDA of a PMA application. Both the 510(k) clearance and PMA processes can be resource intensive, expensive and lengthy, and require payment of significant user fees, unless an exemption is available.
Device Classification
Under the FDCA, medical devices are classified into one of three classes—Class I, Class II or Class III—depending on the degree of risk associated with each medical device and the extent of control needed to provide reasonable assurances with respect to safety and effectiveness.
Class I includes devices with the lowest risk to the patient and are those for which safety and effectiveness can be reasonably assured by adherence to a set of FDA regulations, referred to as the General Controls for Medical Devices (General Controls), which require compliance with the applicable portions of the QSR, facility registration and product listing, reporting of adverse events and malfunctions, and as appropriate, truthful and non-misleading labeling and promotional materials. Some Class I devices, also called Class I reserved devices, also require premarket clearance by the FDA through the 510(k) premarket notification process described below. Most Class I products are exempt from the premarket notification requirements.
Class II devices are those that are subject to the General Controls, and special controls as deemed necessary by the FDA to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the device (Special Controls). These Special Controls can include performance standards, patient registries, FDA guidance documents and post-market surveillance. Most Class II devices are subject to premarket review and clearance by the FDA. Premarket review and clearance by the FDA for Class II devices is accomplished through the 510(k) premarket notification process.
Class III devices include devices deemed by the FDA to pose the greatest risk such as life-supporting or life-sustaining devices, or implantable devices, in addition to those deemed novel and not substantially equivalent following the 510(k) process. The safety and effectiveness of Class III devices cannot be reasonably assured solely by the General Controls and Special Controls described above. Therefore, these devices are subject to the PMA application process, which is generally more costly and time consuming than the 510(k) process. Through the PMA application process, the applicant must submit data and information demonstrating reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device for its intended use to the FDA’s satisfaction. Accordingly, a PMA application typically includes, but is not limited to, extensive technical information regarding device design and development, pre-clinical and clinical trial data, manufacturing information, labeling and financial disclosure information for the clinical investigators in device studies. The PMA application must provide valid scientific evidence that demonstrates to the FDA’s satisfaction a reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device for its intended use.
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The Zephyr Valve is a Class III device that has received FDA PMA approval.
The Investigational Device Exemption Process
In the United States, absent certain limited exceptions, human clinical trials intended to support medical device clearance or approval require an IDE application. Some types of studies deemed to present “non-significant risk” are deemed to have an approved IDE once certain requirements are addressed and Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is obtained. If the device presents a “significant risk” to human health, as defined by the FDA, the sponsor must submit an IDE application to the FDA and obtain IDE approval prior to commencing the human clinical trials. The IDE application must be supported by appropriate data, such as animal and laboratory testing results, showing that it is safe to test the device in humans and that the testing protocol is scientifically sound. The IDE application must be approved in advance by the FDA for a specified number of subjects. Generally, clinical trials for a significant risk device may begin once the IDE application is approved by the FDA and the study protocol and informed consent are approved by appropriate IRBs at the clinical trial sites. There can be no assurance that submission of an IDE application will result in the ability to commence clinical trials, and although the FDA’s approval of an IDE application allows clinical testing to go forward for a specified number of subjects, it does not bind the FDA to accept the results of the trial as sufficient to prove the product’s safety and effectiveness, even if the trial meets its intended success criteria.
All clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with the FDA’s IDE regulations that govern investigational device labeling, prohibition of promotion, recordkeeping, and reporting and monitoring responsibilities of study sponsors and study investigators. Clinical trials must further comply with the FDA’s good clinical practice regulations for IRB approval and for informed consent and other human subject protections. Required records and reports are subject to inspection by the FDA. The results of clinical testing may be unfavorable, or, even if the intended safety and effectiveness success criteria are achieved, may not be considered sufficient for the FDA to grant marketing approval or clearance of a product. The commencement or completion of any clinical trial may be delayed or halted, or be inadequate to support approval of a PMA application, for numerous reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:
the FDA or other regulatory authorities do not approve a clinical trial protocol or a clinical trial, or place a clinical trial on hold;
patients do not enroll in clinical trials at the rate expected;
patients do not comply with trial protocols;
patient follow-up is not at the rate expected;
patients experience adverse events;
patients die during a clinical trial, even though their death may not be related to the products that are part of the trial;
device malfunctions occur with unexpected frequency or potential adverse consequences;
side effects or device malfunctions of similar products already in the market that change the FDA’s view toward approval of new or similar PMAs or result in the imposition of new requirements or testing;
IRBs and third-party clinical investigators may delay or reject the trial protocol;
third-party clinical investigators decline to participate in a trial or do not perform a trial on the anticipated schedule or consistent with the clinical trial protocol, investigator agreement, investigational plan, good clinical practices, the IDE regulations, or other FDA or IRB requirements;
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third-party investigators are disqualified by the FDA;
we or third-party organizations do not perform data collection, monitoring and analysis in a timely or accurate manner or consistent with the clinical trial protocol or investigational or statistical plans, or otherwise fail to comply with the IDE regulations governing responsibilities, records and reports of sponsors of clinical investigations;
third-party clinical investigators have significant financial interests related to us or our study such that the FDA deems the study results unreliable, or we or third-party clinical investigators fail to disclose such interests;
regulatory inspections of our clinical trials or manufacturing facilities, which may, among other things, require us to undertake corrective action or suspend or terminate our clinical trials;
changes in government regulations or administrative actions;
the interim or final results of the clinical trial are inconclusive or unfavorable as to safety or effectiveness; or
the FDA concludes that our trial design is unreliable or inadequate to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.
The PMA Approval Process
Following receipt of a PMA application, the FDA conducts an administrative review to determine whether the application is sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review. If it is not, the agency will refuse to file the PMA. If it is, the FDA will accept the application for filing and begin the review. The FDA, by statute and by regulation, has 180 days to review a filed PMA application, although the review of an application more often occurs over a significantly longer period of time. During this review period, the FDA may request additional information or clarification of information already provided, and the FDA may issue a major deficiency letter to the applicant, requesting the applicant’s response to deficiencies communicated by the FDA. The FDA considers a PMA or PMA supplement to have been voluntarily withdrawn if an applicant fails to respond to an FDA request for information (for example, a major deficiency letter) within a total of 360 days. Before approving or denying a PMA, an FDA advisory committee may review the PMA at a public meeting and provide the FDA with the committee’s recommendation on whether the FDA should approve the submission, approve it with specific conditions, or not approve it. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.
Prior to approval of a PMA, the FDA may conduct inspections of the clinical trial data and clinical trial sites, as well as inspections of the manufacturing facility and processes. Overall, the FDA’s review of a PMA application generally takes between one and three years, but may take significantly longer. The FDA can delay, limit or deny approval of a PMA application for many reasons, including:
the device may not be shown safe or effective to the FDA’s satisfaction;
the data from pre-clinical studies or clinical trials may be found unreliable or insufficient to support approval;
the manufacturing process or facilities may not meet applicable requirements; and
changes in FDA approval policies or adoption of new regulations may require additional data.
If the FDA evaluation of a PMA is favorable, the FDA will issue either an approval letter, or an approvable letter, the latter of which usually contains a number of conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the PMA. When and if those conditions have been fulfilled to the satisfaction of the FDA, the agency will issue a PMA
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approval letter authorizing commercial marketing of the device, subject to the conditions of approval and the limitations established in the approval letter. If the FDA’s evaluation of a PMA application or manufacturing facilities is not favorable, the FDA will deny approval of the PMA or issue a not approvable letter. The FDA also may determine that additional tests or clinical trials are necessary, in which case the PMA approval may be delayed for several months or years while the trials are conducted and data is submitted in an amendment to the PMA, or the PMA is withdrawn and resubmitted when the data are available. The PMA process can be expensive, uncertain and lengthy and a number of devices for which the FDA approval has been sought by other companies have never been approved by the FDA for marketing.
New PMA applications or PMA supplements are required for modification to the manufacturing process, equipment or facility, quality control procedures, sterilization, packaging, expiration date, labeling, device specifications, ingredients, materials or design of a device that has been approved through the PMA process. PMA supplements often require submission of the same type of information as an initial PMA application, except that the supplement is limited to information needed to support any changes from the device covered by the approved PMA application and may or may not require as extensive technical or clinical data or the convening of an advisory panel, depending on the nature of the proposed change.
In approving a PMA application, as a condition of approval, the FDA may also require some form of post-approval study (PAS) or post-market surveillance, whereby the applicant conducts a follow-up study or follows certain patient groups for a number of years and makes periodic reports to the FDA on the clinical status of those patients when necessary to protect the public health or to provide additional or longer term safety and effectiveness data for the device. We are subject to certain PAS requirements under our PMA for the Zephyr Valve. PAS reports for the Zephyr Valve Registry study are required every six months for the first two years of the study and annually thereafter. PAS reports for the LIBERATE extension study are required annually. The FDA may also require post-market surveillance for certain devices cleared under a 510(k) notification, such as implants or life-supporting or life-sustaining devices used outside a device user facility. The FDA may also approve a PMA application with other post-approval conditions intended to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the device, such as, among other things, restrictions on labeling, promotion, sale, distribution and use.
Pervasive and Continuing Regulation
After a device is placed on the market, numerous regulatory requirements continue to apply. These include:
the FDA’s QSR, which requires manufacturers, including their suppliers, to follow stringent design, testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance procedures during all aspects of the manufacturing process;
labeling regulations and FDA prohibitions against the promotion of products for uncleared, unapproved or off-label uses;
medical device reporting regulations, which require that manufacturers report to the FDA if their device may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury or malfunctioned in a way that would likely cause or contribute to a death or serious injury if the malfunction were to recur;
medical device recalls, which require that manufacturers report to the FDA any recall of a medical device, provided the recall was initiated to either reduce a risk to health posed by the device, or to remedy a violation of the FDCA caused by the device that may present a risk to health; and
post-market surveillance regulations, which apply when necessary to protect the public health or to provide additional safety and effectiveness data for the device.
We have registered with the FDA as a medical device manufacturer and have obtained a manufacturing license from the CDPH. The FDA and CDPH have broad post-market and regulatory enforcement powers. We are subject to unannounced inspections by the FDA and the Food and Drug Branch of CDPH to determine our compliance with
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the QSR and other regulations, and these inspections may include the manufacturing facilities of our third-party suppliers. Additionally, our Notified Body, the BSI, regularly inspects our manufacturing, design and operational facilities to ensure ongoing ISO 13485 compliance in order to maintain our CE mark. Failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements can result in enforcement action by the FDA or other regulatory bodies, which may include any of the following sanctions:
warning letters, fines, injunctions, consent decrees and civil penalties;
repair, replacement, refunds, recall or seizure of our products;
operating restrictions, partial suspension or total shutdown of production;
refusing our requests for 510(k) clearance or PMA approval of new products, new intended uses or modifications to existing products;
withdrawing 510(k) clearance or PMA approvals that have already been granted; and
criminal prosecution.
European Union
Our portfolio of products is regulated in the European Union as a medical device per the European Union Medical Devices Directive (Council Directive 93/42/EEC) (MDD) and, starting on May 26, 2021, the Medical Device Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2017/745) (MDR). The MDD and MDR set out the basic regulatory framework for medical devices in the European Union. The system of regulating medical devices operates by way of a certification for each medical device. Each certified device is marked with the CE mark which shows that the device has a Certificate de Conformité. There are national bodies known as Competent Authorities in each member state which oversee the implementation of the MDD or MDR within their jurisdiction. The means for achieving the requirements for the CE mark vary according to the nature of the device. Devices are classified in accordance with their perceived risks, similar to the United States system. The class of a product determines the conformity assessment required before the CE mark can be placed on a product. Conformity assessments for our products are carried out as required by the MDD or MDR. Each member state can appoint Notified Bodies within its jurisdiction. If a Notified Body of one member state has issued a Certificat de Conformité, the device can be sold throughout the European Union without further conformance tests being required in other member states. The CE mark is contingent upon continued compliance with the applicable regulations and the quality system requirements of the ISO 13485 standard. Our current CE mark is issued by BSI under the MDD. We will obtain a CE mark under the MDR prior to the expiration of the existing CE certificate.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), established federal protection for the privacy and security of health information. Under HIPAA, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has issued regulations to protect the privacy and security of PHI used or disclosed by “Covered Entities,” including certain healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses, and their respective “Business Associates” that create, receive, maintain or transmit individually identifiable health information for or on behalf of a covered entity as well as their covered subcontractors, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. HIPAA also regulates standardization of data content, codes and formats used in healthcare transactions and standardization of identifiers for health plans and certain healthcare providers. The HIPAA privacy regulations protect medical records and other PHI by limiting their use and release, giving patients the right to access their medical records and limiting most disclosures of health information to the minimum amount necessary to accomplish an intended purpose. The HIPAA security standards require the adoption of administrative, physical and technical safeguards and the adoption of written security policies and procedures. In addition, HIPAA requires Covered Entities to execute Business Associate Agreements with their Business
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Associates and subcontractors who provide services for or on behalf of Covered Entities. Business Associates have a corresponding obligation to maintain appropriate Business Associate Agreements under HIPAA. In addition, companies that would not otherwise be subject to HIPAA may become contractually obligated to follow HIPAA requirements through agreements with Covered Entities and Business Associates, and some of our customers may require us to agree to these provisions.
In addition, various states, such as California and Massachusetts, have implemented similar privacy laws and regulations, such as the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, that impose restrictive requirements regulating the use and disclosure of health information and other personally identifiable information. In addition to fines and penalties imposed upon violators, some of these state laws also afford private rights of action to individuals who believe their personal information has been misused. California’s patient privacy laws, for example, provide for penalties of up to $250,000 and permit injured parties to sue for damages. The interplay of federal and state laws may be subject to varying interpretations by courts and government agencies, creating complex compliance issues and potentially exposing us to additional expense, adverse publicity and liability. The compliance requirements of these laws, including additional breach reporting requirements, and the penalties for violation vary widely, and new privacy and security laws in this area are evolving. Requirements of these laws and penalties for violations vary widely.
If we or our operations are found to be in violation of HIPAA, HITECH or their implementing regulations, and similar state laws, we may be subject to significant penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, fines, imprisonment and exclusion from participation in federal or state healthcare programs, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. In addition, HITECH created four new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to Business Associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions.
U.S. Federal, State and Foreign Fraud and Abuse Laws
The federal and state governments have enacted, and actively enforce, a number of laws to address fraud and abuse in federal healthcare programs. Our business is subject to compliance with these laws.
Anti-Kickback Statutes
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in exchange for or to induce either the referral of an individual, or the furnishing or arranging for a good or service, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation.
The definition of “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value, including, for example, gifts, certain discounts, the furnishing of free supplies, equipment or services, credit arrangements, payment of cash and waivers of payments. 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 businesses, the statute has been violated. Violations of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute may result in civil monetary penalties up to $100,000 for each violation, plus up to three times the remuneration involved. Violations can also result in criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to ten years. Similarly, violations can result in exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Additionally, the intent standard under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute was amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Affordable Care Act) to a stricter standard such that a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. Further, the Affordable Care Act codified case law that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the civil False Claims Act (FCA).
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There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory “safe harbors” protecting some common activities from prosecution, but the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly and require strict compliance to offer protection. The failure of a transaction or arrangement to fit precisely within one or more safe harbors does not necessarily mean that it is illegal or that prosecution will be pursued. However, conduct and business arrangements that do not fully satisfy an applicable safe harbor may result in increased scrutiny by government enforcement authorities such as the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Many states have adopted laws similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Some of these state prohibitions apply to referral of recipients for healthcare products or services reimbursed by any source, not only government healthcare programs, and may apply to payments made directly by the patient.
Government officials have focused their enforcement efforts on the marketing of healthcare services and products, among other activities, and recently have brought cases against companies, and certain individual sales, marketing and executive personnel, for allegedly offering unlawful inducements to potential or existing customers in an attempt to procure their business.
Federal False Claims Laws
The federal false claims laws, including the FCA, imposes liability on any person or entity that, among other things, knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment by a federal healthcare program. The qui tam provisions of the FCA allow a private individual to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging that the defendant has violated the FCA and to share in any monetary recovery. In addition, various states have enacted false claims laws analogous to the FCA, and many of these state laws apply where a claim is submitted to any third-party payor and not only a federal healthcare program.
When an entity is determined to have violated the FCA, it may be required to pay up to three times the actual damages sustained by the government, plus significant civil fines and penalties. As part of a settlement, the government may require the entity to enter into a corporate integrity agreement, which imposes certain compliance, certification and reporting obligations. There are many potential bases for liability under the FCA. Liability arises, primarily, when an entity knowingly submits, or causes another to submit, a false claim for reimbursement to the federal government. The federal government has used the FCA to assert liability on the basis of kickbacks, or in instances in which manufacturers have provided billing or coding advice to providers that the government considered to be inaccurate. In these cases, the manufacturer faces liability for “causing” a false claim. In addition, the federal government has prosecuted companies under the FCA in connection with off-label promotion of products. Our activities, including those relating to the reporting of discount and rebate information and other information affecting federal, state and third-party reimbursement of our products (such as our patient reimbursement support programs) and the sale and marketing of our products, may be subject to scrutiny under these laws.
While we are unaware of any current matters, we are unable to predict whether we will be subject to actions under the FCA or a similar state law, or the impact of such actions. However, the costs of defending such claims, as well as any sanctions imposed, could significantly affect our financial performance.
Civil Monetary Penalties
The Civil Monetary Penalty Act of 1981 imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal healthcare program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent, or offering or transferring remuneration to a federal healthcare beneficiary that a person knows or should know is likely to influence the beneficiary’s decision to order or receive items or services reimbursable by the government from a particular provider or supplier.
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Open Payments
The Physician Payments Sunshine Act (Open Payments), enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, requires certain pharmaceutical, medical device and medical supply manufacturers covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report annually to CMS: payments and transfers of value to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, and applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations, as well as to report annually ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Failure to submit required information may result in civil monetary penalties of $11,052 per failure up to an aggregate of $165,786 per year (or up to an aggregate of $1.105 million per year for “knowing failures”), for all payments, transfers of value or ownership or investment interests that are not timely, accurately and completely reported in an annual submission, and may result in liability under other federal laws or regulations. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include payments and other transfers of value made in the previous year to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, anesthesiologist assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives. We are subject to Open Payments and the information we disclose may lead to greater scrutiny, which may result in modifications to established practices and additional costs. Additionally, similar reporting requirements have also been enacted on the state level domestically, and an increasing number of countries worldwide either have adopted or are considering similar laws requiring transparency of interactions with healthcare professionals.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prohibits any United States individual or business from paying, offering or authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the foreign entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with accounting provisions requiring us to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the corporation, including international subsidiaries, if any, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.
International Laws
In Europe, various countries have adopted anti-bribery laws providing for severe consequences in the form of criminal penalties and significant fines for individuals or companies committing a bribery offense. Violations of these anti-bribery laws, or allegations of such violations, could have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and reputation.
For instance, in the United Kingdom, under the U.K. Bribery Act of 2010 (Bribery Act), a bribery occurs when a person offers, gives or promises to give a financial or other advantage to induce or reward another individual to improperly perform certain functions or activities, including any function of a public nature. Bribery of foreign public officials also falls within the scope of the Bribery Act. An individual found in violation of the U.K. Bribery Act of 2010, faces imprisonment of up to ten years. In addition, the individual can be subject to an unlimited fine, as can commercial organizations for failure to prevent bribery.
There are also international privacy laws that impose restrictions on the access, use and disclosure of health information. All of these laws may impact our business. Our failure to comply with these privacy laws or significant changes in the laws restricting our ability to obtain required patient information could significantly impact our business and our future business plans.
United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Medicare is a federal program administered by CMS through Medicare Administrative Contractors. Available to individuals age 65 or over, and certain other individuals, the Medicare program provides, among other things, healthcare benefits that cover, within prescribed limits, the major costs of most medically necessary care for such individuals, subject to certain deductibles and copayments.
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CMS has established guidelines for the coverage and reimbursement of certain products and procedures by Medicare. In general, in order to be reimbursed by Medicare, a healthcare procedure furnished to a Medicare beneficiary must be reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury, or to improve the functioning of a malformed body part. The methodology for determining coverage status and the amount of Medicare reimbursement varies based upon, among other factors, the setting in which a Medicare beneficiary received healthcare products and services. Any changes in federal legislation, regulations and policy affecting CMS coverage and reimbursement relative to the procedure using our products could have a material effect on our performance. While no NCD or LCD exists for endobronchial valves currently, CMS could develop an NCD, or one or more Medicare contractors could develop an LCD that either restricts coverage or restricts the patient population deemed appropriate for the treatment.
CMS also administers the Medicaid program, a cooperative federal/state program that provides medical assistance benefits to qualifying low income and medically needy persons. State participation in Medicaid is optional, and each state is given discretion in developing and administering its own Medicaid program, subject to certain federal requirements pertaining to payment levels, eligibility criteria and minimum categories of services. The coverage, method and level of reimbursement vary from state to state and is subject to each state’s budget restraints. Changes to the availability of coverage, method or level of reimbursement for relevant procedures may affect future revenue negatively if reimbursement amounts are decreased or discontinued.
All CMS programs are subject to statutory and regulatory changes, retroactive and prospective rate adjustments, administrative rulings, interpretations of policy, intermediary determinations, and government funding restrictions, all of which may materially increase or decrease the rate of program payments to healthcare facilities and other healthcare providers, including those paid for Zephyr Valve treatments.
United States Health Reform
Changes in healthcare policy could increase our costs and subject us to additional regulatory requirements that may interrupt commercialization of our current and future products. Changes in healthcare policy could increase our costs, decrease our revenue and impact sales of and reimbursement for our current and future products. The Affordable Care Act substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacts our industry. The United States 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 products profitably. Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality or expanding access. Current and future legislative proposals to further reform healthcare or reduce healthcare costs may limit coverage of or lower reimbursement for the procedures associated with the use of our products. The cost containment measures that payors and providers are instituting and the effect of any healthcare reform initiative implemented in the future could impact our revenue from the sale of our products.
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the United States, for example, has changed healthcare financing and delivery by both governmental and private insurers substantially, and affected medical device manufacturers significantly. The Affordable Care Act also provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research, and implemented payment system reforms including a national pilot program on payment bundling to encourage hospitals, physicians and other providers to improve the coordination, quality and efficiency of certain healthcare services through bundled payment models. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act has expanded eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs and created a new Patient‑Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research. There have been executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. For example President Trump signed several Executive Orders and other directives designed to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Concurrently, Congress considered legislation to repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the Affordable Care Act. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, it has enacted laws that modify certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act such as removing penalties, starting January 1, 2019, for not complying with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to carry health insurance and delaying the implementation of certain fees mandated by the Affordable Care
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Act. On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional in its entirety because the individual mandate was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid as well. The United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing this case, but it is unknown when a decision will be reached. Although the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The executive order also instructs certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. It is unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other such litigation and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the Affordable Care Act and our business.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. For example, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, included reductions to CMS payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken. However, COVID-19 relief legislation suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. Additionally, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, among other things, reduced CMS payments to several providers, including hospitals, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.
We believe that there will continue to be proposals by legislators at both the federal and state levels, regulators and third-party payors to reduce costs while expanding individual healthcare benefits. Certain of these changes could impose additional limitations on the rates we will be able to charge for our current and future products or the amounts of reimbursement available for our current and future products from governmental agencies or third-party payors. Current and future healthcare reform legislation and policies could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition. Further, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Human Capital Management
Employees
As of December 31, 2020, we had 170 employees in the U.S., 38 in Europe, and 12 in Asia Pacific. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or are a party to a collective bargaining agreement. We believe that we have good relations with our employees.
Code of Business Conduct and Business Ethics
Pulmonx is dedicated to conducting its business consistent with the highest standard of business ethics. Each employee receives and agrees to follow the Pulmonx Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Employees are encouraged to discuss any related concerns with management or report concerns anonymously through an Ethics Hotline.
Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
At Pulmonx, we value diverse perspectives and experiences. We strive to create an inclusive culture where differences drive innovation. In 2020, we created a task force that seeks to ensure we make meaningful progress in advancing our commitment to being an inclusive organization where employees feel valued, respected, and heard.
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Talent Management & Development
We believe that our employees are the foundation of our business and we are committed to the development and retention of our workforce. Our goal at Pulmonx is to become a “Talent Destination.”
Compensation Philosophy
To ensure we are able to attract, retain and develop high performing teams, we engage external compensation advisors to guide our efforts in developing cash and equity rewards programs that are competitive with our peer companies.
Total rewards
We offer competitive health and welfare programs to support our employees and their families’ physical, mental, and financial well-being. Our program offerings include the following:
Medical, dental and vision insurance
Retirement plan
Flexible Spending Accounts for medical expenses, childcare, parking and transit
Life insurance
Short & long-term disability
Paid time off
Employee assistance program
In an effort to further align the interests of our employees with our shareholders, employees in most countries in which we operate have the opportunity to have an ownership interest in our company. We have an equity-based incentive plan that provides for the grant of stock options and awards to eligible employees. Additionally, we implemented an Employee Stock Purchase Plan that enables eligible employees to purchase our common stock at a discount through payroll contributions.
COVID-19 Health and Safety
The health and safety of our employees is a key focus at our Company. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company established safety protocols, facility enhancements, and work from home strategies to protect our employees. Some of our employees continue to work remotely. Employees that work on site are provided with personal protective equipment and are required to adhere to protocols for wearing masks at all times, social distancing, and reporting and documenting exposures, all following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control or mandated by local regulations.
Available Information
Our website address is www.pulmonx.com. Information found on, or accessible through, our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We file electronically with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, 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 Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. We make available on our website at www.pulmonx.com, free of
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charge, copies of these reports and other information as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. All SEC filings are also available at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov
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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Our business involves significant risks, some of which are described below. You should carefully consider these risks, as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes and Part II, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” The occurrence of any of the events or developments described below could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, prospects and stock price. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations.
Risks Related to Our Business and Strategy
We have a history of significant net losses, which we expect to continue, and we may not be able to achieve or sustain profitability in the future.
We have incurred net losses since our inception. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we had net losses of $32.2 million and $20.7 million, respectively, and we expect to continue to incur additional losses. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $242.7 million. We expect to continue to incur significant sales and marketing, research and development, regulatory and other expenses as we grow our sales force and expand our marketing efforts to increase adoption of our products, expand existing relationships with our customers, obtain regulatory clearances or approvals for our planned or future products, conduct clinical trials on our existing and planned or future products and develop new products or add new features to our existing products. The net losses that we incur may fluctuate significantly from period to period. We will need to generate significant additional revenue in order to achieve and sustain profitability. Even if we achieve profitability, we cannot be sure that we will remain profitable for any substantial period of time.
We have limited experience marketing and selling our solution.
We began commercializing our solution and the Zephyr Valve in the United States in 2018 and, through our predecessors, in Europe in 2003. Our limited commercialization experience and limited number of approved or cleared products make it difficult to evaluate our current business and predict our future prospects. These factors also make it difficult for us to forecast our future financial performance and growth, and such forecasts are subject to a number of uncertainties, including our ability to successfully complete clinical trials and obtain pre-market approval or 510(k) clearance by the FDA for future planned products in the United States or in key international markets. Our commercialization efforts will depend on the efforts of our management and sales team, our third-party suppliers, physicians and hospitals, and general economic conditions, among other factors, including the following:
the effectiveness of our marketing and sales efforts in the United States and internationally;
our success in educating physicians and patients about the benefits, administration and use of the Zephyr Valves;
the acceptance by physicians, patients and payors of the safety and effectiveness of the Zephyr Valves, including the long-term data;
our third-party suppliers’ ability to supply the components of the Zephyr Valves in a timely manner, in accordance with our specifications and in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements, and to remain in good standing with regulatory agencies;
the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;
the availability, perceived advantages, relative cost, relative safety and relative efficacy of alternative and competing therapies;
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our ability to obtain, maintain and enforce our intellectual property rights in and to the Zephyr Valves;
the emergence of competing technologies and other adverse market developments, and our need to enhance the Zephyr Valves or develop new products to maintain market share in response to such competing technologies or market developments;
our ability to raise additional capital on acceptable terms, or at all, if needed to support the commercialization of the Zephyr Valves; and
our ability to achieve and maintain compliance with all regulatory requirements applicable to the Zephyr Valves.
If our assumptions regarding the risks and uncertainties we face, which we use to plan our business, are incorrect or change due to circumstances in our business or our markets, or if we do not address these risks successfully, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We currently rely on a single product, the Zephyr Valve, which can only be marketed for limited indications, and if we are not successful in commercializing the Zephyr Valve, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be negatively affected.
Our business currently depends entirely on our ability to successfully commercialize the Zephyr Valve, as well as our overall solution, in a timely manner. We have no other therapeutic products currently approved for sale in the United States and we may never be able to develop additional marketable products or enhancements to the Zephyr Valve solution. Currently, our solution is only available to treat patients with severe emphysema in the United States and additional limited indications internationally where we have obtained the necessary regulatory approvals or clearances. Therefore, we are dependent on widespread market adoption of our solution for this limited use-case and we will continue to be dependent on this use-case for the foreseeable future. There can be no assurance that our solution will gain a substantial degree of market acceptance among specialty physicians, patients or healthcare providers. Our failure to successfully increase sales of our solution or develop solutions that address forms of COPD beyond severe emphysema and obtain any necessary regulatory approvals or clearances in connection therewith could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our success depends in large part on the success of the Zephyr Valve. If we are unable to successfully market and sell the Zephyr Valves, as well as our overall solution, to patients with severe emphysema, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our success will depend on our ability to bring awareness to our solution, and the Zephyr Valve in particular, and educate hospitals and physicians regarding the benefits of our solution over existing products and services and to encourage those parties to recommend our solution to their patients. Sales of Zephyr Valves and delivery catheters accounted for most of our revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 and we expect that sales of Zephyr Valves and delivery catheters will continue to account for most of our revenue going forward. We do not know if our solution will be successful over the long term. Moreover, market acceptance may be hindered if physicians are not presented with compelling data demonstrating the efficacy of our solution compared to alternative procedures and technologies. Any studies we, or third parties which we sponsor, may conduct comparing our solution with alternative treatments for severe emphysema will be expensive, time consuming and may not yield positive results. Additionally, adoption will be directly influenced by a number of financial factors, including the ability of providers to obtain sufficient reimbursement from payors for deploying our solution. The safety, efficacy, performance and cost-effectiveness of our solution, on a stand-alone basis and relative to competing treatments and services, will determine the willingness of payors to cover the procedure. While we have established positive coverage policies with major national private payors, such as Aetna, Humana, Health Care Service Corporation, and Highmark, other commercial payors, including other plans in the Blue Cross Blue Shield family of plans, do not currently consider our solution medically necessary. No matter the level of coverage by the commercial payor, each patient is generally considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Medicare, currently without a public coverage policy, covers our solution for patients when medically necessary on a case-by-case basis. Physicians may be
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reluctant to recommend our solution to patients covered by such plans with no specific policies because of the uncertainty surrounding reimbursement, rates and the administrative burden of interfacing with patients to answer their questions and support their efforts to obtain adequate reimbursement for our solution. If physicians do not adopt and recommend our solution, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business is dependent on hospital, physician and patient adoption of our solution as a treatment for severe emphysema. If hospitals, physicians or patients are unwilling to change current practices to adopt our solution, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our primary strategy to grow our revenue is to take a stepwise approach to market development across key stakeholders in severe emphysema treatment, such as hospitals, physicians and patients. To succeed, our sales force must build deep relationships with pulmonary physicians to encourage them and their hospitals to develop emphysema centers of excellence, where physicians are instructed in the workup of advanced COPD and performance of bronchoscopic lung volume reduction using our solution, that offer our solution as a treatment for severe emphysema. In addition, we utilize direct-to-patient marketing initiatives to increase demand through patient empowerment. While the number of hospitals incorporating our solution has increased in recent years, there is a significant group of hospitals and physicians who have not yet adopted our solution, and additional hospitals and physicians may choose not to adopt our solution for a number of reasons, including:
inadequate recruiting or training of talented sales force in existing and new markets to facilitate outreach and further adoption and awareness of Zephyr Valve;
lack of experience with our solution and the Zephyr Valve as a treatment alternative;
the failure of key opinion leaders to continue to provide recommendations regarding the Zephyr Valve, or to assure physicians, patients and healthcare payors of the benefits of the Zephyr Valve as an attractive alternative to other treatment options;
perceived inadequacy of evidence supporting clinical benefits or cost-effectiveness of our solution over existing alternatives;
a perception among some physicians of patients’ inability to tolerate the procedure required to implant our solution;
liability risks generally associated with the use of new products and procedures;
the training required to use new products;
lack of availability of adequate third-party payor coverage or reimbursement;
access to hospital bidding processes;
a decrease or delay in the number of procedures performed using our solution as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
competing products and alternatives; and
introduction of other novel alternative therapies to treat severe emphysema.
We focus our sales, marketing and training efforts primarily on pulmonologists. However, physicians from other disciplines, including primary care physicians, as well as other medical professionals, such as nurse practitioners, respiratory technicians, radiologists and community physicians, are often the initial point of contact for patients with severe emphysema.
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These physicians and other medical professionals commonly screen and treat patients with severe emphysema, and are likely to recommend medical management, inhaled medications, pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen, or more invasive LVRS or lung transplantations. We believe that educating physicians in these disciplines and other medical professionals about the clinical merits and patient benefits of our solution as a minimally invasive treatment for severe emphysema is a key element of increasing the adoption of our solution. If additional physicians or other medical professionals do not adopt, or existing physician customers cease referring patients to, our solution for any reason, including those listed above, our ability to execute our growth strategy will be impaired, and it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, patients will not qualify for our solution if, among other potential reasons, their lung anatomy has collateral ventilation that does not allow for effective treatment with the Zephyr Valve. Patients may not adopt our solution if they are reluctant to undergo a minimally invasive procedure, if they are worried about potential adverse effects of our solution, such as infection, discomfort or weakness, or if they are unable to obtain adequate third-party coverage or reimbursement.
If we fail to receive access to hospital facilities, our sales may decrease.
In the United States, in order for physicians to use the Zephyr Valve, we expect that the hospital facilities where these physicians treat patients will typically require us to enter into purchasing contracts setting forth the terms and conditions under which the hospital facilities will purchase Zephyr Valves. This process can be lengthy and time-consuming and require extensive negotiations and management time, and potentially result in delays and increases to the sales cycle before we can sell the Zephyr Valve to these hospitals. In the European Union, certain institutions may require us to engage in a contract bidding process in the event that such institutions are considering making purchase commitments that exceed specified cost thresholds, which vary by jurisdiction. These processes are only open at certain periods of time, and we may not be successful in the bidding process. If we do not receive access to hospital facilities via these contracting processes or otherwise, or if we are unable to secure contracts or tender successful bids, our sales may decrease, and our operating results may be harmed. Furthermore, we may expend significant effort in these time-consuming processes and still may not obtain a purchase contract from such hospitals.
A pandemic, epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease in the United States or worldwide, including the outbreak of the novel strain of coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has had a material adverse impact on our business.
If a pandemic, epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease occurs in the United States or worldwide, our business may be adversely affected. In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was identified in Wuhan, China. Since then, SARS-CoV-2, and the resulting disease, COVID-19, has spread to most countries and all 50 states within the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations by decreasing and delaying substantially all procedures performed using our products, and we expect the pandemic to continue to adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations for the foreseeable future. Similar to the general trend in elective and other surgical procedures, the number of procedures performed using our products has decreased substantially as healthcare organizations across the globe have prioritized the treatment of patients with COVID-19 or have altered their operations to prepare for and respond to the pandemic. For example, in the United States, governmental authorities have recommended, and, in certain cases, required, that elective, specialty and other procedures and appointments be suspended or canceled to avoid non-essential patient exposure to medical environments and potential infection with COVID-19 and to focus limited resources and personnel capacity toward the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has also adversely impacted the number of procedures using the Zephyr Valve as hospitals have had to, and continue to, focus on COVID-19 and as patients generally sought to postpone healthcare visits and treatments. Specifically, beginning in the second half of March 2020, procedures using our products were temporarily postponed or cancelled as COVID-19 spread to the various regions across the globe where we conduct our business and sell our products. Beginning in May 2020, we began to see signs of a recovery in our business, and by September 30, 2020 the total number of Zephyr Valves sold in the third quarter exceeded the total number of Zephyr Valves sold during the first quarter of 2020. In November and December 2020, a resurgence of COVID-19 led to a
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decrease in procedure volumes and our revenues in the fourth quarter of 2020 declined compared to revenues in the third quarter of 2020. Our sales continued to be impacted by COVID-19 in January and February 2021. The COVID-19 driven impact on procedure volumes extended through the first two months of 2021. We have seen initial indicators in March 2021 that the resurgence of COVID-19 is diminishing and we anticipate improving sales during 2021, assuming the efficacy, availability and delivery of vaccines as well as other societal responses to the pandemic. Despite these signs of recovery of or business, we cannot be certain that any recovery will be sustained, or that a further resurgence of COVID-19 will not occur in 2021. We believe many of the measures adopted in response to, and challenges resulting, from COVID-19 will likely continue for the duration of the pandemic, which is uncertain, and are expected to continue to significantly reduce our revenue and adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations for the duration of the pandemic. As a result, we cannot assure you that our recent volume of Zephyr Valves sold are indicative of future results or that we will not experience additional adverse or materially adverse impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of Zephyr Valves sold in the future may decrease as the backlog of patients who have cancelled or postponed their procedures due to the pandemic is reduced. The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted our business, financial condition and results of operations by significantly decreasing and delaying the number of procedures performed using our products, and we expect the pandemic to continue to adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. Further, once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, there may be a substantial backlog of patients seeking appointments with physicians and surgeries to be performed at hospitals relating to a variety of medical conditions, and as a result, patients seeking treatment with Zephyr Valves may have to navigate limited provider capacity. We believe this limited provider and hospital capacity could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations once the pandemic subsides and following the end of the pandemic.
Numerous state and local jurisdictions imposed, and others in the future may impose, “shelter-in-place” orders, quarantines, executive orders and similar government orders and restrictions for their residents to control the spread of COVID-19. On March 19, 2020, the governor of California, where our headquarters are located, issued “stay at home” orders limiting non-essential activities, travel and business operations. Such orders or restrictions have resulted in reduced operations at our headquarters (including our manufacturing facility), work stoppages, slowdowns and delays, travel restrictions and cancellation of events and have restricted the efforts of our sales representatives, thereby significantly and negatively impacting our operations. Other disruptions or potential disruptions include restrictions on the ability of our sales representatives and other personnel to travel and access customers for training and case support; inability of our suppliers to manufacture components and parts and to deliver these to us on a timely basis, or at all; disruptions in our production schedule and ability to manufacture and assemble products; inventory shortages or obsolescence; delays in actions of regulatory bodies; delays in clinical trials and studies; diversion of or limitations on employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the operations of our business, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with groups of people; delays in growing or reductions in our sales organization, including through delays in hiring, lay-offs, furloughs or other losses of sales representatives; restrictions in our ability to ship our products to customers; business adjustments or disruptions of certain third parties, including suppliers, medical institutions and clinical investigators with whom we conduct business; negative impact on our customers’ credit profiles, which may adversely impact our future collection experience; and additional government requirements or other incremental mitigation efforts that may further impact our or our suppliers’ capacity to manufacture our products. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including new information which may emerge concerning the severity and spread of COVID-19 and the actions to contain COVID-19 or treat its impact, among others.
While the potential economic impact brought by and the duration of any pandemic, epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease, including COVID-19, may be difficult to assess or predict, the widespread COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in, and may continue to result in, significant disruption of global financial markets, reducing our ability to access capital, which could in the future negatively affect our liquidity. In addition, the recession and market correction resulting from the spread of an infectious disease, including COVID-19, has materially affected our business. Such economic recession could have a material adverse effect on our long-term business as hospitals curtail and reduce capital and overall spending. In addition, the current economic downturn is resulting in significant job losses and reductions in disposable income and if patients are unable to obtain or maintain health insurance policies, this may significantly impact their ability to pay for the procedures utilizing our products, further
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negatively impacting our business, financial condition and results of operations. To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our business and financial results, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section.
Use of our solution requires appropriate physician training, and inadequate training may lead to negative patient outcomes and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The successful implantation of the Zephyr Valve depends in part on the training and skill of the physician performing the procedure and on adherence to appropriate patient selection and proper techniques provided in training sessions conducted by our training faculty. For example, we train physicians to ensure correct patient selection and treatment planning using the StratX Platform and Chartis System, and proper placement of the Zephyr Valve. Physicians could experience difficulty with the technique necessary to successfully implant the valve and may not achieve the technical competency necessary to complete the training program, or they could fail to properly learn how to interpret our StratX Platform or Chartis System. Moreover, physicians rely on their previous medical training and experience when using our solution, and we cannot guarantee that all such physicians will have the necessary skills to properly identify ideal candidates and to perform the procedure. We do not control which physicians use our solution or how much training they receive, and physicians who have not completed our training sessions may nonetheless attempt to use our solution. If physicians implant the Zephyr Valve incorrectly, or do so in a manner that is inconsistent with its labeled indications, with components that are not our products, in patients who are not good candidates, or without adhering to or completing our training sessions, their patient outcomes may not be consistent with the outcomes achieved in our clinical trials. This result may negatively impact the perception of patient benefit and safety, and limit adoption of our solution as a treatment for severe emphysema and our products that facilitate the procedure, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, we may experience difficulty growing the number of physicians who complete our training program if patient demand is low, if the length of time necessary to train each physician is longer than expected, if the capacity of our commercial organization to train physicians is less than expected or if we are unable to sufficiently grow our sales force. All these events would lead to fewer trained physicians qualified to implant the Zephyr Valve, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Use of the Zephyr Valve involves risks and may result in complications, including pneumothorax or death, and is contraindicated in certain patients, which may limit adoption and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The most common serious complications relating to the use of the Zephyr Valve include pneumothoraces, worsening of COPD symptoms, hemoptysis, pneumonia, dyspnea, respiratory failure and, in rare cases, death. Pneumothoraces occur when a lung collapses due to an air leak inside the lung and may result from rapid shifts in air volume in the chest as the target lobe deflates and the neighboring lobe expands following the Zephyr Valve treatment. A pneumothorax typically requires placement of a chest tube to manage the air leak. While most pneumothoraces can be readily managed with standard medical care, in rare cases they can be life-threatening, particularly if left untreated. In the event the pneumothorax does not resolve with standard management, one or more valves can be removed to re-inflate the lung; these are typically replaced later when the pneumothorax has resolved.
In our clinical trials, pneumothoraces occurred in 18-34% of patients treated with the Zephyr Valve, and in the LIBERATE study, 17% of the pneumothorax events required no intervention and resolved on their own. Patients who have had their pneumothoraces successfully treated had comparable outcomes to those who did not experience a pneumothorax, other than that their hospital stays were extended by approximately a week compared to the three nights for patients without pneumothoraces.
In the LIBERATE study, the majority of pneumothoraces (76%) occurred within three days following a bronchoscopy procedure. During the Treatment Period (day of procedure to 45 days), there were a total of four deaths (3.1%) in the Zephyr Valve Group (which received Zephyr Valves plus medical management) and none in the Control Group (which received medical management alone). Three of the four deaths were deemed by the investigators to be definitely related to treatment with Zephyr Valves and the remaining one was deemed by the
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investigators to be probably related to treatment with Zephyr Valves. Each patient that died experienced pneumothorax, with three deaths directly attributed to the pneumothorax and the fourth death the result of respiratory failure, after the pneumothorax had resolved. Two of the pneumothorax-related deaths occurred early in the study when patients were being kept in the hospital for one night after the procedure. In order to more closely monitor patients, the study protocol was subsequently amended to keep patients in the hospital for five nights. Based on the full study data, current practice is to keep patients in the hospital for a minimum of three nights post-treatment. Post-hoc analysis has helped to identify risk factors for the group of patients at a higher risk of having a complex pneumothorax event (complex pneumothorax defined as requiring removal of all valves or resulting in death) should one occur. Such high-risk patients include those who are not treated in the most diseased lobe and have greater than 60% destruction of the untreated lung. All four patients who experienced a pneumothorax and died were within this high-risk group. This learning is incorporated in our physician training program for physicians to identify such high-risk patients and to consider alternative targets or other risk mitigation strategies. During the Longer-Term Period (46 days after procedure to 12 months), there was one death (0.8%) in the Zephyr Valve Group from a COPD exacerbation, deemed by the investigators not to be related to treatment with Zephyr Valves, and one cardiac arrhythmia related death in the Control Group (1.6%).
Outside of clinical trials, patients treated with the Zephyr Valve have also experienced serious complications, including pneumothoraces and death related to the Zephyr Valve.
Serious complications as a result of treatment with Zephyr Valves, and any increase in the rate of complications in or outside of clinical trials, could cause doctors, hospitals and patients to limit adoption of our solution and subject us to costly litigation, require us to pay substantial amounts of money to patients, delay, negatively impact or end our opportunity to receive or maintain regulatory approval to market our products, or require us to suspend or abandon our commercialization efforts, which may negatively impact adoption as well as our business, financial condition and results of operations. Even in a circumstance in which we do not believe that a complication is related to the Zephyr Valve or treatment with the Zephyr Valve, the investigation into the circumstance may be time-consuming or inconclusive and may interrupt our sales efforts or impact and limit the type of regulatory approvals the Zephyr Valve receives or maintains and any related claims may negatively impact adoption as well as our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, perceptions regarding the safety of the Zephyr Valve could be affected even if such complications are unrelated to the Zephyr Valve or treatment with the Zephyr Valve.
Further, our current products are contraindicated, and therefore should not be used, in certain patients, including those for whom bronchoscopic procedures are contraindicated, with evidence of active pulmonary infection, with known allergies to Nitinol (nickel-titanium) or its constituent metals (nickel or titanium) or silicone, who have not quit smoking, or with large bullae encompassing greater than 30% of either lung, and such contraindication may limit adoption and, as a result, negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to achieve and maintain adequate levels of coverage or reimbursement for our solution, or any future products we may seek to commercialize, or if patients are left with significant out-of-pocket costs, our commercial success may be severely hindered.
We currently derive substantially all of our revenue from the sale of our products to hospitals and distributors and expect this to continue for the foreseeable future. We primarily sell Zephyr Valves through a direct sales force that primarily engages with pulmonologists in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific. Hospitals typically bill various third-party payors to cover all or a portion of the costs and fees associated with the procedures in which our solution is used and bill patients for any deductibles or co-payments. As of December 31, 2020, commercial payors such as Aetna, Humana, Health Care Service Corporation, Highmark, Priority Health and Emblem Health have issued positive coverage policies for endobronchial valve procedures. United Healthcare removed the endobronchial valve codes from their non-covered list, and as such no longer considers the procedure unproven or experimental. Other commercial payors, including other plans in the Blue Cross Blue Shield family of plans, do not yet consider our solution medically necessary. Medicare, currently without a public coverage policy, covers our solution for patients when medically necessary on a case-by-case basis, and other commercial insurers not described above are approving pre-authorization requests on a case-by-case basis.
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have established guidelines for the coverage and reimbursement of certain products and procedures by Medicare. In general, in order to be reimbursed by Medicare, a healthcare procedure furnished to a Medicare beneficiary must be reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury, or to improve the functioning of a malformed body part. The methodology for determining coverage status and the amount of Medicare reimbursement varies based upon, among other factors, the setting in which a Medicare beneficiary received healthcare products and services. Any changes in federal legislation, regulations and policy affecting CMS coverage and reimbursement relative to the procedure using our products could have a material effect on our performance. While no national coverage determination (NCD) or local coverage determination (LCD) exists for endobronchial valves currently, CMS could develop an NCD, or one or more Medicare contractors could develop an LCD that either restricts coverage or restricts the patient population deemed appropriate for the treatment.
Physicians that insert the Zephyr Valve, or the hospitals for which they work, may be subject to reimbursement claim denials upon submission of the claim. Physicians or hospitals may also be subject to recovery of overpayments if a payor makes payment for the claim and subsequently determines that the payor’s coding, billing or coverage policies were not followed. Whenever possible, pre-authorization for coverage for the procedure is recommended before the procedure is performed. When pre-authorization is not obtained or not allowed, and the procedure is performed and not covered by third-party payors, physicians or hospitals typically directly bill patients enrolled with these third-party payors for the costs and fees associated with the procedures in which our products are used. Moreover, because there is often no separate reimbursement for supplies used in surgical procedures, the additional cost associated with the use of our solution can affect the profit margin of the hospital or surgery center where the procedure is performed. Some of our target physicians and hospitals may be unwilling to adopt our products in light of the additional associated cost. Further, any decline in the amount payors are willing to reimburse physicians and hospitals could make it difficult for existing physicians and hospitals to continue using or to adopt our solution and could create additional pricing pressure for us. If we are forced to lower the price we charge for our solution, our gross margins will decrease, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Outside of the United States, reimbursement levels vary significantly by country and by patient. Reimbursement is obtained from a variety of sources, including government sponsors, hospital budgets, or private health insurance plans, or combinations thereof. We have established reimbursement access in countries across Europe and Asia Pacific, including Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, the United Kingdom and other countries. Even if we succeed in bringing our products to market in additional foreign countries, uncertainties regarding future healthcare policy, legislation and regulation, as well as private market practices, could affect our ability to sell our products in commercially acceptable quantities at acceptable prices.
Third-party payors, whether foreign or domestic, or governmental or commercial, are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs. In addition, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for procedures using our solution exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for procedures using our products can differ significantly from payor to payor. Payors continually review new and existing technologies for possible coverage and can, without notice, deny or reverse coverage for new or existing products and procedures. There can be no assurance that third-party payor policies will provide coverage for procedures in which our products are used. If we are not successful in reversing existing non-coverage policies, if third-party payors that currently cover or reimburse our products and related procedures reverse or limit their coverage in the future or if other third-party payors issue similar policies, this will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Further, coverage policies and third-party payor reimbursement rates may change at any time. Therefore, even if favorable coverage is established on one or more products for which we receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.
Further, we believe that future coverage and reimbursement may be subject to increased restrictions, such as additional prior authorization requirements, both in the United States and in international markets. Third-party coverage and reimbursement for procedures using our solution or any of our products in development for which we may receive regulatory approval may not be available or adequate in either the United States or international markets, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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Third-party payors and physicians who do not cover or use the Zephyr Valve may require additional clinical data prior to maintaining coverage of or adopting the Zephyr Valve.
Our success depends on physician and third-party payor acceptance of our solution as an effective treatment option for patients with severe emphysema. If physicians or payors do not find our body of published clinical evidence and data compelling or wish to wait for additional studies, they may choose not to use or provide coverage and reimbursement for our solution.
In addition, the long-term effects of use of the Zephyr Valve to treat severe emphysema are not yet known. Certain physicians, hospitals and payors may prefer to see longer-term safety and efficacy data published than we have produced. Further, we cannot provide assurance that any data that we or others may generate in the future will be consistent with that observed in our existing clinical studies.
If we fail to retain marketing and sales personnel and, as we grow, fail to increase our marketing and sales capabilities or develop broad awareness of our solution in a cost-effective manner, we may not be able to generate revenue growth.
We have limited experience marketing and selling our solution. We currently rely on our direct sales force to sell our solution in targeted geographic regions and distributors in certain regions outside the United States, and any failure to maintain and grow our direct sales force will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. The members of our direct sales force are highly trained and possess substantial technical expertise, which we believe is critical in increasing adoption of our solution. The members of our U.S. sales force are at-will employees. The loss of these personnel to competitors, or otherwise, will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we are unable to retain our direct sales force personnel or replace them with individuals of equivalent technical expertise and qualifications, or if we are unable to successfully instill such technical expertise in replacement personnel, it may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In order to generate future growth, we plan to continue to expand and leverage our sales and marketing infrastructure to increase the number of customers and emphysema centers of excellence. Identifying and recruiting qualified sales and marketing personnel and training them on our solution, on applicable federal and state laws and regulations and on our internal policies and procedures requires significant time, expense and attention. It often takes several months or more before a sales representative is fully trained and productive. Our sales force may subject us to higher fixed costs than those of companies with competing techniques or products that utilize independent third parties, which could place us at a competitive disadvantage. It will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations if our efforts to expand and train our sales force do not generate a corresponding increase in revenue, and our higher fixed costs may slow our ability to reduce costs in the face of a sudden decline in demand for our solution. Any failure to hire, develop and retain talented sales personnel, to achieve desired productivity levels in a reasonable period of time or timely reduce fixed costs, could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Our ability to increase our customer base and achieve broader market acceptance of our solution will depend to a significant extent on our ability to expand our marketing efforts. We plan to dedicate significant resources to our marketing programs. It will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations if our marketing efforts and expenditures do not generate a corresponding increase in revenue. In addition, we believe that developing and maintaining broad awareness of our solution in a cost-effective manner is critical to achieving broad acceptance of our solution and expanding domestically and internationally. Promotion activities may not generate patient or physician awareness or increase revenue, and even if they do, any increase in revenue may not offset the costs and expenses we incur in building our brand. If we fail to successfully promote, maintain and protect our brand, we may fail to attract or retain the physician acceptance necessary to realize a sufficient return on our brand building efforts, or to achieve the level of brand awareness that is critical for broad adoption of our solution.
We have limited long-term data regarding the safety and effectiveness of our solution, including the Zephyr Valve. The only safety and effectiveness data of our solution, including the Zephyr Valve, is limited to one year
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following placement and we are required to conduct extension studies to follow up on safety and effectiveness out to five years.
Although we have demonstrated the safety, effectiveness and clinical advantages of our solution in multiple clinical trials in approximately 450 patients selected using the Chartis System, the Zephyr Valve is still a relatively new treatment for severe emphysema. The long-term effects of using our solution in a large number of patients have not been studied and the results of short-term clinical use of such products do not necessarily predict long-term clinical benefits or reveal long-term adverse effects. We are required to conduct the LIBERATE extension study to follow up on safety and effectiveness out to five years. After the completion of the one-year follow up, 115 Zephyr Valve patients and 47 crossover patients (162 total patients) entered the LIBERATE extension study. The results of this extension study will not be available until February 2023. Our ability to interpret the data from this long-term follow-up of patients with this progressive disease may be limited by the fact that the matched control group exited the study after one year. The results of clinical trials of our solution conducted to date and ongoing or future studies and trials of our current, planned or future products may not be predictive of the results of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. Our interpretation of data and results from our clinical trials do not ensure that we will achieve similar results in future clinical trials in other patient populations. In addition, pre-clinical and clinical data are often susceptible to various interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their products performed satisfactorily in pre-clinical studies and earlier clinical trials have nonetheless failed to replicate results in later clinical trials and subsequently failed to obtain marketing approval. Products in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy despite having progressed through nonclinical studies and earlier clinical trials.
The continuing development of our products depends upon our maintaining strong working relationships with physicians.
The research, development, marketing and sale of our current products and potential new and improved products or future product indications for which we receive regulatory clearance or approval depend upon our maintaining working relationships with physicians. We rely on these professionals to provide us with considerable knowledge and experience regarding the development, marketing and sale of our products. Physicians assist us in clinical trials and in marketing, and as researchers, product consultants and public speakers. If we cannot maintain our strong working relationships with these professionals and continue to receive their advice and input, the development and marketing of our products could suffer, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. At the same time, the medical device industry’s relationship with physicians is under increasing scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the state attorneys general and other foreign and domestic government agencies. Our failure to comply with requirements governing the industry’s relationships with physicians or an investigation into our compliance by the OIG, the DOJ, state attorneys general and other government agencies, could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Additional information regarding the laws impacting our relationships with physicians and other healthcare professionals can be found below under “Risks Related to Government Regulation and Our Industry.”
We rely on third parties to perform certain aspects of the CT scan analysis within the StratX Platform.
We rely on third-party service providers to upload and analyze CT scan data on the StratX Platform. In order to make the StratX Platform available to physicians, we contract with a third-party cloud service. This third-party cloud service enables physicians to upload CT scan data while removing protected health information (PHI) of patients from that data, in case the physicians have, inadvertently, not removed the PHI themselves. We also contract with additional third-party service providers to analyze the CT scan data using their proprietary software, and provide quantitative results via an easy-to-read report that we designed for our solution (StratX Lung Report). The StratX Lung Report is then made available to physicians in the third-party cloud service.
This service is critical and there are relatively few alternatives. These third-party service providers may be unwilling or unable to provide the necessary services reliably and at the levels we anticipate or that are required by the market. While these third-party service providers have generally met our demand for their services on a timely basis in the
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past, we cannot guarantee that they will in the future be able to meet our demand for their services, either because of acts of nature, the nature of our agreements or potential disputes with those service providers or our relative importance to them as a customer, and our service providers may decide in the future to discontinue or reduce the level of business they conduct with us. If we are required to change service providers for any reason, including due to any change in or termination of our relationships with these third parties, we may lose sales, experience delays, incur increased costs or otherwise experience impairment to our customer relationships. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to establish alternative relationships on similar terms, without delay or at all.
We depend on a limited number of single-source suppliers to manufacture our products, which makes us vulnerable to supply shortages and price fluctuations that could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely on single-source suppliers for the components, sub-assemblies and materials for our products. These components, sub-assemblies and materials are critical and there are no or relatively few alternative sources of supply. These single-source suppliers may be unwilling or unable to supply the necessary materials and components or manufacture and assemble our products reliably and at the levels we anticipate or that are required by the market. While our suppliers have generally met our demand for their products and services on a timely basis in the past, we cannot guarantee that they will in the future be able to meet our demand for their products, either because of acts of nature, the nature of our agreements with those manufacturers or our relative importance to them as a customer, and our suppliers may decide in the future to discontinue or reduce the level of business they conduct with us. If we are required to change suppliers due to any change in or termination of our relationships with these third parties, or if our suppliers are unable to obtain the materials they need to produce our products at consistent prices or at all, we may lose sales, experience manufacturing or other delays, incur increased costs or otherwise experience impairment to our customer relationships. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to establish alternative relationships on similar terms, without delay or at all.
We have not qualified or obtained necessary regulatory approvals for additional suppliers for most of these components, sub-assemblies and materials, and we do not carry a significant inventory of these items. While we believe that alternative sources of supply may be available, we cannot be certain whether they will be available if and when we need them, or that any alternative suppliers would be able to provide the quantity and quality of components and materials that we would need to manufacture our products if our existing suppliers were unable to satisfy our supply requirements. To utilize other supply sources, we would need to identify and qualify new suppliers to our quality standards and obtain any additional regulatory approvals required to change suppliers, which could result in manufacturing delays and increase our expenses.
Although we require our third-party suppliers to supply us with components that meet our specifications and comply with applicable provisions of the FDA’s Quality System Regulation (QSR) and other applicable legal and regulatory requirements in our agreements and contracts, and we perform incoming inspection, testing or other acceptance activities to ensure the components meet our requirements, there is a risk that our suppliers will not always act consistent with our best interests, and may not always supply components that meet our requirements or supply components in a timely manner.
We have limited experience manufacturing our products in significant commercial quantities and we face manufacturing risks that may adversely affect our ability to manufacture our products, reduce our gross margins and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business strategy depends on our ability to manufacture our current and future products in sufficient quantities and on a timely basis to meet customer demand, while adhering to product quality standards, complying with regulatory quality system requirements and managing manufacturing costs. We have a facility located in Redwood City, California, where we assemble, inspect, package, release and ship our products. We currently produce the Zephyr Valve and Chartis System at this facility, and we do not have redundant facilities. We also store finished goods at secondary facilities in Redwood City, California, Memphis, Tennessee and the Netherlands. If these facilities suffer damage, or a force majeure event, this could materially impact our ability to operate.
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We are also subject to numerous other risks relating to our manufacturing capabilities, including:
quality and reliability of components, sub-assemblies and materials that we source from third-party suppliers, that are required to meet our quality specifications, many of whom are our single source suppliers for the products they supply;
our inability to secure components, sub-assemblies and materials in a timely manner, in sufficient quantities or on commercially reasonable terms;
our inability to maintain compliance with quality system requirements or pass regulatory quality inspections;
disruptions in our production schedule and ability to manufacture and assemble products due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
our failure to increase production capacity or volumes to meet demand;
our inability to design or modify production processes to enable us to produce future products efficiently or implement changes in current products in response to design or regulatory requirements; and
difficulty identifying and qualifying, and obtaining new regulatory approvals, for alternative suppliers for components in a timely manner.
These risks are likely to be exacerbated by our limited experience with our current products and manufacturing processes. As demand for our solution increases, we will have to invest additional resources to purchase components, sub-assemblies and materials, hire and train employees and enhance our manufacturing processes. If we fail to increase our production capacity efficiently, we may not be able to fill customer orders on a timely basis, our sales may not increase in line with our expectations and our operating margins could fluctuate or decline. In addition, even if future products in development share product features, components, sub-assemblies and materials with our existing products, the manufacture of these products may require modification of our current production processes or unique production processes, the hiring of specialized employees, the identification of new suppliers for specific components, sub-assemblies and materials or the development of new manufacturing technologies. It may not be possible for us to manufacture these products at a cost or in quantities sufficient to make these products commercially viable or to maintain current operating margins, all of which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our results of operations will be materially harmed if we are unable to accurately forecast customer demand for our solution and manage our inventory.
To ensure adequate inventory supply, we must forecast inventory needs and manufacture the Zephyr Valve and Chartis System based on our estimates of future demand for our solution. Our ability to accurately forecast demand for our solution could be negatively affected by many factors, including our failure to accurately manage our expansion strategy, product introductions by competitors, an increase or decrease in customer demand for our solution or for products of our competitors, our failure to accurately forecast customer acceptance of new products, unanticipated changes in general market conditions or regulatory matters and weakening of economic conditions or consumer confidence in future economic conditions. Inventory levels in excess of customer demand may result in inventory write-downs or write-offs, which would cause our gross margin to be adversely affected and could impair the strength of our brand. Conversely, if we underestimate customer demand for our solution, our internal manufacturing team may not be able to deliver products to meet our requirements, and this could result in damage to our reputation and customer relationships. In addition, if we experience a significant increase in demand, additional supplies of raw materials or additional manufacturing capacity may not be available when required on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all, or suppliers or may not be able to allocate sufficient capacity in order to meet our increased requirements, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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We seek to maintain sufficient levels of inventory in order to protect ourselves from supply interruptions. As a result, we are subject to the risk that a portion of our inventory will become obsolete or expire, which could have a material adverse effect on our earnings and cash flows due to the resulting costs associated with the inventory impairment charges and costs required to replace such inventory.
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes our future operating results difficult to predict and could cause our operating results to fall below expectations or any guidance we may provide.
Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes it difficult for us to predict our future operating results. Accordingly, the results of any one quarter or period should not be relied upon as an indication of future performance. Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate as a result of a variety of factors, many of which are outside our control and, as a result, may not fully reflect the underlying performance of our business. These fluctuations may occur due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control, including, but not limited to:
the level of demand for our products and any future products, which may vary significantly;
expenditures that we may incur to acquire, develop or commercialize additional products and technologies;
the timing and cost of obtaining regulatory approvals or clearances for planned or future products or indications;
unanticipated pricing pressures;
the rate at which we grow our sales force and the speed at which newly hired salespeople become effective, and the cost and level of investment therein;
our ability to expand the geographic reach of our sales force;
the degree of competition in our industry and any change in the competitive landscape of our industry, including consolidation among our competitors or future partners;
coverage and reimbursement policies with respect to our products, and potential future products that compete with our products;
the timing and success or failure of pre-clinical studies or clinical trials for our products or any future products we develop or competing products;
positive or negative coverage in the media or clinical publications of our products or products of our competitors or our industry;
the timing of customer orders or medical procedures using our products and the number of available selling days in any quarterly period, which can be impacted by holidays, the mix of products sold and the geographic mix of where products are sold, including any related foreign currency impact;
seasonality, including possible seasonal slowing of demand for our products in the beginning and end of the year and summer months based on the elective nature of procedures performed using our products, and which may become more pronounced in the future as our business grows;
the ongoing and global impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had and may continue to have on our business and the number of patients treated with Zephyr Valves, or any other pandemic, epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease;
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the timing and cost of, and level of investment in, research, development, licenses, regulatory approval, commercialization activities, acquisitions and other strategic transactions, or other significant events relating to our products, which may change from time to time;
the cost of manufacturing our products, which may vary depending on the quantity of production and the terms of our agreements with third-party suppliers and manufacturers;
the average number of Zephyr Valves used for a patient, pricing, discounts and incentives; and
future accounting pronouncements or changes in our accounting policies.
The cumulative effects of these factors could result in large fluctuations and unpredictability in our quarterly and annual operating results. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful. Further, our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results expected for any future period, and quarterly results are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for the full year or any other period, and accordingly should not be relied upon as indicative of future performance.
This variability and unpredictability could also result in our failing to meet the expectations of industry or financial analysts or investors for any period. If our revenue or operating results fall below the expectations of analysts or investors or below any forecasts we may provide to the market, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The sizes of the markets for our current and future products have not been established with precision and may be smaller than we estimate and may decline. Certain patients may not have regions of the lung with little to no collateral ventilation, making them poor candidates for the Zephyr Valve. In addition, if the overall rate of smokers continues to decline, this may eventually decrease the number of patients suffering from COPD and emphysema and, accordingly, who would benefit from our solution.
Our estimates of the annual total addressable markets for our current solution and products under development are based on a number of internal and third-party estimates, including, without limitation, the number of patients with severe emphysema treatable by our solution and the assumed prices at which we can sell our solution in markets that have not yet been established. While we believe our assumptions and the data underlying our estimates are reasonable, these assumptions and estimates may not be correct and the conditions supporting our assumptions or estimates may change at any time, thereby reducing the predictive accuracy of these underlying factors.
For example, certain of these patients may not have regions of the lung with little to no collateral ventilation, making them poor candidates for the Zephyr Valve. As a result, our estimates of the annual total addressable market for our current or future products may prove to be incorrect.
Further, cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of COPD and emphysema. It is estimated that smoking accounts for as many as 80% of COPD-related deaths and 38% of the nearly 16 million adults in the United States diagnosed with COPD report being current smokers. The overall rate of smoking among the U.S. adult population has been steadily declining from 42.4% in 1965 to a record low of 13.7% in 2018 and there are increased efforts to decrease the rate of smoking globally. If the overall rate of smokers continues to decline, this may eventually decrease the number of patients suffering from COPD and emphysema and, accordingly, who would benefit from our solution.
If the actual number of patients who would benefit from our solution, the price at which we can sell future products, or the annual total addressable market for our solution is smaller than we have estimated, it may impair our sales growth and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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Failure of a key information technology system, process, or site could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We depend on our information technology systems for the efficient functioning of our business, including the manufacture, distribution and maintenance of our products, as well as for accounting, data storage, compliance, purchasing and inventory management. We also depend on the information technology systems of third parties for the analysis, data storage and communication associated with the StratX Platform. We currently do not have redundant information technology systems. Our information technology systems, and those of third parties, may be subject to computer viruses, ransomware or other malware, attacks by computer hackers, failures during the process of upgrading or replacing software, databases or components thereof, power outages, damage or interruption from fires or other natural disasters, hardware failures, telecommunication failures and user errors, among other malfunctions. We, or the third parties we rely upon, could be subject to an unintentional event that involves a third party gaining unauthorized access to our or its systems, which could disrupt our operations, corrupt our data or result in release of our confidential information. Technological interruptions would disrupt our operations, including our ability to timely ship and track product orders, project inventory requirements, manage our supply chain and otherwise adequately service our customers or disrupt our customers’ ability use our products for treatments. Moreover, a disruption in access to the system that controls the StratX Platform would prevent physicians using our solution from receiving the StratX Lung Report indicating whether their patients are good candidates for the Zephyr Valve. In the event we experience significant disruptions, we may be unable to repair our systems in an efficient and timely manner. Accordingly, such events may disrupt or reduce the efficiency of our entire operation and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Currently, we carry business interruption coverage to mitigate certain potential losses but this insurance is limited in amount, and we cannot be certain that such potential losses will not exceed our policy limits. Further, we do not carry any cyber insurance, which may expose us to certain potential losses for damages or result in penalization with fines in an amount exceeding our resources. We are increasingly dependent on complex information technology to manage our infrastructure. Our information systems require an ongoing commitment of significant resources to maintain, protect and enhance our existing systems. Failure to maintain or protect our information systems and data integrity effectively could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Litigation against us could be costly and time-consuming to defend and could result in additional liabilities.
We may from time to time be subject to legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of business or otherwise, such as claims brought by our customers in connection with commercial disputes and employment claims made by our current or former employees. Claims may also be asserted by or on behalf of a variety of other parties, including government agencies, patients or vendors of our customers, or stockholders. For example, our Swiss subsidiary is currently party to a lawsuit with a former distributor outside the United States alleging that our Swiss subsidiary conducted unfair competitive practices and violated the exclusive distribution rights as a result of its termination of its distribution agreement. Our Swiss subsidiary is also currently party to a lawsuit with a former distributor outside the United States alleging that our Swiss subsidiary terminated the agreement without proper compensation. While we believe these claims are meritless and, if successful, we do not believe the impact of such claims will be material to the Company’s results of operations or financial position, an unfavorable outcome in this litigation could harm our business. Further, in the past, securities class action litigation has often been brought against a company following a decline in the market price of its securities, and this risk is especially relevant to industries that experience significant stock price volatility. Any litigation involving us may result in substantial costs, operationally restrict our business, and may divert management’s attention and resources, which may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We face the risk of product liability claims that would be expensive, divert management’s attention and harm our reputation and business. We may not be able to maintain adequate product liability insurance.
Our business exposes us to the risk of product liability claims that are inherent in the testing, manufacturing and marketing of medical devices. This risk exists even if a device is cleared or approved for commercial sale by the FDA and manufactured in facilities licensed and regulated by the FDA or an applicable foreign regulatory authority. The Zephyr Valve is designed to affect, and any future products will be designed to affect, important bodily
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functions and processes. Any side effects, manufacturing defects, misuse or abuse associated with the Zephyr Valve could result in patient injury or death. The medical device industry has historically been subject to extensive litigation over product liability claims, and we cannot offer any assurance that we will not face product liability suits. There were procedure-related deaths in our LIBERATE Study and we may be subject to product liability claims if the Zephyr Valve causes, or merely appears to have caused, patient injury or death. In addition, an injury that is caused by the activities of our suppliers, such as those who provide us with components and raw materials, may be the basis for a claim against us. Product liability claims may be brought against us by patients, physicians, or others selling or otherwise coming into contact with the Zephyr Valve, among others. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we will incur substantial liabilities and reputational harm. In addition, regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability claims may result in:
costs of litigation;
distraction of management’s attention from our primary business;
the inability to commercialize our solution or new products;
decreased demand for our products;
damage to our business reputation;
product recalls or withdrawals from the market;
withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
substantial monetary awards to patients or other claimants; or
loss of sales.
While we may attempt to manage our product liability exposure by proactively recalling or withdrawing from the market any defective products, any recall or market withdrawal of our products may delay the supply of those products to our customers and may impact our reputation. We can provide no assurance that we will be successful in initiating appropriate market recall or market withdrawal efforts that may be required in the future or that these efforts will have the intended effect of preventing product malfunctions and the accompanying product liability that may result. Such recalls and withdrawals may also be used by our competitors to harm our reputation for safety or be perceived by patients as a safety risk when considering the use of our solution, either of which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our insurance policies are expensive and protect us only from some business risks, which leaves us exposed to significant uninsured liabilities.
We do not carry insurance for all categories of risk that our business may encounter. Although we have product liability and clinical study liability insurance that we believe is appropriate, this insurance is subject to deductibles and coverage limitations. Our current product liability insurance may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all, and, if available, coverage may not be adequate to protect us against any future product liability claims. If we are unable to obtain insurance at an acceptable cost or on acceptable terms or otherwise protect against potential product liability claims, we could be exposed to significant liabilities. A product liability claim, recall or other claim with respect to uninsured liabilities or for amounts in excess of insured liabilities could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We do not carry specific hazardous waste insurance coverage, and our property, casualty and general liability insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for damages and fines arising from hazardous waste exposure or contamination. Accordingly, in the event of contamination or injury, we could be held liable for damages or be penalized with fines in an amount exceeding our resources, and our clinical trials or regulatory approvals could be suspended. Additionally, we do not carry cyber
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insurance, which may expose us to certain potential losses for damages or result in penalization with fines in an amount exceeding our resources.
We also expect that operating as a public company will make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified people to serve on our board of directors, on our board committees or as executive officers. We do not know, however, if we will be able to maintain existing insurance with adequate levels of coverage. Any significant uninsured liability may require us to pay substantial amounts, which would negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our indebtedness may limit our flexibility in operating our business and negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and competitive position.
In February 2020, we terminated and paid off in full all amounts outstanding under the Oxford Agreement. In February 2020, we executed a Loan and Security Agreement (the CIBC Agreement) with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), which provided us with the ability to borrow up to $32.0 million in debt financing. As of December 31, 2020, we have borrowed $17.0 million under the CIBC Agreement. See the sections entitled "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations⸺Liquidity and Capital Resources; Plan of Operation⸺2020 Notes", “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations⸺Liquidity and Capital Resources; Plan of Operation⸺CIBC Term Loan" and the notes to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
In order to service this indebtedness and any additional indebtedness we may incur in the future, we need to generate cash from our operating activities. Our ability to generate cash is subject, in part, to our ability to successfully execute our business strategy, as well as general economic, financial, competitive, regulatory and other factors beyond our control. We cannot assure you that our business will be able to generate sufficient cash flow from operations or that future borrowings or other financings will be available to us in an amount sufficient to enable us to service our indebtedness and fund our other liquidity needs. To the extent we are required to use cash from operations or the proceeds of any future financing to service our indebtedness instead of funding working capital, capital expenditures or other general corporate purposes, we will be less able to plan for, or react to, changes in our business, industry and in the economy generally. This will place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less indebtedness.
In addition, the CIBC Agreement contains, and any agreements evidencing or governing other future indebtedness may contain, certain covenants that limit our ability to engage in certain transactions that may be in our long-term best interests. Subject to certain limited exceptions, these covenants limit our ability to, among other things:
convey, sell, lease, transfer, assign, dispose of or otherwise make cash payments consisting of all or any part of our business or property;
effect certain changes in our business, management, ownership or business locations;
merge or consolidate with, or acquire all or substantially all of the capital stock or assets of, any other company;
create, incur, assume or be liable for any additional indebtedness, or create, incur, allow or permit to exist any additional liens;
pay cash dividends on, make any other distributions in respect of, or redeem, retire or repurchase, any shares of our capital stock;
make certain investments;
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enter into transactions with our affiliates; and
under certain circumstances, settle pending or threatened litigation for greater amounts than are disclosed to CIBC in writing from time to time.
There can be no guarantee that we will not breach these covenants. Our ability to comply with these covenants may be affected by events and factors beyond our control. In the event that we breach one or more covenants, our lender may choose to declare an event of default and require that we immediately repay all amounts outstanding, terminate any commitment to extend further credit and foreclose on the collateral granted to it to collateralize such indebtedness. The occurrence of any of these events could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our industry is highly competitive, and we may not be able to compete successfully with larger companies, companies with longer operating histories or more established products, or companies with greater resources.
Our industry is subject to rapid change from the introduction of new products and technologies and other activities of industry participants. Our goal is to establish our solution as a standard of care for severe emphysema. Existing treatments include medical management, LVRS, lung transplantation as well as other minimally invasive treatments. The major competitive products include the Spiration Valve System (Olympus Corporation) and the InterVapor System (Broncus Medical, Inc.; not approved for use in the United States). The Spiration Valve System is an endobronchial technology designed to offer patients with severe emphysema a minimally invasive treatment option for lung volume reduction by redirecting air away from diseased areas of the lung to healthier tissue so that patients may breathe easier. Like Zephyr Valves, the Spiration Valve System is indicated to treat patients with heterogeneous emphysema; however, the Spiration Valve System is contraindicated for patients with homogeneous emphysema. The InterVapor System offers a non-surgical and non-implant therapy developed for lung disease including emphysema and lung cancer where vapor ablation is simply the application of heated pure water to tissue. These technologies, other products that are in current clinical trials, new drugs or additional indications for existing drugs could demonstrate better safety, effectiveness, clinical results, lower costs or greater physician and patient acceptance.
We compete, or may compete in the future, against other companies which have longer operating histories, more established products and greater resources, which may prevent us from achieving significant market penetration or improved operating results. These companies enjoy several competitive advantages, including established relationships with pulmonologists who commonly treat patients with emphysema, significantly greater name recognition and significantly greater sales and marketing resources.
In addition to existing competitors, other larger and more established companies may acquire or in-license competitive products and could directly compete with us. These competitors may also try to compete with us on price both directly, through rebates and promotional programs to high volume physicians and coupons to patients, and indirectly, through attractive product bundling with complementary products that offer convenience and an effectively lower price compared to the total price of purchasing each product separately. Larger competitors may also be able to offer greater customer loyalty benefits to encourage repeat use of their products and finance a sustained global advertising campaign to compete with commercialization efforts of our products. Our competitors may seek to discredit our products by challenging our short operating history or relatively limited number of scientific studies and publications. Smaller companies could also launch new or enhanced products and services that we do not offer and that could gain market acceptance quickly. Additionally, certain of our competitors may challenge our intellectual property, may develop additional competing or superior technologies and processes and compete more aggressively and sustain that competition over a longer period of time than we could. Our technologies and products may be rendered obsolete or uneconomical by technological advances or entirely different approaches developed by one or more of our competitors. As more companies develop new intellectual property in our market, there is the possibility of a competitor acquiring patents or other rights that may limit our ability to update our technologies and products which may impact demand for our products.
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We have increased the size of our organization and expect to further increase it in the future. If we are unable to manage the anticipated growth, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be negatively affected.
Any growth that we experience in the future will require us to expand our sales personnel and manufacturing operations and general and administrative infrastructure. As a public company, we will need to support managerial, operational, financial and other resources. In addition to the need to scale our organization, future growth will impose significant added responsibilities on management, including the need to identify, recruit, train and integrate additional employees. Rapid expansion in personnel could mean that less experienced people manufacture, market and sell our solution, which could result in inefficiencies and unanticipated costs, reduced quality and disruptions to our operations. In addition, rapid and significant growth may strain our administrative and operational infrastructure. Our ability to manage our business and growth will require us to continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures. If we are unable to manage our growth effectively, it may be difficult for us to execute our business strategy and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As demand for our solution or any of our future products increases, we will need to continue to scale our capacity, expand customer service, billing and systems processes and enhance our internal quality assurance program. We cannot assure you that any increases in scale, related improvements and quality assurance will be successfully implemented or that appropriate personnel will be available to facilitate the growth of our business. Failure to implement necessary procedures, transition to new processes or hire the necessary personnel could result in higher costs of processing data or inability to meet increased demand. If we encounter difficulty meeting market demand, quality standards or physician expectations, our reputation will be harmed and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We expect to continue to incur net losses for the next several years and we expect to require substantial additional capital to finance our planned operations, which may include future equity and debt financings. This additional capital may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. Our failure to obtain additional financing when needed on acceptable terms, or at all, could force us to delay, limit, reduce or eliminate our commercialization, sales and marketing efforts, product development programs or other operations.
Since inception, we have incurred significant net losses and expect to continue to incur net losses for the foreseeable future. Since our inception, our operations have been financed primarily through private placements of equity securities, debt financing arrangements and sales of our products. As of December 31, 2020, we had $231.6 million in cash and cash equivalents, and an accumulated deficit of $242.7 million. Based on our current planned operations, we expect our cash and cash equivalents, together with available borrowings under the CIBC Agreement, will enable us to fund our operating expenses for at least the next twelve months. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could use our capital resources sooner than we currently expect.
We expect to continue to make substantial investments in clinical trials that are designed to provide clinical evidence of the safety and efficacy of our solution. We intend to continue to make significant investments in our sales and marketing organization by increasing the number of U.S. sales territory managers and expanding our international sales and marketing programs to help promote awareness and increase adoption of our solution primarily among the approximately 800 pulmonologists performing interventional pulmonary procedures across approximately 500 high volume hospitals. In order to continue to grow our business, we will need to hire additional sales personnel to efficiently serve the market. We also expect to continue to make investments in research and development, regulatory affairs and clinical studies to develop future generations of our solution, broaden the addressable market and expand indications, support regulatory submissions and demonstrate the clinical efficacy of our solution. Moreover, we expect to incur additional expenses associated with operating as a public company, including legal, accounting, insurance, exchange listing and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) compliance, investor relations and other expenses. Because of these and other factors, we expect to continue to incur substantial net losses
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and negative cash flows from operations for the foreseeable future. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
the cost, timing and results of our clinical trials and regulatory reviews;
the cost and timing of establishing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities;
the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;
the terms and timing of any other collaborative, licensing and other arrangements that we may establish;
the timing, receipt and amount of sales from our current solution and potential future products;
the degree of success we experience in continuing to commercialize our solution;
the emergence of competing or complementary technologies;
the cost of preparing, filing, prosecuting, maintaining, defending and enforcing any patent claims and other intellectual property rights; and
the extent to which we acquire or invest in businesses, products or technologies, although we currently have no commitments or agreements relating to any of these types of transactions.
We will require additional financing to fund working capital and pay our obligations. We may seek to raise any necessary additional capital through a combination of public or private equity offerings or debt financings. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in acquiring additional funding at levels sufficient to fund our operations or on terms favorable to us. If adequate funds are not available on acceptable terms when needed, we may be required to significantly reduce operating expenses, which may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we do raise additional capital through public or private equity or convertible debt offerings, the ownership interest of our existing stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders’ rights. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, we may be subject to covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends. Additional capital may not be available on reasonable terms, or at all.
If the quality of our solution does not meet the expectations of physicians or patients, then our business and reputation may be harmed.
In the course of conducting our business, we must adequately address quality issues that may arise with our solution, including defects in third-party components included in our solution. Although we have established internal procedures designed to minimize risks that may arise from quality issues, there can be no assurance that we will be able to eliminate or mitigate occurrences of these issues and associated liabilities. In addition, even in the absence of quality issues, we may be subject to claims and liability if the performance of the Zephyr Valves does not live up to the expectations of physicians or patients as a result of the physician’s implantation of the valve. For example, a physician may improperly implant the Zephyr Valve. If the quality of our solution does not meet the expectations of physicians or patients, then our business and reputation with those physicians or patients may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If our facilities become damaged or inoperable, we will be unable to continue to research, develop and supply our solution which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations until we are able to secure a new facility and rebuild our inventory.
We do not have redundant facilities. We perform substantially all of our manufacturing, research and development and back office activity in a single location at our headquarters in Redwood City, California. We store our finished
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goods inventory at our headquarters and secondary facilities in Redwood City, California, Memphis, Tennessee, and the Netherlands. Our facilities, equipment and inventory would be costly to replace and could require substantial lead time to repair or replace. The facilities will be harmed or rendered inoperable by natural or man-made disasters, including, but not limited to, earthquakes, flooding, fire and power outages, which may render it difficult or impossible for us to perform our research, development and commercialization activities for some period of time. The inability to perform those activities, combined with the time it may take to rebuild our manufacturing capabilities, inventory of finished product, may result in the loss of customers or harm to our reputation. Although we possess insurance for damage to our property and the disruption of our business, this insurance may not be sufficient to cover all of our potential losses and this insurance may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.
Performance issues, service interruptions or price increases by our shipping carriers could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and harm our reputation and the relationship between us and the hospitals with which we work.
Expedited, reliable shipping is essential to our operations. We rely heavily on providers of transport services for reliable and secure point-to-point transport of the Zephyr Valve and Chartis System to our customers and for tracking of these shipments. Should a carrier encounter delivery performance issues such as loss, damage or destruction of any systems, it would be costly to replace such systems in a timely manner and such occurrences may damage our reputation and lead to decreased demand for our solution and increased cost and expense to our business. In addition, any significant increase in shipping rates could adversely affect our operating margins and results of operations. Similarly, strikes, severe weather, natural disasters or other service interruptions affecting delivery services we use would adversely affect our ability to process orders for the Zephyr Valve on a timely basis.
We depend on our senior management team and the loss of one or more key employees or an inability to attract and retain highly skilled employees will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our success depends in part on our continued ability to attract, retain and motivate highly qualified management, clinical and other personnel. We are highly dependent upon our management team, particularly our Chief Executive Officer, and the rest of our senior management, and other key personnel. Although we have entered into employment letter agreements with all of our executive officers, each of them may terminate their employment with us at any time. The replacement of any of our key personnel likely would involve significant time and costs and may significantly delay or prevent the achievement of our business objectives and could therefore negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, we do not carry any key person insurance policies that could offset potential loss of service under applicable circumstances.
In addition, our research and development programs and clinical operations depend on our ability to attract and retain highly skilled engineers and medical researchers. We may not be able to attract or retain qualified engineers and medical researchers in the future due to the competition for qualified personnel. We have from time to time experienced, and we expect to continue to experience, difficulty in hiring and retaining employees with appropriate qualifications. Many of the companies with which we compete for experienced personnel have greater resources than us. If we hire employees from competitors or other companies, their former employers may attempt to assert that these employees or we have breached legal obligations, resulting in a diversion of our time and resources and, potentially, damages.
In addition, job candidates and existing employees, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, often consider the value of the stock awards they receive in connection with their employment. If the perceived value of our stock awards declines, it may harm our ability to recruit and retain highly skilled employees. Many of our employees have become or will soon become vested in a substantial amount of our common stock or a number of common stock options. Our employees may be more likely to leave us if the shares they own have significantly appreciated in value relative to the original purchase prices of the shares, or if the exercise prices of the options that they hold are significantly below the market price of our common stock, particularly after the expiration of the lock-up agreements described herein. Our future success also depends on our ability to continue to attract and retain
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additional executive officers and other key employees. If we fail to attract new personnel or fail to retain and motivate our current personnel, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have significant international operations, and to successfully market and sell our products in such international markets we must address international business risks with which we have limited experience.
Sales in markets outside of the United States accounted for approximately 50.5% and 67.2% of our revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. We currently focus our international sales and marketing efforts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. International sales are subject to a number of risks, including:
difficulties in staffing and managing our international operations;
increased competition as a result of more products and procedures receiving regulatory approval or otherwise free to market in international markets;
longer accounts receivable payment cycles and difficulties in collecting accounts receivable;
reduced or varied protection for intellectual property rights in some countries;
export restrictions, trade regulations and foreign tax laws;
fluctuations in currency exchange rates;
foreign certification and regulatory clearance or approval requirements;
difficulties in developing effective marketing campaigns in unfamiliar foreign countries;
customs clearance and shipping delays;
political, social, and economic instability abroad, global health epidemics or other contagious diseases (including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic), terrorist attacks and security concerns in general;
preference for locally produced products;
potentially adverse tax consequences, including the complexities of foreign value-added tax systems, tax inefficiencies related to our corporate structure, and restrictions on the repatriation of earnings;
differing payment and reimbursement regimes;
the burdens of complying with a wide variety of foreign laws and different legal standards; and
increased financial accounting and reporting burdens and complexities.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly decreased and may continue to have an adverse impact on the sale of our products and the number of patients treated with our solution. The outbreak has also resulted in disruptions or restrictions on physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers from treating patients that are eligible for our products due to the uncertain health effects of the coronavirus on the respiratory system and resources that are diverted to prioritize treatment and containment of the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in business closures and disruptions that may continue to affect various suppliers of ancillary products used in the delivery of our product (e.g. gowns, face masks or gloves), including disruptions and restrictions on transportation of our products and could result in significant delays. In addition, a significant outbreak of coronavirus and other contagious diseases could result in a widespread health crisis that
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could adversely affect the economies and financial markets worldwide, resulting in an economic downturn that could affect demand for our products and impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If one or more of these risks are realized, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Security breaches, loss of data and other disruptions could compromise sensitive information related to our business or the physicians who use our solution and the patients they treat, or prevent us from assessing critical information and expose us to liability, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our reputation.
In the ordinary course of our business, we may become exposed to, or collect and store sensitive data, including procedure-based information and legally PHI, credit card, and other financial information, insurance information, and other potentially personally identifiable information. For example, we may fail to remove all PHI from CT scan data on the StratX Platform. We also store sensitive intellectual property and other proprietary business information. Although we are in the process of implementing policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with applicable data security and privacy-related laws and regulations and we take measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure, our information technology (IT) and infrastructure, and other technology partners and providers, may be vulnerable to cyber-attacks by hackers or viruses or breaches due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions. We rely extensively on IT systems, networks and services, including internet sites, data hosting and processing facilities and tools, physical security systems and other hardware, software and technical applications and platforms, some of which are managed, hosted, provided or used by third-parties or their vendors, to assist in conducting our business. A significant breakdown, invasion, corruption, destruction or interruption of critical information technology systems or infrastructure, by our workforce, others with authorized access to our systems or unauthorized persons could negatively impact operations. The use of cloud-based computing creates opportunities for the unintentional dissemination or intentional destruction of confidential information stored in our or our third-party providers’ systems, portable media or storage devices. For example, companies have recently experienced an increase in phishing and social engineering attacks from third-parties. We could also experience a business interruption, theft of confidential information or reputational damage from industrial espionage attacks, malware or other cyber-attacks, which may compromise our system infrastructure or lead to data leakage, either internally or at our third-party providers and we do not carry cyber insurance, which may expose us to certain potential losses for damages or result in penalization with fines in an amount exceeding our resources. Although the aggregate impact on our operations and financial condition has not been material to date, we have occasionally been the target of events of this nature and expect them to continue as cybersecurity threats have been rapidly evolving in sophistication and becoming more prevalent in the industry. We are investing in protections and monitoring practices of our data and IT to reduce these risks and continue to monitor our systems on an ongoing basis for any current or potential threats. We cannot assure you, however, that our efforts will prevent breakdowns or breaches to our or our third-party providers’ databases or systems, and such breakdowns and breaches could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our reputation.
We may enter into collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships with third parties that may not result in the development of commercially viable products, product improvements or the generation of significant future revenues.
In the ordinary course of our business, we may enter into collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances, partnerships or other arrangements to develop new products or product improvements and to pursue new markets. Proposing, negotiating and implementing collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships may be a lengthy and complex process. Other companies, including those with substantially greater financial, marketing, sales, technology or other business resources, may compete with us for these opportunities or arrangements. We may not identify, secure, or complete any such transactions or arrangements in a timely manner, on a cost-effective basis, on acceptable terms or at all. We have limited institutional knowledge and experience with respect to these business development activities, and we may also not realize the anticipated benefits of any such transaction or arrangement. In particular, these collaborations may not
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result in the development of products that achieve commercial success or viable product improvements or result in significant revenues and could be terminated prior to developing any products.
Additionally, we may not be in a position to exercise sole decision making authority regarding the transaction or arrangement, which could create the potential risk of creating impasses on decisions, and our future collaborators may have economic or business interests or goals that are, or that may become, inconsistent with our business interests or goals. It is possible that conflicts may arise with our collaborators, such as conflicts concerning the achievement of performance milestones, or the interpretation of significant terms under any agreement, such as those related to financial obligations or the ownership or control of intellectual property developed during the collaboration. If any conflicts arise with any future collaborators, they may act in their self-interest, which may be adverse to our best interest, and they may breach their obligations to us. In addition, we may have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that any future collaborators devote to our or their future products.
Disputes between us and our collaborators may result in litigation or arbitration which would increase our expenses and divert the attention of our management. Further, these transactions and arrangements will be contractual in nature and will generally be terminable under the terms of the applicable agreements and, in such event, we may not continue to have rights to the products relating to such transaction or arrangement or may need to purchase such rights at a premium. If we enter into in-bound intellectual property license agreements, we may not be able to fully protect the licensed intellectual property rights or maintain those licenses. Future licensors could retain the right to prosecute and defend the intellectual property rights licensed to us, in which case we would depend on the ability of our licensors to obtain, maintain and enforce intellectual property protection for the licensed intellectual property. These licensors may determine not to pursue litigation against other companies or may pursue such litigation less aggressively than we would. Further, entering into such license agreements could impose various diligence, commercialization, royalty or other obligations on us. Future licensors may allege that we have breached our license agreement with them, and accordingly seek to terminate our license, which could adversely affect our competitive business position and harm our business prospects.
Unfavorable global economic conditions could negatively affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our results of operations could be adversely affected by general conditions in the global economy and in the global financial markets. A severe or prolonged economic downturn, such as the global financial crisis of 2008, could result in a variety of risks to our business, including weakened demand for our solution, and our ability to raise additional capital when needed on acceptable terms, if at all. A weak or declining economy, including due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, could also strain our suppliers, possibly resulting in supply disruption, or cause our customers to delay making payments for our services. Any of the foregoing will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and we cannot anticipate all of the ways in which the economic climate and financial market conditions could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may acquire other companies or technologies, which could divert our management’s attention, result in additional dilution to our stockholders and otherwise negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may in the future seek to acquire or invest in businesses, applications or technologies that we believe could complement or expand our current business, enhance our technical capabilities or otherwise offer growth opportunities. Accordingly, although we have no current commitments with respect to any acquisition or investment, we may in the future pursue the acquisition of, or joint ventures relating to, complementary businesses, applications or technologies instead of developing them ourselves. The pursuit of potential acquisitions may divert the attention of management and cause us to incur various costs and expenses in identifying, investigating and pursuing suitable acquisitions, whether or not they are consummated. We may not be able to identify desirable acquisition targets or be successful in entering into an agreement with any particular target or obtain the expected benefits of any acquisition or investment.
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We may not be able to successfully integrate acquired personnel, operations and technologies, or effectively manage the combined business following an acquisition. Acquisitions could also result in dilutive issuances of equity securities, the use of our available cash, or the incurrence of debt, which will harm our operating results. In addition, if an acquired business fails to meet our expectations, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Consolidation in the healthcare industry or group purchasing organizations could lead to demands for price concessions, which may affect our ability to sell our products at prices necessary to support our current business strategies.
The commercial payor industry is undergoing significant consolidation. When payors combine their operations, the combined company may elect to reimburse our products at the lowest rate paid by any of the participants in the consolidation or use its increased size to negotiate reduced rates. If one of the payors participating in the consolidation does not reimburse for the Zephyr Valve and our solution at all, the combined company may elect not to reimburse for the same, which would adversely impact our operating results.
Our long-term growth depends on our ability to enhance our solution, expand our indications and develop and commercialize additional products. If we fail to identify, acquire and develop other products, we may be unable to grow our business.
It is important to our business that we continue to enhance the Zephyr Valve, Chartis System and StratX Platform and develop and introduce new products. Developing products is expensive and time-consuming and could divert management’s attention away from our core business. The success of any new product offering or product enhancements to our solution will depend on several factors, including our ability to:
assemble sufficient resources to acquire or discover additional products;
properly identify and anticipate physician and patient needs;
develop and introduce new products and product enhancements in a timely manner;
avoid infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties;
demonstrate, if required, the safety and efficacy of new products with data from pre-clinical studies and clinical trials;
obtain the necessary regulatory clearances or approvals for expanded indications, new products or product modifications;
be fully FDA-compliant with marketing of new devices or modified products;
produce new products in commercial quantities at an acceptable cost;
provide adequate training to potential users of our products;
receive adequate coverage and reimbursement for procedures performed with our products; and
develop an effective and dedicated sales and marketing team.
If we are not successful in expanding our indications and developing and commercializing new products and product enhancements, our ability to increase our revenue may be impaired, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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In addition, we may choose to focus our efforts and resources on a potential products or indication that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful, or to license or purchase a marketed product that does not meet our financial expectations. As a result, we may fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities, be required to forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other potential products or other diseases that may later prove to have greater commercial potential, or relinquish valuable rights to such potential products through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights, which could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus on research programs and products and product candidates that we identify for specific indications. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other products or product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to timely capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and products and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product or product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product or product candidate through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate.
We are subject to anti-bribery, anti-corruption, and anti-money laundering laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as well as export control laws, customs laws, sanctions laws and other laws governing our operations. If we fail to comply with these laws, we could be subject to civil or criminal penalties, other remedial measures and legal expenses, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As we grow our international presence and global operations, we will be increasingly exposed to trade and economic sanctions and other restrictions imposed by the United States, the European Union and other governments and organizations. The U.S. Departments of Justice, Commerce, State and Treasury and other federal agencies and authorities have a broad range of civil and criminal penalties they may seek to impose against corporations and individuals for violations of economic sanctions laws, export control laws, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and other federal statutes and regulations, including those established by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In addition, the U.K. Bribery Act of 2010 (Bribery Act) prohibits both domestic and international bribery, as well as bribery across both private and public sectors. An organization that fails to prevent bribery by anyone associated with the organization can be charged under the Bribery Act unless the organization can establish the defense of having implemented adequate procedures to prevent bribery. Under these laws and regulations, as well as other anti-corruption laws, anti-money laundering laws, export control laws, customs laws, sanctions laws and other laws governing our operations, various government agencies may require export licenses, may seek to impose modifications to business practices, including cessation of business activities in sanctioned countries or with sanctioned persons or entities and modifications to compliance programs, which may increase compliance costs, and may subject us to fines, penalties and other sanctions. A violation of these laws or regulations would negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are in the process of enhancing policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance by us and our directors, officers, employees, representatives, consultants and agents with the FCPA, OFAC restrictions, the Bribery Act and other export control, anti-corruption, anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorism laws and regulations. We cannot assure you, however, that our policies and procedures are or will be sufficient or that directors, officers, employees, representatives, consultants and agents have not engaged and will not engage in conduct for which we may be held responsible, nor can we assure you that our business partners have not engaged and will not engage in conduct that could materially affect their ability to perform their contractual obligations to us or even result in our being held
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liable for such conduct. Violations of the FCPA, OFAC restrictions, the Bribery Act or other export control, anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws or regulations may result in severe criminal or civil sanctions, and we may be subject to other liabilities, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our results may be impacted by changes in foreign currency exchange rates.
A significant proportion of our sales are outside of the United States, and a majority of those are denominated in foreign currencies, which exposes us to foreign currency risks, including changes in currency exchange rates. We do not currently engage in any hedging transactions. If we are unable to address these risks and challenges effectively, our international operations may not be successful, and our business could be harmed.
Our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and research and development credit may be limited.
In general, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (Code) a corporation that undergoes an ownership change, generally defined as a greater than 50% change by value in its equity ownership over a three-year period, is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change net operating losses (NOLs) and its research and development credit carryforwards to offset future taxable income. Our existing NOLs and research and development credit carryforwards may be subject to limitations arising from previous ownership changes, and if we undergo an ownership change, our ability to utilize NOLs and research and development credit carryforwards could be further limited by Sections 382 and 383 of the Code. In addition, our ability to deduct net interest expense may be limited if we have insufficient taxable income for the year during which the interest is incurred, and any carryovers of such disallowed interest would be subject to the limitation rules similar to those applicable to NOLs and other attributes. Future changes in our stock ownership, some of which might be beyond our control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code. For these reasons, in the event we experience a change of control, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of the NOLs, research and development credit carryforwards or disallowed interest expense carryovers, even if we attain profitability.
We may not be able to achieve or maintain satisfactory pricing and margins for our products.
Manufacturers of medical devices have a history of price competition, and we can give no assurance that we will be able to achieve satisfactory prices for our solution or maintain prices at the levels we have historically achieved. Any decline in the amount that payers reimburse our customers for the Zephyr Valve and related products could make it difficult for customers to continue using, or to adopt, our solution and could create additional pricing pressure for us. If we are forced to lower the price we charge for our solution, our gross margins will decrease, which will adversely affect our ability to invest in and grow our business. If we are unable to maintain our prices, or if our costs increase and we are unable to offset such increase with an increase in our prices, our margins could erode. We will continue to be subject to significant pricing pressure, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Governmental export or import controls could limit our ability to compete in foreign markets and subject us to liability if we violate them.
Our products may be subject to U.S. export controls. Governmental regulation of the import or export of our products, or our failure to obtain any required import or export authorization for our products, when applicable, will harm our international sales and adversely affect our revenue. Compliance with applicable regulatory requirements regarding the export of our products may create delays in the introduction of our products in international markets or, in some cases, prevent the export of our products to some countries altogether. Furthermore, U.S. export control laws and economic sanctions prohibit the shipment of certain products and services to countries, governments and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions. If we fail to comply with export and import regulations and such economic sanctions, we may be fined or other penalties could be imposed, including a denial of certain export privileges. Moreover, any new export or import restrictions, new legislation or shifting approaches in the enforcement or scope of existing regulations, or in the countries, persons or technologies targeted by such regulations, could result in decreased use of our products by, or in our decreased ability to export our products to existing or potential customers
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with international operations. Any decreased use of our products or limitation on our ability to export or sell access to our products would likely negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Government Regulation and Our Industry
Our products and operations are subject to extensive government regulation and oversight both in the United States and abroad. If we fail to obtain and maintain necessary regulatory approvals for the Zephyr Valve and related products, or if approvals for future products and indications are delayed or not issued, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Zephyr Valve is subject to extensive regulation by the FDA in the United States and by our Notified Body in the European Union. Government regulations specific to medical devices are wide ranging and govern, among other things:
product design, development, manufacture, and release;
laboratory, pre-clinical and clinical testing, labeling, packaging, storage and distribution;
product safety and efficacy;
premarketing clearance or approval;
service operations;
record keeping;
product marketing, promotion and advertising, sales and distribution;
post-marketing surveillance, including reporting of deaths or serious injuries and recalls and correction and removals;
post-market approval studies; and
product import and export.
Before a new medical device or service, or a new intended use for an existing product or service, can be marketed in the United States, a company must first submit and receive either 510(k) clearance or PMA from the FDA, unless an exemption applies. In the 510(k) clearance process, before a device may be marketed, the FDA must determine that a proposed device is substantially equivalent to a legally-marketed predicate device, which includes a device that has been previously cleared through the 510(k) process, a device that was legally marketed prior to May 28, 1976 (pre-amendments device), a device that was originally on the U.S. market pursuant to an approved PMA and later down-classified, or a 510(k)-exempt device. To be substantially equivalent, the proposed device must have the same intended use as the predicate device, and either have the same technological characteristics as the predicate device or have different technological characteristics and not raise different questions of safety or effectiveness than the predicate device. Clinical data are sometimes required to support substantial equivalence.
In the process of obtaining PMA approval, which was required for the Zephyr Valve, the FDA must determine that a proposed device is safe and effective for its intended use based, in part, on extensive data, including, but not limited to, technical, pre-clinical, clinical trial, manufacturing and labeling data. The PMA process is typically required for devices that are deemed to pose the greatest risk, such as life-sustaining, life-supporting or implantable devices.
Either the 510(k) or PMA process can be expensive, lengthy and unpredictable. We may not be able to obtain any necessary clearances or approval or may be unduly delayed in doing so, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, even if we are granted regulatory clearances or approvals,
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they may include significant limitations on the indicated uses for the product, which may limit the market for the product. Although we have obtained PMA approval to market the Zephyr Valve, our approval can be revoked if safety or efficacy problems develop.
The FDA can delay, limit or deny clearance or approval of a device for many reasons, including:
our inability to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or the applicable regulatory entity or notified body that our products are safe or effective for their intended uses;
the disagreement of the FDA or the applicable foreign regulatory body with the design or implementation of our clinical trials or the interpretation of data from pre-clinical studies or clinical trials;
serious and unexpected adverse device effects experienced by participants in our clinical trials;
the data from our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials may be insufficient to support clearance or approval, where required;
our inability to demonstrate that the clinical and other benefits of the device outweigh the risks;
the manufacturing process or facilities we use may not meet applicable requirements; and
the potential for approval policies or regulations of the FDA or applicable foreign regulatory bodies to change significantly in a manner rendering our clinical data or regulatory filings insufficient for clearance or approval.
In order to sell our products in member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), our products must comply with the essential requirements of the European Union Medical Devices Directive (Council Directive 93/42/EEC) (MDD) and the Active Implantable Medical Devices Directive (Council Directive 90/385/EEC). Compliance with these requirements is a prerequisite to be able to affix the Conformité Européene (CE) mark to our products, without which they cannot be sold or marketed in the EEA. To demonstrate compliance with the essential requirements we must undergo a conformity assessment procedure, which varies according to the type of medical device and its classification. Except for low-risk medical devices (Class I non-sterile, non-measuring devices), where the manufacturer can issue an European Commission Declaration of Conformity based on a self-assessment of the conformity of its products with the essential requirements of the MDD, a conformity assessment procedure requires the intervention by a Notified Body. Depending on the relevant conformity assessment procedure, the Notified Body would typically audit and examine the technical file and the quality system for the manufacture, design and final inspection of our devices. The Notified Body issues a certificate of conformity following successful completion of a conformity assessment procedure conducted in relation to the medical device and its manufacturer and their conformity with the essential requirements. This certificate entitles the manufacturer to affix the CE mark to its medical devices after having prepared and signed a related EC Declaration of Conformity. If we fail to remain in compliance with applicable European laws and directives, we would be unable to continue to affix the CE mark to our products, which would prevent us from selling them within the EEA.
The FDA and state and international authorities have broad enforcement powers. Our failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements could result in enforcement action by any such agency, which may include any of the following sanctions:
adverse publicity, warning letters, fines, injunctions, consent decrees and civil penalties;
repair, replacement, refunds, recall or seizure of our products;
operating restrictions, partial suspension or total shutdown of production;
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denial of our requests for regulatory clearance or premarket approval of new products or services, new intended uses or modifications to existing products or services;
withdrawal of regulatory clearance or premarket approvals that have already been granted; or
criminal prosecution.
If any of these events were to occur, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changes in the regulatory environment may constrain or require us to restructure our operations, which may harm our revenue and operating results.
Healthcare laws and regulations change frequently and may change significantly in the future. We may not be able to adapt our operations to address every new regulation, and new regulations may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We cannot assure you that a review of our business by courts or regulatory authorities would not result in a determination that adversely affects our revenue and operating results, or that the healthcare regulatory environment will not change in a way that restricts our operations. In addition, there is risk that the U.S. Congress may implement changes in laws and regulations governing healthcare service providers, including measures to control costs, or reductions in reimbursement levels, which may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The federal government is considering ways to change, and has changed, the manner in which healthcare services are paid for in the United States. CMS establishes Medicare payment levels for hospitals and physicians on an annual basis, which can increase or decrease payment to such entities. CMS, as well as insurers, have increased their efforts to control the cost, utilization and delivery of healthcare services. From time to time, the U.S. Congress has considered and implemented changes in the CMS fee schedules in conjunction with budgetary legislation. Further reductions of reimbursement by CMS for services or changes in policy regarding coverage of tests or other services provided or other requirements for payment, such as prior authorization or a physician’s or qualified practitioner’s signature on test/service requisitions, may be implemented from time to time. Individual states may also enact legislation that impacts Medicaid payments to hospitals and physicians. Reductions in the reimbursement rates and changes in payment policies of other third-party payors may occur as well. Similar changes in the past have resulted in reduced payments as well as added costs and have added more complex regulatory and administrative requirements. Further changes in federal, state, local and third-party payor regulations or policies may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Actions by agencies regulating insurance or changes in other laws, regulations, or policies may also negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
On April 5, 2017, the European Parliament passed the Medical Devices Regulation (Regulation 2017/745), which repeals and replaces the MDD and the Active Implantable Medical Devices Directive. Unlike directives, which must be implemented into the national laws of the EEA member states, the regulations would be directly applicable, i.e., without the need for adoption of EEA member state laws implementing them, in all EEA member states and are intended to eliminate current differences in the regulation of medical devices among EEA member States. The Medical Devices Regulation, among other things, is intended to establish a uniform, transparent, predictable and sustainable regulatory framework across the EEA for medical devices and ensure a high level of safety and health while supporting innovation.
The Medical Devices Regulation will become applicable in 2021. Once applicable, the new regulations will among other things:
strengthen the rules on placing devices on the market and reinforce surveillance once they are available;
establish explicit provisions on manufacturers’ responsibilities for the follow-up of the quality, performance and safety of devices placed on the market;
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improve the traceability of medical devices throughout the supply chain to the end-user or patient through a unique identification number;
set up a central database to provide patients, healthcare professionals and the public with comprehensive information on products available in the European Union; and
strengthen rules for the assessment of certain high-risk devices, such as implants, which may have to undergo an additional check by experts before they are placed on the market.
These modifications may have an effect on the way we conduct our business in the EEA.
Changes in funding for, or disruptions caused by global health concerns impacting, the FDA and other government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new products and services from being developed, cleared or approved or commercialized in a timely manner, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, statutory, regulatory, and policy changes and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.
Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new devices to be reviewed and/or approved or cleared by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, including for 35 days beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA employees and stop critical activities. Separately, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, the FDA announced its intention to postpone inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities and products, and routine surveillance inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities. In July 2020, the FDA resumed inspections on a risk-based basis. Other regulatory authorities may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting business as usual or conducting inspections, reviews or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
A recall of our products, either voluntarily or at the direction of the FDA or another governmental authority, or the discovery of serious safety issues with our products that leads to corrective actions, could have a significant adverse impact on us.
The FDA and similar foreign governmental authorities have the authority to require the recall of commercialized products in the event of material deficiencies or defects in design or manufacture of a product or in the event that a product poses an unacceptable risk to health. The FDA’s authority to require a recall must be based on an FDA finding that there is reasonable probability that the device would cause serious injury or death. Manufacturers may also, under their own initiative, recall a product if any material deficiency in a device is found or withdraw a product to improve device performance or for other reasons. The FDA requires that certain classifications of recalls be reported to the FDA within ten working days after the recall is initiated. A government-mandated or voluntary recall by us could occur as a result of an unacceptable risk to health, component failures, malfunctions, manufacturing errors, design or labeling defects or other deficiencies and issues. Similar regulatory agencies in other countries have similar authority to recall devices because of material deficiencies or defects in design or manufacture that could endanger health. Any recall would divert management attention and financial resources and could cause the price of our stock to decline, expose us to product liability or other claims and harm our reputation with customers. A future recall announcement will harm our reputation with customers and negatively affect our sales. In addition, the FDA
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or a foreign governmental authority could take enforcement action for failing to report the recalls when they were conducted.
In addition, under the FDA’s medical device reporting regulations (MDRs), we are required to report to the FDA any incident in which our product may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury or in which our product malfunctioned and, if the malfunction were to recur, would likely cause or contribute to death or serious injury. Repeated product malfunctions may result in a voluntary or involuntary product recall. We are also required to follow detailed recordkeeping requirements for all firm-initiated medical device corrections and removals, and to report such corrective and removal actions to FDA if they are carried out in response to a risk to health and have not otherwise been reported under the MDRs. Depending on the corrective action we take to redress a product’s deficiencies or defects, the FDA may require, or we may decide, that we will need to obtain new approvals or clearances for the device before we may market or distribute the corrected device. Seeking such approvals or clearances may delay our ability to replace the recalled devices in a timely manner. Moreover, if we do not adequately address problems associated with our devices, we may face additional regulatory enforcement action, including FDA warning letters, product seizure, injunctions, administrative penalties, or civil or criminal fines. We may also be required to bear other costs or take other actions that may have a negative impact on our sales as well as face significant adverse publicity or regulatory consequences, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, including our ability to market our products in the future.
Any adverse event involving our products, whether in the United States or abroad, could result in future voluntary corrective actions, such as recalls or customer notifications, or agency action, such as inspection, mandatory recall or other enforcement action. Any corrective action, whether voluntary or involuntary, as well as defending ourselves in a lawsuit, will require the dedication of our time and capital, distract management from operating our business and may harm our reputation and financial results.
We are subject to certain federal, state and foreign fraud and abuse laws, health information privacy and security laws and transparency laws, which, if violated, could subject us to substantial penalties and negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The products and services we offer are highly regulated, and there can be no assurance that the regulatory environment in which we operate will not change significantly and adversely in the future. Our arrangements with physicians, hospitals and clinics may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other laws and regulations that may restrict the financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute our products and services. Federal and state healthcare laws and regulations that may affect our ability to conduct business, include, without limitation:
federal and state laws and regulations regarding billing and claims payment applicable to our solution and regulatory agencies enforcing those laws and regulations;
the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, any person from knowingly and willfully offering, soliciting, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in exchange for or to induce either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service for which payment may be made under federal healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid;
the federal false claims laws, including the False Claims Act, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, false claims, or knowingly using false statements, to obtain payment from the federal government;
federal criminal laws that prohibit executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters;
the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act (Open Payments), created under the Patient Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively, the Affordable
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Care Act) and its implementing regulations, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, biologicals and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report annually to CMS, information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, applicable manufacturers also will be required to report information regarding payments and other transfers of value provided during the previous year to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, anesthesiologist assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives;
federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers;
the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), and its implementing regulations, which impose certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information on covered entities, including certain healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses, and their respective business associates that create, receive, maintain or transmit individually identifiable health information for or on behalf of a covered entity as well as their covered subcontractors; HIPAA also created criminal liability for, among other things, knowingly and willfully falsifying or concealing a material fact or making a materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services;
the Federal Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA), which prohibits, among other things, the adulteration or misbranding of drugs, biologics and medical devices;
the federal physician self-referral prohibition, commonly known as the Stark Law , which prohibits, among other things, physicians who have a financial relationship, including an investment, ownership or compensation relationship with an entity, from referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to that entity for designated health services, which include clinical laboratory services, unless an exception applies. Similarly, entities may not bill Medicare, Medicaid or any other party for services furnished pursuant to a prohibited referral;

state law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws which may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers, and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts; and
similar healthcare laws and regulations in the European Union and other jurisdictions, including reporting requirements detailing interactions with and payments to healthcare providers and laws governing the privacy and security of certain protected information, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposes obligations and restrictions on the collection and use of personal data relating to individuals located in the European Union (including health data).
The Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010. The Affordable Care Act, among other things, amended the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and criminal healthcare fraud statutes, including those created under HIPAA. A person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it. In addition, the Affordable Care Act provides that the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act.
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To enforce compliance with the healthcare regulatory laws, certain enforcement bodies have continued their scrutiny of interactions between healthcare companies and healthcare providers, which has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. Responding to investigations can be time and resource-consuming and can divert management’s attention from the business. Additionally, as a result of these investigations, healthcare providers and entities may have to agree to additional compliance and reporting requirements as part of a consent decree or corporate integrity agreement. Any such investigation or settlement could increase our costs or otherwise negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Even an unsuccessful challenge or investigation into our practices could cause adverse publicity and be costly to respond to.
Although we have adopted policies and procedures designed to comply with these laws and regulations and conduct internal reviews of our compliance with these laws, our activities, including those relating to the reporting of discount and rebate information and other information affecting federal, state and third-party reimbursement of our products (such as our patient reimbursement support program) and the sale and marketing of our products, may be subject to scrutiny by under these laws. Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of available statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors, it is possible that some of our activities could be subject to challenge under one or more such laws. The growth of our business and sales organization and our expansion outside of the United States may increase the potential of violating these laws or our internal policies and procedures. Any action brought against us for violation of these or other laws or regulations, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the federal, state and foreign laws described above or any other current or future fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including significant criminal, civil, and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment for individuals, additional oversight and reporting obligations, exclusion from participation in government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, imprisonment, contractual damages, reputation harm and disgorgement and we could be required to curtail or cease our operations. Any of the foregoing consequences will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we modify the Zephyr Valve, we may need to seek additional clearances or approvals, which, if not granted, would prevent us from selling our modified products.
In the United States, the Zephyr Valve is marketed pursuant to a PMA order issued by the FDA. Any modifications to a PMA-approved device that could significantly affect its safety or effectiveness, including significant design and manufacturing changes, or that would constitute a major change in its intended use, manufacture, design, components, or technology requires approval of a new PMA application or PMA supplement. However, certain changes to a PMA-approved device do not require submission and approval of a new PMA or PMA supplement and may only require notice to FDA in a PMA 30-Day Notice, Special PMA Supplement - Changes Being Effected or PMA Annual Report. The FDA requires every manufacturer to make this determination in the first instance, but the FDA may review any manufacturer’s decision. The FDA may not agree with our decisions regarding whether new approvals are necessary. If the FDA disagrees with our determination and requires us to seek new PMA approvals for modifications to our previously approved products for which we have concluded that new approvals are unnecessary, we may be required to cease marketing or to recall the modified product until we obtain clearance or approval, and we may be subject to significant regulatory fines or penalties. Furthermore, our products could be subject to recall if the FDA determines, for any reason, that our products are not safe or effective or that appropriate regulatory submissions were not made. Delays in receipt or failure to receive approvals, the loss of previously received approvals, or the failure to comply with any other existing or future regulatory requirements, could reduce our sales, profitability and future growth prospects.
Failure to comply with post-marketing regulatory requirements could subject us to enforcement actions, including substantial penalties, and might require us to recall or withdraw a product from the market.
Even though we have obtained approval for the Zephyr Valve, we are subject to ongoing and pervasive regulatory requirements governing, among other things, the manufacture, marketing, advertising, medical device reporting, sale, promotion, registration, and listing of devices. For example, we must submit periodic reports to the FDA as a
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condition of PMA approval. These reports include safety and effectiveness information about the device after its approval. Failure to submit such reports, or failure to submit the reports in a timely manner, could result in enforcement action by the FDA. Following its review of the periodic reports, the FDA might ask for additional information or initiate further investigation.
In addition, the PMA approval for the Zephyr Valve was subject to several conditions of approval, including extended follow-up of the pre-market study cohort and post market study. Though we believe we have complied with these conditions to date, any failure to comply with the conditions of approval could result in the withdrawal of PMA approval and the inability to continue to market the device. Failure to conduct the required studies in accordance with Institutional Review Board (IRB) and informed consent requirements, or adverse findings in these studies, could also be grounds for withdrawal of approval of the PMA.
The regulations to which we are subject are complex and have become more stringent over time. Regulatory changes could result in restrictions on our ability to continue or expand our operations, higher than anticipated costs, or lower than anticipated sales. Even after we have obtained the proper regulatory approval to market a device, we have ongoing responsibilities under FDA regulations and applicable foreign laws and regulations. Our failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements could result in enforcement action by the FDA, state or foreign regulatory authorities, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If treatment guidelines for severe emphysema or the standard of care evolves, we may need to redesign and seek new marketing authorization from the FDA for one or more of our products.
If treatment guidelines for severe emphysema changes or the standard of care for this condition evolves, we may need to redesign the applicable product and seek new approvals from the FDA. Our PMA approvals from the FDA are based on current treatment guidelines. If treatment guidelines change so that different treatments become desirable, the clinical utility of one or more of our products could be diminished and will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we or our suppliers fail to comply with the FDA’s QSR or the European Union Medical Devices Directive, our manufacturing or distribution operations could be delayed or shut down and our revenue could suffer.
Our manufacturing and design processes and those of our third-party suppliers are required to comply with the FDA’s QSR and the European Union Medical Devices Directive (Council Directive 93/42/EEC) (MDD), both of which cover procedures and documentation of the design, testing, production, control, quality assurance, labeling, packaging, storage and shipping of Zephyr Valves. We are also subject to similar state requirements and licenses, and to ongoing International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliance in all operations, including design, manufacturing, and service, to maintain our CE Mark. In addition, we must engage in extensive recordkeeping and reporting and must make available our facilities and records for periodic unannounced inspections by governmental agencies, including the FDA, state authorities, European Union Notified Bodies and comparable agencies in other countries. If we fail a regulatory inspection, our operations could be disrupted and our manufacturing interrupted. Failure to take adequate corrective action in response to an adverse regulatory inspection could result in, among other things, a shutdown of our manufacturing or product distribution operations, significant fines, suspension of marketing clearances and approvals, seizures or recalls of our device, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which would negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, our key component suppliers may not currently be or may not continue to be in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements, which may result in manufacturing delays for our product and cause our revenue to decline.
We are registered with the FDA as a manufacturer. The FDA has broad post-market and regulatory enforcement powers. We are subject to unannounced inspections by the FDA and the Food and Drug Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to determine our compliance with the QSR and other regulations at our manufacturing facility, and these inspections may include the manufacturing facilities of our suppliers. Our design facilities in Redwood City, California were most recently audited by the FDA in November 2016 and no
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observations resulting in a warning letter were identified. We believe that we are in compliance, in all material respects, with the QSR.
We also maintain a certificate of registration for the design, manufacture, service, and distribution of our product from British Standards Institution (BSI) in the Netherlands, our European Notified Body. Most recently, BSI completed an ISO 13485 surveillance audit of our design, manufacturing and service operations in April 2020 and we believe that we are in compliance, in all material respects, with the MDD.
We can provide no assurance that we will continue to remain in compliance with the QSR or MDD. If the FDA, CDPH or BSI inspect any of our facilities and discover compliance problems, we may have to cease manufacturing and product distribution until we can take the appropriate remedial steps to correct the audit findings. Taking corrective action may be expensive, time consuming and a distraction for management and if we experience a delay at our manufacturing facility, we may be unable to produce our solutions, which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The misuse or off-label use of our solution will harm our image in the marketplace, result in injuries that lead to product liability suits or result in costly investigations and sanctions by regulatory bodies if we are deemed to have engaged in the promotion of these uses, any of which will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our solution has been approved by the FDA for specific indications. We train our marketing and direct sales force to not promote our products for uses outside of the FDA-approved indications for use, known as “off-label” uses. We cannot, however, prevent a physician from using our products off-label, when in the physician’s independent professional medical judgment, he or she deems it appropriate. There may be increased risk of injury to patients if physicians attempt to use our products off-label. Furthermore, the use of our products for indications other than those approved by the FDA or any foreign regulatory body may not effectively treat such conditions, which will harm our reputation in the marketplace among physicians and patients.
Physicians may also misuse our products or use improper techniques if they are not adequately trained, potentially leading to injury and an increased risk of product liability. If our products are misused or used with improper technique, we may become subject to costly litigation by our customers or their patients. Product liability claims could divert management’s attention from our core business, be expensive to defend, and result in sizable damage awards against us that may not be covered by insurance. In addition, if the FDA or any foreign regulatory body determines that our promotional materials or training constitute promotion of an off-label use, it could request that we modify our training or promotional materials or subject us to regulatory or enforcement actions, including the issuance of an untitled letter, a warning letter, injunction, seizure, civil fine or criminal penalties. It is also possible that other federal, state or foreign enforcement authorities might take action if they consider our business activities to constitute promotion of an off-label use, which could result in significant penalties, including, but not limited to, criminal, civil and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, and the curtailment of our operations. Any of these events will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and cause our stock price to decline.
We may be subject to regulatory or enforcement actions if we engage in improper marketing or promotion of our products.
Our educational and promotional activities and training methods must comply with FDA and other applicable laws, including the prohibition of the promotion of a medical device for a use that has not been cleared or approved by the FDA. Use of a device outside of its cleared or approved indications is known as “off-label” use. Physicians may use our products off-label in their professional medical judgment, as the FDA does not restrict or regulate a physician’s choice of treatment within the practice of medicine. However, if the FDA determines that our educational and promotional activities or training constitutes promotion of an off-label use, it could request that we modify our training or promotional materials or subject us to regulatory or enforcement actions, including the issuance of warning letters, untitled letters, fines, penalties, injunctions, or seizures, which could have an adverse impact on our reputation and financial results. It is also possible that other federal, state or foreign enforcement authorities might
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take action if they consider our educational and promotional activities or training methods to constitute promotion of an off-label use, which could result in significant fines or penalties under other statutory authorities, such as laws prohibiting false claims for reimbursement. In that event, our reputation could be damaged, and adoption of the products could be impaired. Although our policy is to refrain from statements that could be considered off-label promotion of our products, the FDA or another regulatory agency could disagree and conclude that we have engaged in off-label promotion. It is also possible that other federal, state or foreign enforcement authorities might take action, such as federal prosecution under the federal civil False Claims Act, if they consider our business activities constitute promotion of an off-label use, which could result in significant penalties, including, but not limited to, criminal, civil or administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. In addition, the off-label use of our products may increase the risk of product liability claims. Product liability claims are expensive to defend and could divert our management’s attention, result in substantial damage awards against us, and harm our reputation.
The clinical trial process required to obtain regulatory approvals is lengthy and expensive with uncertain outcomes. If clinical studies of our future products do not produce results necessary to support regulatory clearance or approval in the United States or, with respect to our current or future products, elsewhere, we will be unable to expand the indications for or commercialize these products and may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the commercialization of those products.
We have obtained PMA approval for the Zephyr Valve. In order to obtain PMA approval for a device, the sponsor must conduct well-controlled clinical trials designed to assess the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. Conducting clinical trials is a complex and expensive process, can take many years, and outcomes are inherently uncertain. We incur substantial expense for, and devote significant time to, clinical trials but cannot be certain that the trials will ever result in commercial revenue. We may experience significant setbacks in clinical trials, even after earlier clinical trials showed promising results, and failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. Any of our products may malfunction or may produce undesirable adverse effects that could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials. We, the FDA, or another regulatory authority may suspend or terminate clinical trials at any time to avoid exposing trial participants to unacceptable health risks.
Successful results of pre-clinical studies are not necessarily indicative of future clinical trial results, and predecessor clinical trial results may not be replicated in subsequent clinical trials. Additionally, the FDA may disagree with our interpretation of the data from our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, or may find the clinical trial design, conduct or results inadequate to prove safety or efficacy, and may require us to pursue additional pre-clinical studies or clinical trials, which could further delay the clearance or approval of our products. The data we collect from our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials may not be sufficient to support FDA clearance or approval, and if we are unable to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our future products in our clinical trials, we will be unable to obtain regulatory clearance or approval to market our products.
In addition, we may estimate and publicly announce the anticipated timing of the accomplishment of various clinical, regulatory and other product development goals, which are often referred to as milestones. These milestones could include the obtainment of the right to affix the CE mark in the European Union; the submission to the FDA of an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application to commence a pivotal clinical trial for a new product candidate; the enrollment of patients in clinical trials; the release of data from clinical trials; and other clinical and regulatory events. The actual timing of these milestones could vary dramatically compared to our estimates, in some cases for reasons beyond our control. We cannot assure you that we will meet our projected milestones and if we do not meet these milestones as publicly announced, the commercialization of our products may be delayed and, as a result, our stock price may decline.
Clinical trials are necessary to support PMA applications and may be necessary to support PMA supplements for modified versions of our marketed device products. This would require the enrollment of large numbers of suitable subjects, which may be difficult to identify, recruit and maintain as participants in the clinical trial. Adverse outcomes in the post-approval studies could also result in restrictions or withdrawal of approval of the PMA. We
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will likely need to conduct additional clinical studies in the future to support new indications for our products or for approvals or clear