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Based on the closing price of the registrant’s Class A common stock on the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, which was a closing price of $13.56 per share on June 30, 2022, as reported on the Nasdaq Global Market, the aggregate market value of its Class A common stock and Class B common stock held by non-affiliates was approximately $
As of February 28, 2023, there were
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s Proxy Statement for its 2023 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which the registrant intends to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS AND INDUSTRY DATA
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (Annual Report) of Nuvalent, Inc. contains express or implied forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the Securities Act), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act), that are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to our management. These statements relate to future events or our future operational or financial performance, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report include, among other things, statements about:
In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “believe,” “expect,” “estimate,” “seek,” “predict,” “future,” “project,” “potential,” “continue,” “target,” “aim” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These statements are only predictions. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which are, in some cases, beyond our control and which could materially affect results. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those listed under the sections titled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and elsewhere in this Annual Report. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties were to occur, or if our underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect, actual events or results may vary significantly from those implied or projected by the forward-looking statements. No forward-looking statement is a guarantee of future performance. You should read this Annual Report and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report and have filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC) completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from any future results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.
The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report represent our views as of the date of this Annual Report. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement except to the extent required by applicable law. You should therefore not rely on these forward-looking statements as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this Annual Report.
This Annual Report also contains estimates, projections and other information concerning our industry, our business and the markets for our product candidates. Information that is based on estimates, forecasts, projections, market research or similar methodologies is inherently subject to uncertainties and actual events or circumstances may differ materially from events and circumstances that are assumed in this information. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, business, market and other data from our own internal estimates and research as well as from reports, research surveys, studies, and similar data prepared by market research firms and other third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data and similar sources. All of the market data used in this Annual Report involves a number of assumptions and limitations, and you are cautioned not to give undue weight to such data. Industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies generally indicate that their information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, although they do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. Our estimates of the potential market opportunities for our product candidates include several key assumptions based on our industry knowledge, industry publications, third-party research and other surveys, which may be based on a small sample size and may fail to accurately reflect market opportunities. While we believe that our internal assumptions are reasonable, no independent source has verified such assumptions.
Except where the context otherwise requires or where otherwise indicated, the terms “Nuvalent,” “we,” “us,” “our,” “our company,” “the company,” and “our business” in this Annual Report refer to Nuvalent, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiary.
SUMMARY OF RISK FACTORS
Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. This summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, and other risks that we face, can be found below under the section titled “Risk Factors” and should be carefully considered, together with other information in this Annual Report and our other filings with the SEC before making investment decisions regarding our common stock.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on creating precisely targeted therapies for patients with cancer. We leverage our team’s deep expertise in chemistry and structure-based drug design to develop innovative small molecules that are designed with the aim to overcome the limitations of existing therapies for “clinically proven” kinase targets.
Limitations faced by currently available kinase inhibitors can include (i) kinase resistance, or the emergence of new mutations in the kinase target that can enable resistance to existing therapies, (ii) kinase selectivity, or the potential for existing therapies to inhibit other structurally similar kinase targets and lead to off-target adverse events, and (iii) limited brain penetrance, or the ability for the therapy to treat disease that has spread or metastasized to the brain. By prioritizing target selectivity, we believe our drug candidates have the potential to overcome resistance, avoid dose-limiting off-target adverse events, address brain metastases, and drive more durable responses. This may result in the potential to drive deeper, more durable responses with minimal adverse events, and we believe these potential benefits may support opportunities for clinical utility earlier in the treatment paradigm.
Our first lead product candidate, NVL-520, is being developed for patients with ROS1-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NVL-520 is a novel ROS1-selective inhibitor designed with the aim to address the clinical challenges of emergent treatment resistance, central nervous system (CNS)-related adverse events, and brain metastases that may limit the use of currently available ROS1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Our ARROS-1 clinical trial is a first-in-human Phase 1/2, multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation and expansion study evaluating NVL-520 as an oral monotherapy in patients with advanced ROS1-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors.
Dosing was initiated in the Phase 1 portion of the ARROS-1 clinical trial in January 2022. At the EORTC-NCI-AACR symposium in October 2022, we presented preliminary data from the Phase 1 dose-escalation portion of the ARROS-1 clinical trial based on an enrollment cut-off date of September 1, 2022, and a data cut-off date of September 13, 2022. That data demonstrated that NVL-520 had been well-tolerated with no observed dose limiting toxicities, treatment-related serious adverse events, treatment-related dizziness, or adverse events leading to dose reduction or discontinuation. Favorable pharmacokinetics were also observed with low intra-cohort patient variability and increasing exposure with dose level. Objective responses (RECIST 1.1) were observed across all dose levels evaluated in a heavily pre-treated population, including in patients who received two or more prior TKIs and one or more prior lines of chemotherapy, and in patients previously treated with lorlatinib or repotrectinib. Responses were also observed in patients with ROS1 G2032R mutation and in patients with CNS metastases. Enrollment in the Phase 1 portion of the clinical trial is ongoing.
The planned Phase 2 portion of the clinical trial is designed to evaluate the overall activity of NVL-520 at the recommended Phase 2 dose (RP2D) in patients with advanced ROS1-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors, examining several specific cohorts of patients based on the prior anti-cancer therapies that such patients have received. Phase 2 cohorts have been designed to support potential registration in kinase inhibitor naïve or previously treated ROS1-positive NSCLC patients.
Our second lead product candidate, NVL-655, is being developed for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive NSCLC. NVL-655 is a brain-penetrant ALK-selective inhibitor designed with the aim to address the clinical challenges of emergent treatment resistance, CNS-related adverse events, and brain metastases that may limit the use of first-, second-, and third-generation ALK inhibitors. Preclinical data has shown that NVL-655 was brain-penetrant, inhibited wild-type ALK fusions, remained active in the presence of mutations conferring resistance to approved and investigational ALK inhibitors, and displayed strong selectivity for both wild-type ALK and its resistance variants as compared to the structurally related tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TRKB), thereby indicating the potential to minimize off-target TRKB-related CNS adverse events.
Our ALKOVE-1 clinical trial is a first-in-human Phase 1/2, multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation and expansion study evaluating NVL-655 as an oral monotherapy in patients with advanced ALK-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors. In June 2022, we announced that the first patient was dosed with NVL-655 in the ALKOVE-1 clinical trial, and enrollment in the Phase 1 portion of the clinical trial is ongoing.
The planned Phase 2 portion of the clinical trial is designed to evaluate the preliminary activity of NVL-655 at the RP2D in a limited number of patients with advanced ALK-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors, examining several specific cohorts of patients based on the prior anti-cancer therapies that such patients have received. The Phase 2 cohorts are designed with the intent to expand cohort size, as data emerge and in collaboration with the FDA, into potentially registrational cohorts for the treatment of previously treated patients with ALK-positive NSCLC.
Other Candidates and Discovery Programs
Our newest product candidate, NVL-330, is a brain-penetrant human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-selective inhibitor designed with the aim to address the combined medical need of treating tumors driven by HER2ex20 (as defined below), treating
brain metastases, and avoiding treatment-limiting adverse events including due to off-target inhibition of wild-type EGFR. Preclinical data has shown that NVL-330 potently inhibited HER2ex20 in cell-based assays, was brain penetrant, and was highly selective for HER2ex20 over the structurally related wild-type EGFR. IND-enabling studies are ongoing for this program.
We have prioritized a number of additional small molecule research programs following an assessment of medical need designed with the aim to address emerging compound resistance mutations, including a program for ALK I1171X (X = N, S, or T) / D1203N (IXDN) mutations. Research for these programs is ongoing.
Our approach is built on three core principles:
With the continued increase in the adoption of kinase inhibitors as the standard of care across a broadening set of indications, we believe that opportunities to apply our established approach of efficient drug discovery and development will continue to grow.
We are currently advancing two parallel lead programs in addition to multiple early-stage development and discovery programs as summarized in Figure 1 below. We hold worldwide development and commercialization rights to our product candidates.
Figure 1. Our pipeline of kinase inhibitor product candidates
NVL-520 (ROS1-Selective inhibitor)
ROS1 rearrangements occur in up to approximately 3% of metastatic NSCLCs. At the time of diagnosis, up to 40% of these patients present with accompanying brain metastases. Beyond NSCLC, ROS1 rearrangements have also been reported across a wide range of solid tumors as well as lymphoma.
NVL-520 is a brain-penetrant ROS1-selective inhibitor designed with the aim to remain active in tumors that have developed resistance to currently available ROS1 inhibitors, including tumors with the prevalent G2032R resistance mutation and those with the S1986Y/F, L2026M, or D2033N resistance mutations. We believe we have optimized NVL-520 for brain penetrance and ROS1 selectivity to potentially improve treatment options for patients with brain metastases and avoid CNS adverse events related to off-target inhibition of the structurally related TRK family.
We are currently investigating NVL-520 in the Phase 1 portion of our ARROS-1 clinical trial, a first-in-human Phase 1/2, multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation and expansion study evaluating NVL-520 as an oral monotherapy in patients with advanced ROS1-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors. ARROS-1 is comprised of two study phases, beginning with a Phase 1 dose-escalation portion to evaluate the safety, tolerability and RP2D of NVL-520 in patients with advanced ROS1-positive NSCLC or other solid tumors who have received at least one prior ROS1 TKI or any prior therapy, respectively. Other Phase 1 objectives include characterizing the pharmacokinetic profile and evaluating preliminary anti-tumor activity of NVL-520. Once the RP2D is determined, the study may transition directly into a Phase 2 portion designed to evaluate the RP2D in patients with advanced ROS1-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors and to support potential registration of NVL-520 in ROS1-positive patients with NSCLC who are TKI-naïve and who have been previously treated with ROS1 kinase inhibitors.
NVL-655 (ALK-Selective inhibitor)
ALK rearrangements occur in approximately 5% of metastatic NSCLCs. At the time of initial diagnosis, up to 40% of these patients present with accompanying brain metastases. Beyond NSCLC, ALK fusions have also been reported in various other solid tumors as well as lymphoma.
NVL-655 is a brain-penetrant ALK-selective inhibitor designed with the aim to remain active in tumors that have developed resistance to first-, second-, and third-generation ALK inhibitors, including tumors with the G1202R (GR) resistance mutation or compound resistance mutations, including G1202R/L1196M (GRLM), G1202R/G1269A (GRGA), or G1202R/L1198F (GRLF). We believe we have optimized NVL-655 for brain penetrance and ALK selectivity to potentially improve treatment options for patients with brain metastases and avoid CNS adverse events related to off-target inhibition of the structurally related TRK family.
We are currently investigating NVL-655 in the Phase 1 portion of our ALKOVE-1 clinical trial, a first-in-human Phase 1/2, multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation and expansion study evaluating NVL-655 as an oral monotherapy in patients with advanced ALK-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors. ALKOVE-1 is comprised of two study phases, beginning with a Phase 1 dose-escalation portion to evaluate the safety, tolerability and RP2D of NVL-655 in patients with advanced ALK-positive NSCLC or other solid tumors who have received at least one prior ALK TKI or at least one prior systemic anticancer therapy, respectively. Other Phase 1 objectives include characterizing the pharmacokinetic profile and evaluating preliminary anti-tumor activity of NVL-655. Once the RP2D is determined, the study may transition directly into a Phase 2 portion designed to evaluate the preliminary activity of NVL-655 in various cohorts of ALK-positive NSCLC patients and patients with other solid tumors, with the potential to expand cohort sizes further into potentially registrational cohorts in collaboration with the FDA.
NVL-330 (HER2ex20-Selective inhibitor)
Mutations and alterations in HER2 are oncogenic and are found in approximately 3% of cancers, including up to 4% of advanced NSCLC patients. Within NSCLC, 90% of HER2 mutations occur through deletions, insertions, or duplications (collectively known as HER2 Exon 20 Insertions, or HER2ex20). HER2 mutations have also been identified in multiple cancers, including breast, esophageal, endometrial, bladder, colorectal, skin, ovarian, head and neck, and cervical. Brain metastases are present at diagnosis in an estimated 19% of HER2 mutant-positive NSCLC patients, and more patients will develop them during treatment.
NVL-330 is a brain-penetrant HER2ex20-selective inhibitor which we believe we have optimized for selectivity versus the structurally related wild-type EGFR that is associated with dose-limiting side effects including skin rash and gastrointestinal toxicity. IND-enabling studies are ongoing for this program.
We continue to evaluate new program areas with a focus on addressing the limitations of existing therapies for other clinically proven kinase targets in oncology, including a program for ALK IXDN mutations. As treatment landscapes evolve, we also continue to work with our physician-scientist partners to anticipate emerging patient needs in established areas of development and leverage our existing expertise in the area with the aim to efficiently discover and develop new product candidates with the potential to comprehensively address those emerging challenges. We believe that opportunities to apply our established model of efficient drug discovery and development continue to expand, and align with the increasing adoption of kinase inhibitors as standard of care across a broadening set of indications.
We have assembled a management team of biopharmaceutical industry veterans with extensive experience in developing novel oncology therapies from research through commercialization. Our team is led by our Chief Executive Officer, James R. Porter, Ph.D., who has over 20 years of experience, including at Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Infinity) and Verastem Oncology. Our Chief Financial Officer, Alexandra Balcom, M.B.A., C.P.A., has over 16 years of industry experience and was previously at SQZ Biotechnologies Company and Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Our Chief Medical Officer, Christopher D. Turner, M.D., has over 20 years of experience in drug development, including at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Blueprint Medicines Corporation. Our Chief Legal Officer, Deborah Miller, Ph.D., J.D., has over 20 years of legal experience managing the entire pharmaceutical lifecycle from early discovery through litigation, including at Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma America, Inc. and Infinity. Our Chief Development Officer, Darlene Noci, A.L.M., has over 20 years of experience in global drug development in rare diseases and oncology, including at Genzyme Corporation and EMD Serono, the North America biopharma business of Merck KgaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Our seasoned leadership team has broad experience at both large global organizations, including C.H. Boehringer Sohn AG & Ko. KG, Pfizer, Sanofi S.A., EMD Serono, GlaxoSmithKline plc, and BeiGene, Ltd., as well as established biotech companies, including Infinity, Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc., Blueprint Medicines Corporation, and ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Together, our leadership team has contributed directly to the regulatory approval of 12 therapies, including 5 kinase inhibitors, 9 oncology therapeutics, and 10 small molecules: CLOLAR®/Evoltra® (clofarabine), FABRAZYME® (agalsidase beta), COPIKTRA® (duvelisib), BRUKINSA® (zanubrutinib), MOZOBIL® (plerixafor injection), BAVENCIO® (avelumab), TIBSOVO® (ivosidenib tablets), TIVICAY® (dolutegravir), ICLUSIG® (ponatinib), GAVRETO (pralsetinib), ALUNBRIG® (brigatinib) and PYRUKYND® (mitapivat).
Our discovery approach leverages the experience and ongoing support of our scientific founder and head scientific advisor Matthew Shair, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. In leading his laboratory at Harvard, Dr. Shair has integrated organic chemistry, human disease biology, and drug development to focus on the development of novel small molecule therapeutics, and he has developed ways to efficiently assemble complex small molecules.
Our scientific advisors include additional researchers who publish widely cited research on topics relevant to the study and treatment of cancer, lead clinical units at experienced precision medicine cancer centers in the U.S., and are actively involved in our drug development process and programs. Our strong scientific advisory board includes:
We have also established collaborations through service agreements with global CROs to provide scale and expertise in research chemistry, chemical manufacturing, biology, pharmacology and toxicology, and clinical studies.
Our three core values are:
Our goal is to be a leading biopharmaceutical company that translates our deep expertise in structure-based drug design to discover, develop, and deliver novel, selective therapeutics that enable durable responses for patients with cancer. The key elements of our strategy include:
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition, and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. While we believe that our technology, the expertise of our team, and our development experience and scientific knowledge provide us with competitive advantages, we face competition from many different sources, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions, governmental agencies, and public and private research institutions.
Product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize may compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future, and we cannot predict what the standard of care will be as our product candidates progress through clinical development. We believe the key competitive factors affecting the success of all of our programs are likely to be efficacy, including duration of response (DOR), safety, and patient convenience. Potentially competitive therapies fall primarily into the following groups of treatment:
Many of our competitors, either alone or with their collaborators, have significantly greater financial resources, established presence in the market, and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical and clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals and reimbursement and marketing approved products than we do. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. Additional mergers and acquisitions may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors.
The availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors will also significantly affect the pricing and competitiveness of our products. Some cancer treatments are branded and subject to patent protection, and others are available on a generic basis. Insurers and other third-party payors may also encourage the use of generic products or specific branded products. We expect that if our product candidates are approved, they will be priced at a significant premium over competitive generic, including branded generic, products. In addition, our competitors may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for our products, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. As a result, obtaining market acceptance of, and gaining significant share of the market for, any of our product candidates that we successfully introduce to the market will pose challenges.
Revenue Sharing Agreements
Revenue Sharing Agreement with Deerfield
We are party to an Amended and Restated Revenue Sharing Agreement with Deerfield Healthcare Innovations Fund, L.P. and Deerfield Private Design Fund, IV, L.P. (collectively, Deerfield) pursuant to which we are obligated to pay Deerfield a low single digit percentage of net sales of any commercial products discovered, identified or generated by the Company during the period commencing on February 2, 2017 and ending on the date that is the earlier of (i) five years after Deerfield’s last investment in our capital stock and (ii) the fifth anniversary of our initial public offering (IPO). Any payments in respect of such products would be through the later of 12 years from the first commercial sale in a country or the expiration of the last-to-expire patent in that country. To date, we have not made any payments under this agreement and there are no upfront fees or milestone payments required to be paid by us under this agreement.
Revenue Sharing Agreement with our scientific founder
We are party to an Amended and Restated Revenue Sharing Agreement with our scientific founder and director, Matthew Shair, Ph.D., pursuant to which we are obligated to pay Dr. Shair a low single digit percentage of net sales of certain commercial products that either have a mechanism of action of (i) ROS1 inhibition and contain NVL-520 or a backup compound substituted therefore in the event of a product development failure or (ii) ALK inhibition and contain NVL-655 or a backup compound substituted therefore in the event of a product development failure, in each case through the later of 12 years from the first commercial sale in a country or the expiration of the last-to-expire patent in that country. To date, we have not made any payments under this agreement and there are no upfront fees or milestone payments required to be paid by us under this agreement.
Our commercial success depends in part on our ability (i) to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary and/or intellectual property rights and protection for our technology, inventions, and improvements; (ii) to protect and preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets; (iii) to defend and enforce our proprietary and intellectual property rights, including any patents that we may own or license in the future; and (iv) to operate without infringing the valid and enforceable patents and other proprietary and/or intellectual property rights of third parties.
We wholly own Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications, U.S. patent applications, U.S. patent(s), U.S. provisional patent applications and foreign patent applications relating to our lead and planned product candidates. We strive to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, filing patent applications in the U.S. and in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. directed to our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements, and product candidates that are important to the development and implementation of our business. We also rely on trade secrets and know-how relating to our proprietary technology and product candidates and continuing innovation to develop, strengthen and maintain our proprietary position in the field of oncology. Our strategic plans also include reliance on data exclusivity, market exclusivity, and patent term extensions when available.
Our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing products identical or similar to ours will depend on the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents, trade secrets, or other intellectual property rights that cover these activities. The patent rights of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies like ours are generally uncertain and can involve complex legal, scientific, and factual issues. Our and any future licensor’s current and future patent applications may not result in the issuance of any patent in any particular jurisdiction, and the claims of any current or future issued patents, even if those claims are valid and enforceable, may not provide sufficient protection from competitors. Any owned or in-licensed patent rights we may obtain may not enable us to prevent others from replicating, manufacturing, using, or administering our product candidates for any indication. Moreover, the subject matter initially claimed in a patent application may be significantly reduced before a patent is issued, and a patent’s scope can be reinterpreted after issuance. In addition, any patent we may own or in-license may be challenged, circumvented or invalidated by third parties. As a result, we cannot ensure that any of our product candidates will be protected by valid and enforceable patents. See “Risk Factors—Risks related to our intellectual property” for a more comprehensive description of risks related to our intellectual property.
We have filed certain patent applications directed generally to compositions of matter, pharmaceutical formulations, and therapeutic methods of using the foregoing related to our ROS1, ALK, and HER2 programs, as summarized below. We also possess substantial know-how and trade secrets relating to the development and commercialization of our product candidates, including related manufacturing processes and technology. In addition, we own certain pending U.S. trademark applications.
With respect to our ROS1 program, we own two pending PCT patent applications, two pending U.S. patent applications, one issued U.S. patent, two pending U.S. provisional patent applications, and twenty-three pending foreign patent applications directed to compositions of matter for our ROS1 inhibitory compounds (e.g., NVL-520) and related solid forms as well as methods of use. Any U.S. or foreign patent that has issued or may issue based on the pending patent applications is expected to expire no earlier than 2041, not including any patent term adjustments or patent term extensions that may be awarded. With respect to our ALK program, we own two pending U.S. patent applications, four pending U.S. provisional patent applications, and twenty-two pending foreign patent applications directed to compositions of matter for our ALK inhibitory compounds (e.g., NVL-655) and related solid forms as well as methods of use. Any U.S. or foreign patent that may issue based on the pending patent applications is expected to expire no earlier than 2041, not including any patent term adjustments or patent term extensions that may be awarded. With respect to our HER2 program, we own two pending PCT patent applications, one pending U.S. patent application, and one pending foreign application directed to compositions of matter for our HER2 inhibitory compounds (e.g., NVL-330) and related solid forms as well as methods of use. Any U.S. or foreign patent that may issue based on the pending patent applications is expected to expire no earlier than 2042, not including any patent term adjustments or patent term extensions that may be awarded.
Our pending and planned applications may not result in issued patents and we cannot provide any assurance that any patents that might issue in the future will protect our future products or provide us with any competitive advantage. Moreover, U.S. provisional patent applications are not eligible to become issued patents until, among other things, we file a non-provisional patent application within 12 months of the filing of the related provisional patent applications. With regard to our provisional patent applications, if we do not timely file one or more non-provisional patent applications, we may lose our priority date with respect to our provisional patent applications and therefore any patent protection on the inventions disclosed in such provisional patent applications. While we intend to timely file one or more non-provisional patent applications relating to our provisional patent applications, we cannot predict whether any such patent applications will result in the issuance of patent(s) that provide us with any competitive advantage. For more information regarding the risks related to our intellectual property, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property.”
We intend to retain significant development and commercial rights to our product candidates and, if marketing approval is obtained, to commercialize our product candidates on our own, or potentially with a collaboration partner, in the U.S. and other regions. We currently have no sales, marketing, or commercial product distribution capabilities. We intend to build the necessary infrastructure and capabilities over time for the U.S., and potentially other regions, following further advancement of our product candidates. We believe that such a focused sales and marketing organization will be able to address the community of oncologists who are the key specialists in treating the patient populations for which our product candidates are being developed. Clinical data, the size of the addressable patient population, and the size of the commercial infrastructure and manufacturing needs may all influence or alter our commercialization plans. The responsibilities of the marketing organization would include developing educational initiatives with respect to approved products and establishing relationships with researchers and practitioners in relevant fields of medicine.
We do not own or operate, and currently have no plans to establish, any manufacturing facilities. We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing, as well as for commercial manufacturing if any of our product candidates obtain marketing approval. We also rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to package, label, store and distribute our investigational product candidates, as well as our commercial products if marketing approval is obtained.
We believe that this strategy allows us to maintain a more efficient infrastructure by eliminating the need for us to invest in our own manufacturing facilities, equipment, and personnel while also enabling us to focus our expertise and resources on the development of our product candidates.
All of our product candidates are small molecules and are manufactured in synthetic processes from available starting materials. The chemistry appears amenable to scale-up and does not currently require unusual equipment in the manufacturing process. We expect to continue to develop product candidates that can be produced cost-effectively at contract manufacturing facilities.
Currently, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) (i.e., clinical drug substance) for NVL-520 and NVL-655 are manufactured in accordance with current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs).
The drug product formulation is being developed with the goal of producing tablets with consistent and immediate release dissolution profiles that can be reproducibly manufactured using automated equipment. All manufacturing activities for NVL-520 and NVL-655 drug products are performed in accordance with cGMPs. We currently rely on these vendors as single-source contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs).
We are continuing to develop our supply chain for each of our product candidates and have or intend to put in place framework agreements under which third-party CMOs will generally provide us with necessary quantities of API and drug product on a project-by-project basis based on our development needs.
As we advance our product candidates through development, we will continue to explore adding additional backup suppliers for the API and drug product for each of our product candidates to protect against any potential supply disruptions.
We generally expect to rely on third parties for the manufacture of any companion diagnostics we may develop.
However, there are no assurances that our manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure will remain uninterrupted and reliable, or that the third parties we rely on will be able to satisfy our demand in a timely manner and not have supply chain disruptions due to stock-outs due to raw material shortages and/or greater than anticipated demand or quality issues given the operational challenges and raw material shortages that have been experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic commenced.
The research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, packaging, labeling, storage, record-keeping, distribution, import, export, promotion, advertising, marketing, sale, pricing and reimbursement of drug products are extensively regulated by governmental authorities in the U.S. and other countries. The processes for obtaining regulatory approvals in the U.S. and in foreign countries and jurisdictions, along with compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and other regulatory requirements, both
pre-approval and post-approval, require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. The regulatory requirements applicable to drug product development, approval and marketing are subject to change, and regulations and administrative guidance often are revised or reinterpreted by the agencies in ways that may have a significant impact on our business.
U.S. Government Regulation of Drug Products
In the U.S., the FDA approves and regulates human drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). A company, institution, or organization which takes responsibility for the initiation and management of a clinical development program for such products is typically referred to as a sponsor. The failure of a sponsor to comply with applicable U.S. requirements may result in FDA delays or refusal to approve pending New Drug Applications (NDAs), and may subject the sponsor to administrative or judicial sanctions, such as issuance of warning letters, or the imposition of fines, civil penalties, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions and/or civil or criminal prosecution brought by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Justice or other governmental entities.
The FDA must approve our product candidates for therapeutic indications before they may be marketed in the U.S. A sponsor seeking approval to market and distribute a new drug product in the U.S. must satisfactorily complete each of the following steps:
Before a sponsor begins testing a product candidate with potential therapeutic value in humans, the product candidate enters the preclinical testing stage. Preclinical tests include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, formulation, and stability, as well as other studies to evaluate, among other things, the toxicity of the product candidate. These studies are typically referred to as IND-enabling studies. The conduct of the preclinical tests and formulation of the compounds for testing must comply with federal regulations and requirements, including GLP regulations and standards and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Act, if applicable. The results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. Some long-term preclinical testing, such as animal tests of reproductive adverse events and carcinogenicity, and long-term toxicity studies, may continue after the IND is submitted.
The IND and IRB Processes
An IND is an exemption from the FDCA that allows an unapproved product candidate to be shipped in interstate commerce for use in an investigational clinical trial and a request for FDA authorization to administer such investigational product to humans. An IND must be secured prior to interstate shipment and administration of any product candidate that is not the subject of an approved NDA. In support of a request for an IND, sponsors must submit a protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. An IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time the FDA raises concerns or questions related to one or more proposed clinical trials and places the trial on a clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial may proceed. As a result, submission of an IND may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to commence.
Following commencement of a clinical trial under an IND, the FDA may also place a clinical hold or partial clinical hold on that trial. A clinical hold is an order issued by the FDA to the sponsor to delay a proposed clinical investigation or to suspend an ongoing investigation. A partial clinical hold is a delay or suspension of only part of the clinical work requested under the IND. For example, a partial clinical hold might state that a specific protocol or part of a protocol may not proceed, while other parts of a protocol or other protocols may do so. No more than 30 days after the imposition of a clinical hold or partial clinical hold, the FDA will provide the sponsor a written explanation of the basis for the hold. Following the issuance of a clinical hold or partial clinical hold, a clinical investigation may only resume once the FDA has notified the sponsor that the investigation may proceed. The FDA will base that determination on information provided by the sponsor correcting the deficiencies previously cited or otherwise satisfying the FDA that the investigation can proceed or recommence. Occasionally, clinical holds are imposed due to manufacturing issues that may present safety issues for the clinical study subjects.
A sponsor may choose, but is not required, to conduct a foreign clinical study under an IND. When a foreign clinical study is conducted under an IND, all IND requirements must be met unless waived by the FDA. When a foreign clinical study is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor must ensure that the study complies with certain regulatory requirements of the FDA in order to use the study as support for an IND or application for marketing approval. Specifically, the studies must be conducted in accordance with GCP, including undergoing review and receiving approval by an independent ethics committee (IEC) and seeking and receiving informed consent from subjects. GCP requirements encompass both ethical and data integrity standards for clinical studies. The FDA’s regulations are intended to help ensure the protection of human subjects enrolled in non-IND foreign clinical studies, as well as the quality and integrity of the resulting data.
In addition to the foregoing IND requirements, an IRB representing each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial before it commences at that institution, and the IRB must conduct continuing review and reapprove the study at least annually. The IRB, which must operate in compliance with FDA regulations, must review and approve, among other things, the study protocol and informed consent information to be provided to study subjects and must monitor the trial until completed. An IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution, or an institution it represents, if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the product candidate has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.
Additionally, some trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board (DSMB). This group provides authorization as to whether or not a trial may move forward at designated checkpoints based on review of available data from the study, to which only the DSMB maintains access. Suspension or termination of development during any phase of a clinical trial can occur if the DSMB determines that the participants or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk.
Expanded access, sometimes called “compassionate use,” is the use of investigational new products outside of clinical trials to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases or conditions when there are no comparable or satisfactory alternative treatment options. The rules and regulations related to expanded access are intended to improve access to investigational products for patients who may benefit from investigational therapies. The FDA’s regulations allow access to investigational products under an IND by the company or the treating physician for treatment purposes on a case-by-case basis for: individual patients (single-patient IND applications for treatment in emergency settings and non-emergency settings); intermediate-size patient populations; and larger populations for use of the investigational product under a treatment protocol or Treatment IND Application.
When considering an IND application for expanded access to an investigational product with the purpose of treating a patient or a group of patients, the sponsor and treating physicians or investigators will determine suitability when all of the following criteria apply: patient(s) have a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition, and there is no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy to diagnose, monitor, or treat the disease or condition; the potential patient benefit justifies the potential risks of the treatment and the potential risks are not unreasonable in the context or condition to be treated; and the expanded use of the investigational product for the requested treatment will not interfere with the initiation, conduct, or completion of clinical investigations that could support marketing approval of the product or otherwise compromise the potential development of the product.
There is no obligation for a sponsor to make its investigational products available for expanded access; however, as required by amendments to the FDCA included in the 21st Century Cures Act (the Cures Act), passed in 2016, if a sponsor has a policy regarding how it responds to expanded access requests with respect to product candidates in development to treat serious diseases or conditions, it must make that policy publicly available. Sponsors are required to make such policies publicly available upon the earlier of initiation of a Phase 2 or Phase 3 study for a covered investigational product; or 15 days after the investigational product receives designation from the FDA as a breakthrough therapy, fast track product, or regenerative medicine advanced therapy.
In addition, on May 30, 2018, the Right to Try Act was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no obligation for a manufacturer to make its products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act, but the manufacturer must develop an internal policy and respond to patient requests according to that policy.
Human Clinical Trials
Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product candidate to human subjects under the supervision of a qualified investigator in accordance with GCP requirements which include, among other things, the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent in writing before they participate in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under written clinical trial protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, inclusion and exclusion criteria, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Each protocol, and any subsequent material amendment to the protocol, must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND, and progress reports detailing the status of the clinical trials must be submitted to the FDA annually.
Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases, but the phases may overlap or be combined. Additional studies may also be required after approval.
A clinical trial may combine the elements of more than one phase and the FDA often requires more than one Phase 3 trial to support marketing approval of a product candidate. A company’s designation of a clinical trial as being of a particular phase is not necessarily indicative that the study will be sufficient to satisfy the FDA requirements of that phase because this determination cannot be made until the protocol and data have been submitted to and reviewed by the FDA. Moreover, as noted above, a pivotal trial is a clinical trial that is believed to satisfy FDA requirements for the evaluation of a product candidate’s safety and efficacy such that it can be used, alone or with other pivotal or non-pivotal trials, to support regulatory approval. Generally, pivotal trials are Phase 3 trials, but they may be Phase 2 trials if the design provides a well-controlled and reliable assessment of clinical benefit, particularly in an area of unmet medical need.
In December 2022, with the passage of the Food and Drug Omnibus Reform Act (FDORA), Congress required sponsors to develop and submit a diversity action plan for each Phase 3 clinical trial or any other “pivotal study” of a new drug or biological product. These plans are meant to encourage the enrollment of more diverse patient populations in late-stage clinical trials of FDA-regulated products. Specifically, action plans must include the sponsor’s goals for enrollment, the underlying rationale for those goals, and an explanation of how the sponsor intends to meet them. In addition to these requirements, the legislation directs the FDA to issue new guidance on diversity action plans.
In some cases, the FDA may approve an NDA for a product candidate but require the sponsor to conduct additional clinical trials to further assess the product candidate’s safety and effectiveness after approval. Such post-approval trials, typically referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of a larger number of patients in the intended treatment group. In certain instances, the FDA may mandate the performance of Phase 4 clinical trials, such as to verify clinical benefit in the case of products approved under accelerated approval regulations. Failure to exhibit due diligence with regard to conducting mandatory Phase 4 clinical trials could result in withdrawal of FDA approval for products.
In March 2022, the FDA released final guidance entitled “Expansion Cohorts: Use in First-In-Human Clinical Trials to Expedite Development of Oncology Drugs and Biologics,” which outlines how developers can utilize an adaptive trial design commonly referred to as a seamless trial design in early stages of oncology product development (i.e., the first-in-human clinical trial) to
compress the traditional three phases of trials into one continuous trial called an expansion cohort trial. Information to support the design of individual expansion cohorts are included in IND applications and assessed by the FDA. Expansion cohort trials can potentially bring efficiency to product development and reduce developmental costs and time.
Typically, clinical trials are designed in consultation with the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities during these development phases. The indications under development can influence the study designs employed during the conduct of clinical trials, such as for a first-line cancer treatment indication which may require head-to-head comparison data demonstrating clinical superiority or non-inferiority to currently available therapies. The timeline for first-line cancer indication development programs may also be longer than for indications sought in subsequent or later lines of treatment due to a desire for regulatory authorities to expedite access to treatments for patients whose cancer has progressed on prior treatments and in settings where there may be no available therapy option. As such, many new oncology products initially seek an indication for second or third-line treatment, which may be a smaller available treatment population in any oncology indication that has limited or no other therapy options, with subsequent development sought for those products in earlier front lines of treatment which target a larger treatment population and may require the conduct of additional clinical trials to provide comparative data against an available therapy option to show clinical superiority.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA issued guidance on March 18, 2020, and has updated it periodically since that time, to address the conduct of clinical trials during the pandemic. The guidance sets out a number of considerations for sponsors of clinical trials impacted by the pandemic, including the requirement to include in the clinical study report (or as a separate document) contingency measures implemented to manage the study, and any disruption of the study as a result of COVID-19; a list of all study participants affected by COVID-19-related study disruptions by a unique subject identifier and by investigational site, and a description of how the individual’s participation was altered; and analyses and corresponding discussions that address the impact of implemented contingency measures (e.g., participant discontinuation from investigational product and/or study, alternative procedures used to collect critical safety and/or efficacy data) on the safety and efficacy results reported for the study, among other things. In June 2020 the FDA also issued a guidance on good manufacturing practice considerations for responding to COVID-19 infection in employees in drug products manufacturing, including recommendations for manufacturing controls to prevent contamination of drugs. More recently, on January 30, 2023, the Biden administration announced that it will end the public health emergency declarations related to COVID-19 on May 11, 2023. On January 31, 2023, the FDA indicated that it would soon issue a Federal Register notice describing how the termination of the public health emergency will impact the FDA’s COVID-19 related guidance, including the clinical trial guidance and updates thereto.
Reporting Clinical Trial Results
Sponsors of clinical trials of certain FDA-regulated products, including prescription drugs, are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information on a public registry (clinicaltrials.gov) maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). In particular, information related to the product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators, and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration of the clinical trial. Although sponsors are also obligated to disclose the results of their clinical trials after completion, disclosure of the results can be delayed in some cases for up to two years after the date of completion of the trial. The NIH’s Final Rule on registration and reporting requirements for clinical trials became effective in 2017.
Specifically, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is authorized to issue a notice of noncompliance to a responsible party for failure to submit clinical trial information as required. The responsible party, however, is allowed 30 days to correct the noncompliance and submit the required information. The failure to submit clinical trial information to clinicaltrials.gov, as required, is also a prohibited act under the FDCA with violations subject to potential civil monetary penalties of up to $10,000 for each day the violation continues. In addition to civil monetary penalties, violations may also result in other regulatory action, such as injunction and/or criminal prosecution or disqualification from federal grants. Although the FDA has historically not enforced these reporting requirements due to HHS’s long delay in issuing final implementing regulations, those regulations have now been issued and the FDA has issued several Notices of Noncompliance to manufacturers since April 2021.
Interactions with the FDA During the Clinical Development Program
Following the clearance of an IND and the commencement of clinical trials, the sponsor will continue to have interactions with the FDA. Progress reports detailing the results of clinical trials must be submitted annually within 60 days of the anniversary dates that the IND went into effect and more frequently if serious adverse events occur. These reports must include a development safety update report. In addition, IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA for any of the following: serious and unexpected suspected adverse reactions; findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk in humans exposed to the product; and any clinically important increase in the occurrence of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, or at all. The FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP and the integrity of the clinical data submitted. With passage of FDORA, Congress clarified the FDA’s authority to conduct inspections by expressly permitting inspection of facilities involved in the preparation, conduct, or analysis of clinical and non-clinical studies submitted to the FDA as well as other persons holding study records or involved in the study process.
In addition, sponsors are given opportunities to meet with the FDA at certain points in the clinical development program. Specifically, sponsors may meet with the FDA prior to the submission of an IND (Pre-IND meeting), at the end of Phase 2 clinical trial (EOP2 meeting) and before an NDA is submitted (Pre-NDA meeting). Meetings at other times may also be requested. There are four types of meetings that occur between sponsors and the FDA. Type A meetings are those that are necessary for an otherwise stalled product development program to proceed or to address an important safety issue. Type B meetings include pre-IND and pre-NDA meetings as well as end of phase meetings such as EOP2 meetings. A Type C meeting is any meeting other than a Type A or Type B meeting regarding the development and review of a product, including for example meetings to facilitate early consultations on the use of a biomarker as a new surrogate endpoint that has never been previously used as the primary basis for product approval in the proposed context of use. Finally, a type D meeting is focused on a narrow set of issues (should be limited to no more than two focused topics) and should not require input from more than three disciplines or divisions.
These meetings provide an opportunity for the sponsor to share information about the data gathered to date with the FDA and for the FDA to provide advice on the next phase of development. For example, at an EOP2 meeting, a sponsor may discuss its Phase 2 clinical results and present its plans for the pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial(s) that it believes will support the approval of the new product. Such meetings may be conducted in person, via teleconference/videoconference, or written response only with minutes reflecting the questions that the sponsor posed to the FDA and the FDA’s responses. The FDA has indicated that its responses, as conveyed in meeting minutes and advice letters, only constitute mere recommendations and/or advice made to a sponsor and, as such, sponsors are not bound by such recommendations and/or advice. Nonetheless, from a practical perspective, a sponsor’s failure to follow the FDA’s recommendations for design of a clinical program may put the program at significant risk of failure.
Manufacturing and Other Regulatory Requirements
Concurrently with clinical trials, sponsors usually complete additional animal safety studies, develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the product candidate, and finalize a process for manufacturing commercial quantities of the product candidate in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and, among other criteria, the sponsor must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality, and purity of the finished product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested, and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.
Specifically, the FDA’s regulations require that pharmaceutical products be manufactured in specific approved facilities and in accordance with cGMPs. The cGMP regulations include requirements relating to organization of personnel, buildings and facilities, equipment, control of components and product containers and closures, production and process controls, packaging and labeling controls, holding and distribution, laboratory controls, records and reports, and returned or salvaged products. Manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved pharmaceuticals are required to register their establishments with the FDA and some state agencies, and they are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA for compliance with cGMPs and other requirements. The PREVENT Pandemics Act, which was enacted in December 2022, clarifies that foreign drug manufacturing establishments are subject to registration and listing requirements even if a drug undergoes further manufacture, preparation, propagation, compounding, or processing at a separate establishment outside the U.S. prior to being imported or offered for import into the U.S.
Inspections must follow a “risk-based schedule” that may result in certain establishments being inspected more frequently. Manufacturers may also have to provide, on request, electronic or physical records regarding their establishments. Delaying, denying, limiting, or refusing inspection by the FDA may lead to a product being deemed to be adulterated. Changes to the manufacturing process, specifications or container closure system for an approved product are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. The FDA’s regulations also require, among other things, the investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP and the imposition of reporting and documentation requirements upon the sponsor and any third-party manufacturers involved in producing the approved product.
Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA), applications and certain types of supplements to applications must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations, and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The sponsor must submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan (PSP) within 60 days of an end-of-Phase 2 meeting or as may be agreed between the sponsor and the FDA. Those plans must contain an outline of the proposed pediatric study or studies the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The sponsor and the FDA must reach agreement on a final plan. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon initial PSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from nonclinical studies, early phase clinical trials, and/or other clinical development programs.
For investigational products intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, the FDA must, upon the request of a sponsor, meet to discuss preparation of the initial pediatric study plan or to discuss deferral or waiver of pediatric assessments. In addition, the FDA will meet early in the development process to discuss pediatric study plans with sponsors, and the FDA must meet with sponsors by no later than the end-of-Phase 1 meeting for serious or life-threatening diseases and by no later than 90 days after the FDA’s receipt of the study plan.
The FDA may, on its own initiative or at the request of the sponsor, grant deferrals for submission of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults, or full or partial waivers from the pediatric data requirements. A deferral may be granted for several reasons, including a finding that the product or therapeutic candidate is ready for approval for use in adults before pediatric trials are complete or that additional safety or effectiveness data needs to be collected before the pediatric trials begin. The law now requires the FDA to send a PREA Non-Compliance letter to sponsors who have failed to submit their pediatric assessments required under PREA, have failed to seek or obtain a deferral or deferral extension, or have failed to request approval for a required pediatric formulation. It further requires the FDA to publicly post the PREA Non-Compliance letter and sponsor’s response. Unless otherwise required by regulation, the pediatric data requirements do not apply to products with orphan designation, although the FDA has recently taken steps to limit what it considers abuse of this statutory exemption in PREA by announcing that it does not intend to grant any additional orphan drug designations for rare pediatric subpopulations of what is otherwise a common disease. The FDA also maintains a list of diseases that are exempt from PREA requirements due to low prevalence of disease in the pediatric population.
Expedited Review Programs
For certain drug products, the FDA is authorized to expedite the review and approval of applications in several ways. None of these expedited programs changes the standards for approval, but they may help expedite the development and approval process governing product candidates.
With passage of FDORA in December 2022, Congress modified certain provisions governing accelerated approval of drug products. Specifically, the new legislation authorized FDA to: require a sponsor to have its confirmatory clinical trial underway before accelerated approval is awarded, require a sponsor of a product granted accelerated approval to submit progress reports on its post-approval studies to FDA every six months (until the study is completed); and use expedited procedures to withdraw accelerated approval of an NDA or biologics license application (BLA) after the confirmatory trial fails to verify the product’s clinical benefit. Further, FDORA requires the FDA to publish on its website “the rationale for why a post-approval study is not appropriate or necessary” whenever it decides not to require such a study upon granting accelerated approval.
Section 505(b)(2) NDAs
NDAs for most new drug products are based on two full clinical studies which must contain substantial evidence of the safety and efficacy of the proposed new product for the proposed use. These applications are submitted under Section 505(b)(1) of the FDCA. The FDA is, however, authorized to approve an alternative type of NDA under Section 505(b)(2) of the FDCA. This type of application allows the sponsor to rely, in part, on the FDA’s previous findings of safety and efficacy for a similar product, or published literature. Specifically, Section 505(b)(2) applies to NDAs for a drug for which the investigations made to show whether or not the drug is safe for use and effective in use and relied upon by the sponsor for approval of the application “were not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference or use from the person by or for whom the investigations were conducted.”
Section 505(b)(2) thus authorizes the FDA to approve an NDA based on safety and effectiveness data that were not developed by the applicant. NDAs filed under Section 505(b)(2) may provide an alternate and potentially more expeditious pathway to FDA approval for new or improved formulations or new uses of previously approved products. If the 505(b)(2) applicant can establish that reliance on the FDA’s previous approval is scientifically appropriate, the applicant may eliminate the need to conduct certain preclinical or clinical studies of the new product. The FDA may also require companies to perform additional studies or measurements to support the change from the approved product. The FDA may then approve the new drug candidate for all or some of the label indications for which the referenced product has been approved as well as for any new indication sought by the Section 505(b)(2) applicant.
Submission and Filing of NDAs
Assuming successful completion of the required clinical testing, the results of the preclinical studies and clinical trials, along with information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacturing, controls, safety updates, patent information, abuse information, and proposed labeling, are submitted to the FDA as part of an application requesting approval to market the product candidate for one or more indications. Data may come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and efficacy of a product’s use or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety and efficacy of a drug product to the satisfaction of the FDA. The fee required for the submission and review of an application under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) is substantial (for example, for fiscal year 2023, this application fee is approximately $3.25 million), and the sponsor of an approved application is also subject to an annual program fee, currently more than $394,000 per eligible prescription product. These fees are typically adjusted annually, and exemptions and waivers may be available under certain circumstances, such as where a waiver is necessary to protect the public health, where the fee would present a significant barrier to innovation, or where the sponsor is a small business submitting its first human therapeutic application for review.
The FDA conducts a preliminary review of all applications within 60 days of receipt and must inform the sponsor at that time or before whether an application is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. In pertinent part, the FDA’s regulations state that an application “shall not be considered as filed until all pertinent information and data have been received” by the FDA. In the event that the FDA determines that an application does not satisfy this standard, it will issue a Refuse to File (RTF) determination to the applicant. Typically, an RTF will be based on administrative incompleteness, such as clear omission of information or sections of required information; scientific incompleteness, such as omission of critical data, information, or analyses needed to evaluate safety and efficacy or provide adequate directions for use; or inadequate content, presentation, or organization of information such that substantive and meaningful review is precluded. The FDA may request additional information rather than accept an application for filing. In this event, the application must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application is also subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing.
After the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review of the application. The FDA reviews the application to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product is safe and effective for its intended use, whether it has an acceptable purity profile, and whether the product is being manufactured in accordance with cGMP. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under PDUFA, the FDA has ten months from the filing date in which to complete its initial review of a standard application that is a new molecular entity, and six months from the filing date for an application with “priority review.” The review process may be extended by the FDA for three additional months to consider new information or in the case of a clarification provided by the sponsor to address an outstanding deficiency identified by the FDA following the original submission. Despite these review goals, it is not uncommon for FDA review of an application to extend beyond the PDUFA goal date.
In connection with its review of an application, the FDA will typically submit information requests to the sponsor and set deadlines for responses thereto. The FDA will also conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facilities for the new product to determine whether the manufacturing processes and facilities comply with cGMPs. The FDA will not approve the product unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and are adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. The FDA also may inspect the sponsor and one or more clinical trial sites to assure compliance with IND and GCP requirements and the integrity of the clinical data submitted to the FDA. To ensure cGMP and GCP compliance by its employees and third-party contractors, a sponsor may incur significant expenditure of time, money, and effort in the areas of training, record keeping, production, and quality control.
Additionally, the FDA may refer an application, including applications for novel product candidates which present difficult questions of safety or efficacy, to an advisory committee for review, evaluation, and recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. Typically, an advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that reviews, evaluates, and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations when making final decisions on approval. Data from clinical trials are not always conclusive, and the FDA or its advisory committee may interpret data differently than the sponsor interprets the same data. The FDA may also re-analyze the clinical trial data, which could result in extensive discussions between the FDA and the sponsor during the review process.
The FDA also may require submission of a REMS if it determines that a REMS is necessary to ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh its risks and to assure the safe use of the product. The REMS could include medication guides, physician communication plans, assessment plans, and/or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries, or other risk minimization tools. The FDA determines the requirement for a REMS, as well as the specific REMS provisions, on a case-by-case basis. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the application must submit a proposed REMS and the FDA will not approve the application without a REMS.
Decisions on NDAs
The FDA reviews an application to determine, among other things, whether the product is safe and whether it is effective for its intended use(s), with the latter determination being made on the basis of substantial evidence. The term “substantial evidence” is defined under the FDCA as “evidence consisting of adequate and well-controlled investigations, including clinical investigations, by experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the effectiveness of the product involved, on the basis of which it could fairly and responsibly be concluded by such experts that the product will have the effect it purports or is represented to have under the conditions of use prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the labeling or proposed labeling thereof.”
The FDA has interpreted this evidentiary standard to require at least two adequate and well-controlled clinical investigations to establish effectiveness of a new product. Under certain circumstances, however, the FDA has indicated that a single trial with certain characteristics and additional information may satisfy this standard. This approach was subsequently endorsed by Congress in 1998 with legislation providing, in pertinent part, that “If [the FDA] determines, based on relevant science, that data from one adequate and well-controlled clinical investigation and confirmatory evidence (obtained prior to or after such investigation) are sufficient to establish effectiveness, FDA may consider such data and evidence to constitute substantial evidence.” This modification to the law recognized the potential for the FDA to find that one adequate and well controlled clinical investigation with confirmatory evidence, including supportive data outside of a controlled trial, is sufficient to establish effectiveness. In December 2019 the FDA issued draft guidance further explaining the studies that are needed to establish substantial evidence of effectiveness. It has not yet finalized that guidance.
After evaluating the application and all related information, including the advisory committee recommendations, if any, and inspection reports of manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites, the FDA will issue either a Complete Response Letter (CRL) or an approval letter. To reach this determination, the FDA must determine that the drug is effective and that its expected benefits outweigh its potential risks to patients. This “benefit-risk” assessment is informed by the extensive body of evidence about the product’s safety and efficacy in the NDA. This assessment is also informed by other factors, including: the severity of the underlying condition and how well patients’ medical needs are addressed by currently available therapies; uncertainty about how the premarket clinical trial evidence will extrapolate to real-world use of the product in the post-market setting; and whether risk management tools are necessary to manage specific risks. In connection with this assessment, the FDA review team will assemble all individual reviews and other documents into an “action package,” which becomes the record for FDA review. The review team then issues a recommendation, and a senior FDA official makes a decision.
A CRL indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete, and the application will not be approved in its present form. A CRL generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing or information in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. The CRL may require additional clinical or other data, additional pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial(s), and/or other significant and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, preclinical studies, or manufacturing. If a CRL is issued, the sponsor will have one year to respond to the deficiencies identified by the FDA, at which time the FDA can deem the application withdrawn or, in its discretion, grant the sponsor an additional six month extension to respond. The FDA has committed to reviewing resubmissions in response to an issued CRL in either two or six months depending on the type of information included. Even with the submission of this additional information, however, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. The FDA has taken the position that a CRL is not final agency action making the determination subject to judicial review.
An approval letter, on the other hand, authorizes commercial marketing of the product with specific prescribing information for specific indications. That is, the approval will be limited to the conditions of use (e.g., patient population, indication) described in the FDA-approved labeling. Further, depending on the specific risk(s) to be addressed, the FDA may require that contraindications, warnings, or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval trials, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a product’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing trials or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes, and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.
Under the Ensuring Innovation Act, which was signed into law in April 2021, the FDA must publish action packages summarizing its decisions to approve new drug products within 30 days of approval of such products. To date, CRLs are not publicly available documents.
Following approval of a new prescription product, the manufacturer, the approved product, and the product’s manufacturing locations are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, governing, among other things, monitoring and record-keeping activities, reporting of adverse experiences with the product and product problems to the FDA, product sampling and distribution, manufacturing, and promotion and advertising. Although physicians may prescribe legally available products for unapproved uses or patient populations (i.e., “off-label uses”), manufacturers may not market or promote such uses. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. In September 2021 the FDA published final regulations that describe the types of evidence that the FDA will consider in determining the intended use of a drug product.
It may be permissible, under very specific, narrow conditions, for a manufacturer to engage in nonpromotional, non-misleading communication regarding off-label information, such as distributing scientific or medical journal information. Moreover, with passage of the Pre-Approval Information Exchange Act, or PIE Act, in December 2022, sponsors of products that have not been approved may proactively communicate to payors certain information about products in development to help expedite patient access upon product approval. Previously, such communications were permitted under FDA guidance but the new legislation explicitly provides protection to sponsors who convey certain information about products in development to payors, including unapproved uses of approved products.
If a company is found to have promoted off-label uses, it may become subject to administrative and judicial enforcement by the FDA, the Department of Justice, or the Office of the Inspector General of the HHS, as well as state authorities. This could subject a company to a range of penalties that could have a significant commercial impact, including civil and criminal fines and agreements that materially restrict the manner in which a company promotes or distributes products, as well as adverse public relations and reputational harm. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion, and has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed.
Further, if there are any modifications to the product, including changes in indications, labeling, or manufacturing processes or facilities, the sponsor may be required to submit and obtain FDA approval of a new application or supplement, which may require the sponsor to develop additional data or conduct additional preclinical studies and clinical trials. Securing FDA approval for new indications is similar to the process for approval of the original indication and requires, among other things, submitting data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the product’s safety and efficacy in the new indication. Even if such trials are conducted, the FDA may not approve any expansion of the labeled indications for use in a timely fashion, or at all. There also are continuing, annual user fee requirements that are now assessed as program fees for certain products.
In addition, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in mandatory revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information, imposition of post-market clinical trials requirement to assess new safety risks or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program.
Other potential consequences include, among other things:
In addition, the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical products is subject to a variety of federal and state laws, the most recent of which is still in the process of being phased into the U.S. supply chain and regulatory framework. The Prescription Drug Marketing Act (PDMA) was the first federal law to set minimum standards for the registration and regulation of drug distributors by the states and to regulate the distribution of drug samples. Today, both the PDMA and state laws limit the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical product samples and impose requirements to ensure accountability in distribution. Congress more recently enacted the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), which made significant amendments to the FDCA, including by replacing certain provisions from the PDMA pertaining to wholesale distribution of prescription drugs with a more comprehensive statutory scheme. The DSCSA now requires uniform national standards for wholesale distribution and, for the first time, for third-party logistics providers; it also provides for preemption of certain state laws in the areas of licensure and prescription drug traceability.
Generic Drugs and Regulatory Exclusivity
In 1984, with passage of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, Congress established an abbreviated regulatory scheme authorizing the FDA to approve generic drugs that are shown to contain the same active ingredients as, and to be bioequivalent to, drugs previously approved by the FDA pursuant to NDAs and it also enacted Section 505(b)(2). To obtain approval of a generic drug, a sponsor must submit an abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) to the FDA. In support of such applications, a generic manufacturer may rely on the preclinical and clinical testing conducted for a drug product previously approved under an NDA, known as the reference listed drug (RLD).
Specifically, in order for an ANDA to be approved, the FDA must find that the generic version is identical to the RLD with respect to the active ingredients, the route of administration, the dosage form, the strength of the drug, and the conditions of use of the drug. At the same time, the FDA must also determine that the generic drug is “bioequivalent” to the innovator drug. Under the statute, a generic drug is bioequivalent to a RLD if “the rate and extent of absorption of the drug do not show a significant difference from the rate and extent of absorption of the listed drug.” Upon approval of an ANDA, the FDA indicates whether the generic product is “therapeutically equivalent” to the RLD in its publication “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” also referred to as the “Orange Book.” Physicians and pharmacists consider a therapeutic equivalent generic drug to be fully substitutable for the RLD.
Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, the FDA may not approve an ANDA or 505(b)(2) application until any applicable period of non-patent exclusivity for the RLD has expired. The FDCA provides a period of five years of non-patent data exclusivity for a new drug containing a new chemical entity (NCE). For the purposes of this provision, the FDA has consistently taken the position that an NCE is a drug that contains no active moiety that has previously been approved by the FDA in any other NDA. This interpretation was confirmed with enactment of the Ensuring Innovation Act in April 2021. An active moiety is the molecule or ion responsible for the physiological or pharmacological action of the drug substance. In cases where such NCE exclusivity has been granted, a generic or follow-on drug application may not be filed with the FDA until the expiration of five years unless the submission is accompanied by a Paragraph IV certification, in which case the sponsor may submit its application four years following the original product approval.
The FDCA also provides for a period of three years of exclusivity if the NDA includes reports of one or more new clinical investigations, other than bioavailability or bioequivalence studies, that were conducted by or for the sponsor and are essential to the approval of the application. This three-year exclusivity period often protects changes to a previously approved drug product, such as new indications, dosage forms, route of administration or combination of ingredients. Three-year exclusivity would be available for a drug product that contains a previously approved active moiety, provided the statutory requirement for a new clinical investigation is satisfied. Unlike five-year NCE exclusivity, an award of three-year exclusivity does not block the FDA from accepting ANDAs or 505(b)(2) NDAs seeking approval for generic versions of the drug as of the date of approval of the original drug product; rather, this three-year exclusivity covers only the conditions of use associated with the new clinical investigations and, as a general matter, does not prohibit the FDA from approving follow-on applications for drugs containing the original active ingredient.
Five-year and three-year exclusivity also will not delay the submission or approval of a traditional NDA filed under Section 505(b)(1) of the FDCA; however, a sponsor submitting a traditional NDA would be required to conduct or obtain a right of reference to all of the preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.
As part of the submission of an NDA or certain supplemental applications, NDA sponsors are required to list with the FDA each patent with claims that cover the sponsor’s product or an approved method of using the product. Upon approval of a new drug, each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the Orange Book. The FDA’s regulations governing patient listings were largely codified into law with enactment of the Orange Book Modernization Act in January 2021. When an ANDA applicant files its application with the FDA, the applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the reference product in the Orange Book. Specifically, the ANDA applicant must certify that: (i) the required patent information has not been filed; (ii) the listed patent has expired; (iii) the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (iv) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product. Moreover, to the extent that the Section 505(b)(2) NDA applicant is relying on studies conducted for an already approved product, the applicant also is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the NDA-approved product in the Orange Book to the same extent that an ANDA applicant would.
If the generic drug or follow-on drug applicant does not challenge the innovator’s listed patents, the FDA will not approve the ANDA or 505(b)(2) application until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired. A certification that the new generic product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents or that such patents are invalid or unenforceable is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA owner and patent holders once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA owner and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days after the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA until the earliest of 30 months after the receipt of the Paragraph IV notice, expiration of the patent and a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA applicant.
Orphan Drug Designation and Exclusivity
Orphan drug designation in the U.S. is designed to encourage sponsors to develop products intended for treatment of rare diseases or conditions. In the U.S., a rare disease or condition is statutorily defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. or that affects more than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available the product for the disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product in the U.S.
Orphan drug designation qualifies a company for tax credits and potentially market exclusivity for seven years following the date of the product’s approval if granted by the FDA. An application for designation as an orphan product can be made any time prior to the filing of an application for approval to market the product. A product becomes an orphan when it receives orphan drug designation from the Office of Orphan Products Development at the FDA based on acceptable confidential requests. The product must then go through the review and approval process like any other product.
A sponsor may request orphan drug designation of a previously unapproved product or new orphan indication for an already marketed product. In addition, a sponsor of a product that is otherwise the same product as an already approved orphan drug may seek and obtain orphan drug designation for the subsequent product for the same rare disease or condition if it can present a plausible hypothesis that its product may be clinically superior to the first approved product. More than one sponsor may receive orphan drug designation for the same product for the same rare disease or condition, but each sponsor seeking orphan drug designation must file a complete request for designation.
If a product with orphan designation receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation or for a select indication or use within the rare disease or condition for which it was designated, the product generally will receive orphan drug exclusivity. Orphan drug exclusivity means that the FDA may not approve another sponsor’s marketing application for the same product for the same disease or condition for seven years, except in certain limited circumstances. If a product designated as an orphan drug ultimately receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what was designated in its orphan drug application, it may not be entitled to exclusivity.
The period of market exclusivity begins on the date that the marketing application is approved by the FDA and applies only to the disease or condition for which the product has been designated. Orphan drug exclusivity will not bar approval of another product under certain circumstances, including if the company with orphan drug exclusivity is not able to meet market demand or the subsequent product is shown to be clinically superior to the approved product on the basis of greater efficacy or safety, or providing a major contribution to patient care. This is the case despite an earlier court opinion holding that the Orphan Drug Act unambiguously required the FDA to recognize orphan drug exclusivity regardless of a showing of clinical superiority. Under Omnibus legislation signed by President Trump on December 27, 2020, the requirement for a product to show clinical superiority applies to drug products that received orphan drug designation before enactment of amendments to the FDCA in 2017 but have not yet been approved by the FDA.
In September 2021 the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that, for the purpose of determining the scope of market exclusivity, the term “same disease or condition” in the statute means the designated “rare disease or condition” and could not be interpreted by the FDA to mean the “indication or use.” Thus, the court concluded, orphan drug exclusivity applies to the entire designated disease or condition rather than the “indication or use.” Although there have been legislative proposals to overrule this decision, they have not been enacted into law. On January 23, 2023, the FDA announced that, in matters beyond the scope of that court’s order, the FDA will continue to apply its existing regulations tying orphan-drug exclusivity to the uses or indications for which the orphan drug was approved.
Pediatric exclusivity is a type of non‑patent marketing exclusivity in the U.S. and, if granted, provides for the attachment of an additional six months of exclusivity to the term of any existing patent or regulatory exclusivity for drug products, including the orphan exclusivity and regulatory exclusivities available under the Hatch-Waxman provisions of the FDCA. The conditions for pediatric exclusivity include the FDA’s determination that information relating to the use of a new product in the pediatric population may produce health benefits in that population, the FDA making a written request for pediatric clinical trials, and the sponsor agreeing to perform, and reporting on, the requested clinical trials within the statutory timeframe. This six‑month exclusivity may be granted if an NDA sponsor submits pediatric data that fairly respond to a written request from the FDA for such data. The data do not need to show the product to be effective in the pediatric population studied; rather, if the clinical trial is deemed to fairly respond to the FDA’s request, the additional protection is granted. If reports of requested pediatric studies are submitted to and accepted by the FDA within the statutory time limits, whatever statutory or regulatory periods of exclusivity or patents that cover the product are extended by six months. Although this is not a patent term extension, it effectively extends the regulatory period during which the FDA cannot approve another application.
Patent Term Restoration and Extension
In the U.S., a patent claiming a new product, its method of use or its method of manufacture may be eligible for a limited patent term extension under the Hatch‑Waxman Act, which permits a patent extension of up to five years for patent term lost during product development and FDA regulatory review. Assuming grant of the patent for which the extension is sought, the restoration period for a patent covering a product is typically one‑half the time between the effective date of the IND involving human beings and the submission date of the NDA, plus the time between the submission date of the application and the ultimate approval date. Patent term restoration cannot be used to extend the remaining term of a patent past a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date in the U.S. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension, and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent for which extension is sought. A patent that covers multiple products for which approval is sought can only be extended in connection with one of the approvals. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension in consultation with the FDA.
In August 2014 the FDA issued final guidance clarifying the requirements that will apply to approval of therapeutic products and in vitro companion diagnostics. According to the guidance, for novel drugs, a companion diagnostic device and its corresponding therapeutic should be approved or cleared contemporaneously by the FDA for the use indicated in the therapeutic product’s labeling. Approval or clearance of the companion diagnostic device will ensure that the device has been adequately evaluated and has adequate performance characteristics in the intended population. In July 2016 the FDA issued a draft guidance intended to assist sponsors of the therapeutic product and in vitro companion diagnostic device on issues related to co-development of the products.
The 2014 guidance also explains that a companion diagnostic device used to make treatment decisions in clinical trials of a product candidate generally will be considered an investigational device, unless it is employed for an intended use for which the device is already approved or cleared. If used to make critical treatment decisions, such as patient selection, the diagnostic device generally will be considered a significant risk device under the FDA’s Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) regulations. Thus, the sponsor of the diagnostic device will be required to comply with the IDE regulations. According to the guidance, if a diagnostic device and a product are to be studied together to support their respective approvals, both products can be studied in the same investigational study, if the study meets both the requirements of the IDE regulations and the IND regulations. The guidance provides that depending on the details of the study plan and subjects, a sponsor may seek to submit an IND application alone, or both an IND- and IDE-application.
In April 2020 the FDA issued additional guidance which describes considerations for the development and labeling of companion diagnostic devices to support the indicated uses of multiple drug or biological oncology products, when appropriate. This guidance builds upon existing policy regarding the labeling of companion diagnostics. In its 2014 guidance, the FDA stated that if evidence is sufficient to conclude that the companion diagnostic is appropriate for use with a specific group of therapeutic products, the companion diagnostic’s intended use/indications for use should name the specific group of therapeutic products, rather than specific products. The 2020 guidance expands on the policy statement in the 2014 guidance by recommending that companion diagnostic developers consider a number of factors when determining whether their test could be developed, or the labeling for approved companion diagnostics could be revised through a supplement, to support a broader labeling claim such as use with a specific group of oncology therapeutic products (rather than listing an individual therapeutic product(s)).
Under the FDCA, in vitro diagnostics, including companion diagnostics, are regulated as medical devices. In the U.S., the FDCA and its implementing regulations, and other federal and state statutes and regulations govern, among other things, medical device design and development, preclinical and clinical testing, premarket clearance or approval, registration and listing, manufacturing, labeling, storage, advertising and promotion, sales and distribution, export and import and post-market surveillance. Unless an exemption applies, diagnostic tests require pre-notification marketing clearance or approval from the FDA prior to commercial distribution.
The FDA previously has required in vitro companion diagnostics intended to select the patients who will respond to the product candidate to obtain pre-market approval (PMA) simultaneously with approval of the therapeutic product candidate. The PMA process, including the gathering of clinical and preclinical data and the submission to and review by the FDA, can take several years or longer. It involves a rigorous premarket review during which the sponsor must prepare and provide the FDA with reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness and information about the device and its components regarding, among other things, device design, manufacturing and labeling. PMA applications are subject to an application fee. For federal fiscal year 2023 the standard fee is $441,547 and the small business fee is $110,387.
In the U.S., biopharmaceutical manufacturers and their products are subject to extensive regulation at the federal and state level, such as laws intended to prevent fraud and abuse in the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of pharmaceutical products that are granted marketing approval. Arrangements with providers, consultants, third-party payors, and customers are subject to broadly applicable fraud and abuse, anti-kickback, false claims laws, reporting of payments to healthcare providers and patient privacy laws and regulations and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain our business and/or financial arrangements. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations, including certain laws and regulations applicable only if we have marketed products, include the following:
Violations of these laws are punishable by criminal and/or civil sanctions, including, in some instances, exclusion from participation in federal and state health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Ensuring compliance is time consuming and costly. Similar healthcare laws and regulations exist in the European Union (EU) and other jurisdictions, including reporting requirements detailing interactions with and payments to healthcare providers and laws governing the privacy and security of personal information.
Coverage and Reimbursement
In the U.S. and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Thus, even if a product candidate is approved, sales of the product will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payors, including government health programs in the U.S. such as Medicare and Medicaid, commercial health insurers, and managed care organizations, provide coverage and establish adequate reimbursement levels for the product. In the U.S., no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication.
In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, a company may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable regulatory approvals. Additionally, companies may also need to provide discounts to purchasers, private health plans, or government healthcare programs. Nonetheless, product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover a product could reduce physician utilization once the product is approved and have a material adverse effect on sales, our operations, and financial condition. Factors that payors consider in determining reimbursement are based on whether the product is (i) a covered benefit under its health plan; (ii) safe, effective, and medically necessary; (iii) appropriate for the specific patient; (iv) cost-effective; and (v) neither experimental nor investigational. Additionally, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payor to payor.
Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the U.S. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. We cannot be sure that reimbursement will be available for any product candidate that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, the level of reimbursement. In addition, many pharmaceutical manufacturers must calculate and report certain price reporting metrics to the government, such as average sales price (ASP) and best price. Penalties may apply in some cases when such metrics are not submitted accurately and timely. Further, these prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs.
The containment of healthcare costs has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments and the prices of products have been a focus in this effort. Governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit a company’s revenue generated from the sale of any approved products. Coverage policies and third-party payor reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which a company or its collaborators receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.
A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. There have been a number of federal and state proposals during the last few years regarding the pricing of drug products, limiting coverage and reimbursement for medical products and other changes to the healthcare system in the U.S.
In March 2010, the U.S. Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively, the PPACA), which, among other things, includes changes to the coverage and payment for pharmaceutical products under government healthcare programs. Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the PPACA was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. These changes included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and will remain in effect through 2031. Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Pursuant to subsequent legislation, these Medicare sequester reductions were suspended and reduced in 2021 and 2022 but, as of July 1, 2022, the full 2% cut has resumed. Under current legislation, the actual reductions in Medicare payments may vary up to 4%.
Since enactment of the PPACA, there have been, and continue to be, numerous legal challenges and Congressional actions to repeal and replace provisions of the law. For example, with enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the Tax Act), which was signed by President Trump on December 22, 2017, Congress repealed the “individual mandate.” The repeal of this provision, which requires most Americans to carry a minimal level of health insurance, became effective in 2019. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled that the individual mandate portion of the PPACA is an essential and inseverable feature of the PPACA, and therefore because the mandate was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the PPACA are invalid as well. The U.S. Supreme Court heard this case on November 10, 2020, and, on June 17, 2021, dismissed this action after finding that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the PPACA. Litigation and legislation over the PPACA are likely to continue, with unpredictable and uncertain results.
The Trump Administration also took executive actions to undermine or delay implementation of the PPACA, including directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the PPACA to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the PPACA that would impose a fiscal or regulatory burden on states, individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. On January 28, 2021, however, President Biden rescinded those orders and issued a new executive order that directs federal agencies to reconsider rules and other policies that limit access to healthcare, and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access. Under this order, federal agencies are directed to re-examine: policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID‑19; demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the PPACA that may reduce coverage or undermine the programs, including work requirements; policies that undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or other markets for health insurance; policies that make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and under the PPACA; and policies that reduce affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents.
The prices of prescription pharmaceuticals have also been the subject of considerable discussion in the U.S. There have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries, as well as proposed and enacted state and federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to pharmaceutical pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reduce the costs of pharmaceuticals under Medicare and Medicaid. In 2020 President Trump issued several executive orders intended to lower the costs of prescription products and certain provisions in these orders have been incorporated into regulations. These regulations include an interim final rule implementing a most favored nation model for prices that would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered pharmaceuticals to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries, effective January 1, 2021. That rule, however, has been subject to a nationwide preliminary injunction and, on December 29, 2021, CMS issued a final rule to rescind it. With issuance of this rule, CMS stated that it will explore all options to incorporate value into payments for Medicare Part B pharmaceuticals and improve beneficiaries’ access to evidence-based care.
In addition, in October 2020 HHS and the FDA published a final rule allowing states and other entities to develop a Section 804 Importation Program (SIP) to import certain prescription drugs from Canada into the U.S. The final rule is currently the subject of ongoing litigation, but at least six states (Vermont, Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Mexico, and New Hampshire) have passed laws allowing for the importation of drugs from Canada with the intent of developing SIPs for review and approval by the FDA. Further, on November 20, 2020, HHS finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The final rule would also eliminate the current safe harbor for Medicare drug rebates and create new safe harbors for beneficiary point-of-sale discounts and pharmacy benefit manager service fees. It originally was set to go into effect on January 1, 2022, but with passage of the Inflation Reduction Act has been delayed by Congress to January 1, 2032.
On July 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14063, which focuses on, among other things, the price of pharmaceuticals. The order directs the HHS to create a plan within 45 days to combat “excessive pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals and enhance domestic pharmaceutical supply chains, to reduce the prices paid by the federal government for such pharmaceuticals, and to address the recurrent problem of price gouging.” On September 9, 2021, HHS released its plan to reduce pharmaceutical prices. The key features of that plan are to: (a) make pharmaceutical prices more affordable and equitable for all consumers and throughout the health care system by supporting pharmaceutical price negotiations with manufacturers; (b) improve and promote competition throughout the prescription pharmaceutical industry by supporting market changes that strengthen supply chains, promote biosimilars and generic drugs, and increase transparency; and (c) foster scientific innovation to promote better healthcare and improve health by supporting public and private research and making sure that market incentives promote discovery of valuable and accessible new treatments.
More recently, on August 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) was signed into law by President Biden. The new legislation has implications for Medicare Part D, which is a program available to individuals who are entitled to Medicare Part A or enrolled in Medicare Part B to give them the option of paying a monthly premium for outpatient prescription drug coverage. Among other things, the IRA requires manufacturers of certain drugs to engage in price negotiations with Medicare (beginning in 2026), with prices that can be negotiated subject to a cap; imposes rebates under Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D to penalize price increases that outpace inflation (first due in 2023); and replaces the Part D coverage gap discount program with a new discounting program (beginning in 2025). The IRA permits the Secretary of the HHS to implement many of these provisions through guidance, as opposed to regulation, for the initial years.
Specifically, with respect to price negotiations, Congress authorized Medicare to negotiate lower prices for certain costly single-source drug and biologic products that do not have competing generics or biosimilars and are reimbursed under Medicare Part B and Part D. CMS may negotiate prices for ten high-cost drugs paid for by Medicare Part D starting in 2026, followed by 15 Part D drugs in 2027, 15 Part B or Part D drugs in 2028, and 20 Part B or Part D drugs in 2029 and beyond. This provision applies to drug products that have been approved for at least 9 years and biologics that have been licensed for 13 years, but it does not apply to drugs and biologics that have been approved for a single rare disease or condition. Further, the legislation subjects drug manufacturers to civil monetary penalties and a potential excise tax for failing to comply with the legislation by offering a price that is not equal to or less than the negotiated “maximum fair price” under the law or for taking price increases that exceed inflation. The legislation also requires manufacturers to pay rebates for drugs in Medicare Part D whose price increases exceed inflation. The new law also caps Medicare out-of-pocket drug costs at an estimated $4,000 a year in 2024 and, thereafter beginning in 2025, at $2,000 a year.
At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. A number of states, for example, require drug manufacturers and other entities in the drug supply chain, including health carriers, pharmacy benefit managers, and wholesale distributors, to disclose information about pricing of pharmaceuticals. In addition, regional healthcare organizations and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription pharmaceutical and other healthcare programs. These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our product candidates, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing. We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.
Federal and State Data Privacy Laws
There are multiple privacy and data security laws that may impact our business activities, in the U.S. and in other countries where we conduct trials or where we may do business in the future. These laws are evolving and may increase both our obligations and our regulatory risks in the future. In the health care industry generally, under HIPAA, the HHS has issued regulations to protect the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) used or disclosed by covered entities including certain healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses. HIPAA also regulates standardization of data content, codes, and formats used in healthcare transactions and standardization of identifiers for health plans and providers. HIPAA also imposes certain obligations on the business associates of covered entities that obtain protected health information in providing services to or on behalf of covered entities. HIPAA may apply to us in certain circumstances and may also apply to our business partners in ways that may impact our relationships with them. Our clinical trials are regulated by the Common Rule, which also includes specific privacy-related provisions. In addition to federal privacy regulations, there are a number of state laws governing confidentiality and security of health information that may be applicable to our business. In addition to possible federal civil and criminal penalties for HIPAA violations, state attorneys general are authorized to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce HIPAA and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, state attorneys general (along with private plaintiffs) have brought civil actions seeking injunctions and damages resulting from alleged violations of HIPAA’s privacy and security rules. State attorneys general also have authority to enforce state privacy and security laws. New laws and regulations governing privacy and security may be adopted in the future as well.
In 2018 California passed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which took effect on January 1, 2020, and imposed many requirements on businesses that process the personal information of California residents. Many of the CCPA’s requirements are similar to those found in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including requiring businesses to provide notice to data subjects regarding the information collected about them and how such information is used and shared, and providing data subjects the right to request access to such personal information and, in certain cases, request the erasure of such personal information. The CCPA also affords California residents the right to opt-out of “sales” of their personal information. The CCPA contains significant penalties for companies that violate its requirements. In November 2020, California voters passed a ballot initiative for the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which went into effect on January 1, 2023, and significantly expanded the CCPA to incorporate additional GDPR-like provisions including requiring that the use, retention, and sharing of personal information of California residents be reasonably necessary and proportionate to the purposes of collection or processing, granting additional protections for sensitive personal information, and requiring greater disclosures related to notice to residents regarding retention of information. The CPRA also created a new enforcement agency – the California Privacy Protection Agency – whose sole responsibility is to enforce the CPRA, which will further increase compliance risk. The provisions in the CPRA may apply to some of our business activities. In addition, other states, including Virginia, Colorado, Utah, and Connecticut already have passed state privacy laws. Virginia’s privacy law also went into effect on January 1, 2023, and the laws in the other three states will go into effect later in the year. Other states will be considering these laws in the future, and Congress has also been debating passing a federal privacy law. These laws may impact our business activities, including our identification of research subjects, relationships with business partners and ultimately the marketing and distribution of our products.
Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors available under such laws, it is possible that some of our current or future business activities, including certain clinical research, sales and marketing practices, and the provision of certain items and services to our customers, could be subject to challenge under one or more of such privacy and data security laws. The heightening compliance environment and the need to build and maintain robust and secure systems to comply with different privacy compliance and/or reporting requirements in multiple jurisdictions could increase the possibility that a healthcare company may fail to comply fully with one or more of these requirements. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the privacy or data security laws or regulations described above that are applicable to us, or any other laws that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including potentially significant criminal, civil, and administrative penalties, damages, fines, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional reporting requirements and/or oversight if we become subject to a consent decree or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. To the extent that any product candidates we may develop, once approved, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws.
Approval and Regulation of Medical Products in the EU
In addition to regulations in the U.S., we will be subject to a variety of foreign regulations governing clinical trials and commercial sales and distribution of our products outside of the U.S. Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product candidate, we must obtain approval by the comparable regulatory authorities of foreign countries or economic areas, such as the 27-member EU, before we may commence clinical trials or market products in those countries or areas. In the EU, our product candidates also may be subject to extensive regulatory requirements. As in the U.S., medicinal products can be marketed only if a marketing authorization from the competent regulatory agencies has been obtained. Similar to the U.S., the various phases of preclinical and clinical research in the EU are subject to significant regulatory controls.
With the exception of the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) applying the harmonized regulatory rules for medicinal products, the approval process and requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing, and reimbursement vary greatly between countries and jurisdictions and can involve additional testing and additional administrative review periods. The time required to obtain approval in other countries and jurisdictions might differ from and be longer than that required to obtain FDA approval. Regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction does not ensure regulatory approval in another, but a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction may negatively impact the regulatory process in others.
On January 31, 2022, the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 (Clinical Trials Regulation) became effective in the EU and replaced the prior Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. The new Clinical Trials Regulation aims at simplifying and streamlining the authorization, conduct and transparency of clinical trials in the EU. Under the new coordinated procedure for the approval of clinical trials, the sponsor of a clinical trial to be conducted in more than one EU Member State will only be required to submit a single application for approval. The submission will be made through the Clinical Trials Information System, a new clinical trials portal overseen by the EMA and available to clinical trial sponsors, competent authorities of the EU Member States and the public.
Beyond streamlining the process, the Clinical Trials Regulation includes a single set of documents to be prepared and submitted for the application as well as simplified reporting procedures for clinical trial sponsors, and a harmonized procedure for the assessment of applications for clinical trials, which is divided in two parts. Part I is assessed by the competent authorities of all EU Member States in which an application for authorization of a clinical trial has been submitted (Member States concerned). Part II is assessed separately by each EU Member State concerned. Strict deadlines have been established for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The role of the relevant ethics committees in the assessment procedure will continue to be governed by the national law of the concerned EU Member State. However, overall related timelines will be defined by the Clinical Trials Regulation.
The Clinical Trials Regulation did not change the preexisting requirement that a sponsor must obtain prior approval from the competent national authority of the EU Member State in which the clinical trial is to be conducted. If the clinical trial is conducted in different EU Member States, the competent authorities in each of these EU Member States must provide their approval for the conduct of the clinical trial. Furthermore, the sponsor may only start a clinical trial at a specific clinical site after the applicable ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion.
Parties conducting certain clinical trials must, as in the U.S., post clinical trial information in the EU at the EudraCT website: https://eudract.ema.europa.eu.
Marketing Authorization in the EU
Marketing authorization applications (MAAs) can be filed either under the so-called centralized or national authorization procedures, albeit through the Mutual Recognition or Decentralized procedure for a product to be authorized in more than one EU member state.
The centralized procedure provides for the grant of a single marketing authorization following a favorable opinion by the EMA that is valid in all EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, which are part of the EEA. The centralized procedure is compulsory for medicines produced by specified biotechnological processes, products designated as orphan medicinal products, advanced-therapy medicines (such as gene-therapy, somatic cell-therapy or tissue-engineered medicines), and products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of specified diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders or autoimmune diseases, and other immune dysfunctions and viral diseases. The centralized procedure is optional for products that represent a significant therapeutic, scientific, or technical innovation, or whose authorization would be in the interest of public health. Under the centralized procedure the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA by the EMA is 210 days, excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the sponsor in response to questions asked by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). Accelerated assessment might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, particularly from the point of view of therapeutic innovation. The timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA under the accelerated assessment procedure is of 150 days, excluding stop-clocks.
There are also two other possible routes to authorize medicinal products in several EU countries, which are available for investigational medicinal products that fall outside the scope of the centralized procedure:
Under the above-described procedures, before granting the marketing authorization, the EMA or the competent authorities of the Member States of the EEA make an assessment of the risk-benefit balance of the product on the basis of scientific criteria concerning its quality, safety, and efficacy.
In particular circumstances, EU legislation (Article 14–a Regulation (EC) No 726/2004 (as amended by Regulation (EU) 2019/5 and Regulation (EC) No 507/2006 on Conditional Marketing Authorizations for Medicinal Products for Human Use) enables sponsors to obtain a conditional marketing authorization prior to obtaining the comprehensive clinical data required for an application for a full marketing authorization. Such conditional approvals may be granted for product candidates (including medicines designated as orphan medicinal products) if (1) the product candidate is intended for the treatment, prevention, or medical diagnosis of seriously debilitating or life-threatening diseases; (2) the product candidate is intended to meet unmet medical needs of patients; (3) a marketing authorization may be granted prior to submission of comprehensive clinical data provided that the benefit of the immediate availability on the market of the medicinal product concerned outweighs the risk inherent in the fact that additional data are still required; (4) the risk-benefit balance of the product candidate is positive, and (5) it is likely that the sponsor will be in a position to provide the required comprehensive clinical trial data. A conditional marketing authorization may contain specific obligations to be fulfilled by the marketing authorization holder, including obligations with respect to the completion of ongoing or new studies and with respect to the collection of pharmacovigilance data. Conditional marketing authorizations are valid for one year, and may be renewed annually, if the risk-benefit balance remains positive, and after an assessment of the need for additional or modified conditions or specific obligations. The timelines for the centralized procedure described above also apply with respect to the review by the CHMP of applications for a conditional marketing authorization.
Prior to obtaining a marketing authorization in the EU, sponsors have to demonstrate compliance with all measures included in an EMA-approved Pediatric Investigation Plan (PIP), covering all subsets of the pediatric population, unless the EMA has granted a product-specific waiver, a class waiver, or a deferral for one or more of the measures included in the PIP. The respective requirements for all marketing authorization procedures are set forth in Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006, which is referred to as the Pediatric Regulation. This requirement also applies when a company wants to add a new indication, pharmaceutical form, or route of administration for a medicine that is already authorized. The Pediatric Committee of the EMA PDCO) may grant deferrals for some medicines, allowing a company to delay development of the medicine in children until there is enough information to demonstrate its effectiveness and safety in adults. The PDCO may also grant waivers when development of a medicine in children is not needed or is not appropriate because (a) the product is likely to be ineffective or unsafe in part or all of the pediatric population; (b) the disease or condition occurs only in adult population; or (c) the product does not represent a significant therapeutic benefit over existing treatments for pediatric population. Before a marketing authorization application can be filed, or an existing marketing authorization can be amended, the EMA determines that companies actually comply with the agreed studies and measures listed in each relevant PIP.
In March 2016 the EMA launched an initiative to facilitate development of product candidates in indications, often rare, for which few or no therapies currently exist. The PRIority MEdicines (PRIME) scheme is intended to encourage drug development in areas of unmet medical need and provides accelerated assessment of products representing substantial innovation reviewed under the centralized procedure. Products from small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may qualify for earlier entry into the PRIME scheme than larger companies. Many benefits accrue to sponsors of product candidates with PRIME designation, including but not limited to, early and proactive regulatory dialogue with the EMA, frequent discussions on clinical trial designs and other development program elements, and accelerated MAA assessment once a dossier has been submitted. Importantly, a dedicated agency contact and rapporteur from the CHMP or Committee for Advanced Therapies are appointed early in the PRIME scheme, facilitating increased understanding of the product at EMA’s Committee level. A kick-off meeting initiates these relationships and includes a team of multidisciplinary experts at the EMA to provide guidance to the sponsor on the overall development and regulatory strategies.
Periods of Authorization and Renewals
A marketing authorization is valid for five years in principle and the marketing authorization may be renewed after five years on the basis of a re-evaluation of the risk-benefit balance by the EMA or by the competent authority of the authorizing member state. To this end, the marketing authorization holder must provide the EMA or the competent authority with a consolidated version of the file in respect of quality, safety, and efficacy, including all variations introduced since the marketing authorization was granted, at least nine months before the marketing authorization ceases to be valid. Once renewed, the marketing authorization is valid for an unlimited period, unless the European Commission or the competent authority decides, on justified grounds relating to pharmacovigilance, to proceed with one additional five-year renewal. Any authorization which is not followed by the actual placing of the drug on the EU market (in case of centralized procedure) or on the market of the authorizing member state within three years after authorization ceases to be valid (the so-called sunset clause).
Regulatory Requirements after Marketing Authorization
As in the U.S., both marketing authorization holders and manufacturers of medicinal products are subject to comprehensive regulatory oversight by the EMA and the competent authorities of the individual EU Member States both before and after grant of the manufacturing and marketing authorizations. The holder of an EU marketing authorization for a medicinal product must, for example, comply with EU pharmacovigilance legislation and its related regulations and guidelines which entail many requirements for conducting pharmacovigilance, or the assessment and monitoring of the safety of medicinal products. The manufacturing process for medicinal products in the EU is also highly regulated and regulators may shut down manufacturing facilities that they believe do not comply with regulations. Manufacturing requires a manufacturing authorization, and the manufacturing authorization holder must comply with various requirements set out in the applicable EU laws, including compliance with EU cGMP standards when manufacturing medicinal products and API.
In the EU, the advertising and promotion of approved products are subject to EU Member States’ laws governing promotion of medicinal products, interactions with clinicians, misleading and comparative advertising, and unfair commercial practices. In addition, other legislation adopted by individual EU Member States may apply to the advertising and promotion of medicinal products. These laws require that promotional materials and advertising in relation to medicinal products comply with the product’s Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) as approved by the competent authorities. Promotion of a medicinal product that does not comply with the SmPC is considered to constitute off-label promotion, which is prohibited in the EU.
In the EU, new products authorized for marketing (i.e., reference products) qualify for eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity upon marketing authorization. The data exclusivity period prevents generic sponsors from relying on the preclinical and clinical trial data contained in the dossier of the reference product when applying for a generic marketing authorization in the EU during a period of eight years from the date on which the reference product was first authorized in the EU. The market exclusivity period prevents a successful generic sponsor from commercializing its product in the EU until ten years have elapsed from the initial authorization of the reference product in the EU. The ten-year market exclusivity period can be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies.
Orphan Drug Designation and Exclusivity
The criteria for designating an orphan medicinal product in the EU are similar in principle to those in the U.S. Under Article 3 of Regulation (EC) 141/2000, a medicinal product may be designated as orphan if (1) it is intended for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of a life- threatening or chronically debilitating condition, (2) either (a) such condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the EU when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the EU to justify investment, and (3) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the EU, or if such a method exists, the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition. The term ‘significant benefit’ is defined in Regulation (EC) 847/2000 to mean a clinically relevant advantage or a major contribution to patient care.
Orphan medicinal products are eligible for financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and are, upon grant of a marketing authorization, entitled to ten years of market exclusivity for the approved therapeutic indication. During this ten year market exclusivity period, the EMA or the competent authorities of the Member States of the EEA, cannot accept an application for a marketing authorization for a similar medicinal product for the same indication. A similar medicinal product is defined as a medicinal product containing a similar active substance or substances as contained in an authorized orphan medicinal product, and which is intended for the same therapeutic indication. The application for orphan designation must be submitted before the application for marketing authorization. The sponsor will receive a fee reduction for the MAA if the orphan designation has been granted, but not if the designation is still pending at the time the marketing authorization is submitted. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.
The ten-year market exclusivity in the EU may be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation, for example, if the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Additionally, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if: (1) the second sponsor can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective, or otherwise clinically superior; (2) the sponsor consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or (3) the sponsor cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.
If a sponsor obtains a marketing authorization in all EU Member States, or a marketing authorization granted in the centralized procedure by the European Commission, and the study results for the pediatric population are included in the product information, even when negative, the medicine is then eligible for an additional six-month period of qualifying patent protection through extension of the term of the Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) or alternatively a one year extension of the regulatory market exclusivity from ten to eleven years, as selected by the marketing authorization holder.
Patent Term Extensions
The EU also provides for patent term extension through SPCs. The rules and requirements for obtaining a SPC are similar to those in the U.S. An SPC may extend the term of a patent for up to five years after its originally scheduled expiration date and can provide up to a maximum of fifteen years of marketing exclusivity for a drug. In certain circumstances, these periods may be extended for six additional months if pediatric exclusivity is obtained. Although SPCs are available throughout the EU, sponsors must apply on a country‑by‑country basis. Similar patent term extension rights exist in certain other foreign jurisdictions outside the EU.
Reimbursement and Pricing of Prescription Pharmaceuticals
In the EU, similar political, economic, and regulatory developments to those in the U.S. may affect our ability to profitably commercialize our product candidates, if approved. In markets outside of the U.S. and the EU, reimbursement and healthcare payment systems vary significantly by country and many countries have instituted price ceilings on specific products and therapies. In many countries, including those of the EU, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control and access. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, pharmaceutical firms may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of the product to other available therapies.
The EU provides options for its Member States to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. EU Member States may approve a specific price for a product, or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other Member States allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Recently, many countries in the EU have increased the amount of discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the EU. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription products, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic, and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained.
Reference pricing used by various EU Member States, and parallel trade (i.e., arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced Member States) can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any product candidates, if approved in those countries.
Approval of Companion Diagnostic Devices
In the EU, medical devices such as companion diagnostics must comply with the General Safety and Performance Requirements (SPRs) detailed in Annex I of the EU Medical Devices Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2017/745) (MDR), which came into force on May 26, 2021, and replaced the previously applicable EU Medical Devices Directive (Council Directive 93/42/EEC). Compliance with SPRs and additional requirements applicable to companion medical devices is a prerequisite to be able to affix the CE Mark of Conformity to medical devices, without which they cannot be marketed or sold. To demonstrate compliance with the SPRs, a manufacturer must undergo a conformity assessment procedure, which varies according to the type of medical device and its classification. The MDR is meant to establish a uniform, transparent, predictable, and sustainable regulatory framework across the EU for medical devices.
Separately, the regulatory authorities in the EU also adopted a new In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation (IVDR) (EU) 2017/746, which became effective in May 2022. The new regulation replaces the In Vitro Diagnostics Directive (IVDD) 98/79/EC. Manufacturers wishing to apply to a notified body for a conformity assessment of their in vitro diagnostic medical device had until May 2022 to update their Technical Documentation to meet the requirements and comply with the new, more stringent IVDR. The IVDR, among other things: strengthens the rules on placing devices on the market and reinforces surveillance once they are available; establishes explicit provisions on manufacturers’ responsibilities for the follow-up of the quality, performance, and safety of devices placed on the market; improves the traceability of medical devices throughout the supply chain to the end-user or patient through a unique identification number; sets up a central database to provide patients, healthcare professionals, and the public with comprehensive information on products available in the EU; and strengthens 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.
General Data Protection Regulation
Many countries outside of the U.S. maintain rigorous laws governing the privacy and security of personal information. The collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data, including personal health data, regarding individuals who are located in the EEA, and the processing of personal data that takes place in the EEA, is subject to the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is wide-ranging in scope and imposes numerous requirements on companies that process personal data, and it imposes heightened requirements on companies that process health and other sensitive data, such as requiring in many situations that a company obtain the consent of the individuals to whom the sensitive personal data relate before processing such data. Examples of obligations imposed by the GDPR on companies processing personal data that fall within the scope of the GDPR include providing information to individuals regarding data processing activities, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data, appointing a data protection officer, providing notification of data breaches, and taking certain measures when engaging third-party processors.
The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EEA, including the U.S., and permits data protection authorities to impose large penalties for violations of the GDPR, including potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues, whichever is greater. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. Compliance with the GDPR is a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase the cost of doing business or require companies to change their business practices to ensure full compliance. In July 2020 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework, one of the mechanisms used to legitimize the transfer of personal data from the EEA to the U.S. The CJEU decision also drew into question the long-term viability of an alternative means of data transfer, the standard contractual clauses, for transfers of personal data from the EEA to the U.S. Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (U.K.) from the EU, the U.K. Data Protection Act 2018 applies to the processing of personal data that takes place in the U.K. and includes parallel obligations to those set forth by GDPR.
Additionally, in October 2022, President Biden signed an executive order to implement the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework, which would serve as a replacement to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. The European Commission initiated the process to adopt an adequacy decision for the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework in December 2022. It is unclear if and when the framework will be finalized and whether it will be challenged in court.
Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom
The U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU took place on January 31, 2020. The EU and the U.K. reached an agreement on their new partnership in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the Agreement), which was applied provisionally beginning on January 1, 2021, and which entered into force on May 1, 2021. The Agreement focuses primarily on free trade by ensuring no tariffs or quotas on trade in goods, including healthcare products such as medicinal products. Thereafter, the EU and the U.K. will form two separate markets governed by two distinct regulatory and legal regimes. As such, the Agreement seeks to minimize barriers to trade in goods while accepting that border checks will become inevitable as a consequence that the U.K. is no longer part of the single market. As of
January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) became responsible for supervising medicines and medical devices in Great Britain, comprising England, Scotland, and Wales under domestic law whereas Northern Ireland continues to be subject to EU rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol. The MHRA will rely on the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1916) (as amended) (HMR) as the basis for regulating medicines. The HMR has incorporated into the domestic law the body of EU law instruments governing medicinal products that pre-existed prior to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.
Since a significant proportion of the regulatory framework for pharmaceutical products in the U.K. covering the quality, safety, and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales, and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from EU directives and regulations, Brexit may have a material impact upon the regulatory regime with respect to the development, manufacture, importation, approval, and commercialization of our product candidates in the U.K. For example, the U.K. is no longer covered by the centralized procedures for obtaining EU-wide marketing authorization from the EMA, and a separate marketing authorization will be required to market our product candidates in the U.K. Until December 31, 2023, it is possible for the MHRA to rely on a decision taken by the European Commission on the approval of a new marketing authorization via the centralized procedure.
Other U.S. environmental, health, and safety laws and regulations
We may be subject to numerous environmental, health, and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment, and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. From time to time and in the future, our operations may involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials, and may also produce hazardous waste products. Even if we contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and waste products, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from the use or disposal of our hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations.
We maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees, but this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. However, we do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us. In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health, and safety laws and regulations. Current or future environmental laws and regulations may impair our research, development, or production efforts. In addition, failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in substantial fines, penalties, or other sanctions.
Employees and Human Capital
As of December 31, 2022, we had 62 full-time employees, of which 46 are engaged in research and development. From time to time, we also retain independent contractors to support our organization. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered by collective bargaining agreements, and we believe our relationship with our employees is positive.
We consider the intellectual capital of our employees to be an essential driver of our business. Our workforce expanded during fiscal 2022; new employees were hired to support our clinical and preclinical pipeline, with additions in our research, clinical development, operations and general and administrative functions. We expect to continue to add additional employees in 2023 with a focus on increasing expertise in clinical and preclinical research and development.
We continually evaluate our business needs and opportunities and strive to balance in house expertise and capacity with outsourced expertise and capacity. Currently, we outsource substantially all clinical trial work to CROs and drug substance and finished drug product manufacturing to CMOs.
Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, retaining, incentivizing and integrating our existing and additional employees. The principal purposes of our equity incentive plans are to attract, retain and motivate selected employees and consultants through the granting of stock-based compensation awards and to align such awards with the interests of our stockholders. We provide a comprehensive benefits package to help employees manage health, well-being, finances and life outside of work, including health insurance, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, paid sick leave, a 401(k) plan, a flexible spending account program and paid vacation time. We also strive to build an integrated, cohesive culture and safe work environment, designed so that the organization is structured and aligned to operate efficiently, decision making is timely and effective, and employees are supported, encouraged and motivated to do their best to support our mission and our values.
We value the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees and their families. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented safety measures that we determined were in the best interest of our employees, along with measures designed to protect the health of all those entering our office.
Information about our Executive Officers (as of March 15, 2023)
James R. Porter, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, President and Director
Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer
Deborah Miller, Ph.D., J.D.
Chief Legal Officer and Secretary
Chief Development Officer
Christopher D. Turner, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
James R. Porter, Ph.D., has served as our Chief Executive Officer and President and as a member of our board of directors since February 2020. Prior to that, Dr. Porter served as our Vice President, Product Development from April 2018 to January 2020 and worked as a consultant to the Company from January 2018 to April 2018. From July 2002 to December 2016, Dr. Porter held various roles at Infinity, including most recently as Vice President of Product Development. Over the course of over 14 years at Infinity, he contributed to the research and development programs of six different compounds entering clinical trials. As the duvelisib product development team leader, Dr. Porter led a cross-functional development team from development candidate nomination through NDA submission, resulting in the FDA approval of COPIKTRA® for patients with follicular lymphoma, small lymphocytic lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Following Infinity’s licensing of duvelisib to Verastem, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company (Verastem), Dr. Porter served as Consultant, Product Development at Verastem from January 2017 to December 2017, where he led the transition, product development team, and NDA submission for the duvelisib program. Dr. Porter received his B.A. in chemistry at the College of the Holy Cross and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Boston College.
Alexandra Balcom, MBA, CPA, has served as our Chief Financial Officer since January 2021. Ms. Balcom brings over 15 years of strategic, financial and operational experience in the biotechnology industry to her role. Before joining Nuvalent, she held various roles at SQZ Biotechnologies Company, a biotechnology company, from April 2017 to March 2021, including Vice President of Finance, where she was responsible for strategic planning, finance and accounting. Prior to that, Ms. Balcom served as Corporate Controller at Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc., a pharmaceutical company. Ms. Balcom was responsible for all financial functions of the company including strategic planning, treasury, tax, finance, and accounting. Earlier in her career, Ms. Balcom held positions at both Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals Inc., a pharmaceutical company that was acquired by Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company, in 2013 and Coley Pharmaceutical Group, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that was acquired by Pfizer in 2007. Ms. Balcom earned her B.B.A. in finance from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and her M.B.A. from Boston College. Ms. Balcom is also a certified public accountant in Massachusetts.
Deborah Miller, Ph.D., J.D., has served as our Chief Legal Officer since June 2021. Before joining Nuvalent, she held various roles at Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma America, Inc., a pharmaceutical company (SDPA), from April 2020 to June 2021, including Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief IP Counsel, where she was responsible for providing legal services to all of the North American companies of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. (Sumitomo). Prior to that, Dr. Miller served as Deputy General Counsel & Chief IP Counsel at Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of SDPA, from March 2017 to April 2020 and held various roles at Infinity from March 2010 to March 2017, including Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Patent Counsel, where she built and managed the intellectual property group and supported various in-licensing, out-licensing and financing ventures. Earlier in her career, Dr. Miller was IP corporate counsel at Sepracor Inc. (currently, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.), a biopharmaceutical company, which was acquired by Sumitomo in 2010, and an associate at the law firm Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP. She received her B.A. in chemistry from Swarthmore College, her M.M.Sc. from Harvard Medical School, her Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard University and her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.
Darlene Noci, A.L.M., has served as our Chief Development Officer since July 2022 and previously served as our Senior Vice President of Product Development & Regulatory Affairs from January 2021 until July 2022. Before joining Nuvalent, she founded her own regulatory consulting firm, Noci Strategic Consulting, LLC, in May 2018. Prior to that, Ms. Noci served as Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance at X4 Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, from January 2016 to May 2018. Prior to that, Ms. Noci served as Global Regulatory Lead Strategist, Immuno-Oncology at EMD Serono, the North America biopharma business of Merck KgaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a pharmaceutical company, from June 2014 to January 2016, where she led the global regulatory strategy and portfolio for Bavencio®, the company’s anti-programmed death-ligand 1 antibody. Prior to that, she held various roles at several biotechnology companies, including Infinity, Sanofi and Genzyme (acquired by Sanofi in 2011). Ms. Noci received her B.A. from Adelphi University and her A.L.M. in government from Harvard University Extension School.
Christopher D. Turner, M.D., has served as our Chief Medical Officer since March 2021. Before joining Nuvalent, Dr. Turner served as Vice President of Clinical Development at Blueprint Medicines Corporation, a global precision therapy company, from June 2018 to March 2021, where he oversaw the development and approval of kinase inhibitor GAVRETO (pralsetinib) in RET-fusion positive NSCLC and RET-altered thyroid cancer. From July 2014 to May 2018, Dr. Turner served as Vice President of Clinical Science at Celldex Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, where he led the development of novel antibody-drug conjugate and immune-oncology pipeline compounds. From July 2008 to July 2014, Dr. Turner held various roles at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a pharmaceutical company that was acquired by Takeda Oncology in 2017, including Head of Clinical Research, where he led the development of ICLUSIG® (ponatinib), a kinase inhibitor therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, and ALUNBRIG® (brigatinib), a kinase inhibitor therapy for patients with ALK positive NSCLC. Prior to that, Dr. Turner was Director of the Pediatric
Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Children’s Hospital Boston and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Turner is board certified in both Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He received his B.A. in biochemistry from Bowdoin College and his M.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He completed a residency in General Pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC and fellowships in both Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Our Corporate Information
We were incorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware on January 25, 2017 under the name Nuvalent, Inc.
Our principal executive offices are located at One Broadway, 14th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02142 and our telephone number is (857) 357-7000. Our website address is http://www.nuvalent.com. The information contained on, or accessible through, our website does not constitute part of this Annual Report. We have included our website address in this Annual Report solely as an inactive textual reference.
Our Internet address is www.nuvalent.com. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, including exhibits, proxy and information statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Exchange Act are available through the “Investors” portion of our website free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Information on our website is not part of this Annual Report or any of our other securities filings unless specifically incorporated herein by reference. In addition, our filings with the SEC may be accessed through the SEC’s Interactive Data Electronic Applications system at http://www.sec.gov. All statements made in any of our securities filings, including all forward-looking statements or information, are made as of the date of the document in which the statement is included, and we do not assume or undertake any obligation to update any of those statements or documents unless we are required to do so by law.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Careful consideration should be given to the following risk factors, in addition to the other information set forth in this Annual Report and in other documents that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, in evaluating the Company and our business. Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. If any of the following risks and uncertainties actually occur, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. The risks described below are not intended to be exhaustive and are not the only risks facing the Company. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may impact our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
In evaluating the Company and our business, careful consideration should be given to the following risk factors, in addition to the other information set forth in this Annual Report and in other documents that we file with the SEC. Our business faces significant risks and uncertainties. Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. If any of the following risks and uncertainties were to actually occur, our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. The risks described below are not intended to be exhaustive and are not the only risks facing the Company. New risk factors can emerge from time to time, and it is not possible to predict the impact that any one factor or combination of factors may have on our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations.
Risks related to our financial position and need for additional capital
We are early in our development efforts, have a limited operating history, have not completed any clinical trials, have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue, which may make it difficult for investors to evaluate our current business and likelihood of success and viability.
We are a biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history upon which investors can evaluate our business and prospects. We were incorporated in January 2017 and commenced significant operations in 2018, have never completed any clinical trials, have no products approved for commercial sale and have never generated any revenue. Drug development is a highly uncertain undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. To date, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to research and development activities, including with respect to NVL-520, our ROS1-selective inhibitor, NVL-655, our ALK-selective inhibitor, NVL-330, our HER2-selective inhibitor, and our discovery programs, business planning, establishing and maintaining our intellectual property portfolio, hiring personnel, raising capital and providing general and administrative support for these operations.
We have not yet demonstrated our ability to successfully complete any clinical trials, obtain marketing approvals, manufacture a commercial-scale product or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful product commercialization. As a result, it may be more difficult for investors to evaluate our likelihood of success and viability than it could be if we had a longer operating history.
In addition, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors and risks frequently experienced by early-stage biopharmaceutical companies in rapidly evolving fields. We also expect that, as we advance our product candidates, we will need to transition from a company with a research and development focus to a company capable of supporting commercial activities. We have not yet demonstrated an ability to successfully overcome such risks and difficulties, or to make such a transition. If we do not adequately address these risks and difficulties or successfully make such a transition, our business will suffer.
We have incurred significant net losses in each period since our inception, and we expect to continue to incur significant net losses for the foreseeable future.
We have incurred significant net losses in each reporting period since our inception, have not generated any revenue to date and have financed our operations principally through private placements and public offerings of securities. Our net losses were $81.9 million and $46.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, respectively. As of December 31, 2022, we had an accumulated deficit of $160.1 million. We are still in the early stages of development of our product candidates and have not yet completed any clinical trials. As a result, we expect that it will be several years, if ever, before we have a commercialized product and generate revenue from product sales. Even if we succeed in receiving marketing approval for and commercializing one or more of our product candidates, we expect that we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other expenses in order to discover, develop and market additional potential products.
We expect to continue to incur significant and increasing expenses and increasing operating losses for the foreseeable future. The net losses we incur may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter such that a period-to-period comparison of our results of operations may not be a good indication of our future performance. The size of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the pace of our development activities and the rate of future growth of our expenses and our ability to generate revenue. Our prior losses and expected future losses have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our working capital, our ability to fund the development of our product candidates and our ability to achieve and maintain profitability and the performance of our stock.
Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends significantly on our ability to achieve our objectives relating to the discovery, development and commercialization of our product candidates.
We rely on our team’s expertise in chemistry, structure-based drug design, oncology drug development, business development and our patient-driven approach to develop our product candidates. Our business depends significantly on the success of our approach and the development and commercialization of the product candidates that we discover with this approach. We have no products approved for commercial sale and do not anticipate generating any revenue from product sales for the next several years, if ever. Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends significantly on our ability to achieve several objectives, including:
We may never be successful in achieving our objectives and, even if we do, may never generate revenue that is significant or large enough to achieve profitability. If we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would decrease the value of our company and could impair our ability to maintain or further our research and development efforts, raise additional necessary capital, grow our business and continue our operations.
We will require substantial additional capital to finance our operations. If we are unable to raise such capital when needed, or on acceptable terms, we may be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate one or more of our research and drug development programs, future commercialization efforts, product development or other operations.
Since our inception, we have used substantial amounts of cash to fund our operations, and our expenses will increase substantially in the foreseeable future in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we continue the research and development of, initiate clinical trials of, and seek marketing approval for, our product candidates. Developing pharmaceutical products, including conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, is a very time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete. Even if one or more of our product candidates or any future product candidates that we develop is approved for commercial sale, we anticipate incurring significant costs associated with sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution activities. Our expenses could increase beyond expectations if we are required by the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities to perform clinical trials or preclinical studies in addition to those that we currently anticipate. Other unanticipated costs may also arise. Because the design and outcome of
our clinical trials, including our planned and anticipated clinical trials, are highly uncertain, we cannot reasonably estimate the actual amount of resources and funding that will be necessary to successfully complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates or any future product candidates that we develop. We have initiated Phase 1/2 clinical trials for our parallel lead programs, NVL-520 and NVL-655. We have not yet received clearance to begin clinical trials for any of our other product candidates, including NVL-330, and we are not permitted to market or promote any product candidate before we receive marketing approval from the FDA, EMA or any comparable foreign regulatory authorities. We also continue to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in order to continue our operations.
Based on our current operating plan, we believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities as of the date of this Annual Report, will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second half of 2025. Advancing the development of NVL-520, NVL-655, NVL-330 and our discovery programs will require a significant amount of capital. Our existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities will not be sufficient to fund any of our product candidates through regulatory approval, and we anticipate needing to raise additional capital to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates. Our estimate as to how long we expect our existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities to fund our operations is based on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could use our available capital resources sooner than we currently expect. Changing circumstances, some of which may be beyond our control, could cause us to consume capital significantly faster than we currently anticipate, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned.
We will be required to obtain further funding through public or private equity financings, debt financings, collaborative agreements, licensing arrangements or other sources of financing, which may dilute our stockholders or restrict our operating activities. We do not have any committed external source of funds. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. Our ability to raise additional funds may be adversely impacted by general economic conditions, both inside and outside the U.S., including disruptions to, and instability and volatility in, the credit and financial markets in the U.S. and worldwide, including heightened inflation, interest rate and currency rate fluctuations, and economic slowdown or recession as well as concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical events, including civil or political unrest (such as the ongoing military conflict between Ukraine and Russia). In addition, market instability and volatility, high levels of inflation and interest rate fluctuations may increase our cost of financing or restrict our access to potential sources of future liquidity. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, each investor’s ownership interests will be diluted, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect each investor’s rights as a stockholder. Debt financing may result in imposition of debt covenants, increased fixed payment obligations or other restrictions that may affect our business. If we raise additional funds through upfront payments or milestone payments pursuant to strategic collaborations with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our product candidates or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans.
Our failure to raise capital as and when needed or on acceptable terms would have a negative impact on our financial condition and our ability to pursue our business strategy, and we may have to delay, reduce the scope of, suspend or eliminate one or more of our research or drug development programs, clinical trials or future commercialization efforts.
Risks related to the discovery, development and commercialization of our product candidates
We are early in our development efforts and our future prospects are substantially dependent on NVL-520, NVL-655 and NVL-330. If we are unable to advance these product candidates through development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize such product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.
We are early in our development efforts. We have initiated Phase 1/2 clinical trials for NVL-520 and NVL-655. All of our other product candidates, including NVL-330, are still in preclinical development and have never been tested in humans. Our ability to generate product revenue, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend heavily on the successful preclinical and clinical development and eventual commercialization of one or more product candidates. We are not permitted to market or promote any product candidate before we receive marketing approval from the FDA, EMA or any comparable foreign regulatory authorities, and we may never receive such marketing approvals.
The success of NVL-520, NVL-655 and NVL-330 will depend on several factors, including the following:
We do not have complete control over many of these factors, including certain aspects of preclinical and clinical development and the regulatory submission process, potential threats to our intellectual property rights and the manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales efforts of any future collaborator. If we are not successful with respect to one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully commercialize any product candidates from our lead programs, which would materially harm our business. If we do not receive marketing approvals for such product candidates, we may not be able to continue our operations.
Our preclinical studies and clinical trials may fail to adequately demonstrate the safety and efficacy of any of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay development, regulatory approval and commercialization.
Before obtaining marketing approval from the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities for the sale of our product candidates, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our product candidates are both safe and effective for use in each target indication. Preclinical and clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and the ultimate outcome is uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the preclinical study and clinical trial processes, and, because our product candidates are in an early stage of development, there is a high risk of failure, and we may never succeed in developing marketable products.
We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent receipt of marketing approval or our ability to commercialize our product candidates, including:
If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we are currently contemplating, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates or other testing in a timely manner, if the results of these trials or tests are not positive or are only modestly positive or if there are safety concerns, we may incur unplanned costs, be delayed in seeking and obtaining marketing approval, if we receive such approval at all, receive more limited or restrictive marketing approval, be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements or have the drug removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.
Our discovery and development activities are focused on the development of targeted therapeutics for patients with cancer-associated genomic alterations, which is a rapidly evolving area of science, and the approach we are taking to discover and develop drugs may never lead to approved or marketable products.
The discovery and development of targeted therapeutics for patients with cancer-associated genomic alterations is an emerging field, and the scientific discoveries that form the basis for our efforts to discover and develop product candidates are evolving. The scientific evidence to support the feasibility of developing product candidates based on these discoveries is both preliminary and limited. Although we believe, based on our preclinical work, that the genomic alterations targeted by our programs are oncogenic drivers, clinical results may not confirm this hypothesis or may only confirm it for certain alterations or certain tumor types. The patient populations for our product candidates are limited to those with specific target alterations and may not be completely defined but are substantially smaller than the general treated cancer population, and we will need to screen and identify these patients with targeted alterations. Successful identification of patients is dependent on several factors, including achieving certainty as to how specific alterations respond to our product candidates and the ability to identify such alterations, which may require the use of companion diagnostic tests. Furthermore, even if we are successful in identifying patients, we cannot be certain that the resulting patient populations for each mutation will be large enough to allow us to successfully obtain approval for each mutation type and commercialize our product candidates and achieve profitability. We do not know if our approach of focusing on treating patients with cancer-associated genomic alterations will be successful, and if our approach is unsuccessful, our business will suffer.
Any delays in the commencement or completion, or termination or suspension, of our planned or future clinical trials could result in increased costs to us, delay or limit our ability to generate revenue and adversely affect our commercial prospects.
Before we can initiate clinical trials of a product candidate in any indication, we must submit the results of preclinical studies to the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities along with other information, including information about the product candidate’s chemistry, manufacturing and controls and our proposed clinical trial protocol, as part of an IND or similar regulatory submission under which we must receive authorization to proceed with clinical development. The FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to conduct additional preclinical studies for any product candidate before they allow us to initiate clinical trials under any IND, CTA or comparable application which may lead to additional delays and increase the costs of our preclinical development programs.
Before obtaining marketing approval from the FDA of NVL-520, NVL-655 or NVL-330 or of any other future product candidate in any indication, we must conduct extensive clinical studies to demonstrate safety and efficacy. Clinical testing is expensive, time consuming and uncertain as to outcome. In addition, we expect to rely in part on preclinical, clinical and quality data generated by our CROs and other third parties for regulatory submissions for our product candidates. While we have or will have agreements governing these third parties’ services, we have limited influence over their actual performance. If these third parties do not make data available to us, or, if applicable, make regulatory submissions in a timely manner, in each case pursuant to our agreements with them, our development programs may be significantly delayed and we may need to conduct additional studies or collect additional data independently. In either case, our development costs would increase. We have initiated Phase 1/2 clinical trials for NVL-520 and NVL-655. IND submission must become effective prior to initiating any clinical trials in the U.S. for NVL-330 or any of our future product candidates.
We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRB or IEC of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by a DSMB for such trial or by the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities. Such authorities may impose such a suspension or termination due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse events, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a pharmaceutical, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. In addition, changes in regulatory requirements and policies may occur, and we may need to amend clinical trial protocols to comply with these changes. Amendments may require us to resubmit our clinical trial protocols to IRBs/IECs for reexamination, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial.
Certain of our current or future scientific advisors or consultants who receive compensation from us may become investigators for our future clinical trials. Under certain circumstances, we may be required to report some of these relationships to the FDA. Although we expect any such relationships to be within the FDA’s guidelines, the FDA may conclude that a financial relationship between us and a
principal investigator has created a conflict of interest or otherwise affected interpretation of the study. The FDA may therefore question the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized. This could result in a delay in approval, or rejection, of our marketing applications by the FDA and may ultimately lead to the denial of marketing approval of our product candidates. If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of any product candidate, the commercial prospects of such product candidate will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenue will be delayed. Moreover, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue, which may harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects significantly.
The outcome of preclinical testing and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and the results of our clinical trials may not satisfy the requirements of the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities.
We will be required to demonstrate with substantial evidence through well-controlled clinical trials that our product candidates are safe and effective for use in a diverse population before we can seek marketing approvals for their commercial sale. Preclinical and clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the preclinical study and clinical trial processes, and, because our product candidates are in an early stage of development, there is a high risk of failure and we may never succeed in developing marketable products.
The results of preclinical studies may not be predictive of the results of clinical trials of our product candidates, and the results of early clinical trials may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Although product candidates may demonstrate promising results in preclinical studies and early clinical trials, they may not prove to be safe or effective in subsequent clinical trials. Favorable results from certain animal studies may not accurately predict the results of other animal studies or of human trials, due to the inherent biologic differences in species, the differences between testing conditions in animal studies and human trials, and the particular goals, purposes, and designs of the relevant studies and trials. We have, for example, observed preclinical CNS activity of NVL-655 and NVL-330 in studies with rats and mice. These studies may or may not be predictive of CNS penetrance and activity of NVL-655 or NVL-330 in human trials. Similarly, certain of our hypotheses regarding the potential clinical and therapeutic benefits of our product candidates compared to other products or molecules in development are based on observations from our preclinical studies, and results from such preclinical studies are not necessarily predictive of the results of later preclinical studies or clinical trials.
There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through preclinical studies and clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. Likewise, early, smaller-scale clinical trials may not be predictive of eventual safety or effectiveness in large-scale pivotal clinical trials. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their drugs. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy, insufficient durability of efficacy or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence preclinical studies and clinical trials are never approved as products. The development of our product candidates and our stock price may also be impacted by inferences, whether correct or not, that are drawn between the success or failure of preclinical studies or clinical trials of our competitors or other companies in the biopharmaceutical industry, in addition to our own preclinical studies and clinical trials.
In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety and efficacy results between different clinical trials of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in trial protocols, differences in size and type of the patient populations, differences in and adherence to the dose and dosing regimen and other trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. Patients treated with our product candidates may also be undergoing surgical, radiation and chemotherapy treatments and may be using other approved products or investigational new drugs, which can cause adverse events that are unrelated to our product candidates. As a result, assessments of efficacy can vary widely for a particular patient, and from patient to patient and site to site within a clinical trial. This subjectivity can increase the uncertainty of, and adversely impact, our clinical trial outcomes.
Any preclinical studies or clinical trials that we conduct may not demonstrate the safety and efficacy necessary to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates. If the results of our ongoing or future preclinical studies and clinical trials are inconclusive with respect to the safety and efficacy of our product candidates, if we do not meet the clinical endpoints with statistical and clinically meaningful significance, or if there are safety concerns associated with our product candidates, we may be prevented or delayed in obtaining marketing approval for such product candidates.
We do not know whether any clinical trials we may conduct will demonstrate consistent or adequate efficacy and safety sufficient to obtain approval to market any of our product candidates.
In addition to NVL-520, NVL-655 and NVL-330, our prospects depend in part upon discovering, developing and commercializing additional product candidates from our discovery programs, which may fail in development or suffer delays that adversely affect their commercial viability.
Our future operating results are dependent on our ability to successfully discover, develop, obtain regulatory approval for and commercialize NVL-520, NVL-655, NVL-330 and future product candidates from our discovery programs. A research candidate can
unexpectedly fail at any stage of development. The historical failure rate for research candidates is high due to risks relating to safety, efficacy, clinical execution, changing standards of medical care and other unpredictable variables. The results from preclinical testing or early clinical trials of a product candidate may not be predictive of the results that will be obtained in later stage clinical trials of the product candidate.
The success of other research candidates we may develop will depend on many factors, including the following:
Even if we successfully advance any research candidates into preclinical and clinical development, their success will be subject to all of the preclinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial risks described elsewhere in this “Risk Factors” section. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will ever be able to discover, develop, obtain regulatory approval of, commercialize or generate significant revenue from any product candidates.
Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates is unproven, and we may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our approach to build a pipeline of product candidates with commercial value.
A key element of our strategy, which is unproven, is to use and expand our expertise in chemistry, structure-based drug design and patient-driven approach to build a pipeline of product candidates and progress these product candidates through clinical development. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in the discovery of and initiation of clinical development of NVL-520 and NVL-655, and preclinical development of NVL-330, such product candidates, and any other product candidates we may develop may not be safe or effective as cancer therapeutics, and we may not be able to develop any other product candidates. For example, we may not be successful in identifying genomic alterations that are oncogenic and are targeted for patient populations that result in sufficient enrollment size or present attractive commercial opportunities. Even if we are successful in building a pipeline of product candidates, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development or generate acceptable clinical data, including as a result of being shown to have unacceptable toxicity or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be product candidates that will receive marketing approval from the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities or achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize product candidates, we will not be able to generate product revenue in the future, which would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely affect our business.
The regulatory approval processes of the FDA, EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities are lengthy, time consuming and inherently unpredictable. If we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, we will be unable to generate product revenue and our business will be substantially harmed.
Obtaining approval by the FDA, EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities is unpredictable, typically takes many years following the commencement of clinical trials and depends upon numerous factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. In addition, approval policies, regulations or the type and amount of clinical data necessary to gain approval may change during the course of a product candidate’s clinical development and may vary among jurisdictions, which may cause delays in the approval or the decision not to approve an application. Regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that our data are insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other data. Even if we eventually complete clinical testing and receive approval for our product candidates, the FDA, EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may approve our product candidates for a more limited indication or a narrower patient population than we originally requested or may impose other prescribing limitations or warnings that limit the product candidate’s commercial potential. Even if approved, we may be required to conduct additional studies to verify or confirm the clinical benefits of our products. We have not submitted for, or obtained, regulatory approval for any product candidate, and it is possible that none of our product candidates will ever obtain regulatory approval. Further, development of our product candidates and/or regulatory approval may be delayed for reasons beyond our control.
Applications for our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:
This lengthy approval process, as well as the unpredictability of the results of clinical trials, may result in our failing to obtain regulatory approval to market any of our product candidates, which would significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.
We have only limited experience as a company in the conduct of clinical trials.
We have only limited experience as a company in the conduct of clinical trials. In part because of this lack of experience as a company and our limited infrastructure, we cannot be certain that our preclinical studies and clinical trials will begin or be completed on time, if at all. Large-scale clinical trials would require significant additional financial and management resources and reliance on third-party clinical investigators, CROs, and consultants. Relying on third-party clinical investigators, CROs and consultants may force us to encounter delays that are outside of our control. We may be unable to identify and contract with sufficient investigators, CROs and consultants on a timely basis or at all. There can be no assurance that we will be able to negotiate and enter into any necessary services agreement with CROs on terms that are acceptable to us on a timely basis or at all.
We may not be able to submit INDs, CTAs or comparable applications to commence clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, the FDA, EMA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority may not permit us to proceed.
We have initiated Phase 1/2 clinical trials for NVL-520 and NVL-655. However, we may not be able to submit INDs for NVL-330 or any future product candidates on the timelines we expect or such submissions may not take effect on the timeline that we anticipate or at all. For example, we may experience manufacturing delays or other delays with IND-enabling studies. Moreover, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND will result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate clinical trials. Additionally, even if the FDA agrees with the design and implementation of the clinical trials set forth in an IND, we cannot guarantee that it will not change its requirements in the future. These considerations also apply to new clinical trials we may submit as amendments to existing INDs or to a new IND. Any failure to submit INDs, CTAs or comparable applications on the timelines we expect or to obtain regulatory approvals for our planned clinical trials may prevent us from initiating or completing our clinical trials or commercializing our product candidates on a timely basis, if at all.
Our product candidates may cause significant adverse events, toxicities or other undesirable adverse events when used alone or in combination with other approved products or investigational new drugs that may result in a safety profile that could prevent regulatory approval, prevent market acceptance, limit their commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences.
If our product candidates are associated with undesirable adverse events or have unexpected characteristics in preclinical studies or clinical trials when used alone or in combination with other approved products or investigational new drugs we may need to interrupt, delay or abandon their development or limit development to more narrow uses or subpopulations in which the undesirable adverse events or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective. Treatment-related adverse events could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled subjects to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the affected product candidate and may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly. It is likely that there will be adverse events associated with the use of our product candidates as is typically the case with oncology drugs. Results of our studies or trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of these or other adverse events. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated and the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Drug-related adverse events could also affect patient
recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
In addition, our product candidates may be used in populations for which safety concerns may be particularly scrutinized by regulatory authorities. Our product candidates may be studied in combination with other therapies, which may exacerbate adverse events associated with the therapy. Patients treated with our product candidates may also be undergoing surgical, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, which can cause adverse events that are unrelated to our product candidates but may still impact the success of our clinical trials. The inclusion of critically ill patients in our clinical trials may result in deaths or other adverse medical events due to other therapies or medications that such patients may be using or due to the gravity of such patients’ illnesses. For example, it is expected that some of the patients to be enrolled in our current or future clinical trials may die or experience major clinical events either during the course of our clinical trials or after participating in such trials for non-treatment related reasons.
If significant adverse events are observed in any of our current or future clinical trials, we may have difficulty recruiting patients to the clinical trials, patients may drop out of our trials, or we may be required to abandon the trials or our development efforts of that product candidate altogether. We, the FDA, EMA, other comparable foreign regulatory authorities or an IRB may suspend clinical trials of a product candidate at any time for various reasons, including a belief that subjects in such trials are being exposed to unacceptable health risks or adverse events. Some potential therapeutics developed in the biotechnology industry that initially showed therapeutic promise in early-stage trials have later been found to cause adverse events that prevented their further development. Even if the adverse events do not preclude the product candidate from obtaining or maintaining marketing approval, undesirable adverse events may inhibit market acceptance due to its tolerability versus other therapies. Any of these developments could materially harm our business, financial condition and prospects. Further, if any of our product candidates obtains marketing approval, toxicities associated with such product candidates previously not seen during clinical testing may also develop after such approval and lead to a requirement to conduct additional clinical safety trials, additional contraindications, warnings and precautions being added to the drug label, significant restrictions on the use of the product or the withdrawal of the product from the market. We cannot predict whether our product candidates will cause toxicities in humans that would preclude or lead to the revocation of regulatory approval based on preclinical studies or early stage clinical trials.
Interim, topline and preliminary data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.
From time to time, we may publicly disclose preliminary, interim or topline data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials. These interim updates are based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the data related to the particular study or trial. For example, we may report responses in certain patients that are unconfirmed at the time and which do not ultimately result in confirmed responses to treatment after follow-up evaluations. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies or trials, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Topline data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, topline data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. In addition, we may report interim analyses of only certain endpoints rather than all endpoints. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Adverse changes between interim data and final data could significantly harm our business and prospects. Further, additional disclosure of interim data by us or by our competitors in the future could result in volatility in the price of our Class A common stock.
In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or trial is typically selected from a more extensive amount of available information. Investors may not agree with what we determine is the material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our public disclosures, and any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular product candidate or our business. If the preliminary or topline data that we report differ from late, final or actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, any of our product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment or maintenance of patients in clinical trials, our regulatory submissions or receipt of necessary marketing approvals could be delayed or prevented.
We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials to such trial’s conclusion as required by the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Patient enrollment is a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials. Our ability to enroll eligible patients may be limited or may result in slower enrollment than we anticipate. We will utilize genomic profiling of patients’ tumors to identify suitable patients for recruitment into our clinical trials for NVL-520 and NVL-655. For these product candidates, we seek patients with specific genomic alterations that our product candidates are designed to precisely target. We cannot be certain (i) how many patients will have the requisite genomic alterations that qualify for inclusion in our clinical trials, (ii) that the number of patients
enrolled in each program will suffice for regulatory approval or (iii) if regulatory approval is obtained, whether each specific ROS1 fusion or ALK fusion will be included in the approved drug label. Additionally, we face competition, including from large pharmaceutical companies with significantly more resources than us, for enrollment of our precisely target patient population, which may impact our ability to successfully recruit patients for our clinical trials. If our strategies for patient identification and enrollment prove unsuccessful, we may have difficulty enrolling or maintaining patients appropriate for our product candidates.
Patient enrollment may be affected if our competitors have ongoing clinical trials for programs that are under development for the same indications as our product candidates, and patients who would otherwise be eligible for our clinical trials instead enroll in clinical trials of our competitors’ programs. Patient enrollment for our current or future clinical trials may be affected by other factors, including:
Our inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials would result in significant delays or may require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. Enrollment delays in our clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our product candidates and jeopardize our ability to obtain marketing approval for the sale of our product candidates. Furthermore, even if we are able to enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials, we may have difficulty maintaining participation in our clinical trials through the treatment and any follow-up periods.
We have never commercialized a product candidate as a company before and currently lack the necessary expertise, personnel and resources to successfully commercialize any products on our own or together with suitable collaborators.
We have never commercialized a product candidate as a company. We may license certain rights with respect to our product candidates to collaborators, and, if so, we will rely on the assistance and guidance of those collaborators. For product candidates for which we retain commercialization rights and marketing approval, we will have to develop our own sales, marketing and supply organization or outsource these activities to a third party.
Factors that may affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, on our own include recruiting and retaining adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel, developing adequate educational and marketing programs to increase public acceptance of our approved product candidates, ensuring regulatory compliance of our company, employees and third parties under applicable healthcare laws, and other unforeseen costs associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization. Developing a sales and marketing organization will be expensive and time-consuming and could delay the launch of our product candidates upon approval. We may not be able to build an effective sales and marketing organization. If we are unable to build our own distribution and marketing capabilities or to find suitable partners for the commercialization of our product candidates, we may not generate revenue from them or be able to reach or sustain profitability.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could adversely impact our business, including our clinical trials and preclinical studies.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could adversely impact our business, including our clinical trials and preclinical studies. As the pandemic continues and new variants of the virus continue to emerge, we may experience disruptions that could severely impact our business and clinical trials, including:
Additionally, certain third parties may experience continued business disruptions, which could limit our ability to conduct our business in the manner and on the timelines presently planned. For example, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been delays in the procurement of materials and our manufacturing supply chain for our product candidates. While these delays have not had a material impact on our development timelines or processes to date, they could delay or otherwise impact our preclinical studies and clinical trials in the future. In addition, certain clinical trial sites for product candidates similar to ours have experienced, and others may experience in the future, delays in collecting, receiving and analyzing data from patients enrolled in clinical trials due to limited staff at such sites, limitation of on-site visits by patients, or patients’ reluctance to visit the clinical trial sites during the pandemic and we may experience similar delays. CROs have also made certain adjustments to the operation of such trials in an effort to ensure the monitoring and safety of patients and minimize risks to trial integrity during the pandemic in accordance with the guidance issued by the FDA and may need to make further adjustments in the future that could impact the timing or enrollment of our clinical trials. Many of these would increase costs, and may have negative effects on the enrollment, progress and completion of these trials and the findings from these trials.
On January 30, 2023, the Biden administration announced that it will end the public health emergency declarations related to COVID-19 on May 11, 2023. On January 31, 2023, the FDA indicated that it would soon issue a Federal Register notice describing how the termination of the public health emergency will impact the FDA’s COVID-19 related guidance, including the clinical trial guidance and updates thereto. At this point, it is unclear how, if at all, these developments will impact our efforts to develop and commercialize our product candidates.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 continues to evolve. While the extent of the impact of the continued COVID-19 pandemic on our business and financial results is uncertain, a continued and prolonged public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic could have a material negative impact on our business, financial condition and operating results.
To the extent the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our business, financial condition and operating results, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the risks described in this “Risk Factors” section.
We have limited resources and are currently focusing our efforts on the development of NVL-520, NVL-655 and NVL-330 in particular indications and advancing our discovery programs. As a result, we may fail to capitalize on other indications or product candidates that may ultimately have proven to be more profitable.
We are currently focusing our resources and efforts on our lead product candidates, NVL-520 and NVL-655, for advanced ROS1-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors and advanced ALK-positive NSCLC and other solid tumors, respectively, on our NVL-330 product candidate, and on advancing our discovery programs. As a result, because we have limited resources, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities for other indications or with other product candidates that may have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development activities for NVL-520, NVL-655, NVL-330 and our discovery programs may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target markets for NVL-520, NVL-655, NVL-330 or any future product candidates we identify through our discovery programs, we may enter into collaboration, licensing or other strategic arrangements with the effect of relinquishing valuable rights in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights.
We face substantial competition which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary and novel products and product candidates. Our competitors have developed, are developing or may develop products, product candidates and processes competitive with our product candidates. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future. We believe that a significant number of product candidates are currently under development, and may become commercially available in the future, for the treatment of conditions for which we may attempt to develop product candidates. In addition, our
product candidates may need to compete with drugs physicians use off-label to treat the indications for which we seek approval. This may make it difficult for us to replace existing therapies with our product candidates.
In particular, there is intense competition in the field of oncology. We have competitors both in the U.S. and internationally, including major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies, emerging and start-up companies, universities and other research institutions. We also compete with these organizations to recruit and retain qualified scientific and management personnel, which could negatively affect our level of expertise and our ability to execute our business plan. We will also face competition in establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.
We expect to face competition from existing products and products in development for each of our lead programs and in particular, our competitors that are developing product candidates often have the advantage of significant financial resources.
For NVL-520, there are currently two ROS1-targeted kinase inhibitors approved for use in first-line, TKI naïve ROS1-positive NSCLC: crizotinib and entrectinib. Both have also received approval for treatment of ALK-positive NSCLC. Ceritinib and lorlatinib are considered as other therapies recommended for use in ROS1-positive NSCLC patients according to NCCN guidelines. Lorlatinib is a dual ALK/ROS1 inhibitor that has received marketing approval for the treatment of ALK-positive NSCLC, and has demonstrated CNS activity as reported in its prescribing information. Repotrectinib is a dual TRK/ROS1 inhibitor that is in development and has demonstrated clinical activity in ROS1-positive NSCLC patients but also retains potent TRK inhibition at clinically relevant concentrations. AnHeart Therapeutics’ taletrectinib is a dual TRK/ROS1 inhibitor and is in development for patients with ROS1-positive NSCLC.
For NVL-655, there are five currently approved ALK inhibitors for the treatment of ALK-positive NSCLC: crizotinib, lorlatinib, ceritinib, alectinib, and brigatinib. All five have line-agnostic approvals for the treatment of ALK-positive NSCLC patients, including for patients who are TKI naïve. Additionally, lorlatinib has demonstrated activity in patients that have progressed on crizotinib, alectinib, or ceritinib.
For NVL-330, there is currently one approved antibody-drug conjugate for the treatment of HER2 Exon 20 mutation-positive NSCLC: fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki. There are no kinase inhibitors approved for this patient population. Other kinase inhibitors in development for patients with HER2 Exon 20 mutant-positive NSCLC include Shanghai Hengrui Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.’s pyrotinib, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s BI-1810631, and Enliven Therapeutics’ ELVN-002.
Many of our competitors, either alone or with their collaborators, have significantly greater financial resources, established presence in the market, and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical and clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals and reimbursement and marketing approved products than we do. Large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, in particular, have extensive experience in clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals, recruiting patients and manufacturing biotechnology product candidates. These companies also have significantly greater research and marketing capabilities than we do and may also have product candidates that have been approved or are in late stages of development, and collaborative arrangements in our target markets with leading companies and research institutions. Established pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies may also invest heavily to accelerate discovery and development of novel compounds or to in-license novel compounds that could make the product candidates that we develop obsolete. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. As a result of all of these factors, our competitors may succeed in obtaining approval from the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities or in discovering, developing and commercializing product candidates in our field before we do.
Our potential commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe adverse events, are more convenient, have a broader label, are marketed more effectively, are more widely reimbursed or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Physicians may be more willing to prescribe our competitors’ products for various reasons, and may rely on guidelines related to treatment of patients issued by medical societies, industry groups or other organizations, which may not include, and may never include, our products. Our competitors also may obtain marketing approval from the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market or make our development and marketing more complicated. Even if the product candidates we develop achieve marketing approval, they may be priced at a significant premium over competitive products if any have been approved by then, resulting in reduced competitiveness. Technological advances or products developed by our competitors may render our technologies or product candidates obsolete, less competitive or not economical. If we are unable to compete effectively, our opportunity to generate revenue from the sale of our products we may develop, if approved, could be adversely affected.
The manufacture of drugs is complex, and our third-party manufacturers may encounter difficulties in production. If any of our third-party manufacturers encounter such difficulties, our ability to provide adequate supply of our product candidates for clinical trials or our products for patients, if approved, could be delayed or prevented.
Manufacturing drugs, especially in large quantities, is complex and may require the use of innovative technologies. Each lot of an approved drug product must undergo thorough testing for identity, strength, quality, purity and potency. Manufacturing drugs requires
facilities specifically designed for and validated for this purpose, as well as sophisticated quality assurance and quality control procedures. Slight deviations anywhere in the manufacturing process, including filling, labelling, packaging, storage and shipping and quality control and testing, may result in lot failures, product recalls or spoilage. When changes are made to the manufacturing process, we may be required to provide preclinical and clinical data showing the comparable identity, strength, quality, purity or potency of the products before and after such changes. If microbial, viral or other contaminations are discovered at the facilities of our manufacturer, such facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination, which could delay clinical trials and adversely harm our business. Contaminations can also lead to allegations of harm, including infections or allergic reactions, or closure of product facilities due to possible contamination.
If our third-party manufacturers are unable to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials or for commercialization as a result of these challenges, or otherwise, our development and commercialization efforts would be impaired, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Changes in methods of product candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay.
As product candidates progress through preclinical and clinical trials to marketing approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and formulation, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize yield and manufacturing batch size, minimize costs and achieve consistent quality and results. For example, we may introduce an alternative formulation of one or more of our product candidates during the course of our clinical trials. Such changes carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives. Any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and jeopardize our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, and impair our ability to generate revenue.
Our product candidates may not achieve adequate market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.
Even if our product candidates receive regulatory approval, they may not gain adequate market acceptance among physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. The degree of market acceptance of any of our approved product candidates will depend on a number of factors, including:
If any of our product candidates are approved but do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, hospitals, healthcare payors and patients, we may not generate or derive sufficient revenue from that product candidate and our financial results could be negatively impacted.
The market opportunities for any product candidates we develop, if approved, may be limited to certain smaller patient subsets and may be smaller than we estimate them to be.
When cancer is detected early (referred to as localized disease), conventional treatments which include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery and radiation therapy and/or selected targeted therapies may be adequate to cure the patient in many cases. However, once cancer has spread to other areas (advanced or metastatic disease), cancer treatments may not be sufficient to provide a cure but often can significantly prolong life without curing the cancer. First-line therapies designate treatments that are initially administered to patients with advanced or metastatic disease, while second- and third-line therapies are administered to patients when the prior therapies lose their effectiveness. The FDA, EMA and other regulatory bodies often approve cancer therapies for a particular line of treatment. Typically, drug approvals are initially granted for use in later lines of treatment, but with additional evidence of significant efficacy from clinical trials, biopharmaceutical companies can successfully seek and gain approval for use in earlier lines of treatment.
We plan to initially seek approval of NVL-520, NVL-655, NVL-330 and any other future product candidates in most instances for previously treated patients with advanced or metastatic cancer where at least one prior therapy has limited clinical benefit or where tumors have developed resistance to such therapy. For those product candidates that prove to be sufficiently safe and effective, if any, we would potentially expect to seek approval ultimately as a first line TKI therapy. There is no guarantee that our product candidates, even if approved for previously treated patients would be approved for an earlier line of therapy, and prior to any such approvals we may have to conduct additional clinical trials that may be costly, time-consuming and subject to risk.
Our projections of both the number of people who have the cancers we are targeting, as well as the subset of people with these cancers in a position to receive a particular line of therapy and who have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research, and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new data and studies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of the cancers that we are targeting, especially if new therapies that are approved while we advance our product candidates affect the treatment paradigm and/or the size of the target population. The potentially addressable patient population for our product candidates may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates. Consequently, even if our product candidates are approved, the number of patients that may be eligible for treatment with our product candidates may turn out to be much lower than expected. In addition, we have not yet conducted market research to determine how treating physicians would expect to prescribe a product that is approved for multiple tumor types if there are different lines of approved therapies for each such tumor type. Even if we obtain significant market share for our products, if approved, if the potential target populations are small, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining regulatory approval for additional indications.
Any product candidates we develop may become subject to unfavorable third-party coverage and reimbursement practices, as well as pricing regulations.
Patients rely on insurance coverage by third-party payors (third-party payors include Medicare and Medicaid (government payors) and commercial insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Cigna, etc.), to pay for products. The availability and extent of coverage and adequate reimbursement by third-party payors, including government health administration authorities, private health coverage insurers, managed care organizations and other third-party payors is essential for most patients to be able to afford expensive treatments. Sales of any of our product candidates that receive marketing approval will depend substantially, both in the U.S. and internationally, on the extent to which the costs of such product candidates will be covered and reimbursed by third-party payors. No uniform policy exists for coverage and reimbursement in the U.S. If reimbursement is not available, or is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize an adequate return on our investment. Coverage and reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. If coverage and reimbursement are not available or reimbursement is available only to limited levels, we may not successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.
There is significant uncertainty related to third-party payor coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the U.S., for example, principal decisions about reimbursement for new products are typically made by the CMS, an agency within the HHS. CMS decides whether and to what extent a new product will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare, and private third-party payors often follow CMS’s decisions regarding coverage and reimbursement to a substantial degree. However, one third-party payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product candidate does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage for the product candidate. As a result, the coverage determination process is often time-consuming and costly. Factors payors consider in determining reimbursement are based on whether the product is: (i) a covered benefit under its health plan; (ii) safe, effective and medically necessary; (iii) appropriate for the specific patient; (iv) cost-effective; and (v) neither experimental nor investigational. This process will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each third-party payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be applied consistently or obtained in the first instance.
As federal and state governments implement additional health care cost containment measures, including measures to lower prescription drug pricing, we cannot be sure that our products, if approved, will be covered by private or public payors, and if covered, whether the reimbursement will be adequate or competitive with other marketed products. Such other actions by federal and state governments and health plans may put additional downward pressure on pharmaceutical pricing and health care costs, which could negatively impact coverage and reimbursement for our products if approved, our revenue, and our ability to compete with other
marketed products and to recoup the costs of our research and development. For further discussion, see “— Current and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain reimbursement for our product candidates;” and “— The prices of prescription pharmaceuticals in the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions are the subject of considerable legislative and executive actions and could impact the prices we obtain for our products, if and when licensed for marketing.”
Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. Further, such payors are increasingly challenging the price, examining the medical necessity and reviewing the cost effectiveness of medical product candidates. There may be especially significant delays in obtaining coverage and reimbursement for newly approved drugs. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific product candidates on an approved list, known as a formulary, which might not include all FDA-approved drugs for a particular indication. We may need to conduct expensive pharmaco-economic studies to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost effectiveness of our products. Nonetheless, our product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any product that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, what the level of reimbursement will be.
In addition, companion diagnostic tests require coverage and reimbursement separate and apart from the coverage and reimbursement for their companion pharmaceutical or products. Similar challenges to obtaining coverage and reimbursement, applicable to pharmaceutical or products, will apply to companion diagnostics. Additionally, if any companion diagnostic provider is unable to obtain reimbursement or is inadequately reimbursed, that may limit the availability of such companion diagnostic, which would negatively impact prescriptions for our product candidates, if approved.
Outside the U.S., the commercialization of therapeutics is generally subject to extensive governmental price controls and other market regulations, and we believe the increasing emphasis on cost containment initiatives in Europe, Canada and other countries has and will continue to put pressure on the pricing and usage of therapeutics such as our product candidates. In many countries, particularly the countries of the EU, medical product prices are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after a product receives marketing approval. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidate to other available therapies. In general, product prices under such systems are substantially lower than in the U.S. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control company profits. Additional foreign price controls or other changes in pricing regulation could restrict the amount that we are able to charge for our product candidates. Accordingly, in markets outside the U.S., the reimbursement for our products may be reduced compared with the U.S. and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable revenue and profits.
If we are unable to establish or sustain coverage and adequate reimbursement for any product candidates from third-party payors, the adoption of those products and sales revenue will be adversely affected, which, in turn, could adversely affect the ability to market or sell those product candidates, if approved. Coverage policies and third-party payor reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which we receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.
Our business entails a significant risk of product liability and if we are unable to obtain sufficient insurance coverage such inability could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Our business exposes us to significant product liability and other risks inherent in the development, testing, manufacturing and marketing of therapeutic treatments. Product liability and other claims or incidents, such as cyber incidents and breaches, could delay or prevent completion of our development programs. If we succeed in marketing products, such claims could result in an FDA, EMA or other regulatory authority investigation of the safety and effectiveness of our products, our manufacturing processes and facilities or our marketing programs. FDA, EMA or other regulatory authority investigations could potentially lead to a recall of our products or more serious enforcement action, limitations on the approved indications for which they may be used or suspension or withdrawal of approvals. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may also result in decreased demand for our products, injury to our reputation, costs to defend the related litigation, a diversion of management’s time and our resources and substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients. We currently have product liability and other insurance that we believe is appropriate for our stage of development and may need to obtain higher levels prior to advancing our product candidates into clinical trials or marketing any of our product candidates, if approved. Any insurance we have or may obtain may not provide sufficient coverage against potential liabilities. Furthermore, clinical trial, product liability, and other types of insurance (such as cyber insurance) is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain. As a result, we may be unable to obtain sufficient insurance at a reasonable cost to protect us against losses caused by product liability or other claims or incidents, including data breach and incidents, that could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Risks related to regulatory approval and other legal compliance matters
We may be unable to obtain U.S. or foreign regulatory approval and, as a result, may be unable to commercialize our product candidates.
Our product candidates are and will continue to be subject to extensive governmental regulations relating to, among other things, research, testing, development, manufacturing, safety, efficacy, approval, recordkeeping, reporting, labelling, storage, packaging,
advertising and promotion, pricing, marketing and distribution of drugs. Rigorous preclinical testing and clinical trials and an extensive regulatory approval process must be successfully completed in the U.S. and in many foreign jurisdictions before a new drug can be approved for marketing. Satisfaction of these and other regulatory requirements is costly, time consuming, uncertain and subject to unanticipated delays. We cannot provide any assurance that any product candidate we may develop will progress through required clinical testing and obtain the regulatory approvals necessary for us to begin selling them.
We have not conducted, managed or completed large-scale or pivotal clinical trials nor managed the regulatory approval process with the FDA, EMA or any other regulatory authority. The time required to obtain approvals from the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities is unpredictable and requires successful completion of extensive clinical trials which typically takes many years, depending upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidate. The standards that the FDA and its foreign counterparts use when evaluating clinical trial data can, and often does, change during drug development, which makes it difficult to predict with any certainty how they will be applied. We may also encounter unexpected delays or increased costs due to new government regulations, including future legislation or administrative action, or changes in applicable FDA, EMA or other regulatory policy during the period of drug development, clinical trials and regulatory review.
Applications for our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:
Any delay or failure in seeking or obtaining required approvals would have a material and adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue from any particular product candidates we are developing and for which we are seeking approval. Furthermore, any regulatory approval to market a drug may be subject to significant limitations on the approved uses or indications for which we may market, promote and advertise the drug or the labelling or other restrictions. In addition, the FDA has the authority to require a REMS plan as part of approving a NDA, or after approval, which may impose further requirements or restrictions on the distribution or use of an approved drug. These requirements or restrictions might include limiting prescribing to certain physicians or medical centers that have undergone specialized training, limiting treatment to patients who meet certain safe-use criteria and requiring treated patients to enroll in a registry. These limitations and restrictions may significantly limit the size of the market for the drug and affect reimbursement by third-party payors.
We are also subject to numerous foreign regulatory requirements governing, among other things, the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing authorization, pricing and third-party reimbursement. The foreign regulatory approval process varies among countries, and generally includes all of the risks associated with FDA approval described above as well as risks attributable to the satisfaction of local regulations in foreign jurisdictions. Moreover, the time required to obtain approval may differ from that required to obtain FDA approval.
We may develop our current or future product candidates in combination with other therapies, which would expose us to additional risks.
We may develop our current or future product candidates in combination with one or more currently approved cancer therapies or therapies in development. Even if any of our current or future product candidates were to receive marketing approval or be commercialized for use in combination with other existing therapies, we would continue to be subject to the risks that the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities could revoke approval of the therapy used in combination with any of our product candidates, or safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues could arise with these existing therapies. In addition, it is possible that existing therapies with which our product candidates are approved for use could themselves fall out of favor or be relegated to later lines of treatment. This could result in the need to identify other combination therapies for our product candidates or our own products being removed from the market or being less successful commercially.
We may also evaluate our current or future product candidates in combination with one or more other cancer therapies that have not yet been approved for marketing by the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. We will not be able to market and sell any product candidate in combination with any such unapproved cancer therapies that do not ultimately obtain marketing approval.
If the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities do not approve or withdraw their approval of these other therapies, or if safety, efficacy, commercial adoption, manufacturing or supply issues arise with the therapies we choose to evaluate in combination with any of our current or future product candidates, we may be unable to obtain approval of or successfully market any one or all of the current or future product candidates we develop. Additionally, if the third-party providers of therapies or therapies in development used in combination with our current or future product candidates are unable to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials or for commercialization of our current or future product candidates, or if the cost of combination therapies are prohibitive, our development and commercialization efforts would be impaired, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The FDA, EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not accept data from trials conducted in locations outside of their jurisdiction.
We conduct clinical trials of our product candidates in the U.S. and internationally. The acceptance of study data by the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authority from clinical trials conducted outside of their respective jurisdictions may be subject to certain conditions. In cases where data from U.S. clinical trials are intended to serve as the basis for marketing approval in the foreign countries outside the U.S., the standards for clinical trials and approval may be different. There can be no assurance that any U.S. or foreign regulatory authority would accept data from trials conducted outside of its applicable jurisdiction. If the FDA, EMA or any applicable foreign regulatory authority does not accept such data, it would result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay aspects of our business plan, and which may result in our product candidates not receiving approval or clearance for commercialization in the applicable jurisdiction.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction. For example, even if the FDA or EMA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion and reimbursement of the product candidate in those countries. However, a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from those in the U.S., including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials as clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the U.S., a product candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we intend to charge for our products is also subject to approval.
Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and establishing and maintaining compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we or any future collaborator fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets or fail to receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our potential product candidates will be harmed.
Additionally, on June 23, 2016, the electorate in the U.K. voted in favor of leaving the EU (Brexit). Following protracted negotiations, the U.K. left the EU on January 31, 2020, and a transition period to December 31, 2020, was established to allow the U.K. and the EU to negotiate the U.K.’s withdrawal. As a result, effective January 1, 2021, the U.K. is no longer part of the European Single Market and EU Customs Union. A co-operation agreement was signed between the U.K. and the EU in December 2020, which was applied provisionally beginning on January 1, 2021, and entered into force on May 1, 2021. The agreement addresses trade, economic arrangements, law enforcement, judicial cooperation, and a governance framework including procedures for dispute resolution, among other things. As both parties continue to work on the rules for implementation, significant political and economic uncertainty remains about how the precise terms of the relationship between the parties will differ from the terms before withdrawal.
As of January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) became responsible for supervising medicines and medical devices in Great Britain, comprising England, Scotland, and Wales under domestic law, whereas Northern Ireland will continue to be subject to EU rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol. The MHRA will rely on the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1916) (as amended) (HMR) as the basis for regulating medicines. The HMR has incorporated into the domestic law of the body of EU law instruments governing medicinal products that pre-existed prior to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.
Since a significant proportion of the regulatory framework for pharmaceutical products in the U.K. covering the quality, safety, and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales, and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from EU directives and regulations, Brexit may have a material impact upon the regulatory regime with respect to the development, manufacture, importation, approval and commercialization of our product candidates in the U.K. For example, the
U.K. is no longer covered by the centralized procedures for obtaining EU-wide marketing authorization from the EMA, and a separate marketing authorization will be required to market our product candidates in the U.K. Until December 31, 2023, it is possible for the MHRA to rely on a decision taken by the European Commission on the approval of a new marketing authorization via the centralized procedure.
Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, any marketing approvals, as a result of Brexit or otherwise, may force us to restrict or delay efforts to seek regulatory approval in the U.K. for our product candidates, which could significantly and materially harm our business.
Even if our product candidates receive regulatory approval, they will be subject to significant post-marketing regulatory requirements and oversight.
Any regulatory approvals that we may receive for our product candidates will require the submission of reports to regulatory authorities and on-going surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate, may contain significant limitations related to use restrictions for specified age groups, warnings, precautions or contraindications, and may include burdensome post-approval study or risk management requirements and regulatory inspection. For example, the FDA may require a REMS in order to approve our product candidates, which could entail requirements for a medication guide, physician training and communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA, EMA or foreign regulatory authorities approve our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, labelling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export and recordkeeping for our product candidates will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as on-going compliance with cGMPs and good clinical practices (GCP) for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval.
In addition, manufacturers of drug products and their facilities are subject to continual review and periodic, unannounced inspections by the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities for compliance with cGMP regulations and standards. The PREVENT Pandemics Act, which was enacted in December 2022, clarifies that foreign drug manufacturing establishments are subject to registration and listing requirements even if a drug or biologic undergoes further manufacture, preparation, propagation, compounding, or processing at a separate establishment outside the U.S. prior to being imported or offered for import into the U.S. If we or a regulatory authority discover previously unknown problems with a product, such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facilities where the product is manufactured, a regulatory authority may impose restrictions on that product, the manufacturing facility or us, including requiring recall or withdrawal of the product from the market or suspension of manufacturing. In addition, failure to comply with FDA, EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory requirements may subject our company to administrative or judicially imposed sanctions, including:
The FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the U.S. or abroad. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.
The FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses.
If any of our product candidates are approved and we are found to have improperly promoted off-label uses of those products, we may become subject to significant liability. The FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities strictly regulate the promotional claims that may be made about prescription products, such as our product candidates, if approved. In particular, a product may not be promoted in the U.S. for uses that are not approved by the FDA as reflected in the product’s approved labelling, or in other jurisdictions for uses that differ from the labelling or uses approved by the applicable regulatory authorities. While physicians may prescribe products for off-label uses, the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities actively enforce laws and regulations that prohibit the promotion of off-label uses by companies, including promotional communications made by companies’ sales force with respect to off-label uses that are not consistent with the approved labelling, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties.
If we are found to have promoted such off-label uses, we may become subject to significant liability. The U.S. federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion of off-label use and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our product candidates, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.
If we are required by the FDA, EMA or comparable regulatory authority to obtain clearance or approval of a companion diagnostic test in connection with approval of any of our product candidates or a group of therapeutic products, and we do not obtain or we face delays in obtaining clearance or approval of a diagnostic test, we may not be able to commercialize the product candidate and our ability to generate revenue may be materially impaired.
If we are required by the FDA, EMA or a comparable regulatory authority to obtain clearance or approval of a companion diagnostic test in connection with approval of any of our product candidates, such companion diagnostic test would be used during our more advanced phase clinical trials as well as in connection with the commercialization of our product candidates. To be successful in developing and commercializing product candidates in combination with these companion diagnostics, we or our collaborators will need to address a number of scientific, technical, regulatory and logistical challenges. According to FDA guidance, if the FDA determines that a companion diagnostic device is essential to ensuring the safe and effective use of a novel therapeutic product or new indication, the FDA generally will not approve the therapeutic product or new therapeutic product indication if the companion diagnostic is not also approved or cleared. In certain circumstances (for example, when a therapeutic product is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition for which no satisfactory available therapy exists or when the labelling of an approved product needs to be revised to address a serious safety issue), however, the FDA may approve a therapeutic product without the prior or contemporaneous marketing authorization of a companion diagnostic. In this case, approval of a companion diagnostic may be a post-marketing requirement or commitment.
Co-development of companion diagnostics and therapeutic products is critical to the advancement of precision medicine. Whether initiated at the outset of development or at a later point, co-development should generally be conducted in a way that will facilitate obtaining contemporaneous marketing authorizations for the therapeutic product and the associated companion diagnostic. If a companion diagnostic is required to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from receiving the product, to be at increased risk for serious adverse events as a result of treatment with a particular therapeutic product, or to monitor response to treatment with a particular therapeutic product for the purpose of adjusting treatment to achieve improved safety or effectiveness, then the FDA has required marketing approval of all companion diagnostic tests essential for the safe and effective use of a therapeutic product for cancer therapies. Various foreign regulatory authorities also regulate in vitro companion diagnostics as medical devices and, under those regulatory frameworks, will likely require the conduct of clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of any future diagnostics we may develop, which we expect will require separate regulatory clearance or approval prior to commercialization in those countries.
The approval of a companion diagnostic as part of the therapeutic product’s labelling limits the use of the therapeutic product to only those patients who express the specific genomic alteration or mutation alteration that the companion diagnostic was developed to detect. If the FDA, EMA or a comparable regulatory authority requires clearance or approval of a companion diagnostic for any of our product candidates, whether before, concurrently with approval, or post-approval of the product candidate, we, and/or future collaborators, may encounter difficulties in developing and obtaining clearance or approval for these companion diagnostics. Any delay or failure by us or third-party collaborators to develop or obtain regulatory clearance or approval of a companion diagnostic could delay or prevent approval or continued marketing of our related product candidates. Further, in April 2020, the FDA issued new guidance on developing and labelling companion diagnostics for a specific group of oncology therapeutic products, including recommendations to support a broader labelling claim rather than individual therapeutic products. We will continue to evaluate the impact of this guidance on our companion diagnostic development and strategy. This guidance and future issuances from the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities may impact our development of a companion diagnostic for our product candidates and could result in delays in regulatory clearance or approval or a change in the determination for whether or not a companion diagnostic is still required for our product candidates. We may be required to conduct additional studies to support a broader claim or more narrowed claim for a subset population. Also, to the extent other approved diagnostics are able to broaden their labelling claims to include any
of our future approved product candidates covered indications, we may no longer need to continue our companion diagnostic development plans or we may need to alter those companion diagnostic development strategies, which could adversely impact our ability to generate revenue from the sale of our companion diagnostic test.
Additionally, we may rely on third parties for the design, development and manufacture of companion diagnostic tests for our product candidates. If we enter into such collaborative agreements, we will be dependent on the sustained cooperation and effort of our future collaborators in developing and obtaining clearance or approval for these companion diagnostics. It may be necessary to resolve issues such as selectivity/specificity, analytical validation, reproducibility, or clinical validation of companion diagnostics during the development and regulatory clearance or approval processes. Moreover, even if data from preclinical studies and early clinical trials appear to support development of a companion diagnostic for a product candidate, data generated in later clinical trials may fail to support the analytical and clinical validation of the companion diagnostic. We and our future collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing, obtaining regulatory clearance or approval for, manufacturing and commercializing companion diagnostics similar to those we face with respect to our product candidates themselves, including issues with achieving regulatory clearance or approval, production of sufficient quantities at commercial scale and with appropriate quality standards, and in gaining market acceptance. If we are unable to successfully develop companion diagnostics for our product candidates, or experience delays in doing so, the development of our product candidates may be adversely affected, our product candidates may not obtain marketing approval, and we may not realize the full commercial potential of any of our product candidates that obtain marketing approval. As a result, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, a diagnostic company with whom we contract may decide to discontinue selling or manufacturing the companion diagnostic test that we anticipate using in connection with development and commercialization of product candidates or our relationship with such diagnostic company may otherwise terminate. We may not be able to enter into arrangements with another diagnostic company to obtain supplies of an alternative diagnostic test for use in connection with the development and commercialization of our product candidates or do so on commercially reasonable terms, which could adversely affect and/or delay the co-development or commercialization of our companion diagnostic and therapeutic product candidates.
Where appropriate, we plan to pursue approval from the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities through the use of accelerated registration pathways. If we are unable to obtain such approval, we may be required to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials beyond those that we contemplate, which could increase the expense of obtaining, and delay the receipt of, necessary marketing approvals. Even if we receive accelerated approval from the FDA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities, if our confirmatory trials do not verify clinical benefit, or if we do not comply with rigorous post-marketing requirements, the FDA, EMA or such other regulatory authorities may seek to withdraw accelerated approval.
Where appropriate, we plan to pursue accelerated development strategies in areas of medical need. We may seek an accelerated approval pathway for our one or more of our product candidates from the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Under the accelerated approval provisions in the FDCA, and the FDA’s implementing regulations, the FDA may grant accelerated approval to a product candidate designed to treat a serious or life-threatening condition that provides meaningful therapeutic benefit over available therapies upon a determination that the product candidate has an effect on a surrogate endpoint or intermediate clinical endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. The FDA considers a clinical benefit to be a positive therapeutic effect that is clinically meaningful in the context of a given disease, such as irreversible morbidity or mortality. For the purposes of accelerated approval, a surrogate endpoint is a marker, such as a laboratory measurement, radiographic image, physical sign, or other measure that is thought to predict clinical benefit, but is not itself a measure of clinical benefit. An intermediate clinical endpoint is a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit.
The accelerated approval pathway may be used in cases in which the advantage of a new drug over available therapy may not be a direct therapeutic advantage, but is a clinically important improvement from a patient and public health perspective. If granted, accelerated approval is usually contingent on the sponsor’s agreement to conduct, in a diligent manner, additional post-approval confirmatory studies to verify and describe the drug’s clinical benefit. If such post-approval studies fail to confirm the drug’s clinical benefit, the FDA may withdraw its approval of the drug. With passage of the FDORA in December 2022, Congress modified certain provisions governing accelerated approval of drug and biologic products. Specifically, the new legislation authorized the FDA to: require a sponsor to have its confirmatory clinical trial underway before accelerated approval is awarded, require a sponsor of a product granted accelerated approval to submit progress reports on its post-approval studies to the FDA every six months (until the study is completed); and use expedited procedures to withdraw accelerated approval of an NDA or BLA after the confirmatory trial fails to verify the product’s clinical benefit. Further, FDORA requires the FDA to publish on its website “the rationale for why a post-approval study is not appropriate or necessary” whenever it decides not to require such a study upon granting accelerated approval.
Prior to seeking accelerated approval, we will seek feedback from the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities and will otherwise evaluate our ability to seek and receive such accelerated approval. There can be no assurance that after our evaluation of the feedback and other factors we will decide to pursue or submit an NDA for accelerated approval or any other form of expedited development, review or approval. Similarly, there can be no assurance that after subsequent feedback from the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, we will continue to pursue or apply for accelerated approval or any other form of expedited development, review or approval, even if we initially decide to do so. Furthermore, if we decide to submit an application for accelerated approval or under another expedited regulatory designation (i.e., Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy
designation or orphan drug designation), there can be no assurance that such submission or application will be accepted or that any expedited development, review or approval will be granted on a timely basis, or at all. The FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities could also require us to conduct further studies prior to considering our application or granting approval of any type. A failure to obtain accelerated approval or any other form of expedited development, review or approval for our product candidate would result in a longer time period to commercialization of such product candidate, could increase the cost of development of such product candidate and could harm our competitive position in the marketplace.
We may seek certain designations for our product candidates, including Breakthrough Therapy, Fast Track and Priority Review in the U.S., and PRIME (priority medicines) in the EU, but we might not receive such designations, and even if we do, such designations may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process.
We may seek certain designations for one or more of our product candidates that could expedite review and approval by the FDA. A Breakthrough Therapy product is defined as a product that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other products, to treat a serious condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For products that have been designated as Breakthrough Therapies, early and frequent interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development.
The FDA may also designate a product for Fast Track review if it is intended, whether alone or in combination with one or more other products, for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and it demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. For Fast Track products, sponsors may have greater interactions with the FDA and the FDA may initiate review of sections of a Fast Track product’s NDA before the application is complete. This rolling review may be available if the FDA determines, after preliminary evaluation of data submitted by the sponsor, that a Fast Track product may be effective.
We may also seek a priority review designation for one or more of our product candidates. If the FDA determines that a product candidate intended to treat a serious condition and, if approved, offers a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness, the FDA may designate the product candidate for priority review. A priority review designation shortens the goal for the FDA to review an application within six months, rather than the standard review period of ten months.
These designations require a sponsor to submit an application for review and approval by the FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe that one of our product candidates meets the criteria for these designations, the FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. Further, even if we receive a designation, the receipt of such designation for a product candidate may not result in a faster development or regulatory review or approval process compared to products considered for approval under conventional FDA procedures and does not assure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our product candidates qualifies for these designations, the FDA may later decide that the product candidates no longer meet the conditions for qualification or decide that the time period for FDA review or approval will not be shortened.
In the EU, we may seek PRIME for some of our product candidates in the future. PRIME is a voluntary program launched by the EMA that is aimed at enhancing the scientific and regulatory support for the development and accelerated assessment of new product candidates that target an unmet medical need. PRIME is aimed to offer early and proactive support to sponsors to optimize the generation of robust data on the product’s benefits and risks and enable accelerated regulatory assessment of new marketing applications. To be eligible for PRIME, a product candidate must meet the eligibility criteria in respect to its potential to offer a major therapeutic advantage over existing treatments, or benefit patients who do not have any treatment options. The benefits of PRIME include the appointment of a CHMP rapporteur to provide continued support and help to build knowledge ahead of a MAA, early dialogue and scientific advice at key development milestones, and the potential to qualify products for accelerated review, meaning reduction in the review time for an opinion on approvability to be issued earlier in the application process. PRIME enables an applicant to request parallel EMA scientific advice and health technology assessment advice to facilitate timely market access. We may apply for PRIME and it may not be granted. Even if we receive PRIME designation for any of our product candidates, the designation may not result in a materially faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional EMA procedures. Further, obtaining PRIME designation does not assure or increase the likelihood of EMA’s grant of a marketing authorization.
We may not be able to obtain orphan drug designation or obtain or maintain orphan drug exclusivity for our product candidates and, even if we do, that exclusivity may not prevent the FDA, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities, from approving competing products.
Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the U.S. and the EU, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a product candidate as an orphan drug if it is a drug intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals annually in the U.S., or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the U.S. where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of researching and developing the drug will be recovered from sales in the U.S. Our target indications may include diseases with large patient populations or may include orphan indications. However, there can be no assurances that we will be able to obtain orphan designations for our product candidates.
In the U.S., orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. In addition, if a product candidate that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease for which it has such designation, the product candidate is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity. Orphan drug exclusivity in the U.S. provides that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including a full NDA, to market the same drug for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances. The applicable exclusivity period is 10 years in Europe. The European exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if a drug no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation or if the drug is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified.
Even if we obtain orphan drug designation for a product candidate, we may not be able to obtain or maintain orphan drug exclusivity for that product candidate. We may not be the first to obtain marketing approval of any product candidate for which we have obtained orphan drug designation for the orphan-designated indication due to the uncertainties associated with developing pharmaceutical products. In addition, exclusive marketing rights in the U.S. may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan-designated indication or may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if we are unable to ensure that we will be able to manufacture sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. Further, even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs with different active moieties may be approved for the same condition. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve the same drug with the same active moiety for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care or the manufacturer of the product with orphan exclusivity is unable to maintain sufficient product quantity. Orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug nor gives the product candidate any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process or entitles the product candidate to Priority Review.
The FDA and Congress may further reevaluate the Orphan Drug Act and its regulations and policies. This may be particularly true in light of a decision from the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in September 2021 finding that, for the purpose of determining the scope of exclusivity, the term “same disease or condition” means the designated “rare disease or condition” and could not be interpreted by the FDA to mean the “indication or use.” Thus, the court concluded, orphan drug exclusivity applies to the entire designated disease or condition rather than the “indication or use.” Although there have been legislative proposals to overrule this decision, they have not been enacted into law. On January 23, 2023, the FDA announced that, in matters beyond the scope of that court’s order, the FDA will continue to apply its existing regulations tying orphan-drug exclusivity to the uses or indications for which the orphan drug was approved. We do not know if, when, or how the FDA or Congress may change the orphan drug regulations and policies in the future, and it is uncertain how any changes might affect our business. Depending on what changes the FDA may make to its orphan drug regulations and policies, our business could be adversely impacted.
Current and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain reimbursement for our product candidates.
In the U.S. and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could, among other things, prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell any products for which we obtain marketing approval. We expect that current laws, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that we may receive for any approved products. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope, our business could be materially harmed.
In March 2010, President Obama signed into law the PPACA. Since enactment of the PPACA, there have been and continue to be, numerous legal challenges and Congressional actions to repeal and replace provisions of the law. For example, with enactment of the Tax Act in 2017, Congress repealed the “individual mandate.” The repeal of this provision, which requires most Americans to carry a minimal level of health insurance, became effective in 2019. Other legislative changes have been adopted since the PPACA was enacted, including aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and will remain in effect through 2031. Under current legislation, the actual reductions in Medicare payments may vary up to 4%. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 reduced Medicare payments to several providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. Further, with passage of the IRA in August 2022, Congress authorized Medicare beginning in 2026 to negotiate lower prices for certain costly single-source drug and biologic products that do not have competing generics or biosimilars. This provision is limited in terms of the number of pharmaceuticals whose prices can be negotiated in any given year and it only applies to drug products that have been approved for at least 9 years and biologics that have been licensed for 13 years. Drugs and biologics that have been approved for a single rare disease or condition are categorically excluded from price negotiation. In addition, the new legislation provides that if pharmaceutical companies raise prices in Medicare faster than the rate of inflation, they must pay rebates back to the government for the difference. The new law also caps Medicare out-of-pocket drug costs at an estimated $4,000 a year in 2024 and, thereafter beginning in 2025, at $2,000 a year.
These laws and other healthcare reform measures may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the reimbursement we may obtain for any of our product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product is prescribed or used. We expect that the PPACA, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in coverage and payments from private payors. Accordingly,
the implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our product candidates.
The prices of prescription pharmaceuticals in the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions are the subject of considerable legislative and executive actions and could impact the prices we obtain for our products, if and when licensed for marketing.
The prices of prescription pharmaceuticals have been the subject of considerable discussion in the U.S. There have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries, as well as proposed and enacted state and federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to pharmaceutical pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reduce the costs of pharmaceuticals under Medicare and Medicaid. In 2020, President Trump issued several executive orders intended to lower the costs of prescription products, and certain provisions in these orders have been incorporated into regulations. These regulations include an interim final rule implementing a most favored nation model for prices that would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered pharmaceuticals to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries, effective January 1, 2021. That rule, however, has been subject to a nationwide preliminary injunction and, on December 29, 2021, the CMS issued a final rule to rescind it. With issuance of this rule, CMS stated that it will explore all options to incorporate value into payments for Medicare Part B pharmaceuticals and improve beneficiaries' access to evidence-based care.
In addition, in October 2020, HHS and the FDA published a final rule allowing states and other entities to develop a SIP to import certain prescription drugs from Canada into the U.S. The final rule is currently the subject of ongoing litigation, but at least six states (Vermont, Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Mexico, and New Hampshire) have passed laws allowing for the importation of drugs from Canada with the intent of developing SIPs for review and approval by the FDA. Further, on November 20, 2020, HHS finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The final rule would also eliminate the current safe harbor for Medicare drug rebates and create new safe harbors for beneficiary point-of-sale discounts and pharmacy benefit manager service fees. It originally was set to go into effect on January 1, 2022, but with passage of the Inflation Reduction Act has been delayed by Congress to January 1, 2032.
In September 2021, acting pursuant to an executive order signed by President Biden, the HHS released its plan to reduce pharmaceutical prices. The key features of that plan are to: (a) make pharmaceutical prices more affordable and equitable for all consumers and throughout the health care system by supporting pharmaceutical price negotiations with manufacturers; (b) improve and promote competition throughout the prescription pharmaceutical industry by supporting market changes that strengthen supply chains, promote biosimilars and generic drugs, and increase transparency; and (c) foster scientific innovation to promote better healthcare and improve health by supporting public and private research and making sure that market incentives promote discovery of valuable and accessible new treatments.
More recently, on August 16, 2022, the IRA was signed into law by President Biden. The new legislation has implications for Medicare Part D, which is a program available to individuals who are entitled to Medicare Part A or enrolled in Medicare Part B to give them the option of paying a monthly premium for outpatient prescription drug coverage. Among other things, the IRA requires manufacturers of certain drugs to engage in price negotiations with Medicare (beginning in 2026), with prices that can be negotiated subject to a cap; imposes rebates under Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D to penalize price increases that outpace inflation (first due in 2023); and replaces the Part D coverage gap discount program with a new discounting program (beginning in 2025). The IRA permits the Secretary of the HHS to implement many of these provisions through guidance, as opposed to regulation, for the initial years.
Specifically, with respect to price negotiations, Congress authorized Medicare to negotiate lower prices for certain costly single-source drug and biologic products that do not have competing generics or biosimilars and are reimbursed under Medicare Part B and Part D. CMS may negotiate prices for ten high-cost drugs paid for by Medicare Part D starting in 2026, followed by 15 Part D drugs in 2027, 15 Part B or Part D drugs in 2028, and 20 Part B or Part D drugs in 2029 and beyond. This provision applies to drug products that have been approved for at least nine years and biologics that have been licensed for 13 years, but it does not apply to drugs and biologics that have been approved for a single rare disease or condition. Nonetheless, since CMS may establish a maximum price for these products in price negotiations, we would be fully at risk of government action if our products are the subject of Medicare price negotiations. Moreover, given the risk that could be the case, these provisions of the IRA may also further heighten the risk that we would not be able to achieve the expected return on our drug products or full value of our patents protecting our products if prices are set after such products have been on the market for nine years.
Further, the legislation subjects drug manufacturers to civil monetary penalties and a potential excise tax for failing to comply with the legislation by offering a price that is not equal to or less than the negotiated “maximum fair price” under the law or for taking price increases that exceed inflation. The legislation also requires manufacturers to pay rebates for drugs in Medicare Part D whose price increases exceed inflation. The new law also caps Medicare out-of-pocket drug costs at an estimated $4,000 a year in 2024 and, thereafter beginning in 2025, at $2,000 a year. In addition, the IRA potentially raises legal risks with respect to individuals participating in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan who may experience a gap in coverage if they required coverage above their initial annual coverage limit before they reached the higher threshold, or “catastrophic period” of the plan. Individuals requiring services exceeding the initial annual coverage limit and below the catastrophic period, must pay 100% of the cost of their prescriptions until they reach the catastrophic period. Among other things, the IRA contains many provisions aimed at reducing this financial
burden on individuals by reducing the co-insurance and co-payment costs, expanding eligibility for lower income subsidy plans, and price caps on annual out-of-pocket expenses, each of which could have potential pricing and reporting implications.
Accordingly, while it is currently unclear how the IRA will be effectuated, we cannot predict with certainty what impact any federal or state health reforms will have on us, but such changes could impose new or more stringent regulatory requirements on our activities or result in reduced reimbursement for our products, any of which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. In addition, regional health care authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription product and other health care programs. These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing.
In the EU, similar political, economic and regulatory developments may affect our ability to profitably commercialize our product candidates, if approved. In many countries, including those of the EU, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control and access. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we or our collaborators may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product to other available therapies. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business could be materially harmed.
We are or may become subject to stringent privacy laws, information security laws, regulations, policies and contractual obligations related to data privacy and security and changes in such laws, regulations, policies, contractual obligations and failure to comply with such requirements could subject us to significant fines and penalties, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
There are multiple privacy and data security laws that may impact our business activities in the U.S. and in other countries where we conduct trials or where we may do business in the future. These laws are evolving and may increase both our obligations and our regulatory risks in the future. In the health care industry generally, for example, under HIPAA, HHS has issued regulations to protect the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) used or disclosed by specific covered entities including certain healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses. We are not currently classified as a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA. Thus, we are not directly subject to HIPAA’s requirements or penalties. The healthcare providers, including certain research institutions from which we may obtain patient or subject health information, may be subject to privacy, security, and breach notification requirements under HIPAA. Additionally, any person may be prosecuted under HIPAA’s criminal provisions either directly or under aiding-and-abetting or conspiracy principles. Consequently, depending on the facts and circumstances, we could face criminal penalties if we knowingly receive individually identifiable health information from a HIPAA covered entity, business associate or subcontractor that has not satisfied HIPAA’s requirements for disclosure of individually identifiable health information. In addition, in the future, we may maintain sensitive personally identifiable information, including health and genetic information, that we receive throughout the clinical trial process, in the course of our research collaborations, and directly from individuals (or their healthcare providers) who may enroll in patient assistance programs if we choose to implement such programs. As such, we may be subject to various state laws regulating the use or disclosure of this information or requiring notification of affected individuals and state regulators in the event of a breach of personal information, which is a broader class of information than the health information protected by HIPAA.
Furthermore, certain health privacy laws, data breach notification laws, consumer protection laws and genetic information laws may apply directly to our operations and/or those of our collaborators and may impose restrictions on our collection, use and dissemination of individuals’ health information. Individuals from whom we or our collaborators may obtain health information, as well as the healthcare providers who may share this information with us, may have statutory or contractual rights that limit the ability to use and disclose the information. We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to ensure ongoing compliance with applicable privacy and data security laws. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.
Additionally, the collection and use of personal data, including data concerning health, in the EU is governed by the GDPR, which extends the geographical scope of EU data protection law to non-EU entities under certain conditions and imposes substantial obligations upon companies and new rights for individuals, as discussed below in “—Processing of personal data is governed by restrictive laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate.”
Brexit may adversely impact our ability to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates in the EU, result in restrictions or imposition of taxes and duties for importing our product candidates into the EU, and may require us to incur additional expenses in order to develop, manufacture and commercialize our product candidates in the EU.
Inadequate funding for the FDA, the SEC and other U.S. government agencies or the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the FDA and other regulators have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of the SEC and other government agencies on which our operations may rely, including those that fund research and development activities, is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.
Disruptions at the FDA, EMA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new drugs to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, in recent years, including in 2018 and 2019, the U.S. government shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and the SEC, had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.
In 2020 and 2021 a number of companies announced receipt of CRLs due to the FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. As of May 26, 2021, the FDA noted it was continuing to ensure timely reviews of applications for medical products during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in line with its user fee performance goals and conducting mission critical domestic and foreign inspections to ensure compliance of manufacturing facilities with FDA quality standards. However, the FDA may not be able to continue its current pace and review timelines could be extended, including where a pre-approval inspection or an inspection of clinical sites is required and due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, the FDA is unable to complete such required inspections during the review period. Regulatory authorities outside the U.S. may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities.
If a prolonged government shutdown or other disruption occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Future shutdowns or other disruptions could also affect other government agencies such as the SEC, which may also impact our business by delaying review of our public filings, to the extent such review is necessary, and our ability to access the public markets.
If our product candidates are licensed for marketing and receive federal healthcare reimbursement, any relationships we may have with healthcare providers will be subject to applicable healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal and civil penalties and exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs.
Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any products for which we are able to obtain marketing approval. Any arrangements we have with healthcare providers, third-party payors and customers will subject us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations. The laws and regulations may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we conduct clinical research, market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain marketing approval. These include the following:
The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is also prohibited in the EU. Infringement of these laws could result in substantial fines and imprisonment. Payments made to physicians in certain EU Member States must be publicly disclosed. Moreover, agreements with physicians often must be the subject of prior notification and approval by the physician’s employer, his or her competent professional organization and/or the regulatory authorities of the individual EU Member States. These requirements are provided in the national laws, industry codes or professional codes of conduct applicable in the EU Member States. Our failure to comply with these requirements could result in reputational risk, public reprimands, administrative penalties, fines or imprisonment.
Efforts to ensure that any business arrangements we have with third parties and our business generally will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, individual imprisonment, 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, exclusion of products from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, disgorgement, contractual damages, reputational harm and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.
Processing of personal data is governed by restrictive laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate.
We are or may become subject to many cybersecurity, privacy and data protection laws in the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S., we are subject to numerous federal and state laws governing the collection, processing, use, transmission, disclosure, and sale (collectively, Processing) of personal data (which may also be referred to as personal information, personally identifiable information, and/or non-public personal information).
For example, the CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020, and established a new privacy framework for covered businesses such as ours. The CCPA imposed many requirements on businesses that process the personal information of California residents. Many of the CCPA’s requirements are similar to those found in the GDPR, including requiring businesses to provide notice to data subjects regarding the information collected about them and how such information is used and shared, and providing data subjects the right to request access to such personal information and, in certain cases, request the erasure of such personal information. The CCPA also affords California residents the right to opt-out of “sales” of their personal information. The CCPA contains significant penalties for companies that violate its requirements. Further, in November 2020, California voters passed the CPRA, which significantly expanded the CCPA to incorporate additional GDPR-like provisions including requiring that the use, retention, and sharing of personal information of California residents be reasonably necessary and proportionate to the purposes of collection or processing, granting additional protections for sensitive personal information, and requiring greater disclosures related to notice to residents regarding retention of information. The CPRA also created a new enforcement agency – the California Privacy Protection Agency – whose sole responsibility is to enforce the CPRA, which will further increase compliance risk. While certain of our business activities will not be subject to these laws, it remains unclear how various provisions of the CCPA and CPRA will be interpreted and enforced. In addition, other states, including Virginia, Colorado, Utah and Connecticut, have passed similar state privacy laws. Virginia’s privacy law also went into effect on January 1, 2023, and the laws in the other three states will go into effect later in the year. Other states will be considering these laws in the future, and Congress has also been debating passing a federal privacy law. These laws may impact our business activities, including our identification of research subjects, relationships with business partners and ultimately the marketing and distribution of our products. These laws also may require us to incur additional costs and expenses in an effort to comply before the laws become effective on January 1, 2023. Recent laws such as the Biometric Information Privacy Act in Illinois have also restricted the use of biometric information. Such laws and regulations require us to continuously review our data processing practices and policies, may cause us to incur substantial costs with respect to compliance.
In addition, outside of the U.S., we are subject to foreign rules and regulations. Many countries outside of the U.S. maintain rigorous laws governing the privacy and security of personal information. The collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data, including personal health data, regarding individuals who are located in the EEA, and the processing of personal data that takes place in the EEA, is subject to the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. This provision expanded the scope of data protection in the EU to foreign companies who process the personal data of EU residents, imposed a strict data protection compliance regime with stringent penalties for noncompliance and included new rights for data subjects such as the “portability” of personal data. In particular, under the GDPR, fines of up to €20 million, or up to 4% of the annual global revenue of the noncompliant company, whichever is greater, could be imposed for violations of certain of the GDPR’s requirements. If we were found to be in
breach of the GDPR, the potential penalties we might face could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows. Compliance with the GDPR requires time and expense and may require us to make changes to our business operations.
While the GDPR applies uniformly across the EU, each EU Member State is permitted to issue nation-specific data protection legislation, which has created inconsistencies on a country-by-country basis. Brexit has created further uncertainty and could result in the application of new data privacy and protection laws and standards to our operations in the U.K., our handling of personal data of users located in the U.K., and transfers of personal data between the EU and the U.K. Following the withdrawal of the U.K. from the EU, the U.K. Data Protection Act 2018 applies to the processing of personal data that takes place in the U.K. and includes parallel obligations to those set forth by GDPR. While the Data Protection Act of 2018 in the U.K. that “implements” and complements the GDPR has achieved Royal Assent on May 23, 2018, and is now effective in the U.K., it is still unclear whether transfer of data from the EEA to the U.K. will remain lawful under GDPR. The U.K. government has already determined that it considers all EU and EEA Member States to be adequate for the purposes of data protection, ensuring that data flows from the U.K. to the EU/EEA remain unaffected. In addition, a recent decision from the European Commission appears to deem the U.K. as being “essentially adequate” for purposes of data transfer from the EU to the U.K., although this decision may be re-evaluated in the future.
There are ongoing concerns about the ability of companies to transfer personal data from the EU to other countries. On July 16, 2020, the European Court of Justice invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, a mechanism under which personal data could be transferred from the EEA to U.S. entities that had self-certified under the Privacy Shield Framework. The Court also called into question the Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs), noting adequate safeguards must be met for SCCs to be valid. European regulatory guidance regarding these issues continues to evolve, and EU regulators across the EU Member States have taken different positions regarding continued data transfers to the U.S. In the future, SCCs and other data transfer mechanisms will face additional challenges. Additionally, in October 2022, President Biden signed an executive order to implement the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework, which would serve as a replacement to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. The European Commission initiated the process to adopt an adequacy decision for the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework in December 2022. It is unclear if and when the framework will be finalized and whether it will be challenged in court. The uncertainty around this issue may further impact our business operations in the EU.
Beyond GDPR, there are privacy and data security laws in a growing number of countries around the world. While many loosely follow GDPR as a model, other laws contain different or conflicting provisions. These laws will impact our ability to conduct our business activities, including both our clinical trials and any eventual sale and distribution of commercial products. Such laws may have potentially conflicting requirements or burdensome obligations that would make compliance challenging or expensive. Such changes may also require us to modify our products and features, and may limit our ability to make use of the data that we collect, may require additional investment of resources in compliance programs, impact strategies and the availability of previously useful data and could result in increased compliance costs and/or changes in business practices and policies.
Compliance with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could require us to take on more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to Process data (including personal data), or in some cases, impact our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions. Any actual or alleged failure to comply with U.S. or international laws and regulations relating to privacy, data protection, and data security could result in governmental investigations, proceedings and enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation or adverse publicity, harm to our reputation, and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Moreover, clinical trial subjects about whom we or our potential collaborators obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to Process the information or impose other obligations or restrictions in connection with our Processing of information, and we may otherwise face contractual restrictions applicable to our Processing of information. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights, failed to comply with data protection laws, or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.
Our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial collaborators, principal investigators, CROs, suppliers and vendors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.
We are exposed to the risk that our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial collaborators, principal investigators, CROs, suppliers and vendors may engage or may have engaged in misconduct or other improper activities. Misconduct by these parties could include failures to comply with FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authority regulations, provide accurate information to the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, comply with federal and state health care fraud and abuse laws and regulations, accurately report financial information or data or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, research, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the health care industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Misconduct by these parties could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. We have adopted a code of conduct and engage contractors that agree to undertake certain measures with respect to their employees, but it is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct by these parties, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming
from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, integrity oversight and reporting obligations, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.
Our business activities may be subject to the FCPA and similar anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws of other countries in which we operate, as well as U.S. and certain foreign export controls, trade sanctions, and import laws and regulations. Compliance with these legal requirements could limit our ability to compete in foreign markets and subject us to liability if we violate them.
Our business activities may be subject to the FCPA and similar anti-bribery or anti-corruption laws, regulations or rules of other countries in which we operate. The FCPA generally prohibits companies and their employees and third-party intermediaries from offering, promising, giving or authorizing others to give anything of value, either directly or indirectly, to a non-U.S. government official in order to influence official action or otherwise obtain or retain business. The FCPA also requires public companies to make and keep books and records that accurately and fairly reflect the transactions of the corporation and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls. Our business is heavily regulated and therefore involves significant interaction with public officials, including officials of non-U.S. governments. Additionally, in many other countries, hospitals are owned and operated by the government, and doctors and other hospital employees would be considered foreign officials under the FCPA. Recently, the SEC and Department of Justice have increased their FCPA enforcement activities with respect to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. There is no certainty that all of our employees, agents or contractors, or those of our affiliates, will comply with all applicable laws and regulations, particularly given the high level of complexity of these laws. Violations of these laws and regulations could result in fines, criminal sanctions against us, our officers or our employees, disgorgement, and other sanctions and remedial measures, and prohibitions on the conduct of our business. Any such violations could include prohibitions on our ability to offer our products in one or more countries and could materially damage our reputation, our brand, our international activities, our ability to attract and retain employees and our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.
In addition, our products may be subject to U.S. and foreign export controls, trade sanctions and import laws and regulations. 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, could harm our international or domestic 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, penalties could be imposed, including fines and/or 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 products 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 with international operations. Any decreased use of our products or limitation on our ability to export or sell our products would likely adversely affect our business.
Risks related to employee matters, managing our growth and other risks related to our business
Our success is highly dependent on our ability to attract, hire and retain highly skilled executive officers and employees.
We currently have a small team focused on research and development of small molecule kinase inhibitors. To succeed, we must recruit, hire, retain, manage and motivate qualified clinical, scientific, technical and management personnel, and we face significant competition for experienced personnel. We are highly dependent on the principal members of our management and scientific and medical staff. If we do not succeed in attracting and retaining qualified personnel, particularly at the management level, it could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan and harm our operating results. In particular, the loss of one or more of our executive officers could be detrimental to us if we cannot recruit suitable replacements in a timely manner. We could in the future have difficulty attracting and retaining experienced personnel and may be required to expend significant financial resources in our employee recruitment and retention efforts.
Many of the other biotechnology companies that we compete against for qualified personnel have greater financial and other resources, different risk profiles and a longer history in the industry than we do. They also may provide higher compensation, more diverse opportunities and better prospects for career advancement. Some of these characteristics may be more appealing to high-quality candidates than what we have to offer. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high-quality personnel, the rate and success at which we can discover, develop and commercialize our product candidates will be limited and the potential for successfully growing our business will be harmed.
Additionally, we rely on our scientific founder and head scientific advisor, physician-scientist partners and other scientific and clinical advisors and consultants to assist us in formulating our research, development and clinical strategies. Most of these advisors and consultants are not our employees and may have commitments to, or consulting or advisory contracts with, other entities that may limit their availability to us. In addition, these advisors and consultants typically will not enter into non-compete agreements with us. If a conflict of interest arises between their work for us and their work for another entity, we may lose their services. Furthermore, our
advisors may have arrangements with other companies to assist those companies in developing products or technologies that may compete with ours. In particular, if we are unable to maintain consulting or employment relationships with our scientific founder and head scientific advisor, physician-scientist partners and other scientific and clinical advisors, or if they provide services to our competitors, our development and commercialization efforts will be impaired and our business will be significantly harmed. For example, if we are no longer able to access our network of physician-scientists, our ability to define and characterize patients’ needs for future product candidate development may be negatively affected.
Our reliance on a limited number of employees who provide various administrative, research and development, and other services across our organization presents operational challenges that may adversely affect our business.
As of December 31, 2022, we had 62 full-time employees, upon which we rely for various administrative, research and development, and other services. The small size of our centralized team may limit our ability to devote adequate personnel, time, and resources to support our operations or research and development activities, and the management of financial, accounting, and reporting matters. If our team fails to provide adequate administrative, research and development, or other services across our organization, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be harmed.
We will need to grow the size and capabilities of our organization, and we may experience difficulties in managing this growth.
As of December 31, 2022, we had 62 full-time employees, including 46 employees engaged in research and development activities. In order to successfully implement our development and commercialization plans and strategies, and as we continue to grow as a public company, we expect to need significant additional managerial, operational, sales, marketing, financial and other personnel. Future growth will impose significant added responsibilities on members of management, including:
Our future financial performance and our ability to successfully develop and, if approved, commercialize NVL-520, NVL-655, NVL-330 and any future product candidates developed from our discovery programs and other product candidates will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth, and our management may also have to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from day-to-day activities in order to devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities.
We currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain independent organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services, including key aspects of research, clinical development and manufacturing. There can be no assurance that the services of independent organizations, advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed, or that we can find qualified replacements. In addition, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality or accuracy of the services provided by third-party service providers is compromised for any reason, our preclinical studies and clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates or otherwise advance our business. There can be no assurance that we will be able to manage our existing third-party service providers or find other competent outside contractors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, or at all.
If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and/or engaging additional third-party service providers, we may not be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize NVL-520, NVL-655, NVL-330 or any future product candidate from our discovery programs and any of our other product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.
Our internal computer systems, or those of any of our CROs, manufacturers, other contractors or consultants or potential future collaborators, may fail or suffer actual or suspected security or data privacy breaches or other unauthorized or improper access to, use of, or destruction of our proprietary or confidential data, employee data, or personal data, which could result in additional costs, loss of revenue, significant liabilities, harm to our brand and material disruption of our operations, and potentially significant delays in our delivery to market.
Despite the implementation of security measures in an effort to protect systems that store our data, given their size and complexity and the increasing amounts of information maintained on our internal information technology systems and external processing and storage systems (i.e., cloud), and those of our third-party CROs, other contractors (including sites performing our clinical trials) and consultants, these systems are potentially vulnerable to breakdown or other damage or interruption from service interruptions, system malfunction, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures, as well as security breaches from inadvertent or intentional actions by our employees, contractors, consultants, business partners, and/or other third parties, or from cyber-attacks by malicious third parties (including the deployment of harmful malware, ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, social engineering and other means to affect service reliability and threaten the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information),
which may compromise our system infrastructure or lead to the loss, destruction, alteration or dissemination of, or damage to, our data. For example, companies have experienced an increase in phishing and social engineering attacks from third parties. Also, a majority of our employees are working remotely. As a result, we may have increased cyber security and data security risks, due to increased use of home wi-fi networks and virtual private networks, as well as increased disbursement of physical machines. While we implement IT controls to reduce the risk of a cyber security or data security breach, there is no guarantee that these measures will be adequate to safeguard all systems.
To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss, destruction, unavailability, alteration or dissemination of, or damage to, our data (including confidential information and personal data) or applications, or for it to be believed or reported that any of these occurred, we could incur liability and reputational damage and the development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed. There can be no assurance that our data protection efforts and our investment in information technology, or the efforts or investments of CROs, consultants or other third parties, will prevent significant breakdowns or breaches in systems or other cyber incidents that cause loss, destruction, unavailability, alteration or dissemination of, or damage to, our data that could have a material adverse effect upon our reputation, business, operations or financial condition. For example, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our programs and the development of our product candidates could be delayed. In addition, the loss of clinical trial data for our product candidates could result in delays in our marketing approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data, as well as claims or investigations from regulators or other third parties. Furthermore, significant disruptions of our internal information technology systems or security breaches could result in the loss, misappropriation, and/or unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of, or the prevention of access to, data (including trade secrets or other confidential information, intellectual property, proprietary business information, and personal data), which could result in financial, legal, business, and reputational harm to us. For example, any such event that leads to unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of personal data, including personal data regarding our clinical trial subjects or employees, could harm our reputation directly, compel us to comply with federal and/or state breach notification laws and foreign law equivalents, subject us to financial exposure related to investigation of the incident (including cost of forensic examinations), subject us to mandatory corrective action, and otherwise subject us to liability under laws and regulations that protect the privacy and security of data, which could result in significant legal and financial exposure and reputational damages that could potentially have an adverse effect on our business.
Notifications, follow-up actions, claims and investigations related to a security incident could impact our reputation and cause us to incur significant costs, including legal expenses and remediation costs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the lost data. We expect to incur significant costs in an effort to detect and prevent security incidents, and we may face increased costs and requirements to expend substantial resources in the event of an actual or perceived security breach. We also rely on third parties to manufacture our product candidates, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business. To the extent that any disruption or security incident were to result in a loss, destruction or alteration of, or damage to, our data (including personal data), or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could be exposed to litigation and governmental investigations, the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed, and we could be subject to significant fines or penalties for any noncompliance with certain state, federal and/or privacy and security laws from countries outside of the U.S.
Our insurance policies may not be adequate to compensate us for the potential losses arising from any such disruption in or, failure or security breach of our systems or third-party systems where information important to our business operations or commercial development is stored. In addition, such insurance may not be available to us in the future on economically reasonable terms, or at all. Further, our insurance may not cover all claims made against us and could have high deductibles in any event, and defending a suit, regardless of its merit, could be costly and divert management attention.
Many of our research, manufacturing and preclinical activities are conducted by third parties outside of the U.S., including without limitation in China and India. A significant disruption in the operations of those third parties, a war, a trade war or political unrest could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We contract many of our research, manufacturing and preclinical activities to third parties outside the U.S., including without limitation, in China and India. Any disruption in the operations of such third parties or in their ability to meet our needs, whether as a result of a natural disaster, war or other causes, could impair our ability to operate our business on a day-to-day basis and to continue development of our programs. Furthermore, since many of these third parties are located outside the U.S., we are exposed to the possibility of disruption and increased costs in the event of changes in the policies of the U.S. or foreign governments, war, political unrest or unstable economic conditions in any of the countries where we conduct such activities. For example, a war or trade war could lead to tariffs, embargoes, sanctions or other limitations on trade, including without limitation those placed on Russia as a result of its military conflict with Ukraine, that may affect our ability to source the chemical intermediates used in our product candidates. By way of further example, a natural disaster, war, civil or political unrest or similar circumstances could hinder our ability to maintain or initiate clinical studies at our preferred sites, causing trial initiation or implementation delays. Any of these matters could materially and adversely affect our development timelines, business and financial condition.
Our operations are vulnerable to interruption by flood, fire, earthquakes, power loss, telecommunications failure, terrorist activity, pandemics and other events beyond our control, which could harm our business.
Our corporate headquarters are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We have not undertaken a systematic analysis of the potential consequences to our business and financial results from a major flood, fire, earthquake, power loss, telecommunications failure, terrorist activity, pandemics or other disasters and do not have a recovery plan for such disasters. In addition, we do not carry sufficient insurance to compensate us for actual losses from interruption of our business that may occur, and any losses or damages incurred by us could harm our business. The occurrence of any of these business disruptions could seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses.
If we are unable to establish sales or marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to sell or market our product candidates, we may not be able to successfully sell or market our product candidates that obtain regulatory approval.
We currently do not have and have never had a marketing or sales team. In order to commercialize any product candidates, if approved, we must build marketing, sales, distribution, managerial and other non-technical capabilities or make arrangements with third parties to perform these services for each of the territories in which we may have approval to sell or market our product candidates. We may not be successful in accomplishing these required tasks.
Establishing an internal sales or marketing team with technical expertise and supporting distribution capabilities to commercialize our product candidates will be expensive and time-consuming and will require significant attention of our executive officers to manage. Any failure or delay in the development of our internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities could adversely impact the commercialization of any of our product candidates that we obtain approval to market if we do not have arrangements in place with third parties to provide such services on our behalf. Alternatively, if we choose to collaborate, either globally or on a territory-by-territory basis, with third parties that have direct sales forces and established distribution systems, either to augment our own sales force and distribution systems or in lieu of our own sales force and distribution systems, we will be required to negotiate and enter into arrangements with such third parties relating to the proposed collaboration and such arrangements may prove to be less profitable than commercializing the product on our own. If we are unable to enter into such arrangements when needed, on acceptable terms or at all, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any of our product candidates that receive regulatory approval, or any such commercialization may experience delays or limitations. If we are unable to successfully commercialize our approved product candidates, either on our own or through collaborations with one or more third parties, our future product revenue will suffer, and we may incur significant additional losses.
A variety of risks associated with marketing our product candidates internationally could materially adversely affect our business.
We may seek regulatory approval of our product candidates outside of the U.S. and, accordingly, we expect that we will be subject to additional risks related to operating in foreign countries if we obtain the necessary approvals, including:
These and other risks associated with international operations may materially adversely affect our ability to attain or maintain profitable operations.
Changes in tax law could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
The rules dealing with U.S. federal, state, and local income taxation are constantly under review by persons involved in the legislative process and by the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Treasury Department and other applicable tax authorities. Changes to tax laws (which changes may have retroactive application) could adversely affect us or holders of our common stock. In recent years, many such changes have been made and changes are likely to continue to occur in the future. Future changes in tax laws could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, financial condition or results of operations.
Our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes to offset future taxable income may be limited.
Our federal net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards may be unavailable to offset future taxable income because of restrictions under U.S. tax law. Under tax legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Act as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, our federal NOLs may be carried forward indefinitely, but for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020, the deductibility of federal NOL carryforwards generated in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 is limited to 80% of our current year taxable income. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Act. As of December 31, 2022, we had available federal NOL carryforwards of approximately $91.1 million and available state NOL carryforwards of approximately $90.5 million, which begin to expire in 2037.
In addition, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Code), if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change” (generally defined as a cumulative change in the corporation’s ownership by “5-percent shareholders” that exceeds 50 percentage points (by value) over a rolling three-year period),