|CRBP||Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings||340|
|Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers|
|Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable|
|Item 3. Key Information|
|Item 4. Information on The Company|
|Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects|
|Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees|
|Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions|
|Item 8. Financial Information.|
|Item 9. The Offer and Listing|
|Item 10. Additional Information|
|Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk|
|Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities|
|Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies|
|Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds|
|Item 15. Controls and Procedures|
|Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert|
|Item 16B. Code of Ethics|
|Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services|
|Item 16D. Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees|
|Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers|
|Item 16F. Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant|
|Item 16G. Corporate Governance|
|Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure|
|Item 17. Financial Statements|
|Item 18. Financial Statements|
|Item 19. Exhibits|
|Note 2:-Significant Accounting Policies|
|Note 3:-Significant Accounting Judgments, Estimates and Assumptions Used in The Preparation of The Financial Statements|
|Note 4:-Disclosure of New Standards in The Period Prior To Their Adoption|
|Note 5:-Business Combinations:|
|Note 6:-Cash and Cash Equivalents|
|Note 7:-Other Accounts Receivable|
|Note 8:-Convertible Loan|
|Note 9:-Investment in Associate and Investments in Investees|
|Note 10:-Property and Equipment, Net|
|Note 11:-Trade Payables|
|Note 12:-Other Accounts Payable|
|Note 13:-Financial Instruments|
|Note 14:-Employee Benefit Liabilities|
|Note 15:-Taxes on Income|
|Note 16:-Contingent Liabilities, Commitments, Claims and Liens|
|Note 18:-Share-Based Payment Transactions|
|Note 19:-Additional Information To The Items of Profit or Loss|
|Note 20:-Loss per Share or Ads|
|Note 21:-Operating Segments|
|Note 22:-Transactions and Balances with Related Parties|
|Note 23:-Events After The Reporting Date|
|Balance Sheet||Income Statement||Cash Flow|
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, DC 20549
☐ REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANTTO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
☒ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018
☐ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
☐ SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission File No.: 001-38041
THERAPIX BIOSCIENCES LTD.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Translation of registrant’s name into English: Not applicable
State of Israel
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
4 Ariel Sharon Street
HaShahar Tower, 16th Floor
Givatayim 5320047, Israel
(Address of principal executive offices)
Ascher Shmulewitz, M.D, Ph.D.
Chairman of the Board and Interim Chief Executive Officer
4 Ariel Sharon Street
HaShahar Tower, 16th Floor
Givatayim 5320047, Israel
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|American Depository Shares each representing 40 |
Ordinary Shares, par value NIS 0.1 per share (1)
Ordinary Shares, par value NIS 0.1 per share (2)
|TRPX||Nasdaq Capital Market|
|(1)||Evidenced by American Depositary Receipts.|
|(2)||Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing of the American Depositary Shares.|
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
140,252,374 Ordinary Shares, par value NIS 0.1 per share as of December 31, 2018
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes ☐ No ☒
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act of 1934.
Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months.
Yes ☐ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☐||Accelerated filer||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer||☒||Emerging growth company||☒|
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
†The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing.
U.S. GAAP ☐
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board ☒
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
☐ Item 17 ☐ Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company.
Yes ☐ No ☒
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS||iii|
|ITEM 1.||IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS.||1|
|ITEM 2.||OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE.||1|
|ITEM 3.||KEY INFORMATION.||1|
|A.||Selected Financial Data.||1|
|B.||Capitalization and Indebtedness.||2|
|C.||Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds.||2|
|ITEM 4.||INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY.||38|
|A.||History and Development of the Company.||38|
|D.||Property, Plants and Equipment.||64|
|ITEM 4A.||UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS.||64|
|ITEM 5.||OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS.||64|
|B.||Liquidity and Capital Resources||68|
|E.||Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements.||70|
|F.||Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations.||70|
|ITEM 6.||DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES.||71|
|A.||Directors and Senior Management.||71|
|ITEM 7.||MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS.||91|
|B.||Related Party Transactions.||91|
|C.||Interests of Experts and Counsel.||93|
|ITEM 8.||FINANCIAL INFORMATION.||93|
|A.||Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information.||93|
|ITEM 9.||THE OFFER AND LISTING.||94|
|A.||Offer and Listing Details.||94|
|B.||Plan of Distribution.||94|
|F.||Expenses of the Issue.||95|
|ITEM 10.||ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.||95|
|B.||Memorandum and Articles of Association.||95|
|F.||Dividends and Paying Agents.||110|
|G.||Statement by Experts.||110|
|H.||Documents on Display.||110|
|ITEM 11.||QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK.||111|
|ITEM 12.||DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES.||111|
|B.||Warrants and rights.||111|
|D.||American Depositary Shares.||112|
|ITEM 13.||DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES.||113|
|ITEM 14.||MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS.||113|
|ITEM 15.||CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES.||113|
|ITEM 16A.||AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT.||114|
|ITEM 16B.||CODE OF ETHICS.||114|
|ITEM 16C.||PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES.||114|
|ITEM 16D.||EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES.||115|
|ITEM 16E.||PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS.||115|
|ITEM 16F.||CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT.||115|
|ITEM 16G.||CORPORATE GOVERNANCE.||115|
|ITEM 16H.||MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE.||116|
|ITEM 17.||FINANCIAL STATEMENTS.||118|
|ITEM 18.||FINANCIAL STATEMENTS.||118|
We are a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company led by an experienced team of senior executives and scientists, focused on creating and enhancing a portfolio of technologies and assets based on cannabinoids pharmaceuticals. We are focusing on a drug development program that we call Joint Pharma, which targets the treatment of the central nervous system and related indications with our product candidate THX-110. As part of our Joint Pharma program, we are also developing THX-150 and THX-160, which target multi drug resistant bacteria and pain, respectively.
THX-110 is a combination drug candidate based on two components: (1) dronabinol, the active ingredient in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved synthetic analog of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the major cannabinoid molecule in the cannabis plant, and (2) pulseless electrical activity, or PEA, which is an endogenous fatty acid amide that belongs to the class of nuclear factor agonists, which are molecules that regulate the expression of genes. We believe that the combination of THC and PEA may induce a reaction known as the “entourage effect,” which has strong potential to treat Tourette syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea and pain. THX-150 is a drug candidate intended for the treatment of infectious diseases. It consists of dronabinol (synthetic ∆9-tetrahydracannabinol) and/or PEA and selected antibacterial agent and possesses antimicrobial synergy potential. THX-160 is a novel pharmaceutical CB2 receptor agonist for the treatment of pain.
We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Israel on August 23, 2004. On March 22, 2017, our American Depositary Shares, or ADSs, each representing forty of our Ordinary Shares, commenced trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “TRPX.” From December 26, 2005 to August 9, 2018, our Ordinary Shares were traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Unless otherwise indicated, all references to the “Company,” “we,” “us, “our” and “Therapix” refer to Therapix Biosciences Ltd. and its wholly owned subsidiaries.
References to “U.S. dollars” and “$” are to currency of the United States of America, and references to “NIS” are to New Israeli Shekels. References to “Ordinary Shares” are to our Ordinary Shares, par value of NIS 0.1 per share. We report financial information under International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board and none of the financial statements were prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States. Unless derived from our financial statements or otherwise indicated, U.S. dollar translations of NIS amounts presented in this Annual Report are translated using a rate of NIS 3.748 to USD 1.00, the last exchange rate published by the Bank of Israel by December 31, 2018.
Certain information included or incorporated by reference in this annual report on Form 20-F may be deemed to be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other securities laws. Forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “continue,” “believe,” “should,” “intend,” “project” or other similar words, but are not the only way these statements are identified.
Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
|●||our timeline for our product candidate development path, including the anticipated starting and ending dates of our anticipated clinical trials;|
|●||anticipated actions of the FDA or other regulatory bodies, including approval to conduct clinical trials, the scope of those trials and the prospects for regulatory approval of, or other regulatory action with respect to our product candidates, including the regulatory pathway to be designated to our product candidates;|
|●||the commercial launch and future sales of our existing product candidates or any other future potential product candidates;|
|●||our expectations regarding the commercial supply of our product candidates;|
|●||our estimates regarding anticipated capital requirements and our needs for financing;|
|●||the patient market size and market adoption of our product candidates by physicians and patients;|
|●||the timing, cost or other aspects of the commercial launch of our product candidates;|
|●||completion and receiving favorable results of our anticipated clinical trials;|
|●||our expectations regarding when certain patents may be issued and the protection of our intellectual property;|
|●||our expectations regarding licensing, acquisitions and strategic partnering; and|
|●||those factors referred to in “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors,” “Item 4. Information on the Company,” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects,” as well as in this annual report on Form 20-F generally.|
These statements are only current predictions and are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our or our industry’s actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those anticipated by the forward-looking statements. You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events.
Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements.
Readers are urged to carefully review and consider the various disclosures made throughout this annual report on Form 20-F which are designed to advise interested parties of the risks and factors that may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
You should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statements in this annual report on Form 20-F are made as of the date hereof, and we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
|ITEM 1.||IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS|
|ITEM 2.||OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE|
|ITEM 3.||KEY INFORMATION|
|A.||Selected Financial Data|
The selected consolidated financial data for the fiscal years set forth in the table below have been derived from our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto. We derived the selected data under the caption “Consolidated Statements of Profit and Loss” for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017 and the selected data under the caption “Consolidated Statements of Financial Position” as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 from the audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report, which have been prepared in accordance with IFRS. The selected data under the caption “Consolidated Statements of Profit and Loss” for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 and the selected data under the caption “Consolidated Statements of Financial Position” as of December 31, 2016 and 2015 have been derived from audited financial statements not included in this annual report. The selected financial data should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements, and are qualified entirely by reference to such consolidated financial statements. All figures presented are in U.S. dollars. On December 31, 2017, we changed the financial statements presentation currency from NIS and convenient translation to U.S. dollars to presentation currency of U.S. dollars. As a result, the December 31, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Consolidated Statements of Financial Position and the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Consolidated Statements of Profit and Loss were represented in U.S. dollars. We omitted the presentation of selected financial data for our 2014 fiscal year because such financial data cannot be presented in U.S. dollars without unreasonable effort or expense. Effective October 1, 2018, we changed our functional currency from NIS to U.S. dollars. The change in functional currency is accounted from that date.
|Consolidated Statements of Profit and Loss||(in thousands of U.S. dollars)|
|Research and development expenses, net||2,710||1,943||740||240|
|General and administrative expenses||6.579||3,810||1,268||1,363|
|Other expense (income), net||425||1||(8||)||961|
|Finance expenses (income), net||(705||)||490||7||4|
|Basic and diluted net loss per Ordinary Share attributable to equity holders of the Company||0.06||0.05||0.05||0.11|
|Number of Ordinary Shares used in computing loss per Ordinary Share- thousands||140,252,374||139,885,524||37,457,538||23,853,196|
(*) Presented according to the change in our functional currency from NIS to U.S. dollars, effective October 1, 2018. The change in functional currency is accounted for that date. Accordingly, comparative profit or loss figures have been translated into U.S. dollars using average exchange rates for the reporting periods.
|Consolidated Statements of Financial Position||(in thousands of U.S. dollars)|
|Cash and cash equivalents||1,485||9,195||676||1,573|
(*) Presented according to the change in our functional currency from NIS to U.S. dollars, effective October 1, 2018. The change in functional currency is accounted from that date. Accordingly, comparative profit or loss figures and financial position have been translated into U.S. dollars using average exchange rates for the reporting periods.
|B.||Capitalization and Indebtedness|
|Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds|
You should carefully consider the risks described below, together with all of the other information in this annual report on Form 20-F. The risks described below are not the only risks facing us. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business operations. If any of these risks actually occurs, our business and financial condition could suffer and the price of our ADSs could decline.
Risks Related to Our Financial Condition and Capital Requirements
We are a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company and have a limited operating history on which to assess the prospects for our business, have incurred significant losses since the date of our inception, and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses until we are able to successfully commercialize our product candidates.
Since our inception in 2004, we have been operating as a specialty pharmaceutical company and have a limited operating history on which to assess the prospects for our business, have incurred significant losses, and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We have only focused our business on developing a portfolio of approved drugs based on cannabinoid molecules since August 2015.
We have historically incurred substantial net losses; including net losses of approximately $8.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 and net losses of approximately $6.2 million in 2017. As of December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, we had an accumulated deficit of approximately $46.9 million and approximately $38.4 million, respectively.
We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources to develop our product candidates. We have financed our operations primarily through the issuance of equity securities. The amount of our future net losses will depend, in part, on completing the development of our product candidates, the demand for our product candidates, the rate of our future expenditures and our ability to obtain funding through the issuance of our securities, strategic collaborations or grants. Pharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk and we have only focused our business on the development of cannabinoid molecules since August 2015. We are in the late stages of preclinical and at the early stages of clinical development for our product candidates, we have not yet commenced pivotal clinical studies for any product candidate, and it may be several years, if ever, before we complete pivotal clinical studies and have a product candidate approved for commercialization. Even if we obtain regulatory approval to market a product candidate, our future revenue will depend upon the size of the markets for which our product candidates may receive approval and our ability to achieve sufficient market acceptance, pricing, reimbursement from third-party payors and adequate market share for our product candidates in those markets.
We expect to continue to incur significant losses until we are able to commercialize our product candidates, which we may not be successful in achieving. We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if and as we:
|●||continue the research and development of our product candidates;|
|●||expand the scope of our current clinical studies for our product candidates;|
|●||seek regulatory and marketing approvals for our product candidates that successfully complete clinical studies;|
|●||establish a sales, marketing, and distribution infrastructure to commercialize our product candidates;|
|●||seek to identify, assess, acquire, license, and/or develop other product candidates and subsequent generations of our current product candidates;|
|●||seek to maintain, protect, and expand our intellectual property portfolio;|
|●||seek to attract and retain skilled personnel; and|
|●||create additional infrastructure to support our operations as a public company and our product candidate development and planned future commercialization efforts.|
We have invested a significant amount in Therapix Healthcare Resources Inc., or THR, in which we hold approximately 80% of the issued and outstanding share capital, during 2018 and 2019, which has commenced liquidation of its assets, and which could adversely impact our reputation or divert management’s attention in the event of any material litigation or issues that prolong the liquidation and dissolution process.
In addition, we have invested an aggregate of approximately $2.31 million in THR during 2018 and 2019, through convertible loans. Due in part to significant losses incurred by THR, as well as its failure to maintain required licenses to operate its facilities, THR has commenced liquidation of its assets. The liquidation of THR’s remaining assets, or potential claims that may arise from the liquidation and dissolution of THR may adversely affect our reputation or divert management’s attention in the event of any material litigation or in the event that the liquidation process is prolonged. At this time, neither we nor THR are able to estimate reliably the timing and results of the proposed liquidation or of any consequences that may occur as a result thereof.
We have not generated any revenue from the sale of our current product candidates and may never be profitable.
We have not yet commercialized any of our product candidates and have not generated any revenue since the date of our inception. We do not know whether or when we will become profitable. Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends on our ability to successfully complete the development of, and to commercialize, our product candidates and on the demand for our product candidates. Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends on our ability, alone or with strategic collaboration partners, to successfully complete the development of, and obtain the regulatory and marketing approvals necessary to commercialize, one or more of our product candidates. Our ability to generate future revenue from product candidate sales depends heavily on our success in many areas, including but not limited to:
|●||completing research and preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates;|
|●||obtaining regulatory and marketing approvals for product candidates for which we complete clinical studies;|
|●||establishing and maintaining supply and manufacturing relationships with third parties that can provide adequate (in amount and quality) products to support market demand for our product candidates, if approved;|
|●||launching and commercializing product candidates if and when we obtain regulatory and marketing approval, either directly or with a collaborator or distributor;|
|●||obtaining market acceptance of our product candidates as viable treatment options;|
|●||addressing any competing pharmaceutical or biotechnological and market developments;|
|●||identifying, assessing, acquiring and/or developing new product candidates;|
|●||negotiating favorable terms in any collaboration, licensing or other arrangements into which we may enter;|
|●||maintaining, protecting and expanding our portfolio of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade secrets and know-how; and|
|●||attracting, hiring and retaining qualified personnel.|
Even if one or more of the product candidates that we develop is approved for commercial sale, we anticipate incurring significant costs associated with commercializing any approved product candidate. Our expenses could increase beyond expectations if we are required by the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or the EMA, or other regulatory agencies, domestic or foreign, to perform clinical, nonclinical or other types of studies in addition to those that we currently anticipate. In cases where we are successful in obtaining regulatory approvals to market one or more of our product candidates, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which we gain regulatory approval, the accepted price for the product candidate, the ability to get reimbursement at an acceptable price and whether we own the commercial rights for that territory. If the number of our addressable patients is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect, or the reasonably expected population for treatment is narrowed by competition, physician choice or treatment guidelines, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of such product candidates, even if approved. Additionally, if we are not able to generate revenue from the sale of any approved product candidates, we may be forced to cease operations.
We expect that we will need to raise substantial additional funding before we can expect to become profitable from sales of our product candidates. This additional financing may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all. Failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed may force us to delay, limit or terminate our product candidate development efforts or other operations.
As of December 31, 2018, our cash and cash equivalents were approximately $1.48 million, a negative working capital of approximately $1.97 million and an accumulated deficit of approximately $46.85 million. Based upon our currently expected level of operating expenditures, we expect that our existing cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund operations at least through October 31, 2019. We expect that we will require substantial additional capital to commercialize our product candidates. In addition, our operating plans may change as a result of many factors that may currently be unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned. Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including but not limited to:
|●||the scope, rate of progress, results and cost of product development, clinical studies, preclinical testing, and other related activities;|
|●||the cost, timing and outcomes of regulatory approvals;|
|●||the cost and timing of establishing sales, marketing, and distribution capabilities; and|
|●||the terms and timing of any collaborative, licensing, and other arrangements that we may establish.|
Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates. In addition, we cannot guarantee that future financing will be available in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all. Moreover, the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of holders of our securities and the issuance of additional securities, whether equity or debt, by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our Ordinary Shares or ADSs to decline. The incurrence of indebtedness could result in increased fixed payment obligations, and we may be required to agree to certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire, sell or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. We could also be required to seek funds through arrangements with collaborative partners or otherwise at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable, and we may be required to relinquish rights to some of our technologies or product candidates or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and prospects. Even if we believe that we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans, we may seek additional capital if market conditions are favorable or if we have specific strategic considerations.
If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to significantly curtail, delay or discontinue one or more of our research or development programs or the commercialization of any product candidates or be unable to expand our operations or otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities, as desired, which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Raising additional capital would cause dilution to our existing shareholders, and may affect the rights of existing shareholders.
We may seek additional capital through a combination of private and public equity offerings, debt financings and collaborations and strategic and licensing arrangements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a holder of the ADSs.
The report of our independent registered public accounting firm contains an explanatory paragraph regarding substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern, which could prevent us from obtaining new financing on reasonable terms or at all.
The report of our independent registered public accounting firm on our audited consolidated financial statements for the period ended December 31, 2018, contains an explanatory paragraph regarding substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. Our consolidated financial statements do not include any adjustments to the carrying amounts and classifications of assets and liabilities that might result from the outcome of the uncertainty regarding our ability to continue as a going concern. This going concern opinion could materially limit our ability to raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or debt securities or otherwise. Further reports on our consolidated financial statements may include an explanatory paragraph with respect to our ability to continue as a going concern. Until we can generate significant recurring revenues, we expect to satisfy our future cash needs through debt or equity financing. We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all. If funds are not available, we may be required to delay, reduce the scope of, or eliminate research or development plans for, or commercialization efforts with respect to our products. This may raise substantial doubts about our ability to continue as a going concern.
Risks Related to the Discovery and Development of Our Product Candidates
We are heavily dependent on the success of our product candidates, which are in the late stages of pre-clinical development or early stages of clinical development. We cannot give any assurance that any of our product candidates will receive regulatory approval, which is necessary before they can be commercialized.
To date, we have invested substantially all of our efforts and financial resources to design and develop our product candidates, including conducting preclinical studies and providing general and administrative support for these operations. Our future success is dependent on our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize one or more product candidates. We currently generate no revenue from sales of any product candidate, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a marketable product candidate.
Each of our product candidates is in the late stages of pre-clinical development or early stages of development and will require additional clinical development (and in some cases additional preclinical development), management of nonclinical, clinical and manufacturing activities, regulatory approval, obtaining adequate manufacturing supply, building of a commercial organization and significant marketing efforts before we generate any revenue from product candidate sales. It may be years before a pivotal study is initiated, if at all. Any clinical trials in the United States will require the approval of an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application by the FDA, and we cannot assure that we will obtain such approval in a timely manner, or at all. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our product candidates before we receive regulatory approval from the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, and we may never receive such regulatory approval for any of our product candidates.
We as a company have never submitted marketing applications to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. We cannot be certain that any of our product candidates will be successful in clinical studies or receive regulatory approval or what regulatory pathway the regulatory authorities shall designate for our product candidates. Further, our product candidates may not receive regulatory approval even if they are successful in clinical studies. If we do not receive regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we may not be able to continue our operations.
We generally plan to seek regulatory approval to commercialize our product candidates in the United States, the European Union and in additional foreign countries. To obtain regulatory approvals we must comply with the numerous and varying regulatory requirements of such countries regarding safety, efficacy, chemistry, manufacturing and controls, clinical studies, commercial sales, pricing and distribution of our product candidates. Even if we are successful in obtaining approval in one jurisdiction, we cannot ensure that we will obtain approval in any other jurisdictions. If we are unable to obtain approval for our product candidates in multiple jurisdictions, our revenue and results of operations would be negatively affected.
The regulatory approval processes of the FDA and comparable foreign authorities are lengthy, time consuming and inherently unpredictable. If we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our business will be substantially harmed.
The time required to obtain approval by the FDA and comparable foreign authorities is unpredictable, typically takes many years following the commencement of clinical studies and depends upon numerous factors. 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. We have not obtained regulatory approval for any product candidate, and it is possible that none of our existing product candidates or any product candidates we may seek to develop in the future will ever obtain regulatory approval.
Applications for our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:
|●||the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical studies;|
|●||we may be unable to demonstrate to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that a product candidate’s safety-benefit ratio for its proposed indication is acceptable;|
|●||the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical studies;|
|●||the data collected from clinical studies of our product candidates may not be sufficient to support the submission of a New Drug Application, or NDA, in the United States or elsewhere;|
|●||the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may fail to approve the manufacturing processes, test procedures and specifications or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract for clinical and commercial supplies; and|
|●||the approval policies or regulations of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.|
This lengthy approval process, as well as the unpredictability of the results of clinical studies, 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.
Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier studies may not be predictive of future study results.
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 clinical study process. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical studies of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical studies. Product candidates that have shown promising results in early-stage clinical studies may still suffer significant setbacks in subsequent advanced clinical studies. There is a high failure rate for drugs proceeding through clinical studies, and product candidates in later stages of clinical studies may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy traits despite having progressed satisfactorily through preclinical studies and initial clinical studies. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical studies due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier studies. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses. We do not know whether any Phase I, Phase II, Phase III or other clinical studies we may conduct will demonstrate consistent or adequate efficacy and safety sufficient to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates.
We may find it difficult to enroll patients in our clinical studies. Difficulty in enrolling patients could delay or prevent clinical studies of our product candidates.
Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical studies of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of our clinical studies depends in part on the speed at which we can recruit patients to participate in testing our product candidates, and we may experience delays in our clinical studies if we encounter difficulties in enrollment.
Some of the conditions for which we plan to evaluate our current product candidates are for rare diseases. For example, based on a study conducted by the CDC in 2011-2012, we estimate that approximately 138,000 children suffer from Tourette syndrome in the United States. Accordingly, there is a limited patient pool from which to draw for clinical studies. Further, the eligibility criteria of our clinical studies will further limit the pool of available study participants as we will require that patients have specific characteristics that we can measure or to assure their disease is either severe enough or not too advanced to include them in a study.
Additionally, the process of finding patients may prove costly. We also may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients to complete our clinical studies because of the perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study, the availability and efficacy of competing therapies and clinical studies, the proximity and availability of clinical study sites for prospective patients and the patient referral practices of physicians. If patients are unwilling to participate in our studies for any reason, the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of potential product candidates will be delayed.
If we experience delays in the completion or termination of any clinical study of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of our product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate product candidate revenue from any of these product candidates could be delayed or prevented. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical studies will increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product candidate sales and generate revenue. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical studies may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates.
If the FDA does not conclude that our product candidates satisfy the requirements for the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory approval pathway, or if the requirements for our product candidates under Section 505(b)(2) are not as we expect, the approval pathway would likely take significantly longer, cost significantly more and entail significantly greater complications and risks than anticipated and in either case may not be successful.
We intend to seek FDA approval through the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway for our product candidates. The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, also known as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments, added Section 505(b)(2) to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, as amended, or the FDC Act, or Section 505(b)(2). Section 505(b)(2) permits the filing of an NDA where at least some of the information required for approval comes from studies not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference.
If the FDA does not allow us to pursue the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway as anticipated, we may need to conduct additional clinical trials, provide additional data and information and meet additional standards for regulatory approval. If this were to occur, the time and financial resources required to obtain FDA approval, and complications and risks associated with FDA approval, would substantially increase. We may need to obtain additional funding, which could result in significant dilution to the ownership interests of our then existing shareholders to the extent we issue equity securities or convertible debt. We cannot assure you that we would be able to obtain such additional financing on terms acceptable to us, if at all. Moreover, inability to pursue the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway could result in new competitive product candidates reaching the market faster than our product candidates, which could materially adversely impact our competitive position and prospects. Even if we are allowed to pursue the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway, we cannot assure you that our product candidates will receive the requisite approvals for commercialization.
In addition, notwithstanding the approval of a number of product candidates by the FDA under Section 505(b)(2) over the last few years, some pharmaceutical companies and others have objected to the FDA’s interpretation of Section 505(b)(2). For example, several companies have previously petitioned the FDA regarding the constitutionality of allowing others to rely upon FDA findings that are based on their proprietary data. If the FDA’s interpretation of Section 505(b)(2) is successfully challenged, the FDA may be required to change its 505(b)(2) policies and practices, which could require that we generate full data regarding safety and effectiveness for previously approved active ingredients and delay or even prevent the FDA from approving any NDA that we submit under Section 505(b)(2). In addition, the pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive, and Section 505(b)(2) NDAs are subject to special requirements designed to protect the patent rights of sponsors of previously approved drugs that are referenced in a Section 505(b)(2) NDA. These requirements may give rise to patent litigation and mandatory delays in approval of our potential future NDAs for up to 30 months depending on the outcome of any litigation. It is not uncommon for a manufacturer of an approved product to file a citizen petition with the FDA seeking to delay approval of, or impose additional approval requirements for, pending competing products. If successful, such petitions can significantly delay, or even prevent, the approval of the new product. However, even if the FDA ultimately denies such a petition, the FDA may substantially delay approval while it considers and responds to the petition. In addition, even if we are able to utilize the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway for our product candidates, there is no guarantee this would ultimately lead to faster product development or earlier approval. Moreover, even if these product candidates are approved under the Section 505(b)(2) pathway, as the case may be, the approval may be subject to limitations on the indicated uses for which the products may be marketed or to other conditions of approval or may contain requirements for costly post-marketing testing and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of the products. Our product candidates are at early stages of development and are subject to uncertainty over what we must do on our development program in order to secure approval under Section 505(b)(2).
We may encounter substantial delays in our clinical studies, or we may fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of applicable regulatory authorities.
Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of our product candidates, we must conduct extensive clinical studies to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the product candidates in humans. Clinical testing is expensive, time consuming and uncertain as to outcome. We cannot guarantee that any clinical studies will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. A failure of one or more clinical studies can occur at any stage of testing, and our future clinical studies may not be successful. Events that may prevent successful or timely completion of clinical development include but are not limited to:
|●||inability to generate sufficient preclinical, toxicology or other in vivo or in vitro data to support the initiation of human clinical studies;|
|●||delays in reaching a consensus with regulatory agencies on study design;|
|●||delays in reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective contract research organizations, or CROs, and clinical study sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and clinical study sites;|
|●||delays in obtaining required Institutional Review Board, or IRB, approval at each clinical study site;|
|●||imposition of a clinical hold by regulatory agencies, after review of an IND, application, or equivalent application, or an inspection of our clinical study operations or study sites;|
|●||delays in recruiting suitable patients to participate in our clinical studies;|
|●||difficulty collaborating with patient groups and investigators;|
|●||failure by our CROs, other third parties or us to adhere to clinical study requirements;|
|●||failure to perform in accordance with the FDA’s Good Clinical Practices, or GCP, requirements, or applicable regulatory guidelines in other countries;|
|●||delays in having patients complete participation in a study or return for post-treatment follow-up;|
|●||patients dropping out of a study;|
|●||occurrence of serious adverse events associated with the product candidate that are viewed to outweigh its potential benefits;|
|●||changes in regulatory requirements and guidance that require amending or submitting new clinical protocols;|
|●||the cost of clinical studies of our product candidates being greater than we anticipate;|
|●||clinical studies of our product candidates producing negative or inconclusive results, which may result in us deciding, or regulators requiring us, to conduct additional clinical studies or abandon product candidate development programs; and|
|●||delays in manufacturing, testing, releasing, validating or importing/exporting sufficient stable quantities of our product candidates for use in clinical studies or the inability to do any of the foregoing.|
Any inability to successfully complete preclinical and clinical development could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenue. We may also be required to conduct additional safety, efficacy and comparability studies before we will be allowed to start clinical studies with our repurposed drugs. Clinical study delays could also shorten any periods during which our product candidates have patent protection and may allow our competitors to bring product candidates to market before we do, which could impair our ability to obtain orphan exclusivity and successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations.
In respect of our product candidates targeting rare indications, orphan drug exclusivity may afford limited protection, and if another party obtains orphan drug exclusivity for the drugs and indications we are targeting, we may be precluded from commercializing our product candidates in those indications during that period of exclusivity.
We are seeking to obtain an orphan designation for some of our product candidates in the United States and in Europe. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a product as an orphan drug if it is a drug intended to treat a rare disease or condition, defined, in part, as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 in the United States, or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug will be recovered from sales in the United States. In the European Union, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP), grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition affecting not more than five in 10,000 persons in the European Union community. Additionally, designation is granted for products intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in the European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the drug.
In the United States, the first NDA applicant with an orphan drug designation for a particular active moiety to treat a specific disease or condition that receives FDA approval is entitled to a seven-year exclusive marketing period in the United States for that product candidate, for that indication. In the European Union, orphan drug designation also entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and 10 years of market exclusivity is granted following drug approval. This period may be reduced to six years if the orphan drug designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity.
In June 2016, we submitted a request for orphan drug designation to the FDA for THX-110 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome. In a letter dated September 29, 2016, the FDA informed us that our request could not be granted at such time, and is being held in abeyance until and subject to us providing additional information pertaining to the overall prevalence of Tourette syndrome in both children and adults, and further clinical data to support our scientific rationale for our request for orphan drug designation within 12 months. In September 2017, we responded to such FDA letter within the designated time frame, and provided the FDA with our articulated and reasoned responses including documentation and clinical data that supports it. On December 26, 2017, we received the FDA’s response to our response. The FDA accepted that there is adequate scientific rationale for the treatment of Tourette syndrome with THX-110 mainly through the preliminary results of ongoing clinical trials, suggesting that THX-110 may provide benefit in treating Tourette syndrome. However, the FDA stated that it was unable to grant our request and indicated that we did not provide adequate prevalence estimates, and any evidence to support our statement that only moderate to severe Tourette's patients would require pharmacological treatment. We further responded in January 2018 by providing the requested information. We are currently waiting for the FDA’s response. There is no assurance that we will successfully obtain orphan drug designation for Tourette syndrome, any future rare indications or orphan exclusivity upon approval of any of our product candidates that have already obtained designation.
Even if we do obtain orphan exclusivity for any product candidate, the exclusive marketing rights may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the drug. Moreover, a drug product candidate with an active moiety that is a different cannabinoid from that in our drug candidate or, under limited circumstances, the same drug product candidate, may be approved by the FDA for the same indication during the period of marketing exclusivity. The limited circumstances include a showing that the second drug is clinically superior to the drug with marketing exclusivity through a demonstration of superior safety or efficacy or that it makes a major contribution to patient care. In addition, if a competitor obtains approval and marketing exclusivity for a drug product candidate with an active moiety that is the same as that in a product candidate we are pursuing for the same indication, approval of our product candidate would be blocked during the period of marketing exclusivity unless we could demonstrate that our product candidate is clinically superior to the approved product candidate. In addition, if a competitor obtains approval and marketing exclusivity for a drug product candidate with an active moiety that is the same as that in a product candidate we are pursuing for a different orphan indication, this may negatively impact the market opportunity for our product candidate.
There have been legal challenges to aspects of the FDA’s regulations and policies concerning the exclusivity provisions of the Orphan Drug Act, and future challenges could lead to changes that affect the protections afforded our product candidates in ways that are difficult to predict. In a recent successful legal challenge, a court invalidated the FDA’s denial of orphan exclusivity to a drug on the grounds that the drug was not proven to be clinically superior to a previously approved product candidate containing the same ingredient for the same orphan use. In response to the decision, the FDA released a policy statement stating that the court’s decision is limited just to the facts of that particular case and that the FDA will continue to require the sponsor of a designated drug that is the “same” as a previously approved drug to demonstrate that its drug is clinically superior to that drug upon approval in order to be eligible for orphan drug exclusivity, or in some cases, to even be eligible for marketing approval. In the future, there is the potential for additional legal challenges to the FDA’s orphan drug regulations and policies, and it is uncertain how such challenges might affect our business.
While orphan drug product candidates are typically sold at a high price relative to other medications, the market may not be receptive to high pricing of our product candidates.
We develop our product candidates to treat rare diseases, a space where medications are usually sold at high prices compared with other medications. However, our product candidates are repurposed drugs, which means, among other things, that they contain drug substances available in pharmacies for the purpose of treating indications that are different from the indications for which we plan to use. Accordingly, even if regulatory authorities approve our product candidates, the market may not be receptive to, and it may be difficult for us to achieve, a per-patient per-year price high enough to allow us to realize a return on our investment.
Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.
The use of dronabinol has been associated with seizures, paranoia, rapid heart rate and unusual thoughts and behaviors. Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical studies and could result in a more restrictive marketing label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other comparable foreign authorities. Potential side effects of our cannabinoid-based treatments may include: asthenia, palpitations, tachycardia, vasodilation/facial flush, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, amnesia, anxiety/nervousness, ataxia, confusion, depersonalization, dizziness, euphoria, hallucinations, paranoid reaction, somnolence and abnormal thinking. Results of our studies may identify unacceptable severity and prevalence of these or other side effects. In such an event, our studies could be suspended or terminated, and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny or withdraw approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications.
Drug-related side effects could affect patient recruitment, the ability of enrolled patients to complete the study or result in potential product candidate liability claims.
Additionally, if one or more of our product candidates receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such product candidates, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including but not limited to:
|●||regulatory authorities may withdraw approvals of such product candidate;|
|●||regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;|
|●||we may be required to create a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, plan, which could include a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients, a communication plan for healthcare providers and/or other elements to assure safe use;|
|●||we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients; and|
|●||our reputation may suffer.|
Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product candidate, if approved, and could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a product candidate, our product candidates will remain subject to regulatory scrutiny.
If our product candidates are approved, they will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping, conduct of post-marketing studies and submission of safety, efficacy and other post-market information, including both federal and state requirements in the United States. In addition, manufacturers and manufacturers’ facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP, regulations and Quality System Regulation, or QSR. As such, we and our contract manufacturers will be subject to continual review and inspections to assess compliance with cGMP, QSR and adherence to commitments made in any NDA. Accordingly, we and others with whom we work must continue to expend time, money and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production and quality control.
Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may also be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product candidate may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. We will also be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems, if any, to the FDA, and to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for our product candidates. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs are subject to a variety of legal and regulatory restrictions and must be consistent with the information in the product candidate’s approved label. As such, we may not promote our product candidates for indications or uses for which they do not have FDA approval. The holder of an approved NDA must also submit new or supplemental applications and obtain FDA approval for certain changes to the approved product candidate, product candidate labeling or manufacturing process. We could also be asked to conduct post-marketing clinical studies to verify the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in general or in specific patient subsets. If original marketing approval were obtained via the accelerated approval pathway, we could be required to conduct a successful post-marketing clinical study to confirm clinical benefit for our product candidates. An unsuccessful post-marketing study or failure to complete such a study could result in the withdrawal of marketing approval. Furthermore, any new legislation addressing drug safety issues could result in delays in product candidate development or commercialization or increased costs to assure compliance. Foreign regulatory authorities impose similar requirements.
If a regulatory agency discovers previously unknown problems with a product candidate, such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product candidate is manufactured, or disagrees with the promotion, marketing or labeling of a product candidate, such regulatory agency may impose restrictions on that product candidate or us, including requiring withdrawal of the product candidate from the market. If we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency or enforcement authority may, among other things:
|●||issue warning letters;|
|●||impose civil or criminal penalties;|
|●||suspend or withdraw regulatory approval;|
|●||suspend any of our ongoing clinical studies;|
|●||refuse to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications submitted by us;|
|●||impose restrictions on our operations, including closing our contract manufacturers’ facilities; or|
|●||seize or detain product candidates, or require a product candidate recall.|
Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response and could generate negative publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize and generate revenue from our product candidates. If regulatory sanctions are applied or if regulatory approval is withdrawn, the value of our company and our operating results will be adversely affected.
We are subject to numerous complex regulations and failure to comply with these regulations, or the cost of compliance with these regulations, may harm our business.
The research, testing, development, manufacturing, quality control, approval, labeling, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, promotion, advertising, marketing, distribution, possession and use of our product candidates, among other things, are subject to regulation by numerous governmental authorities in the United States and elsewhere. The FDA regulates drugs under the FDC Act, and implementing regulations. Noncompliance with any applicable regulatory requirements can result in refusal to approve product candidates for marketing, warning letters, product candidate recalls or seizure of product candidates, total or partial suspension of production, prohibitions or limitations on the commercial sale of product candidates or refusal to allow the entering into of federal and state supply contracts, fines, civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution. Additionally, the FDA and comparable governmental authorities have the authority to withdraw product candidate approvals that have been previously granted. Moreover, the regulatory requirements relating to our product candidates may change from time to time and it is impossible to predict what the impact of any such changes may be.
We are developing product candidates that are controlled substances as defined in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, or CSA, which establishes, among other things, certain registration, production quotas, security, recordkeeping, reporting, import, export and other requirements administered by the Drug Enforcement Administration, or the DEA. The active ingredient in our product candidates is dronabinol, which is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that any drug containing it cannot be marketed before it is rescheduled by the DEA as a Schedule II, III, IV or V substance. See Item 4.B. “Business Overview—Government Regulation—Controlled Substances” for additional information.
The manufacture, shipment, storage, sale and use, among other things, of controlled substances that are pharmaceutical product candidates are subject to a high degree of regulation. The DEA also conducts periodic inspections of registered establishments that handle controlled substances. Facilities that conduct research, manufacture, distribute, import or export controlled substances must be registered to perform these activities and have the security, control and inventory mechanisms required by the DEA to prevent drug loss and diversion. Failure to maintain compliance, particularly non-compliance resulting in loss or diversion, can result in regulatory action that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations, or initiate proceedings to suspend or revoke those registrations. In certain circumstances, violations could lead to criminal proceedings.
Individual states also have controlled substances laws. Though state controlled substances laws often mirror federal law, because the states are separate jurisdictions, they may separately schedule our product candidates as well. While some states automatically schedule a drug when the DEA does so, other states schedule drugs through rulemaking or a legislative action. State scheduling may delay commercial sale of any product candidate for which we obtain federal regulatory approval and adverse scheduling could have a material adverse effect on the commercial attractiveness of such product candidate. We or our partners must also obtain separate state registrations, permits or licenses in order to be able to obtain, handle, and distribute controlled substances for clinical trials or commercial sale, and failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements could lead to enforcement and sanctions from the states in addition to those from the DEA or otherwise arising under federal law.
Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties
We rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical and clinical studies and perform other tasks for us. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or comply with regulatory requirements, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates and our business could be substantially harmed.
We have relied upon and plan to continue to rely upon third-party CROs to monitor and manage data for our ongoing preclinical and clinical programs. (Target Health, Inc., FGK Clinical Research GmbH, or FGK, and others). We rely on these parties for execution of our preclinical and clinical studies, and control only certain aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal, regulatory and scientific standards and our reliance on the CROs does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and our CROs and other vendors are required to comply with current cGMP, GCP, QSR and Good Laboratory Practices, or GLP, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area, and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for all of our product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these regulations through periodic inspections of study sponsors, principal investigators, study sites and other contractors. If we or any of our CROs or vendors fail to comply with applicable regulations, the clinical data generated in our clinical studies may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical studies before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical studies comply with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical studies must be conducted with product candidates which are produced under cGMP regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical studies, which would delay the regulatory approval process.
If any of our relationships with these third-party CROs terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or do so on commercially reasonable terms. In addition, our CROs are not our employees, and except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such CROs, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our on-going clinical, nonclinical and preclinical programs. If CROs do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical studies may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our product candidates. CROs may also generate higher costs than anticipated. As a result, our results of operations and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.
Switching or adding additional CROs involves additional cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO commences work. As a result, delays may occur, which could materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.
We will rely on third parties to manufacture our active pharmaceutical ingredient, or API, and formulations. Our business could be harmed if those third parties fail to provide us with sufficient quantities of our needed supplies, or fail to do so at acceptable quality levels or prices.
We do not have the infrastructure or capability internally to manufacture the API formulations, and we lack the resources and the capability to manufacture any of our product candidates on a clinical or commercial scale. We plan to rely on third parties for such supplies. There are a limited number of manufacturers who have the ability to produce our API and there may be a need to identify alternate manufacturers to prevent a possible disruption of our clinical studies. Any significant delay or discontinuity in the supply of these components could considerably delay completion of our clinical studies, product candidate testing and potential regulatory approval of our product candidates, which could harm our business and results of operations.
We and our collaborators and contract manufacturers are subject to significant regulation with respect to manufacturing our product candidates. The manufacturing facilities on which we rely may not continue to meet regulatory requirements and have limited capacity.
All entities involved in the preparation of therapeutics for clinical studies or commercial sale, including our existing contract manufacturers for our product candidates, are subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or a product candidate used in late-stage clinical studies must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP. These regulations govern manufacturing processes and procedures (including record keeping) and the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of investigational product candidates and products approved for sale. Poor control of production processes can lead to the introduction of contaminants or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of our product candidates that may not be detectable in final product testing. We, our collaborators or our contract manufacturers must supply all necessary documentation in support of an NDA, or Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, on a timely basis and must adhere to GLP and cGMP QSR regulations enforced by the FDA and other regulatory agencies through their facilities inspection program. Some of our contract manufacturers have never produced a commercially approved pharmaceutical product and therefore have not obtained the requisite regulatory authority approvals to do so. The facilities and quality systems of some or all of our collaborators and third-party contractors must pass a pre-approval inspection for compliance with the applicable regulations as a condition of regulatory approval of our product candidates or any of our other potential product candidates. In addition, the regulatory authorities may, at any time, audit or inspect a manufacturing facility involved with the preparation of our product candidates or our other potential product candidates or the associated quality systems for compliance with the regulations applicable to the activities being conducted. We do not control the manufacturing process of, and are completely dependent on, our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with the regulatory requirements. If these facilities do not pass a pre-approval plant inspection, regulatory approval of the product candidates may not be granted or may be substantially delayed until any violations are corrected to the satisfaction of the regulatory authority, if ever.
The regulatory authorities also may, at any time following approval of a product candidate for sale, if ever, audit the manufacturing facilities of our collaborators and third-party contractors. If any such inspection or audit identifies a failure to comply with applicable regulations or if a violation of our product candidate specifications or applicable regulations occurs independent of such an inspection or audit, we or the relevant regulatory authority may require remedial measures that may be costly and/or time consuming for us or a third party to implement, and that may include the temporary or permanent suspension of a clinical study or commercial sales, or the temporary or permanent closure of a facility. Any such remedial measures imposed upon us or third parties with whom we contract could materially harm our business.
If we, our collaborators, or any of our third-party manufacturers fail to maintain regulatory compliance, the FDA or other applicable regulatory authority can impose regulatory sanctions including, among other things, refusal to approve a pending application for a new drug product, withdrawal of an approval or suspension of production. As a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially harmed.
Additionally, if supply from one approved manufacturer is interrupted, an alternative manufacturer would need to be qualified through an NDA or MAA amendment, or equivalent foreign regulatory filing, which could result in further delay. The regulatory agencies may also require additional studies if a new manufacturer is relied upon for commercial production. Switching manufacturers may involve substantial costs and is likely to result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.
These factors could cause us to incur higher costs and could cause the delay or termination of clinical studies, regulatory submissions, required approvals or commercialization of our product candidates. Furthermore, if our suppliers fail to meet contractual requirements and we are unable to secure one or more replacement suppliers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost, our clinical studies may be delayed or we could lose potential revenue.
Our reliance on third parties requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor will discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.
Because we rely on third parties to develop and manufacture our product candidates, we must, at times, share trade secrets with them. We seek to protect our proprietary technology in part by entering into confidentiality agreements and, if applicable, material transfer agreements, collaborative research agreements, consulting agreements or other similar agreements with our collaborators, advisors, employees and consultants prior to beginning research or disclosing proprietary information. These agreements typically limit the rights of the third parties to use or disclose our confidential information, such as trade secrets. Despite the contractual provisions employed when working with third parties, the need to share trade secrets and other confidential information increases the risk that such trade secrets become known by our competitors, are inadvertently incorporated into the technology of others, or are disclosed or used in violation of these agreements. Given that our proprietary position is based, in part, on our know-how and trade secrets, a competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets or other unauthorized use or disclosure would impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business.
Risks Related to Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
If the market opportunities for our product candidates are smaller than we believe they are, our revenue may be adversely affected, and our business may suffer.
Our projections of both the number of people who have our target diseases, as well as the subset of people with these diseases 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 the scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new studies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected. The effort to identify patients with diseases we seek to treat is in early stages, and we cannot accurately predict the number of patients for whom treatment might be possible. Additionally, the potentially addressable patient population for each of our product candidates may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates, and new patients may become increasingly difficult to identify or gain access to, which would adversely affect our results of operations and our business.
We face intense competition and rapid technological change and the possibility that our competitors may discover, develop or commercialize therapies that are similar, more advanced or more effective than ours, which may adversely affect our financial condition and our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are highly competitive. There are many pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, public and private universities and research organizations actively engaged in the research and development of products that may be similar to our product candidates.
The first THC-based pharmaceutical, a pill sold under the commercial name of Marinol (scientific name: dronabinol), was developed by a company called Unimed Pharmaceuticals, with funding provided by the National Cancer Institute. In 1985, Marinol received FDA approval as a treatment for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Today, Marinol is marketed by AbbVie, Inc. Since the introduction of Marinol into the market, other pharmaceuticals containing THC have also been developed. These include generic oral capsules of dronabinol, such as those marketed by SVC Pharma LP and Akorn Inc., Insys Therapeutic Inc.’s Syndros, an orally administered liquid formulation of dronabinol, Meda AB’s Cesamet (nabilone), a synthetic derivative of THC, and Sativex (nabiximols), a whole cannabis extract administered as an oral spray. Furthermore, we are aware of multiple companies that are working in the cannabis therapeutic area and are pursuing regulatory approval for their product candidates. For example, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC, or GW, which markets Sativex, a botanical cannabinoid oral mucosal for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is seeking FDA approval in the United States, and is developing Epidiolex, a liquid formulation of highly purified cannabidiol extract, as a treatment for Dravet’s Syndrome, Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, and various childhood epilepsy syndromes. In addition, GW develops a cannabidivarin, or CBDV, based therapy for autism spectrum disorders and therapy for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, glioblastoma and schizophrenia. Insys Therapeutics, Inc. is also seeking FDA approval for an orally-administered liquid formulation of its synthetic cannabidiol compound as a treatment for Dravet’s Syndrome, Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, and other childhood epilepsy syndromes and Prader-Willi syndrome. Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc., or Zynerba, is developing a transdermal formulation of cannabidiol for Fragile X and certain refractory epilepsies. In addition, Zynerba is currently developing a transdermal formulation of pro-drug, which is a medication or compound that, after administration, is metabolized (i.e., converted within the body) into a pharmacologically active drug, of THC for neuropsychiatric disorders including Tourette syndrome. Nemus Bioscience, Inc., or Nemus, is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of cannabis therapeutics. Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings is seeking FDA approval for their synthetic cannabinoid for systemic sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, dermatomyositis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
More established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their greater size, cash flows and institutional experience. Compared to us, many of our competitors may have significantly greater financial, technical and human resources. As a result of these factors, our competitors may have an advantage in marketing their approved products and may obtain regulatory approval of their product candidates before we are able to, which may limit our ability to develop or commercialize our product candidates. Our competitors may also develop drugs that are safer, more effective, more widely used and less expensive than ours, and may also be more successful than us in manufacturing and marketing their products. These advantages could materially impact our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates successfully.
Our product candidates may also compete with medical and recreational marijuana, in markets where the recreational and/or medical use of marijuana is legal. There is support in the United States for further legalization of marijuana. In markets where recreational and/or medical marijuana is not legal, our product candidates may compete with marijuana purchased in the illegal drug market. We cannot assess the extent to which patients may utilize marijuana obtained illegally for the treatment of the indications for which we are developing our product candidates.
Even if we successfully develop our product candidates, and obtain marketing approval for them, other treatments or therapeutics may be preferred and we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates or in bringing them to market.
Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations. Additional mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. As a result, these companies may obtain regulatory approval more rapidly than we are able to and may be more effective in selling and marketing their products as well. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. Competition may increase further as a result of advances in the commercial applicability of technologies and greater availability of capital for investment in these industries. Our competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis, products that are more effective or less costly than any product candidate that we may develop, or achieve earlier patent protection, regulatory approval, product commercialization and market penetration than we do. Additionally, technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential product candidates uneconomical or obsolete, and we may not be successful in marketing our product candidates against competitors.
We currently have no marketing and sales organization. If we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell our product candidates, we may be unable to generate any revenue.
Although our employees may have sold other similar products in the past while employed at other companies, we as a company have no experience selling and marketing our product candidates and we currently have no marketing or sales organization. To successfully commercialize any products that may result from our development programs, we will need to develop these capabilities, either on our own or with others. If our product candidates receive regulatory approval, we intend to establish a sales and marketing organization with technical expertise and supporting distribution capabilities to commercialize our product candidates in major markets, which will be expensive, difficult and time consuming. Any failure or delay in the development of our internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities would adversely impact the commercialization of our products.
Further, given our lack of prior experience in marketing and selling pharmaceutical products, our initial estimate of the size of the required sales force may be materially more or less than the size of the sales force actually required to effectively commercialize our product candidates. As such, we may be required to hire substantially more sales representatives to adequately support the commercialization of our product candidates or we may incur excess costs as a result of hiring more sales representatives than necessary. With respect to certain geographical markets, we may enter into collaborations with other entities to utilize their local marketing and distribution capabilities, but we may be unable to enter into such agreements on favorable terms, if at all. If our future collaborators do not commit sufficient resources to commercialize our future products, if any, and we are unable to develop the necessary marketing capabilities on our own, we will be unable to generate sufficient product revenue to sustain our business. We may be competing with companies that currently have extensive and well-funded marketing and sales operations. Without an internal team or the support of a third party to perform marketing and sales functions, we may be unable to compete successfully against these more established companies.
The commercial success of any current or future product candidate will depend upon the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community.
Even with the requisite approvals from the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities, the commercial success of our product candidates will depend in part on the medical community, patients and third-party payors accepting our product candidates as medically useful, cost-effective and safe. Any product that we bring to the market may not gain market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. The degree of market acceptance of any of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:
|●||the safety and efficacy of the product as demonstrated in clinical studies and potential advantages over competing treatments;|
|●||the prevalence and severity of any side effects, including any limitations or warnings contained in a product’s approved labeling;|
|●||the clinical indications for which approval is granted;|
|●||relative convenience and ease of administration;|
|●||the cost of treatment, particularly in relation to competing treatments;|
|●||the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe these therapies;|
|●||the strength of marketing and distribution support and timing of market introduction of competitive products;|
|●||publicity concerning our products or competing products and treatments; and|
|●||sufficient third-party insurance coverage and reimbursement.|
Even if a potential product displays a favorable efficacy and safety profile in preclinical and clinical studies, market acceptance of the product will not be fully known until after it is launched. Our efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payors on the benefits of the product candidates may require significant resources and may never be successful. If our product candidates are approved but fail to achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community, we will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to become or remain profitable.
The insurance coverage and reimbursement status of newly-approved products is uncertain. Failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for new or current products could limit our ability to market those products and decrease our ability to generate revenue.
The pricing, coverage and reimbursement of our product candidates, if approved, must be adequate to support our commercial infrastructure. Our per-patient prices must be sufficient to recover our development and manufacturing costs and potentially achieve profitability. Accordingly, the availability and adequacy of coverage and reimbursement by governmental and private payors are essential for most patients to be able to afford expensive treatments such as ours, assuming approval. Sales of our product candidates will depend substantially, both domestically and abroad, on the extent to which the costs of our product candidates will be paid for by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or reimbursed by government authorities, private health insurers and other third-party payors. If coverage and reimbursement are not available, or are 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 a return on our investment.
There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, the principal decisions about coverage and reimbursement for new drugs are typically made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration), or CMS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as CMS decides whether and to what extent a new drug will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payors tend to follow the coverage reimbursement policies established by CMS to a substantial degree. It is difficult to predict what CMS will decide with respect to reimbursement for products such as ours.
Outside the United States, international operations are 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 our product candidates. In many countries, the prices of medical products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. In general, the prices of medicines under such systems are substantially lower than in the United States. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for medicinal 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 United States, the reimbursement for our products may be reduced compared with the United States and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable revenue and profits.
Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for new products approved and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any of our product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products.
Healthcare legislative reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, or collectively, the Affordable Care Act, was passed. The Affordable Care Act is a sweeping law intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of healthcare spending, enhance remedies against fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for healthcare and the health insurance industry, impose new taxes and fees on the healthcare industry and impose additional health policy reforms. This law revises the definition of “average manufacturer price” for reporting purposes, which could increase the amount of Medicaid drug rebates to states once the provision is effective. Further, the law imposes a significant annual fee on companies that manufacture or import branded prescription drug products. Substantial new provisions affecting compliance have also been enacted, which may require us to modify our business practices with healthcare practitioners. While the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most elements of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, other legal challenges are still pending final adjudication in several jurisdictions. In addition, Congress has also proposed a number of legislative initiatives, including possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act. At this time, it remains unclear whether there will be any changes made to the Affordable Care Act, whether to certain provisions or its entirety. We can provide no assurance that the Affordable Care Act, as currently enacted or as amended in the future, will not adversely affect our business and financial results, and we cannot predict how future federal or state legislative or administrative changes relating to healthcare reform will affect our business.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. In 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers up to 2% per fiscal year. In 2013, the 2% Medicare payment reductions went into effect. Both Congress and the U.S. President have already taken some actions that are intended to limit significantly the Affordable Care Act, and other proposals have been made and are being considered to further modify or even repeal the Affordable Care Act. While some of these actions already appear to be limiting the scope of the Affordable Care Act, it is not clear at this point whether the new proposals will be adopted (either in their current form or a modified form) in the future. 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.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain and maintain effective patent rights for our product candidates, we may not be able to compete effectively in our markets. If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets or know-how, such proprietary information may be used by others to compete against us.
Historically, we have relied on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our technologies and product candidates. Since 2015, we have also sought patent protection for certain of our product candidates. Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection in the United States and in other countries with respect to our proprietary technology and new product candidates.
We have sought to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and in other countries, with respect to our novel technologies and product candidates, which are important to our business. Patent prosecution is expensive and time consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection.
Not including patents and applications which we are in the process of being assigned we have a portfolio of two provisional patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, and one patent application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization, or PCT . We also have three patent applications in National Phase Stage in various national entities. We cannot offer any assurances about which, if any, patent applications will issue, the breadth of any such patent or whether any issued patents will be found invalid and unenforceable or will be threatened by third parties. Any successful opposition to our patents after issuance could deprive us of rights necessary for the successful commercialization of any new product candidates that we may develop.
We have exclusively licensed: (i) one U.S. patent from Dekel Pharmaceuticals Ltd., or Dekel, and (ii) one U.S. patent family from Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd., or Yissum. We cannot assure you that we will ever enter into definitive license agreements with any third party licensor. See Item 4.B. “Business Overview—Intellectual Property—In-Licensed Patents and Patent Applications.” To the extent the licensed or future licensed patents are found to be invalid or unenforceable, we may be limited in our ability to compete and market our product candidates. Moreover, the terms of our licenses affect our ability to control the value of any of our product candidates. If we or any of the parties that control the enforcement of licensed patents elect not to enforce any or all of the licensed patents it could significantly undercut the value of any of our product candidates, which would materially adversely affect our future revenue, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, fluctuating currency rates may create inconsistencies in the royalty payments we are obligated to make under our licenses.
Also, there is no guarantee that the patent registration applications that were submitted by us with regard to our technologies will result in patent registration. In the event of failure to complete patent registration, our developments will not be proprietary, which might allow other entities to manufacture our product candidates and compete with them.
Further, there is no assurance that all potentially relevant prior art relating to our patent applications has been found, which can invalidate a patent or prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. Even if patents do successfully issue, and even if such patents cover our product candidates, third parties may challenge their validity, enforceability, or scope, which may result in such patents being narrowed, found unenforceable or invalidated. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patent applications and any future patents may not adequately protect our intellectual property, provide exclusivity for our new product candidates, or prevent others from designing around our claims. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may have an adverse impact on our business.
If we cannot obtain and maintain effective patent rights for our product candidates, we may not be able to compete effectively, and our business and results of operations would be harmed.
We may not be able to identify infringements of our patents and accordingly the enforcement of our intellectual property rights may be difficult.
The drug substance in some of our product candidates is repurposed, which means that it is available in other pharmaceutical products for the purpose of treating indications that are different from the indications for our product candidates. It is possible that if we receive regulatory approval to market and sell our drug candidates, some patients that receive a prescription could be sold the same drug substance but not our product candidate. It would be difficult, if not impossible for us to identify such instances that may constitute an infringement of our patents. In addition, because the drug substance of some of our product candidates is repurposed, such substance may not be eligible for patent protection or data exclusivity.
If we are unable to maintain effective proprietary rights for our product candidates, we may not be able to compete effectively in our markets.
In addition to the protection afforded by any patents currently owned and that may be granted, historically, we have relied on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect proprietary know-how that is not patentable or that we elect not to patent, processes that are not easily known, knowable or easily ascertainable, and for which patent infringement is difficult to monitor and enforce and any other elements of our product candidate discovery and development processes that involve proprietary know-how, information or technology that is not covered by patents. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors, and contractors. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data, trade secrets and intellectual property by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. Agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets and intellectual property may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors.
We cannot provide any assurances that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed in violation of our confidentiality agreements or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Also, misappropriation or unauthorized and unavoidable disclosure of our trade secrets and intellectual property could impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business. Additionally, if the steps taken to maintain our trade secrets and intellectual property are deemed inadequate, we may have insufficient recourse against third parties for misappropriating any trade secret.
Intellectual property rights of third parties could adversely affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates, and we might be required to litigate or obtain licenses from third parties in order to develop or market our product candidates. Such litigation or licenses could be costly or not available on commercially reasonable terms.
It is inherently difficult to conclusively assess our freedom to operate without infringing on third party rights. Our competitive position may be adversely affected if existing patents or patents resulting from patent applications issued to third parties or other third party intellectual property rights are held to cover our product candidates or elements thereof, or our manufacturing or uses relevant to our development plans. In such cases, we may not be in a position to develop or commercialize product candidates or our product candidates unless we successfully pursue litigation to nullify or invalidate the third party intellectual property right concerned, or enter into a license agreement with the intellectual property right holder, if available on commercially reasonable terms. There may also be pending patent applications that if they result in issued patents, could be alleged to be infringed by our new product candidates. If such an infringement claim should be brought and be successful, we may be required to pay substantial damages, be forced to abandon our new product candidates or seek a license from any patent holders. No assurances can be given that a license will be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all.
It is also possible that we have failed to identify relevant third party patents or applications. For example, U.S. patent applications filed before November 29, 2000 and certain U.S. patent applications filed after that date that will not be filed outside the United States remain confidential until patents issue. Patent applications in the United States and elsewhere are published approximately 18 months after the earliest filing for which priority is claimed, with such earliest filing date being commonly referred to as the priority date. Therefore, patent applications covering our new product candidates or platform technology could have been filed by others without our knowledge. Additionally, pending patent applications which have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our platform technologies, our new product candidates or the use of our new product candidates. Third party intellectual property right holders may also actively bring infringement claims against us. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to successfully settle or otherwise resolve such infringement claims. If we are unable to successfully settle future claims on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to engage in or continue costly, unpredictable and time-consuming litigation and may be prevented from or experience substantial delays in pursuing the development of and/or marketing our new product candidates. If we fail in any such dispute, in addition to being forced to pay damages, we may be temporarily or permanently prohibited from commercializing our new product candidates that are held to be infringing. We might, if possible, also be forced to redesign our new product candidates so that we no longer infringe the third party intellectual property rights. Any of these events, even if we were ultimately to prevail, could require us to divert substantial financial and management resources that we would otherwise be able to devote to our business.
Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement may prevent or delay our development and commercialization efforts.
Our commercial success depends in part on our avoiding infringement of the patents and proprietary rights of third parties. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are developing new product candidates. As our industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may be subject to claims of infringement of the patent rights of third parties.
Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. There may be third-party patents or patent applications with claims to materials, designs or methods of manufacture related to the use or manufacture of our product candidates. There may be currently pending patent applications that may later result in issued patents that our product candidates may infringe. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents.
If any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our formulations, processes for designs, or methods of use, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the applicable product candidate unless we obtain a license or until such patent expires or is finally determined to be invalid or unenforceable. In either case, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.
Parties making claims against us may obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize one or more of our product candidates. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, pay royalties, redesign our infringing product candidates or obtain one or more licenses from third parties, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure.
Patent policy and rule changes could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of any issued patents.
Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of any patents that may issue from our patent applications, or narrow the scope of our patent protection. The laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all. We therefore cannot be certain that we were the first to file the invention claimed in our owned and licensed patent or pending applications, or that we or our licensor were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. Assuming all other requirements for patentability are met, in the United States prior to March 15, 2013, the first to make the claimed invention without undue delay in filing, is entitled to the patent, while outside the United States, the first to file a patent application is entitled to the patent. After March 15, 2013, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, the United States has moved to a first to file system. The Leahy-Smith Act also includes a number of significant changes that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and may also affect patent litigation. In general, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of any issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
We may be involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming, and unsuccessful.
Competitors may infringe our intellectual property. If we were to initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our new product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness, or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Under the Leahy-Smith Act, the validity of U.S. patents may also be challenged in post-grant proceedings before the USPTO. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable.
Derivation proceedings initiated by third parties or brought by us may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions and/or their scope with respect to our patent or patent applications or those of our licensors. An unfavorable outcome could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. Our defense of litigation or interference proceedings may fail and, even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. In addition, the uncertainties associated with litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our clinical trials, continue our research programs, license necessary technology from third parties, or enter into development partnerships that would help us bring our new product candidates to market.
Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions, or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our Ordinary Shares.
We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship of our intellectual property.
We may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in, or right to compensation, with respect to our current patent and patent applications, future patents or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. For example, we may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or claiming the right to compensation. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, valuable intellectual property. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
Filing, prosecuting, and defending patents on product candidates, as well as monitoring their infringement in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States.
Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and may also export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our product candidates. Future patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.
Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets, and other intellectual property protection, which could make it difficult for us to stop the marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions, whether or not successful, could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our future patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to monitor and enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.
Actual or perceived conflicts of interest may exist with respect to intellectual property rights that we license from an entity controlled by Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz, our interim Chief Executive Officer and Chairman.
In May 2015, we entered into a license agreement, which became effective in August 2015, with Dekel, an Israeli private company controlled by Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz, the Chairman of our Board of Directors and interim Chief Executive Officer, under which we were granted an irrevocable, worldwide, exclusive, royalty-bearing license to certain of Dekel’s technology. See Item 7.B. “Related Party Transactions—Dekel License Agreement.”
We do not have any agreement with Dr. Shmulewitz to present us with business opportunities he may wish to pursue, subject only to his duties under Israeli law, and we do not have proprietary rights to Dr. Shmulewitz’ inventions that are not included under the consulting and services agreement we entered into with him (pertaining solely to the field of immunomodulators including cannabinoids to treat chronic pain and inflammation).
When negotiating and entering into the agreement with Dekel, Dr. Shmulewitz faced an actual conflict of interest between achieving the most favorable terms for Dekel, as holder of controlling interest in Dekel, and owing fiduciary duties to us, as a member of our Board of Directors and interim Chief Executive Officer. Due to this conflict, we may not have obtained as favorable terms for this license as with an unrelated party. Under applicable Israeli law, fiduciary duties include a duty of care and a duty of loyalty. The approval of transactions with interested parties under the Israeli Companies Law, or the Companies Law, included audit committee, board of directors’ approvals and under the relevant circumstances that applied then, also shareholders’ approval, which were obtained prior to the entering into the transaction. See Item 6 C. “Board Practices—Approval of Related Party Transactions under Israeli Law.”
If there is a dispute between us and Dekel, Dr. Shmulewitz will have a conflict of interest because he may, at the time of a prospective dispute, simultaneously have a financial interest in and owe a fiduciary duty to Dekel and simultaneously have a financial interest in and owe a fiduciary duty to us. If a contractual dispute arises between us and Dekel under the license agreement, Dr. Shmulewitz may be in a position where he would benefit if Dekel prevails, to the detriment of our business or our investors, due to his controlling interest in Dekel. We cannot assure you that any conflicts will be resolved in our favor, and as a result, our business could be impeded or materially harmed. Furthermore, any future transactions that we enter into with Dekel may be considered as related party transactions under Israeli law, and in many instances may require the approval of our shareholders. Seeking shareholder approval can be a lengthy and costly process, and we cannot be certain that our shareholders will approve any such transactions.
Risks Related to Our Business Operations
We manage our business through a small number of employees and key consultants. We depend on them even more than similarly-situated companies.
We have a total of nine full-time employees and three dedicated consultants that work for us on a part-time basis. In addition, any of our employees and consultants may leave our company at any time, subject to certain notice periods. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers or any key employees or consultants would adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan and harm our operating results.
We do not currently carry “key person” insurance on the lives of members of management.
We will need to expand our organization and we may experience difficulties in recruiting needed additional employees and consultants, which could disrupt our operations.
As our development and commercialization plans and strategies develop and because we are so leanly staffed, we will need additional managerial, operational, sales, marketing, financial, legal and other resources. The competition for qualified personnel in the pharmaceutical field is intense. Due to this intense competition, we may be unable to attract and retain qualified personnel necessary for the development of our business or to recruit suitable replacement personnel.
Our management may need to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from our day-to-day activities and devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities. We may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations, which may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, operational mistakes, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity among remaining employees. Our expected growth could require significant capital expenditures and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the development of additional product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our growth, our expenses may increase more than expected, our ability to generate and/or grow revenue could be reduced and we may not be able to implement our business strategy. Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize product candidates and compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth.
We may not be successful in our efforts to identify, license or discover additional product candidates.
Although a substantial amount of our effort will focus on the continued clinical testing, potential approval and commercialization of our existing product candidates, the success of our business also depends in part upon our ability to identify, license or discover additional product candidates. Our research programs or licensing efforts may fail to yield additional product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:
|●||our research or business development methodology or search criteria and process may be unsuccessful in identifying potential product candidates;|
|●||we may not be able or willing to assemble sufficient resources to acquire or discover additional product candidates;|
|●||our product candidates may not succeed in preclinical or clinical testing;|
|●||our potential product candidates may be shown to have harmful side effects or may have other characteristics that may make the products unmarketable or unlikely to receive marketing approval;|
|●||competitors may develop alternatives that render our product candidates obsolete or less attractive;|
|●||product candidates we develop may be covered by third parties’ patents or other exclusive rights;|
|●||the market for a product candidate may change during our program so that such a product may become unreasonable to continue to develop;|
|●||a product candidate may not be capable of being produced in commercial quantities at an acceptable cost, or at all; and|
|●||a product candidate may not be accepted as safe and effective by patients, the medical community or third-party payors.|
If any of these events occur, we may be forced to abandon our development efforts for a program or programs, or we may not be able to identify, license or discover additional product candidates, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and could potentially cause us to cease operations. Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential programs or product candidates that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.
We may be subject, directly or indirectly, to federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws, false claims laws and health information privacy and security laws. If we are unable to comply, or have not fully complied, with such laws, we could face substantial penalties.
If we obtain FDA approval for any of our product candidates and begin commercializing those products in the United States, our operations may be directly or indirectly through our customers, subject to various federal and state fraud and abuse laws, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the federal False Claims Act and physician sunshine laws and regulations. These laws may impact, among other things, our proposed sales, marketing and education programs. In addition, we may be subject to patient privacy regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include:
|●||the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying remuneration, directly or indirectly, to induce, or in return for, the purchase or recommendation of an item or service reimbursable under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs;|
|●||federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment from Medicare, Medicaid or other third-party payors that are false or fraudulent;|
|●||the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program and making false statements relating to healthcare matters;|
|●||HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology and Clinical Health Act, and its implementing regulations, which imposes certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;|
|●||the federal physician sunshine requirements under the Affordable Care Act requires manufacturers of drugs, devices and medical supplies to report annually to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians, other healthcare providers and teaching hospitals and ownership and investment interests held by physicians and other healthcare providers and their immediate family members and applicable group purchasing organizations; and|
|●||state law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws that may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers, state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government, or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources; state laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures and state laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.|
Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and safe harbors available, it is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. In addition, recent health care reform legislation has strengthened these laws. For example, the Affordable Care Act, among other things, amends the intent requirement of the federal anti-kickback and criminal healthcare fraud statutes. A person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act provides that the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal anti-kickback statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act.
If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, exclusion from participation in government health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, imprisonment 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.
International expansion of our business exposes us to business, regulatory, political, operational, financial and economic risks associated with doing business outside of the United States or Israel.
Other than our headquarters and other operations which are located in Israel (as further described below), we currently have limited international operations, but our business strategy incorporates potentially significant international expansion, particularly in anticipation of approval of our product candidates. We plan to maintain sales representatives and conduct physician and patient association outreach activities, as well as clinical trials, outside of the United States and Israel. Doing business internationally involves a number of risks, including but not limited to:
|●||multiple, conflicting and changing laws and regulations such as privacy regulations, tax laws, export and import restrictions, employment laws, regulatory requirements and other governmental approvals, permits and licenses;|
|●||failure by us to obtain regulatory approvals for the use of our products in various countries;|
|●||additional potentially relevant third-party patent rights;|
|●||complexities and difficulties in obtaining protection and enforcing our intellectual property;|
|●||difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;|
|●||complexities associated with managing multiple payor reimbursement regimes, government payors or patient self-pay systems;|
|●||limits in our ability to penetrate international markets;|
|●||financial risks, such as longer payment cycles, difficulty collecting accounts receivable, the impact of local and regional financial crises on demand and payment for our products and exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations;|
|●||natural disasters, political and economic instability, including wars, terrorism and political unrest, outbreak of disease, boycotts, curtailment of trade and other business restrictions;|
|●||certain expenses including, among others, expenses for travel, translation and insurance; and|
|●||regulatory and compliance risks that relate to maintaining accurate information and control over sales and activities that may fall within the purview of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, its books and records provisions or its anti-bribery provisions.|
Any of these factors could significantly harm our future international expansion and operations and, consequently, our results of operations.
If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
Our research and development activities and our third-party manufacturers’ and suppliers’ activities involve the controlled storage, use and disposal of hazardous materials, including the components of our product candidates and other hazardous compounds. We and our manufacturers and suppliers are subject to laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these hazardous materials. In some cases, these hazardous materials and various wastes resulting from their use are stored at our and our manufacturers’ facilities pending their use and disposal. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination, which could cause an interruption of our commercialization efforts, research and development efforts, business operations and environmental damage resulting in costly clean-up and liabilities under applicable laws and regulations governing the use, storage, handling and disposal of these materials and specified waste products. Although we believe that the safety procedures utilized by our third-party manufacturers for handling and disposing of these materials generally comply with the standards prescribed by these laws and regulations, we cannot guarantee that this is the case or eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials. In such an event, we may be held liable for any resulting damages and such liability could exceed our resources and state or federal or other applicable authorities may curtail our use of certain materials and/or interrupt our business operations. Furthermore, environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have tended to become more stringent. We cannot predict the impact of such changes and cannot be certain of our future compliance. We do not currently carry biological or hazardous waste insurance coverage.
The use of any of our product candidates could result in product liability or similar claims that could be expensive, damage our reputation and harm our business.
Our business exposes us to an inherent risk of potential product liability or similar claims. The pharmaceutical industry has historically been litigious, and we face financial exposure to product liability or similar claims if the use of any of our products were to cause or contribute to injury or death. There is also the possibility that defects in the design or manufacture of any of our products might necessitate a product recall. Although we plan to maintain product liability insurance, the coverage limits of these policies may not be adequate to cover future claims. In the future, we may be unable to maintain product liability insurance on acceptable terms or at reasonable costs and such insurance may not provide us with adequate coverage against potential liabilities. A product liability claim, regardless of merit or ultimate outcome, or any product recall could result in substantial costs to us, damage to our reputation, customer dissatisfaction and frustration and a substantial diversion of management attention. A successful claim brought against us in excess of, or outside of, our insurance coverage could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Security breaches and other disruptions could compromise our information, expose us to liability and harm our reputation and business.
In the ordinary course of our business we collect and store sensitive data, including intellectual property, personal information and our proprietary business information. The secure maintenance and transmission of this information is critical to our operations and business strategy. We rely on commercially available systems, software, tools and domestically available monitoring to provide security for processing, transmitting and storing this sensitive data.
Hackers may attempt to penetrate our computer systems, and, if successful, misappropriate personal or confidential business information. In addition, an associate, contractor or other third-party with whom we do business may attempt to circumvent our security measures in order to obtain such information, and may purposefully or inadvertently cause a breach involving such information. While we continue to implement additional protective measures to reduce the risk of and detect cyber incidents, cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent, and the techniques used in such attacks change rapidly.
Also, our information technology networks and infrastructure may still be vulnerable to damage, disruptions or shutdowns due to attack by hackers or breaches, employee error or malfeasance, power outages, computer viruses, telecommunication or utility failures, systems failures, natural disasters or other catastrophic events. Any such compromise could disrupt our operations, damage our reputation and subject us to additional costs and liabilities, any of which could adversely affect our business.
Risks Related to the Ownership of Our ADSs
The market price of our securities may be highly volatile, and you may not be able to resell your ADSs at or above the price you paid.
The market price of the ADSs is volatile. The ADS price are and will continue to be subject to wide fluctuations in response to a variety of factors, including the following:
|●||adverse results or delays in preclinical studies or clinical trials;|
|●||reports of adverse events in our product candidates or clinical trial failures of our product candidates;|
|●||inability to obtain additional funding;|
|●||any delay in filing a regulatory submission for any of our product or product candidates and any adverse development or perceived adverse development with respect to the review of that regulatory submission by the FDA or European or Asian authorities;|
|●||failure to successfully develop and commercialize our products or product candidates;|
|●||failure to enter into strategic collaborations;|
|●||failure by us or strategic collaboration partners to prosecute, maintain or enforce our intellectual property rights;|
|●||changes in laws or regulations applicable to future products;|
|●||inability to scale up our manufacturing capabilities through third-party manufacturers, inability to obtain adequate product supply for our products or the inability to do so at acceptable prices;|
|●||introduction of new products or technologies by our competitors;|
|●||failure to meet or exceed financial projections we may provide to the public;|
|●||failure to meet or exceed the financial expectations of the investment community;|
|●||announcements of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments by our competitors;|
|●||disputes or other developments relating to proprietary rights, including patents, litigation matters and our ability to obtain patent protection for our platform technologies, technologies, products or product candidates;|
|●||additions or departures of key scientific or management personnel;|
|●||significant lawsuits, including patent or shareholder litigation;|
|●||changes in the market valuations of similar companies;|
|●||sales of our securities by us or our shareholders in the future; and|
|●||trading volumes of our securities.|
In addition, companies trading in the stock market have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of the ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance.
Sales of a substantial number of our ADSs or Ordinary Shares in the public market by our existing shareholders could cause our share price to fall.
Sales of a substantial number of the ADSs or Ordinary Shares in the public market, or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of the ADSs or Ordinary Shares and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. We are unable to predict the effect that sales may have on the prevailing market price of the ADSs or Ordinary Shares.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act, will allow us to postpone the date by which we must comply with some of the laws and regulations intended to protect investors and to reduce the amount of information we provide in our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, which could undermine investor confidence in our company and adversely affect the market price of the ADSs or Ordinary Shares.
For so long as we remain an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act, we intend to take advantage of certain exemptions from various requirements that are applicable to public companies that are not “emerging growth companies” including:
|●||the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requiring that our independent registered public accounting firm provide an attestation report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting;|
|●||any rules that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board requiring mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report on the financial statements; and|
|●||our ability to furnish two rather than three years of income statements and statements of cash flows in various required filings.|
We intend to take advantage of these exemptions until we are no longer an “emerging growth company.” We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the date of our first sale of equity securities pursuant to an effective registration statement under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion, or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our Ordinary Shares that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30, and (2) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.
We cannot predict if investors will find the ADSs or Ordinary Shares less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find the ADSs or Ordinary Shares less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for the ADSs or Ordinary Shares, and our market prices may be more volatile and may decline.
As a “foreign private issuer” we are permitted to and follow certain home country corporate governance practices instead of otherwise applicable SEC and Nasdaq requirements, which may result in less protection than is accorded to investors under rules applicable to domestic U.S. issuers.
Our status as a foreign private issuer also exempts us from compliance with certain SEC laws and regulations and certain regulations of the Nasdaq Stock Market, including the proxy rules, the short-swing profits recapture rules, and certain governance requirements such as independent director oversight of the nomination of directors and executive compensation. In addition, we will not be required under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, to file current reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. domestic companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act and we will generally be exempt from filing quarterly reports with the SEC. Also, although the Companies Law requires us to disclose the annual compensation of our five most highly compensated senior officers on an individual basis, this disclosure is not as extensive as that required of a U.S. domestic issuer. Furthermore, as a foreign private issuer, we are also not subject to the requirements of Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) promulgated under the Exchange Act.
These exemptions and leniencies will reduce the frequency and scope of information and protections to which you are entitled as an investor.
Failure to achieve and maintain effective internal controls in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation or financial condition. In addition, current and potential shareholders could lose confidence in our financial reporting, which could have a material adverse effect on the price of the ADSs.
Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and effectively prevent fraud. We will be required to document and test our internal control procedures in order to satisfy the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. In addition, if we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control, as such standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to ensure that we can conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404. Disclosing deficiencies or weaknesses in our internal control, failing to remediate these deficiencies or weaknesses in a timely fashion or failing to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment may cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a material adverse effect on the price of the ADSs. If we cannot provide reliable financial reports or prevent fraud, our operating results could be harmed.
We may be a “passive foreign investment company,” or PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes in the current taxable year or may become one in any subsequent taxable year. There generally would be negative tax consequences for U.S. taxpayers that are holders of the ADSs or Ordinary Shares if we are or were to become a PFIC.
In general, we will be treated as a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes in any taxable year in which either (1) at least 75% of our gross income is “passive income” or (2) on average at least 50% of our assets by value produce passive income or are held for the production of passive income. Passive income for this purpose generally includes, among other things, certain dividends, interest, royalties, rents and gains from commodities and securities transactions and from the sale or exchange of property that gives rise to passive income. Passive income also includes amounts derived by reason of the temporary investment of funds, including those raised in a public offering. In determining whether a non-U.S. corporation is a PFIC, a proportionate share of the income and assets of each corporation in which it owns, directly or indirectly, at least a 25% interest (by value) is taken into account. We believe that we may be deemed a PFIC for 2019. If we are a PFIC in any taxable year during which a U.S. taxpayer holds the ADSs or Ordinary Shares, such U.S. taxpayer would be subject to certain adverse U.S. federal income tax rules. In particular, if the U.S. taxpayer did not make an election to treat us as a “qualified electing fund,” or QEF, or make a “mark-to-market” election, then “excess distributions” to the U.S. taxpayer, and any gain realized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or Ordinary Shares by the U.S. taxpayer: (1) would be allocated ratably over the U.S. taxpayer’s holding period for the ADSs or Ordinary Shares; (2) the amount allocated to the current taxable year and any period prior to the first day of the first taxable year in which we were a PFIC would be taxed as ordinary income; and (3) the amount allocated to each of the other taxable years would be subject to tax at the highest rate of tax in effect for the applicable class of taxpayer for that year, and an interest charge for the deemed deferral benefit would be imposed with respect to the resulting tax attributable to each such other taxable year. In addition, if the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, determines that we are a PFIC for a year with respect to which we have determined that we were not a PFIC, it may be too late for a U.S. taxpayer to make a timely QEF or mark-to-market election. U.S. taxpayers that have held the ADSs or Ordinary Shares during a period when we were a PFIC will be subject to the foregoing rules, even if we cease to be a PFIC in subsequent years, subject to exceptions for U.S. taxpayer who made a timely QEF or mark-to-market election. A U.S. taxpayer can make a QEF election by completing the relevant portions of and filing IRS Form 8621 in accordance with the instructions thereto. We intend to make available to U.S. taxpayers upon request the information needed in order to complete IRS Form 8621 and to make and maintain a valid QEF election for any year in which we or any of our subsidiaries are a PFIC. U.S. taxpayers that hold the ADSs or Ordinary Shares are strongly urged to consult their tax advisors about the PFIC rules, including tax return filing requirements and the eligibility, manner, and consequences to them of making a QEF or mark-to-market election with respect to the ADSs or Ordinary Shares in the event that we are a PFIC. See “Item 10.E. Taxation—U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Companies” for additional information.
We have not paid, and do not intend to pay, dividends on our Ordinary Shares and, therefore, unless our traded securities appreciate in value, our investors may not benefit from holding our securities.
We have not paid any cash dividends on our Ordinary Shares since inception. We do not anticipate paying any cash dividends our Ordinary Shares in the foreseeable future. Moreover, the Companies Law imposes certain restrictions on our ability to declare and pay dividends. As a result, investors in the ADSs or Ordinary Shares will not be able to benefit from owning these securities unless their market price becomes greater than the price paid by such investors and they are able to sell such securities. We cannot assure you that you will ever be able to resell our securities at a price in excess of the price paid.
You may not receive the same distributions or dividends as those we make to the holders of our Ordinary Shares, and, in some limited circumstances, you may not receive dividends or other distributions on our Ordinary Shares and you may not receive any value for them, if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to you.
The depositary for the ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on Ordinary Shares or other deposited securities underlying the ADSs, after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of Ordinary Shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, conversion into U.S. dollars from foreign currency that was part of a dividend made in respect of deposited Ordinary Shares may require the approval or license of, or a filing with, any government or agency thereof, which may be unobtainable. In these cases, the depositary may determine not to distribute such property and hold it as “deposited securities” or may seek to effect a substitute dividend or distribution, including net cash proceeds from the sale of the dividends that the depositary deems an equitable and practicable substitute. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any ADSs, Ordinary Shares, rights or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, Ordinary Shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. In addition, the depositary may withhold from such dividends or distributions its fees and an amount on account of taxes or other governmental charges to the extent the depositary believes it is required to make such withholding. This means that you may not receive the same distributions or dividends as those we make to the holders of our Ordinary Shares, and, in some limited circumstances, you may not receive any value for such distributions or dividends if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of the ADSs.
Holders of ADSs must act through the depositary to exercise their rights as our shareholders.
Holders of the ADSs do not have the same rights of our shareholders and may only exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying Ordinary Shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement for the ADSs. Under Israeli law, the minimum notice period required to convene a shareholders meeting is no less than 35 or 21 calendar days. When a shareholder meeting is convened, holders of the ADSs may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit them to withdraw their Ordinary Shares to allow them to cast their vote with respect to any specific matter. In addition, the depositary and its agents may not be able to send voting instructions to holders of the ADSs or carry out their voting instructions in a timely manner. We will make all reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to holders of the ADSs in a timely manner, but we cannot assure holders that they will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that they can instruct the depositary to vote their ADSs. Furthermore, the depositary and its agents will not be responsible for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, holders of the ADSs may not be able to exercise their right to vote and they may lack recourse if their ADSs are not voted as they requested. In addition, in the capacity as a holder of ADSs, they will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.
You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.
Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason in accordance with the terms of the deposit agreement.
We may be subject to securities litigation, which is expensive and could divert management attention.
In the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock have been subject to securities class action litigation. We may be the target of this type of litigation in the future. Litigation of this type could result in substantial costs and diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could seriously hurt our business. Any adverse determination in litigation could also subject us to significant liabilities.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish or cease publishing research or reports about us, our business or our market, or if they adversely change their recommendations or publish negative reports regarding our business or our shares, the share price and trading volume of our securities could decline.
The trading market for the ADSs or Ordinary Shares will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts may publish about us, our business, our market or our competitors. We do not have any control over these analysts and we cannot provide any assurance that analysts will cover us or provide favorable coverage. If any of the analysts who may cover us adversely change their recommendation regarding our securities, or provide more favorable relative recommendations about our competitors, the price of our securities would likely decline. If any analyst who may cover us were to cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the price or trading volume of our securities to decline.
ADSs holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable results to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.
The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our Ordinary Shares provides that owners and holders of ADSs irrevocably waive the right to a trial by jury in any legal proceeding arising out of or relating to the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, against us or the depositary to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law. If this jury trial waiver provision is prohibited by applicable law, an action could nevertheless proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a jury trial waiver under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by a federal court. However, we believe that a jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement, by a court of the State of New York or a federal court, which have non-exclusive jurisdiction over matters arising under the deposit agreement, applying such law. In determining whether to enforce a jury trial waiver provision, New York courts and federal courts will consider whether the visibility of the jury trial waiver provision within the agreement is sufficiently prominent such that a party has knowingly waived any right to trial by jury. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. In addition, New York courts will not enforce a jury trial waiver provision in order to bar a viable setoff or counterclaim sounding in fraud or one which is based upon a creditor’s negligence in failing to liquidate collateral upon a guarantor’s demand, or in the case of an intentional tort claim (as opposed to a contract dispute), none of which we believe are applicable in the case of the deposit agreement or the ADSs. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or owner of ADSs or by us or the depositary of compliance with any provision of the federal securities laws. If you or any other holder or owner of ADSs brings a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, you or such other holder or owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us and / or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us and / or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different results than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action, depending on, among other things, the nature of the claims, the judge or justice hearing such claims, and the venue of the hearing.
Risks Related to Israeli Law and Our Operations in Israel
Our operations are subject to currency and interest rate fluctuations.
We incur expenses in U.S. dollars and NIS, but our financial statements are denominated in U.S. dollars. U.S. dollars is our functional currency and is the currency that represents the principal economic environment in which we operate. As a result, we are affected by foreign currency exchange fluctuations through both translation risk and transaction risk. As a result, we are exposed to the risk that the NIS may appreciate relative to the dollar, or, if the NIS instead devalues relative to the dollar, that the inflation rate in Israel may exceed such rate of devaluation of the NIS, or that the timing of such devaluation may lag behind inflation in Israel. In any such event, the dollar cost of our operations in Israel would increase and our dollar-denominated results of operations would be adversely affected.
Provisions of Israeli law and our articles of association may delay, prevent or otherwise impede a merger with, or an acquisition of, our company, which could prevent a change of control, even when the terms of such a transaction are favorable to us and our shareholders.
As a company incorporated under the law of the State of Israel, we are subject to Israeli law. Israeli corporate law regulates mergers, requires tender offers for acquisitions of shares above specified thresholds, requires special approvals for transactions involving directors, officers or significant shareholders and regulates other matters that may be relevant to such types of transactions. For example, a merger may not be consummated unless at least 50 days have passed from the date on which a merger proposal is filed by each merging company with the Israel Registrar of Companies and at least 30 days have passed from the date on which the shareholders of both merging companies have approved the merger. In addition, a majority of each class of securities of the target company must approve a merger. Moreover, a tender offer for all of a company’s issued and outstanding shares can only be completed if the acquirer receives positive responses from the holders of at least 95% of the issued share capital and a majority of the offerees that do not have a personal interest in the tender offer approves the tender offer, unless, following consummation of the tender offer, the acquirer would hold at least 98% of the company’s outstanding shares. Under the Israeli law, a potential bidder for the company’s shares, who would as a result of a purchase of shares hold either 25% of the voting rights in the company when no other party holds 25% or more, or 45% of the voting rights in the company where no other shareholders holds 45% of the voting rights, would be required to make a special purchase offer as set out in the provisions of the Israeli law. The Israeli law requires a special purchase offer to be submitted to shareholders for a pre-approval vote. A majority vote is required to accept the offer. An offeror who is regarded as a ‘controlling shareholder’ under Israeli law cannot vote on the resolution and the procedure includes a secondary vote of the non-voting shareholders and the shareholders who rejected the offer at pre-approval level. A special purchase offer may not be accepted unless shares that carry 5% of the voting rights in the target company are acquired. Furthermore, the shareholders may, at any time within six months following the completion of the tender offer, claim that the consideration for the acquisition of the shares does not reflect their fair market value, and petition an Israeli court to alter the consideration for the acquisition accordingly, other than those who indicated their acceptance of the tender offer in case the acquirer stipulated in its tender offer that a shareholder that accepts the offer may not seek such appraisal rights, and the acquirer or the company published all required information with respect to the tender offer prior to the tender offer’s response date. See “Description of Share Capital—Provisions Restricting Change in Control of Our Company—Acquisitions under Israeli Law” for additional information.
Israeli tax considerations also may make potential transactions unappealing to us or to our shareholders whose country of residence does not have a tax treaty with Israel exempting such shareholders from Israeli tax. For example, Israeli tax law does not recognize tax-free share exchanges to the same extent as U.S. tax law. With respect to mergers, Israeli tax law allows for tax deferral in certain circumstances but makes the deferral contingent on the fulfillment of a number of conditions, including, in some cases, a holding period of two years from the date of the transaction during which sales and dispositions of shares of the participating companies may be subject to certain restrictions and additional terms. Moreover, with respect to certain share swap transactions, the tax deferral is limited in time, and when such time expires, the tax becomes payable even if no disposition of the shares has occurred. See “Item 10.E. Taxation—Israeli Tax Considerations and Government Programs” for additional information.
It may be difficult to enforce a judgment of a United States court against us and our officers and directors and the Israeli experts named in this annual report on Form 20-F in Israel or the United States, to assert United States securities laws claims in Israel or to serve process on our officers and directors and these experts.
We were incorporated in Israel and our corporate headquarters are located in Israel. All of our executive officers and directors and the Israeli experts named in this annual report on Form 20-F are located in Israel. All of our assets and most of the assets of these persons are located in Israel. Therefore, a judgment obtained against us, or any of these persons, including a judgment based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws, may not be collectible in the United States and may not necessarily be enforced by an Israeli court. It also may be difficult to affect service of process on these persons in the United States or to assert U.S. securities law claims in original actions instituted in Israel. Additionally, it may be difficult for an investor, or any other person or entity, to initiate an action with respect to United States securities laws in Israel. Israeli courts may refuse to hear a claim based on an alleged violation of United States securities laws reasoning that Israel is not the most appropriate forum in which to bring such a claim. In addition, even if an Israeli court agrees to hear a claim, it may determine that Israeli law and not United States law is applicable to the claim. If United States law is found to be applicable, the content of applicable United States law must be proven as a fact by expert witnesses, which can be a time consuming and costly process. Certain matters of procedure will also be governed by Israeli law. There is little binding case law in Israel that addresses the matters described above. As a result of the difficulty associated with enforcing a judgment against us in Israel, you may not be able to collect any damages awarded by either a United States or foreign court.
Our headquarters and other significant operations are located in Israel, and, therefore, our results may be adversely affected by political, economic and military instability in Israel.
Our executive offices, corporate headquarters and principal research and development facilities are located in Israel. In addition, the vast majority of our officers and directors are residents of Israel. Accordingly, political, economic and military conditions in Israel and the surrounding region may directly affect our business. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, a number of armed conflicts have taken place between Israel and its neighboring Arab countries, the Hamas militant group and the Hezbollah. Any hostilities involving Israel or the interruption or curtailment of trade between Israel and its trading partners could adversely affect our operations and results of operations. Ongoing and revived hostilities or other Israeli political or economic factors, such as, an interruption of operations at the Tel Aviv airport, could prevent or delay our regular operation, product development and delivery of products. If continued or resumed, these hostilities may negatively affect business conditions in Israel in general and our business in particular. In the event that hostilities disrupt the ongoing operation of our facilities and our operations may be materially adversely affected.
In addition, since 2010 political uprisings and conflicts in various countries in the Middle East, including Egypt and Syria, are affecting the political stability of those countries. It is not clear how this instability will develop and how it will affect the political and security situation in the Middle East. This instability has raised concerns regarding security in the region and the potential for armed conflict. In Syria, a country bordering Israel, a civil war is taking place. In addition, it is widely believed that Iran, which has previously threatened to attack Israel, has been stepping up its efforts to achieve nuclear capability. Iran is also believed to have a strong influence among extremist groups in the region, such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Additionally, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, or ISIL, a violent jihadist group, is involved in hostilities in Iraq and Syria. The tension between Israel and Iran and/or these groups may escalate in the future and turn violent, which could affect the Israeli economy in general and us in particular. Any potential future conflict could also include missile strikes against parts of Israel, including our offices and facilities. Such instability may lead to deterioration in the political and trade relationships that exist between the State of Israel and certain other countries. Any armed conflicts, terrorist activities or political instability in the region could adversely affect business conditions, could harm our results of operations and could make it more difficult for us to raise capital. Parties with whom we do business may sometimes decline to invest in Israel or in Israeli companies, or decline to travel to Israel during periods of heightened unrest or tension, forcing us to make alternative arrangements when necessary in order to meet our business partners face to face. Several countries, principally in the Middle East, still restrict doing business with Israel and Israeli companies, and additional countries may impose restrictions on doing business with Israel and Israeli companies if hostilities in Israel or political instability in the region continues or increases. Similarly, Israeli companies are limited in conducting business with entities from several countries. For instance, the Israeli legislature passed a law forbidding any investments in entities that transact business with Iran. In addition, the political and security situation in Israel may result in parties with whom we have agreements involving performance in Israel claiming that they are not obligated to perform their commitments under those agreements pursuant to force majeure provisions in such agreements.
Our employees and consultants in Israel, including members of our senior management, may be obligated to perform one month, and in some cases longer periods, of military reserve duty until they reach the age of 40 (or older, for citizens who hold certain positions in the Israeli armed forces reserves) and, in the event of a military conflict or emergency circumstances, may be called to immediate and unlimited active duty. In the event of severe unrest or other conflict, individuals could be required to serve in the military for extended periods of time. In response to increases in terrorist activity, there have been periods of significant call-ups of military reservists. It is possible that there will be similar large-scale military reserve duty call-ups in the future. Our operations could be disrupted by the absence of a significant number of our officers, directors, employees and consultants related to military service. Such disruption could materially adversely affect our business and operations. Additionally, the absence of a significant number of the employees of our Israeli suppliers and contractors related to military service or the absence for extended periods of one or more of their key employees for military service may disrupt their operations.
Our insurance does not cover losses that may occur as a result of an event associated with the security situation in the Middle East or for any resulting disruption in our operations. Although the Israeli government has in the past covered the reinstatement value of direct damages that were caused by terrorist attacks or acts of war, we cannot assure you that this government coverage will be maintained or, if maintained, will be sufficient to compensate us fully for damages incurred and the government may cease providing such coverage or the coverage might not suffice to cover potential damages. Any losses or damages incurred by us could have a material adverse effect on our business. Any armed conflicts or political instability in the region would likely negatively affect business conditions generally and could harm our results of operations and product development.
Further, in the past, the State of Israel and Israeli companies have been subjected to economic boycotts. Several countries still restrict business with the State of Israel and with Israeli companies. These restrictive laws and policies may have an adverse impact on our operating results, financial conditions or the expansion of our business. Similarly, Israeli corporations are limited in conducting business with entities from several countries.
Your rights and responsibilities as a holder of our securities will be governed by Israeli law, which differs in some material respects from the rights and responsibilities of shareholders of U.S. companies.
The rights and responsibilities of the holders of our Ordinary Shares (and therefore indirectly and the ADSs) are governed by our articles of association and by Israeli law. These rights and responsibilities differ in some material respects from the rights and responsibilities of shareholders in typical U.S.-based corporations. In particular, a shareholder of an Israeli company has certain duties to act in good faith in a customary manner in exercising its rights and performing its obligations towards the company and other shareholders and to refrain from abusing its power in the company including, among other things, in voting at the general meeting of shareholders on certain matters, such as an amendment to the company’s articles of association, an increase of the company’s authorized share capital, a merger of the company, and approval of related party transactions that require shareholder approval. A shareholder also has a general duty to refrain from discriminating against other shareholders. In addition, a controlling shareholder or a shareholder who knows that it possesses the power to determine the outcome of a shareholder vote or to appoint or prevent the appointment of an officer of the company has a duty to act in fairness towards the company with regard to such vote or appointment. However, Israeli law does not define the substance of this duty of fairness. There is limited case law available to assist us in understanding the nature of this duty or the implications of these provisions. These provisions may be interpreted to impose additional obligations on holders of our Ordinary Shares that are not typically imposed on shareholders of U.S. corporations.
We received Israeli government grants for certain of our past research and development activities and programs, some of which we sold or are in the process of selling. The terms of such grants may require us, in the future, to pay royalties and to satisfy specific conditions if and to the extent we receive future royalties or in order to complete the sale of such grant based technologies and programs. We may be required to pay penalties in addition to payment of the royalties.
Our research and development efforts with respect to some of our past activities, including our previous immunotherapy programs such as the BBS Technology, which was focused on developing an immunotherapeutic monoclonal antibody for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, which we sold in March 2015, and our Anti-CD3 technology directed toward the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, which in part was returned and re-assigned to Hadasit Medical Research Services & Development Ltd., or Hadassit, and in part is still in the process of being sold, were financed in part through royalty-bearing grants from the Israeli Innovation Authority, or the IIA, formerly known as the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy and Industry. As of December 31, 2018, we have received the aggregate amount of approximately $4.1 million from the IIA for the development of our abovementioned technologies. With respect to such grants, we are committed to pay certain royalties up to $1.1 million relating only to technologies in our possession and excluding any royalties for technologies that we sold to third parties. We are required to comply with the requirements of the Israeli Encouragement of Research, Development and Technological Innovation in the Industry Law, 5744-1984, as amended, and related regulations, or the Research Law, with respect to these past grants. The discretionary approval of an IIA committee would be required for any assignment and/or transfer to third parties inside or outside of Israel of know-how or transfer outside of Israel of manufacturing or manufacturing rights related to those aspects of such activities and programs (including selling it). The IIA may impose certain conditions on any arrangement under which it permits us to transfer or assign technology or development in or out of Israel. If we fail to comply with the Research Law, we may be required to refund certain grants previously received and/or to pay interest and penalties and we may become subject to criminal charges. None of our current projects in the field of cannabinoid therapeutics are supported by the IIA, yet if eligible, we may apply for such support in the future.
We are in the process of selling one of our past research and development activities which may not be completed due to factors not in our control, and we may be required to assume the sale activity or abandon it, subject to certain payments and liabilities.
In June 2016, we entered into a share transfer agreement with our former subsidiary, Orimmune Bio Ltd., or Orimmune, and Karma Link Ltd., or Karma Link, a private company incorporated under the laws of the State of Israel. According to the agreement, we sold our holdings in Orimmune to Karma Link and will assist the assignment of the antibody Anti-CD3 technology (which was in-licensed by us from Hadasit and certain internally developed assets and technology relating thereto).
However, since certain intellectual property related to the Anti-CD3 technology was developed with financing, in part, from the IIA, we have not been able to assign it to Orimmune, as we have not been able to obtain the consent of the IIA, see Item 4.B. “Business Overview—Intellectual Property—Sales of intellectual property assets” for additional information.
If we are not able to obtain the consent of the IIA, then we may be required to assume the sale activity or abandon it, subject to certain payments and liabilities.
|ITEM 4.||INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY|
|A.||History and Development of the Company|
Our legal and commercial name is Therapix Biosciences Ltd. We were incorporated in the State of Israel on August 23, 2004, and are subject to the Companies Law. Our ADSs representing our Ordinary Shares currently trade in the United States on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “TRPX.” From December 26, 2005 to August 9, 2018, our Ordinary Shares were traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Our registered office and principal place of business is located at 4 Ariel Sharon Street, HaShahar Tower, 16th Floor, Givatayim 5320047, Israel. Our telephone number in Israel is: +972-3-6167055.
Our website address is http://therapixbio.com. The information contained on our website or available through our website is not incorporated by reference into and should not be considered a part of this annual report on Form 20-F, and the reference to our website in this annual report on Form 20-F is an inactive textual reference only. The SEC also maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. Our filings with the SEC will also be available to the public through the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
We are an emerging growth company, as defined in Section 2(a) of the Securities Act, as implemented under the JOBS Act. As such, we are eligible to, and intend to, take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies including but not limited to not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of the SEC rules under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We could remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the date of our first sale of common equity securities pursuant to an effective registration statement under the Securities Act, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion, or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our Ordinary Shares that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30th, and (2) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.
We are a foreign private issuer as defined by the rules under the Securities Act and the Exchange Act. Our status as a foreign private issuer also exempts us from compliance with certain laws and regulations of the SEC and certain regulations of the Nasdaq Stock Market, including the proxy rules, the short-swing profits recapture rules, and certain governance requirements such as independent director oversight of the nomination of directors and executive compensation. In addition, we will not be required to file annual, quarterly and current reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. domestic companies registered under the Exchange Act.
Our capital expenditures for 2018, 2017 and 2016 amounted to $17,000, $44,000 and $4,000, respectively. These expenditures were primarily for purchases of fixed assets. Our purchases of fixed assets primarily include, computers, and equipment used for the development of our products, and we financed these expenditures primarily from cash on hand.
We are a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company led by an experienced team of senior executives and scientists, focused on creating and enhancing a portfolio of technologies and assets based on cannabinoids pharmaceuticals. We are focusing on a drug development program that we call Joint Pharma, which targets the treatment of the central nervous system and related indications with our product candidate THX-110. As part of our Joint Pharma program, we are also developing THX-150 and THX-160, which target multi drug resistant bacteria and pain, respectively.
THX-110 is a combination drug candidate based on two components: (1) dronabinol, the active ingredient in an FDA approved synthetic analog of THC, which is the major cannabinoid molecule in the cannabis plant, and (2) PEA, which is an endogenous fatty acid amide that belongs to the class of nuclear factor agonists, which are molecules that regulate the expression of genes. We believe that the combination of THC and PEA may induce a reaction known as the “entourage effect,” which has strong potential to treat Tourette syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea and pain.
The basic tenet of the entourage effect is that cannabinoids work together, or possess synergy, and affect the body in a mechanism similar to the body’s own cannabinoid system, which is a group of molecules and receptors in the brain that mediates the psychoactive effects of cannabis. This entourage effect may account for the pharmacological actions of PEA. Based on an activity enhancement of other physiological compounds, PEA may indirectly stimulate the cannabinoid receptors by potentiating their affinity for their target ligand, which is an ion or molecule that binds to a central metal atom to form a complex (alternatively known as a coordination entity), such as endocannabinoid anandamide or phytocannabinoid THC or by inhibiting their metabolic degradation, and by doing so, may increase the uptake of cannabinoid compounds, such as THC. Thus, we believe that the presence of the PEA molecule likely increases the efficacy of orally administered THC, while reducing the required dosage and decreasing associated deleterious adverse events. We have developed a proprietary formulation of PEA which we call CannAmideTM.
THX-150 is a drug candidate intended for the treatment of infectious diseases. It consists of dronabinol (synthetic ∆9-tetrahydracannabinol) and/or PEA and selected antibacterial agent and possesses antimicrobial synergy potential.
THX-160 is a novel pharmaceutical CB2 receptor agonist for the treatment of pain. Modulating CB2 receptor activity by selective CB2 receptor agonists holds unique therapeutic potential for addressing pain conditions.
For the development of THX-110 and THX-150, we intend to seek FDA approval for the commercialization of our drug candidates through the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway under the FDC Act. The FDA’s 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway permits the filing of a NDA where at least some of the information required for approval comes from studies that were not conducted by or for the applicant, and for which the applicant has not received a right of reference. This approach could expedite the development program for our product candidates by potentially decreasing the amount of preclinical and clinical data that we would need to generate in order to obtain FDA approval. In addition, with respect to Tourette syndrome, we are pursuing orphan drug designation in the United States. In June 2016, we initially submitted a request for orphan drug designation to the FDA for THX-110 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome. The request is still pending and we are in communication with FDA. The last communication was in December 2018 when we received a letter from the FDA questioning if the sub-group of Tourette syndrome that we are pursuing has a prevalence of fewer than 200,000 individuals and thus eligible for orphan drug designation. There is no assurance that we will successfully obtain orphan drug designation for Tourette syndrome, although we believe that we can provide adequate data to address recent issues raised by the FDA.
The Medical Cannabis Industry
The medicinal cannabis market is an important and evolving segment in global medical therapy. The growing awareness of the medicinal benefits of the active cannabinoids in the plant and its use for improving the quality of life of patients with numerous and diverse indications (oncological patients, chronic pain conditions etc.), as well as the global trends of regulatory changes relating to the use of the plant and of cannabinoids, have all led to a rapid growth in this market. The recent changes in the perception of medicinal cannabis and the scientific and medical acknowledgement of its benefits have created a growing need for more efficient drugs with an improved tolerance profile. The market for medicinal cannabis (and its medical substitutes) is estimated at approximately $2 billion per year in the United States alone and is expected to continue showing significant growth in the coming years. A report included in the Marijuana Business Factbook 2017 suggests that by 2021, annual retail marijuana sales in the United States could top $17 billion, which would represent a 300% increase from 2016.
Our Drug Development Programs
THX-110 – Tourette Syndrome, Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Pain
We believe that our product candidate, THX-110, offers a safe and potentially effective solution for a variety of medical concerns. Despite being in its early phases of clinical testing, the application of THX-110 has extended into several treatments, including Tourette syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, and both acute and chronic pain.
Tourette syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder, characterized by physical (motor) tics and vocal (phonic) tics. Motor tics generally precede the development of phonic tics in Tourette syndrome, and the onset of simple tics usually predates that of complex tics. Tourette syndrome ranges from mild symptoms to loud noises and forceful movements that can result in self-injury (e.g. punching oneself in the face, repeating other people’s words or involuntary swearing). Many with Tourette syndrome experience additional neurobehavioral problems and comorbidities including inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, anger control problems, sleep difficulties, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Pharmacotherapy is used when symptoms are more severe and interfere with the ability to function. Furthermore, according to the CDC, in most cases, the prevalence of tics decreases during adolescence and early adulthood, and sometimes disappears entirely; therefore, there are a limited number of adults with Tourette syndrome and it is usually manifested mainly through moderate to severe symptoms.
The exact number of people with Tourette syndrome is unknown. The prevalence of Tourette syndrome and Tourette syndrome symptoms is greater in children than in adults. CDC scientists used data from the 2011-2012 National Survey on Children’s Health to estimate that one out of every 360 children between the ages of six through 17 have been diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in the United States. This accounts for an estimated 138,000 children. According to 2015 meta-analysis, the Tourette syndrome population prevalence estimate was 0.52% (Scharf JM et al, 2015).
Pharmacological intervention is considered the first line of therapy for Tourette syndrome, but is reserved for more severe symptoms that interfere with the individual’s ability to function. Today, a full class of drugs that interact with dopamine and non-dopamine systems in the brain are used in the treatment of Tourette syndrome symptoms. Many of the drugs used to treat Tourette syndrome are limited to the treatment of a narrow range of Tourette syndrome symptoms (mainly tics), and are associated with severe side effects, both of which limit their utility. Furthermore, several of these drugs have a black box warning on their label due to their potentially lethal effect. A black box warning is the strictest warning put in the labeling of prescription drugs or drug products by the FDA when there is reasonable evidence of an association of a serious hazard with the drug.
The medications commonly used to treat symptoms of Tourette syndrome can be divided into the following groups:
|●||Antipsychotic medications: belong to a class of drugs primarily used to manage psychosis (including haloperidol, pimozide and fluphenazine), all of which are associated with severe side effects (including weight gain, sedation, akathisia (a state of agitation, distress, and restlessness), nausea and tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the face and jaw), among others).|
|●||Alpha2 Adrenergic Agonists: belong to a class of drugs primarily used to manage hypertension and migraine headaches prevention (including clonidine and guanfacine), which have limited utility despite common application to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Similar to antipsychotic medications, these also are associated with several side effects, and some of them, such as clonidine, might even be lethal.|
|●||Benzodiazepines, an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug: belong to a class of drugs primarily used to manage seizures, panic disorder and movement disorders. Of these, cloazepam is used off-label for the reduction of tics in Tourette syndrome patients, which also has associated negative side effects.|
As the currently used medications are managing only a small number of disease symptoms with limited efficacy and questionable safety, there is a clear unmet medical need for the management of Tourette syndrome.
Our THX-110 Solution for Tourette syndrome
Our THX-110 platform is a drug candidate for the treatment of Tourette syndrome.
On April 4, 2018, we announced topline results of our Phase IIa investigator-initiated study at Yale University of THX-110 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome. The study was a single-arm, open-label trial, in which each subject both received one daily treatment of THX-110 via oral administration and was followed-up for a period of 12 weeks. 16 subjects participated in the study and received THX-110 at the Yale University Child Study Center at Yale University. The primary endpoint of the study was to assess the performance of THX-110 in the treatment of adult patients suffering from symptoms of Tourette syndrome, as measured by the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale Total Tic Score, or YGTSS-TTS, the customary index for assessing symptom severity. Treatment was given in a dose titration regimen with a maximum dose of THX-110 consisting of 10mg dronabinol and 800mg PEA.
The topline results of the study showed that each of these 16 subjects with medication-refractory Tourette syndrome sustained a significant reduction of tic symptoms (paired t-test: YGTSS-TTS mean difference (mean +/- SD) =7.9+/-8.4, t= 3.7, df=15, p=0.002) from baseline (YGTSS-TTS: 38.4 +/- 8.3) to endpoint YGTSS-TTS: 30.5 +/- 10.9). This resulted in an average tic reduction of 21% across the entire sample of 16 Tourette syndrome subjects. Six of the 16 medication-refractory Tourette syndrome subjects experienced a response to treatment as defined by a reduction in YGTSS-TTS of greater than 25%. Improvement over time with treatment was also observed when generalized linear models were used to analyze repeated measures data on the YGTSS-TTS. In the study, THX-110 demonstrated no significant effects on comorbid ADHD, anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, symptoms. The medication was generally well-tolerated by the subjects with only two subjects stopping treatment early (one due to sedation and another due to lack of improvement in tic symptoms). 12 of the 16 subjects elected to proceed with a 24-week extension phase of the trial, which was also completed.
Following the Phase IIa study, we initiated in August 2018 a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of daily oral THX-110 in treating adults with Tourette syndrome, with Hannover Medical School, Germany. The study includes approximately 60 patients. Study patients are randomized to either oral THX-110 or placebo at a 1:1 ratio. The overall estimated study duration is 24 months. We plan to also conduct further preclinical studies in parallel to our clinical plans as part of registration process with the FDA and EMA. Following these studies, if successful, we intend to conduct a Phase III, multinational, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo controlled study to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of up to twice daily oral THX-110 in treating Tourette syndrome.
In June 2016, we submitted a request for orphan drug designation to the FDA for THX-110 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome. The request is still pending and we are in communication with FDA. Our last communication was in December 2018 when we received a letter from FDA questioning the prevalence calculation. There is no assurance that we will successfully obtain orphan drug designation for Tourette syndrome, although we believe that we can provide adequate data to address all issues raised by the FDA.
If the FDA does not allow us to pursue the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway as anticipated, we may need to conduct additional clinical trials, provide additional data and information and meet additional standards for regulatory approval. If this were to occur, the time and financial resources required to obtain FDA approval, and complications and risks associated with FDA approval, would substantially increase. In a pre-IND meeting we had with FDA in February 2018, the FDA did not oppose our plans to submit an NDA via the 505(b)(2) pathway relying, in part, on clinical and nonclinical information from literature related to dronabinol and the FDA’s previous finding of safety and efficacy for the reference listed drug (Marinol).
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA is characterized by episodic sleep state–dependent collapse of the upper airway, resulting in periodic reductions or cessations in ventilation, with consequent hypoxia, hypercapnia, or arousals from sleep. OSA severity is typically assessed with the apnea–hypopnea index, or AHI, which is the number of apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep.
Market Size and Current Treatment
At ≥15 AHI (moderate and severe), the prevalence in the general adult population ranges from 6% to 17%, being as high as 49% in the advanced ages. OSA prevalence was also greater in obese men and women (Senaratna CV et al, 2017). A majority of today’s OSA treatments are in the form of medical devices known as C-PAPs. The global sleep apnea devices market size was valued at $5.10 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 7.7% over the forecast period. According to a market research report published by P&S Intelligence, the global sleep apnea devices market is expected to generate $6.8 billion of revenue by 2023. The increasing geriatric population due to increasing life expectancy is expected to increase the prevalence of OSA. Sleep disorders increase with the increase in the age. Furthermore, the prevalence of apnea is high in geriatric population because comorbidities associated with apnea are high in the elderly population. Another factor is the increase in the arousal frequency. The rise in presence of OSA is attributed to the reduction in the size of upper airway lumen due to increasing age factor (Sleep Apnea Devices Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report by Product (Single Channel Screening Devices, Actigraphy Systems, PSG Devices, Respiratory Polygraph) By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2012 – 2022 (https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/sleep-apnea-devices-market). Additionally, and only if other therapies haven't been effective, surgery can be considered.
Our THX-110 Solution for OSA
In October 2017, we signed an agreement with Assuta Medical Center, or Assuta, to conduct a Phase IIa, sponsor-initiated trial for the treatment of OSA THX-110. The study commenced in April 2018.
Within the THX-110 platform, we initiated a proof of concept phase IIa for OSA in 2018, and we expect to complete enrollment by the third quarter of 2019. The OSA trial, titled “Examining the Efficacy of a Therapeutic Combination of Dronabinol (synthetic ∆9-tetrahydracannabinol) and Palmitoylethanolamide for Obstructive Sleep Apnea,” is conducted under the leadership of Prof. Yaron Dagan, head of the Sleep Medicine Institute at Assuta. Thirty patients with a confirmed OSA diagnosis are evaluated for one month with the primary efficacy endpoint evaluating a significant change in the AHI, which assesses the quality of sleep before and after treatment, as well as safety of the treatment. Secondary efficacy measurements include a change in blood oxidation index before and after the treatment, improvement in quality assessment index, improvement in fatigue and sleepiness based on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale index.
Chronic and Acute Pain (THX-110)
In March 2018, the FDA cleared the Investigator-Initiated Investigational New Drug application, or the iIND, for THX-110 in the treatment of chronic low back pain. As of the date hereof, we have not initiated a clinical trial under the iIND for THX-110. As such, we are examining alternatives for conducting this program.
Antibiotics revolutionized medicine in the 20th century, and have together with vaccinations led to the near eradication of diseases such as tuberculosis in the developed world. However, this has led to widespread problems with antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance, so much so that the World Health Organization has classified antimicrobial resistance as a "serious threat." Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. There are currently considerable challenges with the treatment of infections caused by strains of clinically relevant bacteria that show multi-drug-resistance. New anti-bacterial agents are therefore urgently needed, but only one new class of antibacterial has been introduced in the last 30 years. In addition, some antibiotics have been associated with a range of adverse side effects. Side effects range from mild to very serious depending on the antibiotics used, the microbial organisms targeted, and the individual patient. Pharmaceutical combinations of antimicrobial agents with other molecules capable of increasing the potency of the antimicrobial agents could decrease the minimal therapeutic dosages of antimicrobial agents required, thus minimizing the development of drug resistance, reducing antibiotics-associated side effects, preventing biofilm formation and/or treating the established biofilms. We aim to elucidate the mechanism of action of cannabinoids and cannabinoid-mimetics as potentiator for currently used antibiotics, as well as to provide an alternative remedy for the issue posed by antibiotic resistance. The proposed application consists of the pharmaceutical combinations of current antimicrobial agents with our proprietary formulation of a cannabinioid, THC, and a cannabinoid-like compound, PEA, in the hope to elucidate a new mechanism of action for the development of antibiotic treatment, in particular for bacterial strains showing multi-drug-resistance.
Transparency Market Research (TMR) has published a new report titled, “Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2018–2026.” Gram-positive bacterial are bacteria that give a positive result in the Gram stain test, which is traditionally used to quickly classify bacteria into two broad categories according to their cell wall. According to the report the global gram-positive bacterial infections market was valued at $58.7 billion in 2017. It is projected to expand at a CAGR of 1.5% for the forecast period of 2018 to 2026. The gram-positive bacterial infections market is projected to expand during the forecast period owing to an increase in the number of cases of gram-positive bacterial infections and rapid rise in antibacterial resistance. Moreover, factors such as increased government initiatives and funding for R&D activities and newer bacterial infection treatment and infection control in healthcare settings drive the global gram-positive bacterial infections market. North America dominated the global gram-positive bacterial infections market and is expected to maintain its position owing to a rise in the prevalence of bacterial infections, better diagnosis, and treatment rate in the region.
Gram-positive bacterial infections drugs act against gram-positive bacterial infections such as Methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infections, sinusitis, cellulitis, and pneumonia. Antibiotics are widely used as the first line of treatment for these infections. Antibacterial resistance is considered to be a serious threat in this century for the treatment of bacterial infections. The market for gram-positive bacterial infections is expanding significantly due to a rise in the number of cases of bacterial infections and rapid increase in antibacterial resistance. Furthermore, infection control in healthcare settings and increasing government initiatives and funding for R&D activities have fueled the gram-positive bacterial infections market.
Our THX-150 Anti-Bacterial Solution
In January 2017, we initiated a program in the antimicrobial therapies area. Our objective is to use our entourage technology in association with cannabinoids to increase the efficacy of existing antibiotic drugs, especially in antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. The resistance to antimicrobials has become a global hazard. We believe that there is an urgent need for the development of novel antimicrobial agents. Cannabinoids such as THC have been shown to have a wide range of important biological activities, including potential antibacterial activity. We are in the midst of our pre-clinical research stage for our proprietary drug candidate THX-150. We have successfully performed an array of in-vitro studies intended to evaluate the synergistic effects of THX-150 components in various strains of multi drug resistant bacteria. In addition we are assessing the efficacy of THX-150 in an animal model of thigh infection.
Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in most developed countries. It is a major symptom in many medical conditions, and can interfere with a person’s quality of life and general functioning. Opioid medications can provide short, intermediate or long acting analgesia depending upon the specific properties of the medication and whether it is formulated as an extended release drug. Opioids are efficacious analgesics in chronic malignant pain and modestly effective in nonmalignant pain management. However, there are associated adverse effects, especially during the commencement or change in dose. Prolonged opioid use may cause drug tolerance, chemical dependency, diversion and addiction. The potency and availability of these substances, despite their high risk of addiction and overdose, have made them popular both as formal medical treatments and as recreational drugs. Due to their sedative effects on the medulla oblongata, opioids in high doses present the potential for respiratory depression, and may cause respiratory failure and death. In a 2013 review study published in Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology, various studies were cited demonstrating that cannabinoids exhibit comparable effectiveness to opioids in models of acute pain and even greater effectiveness in models of chronic pain. Cannabis produces several compounds with known analgesic activities known together as cannabinoids, such as THC and cannabidiol (CBD). All cannabinoids bind and act through one of the two characterized cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. However, activation of the CB1 receptor (as for example in the case of THC) leads to unwanted psychoactive “high” and other adverse events, whereas activation of CB2 does not lead to any psychoactivity. In addition and unrelated to the above sentence, the affinity of the cannabis derived cannabinoids to these receptors is limited and partial. Newly synthetic cannabinoid HU-433, a specific CB2 agonist with full CB2 receptor affinity, was synthesized by Prof. Raphael Mechoulam from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is our proprietary new chemical entity.
More than 100 million Americans are suffering from pain. The annual economic burden of prescription opioids misuse in 2016 sums in $78.5 million, while the total incremental cost of health care due to pain ranged from $261 to $300 billion.
Our THX-160 Pain Solution
In July 2018, we executed a license agreement with Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for THX-160, a synthetic cannabinoid synthesized by Prof. Mechoulam. We completed two preliminary preclinical studies evaluating analgesic and opioid-sparing effects of this compound in a rat model of acute and chronic pain. In the preclinical studies, THX-160 was well tolerated and did not cause any significant adverse clinical effects. In addition, efficacy studies demonstrated the analgesic superiority of THX-160 over control and were comparable to high-dose morphine analgesic effects and in some instances exerted greater potency. The efficacy and safety of THX-160 was shown for both acute and chronic pain.
Cannabis and cannabinoids have great therapeutic potential and have been used for years for medicinal purposes. For example, cannabis and cannabinoids are being used to improve the quality of life of patients with numerous and diverse indications (oncological patients, chronic pain conditions, etc.). We believe that the novel approaches and unique mechanism of action of our proprietary technology platforms, including our drug delivery systems and unique combination and specific dosages, may be expanded to treat additional diseases and unmet medical needs. We have an additional program that we call BrainBright Pharma, with our product candidate THX-130 which is a low dose THC treatment.
In the future, we may consider expanding our pipeline to include these additional indications.
Therapix Healthcare Resources, Inc.
On July 26, 2018, and as amended in July, August and October 2018, we entered into an agreement for convertible loans, the Convertible Loans Agreement, with THR. On July 31, 2018, THR entered into an asset purchase agreement with a third party for equipment, a laboratory and patient medical records.
On October 3, 2018, we converted an aggregate of approximately $1.63 million of convertible loans issued under the Convertible Loans Agreement and, as a result of such conversion and other non-cash startup expenses previously provided to THR, we obtained an equity ownership interest of 82.36% in THR. We currently have approximately $688,000 in convertible loans outstanding to THR.
THR was engaged in operating pain treatment clinics to treat an assortment of different pains, including acute pain, spine pain, chronic headaches, cancer pain, oral/maxillofacial pain, neuropathic pain and rheumatologic/myofascial pain.
Due in part to significant losses incurred by THR, as well as its failure to maintain required licenses to operate its facilities, THR has commenced liquidation of its assets. The liquidation of THR’s remaining assets, or potential claims that may arise from the liquidation and dissolution of THR may adversely affect our reputation or divert management’s attention in the event of any material litigation or in the event that the liquidation process is prolonged. At this time, neither we nor THR are able to estimate reliably the timing and results of the proposed liquidation or of any consequences that may occur as a result thereof.
Our intellectual property portfolio comprises three granted U.S. patents and seven pending patent applications, of which four applications have either the PCT, pending status or have entered national stage and are under examination by national authorities. Of this portfolio, we have exclusively licensed one granted U.S. patent from Dekel and one patent family from Yissum.
Internally Developed Patent Applications
In April 2015, we filed a provisional application with the USPTO for combinations of cannabinoids, n-acylethanolamines, and inhibitors of n-acylethanolamine degradation, which, in April 2016 was converted into the international PCT stage and in October 2017 into National Phase in the following state entities: U.S., EPO (European Patent Office), Israel, Australia, Canada, China and Japan. The technology is based on the entourage effect paradigm, and is directed to utilizing the potentiating effect of n-acylethanolamines on cannabinoids for any cannabinoid amenable indication, including but not limited to analgesia and Tourette syndrome. Any resulting patent from this application would be expected to expire in April 2036.
In May 2015, we filed a provisional application with the USPTO for combinations of opioids, n-acylethanolamines, and inhibitors of n-acylethanolamines degradation, which, in May 2016 entered the PCT stage, and in November 2017 into National Phase in the following state entities: U.S., EPO, Israel, Australia, Canada, China and Japan. The technology is also based on the entourage effect paradigm, purposed with utilizing the potentiating effect of N-acylethanolamines on opioids for opioid amenable indications. Any resulting patent from this application would be expected to expire in May 2036.
In July 2016, we filed a provisional application with the USPTO for the technology which is based on potentiating the efficacy of currently used antibiotics. This application converted to a non-provisional application PCT application in July 2017 and in January 2019 into National Phase in the following state entities: USA, EPO, and China. Any resulting patent from this application would be expected to expire in July 2037.
In January 2018, we filed a provisional application with the USPTO for the technology which describes methods of treating OSA. This application converted to a non-provisional application PCT application in January 2019. Any resulting patent from this application would be expected to expire in January 2039.
In March 2013, we filed a provisional application with the USPTO for the technology of proprietary sequences of anti-CD3 antibody and the utilization of the latter in various autoimmune diseases, as well as in hepato-pathologies. The provisional application has been converted to a PCT and then entered a National Status in December 2014 in the US, EPO, China, Canada and Japan. In the USA it has received a grant status in June 2018.
In-Licensed Patents and Patent Applications
In May 2015, we entered into an exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license agreement with Dekel for certain technology and one granted U.S. patent related to compositions and methods for treating inflammatory disorders. The agreement became effective in August 2015. Pursuant to the license agreement, we granted Dekel an option to purchase 3,876,000 of our Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.5 per share, exercisable for 90 days. The option was fully exercised as of November 2015. We also granted Dekel an additional option to purchase 11,926,154 of our Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.65 per share, exercisable for 12 months. To date, 65% of the second option (representing options to purchase 7,760,256 Ordinary Shares) has been exercised, for aggregate consideration of NIS 5 million, and the remainder of the option has expired. Pursuant to the license agreement, in May 2016 we issued Dekel 200,000 of our Ordinary Shares at a price per share of NIS 0.5 on account of future royalty payments. This upfront payment of shares on account of future royalty payments was originally a pre-condition for the closing of the agreement and was subject to TASE’s prior approval. This pre-condition was subsequently forfeited by Dekel under the first amendment of the license agreement, to enable the agreement to enter into effect even prior to TASE approval, which was eventually obtained later on. Also, pursuant to the license agreement, we are obligated to pay Dekel fees based on specific milestones and royalties upon commercialization. The milestone payments include: (i) $25,000 upon the successful completion of preclinical trials (which milestone was met in November 2016, resulting in this payment becoming due, and which was paid in March 2017); (ii) $75,000 upon the successful completion of a Phase I/IIa trial (which was paid in April 2018); and (iii) $75,000 upon the earlier of generating net revenues of at least $200,000 from the commercialization of the technology or the approval of the FDA / the EMA of a drug based on the licensed assets. In each case, and subject to our discretion, the respective milestone payments are payable in cash or equity based on a price per Ordinary Share of NIS 0.5. The royalty payments are 8% for commercialization and 35% pursuant to a sub-license of the licensed assets. The patent expiration dates of any patents maturing from this application would likely be 2029.
On July 29, 2018, we entered into an exclusive, worldwide, sublicensable, royalty-bearing license agreement with Yissum for a license to make commercial use of the licensed technology, in order to develop, obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture, market, distribute or sell products, or the Yissum License Agreement. According to the Yissum License Agreement, we shall pay Yissum royalties at the rates of 3% of net sales, subject to the royalty reductions as described in the Yissum License Agreement. All right, title and interest in and to the Yissum License Agreement shall vest solely in Yissum, and we shall hold and make use of the rights granted. All rights in the development results shall be solely owned by us, except to the extent that an employee of the Yissum, including the researcher, is considered an inventor of a patentable invention arising from the development results, in which case such invention and all patent applications and/or patents claiming such invention shall be owned jointly by us and Yissum, as appropriate, and Yissum’s share in such joint patents shall be automatically include in the Yissum License Agreements.
Other Intellectual Property Protection
In addition to patent protection, we intend to use other means to protect our proprietary rights, including pursuing marketing or data exclusivity periods, orphan drug status, and similar rights that are available under regulatory provisions in certain countries, including but not limited to the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, and China.
We also rely on trade secrets, know-how, and continuing innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. We cannot be certain that patents will be granted with respect to any of our pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications filed by us in the future, nor can we be sure that any of our existing patents or any patents granted to us in the future will be commercially useful in protecting our technology.
We also seek regulatory approval for our products for indications with high unmet medical need, great market potential, and where we have a proprietary position through patents covering various aspects of our products, including but not limited to: composition, dosage, formulation, use, and manufacturing process. Our success depends, in part, on an intellectual property portfolio that supports future revenue streams and erects barriers to our competitors. We are maintaining and building our patent portfolio through filing new patent applications, prosecuting existing applications, and licensing and acquiring new patents and patent applications.
Despite these measures, any of our intellectual property and proprietary rights could be challenged, invalidated, circumvented, infringed or misappropriated. Intellectual property and proprietary rights may not be sufficient to permit us to take advantage of current market trends or otherwise to provide competitive one. For more information, see Item 3D. “Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Intellectual Property.”
Sales of intellectual property assets
In June 2016, we entered into a share transfer agreement with our former subsidiary, Orimmune, and Karma Link. According to the agreement, we sold our holdings in Orimmune to Karma Link and will assist the assignment of the antibody Anti-CD3 technology (which was in-licensed by us from Hadasit and certain internally developed assets and technology relating thereto). We have been assisting Karma Link with the activities related to the assignment of the license with all relevant parties and authorities. During May 2017, we entered into the Amendment with Karma Link and Orimmune, pursuant to which the parties acknowledged that our discussions with Hadasit regarding the possibility of assigning the license to Orimmune, as contemplated in the transfer agreement, have yet to mature into an agreement with Hadasit, due to Hadasit’s objection to the proposed assignment. We agreed to bear certain fees expenses related to the license incurred prior to the date hereof in the amount of $60,000, which were paid to Orimmune. In addition, during a period of six months commencing as of the date of the amendment, we agreed to bear certain additional fees and expenses related to the license. It was determined that such additional amounts will not exceed $15,000. All such additional fees and expenses shall be coordinated with our approval in advance. In consideration for such participation by us, it was agreed to increase the percentages of the predetermined rate. Although failure to complete the assignment will not constitute a breach of the agreement by us, such failure may obligate us to decide whether to continue with the program (including continuing the search for other potential collaborators for the assignment of the license) or to abandon the license pursuant to the provisions of the original license agreement with Hadasit. In either of such events, we may bear certain payments and liabilities to third parties including the IIA.
The IIA has declined our request for a joint ownership registration with Hadasit of the patent underlying the assets, according to the license agreement with Hadasit due to the IIA’s claim that such registration is not in compliance with the IIA rules regarding use of its grants. Following further discussions between Hadasit and us held during the second half of 2017, and through the first quarter of 2018, after not succeeding in assigning the license to a buyer, we signed the Termination Agreement. According to the Termination Agreement, Hadasit assigned to us the Therapix Patent, and we re-assigned to Hadasit all of its rights, title and interest in the patents that developed by Hadasit prior to the Hadasit License.
On April 18, 2018, we submitted an application with the IIA to approve the assignment of the Therapix Patent to Orimmune. We are currently in discussions with the IIA in connection with the terms of approval of this request, which will, inter alia, address a previous refusal received by the IIA to a request to recognize the registration of a joint patent with Hadasit, under the license agreement, which according to the IIA did not comply with the rules and regulations with respect to use of funds received under the IIA grant.
On July 4, 2018, and according to the Termination Agreement, we paid Hadassit an amount of approximately $104,000 due to, inter alia, accrued costs and expenses relating to the filing, prosecution and maintenance of the patent rights; license maintenance fee due to Hadasit for the years 2016 and 2017 and unpaid related consultancy fees for work performed during 2015.
On December 13, 2018, an additional amendment to the transfer agreement was signed, or the Additional Amendment, between us, Karma Link and Orimmune, under which the parties acknowledged that despite our efforts and assistance in the discussions with Hadasit regarding the possibility of assigning the license to Orimmune, Orimmune chose not to enter into an agreement with Hadasit. In addition and notwithstanding the foregoing, we are willing to assign to Orimmune the entire right, title and interest in specific patents, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions precedent which are in effect as of the date of this annual report.
We intend to build a global commercial infrastructure to effectively support the commercialization of our product candidates, if and when we believe regulatory approval of a product candidate in a particular geographic market appears imminent.
To develop the appropriate commercial infrastructure, we will likely have to invest significant amounts of financial and management resources, some of which we expect to commit prior to completing the regulatory process for our product candidates. Where appropriate, we may elect in the future to utilize strategic partners, distributors, or contract sales forces to assist in the commercialization of our products. In certain instances we may consider building our own commercial infrastructure.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. While we believe that our scientific knowledge, technology and development experience provide us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including major pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions, governmental agencies and public and private research institutions. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future.
The first THC-based pharmaceutical, a pill sold under the commercial name of Marinol (scientific name: dronabinol), was developed by a company called Unimed Pharmaceuticals, with funding provided by the National Cancer Institute. In 1985, Marinol received FDA approval as a treatment for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Today, Marinol is marketed by AbbVie, Inc. Since the introduction of Marinol into the market, other pharmaceuticals containing THC have also been developed. These include generic oral capsules of dronabinol, such as those marketed by SVC Pharma LP and Akorn Inc., Insys Therapeutic Inc.’s Syndros, an orally administered liquid formulation of dronabinol, Meda AB’s Cesamet (nabilone), a synthetic derivative of THC, and Sativex (nabiximols), a whole cannabis extract administered as an oral spray. Furthermore, we are aware of multiple companies that are working in the cannabis therapeutic area and are pursuing regulatory approval for their product candidates. For example, GW, which markets Sativex, a botanical cannabinoid oral mucosal for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is seeking FDA approval in the United States, and is developing Epidiolex, a liquid formulation of highly purified cannabidiol extract, as a treatment for Dravet’s Syndrome, Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, and various childhood epilepsy syndromes and Prader-Willi syndrome. Insys Therapeutics, Inc. is also seeking FDA approval for an orally-administered liquid formulation of its synthetic cannabidiol compound as a treatment for Dravet’s Syndrome, Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, and other childhood epilepsy syndromes. Zynerba is developing a transdermal formulation of cannabidiol, and Nemus is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of cannabis therapeutics.
In addition, GW develops a CBDV based therapy for autism spectrum disorders and therapy for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, glioblastoma and schizophrenia. Zynerba is developing a transdermal formulation of cannabidiol for Fragile X and certain refractory epilepsies. In addition, Zynerba is currently developing a transdermal formulation of pro-drug of THC for neuropsychiatric disorders including Tourette syndrome. Nemus is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of cannabis therapeutics. Corbus Pharmaceuticals is seeking FDA approval for their synthetic cannabinoid for systemic sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, dermatomyositis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Our competitors, either alone or through their strategic partners, might have substantially greater name recognition and financial, technical, manufacturing, marketing and human resources than we do and significantly greater experience and infrastructure in researching and developing pharmaceutical products, obtaining FDA and other regulatory approvals of those products and commercializing those products around the world. They may also have intellectual property portfolios that provide them with significant competitive advantages or create substantial barriers in our target markets.
We currently expect to contract with third parties for the manufacturing and testing of our product candidates for preclinical trials and clinical trials and intend to do so in the future. We do not own or operate manufacturing facilities for the production of clinical quantities of our product candidates. The use of contracted manufacturing and reliance on collaboration partners is relatively cost-efficient and has may eliminate the need to directly invest in manufacturing facilities and additional staff. Nevertheless, we are looking into entering into transactions with a potential partner that owns or has clinical or commercial scale manufacturing capabilities.
To date, our third-party manufacturers have met our manufacturing requirements. We expect third-party manufacturers to be capable of providing sufficient quantities of our product candidates to meet anticipated full scale commercial demands. To meet our projected needs for commercial manufacturing, third parties with whom we currently work might need to increase their scale of production, or we will need to secure alternate suppliers. We believe that there are alternate sources of supply that can satisfy our clinical and commercial requirements, although we cannot be certain that identifying and establishing relationships with such sources, if necessary, would not result in significant delay or material additional costs.
FDA Approval Process
In the United States, pharmaceutical product candidates are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA. The FDC Act, and other federal and state statutes and regulations, govern, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, storage, recordkeeping, approval, labeling, promotion, and marketing, distribution, post-approval monitoring, and reporting, sampling, and import and export of pharmaceutical product candidates. Failure to comply with applicable U.S. requirements regulations may subject a company to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, such as FDA refusal to approve pending New Drug Applications (NDAs), warning letters, product candidate recalls, product candidate seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, civil penalties and criminal prosecution.
Pharmaceutical product candidate development in the United States typically involves pre-clinical laboratory and animal testing, the submission to the FDA of an Investigational New Drug Application (IND), which must become effective before clinical testing may commence, and adequate, well-controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and effectiveness of the drug for each indication for which FDA approval is sought. Satisfaction of FDA pre-market approval requirements typically takes many years and the actual time required may vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidate or disease.
Pre-clinical tests include laboratory evaluation of drug substance and drug product’s candidate chemistry, formulation and toxicity, as well as animal trials to assess the characteristics and potential safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The conduct of the pre-clinical tests must comply with federal regulations and requirements, including GLP. The results of pre- clinical testing are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND along with other information, including information about product candidate chemistry, manufacturing and controls, and a proposed clinical trial protocol. Long term pre-clinical tests, such as animal tests of reproductive toxicity and carcinogenicity, may continue after the IND is submitted.
A 30-day waiting period after the submission of each original IND is required prior to the commencement of clinical testing in humans. If the FDA has not imposed a clinical hold on the IND or otherwise commented or questioned the IND within this 30-day period, the proposed clinical trial proposed in the IND may begin.
Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of a qualified investigator. Clinical trials must be conducted: (i) in compliance with federal regulations, (ii) in compliance with GCP, an international standard meant to protect the rights and health of patients and to define the roles of clinical trial sponsors, administrators and monitors. Clinical protocols and (iii) under protocols detailing the objectives of the trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Each protocol and any amendment involving testing on of U.S. patients study subjects within the United States and subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND.
The FDA may order the temporary, or permanent, discontinuation of a clinical trial at any time or impose other sanctions if the FDA believes that the clinical trial either is not being conducted in accordance with FDA requirements regulations or presents an unacceptable risk to the clinical trial subjects. The trial protocol and informed consent information for subjects in clinical trials must also be submitted to an IRB for approval. An IRB may also require the clinical trial at the site to be halted, either temporarily or permanently, for failure to comply with the IRB’s requirements or may impose other conditions.
505(b)(2) Regulatory Approval Process
Section 505(b)(2) of the FDCA, or 505(b)(2), provides an alternate regulatory pathway to FDA approval for new or improved formulations or new uses of previously approved drug products. Specifically, 505(b)(2) permits the filing of an NDA where at least some of the information required for approval comes from studies 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. The applicant may rely upon the FDA’s prior findings of safety and efficacy for an approved product that acts as the reference listed drug for purposes of a 505(b)(2) NDA. The FDA may also require 505(b)(2) applicants to perform additional studies or measurements to support any changes from the reference listed drug. The FDA may then approve the new product candidate for all or some of the labeled indications for which the referenced product has been approved, as well as for any new indication sought by the 505(b)(2) applicant.
Orange Book Listing
Section 505 of the FFDCA describes three types of marketing applications that may be submitted to the FDA to request marketing authorization for a new drug. A Section 505(b)(1) NDA is an application that contains full reports of investigations of safety and efficacy. A 505(b)(2) NDA is an application that contains full reports of investigations of safety and efficacy, but where at least some of the information required for approval comes from investigations that 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. This regulatory pathway enables the applicant to rely, in part, on the FDA’s prior findings of safety and efficacy for an existing product, or published literature, in support of its application. Section 505(j) establishes an abbreviated approval process for a generic version of approved drug products through the submission of an abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA. An ANDA provides for marketing of a generic drug product that has the same active ingredients, dosage form, strength, route of administration, labeling, performance characteristics and intended use, among other things, to a previously approved product. ANDAs are termed “abbreviated” because they are generally not required to include preclinical and clinical data to establish safety and efficacy. Instead, generic applicants must scientifically demonstrate that their product is bioequivalent to, or performs in the same manner as, the innovator drug through in vitro, in vivo or other testing. The generic version must deliver the same amount of active ingredients into a subject’s bloodstream in the same amount of time as the innovator drug and can often be substituted by pharmacists under prescriptions written for the reference listed drug.
In seeking approval for a drug through an NDA, including a 505(b)(2) NDA, applicants are required to list with the FDA patents whose claims cover the applicant’s product. Upon approval of an NDA, each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, also known as the Orange Book. These products may be cited by potential competitors in support of approval of an ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA.
Any applicant who submits an ANDA seeking approval of a generic equivalent version of a drug listed in the Orange Book or a 505(b)(2) NDA referencing a drug listed in the Orange Book must certify to the FDA that (1) no patent information on the drug product that is the subject of the application has been submitted to the FDA; (2) such patent has expired; (3) the date on which such patent expires; or (4) such patent is invalid or will not be infringed upon by the manufacture, use or sale of the drug product for which the application is submitted. This last certification is known as a Paragraph IV certification. Generally, the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA cannot be approved until all listed patents have expired, except where the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA applicant challenges a listed patent through a Paragraph IV certification. If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents or does not indicate that it is not seeking approval of a patented method of use, the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA application will not be approved until all of the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired.
If the competitor has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the competitor must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the holder of the NDA for the reference listed drug and the patent owner once the application has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA holder or patent owner 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 of the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification prevents the FDA from approving the application until the earlier of 30 months from the date of the lawsuit, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit, a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the applicant or such shorter or longer period as may be ordered by a court. This prohibition is generally referred to as the 30-month stay. In instances where an ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA applicant files a Paragraph IV certification, the NDA holder or patent owner regularly take action to trigger the 30-month stay, recognizing that the related patent litigation may take many months or years to resolve. Thus, approval of an ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA could be delayed for a significant period of time depending on the patent certification the applicant makes and the reference drug sponsor’s decision to initiate patent litigation. The applicant may also elect to submit a statement certifying that its proposed label does not contain, or carves out, any language regarding the patented method-of-use rather than certify to a listed method-of-use patent.
Although our product candidates are based on repurposed drugs, there are at present no patents or other exclusivities listed in the Orange Book pertaining to a product containing the active ingredient dronabinol.
The FDA provides periods of regulatory exclusivity, which provides the holder of an approved NDA limited protection from new competition in the marketplace for the innovation represented by its approved drug for a period of three or five years following the FDA’s approval of the NDA. Five years of exclusivity are available to NCEs. An NCE is a drug that contains no active moiety that has been approved by the FDA in any other NDA. An active moiety is the molecule or ion, excluding those appended portions of the molecule that cause the drug to be an ester, salt, including a salt with hydrogen or coordination bonds, or other noncovalent, or not involving the sharing of electron pairs between atoms, derivatives, such as a complex (i.e., formed by the chemical interaction of two compounds), chelate (i.e., a chemical compound), or clathrate (i.e., a polymer framework that traps molecules), of the molecule, responsible for the therapeutic activity of the drug substance. During the exclusivity period, the FDA may not accept for review or approve an ANDA or a 505(b)(2) NDA submitted by another company that contains the previously approved active moiety. An ANDA or 505(b)(2) application, however, may be submitted one year before NCE exclusivity expires if a Paragraph IV certification is filed.
If a product is not eligible for the NCE exclusivity, it may be eligible for three years of exclusivity. Three-year exclusivity is available to the holder of an NDA, including a 505(b)(2) NDA, for a particular condition of approval, or change to a marketed product, such as a new formulation for a previously approved product, if one or more new clinical trials, other than bioavailability or bioequivalence trials, was essential to the approval of the application and was conducted or sponsored by the applicant. This three-year exclusivity period protects against FDA approval of ANDAs and 505(b)(2) NDAs for the condition of the new drug’s approval. As a general matter, three-year exclusivity does not prohibit the FDA from approving ANDAs or 505(b)(2) NDAs for generic versions of the original, unmodified drug product. Five-year and three-year exclusivity will not delay the submission or approval of a full NDA; however, an applicant submitting a full NDA would be required to conduct or obtain a right of reference to all of the preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and efficacy.
NDA Submission and Review by the FDA
Assuming successful completion of the required clinical and preclinical testing, among other items, the results of product development, including chemistry, manufacture and controls, nonclinical studies and clinical trials are submitted to the FDA, along with proposed labeling, as part of an NDA. The submission of an NDA requires payment of a substantial user fee to the FDA. These user fees must be paid at the time of the first submission of the application, even if the application is being submitted on a rolling basis. Fee waivers or reductions are available in some circumstances. One basis for a waiver of the application user fee is if the applicant employs fewer than 500 employees, including employees of affiliates, the applicant does not have an approved marketing application for a product that has been introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce, and the applicant, including its affiliates, is submitting its first marketing application.
The cost of preparing and submitting an NDA is substantial. Under federal law, the submission of most NDAs is additionally subject to a substantial application user fee; the fee in the fiscal year 2018 is $2,421,495$.
The FDA has 60 days from its receipt of an NDA to determine whether the application will be accepted for filing based on the agency’s threshold determination that it is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review. The FDA has agreed to certain performance goals in the review of NDAs. Most such applications for standard review drug product candidates are reviewed within 10 to 12 months, while most applications for priority review drugs are reviewed in six to eight months. Priority review can be applied to drugs that the FDA determines offer major advances in treatment, or provide a treatment where no adequate therapy exists. The review process for both standard and priority review may be extended by FDA for three additional months to consider certain late-submitted information, or information intended to clarify information already provided in the submission.
The FDA may also refer applications for novel drug product candidates, or drug product candidates that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy, to an advisory committee, which is typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it generally follows such recommendations. Before approving an NDA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP. Additionally, the FDA will inspect the facility or the facilities at which the drug substance and drug product is are manufactured. The FDA will not approve the product candidate product unless compliance with or cGMP is satisfactory and the NDA contains data that provide substantial evidence that the drug is safe and effective in the indication studied.
After the FDA evaluates the NDA and the manufacturing facilities, it issues either an approval letter or a complete response letter. A complete response letter generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing, or information, in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. If, or when, those deficiencies have been addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmission of the NDA, the FDA will issue an approval letter. The FDA has committed to reviewing such resubmissions in two or six months depending on the type of information included.
An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications. As a condition of NDA approval, the FDA may require a REMS plan to help ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks. REMS can include medication guides, communication plans for health care professionals, and elements to assure safe use (, or ETASU). An ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring, and the use of patient registries. The requirement for a REMS can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the drug. Moreover, product candidate approval may require substantial post-approval testing and surveillance to monitor the drug’s safety or efficacy. Once granted, product candidate approvals may be withdrawn if compliance with regulatory standards is not maintained or problems are identified following initial marketing.
Disclosure of Clinical Trial Information
Sponsors of clinical trials of certain FDA-regulated product candidates, including prescription drugs, are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information on a public website (clinicaltrials.gov) maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Information related to the product candidate product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigator, and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration. Sponsors are also obligated to disclose the results of these trials after completion. Disclosure of the results of these trials can be delayed until the product candidate drug product or new indication being studied has been approved. Competitors may use this publicly available information to gain knowledge regarding the design and progress of our development programs.
Fast Track Designation and Accelerated Approval
Tourette’s syndrome may be considered as a serious condition with a potentially disabling nature. The FDA has programs to facilitate the development, and expedite the review, of drugs that are intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition for which there is no effective treatment and which demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. These therapies for serious conditions are approved and available to patients as soon as it can be concluded that the therapies’ benefits justify their risk. Under the Fast Track Program, the sponsor of a new drug candidate may request that FDA designate the drug candidate for a specific indication as a Fast Track drug concurrent with, or after, the filing of the IND for the drug candidate. FDA must determine if the drug candidate qualifies for Fast Track designation within 60 days of receipt of the sponsor’s request.
Under the Fast Track Program and FDA’s accelerated approval regulations, FDA may approve a drug for a serious or life-threatening illness that provides meaningful therapeutic benefit to patients over existing treatments based upon a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments.
In clinical trials, a surrogate endpoint is a measurement of laboratory or clinical signs of a disease or condition that substitutes for a direct measurement of how a patient feels, functions or survives. Surrogate endpoints can often be measured more easily or more rapidly than clinical endpoints. A drug product approved on this basis is subject to rigorous post-marketing compliance requirements, including the completion of Phase 4 or post-approval clinical trials to confirm the effect on the clinical endpoint. Failure to conduct required post-approval studies, or confirm a clinical benefit during post-marketing studies, will allow FDA to withdraw the drug from the market on an expedited basis. All promotional materials for drug candidates approved under accelerated regulations are subject to prior review by FDA.
In addition to other benefits such as the ability to use surrogate endpoints and engage in more frequent interactions with FDA, FDA may initiate review of sections of a Fast Track drug’s NDA before the application is complete. This rolling review is available if the applicant provides, and FDA approves, a schedule for the submission of the remaining information and the applicant pays applicable user fees. However, FDA’s time period goal for reviewing an application does not begin until the last section of the NDA is submitted. Additionally, the Fast Track designation may be withdrawn by FDA if FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process.
Patent Term Extension
After NDA approval, owners of relevant drug patents may apply for up to a five-year patent extension. The allowable patent term extension is calculated as half of the drug’s testing phase, the time between IND submission and NDA submission, and all of the review phase—the time between NDA submission and approval up to a maximum of five years. The time can be shortened if FDA determines that the applicant did not pursue approval with due diligence. The total patent term after the extension may not exceed 14 years.
For patents that might expire during the application phase, the patent owner may request an interim patent extension. An interim patent extension increases the patent term by one year and may be renewed up to four times. For each interim patent extension granted, the post-approval patent extension is reduced by one year. The director of the PTO must determine that approval of the drug covered by the patent for which a patent extension is being sought is likely. Interim patent extensions are not available for a drug for which an NDA has not been submitted.
Advertising and Promotion
Once an NDA is approved, a drug product will be subject to certain post-approval requirements. . Any products manufactured or distributed by us pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including manufacturing, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising, promotion, drug shortage reporting, compliance with any post-approval requirements imposed as a conditional of approval such as Phase 4 clinical trials, REMS and surveillance, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including adverse experiences. For instance, FDA closely regulates the post-approval marketing and promotion of drugs, including standards and regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising, off-label promotion, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities and promotional activities involving the internet.
Drugs may be marketed only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling. Changes to some of the conditions established in an approved application, including changes in indications, labeling, or manufacturing processes or facilities, require submission and FDA approval of a new NDA or NDA supplement before the change can be implemented. An NDA supplement for a new indication typically requires clinical data similar to that in the original application, and the FDA uses the same procedures and actions in reviewing NDA supplements as it does in reviewing NDAs.
Adverse Event Reporting and GMP Compliance
Adverse event reporting and submission of periodic reports is required following FDA approval of an NDA. The FDA also may require post-marketing testing, known as Phase 4 testing, REMS and surveillance to monitor the effects of an approved product candidate, or the FDA may place conditions on an approval that could restrict the distribution or use of the product candidate. In addition, quality-control, drug manufacture, packaging, and labeling procedures must continue to conform with cGMPs after approval. Drug manufacturers and certain of their subcontractors are required to register their establishments with FDA and certain state agencies. Registration with the FDA subjects entities to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA, during which the agency inspects manufacturing facilities to assess compliance with cGMPs. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the areas of production and quality control to maintain compliance with cGMPs. Regulatory authorities may withdraw product candidate approvals or request product candidate recalls if a company fails to comply with regulatory standards, if it encounters problems following initial marketing or if previously unrecognized problems are subsequently discovered.
Pediatric Exclusivity and Pediatric Use
The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, or BPCA, provides NDA holders a six-month extension of any exclusivity—patent or non-patent—for a drug if certain conditions are met. Conditions for exclusivity include a determination by the FDA that information relating to the use of a new drug in the pediatric population may produce health benefits in that population; a written request by the FDA for pediatric studies; and agreement by the applicant to perform the requested studies and the submission to the FDA, and the acceptance by the FDA, of the reports of the requested studies within the statutory timeframe. Applications under the BPCA are treated as priority applications.
In addition, under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, NDAs or supplements to NDAs must contain data to assess the safety and effectiveness of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the drug is safe and effective, unless the sponsor has received a deferral or waiver from the FDA. Unless otherwise required by regulation, PREA does not apply to any drug for an indication for which orphan designation has been granted. The required pediatric assessment must assess the safety and effectiveness of the product candidate for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product candidate is safe and effective. The sponsor or FDA may request a deferral of pediatric studies for some or all of the pediatric subpopulations. A deferral may be granted for several reasons, including a finding that the drug is ready for approval for use in adults before pediatric studies are complete or that additional safety or effectiveness data need to be collected before the pediatric studies begin. Under PREA, the FDA must send a non-compliance letter requesting a response with 45 days to any sponsor that fails to submit the required assessment, keep a deferral current or fails to submit a request for approval of a pediatric formulation.
Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan drug designation to drugs intended to treat a rare disease or condition—generally a disease or condition with a prevalence of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the generic identity of the drug and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process. The first NDA applicant to receive FDA approval for a particular active ingredient to treat a particular disease with FDA orphan drug designation is entitled to a seven-year exclusive marketing period in the United States for that product candidate, for that indication. During the seven-year exclusivity period, the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug for the same disease, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product candidate with orphan drug exclusivity. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving a different drug for the same disease or condition, or the same drug for a different disease or condition. Among the other benefits of orphan drug designation are tax credits for certain research and a waiver of the NDA application user fee.
In June 2016, we submitted a request for orphan drug designation to the FDA for THX-110 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome. In a letter dated September 29, 2016, the FDA informed us that our request could not be granted at such time, and is being held in abeyance until and subject to us providing additional information pertaining to the overall prevalence of Tourette syndrome in both children and adults, and further clinical data to support our scientific rationale for our request for orphan drug designation within 12 months. In September 2017, we responded to such FDA letter within the designated time frame, and provided the FDA with our articulated and reasoned responses including documentation and clinical data that supports it. On December 26, 2017, we received the FDA’s response to our response. The FDA accepted that there is adequate scientific rationale for the treatment of Tourette syndrome with THX-110 mainly through the preliminary results of ongoing clinical trials, suggesting that THX-110 may provide benefit in treating Tourette syndrome. However, the FDA stated that it was unable to grant our request and indicated that we did not provide adequate prevalence estimates, and any evidence to support our statement that only moderate to severe Tourette's patients would require pharmacological treatment. We further responded in January 2018 by providing the requested information. We are currently waiting for the FDA’s response. There is no assurance that we will successfully obtain orphan drug designation for Tourette syndrome, although we believe that we can provide adequate data to address all issues raised by the FDA.
Special Protocol Assessment
A company may reach an agreement with the FDA under the Special Protocol Assessment, or SPA, process as to the required design and size of clinical trials intended to form the primary basis of an efficacy claim. According to its performance goals, the FDA is supposed to evaluate the protocol within 45 days of the request to assess whether the proposed trial is adequate, and that evaluation may result in discussions and a request for additional information. An SPA request must be made before the proposed trial begins, and all open issues must be resolved before the trial begins. If a written agreement is reached, it will be documented and made part of the administrative record. Under the FDC Act and FDA guidance implementing the statutory requirement, an SPA is generally binding upon the FDA except in limited circumstances, such as if the FDA identifies a substantial scientific issue essential to determining safety or efficacy after the study begins, public health concerns emerge that were unrecognized at the time of the protocol assessment, the sponsor and FDA agree to the change in writing, or if the study sponsor fails to follow the protocol that was agreed upon with the FDA.
Dronabinol, the active ingredient in our product candidates is a Schedule I controlled substance. The CSA and its implementing regulations establish a “closed system” of regulations for controlled substances. The CSA imposes registration, security, recordkeeping and reporting, storage, manufacturing, distribution, importation and other requirements under the oversight of the U.S. DEA. The DEA is the federal agency responsible for regulating controlled substances, and requires those individuals or entities that manufacture, import, export, distribute, research, or dispense controlled substances to comply with the regulatory requirements in order to prevent the diversion of controlled substances to illicit channels of commerce.
The DEA categorizes controlled substances into one of five schedules—Schedule I, II, III, IV or V—with varying qualifications for listing in each schedule. Schedule I substances by definition have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and lack accepted safety for use under medical supervision. They may be used only in federally approved research programs and may not be marketed or sold for dispensing to patients in the United States. Pharmaceutical product candidates having a currently accepted medical use that are otherwise approved for marketing may be listed as Schedule II, III, IV or V substances, with Schedule II substances presenting the highest potential for abuse and physical or psychological dependence, and Schedule V substances presenting the lowest relative potential for abuse and dependence. The regulatory requirements are more restrictive for Schedule II substances than Schedule III substances. For example, all Schedule II drug prescriptions must be signed by a physician, physically presented to a pharmacist in most situations and cannot be refilled.
Following NDA approval of a drug containing a Schedule I controlled substance, that substance must be rescheduled as a Schedule II, III, IV or V substance before it can be marketed. On November 17, 2015, H.R. 639, Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, passed through both houses of Congress. On November 25, 2015 this bill was signed into law. The new law removes uncertainty associated with timing of the DEA rescheduling process after NDA approval. Specifically, it requires DEA to issue an “interim final rule,” pursuant to which a manufacturer may market its product candidate within 90 days of FDA approval. The new law also preserves the period of orphan marketing exclusivity for the full seven years such that this period only begins after DEA scheduling. This contrasts with the previous situation whereby the orphan “clock” began to tick upon FDA approval, even though the product candidate could not be marketed until DEA scheduling was complete.
Facilities that manufacture, distribute, import or export any controlled substance must register annually with the DEA. The DEA registration is specific to the particular location, activity(ies) and controlled substance schedule(s). For example, separate registrations are required for importation and manufacturing activities, and each registration authorizes which schedules of controlled substances the registrant may handle. However, certain coincident activities are permitted without obtaining a separate DEA registration, such as distribution of controlled substances by the manufacturer that produces them.
The DEA inspects all manufacturing facilities to review security, recordkeeping, reporting and handling prior to issuing a controlled substance registration. The specific security requirements vary by the type of business activity and the schedule and quantity of controlled substances handled. The most stringent requirements apply to manufacturers of Schedule I and Schedule II substances. Required security measures commonly include background checks on employees and physical control of controlled substances through storage in approved vaults, safes and cages, and through use of alarm systems and surveillance cameras. An application for a manufacturing registration as a bulk manufacturer (not a dosage form manufacturer or a repacker/relabeler) for a Schedule I or II substance must be published in the Federal Register, and is open for 30 days to permit interested persons to submit comments, objections or requests for a hearing. A copy of the notice of the Federal Register publication is forwarded by DEA to all those registered, or applicants for registration, as bulk manufacturers of that substance. Once registered, manufacturing facilities must maintain records documenting the manufacture, receipt and distribution of all controlled substances. Manufacturers must submit periodic reports to the DEA of the distribution of Schedule I and II controlled substances, Schedule III narcotic substances, and other designated substances. Registrants must also report any controlled substance thefts or significant losses, and must obtain authorization to destroy or dispose of controlled substances. As with applications for registration as a bulk manufacturer, an application for an importer registration for a Schedule I or II substance must also be published in the Federal Register, which remains open for 30 days for comments. Imports of Schedule I and II controlled substances for commercial purposes are generally restricted to substances not already available from domestic supplier or where there is not adequate competition among domestic suppliers. In addition to an importer or exporter registration, importers and exporters must obtain a permit for every import or export of a Schedule I and II substance or Schedule III, IV and V narcotic, and submit import or export declarations for Schedule III, IV and V non-narcotics. In some cases, Schedule III non-narcotic substances may be subject to the import/export permit requirement, if necessary to ensure that the United States complies with its obligations under international drug control treaties.
For drugs manufactured in the United States, the DEA establishes annually an aggregate quota for the amount of substances within Schedules I and II that may be manufactured or produced in the United States based on the DEA’s estimate of the quantity needed to meet legitimate medical, scientific, research and industrial needs. This limited aggregate amount of cannabis that the DEA allows to be produced in the United States each year is allocated among individual companies, which, in turn, must annually apply to the DEA for individual manufacturing and procurement quotas. The quotas apply equally to the manufacturing of the API and production of dosage forms. The DEA may adjust aggregate production quotas a few times per year, and individual manufacturing or procurement quotas from time to time during the year, although the DEA has substantial discretion in whether or not to make such adjustments for individual companies.
The states also maintain separate controlled substance laws and regulations, including licensing, recordkeeping, security, distribution, and dispensing requirements. State Authorities, including Boards of Pharmacy, regulate use of controlled substances in each state. Failure to maintain compliance with applicable requirements, particularly as manifested in the loss or diversion of controlled substances, can result in enforcement action that could have a material adverse effect on our business, operations and financial condition. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations, or initiate proceedings to revoke those registrations. In certain circumstances, violations could lead to criminal prosecution.
Europe/Rest of World Government Regulation
In addition to regulations in the United States, we are and will be subject, either directly or through our distribution partners, to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical trials and any commercial sales and distribution of our product candidates, if approved.
Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product candidate, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in non-U.S. countries prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of the product candidate in those countries. Certain countries outside of the United States have a process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application, or CTA, much like an IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In Europe, for example, a CTA must be submitted to the competent national health authority and to independent ethics committees in each country in which a company intends to conduct clinical trials. Once the CTA is approved in accordance with a country’s requirements, clinical trial development may proceed in that country.
The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical trials, product candidate licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country, even though there is already some degree of legal harmonization in the European Union member states resulting from the national implementation of underlying E.U. legislation. In all cases, the clinical trials are conducted in accordance with GCP and other applicable regulatory requirements.
To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational drug under E.U. regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application. This application is similar to the NDA in the United States, with the exception of, among other things, country-specific document requirements. Drugs can be authorized in the European Union by using (i) the centralized authorization procedure, (ii) the mutual recognition procedure, or MRP, (iii) the decentralized procedure or (iv) national authorization procedures. The initial Sativex approvals were a consequence of an application under the De-Centralized Procedure, or DCP, to the E.U. member states of the United Kingdom and Spain.
The EMA implemented the centralized procedure for the approval of human drugs to facilitate marketing authorizations that are valid throughout the European Union. This procedure results in a single marketing authorization granted by the European Commission that is valid across the European Union, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human drugs that are: (i) derived from biotechnology processes, such as genetic engineering, (ii) contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune and other immune dysfunctions and viral diseases, (iii) officially designated “orphan drugs” (drugs used for rare human diseases) and (iv) advanced-therapy medicines, such as gene- therapy, somatic cell-therapy or tissue-engineered medicines. The centralized procedure may at the request of the applicant also be used for human drugs which do not fall within the above mentioned categories if the human drug (a) contains a new active substance which, on the date of entry into force of this Regulation, was not authorized in the Community; or (b) the applicant shows that the medicinal product candidate constitutes a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation or that the granting of authorization in the centralized procedure is in the interests of patients or animal health at the European Community level.
Under the centralized procedure in the European Union, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a MAA by the EMA is 210 days (excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the Committee for Medicinal Product candidates for Human Use, or CHMP, with adoption of the actual marketing authorization by the European Commission thereafter. Accelerated evaluation might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product candidate is expected to be of a major public health interest from the point of view of therapeutic innovation, defined by three cumulative criteria: the seriousness of the disease to be treated; the absence of an appropriate alternative therapeutic approach, and anticipation of exceptional high therapeutic benefit. In this circumstance, EMA ensures that the evaluation for the opinion of the CHMP is completed within 150 days and the opinion issued thereafter.
The MRP, for the approval of human drugs is an alternative approach to facilitate individual national marketing authorizations within the European Union. Basically, the MRP may be applied for all human drugs for which the centralized procedure is not obligatory. The MRP is applicable to the majority of conventional medicinal product candidates, and is based on the principle of recognition of an already existing national marketing authorization by one or more member states. Since the first approvals for Sativex were national approvals in the United Kingdom and Spain (following a DCP), the only route open to us for additional marketing authorizations in the European Union was the MRP.
The characteristic of the MRP is that the procedure builds on an already‒existing marketing authorization in a member state of the E.U. that is used as a reference in order to obtain marketing authorizations in other E.U. member states. In the MRP, a marketing authorization for a drug already exists in one or more member states of the E.U. and subsequently MAAs are made in other European Union member states by referring to the initial marketing authorization. The member state in which the marketing authorization was first granted will then act as the reference member state. The member states where the marketing authorization is subsequently applied for act as concerned member states.
The MRP is based on the principle of the mutual recognition by European Union member states of their respective national marketing authorizations. Based on a marketing authorization in the reference member state, the applicant may apply for marketing authorizations in other member states. In such case, the reference member state shall update its existing assessment report about the drug in 90 days. After the assessment is completed, copies of the report are sent to all member states, together with the approved summary of product candidate characteristics, labeling and package leaflet. The concerned member states then have 90 days to recognize the decision of the reference member state and the summary of product candidate characteristics, labeling and package leaflet. National marketing authorizations shall be granted within 30 days after acknowledgement of the agreement.
Should any Member State refuse to recognize the marketing authorization by the reference member state, on the grounds of potential serious risk to public health, the issue will be referred to a coordination group. Within a timeframe of 60 days, member states shall, within the coordination group, make all efforts to reach a consensus. If this fails, the procedure is submitted to an EMA scientific committee for arbitration. The opinion of this EMA Committee is then forwarded to the Commission, for the start of the decision making process. As in the centralized procedure, this process entails consulting various European Commission Directorates General and the Standing Committee on Human Medicinal Product candidates or Veterinary Medicinal Product candidates, as appropriate. Since the initial approvals of Sativex in the United Kingdom and Spain, there have been three “waves” of additional approvals under three separate MRPs. Each of these procedures have been completed without any referral, and therefore without any delay.
For other countries outside of the European Union, such as countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product candidate licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, again, the clinical trials are conducted in accordance with GCP and the other applicable regulatory requirements.
If we fail to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension of clinical trials, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product candidate recalls, seizure of product candidates, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.
In addition, most countries are parties to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, which governs international trade and domestic control of narcotic substances, including cannabis extracts. Countries may interpret and implement their treaty obligations in a way that creates a legal obstacle to our obtaining marketing approval for Sativex and our other product candidates in those countries. These countries may not be willing or able to amend or otherwise modify their laws and regulations to permit Sativex or our other product candidates to be marketed, or achieving such amendments to the laws and regulations may take a prolonged period of time. In that case, we would be unable to market our product candidates in those countries in the near future or perhaps at all.
Sales of pharmaceutical product candidates in the United States will depend, in part, on the extent to which the costs of the product candidates will be covered by third-party payers, such as government health programs, commercial insurance and managed health care organizations. These third-party payers are increasingly challenging the prices charged for medical product candidates and services. Additionally, the containment of health care costs has become a priority of federal and state governments, and the prices of drugs have been a focus in this effort. The United States government, state legislatures and foreign governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic product candidates. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit our net revenue and results. If these third-party payers do not consider our product candidates to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our product candidates after approval as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our product candidates on a profitable basis.
The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, or the MMA, imposed new requirements for the distribution and pricing of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries and included a major expansion of the prescription drug benefit under Medicare Part D. Under Part D, Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in prescription drug plans offered by private entities which will provide coverage of outpatient prescription drugs. Part D plans include both stand-alone prescription drug benefit plans and prescription drug coverage as a supplement to Medicare Advantage plans. Unlike Medicare Part A and B, Part D coverage is not standardized. Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs, and each drug plan can develop its own drug formulary that identifies which drugs it will cover and at what tier or level. However, Part D prescription drug formularies must include drugs within each therapeutic category and class of covered Part D drugs, though not necessarily all the drugs in each category or class. Any formulary used by a Part D prescription drug plan must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs may increase demand for product candidates for which we receive marketing approval. However, any negotiated prices for our product candidates covered by a Part D prescription drug plan will likely be lower than the prices we might otherwise obtain. Moreover, while the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payers often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own payment rates. Any reduction in payment that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from non-governmental payers.
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This law provides funding for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness. A plan for the research will be developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes for Health, and periodic reports on the status of the research and related expenditures will be made to Congress. Although the results of the comparative effectiveness studies are not intended to mandate coverage policies for public or private payers, it is not clear how such a result could be avoided and what if any effect the research will have on the sales of our product candidates, if any such product candidate or the condition that it is intended to treat is the subject of a study. It is also possible that comparative effectiveness research demonstrating benefits in a competitor’s product candidate could adversely affect the sales of our product candidates. Decreases in third-party reimbursement for our product candidates or a decision by a third-party payer to not cover our product candidates could reduce physician usage of the product candidate and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition.
The Affordable Care Act is expected to continue to have a significant impact on the health care industry. With regard to pharmaceutical product candidates, among other things, the Affordable Care Act may expand and increase industry rebates for drugs covered under Medicaid programs and make changes to the coverage requirements under the Medicare D program. Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, numerous regulations have been issued providing further guidance on its requirements. The Affordable Care Act continues to be implemented through regulation and government activity but is subject to possible amendment, additional implementing regulations and interpretive guidelines. Several states have decided not to expand their Medicaid programs and are seeking alternative reimbursement models to provide care to the uninsured. The manner in which these issues are resolved could materially affect the extent to which and the amount at which pharmaceuticals are reimbursed by government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare.
Our ability to commercialize any products successfully also will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for our products, once approved, and related treatments will be available from third-party payors, such as government health administration authorities, private health insurers and managed care organizations. Third-party payors determine which medications they will cover and separately establish reimbursement levels. Even if we obtain coverage for a given product by a third-party payor, the third-party payor’s reimbursement rates may not be adequate to make the product affordable to patients or profitable to us, or the third-party payors may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Patients who are prescribed medications for the treatment of their conditions, and their prescribing physicians, generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their prescription drugs. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided, and reimbursement is adequate to cover all or a significant portion of the cost of our products. Therefore, coverage and adequate reimbursement is critical to new product acceptance. Coverage decisions may depend upon clinical and economic standards that disfavor new drug products when more established or lower cost therapeutic alternatives are already available or subsequently become available.
Government authorities and other third-party payors are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs, such as by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices as a condition of coverage, are using restrictive formularies and preferred drug lists to leverage greater discounts in competitive classes and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. Further, no uniform policy for determining coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors in the United States. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be applied consistently or obtained in the first instance.
We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any product that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, that the level of reimbursement will be adequate. 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 if reimbursement is available only to limited levels, we may not successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.
As a condition of receiving Medicaid coverage for prescription drugs, the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program requires manufacturers to calculate and report to CMS their Average Manufacturer Price, or AMP, which is used to determine rebate payments shared between the states and the federal government and, for some multiple source drugs, Medicaid payment rates for the drug, and for drugs paid under Medicare Part B, to also calculate and report their average sales price, which is used to determine the Medicare Part B payment rate for the drug. In January 2016, CMS issued a final rule regarding the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, effective April 1, 2016, that, among other things, revises the manner in which the AMP is to be calculated by manufacturers participating in the program and implements certain amendments to the Medicaid rebate statute created under the ACA. Drugs that are approved under a biologics license application, or BLA, or an NDA, including a 505(b)(2) NDA, are subject to an additional requirement to calculate and report the manufacturer’s best price for the drug and inflation penalties which can substantially increase rebate payments. For BLA and NDA drugs, the Veterans Health Care Act requires manufacturers to calculate and report to the Department of Veterans Affairs a different price called the Non-Federal AMP, offer the drugs for sale on the Federal Supply Schedule, and charge the government no more than a statutory price referred to as the Federal Ceiling Price, which includes an inflation penalty. A separate law requires manufacturers to pay rebates on these drugs when paid by the Department of Defense under its TRICARE Retail Pharmacy Program. Knowingly submitting false pricing information to the government creates potential federal False Claims Act liability.
Further, there has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted legislation at the federal and state levels designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, reduce the cost of drugs under Medicare, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. At the federal level, the Trump Administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 contains further drug price control measures that could be enacted during the 2019 budget process or in other future legislation, including, for example, measures to permit Medicare Part D plans to negotiate the price of certain drugs under Medicare Part B, to allow some states to negotiate drug prices under Medicaid, and to eliminate cost sharing for generic drugs for low-income patients. While any proposed measures will require authorization through additional legislation to become effective, Congress and the Trump Administration have both stated that it will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. At the state level, legislatures have been increasingly 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. Additional health reform measures may continue and affect our business in unknown ways.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The FCPA prohibits any U.S. individual or business from paying, offering or authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the foreign entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with accounting provisions requiring the companies to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the companies, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.
In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of foreign regulations governing clinical trials and commercial sales and distribution of our products to the extent we choose to develop or sell any products outside of the United States. The approval process varies from country to country and the time may be longer or shorter than that required to obtain FDA approval. The requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary greatly from country to country.
In addition, in some foreign countries, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing vary widely from country to country. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal product candidates for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal product candidates for human use. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product candidate or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of our Company placing the medicinal product candidate on the market. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical product candidates will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our product candidates. Historically, product candidates launched in the European Union do not follow price structures of the United States and generally tend to be significantly lower.
Other Health Care Laws and Compliance Requirements
In the United States, our activities are potentially subject to regulation by various federal, state and local authorities in addition to the FDA, including the CMS, other divisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (e.g., the Office of Inspector General), the U.S. Department of Justice and individual U.S. Attorney offices within the Department of Justice, and state and local governments.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, any person or entity, from knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, the referral of an individual for, or purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of, any good, facility, item or service reimbursable, in whole or in part, by Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs. The term remuneration has been interpreted broadly to include anything of value, including unlawful financial inducements paid to prescribers and beneficiaries, as well as impermissible promotional practices. There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, but the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all of its facts and circumstances. Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively the ACA, amended the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute so that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, or the specific intent to violate it, to have violated the statute. The ACA also provided that a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute is grounds for the government or a whistleblower to assert that a claim for payment of items or services resulting from such violation constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act.
The federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the federal False Claims Act, prohibit, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment to, or for approval by, the federal government, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, or knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government.
The civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity who, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent.
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, created additional federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including public and private payors, or obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any healthcare benefit program, regardless of whether the payor is public or private, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a health care benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a health care offense and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters. The ACA amended the federal health care fraud criminal statute implemented under HIPAA so that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute, or the specific intent to violate it, to have violated the statute.
Additionally, the federal Open Payments program pursuant to the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under Section 6002 of the ACA and its implementing regulations, require some manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with specified exceptions) to report annually information related to specified payments or other transfers of value provided to physicians and teaching hospitals, or to entities or individuals at the request of, or designated on behalf of, the physicians and teaching hospitals and to report annually specified ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members.
In addition, we may be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and their implementing regulations, impose requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information on HIPAA covered entities and their business associates, including mandatory contractual terms and the implementation of certain safeguards of such information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s security standards directly applicable to business associates, independent contractors or agents of covered entities that receive or obtain protected health information in connection with providing a service on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also created four new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways, may not have the same effect and may not be preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
Many states have also adopted laws similar to each of the above federal laws, which may be broader in scope and apply to items or services reimbursed by any payor, including commercial insurers. We may also be subject to state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government, and/or state laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to marketing expenditures or payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers.
Enforcement actions can be brought by federal or state governments or, in some cases, as “qui tam” actions brought by individual whistleblowers in the name of the government. Depending on the circumstances, failure to comply with these laws can result in penalties, including criminal, civil and/or administrative criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, debarment from government contracts, 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 from government programs, refusal to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our business.
In order to distribute product candidates commercially, we must comply with state laws that require the registration of manufacturers and wholesale distributors of pharmaceutical product candidates in a state, including, in certain states, manufacturers and distributors who ship product candidates into the state, even if such manufacturers or distributors have no place of business within the state. Some states also impose requirements on manufacturers and distributors to establish the pedigree of product candidate in the chain of distribution, including some states that require manufacturers and others to adopt new technology capable of tracking and tracing product candidate as it moves through the distribution chain. Several states have enacted legislation requiring pharmaceutical companies to establish marketing compliance programs, file periodic reports with the state, make periodic public disclosures on sales, marketing, pricing, clinical trials and other activities or register their sales representatives. Other legislation has been enacted in certain states prohibiting pharmacies and other health care entities from providing certain physician prescribing data to pharmaceutical companies for use in sales and marketing, and prohibiting certain other sales and marketing practices. All of our activities are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws.
Expanded Access to Investigational Drugs
An investigational drug may be eligible for clinical use outside the context of a manufacturer’s clinical trial of the drug. “Expanded access” refers to the use of an investigational drug where the primary purpose is to diagnose, monitor, or treat a patient’s disease or condition rather than to collect information about the safety or effectiveness of a drug. Expanded access INDs are typically sponsored by individual physicians to treat patients who fall into one of three FDA-recognized categories of expanded access: expanded access for individual patients, including for emergency use; expanded access for intermediate-size patient populations; and expanded access for large patient populations under a treatment IND or treatment protocol. For all types of expanded access, FDA must determine prior to authorizing expanded access that: (1) the patient or patients to be treated have a serious or life threatening disease or condition and there is no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy; (2) the potential patient benefit justifies the potential risks of use and that the potential risks are not unreasonable in the context of the disease or condition to be treated; and (3) granting the expanded access will not interfere with the initiation, conduct, or completion of clinical studies in support of the drug’s approval. In addition, the sponsor of an expanded access IND must submit IND safety reports and, in the cases of protocols continuing for one year or longer, annual reports to the FDA. Expanded access programs are not intended to yield information relevant to evaluating a drug’s effectiveness for regulatory purposes. If a patient enrolled in one of our clinical trials is not eligible or able to continue enrollment, we may be required to continue to provide our product candidate to such patient through expanded access.
Grants from the IIA
Our research and development efforts mainly with respect to our past activities (for example, with respect to immunotherapy programs such as the BBS Technology and program and the Anti-CD3 program) were financed in part through royalty-bearing grants from the IIA. As of December 31, 2018, we have received the aggregate amount of approximately $4.1 million from the IIA for the development of these programs, which have since been sold. With respect to such grants we are committed to pay certain royalties up to an aggregate amount of approximately $1.1 million relating only to technologies in our possession and excluding any royalties for technologies that we sold to third parties. Regardless of any royalty payment, we are further required to comply with the requirements of the Research Law, with respect to those past grants. When a company develops know-how, technology or products using IIA grants, the terms of these grants and the Research Law restrict the transfer of such know-how inside or outside of Israel, and the transfer outside of Israel of manufacturing or manufacturing rights of such products, technologies or know-how, without the prior approval of the IIA. None of our current projects in the field of cannabinoid therapeutics are supported by the IIA, yet if eligible, we might apply for such support in the future.
We have one, active, majority controlled subsidiary, THR, and three inactive wholly-owned subsidiaries: Nasvax Inc., Evero Health Ltd. (previously known as Weex Biosciences Ltd.) and Brain bright Ltd.
Therapix Healthcare Resources Inc. is a subsidiary incorporated in Delaware of which we own approximately 82.36% of its share capital. THR was engaged in operating pain treatment clinics to treat an assortment of different pains, including, acute pain, spine pain, chronic headaches, cancer pain, oral/maxillofacial pain, neuropathic pain and rheumatologic/myofascial pain. We converted an aggregate of approximately $1.63 million of convertible loans issued under a convertible loans agreement and, as a result of such conversion and other non-cash startup expenses previously provided to THR, we obtained an equity ownership interest of 82.36% in THR.
In addition, we own approximately 27% of Lara Pharm Ltd., or Lara Pharm, a private company engaged in the field of medical cannabis and developing a formulation based on synthetic cannabinoids, for the provision through an inhaler.
|D.||Property, Plants and Equipment|
Our offices are located at 4 Ariel Sharon Street, HaShahar Tower, 16th Floor, Givatayim 5320047, Israel, where we currently occupy approximately 1,800 square feet. We lease our facilities and our lease ends on July 10, 2020. Our current monthly rent payment is NIS 19,500 (approximately $5,500). Our subsidiary, THR, rents headquarters, lab and clinics in different cities in Tennessee. The main lease agreement is for THR’s headquarters and lab in Brentwood, Tennessee, which is estimated at $31,000 per month and ends in August 2028. Our current total monthly rent payment for THR’s seven operating lease agreements is approximately $80,874. THR is currently in default with regards to the payment of each of its leases, including its headquarters, a lab and clinics in different cities in Tennessee.
We consider that our current office space is sufficient to meet our anticipated needs for the foreseeable future and is suitable for the conduct of our business.
|ITEM 4A.||UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS|
|ITEM 5.||OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS|
The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F. This discussion and other parts of this annual report on Form 20-F contain forward-looking statements based upon current expectations that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of selected events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of several factors, including those set forth under Item 3.D. “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report in Form 20-F. We report financial information under IFRS as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board and none of the financial statements were prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States. Our discussion and analysis for the year ended December 31, 2016 can be found in our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, filed with the SEC on March 26, 2018.
The following financial data in this narrative are expressed in thousands, except for share and share data or as otherwise noted.
We are a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company led by an experienced team of senior executives and scientists, focused on creating and enhancing a portfolio of technologies and assets based on cannabinoids pharmaceuticals. We are focusing on a drug development program that we call Joint Pharma, which targets the treatment of the central nervous system and related indications with our product candidate THX-110. As part of our Joint Pharma program, we are also developing THX-150 and THX-160, which target multi drug resistant bacteria and pain, respectively.
THX-110 is a combination drug candidate based on two components: (1) dronabinol, the active ingredient in an FDA approved synthetic analog of THC, which is the major cannabinoid molecule in the cannabis plant, and (2) PEA, which is an endogenous fatty acid amide that belongs to the class of nuclear factor agonists, which are molecules that regulate the expression of genes. We believe that the combination of THC and PEA may induce a reaction known as the “entourage effect,” which has strong potential to treat Tourette syndrome, OSA and pain. THX-150 is a drug candidate intended for the treatment of infectious diseases. It consists of dronabinol (synthetic ∆9-tetrahydracannabinol) and/or PEA and selected antibacterial agent and possesses antimicrobial synergy potential. THX-160 is a novel pharmaceutical CB2 receptor agonist for the treatment of pain.
We have not generated any revenues since our inception.
Our current operating expenses consist of two components — research and development expenses, and general and administrative expenses.
Research and Development Expenses, net
Our research and development expenses consist primarily of salaries and related personnel expenses, share-based compensation expenses, consulting and subcontractor expenses and other related research and development expenses.
The following table discloses the breakdown of research and development expenses:
|(in thousands of U.S. dollars)|
|Wages and related expenses||667||321|
|Research and preclinical studies||593||362|
|Chemistry and formulations||54||330|
|Regulatory and other expenses||595||276|
We expect that our research and development expenses will materially increase as we plan to start new clinical trials and develop new products.
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries, share-based compensation expense, professional service fees for accounting, legal, bookkeeping, facilities and other general and administrative expenses.
The following table discloses the breakdown of general and administrative expenses:
|(in thousands of U.S. dollars)|
|Wages and related expenses||1,866||808|
|Professional and directors fees||1,407||1,007|
|Investor relations and business expenses||368||871|
|Office maintenance, rent and other expenses||768||211|
|Expenses due to litigations & claims||250||-|
Comparison of the year ended December 31, 2018 to the year ended December 31, 2017
Results of Operations
|(in thousands of U.S. dollars)|
|Research and development expenses||2,710||1,943|
|General and administrative expenses||6,579||3,810|
|Other expense (income), net||425||1|
|Financial Expense (income), net||(705||)||490|
|Net loss attributable to holders of Ordinary Shares||8,523||6,244|
Research and Development Expenses
Our research and development expenses for the year ended December 31, 2018 amounted to $2,710, representing an increase of $767, or 39%, compared to $1,943 for the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase was primarily attributable to an increase of $346 in wages and related expenses, an increase of $319 in regulatory and other expenses, an increase of $231 in research and preclinical studies and a decrease of $276 in chemistry and formulations, reflecting the continuance of clinical studies, research and preclinical studies. Research and development expenses for the year ended December 31, 2018 reflect increased research and development operations due to the continuance of the cannabinoid projects.
General and administrative expenses
Our general and administrative expenses totaled $6,579 for the year ended December 31, 2018, representing an increase of $2,769 or 73%, compared to $3,810 for the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase was primarily attributable to hiring new employees, rise in wages and related expenses, business development expenses and professional and directors’ fees.
Other expense and income
Our other expense and income for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $425, representing an increase of $424, or 425%, as compared to other expense and income of $1 for the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase was primarily attributable to impairment of goodwill and intangible assets.
Our operating loss for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $9,714, representing an increase of $3,960, or 69%, as compared to an operating loss of $5,754 for the year ended December 31, 2017.
Financial expense and income
Financial expense and income consist of exchange rate differences, bank fees, loans interest and other transactional costs.
We recognized financial income net, for the year ended December 31, 2018, of $705, representing a change of $1,195, as compared to financial expenses, net of $490 for the year ended December 31, 2017. The change was primarily due to changes in the fair value of financial instruments, interest income and exchange rate valuation losses on dollar balances.
Total Comprehensive Loss
Our total comprehensive loss for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $9,234, representing an increase of $3,451, or 60%, as compared to $5,783 for the year ended December 31, 2017.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimate
We describe our significant accounting policies more fully in Note 2 to our financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018. We believe that the accounting policies below are critical in order to fully understand and evaluate our financial condition and results of operations.
We prepare our financial statements in accordance with IFRS. At the time of the preparation of the financial statements, our management is required to use estimates, evaluations, and assumptions which affect the application of the accounting policy and the amounts reported for assets, obligations, income, and expenses. Any estimates and assumptions are continually reviewed. The changes to the accounting estimates are credited during the period in which the change to the estimate is made.
The evaluations of provisions and contingent liabilities are based on best professional judgment, taking into consideration the stage of the proceedings, as well as cumulative legal experience in the various topics. Whereas the results of the lawsuits shall be determined by the courts, these results may differ from these evaluations.
Our employees and other service providers are entitled to benefits by way of share-based compensation settled with company options to shares. The cost of transactions with employees settled with capital instruments is measured based on the fair value of the capital instruments on the granting date. The fair value is determined using an accepted options pricing model. The model is based on share price, grant date and on assumptions regarding expected volatility, expected lifespan, expected dividend, and a no risk interest rate.
The cost of the transactions settled with capital instruments is recognized in profit or loss together with a corresponding increase in the equity over the period in which the performance and/or service takes place, and ending on the date on which the relevant employees are entitled to the benefits, or the Vesting Period. The aggregate expense recognized for transactions settled with capital instruments at the end of each reporting date and until the Vesting Period reflects the degree to which the Vesting Period has expired and our best estimate regarding the number of options that have ultimately vested. The expense or income in profit or loss reflects the change of the aggregate expense recognized as of the end of the reported period.
We selected the Black-Scholes-Merton option-pricing model as a fair value method for our options awards. The option-pricing model requires a number of assumptions:
Expected dividend yield - The expected dividend yield assumption is based on our historical experience and expectation of no future dividend payouts. We have historically not paid cash dividends and have no foreseeable plans to pay cash dividends in the future.
Volatility - The expected volatility is based on fluctuations in the price of our ADS prices on the Nasdaq Capital Market.
Risk free interest rate - The risk free interest rate is based on the U.S. Treasury yield curve, in accordance with the option’s contractual term.
Contractual term - An option’s contractual term must at least include the Vesting Period and the employees’ historical exercise and post-vesting employment termination behavior for similar grants. If the amount of past exercise data is limited, that data may not represent a sufficiently large sample on which to base a robust conclusion on expected exercise behavior.
Share price - The share price is determined according to the last known or above closing price of our ADSs at the grant date.
|B.||Liquidity and Capital Resources|
Since our inception in 2004, and through December 31, 2018, we have funded our operations principally with $4,193 from the issuance of Ordinary Shares (including ADSs) and warrants. As of December 31, 2018, we had $1,485 in cash and cash equivalents, and an additional amount of $10 in short-term bank deposits.
The table below presents our cash flows for the periods indicated:
|(in thousands of U.S. dollars)|
|Effect of exchange rate changes on cash||(20||)||(24||)|
|Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents||(7,710||)||8,519|
Net cash used in operating activities was $7,132 during 2018 in comparison $4,579 during 2017. The increase of $2,553 was primarily attributable to an increase in research and development and general and administrative expenses.
Net cash used in investing activities of $2,094 during the year ended December 31, 2018 primarily reflected the issuance of convertible loans to Cure Pharmaceutical Holding Corp, or Cure and an investment in THR.
Net cash used in investing activities of $53 during the year ended December 31, 2017 primarily reflected purchasing of equipment.
On April 17, 2018, we lent Cure an amount of $0.5 million, or the Cure Loan, in a convertible loan agreement. According to the convertible loan agreement, we had the option to instruct Cure, prior to the maturity date of the loan, to repay the loan amount together with all interest accrued thereon. On December 31, 2018, we instructed Cure to repay the loan (with the accrued interest) on the maturity date. The Cure Loan was fully repaid, including interest, on April 30, 2019, and the convertible loan agreement was terminated with no further effect.
During 2018 and 2019, we lent THR approximately $2.31 million in THR, through convertible loans. On October 3, 2018, we converted an aggregate of approximately $1.63 million of convertible loans issued and, as a result of the conversion and other non-cash startup expenses previously provided to THR, we obtained an equity ownership interest of 82.36% in THR. We currently have approximately $688 in convertible loans outstanding to THR.
Net cash provided by financing activities of $1,536 in the year ended December 31, 2018 consisted mainly of $1,481 of net proceeds from the issuance of convertible debentures.
Net cash provided by financing activities of $13,175 in the year ended December 31, 2017 consisted mainly of $13,800 of net proceeds from our U.S. initial public offering, or U.S. IPO, offset by expenses relating to our U.S. IPO and listing on Nasdaq in March 2017, of $2,021.
In March 2017, we issued to an investor 5,357,143 Ordinary Shares in a private placement, at a price per share of NIS 0.70 (approximately $0.19). In addition, the investor was entitled to price protection rights to participate in our future private placements or public offerings upon the same or lesser terms offered to future investors, on a pro-rata basis to his holdings. Since we issued ADSs in the IPO which took place later in March 2017 at a public offering price of $6.00 per ADS, which is less than $7.71 per ADS (approximately $0.19 per Ordinary Share), we issued the investor an additional 1,529,910 Ordinary Shares.
On March 27, 2017, we issued an aggregate of 2,000,000 ADSs and on April 3, 2017, we issued an aggregate of 300,000 ADSs, pursuant to our U.S. IPO and the exercise of the underwriters’ option, respectively, at a price of $6.00 per ADS.
On November 23, 2018, we entered into a securities purchase agreement and a registration rights agreement with YA II PN Ltd., or YA II PN, a fund managed by Yorkville Advisors Global L.P., for the sale in a private placement of up to $2.5 million in principal amount of unsecured convertible debentures, or the Debentures. Interest on the Debentures will accrue at a rate of 5% per annum and is payable upon the maturity date of the Debentures, being 12 months from the issuance of each Debenture. The first tranche of $1.5 million of the Debentures was issued on November 23, 2018, and YA II PN received 9,171 ADSs as a commitment fee. The outstanding principal, together with accrued and unpaid interest, will be convertible, at the option of the YA II PN, into ADSs at 95% of the lowest daily volume weighted average price during the five consecutive trading days, immediately preceding the conversion date. Provided that the ADSs are trading below $7.00, we have the right to redeem in cash the Debentures at 110% of the principal amount of the Debentures plus accrued interest. To date, the outstanding debt under the Debenture is $1.25 million, after paying YA II PN approximately $0.25 million in exchange of YA II PN participating in the April 2019 fundraising. On March 14, 2019, an amendment to the securities purchase agreement was signed due to the fact that we did not comply with certain abovementioned conditions and accordingly deemed to be in default by YA II PN. According to the amendment, YA II PN agreed to waive the requirements under the securities purchase agreement and as such, we are not in default pursuant to the terms of the securities purchase agreement. In addition, we and YA II PN mutually agreed to waive any and all requirements to hold a second closing or third closing.
On April 1, 2019, we issued 642,853 ADSs in a public offering at a purchase price of $3.50 per ADS, and warrants to purchase 482,139 ADSs with an exercise price of $3.50 per ADS, in a concurrent private placement.
We have financed our operations to date primarily through proceeds from sales of our Ordinary Shares and ADSs exercises of warrants and options. We have incurred losses and generated negative cash flows from operations since August 2004. Since August 2004, we have not generated any revenue from the sale of product candidates and we do not expect to generate revenues from sale of our product candidates in the next few years.
As of December 31, 2018, our cash and cash equivalents including short-term bank deposits were $10.
We believe that our existing cash resources, including the funds that we raised in our April 2019 offering, will be sufficient to fund our current operations at least until October 31, 2019; however, we expect that we will require substantial additional capital to complete the development of, and to commercialize, our product candidates. In addition, our operating plans may change as a result of many factors that may currently be unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
|●||the progress and costs of our research and development activities;|
|●||the costs of manufacturing our product candidates;|
|●||the costs of filing, prosecuting, enforcing and defending patent claims and other intellectual property rights;|
|●||the potential costs of contracting with third parties to provide marketing and distribution services for us or for building such capacities internally; and|
|●||the magnitude of our general and administrative expenses.|
Until we can generate significant recurring revenues, we expect to satisfy our future cash needs through equity financings (such as our April 2019 registered direct offering of ADSs and private placement of warrants and other past fundraisings) and sales of technology. We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all. If funds are not available, we may be required to delay, reduce the scope of, or eliminate research or development plans for, or commercialization efforts with respect to our product candidates. This may raise substantial doubts about our ability to continue as a going concern.
|E.||Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements|
We currently do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements.
|F.||Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations|
The following table summarizes our contractual obligations at December 31, 2018:
|Total||Less than 1 |
|1-3 years||4-5 years||More than |
|(in thousands of U.S. dollars)|
|License and contractual agreements (1-4)||1,219||223||996|
|(1)||As of December 31, 2018, we had contractual obligations with respect to (1) clinical investigation and laboratory services contract with Hannover Medical School to conduct a phase IIb clinical trial, in the amount of $835, (2) our agreement with Assuta to conduct a Phase IIa, sponsor-initiated trial for the treatment of OSA using our proprietary cannabinoid-based technology, THX-110, in the amount of $35, (3) license technology agreement with Yissum in order to develop, obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture, market, distribute or sell products in the amount of $135, (4) our agreement with FGK to perform CRO activities for the Tourette syndrome study, in the amount of $214, (5) our lease agreement with a third party for an area of approximately 2,153 square feet, in the amount of $114, and (6) THR lease agreements with a third party in the aggregate of approximately 53,417 square feet, in the amount of $4.602.|
|ITEM 6.||DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES|
|A.||Directors and Senior Management|
The following table sets forth information regarding our executive officers, key employees and directors as of May 13, 2019:
|Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz||63||Chairman of the Board of Directors and Interim Chief Executive Officer|
|Oz Adler||32||Chief Financial Officer|
|Dr. Adi Zuloff-Shani||50||Chief Technologies Officer|
|Amit Berger (1) (2) (3)||53||Director|
|Dr. Yafit Stark (1) (2) (3)||65||Director|
|Zohar Heiblum (1) (2) (3)||63||Director|
|Stephen M. Simes (3)||67||Director|
|Eric So (3)||43||Director|
|(1)||Member of the Compensation Committee|
|(2)||Member of the Audit Committee|
|(3)||Independent Director (as defined under Nasdaq Stock Market rules)|
Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz has served as our Chairman since January 2014 and on our Board of Directors since February 2013 and was appointed our interim Chief Executive Officer on November 1, 2017. Dr. Shmulewitz is an inventor, investor and serial entrepreneur in biomedical technologies. Dr. Shmulewitz has founded and invested in over two dozen life science companies including NeoVision Corp, Labcoat Medical Ltd., Arteria Corp., Circulation Inc. and X-Cardia Inc., and has led multiple of these companies to successful exits, including through merger and acquisition transactions with large medical device companies. Dr. Shmulewitz has vast experience in the venture capital arena as an investor, manager and entrepreneur in dozens of companies and ventures. In 1995, Dr. Shmulewitz co-founded San Francisco Science and the Incumed Group, companies that provide seed funding, and is the founder of Medgenesis Partners Ltd., an Israeli private investment firm and incubator that has invested in over a dozen ventures. Dr. Shmulewitz previously held senior executive positions at Advanced Technology Laboratories Inc. (from 1988 to 1992). Dr. Shmulewitz received an M.D. degree from The Technion Medical School and a Ph.D. degree in Engineering from Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Mr. Oz Adler, CPA, has served as our Chief Financial Officer since April 24, 2018 and as our VP Finance from March 1, 2018 until April 24, 2018. He previously served as our Controller commencing in September 2017. Mr. Adler has experience in a wide variety of managerial, financial, tax and accounting. Since 2012, Mr. Adler was employed as a certified public accountant at Kost Forer Gabbay & Kasierer, a member of Ernst & Young Global. Mr. Adler holds a B.A. degree in Accounting and Business management from The College of Management, Israel.
Dr. Adi Zuloff-Shani has served as our Chief Technologies Officer since February 2016. Dr. Zuloff-Shani has more than 15 years of experience as a research and development executive. Prior to joining us, and from 2012 to 2016, Dr. Zuloff-Shani served as a vice president development at Macrocure Ltd. (Nasdaq: “MCUR”) where besides leading all research and development activities, she interacted and was involved with the activities of all departments including clinical, operations, quality assurance, quality control, finance, and regulatory affairs. Dr. Zuloff-Shani holds a Ph.D. in human biology and immunology from Bar- Ilan University, Israel.
Mr. Amit Berger has served on our Board of Directors since August 2014. Mr. Berger has significant expertise in financial markets, where he has held management and board positions for over 25 years. Since 2009, Mr. Berger has served as the chief executive officer of Dolphin 1 Investment Ltd. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Berger served as the chairman of Dash Investments Ltd., and from 2005 to 2009, as the chairman and a director of Enter Holdings 1 Ltd. Mr. Berger has also served on the boards of Mega Or Holdings Ltd., N.R. Spuntech Industries Ltd., Itay Financial A.A. Investments Ltd., Ortam-Sahar Engineering Ltd., Hamashbir 365 Ltd. and Polar Investments Ltd. Mr. Berger holds a B.A. degree in Economics from Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Dr. Yafit Stark has served on our Board of Directors since June 2015. Dr. Stark has served as Vice President Global Clinical Research at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Dr. Stark has established and managed the Global Innovative Clinical Research Infrastructures at Teva and was responsible for the clinical development of significant products, among them the Copaxone® for Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Stark is a pioneer in incorporating innovation and new technologies in clinical development. During her 31 years of work in large pharma, she has built up expertise in multiple therapeutic areas and different types of medicinal products technologies. Dr. Stark serves as a director of several biotechnology companies and associations. Dr. Stark holds a Ph.D. degree in Pathology from Tel Aviv University and a Post-Doctorate in Immuno-Histopathology from Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.
Mr. Zohar Heiblum has served on our Board of Directors since August 2013. In 1983, Mr. Heiblum co-founded Tefen IL (Israel) Ltd., a leading consulting firm in Israel and led the company to an IPO on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in 1994. Since then, Mr. Heiblum has been involved in various companies as an investor, consultant, board member and active Chairman. Since 2001, Mr. Heiblum has been an active board member and manager at Momentum Management LLP, which specializes in management and investments in turnaround and special situation activities, and in his capacity served mostly in high-tech companies. From 1998 to 2001, Mr. Heiblum served as a director and Chairman of the board at of Orex Computed Radiography Ltd., which was later sold to Eastern Kodak Company. From 1998 to 2001, Mr. Heiblum served as a director of Biosonix Ltd., which executed a reverse merger with Neoprobe (today Navidea Biopharmaceutical Inc.) in 2002. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Heiblum served as the general manager of the Israeli subsidiary of MobileAccess Networks Inc. (formally Foxcom) which was sold to Corning Inc. (U.S.A) in 2011. From 2013 to 2014, Mr. Heiblum served as the acting chief executive officer of Alvarion Ltd. (in receivership) and as chairman of Z. Roth Industries Ltd., which is a leading metal designer and producer of products designed to be situated in public areas, and as of March 2016 acts as the manager of the pre research and development plan on MATIMOP – the Israeli industry center for research and development, which acts as the executive agency of the Israel Innovation Authority. Mr. Heiblum has a B.Sc. degree in Industrial Engineering and an M.B.A., both from Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Mr. Stephen M. Simes has served on our Board of Directors since December 2016. Mr. Simes currently serves as an advisor and consultant to biopharma companies. Mr. Simes is a member of the Ops Team of SmartHealth Activator. Mr. Simes serves on the advisory board for NeuroLucent a biotech company working on novel approaches for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to several other startup biopharma companies in oncology and 3D bioprinting. From March 2014 until January 2016, Mr. Simes served as chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors of RestorGenex Corporation, a company with a focus on oncology (acquired through merger by Diffusion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.). Prior to such time, Mr. Simes served as Vice Chairman, President and chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors of BioSante Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 1998 until June 2013 when BioSante merged with and renamed to ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. BioSante, whose common stock was listed on The Nasdaq Global Market, was a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing products for women’s and men’s health. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Simes was president and chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors of Unimed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (currently a wholly owned subsidiary of AbbVie, Inc.), a company with a product focus on infectious diseases, AIDS, endocrinology and oncology. From 1989 to 1993, Mr. Simes was chairman, president and chief executive officer of Gynex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a company which concentrated on the AIDS, endocrinology, urology and growth disorders markets. In 1993, Gynex was acquired by Savient Pharmaceuticals Inc. (formerly Bio-Technology General Corp.), and from 1993 to 1994, Mr. Simes served as Senior Vice President and director of Savient Pharmaceuticals Inc. Mr. Simes’s career in the pharmaceutical industry started with G.D. Searle & Co. (now a part of Pfizer Inc.). Mr. Simes has a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from New York University.
Mr. Eric So has served on our Board of Directors since June 2017. Mr. So has over 15 years’ experience advising both private and public companies. He has been the Managing Director, Co-founder and chief strategy officer for Globalive Technology Partners Inc. since December 2017 and has been chairman of HyperBlock Technologies Corp. since October 2017. Mr. So has served as chief legal and corporate development officer, a private internet marketing company, since 2012. Mr. So served as a director of Riot Blockchain, Inc. from October 2017 until February 2018. An alumnus of Torys LLP, Eric holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a law degree from the University of Windsor.
Scientific Advisory Board
We have a Scientific Advisory Board of seven researchers in the field(s) of: psychiatry, Tourette syndrome, neurology, Alzheimer’s, psychology and pediatrics, neurobiology, pharmacology, organic and medicinal chemistry, cannabinoids and drug discovery. We consult with the members of our Scientific Advisory Board on a regular basis.
Prof. Raphael Mechoulam is a Professor Emeritus of the Department of Natural Products of the School of Pharmacy at the Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Prof. Mechoulam’s research in the field of cannabis has led to his discovery of the endocannabinoid system. Additionally, Prof. Mechoulam was among the first to complete the total synthesis of the major plant cannabinoids, THC, cannabidiol, cannabigerol, and others, and also played a key role in the isolation of the first described endocannabinoid anandamid. Prof. Mechoulam’s research interests are in the chemical and biological activity of natural products and medicinal agents, of which his primary contributions are in the field of the constituents of cannabis, about which Prof. Mechoulam has published extensively. Prof. Mechoulam has received amongst others, the Israel Prize in 2000, the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and the Rothschild Prize in 2012.
Dr. Yossi Tam received his B.Med.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. and D.M.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Tam did his postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in 2011, became a staff scientist at the NIH. In June 2014, Dr. Tam moved to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he heads the Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory at the Institute for Drug Research, and focuses on targeting the endocannabinoid (eCB) system for Obesity, Diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Dr. Tam also serves as the Director of the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research and a Scientific Advisory Board Member of several biotech companies, which develop a portfolio of non-psychoactive cannabinoid and cannabinoidmodulating medicines for unmet market needs. Dr. Tam won major national and international grants, and authored over 40 peer-reviewed papers in leading journals, and two book chapters. Having a clinical background with basic science training, Dr. Tam has always been interested in how science can directly improve people’s everyday lives. Thus, he has strived unceasingly to integrate his clinical curiosity and experimental knowledge, in order to deepen the understanding of clinically relevant research questions.
Prof. Elon Eisenberg, is the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Prof. Eisenberg is a Professor of Neurology and Pain Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and holds the Otto Barth Family Academic Chair in Biomedical Science. Prof. Eisenberg graduated from Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University in Israel. Prof. Eisenberg completed a residency in Neurology, at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, and Neurology - Pain Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA. Prof. Eisenberg has been the director of the Institute of Pain Medicine at Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel, and the President of the Israeli Pain Association. Prof. Eisenberg is currently the director of the Pain Research Unit at the Institute of Pain Medicine, Rambam Health Care Campus. H Prof. Eisenberg’s main areas of research include mechanisms and treatment of pain with special emphasis on neuropathic pain, CRPS, cancer pain, opioids and cannabinoids. Prof. Eisenberg has published about two-hundred articles, book chapters and other manuscripts in various areas of pain.
Prof. James Leckman, M.D. is the Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics at Yale University. Prof. Leckman has served as director of Research for the Yale Child Study Center for more than twenty years. Prof. Leckman’s current research involves exploring whether the strengthening of families and the enhancement of childhood development leads to peaceful results and the prevention of violence. Additionally, Prof. Leckman has a longstanding interest in Tourette syndrome and OCD. Prof. Leckman is the author or co-author of over 430 original articles published in peer-reviewed journals, twelve books, and 140 book chapters.
Prof. Michael Davidson currently serves, among other things, as Chairman of the Stuckinski Centre for Alzheimer’s Disease Research in Ramat Gan. Prof. Davidson is also the editor of European Neuropsychopharmacology. Prof. Davidson served as Chief Psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry of the Sheba Medical Centre in Tel-Hashomer for six years. Prof. Davidson holds a professorship at the Sackler School of Medicine of Tel Aviv University and a secondary appointment at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Prof. Davidson is considered an international expert on Alzheimer’s and is the author of approximately 300 publications in scientific literature.
Prof. Daniele Piomelli serves as the Louise Turner Arnold Chair in Neurosciences and Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Biological Chemistry at University of California, Irvine. Prof. Piomelli is also the founding director of the drug discovery and development unit (D3) at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy, as well as the Editor in Chief of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Prof. Piomelli’s research has resulted in several contributions to the pharmacology of lipid based signaling molecules including endocannabinoid substances and lipid amides. Prof. Piomelli is the author of more than 400 peer reviewed articles and books and has received several awards and honors. Prof. Piomelli studied Pharmacology and Neuroscience at Columbia University, and the Rockefeller University, and earned his degree of Doctor of Pharmacy from University of Naples.
Prof. Kirsten Müller-Vahl is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry, Socialpsychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Hanover Medical School, Germany. Prof. Müller-Vahl specialist in both neurology and adult psychiatry and has worked extensively at a specialized movement disorder clinic. For six years, Prof. Müller-Vahl was a grant-holder for the German Government for scientific research related to Tourette syndrome. Over the past eighteen years, Dr. Müller-Vahl has investigated more than 12000 patients with Tourette syndrome, both children and adults, and has served as the head of the Tourette syndrome outpatient department for over twenty years. Additionally, Prof. Müller-Vahl served on the scientific advisory board of the German Tourette Syndrome Association, and, in 2011, she became the president of the German Society for the Study of Tourette Syndrome. Furthermore, Prof. Müller-Vahl is a German representative member of the management committee and coordinator of the COST Action BM0905, which is involved the study of Tourette syndrome, and the leader of Working Group 4, which is involved in outreach activities. Prof. Müller-Vahl is a full partner in the EU funded FP7 program, the “European Multicentre Tics in Children Studies.”
Prof. Avi Weizman is a Professor of Child and Adult Psychiatry at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine of Tel Aviv University, a Director of the Felsentein Medical Research Center and the head of a Laboratory for Biological Psychiatry and the head of a Research Unit at the Geha Mental Health Center. Prof. Weizman’s research involves the investigation of brain mechanisms of mental disorders, and currently focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders, development of new strategies for the treatment of psychotic disorders and the psychopharmacology of mental disorders. Prof. Weizman is the author of more than 760 original papers, five full books, 28 book chapters and 60 review articles. After completing his residency in Psychiatry, Prof. Weizman spent two years as a visiting scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD.
Dr. Michael H. Bloch, M.D., M.S. is the associate training director of the Child Study Center’s Solnit Integrated Program, which provides psychiatrists-in-training with the opportunity to integrate general, child and research psychiatry during many stages of their career. Dr. Bloch’s research interests focus on studying Tourette syndrome, OCD, and trichotillomania. Dr. Bloch’s current research involves developing superior treatments for children and adults diagnosed with the aforementioned indications and examining predictors of long-term outcomes with an emphasis on neuroimaging. Dr. Bloch has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has received the Keese Prize (Best Research Thesis by graduating medical student at Yale University), the Lustman Award (Best Research performed by Psychiatry Resident at Yale University) and the AACAP Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Award for Scientific Achievement (Best Manuscript Published in JAACAP by Child Psychiatrist). Dr. Bloch graduated from Yale School of Medicine, where he completed training in both child and adult psychiatry.
There are no family relationships between any members of our executive management and our directors.
Arrangements for Election of Directors and Members of Management
We are not a party to, and there are no arrangements or voting agreements that we are aware of for the election of our directors and members of management.
The following table presents in the aggregate all compensation we paid to all of our directors and senior management, as a group for the year ended December 31, 2018. The table does not include any amounts we paid to reimburse any of such persons for costs incurred in providing us with services during this period.
All amounts reported in the tables below reflect the cost to the Company, in thousands of U.S. Dollars, for the year ended December 31, 2018.
Salary/ Fee and
|All directors and senior management as a group, consisting of 9 persons (*)||$||986||59||$||517|
|(*)||Includes Doron Ben Ami, our former Chief Strategy Officer. Mr. Ben Ami resigned in May 2018.|
In accordance with the Companies Law, the table below reflects the compensation granted to our five most highly compensated officers during or with respect to the year ended December 31, 2018.
Annual Compensation (in thousands of U.S. dollars)
|Executive Officer||Salary/ Fee and Related Benefits||Pension, Retirement and Other Similar|
|Share Based Compensation (1)||Total|
|Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chairman||$||401||$||-||$||273||$||674|
|Dr. Adi Zuloff-Shani, Chief Technologies Officer||$||224||$||34||$||51||$||309|
|Oz Adler, Chief Financial Officer||$||184||$||25||$||21||$||230|
|Stephen Simes, Director||$||33||$||-||$||53||$||86|
|Other directors on an individual basis (2)||$||33||$||-||$||33||$||63|
|(1)||Share based compensation includes the cost of our non-cash share-based compensation in 2018.|
|(2)||Unless otherwise detailed in this table, all of our non-executive directors received the same amount of compensation for the year ended December 31, 2018.|
Employment and Services Agreements with Executive Officers
We have entered into written employment agreements and/or consulting agreements with each of our executive officers (including with our Chairman). All of these agreements contain customary provisions regarding noncompetition, confidentiality of information and assignment of inventions. However, the enforceability of the noncompetition provisions may be limited under applicable law. Most of these agreements are terminable by either party upon 30 days’ prior written notice. However, a longer 90 day notice period is required with respect to our Chairman and each of our executive officers. In addition, we have entered into agreements with each executive officer and director pursuant to which we have agreed to indemnify each of them up to a certain amount and to the extent that these liabilities are not covered by directors and officers insurance. Members of our senior management are eligible for bonuses each year, subject to a pre-determined target-based bonus plan, which is usually set during the first quarter of each calendar year following the recommendation of our compensation committee and the approval of our Board of Directors. The annual bonuses are payable upon meeting objectives and targets that are set by our Chief Executive Officer and compensation committee and approved annually by our Board of Directors that also set the bonus targets for our interim Chief Executive Officer and Chairman.
For a description of the terms of our options and option plans, see Item 6.E. “Share Ownership” below.
Directors’ Service Contracts
Other than with respect to our directors that are also executive officers, namely, our Chairman, we do not have written agreements with any director providing for benefits upon the termination of his employment with our company.
Our Board of Directors presently consists of six members. We believe that Mr. Berger, Mr. Heiblum, Dr. Stark, Mr. Simes and Mr. So are all “independent” for purposes of the Nasdaq Stock Market rules. Our articles of association provide that the number of directors shall be set by the general meeting of the shareholders provided that it will consist of not less than three and not more than 12 directors. Pursuant to the Companies Law, the management of our business is vested in our Board of Directors. Our Board of Directors may exercise all powers and may take all actions that are not specifically granted to our shareholders or to management. Our executive officers are responsible for our day-to-day management and have individual responsibilities established by our Board of Directors. Our Chief Executive Officer is appointed by, and serves at the discretion of, our Board of Directors. The terms of our interim Chief Executive Officer and Chairman are currently subject to the services agreement that we have entered into with him (in his capacity as an active Chairman), which terms were approved with the prior review and approval of our compensation committee, the Board of Directors and the general meeting of our shareholders (see below regarding appointment of our Chairman as our interim Chief Executive Officer for a term of three years). All other executive officers are appointed by the Board of Directors or by our interim Chief Executive Officer, provided that he was authorized by the Board of Directors to do so. Their terms of employment are subject to the approval of the Board of Directors’ compensation committee (see “—Compensation Committee”) and of the Board of Directors (and in case the terms are not compatible with the provisions of the compensation policy, to our shareholders’ approval as well), and are subject to the terms of any applicable employment agreements that we may enter into with them.
Each director, except external directors, to the extent required under applicable law (see the description of the External Directors Relief Resolution below, under “—External Directors”), and whose term is set for a three-year term, will hold office until the annual general meeting of our shareholders for the year in which his or her term expires, unless he or she is removed by a majority vote of our shareholders at a general meeting of our shareholders or upon the occurrence of certain events, in accordance with the Companies Law and our articles of association.
In addition, our articles of association allow our Board of Directors to appoint directors to fill vacancies on our Board of Directors or in addition to the acting directors (subject to the limitation on the number of directors and their qualifications), until the next general meeting in which directors may be appointed or such appointment terminated.
Under the Companies Law, nominations for directors may be made by any shareholder holding at least 1% of our outstanding voting power. However, any such shareholder may make such a nomination only if a written notice of such shareholder’s intent to make such nomination has been given to our Board of Directors. Any such notice must include certain information, a description of all arrangements between the nominating shareholder and the proposed director nominee(s) and any other person pursuant to which the nomination(s) are to be made by the nominating shareholder, the consent of the proposed director nominee(s) to serve as our director(s) if elected and a declaration signed by the nominee(s) declaring that there is no limitation under the Companies Law preventing their election and that all of the information that is required to be provided to us in connection with such election under the Companies Law has been provided.
Under the Companies Law, our Board of Directors must determine the minimum number of directors who are required to have accounting and financial expertise. Under Israeli applicable regulations, a director with accounting and financial expertise is a director who, by reason of his or her education, professional experience and skill, has a high level of proficiency in and understanding of business accounting matters and financial statements. He or she must be able to thoroughly comprehend the financial statements of the company and initiate debate regarding the manner in which financial information is presented. In determining the number of directors required to have such expertise, our Board of Directors must consider, among other things, the type and size of the company and the scope and complexity of its operations. Our Board of Directors has determined that the minimum number of directors of our company who are required to have accounting and financial expertise is one.
Our Board of Directors is required to elect one director to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors to preside at the meetings of the Board of Directors, and may also remove that director as Chairman. Pursuant to the Companies Law, neither the chief executive officer nor any of his or her relatives is permitted to serve as the chairman of the board of directors, and a company may not vest the chairman or any of his or her relatives with the chief executive officer’s authorities. In addition, a person who reports, directly or indirectly, to the chief executive officer may not serve as the chairman of the board of directors; the chairman may not be vested with authorities of a person who reports, directly or indirectly, to the chief executive officer; and the chairman may not serve in any other position in the company or a controlled company, but he or she may serve as a director or chairman of a controlled company. However, the Companies Law permits the company’s shareholders to determine, for a period not exceeding three years from each such determination, that the chairman or his or her relative may serve as chief executive officer or be vested with the chief executive officer’s authorities, and that the chief executive officer or his or her relative may serve as chairman or be vested with the chairman’s authorities. Such determination of a company’s shareholders requires either: (1) the approval of at least the majority of the shares of those shareholders present and voting on the matter (other than controlling shareholders and those having a personal interest in the determination); or (2) that the total number of shares opposing such determination does not exceed 2% of the total voting power in the company. Currently, our Chairman is also acting as our interim Chief Executive Officer, which was approved by our shareholders at our 2017 annual general meeting, for no additional compensation, for a term of no more than three years (until November 1, 2020).
The Board of Directors may, subject to the provisions of the Companies Law, delegate any or all of its powers to committees of the Board of Directors, and it may, from time to time, revoke such delegation or alter the composition of any such committees, subject to certain limitations. Unless otherwise expressly provided by the Board of Directors, the committees shall not be empowered to further delegate such powers. The composition and duties of our audit committee, compensation committee, the research and development and clinical trials committee are described below. See “—Committees of the Board of Directors” below.
Role of Board of Directors in Risk Oversight Process
The Board of Directors oversees how management monitors compliance with our risk management policies and procedures, and reviews the adequacy of the risk management framework in relation to the risks faced by us. Our Board of Directors encourages management to promote a culture that incorporates risk management into our corporate strategy and day-to-day business operations. Management discusses strategic and operational risks at regular management meetings, and conducts specific strategic planning and review sessions that include a focused discussion and analysis of the risks we face. Senior management reviews these risks with the Board of Directors focusing on particular business functions, operations or strategies, and presents the steps taken by management to mitigate or eliminate such risks. The Board of Directors is assisted in its oversight role by an internal auditor. The internal auditor undertakes both regular and ad hoc reviews of risk management controls and procedures, the results of which are reported to our audit committee. See “—Committees of the Board of Directors—Internal Auditor” below.
Leadership Structure of the Board of Directors
In accordance with the Companies Law and our articles of association, our Board of Directors is required to appoint one of its members to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Our Board of Directors has appointed Dr. Shmulewitz to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors. The terms of services as an active Chairman were approved by our compensation committee, the Board of Directors and the general meeting of our shareholders.
Our articles of association provide, consistent with the Companies Law, that any director, and with respect to external directors (to the extent required under applicable law – see the description of the External Directors Relief Resolution under “—External Directors” below) – only subject to certain preconditions, may appoint another person to serve as his alternate director, provided such person has the qualifications prescribed under the Companies Law to be appointed and to serve as a director and is not already serving as a director or an alternate director of the company. The term of an alternate director may be terminated at any time by the appointing director and automatically terminates upon the termination of the term of the appointing director. An alternate director has the same rights and responsibilities as a director. To date there are no alternate director appointments in effect.
Under the Companies Law, an Israeli company whose shares have been offered to the public or whose shares are listed for trading on a stock exchange in or outside of Israel is required to appoint at least two external directors to serve on its Board of Directors. Such external directors are not required to be Israeli residents in case of a company listed on a foreign stock exchange (such as Nasdaq). External directors must meet stringent standards of independence.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, in accordance with the exemption available to certain Israeli public companies whose shares are traded on the Nasdaq, we chose as of April 27, 2017 and for as long the required conditions precedent are met (unless otherwise decided by our Board of Directors), not to follow the requirements of the Companies Law with regard to the appointment of “external directors” as defined in the Companies Law, and instead, we will follow the Nasdaq rules applicable to U.S. domestic companies with respect to the appointment of independent directors, provided that when we appoint a director, both genders shall have representation in our Board, or the External Directors Relief Resolution. As of the date hereof, the required conditions precedent of said External Directors Relief Resolution are still satisfied.
In addition, in practice, the provisions of our articles of association referring to nominating our external directors according to Israeli law shall have no impact for as long as the foregoing External Directors Relief Resolution is in effect.
The definition of “independent director” under Nasdaq Listing Rules and the definition of “external director” under the Companies Law overlap to a significant degree such that we would generally expect any director serving as external directors under the Companies Law (if and to the extent applicable) to satisfy the requirements to be independent under Nasdaq Listing Rules. The definition of “external director” under the Companies Law includes a set of statutory criteria that must be satisfied, including criteria whose aim is to ensure that there is no factor that would impair the ability of the external director to exercise independent judgment. The definition of “independent director” under Nasdaq Listing Rules specifies similar, if slightly less stringent, requirements in addition to the requirement that the board of directors consider any factor which would impair the ability of the independent director to exercise independent judgment. In addition, external directors serve for a period of three years (and for no more than two additional three-year terms) pursuant to the requirements of the Companies Law. However, a special majority of shareholders must elect “external directors” while “independent directors” may be elected by an ordinary majority.
With respect to the committees of the Board, see “Committees of the Board of Directors” below.
Fiduciary Duties of Office Holders
The Companies Law imposes a duty of care and a duty of loyalty on all office holders of a company. “Office holders” includes the chief executive officer, general manager, chief business manager, deputy general manager, vice general manager, any other person assuming the responsibilities of any of the above positions regardless of that person’s title, and a director, or a manager directly subordinate to the chief executive officer or general manager.
The duty of care requires an office holder to act with the level of care with which a reasonable office holder in the same position would have acted under the same circumstances. The duty of care of an office holder includes a duty to use reasonable means to obtain:
|●||information on the advisability of a given action brought for his approval or performed by him by virtue of his position; and|
|●||all other important information pertaining to these actions.|
The duty of loyalty of an office holder requires an office holder to act in good faith and for the benefit of the company, and includes a duty to:
|●||refrain from any conflict of interest between the performance of his duties in the company and his performance of his other duties or personal affairs;|
|●||refrain from any action that constitutes competition with the company’s business;|
|●||refrain from exploiting any business opportunity of the company to receive a personal gain for himself or others; and|
|●||disclose to the company any information or documents relating to the company’s affairs which the office holder has received due to his position as an office holder.|
Approval of Related Party Transactions under Israeli Law
Under the Companies Law, we may approve an action by an office holder from which the office holder would otherwise have to refrain, as described above, if:
|●||the office holder acts in good faith and the act or its approval does not cause harm to the company; and|
|●||the office holder disclosed the nature of his or her interest in the transaction (including any significant fact or document) to the company at a reasonable time before the company’s approval of such matter.|
Disclosure of Personal Interests of an Office Holder
The Companies Law requires that an office holder disclose to the company, promptly, and, in any event, not later than the board meeting at which the transaction is first discussed, any direct or indirect personal interest that he or she may have and all related material information known to him or her relating to any existing or proposed transaction by the company.
A “personal interest” includes the personal interest of a person for whom the office holder holds a voting proxy or the personal interest of the office holder with respect to his or her vote on behalf of a person for whom he or she holds a proxy even if such shareholder has no personal interest in the matter.
If the transaction is an extraordinary transaction, the office holder must also disclose any personal interest held by:
|●||the office holder’s relatives; or|
|●||any corporation in which the office holder or his or her relatives holds 5% or more of the shares or voting rights, serves as a director or general manager or has the right to appoint at least one director or the general manager.|
An office holder is not, however, obliged to disclose a personal interest if it derives solely from the personal interest of his or her relative in a transaction that is not considered an extraordinary transaction.
Under the Companies Law, an extraordinary transaction is a transaction:
|●||not in the ordinary course of business;|
|●||not on market terms; or|
|●||that is likely to have a material effect on the company’s profitability, assets or liabilities.|
The Companies Law does not specify neither to who within us nor the manner in which required disclosures are to be made. We require our office holders to make such disclosures to our Board of Directors.
Under the Companies Law, once an office holder complies with the above disclosure requirement, the board of directors may approve a transaction between the company and an office holder, or a third party in which an office holder has a personal interest, unless the articles of association provide otherwise and provided that the transaction is in the company’s interest and is performed by the office holder in good faith. If the transaction is an extraordinary transaction, first the audit committee and then the board of directors, in that order, must approve the transaction. Under specific circumstances, shareholder approval may also be required. Any director (and any person, in general) who has a personal interest in an extraordinary transaction, which is considered at a meeting of the board of directors or the audit committee, may not be present at this meeting or vote on this matter, unless the chairman of the relevant committee or board of directors determines that he or she should be present in order to present the transaction that is subject to approval. If a majority of the board of directors or the audit committee, as the case may be, has a personal interest in the approval of a transaction, then all directors may participate in discussions of the audit committee or the board of directors (as applicable) on such transaction and the voting on approval thereof, but shareholder approval is also required for such transaction.
Under the Companies Law, all arrangements as to compensation and indemnification or insurance of office holders require approval of the compensation committee and board of directors, and compensation of office holders who are directors must be also approved, subject to certain exceptions, by the shareholders, in that order. If shareholders of a company do not approve the compensation terms of office holders, other than directors, the compensation committee and board of directors may override the shareholders’ decision, subject to certain conditions.
Disclosure of Personal Interests of a Controlling Shareholder
Under the Companies Law, the disclosure requirements that apply to an office holder also apply to a “controlling shareholder” of a public company. Extraordinary transactions with a controlling shareholder or in which a controlling shareholder has a personal interest, including a private placement in which a controlling shareholder has a personal interest, as well as transactions for the provision of services whether directly or indirectly by a controlling shareholder or his or her relative, or a company such controlling shareholder controls, and transactions concerning the terms of engagement of a controlling shareholder or a controlling shareholder’s relative, whether as an office holder or an employee, require the approval of the audit committee or the compensation committee, as the case may be, the board of directors and a majority of the shares voted by the shareholders of the company participating and voting on the matter in a shareholders’ meeting. In addition, the shareholder approval must fulfill one of the following requirements:
|●||at least a majority of the shares held by shareholders who have no personal interest in the transaction and are voting at the meeting must be voted in favor of approving the transaction, excluding abstentions; or|
|●||the shares voted by shareholders who have no personal interest in the transaction who vote against the transaction represent no more than 2% of the voting rights in the company.|
In addition, any extraordinary transaction with a controlling shareholder or in which a controlling shareholder has a personal interest with a term of more than three years requires the abovementioned approval every three years; however, such transactions not involving the receipt of services or compensation can be approved for a longer term, provided that the audit committee determines that such longer term is reasonable under the circumstances.
Pursuant to regulations promulgated under the Companies Law, certain transactions with a controlling shareholder or his or her relative, or with directors, that would otherwise require approval of a company’s shareholders may be exempt from shareholder approval upon certain determinations of the audit or compensation committee and board of directors.
The Companies Law requires that every shareholder that participates, in person, by proxy or by voting instrument, in a vote regarding a transaction with a controlling shareholder, must indicate in advance or in the ballot whether or not that shareholder has a personal interest in the vote in question. Failure to so indicate will result in the invalidation of that shareholder’s vote.
The term “controlling shareholder” is defined in the Companies Law as a shareholder with the ability to direct the activities of the company, other than by virtue of being an office holder. A shareholder is presumed to be a controlling shareholder if the shareholder holds 50% or more of the voting rights in a company or has the right to appoint the majority of the directors of the company or its general manager. The definition a “controlling shareholder” is deemed to include any shareholder that holds 25% or more of the voting rights in a company if no other shareholder holds more than 50% of the voting rights in the company. For the purpose of determining the holding percentage stated above, two or more shareholders who have a personal interest in a transaction that is brought for the company’s approval are deemed as joint holders.
Duties of Shareholders
Under the Companies Law, a shareholder has a duty to refrain from abusing its power in the company and to act in good faith and in an acceptable manner in exercising its rights and performing its obligations to the company and other shareholders, including, among other things, voting at general meetings of shareholders on the following matters:
|●||amendment of the articles of association;|
|●||increase in the company’s authorized share capital;|
|●||the approval of “related party” transactions and acts of office holders that require shareholder approval.|
A shareholder also has a general duty to refrain from oppressing and discriminating against other shareholders.
The remedies generally available upon a breach of contract will also apply to a breach of the above mentioned duties, and in the event of oppression of other shareholders, additional remedies are available to the injured shareholder.
In addition, any controlling shareholder, any shareholder that knows that its vote can determine the outcome of a shareholder vote and any shareholder that, under a company’s articles of association, has the power to appoint or prevent the appointment of an office holder, or has another power with respect to a company, is under a duty to act with fairness towards the company. The Companies Law does not describe the substance of this duty except to state that the remedies generally available upon a breach of contract will also apply in the event of a breach of the duty to act with fairness, taking the shareholder’s position in the company into account.
Committees of the Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors has established three standing committees: two of which (the audit committee and the compensation committee) are mandatory (and to date comprised of the same members and combined into one functional committee).
Under the Companies Law, we are required to appoint an audit committee. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in accordance with the exemption available to certain Israeli public companies whose shares are traded on Nasdaq, we chose as of April 27, 2017 and for as long the required conditions precedent are met (unless otherwise decided by our Board of Directors), not to follow the requirements of the Companies Law with regard to the composition of the audit committee (with respect to directorship of external directors) as provided for under the Companies Law, and instead, we will follow the Nasdaq rules applicable to U.S. domestic companies with respect to the appointment and composition of the audit committee.
In addition, in practice, the provisions of our articles of association referring to the audit committee according to Israeli law should be referred to and read based on the abovementioned exemption for as long as the External Directors Relief Resolution is in effect.
Our audit committee, acting pursuant to a written charter, is comprised of Mr. Heiblum (chair), Mr. Berger and Dr. Stark.
Under the Companies Law, our audit committee is responsible for:
|●||determining whether there are deficiencies in the business management practices of our company, and making recommendations to the Board of Directors to improve such practices;|
|●||determining whether to approve certain related party transactions (including transactions in which an office holder has a personal interest and whether such transaction is extraordinary or material under Companies Law) (see Item 6.C. “Board Practices—Board Practices—Approval of Related Party Transactions under Israeli law”);|
|●||examining our internal controls and internal auditor’s performance, including whether the internal auditor has sufficient resources and tools to dispose of its responsibilities;|
|●||examining the scope of our auditor’s work and compensation and submitting a recommendation with respect thereto to our Board of Directors or shareholders, depending on which of them is considering the appointment of our auditor;|
|●||establishing procedures for the handling of employees’ complaints as to the management of our business and the protection to be provided to such employees;|
|●||determining whether certain acts of an office holder not in accordance with his or her fiduciary duty owed to the company are extraordinary or material and to approve such acts and certain related party transactions (including transactions in which an office holder has a personal interest) and whether such transaction is extraordinary or material under the Companies Law (see Item 6.C. “Board Practices—Approval of Related Party Transactions Under Israeli Law”);|
|●||deciding whether to approve and to establish the approval process (including by tender or other competitive proceedings) for certain transactions with a controlling shareholder or in which a controlling shareholder has a personal interest; and|
|●||determining the process of approving of transactions that are not negligible, including determining the types of transactions that will be subject to the approval of the audit committee.|
We have adopted an audit committee charter setting forth among others, the responsibilities of the audit committee consistent with the rules of the SEC and Nasdaq Listing Rules (in addition to the requirements for such committee under the Companies Law), including, among others, the following:
|●||considering and making recommendations to the Board of Directors on our financial statements, reviewing and discussing the financial statements and presenting its recommendations with respect to the financial statements to the Board of Directors prior to the approval of the financial statements by our Board of Directors;|
|●||oversight of our independent registered public accounting firm and recommending the engagement, compensation or termination of engagement of our independent registered public accounting firm to the Board of Directors in accordance with Israeli law;|
|●||recommending the engagement or termination of the person filling the office of our internal auditor, reviewing the services provided by our internal auditor and reviewing effectiveness of our system of internal control over financial reporting;|
|●||recommending the terms of audit and non-audit services provided by the independent registered public accounting firm for pre-approval by our Board of Directors; and|
|●||reviewing and monitoring, if applicable, legal matters with significant impact, reviewing regulatory authorities’ findings, receiving reports regarding irregularities and legal compliance, acting according to “whistleblower policy” and recommending to our Board of Directors if so required, and overseeing our policies and procedures regarding compliance with applicable financial and accounting related standards, rules and regulations.|
Nasdaq Stock Market Requirements for Audit Committee
Under the Nasdaq Stock Market rules, we are required to maintain an audit committee consisting of at least three members, all of whom are independent and are financially literate and one of whom has accounting or related financial management expertise.
As noted above, currently the members of our audit committee include Mr. Berger, Mr. Heiblum and Dr. Stark. All of the members of our audit committee are “independent,” as such term is defined in under Nasdaq Stock Market rules. Mr. Heiblum serves as the Chairman of our audit committee. All members of our audit committee meet the requirements for financial literacy under the Nasdaq Stock Market rules. Our Board of Directors has determined that each member of our audit committee is an audit committee financial expert as defined by the SEC rules and has the requisite financial experience as defined by the Nasdaq Stock Market rules.
Under the Companies Law, the board of directors of any public company must establish a compensation committee. The compensation committee must be comprised of at least three directors, including all of the external directors (if any), who must constitute a majority of the members of the compensation committee, and one of whom must serve as Chairman of the committee. However, subject to certain exceptions, Israeli companies whose securities are traded on stock exchanges such as the Nasdaq Stock Market, and who do not have a shareholder holding 25% or more of the company’s share capital, do not have to meet this majority requirement; provided, however, that the compensation committee meets other Companies Law composition requirements, as well as the requirements of the jurisdiction where the company’s securities are traded. In accordance with the exemption available to certain Israeli public companies, whose shares are traded on Nasdaq, we chose as of April 27, 2017 and for as long the required conditions precedent are met (unless otherwise decided by our Board of Directors), not to follow the requirements of the Companies Law with regard to the composition of and the legal quorum required for the discussion and adoption of resolution by the compensation committee (with respect to directorship of external directors) as provided for under the Companies Law, and instead, we will follow the Nasdaq rules applicable to U.S. domestic companies with respect to the appointment and composition of the compensation committee.
In addition, in practice, the provisions of our articles of association referring to the compensation committee according to Israeli law should be referred to and read based on the abovementioned exemption for as long as the External Directors Relief Resolution is in effect.
Our compensation committee is acting pursuant to a written charter, and consists of Mr. Heiblum (chair), Mr. Berger and Dr. Stark, each of whom is “independent,” as such term is defined under the Nasdaq Stock Market rules. Our compensation committee complies with the provisions of the Companies Law, the regulations promulgated thereunder, and our articles of association (insofar as the provisions of our articles of association referring to the compensation committee according to Israeli law should be referred to and read based on said exemption), on all aspects referring to its independence, authorities and practice.
Our compensation committee reviews and recommends to our Board of Directors: (1) the annual base compensation of our executive officers and directors; (2) annual incentive bonus, including the specific goals and amount; (3) equity compensation; (4) employment agreements, severance arrangements, and change in control agreements/provisions; (5) retirement grants and/or retirement bonuses; and (6) any other benefits, compensation, compensation policies or arrangements.
The duties of the compensation committee include the recommendation to the company’s board of directors of a policy regarding the terms of engagement of office holders, to which we refer as a “Compensation Policy.” The compensation policy must be adopted by the company’s board of directors, after considering the recommendations of the compensation committee. The compensation policy is then brought for approval by our shareholders and is subject to special majority requirements. On March 24, 2014, our shareholders approved our compensation policy and our shareholders approved an amended compensation policy at our 2017 annual general meeting of shareholders on November 1, 2017.
The compensation policy must serve as the basis for decisions concerning the financial terms of employment or engagement of executive officers and directors, including exculpation, insurance, indemnification or any monetary payment or obligation of payment in respect of employment or engagement. The compensation policy must be approved (or reapproved) not longer than every three years, and relate to certain factors, including advancement of the company’s objectives, the company’s business and its long-term strategy, and creation of appropriate incentives for executives. It must also consider, among other things, the company’s risk management, size and the nature of its operations. The compensation policy must furthermore consider the following additional factors:
|●||the knowledge, skills, expertise and accomplishments of the relevant office holder (director or executive);|
|●||the director’s or executive’s roles and responsibilities and prior compensation agreements with him or her;|
|●||the relationship between the terms offered and the average and median compensation of the other employees of the company, including those employed through manpower companies;|
|●||the impact of disparities in salary upon work relationships in the company;|
|●||the possibility of reducing variable compensation at the discretion of the board of directors; and the possibility of setting a limit on the exercise value of non-cash variable compensation; and|
|●||as to severance compensation, the period of service of the director or executive, the terms of his or her compensation during such service period, the company’s performance during that period of service, the person’s contribution towards the company’s achievement of its goals and the maximization of its profits, and the circumstances under which the person is leaving the company.|
The compensation policy must also include the following principles:
|●||the link between variable compensation and long-term performance and measurable criteria;|
|●||the relationship between variable and fixed compensation, and the ceiling for the value of variable compensation;|
|●||the conditions under which a director or executive would be required to repay compensation paid to him or her if it was later shown that the data upon which such compensation was based was inaccurate and was required to be restated in the company’s financial statements;|
|●||the minimum holding or vesting period for variable, equity-based compensation; and|
|●||maximum limits for severance compensation.|
The compensation policy must also consider appropriate incentives from a long-term perspective and maximum limits for severance compensation.
The compensation committee is responsible for (1) recommending the compensation policy to a company’s board of directors for its approval (and subsequent approval by our shareholders) and (2) duties related to the compensation policy and to the compensation of a company’s office holders as well as functions previously fulfilled by a company’s audit committee with respect to matters related to approval of the terms of engagement of office holders, including:
|●||recommending whether a compensation policy should continue in effect, if the then-current policy has a term of greater than three years (approval of either a new compensation policy or the continuation of an existing compensation policy must in any case occur every three years);|
|●||recommending to the board of directors periodic updates to the compensation policy;|
|●||assessing implementation of the compensation policy; and|
|●||determining whether the compensation terms of the chief executive officer of the company need not be brought to approval of the shareholders.|
Under the regulations promulgated under the Companies Law, certain exemptions and reliefs with respect to the compensation committee are granted to companies whose securities are traded outside of Israel. We may use these exemptions and reliefs during and for as long as our ADSs are listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market.
Under the Companies Law, the board of directors of an Israeli public company must also appoint an internal auditor nominated and supervised by the audit committee. Our internal auditor is Mr. Daniel Shapira, who has been serving as our internal auditor since March 2006. Mr. Shapira is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a B.A. degree in Economics and Accounting from Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The role of the internal auditor is to examine whether a company’s actions comply with the law and proper business procedure. Our Chairman acts as the internal auditor’s organizational supervisor. The internal auditor will submit his internal auditor’s work plan for the approval of our audit committee. The internal auditor may not be an “interested party” or office holder, or a relative of any interested party or office holder, and may not be a member of the company’s independent accounting firm or its representative. The Companies Law defines an interested party as a holder of 5% or more of the shares or voting rights of a company, any person or entity that has the right to nominate or appoint at least one director or the general manager of the company or any person who serves as a director or as the general manager of a company. Our internal auditor is not our employee, but the managing partner of a firm which specializes in internal auditing.
Remuneration of Directors
Under the Companies Law, remuneration of directors is subject to the approval of the compensation committee, thereafter by the board of directors and thereafter by the general meeting of the shareholders. In case the remuneration of the directors is in accordance with regulation applicable to remuneration of the external directors then such remuneration shall be exempt from the approval of the general meeting. See “—Board Practices—External Directors.”
Under the Companies Law and our articles of association, a company may obtain insurance for any of its office holders for:
|●||a breach of his or her duty of care to the company or to another person, including a breach arising out of the negligent conduct of the office holder;|
|●||a breach of his or her duty of loyalty to the company, provided that the office holder acted in good faith and had reasonable cause to assume that his or her act would not prejudice the company’s interests;|
|●||a financial liability imposed upon him or her in favor of another person concerning an act performed by such office holder in his or her capacity as an officer holder;|
|●||any other insurable action in accordance with the Companies Law;|
|●||expenses incurred by an office holder relating to an administrative enforcement proceeding conducted with respect to such office holder including reasonable litigation expenses and attorneys’ fees; and|
|●||payments to the party injured by the violation, in accordance with the Securities Law.|
We have approved a five year framework, where the yearly premium will not exceed the sum of $200,000 (allowing an annual increase of 15%), with a liability limit of up to $25,000,000 per event per annum, and additional side A DIC liability limit of up to $10,000,000, and including an 84 months run-off insurance under reasonable customary terms. In addition, we have a similar insurance framework included and in effect under our compensation policy.
We currently have liability insurance, providing total coverage of $15,000,000 per claim and in the aggregate for the benefit of all of our directors and officers and company coverage for securities claim. In addition, we have total coverage of $5,000,000 Side A DIC only for our directors and officers.
The Companies Law and our articles of association provide that we may indemnify an office holder against:
|●||a financial liability imposed on him or her in favor of another person by any judgment concerning an act performed in his or her capacity as an office holder, including a settlement or arbitrator’s award approved by a court; However, if an undertaking to indemnify an office holder with respect to such liability is provided in advance, then such an undertaking must be limited to events which, in the opinion of the board of directors, can be foreseen based on a company’s activities when the undertaking to indemnify is given, and to an amount or according to criteria determined by the board of directors as reasonable under the circumstances, and such undertaking must detail the abovementioned foreseen events and amount or criteria;|
|●||reasonable litigation expenses, including attorneys’ fees, incurred by the office holder: (i) as a result of an investigation or proceeding instituted against him or her by an authority authorized to conduct such investigation or proceeding, provided that (a) no indictment (as defined in the Companies Law) was filed against such office holder as a result of such investigation or proceeding; and (b) no financial liability as a substitute for the criminal proceeding (as defined in the Companies Law) was imposed upon him or her as a result of such investigation or proceeding, or, if such financial liability was imposed, it was imposed with respect to an offense that does not require proof of criminal intent; and (ii) in connection with a monetary sanction;|
|●||reasonable litigation expenses, including attorneys’ fees, expended by the office holder or charged to him or her by a court relating to an act performed in his or her capacity as an office holder, in connection with: (1) proceedings that the company institutes, or that another person institutes on the company’s behalf, against him or her; (2) a criminal charge of which he or she was acquitted; or (3) a criminal charge for which he or she was convicted for a criminal offense that does not require proof of criminal thought;|
|●||expenses incurred by an office holder relating to an administrative enforcement proceeding conducted with regard to such office holder, including reasonable litigation expenses and including attorneys’ fees;|
|●||payment to the party injured by the violation; and|
|●||liability or expense otherwise permitted as an indemnification by the Companies Law.|
Our articles of association allow us to indemnify our office holders up to a certain amount. The Companies Law also permits a company to undertake in advance to indemnify an office holder, provided that if such indemnification relates to financial liability imposed on him or her, as described above, then the undertaking should be limited:
|●||to categories of events that the board of directors determines are likely to occur in light of the operations of the company at the time that the undertaking to indemnify is made; and|
|●||in amount or criterion determined by the board of directors, at the time of the giving of such undertaking to indemnify, to be reasonable under the circumstances.|
We have entered into indemnification agreements, with each of our directors and with certain members of our senior management. Each such indemnification agreement provides the office holder with indemnification to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law and up to a certain amount, and including with respect to liabilities resulting from our initial public offering in the United States and any other subsequent public offerings, and to the extent that the directors and officers insurance do not cover these liabilities.
Under the Companies Law, an Israeli company may not exculpate an office holder from liability for a breach of his or her duty of loyalty, but may exculpate in advance an office holder from his or her liability to the company, in whole or in part, and for damages caused to the company as a result of a breach of his or her duty of care (other than in relation to distributions), but only if a provision authorizing such exculpation is included in its articles of association. A company may not exculpate a director from liability arising out of a prohibited dividend or distribution to shareholders. Our articles of association provide that we may exculpate any office holder from liability to us to the fullest extent permitted by law.
We have entered into exculpation agreements with each of our current directors and executive officers undertaking to exculpate and release our office holders from any and all liability to us related to any breach by them of their duty of care to us to the fullest extent permitted by law and including with respect to liabilities resulting from our initial public offering in the United States and any other subsequent public offerings.
The Companies Law provides that we may not exculpate or indemnify an office holder nor enter into an insurance contract that would provide coverage for any liability incurred as a result of any of the following: (1) a breach by the office holder of his or her duty of loyalty unless (in the case of indemnity or insurance only, but not exculpation) the office holder acted in good faith and had a reasonable basis to believe that the act would not prejudice us; (2) a breach by the office holder of his or her duty of care if the breach was carried out intentionally or recklessly (as opposed to merely negligently); (3) any action taken or omission committed with the intent to derive an illegal personal benefit; or (4) any fine or forfeit levied against the office holder.
As of December 31, 2018, we had three members of senior management (including our Chairman), all of whom are full-time employees. In addition, we had eight other full-time employees, all located in Israel. None of our employees is represented by labor unions or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We believe that we maintain good relations with all of our employees. However, in Israel, we are subject to certain Israeli labor laws, regulations and national labor court precedent rulings, as well as certain provisions of collective bargaining agreements applicable to us by virtue of extension orders issued in accordance with relevant labor laws by the Israeli and Industry of Economy and which apply such agreement provisions to our employees even though they are not part of a union that has signed a collective bargaining agreement.
All of our employment and consulting agreements include employees’ and consultants’ undertakings with respect to non-competition and assignment to us of intellectual property rights developed in the course of employment and confidentiality. The enforceability of such provisions is limited by Israeli law.
The following table lists as of May 13, 2019, the number of our shares beneficially owned by each of our directors, our executive officers and our directors and executive officers as a group:
|Number of Ordinary Shares Beneficially Owned (1)||Percent of Class (2)|
|Executive Officers and Directors|
|Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz||7,851,988||(3)||3.93||%|
|Dr. Adi Zuloff-Shani||1,025,000||(5)||*|
|Stephen M. Simes||995,833||(6)||*|
|Dr. Yafit Stark||437,500||(7)||*|
|All directors and executive officers as a group (8 persons)||11,839,490||(8)||5.93||%|
|*||Less than 1%.|
|(1)||Beneficial ownership is determined in accordance with the rules of the SEC and generally includes voting or investment power with respect to securities. Ordinary Shares relating to options currently exercisable or exercisable within 60 days of the date of this table are deemed outstanding for computing the percentage of the person holding such securities but are not deemed outstanding for computing the percentage of any other person. Except as indicated by footnote, and subject to community property laws where applicable, the persons named in the table above have sole voting and investment power with respect to all shares shown as beneficially owned by them.|
|(2)||The percentages shown are based on 199,561,352 Ordinary Shares issued and outstanding as of May 13, 2019 plus Ordinary Shares relating to options and warrants currently exercisable or exercisable within 60 days of the date of this table, which are deemed outstanding for computing the percentage of the person holding such securities but are not deemed outstanding for computing the percentage of any other person.|
|(3)||Includes (i) 669,680 Ordinary Shares, options to purchase 423,037 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.79 (approximately $0.21) per share and options to purchase 250,000 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.50 (approximately $0.14) per share, held directly by Dr. Shmulewitz, (ii) 2,338,440 Ordinary Shares, held by Dekel, which is an Israel company controlled by Dr. Shmulewitz; and (iii) options to purchase 1,983,331 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.50 (approximately $0.14) per share, and options to purchase 2,187,500 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.72 (approximately $0.19) per share held by Medgenesis Partners Ltd., which, to the best of our knowledge, is an Israeli company controlled by Dr. Shmulewitz.|
|(4)||Includes options to purchase 216,668 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.50 (approximately $0.14) per share.|
|(5)||Includes options to purchase 500,000 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 1.06 (approximately $0.28) per share and options to purchase 525,000 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.50 (approximately $0.14) per share.|
|(6)||Includes options to purchase 558,333 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.86 (approximately $0.23) per share and options to purchase 437,500 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.50 (approximately $0.14) per share.|
|(7)||Consists of options to purchase 437,500 Ordinary Shares at an exercise price of NIS 0.50 (approximately $0.14) per share.|
|(8)||Includes options to purchase 8,831,370 Ordinary Shares.|
Equity Incentive Plans
Israeli Share Option Plan (2015); Israeli Share Option Plan (2005)
In July 2005, we adopted the Israeli Share Option Plan (2005), or the 2005 Plan, which was in force for a period of 10 years. Upon the expiration of the 2005 Plan, we adopted the Israeli Share Option Plan (2015), or the 2015 Plan. Some of the options previously granted under the 2005 Plan remain outstanding, and new options are granted under the 2015 Plan.
Under the plans, we grant options to purchase our Ordinary Shares to our officers, employees, consultants and other service providers. As of May 13, 2019, 31,000,000 Ordinary Shares were reserved for issuance under the plans, of which options to purchase 17,390,000 Ordinary Shares were issued and outstanding thereunder. Of such outstanding options, options to purchase 10,438,024 Ordinary Shares were vested as of May 13, 2019, with a weighted average exercise price of NIS 0.59 (approximately $0.17) per share.
The plans were designed to reflect the provisions of the Israeli Income Tax Ordinance (New Version) 5721-1961, or the Ordinance, mainly Sections 102 and 3(i), which afford certain tax advantages to Israeli employees, officers, and directors who are granted share options in accordance with its terms. Section 102 of the Ordinance allows employees, directors, and officers, who are not controlling shareholders and who are Israeli residents, to receive favorable tax treatment for compensation in the form of shares or share options. Section 102 of the Ordinance includes two alternatives for tax treatment involving the issuance of share options or shares to a trustee for the benefit of the grantees and also includes an additional alternative for the issuance of share options or shares directly to the grantee. Sections 102(b)(2) and 102(b)(3) of the Ordinance, which provide the most favorable tax treatment for grantees, permit the issuance to a trustee under the “capital gain” tax regime. In order to comply with the terms of the “capital gain” tax regime, all share options granted under a specific plan and subject to the provisions of Section 102 of the Ordinance, as well as the shares issued upon exercise of such share options and other shares received following any realization of rights with respect to such share options, such as share dividends and share splits, must be registered in the name of a trustee selected by the board of directors and held in trust for the benefit of the relevant employee, director, officer or service provider. The trustee may not release these share options or shares to the relevant grantee before the second anniversary of the registration of the share options in the name of the trustee. However, under this regime, our ability to deduct an expense with respect to the issuance of the share options or shares might be limited. Section 3(i), which permits the issuance of share options under the “income from labor” tax regime, does not provide for similar tax benefits.
The 2015 Plan may be administered by our Board of Directors either directly or upon the recommendation of a committee appointed by our Board of Directors. Our compensation committee recommends to the Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors determines or approves the eligible individuals who receive share options under the 2015 Plan, the number of Ordinary Shares covered by those share options, the terms under which such share options may be exercised, and other terms and conditions of the share options, all in accordance with the provisions of the 2015 Plan. Share option holders may not transfer their share options except in the event of death or transfer in accordance with law and the provisions of the 2015 Plan. Our compensation committee or Board of Directors may at any time amend or terminate the 2015 Plan; however, any amendment or termination may not adversely affect any share options or shares granted under such 2105 Plan prior to such action. The share option exercise price is determined by the Board of Directors, following the recommendation of the compensation committee, and specified in each option award agreement.
Awards under the 2015 Plan may be granted until December 2025, ten years from December 2015. Share options granted under the 2005 and the 2015 Plans generally vest over three years commencing on the date of grant such that the options shall vest on a quarterly basis in equal portions, unless otherwise provided in a specific share option grant agreement and such option agreements may contain accelera