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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
___________________________________________
FORM 10-K
___________________________________________
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED December 31, 2023
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM _ TO _
COMMISSION FILE NUMBER 001-38501
___________________________________________
BLACK DIAMOND THERAPEUTICS, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
___________________________________________
Delaware81-4254660
(State or other jurisdiction
of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
One Main Street, 14th Floor
Cambridge, Massachusetts
(Address of principal executive offices)
02142
(Zip Code)
(617) 252-0848
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common stock, par value $0.0001BDTXThe Nasdaq Global Select Market

___________________________________________
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  



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Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filer




Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company






Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b). ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  ☒
As of June 30, 2023, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $114,544,206 based on a closing price of $5.05 per share as quoted by the Nasdaq Global Select Market as of such date. In determining the market value of non-affiliate common stock, shares of the registrant’s common stock beneficially owned by officers, directors and affiliates have been excluded. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.
As of March 5, 2024, the registrant had 51,717,849 shares of common stock, $0.0001 par value per share, outstanding.
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K incorporates by reference certain information from the definitive Proxy Statement for the registrant’s 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, or the Proxy Statement, which the registrant intends to file pursuant to Regulation 14A with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2023. Except with respect to information specifically incorporated by reference, the Proxy Statement is not deemed to be filed as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.




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Summary of the Material and Other Risks Associated with Our Business
Our business is subject to numerous material and other risks and uncertainties that you should be aware of in evaluating our business, including those described in Part II, Item IA. “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. These risks include, but are not limited to, the following:
We are very early in our development efforts and are substantially dependent on our clinical-stage product candidates, BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933. If we are unable to advance BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or any of our other product candidates through clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or any of our other product candidates, or if we experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.
Difficulty in enrolling patients could delay or prevent clinical trials of our product candidates. We may find it difficult to enroll patients in our Phase 2 clinical trial for BDTX-1535 or our Phase 1 clinical trial for BDTX-4933 with the genetic mutations that these product candidates are designed to target.
If we are not able to obtain, or if there are delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we will not be able to commercialize, or will be delayed in commercializing, our product candidates, and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.
Our clinical trials may fail to demonstrate adequately the safety and efficacy of any of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.
We are focused on the development of precision medicines for patients with genetically defined cancers, which is a rapidly evolving area of science, and the approach we have taken to discover, and are taking to develop drugs is novel and may never lead to marketable products.
Business or economic disruptions or global health concerns could seriously harm our development efforts and increase our costs and expenses.
Our limited operating history may make it difficult for you to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability.
We have incurred significant losses since inception, and we expect to incur losses over the next several years and may not be able to achieve or sustain revenues or profitability in the future.
We have not generated any revenue from our product candidates and may never be profitable.
We will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we would be compelled to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933, our MAP drug discovery engine and our other product candidates and technology, or any other product candidates or technology we may develop, or if the scope of intellectual property protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to commercialize BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933, or any other product candidates or technology may be adversely affected.
We rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not properly and successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize our product candidates.
We may form or seek collaborations or strategic alliances or enter into additional licensing arrangements in the future, and we may not realize the benefits of such collaborations, alliances or licensing arrangements.
We are highly dependent on our key personnel and anticipate hiring new key personnel. If we are not successful in attracting and retaining highly qualified personnel, we may not be able to successfully implement our business strategy.
The price of our stock is volatile, and you could lose all or part of your investment.



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Data collection is governed by restrictive regulations governing the use, processing and cross-border transfer of personal information.
Changes to patent law in the United States and in foreign jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
Changes in tax law could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
We may be unable to adequately protect our information systems from cyberattacks, which could result in the disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, including personal data, damage our reputation, and subject us to significant financial and legal exposure.
The material and other risks summarized above should be read together with the text of the full risk factors discussed in the section entitled “Risk Factors” and the other information set forth in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes, as well as in other documents that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. If any such material and other risks and uncertainties actually occur, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. The risks summarized above or described in full elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are not the only risks that we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us, or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.



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BLACK DIAMOND THERAPEUTICS, INC.
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Page
Item 6. Reserved
We have applied for various trademarks that we use in connection with the operation of our business. This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or Annual Report, may also contain trademarks, service marks and trade names of third parties, which are the property of their respective owners. Our use or display of third parties’ trademarks, service marks, trade names or products in this Annual Report is not intended to, and does not imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship by us. Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report may appear without the ®, TM or SM symbols, but the omission of such references is not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or that the applicable owner of these trademarks, service marks and trade names will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, its rights.


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From time to time, we may use our website or our LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/company/black-diamond-therapeutics to distribute material information. Our financial and other material information is routinely posted to and accessible on the Investors section of our website, available at www.blackdiamondtherapeutics.com. Investors are encouraged to review the Investors section of our website because we may post material information on that site that is not otherwise disseminated by us. Information that is contained in and can be accessed through our website or our LinkedIn page is not incorporated into, and does not form a part of, this Annual Report.

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, (the Securities Act), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act). All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may”, “will”, “could”, “should”, “expects”, “intends”, “plans”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “estimates”, “predicts”, “potential”, “continue” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These statements are not guarantees of future results or performance and involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report include, but are not limited to, statements about:
the progress, timing and success of our clinical trials of BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and any other product candidates, including the availability, timing and announcement of data and results of such trials;
the scope, timing, progress and results of our clinical trials and Investigational New Drug (IND) applications, development efforts and other regulatory submissions;
our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933 or any of our future product candidates that we may identify or develop;
the effects of competition with respect to BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or any of our other current or future product candidates, as well as innovations by current and future competitors in our industry;
our evaluation of strategic alternatives for BDTX-4876 and one other preclinical program, including our ability to execute and realize the anticipated benefits of any strategic alternatives we may pursue;
our need to raise additional funding before we can expect to generate any revenues from product sales;
our ability to develop our current product candidates for the treatment of various cancers;
the rate and degree of market acceptance and clinical utility for any current or future product candidates we may develop;
the implementation of our strategic plans for our business and any product candidates we may develop based on our Mutation-Allostery-Pharmacology (MAP) drug discovery engine;
our ability to successfully develop companion diagnostics for use with our current or future product candidates;
our intellectual property position, including the scope of protection we are able to establish, maintain and enforce for intellectual property rights covering our product candidates and MAP drug discovery engine;
our ability to obtain additional funding for our operations, when needed, including funding necessary to complete further development and commercialization of our product candidates, if approved;
the period over which we expect our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements;
the accuracy of our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements and needs for additional financing;


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our future financial performance and our ability to effectively manage our anticipated growth;
our estimates regarding the market opportunities for our product candidates, including our competitive position and the success of competing therapies that are or may become available;
our need for and ability to attract and retain key scientific, management and other personnel and to identify, hire and retain additional qualified professionals;
the potential for our business development efforts to maximize the value of our platform and product candidates;
the size and growth potential of the markets for our product candidates, and our ability to serve those markets, either alone or in partnership with others;
our ability to establish or maintain collaborations or strategic relationships and the ability and willingness of our third-party strategic collaborators to undertake research and development activities relating to our current or future product candidates;
our expectations regarding the period during which we will remain an emerging growth company under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the JOBS Act);
our ability to maintain an effective system of internal controls;
the impact of global economic and political developments on our business, including rising inflation and capital market disruptions, economic sanctions and economic slowdowns or recessions that may result from such developments which could harm our research and development efforts as well as the value of our common stock and our ability to access capital markets;
the ultimate impact of health epidemics, pandemics, and other widespread outbreaks of contagious disease, including mitigation efforts and economic effects, on any of the foregoing or other aspects of our business operations, including but not limited to our clinical trials, our research programs, healthcare systems or the global economy as a whole; and
other material risks and uncertainties, including those discussed in Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report.
Any forward-looking statements in this Annual Report reflect our current views with respect to future events and with respect to our future financial performance, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those described under Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, even if new information becomes available in the future.

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All of our forward-looking statements are as of the date of this Annual Report only. In each case, actual results may differ materially from such forward-looking information. We can give no assurance that such expectations or forward-looking statements will prove to be correct. An occurrence of or any material adverse change in one or more of the risk factors or risks and uncertainties referred to in this Annual Report or included in our other public disclosures or our other periodic reports or other documents or filings filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations. It is not possible to predict or identify all such risks. Except as required by law, we do not undertake or plan to update or revise any such forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, changes in plans, assumptions, estimates or projections or other circumstances affecting such forward-looking statements occurring after the date of this Annual Report, even if such results, changes or circumstances make it clear that any forward-looking information will not be realized. Any public statements or disclosures by us following this Annual Report that modify or impact any of the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report will be deemed to modify or supersede such statements in this Annual Report.
This Annual Report contains summaries of certain provisions contained in some of the documents described herein, but reference is made to the actual documents for complete information. All of the summaries are qualified in their entirety by the actual documents. Copies of some of the documents referred to herein have been filed as exhibits to this Annual Report.
We may from time to time provide estimates, projections and other information concerning our industry, the general business environment, and the markets for certain diseases, including estimates regarding the potential size of those markets and the estimated incidence and prevalence of certain medical conditions. Information that is based on estimates, forecasts, projections, market research or similar methodologies is inherently subject to uncertainties, and actual events, circumstances or numbers, including actual disease prevalence rates and market size, may differ materially from the information reflected in this Annual Report. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, business information, market data, prevalence information and other data from reports, research surveys, studies and similar data prepared by market research firms and other third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data, and similar sources, in some cases applying our own assumptions and analysis that may, in the future, prove not to have been accurate.
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PART I
Except where the context otherwise requires or where otherwise indicated, the terms “Black Diamond,” “Black Diamond Therapeutics,” “we,” “us,” “our,” “our company,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” “our” and similar designations in this Annual Report to refer to Black Diamond Therapeutics, Inc. and, where appropriate, its subsidiary.
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Item 1. Business
We are a clinical-stage oncology company focused on the development of MasterKey therapies to treat patients with genetically defined tumors. The foundation of our company is built upon a deep understanding of cancer genetics, onco-protein structure and function, and medicinal chemistry. Our MasterKey therapies are designed to address a broad spectrum of genetically defined tumors, overcome resistance, minimize wild-type mediated toxicities, and be brain-penetrant to treat central nervous system (CNS) disease. Our compounds target families of oncogenic mutations in clinically validated pathways. We are advancing two clinical-stage programs: BDTX-1535, a brain-penetrant, fourth-generation epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) MasterKey inhibitor, targeting epidermal growth factor receptor mutant (EGFRm) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and glioblastoma (GBM), and BDTX-4933, a brain-penetrant, RAF MasterKey inhibitor targeting KRAS, NRAS and BRAF alterations in solid tumors.
The Black Diamond Therapeutics approach
Our goal is to bring targeted oncology therapies to patients with genetically defined cancers who have limited treatment options. Our drug development efforts leverage our novel findings that:
mutations throughout a gene can drive oncogenic activation and change the drug selectivity profile of their active sites;
these oncogenic mutations can be grouped into families because they drive similar protein structural changes, and exhibit a shared selectivity profile; and
a family of oncogenic proteins can therefore be inhibited by a single molecule that targets the active site regardless of where it appears on the protein.
Our MasterKey therapies were discovered using our proprietary MAP drug discovery engine which is built on three central pillars: identification of oncogenic mutations in protein kinases, confirmation of oncogenicity of mutations based upon cell and tumor models, and pharmacologic inhibition of the relevant mutations while sparing wild-type. Approved targeted therapies, such as kinase inhibitors, have transformed the treatment of cancers and demonstrated a significant benefit in certain patients by treating active site mutations in a single tumor type. Improved genetic sequencing of human cancers has led to the discovery of additional oncogenic genetic alterations. These genetic alterations were previously unaddressed, unsuccessfully targeted or overlooked. Our MasterKey therapies are designed to target families of oncogenic driver mutations by exploiting their shared activating conformation. We believe our MasterKey approach offers a substantial opportunity to expand the number of patients who could benefit from targeted oncology medicines.
Black Diamond Therapeutics pipeline
We have a pipeline of orally available, potent and selective small molecule MasterKey inhibitors that target families of driver mutations in individual oncogenes for the treatment of cancer and genetic diseases. Our pipeline includes two product candidates for which we are conducting clinical trials, and other development candidates for which we are evaluating potential strategic partnerships. An overview of our pipeline of product candidates is shown in the table below.
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BDTX-1535: a brain-penetrant, irreversible EGFR MasterKey inhibitor with broad mutation coverage
We believe that BDTX-1535 has the potential to treat patients with EGFRm NSCLC in both early-line and later-line settings based upon BDTX-1535’s ability to address approximately 50 oncogenic mutations with greater potency than other EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor’s (TKIs), as well as uniquely target the C797S resistance mutation which can be acquired after treatment with osimertinib. Historically, EGFR inhibitors have demonstrated significant clinical benefit in patients with classical EGFR activating mutations and are the current first-line standard of care. However, over time, almost all patients acquire resistance mutations and relapse. Furthermore, up to half of all NSCLC patients either have CNS metastases at diagnosis or will develop them while on treatment, which contributes to increased risk of resistance to standard therapies and poor prognosis. The majority of first and second-generation EGFR TKIs do not adequately penetrate the CNS and the third-generation EGFR inhibitor osimertinib has been shown to exhibit limited CNS penetration. There are also few options remaining to patients when they become resistant to third generation EGFR TKIs. Resistance can arise due to the acquired C797S resistance mutation and/or to a myriad of other oncogenic non-classical EGFR driver mutations. There are presently no therapies approved for the treatment of patients with EGFRm NSCLC harboring the acquired resistance C797S mutation. Based upon evolving real world evidence, we believe that non-classical mutations are also becoming increasingly present in patients newly diagnosed with NSCLC, as detected with next generation sequencing of tumors. Afatanib is the only EGFR TKI approved for non-classical mutations and its label is limited to S768I, L861Q and G719X. Our preclinical data for BDTX-1535 shows potent inhibition of a broad spectrum of non-classical EGFR mutations (approximately 50), including S768I, L861Q and G719X.
In our Phase 1 trial in patients with advanced/metastatic EGFRm NSCLC, BDTX-1535 was shown to be well tolerated and to achieve durable clinical responses in patients whose tumors expressed a range of mutation subtypes, including the acquired C797S resistance mutation and a range of non-classical mutations. BDTX-1535 received Fast Track Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of patients with metastatic EGFR C797S mutation-positive NSCLC, without T790M mutation, whose disease has progressed on/after a third-generation EGFR TKI. We are currently evaluating BDTX-1535 in a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with EGFRm NSCLC in the second and third-line settings with non-classical driver mutations and acquired C797S resistance mutation, and in the first-line setting in patients with non-classical EGFR mutations. We expect to announce results from the second- and third-line cohorts in the third quarter of 2024 and results from the first-line cohort in 2025. We are also assessing the potential development of BDTX-1535 for patients with EGFRm NSCLC following adjuvant treatment with osimertinib, where the broad mutation coverage of BDTX-1535 of C797S and non-classical mutations may be of benefit.
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We released top-line recurrent GBM results from the BDTX-1535 Phase 1 dose escalation study in the fourth quarter of 2023, showing clinical activity in heavily pretreated patients with GBM. BDTX-1535 was shown to be generally well tolerated and no new safety signals were observed.
In the fourth quarter of 2023, enrollment began in a “window of opportunity” Phase 0/1 trial of BDTX-1535 in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma. The trial is sponsored by the Ivy Brain Tumor Center in Phoenix, Arizona and is enrolling patients prior to a planned surgical resection. Patients achieving adequate drug levels in the gadolinium non-enhancing regions of the tumor will continue with treatment following surgery. This study is primarily intended to assess drug levels of BDTX-1535 in brain tissue and to confirm EGFR mutation status, which may be altered with previous treatment such as radiation and chemotherapy. We expect to present Phase 1 data and “window of opportunity” results in the second quarter of 2024, which will inform potential next steps in the development of BDTX-1535 in GBM.
BDTX-4933: a highly selective, brain-penetrant RAF MasterKey inhibitor
BRAF mutations are among the most common mutations found in tumors. First-generation BRAF inhibitors have focused on the canonical V600E (Class I) mutation but are not active against non-canonical oncogenic BRAF mutations. Non-canonical oncogenic mutations, including BRAF-fusions, can drive RAS-independent (Class II) or RAS-dependent (Class III) RAF dimers. Current BRAF inhibitors can induce unwanted paradoxical activation that limits their breadth of activity and can result in cutaneous toxicity. First-generation BRAF inhibitors are also not active in the context of KRAS mutations, and there are currently no approved precision therapeutics to address tumors expressing non-G12C KRAS mutations. Furthermore, the expression of BRAF and KRAS mutations commonly occurs in patients with CNS tumors or brain metastases, but currently approved BRAF inhibitors have poor intrinsic brain penetration. As such, there remains a high unmet clinical need for a broad mutation spectrum and CNS-penetrant RAF inhibitor to treat patients expressing BRAF mutations and related RAS-dependent alterations.
BDTX-4933 is designed to be a potent and selective, reversible oral inhibitor that targets broad families of oncogenic BRAF, KRAS and NRAS alterations. BDTX-4933 selectively targets constitutively active RAF dimers resulting from either BRAF mutations or other upstream oncogenic MAPK pathway alterations, such as KRAS and NRAS alterations. In preclinical tumor models, we observed that BDTX-4933 demonstrated brain-penetrant activity and achieved regression of tumors carrying a broad spectrum of KRAS mutations, NRAS alterations, as well as BRAF Class I, II, and III mutations.
We initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial for BDTX-4933 in the second quarter of 2023 in patients with BRAF and select KRAS and NRAS mutation-positive cancers, with an emphasis on patients with non-G12C KRAS mutant NSCLC. The trial is currently in dose escalation with data expected in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Early-stage programs
We are seeking global partnership opportunities for our FGFR2/3 selective development candidate BDTX-4876, and for another development candidate against an undisclosed, validated oncogene.
Our strategy
Our vision is to build a differentiated, global biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing novel medicines for patients with genetically defined tumors. We are advancing compounds that have been discovered through improved understanding of mutant protein conformations to identify novel oncogenic driver mutations, and target families of oncogenic mutations with MasterKey therapies to address a greater number of patients. Our strategy is to explore development of these compounds starting in later-line settings, and based on results, to expand development into early-line settings where patients with these mutations have few treatment options and well tolerated oral therapies have implicit advantages for patients as compared to intravenously administered chemotherapy, antibody, or conjugate-based therapies. The critical components of our strategy include:
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Generate Phase 2 clinical trial results for BDTX-1535 in 2L/3L EGFRm NSCLC to enable a potential pivotal trial. We believe that BDTX-1535 is the most advanced fourth-generation EGFR TKI in development that uniquely targets the acquired C797S resistance mutation as well as non-classical mutations that can cause disease progression on a third-generation TKI.
Advance BDTX-1535 rapidly through Phase 2 development in 1L non-classical EGFRm NSCLC to maximize the therapeutic potential of BDTX-1535. We believe that the ability of BDTX-1535 to target approximately 50 oncogenic mutations that are not sufficiently addressed by existing therapies, as well as its oral administration and tolerability profile together with brain penetrance, offers significant potential to treat patients with non-classical mutations in the first-line setting.
Outline a potential development path for BDTX-1535 in 1L newly diagnosed patients with EGFR altered GBM. Based on Phase 1 data and results from the “window of opportunity” trial for BDTX-1535, we will determine potential next steps in the development of BDTX-1535 as a first-line treatment for newly diagnosed patients with EGFR altered GBM.
Assess early dose escalation data from BDTX-4933 to evaluate future development potential. We believe that BDTX-4933 could offer an improved approach to addressing oncogenic KRAS, NRAS and all classes of BRAF alterations expressed in patients with or without tumors in the central nervous system, and our initial focus is on non-G12C KRAS mutated NSCLC.
Evaluate potential strategic partnerships that may maximize the potential of our pipeline. We may consider and opportunistically enter into strategic partnerships around certain targets, product candidates and disease areas. Our FGFR program and one other undisclosed program in solid tumors have reached development candidate stage, and we are evaluating out licensing opportunities for further development.
Our history and team
We were founded in 2014 and in 2017, together with Versant Ventures, we began building the MAP drug discovery engine to profile oncogenic mutations and create MasterKey Therapies. We have assembled a team with significant expertise in drug development, with particular strength in small molecule protein kinase inhibitors and advancement of oncology drug candidates through clinical trials and regulatory approval. Mark A. Velleca, M.D., Ph.D., our Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer was previously the Chief Executive Officer of G1 Therapeutics, Inc., where he led the advancement of multiple product candidates across several therapeutic areas, including leading its first therapy from investigational new drug (IND) application to FDA approval. Elizabeth Buck, Ph.D., our Chief Scientific Officer, previously led preclinical pharmacology and oncology translational research at OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Sergey Yurasov, M.D., Ph.D., our Chief Medical Officer, previously served as Chief Medical Officer at Nuvation Bio. Melanie Morrison, our Chief Development Officer, previously served as Senior Vice President, Program Management and Clinical Operations at Nuvation Bio. Brent Hatzis-Schoch, our Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, was previously General Counsel at Radius Health, Inc. Fang Ni, Pharm.D., our Chief Business Officer and Chief Financial Officer, previously served as Principal and was a member of the investment team at Versant Ventures. Elizabeth Montgomery, our Chief People Officer, previously served as Chief People Officer at ClearView Healthcare Partners.
Our product candidates and development programs
We have a pipeline of orally available, potent and selective small molecule MasterKey therapies that target genetic drivers in several cancers. We own worldwide commercial rights to all of our product candidates.
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BDTX-1535: a brain-penetrant, mutant selective, irreversible EGFR MasterKey inhibitor targeting EGFR classical, non-classical, and acquired resistance mutations in NSCLC and EGFR alterations expressed in GBM
Background and limitations of current EGFR inhibitors
In NSCLC, EGFR inhibitors have demonstrated significant clinical benefit in patients with classical EGFR activating mutations (Exon19del, L858R) and are the current first-line standard of care. However, over time, almost all patients acquire resistance and relapse. For the third-generation EGFR inhibitor osimertinib, acquired resistance can be associated with the acquisition of a non-classical mutation (e.g., L747P, L718Q) or acquired C797S resistance mutation, against which osimertinib is inactive. Additionally, a substantial fraction of NSCLC patients at primary diagnosis harbor non-classical EGFR mutations, including complex mutations that are poorly addressed with current therapies. Furthermore, up to half of all NSCLC patients either have CNS metastases at diagnosis or will develop them while on treatment. The majority of first- and second-generation EGFR inhibitors do not adequately penetrate the CNS, and while third-generation, brain-penetrant EGFR inhibitors such as osimertinib may delay the progression of CNS metastases, there are few options remaining to patients when resistance inevitably arises. Thus, treatment for patients who carry non-classical mutations at diagnosis or patients who have progressed on current EGFR targeted agents with acquired resistance mutations, including for patients with brain metastases, remains an area of high unmet medical need in NSCLC.
Our solution: BDTX-1535
BDTX-1535 is a potent, selective, irreversible, oral and brain-penetrant small molecule inhibitor designed to address the critical unmet need in NSCLC and GBM driven by EGFR alterations. The pharmacological activity of BDTX-1535 was optimized to inhibit a wide spectrum of EGFR mutations that drive resistance, and to target CNS tumors through its potential for high brain exposure.
EGFR is a potent oncogene commonly altered in many cancers, including NSCLC and GBM. EGFR mutations in NSCLC commonly impact the kinase domain, while in GBM they occur primarily in the extracellular domain. In cell-based assays, BDTX-1535 achieved potent inhibition of families of oncogenic EGFR mutations and selectivity versus normally expressed EGFR WT as compared to osimertinib. This includes classical, non-classical, acquired C797S resistance mutation, and complex mutations expressed in NSCLC. BDTX-1535 is not a potent inhibitor of Exon20 insertions or the T790M resistance mutation. In cell-based assays, BDTX-1535 achieved potent MasterKey inhibition of a family of oncogenic EGFR variants expressed in GBM and EGFR amplification with high selectivity versus normally expressed EGFR WT.
Clinical development
The IND application for BDTX-1535 was cleared by the FDA in the first quarter of 2022, and the first-in-human clinical trial (BDTX1535-101) was also initiated in the first quarter of 2022. The Phase 1 dose escalation part of this trial enrolled patients harboring EGFR oncogenic alterations both in NSCLC and GBM.
BDTX1535-101 is an open-label, multicenter Phase 1/2 trial consisting of a Phase 1 dose escalation portion (completed) and a multi-cohort Phase 2 dose expansion portion (enrolling). The Phase 1 portion was designed to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and preliminary antitumor activity of BDTX-1535 in patients with either advanced/metastatic NSCLC harboring sensitizing EGFR mutations, with or without brain metastases, who have progressed on an approved EGFR inhibitor, or recurrent GBM expressing EGFR alterations. Eligible NSCLC patients had either a non-classical EGFR mutation in exon 18 or 21 or an acquired C797S mutation following prior therapy with a third-generation EGFR inhibitor. The dose escalation part was based on a Bayesian adaptive design which allowed a various number of patients to be enrolled at each dose level to assess safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of BDTX-1535 to establish a maximum tolerated dose (MTD).

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NSCLC
We released top-line NSCLC results from the Phase 1 dose escalation trial in June 2023, and in October 2023 presented updated clinical data at the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer-National Cancer Institute-American Association for Cancer Research (EORTC-NCI-AACR) Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics. Data disclosed at the conference were from 27 patients with advanced/metastatic NSCLC who received once daily doses ranging from 25mg to 400mg.
Durable clinical responses were observed at a starting dose of 100mg once daily or above in patients with NSCLC who had multiple lines of prior therapy. Five of the 13 patients with either a non-classical driver, the acquired C797S resistance mutation or complex mutations who had measurable disease at study start and underwent post-baseline tumor assessment, had a confirmed partial response (PR) by RECIST 1.1. Evidence of reduction in brain metastases was observed, including a patient who had received greater than three prior lines of therapy. Results presented showed that three responders continue on therapy for greater than six months (two confirmed PRs, one unconfirmed PR) and that one patient with confirmed PR continued on therapy for six months. Two additional patients with stable disease were shown to continue on therapy for greater than 12 months. Eradication of targeted variant alleles and significant circulating tumor DNA reductions were also observed for all NSCLC EGFR mutation subtypes in patients treated with BDTX-1535 across dose levels.

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Osi = Osimertinib; Afa = Afatinib; Gefi = Gefitinib; Daco = Dacomitinib; Erlo = Erlotinib; CPI = Checkpoint inhibitor, C = Chemotherapy; # - mutations were absent on confirmatory test; * uPR=unconfirmed partial response-patient had a PR on a post-baseline scan, but a radiologist was unable to confirm a response on a subsequent scan; this patient remains on study treatment without evidence of PD. **%SoD was updated to -50% from prior data release; 24July2023 BDTX-1535-101 clinical data extract; Data from Poster at EORTC/AACR/NCI International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics October 2023
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a) Dose was increased incrementally to 100 mg QD; b) Dose was increased incrementally to 200 mg QD; c) Received more than two prior lines of therapy; d) Dose was reduced to 300 mg QD; e) patient had a PR on a post-baseline scan, but a radiologist was unable to confirm a response on a subsequent scan; this patient remains on study treatment without PD; f) Patient had >20% increase in target lesions at cycle 11, however, continues the study treatment; Data from Poster at EORTC/AACR/NCI International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics October 2023
Adverse event results included both the NSCLC and GBM cohorts. A favorable emerging tolerability profile was demonstrated, and no unexpected safety signals were identified, with the majority of adverse events at doses of 100mg and 200mg once daily being mild or moderate. No dose limiting toxicities were observed at 200mg once daily or below.


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Treatment emergent adverse events (TEAEs) occurring in ≥6% patients; All patients in 300 mg cohort received rash prophylaxis; Rash group terms: rash, rash maculo-papular, dermatitis acneiform; *PPE = Palmar-plantar erythrodysaesthesia syndrome; Data from Poster at EORTC/AACR/NCI International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics October 2023
The Phase 1 portion of the trial is now completed. In September 2023 we dosed the first patients in the Phase 2 trial to assess overall response rate (ORR) by RECIST 1.1 and durability of response (DOR) in patients with EGFRm NSCLC in two cohorts: one cohort with the EGFR acquired C797S resistance mutation after progression on a third-generation EGFR TKI, and the other cohort in non-classical driver mutations after progression on an EGFR TKI. Enrollment continues in the two cohorts at both 100mg and 200mg doses, and we expect to disclose initial results from these two cohorts of the Phase 2 trial in the third quarter of 2024.
Following feedback received from the FDA in late 2023, in the first quarter of 2024, we initiated a Phase 2 cohort in first-line NSCLC patients harboring non-classical EGFR mutations. Each of the three cohorts of the Phase 2 trial is anticipated to enroll up to 40 patients.

BDTX-1535 received Fast Track Designation from the FDA for the treatment of patients with metastatic EGFR C797S mutation-positive NSCLC, without T790M mutation, whose disease has progressed on/after treatment with a third-generation EGFR TKI. We intend to meet with FDA as results become available from the Phase 2 expansion cohorts in patients with NSCLC to discuss a potential registrational path for BDTX-1535 in EGFRm NSCLC.
GBM
GBM is a difficult-to-treat, aggressive malignancy of the central nervous system. Standard therapy at diagnosis consists of surgical resection followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Prognosis remains poor, with only approximately 25% of newly diagnosed patients surviving two years or longer after diagnosis. At the time of diagnosis, approximately 52% of GBM tumors express one or more EGFR oncogenic alterations that affect the extracellular region of the receptor tyrosine kinase, consequently promoting oncogenic activation. In preclinical models, we have shown that the mechanism of activation for these EGFR oncogenic alterations involves the formation of a constitutive dimer that exhibits a conformation leading to ligand-independent signaling shared by a family of extracellular domain EGFR alterations expressed in GBM. We believe that current EGFR targeted therapies have been unsuccessful in treating GBM due to (i) the concurrent expression of different EGFR oncogenic alterations within individual patients, (ii) insufficient drug potency across different EGFR oncogenic alterations, (iii) paradoxical activation of EGFRm commonly found in GBM caused by earlier-generation inhibitors, and (iv) low levels of brain penetration. BDTX-1535 was designed to overcome these challenges and address the significant unmet need for new treatments for patients with GBM.

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In December 2023, we announced dose escalation results in 22 patients with GBM that were treated at doses ≥100mg once daily demonstrating clinical activity in heavily pre-treated patients including 1 confirmed partial response and 8 patients with stable disease among 19 patients with measurable disease by RANO criteria. Of 22 patients evaluable for efficacy, 3 patients were shown to be on therapy longer than 10 months, 1 patient longer than 6 months, and 5 patients longer than 4 months. Importantly, historical progression free survival (PFS) in this population is expected to last approximate 2-4 months. BDTX-1535 was shown to be generally well tolerated, with no new safety signals observed. It is notable that patients’ EGFR status was not able to be confirmed prior to dosing in this trial, which is an important consideration for future development.
An investigator sponsored “window of opportunity” Phase 0/1 trial of BDTX-1535 is ongoing in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma who are undergoing surgical intracranial tumor resection. This trial will provide data on BDTX-1535 drug levels in the brain, and also confirm the EGFR mutation status of patients’ tumors. GBM are highly pleiomorphic tumors known to evolve with therapeutic treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, thereby potentially changing EGFR mutation status over time. We expect to present clinical data from the dose escalation study and the “window of opportunity” study at a medical meeting in the second quarter of 2024. These results will inform potential further development in newly diagnosed GBM patients harboring EGFR alterations.
We believe that a randomized trial in newly diagnosed GBM patients with confirmed EGFR alteration status may be the most appropriate strategy for evaluating the potential benefit of BDTX-1535 for this indication.
BDTX-4933: a highly selective, brain-penetrant RAF MasterKey inhibitor targeting oncogenic mutations in KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF Class I, II, III
Background and limitations of RAF inhibitors
BRAF mutations are among the most common mutations found in tumors. Oncogenic alterations affecting BRAF include the V600E mutation (Class I) active site mutation together with families of non-canonical BRAF mutations (Class II and Class III) that are active as dimers. While the V600E Class I mutation has been successfully targeted in melanoma and other solid tumors, there are currently no approved therapies that target the full spectrum of Class II and Class III mutations that are expressed in melanoma and a range of other solid tumors. Additionally, expression of all classes of BRAF mutations commonly occurs in patients with CNS tumors or with brain metastasis, which currently remain unaddressed by approved drugs due to their poor brain penetration. Approved BRAF inhibitors can lead to unwanted paradoxical activation, which may lead to poor efficacy and secondary malignancies.
Our solution: BDTX-4933
BDTX-4933 is designed as a brain-penetrant, oral small molecule MasterKey inhibitor of oncogenic KRAS, NRAS and BRAF Class I, II and III mutations, while avoiding paradoxical activation. We believe that BDTX-4933 could offer an improved approach for treating solid tumors expressing activating MAPK pathway alterations, including those with brain metastases.
In cell-based assays, BDTX-4933 demonstrated potent inhibition of a wide spectrum of BRAF alterations including fusions and exhibited dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation. In preclinical tumor models expressing KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF Class I, II and III mutations, daily dosing of BDTX-4933 demonstrated dose-dependent tumor growth inhibition, tumor regression and survival advantage consistent with potent on-target and on-pathway inhibition. BDTX-4933 also demonstrated robust brain penetration properties and activity in intracranial mouse tumor models expressing the Class I V600E mutation.
We presented mechanism of action data for BDTX-4933 in October 2023 at the EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics demonstrating that BDTX-4933 forms a “RAS/RAF clamp” by blocking activating RAS mutations upstream and locking it in an inactivated form. We believe this is a differentiated mechanism of action within the RAF and RAS landscape.

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1. Zhang, W., Cell Res. (2002); 2. Yuan, J., J Hematol Oncol 13, 113 (2020); 3. Yao Z, Cancer Cell (2015); 4. Karoulia Z, Cancer Cell (2016); 5. J. Wang, Pharmacol. Res. 129, 414–423 (2018); 6. H. Ellens, Drug Metab. Dispos. 45, 646–656 (2017); 7. R. K. Mittapalli, J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 342, 33–40 (2012); 8. R. K. Mittapalli, J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 344, 655–664 (2013); 9. Belum VR, Ann Oncol. (2015); 10. Su F., N Engl J Med. (2012); 11. Hatzivassiliou G, Nature. (2010); 12. Poulikakos PI., Nature, (2010)
Clinical development
The IND for BDTX-4933 was cleared by the FDA in the first quarter of 2023. In the second quarter of 2023, we initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial for BDTX-4933. The Phase 1 trial is currently enrolling patients in the dose escalation portion of the trial, with a focus on patients with non-G12C KRAS mutated NSCLC. The objective of the dose escalation portion of the trial is to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and preliminary anti-tumor activity of BDTX-4933. Based on these results, we will determine potential next steps in the development of this product candidate.
Early-stage programs
FGFR program
Oncogenic mutations affecting FGFR2 and FGFR3 (including short variant point mutations and fusions) are expressed across a range of cancers such as bladder and cholangiocarcinoma. While these mutations have been targeted by three first-generation pan-FGFR inhibitors (erdafitinib, pemigatinib and infigratinib), clinical success has been hindered by dose limiting toxicities related to on-target inhibition of FGFR1, which causes hyperphosphatemia and the need for significant dose interruptions and dose reductions, and even discontinuation. These limitations curtail the efficacy of current-generation FGFR targeted therapies.
BDTX-4876 is a MasterKey inhibitor of oncogenic FGFR2/3 mutations with selectivity versus FGFR1/4. In preclinical tumor models, dose dependent tumor regression was demonstrated, and bone growth was also observed in a preclinical model supporting the potential development of BDTX-4876 in musculoskeletal dysplasia. We nominated BDTX-4876 as a development candidate in 2023 and are currently exploring potential partnerships for further development of this program.
Undisclosed program
In 2023 we also nominated a development candidate for a program with an undisclosed target in solid tumors, and are evaluating potential partnerships for further development of this program.
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Competition
Our industry is intensely competitive and subject to rapid and significant technological change. While we believe that our knowledge, experience and scientific resources provide us with competitive advantages, we face substantial competition from major pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies worldwide. Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, technical and human resources. Smaller and early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. As a result, our competitors may discover, develop, license or commercialize products before or more successfully than we do.
We face competition with respect to our current product candidates and will face competition with respect to future product candidates, from segments of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other related markets that pursue targeted therapies for patients with genetically defined cancers. There are currently compounds approved and in development which target the EGFR pathway and against which we expect BDTX-1535 to compete, including for example:
In patients with EGFR acquired resistance: combination of amivantamab, or Rybrevant®, and lazertinib, the former of which is marketed by and the latter of which is being developed by Janssen Biotech, Inc.; patritumab deruxtecan, which is being developed by Merck & Co., Inc., and Daiichi Sankyo Co.; datopotamab deruxtecan, which is developed by AstraZeneca plc and Daiichi Sankyo Co.; BBT-207, which is being developed by Bridge Biotherapeutics, Inc.; and JIN-A02, which is under development by J Ints Bio.
In patients with EGFR non-classical mutations: afatinib, or Gilotrif® (Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH) and approved as first-line treatment of NSCLC patients with S768I, L861Q, and/or G719X mutations; osimertinib, or Tagrisso® (AstraZeneca plc) which may be prescribed off-label for NSCLC patients with exon 18 mutations; and furmonertinib, which is under development by Arrivent Biopharma and Shanghai Allist Pharmaceuticals.
In patients with EGFR alterations present in GBM: ERAS-801, which is under development by Erasca, Inc.; WSD-0922-FU, which is under development by Wayshine Biopharm International Ltd.; and TAS-2940, which is under development by Taiho Oncology, Inc.
There are currently compounds in development by several companies targeting the RAS-RAF pathway and against which we expect BDTX-4933 to compete, including for example:
In patients with BRAF Class II/III mutations and other RAS mutations: Day One Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.; Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc; Erasca, Inc.; Mirati Therapeutics, Inc.; Jiangsu Hengrui; Revolution Medicines, Inc.; Fore Biotherapeutics Inc.; Incyte Corporation, and Astellas Pharmaceuticals.
In addition, there are other small molecule and precision oncology-focused companies with whom we may eventually compete, including Lilly Loxo Oncology; Voronoi Inc.; Deciphera Pharmaceuticals; Inc.; Verastem, Inc.; Relay Therapeutics, Inc; Bayer AG; and Quanta Therapeutics.
Our competitors may obtain regulatory approval of their products more rapidly than we may or may obtain patent protection or other intellectual property rights that limit our ability to develop or commercialize our product candidates. Our competitors may also develop drugs that are more effective, more convenient, more widely used and less costly or have a better safety profile than our products and these competitors may also be more successful than us in manufacturing and marketing their products.
In addition, we will likely need to develop our product candidates in collaboration with diagnostic companies, and we will face competition from other companies in establishing these collaborations. Our competitors will also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, management and commercial personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.
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Furthermore, we also face competition more broadly across the market for cost-effective and reimbursable cancer treatments. The most common methods of treating patients with cancer are surgery, radiation and drug therapy, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted drug therapy or a combination of such methods. There are a variety of available drug therapies marketed for cancer. In many cases, these drugs are administered in combination to enhance efficacy. While our product candidates, if any are approved, may compete with these existing drug and other therapies, to the extent they are ultimately used in combination with or as an adjunct to these therapies, our product candidates may not be competitive with them. Some of these drugs are branded and subject to patent protection, and others are available on a generic basis. Insurers and other third-party payors may also encourage the use of generic products or specific branded products. We expect that if our product candidates are approved, they will be priced at a significant premium over competitive generic, including branded generic, products. As a result, obtaining market acceptance of, and a gaining significant share of the market for, any of our product candidates that we successfully introduce to the market will pose challenges. In addition, many companies are developing new therapeutics, and we cannot predict what the standard of care will be as our product candidates progress through clinical development.
The acquisition or licensing of pharmaceutical products is also very competitive. If we seek to acquire or license products, we will face substantial competition from a number of more established companies, some of which have acknowledged strategies to license or acquire products and many of which are bigger than us and have more institutional experience and greater cash flows than we have. These more established companies may have competitive advantages over us, as may other emerging companies taking similar or different approaches to product licenses and/or acquisitions. In addition, a number of established research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies may acquire products in late stages of development to augment their internal product lines, which may provide those companies with an even greater competitive advantage.
Manufacturing and Supply
We do not own or operate, and currently have no plans to establish, any manufacturing facilities. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates undergoing preclinical testing, as well as for clinical testing and commercial manufacture if our product candidates receive marketing approval.
All of our product candidates are small molecules and are manufactured via synthetic processes from available starting materials. The chemistry appears amenable to scale up and does not currently require unusual equipment in the manufacturing process. We expect to continue to develop product candidates that can be produced cost-effectively at third-party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs.
We generally expect to rely on one or more potential partners for the manufacture of companion diagnostics for our products, which are assays or tests to identify an appropriate patient population.
Commercialization
Subject to receiving marketing approvals, we expect to commence commercialization activities by building a focused sales and marketing organization in the United States to sell our products. We believe that such an organization will be able to address the community of oncologists who are the key specialists in treating the patient populations for which our product candidates are being developed. Outside the United States, we may enter into distribution and other marketing arrangements with third parties for any of our product candidates that obtain marketing approval.
We also plan to build a marketing and sales management organization to create and implement marketing strategies for any products that we market through our own sales organization and to oversee and support our sales force. The responsibilities of the marketing organization would include developing educational initiatives with respect to approved products and establishing relationships with researchers and practitioners in relevant fields of medicine.
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Intellectual property
We seek to protect the intellectual property and proprietary technology that we consider important to our business, including by pursuing patent applications that cover our product candidates and methods of using the same, as well as any other relevant inventions and improvements that are considered commercially important to the development of our business. We also rely on trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our proprietary and intellectual property position. Our commercial success depends, in part, on our ability to obtain, maintain, enforce and protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights for the technology, inventions and improvements we consider important to our business, and to defend any patents we may own or in-license in the future, prevent others from infringing any patents we may own or in-license in the future, preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets, and operate without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the valid and enforceable patents and proprietary rights of third parties.
As with other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, our ability to maintain and solidify our proprietary and intellectual property position for our product candidates and technologies will depend on our success in obtaining effective patent claims and enforcing those claims if granted. However, our pending patent applications, and any patent applications that we may in the future file or license from third parties, may not result in the issuance of patents and any issued patents we may obtain do not guarantee us the right to practice our technology in relation to the commercialization of our products. We also cannot predict the breadth of claims that may be allowed or enforced in any patents we may own or in-license in the future. Any issued patents that we own, or may own or in-license in the future may be challenged, invalidated, circumvented or have the scope of their claims narrowed. For example, we cannot be certain of the priority of inventions covered by pending third-party patent applications. If third parties prepare and file patent applications in the United States that also claim technology or therapeutics to which we have rights, we may have to participate in interference proceedings in the USPTO to determine priority of invention, which could result in substantial costs to us, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us, which is highly unpredictable. In addition, because of the extensive time required for clinical development and regulatory review of a product candidate we may develop, it is possible that, before any of our product candidates can be commercialized, any related patent may expire or remain in force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby limiting the protection such patent would afford the respective product and any competitive advantage such patent may provide.
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The term of individual patents depends upon the date of filing of the patent application, the date of patent issuance and the legal term of patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries, including the United States, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest filing date of a non-provisional patent application. In the United States, a patent’s term may be lengthened by patent term adjustment, which compensates a patentee for administrative delays by the USPTO in examining and granting a patent, or may be shortened if a patent is terminally disclaimed over an earlier filed patent. The term of a patent claiming a new drug product may also be eligible for a limited patent term extension when FDA approval is granted, provided statutory and regulatory requirements are met. The restoration period granted on a patent covering a product is typically one-half the time between the effective date of a clinical investigation involving human beings is begun and the submission date of an application, plus the time between the submission date of an application and the ultimate approval date. The restoration period cannot be longer than five years and the total patent term, including the restoration period, must not exceed 14 years following FDA approval. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension, and only those claims covering the approved product, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. Additionally, the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent in question. A patent that covers multiple products for which approval is sought can only be extended in connection with one of the approvals. The United States Patent and Trademark Office reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration in consultation with the FDA. In the future, if our product candidates receive approval by the FDA, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on any issued patents covering those products, depending upon the length of the clinical studies for each product and other factors. There can be no assurance that our pending patent applications will issue or that we will benefit from any patent term extension or favorable adjustments to the terms of any patents we may own or in-license in the future. In addition, the actual protection afforded by a patent varies on a product-by-product basis, from country-to-country, and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of regulatory-related extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular country and the validity and enforceability of the patent. Patent term may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our products for an adequate amount of time.
As of February 23, 2024, we own 14 U.S. provisional patent applications, seven pending U.S. patent applications, and one issued U.S. patent. We also own six Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, patent applications and 45 foreign patent applications. Any U.S. or foreign patent issuing from these patent applications would be scheduled to expire in 2039 to 2044, excluding any additional term for patent term adjustment or patent term extension, and assuming that conversions are timely made based upon U.S. provisional patent applications, that national phase entries are timely made based upon the pending PCT applications, and the payment of all applicable maintenance or annuity fees. Below is an overview of patent applications covering BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933, our FGFR program and our MAP drug discovery engine.
BDTX-1535
As of February 23, 2024, we own eight U.S. patent applications, and one PCT patent application, and 29 foreign patent applications that cover our non-small cell lung cancer and glioblastoma program, including the composition of matter for BDTX-1535, metabolites of BDTX-1535, formulation of BDTX-1535, polymorphs of BDTX-1535, as well as methods of using and making BDTX-1535. Any U.S. or foreign patent issued from these pending applications would be scheduled to expire between 2040 and 2044, assuming that national phase entries are timely made based upon the pending PCT applications, excluding any additional term for patent term adjustment or patent term extension.
BDTX-4933
As of February 23, 2024, we own two U.S. provisional patent applications, two PCT patent applications, and seven foreign patent applications that cover our BRAF program, including the composition of matter for BDTX-4933 as well as methods of using and making BDTX-4933. Any U.S. or foreign patent issued from these pending applications would be scheduled to expire between 2042 and 2043, assuming that conversions are timely made based upon U.S. provisional patent applications, that national phase entries are timely made based upon the pending PCT applications, excluding any additional term for patent term adjustment or patent term extension.
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FGFR program
As of February 23, 2024, we own one pending U.S. patent application, one U.S. provisional patent application, and nine foreign patent applications that covers our FGFR program, which is directed to the composition of matter for the compounds of the program, analogs thereof, polymorphs of these compounds, as well as methods of using and making these compounds. Any U.S. or foreign patent issued from this pending application would be scheduled to expire between 2042 and 2044, assuming that conversions are timely made based upon U.S. provisional patent applications, that national phase entries are timely made based upon the pending PCT applications, excluding any additional term for patent term adjustment or patent term extension.
MAP drug discovery engine
As of February 23, 2024, we own one U.S. patent application that covers our MAP drug discovery engine and the use thereof in developing and applying therapeutics. Any U.S. patent issued from this U.S. patent application would be scheduled to expire in 2040, excluding any additional term for patent term adjustment or patent term extension.
Prosecution is a lengthy process, during which the scope of the claims initially submitted for examination by the USPTO are often significantly narrowed by the time they issue, if they issue at all. Any of our pending PCT patent applications are not eligible to become issued patents until, among other things, we file national stage patent applications within 30 months in the countries in which we seek patent protection. If we do not timely file any national stage patent applications, we may lose our priority date with respect to our PCT patent applications and any patent protection on the inventions disclosed in such PCT patent applications. Our provisional patent applications may never result in issued patents and are not eligible to become issued patents until, among other things, we file a non-provisional patent application within 12 months of filing the related provisional patent application. If we do not timely file non-provisional patent applications, we may lose our priority date with respect to our provisional patent applications and any patent protection on the inventions disclosed in our provisional patent applications. While we intend to timely file non-provisional and national stage patent applications relating to our provisional and PCT patent applications, we cannot predict whether any of our future patent applications for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or any of our other product candidates or technology will result in the issuance of patents that effectively protect BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or our other product candidates or technology. If we do not successfully obtain patent protection, or, even if we do obtain patent protection, if the scope of the patent protection we or our potential licensors obtain with respect to BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or our other product candidates or technology is not sufficiently broad, we will be unable to prevent others from using our technology or from developing or commercializing technology and products similar or identical to ours or other competing products and technologies. For more information regarding the risks related to our intellectual property, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Intellectual Property.”
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In addition to patent applications, we rely on unpatented trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. However, trade secrets and confidential know-how are difficult to protect. In particular, we anticipate that with respect to the building of our compound library, our trade secrets and know-how will over time be disseminated within the industry through independent development and public presentations describing the methodology. We seek to protect our proprietary information, in part, by executing confidentiality agreements with our collaborators and scientific advisors and non-competition, non-solicitation, confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. We have also executed agreements requiring assignment of inventions with selected consultants, scientific advisors and collaborators. The confidentiality agreements we enter into are designed to protect our proprietary information and the agreements or clauses requiring assignment of inventions to us are designed to grant us ownership of technologies that are developed through our relationship with the respective counterparty. We cannot guarantee that we will have executed such agreements with all applicable employees and contractors, or that these agreements will afford us adequate protection of our intellectual property and proprietary information rights. In addition, our trade secrets and/or confidential know-how may become known or be independently developed by a third party, or misused by any collaborator to whom we disclose such information. These agreements may also be breached, and we may not have an adequate remedy for any such breach. Despite any measures taken to protect our intellectual property, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy aspects of our products or to obtain or use information that we regard as proprietary. Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information, third parties may independently develop the same or similar proprietary information or may otherwise gain access to our proprietary information. As a result, we may be unable to meaningfully protect our trade secrets and proprietary information. For more information regarding the risks related to our intellectual property, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Intellectual Property.”
Government regulation
The FDA and other regulatory authorities at federal, state and local levels, as well as in foreign countries, including the European Union, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, import, export, safety, effectiveness, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, record keeping, approval, advertising, promotion, marketing, post-approval monitoring and post-approval reporting of drugs. We, along with our vendors, contract research organizations and contract manufacturers, will be required to navigate the various preclinical, clinical, manufacturing and commercial approval requirements of the governing regulatory agencies of the countries in which we wish to conduct studies or seek approval of our product candidates. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals of drugs and ensuring subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.
In the United States, where we are initially focusing our drug development, the FDA regulates drug products under the U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), its implementing regulations and other laws. Our product candidates are early-stage and none of our product candidates has been approved by the FDA for marketing in the United States. If we fail to comply with applicable FDA or other requirements at any time with respect to product development, clinical testing, approval or any other legal requirements relating to product manufacture, processing, handling, storage, quality control, safety, marketing, advertising, promotion, packaging, labeling, export, import, distribution, or sale, we may become subject to administrative or judicial sanctions or other legal consequences. These sanctions or consequences could include, among other things, the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications, issuance of clinical holds for ongoing studies, suspension or revocation of approved applications, warning or untitled letters, product withdrawals or recalls, product seizures, relabeling or repackaging, total or partial suspensions of manufacturing or distribution, injunctions, fines, civil penalties or criminal prosecution brought by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Justice or other governmental entities.
The process required by the FDA before our product candidates are approved as drugs for therapeutic indications and may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:
completion of extensive preclinical studies in accordance with applicable regulations, including studies conducted in accordance with GLP requirements;
submission to the FDA of an IND application, which must become effective before clinical trials may begin;
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approval by an Institutional Review Board, or IRB, or independent ethics committee at each clinical trial site before each trial may be initiated;
performance of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials in accordance with applicable IND regulations, good clinical practice, or GCP, requirements and other clinical trial-related regulations to establish the safety and efficacy of the investigational product for each proposed indication;
submission to the FDA of a New Drug Application, or NDA;
a determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of an NDA, to accept the filing for review;
satisfactory completion of one or more FDA pre-approval inspections of the manufacturing facility or facilities where the drug will be produced to assess compliance with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, requirements to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the drug’s identity, strength, quality and purity;
potential FDA audit of the clinical trial sites that generated the data in support of the NDA;
payment of user fees for FDA review of the NDA; and
FDA review and approval of the NDA, including consideration of the views of any FDA advisory committee, prior to any commercial marketing or sale of the drug in the United States.
The testing and approval process requires substantial time, effort and financial resources, and we cannot be certain that any approvals for our product candidates will be granted on a timely basis, if at all.
Preclinical and clinical trials for drugs
Before testing any drug in humans, the product candidate must undergo rigorous preclinical testing. Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluations of drug chemistry, formulation and stability, as well as in vitro and animal studies to assess safety and in some cases to establish the rationale for therapeutic use. The conduct of preclinical studies is subject to federal and state regulations and requirements, including GLP requirements for safety/toxicology studies. The results of the preclinical studies, together with manufacturing information and analytical data must be submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational product to humans, and must become effective before clinical trials may begin. Some long-term preclinical testing may continue after the IND is submitted. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA, within the 30-day time period, raises concerns or questions about the conduct of the clinical trial, including concerns that human research subjects will be exposed to unreasonable health risks, and imposes a clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. Submission of an IND may result in the FDA not allowing clinical trials to commence or not allowing clinical trials to commence on the terms originally specified in the IND. A separate submission to an existing IND must also be made for each successive clinical trial conducted during product development of a product candidate, and the FDA must grant permission, either explicitly or implicitly by not objecting, before each clinical trial can begin.
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The clinical stage of development involves the administration of the product candidate to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators, generally physicians not employed by or under the trial sponsor’s control, in accordance with GCP requirements, which include the requirements that all research subjects provide their informed consent for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial, dosing procedures, subject selection and exclusion criteria and the parameters and criteria to be used in monitoring safety and evaluating effectiveness. Each protocol, and any subsequent amendments to the protocol, must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Furthermore, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an IRB for each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted to ensure that the risks to individuals participating in the clinical trials are minimized and are reasonable related to the anticipated benefits. The IRB also approves the informed consent form that must be provided to each clinical trial subject or his or her legal representative, and must monitor the clinical trial until completed. The FDA, the IRB, or the sponsor may suspend or discontinue a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. There also are requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and completed clinical trials to public registries. Information about clinical trials, including clinical trials results, must be submitted within specific timeframes for publication on the www.clinicaltrials.gov website.
While we plan to conduct any international clinical trials under our INDs we obtain with the FDA in the future, a sponsor who wishes to conduct a clinical trial outside of the United States may, but need not, obtain FDA authorization to conduct the clinical trial under an IND. If a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor must submit data from the clinical trial to the FDA in support of an NDA. The FDA will accept a well-designed and well-conducted foreign clinical study not conducted under an IND if the study was conducted in accordance with GCP requirements, and the FDA is able to validate the data through an onsite inspection if deemed necessary.
Clinical trials to evaluate therapeutic indications to support NDAs for marketing approval are typically conducted in three sequential phases, which may overlap.
Phase 1—Phase 1 clinical trials involve initial introduction of the investigational product into healthy human volunteers or patients with the target disease or condition. These studies are typically designed to test the safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism and distribution of the investigational product in humans, excretion the side effects associated with increasing doses, and, if possible, to gain early evidence of effectiveness.
Phase 2—Phase 2 clinical trials typically involve administration of the investigational product to a limited patient population with a specified disease or condition to evaluate the preliminary efficacy, optimal dosages and dosing schedule and to identify possible adverse side effects and safety risks.
Phase 3—Phase 3 clinical trials typically involve administration of the investigational product to an expanded patient population to further evaluate dosage, to provide statistically significant evidence of clinical efficacy and to further test for safety, generally at multiple geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk/benefit ratio of the investigational product and to provide an adequate basis for product approval and physician labeling.
In March 2022, the FDA released a final guidance entitled “Expansion Cohorts: Use in First-In-Human Clinical Trials to Expedite Development of Oncology Drugs and Biologics,” which outlines how drug developers can utilize an adaptive trial design commonly referred to as a seamless trial design in early stages of oncology drug development (i.e., the first-in-human clinical trial) to compress the traditional three phases of trials into one continuous trial called an expansion cohort trial. Information to support the design of individual expansion cohorts are included in IND applications and assessed by FDA. Expansion cohort trials can potentially bring efficiency to drug development and reduce developmental costs and time.
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Post-approval trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication and are commonly intended to generate additional safety data regarding use of the product in a clinical setting. In certain instances, the FDA may mandate the performance of Phase 4 clinical trials as a condition of approval of an NDA.
Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials, among other information, must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and written IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and the investigators fifteen days after the trial sponsor determines the information qualifies for reporting for serious and unexpected suspected adverse events, findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human volunteers and any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. The sponsor must also notify the FDA of any unexpected fatal or life-threatening suspected adverse reaction as soon as possible but in no case later than seven calendar days after the sponsor’s initial receipt of the information.
Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional animal studies and must also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the product candidate and finalize a process for manufacturing the drug product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and manufacturers must develop, among other things, methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final drug product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested, and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.
U.S. marketing approval for drugs
Assuming successful completion of the required clinical testing, the results of the preclinical studies and clinical trials, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacture, controls and proposed labeling, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications. An NDA is a request for approval to market a new drug for one or more specified indications and must contain proof of the drug’s safety and efficacy. The marketing application may include both negative and ambiguous results of preclinical studies and clinical trials, as well as positive findings. Data may come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and efficacy of a product’s use or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety and efficacy of the investigational product to the satisfaction of the FDA. FDA approval of an NDA must be obtained before a drug may be marketed in the United States.
The FDA reviews all submitted NDAs before it accepts them for filing, and may request additional information rather than accepting the NDA for filing. The FDA must make a decision on accepting an NDA for filing within 60 days of receipt, and such decision could include a refusal to file by the FDA. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review of the NDA. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether the drug is safe and effective and whether the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packaged or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, quality and purity. Under the goals and polices agreed to by the FDA under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, the FDA targets ten months, from the filing date, in which to complete its initial review of a new molecular entity NDA and respond to the applicant, and six months from the filing date of a new molecular entity NDA for priority review. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard or priority NDAs, and the review process is often extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification.
Further, under PDUFA, as amended, each NDA must be accompanied by a user fee. FDA adjusts the PDUFA user fees on an annual basis. Fee waivers or reductions are available in certain circumstances, including a waiver of the application fee for the first application filed by a small business. Additionally, no user fees are assessed on NDAs for products designated as orphan drugs, unless the product also includes a non-orphan indication.
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The FDA also may require submission of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, plan to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks. The REMS plan could include medication guides, physician communication plans, assessment plans, and/or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries, or other risk-minimization tools.
The FDA may refer an application for a novel drug to an advisory committee. An advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, which reviews, evaluates and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.
Before approving an NDA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the Sponsor product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving an NDA, the FDA may inspect one or more clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCP and other requirements and the integrity of the clinical data submitted to the FDA.
After evaluating the NDA and all related information, including the advisory committee recommendation, if any, and inspection reports regarding the manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites, the FDA may issue an approval letter, or, in some cases, a complete response letter. A complete response letter generally contains a statement of specific conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the NDA and may require additional clinical or preclinical testing in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. Even with submission of this additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. If and when those conditions have been met to the FDA’s satisfaction, the FDA will typically issue an approval letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications.
Even if the FDA approves a product, depending on the specific risk(s) to be addressed it may limit the approved indications for use of the product, require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a drug’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS, which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing studies or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes, and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.
Orphan drug designation and exclusivity
Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a drug intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or if it affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States, there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the product available in the United States for the disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product. Orphan designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process, though companies developing orphan products are eligible for certain incentives, including tax credits for qualified clinical testing and waiver of application fees.
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If a product that has orphan designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to a seven-year period of marketing exclusivity during which the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same therapeutic agent for the same indication, except in limited circumstances, such as a subsequent product’s showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity or where the original applicant cannot produce sufficient quantities of product. Competitors, however, may receive approval of different therapeutic agents for the indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity or obtain approval for the same therapeutic agent for a different indication than that for which the orphan product has exclusivity. Orphan product exclusivity could block the approval of one of our products for seven years if a competitor obtains approval for the same therapeutic agent for the same indication before we do, unless we are able to demonstrate that our product is clinically superior. If an orphan designated product receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what is designated, it may not be entitled to orphan exclusivity. Further, orphan drug exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or the manufacturer of the approved product is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.
Rare pediatric disease designation and priority review vouchers
Under the FD&C Act, the FDA incentivizes the development of drugs that meet the definition of a “rare pediatric disease,” defined to mean a serious or life-threatening disease in which the serious of life-threatening manifestations primarily affect individuals aged from birth to 18 years and the disease affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States or affects more than 200,000 in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making in the United States a drug for such disease or condition will be received from sales in the United States of such drug. The sponsor of a product candidate for a rare pediatric disease may be eligible for a voucher that can be used to obtain a priority review for a subsequent human drug application after the date of approval of the rare pediatric disease drug product, referred to as a priority review voucher, or PRV. A sponsor may request rare pediatric disease designation from the FDA prior to the submission of its NDA. A rare pediatric disease designation does not guarantee that a sponsor will receive a PRV upon approval of its NDA. Moreover, a sponsor who chooses not to submit a rare pediatric disease designation request may nonetheless receive a PRV upon approval of their marketing application if they request such a voucher in their original marketing application and meet all of the eligibility criteria. If a PRV is received, it may be sold or transferred an unlimited number of times. Congress has extended the PRV program through September 30, 2024, with potential for PRVs to be granted through September 30, 2026.
Expedited development and review programs for drugs
The FDA maintains several programs intended to facilitate and expedite development and review of new drugs to address unmet medical needs in the treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. These programs include Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, Priority Review and Accelerated Approval, and the purpose of these programs is to either expedite the development or review of important new drugs to get them to patients earlier than under standard FDA development and review procedures.
A new drug is eligible for Fast Track designation if it is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition. Fast Track designation provides increased opportunities for sponsor interactions with the FDA during preclinical and clinical development, in addition to the potential for rolling review once a marketing application is filed, meaning that the agency may review portions of the marketing application before the sponsor submits the complete application, as well as Priority Review, discussed below. In addition, a new drug may be eligible for Breakthrough Therapy designation if it is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. Breakthrough Therapy designation provides all the features of Fast Track designation in addition to intensive guidance on an efficient drug development program beginning as early as Phase 1, and FDA organizational commitment to expedited development, including involvement of senior managers and experienced review staff in a cross-disciplinary review, where appropriate.
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Any product submitted to the FDA for approval, including a product with Fast Track or Breakthrough Therapy designation, may also be eligible for additional FDA programs intended to expedite the review and approval process, including Priority Review designation and accelerated approval. A product is eligible for Priority Review if it has the potential to provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of a serious disease or condition. Under priority review, the FDA must review an application in six months compared to ten months for a standard review. Additionally, products are eligible for accelerated approval if they can be shown to have an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or an effect on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality which 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.
Accelerated approval is usually contingent on a sponsor’s agreement to conduct additional post-approval studies to verify and describe the product’s clinical benefit. Under the Food and Drug Omnibus Reform Act of 2022 (FDORA), the FDA may require, as appropriate, that such trials be underway prior to approval or within a specific time period after the date of approval for a product granted accelerated approval. Under FDORA, the FDA has increased authority for expedited procedures to withdraw approval of a drug or indication approved under accelerated approval if, for example, the confirmatory trial fails to verify the predicted clinical benefit of the product. In addition, for products being considered for accelerated approval, the FDA generally requires, unless otherwise informed by the FDA, that all advertising and promotional materials that are intended for dissemination or publication within 120 days following marketing approval be submitted to the agency for review during the pre-approval review period. Additionally, after 120 days following marketing approval, all advertising and promotional materials must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the intended time of initial dissemination or publication.
Even if a product qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification or the time period for FDA review or approval may not be shortened. Furthermore, Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, Priority Review and Accelerated Approval do not change the scientific or medical standards for approval or the quality of evidence necessary to support approval but may expedite the development or review process.
Pediatric information and pediatric exclusivity
Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, certain NDAs and certain supplements to an NDA must contain data to assess the safety and efficacy 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 product is safe and effective. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of pediatric data or full or partial waivers. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA, amended the FD&C Act to require that a sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within 60 days of an end-of-Phase 2 meeting or, if there is no such meeting, as early as practicable before the initiation of the Phase 3 or Phase 2/3 study. The initial PSP must include an outline of the pediatric study or studies that the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The FDA and the sponsor must reach an agreement on the PSP. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon initial PSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from preclinical studies, early phase clinical trials and/or other clinical development programs.
A drug can also obtain pediatric market exclusivity in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity, if granted, adds six months to existing exclusivity periods and patent terms. This six-month exclusivity, which runs from the end of other exclusivity protection or patent term, may be granted based on the voluntary completion of a pediatric study in accordance with an FDA-issued “Written Request” for such a study, provided that at the time pediatric exclusivity is granted there is not less than nine months of term remaining.
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U.S. post-approval requirements for drugs
Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, reporting of adverse experiences with the product, complying with promotion and advertising requirements, which include restrictions on promoting products for unapproved uses or patient populations (known as “off-label use”) and limitations on industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities. Although physicians may prescribe legally available products for off-label uses, manufacturers may not market or promote such uses. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability, including investigation by federal and state authorities. Prescription drug promotional materials must be submitted to the FDA in conjunction with their first use or first publication. Further, if there are any modifications to the drug, including changes in indications, labeling or manufacturing processes or facilities, the applicant may be required to submit and obtain FDA approval of a new NDA or NDA supplement, which may require the development of additional data or preclinical studies and clinical trials.
The FDA may impose a number of post-approval requirements as a condition of approval of an NDA. For example, the FDA may require post-market testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization.
In addition, drug manufacturers and their subcontractors involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements, including cGMP, which impose certain procedural and documentation requirements upon us and our contract manufacturers. Manufacturers and other parties involved in the drug supply chain for prescription drug products must also comply with product tracking and tracing requirements and for notifying the FDA of counterfeit, diverted, stolen and intentionally adulterated products or products that are otherwise unfit for distribution in the United States. Failure to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements can subject a manufacturer to possible legal or regulatory action, such as warning letters, suspension of manufacturing, product seizures, injunctions, civil penalties or criminal prosecution. There is also a continuing, annual prescription drug product program user fee.
Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information, requirements for post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks, or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS. Other potential consequences include, among other things:
restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, complete withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;
safety alerts, Dear Healthcare Provider letters, press releases or other communications containing warnings or other safety information about the product;
fines, warning letters or holds on post-approval clinical trials;
refusal of the FDA to approve applications or supplements to approved applications, or suspension or revocation of product approvals;
product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products;
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties; and
consent decrees, corporate integrity agreements, debarment or exclusion from federal healthcare programs; or mandated modification of promotional materials and labeling and issuance of corrective information.
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Regulation of companion diagnostics
We believe that the success of certain of our product candidates may depend, in part, on the development and commercialization of a companion diagnostic. Companion diagnostics identify patients who are most likely to benefit from a particular therapeutic product; identify patients likely to be at increased risk for serious side effects as a result of treatment with a particular therapeutic product; or monitor response to treatment with a particular therapeutic product for the purpose of adjusting treatment to achieve improved safety or effectiveness. Companion diagnostics are regulated as medical devices by the FDA. In the United States, the FD&C Act and its implementing regulations, and other federal and state statutes and regulations govern, among other things, medical device design and development, preclinical and clinical testing, premarket clearance or approval, registration and listing, manufacturing, labeling, storage, advertising and promotion, sales and distribution, export and import, and post-market surveillance. Unless an exemption or FDA exercise of enforcement discretion applies, diagnostic tests generally require marketing clearance or approval from the FDA prior to commercialization. The primary types of FDA marketing authorization applicable to a medical device are clearance of a premarket notification, or 510(k), submission, approval of a premarket approval, or PMA, application, or grant of a de novo request for classification.
To obtain 510(k) clearance for a medical device, or for certain modifications to devices that have received 510(k) clearance, a manufacturer must submit a premarket notification demonstrating that the proposed device is substantially equivalent to a previously cleared 510(k) device or to a preamendment device that was in commercial distribution before May 28, 1976, or a predicate device, for which the FDA has not yet called for the submission of a PMA. In making a determination that the device is substantially equivalent to a predicate device, the FDA compares the proposed device to the predicate device or predicate devices and assesses whether the subject device is comparable to the predicate device or predicate devices with respect to intended use, technology, design and other features which could affect safety and effectiveness. If the FDA determines that the subject device is substantially equivalent to the predicate device or predicate devices, the subject device may be cleared for marketing. The 510(k) premarket notification pathway generally takes from three to twelve months from the date the application is completed, but can take significantly longer.
PMA applications must be supported by valid scientific evidence, which typically requires extensive data, including technical, preclinical, clinical and manufacturing data, to demonstrate to the FDA’s satisfaction the safety and effectiveness of the device. For diagnostic tests, a PMA application typically includes data regarding analytical and clinical validation studies. As part of its review of the PMA, the FDA will conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities to ensure compliance with the Quality System Regulation, or QSR, which requires manufacturers to follow design, testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance procedures. The FDA’s review of an initial PMA application is required by statute to take between six to ten months, although the process typically takes longer, and may require several years to complete. If the FDA evaluations of both the PMA application and the manufacturing facilities are favorable, the FDA will either issue an approval letter or an approvable letter, which usually contains a number of conditions that must be met in order to secure the final approval of the PMA. If the FDA’s evaluation of the PMA or manufacturing facilities is not favorable, the FDA will deny the approval of the PMA or issue a not approvable letter. A not approvable letter will outline the deficiencies in the application and, where practical, will identify what is necessary to make the PMA approvable. Once granted, PMA approval may be withdrawn by the FDA if compliance with post-approval requirements, conditions of approval or other regulatory standards is not maintained or problems are identified following initial marketing.
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On July 31, 2014, the FDA issued a final guidance document addressing the development and approval process for “In Vitro Companion Diagnostic Devices.” According to the guidance document, for novel therapeutic products that depend on the use of a diagnostic test and where the diagnostic device could be essential for the safe and effective use of the corresponding therapeutic product, the premarket application for the companion diagnostic device should be developed and approved or cleared contemporaneously with the therapeutic, although the FDA recognizes that there may be cases when contemporaneous development may not be possible. However, in cases where a drug cannot be used safely or effectively without the companion diagnostic, the FDA’s guidance indicates it will generally not approve the drug without the approval or clearance of the diagnostic device. The FDA also issued a draft guidance in July 2016 setting forth the principles for co-development of an in vitro companion diagnostic device with a therapeutic product. The draft guidance describes principles to guide the development and contemporaneous marketing authorization for the therapeutic product and its corresponding in vitro companion diagnostic.
To date, the FDA has required premarket approval for nearly all companion diagnostics for cancer therapies. In January 2024, FDA announced its intention to initiate the reclassification process for most in vitro diagnostics, including companion diagnostics. Further, FDA indicated that in addition to the reclassification process, FDA will continue taking a risk-based approach in the initial classification of individual in vitro diagnostics to determine whether a new test may be classified into class II through the de novo classification process. In so doing, FDA indicated that it may regulate most future companion diagnostics as class II devices.
Once cleared or approved, the companion diagnostic device must adhere to post-marketing requirements including the requirements of the FDA’s quality system regulation, adverse event reporting, recalls and corrections along with product marketing requirements and limitations. Like drug makers, companion diagnostic makers are subject to unannounced FDA inspections at any time during which the FDA will conduct an audit of the product(s) and the company’s facilities for compliance with its authorities.
Other regulatory matters
Manufacturing, sales, promotion and other activities of product candidates following product approval, where applicable, or commercialization are also subject to regulation by numerous regulatory authorities in the United States in addition to the FDA, which may include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, other divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and local governments and governmental agencies.
Other healthcare and privacy laws
Healthcare providers, physicians, and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any products for which we obtain marketing approval. Our business operations and any current or future arrangements with third-party payors, healthcare providers and physicians may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we develop, market, sell and distribute any drugs for which we obtain marketing approval. In the United States, these laws include, without limitation, state and federal anti-kickback, false claims, physician transparency, and patient data privacy and security laws and regulations, including but not limited to those described below.
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The federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate), directly or indirectly in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, lease, order, arrangement or recommendation of, any good, facility, item or service, for which payment may be made under federal and state healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation. Violations are subject to civil and criminal fines and penalties for each violation, plus up to three times the remuneration involved, imprisonment, and exclusion from government healthcare programs. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal False Claims Act (FCA) or federal civil money penalties.
The federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the FCA, and civil monetary penalty laws which can be enforced through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, which imposes civil and criminal penalties against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment or approval from Medicare, Medicaid or other government payors that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay to the federal government, with potential liability including mandatory treble damages and significant per-claim penalties. Manufacturers can be held liable under the FCA even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. The FCA also permits a private individual acting as a “whistleblower” to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the FCA and to share in any monetary recovery.
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing or attempting to execute, a scheme or artifice to defraud any healthcare benefit program 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 the payor (e.g., public or private), and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statements in connection with the delivery of or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters. Similar to the AKS, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
HIPAA, as further amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH) and their respective implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published in January 2013, which impose certain requirements, including mandatory contractual terms, on covered entities subject to the rule, such as health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and certain healthcare providers, as well as their respective business associates and their subcontractors that perform services for them that involve the creation, maintenance, receipt, use, or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information, relating to the privacy, security, and transmission of such individually identifiable health information relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. HITECH also created 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, there may be additional federal, state and non-U.S. laws which govern the privacy and security of health and other personal 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.
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The U.S. Physician Payments Sunshine Act and its implementing regulations, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with specific exceptions, to report annually to CMS information related to certain payments and other transfers of value to physicians, nurse practitioners, certified nurse anesthetists, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives as well as teaching hospitals. Manufacturers are also required to disclose ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers (physician assistants, nurse practitioners clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants, and certified-nurse midwives). In addition, many states also require reporting of payments or other transfers of value, many of which differ from each other in significant ways, are often not pre-empted, and may have a more prohibitive effect than the Sunshine Act, thus further complicating compliance efforts.
Federal government price reporting laws, which require us to calculate and report complex pricing metrics in an accurate and timely manner to government programs.
Federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm customers.
Additionally, we are subject to state and foreign equivalents of each of the healthcare laws and regulations described above, among others, some of which may be broader in scope and may apply regardless of the payor. Many U.S. states have adopted laws similar to the AKS and FCA, and may apply to our business practices, including, but not limited to, research, distribution, sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental payors, including private insurers. In addition, some states have passed laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the April 2003 Office of Inspector General Compliance Program Guidance for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and/or the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals. Several states also impose other marketing restrictions or require pharmaceutical companies to make marketing or price disclosures to the state and require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives. State and foreign laws, including for example the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became effective May 2018 also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts. There are ambiguities as to what is required to comply with these state requirements and if we fail to comply with an applicable state law requirement we could be subject to penalties. Finally, there are state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is prohibited in the EU. The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians is also governed by the national anti-bribery laws of EU Member States, such as the UK Bribery Act 2010. Violation of these laws could result in substantial fines and imprisonment.
Payments made to physicians in certain EU Member States must be publicly disclosed. Moreover, agreements with physicians often must be the subject of prior notification and approval by the physician’s employer, his or her competent professional organization and/or the regulatory authorities of the individual EU Member States. These requirements are provided in the national laws, industry codes or professional codes of conduct applicable in the EU Member States. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in reputational risk, public reprimands, administrative penalties, fines or imprisonment.
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The scope and enforcement of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform, especially in light of the lack of applicable precedent and regulations. Federal and state enforcement has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. Ensuring that our internal operations and future business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations, agency guidance or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental laws and regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including administrative, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, the exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs, reputational harm, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, as well as additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws. Further, defending against any such actions can be costly and time-consuming, and may require significant financial and personnel resources. Therefore, even if we are successful in defending against any such actions that may be brought against us, our business may be impaired. If any of the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found to not be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs and individual imprisonment. If any of the above occur, our ability to operate our business and our results of operations could be adversely affected.
Insurance Coverage and Reimbursement
In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Thus, even if a product candidate is approved, sales of the product will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payors, including government health programs in the United States such as Medicare and Medicaid, commercial health insurers and managed care organizations, provide coverage, and establish adequate reimbursement levels for, the product. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the CMS, an agency within HHS. CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare and private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree. No uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication.
In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, a company may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable regulatory approvals. Additionally, companies may also need to provide discounts to purchasers, private health plans or government healthcare programs. Nonetheless, product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover a product could reduce physician utilization once the product is approved and have a material adverse effect on sales, our operations and financial condition. Additionally, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product, and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payor to payor.
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The containment of healthcare costs has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments, and the prices of products have been a focus in this effort. Governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit a company’s revenue generated from the sale of any approved products. Coverage policies and third-party payor reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which a company or its collaborators receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future. Further, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, millions of individuals have lost or will be losing employer-based insurance coverage, which may adversely affect our ability to commercialize our products.
Current and future healthcare reform legislation
In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and likely will continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system directed at broadening the availability of healthcare, improving the quality of healthcare, and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. For example, in March 2010, the United States Congress enacted the ACA, which, among other things, includes changes to the coverage and payment for products under government health care programs. The ACA includes provisions of importance to our potential product candidates that:
created an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports specified branded prescription drugs and biologic products, apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government healthcare programs;
expanded eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs, thereby potentially increasing a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability;
expanded manufacturers’ rebate liability under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program by increasing the minimum rebate for both branded and generic drugs and revising the definition of “average manufacturer price,” or AMP, for calculating and reporting Medicaid drug rebates on outpatient prescription drug prices;
expanded the types of entities eligible for the 340B drug discount program;
established the Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program by requiring manufacturers to provide point-of-sale-discounts off the negotiated price of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period as a condition for the manufacturers’ outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D; and
created a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.
Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted:
In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, included aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2030, unless additional Congressional action is taken.
In January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.
On April 13, 2017, CMS published a final rule that gives states greater flexibility in setting benchmarks for insurers in the individual and small group marketplaces, which may have the effect of relaxing the essential health benefits required under the ACA for plans sold through such marketplaces.
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On May 30, 2018, the Right to Try Act, was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no obligation for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to make its drug products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act.
On May 23, 2019, CMS published a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020.
On December 20, 2019, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law (H.R. 1865), which repealed the Cadillac tax, the health insurance provider tax, and the medical device excise tax. It is impossible to determine whether similar taxes could be instated in the future.
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law, which eliminates the statutory Medicaid drug rebate cap, currently set at 100% of a drug’s average manufacturer price, for single source and innovator multiple source drugs, beginning January 1, 2024. Due to the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, estimated budget deficit increases resulting from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and subsequent legislation, Medicare payments to providers will be further reduced starting in 2025 absent further legislation.
In August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, or IRA, was signed into law and includes several provisions that may impact our business to varying degrees, including provisions that reduce the out-of-pocket cap for Medicare Part D beneficiaries to $2,000 starting in 2025; impose new manufacturer financial liability on certain drugs under Medicare Part D; allow the U.S. government to negotiate Medicare Part B and Part D price caps for certain high-cost drugs and biologics without generic or biosimilar competition, including small molecule drugs; and require companies to pay rebates to Medicare for certain drug prices that increase faster than inflation, also including small molecule drugs.
Additionally, there has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to drug pricing practices. Specifically, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, and review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs. At the federal level, President Biden signed an Executive Order on July 9, 2021 affirming the administration’s policy to (i) support legislative reforms that would lower the prices of prescription drug and biologics, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, by imposing inflation caps, and, by supporting the development and market entry of lower-cost generic drugs and biosimilars; and (ii) support the enactment of a public health insurance option. Among other things, the Executive Order also directs HHS to provide a report on actions to combat excessive pricing of prescription drugs, enhance the domestic drug supply chain, reduce the price that the Federal government pays for drugs, and address price gouging in the industry; and directs the FDA to work with states and Indian Tribes that propose to develop section 804 Importation Programs in accordance with the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, and the FDA’s implementing regulations. FDA released such implementing regulations on September 24, 2020, which went into effect on November 30, 2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. On September 25, 2020, CMS stated drugs imported by states under this rule will not be eligible for federal rebates under Section 1927 of the Social Security Act and manufacturers would not report these drugs for “best price” or Average Manufacturer Price purposes. Since these drugs are not considered covered outpatient drugs, CMS further stated it will not publish a National Average Drug Acquisition Cost for these drugs. If implemented, importation of drugs from Canada may materially and adversely affect the price we receive for any of our product candidates.
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On November 30, 2020, HHS published a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. Pursuant to court order, the removal and addition of the aforementioned safe harbors were delayed and recent legislation imposed a moratorium on implementation of the rule until January 1, 2026. The IRA further extended the delay in implementing this rule under 2032. Although a number of these and other proposed measures may require authorization through additional legislation to become effective, and the Biden administration may reverse or otherwise change these measures, both the Biden administration and Congress have indicated that they will continue to seek new legislative measures to control drug costs.
Outside the United States, ensuring coverage and adequate payment for a product also involves challenges. Pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to government control in many countries. Pricing negotiations with government authorities can extend well beyond the receipt of regulatory approval for a product and may require a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of a product to other available therapies. The conduct of such a clinical trial could be expensive and result in delays in commercialization.
Some of our manufacturers are located outside of the United States. There is currently significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the U.S. and various other countries, including China, with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs. Increased tariffs could potentially disrupt our existing supply chains and impose additional costs on our business. Additionally, it is possible further tariffs may be imposed that could affect imports of active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs, used in our product candidates, or our business may be adversely impacted by retaliatory trade measures taken by China or other countries, including restricted access to such raw materials used in our product candidates. Given the unpredictable regulatory environment in China and the U.S. and uncertainty regarding how the U.S. or foreign governments will act with respect to tariffs, international trade agreements and policies, further governmental action related to tariffs, additional taxes, regulatory changes or other retaliatory trade measures in the future could occur with a corresponding detrimental impact on our business and financial condition.
In the EU, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies or so-called health technology assessments, in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, the EU provides options for its Member States to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. EU Member States may approve a specific price for a product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other Member States allow companies to fix their own prices for products, but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Recently, many countries in the EU have increased the amount of discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the EU. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription products, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various EU Member States, and parallel trade, i.e., arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any products, if approved in those countries.
Compliance with other federal and state laws or requirements; changing legal requirements
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If any products that we may develop are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. Products must meet applicable child-resistant packaging requirements under the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Manufacturing, labeling, packaging, distribution, sales, promotion and other activities also are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws, among other requirements to we may be subject.
The distribution of pharmaceutical products is subject to additional requirements and regulations, including extensive record-keeping, licensing, storage and security requirements intended to prevent the unauthorized sale of pharmaceutical products.
The failure to comply with any of these laws or regulatory requirements subjects firms to possible legal or regulatory action. Depending on the circumstances, failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements can result in criminal prosecution, fines or other penalties, injunctions, exclusion from federal healthcare programs, requests for recall, seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of product approvals, relabeling or repackaging, or refusal to allow a firm to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts. Any claim or action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. Prohibitions or restrictions on marketing, sales or withdrawal of future products marketed by us could materially affect our business in an adverse way.
Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling or packaging; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.
Other U.S. environmental, health and safety laws and regulations
We may be subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. From time to time and in the future, our operations may involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials, and may also produce hazardous waste products. Even if we contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and waste products, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from the use or disposal of our hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations.
We maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees, but this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. However, we do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. Current or future environmental laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. In addition, failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
Government regulation of drugs outside of the United States
To market any product outside of the United States, we would need to comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries regarding safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, marketing authorization or identification of an alternate regulatory pathway, manufacturing, commercial sales and distribution of our products. For instance, in the EU, medicinal products, are subject to extensive pre- and post-market regulation by regulatory authorities at both the EU and national levels.
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Centralized procedure—If pursuing marketing authorization of a product candidate for a therapeutic indication under the centralized procedure, following the opining of the European Medicines Agency’s, or EMA, Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP, the European Commission issues a single marketing authorization valid across the EU, and in the additional Member States of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The centralized procedure is compulsory for human medicines derived from biotechnology processes or advanced therapy medicinal products (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products), products that contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV, AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, viral diseases, and designated orphan medicines. For medicines that do not fall within these categories, an applicant has the option of submitting an application for a centralized marketing authorization to the EMA, as long as the medicine concerned contains a new active substance not yet authorized in the EU, is a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation, or if its authorization would be in the interest of public health in the EU. Under the centralized procedure the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application, or 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 CHMP. Clock stops may extend the timeframe of evaluation of an MAA considerably beyond 210 days. Where the CHMP gives a positive opinion, it provides the opinion together with supporting documentation to the European Commission, who makes the final decision to grant a marketing authorization, which is issued within 67 days of receipt of the EMA’s recommendation. Accelerated assessment might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, particularly from the point of view of therapeutic innovation. If the CHMP accepts such request, the time limit of 210 days will be reduced to 150 days, excluding clock stops, but it is possible that the CHMP may revert to the standard time limit for the centralized procedure if it determines that the application is no longer appropriate to conduct an accelerated assessment.
National authorization procedures—There are also two other possible routes to authorize products for therapeutic indications in several countries, which are available for products that fall outside the scope of the centralized procedure:
Decentralized procedure—Using the decentralized procedure, an applicant may apply for simultaneous authorization in more than one EU country of medicinal products that have not yet been authorized in any EU country and that do not fall within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure.
Mutual recognition procedure—In the mutual recognition procedure, a medicine is first authorized in one EU Member State, in accordance with the national procedures of that country. Following this, additional marketing authorizations can be sought from other EU countries in a procedure whereby the countries concerned recognize the validity of the original, national marketing authorization.
Under the above described procedures, before granting the marketing authorization, the EMA or the competent authorities of the Member States of the EU make an assessment of the risk-benefit balance of the product on the basis of scientific criteria concerning its quality, safety and efficacy.
Now that the United Kingdom (which comprises Great Britain and Northern Ireland) has left the European Union, Great Britain will no longer be covered by centralized marketing authorizations (under the Northern Ireland Protocol, centralized marketing authorizations will continue to be recognized in Northern Ireland). All medicinal products with a current centralized marketing authorization were automatically converted to Great Britain marketing authorizations on January 1, 2021. For a period of two years from January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, the UK medicines regulator, may rely on a decision taken by the European Commission on the approval of a new marketing authorization in the centralized procedure, in order to more quickly grant a new Great Britain marketing authorization. A separate application will, however, still be required. The MHRA also has the power to have regard to marketing authorizations approved in EU Member States through decentralized or mutual recognition procedures with a view to more quickly granting a marketing authorization in the United Kingdom or Great Britain.
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In the EU, new products for therapeutic indications that are authorized for marketing (i.e., reference products) qualify for eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity upon marketing authorization. The data exclusivity period, if granted, prevents generic or biosimilar applicants from relying on the preclinical and clinical trial data contained in the dossier of the reference product when applying for a generic or biosimilar marketing authorization in the EU for a period of eight years from the date on which the reference product was first authorized in the EU. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic or biosimilar marketing authorization can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic or biosimilar product can be marketed in the EU until the expiration of the market exclusivity period. The ten-year market exclusivity period can be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with currently approved therapies. There is no guarantee that a product will be considered by the EMA to be an innovative medicinal product, and products may not qualify for data exclusivity. Even if a product is considered to be an innovative medicinal product so that the innovator gains the prescribed period of data exclusivity, another company could nevertheless also market another version of the product if such company obtained a marketing authorization based on an MAA with a complete, independent data package of pharmaceutical tests, preclinical tests and clinical trials.
The criteria for designating an “orphan medicinal product” in the EU are similar in principle to those in the United States. In the EU a medicinal product may be designated as orphan medicinal product if it meets the following criteria: (1) it is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition; (2) either (a) such condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the EU when the application is made, or (b) without the benefits derived from orphan status, it is unlikely that the marketing of the medicine would generate sufficient return in the EU to justify the necessary investment in its development; and (3) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the EU, or if such a method exists, the product would be of significant benefit to those affected by that condition. Orphan medicinal products are eligible for financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and are, upon grant of a marketing authorization, entitled to ten years of market exclusivity for the approved therapeutic indication. During this ten-year orphan market exclusivity period, no MAA shall be accepted, and no marketing authorization shall be granted for a similar medicinal product. A “similar medicinal product” is defined as a medicinal product containing a similar active substance or substances as contained in an authorized orphan medicinal product, and which is intended for the same therapeutic indication. An orphan product can also obtain an additional two years of market exclusivity in the EU for pediatric studies. The ten-year market exclusivity may be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation, for example, if the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Otherwise, orphan medicine marketing exclusivity may be revoked only in very select cases, such as if (i) it is established that a similar medicinal product is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior to the authorized product; (ii) the marketing authorization holder of the authorized orphan product consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or (iii) the marketing authorization holder of the authorized orphan product cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product. Orphan designation must be requested before submitting an application for marketing approval. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.
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Since January 1, 2021, a separate process for orphan designation has applied in Great Britain. There is now no pre-marketing authorization orphan designation (as there is in the EU) in Great Britain and the application for orphan designation will be reviewed by the MHRA at the time of an MAA for a UK or Great Britain marketing authorization. The criteria for orphan designation are the same as in the EU, save that they apply to Great Britain only (e.g. there must be no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the condition concerned in Great Britain, as opposed to the EU, and the prevalence of the relevant condition must not be more than 5 in 10,000 in Great Britain). In May 2017, the EU adopted the Regulation (EU) 2017/746 on in vitro diagnostic medical devices, or IVDR, which will become applicable on 26 May 2022 and will repeal Directive 98/79/EC on in vitro diagnostic medical devices. Devices that comply with the requirements of the IVDR will be entitled to bear the CE conformity marking, indicating that the device conforms to the general safety and performance requirements of the IVDR, and, accordingly, can be commercially distributed throughout the EU (in-vitro diagnostic medical devices cannot be marketed in the EU without a CE Mark). The method of assessing conformity varies depending on the class of the product, but normally involves a third-party assessment by a “Notified Body”. This third-party assessment may consist of an audit of the manufacturer’s quality system and specific testing of the manufacturer’s product.
Similar to the United States, the various phases of non-clinical and clinical research in the EU are subject to significant regulatory controls.
In April 2014, the new Clinical Trials Regulation, (EU) No 536/2014 (Clinical Trials Regulation) was adopted, which replaced the Clinical Trials Directive 2011/20/EC on January 31, 2022. The Clinical Trials Regulation is directly applicable in all the EU Member States, meaning no national implementing legislation is required. The transitory provisions of the new Regulation offer sponsors the possibility to choose between the requirements of the previous Directive and the new Regulation if the request for authorization of a clinical trial is submitted in the year after the new Regulation became applicable. If a clinical trial continues for more than three years from the day on which the Clinical Trials Regulation became applicable the Clinical Trials Regulation will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial. The new Clinical Trials Regulation aims to simplify and streamline the approval of clinical trials in the EU. The main characteristics of the regulation include: a streamlined application procedure via a single-entry point, the Clinical Trials Information Systems, or “CTIS”; a single set of documents to be prepared and submitted for the application as well as simplified reporting procedures for clinical trial sponsors; and a harmonized procedure for the assessment of applications for clinical trials, which is divided in two parts. Part I is assessed by coordinated assessment of the competent authorities of all EU Member States in which an application for authorization of a clinical trial has been submitted (Member States concerned), of the review of a Reference Member State. Part II is assessed separately by each Member State concerned. Strict deadlines have been established for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The role of the relevant ethics committees in the assessment procedure will continue to be governed by the national law of the concerned EU Member State. However, overall related timelines will be defined by the Clinical Trials Regulation.
The aforementioned EU rules are generally applicable in the European Economic Area, or EEA, which consists of the EU Member States, plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
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The collection and use of personal data in the EEA is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR has extraterritorial application and applies to organizations based outside the EEA that provide goods or services to residents in the EU. This expansion would incorporate any clinical trial activities in EU Members States. The GDPR imposes strict requirements on controllers and processors of personal data, including special protections for “sensitive information” which includes health and genetic information of data subjects residing in the EEA. GDPR grants individuals a number of data protection rights which they can exercise in relation to their personal information. Further, the GDPR enables individuals to claim damages for violations and introduces the right for non-profit organizations to bring claims on behalf of data subjects. Further, the GDPR imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data out of the EEA to the United States or other regions that have not been deemed to offer “adequate” privacy protections. Failure to comply with the requirements of the GDPR and the related national data protection laws of the EEA Member States, which may deviate slightly from the GDPR, may result in fines of up to 4% of global revenues, or €20 million, whichever is greater. As a result of the implementation of the GDPR, we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms ensuring compliance with the new data protection rules. In addition, further to the UK’s exit from the EU on January 31, 2020, the GDPR ceased to apply in the UK at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020. However, as of January 1, 2021, the UK’s European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 incorporated the GDPR (as it existed on December 31, 2020 but subject to certain UK specific amendments) into UK law, referred to as the UK GDPR. The UK GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018 set out the UK’s data protection regime, which is independent from but aligned to the EU’s data protection regime. Non-compliance with the UK GDPR may result in monetary penalties of up to £17.5 million or 4% of worldwide revenue, whichever is higher. Although the UK is regarded as a third country under the EU’s GDPR, the European Commission has now issued a decision recognizing the UK as providing adequate protection under the EU GDPR and, therefore, transfers of personal data originating in the EU to the UK remain unrestricted. Like the EU GDPR, the UK GDPR restricts personal data transfers outside the UK to countries not regarded by the UK as providing adequate protection. The UK government has confirmed that personal data transfers from the UK to the EEA remain free flowing.
There is uncertainty related to the manner in which data protection authorities will seek to enforce compliance with GDPR. For example, it is not clear if the authorities will conduct random audits of companies doing business in the EEA, or if the authorities will wait for complaints to be filed by individuals who claim their rights have been violated. Enforcement uncertainty and the costs associated with ensuring GDPR compliance are onerous and may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Should we utilize third-party distributors, compliance with such foreign governmental regulations would generally be the responsibility of such distributors, who may be independent contractors over whom we have limited control.
Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom
On June 23, 2016, the electorate in the United Kingdom voted in favor of leaving the European Union (commonly referred to as “Brexit”). The United Kingdom formally left the European Union on January 31, 2020. There was an initial transitional period, during which European Union’s rules continued to apply in the United Kingdom, which ended on December 31, 2020. The United Kingdom and European Union have signed a European Union-United Kingdom Trade and Cooperation Agreement, or the TCA, which was provisionally applicable since January 1, 2021 and has been formally applicable since May 1, 2021. The TCA includes specific provisions concerning pharmaceuticals, which include the mutual recognition of GMP, inspections of manufacturing facilities for medicinal products and GMP documents issued, but does not foresee wholesale mutual recognition of UK and EU pharmaceutical regulations. At present, Great Britain has implemented EU legislation on the marketing, promotion and sale of medicinal products through the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (as amended) (under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU regulatory framework will continue to apply in Northern Ireland). The regulatory regime in Great Britain therefore largely aligns with current EU regulations, however it is possible that these regimes will diverge in the future now that Great Britain’s regulatory system is independent from the EU and the TCA does not provide for mutual recognition of UK and EU pharmaceutical legislation.
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Human Capital Resources
In order to achieve the goals and expectations of our Company, it is crucial that we continue to attract and retain top talent. To facilitate talent attraction and retention, we strive to make Black Diamond a safe and rewarding workplace, with opportunities for our employees to grow and develop in their careers, supported by strong compensation, benefits and health and wellness programs, and by programs that build connections between our employees.
As of February 15, 2024, we had 54 full-time employees. 13 of our employees have Ph.D. degrees, four have Pharm.D. degrees, and three have M.D. degrees. The following table shows the number of full-time employees as of February 15, 2024 engaged in either research and development or administrative functions. All of our employees are located in the United States.
  
FunctionEmployees
Research and development33
Administrative21
Total54
None of our employees are represented by labor unions or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.
Black Diamond has adopted policies and initiatives that foster an inclusive work environment and diverse workforce. Our commitment to inclusivity is reflected in our corporate goals and underpins our social, cultural and philanthropic initiatives. We work collaboratively with external organizations to attract, retain and develop diverse talent by ensuring we have a culture of inclusivity for all.
In 2023, approximately 69% of our new hires came from underrepresented categories, including women and racial or ethnic minorities. As of February 15, 2024, approximately 54% of the Company's workforce, and 48% of our employees in managerial roles, identified as female. As of February 15, 2024, approximately 22% of our workforce, and 19% of our employees in managerial roles, identified as racially or ethnically diverse.
The success of our business is fundamentally connected to the well-being of our employees. Accordingly, we are committed to their health, safety and wellness. We provide our employees and their families with access to a variety of innovative, flexible and convenient health and wellness programs, including benefits that provide protection and security so they can have peace of mind concerning events that may require time away from work or that impact their financial well-being; that support their physical and mental health by providing tools and resources to help them improve or maintain their health status and encourage engagement in healthy behaviors; and that offer choice where possible so they can customize their benefits to meet their needs and the needs of their families.
We provide robust compensation and benefits programs to help meet the needs of our employees. In addition to salaries, these programs include potential annual discretionary bonuses, stock awards, a 401(k) Plan, healthcare and insurance benefits, health savings and flexible spending accounts, paid time off, family leave and flexible work schedules, among others. In addition to our broad-based equity award programs, we have used targeted equity-based grants with vesting conditions to facilitate retention of personnel.
Facilities
We lease a facility containing approximately 25,578 square feet of office space for our principal office, which is located at One Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142. The lease expires on August 31, 2028, subject to an option to extend the lease for five additional years. In December 2022 we entered into a sublease for one floor, approximately 14,439 square feet, of our Cambridge, MA office space, which also terminates on August 31, 2028. We also lease approximately 18,120 square feet of office and laboratory space at 430 East 29th Street, New York, New York 10016. The lease expires on June 30, 2032, subject to an option to extend the lease for five additional years.
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We believe that our current facilities are adequate for our current needs and that suitable additional or substitute space at commercially reasonable terms will be available as needed to accommodate any future expansion of our operations.
Legal proceedings
From time to time, we may become involved in legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of our business. As of the date of this Annual Report, we were not a party to, or aware of, any material legal matters or claims. In the future, we may become party to legal matters and claims in the ordinary course of business, the resolution of which we do not anticipate would have a material adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Corporate Information
We were formed as an LLC in December 2014 and we converted to a corporation in September 2016 under the laws of the State of Delaware under the name ASET Therapeutics, Inc. On January 2, 2018, we changed our name to Black Diamond Therapeutics, Inc. Our principal executive offices are located at One Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, and our telephone number is 617-252-0848. As of December 31, 2023 we have one subsidiary, Black Diamond Therapeutics Security Corporation, which was incorporated in 2019. Our second subsidiary, Black Diamond Therapeutics (Canada) Inc., which was incorporated in 2018, was dissolved in October 2023.
We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of: (i) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of the initial public offering (IPO), (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.235 billion, or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700.0 million as of the prior June 30th, and (ii) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.
Financial Information and Segments
The financial information required under this Item 1 is incorporated herein by reference to the section of this Annual Report titled “Part II—Item 8—Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” The Company manages its operations as a single segment for the purposes of assessing performance and making operating decisions. The Company’s singular focus is the development of selective medicines for patients with genetically defined cancers driven by oncogenes activated by allosteric mutations. See Note 2 to our consolidated audited financial statements included in this Annual Report. For financial information regarding our business, see “Part II—Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of this Annual Report and our consolidated audited financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Available Information
Our Internet address is www.blackdiamondtherapeutics.com. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, including exhibits, proxy and information statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a), 14, and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, are available through the “Investors & News” portion of our website free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Information on our website is not part of this Annual Report or any of our other securities filings unless specifically incorporated herein by reference. We have included our website address in this Annual Report solely as an inactive textual reference. Our filings with the SEC may be accessed through the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. All statements made in any of our securities filings, including all forward-looking statements or information, are made as of the date of the document in which the statement is included, and we do not assume or undertake any obligation to update any of those statements or documents unless we are required to do so by law.
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Item 1A. Risk Factors
Careful consideration should be given to the following risk factors, in addition to the other information set forth in this Annual Report and in other documents that we file with the SEC, in evaluating the Company and our business. Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. If any of the following risks and uncertainties actually occurs, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. The risks and uncertainties summarized and described below are not intended to be exhaustive and are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations. Certain statements in this Annual Report are forward-looking statements. Please also see the section entitled “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”
Risks related to the development of our product candidates
Risks related to clinical development
We are very early in our development efforts and are substantially dependent on our clinical-stage product candidates, BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933. If we are unable to advance BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or any of our other product candidates through clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or any of our other product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.
We are very early in our development efforts. We are currently evaluating BDTX-1535 in a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with EGFRm NSCLC, and in a Phase 1 clinical trial and investigator sponsored Phase 0/1 trial in patients with GBM, and we are evaluating BDTX-4933 in Phase 1 clinical trial. Our other product candidates are still in preclinical development and have never been tested in human subjects. Our ability to generate product revenues, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend heavily on the successful clinical development and eventual commercialization of BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and one or more of our other product candidates. In addition, our drug development programs contemplate the development of companion diagnostics, which are assays or tests to identify an appropriate patient population. Companion diagnostics are subject to regulation as medical devices and must themselves be approved for marketing by the FDA or certain other foreign regulatory agencies before we may commercialize our product candidates. The success of our product candidates will depend on several factors, including the following:
successful completion of preclinical studies;
approval of INDs for our planned clinical trials or future clinical trials;
FDA acceptance of our clinical development strategy;
successful initiation of clinical trials;
successful patient enrollment in and completion of clinical trials;
successful development of companion diagnostics for use with our product candidates;
safety, tolerability and efficacy profiles for our product candidates that are satisfactory to the FDA or any foreign regulatory authority for marketing approval;
receipt of marketing approvals for our product candidates and any companion diagnostics from applicable regulatory authorities;
the extent of any required post-marketing approval commitments to applicable regulatory authorities;
obtaining and maintaining patent and trade secret protection and regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates;
making arrangements with third-party manufacturers, or establishing manufacturing capabilities, for both clinical and commercial supplies of our product candidates, if any product candidates are approved;
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establishing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities and launching commercial sales of our products, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others;
acceptance of our products, if and when approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;
effectively competing with other cancer therapies;
obtaining and maintaining third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement;
maintaining a continued acceptable safety profile of our products following approval; and
factors we may not be able to control, such as current or potential pandemics that may limit patients, principal investigators or staff or clinical site availability.
There is no guarantee that the results obtained in current preclinical studies or our ongoing clinical trials of BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933 will be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval or marketing authorization for such product candidates. Negative results in the development of our lead product candidates may also impact our ability to obtain regulatory approval for our other product candidates, either at all or within anticipated timeframes because, although other product candidates may target different indications, the underlying technology platform, manufacturing process and development process is the same for all of our product candidates. Accordingly, a failure in any one program may affect the ability to obtain regulatory approval to continue or conduct clinical programs for other product candidates. Moreover, anti-tumor activity may be different in each of the different tumor types and for the different genetic mutations we plan on evaluating in the clinical trial and may differ from the results seen in our preclinical studies. Therefore, the tumor response may be low in patients with some cancers compared to others. This may result in discontinuation of development of a product candidate for patients with these tumor types and/or mutations due to insufficient clinical benefit while continuing development for a more limited population of patients more likely to benefit. As a consequence, we may have to negotiate with the FDA to reach agreement on defining the optimal patient population, study design and size in order to obtain regulatory approval, any of which may require significant additional resources and delay the timing of our clinical trials and ultimately the approval, if any, of any of our product candidates.
In addition, because we have limited financial and personnel resources and are placing significant focus on the development of our clinical-stage product candidates, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities with other future product candidates that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and other future product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable future product candidates. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular future product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to those future product candidates through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such future product candidates.
Difficulty in enrolling patients could delay or prevent clinical trials of our product candidates. We may find it difficult to enroll patients in our Phase 2 clinical trial for BDTX-1535 or our Phase 1 clinical trial for BDTX-4933 with the genetic mutations these product candidates are designed to target.
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Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical studies of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of completion 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 trials if we encounter difficulties in enrollment. We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States. In particular, because we are focused on patients with specific genetic mutations, our ability to enroll eligible patients may be limited or may result in slower enrollment than we anticipate. For example, for both BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933, we cannot be certain how many patients will have each of the genetic mutations that these product candidates are designed to target or that the number of patients enrolled for each mutation will suffice for regulatory approval and inclusion of each such mutation in the approved label. In addition, some of our competitors have ongoing clinical trials for product candidates that treat the same indications as our product candidates, and patients who would otherwise be eligible for our clinical trials may instead enroll in clinical trials of our competitors’ product candidates.
In addition to the potentially small populations, the eligibility criteria of our planned clinical trials will further limit the pool of available study participants as we will require that patients have specific characteristics that we can measure to assure their disease is either severe enough or not too advanced to include them in a study. Additionally, the process of finding and diagnosing 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 trials, the proximity and availability of clinical study sites for prospective patients, the availability of genetic sequencing information for patient tumors so that we can identify patients with the targeted genetic mutations, 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 products may be delayed.
We intend to engage third parties to develop companion diagnostics for use in our clinical trials, but such third parties may not be successful in developing such companion diagnostics, furthering the difficulty in identifying patients with the targeted genetic mutations for our clinical trials. Further, if we are unable to include patients with the targeted genetic mutations, this could compromise our ability to seek participation in FDA’s expedited review and development programs, including Breakthrough Therapy Designation and Fast Track Designation, or otherwise seek to accelerate clinical development and regulatory timelines.
The enrollment of patients further depends on many factors, including:
the proximity of patients to clinical trial sites;
the design of the clinical trial;
our ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;
our ability to obtain and maintain patient consents;
impacts of any pandemic or epidemic on clinical trial site activation and patient enrollment;
reporting of the preliminary results of any of our clinical trials; and
the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the clinical trials before clinical trial completion.
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In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our clinical trials may instead opt to enroll in a clinical trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials at such clinical trial sites. Moreover, because our product candidates represent a departure from more commonly used methods for cancer treatment and because most of our product candidates have not been tested in humans before, potential patients and their doctors may be inclined to use conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy, rather than enroll patients in any future clinical trial. Additionally, because our clinical trials are in patients with relapsed/refractory cancer, the patients are typically in the late stages of their disease and may experience disease progression independent from our product candidates, making them unevaluable for purposes of the clinical trial and requiring additional patient enrollment.
If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of our product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenue from any of these product candidates could be delayed or prevented.
We have limited experience as a company in conducting clinical trials.
We have limited experience as a company in conducting clinical trials. In part because of this limited experience, we cannot be certain that our ongoing preclinical studies and clinical trials will be completed on time or if the planned preclinical studies and clinical trials will begin or be completed on time, if at all. Large-scale clinical trials would require significant additional financial and management resources and reliance on third-party clinical investigators, contract research organizations, or CROs, and consultants. Relying on third-party clinical investigators, CROs and consultants may force us to encounter delays that are outside of our control. We may be unable to identify and contract with sufficient investigators, CROs and consultants on a timely basis or at all. For BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933, we have entered into master services agreements with CROs to conduct our first-in-human clinical trials. There can be no assurance that we will be able to negotiate and enter into any additional master services agreement with other CROs, as necessary, on terms that are acceptable to us on a timely basis or at all.
Our preclinical studies and clinical trials may fail to demonstrate adequately the safety, potency, purity and efficacy of any of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay development, regulatory approval and commercialization.
Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of our product candidates, including BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our product candidates are both safe and effective for use in each target indication. Preclinical and clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the preclinical study and clinical trial processes, and, because our product candidates are in an early stage of development, there is a high risk of failure and we may never succeed in developing marketable products.
The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Although product candidates may demonstrate promising results in preclinical studies and early clinical trials, they may not prove to be effective in subsequent clinical trials. For example, testing on animals occurs under different conditions than testing in humans and therefore, the results of animal studies may not accurately predict human experience. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through preclinical studies and clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety, potency, purity and efficacy profile despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. Likewise, early, smaller-scale clinical trials may not be predictive of eventual safety or effectiveness in large-scale pivotal clinical trials. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of potency or efficacy, insufficient durability of potency or efficacy or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence preclinical studies and clinical trials are never approved as products.
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Any preclinical studies or clinical trials that we may conduct may not demonstrate the safety, potency, purity and efficacy necessary to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates. If the results of our ongoing or future preclinical studies and clinical trials are inconclusive with respect to the safety, potency, purity and efficacy of our product candidates, if we do not meet the clinical endpoints with statistical and clinically meaningful significance, or if there are safety concerns associated with our product candidates, we may be prevented or delayed in obtaining marketing approval for such product candidates. In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety, potency, purity or efficacy results between different preclinical studies and clinical trials of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in trial procedures set forth in protocols, differences in the size and type of the patient populations, changes in and adherence to the clinical trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. As is the case with all oncology drugs, it is likely that there may be side effects associated with their use. Results of our trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of these or other side effects. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Drug-related side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
Further, our product candidates could cause undesirable side effects in clinical trials related to on-target toxicity. For example, other EGFR inhibitors have experienced dose limiting toxicities due to rash in patients and, although we have designed our product candidates to be “wild-type” sparing to limit the risk of similar toxicities, clinical results may differ and patients may also experience similar or different toxicities that limit the dose and/or efficacy of our product candidates. If on-target toxicity is observed, or if our product candidates have characteristics that are unexpected, we may need to abandon their development or limit development to more narrow uses or subpopulations in which the undesirable side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective. Many compounds that initially showed promise in early stage testing for treating cancer have later been found to cause side effects that prevented further development of the compound.
We may not be able to file INDs or IND amendments to commence additional clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, the FDA may not permit us to proceed.
We submitted an IND for BDTX-1535 in December 2021, which was allowed by the FDA in the first quarter of 2022 and submitted an IND for BDTX-4933 in December 2022, which was allowed by the FDA in the first quarter of 2023. However, we may not be able to file INDs for our other product candidates on the timelines we expect. For example, we may experience manufacturing delays or other delays with IND-enabling studies. Moreover, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND will result in the FDA allowing further clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate clinical trials. Additionally, even if such regulatory authorities agree with the design and implementation of the clinical trials set forth in an IND, we cannot guarantee that such regulatory authorities will not change their requirements in the future. These considerations also apply to new clinical trials we may submit as amendments to existing INDs or to a new IND. Any failure to file INDs on the timelines we expect or to obtain regulatory approvals for our trials may prevent us from completing our clinical trials or commercializing our products on a timely basis, if at all.
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Failure to successfully validate, develop and obtain regulatory approval for companion diagnostics for our product candidates could harm our drug development strategy and operational results.
As one of the central elements of our business strategy and approach, we seek to screen and identify subsets of patients with a genetic alteration who may derive meaningful benefit from our development product candidates. To achieve this, our product development program is dependent on the development and commercialization of a companion diagnostic by us or by third-party collaborators. Companion diagnostics are developed in conjunction with clinical programs for the associated product and are subject to regulation as medical devices. Each agency that approves a product candidate will independently need to approve the companion diagnostic before or concurrently with its approval of the product candidate, and before a product can be commercialized. The approval of a companion diagnostic as part of the product label will also limit the use of the product candidate to only those patients who express the specific genetic alteration it was developed to detect.
Companion diagnostics are subject to regulation by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities as medical devices and require separate marketing authorization prior to their commercialization. We and our third-party collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing and obtaining marketing authorization for our companion diagnostics. Any delay or failure by us or third- party collaborators to develop or obtain regulatory approval of a companion diagnostic could delay or prevent approval of our related product candidates.
Since the number of patients that we plan to dose in our Phase 2 clinical trial of BDTX-1535 and our Phase 1 clinical trial of BDTX-4933 is smaller than the number of patients that would be enrolled in a registration trial, the results from such clinical trials, once completed, may be less reliable than results achieved in larger clinical trials, which may hinder our efforts to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates.
The number of patients that we plan to dose in our initial clinical trials is small. The preliminary results of clinical trials with smaller sample sizes can be disproportionately influenced by various biases associated with the conduct of small clinical trials, such as the potential failure of the smaller sample size to accurately depict the features of the broader patient population, which limits the ability to generalize the results across a broader community, thus making the clinical trial results less reliable than clinical trials with a larger number of patients. As a result, there may be less certainty that such product candidates would achieve a statistically significant effect in any future clinical trials. If we conduct any future clinical trials of BDTX-1535 or BDTX-4933, we may not achieve a statistically significant result or the same level of statistical significance, if any, that we might have anticipated based on the results observed in our initial clinical trials.
Further, clinical trials by their nature utilize a sample of the potential patient population. With a limited number of patients and limited duration of exposure, rare and severe side effects of our product candidates may only be uncovered with a significantly larger number of patients exposed to the drug candidate. If our product candidates receive marketing approval and we or others identify undesirable side effects caused by such product candidates (or any other similar drugs) after such approval, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
regulatory authorities may withdraw or limit their approval of such product candidates;
regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, such as a “boxed” warning or a contraindication;
we may be required to change the way such product candidates are distributed or administered, conduct additional clinical trials or change the labeling of the product candidates;
regulatory authorities may require a REMS plan to mitigate risks, which could include medication guides, physician communication plans, or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools;
we may be subject to regulatory investigations and government enforcement actions;
we may decide to remove such product candidates from the marketplace;
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we could be sued and held liable for injury caused to individuals exposed to or taking our product candidates; and
our reputation may suffer.
We believe that any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the affected product candidates and could substantially increase the costs of commercializing our product candidates, if approved, and significantly impact our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and generate revenues.
Clinical development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future clinical trial results. We may encounter substantial delays in clinical trials, or may not be able to conduct or complete clinical trials on the expected timelines, if at all. If our preclinical studies and clinical trials are not sufficient to support regulatory approval of any of our product candidates, we may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development of such product candidate.
All of our lead product candidates are in early clinical development or in preclinical development and their risk of failure is high. It is impossible to predict when or if any of our product candidates will prove effective and safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any drug candidate, we must complete preclinical studies and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. The outcome of preclinical development testing and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their product candidates. Our preclinical studies and future clinical trials may not be successful.
We cannot be certain that our preclinical study and clinical trial results will be sufficient to support regulatory approval of our product candidates. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Human clinical trials are expensive and difficult to design and implement, in part because they are subject to rigorous regulatory requirements. Failure or delay can occur at any time during the clinical trial process.
Additionally, some of the clinical trials we conduct may be open-label in study design and may be conducted at a limited number of clinical sites on a limited number of patients. An “open-label” clinical trial is one where both the patient and investigator know whether the patient is receiving the investigational product candidate or either an existing approved drug or placebo. Most typically, open-label clinical trials test only the investigational product candidate and sometimes may do so at different dose levels. Open-label clinical trials are subject to various limitations that may exaggerate any therapeutic effect as patients in open-label clinical trials are aware when they are receiving treatment. Open-label clinical trials may be subject to a “patient bias” where patients perceive their symptoms to have improved merely due to their awareness of receiving an experimental treatment. Moreover, patients selected for early clinical studies often include the most severe sufferers and their symptoms may have been bound to improve notwithstanding the new treatment. In addition, open-label clinical trials may be subject to an “investigator bias” where those assessing and reviewing the physiological outcomes of the clinical trials are aware of which patients have received treatment and may interpret the information of the treated group more favorably given this knowledge. Given that our Phase 2 clinical trial of BDTX-1535 in patients with EGFRm NSCLC and Phase 1 clinical trial of BDTX-4933 include an open-label dosing design, the results from these clinical trials may not be predictive of future clinical trial results with these or other product candidates for which we conduct an open-label clinical trial when studied in a controlled environment with a placebo or active control.
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We may experience delays in obtaining the FDA’s authorization to initiate clinical trials under future INDs, completing ongoing preclinical studies of our other product candidates, and initiating our planned preclinical studies and clinical trials. Additionally, we cannot be certain that preclinical studies or clinical trials for our product candidates will begin on time, not require redesign, enroll an adequate number of subjects on time, or be completed on schedule, if at all.
Clinical trials can be delayed or terminated for a variety of reasons, including delays or failures related to:
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities disagreeing as to the design or implementation of our clinical trials;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities disagreeing with our clinical development strategy;
delays in obtaining regulatory approval to commence a clinical trial;
reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective CROs and clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and clinical trial sites;
obtaining IRB approval at each clinical trial site;
recruiting an adequate number of suitable patients to participate in a clinical trial;
the number of patients required for clinical trials of our product candidates may be larger than we anticipate;
having subjects complete a clinical trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;
clinical trial sites deviating from clinical trial protocol or dropping out of a clinical trial;
addressing subject safety concerns that arise during the course of a clinical trial;
adding a sufficient number of clinical trial sites; or
obtaining sufficient product supply of product candidate for use in preclinical studies or clinical trials from third-party suppliers.
We may experience numerous adverse or unforeseen events during, or as a result of, preclinical studies and clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval or commercialize our product candidates, including:
we may receive feedback from regulatory authorities that requires us to modify the design of our clinical trials;
clinical trials of our product candidates may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon our research efforts for our other product candidates;
clinical trials of our product candidates may not produce differentiated or clinically significant results across tumor types or indications;
the number of patients required for clinical trials of our product candidates may be larger than we anticipate, enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower than we anticipate or participants may drop out of our clinical trials at a higher rate than we anticipate;
our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements, fail to maintain adequate quality controls or be unable to provide us with sufficient product supply to conduct and complete preclinical studies or clinical trials of our product candidates in a timely manner, or at all;
we or our investigators might have to suspend or terminate clinical trials of our product candidates for various reasons, including non-compliance with regulatory requirements, a finding that our product candidates have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
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the cost of clinical trials of our product candidates may be greater than we anticipate, for example, if we experiences delays or challenges in identifying patients with the mutations required for our clinical trials, we may have to reimburse sites for genetic sequencing costs in order to encourage sequencing of additional patients;
the quality of our product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct preclinical studies or clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient or inadequate, and any transfer of manufacturing activities may require unforeseen manufacturing or formulation changes;
regulators may revise the requirements for approving our product candidates, or such requirements may not be as we anticipate; and
future collaborators may conduct clinical trials in ways they view as advantageous to them but that are suboptimal for us.
If we are required or choose to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we currently contemplate, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates or other testing, if the results of these trials or tests are not positive or are only moderately positive or if there are safety concerns, our business and results of operations may be adversely affected and we may incur significant additional costs.
We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs of the institutions in which such clinical trials are being conducted, by the Data Safety Monitoring Board, if any, for such clinical trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities may suspend or terminate a clinical trial due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical trial protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from the product candidates, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.
Moreover, principal investigators for our future clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and receive compensation in connection with such services. Under certain circumstances, we may be required to report some of these relationships to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may conclude that a financial relationship between us and a principal investigator has created a conflict of interest or otherwise affected interpretation of the study. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may therefore question the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized. This could result in a delay in approval, or rejection, of our marketing applications by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority, as the case may be, and may ultimately lead to the denial of marketing approval of one or more of our product candidates.
If we experience delays in the completion, or termination, of any preclinical study or clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of our product candidates may be harmed, and our ability to generate revenues from any of these product candidates will be delayed or not realized at all. In addition, any delays in completing our preclinical studies or clinical trials may increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenues. Any of these occurrences may significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates. If one or more of our product candidates generally prove to be ineffective, unsafe or commercially unviable, our entire pipeline and MAP drug discovery engine could have little, if any, value, which would have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
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We are conducting clinical trials for product candidates outside the United States, and the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not accept data from such trials.
We are conducting clinical trials for our product candidates outside the United States. The acceptance of study data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States or another jurisdiction by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may be subject to certain conditions or may not be accepted at all. In cases where data from foreign clinical trials are intended to serve as the basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will generally not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless (i) the data are applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice; and (ii) the trials were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence and pursuant to GCP regulations. Additionally, the FDA’s clinical trial requirements, including sufficient size of patient populations and statistical powering, must be met. Many foreign regulatory authorities have similar approval requirements. In addition, such foreign trials would be subject to the applicable local laws of the foreign jurisdictions where the trials are conducted. There can be no assurance that the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority will accept data from trials conducted outside of the United States or the applicable jurisdiction. If the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority does not accept such data, it would result in the need for additional trials, which could be costly and time-consuming, and which may result in product candidates that we may develop not receiving approval for commercialization in the applicable jurisdiction.
Risks related to our approach
We are focused on the development of precision medicines for patients with genetically defined cancers, which is a rapidly evolving area of science, and the approach we have taken to discover, and are taking to develop drugs is novel and may never lead to marketable products.
The discovery and development of precision medicines for patients with genetically defined cancers is an emerging field, and the scientific discoveries that form the basis for our efforts to discover and develop product candidates are relatively new. The scientific evidence to support the feasibility of developing product candidates based on these discoveries is both preliminary and limited. Although we believe, based on our preclinical work, that the mutations targeted by our programs are oncogenic drivers, clinical results may not confirm this hypothesis or may only confirm it for certain mutations or certain tumor types. The patient populations for our product candidates are limited to those with specific target mutations and may not be completely defined but are substantially smaller than the general treated cancer population, and we will need to screen and identify these patients with the targeted mutations. Successful identification of patients is dependent on several factors, including achieving certainty as to how specific genetic alterations respond to our product candidates and developing companion diagnostics to identify such genetic alterations. Furthermore, even if we are successful in identifying patients, we cannot be certain that the resulting patient populations for each mutation will be large enough to allow us to successfully obtain approval for each mutation type and commercialize our products and achieve profitability. In addition, even if our approach is successful in showing clinical benefit for tumors harboring the targeted mutations targeted in our current clinical trials, we may never successfully identify additional oncogenic mutations for other receptor tyrosine kinases. Therefore, we do not know if our approach of treating patients with genetically defined cancers will be successful, and if our approach is unsuccessful, our business will suffer.
Our approach to the development of product candidates is unproven, and we may not be successful in our efforts to develop product candidates with commercial value.
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A key element of our strategy has been to use our MAP drug discovery engine to build a pipeline of product candidates and progress these product candidates through clinical development for the treatment of various cancers. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in our discovery and development of BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933, these clinical-stage candidates may not be safe or effective as cancer treatments, and we may not be able to develop any other product candidates. Our MAP drug discovery engine may not in the future support the continued expansion of our pipeline of product candidates. Our pipeline of product candidates and potential future product candidates may not be suitable for further clinical development or generate acceptable clinical data, including as a result of being shown to have unacceptable toxicity or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval from the FDA or other regulatory authorities or achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize product candidates, we will not be able to generate product revenue in the future, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely affect our stock price.
The market opportunities for our product candidates may be relatively small and limited to those patients who are ineligible for or have failed prior treatments and our estimates of the prevalence of our target patient populations may be inaccurate.
Cancer therapies are sometimes characterized as first line, second line, or third line, and the FDA often approves new therapies initially only for a particular line of use. When cancer is detected early enough, first line therapy is sometimes adequate to cure the cancer or prolong life without a cure. Whenever first line therapy, usually chemotherapy, antibody drugs, tumor-targeted small molecules, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these, proves unsuccessful, second line therapy may be administered. Second line therapies often consist of more chemotherapy, radiation, antibody drugs, tumor-targeted small molecules, or a combination of these. Third line therapies can include chemotherapy, antibody drugs and small molecule tumor-targeted therapies, more invasive forms of surgery and new technologies. We expect to initially seek approval of our product candidates in most instances at least as a second or third line therapy, for use in patients with relapsed or refractory metastatic cancer. Subsequently, for those product candidates that prove to be sufficiently safe and beneficial, if any, we would expect to seek approval as a second line therapy and potentially as a first line therapy, but there is no guarantee that our product candidates, even if approved as a second or third or subsequent line of therapy, would be approved for an earlier line of therapy, and, prior to any such approvals, we may have to conduct additional clinical trials.
Our projections of both the number of people who have the cancers we are targeting, who may have their tumors genetically sequenced, as well as the subset of people with these cancers in a position to receive a particular line of therapy and who have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research, and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new therapies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of the cancers that we are targeting. Consequently, even if our product candidates are approved for a second or third line of therapy, the number of patients that may be eligible for treatment with our product candidates may turn out to be much lower than expected.
Risks related to global events
Business, economic or geopolitical disruptions or global health concerns could seriously harm our development efforts and increase our costs and expenses.

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Broad-based business, economic or geopolitical disruptions or global health concerns could adversely affect our ongoing or planned research and development activities. Any such disruptions or concerns may impact a broad range of stakeholders, including our target patient populations, the hospitals and clinical sites in which we conduct any of our clinical trials, third parties with whom we engage, including our CROs, suppliers and regulators. Such impacts could materially negatively affect our ability to conduct our business in the manner or on the timelines presently planned by causing delays in the enrollment of our clinical trials, the manufacture and supply of our product candidates, the conduct of experiments and studies and other interruptions and potential limitations on the quality, completeness and interpretability of data we are able to collect. For example, if the operations of our third-party manufacturers of drug substances and drug products in China were to be negatively affected, it could result in delays or disruptions in the supply of our product candidates and the conduct of experiments and studies. Any negative impact to patient enrollment or treatment or the timing and execution of our preclinical studies or clinical trials could cause costly delays to our development programs, which could adversely affect our ability to obtain regulatory approval for and to commercialize our product candidates, increase our operating expenses and have a material adverse effect on our business and financial results.
We or third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by natural disasters and/or global health pandemics, and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
The occurrence of unforeseen or catastrophic events, including extreme weather events and other natural disasters, man-made disasters, or the emergence of epidemics or pandemics, depending on their scale, may cause different degrees of damage to the national and local economies and could cause a disruption in our operations and have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Man-made disasters, pandemics, and other events connected with the regions in which we operate could have similar effects. If a natural disaster, health pandemic, or other event beyond our control occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our office and/or lab spaces, damaged critical infrastructure, such as our manufacturing facilities or our manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time.
Risks related to manufacturing and supply
Manufacturing our product candidates is complex and we may encounter difficulties in production. We will rely on third parties to manufacture our preclinical and clinical product supplies, and we may rely on third parties to produce and process our product candidates, if approved. If we encounter such difficulties, our ability to provide supply of our product candidates for preclinical studies and clinical trials or for commercial purposes could be delayed or stopped.
The process of manufacturing of our product candidates is complex and highly regulated. We do not currently own any facility that may be used as our clinical scale manufacturing facility and rely on outside vendors to manufacture supplies of our product candidates. We will need to negotiate and maintain contractual arrangements with these outside vendors for the supply of our product candidates and we may not be able to do so on favorable terms. We have not yet caused any product candidates to be manufactured on a commercial scale. Our contract manufacturers may incorporate their own proprietary processes into our product candidate manufacturing processes. We have limited control and oversight of a third party contract manufacturer’s proprietary process, and a third-party contract manufacturer may elect to modify its process without our consent or knowledge. These modifications could negatively impact our manufacturing, including product loss or failure that requires additional manufacturing runs or a change in manufacturer, both of which could significantly increase the cost of and significantly delay the manufacture of our product candidates.
As our product candidates progress through preclinical studies and clinical trials towards approval and commercialization, it is expected that various aspects of the manufacturing process will be altered in an effort to optimize processes and results. Such changes may require amendments to be made to regulatory applications which may further delay the timeframes under which modified manufacturing processes can be used for any of our product candidates and additional bridging studies or trials may be required.
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The facilities used by our contract manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates must be approved by the FDA or other foreign regulatory authorities following inspections that will be conducted after we submit an application to the FDA or other foreign regulatory authorities. We may not control the manufacturing process of, and may be completely dependent on, our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with cGMPs and any other regulatory requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities for the manufacture of our product candidates. Beyond periodic audits, we have no control over the ability of our contract manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority does not approve these facilities for the manufacture of our product candidates or if it withdraws any approval in the future, we may need to find alternative manufacturing facilities, which would require the incurrence of significant additional costs and significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for or market our product candidates, if approved. Similarly, if any third-party manufacturers on which we will rely fail to manufacture quantities of our product candidates at quality levels necessary to meet regulatory requirements and at a scale sufficient to meet anticipated demand at a cost that allows us to achieve profitability, our business, financial condition and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.
If any contract manufacturer with whom we contract fails to perform its obligations, we may be forced to manufacture the materials ourselves, for which we may not have the capabilities or resources, or enter into an agreement with a different contract manufacturer, which we may not be able to do on reasonable terms, if at all. In either scenario, our clinical trials supply could be delayed significantly as we establish alternative supply sources. In some cases, the technical skills required to manufacture our products or product candidates may be unique or proprietary to the original contract manufacturer and we may have difficulty, or there may be contractual restrictions prohibiting us from, transferring such skills to a back-up or alternate supplier, or we may be unable to transfer such skills at all. In addition, if we are required to change contract manufacturers for any reason, we will be required to verify that the new contract manufacturer maintains facilities and procedures that comply with quality standards and with all applicable regulations. We will also need to verify, such as through a manufacturing comparability study, that any new manufacturing process will produce our product candidate according to the specifications previously submitted to the FDA or another regulatory authority. We may be unsuccessful in demonstrating the comparability of clinical supplies which could require the conduct of additional clinical trials. The delays associated with the verification of a new contract manufacturer could negatively affect our ability to develop product candidates or commercialize our products in a timely manner or within budget.
Risks related to sales, marketing and competition
We currently have no marketing and sales organization and have no experience in marketing products. If we are unable to establish marketing and sales capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell our product candidates, if approved, we may not be able to generate product revenue.
We currently have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities and have no experience in marketing products. We intend to develop an in-house marketing organization and sales force, which will require significant capital expenditures, management resources and time. We will have to compete with other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to recruit, hire, train and retain marketing and sales personnel.
If we are unable or decide not to establish internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, we will pursue arrangements with third-party sales, marketing, and distribution collaborators regarding the sales and marketing of our products, if approved. However, there can be no assurance that we will be able to establish or maintain such arrangements on favorable terms or if at all, or if we are able to do so, that these third-party arrangements will provide effective sales forces or marketing and distribution capabilities. Any revenue we receive will depend upon the efforts of such third parties, which may not be successful. We may have little or no control over the marketing and sales efforts of such third parties and our revenue from product sales may be lower than if we had commercialized our product candidates ourselves. We also face competition in our search for third parties to assist us with the sales and marketing efforts of our product candidates.
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There can be no assurance that we will be able to develop in-house sales and distribution capabilities or establish or maintain relationships with third-party collaborators to commercialize any product in the United States or overseas.
A variety of risks associated with marketing our product candidates internationally could materially adversely affect our business.
We plan to seek regulatory approval of our product candidates outside of the United States and, accordingly, we expect that we will be subject to additional risks related to operating in foreign countries if we obtain the necessary approvals, including:
differing regulatory requirements in foreign countries, for example, no country other than the United States has a pathway for accelerated drug approval and so obtaining regulatory approvals outside of the United States will take longer and be more costly than obtaining approval in the United States;
unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers, price and exchange controls and other regulatory requirements;
economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular foreign economies and markets;
compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
foreign taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;
foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
difficulties staffing and managing foreign operations;
workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;
potential liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 or comparable foreign regulations;
challenges enforcing our contractual and intellectual property rights, especially in those foreign countries that do not respect and protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the United States;
production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad; and
business interruptions resulting from geo-political actions, including war and terrorism.
These and other risks associated with international operations may materially adversely affect our ability to attain or maintain profitable operations.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we must focus on a limited number of research programs and product candidates and on specific indications. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future discovery and preclinical development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, the products may not gain market acceptance among physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and others in the medical community.
The use of precision medicines as a potential cancer treatment is a recent development and may not become broadly accepted by physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and others in the medical community. Various factors will influence whether our product candidates are accepted in the market, including:
the clinical indications for which our product candidates are licensed;
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physicians, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and patients considering our product candidates as a safe and effective treatment;
the potential and perceived advantages of our product candidates over alternative treatments;
our ability to demonstrate the advantages of our product candidates over other cancer medicines;
the prevalence and severity of any side effects;
the prevalence and severity of any side effects for other precision medicines and public perception of other precision medicines;
product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities;
limitations or warnings contained in the labeling approved by the FDA;
the timing of market introduction of our product candidates as well as competitive products;
the cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;
the availability of adequate coverage, reimbursement and pricing by third-party payors and government authorities;
the willingness of patients to pay out-of-pocket in the absence of coverage by third-party payors and government authorities;
relative convenience and ease of administration, including as compared to alternative treatments and competitive therapies; and
the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts.
If our product candidates are licensed but fail to achieve market acceptance among physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers or others in the medical community, we will not be able to generate significant revenue.
In addition, although our product candidates differ in certain ways from other precision medicine approaches, serious adverse events or deaths in other clinical trials involving precision medicines, even if not ultimately attributable to our product or product candidates, could result in increased government regulation, unfavorable public perception and publicity, potential regulatory delays in the testing or licensing of our product candidates, stricter labeling requirements for those product candidates that are licensed, and a decrease in demand for any such product candidates.
Even if our products achieve market acceptance, we may not be able to maintain that market acceptance over time if new products or technologies are introduced that are more favorably received than our products, are more cost effective or render our products obsolete.
We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries utilize rapidly advancing technologies and are characterized by intense competition. While we believe that our scientific knowledge, platform technology and development expertise provide us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including major pharmaceuticals, specialty pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and government agencies, and public and private research institutes that conduct research, development, manufacturing and commercialization. Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, regulatory approvals and product marketing than we do. Our competitors may compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. As a result, our competitors may discover, develop, license or commercialize products before or more successfully than we do.
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Product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future. Specifically for BDTX-1535, we expect competition primarily in the EGFRm NSCLC and GBM patient populations, including: combination of amivantamab, or Rybrevant®, and lazertinib, the former of which is marketed by and the latter of which is being developed by Janssen Biotech, Inc.; patritumab deruxtecan, which is being developed by Merck & Co., Inc. and Daiichi Sankyo Co.; datopotamab deruxtecan, which is developed by AstraZeneca plc and Daiichi Sankyo Co.; BBT-207, which is being developed by Bridge Biotherapeutics, Inc.; JIN-A02, which is under development by J Ints Bio, afatinib, or Gilotrif® (Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH) and approved as first-line treatment of NSCLC patients with S768I, L861Q, and/or G719X mutations; osimertinib, or Tagrisso® (AstraZeneca plc) which may be prescribed off-label for NSCLC patients with exon 18 mutations; furmonertinib, which is under development by Arrivent Biopharma and Shanghai Allist Pharmaceuticals, ERAS-801, which is under development by Erasca, Inc.; WSD-0922-FU, which is under development by Wayshine Biopharm International Ltd.; and TAS-2940, which is under development by Taiho Oncology, Inc.
For BDTX-4933 we expect competition primarily in BRAF Class II/III mutations and other RAS mutations patient populations, including: Day One Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.; Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc; Erasca, Inc.; Mirati Therapeutics, Inc.; Jiangsu Hengrui; Revolution Medicines, Inc.; Fore Biotherapeutics Inc.; Incyte Corporation, and Astellas Pharmaceuticals.
If our drug candidates, including BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933, are approved for the indications for which we are currently planning clinical trials, they will likely compete with the competitor drugs mentioned above and with other drugs that are currently in development. Key product features that would affect our ability to effectively compete with other therapeutics include the efficacy, safety and convenience of our products. Our competitors may obtain patent protection or other intellectual property rights that limit our ability to develop or commercialize our product candidates. The availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors will also significantly affect the pricing and competitiveness of our products. Our competitors may also obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. For additional information regarding our competition, see “Business—Competition.”
Risks related to our financial position and capital requirements
Risks related to past financial condition
Our limited operating history may make it difficult for you to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability.
We are a biotechnology company with a limited operating history. We commenced operations in December 2014, and our operations to date have been limited to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, conducting discovery and research activities, filing patent applications, identifying potential product candidates, undertaking preclinical studies and establishing arrangements with third parties for the manufacture of initial quantities of our product candidates and component materials. Most of our product candidates are still in early clinical or preclinical development. We have not yet demonstrated our ability to successfully conduct or complete any clinical trials, obtain marketing approvals, manufacture a commercial-scale product or arrange for a third-party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales, marketing and distribution activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Consequently, any predictions you make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history.
In addition, as a young business, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors. We will need to transition at some point from a company with a research and development focus to a company capable of supporting commercial activities. We may not be successful in such a transition.
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We have incurred significant losses since inception, and we expect to incur losses over the next several years and may not be able to achieve or sustain revenues or profitability in the future.
Investment in biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential product candidate will fail to demonstrate adequate efficacy or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval and become commercially viable. We are still in the early stages of development of our product candidates. Our most advanced product candidate, BDTX-1535, is currently only in a Phase 2 clinical trial. We have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales to date, and we continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations.
We have incurred significant net losses in each period since we commenced operations in December 2014. For the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, we reported net losses of $82.4 million and $91.2 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2023, we had an accumulated deficit of $417.4 million. We expect to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase substantially if and as we:
conduct preclinical studies and clinical trials for our current and future product candidates based on our Mutation—Allostery—Pharmacology, or MAP, drug discovery engine;
seek marketing approvals for any product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;
experience any delays or encounter any issues with any of the above, including but not limited to failed studies, complex results, safety issues or other regulatory challenges;
establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure and scale-up manufacturing capabilities, whether alone or with third parties, to commercialize any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval, if any;
obtain, expand, maintain, enforce and protect our intellectual property portfolio;
hire additional clinical, regulatory and other scientific personnel; and
operate as a public company.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses we will incur or when, if ever, we will be able to achieve profitability. Even if we succeed in commercializing one or more of our product candidates, we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other expenditures to develop, seek regulatory approval for and market additional product candidates. We may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown factors that may adversely affect our business. The size of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of future growth of our expenses and our ability to generate revenue. Our prior losses and expected future losses have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital.
We have not generated any revenue from our product candidates and may never be profitable.
Our ability to become profitable depends upon our ability to generate revenue. To date, we have not generated any revenue from any of our product candidates. We do not expect to generate significant revenue unless or until we successfully complete clinical development and obtain regulatory approval of, and then successfully commercialize, at least one of our product candidates. Most of our product candidates are in early clinical or preclinical stages of development and will require additional preclinical studies, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, substantial investment, access to sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity and significant marketing efforts before we can generate any revenue from product sales. Our most advanced product candidate, BDTX-1535, is currently only in a Phase 2 clinical trial. Our ability to generate revenue depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:
timely completion of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, which may be significantly slower or cost more than we currently anticipate and will depend substantially upon the performance of third-party contractors;
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whether we are required by the FDA or similar foreign regulatory authorities to conduct additional clinical trials or other studies beyond those planned to support the approval and commercialization of our product candidates or any future product candidates;
our ability to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA and similar foreign regulatory authorities the safety, potency, purity, efficacy and acceptable risk to benefit profile of our product candidates or any future product candidates and such regulatory authorities’ acceptance of our clinical development strategy (i.e., our pursuit of approval based on a biomarker rather than a specific cancer indication);
the prevalence, duration and severity of potential side effects or other safety issues experienced with our product candidates or future product candidates, if any;
the timely receipt of necessary marketing approvals from the FDA and similar foreign regulatory authorities;
the willingness of physicians, operators of clinics and patients to utilize or adopt any of our product candidates or future product candidates over alternative or more conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy, to treat solid tumors;
the actual and perceived availability, cost, risk profile and side effects and efficacy of our product candidates, if approved, relative to existing and future alternative cancer therapies and competitive product candidates and technologies;
our ability and the ability of third parties with whom we contract to manufacture adequate clinical and commercial supplies of our product candidates or any future product candidates, remain in good standing with regulatory authorities and develop, validate and maintain commercially viable manufacturing processes that are compliant with cGMP;
our ability to successfully develop a commercial strategy and thereafter commercialize our product candidates or any future product candidates in the United States and internationally, if approved for marketing, reimbursement, sale and distribution in such countries and territories, whether alone or in collaboration with others;
patient demand for our product candidates and any future product candidates, if approved; and
our ability to establish and enforce intellectual property rights in and to our product candidates or any future product candidates.
Many of the factors listed above are beyond our control and could cause us to experience significant delays or prevent us from obtaining regulatory approvals or commercializing our product candidates. Even if we are able to commercialize our product candidates, we may not achieve profitability soon after generating product sales, if ever. If we are unable to generate sufficient revenue through the sale of our product candidates or any future product candidates, we may be unable to continue operations without continued funding.
Risks related to future financial condition
We will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we would be compelled to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.
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We expect our expenses to increase in parallel with our ongoing activities, particularly as we continue our clinical development activities and seek marketing approval for, our product candidates. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. However, we have estimated our current additional funding needs based on assumptions that may prove to be wrong. Additionally, changing circumstances may cause us to consume capital significantly faster than we currently anticipate, and we may need to spend more money than currently expected because of circumstances beyond our control. For instance, the trading prices for our common stock and for other biopharmaceutical companies have been highly volatile. As a result, we may face difficulties raising capital through sales of our equity or debt securities or such sales may be on unfavorable terms. Similarly, adverse market or macroeconomic conditions or market volatility resulting from global economic developments, political unrest, high inflation, rising interest rates, the post-COVID environment, future public health epidemics or other factors, could materially and adversely affect our ability to consummate an equity or debt financing on favorable terms, or at all. Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenue, we expect to finance our operations through a combination of public or private equity offerings, debt financings, governmental funding, collaborations, strategic partnerships and alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third parties. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we would be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our discovery and preclinical development programs or any future commercialization efforts.
We had cash, cash equivalents and investments of $131.4 million as of December 31, 2023. We believe that, based upon our current operating plan, our existing capital resources will be sufficient to fund our anticipated operations into the second quarter of 2025. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
the scope, progress, results and costs of discovery, preclinical development and clinical trials for our product candidates;
the extent to which we enter into collaboration arrangements with regard to product discovery or acquire or in-license products or technologies;
our ability to establish discovery collaborations on favorable terms, if at all;
the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;
the costs of future commercialization activities, including product sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;
revenue, if any, received from commercial sales of our product candidates, should any of our product candidates receive marketing approval; and
the costs of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, obtaining, maintaining, enforcing and protecting our intellectual property rights and defending intellectual property-related claims.
Identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain marketing approval and achieve product sales. In addition, our product candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Our commercial revenues, if any, will be derived from sales of products that we do not expect to be commercially available for many years, if at all. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional financing to achieve our business objectives. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.
Risks related to government regulation
We are very early in our development efforts. Most of our product candidates are still in early clinical development. If we are unable to advance our product candidates through clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize our product candidates or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.
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We are very early in our development efforts, and most of our product candidates are still in early clinical or preclinical development. We have invested substantially all of our efforts and financial resources in the identification and preclinical development of our product candidates, including the development of our clinical-stage product candidates, BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933. Our ability to generate product revenues, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend on the successful development, approval and eventual commercialization of our product candidates, which may never occur. We currently generate no revenue from sales of any products, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a marketable product. The success of our product candidates will depend on several factors, including the following:
successful completion of preclinical studies;
approval of INDs for our planned clinical trials or future clinical trials;
FDA acceptance of our clinical development strategy;
successful enrollment in current and future clinical trials;
positive results from current or future clinical trials that are supportive of safety and efficacy in the intended patient populations;
successful development of companion diagnostics for use with certain of our product candidates;
receipt of regulatory approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;
establishing commercial manufacturing capabilities or making arrangements with third-party manufacturers for clinical supply and commercial manufacturing;
obtaining and maintaining patent and trade secret protection or regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates;
launching commercial sales of our product candidates, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others;
acceptance of the product candidates, if and when approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;
effectively competing with other therapies;
obtaining and maintaining third-party insurance coverage and adequate reimbursement;
obtaining, enforcing and defending intellectual property rights and claims; and
maintaining a continued acceptable safety profile of the product candidates following approval.
If we do not achieve one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully commercialize our product candidates, which would materially harm our business. If we do not receive regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we may not be able to continue our operations.
If we are not able to obtain, or if there are delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we will not be able to commercialize, or will be delayed in commercializing, our product candidates, and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.
Our product candidates and the activities associated with their development and commercialization, including their design, testing, manufacture, safety, efficacy, recordkeeping, labeling, storage, approval, advertising, promotion, sale, distribution, import and export are subject to comprehensive regulation by the FDA and other regulatory agencies in the United States and by comparable authorities in other countries. Before we can commercialize any of our product candidates, we must obtain marketing approval. Our most advanced product candidate, BDTX-1535, is currently only in a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with EGFRm NSCLC and BDTX-4933 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial. Whether the results from our current and future clinical trials will suffice to obtain approval will be a review issue and the FDA may not grant approval and may require that we conduct one or more controlled, randomized Phase 3 clinical trials to obtain approval. There is limited experience of regulatory authorities outside of the United States with the approval of precision cancer medicines.
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Securing regulatory approval also requires the submission of information about the drug manufacturing process to, and inspection of manufacturing facilities by, the relevant regulatory authority. Further, our product candidates may not be effective, may be only moderately effective or may prove to have undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude our obtaining marketing approval or prevent or limit commercial use.
The process of obtaining regulatory approvals, both in the United States and abroad, is expensive, may take many years if additional clinical trials are required, if approval is obtained at all, and can vary substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. Changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for each submitted IND, NDA, or equivalent application types, may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. The FDA and comparable authorities in other countries have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that our data are insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies. Our product candidates could be delayed in receiving, or fail to receive, regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical development strategy;
we may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that a drug candidate is safe and effective for its proposed indication or a related companion diagnostic is suitable to identify appropriate patient populations;
the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities for approval;
we may be unable to demonstrate that a product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;
the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates may not be sufficient to support the submission of an NDA or other submission or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may fail to approve the manufacturing processes 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.
Of the large number of drugs in development, only a small percentage successfully complete the FDA or foreign regulatory approval processes and are commercialized. The lengthy approval process as well as the unpredictability of future clinical trial results may result in our failing to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates, which would significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.
Our clinical trials may fail to demonstrate adequately the safety and efficacy of any of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.
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To obtain the requisite regulatory approvals to market and sell any of our product candidates, including BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and any other future product candidates, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our products are safe and effective in humans. Our product candidates may fail to demonstrate efficacy in humans, and particularly across tumor types. 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 trial process and our future clinical trial results may not be successful. Further, the process of obtaining regulatory approval is expensive, often takes many years following the commencement of clinical trials and can vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved, as well as the target indications, patient population and regulatory agency. Prior to obtaining approval to commercialize a product candidate in the United States or abroad, we or our potential future collaborators must demonstrate with substantial evidence from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, and to the satisfaction of the FDA, the EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities, that such product candidates are safe and effective for their intended uses.
Clinical trials that we conduct may not demonstrate the efficacy and safety necessary to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates. In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety or efficacy results between different clinical trials of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in trial procedures set forth in protocols, differences in the size and type of the patient populations, changes in and adherence to the clinical trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. If the results of our ongoing or future clinical trials are inconclusive with respect to the efficacy of our product candidates, if we do not meet the clinical endpoints with statistical and clinically meaningful significance, or if there are safety concerns associated with our product candidates, we may be delayed in obtaining marketing approval, if at all.
Even if the trials are successfully completed, clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and we cannot guarantee that the FDA, the EMA, or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities will interpret the results as we do, and more trials could be required before we submit our product candidates for approval. We cannot guarantee that the FDA, the EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities will view our product candidates as having sufficient efficacy to support a targeted indication even if positive results are observed in clinical trials. To the extent that the results of the trials are not satisfactory to the FDA, the EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities for support of a marketing application, approval of our product candidates may be significantly delayed, or we may be required to expend significant additional resources, which may not be available to us, to conduct additional trials in support of potential approval of our product candidates. Additionally, any safety or efficacy concerns observed in any tumor-specific subgroup of our clinical trials could limit the prospects for regulatory approval of our product candidates for a targeted indication, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may in the future seek orphan drug status for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and some of our other future product candidates, but we may be unable to obtain such designations or to maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug status, including market exclusivity, which may cause our revenue, if any, to be reduced.
Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a drug or biologic intended to treat a rare disease or condition, defined as a disease or condition with a patient population of fewer than 200,000 in the United States, or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the United States when there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available the drug or biologic in the United States will be recovered from sales in the United States for that drug or biologic. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. In the United States, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. 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.
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If a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for a particular active ingredient for the disease for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including an NDA, to market the same biologic for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity or if the FDA finds that the holder of the orphan drug exclusivity has not shown that it can assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the orphan drug to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. As a result, even if one of our product candidates receives orphan exclusivity, the FDA can still approve other drugs that have a different active ingredient for use in treating the same indication or disease. Furthermore, the FDA can waive orphan exclusivity if we are unable to manufacture sufficient supply of our product.
We may seek orphan drug designation for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and some or all of our other future product candidates in additional orphan indications in which there is a medically plausible basis for the use of these products. Even when we obtain orphan drug designation, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan designated indication and may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. In addition, although we intend to seek orphan drug designation for other product candidates, we may never receive such designations. For example, the FDA has expressed concerns regarding the regulatory considerations for orphan drug designation as applied to tissue agnostic therapies, and the FDA may interpret the FD&C Act and regulations promulgated thereunder in a way that limits or blocks our ability to obtain orphan drug designation or orphan drug exclusivity, if our product candidates are approved, for our targeted indications.
On August 3, 2017, Congress passed the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, or FDARA. FDARA, among other things, codified the FDA’s pre-existing regulatory interpretation, to require that a drug sponsor demonstrate the clinical superiority of an orphan drug that is otherwise the same as a previously approved drug for the same rare disease in order to receive orphan drug exclusivity. The legislation reverses prior precedent holding that the Orphan Drug Act unambiguously requires that the FDA recognize the orphan exclusivity period regardless of a showing of clinical superiority. Moreover, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress did not further change this interpretation when it clarified that the interpretation codified in FDARA would apply in cases where FDA issued an orphan designation before the enactment of FDARA but where product approval came after the enactment of FDARA. The FDA may further reevaluate the Orphan Drug Act and its regulations and policies. We do not know if, when, or how the FDA may change the orphan drug regulations and policies in the future, and it is uncertain how any changes might affect our business. Depending on what changes the FDA may make to its orphan drug regulations and policies, our business could be adversely impacted.
A Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA, even if granted for any of our product candidates, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and it does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
We may seek Breakthrough Therapy designation for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and some or all of our future product candidates. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug or biologic that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug or biologic may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For product candidates that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens. Drugs designated as breakthrough therapies by the FDA may also be eligible for other expedited approval programs, including accelerated approval.
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Designation as a breakthrough therapy is within the discretion of the FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe one of our product candidates meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of a Breakthrough Therapy designation for a product candidate may not result in a faster development process, review or approval compared to candidate products considered for approval under non-expedited FDA review procedures and does not assure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our product candidates qualify as breakthrough therapies, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification. Thus, even though we may seek Breakthrough Therapy designation for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and some or all of our future product candidates for the treatment of various cancers, there can be no assurance that we will receive breakthrough therapy designation.
A Fast Track designation by the FDA may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
If a drug is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and the drug demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for this condition, the drug sponsor may apply for FDA Fast Track designation for a particular indication. BDTX-1535 received Fast Track Designation from the FDA for the treatment of patients with metastatic EGFRm C797S-positive NSCLC, without T790M mutation, whose disease has progressed on/after treatment with a third-generation EGFR TKI. We may seek Fast Track designation for BDTX-1535 for additional indications, BDTX-4933 or certain of our future product candidates, but there is no assurance that the FDA will grant this status to any of our other proposed product candidates. Marketing applications filed by sponsors of products in Fast Track development may qualify for priority review under the policies and procedures offered by the FDA, but the Fast Track designation does not assure any such qualification or ultimate marketing approval by the FDA. The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant Fast Track designation, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for this designation, there can be no assurance that the FDA would decide to grant it. Even where we have received Fast Track designation, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures, and receiving a Fast Track designation does not provide assurance of ultimate FDA approval. In addition, the FDA may withdraw Fast Track designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. In addition, the FDA may withdraw any Fast Track designation at any time.
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We may seek approval of our product candidates, where applicable, under the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. This pathway may not lead to a faster development, regulatory review or approval process and it does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
We may seek approval of product candidates using the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. A product may be eligible for accelerated approval if it treats a serious or life-threatening condition and generally provides a meaningful advantage over available therapies. In addition, it must demonstrate an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. These confirmatory trials must be completed with due diligence. Under FDORA, the FDA is permitted to require, as appropriate, that a post-approval confirmatory study or studies be underway prior to approval or within a specified time period after the date of accelerated approval was granted. FDORA also requires sponsors to send updates to the FDA every 180 days on the status of such studies, including progress toward enrollment targets, and the FDA must promptly post this information publicly. FDORA also gives the FDA increased authority to withdraw approval of a drug or biologic granted accelerated approval on an expedited basis if the sponsor fails to conduct such studies in a timely manner, send the necessary updates to the FDA, or if such post-approval studies fail to verify the drug’s predicted clinical benefit. Under FDORA, the FDA is empowered to take action, such as issuing fines, against companies that fail to conduct with due diligence any post-approval confirmatory study or submit timely reports to the agency on their progress. In addition, the FDA currently requires, unless otherwise informed by the agency, pre-approval of promotional materials for products receiving accelerated approval, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product. Thus, even if we seek to utilize the accelerated approval pathway, we may not be able to obtain accelerated approval and, even if we do receive accelerated approval, we may not experience a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and receiving accelerated approval does not provide assurance of ultimate full FDA approval.
If we are unable to successfully validate, develop and obtain regulatory approval for companion diagnostic tests for our drug candidates that are required or experience significant delays in doing so, we may not realize the full commercial potential of these drug candidates.
In connection with the clinical development of our drug candidates for certain indications, we intend to engage third parties to develop or obtain access to in vitro companion diagnostic tests to identify patient subsets within a disease category who may derive selective and meaningful benefit from our drug candidates. Such companion diagnostics would be used during our clinical trials as well as in connection with the FDA approval of our product candidates. To be successful, we or our collaborators will need to address a number of scientific, technical, regulatory and logistical challenges. The FDA regulates in vitro companion diagnostics as medical devices and, under that regulatory framework, will require the test to be analytically validated and used for patient selection in the clinical trial, which we expect will require separate regulatory clearance or approval prior to commercialization if not already approved.
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We intend to rely on third parties for the design, development and manufacture of companion diagnostic tests for our therapeutic drug candidates that may require such tests. If we enter into such collaborative agreements, we will be dependent on the sustained cooperation and effort of our future collaborators in developing and obtaining approval for these companion diagnostics. It may be necessary to resolve issues such as selectivity/specificity, analytical validation, reproducibility, or clinical validation of companion diagnostics during the development and regulatory approval processes. Moreover, even if data from preclinical studies and early clinical trials appear to support development of a companion diagnostic for a product candidate, data generated in later clinical trials may fail to support the analytical and clinical validation of the companion diagnostic. We and our future collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing, obtaining regulatory approval for, manufacturing and commercializing companion diagnostics similar to those we face with respect to our therapeutic candidates themselves, including issues with achieving regulatory clearance or approval, production of sufficient quantities at commercial scale and with appropriate quality standards, and in gaining market acceptance. If we are unable to successfully develop companion diagnostics for these therapeutic drug candidates, or experience delays in doing so, the development of these therapeutic drug candidates may be adversely affected, these therapeutic drug candidates may not obtain marketing approval, and we may not realize the full commercial potential of any of these therapeutics that obtain marketing approval. As a result, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, a diagnostic company with whom we contract may decide to discontinue selling or manufacturing the companion diagnostic test that we anticipate using in connection with development and commercialization of our product candidates or our relationship with such diagnostic company may otherwise terminate. We may not be able to enter into arrangements with another diagnostic company to obtain supplies of an alternative diagnostic test for use in connection with the development and commercialization of our product candidates or do so on commercially reasonable terms, which could adversely affect and/or delay the development or commercialization of our therapeutic candidates.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion of the product candidate in those countries. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials as clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we intend to charge for our products is also subject to approval.
We may also submit marketing applications in other countries. Regulatory authorities in jurisdictions outside of the United States have requirements for approval of product candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those jurisdictions. Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and/or receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed.
Risks related to ongoing regulatory obligations
Even if we receive regulatory approval of our product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates.
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Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates will require surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a REMS in order to approve our product candidates, which could entail requirements for a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export and recordkeeping for our product candidates will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with applicable cGMP, GLP and GCP requirements, for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. For certain commercial prescription drug products, manufacturers and other parties involved in the supply chain must also meet chain of distribution requirements and build electronic, interoperable systems for product tracking and tracing and for notifying the FDA of counterfeit, diverted, stolen and intentionally adulterated products or other products that are otherwise unfit for distribution in the United States. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our product candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:
restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of our product candidates, withdrawal of the product from the market or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;
manufacturing delays and supply disruptions where regulatory inspections identify observations of noncompliance requiring remediation;
revisions to the labeling, including limitation on approved uses or the addition of additional warnings, contraindications or other safety information, including boxed warnings;
imposition of a REMS, which may include distribution or use restrictions;
requirements to conduct additional post-market clinical trials to assess the safety of the product;
fines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;
refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or suspension or revocation of approvals;
product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of our product candidates; and
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.
Additionally, under FDORA, sponsors of approved drugs and biologics must provide 6 months’ notice to the FDA of any changes in marketing status, such as the withdrawal of a drug, and failure to do so could result in the FDA placing the product on a list of discontinued products, which would revoke the product’s ability to be marketed. The FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.
The FDA and other regulatory agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses.
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If any of our product candidates are approved and we are found to have improperly promoted off-label uses of those products, we may become subject to significant liability. The FDA and other regulatory agencies strictly regulate the promotional claims that may be made about prescription products, if approved. In particular, while the FDA permits the dissemination of truthful and non-misleading information about an approved product, a manufacturer may not promote a product for uses that are not approved by the FDA or such other regulatory agencies as reflected in the product’s approved labeling. If we are found to have promoted such off-label uses, we may become subject to significant liability. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion of off-label use and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees, corporate integrity agreements or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct must be changed or curtailed. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our product candidates, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.
The insurance coverage and reimbursement status of newly-approved products is uncertain. Our product candidates may become subject to unfavorable pricing regulations, third-party coverage and reimbursement practices, or healthcare reform initiatives, which would harm our business. 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 regulations that govern marketing approvals, pricing, coverage and reimbursement for new drugs vary widely from country to country. In the United States, recently enacted legislation may significantly change the approval requirements in ways that could involve additional costs and cause delays in obtaining approvals. Some countries require approval of the sale price of a drug before it can be marketed. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we might obtain marketing approval for a product in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay our commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenue we are able to generate from the sale of the product in that country. Adverse pricing limitations may hinder our ability to recoup our investment in one or more product candidates, even if any product candidates we may develop obtain marketing approval.
In the United States and markets in other countries, patients generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Adequate coverage and reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other organizations. Government authorities and other third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which medications they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. The availability of coverage and extent of reimbursement by governmental and private payors is essential for most patients to be able to afford treatments such as gene therapy products. Sales of these or other product candidates that we may identify will depend substantially, both domestically and abroad, on the extent to which the costs of our product candidates will be paid by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or reimbursed by government health administration authorities, private health coverage insurers and other third-party payors. If coverage and adequate reimbursement is not available, or is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment.
Reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the third-party payor’s determination that use of a product is:
a covered benefit under its health plan;
safe, effective and medically necessary;
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appropriate for the specific patient;
cost-effective; and
neither experimental nor investigational.
A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. 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 medicines, 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 products may be reduced compared with the United States and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable revenues and profits.
There is also significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the medicine is approved by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by CMS, an agency within HHS. CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare and private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree. No uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors and coverage and reimbursement levels for products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time consuming and costly process that may 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. It is difficult to predict what CMS will decide with respect to reimbursement for fundamentally novel products such as ours. Reimbursement agencies in Europe may be more conservative than CMS. For example, a number of cancer drugs have been approved for reimbursement in the United States and have not been approved for reimbursement in certain European countries. Moreover, eligibility for reimbursement does not imply that any drug will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, manufacture, sale, and distribution. Interim reimbursement levels for new drugs, if applicable, may also not be sufficient to cover our costs and may not be made permanent. Reimbursement rates may vary according to the use of the drug and the clinical setting in which it is used, may be based on reimbursement levels already set for lower cost drugs and may be incorporated into existing payments for other services. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and profitable payment rates from both government-funded and private payors for any approved products we may develop could have a material adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize product candidates, and our overall financial condition.
Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and profitable reimbursement rates third-party payors for any approved products that we develop could have a material adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize products and our overall financial condition.
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Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. We cannot be sure that reimbursement will be available for any product candidate that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, the level of reimbursement. Reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. In order to obtain reimbursement, physicians may need to show that patients have superior treatment outcomes with our products compared to standard of care drugs, including lower-priced generic versions of standard of care drugs. 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.
Additionally, we may develop companion diagnostic tests for use with our product candidates. We, or our collaborators, may be required to obtain coverage and reimbursement for these tests separate and apart from the coverage and reimbursement we seek for our product candidates, once approved. Even if we obtain regulatory approval or clearance for such companion diagnostics, there is significant uncertainty regarding our ability to obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement for the same reasons applicable to our product candidates. Medicare reimbursement methodologies, whether under Part A, Part B, or clinical laboratory fee schedule may be amended from time to time, and we cannot predict what effect any change to these methodologies would have on any product candidate or companion diagnostic for which we receive approval. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement from both third-party payors for the companion diagnostic tests that we develop and for which we obtain regulatory approval could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Healthcare legislative measures aimed at reducing healthcare costs may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
The United States and many foreign jurisdictions have enacted or proposed legislative and regulatory changes affecting the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates or any future product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell a product for which we obtain marketing approval. Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.
In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, on July 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the FDA to, among other things, continue to clarify and improve the approval framework for generic drugs and identify and address any efforts to impede generic drug competition.
Further, in March 2010, the ACA was passed, which substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacted the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The ACA, among other things, subjects biological products to potential competition by lower-cost biosimilars, addresses a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increases the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extends the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, establishes annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs, and creates a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% (increased pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, effective as of 2019) point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D.
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Since its enactment, there have been judicial, administrative, executive and Congressional legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. For example,. various portions of the ACA are currently undergoing constitutional challenges in the Fifth Circuit Court and the United States Supreme Court, and the Trump Administration issued various Executive Orders eliminating cost sharing subsidies and various provisions that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. Additionally, Congress introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or repealing the ACA. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended. We cannot predict what affect further changes to the ACA would have on our business, especially given the new administration.
There have been legislative and executive efforts to fundamentally change or repeal parts of the ACA. While Congress has not passed repeal legislation to date, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or TCJA, repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate.” On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the most recent judicial challenge to the ACA brought by several states without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. Litigation and legislation over the ACA are likely to continue, with unpredictable and uncertain results. We will continue to evaluate the effect that the ACA and its possible repeal and replacement has on our business.
Further, on January 20, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the ACA to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the ACA that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. On October 13, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order terminating the cost-sharing subsidies that reimburse insurers under the ACA. The Trump administration concluded that cost-sharing reduction, or CSR, payments to insurance companies required under the ACA have not received necessary appropriations from Congress and announced that it will discontinue these payments immediately until those appropriations are made. The loss of the CSR payments is expected to increase premiums on certain policies issued by qualified health plans under the ACA. Several state Attorneys General filed suit to stop the administration from terminating the subsidies, but their request for a restraining order was denied by a federal judge in California on October 25, 2017. On August 14, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in two separate cases that the federal government is liable for the full amount of unpaid CSRs for the years preceding and including 2017. For CSR claims made by health insurance companies for years 2018 and later, further litigation will be required to determine the amounts due, if any. Further, on June 14, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the federal government was not required to pay to third-party payors more than $12 billion in ACA risk corridor payments that they argued were owed to them. On April 27, 2020, the United States Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, concluding the government has an obligation to pay these risk corridor payments under the relevant formula. On March 2, 2020, the United States Supreme Court granted the petitions for writs of certiorari to review this case, and held oral arguments on November 10, 2020. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case is forthcoming. The effects of this gap in reimbursement on third-party payors, the viability of the ACA marketplace, providers, and potentially our business, are not yet known.
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On December 20, 2019, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1865) was signed into law and repealed the so called “Cadillac” tax on certain high cost employer-sponsored insurance plans, the annual fee imposed on certain health insurance providers based on market share, and the medical devise excise tax on non-exempt medical devises. It is impossible to determine whether similar taxes could be instated in the future. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, also amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, by increasing the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and closing the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” CMS published a final rule permitting further collections and payments to and from certain ACA qualified health plans and health insurance issuers under the ACA risk adjustment program in response to the outcome of federal district court litigation regarding the method CMS uses to determine this risk adjustment. In addition, CMS published a final rule that gives states greater flexibility, as of 2020, in setting benchmarks for insurers in the individual and small group marketplaces, which may have the effect of relaxing the essential health benefits required under the ACA for plans sold through such marketplaces.
Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress including resulting in aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers up to 2% per fiscal year, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken. In January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, or ATRA, was signed into law, which, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, or IRA, includes several provisions that may impact our business to varying degrees, including provisions that reduce the out-of-pocket cap for Medicare Part D beneficiaries to $2,000 starting in 2025; impose new manufacturer financial liability on certain drugs under Medicare Part D, allow the U.S. government to negotiate Medicare Part B and Part D price caps for certain high-cost drugs and biologics without generic or biosimilar competition, which can include small molecule drugs; and require companies to pay rebates to Medicare for certain drug prices that increase faster than inflation, also including small molecule drugs.
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 federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. Additionally, the Trump administration also previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out of pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. HHS solicited feedback on some of these measures and has implemented others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy, a type of prior authorization, for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020.
Further, on May 30, 2018, the Right to Try Act was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no obligation for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to make its drug products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act.
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Additionally, the FDA published a final rule, effective November 30, 2020, that allows for the importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada. Under the final rule, states and Indian Tribes, and in certain future circumstances pharmacists and wholesalers, may submit importation program proposals to the FDA for review and authorization. On September 25, 2020, CMS stated drugs imported by States under this rule will not be eligible for federal rebates under Section 1927 of the Social Security Act and manufacturers would not report these drugs for “best price” or Average Manufacturer Price purposes. Since these drugs are not considered covered outpatient drugs, CMS further stated it will not publish a National Average Drug Acquisition Cost for these drugs. Separately, the FDA also issued a final guidance document outlining a potential pathway for manufacturers to obtain an additional National Drug Code, or NDC, for an FDA-approved drug that was originally intended to be marketed in a foreign country and that was authorized for sale in that foreign country.
At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. In addition, regional health care authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other health care programs. Some of these proposed measures, including drug importation and pharmacy benefit manager rebate rule changes, face legal challenges from industry groups and participants. These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing.
We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.
Our revenue prospects could be affected by changes in healthcare spending and policy in the United States and abroad. We operate in a highly regulated industry and new laws, regulations or judicial decisions, or new interpretations of existing laws, regulations or decisions, related to healthcare availability, the method of delivery or payment for healthcare products and services could negatively impact our business, operations and financial condition.
There have been, and likely will continue to be, legislative and regulatory proposals at the foreign, federal and state levels directed at broadening the availability of healthcare and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. We cannot predict the initiatives that may be adopted in the future, including repeal, replacement or significant revisions to the ACA. The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare and/or impose price controls may adversely affect:
the demand for our product candidates, if we obtain regulatory approval;
our ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our products;
our ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement approval for a product;
our ability to generate revenue and achieve or maintain profitability;
the level of taxes that we are required to pay; and
the availability of capital.
Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors, which may adversely affect our future profitability.
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Inadequate funding for the FDA and other government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies on which our operations may rely, including those that fund research and development activities, is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.
Disruptions at the FDA or other government agencies may also slow the time necessary for new drugs to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.
Should the FDA determine that an inspection is necessary for approval and an inspection cannot be completed during the review cycle due to restrictions on travel, such as due to a pandemic or epidemic, and the FDA does not determine a remote interactive evaluation to be adequate, the FDA may issue, depending on the circumstances, a complete response letter or defer action on the application until an inspection can be completed. Regulatory authorities outside the U.S. may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to any pandemic or epidemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities.
Our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.
We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other illegal activity by our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct that fails to: comply with the regulations of the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory authorities, provide true, complete and accurate information to the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory authorities, comply with manufacturing standards we have established, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws in the United States and similar foreign fraudulent misconduct laws or report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us. If we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates and begin commercializing those products in the United States, our potential exposure under such laws and regulations will increase significantly, and our costs associated with compliance with such laws and regulations are also likely to increase. These laws may impact, among other things, our current activities with principal investigators and research patients, as well as proposed and future sales, marketing and education programs. In particular, the promotion, sales and marketing of healthcare items and services, as well as certain business arrangements in the healthcare industry, are subject to extensive laws designed to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, structuring and commission(s), certain customer incentive programs and other business arrangements generally. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of patient recruitment for clinical trials. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include, but are not limited to:
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the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce, or in return for, either the referral of an individual, or the purchase, lease, order or recommendation of any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. Violations are subject to civil and criminal fines and penalties for each violation, plus up to three times the remuneration involved, imprisonment, and exclusion from government healthcare programs. In addition, 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. There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution;
federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws, including the False Claims Act, which impose criminal and civil penalties, including through civil “qui tam” or “whistleblower” actions, against individuals or entities for, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment or approval from Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal health care programs that are false or fraudulent; knowingly making or causing a false statement material to a false or fraudulent claim or an obligation to pay money to the federal government; or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing such an obligation. Manufacturers can be held liable under the FCA even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. The FCA also permits a private individual acting as a “whistleblower” to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the FCA and to share in any monetary recovery. When an entity is determined to have violated the federal civil False Claims Act, the government may impose civil fines and penalties for each false claim, plus treble damages, and exclude the entity from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs;
the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program 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 the payor (e.g., public or private) 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. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity can be found guilty of violating HIPAA without actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it;
HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose requirements on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their respective business associates that perform services for them that involve the use, or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information, relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information without appropriate authorization. HITECH also created 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;
the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act, created under the ACA and its implementing regulations, which require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to HHS information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors), certain other licensed health care professionals, and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members;
federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers; and
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analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state and foreign anti-kickback, false claims, consumer protection and unfair competition laws which may apply to pharmaceutical business practices, including but not limited to, research, distribution, sales and marketing arrangements as well as submitting claims involving healthcare 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 that otherwise restricts payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources; state laws that require drug manufacturers to file reports with states regarding pricing and marketing information, such as the tracking and reporting of gifts, compensations and other remuneration and items of value provided to healthcare professionals and entities; state and local laws requiring the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives; and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.
We have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent inappropriate conduct may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws or regulations.
Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. 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. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant criminal, civil and administrative sanctions including monetary penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, and exclusion from participation in government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of noncompliance with these laws, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and we may be required to curtail or restructure our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.
Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. The shifting compliance environment and the need to build and maintain robust and expandable systems to comply with multiple jurisdictions with different compliance and/or reporting requirements increases the possibility that a healthcare company may run afoul of one or more of the requirements.
The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is also prohibited in the EU. The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians is typically governed by the national anti-bribery laws of EU Member States, and the Bribery Act 2010 in the UK. Infringement of these laws could result in substantial fines and imprisonment. EU Directive 2001/83/EC, which is the EU Directive governing medicinal products for human use, further provides that, where medicinal products are being promoted to persons qualified to prescribe or supply them, no gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplied, offered or promised to such persons unless they are inexpensive and relevant to the practice of medicine or pharmacy. This provision has been transposed into the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 and so remains applicable in the UK despite its departure from the EU. Payments made to physicians in certain EU Member States must be publicly disclosed.
Moreover, agreements with physicians often must be the subject of prior notification and approval by the physician’s employer, his or her competent professional organization and/or the regulatory authorities of the individual EU Member States.
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These requirements are provided in the national laws, industry codes or professional codes of conduct, applicable in the EU Member States.
Failure to comply with these requirements could result in reputational risk, public reprimands, administrative penalties, fines or imprisonment.
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.
We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological and radioactive materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
Risks related to our intellectual property
Risks related to protecting our intellectual property
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and our other product candidates and technology, or any other product candidates or technology we may develop, or if the scope of intellectual property protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to commercialize BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933, or any other product candidates or technology may be adversely affected.
Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection in the United States and other countries with respect to our product candidates, including BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933, their respective components, formulations, combination therapies, methods used to manufacture them and methods of treatment and development that are important to our business, as well as successfully defending these patents against third-party challenges. If we do not adequately protect our intellectual property rights, competitors may be able to erode or negate any competitive advantage we may have, which could harm our business and ability to achieve profitability.
We intend to rely upon a combination of patent applications, confidentiality agreements, trade secret protection and license agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our product candidates and technologies. Any disclosure to or misappropriation by third parties of our confidential proprietary information could enable competitors to quickly duplicate or surpass our technological achievements, thus eroding our competitive position in our market. We, or any future partners, collaborators, or licensees, may fail to identify patentable aspects of inventions made in the course of development and commercialization activities before it is too late to obtain patent protection on them. Therefore, we may miss potential opportunities to establish our patent position.
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To protect our proprietary position, we plan to file patent applications in the United States and abroad relating to our product candidates that are important to our business; we may in the future also license or purchase patents or patent applications owned by others. Our ability to stop unauthorized third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our product candidates is dependent upon the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents or trade secrets that cover these activities. If we are unable to secure or maintain patent protection with respect to BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933, or any other proprietary products and technology we develop, our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects would be materially harmed.
The U.S. provisional patent applications, the U.S. patent applications, or the PCT patent applications, and the foreign patent applications currently owned by us may never result in an issued patent. The U.S. provisional patent applications may not be eligible to become an issued patent until, among other things, we convert the U.S. provisional patent applications to one or more non-provisional patent applications within 12 months. If we do not timely convert the U.S. provisional patent applications to any non-provisional application, we may lose our priority date with respect to our U.S. provisional patent applications and any patent protection on the inventions disclosed in such U.S. provisional patent applications. The pending PCT patent application is not eligible to become an issued patent until, among other things, we file a national stage patent application within 30 months in the countries in which we seek patent protection. If we do not timely file any national stage patent applications, we may lose our priority date with respect to our PCT patent application and any patent protection on the inventions disclosed in such PCT patent application. While we intend to timely convert the U.S. provisional patent applications to one or more non-provisional patent applications and to timely file a national stage patent application relating to our PCT patent application, we cannot predict whether any of our future patent applications for BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or any of our other product candidates will result in the issuance of patents that effectively protect BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or our other product candidates. If we do not successfully obtain patent protection, or, even if we do obtain patent protection, if the scope of the patent protection we or our potential licensors obtain with respect to BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 or our other product candidates and technology is not sufficiently broad, we will be unable to prevent others from using our technology or from developing or commercializing technology and products similar or identical to ours or other competing products and technologies. Any failure to obtain or maintain patent protection with respect to BDTX-1535, BDTX-4933 and our other product candidates would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
The degree of patent protection we require to successfully compete in the marketplace may be unavailable or severely limited in some cases and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep any competitive advantage. We cannot provide any assurances that any patents we may own or in-license in the future will have, or that any of our patent applications that mature into issued patents will include, claims with a scope sufficient to protect our current and future product candidates or otherwise provide any competitive advantage. In addition, to the extent that we license intellectual property in the future, we cannot assure you that those licenses will remain in force. In addition, the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Furthermore, patents have a limited lifespan, and the term of any patents we may own or in-license in the future may be inadequate to protect our competitive position of our product candidates or technology for an adequate amount of time. In the United States, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years after it is filed. Various extensions may be available; however, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized.
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Even if they are unchallenged, our patent applications, if issued, and any patents we may own or in-license in the future, may not provide us with any meaningful protection or prevent competitors from designing around our patent claims to circumvent any patents we may own or in-license in the future by developing similar or alternative technologies or therapeutics in a non-infringing manner. For example, a third-party may develop a competitive therapy that provides benefits similar to one or more of our product candidates but that uses a formulation and/or a device that falls outside the scope of any patent protection we may have in the future. If the patent protection provided by our patent applications or any patents we may pursue with respect to our product candidates is not sufficiently broad to impede such competition, our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates could be negatively affected, which would harm our business. Although we currently own our patent applications, similar risks would apply to any patents or patent applications that we may own or in-license in the future.
Patent positions of life sciences companies can be uncertain and involve complex factual and legal questions. Changes in either the patent laws or their interpretation in any jurisdiction that we seek patent protection may diminish our ability to protect our inventions, maintain and enforce our intellectual property rights; and, more generally, may affect the value of our intellectual property, including the narrowing of the scope of our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future.
The patent prosecution process is complex, expensive, time-consuming and inconsistent across jurisdictions. Patent license negotiations also can be complex and protracted, with uncertain results. We may not be able to file, prosecute, maintain, enforce, or license all necessary or desirable patent rights at a commercially reasonable cost or in a timely manner. In addition, we may not pursue or obtain patent protection in all relevant markets. It is possible that we will fail to identify important patentable aspects of our research and development efforts in time to obtain appropriate or any patent protection. While we enter into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to confidential or patentable aspects of our research and development efforts, including for example, our employees, corporate collaborators, external academic scientific collaborators, CROs, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose results before a patent application is filed, thereby endangering our ability to seek patent protection. In addition, publications of discoveries in the scientific and scholarly 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. Consequently, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file for patent protection on the inventions claimed in our patent applications.
It is possible that defects of form in the preparation or filing of our patent applications, or any patents we may own or in-license in the future, may exist or may arise in the future, for example with respect to proper priority claims, inventorship, claim scope, or requests for patent term adjustments. If we or our partners, collaborators, licensees or licensors fail to establish, maintain or protect such patents and other intellectual property rights, such rights may be reduced or eliminated. If our partners, collaborators, licensees or licensors are not fully cooperative or disagree with us as to the prosecution, maintenance or enforcement of any patent rights, such patent rights could be compromised. If there are material defects in the form, preparation, prosecution, or enforcement of our patent applications or patents we may own or in-license in the future, such patents may be invalid and/or unenforceable, and such applications may never result in valid, enforceable patents. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may have an adverse impact on our business.
Additionally, we cannot be certain that the claims in our patent applications covering composition of matter of our product candidates or technology will be considered patentable by the USPTO, or by patent offices in foreign countries, or that the claims in any issued patents we may own or in-license in the future will be considered patentable by courts in the United States or foreign countries.
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Method of use patents protect the use of a product for the specified method. These types of patents do not prevent a competitor from making and marketing a product that is identical to our product for an indication that is outside the scope of the patented method. Moreover, even if competitors do not actively promote their product for our targeted indications, physicians may prescribe these products “off-label.” Although off-label prescriptions may induce or contribute to the infringement of method of use patents, the practice is common and such infringement is difficult to prevent or prosecute.
The patent position of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies generally is highly uncertain and involves complex legal and factual questions for which many legal principles remain unresolved. In recent years, patent rights have been the subject of significant litigation. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of any rights we may have from our patent applications are highly uncertain. Our patent applications may not result in patents being issued in the United States or in other jurisdictions which protect our technology or products or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and products. Moreover, our ability to obtain and maintain valid and enforceable patents depends on whether the differences between our inventions and the prior art, including our own previously filed patent applications and scientific publications, allow our inventions to be patentable over the prior art. Even if our patent applications issue as patents, third parties could challenge the validity of such patents based on such scientific publications and we could potentially lose valuable patent rights. Further, the scope of the invention claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued, and this scope can be reinterpreted after issuance. Even where patent applications we currently own or that we may license in the future issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors or other third parties from competing with us, or otherwise provide us with a competitive advantage. Any patents that eventually issue may be challenged, narrowed or invalidated by third parties. Consequently, we do not know whether any of our product candidates will be protectable or remain protected by valid and enforceable patent rights. Our competitors or other third parties may be able to evade any rights we may have from our patent applications by developing new compounds or alternative technologies or products in a non-infringing manner.
The issuance or grant of a patent is not irrefutable as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and any patents we may own or in-license in the future may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. Such challenges may result in the patent claims of any patents we may own or in-license being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, which could limit our ability to stop or prevent us from stopping others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our technology and products. There may be prior art of which we are not aware that may affect the validity or enforceability of a patent claim. There also may be prior art of which we are aware, but which we do not believe affects the validity or enforceability of a claim, which may, nonetheless, ultimately be found to affect the validity or enforceability of a claim. We may in the future, become subject to a third-party pre-issuance submission of prior art or opposition, derivation, revocation, re-examination, post-grant and inter partes review, or interference proceeding and other similar proceedings challenging any rights we may have from our patent applications or the patent rights of others in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, or other foreign patent office, or in declaratory judgment actions or counterclaims. An unfavorable determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, any rights we may have from our patent applications, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or products and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or extinguish our ability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party patent rights.
In addition, given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our intellectual property may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.
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Moreover, some of our intellectual property, including any patents we may own or in-license in the future, may be co-owned with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third-party co-owners’ interest in such intellectual property, including patents or patent applications, such co-owners may be able to license their rights to other third parties, including our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. In addition, we or our future licensors may need the cooperation of any such co-owners of our owned and in-licensed intellectual property, including patents and patent applications, in order to enforce such intellectual property against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us or our future licensors. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.
We are generally also subject to all of the same risks with respect to protection of intellectual property that we license, as we are for intellectual property that we own, which are described below. If we or our future licensors fail to adequately protect this intellectual property, our ability to commercialize products could suffer.
If we fail to comply with our obligations in any future agreements under which we may license intellectual property rights from third parties or otherwise experience disruptions to our business relationships with our future licensors, we could lose license rights that are important to our business.
In the future, we may be party to license or collaboration agreements with third parties to advance our research or allow commercialization of product candidates. Such future agreements may impose numerous obligations, such as development, diligence, payment, commercialization, funding, milestone, royalty, sublicensing, insurance, patent prosecution, enforcement and other obligations on us and may require us to meet development timelines, or to exercise commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize licensed products, in order to maintain the licenses. In spite of our best efforts, our future licensors might conclude that we have materially breached our future license agreements and might therefore terminate the license agreements, thereby removing or limiting our ability to develop and commercialize products and technologies covered by these license agreements.
Any termination of these licenses, or if the underlying patents fail to provide the intended exclusivity, could result in the loss of significant rights and could harm our ability to commercialize our product candidates, and competitors or other third parties would have the freedom to seek regulatory approval of, and to market, products identical to ours and we may be required to cease our development and commercialization of certain of our product candidates. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
Disputes may also arise between us and our future licensors regarding intellectual property subject to a license agreement, including:
the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues;
whether and the extent to which our technology and processes infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate intellectual property rights of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;
our right to sublicense patent and other rights to third parties under collaborative development relationships;
our diligence obligations with respect to the use of the licensed technology in relation to our development and commercialization of our product candidates, and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;
the priority of invention of any patented technology; and
the ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our future licensors and us and our partners.
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In addition, the agreements under which we may license intellectual property or technology from third parties in the future are likely to be complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we may license in the future prevent or impair our ability to maintain future licensing arrangements on acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
In addition to the protection afforded by patents we may own or in-license in the future, we seek to rely on trade secret protection, confidentiality agreements, and license agreements to protect proprietary know-how that is not patentable, processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and any other elements of our product discovery and development processes, including our MAP drug discovery engine that involve proprietary know-how, information, or technology that is not covered by patents. Although we require all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information, or technology to enter into confidentiality agreements, trade secrets can be difficult to protect and we have limited control over the protection of trade secrets used by our collaborators and suppliers. We cannot be certain that we have or will obtain these agreements in all circumstances and we cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets or proprietary information.
Moreover, any of these parties might breach the agreements and intentionally or inadvertently disclose our trade secret information and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. In addition, competitors may otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Furthermore, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights and trade secrets to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the United States. As a result, we may encounter significant problems in protecting and defending our intellectual property both in the United States and abroad. If we are unable to prevent unauthorized material disclosure of our intellectual property to third parties, we will not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects.
Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. If we choose to go to court to stop a third-party from using any of our trade secrets, we may incur substantial costs. These lawsuits may consume our time and other resources even if we are successful. For example, significant elements of our MAP drug discovery engine, including aspects of oncogenicity computational algorithms, in vivo experiments to validate mechanisms and pharmacology, drug design, and related processes, are based on unpatented trade secrets that are not publicly disclosed. Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information and trade secrets, including through contractual means with our employees and consultants, third parties may independently develop substantially equivalent proprietary information and techniques or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or disclose our technology. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third-party, we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us.
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Thus, we may not be able to meaningfully protect our trade secrets. It is our policy to require our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships with us. These agreements provide that all confidential information concerning our business or financial affairs developed or made known to the individual or entity during the course of the party’s relationship with us is to be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties except in specific circumstances. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary technology by third parties. In the case of employees, the agreements provide that all inventions conceived by the individual, and which are related to our current or planned business or research and development or made during normal working hours, on our premises or using our equipment or proprietary information, are our exclusive property. Although we require all of our employees to assign their inventions to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. The assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Such claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to product components and processes for our development pipeline through acquisitions and in-licenses.
Because developing our product candidates may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business will likely depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights.
Our product candidates may also require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently and these rights may be held by others. Similarly, efficient production or delivery of our product candidates may also require specific compositions or methods, and the rights to these may be owned by third parties. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify as necessary or important to our business operations. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all, which would harm our business. We may need to cease use of the compositions or methods covered by such third-party intellectual property rights, and may need to seek to develop alternative approaches that do not infringe on such intellectual property rights which may entail additional costs and development delays, even if we were able to develop such alternatives, which may not be feasible. Even if we are able to obtain a license, it may be nonexclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In that event, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology. Moreover, the molecules that will be used with our product candidates may be covered by the intellectual property rights of others.
Additionally, we sometimes collaborate with academic institutions to accelerate our preclinical research or development under written agreements with these institutions. In certain cases, these institutions provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such option, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified timeframe or under terms that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to others, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program and allowing third parties to compete with us. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property or to maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of such program and our business and financial condition could suffer.
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The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and companies, which may be more established, or have greater resources than we do, may also be pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider necessary or attractive in order to commercialize our product candidates. More established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment or at all. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully complete such negotiations and ultimately acquire the rights to the intellectual property surrounding the additional product candidates that we may seek to acquire. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property or to maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of such program and our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects could suffer.
Any issued patents we may own or in-license in the future covering our product candidates could be narrowed or found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court or before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, including the USPTO.
If we or our future licensors or strategic partners initiate legal proceedings against a third-party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate, as applicable, is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace, and there are numerous grounds upon which a third-party can assert invalidity or unenforceability of a patent. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of patentable subject matter, lack of written description, lack of novelty, obviousness, or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, inter partes review, post grant review and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (such as opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment to our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate or render unenforceable, any rights we may have from our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future, allow third parties to commercialize our product candidates or other technologies and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party patent rights. Moreover, we may have to participate in interference proceedings declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention or in post-grant challenge proceedings, such as oppositions in a foreign patent office, that challenge our or priority of invention or other features of patentability with respect to our patent applications and any patents we may own or in-license. Such challenges may result in loss of patent rights, loss of exclusivity, or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated, or held unenforceable, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our product candidates and other technologies. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we or our future licensing partners and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, or if we are otherwise unable to adequately protect our rights, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business and our ability to commercialize or license our technology and product candidates.
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Such proceedings also may result in substantial cost and require significant time from our scientists and management, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us. If we are unsuccessful in any such proceeding or other priority or inventorship dispute, we may be required to obtain and maintain licenses from third parties, including parties involved in any such interference proceedings or other priority or inventorship disputes. Such licenses may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, or may be non-exclusive. If we are unable to obtain and maintain such licenses, we may need to cease the development, manufacture, and commercialization of one or more of the product candidates we may develop. The loss of exclusivity or the narrowing of our patent application claims could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.
Obtaining and maintaining patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other government fees on any issued patent are due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages over the lifetime of the patent. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process and following the issuance of a patent. While an inadvertent lapse can in some cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Noncompliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market with similar or identical products or platforms, which could have a material adverse effect on our business prospects and financial condition.
We have limited foreign intellectual property rights and may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
We may not be able to pursue generic coverage of our product candidates outside of the United States. Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States 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. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but where enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our product candidates and in jurisdictions where we do not have any issued patents our patent applications or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Our patent portfolio is at the very early stage. We will need to decide whether and in which jurisdictions to pursue protection for the various inventions in our portfolio prior to applicable deadlines.
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Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biopharmaceutical products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of any patents we may own or in-license in the future or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce any rights we may have in our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put any patents we may own or in-license in the future 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 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.
Many countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of such patent. If we are forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents we may own or license in the future that are relevant to our business, our competitive position may be impaired, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects may be adversely affected.
If we do not obtain patent term extension and data exclusivity for any of our current or future product candidates we may develop, our business may be materially harmed.
Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of any FDA marketing approval of any of our current or future product candidates we may develop, one or more U.S. patents we may own or in-license in the future may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent term extension of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval, only one patent may be extended and only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. However, we may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents, or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or the term of any such extension is shorter than what we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following expiration of any patents that issue from our patent applications, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be materially harmed.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our marks of interest and our business may be adversely affected.
Our trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, diluted, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We intend to rely on both registration and common law protection for our trademarks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names or may be forced to stop using these names, which we need for name recognition by potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. During the trademark registration process, we may receive Office Actions from the USPTO objecting to the registration of our trademark. Although we would be given an opportunity to respond to those objections, we may be unable to overcome such rejections. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many foreign jurisdictions, third parties are given an opportunity to oppose pending trademark applications and/or to seek the cancellation of registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings may be filed against our trademarks, and our trademarks may not survive such proceedings. If we are unable to obtain a registered trademark or establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected.
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Numerous factors may limit any potential competitive advantage provided by our intellectual property rights.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights, whether owned or in-licensed, is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, provide a barrier to entry against our competitors or potential competitors, or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. Moreover, if a third party has intellectual property rights that cover the practice of our technology, we may not be able to fully exercise or extract value from our intellectual property rights. The following examples are illustrative:
patent applications that we own or may in-license in the future may not lead to issued patents;
patents, should they issue, that we may own or in-license in the future, may not provide us with any competitive advantages, may be narrowed in scope, or may be challenged and held invalid or unenforceable;
others may be able to develop and/or practice technology, including compounds that are similar to the chemical compositions of our product candidates, that is similar to our technology or aspects of our technology but that is not covered by the claims of any patents we may own or in-license in the future, should any patents issue;
third parties may compete with us in jurisdictions where we do not pursue and obtain patent protection;
we, or our future licensors or collaborators, might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by a patent application that we own or may in-license in the future;
we, or our future licensors or collaborators, might not have been the first to file patent applications covering a particular invention;
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating our intellectual property rights;
our competitors might conduct research and development activities in the United States and other countries that provide a safe harbor from patent infringement claims for certain research and development activities, as well as in countries where we do not have patent rights, and may then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;
we may not be able to obtain and/or maintain necessary licenses on reasonable terms or at all;
third parties may assert an ownership interest in our intellectual property and, if successful, such disputes may preclude us from exercising exclusive rights, or any rights at all, over that intellectual property;
we may choose not to file a patent in order to maintain certain trade secrets or know-how, and a third party may subsequently file a patent covering such trade secrets or know-how;
we may not be able to maintain the confidentiality of our trade secrets or other proprietary information;
we may not develop or in-license additional proprietary technologies that are patentable; and
the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.
Should any of these events occur, they could significantly harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Risks related to intellectual property litigation
Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement, misappropriation or other violations may be costly and time consuming and may prevent or delay our product discovery and development efforts.
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The intellectual property landscape around precision medicine is crowded, and third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing, misappropriating, or otherwise violating their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business. Our commercial success depends upon our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our current and future product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property rights of third parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation involving patents and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as administrative proceedings for challenging patents, including derivation, interference, reexamination, inter partes review, and post grant review proceedings before the USPTO or oppositions and other comparable proceedings in foreign jurisdictions. We or any of our future licensors or strategic partners may be party to, exposed to, or threatened with, future adversarial proceedings or litigation by third parties having patent or other intellectual property rights alleging that our current or future product candidates and/or proprietary technologies infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their intellectual property rights. We cannot assure you that our product candidates and other technologies that we have developed, are developing or may develop in the future do not or will not infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate existing or future patents or other intellectual property rights owned by 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 our product candidates. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others. Moreover, it is not always clear to industry participants, including us, which patents cover various types of drugs, products or their methods of use or manufacture. Thus, because of the large number of patents issued and patent applications filed in our fields, there may be a risk that third parties may allege they have patent rights encompassing our product candidates, technologies or methods.
If a third party claims that we infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate its intellectual property rights, we may face a number of issues, including, but not limited to:
infringement, misappropriation and other intellectual property claims which, regardless of merit, may be expensive and time-consuming to litigate and may divert our management’s attention from our core business and may impact our reputation;
substantial damages for infringement, misappropriation or other violations, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the product candidate or technology at issue infringes, misappropriates or violates the third party’s rights, and, if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay treble damages and the patent owner’s attorneys’ fees;
a court prohibiting us from developing, manufacturing, marketing or selling our product candidates, including BDTX-1535 or BDTX-4933, or from using our proprietary technologies, unless the third party licenses its product rights to us, which it is not required to do, on commercially reasonable terms or at all;
if a license is available from a third party, we may have to pay substantial royalties, upfront fees and other amounts, and/or grant cross-licenses to intellectual property rights for our products, or the license to us may be non-exclusive, which would permit third parties to use the same intellectual property to compete with us;
redesigning our product candidates or processes so they do not infringe, misappropriate or violate third party intellectual property rights, which may not be possible or may require substantial monetary expenditures and time; and
there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, and, if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock.
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Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our operations or could otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.
We may choose to challenge the patentability of claims in a third party’s U.S. patent by requesting that the USPTO review the patent claims in an ex-parte re-exam, inter partes review or post-grant review proceedings. These proceedings are expensive and may consume our time or other resources. We may choose to challenge a third party’s patent in patent opposition proceedings in the EPO, or other foreign patent office. The costs of these opposition proceedings could be substantial, and may consume our time or other resources. If we fail to obtain a favorable result at the USPTO, EPO or other patent office then we may be exposed to litigation by a third party alleging that the patent may be infringed by our product candidates or proprietary technologies.
Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. Patents issued in the United States by law enjoy a presumption of validity that can be rebutted only with evidence that is “clear and convincing,” a heightened standard of proof. There may be issued third-party patents of which we are currently unaware with claims to compositions, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment related to the use or manufacture of our product candidates. Patent applications can take many years to issue. In addition, because some patent applications in the United States may be maintained in secrecy until the patents are issued, patent applications in the United States and many foreign jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, and publications in the scientific literature often lag behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain that others have not filed patent applications covering our product candidates or technology. If any such patent applications issue as patents, and if such patents have priority over our patent applications or patents we may own or in-license, we may be required to obtain rights to such patents owned by third parties which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, or may only be available on a non-exclusive basis. There may be currently pending patent applications which may later result in issued patents that our product candidates may infringe. It is also possible that patents owned by third parties of which we are aware, but which we do not believe are relevant to our product candidates or other technologies, could be found to be infringed by our product candidates or other technologies. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents. Moreover, we may fail to identify relevant patents or incorrectly conclude that a patent is invalid, not enforceable, exhausted, or not infringed by our activities. If any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover the manufacturing process of our product candidates, molecules used in or formed during the manufacturing process, or any final product itself, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize the product candidate unless we obtained a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire or they are finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. Similarly, if any third-party patent were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our formulations, processes for manufacture or methods of use, including combination therapy or patient selection methods, the holders of any such patent may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the product candidate unless we obtained a license or until such patent expires or is finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. In either case, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. If we are unable to obtain a necessary license to a third-party patent on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, our ability to commercialize our product candidates may be impaired or delayed, which could in turn significantly harm our business. Even if we obtain a license, it may be nonexclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates.
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Parties making claims against us may seek and obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize our product candidates. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, could 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, misappropriation or other violation against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, obtain one or more licenses from third parties, pay royalties or redesign our infringing products, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. We cannot predict whether any such license would be available at all or whether it would be available on commercially reasonable terms. Furthermore, even in the absence of litigation, we may need or may choose to obtain licenses from third parties to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all. In that event, we would be unable to further develop and commercialize our product candidates, which could harm our business significantly.
We may be involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our intellectual property rights, including any patents we may own or in-license in the future, which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful.
Competitors may infringe any patents we may own or in-license in the future. In addition, any patents we may own or in-license also may become involved in inventorship, priority, validity or unenforceability disputes. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that one or more of any patents we may own or in-license in the future is not valid or is unenforceable or that the other party’s use of our technology that may be patented falls under the safe harbor to patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(e)(1). There is also the risk that, even if the validity of these patents is upheld, the court may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that any patents we may own or in-license in the future do not cover the technology in question or that such third party’s activities do not infringe our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future. An adverse result in any litigation or defense proceedings could put one or more of any patents we may own or in-license in the future at risk of being invalidated, held unenforceable, or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing. 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, obtain one or more licenses from third parties, pay royalties or redesign our infringing products, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing, or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace.
Post-grant proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the validity or priority of inventions with respect to our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future. These proceedings are expensive and an unfavorable outcome could result in a loss our current patent rights and 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. In addition to potential USPTO review proceedings, we may become a party to patent opposition proceedings in the European Patent Office, or EPO, or similar proceedings in other foreign patent offices, where either our foreign patents are challenged. The costs of these opposition or similar proceedings could be substantial, and may result in a loss of scope of some claims or a loss of the entire patent. An unfavorable result at the USPTO, EPO or other patent office may result in the loss of our right to exclude others from practicing one or more of our inventions in the relevant country or jurisdiction, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
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Litigation or post-grant proceedings may result in a decision adverse to our interests and, even if we are successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. We may not be able to prevent, misappropriation of our trade secrets or confidential information, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States.
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. In addition, there could 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 substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock.
We may not be able to detect infringement against any patents we may own or in-license in the future. Even if we detect infringement by a third party of any patents we may own or in-license in the future, we may choose not to pursue litigation against or settlement with the third party. If we later sue such third party for patent infringement, the third party may have certain legal defenses available to it, which otherwise would not be available except for the delay between when the infringement was first detected and when the suit was brought. Such legal defenses may make it impossible for us to enforce any patents we may own or in-license against such third party.
We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of any intellectual property, including any patents we may own or in-license in the future.
We may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in any patents we may own or in-license in the future, trade secrets, or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. For example, we may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of employees, consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates or other technologies. We generally enter into confidentiality and intellectual property assignment agreements with our employees, consultants, and contractors. These agreements generally provide that inventions conceived by the party in the course of rendering services to us will be our exclusive property. However, those agreements may not be honored and may not effectively assign intellectual property rights to us. Moreover, there may be some circumstances, where we are unable to negotiate for such ownership rights. Disputes regarding ownership or inventorship of intellectual property can also arise in other contexts, such as collaborations and sponsored research. If we are subject to a dispute challenging our rights in or to patents or other intellectual property, such a dispute could be expensive and time consuming. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship of any patents we may own or in-license in the future, trade secrets or other intellectual property. If we were unsuccessful, in addition to paying monetary damages, we could lose valuable rights in intellectual property that we regard as our own, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, intellectual property that is important to our product candidates and other technologies. 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. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information or alleged trade secrets of third parties or competitors or are in breach of non-competition or non-solicitation agreements with our competitors.
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We have received confidential and proprietary information from third parties. In addition, as is common in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, we employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors, in some cases until recently. We may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed confidential information or trade secrets of these third parties or our employees’ former employers or our consultants’ or contractors’ current or former clients or customers. In addition, we have been and may in the future be subject to claims that we caused an employee to breach the terms of his or her non-competition or non-solicitation agreement. Litigation or arbitration may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims and possible aftermath could result in substantial cost and be a distraction to our management and employees. Any litigation or the threat thereof may adversely affect our ability to hire employees. A loss of key personnel or their work product could hamper or prevent our ability to commercialize product candidates, which could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, and, if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. This type of litigation or proceeding could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce our resources available for development activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their substantially greater financial resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other intellectual property related proceedings could adversely affect our ability to compete in the marketplace.
Risks related to our reliance on third parties
We rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not properly and successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize our product candidates.
We utilize and depend upon independent investigators and collaborators, such as medical institutions, CROs, contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, and strategic partners to conduct and support our preclinical studies and clinical trials under agreements with us. We have to negotiate budgets and contracts with CROs, trial sites and CMOs and we may not be able to do so on favorable terms, which may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs. We will rely heavily on these third parties over the course of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and we control only certain aspects of their activities. As a result, we will have less direct control over the conduct, timing and completion of these preclinical studies and clinical trials and the management of data developed through preclinical studies and clinical trials than would be the case if we were relying entirely upon our own staff. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies is conducted in accordance with applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards, and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with GCPs, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCPs through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of these third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP regulations, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with the GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with pharmaceutical product produced under cGMP regulations and will require a large number of test patients. Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.
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Any third parties conducting our clinical trials are not and will not be our employees and, except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such third parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our ongoing, clinical and non-clinical product candidates. These third parties may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other drug development activities, which could affect their performance on our behalf. If these third parties 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 or regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to complete development of, obtain regulatory approval of or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our financial results 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 third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials involves substantial cost and requires extensive management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new third party commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines.
We may form or seek collaborations or strategic alliances or enter into additional licensing arrangements in the future, and we may not realize the benefits of such collaborations, alliances or licensing arrangements.
We may form or seek strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations, or enter into additional licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our development and commercialization efforts with respect to our product candidates and any future product candidates that we may develop. Any of these relationships may require us to incur non-recurring and other charges, increase our near and long-term expenditures, issue securities that dilute our existing stockholders or disrupt our management and business.
In addition, we face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish a strategic partnership or other alternative arrangements for our product candidates because they may be deemed to be at too early of a stage of development for collaborative effort and third parties may not view our product candidates as having the requisite potential to demonstrate safety, potency, purity and efficacy and obtain marketing approval.
Further, collaborations involving our product candidates are subject to numerous risks, which may include the following:
collaborators have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to a collaboration;
collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of our product candidates or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization of our product candidates based on clinical trial results, changes in their strategic focus due to the acquisition of competitive products, availability of funding or other external factors, such as a business combination that diverts resources or creates competing priorities;
collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial, stop a clinical trial, abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;
collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our product candidates;
a collaborator with marketing and distribution rights to one or more products may not commit sufficient resources to their marketing and distribution;
collaborators may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our intellectual property or proprietary information in a way that gives rise to actual or threatened litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential liability;
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disputes may arise between us and a collaborator that cause the delay or termination of the research, development or commercialization of our product candidates, or that result in costly litigation or arbitration that diverts management attention and resources;
collaborations may be terminated and, if terminated, may result in a need for additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates; and
collaborators may own or co-own intellectual property covering our products that results from our collaborating with them, and in such cases, we would not have the exclusive right to commercialize such intellectual property.
As a result, if we enter into additional collaboration agreements and strategic partnerships or license our product candidates, we may not be able to realize the benefit of such transactions if we are unable to successfully integrate them with our existing operations and company culture, which could delay our timelines or otherwise adversely affect our business. We also cannot be certain that, following a strategic transaction or license, we will achieve the revenue or specific net income that justifies such transaction. Any delays in entering into new collaborations or strategic partnership agreements related to our product candidates could delay the development and commercialization of our product candidates in certain geographies for certain indications, which would harm our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
We currently rely and expect to rely in the future on the use of manufacturing suites in third-party facilities or third parties to manufacture our product candidates. Our business could be harmed if we are unable to use third-party manufacturing suites or if the third party manufacturers fail to provide us with sufficient quantities of our product candidates or fail to do so at acceptable quality levels or prices.
We do not currently own any facility that may be used as our clinical-scale manufacturing and processing facility and must currently rely on outside vendors to manufacture our product candidates. We have not yet caused our product candidates to be manufactured on a commercial scale and may not be able to do so for any of our product candidates.
Our anticipated reliance on a limited number of third-party manufacturers exposes us to a number of risks, including the following:
we may be unable to identify manufacturers on acceptable terms or at all because the number of potential manufacturers is limited and the FDA must inspect any manufacturers for current cGMP compliance as part of our marketing application;
a new manufacturer would have to be educated in, or develop substantially equivalent processes for, the production of our product candidates;
our third-party manufacturers might be unable to timely manufacture our product candidates or produce the quantity and quality required to meet our clinical and commercial needs, if any;
contract manufacturers may not be able to execute our manufacturing procedures and other logistical support requirements appropriately;
our future contract manufacturers may not perform as agreed, may not devote sufficient resources to our product candidates or may not remain in the contract manufacturing business for the time required to supply our clinical trials or to successfully produce, store, and distribute our products, if any;
manufacturers are subject to ongoing periodic unannounced inspection by the FDA and corresponding state agencies to ensure strict compliance with cGMP and other government regulations and corresponding foreign standards and we have no control over third-party manufacturers’ compliance with these regulations and standards;
we may not own, or may have to share, the intellectual property rights to any improvements made by our third-party manufacturers in the manufacturing process for our product candidates;
our third-party manufacturers could breach or terminate their agreements with us;
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raw materials and components used in the manufacturing process, particularly those for which we have no other source or supplier, may not be available or may not be suitable or acceptable for use due to material or component defects;
our contract manufacturers and critical reagent suppliers may be subject to inclement weather, as well as natural or man-made disasters;
our contract manufacturers may be impacted by economic or geopolitical disruptions or global health concerns; and
our contract manufacturers may have unacceptable or inconsistent product quality success rates and yields, and we have no direct control over our contract manufacturers’ ability to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel.
Each of these risks could delay or prevent the completion of our clinical trials or the approval of any of our product candidates by the FDA, result in higher costs or adversely impact commercialization of our product candidates. In addition, we will rely on third parties to perform certain specification tests on our product candidates prior to delivery to patients. If these tests are not appropriately done and test data are not reliable, patients could be put at risk of serious harm and the FDA could place significant restrictions on our company until deficiencies are remedied.
Our manufacturing process needs to comply with FDA regulations relating to the quality and reliability of such processes. Any failure to comply with relevant regulations could result in delays in or termination of our clinical programs and suspension or withdrawal of any regulatory approvals.
In order to commercially produce our products either at our own facility or at a third party’s facility, we will need to comply with the FDA’s cGMP regulations and guidelines. We may encounter difficulties in achieving quality control and quality assurance and may experience shortages in qualified personnel. We are subject to inspections by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities to confirm compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. Any failure to follow cGMP or other regulatory requirements or delay, interruption or other issues that arise in the manufacture, fill-finish, packaging, or storage of our precision medicines as a result of a failure of our facilities or the facilities or operations of third parties to comply with regulatory requirements or pass any regulatory authority inspection could significantly impair our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates, including leading to significant delays in the availability of our precision medicines for our clinical trials or the termination of or suspension of a clinical trial, or the delay or prevention of a filing or approval of marketing applications for our product candidates. Significant non-compliance could also result in the imposition of sanctions, including warning or untitled letters, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, failure of regulatory authorities to grant marketing approvals for our product candidates, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could damage our reputation and our business.
If our third-party manufacturers use hazardous and biological materials in a manner that causes injury or violates applicable law, we may be liable for damages.
Our research and development activities involve the controlled use of potentially hazardous substances, including chemical and biological materials, by our third-party manufacturers. Our manufacturers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the United States governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of medical and hazardous materials. Although we believe that our manufacturers’ procedures for using, handling, storing and disposing of these materials comply with legally prescribed standards, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from medical or hazardous materials. As a result of any such contamination or injury, we may incur liability or local, city, state or federal authorities may curtail the use of these materials and interrupt our business operations. In the event of an accident, we could be held liable for damages or penalized with fines, and the liability could exceed our resources. We do not have any insurance for liabilities arising from medical or hazardous materials. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations is expensive, and current or future environmental regulations may impair our research, development and production efforts, which could harm our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations.
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Risks related to managing growth and employee matters
Risks related to our employee matters
We are highly dependent on our key personnel and anticipate hiring new key personnel. If we are not successful in attracting and retaining highly qualified personnel, we may not be able to successfully implement our business strategy.
Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and medical personnel. We are highly dependent on our management, scientific and medical personnel, including our President and Chief Executive Officer, our Chief Business Officer & Chief Financial Officer, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chief Medical Officer. We face a variety of risks and uncertainties relating to management transition, including diversion of management attention from business concerns, failure to retain other key personnel or loss of institutional knowledge. In addition, the loss of the services of any of our executive officers, other key employees and other scientific and medical advisors, and an inability to find suitable replacements could result in delays in product development and harm our business.
Our principal office is located in Cambridge, MA. The Massachusetts region is headquarters to many other biopharmaceutical companies and many academic and research institutions. Competition for skilled personnel in our market is intense and may limit our ability to hire and retain highly qualified personnel on acceptable terms or at all. Changes to U.S. immigration and work authorization laws and regulations, including those that restrain the flow of scientific and professional talent, can be significantly affected by political forces and levels of economic activity. Our business may be materially adversely affected if legislative or administrative changes to immigration or visa laws and regulations impair our hiring processes and goals or projects involving personnel who are not U.S. citizens.
To encourage valuable employees to remain at our company, in addition to salary and cash incentives, we have provided stock options that vest over time. The value to employees of stock options that vest over time may be significantly affected by movements in our stock price that are beyond our control, and may at any time be insufficient to counteract more lucrative offers from other companies. Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Although we have employment agreements with our key employees, these employment agreements provide for at-will employment, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior, mid-level and senior managers as well as junior, mid-level and senior scientific and medical personnel.
Risks related to our business operations and growth
We will need to grow the size of our organization, and we may experience difficulties in managing this growth.
As of December 31, 2023, we had 52 full-time employees. We intend to hire new employees to conduct our development activities in the future. Any delay in hiring such new employees could result in delays in our research and development activities and would harm our business. As our development and commercialization plans and strategies develop, we expect to need additional managerial, operational, sales, marketing, financial and other personnel to expand our operations. Future growth would impose significant added responsibilities on members of management, including:
identifying, recruiting, integrating, maintaining and motivating additional employees;
managing our internal development efforts effectively, including the clinical and FDA review process for our product candidates, while complying with our contractual obligations to contractors and other third parties; and
improving our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.
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Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth, and our management may also have to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from day-to-day activities in order to devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities.
We currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain independent organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services, including substantially all aspects of regulatory approval, clinical trial management and manufacturing. There can be no assurance that the services of independent organizations, advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed, or that we can find qualified replacements. In addition, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality or accuracy of the services provided by consultants is compromised for any reason, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates or otherwise advance our business. There can be no assurance that we will be able to manage our existing consultants or find other competent outside contractors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, or at all.
If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our groups of consultants and contractors, we may not be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize our product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.
Our internal computer systems, or those used by our third-party CROs or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of the development programs of our product candidates.
Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our current and future CROs and other contractors and consultants may be vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we have not experienced any such material system failure or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of data from completed or future preclinical studies and clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Likewise, we rely on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates and to conduct clinical trials, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.
Business disruptions could seriously harm our future revenue and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses.
Our operations, and those of our CROs, CMOs and other contractors and consultants, could be subject to earthquakes, power shortages, telecommunications failures, water shortages, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, fires, extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics and other natural or man-made disasters or business interruptions, for which we are predominantly self-insured. The occurrence of any of these business disruptions could seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses. We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce our product candidates. Our ability to obtain clinical supplies of our product candidates could be disrupted if the operations of these suppliers are affected by a man-made or natural disaster or other business interruption.
If product liability lawsuits are brought against us, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.
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We face an inherent risk of product liability as a result of the planned clinical testing of our product candidates and will face an even greater risk if we commercialize any products. For example, we may be sued if our product candidates cause or are perceived to cause injury or are found to be otherwise unsuitable during clinical testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability or a breach of warranties. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates. Even successful defense would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
decreased demand for our product candidates or products that we may develop;
injury to our reputation;
withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
initiation of investigations by regulators;
costs to defend the related litigation;
a diversion of management’s time and our resources;
substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;
product recalls, withdrawals or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;
loss of revenue;
exhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;
the inability to commercialize any product candidate; and
a decline in our share price.
Failure to obtain or retain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of products we develop, alone or with corporate collaborators. Although we have clinical trial insurance, our insurance policies also have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We may have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.
We may fail to realize some or all of the anticipated benefits of the contribution of assets and license to Launchpad Therapeutics, Inc.
The anticipated financial, strategic and other benefits of our contribution to Launchpad Therapeutics, Inc., or Launchpad, of certain early discovery-stage antibody programs and license to our MAP Drug Discovery engine for certain large molecule therapies may not be achieved.
Risks related to tax
Our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
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Under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (IRC), if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change” (generally defined as a greater than 50% change (by value) in its equity ownership by 5% stockholders over a three-year period), the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes to offset its post-change taxable income may be limited. As a result of our most recent private placements and other transactions that have occurred over the past three years, we may have experienced, and may experience, an “ownership change.” We may also experience ownership changes in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership. As of December 31, 2023, we had gross U.S. federal net operating loss carryforwards of $275 million, state net operating loss carryforwards of $182 million and U.S. federal research and development tax credit carryforwards of $10 million, each of which will begin to expire at various dates through 2043 and which could be limited if we experience an “ownership change.”
Beginning in 2022, the TCJA eliminates the option to deduct research and development expenditures and requires taxpayers to capitalize and amortize them over five years for U.S. incurred expenditures or 15 years for non-U.S. incurred expenditures, pursuant to IRC Section 174. Although Congress is considering legislation that would defer the amortization requirement to later years, we have no assurance that the provision will be repealed or otherwise modified. We have followed the current legislation to capitalize Section 174 expenditures in our financial statements, however we do not anticipate a material change to our effective tax rate or a material impact to our cash from operations if repeal or modification of the legislation is enacted retroactively to 2022.
Risks related to ownership of our common stock
Risks related to investments in our securities
The price of our stock is volatile, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
Similar to the trading prices of the common stock of other biopharmaceutical companies, the trading price of our common stock is subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control, including limited trading volume. In addition to the factors discussed in this “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in this Annual Report, these factors include:
the results of our ongoing, planned or any future preclinical studies, clinical trials or clinical development programs;
the commencement, enrollment, or results of clinical trials of our product candidates or any future clinical trials we may conduct, or changes in the development status of our product candidates;
adverse results or delays in preclinical studies and clinical trials;
our decision to initiate a clinical trial, not to initiate a clinical trial, or to terminate an existing clinical trial;
any delay in our regulatory filings or any adverse regulatory decisions, including failure to receive regulatory approval of our product candidates;
changes in laws or regulations applicable to our products, including but not limited to clinical trial requirements for approvals;
adverse developments concerning our manufacturers or our manufacturing plans;
our inability to obtain adequate product supply for any licensed product or inability to do so at acceptable prices;
our inability to establish collaborations if needed;
our failure to commercialize our product candidates;
additions or departures of key scientific or management personnel;
unanticipated serious safety concerns related to the use of our product candidates;
introduction of new products or services offered by us or our competitors;
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announcements of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments by us or our competitors;
our ability to effectively manage our growth;
the size and growth of our initial cancer target markets;
our ability to successfully treat additional types of cancers or at different stages;
actual or anticipated variations in quarterly operating results;
our cash position;
our failure to meet the estimates and projections of the investment community or that we may otherwise provide to the public;
publication of research reports about us or our industry, or immunotherapy in particular, or positive or negative recommendations or withdrawal of research coverage by securities analysts;
changes in the market valuations of similar companies;
overall performance of the equity markets;
sales of our common stock by us or our stockholders in the future;
trading volume of our common stock;
changes in accounting practices;
ineffectiveness of our internal controls;
disputes or other developments relating to intellectual property or proprietary rights, including patents, litigation matters and our ability to obtain patent protection for our technologies;
significant lawsuits, including intellectual property or stockholder litigation;
general political and economic conditions; and
other events or factors, many of which are beyond our control.
In addition, the stock market in general, and the market for biopharmaceutical companies in particular, 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 our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. In the past, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities. This type of litigation, if instituted, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which would harm our business, financial condition, results of operation and future prospects.
Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our existing stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.
We will seek additional capital through a combination of public and private equity offerings, debt financings, strategic partnerships and alliances and licensing arrangements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale 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 stockholder. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased fixed payment obligations and could involve certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. If we raise additional funds through strategic partnerships and alliances and licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies or product candidates, or grant licenses on terms unfavorable to us.
We do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock, so any returns will be limited to the value of our stock.
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We currently anticipate that we will retain future earnings for the development, operation, and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. In addition, we may enter into agreements that prohibit us from paying cash dividends without prior written consent from our contracting parties, or which other terms prohibiting or limiting the amount of dividends that may be declared or paid on our common stock. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation of their stock, which may never occur.
Our principal stockholders and management own a significant percentage of our stock and will be able to exert significant influence over matters subject to stockholder approval.

Based upon our common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2023, our executive officers, directors, and their affiliates beneficially owned a significant percentage of our outstanding voting stock. These stockholders, acting together, are able to significantly influence all matters requiring stockholder approval. For example, these stockholders are able to significantly influence elections of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, or approval of any merger, sale of assets, or other major corporate transaction. This may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our common stock that you may feel are in your best interest as one of our stockholders.
We are an emerging growth company and a smaller reporting company, and we cannot be certain if the reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies and smaller reporting companies will make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an emerging growth company, as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, enacted in April 2012. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, or Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this Annual Report and our periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years following the year in which we complete our initial public offering, or IPO, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier. 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 closing of our IPO, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.235 billion or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which requires the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates to exceed $700 million as of the prior June 30th, and (2) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.
Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have elected to not “opt out” of this exemption from complying with new or revised accounting standards and, therefore, we will adopt new or revised accounting standards at the time private companies adopt the new or revised accounting standard and will do so until such time that we either (i) irrevocably elect to “opt out” of such extended transition period or (ii) no longer qualify as an emerging growth company.
Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we may still qualify as a “smaller reporting company,” which would allow us to continue to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this Annual Report and our periodic reports and proxy statements. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
We are incurring, and will continue to incur, significant increased expenses and administrative burdens as a public company, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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As a public company, we are facing, and will continue to face, increased legal, accounting, administrative and other costs and expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, including the requirements of Section 404 thereof, as well as rules and regulations subsequently implemented by the SEC, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and the rules and regulations promulgated and to be promulgated thereunder, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the securities exchanges, impose additional reporting and other obligations on public companies. Compliance with public company requirements will increase costs and make certain activities more time-consuming. A number of those requirements mandate us to carry out activities we have not done previously. In addition, additional expenses associated with SEC reporting requirements are being incurred. Furthermore, if any issues in complying with those requirements are identified (for example, if management identifies a material weakness or significant deficiency in the internal control over financial reporting), we could incur additional costs rectifying those issues, and the existence of those issues could adversely affect our reputation or investor perceptions of it. It is also more expensive to obtain and maintain director and officer liability insurance as a public company. Risks associated with our status as a public company may make it more difficult to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on the board of directors or as executive officers. The additional reporting and other obligations imposed by these rules and regulations will increase legal and financial compliance costs and the costs of related legal, accounting and administrative activities. These increased costs will require us to divert a significant amount of money that could otherwise be used to expand the business and achieve strategic objectives. Advocacy efforts by stockholders and third parties may also prompt additional changes in governance and reporting requirements, which could further increase costs.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock by our existing stockholders in the public market could cause our stock price to fall.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market or the perception that these sales might occur could depress the market price of our common shares, could make it more difficult for you to sell your common stock at a time and price that you deem appropriate 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 our common stock.
Unstable market and economic conditions may have serious adverse consequences on our business, financial condition and stock price.
As widely reported, the global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme volatility and disruptions in the past several years, including severely diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic growth, high inflation, increases in interest rates, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability. For example, inflation generally affects us by increasing our employee-related costs and clinical trial expenses, as well as other operating expenses. There can be no assurance that further deterioration in credit and financial markets and in global economic and political conditions will not occur. Further, changing circumstances, some of which may be beyond our control, could cause us to consume capital significantly faster than we currently anticipate, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned. We believe that the state of global economic conditions are particularly volatile and uncertain, not only in light of the post-COVID environment and the potential global recession resulting therefrom, but also due to recent and expected shifts in political, legislative and regulatory conditions concerning, among other matters, international trade and taxation, and that an uneven recovery or a renewed global downturn may negatively impact our ability to conduct clinical trials on the scale and timelines anticipated. Increases in interest rates, especially if coupled with reduced government spending and volatility in financial markets, may have the effect of further increasing economic uncertainty and heightening these risks.
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Our general business strategy may be adversely affected by any such economic downturn, volatile business or political environment or continued unpredictable and unstable market conditions. For instance, the ongoing Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts could disrupt or otherwise adversely impact our operations and those of third parties upon which we rely or may rely in the future. Related sanctions, export controls or other actions may be initiated by nations including the U.S., the European Union or Russia (e.g., potential cyberattacks, disruption of energy flows, etc.), which could adversely affect our business and/or our supply chain, our CROs, CMOs and other third parties with which we conduct or in the future may conduct business. Further, state-sponsored cyberattacks could expand as part of the conflict, which would adversely affect our and our suppliers' ability to maintain or enhance key cybersecurity and data protection measures. Our financial condition and results of operations may also be impacted by other factors we may not be able to control, such as global supply chain disruptions, global trade disputes or political instability.
If the current equity and credit markets deteriorate, or do not improve, it may make obtaining any necessary debt or equity financing more difficult, more costly and more dilutive. Failure to secure any necessary financing in a timely manner and on favorable terms could have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy, financial performance and stock price and could require us to delay or abandon clinical development plans. In addition, there is a risk that one or more of our current service providers, manufacturers and other partners may not survive an economic downturn, which could directly affect our ability to attain our operating goals on schedule and on budget. To the extent that our profitability and strategies are negatively affected by downturns or volatility in general economic conditions, our business and results of operations may be materially adversely affected.
If securities or industry analysts publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrades our stock or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price may decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our stock could decrease, which might cause our stock price and trading volume to decline.
Increased attention to, and evolving expectations for, environmental, climate change, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives could increase our costs, harm our reputation, or otherwise adversely impact our business.
Companies across industries are facing increasing scrutiny from a variety of stakeholders related to their ESG and sustainability practices, including practices associated with climate change. Expectations regarding voluntary ESG initiatives and disclosures may result in increased costs (including but not limited to increased costs related to compliance, stakeholder engagement, contracting and insurance), enhanced compliance or disclosure obligations, or other adverse impacts to our business, financial condition, or results of operations.
While we may at times engage in voluntary initiatives (such as voluntary disclosures, certifications, or goals, among others) to improve the ESG profile of the Company, such initiatives may be costly and may not have the desired effect. Moreover, we may not be able to successfully complete such initiatives due to factors that are within or outside of our control. Even if this is not the case, our actions may subsequently be determined to be insufficient by various stakeholders, and we may be subject to investor or regulator engagement on our ESG efforts, even if such initiatives are currently voluntary.
Certain market participants, including major institutional investors and capital providers, use third-party benchmarks and scores to assess companies’ ESG profiles in making investment or voting decisions. Unfavorable ESG ratings could lead to increased negative investor sentiment towards us, which could negatively impact our share price as well as our access to and cost of capital. To the extent ESG matters negatively impact our reputation, it may also impede our ability to compete as effectively to attract and retain employees, which may adversely impact our operations.
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In addition, we expect there will likely be increasing levels of regulation, disclosure-related and otherwise, with respect to ESG matters. For example, the SEC has published proposed rules that would require companies to provide significantly expanded climate-related disclosures in their periodic reporting, which may require us to incur significant additional costs to comply, including the implementation of significant additional internal controls processes and procedures regarding matters that have not been subject to such controls in the past, and impose increased oversight obligations on our management and board of directors. These and other changes in stakeholder expectations will likely lead to increased costs as well as scrutiny that could heighten all of the risks identified in this risk factor. Additionally, our business partners may be subject to similar expectations, which may augment or create additional risks, including risks that may not be known to us.
Risks related to our charter and bylaws
Anti-takeover provisions under our charter documents and Delaware law could delay or prevent a change of control, which could limit the market price of our common stock and may prevent or frustrate attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our board of directors that our stockholders might consider favorable. Some of these provisions include:
a board of directors divided into three classes serving staggered three-year terms, such that not all members of the board will be elected at one time;
a prohibition on stockholder action through written consent, which requires that all stockholder actions be taken at a meeting of our stockholders;
a requirement that special meetings of stockholders be called only by the board of directors acting pursuant to a resolution approved by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors then in office;
advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and nominations for election to our board of directors;
a requirement that no member of our board of directors may be removed from office by our stockholders except for cause and, in addition to any other vote required by law, upon the approval of not less than two-thirds of all outstanding shares of our voting stock then entitled to vote in the election of directors;
a requirement of approval of not less than two-thirds of all outstanding shares of our voting stock to amend any bylaws by stockholder action or to amend specific provisions of our certificate of incorporation; and
the authority of the board of directors to issue preferred stock on terms determined by the board of directors without stockholder approval and which preferred stock may include rights superior to the rights of the holders of common stock.
In addition, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporate Law, which may prohibit certain business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. These antitakeover provisions and other provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by the then-current board of directors and could also delay or impede a merger, tender offer, or proxy contest involving our company. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for you and other stockholders to elect directors of your choosing or cause us to take other corporate actions you desire. Any delay or prevention of a change of control transaction or changes in our board of directors could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.
Our bylaws designate a certain court as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.
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Our bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for any state law claims for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, and employees to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws or (iv) any action asserting a claim that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each case subject to the Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein. This exclusive forum provision will not apply to any causes of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act. In addition, our amended and restated bylaws will provide that any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our common stock is deemed to have notice of and consented to the foregoing provisions. We recognize that the forum selection clause in our bylaws may impose additional litigation costs on stockholders in pursuing any such claims, particularly if the stockholders do not reside in or near the State of Delaware. Additionally, the forum selection clause in our amended and restated bylaws may limit our stockholders’ ability to bring a claim in a forum that they find favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees even though an action, if successful, might benefit our stockholders. The Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware may also reach different judgments or results than would other courts, including courts where a stockholder considering an action may be located or would otherwise choose to bring the action, and such judgments may be more or less favorable to us than our stockholders.
Risks related to internal control over financial reporting
If we fail to establish and maintain proper and effective internal control over financial reporting, our operating results and our ability to operate our business could be harmed.
Adequate internal control over financial reporting are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and, together with effective disclosure controls and procedures, are designed to prevent or detect material misstatements due to fraud or error. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, any testing conducted by us in connection with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or any subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inadequate internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our stock.
Implementing any appropriate changes to our internal controls may distract our officers and employees, entail substantial costs to modify our existing processes, and take significant time to complete. These changes may not, however, be effective in maintaining the adequacy of our internal controls, and any failure to maintain that adequacy, or consequent inability to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis, could increase our operating costs and harm our business. In addition, investors’ perceptions that our internal controls are inadequate or that we are unable to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis may harm our stock price and make it more difficult for us to effectively market and sell our service to new and existing customers.
General risk factors
Data collection is governed by restrictive regulations governing the use, processing and cross-border transfer of personal information.
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In the event we decide to conduct clinical trials or continue to enroll subjects in our ongoing or future clinical trials, we may be subject to additional privacy restrictions. The collection, use, storage, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the EEA, including personal health data, is subject to the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is wide-ranging in scope and imposes numerous requirements on companies that process personal data, including requirements relating to having a legal basis for processing personal data, stricter requirements relating to the processing of sensitive data (such as health data), where required by GDPR obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, providing information to individuals regarding data processing activities, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data, providing notification of data breaches, requiring data protection impact assessments for high risk processing and taking certain measures when engaging third-party processors. The GDPR permits data protection authorities to impose large penalties for violations of the GDPR, including potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues, whichever is greater. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. The GDPR increased our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process where such processing is subject to the GDPR, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Compliance with the GDPR will be a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices, and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation, and reputational harm in connection with our European activities.
The GDPR provides that EEA Member States may make their own further laws and regulations in relation to the processing of genetic, biometric or health data, which could result in differences between Member States, limit our ability to use and share personal data or could cause our costs to increase, and harm our business and financial condition.
The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EEA, including the United States. We are subject to evolving and strict rules on the transfer of personal data out of the EEA to third countries such as the United States. Unless the destination country is an adequate country (as recognized by the European Commission), we may be required to incorporate a GDPR transfer mechanism (such as the European Commission approved standard contractual clauses ("SCCs”)) into our agreements with third parties to govern transfers of personal data outside the EEA. The SCCs may also impact our business as companies based in the EEA may be reluctant to utilize the new clauses to legitimize transfers of personal data to third countries given the burdensome requirements of transfer impact assessments and the substantial obligations that the new SCCs impose upon exporters. Further, the EU and United States have adopted its adequacy decision for the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework ("Framework"), which entered into force on July 11, 2023. This Framework provides that the protection of personal data transferred between the EU and the United States is comparable to that offered in the EU. This provides a further avenue to ensuring transfers to the United States are carried out in line with GDPR. The Framework could be challenged like its predecessor frameworks. This complexity and the additional contractual burden increases our overall risk exposure.
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In addition, further to the UK’s exit from the EU, the UK’s European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 incorporated the GDPR into UK law, referred to as the UK GDPR. The UK GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018 set out the UK’s data protection regime, which is independent from but currently still aligned to the EU’s data protection regime. Non-compliance with the UK GDPR may result in monetary penalties of up to £17.5 million or 4% of worldwide revenue, whichever is higher. Although the UK is regarded as a third country under the EU’s GDPR, the European Commission has now issued a decision recognizing the UK as providing adequate protection under the EU GDPR and, therefore, transfers of personal data originating in the EU to the UK remain unrestricted. Like the EU GDPR, the UK GDPR restricts personal data transfers outside the UK to countries not regarded by the UK as providing adequate protection. The transfer of personal data outside of the UK is not subject to the new forms of SCCs but the UK has issued its own transfer mechanism – the UK international data transfer agreement – which, like the SCCs, requires exporters to carry out a transfer impact assessment. In addition, there has been an extension to the Framework to cover UK transfers to the United States. The UK government has confirmed that personal data transfers from the UK to the EEA remain free flowing. The UK Government has also now introduced a Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (or the UK Bill) into the UK legislative process with the intention for this bill to reform the UK’s data protection regime following Brexit. If passed, the final version of the UK Bill may have the effect of further altering the similarities between the UK and EU data protection regime. This may lead to additional compliance costs and could increase our overall risk.
In addition, certain state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, some of which are more stringent than HIPAA and many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts. By way of example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect on January 1, 2020, gives California residents expanded rights to access and delete their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing, and receive detailed information about how their personal information is used. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches that is expected to increase data breach litigation. The CCPA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. Some observers have noted that the CCPA could mark the beginning of a trend toward more stringent privacy legislation in the United States, which could increase our potential liability and adversely affect our business.
In addition, the California Privacy Rights Act, or CPRA, which became effective January 1, 2023 has imposed additional obligations on companies covered by the legislation. The CPRA significantly modified the CCPA, including by expanding consumers’ rights with respect to certain sensitive personal information. The CPRA also created a new state agency that was vested with authority to implement and enforce the CCPA. Many aspects of the CCPA, as amended by the CPRA, and its interpretation remain unclear. As such, its full impact on our business and operations remains uncertain.
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Similar laws have been passed in numerous other states. Although many of the existing state privacy laws exempt clinical trial information and health information governed by HIPAA, future privacy and data protection laws may be broader in scope. Additionally, other states have proposed similar new privacy laws. Such proposed legislation, if enacted, may add additional complexity, variation in requirements, restrictions and potential legal risk, require additional investment of resources in compliance programs, impact strategies and the availability of previously useful data and could result in increased compliance costs and/or changes in business practices and policies. The existence of comprehensive privacy laws in different states in the country would make our compliance obligations more complex and costly and may increase the likelihood that we may be subject to enforcement actions or otherwise incur liability for noncompliance. In addition to these comprehensive consumer privacy laws and proposals, a number of other states have passed or proposed more limited privacy laws that focus on specific privacy issues such as biometric data and the privacy of health and medical information, such as Washington state’s My Health My Data Act, which has a private right of action that further increases the relevant compliance risk. Connecticut and Nevada have also passed similar laws regulating consumer health data. At the federal level, the FTC has used its authority over “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” to impose stringent requirements on the collection and disclosure of sensitive categories of personal information, including health information. Moreover, the FTC’s expanded interpretation of a “breach” under its Health Breach Notification Rule could impose new disclosure obligations that would apply in the event of a qualifying breach. These various privacy and security laws may impact our business activities, including our identification of research subjects, relationships with business partners and ultimately the marketing and distribution of our products. State laws are changing rapidly and there is discussion in the U.S. Congress of a new comprehensive federal data privacy law to which we may likely become subject, if enacted.
In China, there have also been significant developments concerning privacy and data security. On June 10, 2021, the Standing Committee of the PRC National People’s Congress published the Data Security Law of the People’s Republic of China (the Data Security Law), which took effect on September 1, 2021. The Data Security Law requires data processing (which includes the collection, storage, use, processing, transmission, provision and publication of data), to be conducted in a legitimate and proper manner. The Data Security Law imposes data security and privacy obligations on entities and individuals carrying out data processing activities and also introduces a data classification and hierarchical protection system based on the importance of data in economic and social development and the degree of harm it may cause to national security, public interests, or legitimate rights and interests of individuals or organizations if such data are tampered with, destroyed, leaked, illegally acquired or illegally used. The appropriate level of protection measures is required to be taken for each respective category of data.
Also in China, on August 20, 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC promulgated the Personal Information Protection Law, which took effect on November 1, 2021. The Personal Information Protection Law raises the protection requirements for processing personal information, and many specific requirements of the Personal Information Protection Law remain to be clarified. We may be required to make further significant adjustments to our business practices to comply with the personal information protection laws and regulations in China including the Personal Information Protection Law.
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Furthermore, as we have begun to conduct trials in Korea, we are also subject to local Korean laws and regulations relating to privacy and use of confidential information of trial subjects, including, the Personal Information Protection Act and related legislation, regulations and orders (the “PIPA”). PIPA requires consent by the individuals with respect to the use of his or her data and requires the persons responsible for management of personal data to take the necessary technological and managerial measures to prevent data breaches and, among other duties, to notify the Personal Information Protection Commission of any data breach incidents within 24 hours. Failure to comply with PIPA in any manner may subject these persons responsible to personal liability for not obtaining such consent in an appropriate manner or for such breaches, including even negligent breaches, and violators face varying penalties ranging from monetary penalties to imprisonment. We strive to take the necessary technological and managerial measures to comply with PIPA, however despite these efforts to comply with PIPA, these rules are complex and evolving, subject to interpretation by government regulators which may change over time and therefore we are subject to the risk of claims by regulators of failure to comply with PIPA. Any failure, or perceived failure, by us to comply with such policies, laws, regulations, and other legal obligations and regulatory guidance could adversely affect our reputation, brand, and business, and may result in claims, proceedings, or actions, including criminal proceedings, against us and certain of our executive officers by governmental entities or others or other liabilities. Any such claim, proceeding, or action, could hurt our reputation, brand, and business, force us to incur significant expenses in defense of such proceedings, distract our management, increase our costs of doing business, result in a loss of customers and merchants, and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Compliance with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could require us to take on more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to collect, use and disclose data, or in some cases, impact our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions. Failure to comply with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Moreover, clinical trial subjects about whom we or our potential collaborators obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose the information. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights, failed to comply with data protection laws, or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.
Changes to patent law in the United States and in foreign jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
As is the case with other biopharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biopharmaceutical industry involve both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on decisions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce patents that we might obtain in the future. For example, in the case Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain claims to DNA molecules are not patentable. Any adverse changes in the patent laws of other jurisdictions could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition. Changes in the laws and regulations governing patents in other jurisdictions could similarly have an adverse effect on our ability to obtain and effectively enforce any rights we may have in our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license in the future.
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Recent or future patent reform legislation could also increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of any patents we may own or in-license in the future. The United States has enacted and implemented wide-ranging patent reform legislation. On September 16, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or America Invents Act, was signed into law, which includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art, may affect patent litigation, establish a new post-grant review system and switch the U.S. patent system from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system. Under a “first-to-file” system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to a patent on the invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing or until issuance, we cannot be certain that we were the first to either (i) file any patent application related to our product candidates or other technologies or (ii) invent any of the inventions claimed in our patent applications or any patents we may own or in-license. These changes also allow third party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent by USPTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in United States federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third-party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. An adverse determination in any such proceeding could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or products and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party patent rights. Accordingly, the America Invents 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 we may own or in-license in the future, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Changes in tax law could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
The rules dealing with U.S. federal, state, and local income taxation are constantly under review by persons involved in the legislative process and by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Treasury Department. Changes to tax laws (which changes may have retroactive application) could adversely affect us or holders of our common stock. In recent years, many such changes have been made and changes are likely to continue to occur in the future. Future changes in tax laws could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, financial condition or results of operations. We urge investors to consult with their legal and tax advisers regarding the implications of potential changes in tax laws on an investment in our common stock.
Conditions in the banking system and financial markets, including the failure of banks and financial institutions, could have an adverse effect on our operations and financial results.
Actual events involving limited liquidity, defaults, non-performance or other adverse developments that affect financial institutions, transactional counterparties or other companies in the financial services industry or the financial services industry generally, or concerns or rumors about any events of these kinds or other similar risks, have in the past and may in the future lead to market-wide liquidity problems.
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We are unable to predict the extent or nature of the impacts of evolving circumstances in the financial services industry at this time. If, for example, certain banks and financial institutions enter receivership or become insolvent in the future in response to financial conditions affecting the banking system and financial markets, our ability to access our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments may be threatened. While it is not possible at this time to predict the extent of the impact that high market volatility and instability of the banking sector could have on economic activity and our business in particular, the failure of other banks and financial institutions and the measures taken by governments, businesses and other organizations in response to these events could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
A decline in the federal budget, changes in spending or budgetary priorities of the U.S. government, a prolonged U.S. government shutdown or delays in contract awards may significantly and adversely affect our future revenues, cash flow and financial results.
In recent years, U.S. government appropriations have been affected by larger U.S. government budgetary issues and related legislation. As a result, the Department of Defense funding levels have fluctuated and have been difficult to predict. Future spending levels are subject to a wide range of factors, including Congressional action. In addition, in recent years, the U.S. government has been unable to complete its budget process before the end of its fiscal year, resulting in both a government shutdown and continuing resolutions to extend sufficient funds only for U.S. government agencies to continue operating. Additionally, the national debt has recently threatened to reach the statutory debt ceiling in 2023, and such an event in future years could result in the U.S. government defaulting on its debts.
As a result, government spending levels are difficult to predict beyond the near term due to numerous factors, including the external threat environment, future government priorities and the state of government finances. Significant changes in government spending or changes in U.S. government priorities, policies and requirements could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or liquidity.
Risks related to cybersecurity
We may be unable to adequately protect our information systems from cyberattacks, which could result in the disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, including personal data, damage our reputation, and subject us to significant financial and legal exposure.
We rely on information technology systems that we or our third-party providers operate to process, transmit and store electronic information in our day-to-day operations. In connection with our product development efforts, we may collect and use a variety of personal data, such as name, mailing address, email addresses, phone number and clinical trial information. A successful cyberattack could result in the theft or destruction of intellectual property, data, or other misappropriation of assets, or otherwise compromise our confidential or proprietary information and disrupt our operations. Cyberattacks are increasing in their frequency, sophistication and intensity, and have become increasingly difficult to detect. Cyberattacks could include wrongful conduct by hostile foreign governments, industrial espionage, wire fraud and other forms of cyber fraud, the deployment of harmful malware, denial-of-service, social engineering fraud or other means to threaten data security, confidentiality, integrity and availability. A successful cyberattack could cause serious negative consequences for us, including, without limitation, the disruption of operations, the misappropriation of confidential business information, including financial information, trade secrets, financial loss and the disclosure of corporate strategic plans. Although we devote resources to protect our information systems, we realize that cyberattacks are a threat, and there can be no assurance that our efforts will prevent information security breaches that would result in business, legal, financial or reputational harm to us, or would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. Any failure to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to, use of, or disclosure of our clinical data or patients’ personal data could result in significant liability under state (e.g., state breach notification laws), federal (e.g., HIPAA, as amended by HITECH), and international law (e.g., the GDPR) and may cause a material adverse impact to our reputation, affect our ability to conduct new studies and potentially disrupt our business.
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Some cyber security incidents may be very difficult to prevent. For example, supply chain incidents involving previously unknown vulnerabilities in widely-used software are becoming increasingly common, of which the Log4j incident is an example. While we are not currently aware of any impact from supply chain vulnerabilities including but not necessarily limited to Log4j, these are recent events, and the full scope of the attacks are not yet known. Therefore, there is residual risk that we may experience a security breach arising from Log4j, and other supply chain vulnerabilities.
Further, while we maintain insurance coverage, we cannot assure that such coverage will be adequate or otherwise protect us from or adequately mitigate liabilities or damages with respect to claims, costs, expenses, litigation, fines, penalties, business loss, data loss, regulatory actions or material adverse effects arising out of our privacy and security practices, or that such coverage will continue to be available on acceptable terms or at all. The market for cyber insurance is tightening, and coverage for ransomware, data breaches, and other types of cyberattacks may be reduced or eliminated. The successful assertion of one or more large claims against us that exceeds our available insurance coverage, or results in changes to our insurance policies (including premium increases or the imposition of large deductible or co-insurance requirements), could have an adverse effect on our business. In addition, we cannot be sure that our existing insurance coverage will continue to be available on acceptable terms or that our insurers will not deny coverage as to any future claim.
Although we devote resources to protect our information systems, we realize that cyberattacks are a threat, and there can be no assurance that our efforts will prevent information security breaches that would result in business, legal, financial or reputational harm to us, or would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. Any failure to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to, use of, or disclosure of our clinical data or patients’ personal data could result in significant liability under state (e.g., state breach notification laws), federal (e.g., HIPAA, as amended by HITECH), and international law (e.g., the GDPR) and may cause a material adverse impact to our reputation, affect our ability to conduct new studies and potentially disrupt our business.
In addition, the computer systems of various third parties on which we rely, including our CROs and other contractors, consultants and law and accounting firms, may sustain damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, data breaches, phishing attacks, cybercriminals, natural disasters (including hurricanes and earthquakes), terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. We rely on our third-party providers to implement effective security measures and identify and correct for any such failures, deficiencies or breaches. If we or our third-party providers fail to maintain or protect our information technology systems and data integrity effectively or fail to anticipate, plan for or manage significant disruptions to our information technology systems, we or our third-party providers could have difficulty preventing, detecting and controlling such cyber-attacks and any such attacks could result in losses described above as well as disputes with physicians, patients and our partners, regulatory sanctions or penalties, increases in operating expenses, expenses or lost revenues or other adverse consequences, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, prospects and cash flows. Any failure by such third parties to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to or disclosure of such information could have similarly adverse consequences for us. If we are unable to prevent or mitigate the impact of such security or data privacy breaches, we could be exposed to litigation and governmental investigations, which could lead to a potential disruption to our business.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
Item 1C. Cybersecurity
Governance Related to Cybersecurity Risks
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Our board of directors has overall oversight responsibility for our risk management, and delegates its oversight of risk assessment and management guidelines to the audit committee of the board of directors. Members of the audit committee receive annual updates from senior management regarding matters of cybersecurity. These discussions may include updates on management’s efforts to address and mitigate cybersecurity risks, cybersecurity incidents (if any), and the status of key information security initiatives.
Under the oversight of our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and executive management team, we have constituted an Information Technology (IT) Steering Committee that has primary responsibility for overseeing our management of cybersecurity risks. The IT Steering Committee is chaired by our Executive Director and Head of Information Technology (“Head of IT”), who reports directly to our Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Other members of the IT Steering Committee include representatives from clinical development, technical operations, finance, human resources, business operations and legal.
Our Head of IT, working with our third-party cybersecurity firm and the IT Steering Committee, assesses and manages our cybersecurity threat management processes. Our Head of IT has 40 years of information technology experience, including 30 years building and leading teams in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industries, and has worked at a variety of institutions to implement, manage, and grow the information technology function, including cybersecurity programs. These entities have included large, publicly-traded companies and smaller startups. His experience also includes developing and maintaining tools and processes to protect internal networks, research and clinical databases, and supplier payment information and financial systems. Under the direction of our Head of IT, we have engaged a third-party cybersecurity firm, which provides cybersecurity support services for governance and security operations.
The IT Steering Committee meets regularly, and as circumstances warrant, to discuss and monitor prevention, detection, mitigation and remediation of risks from cybersecurity threats. The Head of IT provides updates to the executive management team, and, as needed, the Audit Committee, on cybersecurity developments.
In addition, we have created an IT Security Team to review the results of our cybersecurity assessments and related cybersecurity strategies as well as emerging threats in the cybersecurity landscape. The IT Security Team meets regularly and includes members from our cybersecurity firm and internal IT resources.
Cyber Risk Management and Strategy
Under the guidance of the IT Steering Committee and Head of IT, we have adopted cybersecurity risk management processes that are designed to address the identification of assets potentially at risk from cybersecurity threats, identification of potential sources of cybersecurity threats, assessment of protections to address cybersecurity threats, and the management of cybersecurity risks.
Our cybersecurity firm is responsible for monitoring our information systems and implementing procedures to mitigate cyber risks under the oversight of our Head of IT. The cybersecurity firm keeps the Company apprised of threats in the cybersecurity landscape through various means, including through threat intelligence and research sources, discussions with industry peers, security alerts, and security conferences and events, as appropriate.
The cybersecurity firm also manages our network monitoring, designed to identify potential security risks, and conducts regular testing, scanning, and other vulnerability analyses. We previously engaged a third party to conduct an information technology audit, which was informed by industry standards. We have also implemented a process to require employees to complete, upon onboarding and annually, a cybersecurity education program that is designed to raise awareness of cybersecurity threats and risks through training and simulations.
We have a process to review security features for adherence to applicable regulatory requirements and financial controls before purchasing certain third party technology or other solutions that involve exposure to the Company’s assets or electronic information. From time to time, after the technology is in place, we may also conduct periodic reviews of available security documentation such as audit reporting and certifications.
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Although, as of the date of this report on Form 10-K, risks from cybersecurity threats have not materially affected, and we do not believe they are reasonably likely to materially affect us, our business strategy, results of operations or financial condition, we could, from time to time, experience threats and security incidents relating to our and our third party vendors’ information systems. For more information, please see the section entitled “Item 1A. Risk Factors.”
Item 2. Properties
We lease a facility containing approximately 25,578 square feet of office space for our principal office, which is located at One Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142. The lease expires on August 31, 2028, subject to an option to extend the lease for five additional years. In December 2022 we entered into a sublease for one floor, approximately 14,439 square feet, of our Cambridge, MA office space, which also terminates on August 31, 2028.
We also lease approximately 18,120 square feet of office and laboratory space at 430 East 29th Street, New York, New York 10016. The lease expires on June 30, 2032, subject to an option to extend the lease for five additional years. We believe that our current facilities are sufficient to meet our current and near term needs.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
From time to time, we may become involved in legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of our business. We are not currently aware of any such proceedings or claims that we believe will have, individually or in the aggregate, a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Regardless of outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources and other factors.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.
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PART II
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Certain Information Regarding the Trading of Our Common Stock
Our common stock trades under the symbol “BDTX” on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and has been publicly traded since January 30, 2020. Prior to this time, there was no public market for our common stock.
Holders of Our Common Stock
As of March 5, 2024, there were approximately 30 holders of record of shares of our common stock. This number does not include stockholders for whom shares are held in “nominee” or “street” name.
Dividends
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings to fund the development and expansion of our business, and therefore we do not anticipate paying cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our results of operations, financial condition, capital requirements, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors.
Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans
The information required by Item 5 of Form 10-K regarding equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Item 12 of Part III of this Annual Report.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
We did not purchase any of our registered equity securities during the period covered by this Annual Report.
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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report. This discussion and analysis and other parts of this Annual Report contain forward-looking statements based upon current beliefs, plans and expectations that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions, such as statements regarding our plans, objectives, expectations, intentions and projections. 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 Part I, Item 1A “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report. You should carefully read the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report to gain an understanding of the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements. Please also see the section entitled “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”
Overview
We are a clinical-stage oncology company focused on the development of MasterKey therapies to treat patients with genetically defined tumors. The foundation of our company is built upon a deep understanding of cancer genetics, onco-protein structure and function, and medicinal chemistry. Our MasterKey therapies are designed to address a broad spectrum of genetically defined tumors, overcome resistance, minimize wild-type mediated toxicities, and be brain-penetrant to treat central nervous system (CNS) disease. Our compounds target families of oncogenic mutations in clinically validated pathways. We are advancing two clinical-stage programs: BDTX-1535, a brain-penetrant, fourth-generation EGFR MasterKey inhibitor, targeting epidermal growth factor receptor mutant (EGFRm) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and glioblastoma (GBM), and BDTX-4933, a brain-penetrant, RAF MasterKey inhibitor targeting KRAS, NRAS and BRAF alterations in solid tumors.
We believe that our lead product candidate, BDTX-1535, has the potential to treat patients with EGFR mutated (EGFRm) NSCLC in both early-line and later-line settings based upon BDTX-1535’s ability to address approximately 50 oncogenic mutations with greater potency than other EGFR TKI’s, as well as uniquely target the C797S resistance mutation which can be acquired after treatment with osimertinib. In our Phase 1 trial in patients with advanced/metastatic EGFR mutant NSCLC, BDTX-1535 was shown to be well tolerated and achieve durable clinical responses in patients whose tumors expressed a range of mutation subtypes, including the acquired C797S resistance mutation and a spectrum of non-classical mutations. We are currently evaluating BDTX-1535 in a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with EGFRm NSCLC in the second- and third-line settings with non-classical driver mutations and acquired C797S resistance mutation, and in the first-line setting in patients with EGFRm NSCLC harboring non-classical EGFR mutations. We expect to announce results from the second- and third-line cohorts in the third quarter of 2024 and results from the first-line cohort in 2025. We are also assessing the potential development of BDTX-1535 for patients with EGFRm NSCLC following adjuvant treatment with osimertinib, where the broad mutation coverage of BDTX-1535 of C797S and non-classical mutations may be of benefit.
We released top-line GBM results from the BDTX-1535 Phase 1 dose escalation study in the fourth quarter of 2023, showing clinical activity in heavily pretreated patients with GBM. BDTX-1535 was shown to be generally well tolerated and no new safety signals were observed. In the fourth quarter of 2023, enrollment began in a “window of opportunity” Phase 0/1 trial of BDTX-1535 in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma. We expect to present Phase 1 data and “window of opportunity” results in the second quarter of 2024, which will inform potential next steps in the development of BDTX-1535 in GBM.
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Our second product candidate, BDTX-4933, is designed to be a potent and selective, reversible oral inhibitor that targets broad families of oncogenic BRAF, KRAS and NRAS alterations. BDTX-4933 selectively targets constitutively active RAF dimers resulting from either BRAF mutations or other upstream oncogenic MAPK pathway alterations, such as KRAS and NRAS alterations. In preclinical tumor models, we observed that BDTX-4933 demonstrated brain-penetrant activity and achieved regression of tumors carrying a broad spectrum of KRAS mutations, NRAS alterations, as well as BRAF Class I, II, and III mutations. We initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial for BDTX-4933 in the second quarter of 2023 in patients with BRAF and select KRAS and NRAS mutation-positive cancers, with an emphasis on patients with non-G12C KRAS mutant NSCLC. The trial is currently in dose escalation with data expected in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Since our inception in 2014, we have devoted substantially all of our efforts and financial resources to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, discovering product candidates and securing related intellectual property rights while conducting research and development activities for our programs. We do not have any products approved for sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales. We may never be able to develop or commercialize a marketable product. We have not yet successfully completed any pivotal clinical trials, obtained any regulatory approvals, manufactured a commercial-scale drug, or conducted sales and marketing activities.
To date, we have funded our operations with proceeds from the sale of common stock and preferred stock. Since inception, we have incurred significant operating losses. Our net losses were $82.4 million and $91.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. As of December 31, 2023, we had an accumulated deficit of $417.4 million. Our ability to generate product revenue sufficient to achieve profitability will depend heavily on the successful development and eventual commercialization of one or more of our current or future product candidates. We expect that our expenses and capital requirements will increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly if and as we:
advance clinical trials for BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933;
obtain, maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio;
attract and retain key clinical, scientific, management and commercial personnel;
seek marketing approvals for our product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials, if any; and
acquire or in-license additional product candidates.
As a result, we will need substantial additional funding to support our continuing operations and pursue our growth strategy. Until such time as we can generate significant revenue from product sales, if ever, we expect to finance our operations through the sale of equity, debt financings or other capital sources, which may include collaborations with other companies or other strategic transactions. We may be unable to raise additional funds or enter into such other agreements or arrangements when needed on favorable terms, or at all. If we fail to raise capital or enter into such agreements as and when needed, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development and commercialization of one or more of our product candidates, and reduce headcount and general and administrative costs.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development, we are unable to predict the timing or amount of increased expenses or when or if we will be able to achieve or maintain profitability. Even if we are able to generate product sales, we may not become profitable. If we fail to become profitable or are unable to sustain profitability on a continuing basis, then we may be unable to continue our operations at planned levels and be forced to reduce or terminate our operations.
Additionally, we continue to actively monitor macroeconomic conditions and market volatility resulting from global economic developments, political unrest, high inflation, disruptions in capital markets, changes in international trade relationships and military conflicts, and health crises. While we believe such factors have had no significant impact on our business or financial results during the periods presented, future developments and potential impacts on our business are uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence.
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As of December 31, 2023, we had cash, cash equivalents and investments of $131.4 million, which we believe will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second quarter of 2025. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could exhaust our available capital resources sooner than we expect. See “—Liquidity and capital resources.” To finance our operations beyond that point, we will need to raise additional capital, which cannot be assured. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of our product candidates or other research and development initiatives.
Components of our results of operations
Revenue
To date, we have not generated any revenue from any sources, including from product sales, and we do not expect to generate any revenue from the sale of products in the foreseeable future. If our development efforts for our product candidates are successful and result in regulatory approval, or license agreements with third parties, we may generate revenue in the future from product sales. However, there can be no assurance as to when we will generate such revenue, if at all.
Operating expenses
Research and development expenses
Research and development expenses consist primarily of costs incurred for our research activities, including our drug discovery efforts and the development of our product candidates. We expense research and development costs as incurred, which include:
expenses incurred to conduct the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials required to obtain regulatory approval;
expenses incurred under agreements with contract research organizations, or CROs, that are primarily engaged in the oversight and conduct of our drug discovery efforts, preclinical studies, and clinical trials as well as under agreements with contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, that are primarily engaged to provide preclinical and clinical drug substance and product for our research and development programs;
other costs related to the conduct of preclinical studies, clinical trials, and our drug discovery efforts, including acquiring and manufacturing materials, manufacturing validation batches, fees to investigative sites and consultants that conduct our clinical trials, preclinical studies and other scientific development support services;
payments made in cash or equity securities under third-party licensing, acquisition and option agreements;
employee-related expenses, including salaries and benefits, travel and stock-based compensation expense for employees engaged in research and development functions;
costs related to compliance with regulatory requirements; and
allocated facilities-related costs, depreciation and other expenses, which include rent and utilities.
We recognize external development costs based on an evaluation of the progress to completion of specific tasks using information provided to us by our service providers. This process involves reviewing open contracts and purchase orders, communicating with our personnel to identify services that have been performed on our behalf and estimating the level of service performed and the associated cost incurred for the service when we have not yet been invoiced or otherwise notified of actual costs. Any nonrefundable advance payments that we make for goods or services to be received in the future for use in research and development activities are recorded as prepaid expenses. Such amounts are expensed as the related goods are delivered or the related services are performed, or until it is no longer expected that the goods will be delivered or the services rendered.
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Our direct external research and development expenses consist primarily of external costs, such as fees paid to outside consultants, CROs, CMOs and research laboratories in connection with our preclinical development, process development, manufacturing and clinical development activities. Our direct research and development expenses also include fees incurred under license, acquisition and option agreements. We do not allocate employee costs, costs associated with our discovery efforts, laboratory supplies, and facilities, including depreciation or other indirect costs, to specific programs because these costs are deployed across multiple programs and, as such, are not separately classified. We use internal resources primarily to conduct our research and discovery as well as for managing our preclinical development, process development, manufacturing and clinical development activities. These employees work across multiple programs and, therefore, we do not track their costs by program.
Development activities are central to our business model. Product candidates in later stages of clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of clinical development, primarily due to the increased size and duration of later-stage clinical trials. As a result, we expect that our research and development expenses will increase substantially over the next several years as we continue our clinical trials for BDTX-1535 and BDTX-4933. In addition, we may incur additional expenses related to milestone and royalty payments payable to third parties with whom we may enter into license, acquisition and option agreements to acquire the rights to future product candidates.
At this time, we cannot reasonably estimate or know the nature, timing and costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the clinical development of any of our product candidates or when, if ever, material net cash inflows may commence from any of our product candidates. The successful development and commercialization of our product candidates is highly uncertain. This uncertainty is due to the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development and commercialization, including the uncertainty of the following:
the scope, progress, outcome and costs of our clinical trials and other development activities;
successful patient enrollment in and the initiation and completion of clinical trials;
the timing, receipt and terms of any marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and non-U.S. regulators;
the extent of any required post-marketing approval commitments to applicable regulatory authorities;
establishing clinical and commercial manufacturing capabilities or making arrangements with third-party manufacturers in order to ensure that we or our third-party manufacturers are able to make product successfully;
development and timely delivery of clinical-grade and commercial-grade drug formulations that can be used in our clinical trials and for commercial launch;
obtaining, maintaining, defending and enforcing patent claims and other intellectual property rights;
significant and changing government regulation;
launching commercial sales of our product candidates, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others; and
maintaining a continued acceptable safety profile of our product candidates following approval, if any, of our product candidates.
Any changes in the outcome of any of these variables with respect to the development of our product candidates could mean a significant change in the costs and timing associated with the development of these product candidates. For example, if the FDA or another regulatory authority were to delay our planned start of clinical trials or require us to conduct clinical trials or other testing beyond those that we currently expect or if we experience significant delays in enrollment in any of our planned clinical trials, we could be required to expend significant additional financial resources and time on the completion of clinical development of that product candidate.
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General and administrative expenses
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and benefits, travel and stock-based compensation expense for personnel in executive, business development, finance, human resources, legal, information technology, pre-commercial and support personnel functions. General and administrative expenses also include direct and allocated facility-related costs as well as insurance costs and professional fees for legal, patent, consulting, investor and public relations, accounting and audit services.
We anticipate that our general and administrative expenses will increase in the future as we increase our headcount to support continued development of our product candidates and prepare for potential commercialization activities. Additionally, if and when we believe a regulatory approval of a product candidate appears likely, we anticipate an increase in payroll and other employee-related expenses as a result of our preparation for commercial operations, especially as it relates to the sales and marketing of that product candidate.
Other income (expense)
Other income (expense) consists primarily of interest income earned on our cash equivalents and investment balances, sublease income, realized and unrealized foreign currency transaction gains and losses, and gain (loss) on sale of IP related to equity method investment.
Equity in (losses) of unconsolidated entity
Equity in (losses) of unconsolidated entity consists of our share of equity method investee losses on the basis of our equity ownership percentage and IPR&D charges resulting from basis differences.
Results of operations
Comparison of the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022
The following table summarizes our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022:

Year Ended December 31,



2023

2022

Change

(in thousands)
Operating expenses:
Research and development $59,350 $64,437 $(5,087)
General and administrative27,110 28,391 (1,281)
Total operating expenses86,460 92,828 (6,368)
Loss from operations(86,460)(92,828)6,368 
Other income (expense):
Interest income1,924 2,031 (107)
Other income (expense)2,094 (354)2,448 
Gain on sale of IP— 2,232 (2,232)
Total other income (expense), net4,018 3,909 109 
Equity in (losses) of unconsolidated entity— (2,250)2,250 
Net loss$(82,442)$(91,169)$8,727 
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Research and development
Research and development expenses were $59.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2023, compared to $64.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2022. The following table summarizes our research and development expenses for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022:

Year Ended December 31,



2023

2022

Change

(in thousands)
BDTX-1535 research and development expenses$21,141 $8,414 $12,727 
BDTX-4933 research and development expenses6,342 6,934 (592)
BDTX-189 research and development expenses— 7,082 (7,082)
Other research programs and platform development expenses7,916 13,466 (5,550)
Personnel expenses18,408 22,889 (4,481)
Allocated facility expenses3,605 4,088 (483)
Other expenses