zvra20231231_10k.htm
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As a result of the asset acquisition accounting, the transaction costs associated with the acquisition should be included in the costs of the assets acquired and allocated amongst qualifying assets using the relative fair value basis. 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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

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from ____ to _____

 

Commission File No. 001-36913

 


 

Zevra Therapeutics, Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 


 

Delaware

20-5894398

(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

 

1180 Celebration Boulevard, Suite 103, Celebration, FL 34747

(321) 939-3416

(Address of Principal Executive Offices and Zip Code)

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of Each Class

Trading Symbol

Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered

Common Stock, $0.0001 par value

ZVRA

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

(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 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes  No 

 

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

 

Large accelerated filer ☐ Accelerated filer ☐ Non-accelerated filer ☒ Smaller 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 

 

 


 

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2023, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, was approximately $172.1 million, based upon the closing sales price for the registrant’s common stock, as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on June 30, 2023. The calculation of the aggregate market value of voting and non-voting common equity excludes 186,366 shares of common stock the registrant held by executive officers, directors and stockholders that the registrant concluded were affiliates of the registrant on that date. Exclusion of such shares should not be construed to indicate that any such person possesses the power, direct or indirect, to direct or cause the direction of management or policies of the registrant or that such person is controlled by or under common control with the registrant.

 

As of March 30, 2024, the registrant had 43,426,186 shares of common stock outstanding.

 


 

Documents Incorporated by Reference

 

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement relating to its 2024 annual meeting of stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K where indicated. Such proxy statement will be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which this report relates.

 



 

 

   

 

ZEVRA THERAPEUTICS, INC.

FORM 10-K

 

 

 

Page

     

 

PART I

 

     

Item 1.

Business

7

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

30

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

81

Item 1C. Cybersecurity  

Item 2.

Properties

82

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

82

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

82

     

 

PART II

 

     

Item 5.

Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

87

Item 6.

[Reserved]

87

Item 7.

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

88

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

102

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

102

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosures

102

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

102

Item 9B.

Other Information

103

Item 9C. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections 103
     

 

PART III

 

     

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

104

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

104

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

104

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

104

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

104

     

 

PART IV

 

     

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

105

Item 16. Form 10-K Summary 154

 

Signatures

155

 

 

 

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” contains forward-looking statements regarding future events and our future results that are subject to the safe harbors created under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. Forward-looking statements relate to future events or our future financial performance. We generally identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “would,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “could,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “assume,” “intend,” “potential,” “continue” or other similar words or the negative of these terms. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. The outcome of the events described in these forward-looking statements is subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors described in “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this report. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance upon these forward-looking statements. We cannot assure you that the events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur, the timing of events and circumstances and actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements contained in this report include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

  our ability to integrate Acer (as defined below) into our business successfully or realize the anticipated synergies and related benefits of the Merger (as defined below);
     
  the progress of, outcome or and timing of any regulatory approval for any of our product candidates and the expected amount or timing of any payment related thereto under any of our collaboration agreements;
     
  our ability to remediate the material weakness we have identified, the timing thereof, and the impact of the restatements described herein;
     
  our ability to continue as a going concern;
     
 

the progress of, timing of and expected amount of expenses associated with our research, development and commercialization activities;

     
  our ability to raise additional funds on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, in order to support our continued operations;
     
  the sufficiency of our cash resources to fund our operating expenses and capital investment requirements for any period;
     
 

the expected timing of our clinical trials for our product candidates and the availability of data and results of those trials;

     
 

our expectations regarding federal, state and foreign regulatory requirements;

     
 

the potential therapeutic benefits and effectiveness of our products and product candidates;

     
 

the size and characteristics of the markets that may be addressed by our products and product candidates;

     
 

our intention to seek to establish, and the potential benefits to us from, any strategic collaborations or partnerships for the development or sale of our products and product candidates, if approved;

     
 

our expectations as to future financial performance, expense levels and liquidity sources;

     
  the timing of commercializing our products and product candidates, if approved;
     
  senior leadership and board member transitions and refreshments; and
     
 

other factors discussed elsewhere in this report.

 

The forward-looking statements made in this report relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made. We have included important factors in the cautionary statements included in this report, particularly in the section entitled “Risk Factors” that we believe could cause actual results or events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements that we make. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures or investments we may make. Except as required by law, we do not assume any intent to update any forward-looking statements after the date on which the statement is made, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise.

 

 

RISK FACTORS SUMMARY

 

The risk factors summarized below could materially harm our business, operating results, and/or financial condition, impair our future prospects, and/or cause the price of our common stock to decline. These risks are discussed more fully in the section titled "Risk Factors". Material risks that may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and trading price of our common stock include the following:

 

   If commercialization of our approved products or our product candidates is not successful, or we experience significant delays in commercialization, our business will be harmed.
     
  If we are not able to obtain required regulatory approvals for our product candidates, or the approved labels are not sufficiently differentiated from other competing products, we will not be able to commercialize them and our ability to generate revenue or profits or to raise future capital could be limited.
     
  Our research and development activities are focused on discovering and developing transformational, patient-focused therapies for rare diseases with limited or no treatment options, which may never lead to additional marketable products.
     
  Arimoclomol is currently available to Niemann-Pick disease Type C patients in the United States. France, Germany, and other EU member states through our expanded access program, or EAP. The EAP is expected to remain in place until arimoclomol becomes commercially available in each of the current EAP markets. If the EAP is terminated prior to commercialization of arimoclomol, it will have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and/or prospects. 
     
  The restatement of our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2023, has subjected us to a number of additional risks and uncertainties.
     
  Management recently identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, which could have a significant adverse effect on our business and the price of our common stock.
     
  Our recurring operating losses and negative cash flows from operations raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.
     
  Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates.
     
  We may need substantial additional funding to pursue our business objectives. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or altogether cease our prodrug development programs or commercialization efforts or cease operations altogether.
     
  We have incurred significant recurring negative net operating losses since our inception. We expect to incur operating losses for the near future.
     
  If we are unable to obtain and maintain trade secret protection or patent protection for our technology, our approved products or our product candidates, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and drugs similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our technology, our approved products and our product candidates, if approved, may be impaired.
     
  If we attempt to rely on Section 505(b)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the FDA does not conclude that our product candidates are sufficiently bioequivalent, or have comparable bioavailability, to approved drugs, or if the FDA does not allow us to pursue the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway as anticipated, the approval pathway for our product candidates will likely take significantly longer, cost significantly more and entail significantly greater complications and risks than anticipated, and the FDA may not ultimately approve our product candidates.
     
  The FDA may determine that any NDA we may submit under the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway for any of our product candidates in the future is not sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review.
     
  We have entered into collaborations with Commave Therapeutics, S.A., or Commave, to develop, manufacture and commercialize AZSTARYS worldwide. In addition, we may seek collaborations with third parties for the development, manufacturing or commercialization of our other product candidates, or in other territories. If those collaborations are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of our approved products or other product candidates, if approved.
     
  The trading price of the shares of our common stock is likely to be volatile, and purchasers of our common stock could incur substantial losses.
     
  Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
     
  We could be negatively affected as a result of the actions of activist stockholders, which could be disruptive and costly and may conflict with or disrupt the strategic direction of our business.
     
 

 Adverse developments affecting the financial services industry, including events or concerns involving liquidity, defaults, or non-performance by financial institutions, could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 

 

NOTE REGARDING COMPANY REFERENCE

 

Unless the context otherwise requires, we use the terms “Zevra,” “Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to refer to Zevra Therapeutics, Inc. We have proprietary rights to a number of trademarks used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K that are important to our business, including LAT®, OLPRUVA® and its related logo, and the Zevra logo. All other trademarks, trade names and service marks appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and trade names in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are referred to without the ® and ™ symbols, but such references should not be construed as any indicator that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto.

 

On August 30, 2023, the Company and Aspen Z Merger Sub, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zevra ("Merger Sub") entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the "Merger Agreement") with Acer Therapeutics, Inc. ("Acer"). On November 17, 2023 (the "Closing Date"), we completed the acquisition of Acer. Pursuant to the Merger Agreement, on the Closing Date, Merger Sub was merged with an into Acer (the "Merger"), with Acer continuing as the surviving entity and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zevra.

 

 

NOTE REGARDING MARKET AND INDUSTRY DATA

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains statistical data, estimates and forecasts that are based on independent industry publications or other publicly available information, as well as other information based on our internal sources. While we believe the industry and market data included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K is reliable and is based on reasonable assumptions, this data involves many assumptions and limitations, and you are cautioned not to give undue weight to these estimates. We have not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of the data contained in these industry publications and other publicly available information. The industry in which we operate is subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in the section titled “Risk Factors” and “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE

 

Restatement of Consolidated Financial Results

 

On March 25, 2024, the Audit Committee (the “Audit Committee”) of our Board of Directors, after discussion with senior management and the Company’s independent registered public accountants, concluded that our previously issued audited consolidated financial statements as of and for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2022 and December 31, 2021, included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, (collectively, the “Prior Financial Statements”) should no longer be relied upon. In connection with the preparation of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023, the Audit Committee concluded that, in prior years it had not appropriately accounted for certain common stock warrants as liabilities. These errors led to understatements of derivative and warrant liability and additional paid-in capital and fluctuations in fair value adjustment related to derivative and warrant liability during the impacted periods.

 

In addition, the Audit Committee concluded that the previously disclosed errors led to misstatements of fair value adjustment related to derivative and warrant liability, derivative and warrant liability, additional paid-in capital, and accumulated deficit that were previously disclosed in the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheets and statements of operations included in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarterly periods ended March 31, 2022, June 30, 2022, September 30, 2022, March 31, 2023, June 30, 2023, and September 30, 2023 (collectively, the “Prior Interim Financial Statements”). On March 25, 2024, the Audit Committee, after discussion with senior management and the Company’s independent registered public accountants, concluded that the Prior Interim Financial Statements should no longer be relied upon.

 

As a result, we are restating our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2022, and the Prior Interim Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition, the following items of this Annual Report on Form 10-K include restated financial data: (i) Part II, Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations; (ii) Part II, Item 8—Financial Statements and Supplementary Data (which incorporated by reference the information from Part IV, Item 15—Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules ) and (iii) Part IV, Item 15—Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules. Note C to our consolidated financial statements sets forth, in a comparative presentation, the previously reported, restatement adjustments and restated amounts for those line items in the relevant periods affected by the restatement. This Annual Report on Form 10-K also includes disclosure regarding the impact of the restatement on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures in Part II, Item 9A.— Controls and Procedures.

 

We have not amended our previously-filed Annual Reports on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the periods noted above. Instead, such financial statements are superseded by the audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2023, contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which give effect to the restatements noted above

 

 

 

PART I

 

ITEM 1.

BUSINESS.

 

Overview

 

We are a rare disease company combining science, data, and patient needs to create transformational therapies for diseases with limited or no treatment options. Our mission is to bring life-changing therapeutics to people living with rare diseases. With unique, data-driven development and commercialization strategies, the Company is overcoming complex drug development challenges to make new therapies available to the rare disease community. We have a diverse portfolio of products and product candidates, which includes preclinical development programs, clinical stage pipeline and commercial stage assets. Our team has specialized expertise and a track record of success in advancing promising therapies that face complex clinical and regulatory challenges with an approach that balances science and data with patient need.

 

Following the U.S. approval of AZSTARYS® (further described below) in March 2021, we undertook a strategic process to evaluate how to leverage and potentially augment the Company’s existing capabilities while also considering where to invest in our pipeline to generate long-term shareholder value. With a track record of drug development success leading to approvals for products which had either difficult pathways to approval or where approvals were won following a complete response letter (“CRL”) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), the Company determined to focus its expertise on rare disease indications, as well as seeking value-creating opportunities by building and directly commercializing product candidates in lieu of an out-licensing model. We are executing on this balanced approach by building a culture that is patient-focused and driven by our commitment to developing and making available therapies which address the myriad unmet needs within the rare disease community.

 

As part of our commitment to serving the rare disease community, in February 2023, we changed our name to Zevra Therapeutics, Inc. Our name, Zevra, is the Greek word for zebra, which is the internationally recognized symbol for rare disease. This name reflects our intense focus and dedication to developing transformational, patient-focused therapies for rare diseases with limited or no treatment options available, or treatment areas with significant unmet needs.

 

In order to accomplish our mission, we are seeking to further expand our pipeline through both internal development and through our business development activities to collaborate, partner, and potentially acquire additional assets. We intend to target assets that will allow us to leverage the expertise and infrastructure that we have built in order to mitigate risk and enhance our probability of success. In addition, we may consider external opportunities within neurology and neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders, and other rare diseases, along with adjacent or related therapeutic categories.   If we are successful, expanding our pipeline could be accretive to our value proposition and has the potential to create incremental long-term value. 

 

In May 2022, we purchased all of the assets and operations of Orphazyme A/S related to arimoclomol, settled all of Orphazyme’s actual outstanding liabilities to its creditors with a cash payment of $12.8 million, and agreed to assume an estimated reserve liability of $5.2 million related to revenue generated from Orphazyme’s Expanded Access Program in France (the "Arimoclomol EAP").

 

On November 17, 2023, Zevra completed the acquisition of Acer. Pursuant to the Merger Agreement, Acer continues as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zevra. The Merger included the acquisition of OLPRUVA® (sodium phenylbutyrate) for oral suspension, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 27, 2022, for the treatment of urea cycle disorders ("UCDs"). Acer also had a pipeline of investigational product candidates, including celiprolol for the treatment of vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome ("vEDS") in, patients with a confirmed type III collagen (COL3A1) mutation.  At the effective time of the Merger (the "Effective Time"), each share of common stock of Acer, par value $0.0001 per share, issued and outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Time (excluding cancelled shares and any shares held by holders who have exercised their appraisal rights) were converted into the right to receive (i) 0.1210 fully paid and non-assessable shares of common stock of Zevra, par value $0.0001 per share, and (ii) one non-transferable contingent value right (“CVR”) issued by Zevra, which represents the right to receive one or more contingent payments up to an additional $76.0 million upon the achievement, if any, of certain commercial and regulatory milestones for Acer’s OLPRUVA and celiprolol products within specified time periods. Certain additional cash payments are also possible pursuant to the CVRs with respect to milestones involving Acer’s early-stage program ACER-2820 (emetine).

 

Our recurring operating losses and negative cash flows from operations raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. We have no current source of revenues to sustain our present activities. Accordingly, our ability to continue as a going concern will require us to obtain additional financing to fund our operations. The perception of our inability to continue as a going concern may make it more difficult for us to obtain financing for the continuation of our operations and could result in the loss of confidence by investors, suppliers and employees. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or debt, the terms of these securities may restrict our ability to operate. If we raise additional funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may be required to relinquish valuable rights. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or altogether cease our research and development programs or future commercialization efforts.

 

 

Our Product Candidates and Approved Products

 

We have built a diverse portfolio of products and product candidates through a combination of internal development and strategic investments through acquisition. For example, we have employed our proprietary Ligand Activated Technology ("LAT") platform to develop approved products (e.g., AZSTARYS), and clinical development candidates (KP1077IH and KP1077N). Through our business development efforts, we have added a commercial product (OLPRUVA), and clinical development candidates (arimoclomol, celiprolol). We furthermore have a variety of product candidates and compounds that are early-stage, pre-clinical and clinical-stage designed to address a variety of rare diseases and other indications.

 

Currently active commercial products and development assets are summarized in the table below:

 

 

Active Zevra Commercial and Development Assets

 

 

Parent Drug

Indication

Product / Candidate

Development

Status

Next Milestone(s)

 

Sodium phenylbutyrate

 

Urea Cycle

Disorders (UCD)

OLPRUVA

FDA Approved

Tracking Commercial

Progress

Arimoclomol

Niemann Pick

disease type C

(NPC)

Arimoclomol

Pending FDA

Review

PDUFA target date

September 21, 2024

Celiprolol

Vascular Ehlers

Danlos Syndrome

(vEDS)

Celiprolol

Clinical - Phase 1/2

Phase 3 ongoing

 

Serdexmethylphenidate

 

Idiopathic

Hypersomnia (IH)

KP1077IH

Clinical - Phase 2

Evaluation of potential

Phase 3 Trial

 

Serdexmethylphenidate

 

Narcolepsy

KP1077N

Clinical - Phase 1/2

Evaluation of potential

Phase 3 Trial

Serdexmethylphenidate

and dexmethylphenidate

Attention Deficit

and Hyperactivity

Disorder (ADHD)

AZSTARYS

FDA Approved and

Partnered

Collecting royalties and

milestones

 

These anticipated milestones are based on information currently available to us. Our current plans and expectations are subject to a number of uncertainties, risks and other important factors that could materially impact our plans, including risks which are not solely within our control. See Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

OLPRUVA

 

OLPRUVA (sodium phenylbutyrate) for oral suspension is approved in the U.S. as adjunctive therapy to standard of care, which includes dietary management, for the chronic management of urea cycle disorders (UCDs) involving deficiencies of carbamylphosphate synthetase (CPS), ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC), orargininosuccinic acid synthetase (AS). OLPRUVA is a proprietary and novel formulation of sodium phenylbutyrate powder, packaged in pre-measured single-dose envelopes, that has shown bioequivalence to existing sodium phenylbutyrate powder but with a pH-sensitive polymer coating that is designed to minimize dissolution of the coating for up to five minutes after preparation.

 

 

UCDs are a group of rare, genetic disorders that can cause harmful ammonia to build up in the blood, potentially resulting in brain damage and neurocognitive impairments, if ammonia levels are not controlled. Any increase in ammonia over time is serious. Therefore, it is important to adhere to any dietary protein restrictions and have alternative medication options to help control ammonia levels. Approximately 1 in 100,000 people have UCD, and there are an estimated 800 patients who are actively treated in the U.S. While there are therapies currently approved for the treatment of UCDs - specifically RAVICTI®, marketed by Amgen, Inc. (formerly Horizon Therapeutics) and PHEBURANE®, marketed by Medunik USA - there remain unmet needs for this community of patients. OLPRUVA offers benefits over other UCD treatments by eliminating issues with palatability, offering improved portability with its single-dose envelopes, and it comes in a dosage that personalized to the patient based on weight.

 

To commercialize OLPRUVA for oral suspension in the U.S. we have built in-house capabilities including rare disease sales specialists who are working with prescribing clinicians and healthcare providers, as well as marketing, patient reimbursement services, market access and contracting, patient advocacy, sales, and medical affairs teams. This team was hired and trained between the end of 2023 and early January, with full launch effective January 29, 2024. We have also made arrangements with third parties to provide these additional services such as distribution and specialty pharmacy offerings.

 

During the quarter ended December 31, 2023, and following the completion of our mergers with Acer Therapeutics, Inc. on November 17, 2023 (the “Merger”), we began generating revenue from the sale of OLPRUVA in the U.S. For additional information regarding the Merger, see Note R of our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Zevra has a partnership with Relief Therapeutics who has rights to commercialize OLPRUVA in various EU countries, if approved. In addition, Zevra pays royalties of 10% of net sales plus milestones to Relief Therapeutics based on US net sales.

 

OLPRUVA summary:

 

 

OLPRUVA is available in the U.S for the treatment of UCD. OLPRUVA is an adjunctive therapy for long-term management of adults and children weighing 20kg or greater with UCD from deficiencies of CPS, OTC, or AS.

   

 

 

OLPRUVA is differentiated from currently available forms of phenylbutyrate. OLPRUVA is formulated to improve palatability while providing patients with a portable and discrete pre-measured dose.

   

 

 

Zevra has assembled a team to support OLPRUVA and additional future commercial products. We have established an efficient commercial team which is designed to fully service the patients and prescribers within the rare disease indications we are pursuing. 

 

Arimoclomol

 

Arimoclomol is our product candidate being developed for the treatment of Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC), an ultra-rare neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorder (LSD). Arimoclomol is an orally delivered, first in-class investigational product candidate which has been granted orphan drug designation, Fast-Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation and rare pediatric disease designation for the treatment of NPC by the FDA, and orphan medicinal product designation for the treatment of NPC by the European Commission. The arimoclomol New Drug Application (NDA) was submitted to the FDA on December 21, 2023, and is currently undergoing review by the FDA. The FDA has assigned a PDUFA date of September 21, 2024.  We believe that, if approved by the FDA, arimoclomol will be eligible to receive a Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher (PRV), which is transferrable.

 

As an LSD, NPC is characterized by an inability of the body to transport cholesterol and lipids inside of cells. Symptoms of NPC include a progressive impairment of mobility, cognition, speech, and swallowing, often culminating in premature death. The incidence of NPC is estimated to be one in 100,000 to 130,000 live births. We estimate that there are approximately 1,800 individuals with NPC in the US and Europe, of these, approximately 300 have been diagnosed in the U.S. However, diagnostic challenges may affect the number of potential patients, and we believe that the availability of treatment options could increase awareness of the disease and assist in more accurately identifying patients. Effective therapies to treat NPC are desperately needed, and for this reason, arimoclomol is currently being made available to NPC patients in the United States, France, Germany, and other EU member states under various expanded access programs ("EAPs").

 

 

On September 16, 2020, the previous sponsor of the arimoclomol program, Orphazyme, submitted an NDA to the FDA, seeking approval for arimoclomol to treat NPC. In June 2021, the FDA issued a complete response letter ("CRL"), meaning it determined that it could not approve the NDA in its present form.

 

Zevra acquired the assets of Orphazyme A/S (Orphazyme) in May 2022, and took over the responsibility for arimoclomol, including the preparation and resubmission of the NDA designed to respond to the FDA’s specific deficiencies identified in the CRL and feedback in subsequent meetings between the FDA and Orphazyme. Since that time, we have worked diligently to characterize the meaningful evidence of safety and efficacy of arimoclomol for its intended use and the substantial data generated since the CRL, including the recently completed four-year open-label safety trial, an interim analysis of which was presented at the 19th WorldSymposiumTM in February 2023. Upon fulfilling the randomized double-blinded portion of the Phase 2/3 clinical trial, both placebo- and arimoclomol-treated patients were given the option to continue into the four-year (48 month) open-label-extension ("OLE"), phase of the study with arimoclomol treatment provided in addition to their current standard of care. We believe that the results from this analysis, based on up to four years of continuous treatment, suggest that arimoclomol may reduce the long-term progression of NPC. 

 

In preparation of the arimoclomol NDA resubmission, we completed a meeting with the FDA in August 2023, receiving feedback that was used to finalize the NDA submission. The updated NDA package for arimoclomol was resubmitted to the FDA in December 2023. Zevra believes it has addressed the issues previously raised by the FDA in the 2021 CRL. Zevra has conducted additional studies to support the potential mechanism of action of arimoclomol. Additionally, new data was included in the resubmission as supportive evidence from multiple non-clinical studies, natural history comparisons, real-world data generated from the ongoing early access programs in the U.S. and the European Union, as well as data from the four-year open-label extension of the Phase 2/3 clinical trial (NCT02612129).

 

In January 2024, the FDA acknowledged receipt of the resubmission and, under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (“PDUFA”), deemed the arimoclomol NDA resubmission to be a Class II complete response which has a six-month review period from the date of resubmission. On March 4, 2024, we announced that the FDA had extended the review period for the NDA for arimoclomol and set a new PDUFA date of September 21, 2024. The FDA also re-affirmed its intent to present the resubmission for discussion at an advisory committee meeting to be scheduled.

 

Zevra holds the global rights for arimoclomol. We are evaluating the possibility of seeking regulatory approval and commercialization outside of the US.

 

Arimoclomol summary:

 

 

Currently, no approved treatments for NPC in the U.S. There are no currently approved products in the U.S. to treat the underlying disease of NPC and we believe, if approved, arimoclomol could be considered a foundational therapy for patients in the U.S.

   

 

 

Designed to address disease progression. Arimoclomol is designed to address the symptoms of NPC by slowing the progression of the disease itself, rather than serving as a symptomatic treatment only. The Phase 2/3 trial data for arimoclomol in NPC demonstrated reduced disease progression, and long-term data from the 4-year OLE of the Phase 2/3 trial suggest improved outcomes vs. historical controls.

     
 

Ease of flexible administration as an oral treatment. Arimoclomol is administered as an oral capsule that can be swallowed whole, opened and contents mixed with foods or liquids, or delivered through a feeding tube.
   

 

 

Extensive clinical experience with favorable safety data. No significant safety findings have been reported with more than 600 patients treated in various clinical trials and through our expanded access programs.
   

 

 

Advantageous regulatory designations. Arimoclomol has been granted orphan drug designation, Fast Track designation, and Breakthrough Therapy designation for the treatment of NPC. If approved for the treatment of NPC, we believe arimoclomol will be eligible to receive a Pediatric Rare Disease Priority Review Voucher (“PRV”).

 

 

Celiprolol

 

The Merger with Acer included the acquisition of celiprolol. We are advancing celiprolol as an investigational product candidate for the treatment of vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (vEDS) in patients with a confirmed type III collagen (COL3A1) mutation.  Celiprolol is a selective adrenergic modulator (SAM) and, if we receive the first approval in the U.S. for celiprolol, we believe it would be deemed a new chemical entity (“NCE”) in the U.S. Celiprolol is currently approved in the European Union for the treatment of hypertension and angina.

 

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (“EDS”) is an inherited disorder caused by mutations in the genes responsible for the structure, production, or processing of collagen, an important component of the connective tissues in the human body, or proteins that interact with collagen. vEDS causes abnormal fragility in blood vessels, which can give rise to aneurysms, abnormal connections between blood vessels known as arteriovenous fistulas, arterial dissections, and spontaneous vascular ruptures, all of which can be potentially life-threatening. Gastrointestinal and uterine fragility or rupture also commonly occur in vEDS patients. Spontaneous arterial rupture has a peak incidence in the third or fourth decade of life in vEDS patients but may occur earlier and is the most common cause of sudden death in vEDS patients. Arterial rupture or dissection events occur in about 25% of patients before the age of 20 but increase to roughly 90% of patients by the age of 40. The median survival age of vEDS patients in the U.S. is 51 years, with arterial rupture being the most common cause of sudden death. Pregnancy-related complications also occur in women with vEDS and include arterial dissection or rupture, uterine rupture, hemorrhage, premature rupture of membranes, lacerations, and complications during and after surgery. The incidence of vEDS is estimated to be one in 50,000 to 200,000 people.  There are approximately 7,500 diagnosed patients in the U.S.

 

Currently, there are no approved therapies anywhere in the world for vEDS. However, celiprolol, prescribed off label, has become the standard of care therapy for vEDS in some Europe an countries. Medical intervention for vEDS focuses on surgery, symptomatic treatment, genetic counseling, and prophylactic measures, such as avoiding intense physical activity, scuba diving, and violent sports. Arterial, digestive, or uterine complications in vEDS patients typically require immediate hospitalization, observation in an intensive care unit, and sometimes surgery. Pregnant women with vEDS are considered to be at risk and receive special care. While vEDS patients are encouraged to take steps to minimize the chances of an arterial rupture or dissection, there are no pharmacologic options to reduce the likelihood of such an event, and accordingly current treatments for vEDS focus on the repair of arterial ruptures or dissection. Therefore, patients must adopt a “watch and wait” approach following any confirmed diagnosis. Unfortunately, many of these arterial events have high mortality associated with them, and thus, a pharmacologic intervention that reduces the rate of events would be clinically meaningful.

 

Celiprolol has not been approved for any indication in the U.S. In the past, an NDA for celiprolol for the treatment for hypertension was submitted to the FDA by Rorer (subsequently acquired by Aventis Pharma SA (Aventis)) in June 1987, but was subsequently withdrawn prior to completion of the FDA review and therefore never approved. We have obtained the exclusive right in North and South America from Aventis to reference the celiprolol data included in the marketing authorization application dossier filed with and approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”). In addition, our wholly-owned subsidiary, Acer Therapeutics, Inc. (“Acer”) has licensed exclusive worldwide rights to the data from the Phase 3 clinical trial known as the BBEST trial which was sponsored by L’Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris (“AP-HP”).

 

Celiprolol received orphan drug designation from the FDA for the treatment of vEDS in 2015. In October 2018, a new celiprolol NDA was submitted to the FDA by Acer based on data obtained from the BBEST trial and was subsequently accepted by the FDA in October 2018 with priority review status. Following FDA review, Acer received a CRL from the FDA stating that it will be necessary to conduct an adequate and well-controlled trial to determine whether celiprolol reduces the risk of clinical events in patients with vEDS. Subsequently, Acer appealed the FDA decision, and while the FDA denied the appeal, it described possible paths forward toward approval. In a May 2021 Type B meeting with the FDA, Acer discussed the conduct of an U.S.-based prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, decentralized clinical trial in patients with COL3A1 positive vEDS, and sought the FDA’s opinion on various proposed design features of the study.

 

Based on FDA's feedback during the Type B meeting, we adopted a decentralized (virtual) event-based clinical trial design and use of an independent centralized adjudication committee with a primary endpoint based on clinical events associated with disease outcome. In April 2022, the FDA granted celiprolol Breakthrough Therapy designation (“BTD”) in the U.S. for the treatment of patients with COL3A1-positive vEDS.

 

In July 2022, Acer initiated enrollment in a phase 3 clinical trial designed based on the discussions from the May 2021 Type B meeting with the FDA, also known as the DiSCOVER trial. The DiSCOVER trial intends to enroll 150 vEDS patients, with 100 patients receiving celiprolol and 50 patients receiving placebo. The first patient was dosed in November 2022 and the trial is currently enrolling.

 

Celiprolol summary:

 

 

Currently, no approved treatments for vEDS in the U.S. There are currently no approved treatments of vEDS in the U.S. and we believe that celiprolol, if approved, could be a significant innovation in the treatment of vEDS in the U.S. where current treatment options are focused primarily on surgical intervention.

     
 

Unique pharmacological profile. Mechanism of action in vEDS patients is thought to be through vascular dilatation and smooth muscle relaxation, the effect of which is to reduce the mechanical stress on collagen fibers in the arterial wall, and thereby potentially less incidence of vascular ruptures.

     
 

Evidence of efficacy in the E.U and extensive clinical experience from multiple trials. Celiprolol has become the primary treatment for vEDS patients in several European countries. BBEST Clinical Trial data showed 76% reduction in risk of arterial events observed in COLA3A1+ subpopulation, with additional data from a long-term observational study in France.

     
 

Regulatory designations. Celiprolol for vEDS would be considered an NCE in the U.S. and has been granted Orphan Drug designation and Breakthrough Therapy designation.

     
 

Solid patent protection through 2038. Celiprolol is generally protected by U.S. patents that will expire, after utilizing all appropriate patent term adjustments but excluding possible term extensions, in 2038.

 

 

 

 

KP1077

 

KP1077 is being developed for the treatment of IH and narcolepsy. IH is a rare neurological sleep disorder affecting approximately 37,000 patients in the United States.  The cardinal feature of IH is excessive daytime sleepiness ("EDS"), characterized by daytime lapses into sleep, or an irrepressible need to sleep that persists even with adequate or prolonged nighttime sleep.  Additionally, those with IH have extreme difficulty waking, otherwise known as “sleep inertia,” suffer from severe and debilitating brain fog, and may fall asleep unintentionally or at inappropriate times, also known as narcolepsy.  These symptoms often further lead to reported memory problems, difficulty maintaining focus, and depression.

 

There is currently only one approved product for the treatment of IH, XYWAV®, developed by Jazz Pharmaceuticals. A second product, WAKIX®, developed by Harmony Biosciences and originally approved for the treatment of EDS or cataplexy in adult patients with narcolepsy, but in October 2023, Harmony announced that the difference in outcome for EDS when comparing WAKIX and placebo in its Phase 3 trial with IH patients did not reach statistical significance.  Prescribers also utilize narcolepsy medications and various stimulant products “off-label” to treat IH symptoms, with methylphenidate, a stimulant which has been classified by the DEA as a Schedule II controlled substance, being one of the most commonly used stimulants for treating IH.  While each of these medications can help to address certain IH symptoms, there are also potential shortcomings, including dosing inconvenience, serious adverse events, such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate, and significant drug-to-drug interactions ("DDIs"), including with medications used to manage contraception and depression.  In addition, patients have indicated that the effectiveness of their current medication was poor.

 

Narcolepsy is a rare, chronic, debilitating neurologic disorder of sleep-wake state instability that impacts up to 200,000 Americans and is primarily characterized by EDS and cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone while a person is awake) along with other manifestations of rapid eye movement ("REM"), sleep dysregulation, which intrude into wakefulness. In most patients, narcolepsy is caused by the loss of hypocretin, a neuropeptide in the brain that supports sleep-wake state stability. Typical symptom onset occurs in adolescence or young adulthood, but it can take up to a decade to be properly diagnosed. Although there are several approved medications for narcolepsy, we believe a treatment option based on serdexmethylphenidate (“SDX"), our proprietary prodrug of d-methylphenidate (“d-MPH”) which has previously been classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, with superior exposure/duration characteristics and low abuse potential may be beneficial.

 

We reported top-line data from a Phase 1 proof-of-concept study of SDX in the fourth quarter of 2021 and final data for the Phase 1 proof-of-concept study of SDX in the first quarter of 2022. The proof-of-concept study was a dose-escalation study to evaluate the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamic stimulant effects, and safety of single oral doses of SDX in subjects with a history of high-dose stimulant use. In the trial, 240 mg and 360 mg doses of SDX were observed to be well-tolerated and produced d-MPH exposure that appeared to increase proportionally with dose. Mean d-MPH plasma concentrations showed a gradual increase after SDX administration, reaching a broad peak from eight to twelve hours post-dose, followed by a shallow decline thereafter. Increased wakefulness, alertness, hypervigilance, and insomnia effects were reported by study participants, which we believe suggests that SDX produced targeted pharmacodynamic effects that have the potential to benefit patients with IH and other sleep disorders. In November 2022, we announced that the FDA has granted the orphan drug designation to SDX for the treatment of IH.

 

 

In January 2022, we announced that we had selected KP1077 for the treatment of IH and narcolepsy as our lead clinical development candidate. KP1077 utilizes SDX, our prodrug of d-MPH, as its API. During the first quarter of 2022, we initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial comparing the cardiovascular safety of SDX to immediate-release and long-acting formulations of RITALIN®, a commonly prescribed CNS stimulant. In September 2022, we announced topline data from our exploratory Phase 1 clinical trial, which showed the potential for higher dose formulations of SDX to be safe and well tolerated while avoiding the potential for greater cardiovascular safety risk compared to immediate-release and long-acting formulations of Ritalin.

 

Based on the data, in December 2022, we announced the initiation of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized-withdrawal, dose-optimizing, multi-center Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of KP1077 for the treatment of IH. The trial concluded in March 2024 and provided meaningful information of the optimal dose and dosing regimen to inform Phase 3 trial design.

 

We enrolled 48 adult patients with IH in more than 30 centers in the United States. Part 1 of the trial consisted of a five-week open-label titration phase during which patients were optimized to one of four doses of SDX (80, 160, 240, or 320 mg/day). Part 2 of the trial entailed a two-week randomized, double-blind, withdrawal phase, during which two-thirds of the trial participants will continue to receive their optimized dose while the remaining one-third will receive placebo. Participants were further assigned into two evenly divided cohorts. The first cohort received a single daily dose just before bedtime, and the second cohort received half the daily dose shortly after awakening and half the daily dose prior to bedtime.

 

Clinically meaningful improvements were observed across all studied endpoints. The trial was not powered for statistical significance, and this was not the primary endpoint. The exploratory endpoints of sleep inertia and brain fog performed in-line with expectations and were stable when compared across a variety of other endpoints.  Symptom improvements in patients receiving KP1077 were similar after both once-per-day, and twice-per-day dosing. 

 

In the Phase 2 trial, KP1077 was observed to be well-tolerated at all dose levels and both dosing regimens, with adverse events that are typical for stimulants and mostly mild in severity.  These results are consistent with data from the Phase 1 trial with serdexmethylphenidate (SDX) that indicated no greater cardiovascular safety risk despite higher overall exposure levels when compared to both immediate and long-acting methylphenidate products currently used off-label for the treatment of IH.

 

In the second quarter of 2023, we initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy volunteers to assess proposed dosing regimen for the narcolepsy indication. This study was completed in September 2023. By leveraging the data from the IH program, Zevra is evaluating the potential to initiate a Phase 3 trial in narcolepsy.

 

KP1077 is subject to a right of first negotiation upon completion of a proof-of-concept study in favor of Commave, under the terms of the AZSTARYS License Agreement, but is not currently licensed to Commave, thereunder.

 

KP1077 Summary:

 

 

Dosing flexibility. Designed to be delivered in either one or two doses daily, which is designed to address the two primary issues associated with IH: (i) nighttime dose would address sleep inertia, and (ii) morning dose would address daytime brain fog.

   

 

 

No drug-to-drug interactions. We have not observed drug-to-drug interactions in clinical drug-drug interaction studies.

   

 

 

Potential for reduced abuse potential as a Schedule IV controlled substance. All other methylphenidate-based products have been designated as Schedule II controlled substances, which indicates stricter control over the prescribing and use of such products.  KP1077 is based on SDX, which has been designated a Schedule IV controlled substance.

   

 

 

No currently approved generic equivalent product. KP1077 contains SDX, our proprietary prodrug of d-methylphenidate, also known as the new chemical name, serdexmethylphenidate, by the U.S. Adopted Names Council of the American Medical Association (“USAN”), which means that there may be no generic equivalent product for KP1077 in most states, making drug-equivalent substitution potentially difficult at the pharmacy.  

   

 

 

Orphan drug designation. Because small size of the IH patient population, the FDA has granted KP1077 orphan drug designation for the treatment of IH. We believe KP1077 may potentially be eligible for fast-track and breakthrough therapy designation, which may provide various regulatory benefits for the development program.

 

 

AZSTARYS (Partnered product)

 

AZSTARYS contains dexmethylphenidate (d-MPH) and our prodrug of dexmethylphenidate, serdexmethylphenidate (SDX). On March 2, 2021, the FDA approved AZSTARYS as a once-daily treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in patients age six years and older. AZSTARYS is currently being marketed in the U.S. under our September 2019 collaboration and license agreement, or the AZSTARYS License Agreement, with Commave Therapeutics SA (formerly known as Boston Pharmaceutical S.A.) ("Commave"), an affiliate of Gurnet Point Capital, L.P. Under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, we granted to Commave an exclusive, worldwide license, to develop, manufacture, and commercialize AZSTARYS and any of our product candidates containing SDX and used to treat ADHD or any other central nervous system ("CNS") disease.

 

Commave has tasked Corium, Inc. ("Corium"), another affiliate of Gurnet Point Capital, L.P., to lead all commercialization activities for AZSTARYS in the U.S.  Corium commercially launched AZSTARYS in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2021. In December 2021, Commave entered into a sublicense of commercialization rights for AZSTARYS in greater China to Shanghai Ark Biopharmaceutical Ltd.

 

Pursuant to the AZSTARYS License Agreement, Commave agreed to pay up to $63.0 million in milestone payments upon the occurrence of specified regulatory milestones related to the AZSTARYS, including FDA approval and specified conditions with respect to the final approval label. In addition, Corium agreed to make additional payments upon the achievement of specified U.S. sales milestones of up to $420 million in the aggregate. Further, Commave will pay us quarterly, tiered royalty payments based on a percentage of net sales on a product-by-product basis. Corium also agreed to be responsible for and reimburse us for all of development, commercialization and regulatory expenses for any products or product candidates containing SDX, subject to certain limitations as set forth in the AZSTARYS License Agreement, including consultation fees to be paid to us for services provided to Corium in performing such activities.

 

In April 2021, we entered into the AZSTARYS Amendment. Pursuant to the AZSTARYS Amendment, we and Commave agreed to modify the compensation terms of the AZSTARYS License Agreement. Commave paid us $10.0 million in connection with the execution of the AZSTARYS Amendment following the FDA approval of AZSTARYS in the United States. Corium also paid us $10.0 million following the SDX scheduling determination by the DEA, which occurred on May 7, 2021. In addition, the AZSTARYS Amendment increased the total remaining future regulatory and sales milestone payments related to AZSTARYS up to an aggregate of $590.0 million. The AZSTARYS License Agreement will continue on a product-by-product basis (i) until expiration of the royalty term for the applicable product candidate in the United States and (ii) perpetually for all other countries.

 

In May 2021, we announced that SDX, our proprietary prodrug of d-MPH and the primary active pharmaceutical ingredient ("API") in AZSTARYS, was classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the DEA. AZSTARYS is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance as its formulation includes a 70:30 mixture of SDX (Schedule IV) and d-MPH (Schedule II), respectively.

 

During the first half of 2023, annual net sales of AZSTARYS surpassed $25 million, triggering the first annual net sales milestone payment of $5.0 million under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, which was earned and recognized as revenue in the second quarter of 2023, and received after quarter-end. During the second half of 2023, annual net sales of AZSTARYS surpassed $50 million, triggering the second milestone payment of $10.0 million under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, which was earned and recognized in the fourth quarter of 2023, and received in February 2024.

 

APADAZ (Withdrawn product)

 

The FDA approved APADAZ in February 2018. APADAZ is an immediate-release combination product containing benzhydrocodone, our prodrug of hydrocodone, and acetaminophen for the short-term (no more than 14 days) management of acute pain severe enough to require opioid analgesic and for which alternative treatments are inadequate. In October 2018, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement (the "APADAZ License Agreement") with KVK-Tech, Inc. ("KVK"), under which we granted to KVK the exclusive license to manufacture and commercialize APADAZ in the U.S. On May 31, 2023, the Company and KVK terminated the APADAZ License Agreement. Currently, the APADAZ NDA has been withdrawn and the product is not commercially available.

 

 

Our Intellectual Property

 

Our intellectual property (“IP”) strategy includes seeking composition-of-matter patents, among other patents, for our prodrugs, product candidates and conjugates of our prodrugs while also protecting, where appropriate as trade secrets, our proprietary LAT platform technology, the process by which we identify, screen, evaluate and select ligands to be conjugated with parent drugs to create our prodrugs. Our current prodrugs all consist of an approved parent drug and one or more ligands that we have selected using our proprietary LAT platform technology. The parent drug and ligand or ligands together may potentially constitute a new molecule and thus may be eligible for composition-of-matter patent protection, among other patent protections, in the U.S. and abroad. Beyond our internally generated IP, we have also acquired extensive IP portfolios through our business development efforts which support the products and product candidates that we are seeking to commercialize and/or develop. 

 

In addition to the execution of our IP strategy, we also depend upon the skills, knowledge and experience of our scientific and technical personnel, as well as that of our advisors, consultants and other contractors. To help protect our LAT platform technology, as well as any proprietary know-how and show-how beyond that which is patentable, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect our interests. To this end, we generally require our employees, consultants and advisors to enter into confidentiality agreements prohibiting the disclosure of confidential information and, in some cases, requiring disclosure and assignment to us of the ideas, developments, discoveries, inventions and improvements important to our business.

 

As of December 31, 2023, we have been granted and maintain 62 active patents within the United States, and an additional 241 active foreign patents covering our selected prodrugs and product candidates. The terms of the 62 issued U.S. patents extend to various dates ranging, for example, between 2029 and 2040. The term of our overall domestic and foreign patent portfolio related to our selected prodrugs and product candidates, including patent term adjustments but excluding possible patent term extensions, extend to various dates ranging, for example, between 2029 and 2042, if pending patent applications in each of our patent families are issued as patents. As of December 31, 2023, we had 19 pending patent applications under active prosecution in the United States, and an additional 117 pending foreign patent applications potentially covering our selected prodrugs and product candidates. Our issued and granted patents provide protection in jurisdictions that include the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, European Countries, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and Vietnam.

 

Arimoclomol

 

Pursuant to our acquisition of the assets of Orphazyme, we have received method of use and method of treatment patents, and have filed related patent applications, related to the arimoclomol families in various jurisdictions, including the U.S., European countries, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Canada, China, Brazil, Russia and Turkey, with anticipated patent expiration dates of 2029, excluding any potential patent term adjustments or extensions. We anticipate filing additional patent applications related to the arimoclomol families.

 

OLPRUVA (sodium phenylbutyrate)

 

We acquired the IP portfolio supporting OLPRUVA as part of the Merger with Acer. We have both U.S. and foreign patents with claims related to OLPRUVA. Our U.S. patents are directed to pharmaceutical compositions, including OLPRUVA's polymer coated, multi-particulate dosage formulation for oral administration and covers certain methods of use claims related to OLPRUVA Additionally, we have patents in Europe, Israel, and Mexico related to pharmaceutical compositions, including OLPRUVA's polymer coated, multi-particulate dosage formulation for oral administration. These patents expire in 2036.

 

In October 2022, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") issued a Notice of Allowance for U.S. patent application No. 16/624,834 for claims related to a kit comprising a combination therapeutic product composed of sodium phenylbutyrate or glycerol phenylbutyrate and sodium benzoate. That application has now issued as U.S. Patent No. 11,517,547 and was exclusively licensed to Acer, which we acquired in November 2023, from Baylor College of Medicine ("BCM"), with an expiration date in June 2038.

 

In July 2022, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (“CNIPA”) issued Electronic Patent Certificate ZL202122004991.9 in May 2022, for Utility Model directed to OLPRUVA (sodium phenylbutyrate). Specifically, the patent covers dosage form claims related to OLPRUVA’s polymer coated formulation for oral administration as a potential treatment for UCDs and Maple Syrup Urine Disease ("MSUD"). The patent has an expiration date in August 2031.

 

We have exclusive rights to certain patents and other intellectual property from BCM for the use of sodium phenylbutyrate (NaPB) for the treatment of inborn errors of BCAA metabolism, including MSUD. The licensed patents cover methods and compositions for treating humans (and animals) with various formulations and prodrugs of NaPB for inborn errors of BCAA metabolism, including MSUD, with the latest expiring in 2032. We made filings in the geographic regions that represent the largest incidence and prevalence of MSUD, including the U.S., selected countries in Europe (including Turkey), and Brazil. BCM has received three patents in the U.S. and one in the EU with respect to OLPRUVA, each of which is exclusively licensed to us pursuant to our agreement with BCM.

 

We also expect to benefit from potential commercial exclusivity afforded to the first drug approved after obtaining orphan drug designation for the treatment of MSUD. Orphan drug designation for OLPRUVA for the treatment of MSUD was granted by the FDA in August 2014.

 

Furthermore, we may qualify to receive an additional six months of pediatric exclusivity in the U.S., which runs consecutively to an existing exclusivity, if we conduct a successful pediatric study of OLPRUVA for the treatment of MSUD, approved by the FDA for this purpose.

 

 

AZSTARYS and Serdexmethylphenidate (SDX)

 

We have received composition-of-matter patents and also additionally filed composition-of-matter and method of treatment patent applications related to the AZSTARYS and SDX families in the United States and in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, European Countries, India, Israel, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam. We anticipate filing additional patent applications for our prodrugs and product candidates covering SDX and KP1077.

 

Celiprolol

 

The Merger with Acer included the acquisition of celiprolol, for which we intend to protect our commercial rights in the U.S. via multiple pathways. We believe celiprolol will be eligible for NCE exclusivity which provides upon approval as an NCE five years of marketing exclusivity, during which time the FDA will not approve another drug with the same active ingredient, regardless of the indication for use, in the U.S. In January 2015, the FDA granted celiprolol Orphan Drug designation, which provides seven years of marketing exclusivity for a drug intended to treat a rare condition, if approved.  During the Orphan Drug exclusivity period, the FDA cannot approve the same drug for the same indication, unless it demonstrates clinical superiority. Orphan Drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving the same drug for a different indication, or a different drug for the same indication. NCE exclusivity and Orphan Drug exclusivity periods run concurrently. Furthermore, celiprolol may qualify for an additional six months of pediatric exclusivity in the U.S., which requires the submission of one or more studies in pediatric subjects that meet requirements to be specified by the FDA in a written request for pediatric studies. Pediatric exclusivity can be obtained either before or after NDA approval. Pediatric exclusivity is attached to the end of an existing exclusivity and runs consecutively. We may also consider making modifications to the formulation in order to improve the product profile and to seek additional intellectual property. While unapproved drugs may be imported into the U.S. underspecified circumstances, such as for use in clinical studies under a valid and effective investigational new drug ("IND") or for further manufacture into an IND drug or an approved drug, we intend to aggressively assert our rights, via regulatory and legal means, to limit the importation of non-FDA approved versions of celiprolol.

 

In 2022, the USPTO issued a Notice of Allowance for a patent application exclusively licensed from Assistance Publique—Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), for claims related to certain methods of vEDS with celiprolol. This application, titled “Method of Providing Celiprolol Therapy to a Patient,” has now issued as a U.S. patent with an expiration date in November 2038. 

 

Commercialization

 

In December 2022, the FDA approved OLPRUVA (sodium phenylbutyrate) for oral suspension in the U.S. OLPRUVA is a prescription medicine used along with certain therapy, including changes in diet, for the long-term management of adults and children weighing 44 pounds (20 kg) or greater and with a body surface area (“BSA”) of 1.2m2 or greater, with UCDs, involving deficiencies of CPS, OTC or AS. OLPRUVA is not used to treat rapid increase of ammonia in the blood (acute hyperammonemia), which can be life-threatening and requires emergency medical treatment. Approximately 1 in 100,000 people have UCD, and there are an estimated 800 patients being actively treated in US. While there are therapies currently approved for the treatment of UCDs, there remains unmet needs for this patient population. Current branded products include RAVICTI®, marketed by Amgen, Inc. (previously Horizon Therapeutics) and PHEBURANE®, marketed by Medunik USA. OLPRUVA offers benefits over other sodium phenylbutrate treatments by eliminating issues with palatability, offering improved portability with its single-dose envelopes, and it comes in a dosage that personalized to the patient based on weight.

 

To support the launch of OLPRUVA, we have built in-house capabilities including rare disease sales specialists who are working with prescribing clinicians and healthcare providers, which include metabolic specialists and clinical geneticists, as well as marketing, patient reimbursement services, market access and contracting, patient advocacy, and medical affairs teams. We have successfully recruited, on-boarded and trained our full commercial team and full launch for OLPRUVA began January 29, 2024. We also have arrangements with third parties to provide additional services such as distribution and specialty pharmacy offerings. To support the efforts of our team members which are in the field engaging with HCPs, we are actively engaged in negotiations with the major commercial payers and state Medicaid organizations to seek access for OLPRUVA. We have established promotional programs to drive awareness and patient experience with OLPRUVA including Quick Start, a thirty-day free trial program designed to provide patient experience, and other patient co-pay programs, reflecting our commitment to ensure access to innovative treatments to those in need. 

 

In March 2021, we announced that the FDA approved the NDA for AZSTARYS, a once-daily product for the treatment of ADHD in patients ranging from six years and older. Corium is leading the commercialization of AZSTARYS in the U.S. under the AZSTARYS License Agreement. Corium commercially launched AZSTARYS in the U.S. in July 2021. In December 2021, Commave Therapeutics, S.A. sublicensed to Shanghai Ark Biopharmaceutical Co., Ltd. the commercialization rights Greater China, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

 

We have established a small, targeted commercial team which is designed to fully service the patients and prescribers within the rare disease indications for which we are successful in gaining approval for our product candidates.  However, if our product candidates have large potential market opportunities that would require significant marketing resources, we may conclude that the most appropriate approach to their commercialization, if they receive regulatory approval, will involve forming a commercial collaboration or strategic relationship similar to those we have entered into with Commave, or consummating some type of strategic transaction, with a larger pharmaceutical or other marketing organization. As we get closer to potential approval of our product candidates, we will work to identify and implement the most appropriate commercialization strategies that we conclude are the most desirable with regard to each specific product candidate.

 

 

Competition

 

Our industry is characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. We will face competition and potential competition from a number of sources, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies, generic drug companies, drug delivery companies and academic and research institutions. Our competitors may develop or market drugs that are more effective, more convenient, more widely used and less costly or have a better safety profile than our products or product candidates and these competitors may also have significantly more resources than us and be more successful than us in manufacturing and marketing their products.  We anticipate facing intense and increasing competition as new products enter the market and advanced technologies become available.

 

OLPRUVA

 

OLPRUVA competes against several currently marketed, branded and generic forms of phenylbutyrate. In particular, RAVICTI, which is marketed by Amgen Inc. (formerly Horizon Therapeutics), and PHEBURANE®,, which is marketed by Medunik USA. We are also aware that there are drug candidates in clinical development for the potential treatment of UCDs. In addition, there is the potential entrance of authorized generics for RAVICTI which could enter the market as early as July 2025.

 

Arimoclomol

 

While there are currently no approved products for the treatment of NPC in the U.S., if approved, we expect the most direct competitor with respect to arimoclomol to be ZAVESCA (miglustat), which was originally developed by Actelion Pharmaceuticals and is now owned by Johnson & Johnson.  Miglustat is available as a generic product in several countries, including the U.S., where it is currently approved for the treatment of another lysosomal storage disorder, Gaucher disease. Miglustat is currently approved for the treatment of NPC in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several countries in Asia and South America where it is marketed as ZAVESCA and marketed as BRAZAVES in Japan. We are also aware that there are several other drug candidates in clinical development for the treatment of NPC. Furthest along of these drug candidates is IB1001 from IntraBio (UK), which recently submitted its NDA to the FDA.

 

Celiprolol

 

We are not aware of any active ongoing clinical trials for the treatment of vEDS. Aytu BioPharma, Inc. development program known as AR101/enzastaurin was indefinitely suspended in October 2022.

 

KP1077

 

If approved, we intend for KP1077 to compete against XYWAV®, marketed by Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and potentially with other products that are currently in development for the treatment of IH. KP1077 could face potential competition from any products for the treatment of IH that are currently in or which may enter into clinical development.

 

AZSTARYS

 

AZSTARYS competes against currently marketed, branded and generic methylphenidate products for the treatment of ADHD. Some of these currently marketed products include CONCERTA®, marketed by J&J Innovative Medicines (formerly Jannsen), QUELBREE®, marketed by Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., QUILLIVANT XR®and QUILLICHEW ER®, marketed by Tris Pharma, RITALIN, FOCALIN® and FOCALIN XR®, marketed by Novartis AG,  METADATE CD®, marketed by UCB SA, DAYTRANA®, marketed by Noven Therapeutics, LLC, Neos Therapeutics’ CONTEMPLA XR-ODT®, marketed Aytu BioScience, Inc., JORNAY PM®, Ironshore Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and ADHANSIA XR®, marketed by Adlon Therapeutics, in addition to multiple other branded and generic methylphenidate products. In addition, AZSTARYS will face potential competition from any other methylphenidate products for the treatment of ADHD that are currently in, or which may enter into clinical development.

 

Many of our competitors either alone or with strategic partners, have or will have substantially greater financial, technical, and human resources compared with us. Accordingly, our competitors may be more successful in developing or marketing products and technologies that are more effective, safer or less costly. Additionally, our competitors may obtain regulatory approval for their products more rapidly and may achieve more widespread market acceptance. These companies also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical study sites and patient registration for clinical studies and acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. There are other non-pharmaceutical therapeutic approaches that are used or may be used for our targeted indications. For example, liver transplantation may be used in some cases to treat UCDs in pediatric patients who have developed acute liver failure.

 

 

Manufacturing

 

Our manufacturing strategy is to rely on contract manufacturers to produce our approved products and product candidates for clinical trials and, if approved, drug product for commercial sale. We currently have no manufacturing facilities and limited personnel with manufacturing experience. We have contracted with third parties for the manufacture, testing, and storage of our approved products and product candidates and intend to continue to do so in the future. We expect to contract with third-party manufacturers for the manufacture of all API supply needs outside the United States if and when we receive approval from regulatory authorities outside the United States.

 

Our current and any future third-party manufacturers, their facilities and all lots of drug substance and drug products used in our clinical trials are required to be in compliance with current good manufacturing practices ("cGMPs") and comparable foreign regulations. The cGMP and comparable foreign regulations include requirements relating to organization of personnel, buildings and facilities, equipment, control of components and drug product containers and closures, production and process controls, packaging and labeling controls, holding and distribution, laboratory controls, records and reports, and returned or salvaged products. The manufacturing facilities for our products must meet cGMP and comparable foreign requirements and FDA and foreign regulatory authorities' satisfaction before any product is approved and we can manufacture commercial products. Our current and any future third-party manufacturers are also subject to periodic inspections of facilities by the FDA and other authorities, including procedures and operations used in the testing and manufacture of our products to assess our compliance with applicable regulations.

 

Failure to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements subjects a manufacturer to possible legal or regulatory action, including refusal to approve pending applications, license suspension or revocation, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold or termination of clinical trials, warning letters, untitled letters, cyber letters, modification of promotional materials or labeling, product recalls, product seizures or detentions, refusal to allow imports or exports, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, debarment, injunctions, fines, consent decrees, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreements to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, refusals of government contracts and new orders under existing contracts, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs, restitution, disgorgement or civil or criminal penalties, including fines and individual imprisonments.

 

Third-Party Payor Coverage and Reimbursement

 

Sales of pharmaceutical products depend in significant part on the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement by third-party payors, such as state and federal governmental authorities, including those that administer the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and private managed care organizations and health insurers. Decisions regarding the extent of coverage and amount of reimbursement to be provided for each of our product and product candidates is and will be made on a plan-by-plan basis. One payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage, and adequate reimbursement, for the product. Each third-party payor determines whether or not it will provide coverage for a drug, what amount it will pay providers for the drug, and on what tier of its formulary the drug will be placed. These decisions are influenced by the existence of multiple drug products within a therapeutic class and the net cost to the plan, including the amount of the prescription price, if any, rebated by the drug’s manufacturer. Typically, generic versions of drugs are placed in a preferred tier. The position of a drug on the formulary generally determines the co-payment that a patient will need to make to obtain the drug and can strongly influence the adoption of a drug by patients and physicians. 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. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided, and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products. Additionally, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Also, third-party payors are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs. As a result, coverage, reimbursement and placement determinations are complex and are often the subject of extensive negotiations between the payer and the owner of the drug.

 

 

Unless we enter into a strategic collaboration under which our collaborator assumes responsibility for seeking coverage and reimbursement for a given product (such as the AZSTARYS License Agreement), we will be responsible for negotiating coverage, reimbursement and placement decisions for our product candidates, if approved. Coverage, reimbursement and placement decisions for a new product are based on many factors including the coverage, reimbursement and placement of already marketed branded drugs for the same or similar indications, the safety and efficacy of the new product, availability of generics for similar indications, the clinical need for the new product and the cost-effectiveness of the product. Increasingly, both purchasers and payors are also conducting comparative clinical and cost effectiveness analyses involving application of metrics, including data on patient outcomes, provided by manufacturers.

 

Within the Medicare program, as self-administered drugs, our product and product candidates would be reimbursed under the expanded prescription drug benefit known as Medicare Part D. This program is a voluntary Medicare benefit administered by private plans that operate under contracts with the federal government. These plans develop formularies that determine which products are covered and what co-pay will apply to covered drugs. The plans have considerable discretion in establishing formularies and tiered co-pay structures, negotiating rebates with manufacturers and placing prior authorization and other restrictions on the utilization of specific products, subject to review by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS"), for discriminatory practices. These Part D plans negotiate discounts with drug manufacturers, which are passed on, in whole or in part, to each of the plan’s enrollees through reduced premiums. Historically, Part D beneficiaries have been exposed to significant out-of-pocket costs after they surpass an annual coverage limit and until they reach a catastrophic coverage threshold. However, changes made by recent legislation will reduce this patient coverage gap, known as the “donut hole”, by transitioning patient responsibility in that coverage range from 100% in 2010 to only 25% currently. To help achieve this reduction, pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to provide quarterly discounts of 70%, which commenced January 1, 2019. In 2020, drug manufacturers became responsible for a larger share of total drug costs due to an increase to the catastrophic threshold. Such increase also resulted in a higher out-of-pocket threshold paid by Part D beneficiaries.

 

If a drug product is available for reimbursement by Medicare or Medicaid, its manufacturer must comply with various health regulatory requirements and price reporting metrics, which may include, as applicable, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, the Medicaid rebate requirements of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (the "OBRA"), and the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 (the "VHCA"), each as amended. Among other things, the OBRA requires drug manufacturers with certain drugs covered by Medicaid to pay rebates on prescription drugs to state Medicaid programs. States may also negotiate “supplemental” Medicaid rebates on drug products dispensed under Medicaid. Manufacturers participating in Medicaid are also generally required to participate in the Public Health Service 340B Drug Discount Program, which imposes a mandatory discount on purchases by certain customers. Manufacturers of innovator drugs, including 505(b)(2) drugs, that participate in the Medicaid program are also required to offer the drugs on the Federal Supply Schedule purchasing program of the General Services Administration for purchase by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and other authorized users at a mandatory discount. Additional laws and requirements apply to these contracts. Participation in such federal programs may result in prices for our future products that will likely be lower than the prices we might otherwise obtain.

 

Third-party payers, including the U.S. government, continue to apply downward pressure on the reimbursement of pharmaceutical products. Also, the trend towards managed health care in the United States and the concurrent growth of organizations such as health maintenance organizations may result in lower reimbursement for pharmaceutical products. We expect that these trends will continue as these payors implement various proposals or regulatory policies, including various provisions of the recent health reform legislation that affect reimbursement of these products. There are currently, and we expect that there will continue to be, a number of federal, state and foreign proposals to implement controls on reimbursement and pricing, directly and indirectly.

 

In international markets, reimbursement and healthcare payment systems vary significantly by country, and many countries have instituted price ceilings on specific products and therapies. For example, in the E.U., pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular medicinal product candidate to currently available therapies. This Health Technology Assessment (“HTA”) which is currently governed by the national laws of the individual EU member states, is the procedure according to which the assessment of the public health impact, therapeutic impact and the economic and societal impact of use of a given medicinal product in the national healthcare systems of the individual country is conducted. The outcome of HTA regarding specific medicinal products will often influence the pricing and reimbursement status granted to these medicinal products by the competent authorities of individual EU member states. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription medicines, has become very intense. Pharmaceutical products may face competition from lower-priced products in foreign countries that have placed price controls on pharmaceutical products and may also compete with imported foreign products. Furthermore, there is no assurance that a product will be considered medically reasonable and necessary for a specific indication, will be considered cost-effective by third-party payors, that an adequate level of reimbursement will be established even if coverage is available or that the third-party payors’ reimbursement policies will not adversely affect the ability for manufacturers to sell products profitably. Historically, products launched in the E.U. do not follow the price structures which prevail in the U.S., and generally, prices tend to be significantly lower.

 

 

Government Regulation

 

The FDA and comparable regulatory agencies in state and local jurisdictions and in foreign countries impose substantial requirements upon the clinical development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceutical products. These agencies and other federal, state and local entities regulate research and development activities and the testing, manufacture, quality control, safety, effectiveness, labeling, storage, packaging, recordkeeping, tracking, approval, import, export, distribution, advertising and promotion of our products and product candidates. A new drug must be approved by the FDA through the NDA process before it may be legally marketed in the United States. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with applicable federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

 

The process required by the FDA before product candidates may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:

 

 

non-clinical laboratory and animal tests that must be conducted in accordance with good laboratory practices ("GLP") requirements and other applicable regulations;

     

 

submission of an IND, which must be received by the FDA and become effective before human clinical trials may begin;

     

 

approval by an independent institutional review board ("IRB") or ethics committee at each clinical site or centrally before each trial may be initiated;

     

 

performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed product candidate for its intended use, performed in accordance with good clinical practice requirements ("GCPs");

     

 

preparation and submission of a NDA to the FDA;

     

 

satisfactory completion of an FDA advisory committee review, if applicable;

     

 

pre-approval inspection of manufacturing facilities at which the drug is produced to assess their compliance with cGMPs and of selected clinical investigation sites to assess compliance with GCPs; and

     

 

FDA approval of an NDA to permit commercial marketing for particular indications for use.

 

Clinical Trials

 

The testing and regulatory approval process requires substantial time, effort and financial resources. Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluation of drug substance chemistry, pharmacology, toxicity and drug product formulation, as well as animal studies to assess potential safety and efficacy. Prior to commencing the first human clinical trial with a product candidate, we must submit the results of the preclinical tests and preclinical literature, together with manufacturing information, analytical data and any available clinical data or literature, among other things, to the FDA as part of an IND. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational new drug product to humans. The central focus of an IND submission is on the general investigational plan and the protocol(s) for clinical studies.

 

The IND becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA, within the 30-day time period, raises safety concerns or questions about the conduct of the clinical trial by imposing 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 not result in FDA authorization to commence a clinical trial.

 

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with GCPs, which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent for their participation in any clinical study. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A separate submission to the existing IND must be made for each successive clinical trial conducted during product development, as well as amendments to previously submitted clinical trials. Further, an independent IRB for each study site proposing to conduct the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial, its informed consent form and other communications to study subjects before the clinical trial commences at that site. The IRB must continue to oversee the clinical trial while it is being conducted, including any changes to the study plans. Regulatory authorities, an 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, the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the FDA’s or the IRB’s requirements, if the drug has been associated with unexpected serious harm to subjects, or based on evolving business objectives or competitive climate. Some studies also include a data safety monitoring board, which receives special access to unblinded data during the clinical trial and may advise us to halt the clinical trial if it determines that there is an unacceptable safety risk for subjects or other grounds, such as no demonstration of efficacy. Depending on its charter, this group may determine whether a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the trial. The FDA or the sponsor may suspend a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the drug has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.  There are also requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical studies and clinical study results to public registries.

 

In general, for purposes of NDA approval, human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap.

 

 

Phase 1 - The product candidate is initially introduced into healthy subjects or patients with the target disease or condition. These studies are conducted to test the product candidate for safety, dosage tolerance, structure-activity relationships, mechanism of action, absorption, metabolism, distribution and excretion. If possible, Phase 1 trials may also be used to gain early evidence of product effectiveness.

     

 

Phase 2 - The product candidate is administered to a limited patient population with a specified disease or condition to evaluate the preliminary efficacy, optimal dosage and dosing schedule and to identify possible adverse side effects and safety risks. Multiple Phase 2 clinical trials may be conducted to obtain information prior to beginning larger and more expensive Phase 3 clinical trials.

     

 

Phase 3 - The product candidate is administered to an expanded patient population to further evaluate dosage to provide statistically significant evidence of clinical efficacy and to further test for safety in an expanded subject population at multiple clinical trial sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk/benefit ratio of the product and provide an adequate basis for product labeling. 

 

 

 

In the case of a 505(b)(2) NDA, some of the above-described studies and preclinical studies may not be required or may be abbreviated. Pharmacokinetic and other bridging studies may be needed, however, to demonstrate the relevance of the studies that were previously conducted by other sponsors to the drug that is the subject of the NDA.

 

The FDA may require, or companies may pursue, additional clinical trials after a product is approved. These so-called Phase 4, or post-market, studies may be used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication. In certain instances, the FDA may mandate the performance of Phase 4 clinical trials as a condition of approval of an NDA.

 

The manufacture of investigational drugs for the conduct of human clinical trials is subject to cGMP requirements. Investigational drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients imported into the United States are also subject to regulation by the FDA relating to their labeling and distribution. Further, the export of investigational drug products outside of the United States is subject to regulatory requirements of the receiving country as well as U.S. export requirements under the FFDCA. In addition, while the IND is active and before approval, progress reports summarizing the results of the clinical trials and nonclinical studies performed since the last progress report must be submitted at least annually to the FDA, and written IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and investigators for serious and unexpected suspected adverse events, findings from other studies suggesting a significant risk to humans exposed to the same or similar drugs, findings from animal or in vitro testing suggesting a significant risk to humans, and any clinically important increased incidence of a serious suspected adverse reaction compared to that listed in the protocol or investigator’s brochure.

 

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 as well as finalize a process for manufacturing the 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, among other things, must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final 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.

 

NDA Submission and Review by the FDA

 

Assuming successful completion of the required clinical and preclinical testing, among other items, the results of product development, including chemistry, manufacture and controls, non-clinical studies and clinical trials are submitted to the FDA, along with proposed labeling, as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product. Data can come from company-sponsored clinical studies intended to test the safety and effectiveness of a use of the product, or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by independent investigators. The submission of an NDA requires payment of a substantial application user fee to the FDA. These user fees must be filed at the time of the first submission of the application, even if the application is being submitted on a rolling basis. Fee waivers or reductions are available in some circumstances.

 

In addition, under the Pediatric Research Equity Act ("PREA"), an NDA or supplement to an NDA for a new active ingredient, indication, dosage form, dosage regimen or route of administration must contain data that are adequate 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, on its own initiative or at the request of the applicant, grant deferrals for submission of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults or full or partial waivers from the pediatric data requirements.

 

The FDA may refer drugs which present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee. An advisory committee is a panel that typically includes clinicians and other experts who review, evaluate and make 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.

 

Once the FDA receives an application, it has 60 days to review the NDA to determine if it is substantially complete to permit a substantive review, before it accepts the application for filing. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review of the NDA. The timeline for the FDA to complete its review of a NDA may differ based on whether the application is a standard review or priority review application. The FDA may give a priority review to applications for drugs that are intended to treat serious conditions and if approved, would provide significant improvements in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of such serious conditions. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act ("PDUFA"), the FDA has set the review goal of ten months from the 60-day filing date to complete its initial review of a standard NDA for a new molecular entity, or NME, and make a decision on the application. For non-NME standard applications, the FDA has set the review goal of ten months from the submission date to complete its initial review and to make a decision on the application. For priority review applications, the FDA has set the review goal of reviewing NME NDAs within six months of the 60-day filing date and non-NME applications within six months of the date of receipt. Such deadlines are referred to as the PDUFA date. The review process and the PDUFA date may also be extended if the FDA requests or the NDA sponsor otherwise provides additional information or clarification regarding the submission.

 

The FDA reviews applications to determine, among other things, whether a product is safe and effective for its intended use and whether the manufacturing controls are adequate to assure and preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity. Before approving an NDA, the FDA 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, including contract manufacturers and subcontracts, are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving an NDA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCPs.

 

Once the FDA’s review of the application is complete, the FDA will issue either a CRL or approval letter. A CRL indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete, and the application cannot be approved in its current form. A CRL will describe all of the deficiencies that the FDA has identified in the NDA, except that where the FDA determines that the data supporting the application are inadequate to support approval, the FDA may issue the CRL without first conducting required inspections and/or reviewing proposed labeling. In issuing the CRL, the FDA may recommend actions that the applicant might take to place the NDA in condition for approval, including requests for additional information or clarification.  Even with the submission of 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 may issue an approval letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications.

 

 

 

 

The FDA may delay or refuse approval of an NDA if applicable regulatory criteria are not satisfied, require additional testing or information and/or require post-marketing testing and surveillance to monitor safety or efficacy of a product, or impose other conditions, including distribution restrictions or other risk management mechanisms. For example, the FDA may require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy ("REMS"), as a condition of approval or following approval. A REMS is a safety strategy to manage a known or potential serious risk associated with a medicine and to enable patients to have continued access to such medicines by managing their safe use, and 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. 

 

If regulatory approval of a product is granted, such approval may entail limitations on the indicated uses for which such product may be marketed or may include contraindications, warnings or precautions in the product labeling, including a boxed warning. If the FDA requires a boxed warning, the sponsor may also be subject to specified promotional restrictions, such as the prohibition of reminder advertisements. The FDA also may not approve the inclusion of labeling claims necessary for successful marketing. Once approved, the FDA may withdraw the product approval if compliance with pre- and post-marketing regulatory standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the marketplace. In addition, the FDA may require Phase 4 post-marketing studies to monitor the effect of approved products and may limit further marketing of the product based on the results of these post-marketing studies.

 

Advertising and Promotion

 

The FDA and other federal regulatory agencies closely regulate the marketing and promotion of drugs through, among other things, guidance and regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising, communications regarding unapproved uses, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and promotional activities involving the internet. A product cannot be commercially promoted before it is approved. After approval, product promotion can include only those claims relating to safety and efficacy that are consistent with the labeling approved by the FDA. Healthcare providers are permitted to prescribe drugs for “off-label” uses — that is, uses not approved by the FDA and therefore not described in the drug’s labeling because the FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine. However, FDA regulations impose stringent restrictions on manufacturers’ communications regarding off-label uses. Failure to comply with applicable FDA requirements and restrictions in this area may subject a company to adverse publicity and enforcement action by the FDA, the U.S. Department of Justice, or the Office of the Inspector General of HHS, as well as state authorities. This could subject a company to a range of penalties that could have a significant commercial impact, including civil and criminal fines and agreements that materially restrict the manner in which a company promotes or distributes drug products.

 

Post-Approval Requirements

 

Any products manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including manufacturing, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising, promotion, drug shortage reporting, compliance with any post-approval requirements imposed as a conditional of approval such as Phase 4 clinical trials, REMS and surveillance, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including adverse experiences.

 

After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims are subject to prior FDA review and approval. There also are continuing, annual human prescription drug program fee requirements for approved products. Drug manufacturers and their subcontractors are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and to list their drug products and are subject to periodic announced and unannounced inspections by the FDA and these state agencies for compliance with cGMPs and other requirements, which impose procedural and documentation requirements upon us and our third-party manufacturers. We cannot be certain that we or our present or future suppliers will be able to comply with the cGMP regulations and other FDA regulatory requirements.

 

Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented, or FDA notification. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMPs and specifications and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon the sponsor and any third-party manufacturers that the sponsor may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance.

 

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 withdrawal of marketing approval, mandatory revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information or other limitations, imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks, or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program, among other consequences.

 

The FDA closely regulates the marketing and promotion of drugs. A company can make only those claims relating to safety and efficacy, purity and potency that are approved by the FDA. Physicians, in their independent professional medical judgment, may prescribe legally available products for uses that are not described in the product’s labeling and that differ from those tested by us and approved by the FDA. Physicians may believe that such off-label uses are the best treatment for many patients in varied circumstances. The FDA does not regulate the behavior of physicians in their choice of treatments. The FDA does, however, restrict manufacturer’s communications on the subject of off-label use of their products. However, companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with a product’s FDA-approved labelling.

 

In addition, the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical products, including samples, is subject to the Prescription Drug Marketing Act ("PDMA"), which regulates the distribution of drugs and drug samples at the federal level, and sets minimum standards for the registration and regulation of drug distributors by the states. Both the PDMA and state laws limit the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical product samples and impose requirements to ensure accountability in distribution. The Drug Supply Chain Security Act also imposes obligations on manufacturers of pharmaceutical products related to product tracking and tracing.

 

Failure to comply with any of the FDA’s requirements could result in significant adverse enforcement actions. These include a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, such as refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold or termination of clinical trials, warning letters, untitled letters, modification of promotional materials or labeling, product recalls, product seizures or detentions, refusal to allow imports or exports, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, debarment, injunctions, fines, consent decrees, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, refusals of government contracts and new orders under existing contracts, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs, restitution, disgorgement or civil or criminal penalties, including fines and individual imprisonment. Any of these sanctions could result in adverse publicity, among other adverse consequences.

 

 

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, defined as a disease or condition with a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., or a patient population greater than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. and when there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available the drug in the U.S. will be recovered from sales in the United States for that drug. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the generic identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA.

 

If a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for a particular active ingredient for the disease for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including a full NDA, to market the same drug for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity or if the FDA finds that the holder of the orphan drug exclusivity has not shown that it can assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the orphan drug to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving a different drug for the same disease or condition, or the same drug for a different disease or condition. Among the other benefits of orphan drug designation are tax credits for certain research and a waiver of the NDA application user fee.

 

A designated orphan drug may not receive orphan drug exclusivity if it is approved for a use that is broader than the indication for which it received orphan designation. In addition, orphan drug exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or, as noted above, if a second applicant demonstrates that its product is clinically superior to the approved product with orphan exclusivity 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.

 

Hatch-Waxman Act

 

Section 505 of the FFDCA describes three types of marketing applications that may be submitted to the FDA to request marketing authorization for a new drug. A Section 505(b)(1) NDA is an application that contains full reports of investigations of safety and efficacy. A 505(b)(2) NDA is an application that contains full reports of investigations of safety and efficacy but where at least some of the information required for approval comes from investigations that were not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference or use from the person by or for whom the investigations were conducted. This regulatory pathway enables the applicant to rely, in part, on the FDA’s prior findings of safety and efficacy for an existing product, or published literature, in support of its application. The FDA may also require 505(b)(2) applicants to perform additional studies or measurements to support any changes from the reference listed drug. The FDA may then approve the new product candidate for all or some of the labeled indications for which the referenced product has been approved, as well as for any new indication sought by the 505(b)(2) applicant. Section 505(j) establishes an abbreviated approval process for a generic version of approved drug products through the submission of an abbreviated new drug application ("ANDA"). An ANDA provides for marketing of a generic drug product that has the same active ingredients, dosage form, strength, route of administration, labeling, performance characteristics and intended use, among other things, to a previously approved product. ANDAs are termed “abbreviated” because they are generally not required to include preclinical and clinical data to establish safety and efficacy. Instead, generic applicants must scientifically demonstrate that their product is bioequivalent to, or performs in the same manner as, the innovator drug through in vitro, in vivo, or other testing. The generic version must deliver the same amount of active ingredients into a subject’s bloodstream in the same amount of time as the innovator drug and can often be substituted by pharmacists under prescriptions written for the reference listed drug.

 

In seeking approval for a drug through an NDA, including a 505(b)(2) NDA, applicants are required to list with the FDA patents whose claims cover the applicant’s product. Upon approval of an NDA, each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the Orange Book. These products may be cited by potential competitors in support of approval of an ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA.

 

Any applicant who files an ANDA seeking approval of a generic equivalent version of a drug listed in the Orange Book or a 505(b)(2) NDA referencing a drug listed in the Orange Book must certify to the FDA that (1) no patent information on the drug or method of use that is the subject of the application has been submitted to the FDA; (2) such patent has expired; (3) the date on which such patent expires; or (4) such patent is invalid or will not be infringed upon by the manufacture, use or sale of the drug product for which the application is submitted. This last certification is known as a Paragraph IV certification. Generally, the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA cannot be approved until all listed patents have expired, except where the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA applicant challenges a listed patent through a Paragraph IV certification. If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents or does not indicate that it is not seeking approval of a patented method of use, the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA application will not be approved until all of the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired, or, if permissible, are carved out.

 

If the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the holder of the NDA for the reference listed drug and the patent owner once the application has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA holder or patent owner may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification prevents the FDA from approving the application until the earlier of 30 months from the date of the lawsuit, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit, a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the applicant or such shorter or longer period as may be ordered by a court. This prohibition is generally referred to as the 30-month stay. In instances where an ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA applicant files a Paragraph IV certification, the NDA holder or patent owner regularly take action to trigger the 30-month stay, recognizing that the related patent litigation may take many months or years to resolve. Thus, approval of an ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA could be delayed for a significant period of time depending on the patent certification the applicant makes and the reference drug sponsor’s decision to initiate patent litigation. The applicant may also elect to submit a statement certifying that its proposed label does not contain, or carves out, any language regarding the patented method-of-use rather than certify to a listed method-of-use patent.

 

 

The FDA provides periods of regulatory exclusivity, which provides the holder of an approved NDA limited protection from new competition in the marketplace for the innovation represented by its approved drug for a period of three or five years following the FDA’s approval of the NDA. Five years of exclusivity are available to new chemical entities ("NCEs"). An NCE is a drug that contains no active moiety that has been approved by the FDA in any other NDA. An active moiety is the molecule or ion, excluding those appended portions of the molecule that cause the drug to be an ester, salt, including a salt with hydrogen or coordination bonds, or other noncovalent derivatives, such as a complex, chelate, or clathrate, of the molecule, responsible for the therapeutic activity of the drug substance. During the exclusivity period, the FDA may not accept for review or approve an ANDA or a 505(b)(2) NDA submitted by another company that contains the previously approved active moiety. An ANDA or 505(b)(2) application, however, may be submitted one year before NCE exclusivity expires if a Paragraph IV certification is filed. Applicants may also seek to carve out certain drug labeling that is protected by exclusivity.

 

If a product is not eligible for the NCE exclusivity, it may be eligible for three years of exclusivity. Three-year exclusivity is available to the holder of an NDA, including a 505(b)(2) NDA, for a particular condition of approval, or change to a marketed product, such as a new formulation for a previously approved product, if one or more new clinical trials, other than bioavailability or bioequivalence trials, was essential to the approval of the application and was conducted or sponsored by the applicant. This three-year exclusivity period protects against FDA approval of ANDAs and 505(b)(2) NDAs for the condition of the new drug’s approval. Five-year and three-year exclusivity will not delay the submission or approval of a full NDA; however, an applicant submitting a full NDA would be required to conduct or obtain a right of reference to all of the preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and efficacy.

 

DEA Regulation

 

Our products and certain of our product candidates are, or if approved, will be regulated as “controlled substances” as defined in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 ("CSA"), and the DEA’s implementing regulations, which establish registration, security, recordkeeping, reporting, storage, distribution, importation, exportation, inventory, quota and other requirements administered by the DEA. These requirements are directly applicable to us and also applicable to our contract manufacturers and to distributors, prescribers and dispensers of our product candidates. The DEA regulates the handling of controlled substances through a closed chain of distribution. This control extends to the equipment and raw materials used in their manufacture and packaging in order to prevent loss and diversion into illicit channels of commerce.

 

The DEA regulates controlled substances as Schedule I, II, III, IV or V substances. Schedule I substances by definition have no established medicinal use and may not be marketed or sold in the United States. A pharmaceutical product may be listed as Schedule II, III, IV or V, with Schedule II substances considered to present the highest risk of abuse and Schedule V substances the lowest relative risk of abuse among such substances. Schedule II drugs are those that meet the following criteria:

 

 

the drug has a high potential for abuse;

     

 

the drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and

     

 

abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

 

AZSTARYS is listed as Schedule II controlled substances under the CSA. For Schedule II controlled substances, the importation of APIs for our product candidates, as well as the manufacture, shipping, storage, sales and use of the products, are subject to a high degree of regulation. In addition to maintaining an importer and/or exporter registration, importers and exporters of controlled substances must obtain a permit for every import of a Schedule I or II substance and a narcotic substance in Schedule III, IV and V, as well as every export of a Schedule I or II substance and a narcotic substance in Schedule III and IV. For all other drugs in Schedule III, IV and V, importers and exporters must submit an import or export declaration. Schedule II drugs are subject to the strictest requirements for registration, security, recordkeeping and reporting. Also, distribution and dispensing of these drugs are highly regulated. For example, all Schedule II drug prescriptions must be signed by a physician, physically presented to a pharmacist and may not be refilled without a new prescription. Electronic prescriptions may also be permissible depending on the state, so long as the prescription complies with the DEA’s requirements for electronic prescriptions.

 

SDX, which is the sole API in KP1077, has been listed as a Schedule IV controlled substance under the CSA. Controlled substances classified in Schedule III, IV, and V are also subject to registration, recordkeeping, reporting, and security requirements. For example, Schedule III drug prescriptions must be authorized by a physician and may not be refilled more than six months after the date of the original prescription or more than five times. A prescription for controlled substances classified in Schedules III, IV, and V issued by a physician, may be communicated either orally, in writing or by facsimile to the pharmacies. Controlled substances that are also classified as narcotics, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and hydromorphone, are also subject to additional DEA requirements, such as manufacturer reporting of the import of narcotic raw material.

 

Annual registration is required for any facility that manufactures, distributes, dispenses, imports or exports any controlled substance. The registration is specific to the particular location, activity and controlled substance schedule. For example, separate registrations are needed for import and manufacturing, and each registration will specify which schedules of controlled substances are authorized. Similarly, separate registrations are also required for separate facilities. Acquisition and distribution transactions must also be reported for Schedule I and II controlled substances, as well as Schedule III narcotic substances.

 

The DEA typically inspects a facility to review its security measures prior to issuing a registration and on a periodic basis. Security requirements vary by controlled substance schedule, with the most stringent requirements applying to Schedule I and Schedule II substances. Required security measures include background checks on employees and physical control of inventory through measures such as cages, surveillance cameras and inventory reconciliations. Records must be maintained for the handling of all controlled substances, and periodic reports made to the DEA, for example distribution reports for Schedule I and II controlled substances, Schedule III substances that are narcotics, and other designated substances. Reports must also be made for thefts or losses of any controlled substance, and to obtain authorization to destroy any controlled substance. In addition, special permits and notification requirements apply to imports and exports of narcotic drugs. To enforce these requirements, the DEA conducts periodic inspections of registered establishments that handle controlled substances. Failure to maintain compliance with applicable requirements, particularly as manifested in loss or diversion, can result in administrative, civil or criminal enforcement action that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations, or initiate administrative proceedings to revoke those registrations. In some circumstances, violations could result in criminal proceedings.

 

 

In addition, a DEA quota system controls and limits the availability and production of controlled substances in Schedule I or II. Distributions of any Schedule I or II controlled substance or Schedule III narcotic must also be accompanied by special order forms, with copies provided to the DEA. Because AZSTARYS and our product candidates may be regulated as Schedule II controlled substances, they may be subject to the DEA’s production and procurement quota scheme. The DEA establishes annually an aggregate quota for how much of a controlled substance may be produced in total in the United States based on the DEA’s estimate of the quantity needed to meet legitimate scientific and medicinal needs. The limited aggregate amount of stimulants that the DEA allows to be produced in the U.S. each year is allocated among individual companies, which must submit applications annually to the DEA for individual production and procurement quotas. We and our contract manufacturers must receive an annual quota from the DEA in order to produce or procure any Schedule I or Schedule II substances for use in manufacturing of our product candidates. The DEA may adjust aggregate production quotas and individual production and procurement quotas from time to time during the year, although the DEA has substantial discretion in whether or not to make such adjustments. Our, or our contract manufacturers’, quota of an active ingredient may not be sufficient to meet commercial demand or complete clinical trials. Any delay, limitation or refusal by the DEA in establishing our, or our contract manufacturers’, quota for controlled substances could delay or stop our clinical trials or product launches, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations.

 

Individual states also independently regulate controlled substances. We and our contract manufacturers will be subject to state regulation on distribution of these products, including, for example, state requirements for licensures or registration.

 

Other Healthcare Regulatory Frameworks

 

Our business activities, including but not limited to, research, sales, promotion, distribution, medical education and other activities are subject to regulation by numerous regulatory and law enforcement authorities in the United States in addition to the FDA, including potentially the Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its various divisions, including the CMS and the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and state and local governments. Our business activities must comply with numerous healthcare laws, including those described below. Compliance with government regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

 

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, any person or entity, from knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, the referral of an individual for, or purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of, any good, facility, item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs. The term remuneration has been interpreted broadly to include anything of value. There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution. The exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly and practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchasing or recommending may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all of its facts and circumstances. Additionally, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, or the specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation.

 

The federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the federal False Claims Act, which can be enforced by private citizens through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, prohibit, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment to, or approval by, the federal government, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, or knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim or to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government. In addition, a claim for payment of 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.

 

The civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity who, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent.

 

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), created additional 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 whether the payor is public or private, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a health care benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a health care offense and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute, or the specific intent to violate it, to have committed a violation.

 

Additionally, the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act and its implementing regulations, require certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with specified exceptions) to report annually information related to specified payments or other transfers of value provided to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors), certain other healthcare providers (physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants, and certified nurse-midwives) and teaching hospitals, or to entities or individuals at the request of, or designated on behalf of, such providers and teaching hospitals and to report annually specified ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members.

 

Depending on the circumstances, failure to comply with these laws can result in significant penalties, including criminal, civil and/or administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, debarment from government contracts, individual imprisonment, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, exclusion from government programs, refusal to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our business.

 

Data Privacy and Security Laws

 

We may be subject to data privacy and security laws, regulations, and standards by foreign, federal, state and local governments that govern the collection, use, access to, confidentiality and security of health-related and other personal information. In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including data breach notification laws, health information privacy and security laws and consumer protection laws and regulations govern the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information. In addition, certain foreign laws govern the privacy and security of personal data, including health-related data. Privacy and security laws, regulations, and other obligations are constantly evolving, may conflict with each other to complicate compliance efforts, and can result in investigations, proceedings, or actions that lead to significant civil and/or criminal penalties and restrictions on data processing.

 

 

Healthcare Reform Measures

 

The United States and some foreign jurisdictions are considering or have enacted a number of legislative and regulatory proposals designed to change the healthcare system in ways that could affect our ability to sell our products profitably. Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality and/or expanding access. In the United States, the pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and has been significantly affected by major legislative initiatives.

 

For example, in March 2010, the ACA was passed, which has substantially changed health care financing by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly affected the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The ACA, among other things, subjected manufacturers to new annual fees and taxes for specified branded prescription drugs, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, expanded health care fraud and abuse laws, revised the methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers to the state and federal government for covered outpatient drugs under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated, imposed an inflation penalty on new formulations of drugs, extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, expanded the 340B program which caps the price at which manufacturers can sell covered outpatient pharmaceuticals to specified hospitals, clinics and community health centers, and provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research.

 

Since its enactment there have been executive, judicial and congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. 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.  Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021, through August 15, 2021, for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructed certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA.

 

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, which went into effect in April 2013, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will remain in effect through 2032 with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022, unless additional Congressional action is taken. In addition, in January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several categories of healthcare providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed into law, which eliminated the statutory Medicaid drug rebate cap, beginning January 1, 2024. The rebate was previously capped at 100% of a drug’s average manufacturer price.

 

Further, there has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, reduce the cost of drugs under Medicare, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. On August 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”), of 2022 , was signed into law. Among other things, the IRA requires manufacturers of certain drugs to engage in price negotiations with Medicare (beginning in 2026), imposes rebates under Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D to penalize price increases that outpace inflation (first due in 2023), and replaces the Part D coverage gap discount program with a new discounting program (beginning in 2025). The IRA permits the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, to implement many of these provisions through guidance, as opposed to regulation, for the initial years. On August 29, 2023, HHS announced the list of the first ten drugs that will be subject to price negotiations, although the drug price negotiation program is currently subject to legal challenges. For that and other reasons, it is currently unclear how the IRA will be effectuated. At the state level, legislatures are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.

 

We expect that additional state, federal and foreign healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal, state and foreign governments will pay for healthcare product candidates and services, which could result in reduced demand for our products or additional pricing pressures.

 

On December 13, 2021, Regulation No 2021/2282 on HTA, amending Directive 2011/24/EU, was adopted. While the Regulation entered into force in January 2022, it will only begin to apply from January 2025 onwards, with preparatory and implementation-related steps to take place in the interim. Once applicable, it will have a phased implementation depending on the concerned products. The Regulation intends to boost cooperation among EU member states in assessing health technologies, including new medicinal products, and provide the basis for cooperation at the EU level for joint clinical assessments in these areas. It will permit EU member states to use common HTA tools, methodologies, and procedures across the EU, working together in four main areas, including joint clinical assessment of the innovative health technologies with the highest potential impact for patients, joint scientific consultations whereby developers can seek advice from HTA authorities, identification of emerging health technologies to identify promising technologies early, and continuing voluntary cooperation in other areas. Individual EU member states will continue to be responsible for assessing non-clinical (e.g., economic, social, ethical) aspects of health technology, and making decisions on pricing and reimbursement.

 

 

 

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

 

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) prohibits any U.S. individual or business from paying, offering or authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the foreign entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with accounting provisions requiring the companies to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the companies, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.

 

Foreign Regulation

 

In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of foreign regulations governing clinical trials and commercial sales and distribution of our products to the extent we choose to develop or sell any products outside of the United States. The foreign regulatory approval process includes all of the risks associated with FDA approval set forth above, as well as additional country-specific regulation.

 

Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain approval of a product by the comparable regulatory authorities of foreign countries before we can commence clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries. Approval by one regulatory authority does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. The approval process varies from country to country and the time may be longer or shorter than that required to obtain FDA approval. The requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary greatly from country to country.

 

Non-clinical Studies and Clinical Trials

 

Similarly to the United States, the various phases of non-clinical and clinical research in the EU are subject to significant regulatory controls.

 

Non-clinical studies are performed to demonstrate the health or environmental safety of new chemical or biological substances. Non-clinical (pharmaco-toxicological) studies must be conducted in compliance with the principles of good laboratory practice (“GLP”) as set forth in EU Directive 2004/10/EC (unless otherwise justified for certain particular medicinal products, e.g., radio-pharmaceutical precursors for radio-labeling purposes). In particular, non-clinical studies, both in vitro and in vivo, must be planned, performed, monitored, recorded, reported and archived in accordance with the GLP principles, which define a set of rules and criteria for a quality system for the organizational process and the conditions for non-clinical studies. These GLP standards reflect the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development requirements.

 

Clinical trials of medicinal products in the EU must be conducted in accordance with EU and national regulations and the International Council for Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (“ICH”) guidelines on Good Clinical Practices (“GCP”) as well as the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

 

If the sponsor of the clinical trial is not established within the EU, it must appoint an EU entity to act as its legal representative. The sponsor must take out a clinical trial insurance policy, and in most EU member states, the sponsor is liable to provide ‘no fault’ compensation to any study subject injured in the clinical trial.

 

The regulatory landscape related to clinical trials in the EU has been subject to recent changes. The EU Clinical Trials Regulation (“CTR”) which was adopted in April 2014 and repeals the EU Clinical Trials Directive, became applicable on January 31, 2022. Unlike directives, the CTR is directly applicable in all EU member states without the need for member states to further implement it into national law. The CTR notably harmonizes the assessment and supervision processes for clinical trials throughout the EU via a Clinical Trials Information System, which contains a centralized EU portal and database.

 

While the EU Clinical Trials Directive required a separate clinical trial application (“CTA”) to be submitted in each member state in which the clinical trial takes place, to both the competent national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and IRB respectively, the CTR introduces a centralized process and only requires the submission of a single application for multi-center trials. The CTR allows sponsors to make a single submission to both the competent authority and an ethics committee in each member state, leading to a single decision per member state. The CTA must include, among other things, a copy of the trial protocol and an investigational medicinal product dossier containing information about the manufacture and quality of the medicinal product under investigation. The assessment procedure of the CTA has been harmonized as well, including a joint assessment by all member states concerned, and a separate assessment by each member state with respect to specific requirements related to its own territory, including ethics rules. Each member state’s decision is communicated to the sponsor via the centralized EU portal. Once the CTA is approved, clinical study development may proceed.

 

The CTR foresees a three-year transition period. The extent to which ongoing and new clinical trials will be governed by the CTR varies. Clinical trials for which an application was submitted (i) prior to January 31, 2022, under the EU Clinical Trials Directive, or (ii) between January 31, 2022, and January 31, 2023, and for which the sponsor has opted for the application of the EU Clinical Trials Directive remain governed by said Directive until January 31, 2025. After this date, all clinical trials (including those which are ongoing) will become subject to the provisions of the CTR.

 

Medicines used in clinical trials must be manufactured in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice (“GMP”). Other national and EU-wide regulatory requirements may also apply.

 

 

Marketing Authorization

 

In order to market our product candidates in the EU and many other foreign jurisdictions, we must obtain separate regulatory approvals. More concretely, in the EU, medicinal product candidates can only be commercialized after obtaining a marketing authorization (“MA”). To obtain regulatory approval of a product candidate under EU regulatory systems, we must submit a MA application (“MAA”). The process for doing this depends, among other things, on the nature of the medicinal product. There are two types of MAs:

 

 

• “Centralized MAs” are issued by the European Commission through the centralized procedure based on the opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (“CHMP”) of the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) and are valid throughout the EU. The centralized procedure is compulsory for certain types of medicinal products such as (i) medicinal products derived from biotechnological processes, (ii) designated orphan medicinal products, (iii) advanced therapy medicinal products (“ATMPs”) (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products) and (iv) medicinal products containing a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases or autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, and viral diseases. The centralized procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EU, or for products that constitute a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation or which are in the interest of public health in the EU.

 

 

“National MAs” are issued by the competent authorities of the EU member states, only cover their respective territory, and are available for product candidates not falling within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure. Where a product has already been authorized for marketing in an EU member state, this national MA can be recognized in another member state through the mutual recognition procedure. If the product has not received a national MA in any member state at the time of application, it can be approved simultaneously in various member states through the decentralized procedure. Under the decentralized procedure an identical dossier is submitted to the competent authorities of each of the member states in which the MA is sought, one of which is selected by the applicant as the reference member state.

 

Under the above described procedures, in order to grant the MA, the EMA or the competent authorities of the EU member states make an assessment of the risk benefit balance of the product on the basis of scientific criteria concerning its quality, safety and efficacy. MAs have an initial duration of five years. After these five years, the authorization may be renewed on the basis of a reevaluation of the risk-benefit balance.

 

Data and Marketing Exclusivity

 

In the EU, new products authorized for marketing (i.e., reference products) generally receive eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity upon MA. If granted, the data exclusivity period prevents generic and 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 MA in the EU during a period of eight years from the date on which the reference product was first authorized in the EU. The market exclusivity period prevents a successful generic or biosimilar applicant from commercializing its product in the EU until ten years have elapsed from the initial MA of the reference product in the EU. The overall 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 MA holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications, which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies. However, there is no guarantee that a product will be considered by the EU’s regulatory authorities to be a new chemical or biological entity, and products may not qualify for data exclusivity.

 

Orphan Medicinal Products

 

The criteria for designating an “orphan medicinal product” in the EU are similar in principle to those in the United States. A medicinal product can be designated as an orphan if its sponsor can establish that: (1) the product is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life threatening or chronically debilitating condition (2) either (a) such condition affects not more than five in 10,000 persons in the EU when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from the orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the EU to justify the necessary investment; and (3) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the condition in question that has been authorized for marketing in the EU or, if such method exists, the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by that condition.

 

Orphan designation must be requested before submitting an MAA. An EU orphan designation entitles a party to incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers, protocol assistance, and access to the centralized procedure. Upon grant of a MA, orphan medicinal products are entitled to ten years of market exclusivity for the approved indication, which means that the competent authorities cannot accept another MAA, or grant a MA, or accept an application to extend a MA for a similar medicinal product for the same indication for a period of ten years. The period of market exclusivity is extended by two years for orphan medicinal products that have also complied with an agreed pediatric investigation plan (“PIP”). No extension to any supplementary protection certificate can be granted on the basis of pediatric studies for orphan indications. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.

 

The orphan exclusivity period 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 which it received orphan destination, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity or where the prevalence of the condition has increased above the threshold. Additionally, MA may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if (i) the second applicant can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior; (ii) the applicant consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or (iii) the applicant cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.

 

 

Pediatric Development

 

In the EU, MAAs for new medicinal products have to include the results of studies conducted in the pediatric population, in compliance with a PIP agreed with the EMA’s Pediatric Committee (“PDCO”). The PIP sets out the timing and measures proposed to generate data to support a pediatric indication of the drug for which MA is being sought. The PDCO can grant a deferral of the obligation to implement some or all of the measures of the PIP until there are sufficient data to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the product in adults. Further, the obligation to provide pediatric clinical trial data can be waived by the PDCO when these data is not needed or appropriate because the product is likely to be ineffective or unsafe in children, the disease or condition for which the product is intended occurs only in adult populations, or when the product does not represent a significant therapeutic benefit over existing treatments for pediatric patients. Once the MA is obtained in all the EU member states and study results are included in the product information, even when negative, the product is eligible for six months’ supplementary protection certificate extension (if any is in effect at the time of approval) or, in the case of orphan pharmaceutical products, a two year extension of the orphan market exclusivity is granted.

 

Controlled substances

 

The EU legislation does not establish different classes of narcotic or psychotropic substances. However, the United Nations (“UN”) Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 (“UN Conventions”) codify internationally applicable control measures to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes. The individual EU member states are all signatories to these UN Conventions. All signatories have a dual obligation to ensure that these substances are available for medical purposes and to protect populations against abuse and dependence. The UN Conventions regulate narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as Schedule I, II, III, IV substances with Schedule II substances presenting the lowest relative risk of abuse among such substances and Schedule I and IV substances considered to present the highest risk of abuse.

 

The UN Conventions require signatories to require all persons manufacturing, trading (including exporting and importing) or distributing controlled substances to obtain a license from the relevant authority. Each individual export or import of a controlled substance must also be subject to an authorization. The obligations provided in the UN Conventions and additional requirements are implemented at national level and requirements may vary from one member state to another.

 

The aforementioned EU rules are generally applicable in the European Economic Area (“EEA”) which consists of the 27 EU member states plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

 

Failure to comply with EU and member state laws that apply to the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing approval, MA of medicinal products and marketing of such products, both before and after grant of the MA, manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, statutory health insurance, bribery and anti-corruption or with other applicable regulatory requirements may result in administrative, civil or criminal penalties. These penalties could include delays or refusal to authorize the conduct of clinical trials, or to grant MA, product withdrawals and recalls, product seizures, suspension, withdrawal or variation of the MA, total or partial suspension of production, distribution, manufacturing or clinical trials, operating restrictions, injunctions, suspension of licenses, fines and criminal penalties.

 

 

Employees

 

As of December 31, 2023, we employed 69 employees, of which 65 were full-time employees.

 

Corporate Information

 

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Iowa in October 2006, and were reincorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware in May 2014. We changed our name from KemPharm, Inc. to Zevra Therapeutics, Inc. effective as of February 21, 2023.

 

ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS.

 

You should carefully consider all the risk factors and uncertainties described below, in addition to other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the section of this report titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and related notes, before investing in our common stock. If any of the following risks materialize, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be seriously harmed. This Annual Report on Form 10-K also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements because of factors that are described below and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Risks Related to the Development of Our Product Candidates

 

If commercialization of our approved products, or any of our product candidates, if approved, are not successful, or we experience significant delays in commercialization, our business will be harmed.

 

We currently generate minimal commercial revenue from the sale of our approved products and we may never be able to successfully commercialize a product candidate. We cannot guarantee that we, Corium, or any other collaborators will be able to successfully develop, manufacture or commercialize our approved products, or product candidates, if approved, or that we will ever receive any future payments under the AZSTARYS License Agreement. Despite the FDA’s approval of OLPRUVA for oral suspension in the U.S. for the treatment of certain patients with UCDs, the product may not gain market acceptance among physicians, key opinion leaders, healthcare payors, patients and the medical community.

 

We have invested substantially all of our internal discovery and development efforts and much of our financial resources in the development of our proprietary LAT® platform technology, the identification of potential product candidates and the development of our product candidates. Our ability to generate revenue from our approved products and any of our product candidates, if approved, will depend heavily on their successful development and eventual commercialization. The success of our approved products and any of our product candidates will depend on several factors, including:

 
 

successful completion of preclinical studies and requisite clinical trials;

     
 

successful completion and achievement of endpoints in our clinical trials;

     
 

demonstration that the risks involved with our approved products and any of our product candidates are outweighed by the benefits;

     
 

successful development of our manufacturing processes for our approved products and for any of our product candidates, including entering into and maintaining arrangements with third-party manufacturers;

     
 

successful completion of an FDA preapproval inspection of the facilities used to manufacture any of our product candidates for which we may submit an NDA;

     
 

receipt of timely marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities, including, if applicable, the determination by the DEA of the controlled substance schedule for a product candidate, taking into account the recommendation of the FDA;

     
 

obtaining differentiating claims in the labels for our product candidates;

     
 

obtaining and maintaining patent, trademark and trade secret protection and regulatory exclusivity for our approved products and any of our product candidates and otherwise protecting our rights in our intellectual property portfolio;

     
 

maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements, including cGMPs;

     
 

launching commercial sales of our approved products, and any of our product candidates, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with Corium or others;

     
 

acceptance of our approved products and any of our product candidates, if approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;

     
 

competing effectively with other therapies;

     
 

obtaining and maintaining healthcare coverage and adequate reimbursement; and

     
 

maintaining a continued acceptable safety and efficacy profile of any of our products following approval.

 

 

Whether regulatory approval will be granted is unpredictable and depends upon numerous factors, including the substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities. If, following submission, our NDA or marketing authorization application for a product candidate is not accepted for substantive review or approval, the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require that we conduct additional studies or clinical trials, provide additional data, take additional manufacturing steps or require other conditions before they will reconsider our application. If the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities require additional studies, clinical trials or data, we would incur increased costs and delays in the marketing approval process, which may require us to expend more resources than we have available. In addition, the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not consider sufficient any additional required studies, clinical trials, data or information that we perform and complete or generate, or we may decide to abandon the program.

 

It is possible that none of our product candidates in clinical development or any of our future product candidates will ever obtain regulatory approval, even if we expend substantial time and resources seeking such approval.

 

If we do not achieve one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays, we could experience an inability to successfully commercialize any of our approved products or product candidates, if approved, or we could experience an inability to successfully commercialize any of our product candidates approved for marketing in the future, if any, which would harm our business.

 

Our research and development activities are focused on discovering and developing proprietary prodrugs, and we are taking an innovative approach to discovering and developing prodrugs, which may never lead to marketable prodrug products.

 

A key element of our strategy is to use our proprietary LAT platform technology to build a pipeline of prodrugs and progress product candidates based on these prodrugs through clinical development for the treatment of a variety of diseases and conditions. The scientific discoveries that form the basis for our efforts to discover and develop prodrugs are relatively new. As our scientific efforts are primarily focused on discovering novel prodrugs with new molecular structures, the evidence to support the feasibility of developing product candidates based on these discoveries is both preliminary and limited. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in a pipeline of prodrug product candidates, we may not be able to develop those product candidates into prodrugs that are bioequivalent, safe and/or effective or that offer commercially significant improvements over already approved drugs. Even if we are successful in continuing to build our pipeline, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development, for reasons including being shown to have harmful side effects, a lack of efficacy, or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be prodrugs that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. If our approved products are not successfully commercialized and we do not successfully develop and commercialize any of our product candidates based upon our proprietary LAT platform technology, we will not be able to obtain product revenue in future periods, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely affect our stock price.

 

If we are not able to obtain required regulatory approvals for any of our product candidates, or the approved labels are not sufficiently differentiated from other competing products, we will not be able to commercialize them and our ability to generate revenue or profits or to raise future capital could be limited.

 

The research, testing, manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, approval, sale, marketing, advertising and promotion, pricing, export, import and distribution of drug products are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA and other regulatory authorities in the United States and other countries, which regulations differ from country to country and change over time. We are not permitted to market any of our product candidates in the United States until we receive approval of an NDA from the FDA, or in any foreign countries until we receive the requisite approvals in such countries. In the United States, the FDA generally requires the completion of non-clinical testing and clinical trials of each drug to establish its safety and efficacy and extensive pharmaceutical development to ensure its quality and other factors before an NDA is approved. Regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions impose similar requirements. Of the large number of drugs in development, only a small percentage result in the submission of an NDA to the FDA and even fewer are approved for commercialization.

 

Even if regulatory approval is obtained, subsequent safety, efficacy, quality or other issues can result in a product approval being suspended or withdrawn, or the approved label for any approved product may not be sufficiently differentiated from other competing products to support market adoption thereof. In March 2021, the FDA approved the NDA for AZSTARYS and in December 2022, the FDA approved OLPRUVA. Even with the regulatory approval of AZSTARYS and OLPRUVA by the FDA, we cannot guarantee that the FDA will approve any of our product candidates for commercial sale or approve any proposed label we may have for any such product candidate. If our development efforts for our product candidates, including our efforts to obtain regulatory approval, are not successful for their planned indications or are delayed, or if adequate demand for our product candidates that are approved for marketing, if any, is not generated, our business will be harmed.

 

 

The success of our product candidates will depend on the receipt and maintenance of regulatory approval and the issuance and maintenance of such approval is uncertain and subject to a number of risks, including the following:

 

 

the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, institutional review boards, or IRBs, or ethics committees may disagree with the design or conduct of our clinical trials;

 

 

the results of our clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical or clinical significance required by the FDA or other regulatory agencies for marketing approval or for us to receive approval for claims that are necessary for commercialization;

 

 

the dosing in a particular clinical trial may not be at an optimal level;

 

 

patients in our clinical trials may suffer adverse effects for reasons that may or may not be related to our product candidates;

 

 

the data collected from clinical trials may not be sufficient to support submissions to regulatory authorities 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 or may later suspend or withdraw such approval;

 

 

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; and 

 

 

even if we obtain marketing approval in one or more countries, future safety or other issues could result in the suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approval in such countries.

 

We have only limited experience in submitting the applications necessary to gain regulatory approvals and have relied, and expect to continue to rely, on consultants and third-party contract research organizations, or CROs, with expertise in this area to assist us in this process. Securing FDA approval requires the submission of extensive non-clinical and clinical data, information about product manufacturing processes and inspection of facilities and supporting information to the FDA for each therapeutic indication to establish a product candidate’s safety and efficacy for each indication and manufacturing quality. Additionally, we cannot guarantee that regulators will agree with our assessment of the results of the clinical trials we have conducted or that any future trials will be successful.

 

Any product candidates we develop may prove to have undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude our obtaining regulatory approval or prevent or limit commercial use with respect to one or all intended indications.

 

The process of obtaining regulatory approvals is expensive, often takes many years, if approval is obtained at all, and can vary substantially based upon, among other things, the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved, the jurisdiction in which regulatory approval is sought and the substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities. Changes in the regulatory approval policy during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for a submitted product application may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application or may result in future withdrawal of approval. Regulatory approval obtained in one jurisdiction does not necessarily mean that a product candidate will receive regulatory approval in all jurisdictions in which we may seek approval, but the failure to obtain approval in one jurisdiction may negatively impact our ability to seek approval in a different jurisdiction. Failure to obtain regulatory marketing approval of our product candidates in any indication will prevent us from commercializing those product candidates for that indication, and our ability to generate revenue will be impaired.

 

 

Disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could hinder their ability to hire, retain or deploy key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified products from being developed, approved or commercialized in a timely manner or at all, which could negatively impact our business.

 

The ability of the FDA and foreign regulatory authorities to review and or approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, statutory, regulatory, and policy changes, the FDA’s and foreign regulatory authorities' ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. Average review times at the FDA and foreign regulatory authorities have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new 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 FDA employees and stop critical activities.

 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA announced its intention to postpone most inspections of foreign and domestic manufacturing facilities at various points. Even though the FDA has since resumed standard inspection operations of domestic facilities where feasible, the FDA has continued to monitor and implement changes to its inspectional activities to ensure the safety of its employees and those of the firms it regulates as it adapts to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, and any resurgence of the virus or emergence of new variants may lead to further inspection delays. Regulatory authorities outside the United States have adopted similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA or other regulatory authorities to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

If the FDA does not conclude that our product candidates satisfy the requirements for the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway as anticipated, the approval pathway for our product candidates will likely take significantly longer, cost significantly more and entail significantly greater complications and risks than anticipated, and the FDA may not ultimately approve our product candidates.

 

A key element of our strategy is to seek FDA approval for most of our product candidates under Section 505(b)(2) of the FFDCA, otherwise known as the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway with any NDA submitted thereunder a 505(b)(2) NDA, where possible. The 505(b)(2) NDA pathway permits the filing of an NDA where at least some of the information required for approval comes from studies not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference. Section 505(b)(2), if applicable to us under the FFDCA, would allow an NDA we submit to the FDA to rely in part on data in the public domain or the FDA’s prior conclusions regarding the safety and effectiveness of approved compounds, which could expedite the development program for our future product candidates by potentially decreasing the amount of nonclinical and/or clinical data that we would need to generate in order to obtain FDA approval. Such reliance is typically predicated on a showing of bioequivalence or comparable bioavailability to an approved drug. AZSTARYS was approved via the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway on March 2, 2021.

 

If the FDA does not allow us to pursue the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway as anticipated, or if we cannot demonstrate bioequivalence or comparable bioavailability of our product candidates to approved products, we may need to conduct additional clinical trials, provide additional data and information, and meet additional standards for regulatory approval. Moreover, even if the FDA does allow us to pursue the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway, depending on the product candidate, we may still need to conduct additional clinical trials, including clinical trials to assess product safety or efficacy. If this were to occur, the time and financial resources required to obtain FDA approval for our product candidates, and complications and risks associated with our product candidates, would likely substantially increase.

 

Moreover, our inability to pursue the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway could result in new competitive products reaching the market more quickly than our product candidates, which could hurt our competitive position and our business prospects. Even if we are allowed to pursue the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway, we cannot assure you that our product candidates will receive the requisite approvals for commercialization on a timely basis, if at all. Other companies may achieve product approval of similar products before we do, which would delay our ability to obtain product approval, expose us to greater competition, and would require that we seek approval via alternative pathways.

 

In addition, notwithstanding the approval of several products by the FDA under Section 505(b)(2) over the last few years, pharmaceutical companies and others have objected to the FDA’s interpretation of Section 505(b)(2). If the FDA’s interpretation of Section 505(b)(2) is successfully challenged, the FDA may change its policies and practices with respect to Section 505(b)(2) regulatory approvals, which could delay or even prevent the FDA from approving any NDA that we submit under Section 505(b)(2). In addition, the pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive, and Section 505(b)(2) NDAs are subject to certain requirements designed to protect the patent rights of sponsors of previously approved drugs that are referenced in a Section 505(b)(2) NDA. These requirements may give rise to patent litigation and mandatory delays in approval of our NDAs for up to 30 months or longer depending on the outcome of any litigation. It is not uncommon for a manufacturer of an approved product to file a citizen petition with the FDA seeking to delay approval of, or impose additional approval requirements for, pending competing products. If successful, such petitions can significantly delay, or even prevent, the approval of a new product. Even if the FDA ultimately denies such a petition, the FDA may substantially delay approval while it considers and responds to the petition. In addition, even if we are able to utilize the Section 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway, there is no guarantee this would ultimately lead to streamlined product development or earlier approval.

 

 

Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

 

The risk of failure for our product candidates is high. It is impossible to predict when or if any of our current product candidates will prove effective or safe in humans and will receive regulatory approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical development and then conduct clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is uncertain as to outcome. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. The outcome of preclinical studies 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. Interpretation of results from early, usually smaller, studies that suggest positive trends in some subjects, requires caution. Results from later stages of clinical trials enrolling more subjects may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy results or otherwise fail to be consistent with the results of earlier trials of the same product candidates. Later clinical trial results may not replicate earlier clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including differences in trial design, different trial endpoints, or lack of trial endpoints in exploratory studies, subject population, number of subjects, subject selection criteria, trial duration, drug dosage and formulation and lack of statistical power in the earlier studies. 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 products.

 

We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval or commercialize our product candidates, including:

 

 

regulators, IRBs, or other ethics committees may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial, conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site or amend clinical trial protocols as needed;

 

 

we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable clinical trial contracts or clinical trial protocols with prospective trial sites and CROs;

 

 

clinical trials of our product candidates may produce negative or inconclusive results, including failure to demonstrate statistical significance in cases where that is required, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon prodrug development programs; 

 

 

we may be unable to obtain sufficient or adequate supply or quality of product candidates or other materials necessary for use in clinical trials, or experience delays in sufficiently developing, characterizing or controlling a manufacturing process suitable for clinical trials;

     
 

we may experience delays in manufacturing, testing, releasing, validating or importing/exporting sufficient stable quantities of our product candidates for use in clinical trials or the inability to do any of the foregoing;

 

 

the number of subjects 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 these clinical trials at a higher rate than we anticipate;

 

 

our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or trial protocols, or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all;

 

 

regulators, IRBs, or other ethics committees may require that we or our investigators suspend or terminate clinical research for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;

 

 

the cost of clinical trials of our product candidates may be greater than we anticipate, including if we are not able to pursue the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway for approval of our product candidates;

 

 

we will need to pay substantial application user fees, which we may not be able to afford;

 

 

we may be required to transfer manufacturing processes to larger-scale facilities operated by a contract manufacturing organization, and we may experience delays or failures by our contract manufacturers to make any necessary changes to such manufacturing process;

 

 

we may abandon our development program or programs based on the changing regulatory or commercial environment;

 

 

regulatory authorities may not agree with our trial design or implementation; and

 

 

our product candidates may have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics, causing us or our investigators, regulators or IRBs to suspend or terminate the trials.

 

 

If we are required 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 modestly positive or if there are safety concerns, we may:

 

 

be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates;

 

 

not obtain marketing approval at all;

 

 

obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;

 

 

obtain approval but without the claims necessary for us to successfully commercialize our product candidates;

 

 

obtain approval with labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings;

 

 

be subject to additional post-marketing testing, surveillance, or other requirements, such as REMS; or

 

 

have the product removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.

 

Any inability to successfully initiate or complete clinical trials could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenue from product sales. In addition, if we make manufacturing or formulation changes to our product candidates, we may be required to or we may elect to conduct additional studies to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. Clinical trial delays could also shorten any periods during which our products have patent protection and may allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, which could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may seriously harm our business.

 

Clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with the FDA and other applicable regulatory authorities’ legal requirements, regulations or guidelines, and are subject to oversight by these governmental agencies and ethics committees or IRBs at the medical institutions where the clinical trials are conducted. We could encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the data safety monitoring board for such trial or by the FDA or any other regulatory authority, or if the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted suspend or terminate the participation of their clinical investigators and sites subject to their review. 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 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 using a product candidate, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.

 

Further, conducting clinical trials in foreign countries, as we may do for our product candidates, presents additional risks that may delay completion of our clinical trials. These risks include the failure of enrolled patients in foreign countries to adhere to clinical protocol as a result of differences in healthcare services or cultural customs, managing additional administrative burdens associated with foreign regulatory schemes, as well as political and economic risks relevant to such foreign countries.

 

Moreover, principal investigators for our 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.

 

Delays in the completion of any clinical trial of our product candidates will increase our costs, slow down our product development and the regulatory approval processes and delay or potentially jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate product revenue. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

 

In addition, the FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies with respect to clinical trials may change and additional government regulations may be enacted. For instance, the regulatory landscape related to clinical trials in the EU recently evolved. The EU Clinical Trials Regulation (“CTR”) which was adopted in April 2014 and repeals the EU Clinical Trials Directive, became applicable on January 31, 2022. While the EU Clinical Trials Directive required a separate clinical trial application (“CTA”) to be submitted in each member state in which the clinical trial takes place, to both the competent national health authority and an independent ethics committee, the CTR introduces a centralized process and only requires the submission of a single application for multi-center trials. The CTR allows sponsors to make a single submission to both the competent authority and an ethics committee in each member state, leading to a single decision per member state. The assessment procedure of the CTA has been harmonized as well, including a joint assessment by all member states concerned, and a separate assessment by each member state with respect to specific requirements related to its own territory, including ethics rules. Each member state’s decision is communicated to the sponsor via the centralized EU portal. Once the CTA is approved, clinical study development may proceed. The CTR foresees a three-year transition period. The extent to which ongoing and new clinical trials will be governed by the CTR varies. Clinical trials for which an application was submitted (i)prior to January 31, 2022, under the Clinical Trials Directive, or (ii) between January 31, 2022, and January 31, 2023, and for which the sponsor has opted for the application of the EU Clinical Trials Directive remain governed by said Directive until January 31, 2025. After this date, all clinical trials (including those which are ongoing) will become subject to the provisions of the CTR. Compliance with the CTR requirements by us and our third-party service providers, such as CROs, may impact our developments plans.

 

 

If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of subjects in clinical trials, our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals could be delayed or prevented.
 
We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible subjects to participate in these trials as may be required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States. We cannot predict how successful we will be at enrolling subjects in future clinical trials. If we are not successful at enrolling subjects in one clinical trial, it may affect when we are able to initiate our next clinical trial, which could result in significant delays in our efforts to pursue regulatory approval of and commercialize our product candidates. In addition, some of our competitors have ongoing clinical trials to treat the same indications as our product candidates, and subjects who would otherwise be eligible for our clinical trials may instead enroll in clinical trials of our competitors. Subject enrollment is affected by other factors including:
 
  the size and nature of the subject population specified in the trial protocol;
     
  the eligibility criteria for the study in question;
     
  the perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;
     
  the fact that the product candidate is a controlled substance;
     
  severe or unexpected drug-related adverse events experienced by subjects in a clinical trial;
     
  the availability of drugs approved to treat the diseases or conditions under study;
     
  the efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;
     
  the patient referral practices of physicians;
     
  the severity of the disease or condition under investigation;
     
  the ability to obtain and maintain subject informed consent;
     
  the ability to retain subjects in the clinical trial and their return for follow-up;
     
  the clinical trial design, including required tests, procedures and follow-up;
     
  the ability to monitor subjects adequately during and after treatment;
     
  delays in adding new investigators and clinical sites;
     
  withdrawal of clinical trial sites from clinical trials; and
     
  the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective subjects.

 

Our inability to enroll a sufficient number of subjects for clinical trials would result in significant delays and could require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. Enrollment delays in these clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our product candidates, which could cause our value to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing.
 

 

Interim, topline, or preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

 

From time to time, we may publicly disclose topline or preliminary data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials, which is based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the data related to the particular study or trial. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations, and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the preliminary or topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data has been received and fully evaluated. Topline data also remains subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, preliminary or topline data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available.

 

From time to time, we may also disclose interim data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available or as patients from our clinical trials continue other treatments for their disease. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects.

 

Further, disclosure of interim data by us or by our competitors could result in volatility in the price of our common stock. Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions, or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate, and our company in general. If the interim, topline, or preliminary data that we report differs from actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, any of our potential product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, operating results, prospects, or financial condition.

 

We may not be able to obtain or maintain orphan drug designations which we pursue for any of our product candidates, and we may be unable to maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug designation, including the potential for market exclusivity.

 

Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, the FDA may designate a drug as an orphan product if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or a patient population of greater than 200,000 individuals in the United States, but for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug will be recovered from sales in the United States. While the FDA has granted KP1077 orphan drug designation for the treatment of IH, and celiprolol received orphan drug designation from the FDA for the treatment of vEDS, we have not received orphan drug designation for any other product candidate. We may seek to obtain orphan drug designation for product but there can be no assurance that the FDA will grant orphan designation for any indication for which we apply, or that we will be able to maintain such designation.

 

In the United States, orphan designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding toward clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. In addition, if a product candidate that has orphan designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including an NDA, to market the same product for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity or where the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient product quantity.

 

In the EU, orphan designation is granted by the EC based on a scientific opinion of the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products. A medicinal product may be designated as orphan if its sponsor can establish that (i) the product is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition; (ii) either (a) such condition affects no more than 5 in 10,000 persons in the EU when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the EU to justify investment; and (iii) 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 medicinal product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition. The application for orphan designation must be submitted before the application for marketing authorization. Orphan designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees, fee waivers, protocol assistance, and access to the centralized marketing authorization procedure. Moreover, upon grant of a marketing authorization and assuming the requirement for orphan designation are also met at the time the marketing authorization is granted, orphan medicinal products are entitled to a ten-year period of market exclusivity for the approved therapeutic indication. The period of market exclusivity is extended by two years for orphan medicinal products that have also complied with an agreed Pediatric Investigation Plan.

 

Even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority can subsequently approve the same drug for the same condition if such regulatory authority concludes that the later drug is clinically superior because it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care.

 

Orphan drug exclusivity may also be lost if the FDA later determines that the initial request for designation was materially defective. In addition, orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving competing drugs for the same or similar indication containing a different active ingredient. In addition, if a subsequent drug is approved for marketing for the same or a similar indication as any of our product candidates that receive marketing approval, we may face increased competition and lose market share regardless of orphan drug exclusivity. In the EU, during the market exclusivity period, marketing authorizations may be granted to a similar medicinal product with the same orphan indication if: (i) the applicant can establish that the second medicinal product, although similar to the orphan medicinal product already authorized is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior to the orphan medicinal product already authorized; (ii) the marketing authorization holder for the orphan medicinal product grants its consent; or (iii) if the marketing authorization holder of the orphan medicinal product is unable to supply sufficient quantities of product. The European exclusivity period can be reduced to six years, if, at the end of the fifth year a medicine no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation (i.e. the prevalence of the condition has increased above the orphan designation threshold or it is judged that the product is sufficiently profitable so as not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity).

 

Orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process.

 

 

Our approved products and certain of our product candidates contain controlled substances, the manufacture, use, sale, importation, exportation, prescribing and distribution of which are subject to regulation by the DEA and other regulatory agencies.

 

Our approved products and certain of our product candidates are regulated as controlled substances, which are subject to state, federal, and foreign laws and regulations regarding their manufacture, use, sale, importation, exportation, and distribution.  Among other things, controlled substances are regulated under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, or CSA, and regulations of the DEA. Before we can commercialize any of our products or product candidates, if approved, the DEA will need to determine the controlled substance schedule, taking into account the recommendation of the FDA. This may be a lengthy process that could delay our marketing of a product candidate and could potentially diminish any regulatory exclusivity periods for which we may be eligible.

 

The DEA regulates controlled substances as Schedule I, II, III, IV or V substances. Schedule I substances by definition have no established medicinal use and may not be marketed or sold in the United States. A pharmaceutical product may be listed as Schedule II, III, IV or V, with Schedule II substances considered to present the highest risk of abuse and Schedule V substances the lowest relative risk of abuse among such substances. The DEA determined AZSTARYS to be a Schedule II controlled substance. In addition, the DEA scheduled SDX as a Schedule IV substance. We expect that most of our product candidates, including KP1077, if approved, will also be regulated as “controlled substances” by the DEA, which subjects AZSTARYS and this product candidate to additional restrictions regarding their manufacture, shipment, storage, sale and use, depending on the scheduling of the active ingredients, and may limit the commercial potential of our products and any of our product candidates, if approved.

 

Various states also independently regulate controlled substances. Though state-controlled substances laws often mirror federal law, because the states are separate jurisdictions, they may separately schedule drugs as well. While some states automatically schedule a drug when the DEA does so, in other states there must be rulemaking or a legislative action. State scheduling may delay commercial sale of any controlled substance drug product for which we obtain federal regulatory approval and adverse scheduling could impair the commercial attractiveness of such product. We or our collaborators must also obtain separate state registrations in order to be able to obtain, handle and distribute controlled substances for clinical trials or commercial sale, and failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements could lead to enforcement and sanctions from the states in addition to those from the DEA or otherwise arising under federal law.

 

For any of our products or product candidates classified as controlled substances, we and our suppliers, manufacturers, contractors, customers and distributors are required to obtain and maintain applicable registrations from state, federal and foreign law enforcement and regulatory agencies and comply with state, federal and foreign laws and regulations regarding the manufacture, use, sale, importation, exportation and distribution of controlled substances. There is a risk that DEA regulations may limit the supply of the compounds used in clinical trials for our product candidates, and, in the future, the ability to produce and distribute our products in the volume needed to meet commercial demand. For example, a DEA quota system controls and limits the availability and production of controlled substances in Schedule I or II. Because our products and most of our product candidates are or may be regulated as Schedule II controlled substances, they may be subject to the DEA’s production and procurement quota scheme. The DEA establishes annually an aggregate quota for how much of a controlled substance may be produced in total in the United States based on the DEA’s estimate of the quantity needed to meet legitimate scientific and medicinal needs. Manufacturers of Schedule I and II controlled substances are required to apply for quotas on an annual basis. If we or our contract manufacturers or suppliers do not obtain a sufficient quota from the DEA, we may not be able to obtain sufficient quantities of these controlled substances in order to complete our clinical trials or meet commercial demand for any of our products or product candidates classified under Schedule II.

 

Regulations associated with controlled substances govern manufacturing, labeling, packaging, testing, dispensing, production and procurement quotas, recordkeeping, reporting, handling, shipment and disposal. These regulations increase the personnel needs and the expense associated with development and commercialization of product candidates including controlled substances. The DEA, and some states, conduct periodic inspections of registered establishments that handle controlled substances. Failure to obtain and maintain required registrations or comply with any applicable regulations could delay or preclude us from developing and commercializing our product candidates containing controlled substances and subject us to enforcement action. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations or initiate proceedings to revoke those registrations. In some circumstances, violations could lead to criminal proceedings. Because of their restrictive nature, these regulations could limit commercialization of any of our products or product candidates that are classified as controlled substances.

 

The EU legislation does not establish different classes of narcotic or psychotropic substances. However, the United Nations (“UN”) Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 (“UN Conventions”) codify internationally applicable control measures to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes. The individual EU member states are all signatories to these UN Conventions. All signatories have a dual obligation to ensure that these substances are available for medical purposes and to protect populations against abuse and dependence. The UN Conventions regulate narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as Schedule I, II, III, IV substances with Schedule II substances presenting the lowest relative risk of abuse among such substances and Schedule I and IV substances considered to present the highest risk of abuse.

 

The UN Conventions require signatories to require all persons manufacturing, trading (including exporting and importing) or distributing controlled substances to obtain a license from the relevant authority. Each individual export or import of a controlled substance must also be subject to an authorization. The obligations provided in the UN Conventions and additional requirements are implemented at national level and requirements may vary from one member state to another. In order to develop and commercialize our products in the EU, we would need to comply with the national requirements related to controlled substances which is costly and may affect our development plans in the EU.

 

 

Our products and product candidates may be associated with serious adverse events, undesirable side effects or have other properties that could halt their clinical development, prevent their regulatory approval, limit their commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences.

 

Adverse events or other undesirable side effects caused by our products or product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approvals by the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities.

 

During the conduct of clinical trials, patients report changes in their health, including illnesses, injuries, and discomforts, to their study doctor. Often, it is not possible to determine whether or not the product candidate being studied caused these conditions. It is possible that as we test our product candidates in larger, longer and more extensive clinical trials, or as use of these product candidates becomes more widespread if they receive regulatory approval, illnesses, injuries, discomforts and other adverse events that were observed in previous trials, as well as conditions that did not occur or went undetected in previous trials, will be reported by patients. Many times, side effects are only detectable after investigational products are tested in large-scale clinical trials or, in some cases, after they are made available to patients on a commercial scale following approval.

 

If any serious adverse events occur, clinical trials or commercial distribution of any product candidates or products we develop could be suspended or terminated, and our business could be seriously harmed. Treatment-related side effects could also affect patient recruitment and the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential liability claims. Regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, deny approval of, and/or require us to cease selling our products or product candidates, if approved, for any or all targeted indications. If we are required to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial or commercialization efforts, the commercial prospects of our products or product candidates may be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues from them or other product candidates that we develop may be delayed or eliminated. Additionally, if one or more of our product candidates receives marketing approval and we or others later identify undesirable side effects or adverse events caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including but not limited to:

 

 

regulatory authorities may suspend, limit or withdraw approvals of such product, or seek an injunction against its manufacture or distribution;

     
 

regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label, including “boxed” warnings, or issue safety alerts, Dear Healthcare Provider letters, press releases or other communications containing warnings or other safety information about the product;

     
 

we may be required to change the way the product is administered or conduct additional clinical trials or post-approval studies;

     
 

we may be required to create a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, which could include a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;

     
 

we may be subject to fines, injunctions or the imposition of criminal penalties;

     
 

we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients; and

     
 

our reputation may suffer.

 

Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of our products or any of our product candidates, if approved, and could seriously harm our business.

 

 

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 management resources, we focus on research programs and product candidates that we identify for 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 drugs or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate.

 

Social issues around the abuse of opioids and stimulants, including law enforcement concerns over diversion and regulatory efforts to combat abuse, could decrease the potential market for our approved products or any of our other applicable product candidates.

 

Media stories regarding prescription drug abuse and the diversion of opioids, stimulants and other controlled substances are commonplace. Law enforcement and regulatory agencies may apply policies that seek to limit the availability of opioids and stimulants. Such efforts may inhibit the ability to commercialize our approved products or any of our other applicable product candidates. Aggressive enforcement and unfavorable publicity regarding, for example, the use or misuse of hydrocodone or other opioid drugs and stimulants, the limitations of abuse-deterrent formulations, public inquiries and investigations into prescription drug abuse, litigation or regulatory activity, sales, marketing, distribution or storage of our products could harm our reputation. Such negative publicity could reduce the potential size of the market for our approved products or any of our other applicable product candidates and decrease the revenue we are able to generate from their sale, if approved. Similarly, to the extent prescription drug abuse becomes a less prevalent or less urgent public health issue, regulators and third-party payors may not be willing to pay a premium for formulations with improved attributes of opioids or stimulants.

 

Additionally, efforts by the FDA and other regulatory bodies to combat abuse of opioids and stimulants may negatively impact the market for our approved products and any of our other applicable product candidates. For example, in April 2014, the FDA approved class-wide labeling changes to the indications for use of all approved ER/LA opioids, so that ER/LA opioids will be indicated only for the management of pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate. These changes have reduced the number of prescriptions for opioids written by physicians and negatively impact the potential market our applicable product candidates. The FDA also held a public meeting in October 2014, on the development and regulation of abuse-deterrent formulations of opioid medications. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously issued draft guidelines for the prescribing of opioids for chronic pain, providing recommendations for primary care providers prescribing opioids for chronic pain on when to initiate or continue opioids, opioid selection and discontinuation, and the assessment of the risk and addressing harms of opioid use, among other areas. It is possible that FDA, or other regulatory bodies, will announce new regulatory initiatives at any time that may increase the regulatory burden or decrease the commercial opportunity for our approved products or any of our other applicable product candidates.

 

If the Arimoclomol EAP is terminated prior to commercialization of arimoclomol, if approved, it will have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and/or prospects.

 

Arimoclomol is currently available to NPC patients in the United States France, Germany, and other EU member states through the Arimoclomol EAP. The EAP is expected to remain in place until arimoclomol becomes commercially available in each of the current EAP markets. If the Arimoclomol EAP is terminated prior to commercialization of arimoclomol, it will have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and/or prospects.

.

 

 

Risks Related to Our Business, Our Financial Position and Our Capital Needs
 

We may be unable to integrate the Acer business successfully or realize the anticipated synergies and related benefits of the Merger.

 

We entered into the Merger Agreement with Acer with the expectation that the Merger will result in various benefits and synergies. However, the Merger involved the combination of two previously independent public companies. In particular, prior to the signing of the Merger Agreement and the extension of the Bridge Loan, Acer’s assets consisted primarily of approximately $0.6 million in cash or cash equivalents and certain product rights. Moreover, prior to the Merger Agreement, Acer had historically been unable to fund its operations on a standalone basis without substantial additional investment. We may be unable to successfully operate Acer’s business or integrate it into our own operations as a combined company.

 

We are required to devote significant management attention and resources to integrating the portfolio and operations of Acer. Potential difficulties that we may encounter in the integration process include the following:

  

• the inability to combine our business with Acer's in a manner that permits us to achieve the cost savings or other synergies anticipated as a result of the Merger or to achieve such cost savings or other anticipated synergies in a timely manner, which could result in Zevra not realizing some anticipated benefits of the Merger in the time frame currently anticipated, or at all;

  

• the inability to realize the anticipated value from various Acer assets;

  

• the inability to coordinate and integrate research and development teams across technologies and products to enhance product development;

  

• the inability to integrate and manage personnel from the companies and minimizing the loss of key employees;

  

• the inability to consolidate our administrative and information technology infrastructure and financial systems and identify and eliminate redundant and underperforming functions and assets;

  

• the inability to harmonize our operating practices, employee development and compensation programs, internal controls and other policies, procedures and processes;

  

• the inability to coordinate distribution and marketing efforts;

  

• potential unknown liabilities and unforeseen increased expenses, delays or unfavorable conditions in connection with the post-closing integration; and

 

• performance shortfalls as a result of the diversion of management’s attention from ongoing business activities as a result of the Merger and integrating our operations.

  

It is possible that the integration process could result in the distraction of our management, the loss of key employees, the disruption of our ongoing business or inconsistencies in our operations, services, standards, controls, procedures and policies, any of which could adversely affect our ability to maintain relationships with third parties and employees or to achieve the anticipated benefits of the Merger, or could otherwise adversely affect our business and financial results.

 

 

Our future results will suffer if we do not effectively manage our expanded operations following the Merger.

  

Following the Merger, the size and scope of our operations increased. We may continue to expand our size and operations through additional acquisitions or other strategic transactions. Our future success depends, in part, upon our ability to manage our expanded business, which may pose substantial challenges for our management, including challenges related to the management and monitoring of new operations and locations and associated increased costs and complexity. There can be no assurances that we will be successful in managing our expanded business or that we will realize the expected economies of scale, synergies and other benefits currently anticipated from the Merger or anticipated from any additional acquisitions or strategic transactions.

 

We may not be able to retain suppliers or distributors, or suppliers or distributors may seek to modify contractual relationships with us, which could have an adverse effect on our business and operations. Third parties may terminate or alter existing contracts or relationships with us.

  

We may experience impacts on relationships with customers, suppliers and distributors that may harm our business and results of operations. Certain suppliers or distributors may seek to terminate or modify contractual obligations following the Merger whether or not contractual rights are triggered as a result of the Merger. There can be no guarantee that our or Acer's prior customers, suppliers and distributors will remain with or continue to have a relationship with us or do so on contractual terms amenable to us. If any suppliers or distributors seek to terminate or modify contractual obligations or discontinue their relationship with us, then our business and results of operations may be harmed.

 

The restatement of our consolidated financial statements has subjected us to a number of additional risks and uncertainties, including increased possibility of legal proceedings. Any failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could harm us.

 

As discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report, on March 25, 2024, the Audit Committee, after discussion with senior management and the Company’s independent registered public accountants, concluded that the Company’s Prior Financial Statements and Prior Interim Financial Statements should no longer be relied upon. We have restated our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2022, and the Prior Interim Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The restatement of our consolidated financial statements has caused us to incur substantial expenses for legal, accounting, and other professional services and has diverted our management’s attention from our business and could continue to do so. In addition, as a result of the restatement, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting, the price of our common stock could decline and we may be subject to litigation or regulatory enforcement actions.

 

Management recently identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, which could have a significant adverse effect on our business and the price of our common stock.

 

Our management is required to report annually on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404. The rules governing the standards that must be met for our management to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing and possible remediation.

 

A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the Company’s annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. We have identified a material weakness in our internal controls relating to the accounting for certain common stock warrants as liabilities, which led to understatements of derivative and warrant liability and additional paid-in capital and fluctuations in fair value adjustment related to derivative and warrant liability during the impacted periods. As a result, management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting and our disclosure controls and procedures were, in each case as of December 31, 2023, ineffective. As described in Part II, Item 9A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, management is taking steps to remediate the material weakness. There can be no assurance that any measures we take will remediate the material weakness identified, nor can there be any assurance as to how quickly we will be able to remediate this material weakness.

 

Our failure to certify the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting or our disclosure controls and procedures, or the identification of the material weakness, could subject us to regulatory scrutiny and a loss of public confidence, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and our stock price. In the future, we may identify additional material weaknesses or significant deficiencies, and we may not be able to remediate them in time to meet the deadline imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for compliance with the requirements of Section 404. In addition, we may encounter problems or delays in completing the implementation of any requested improvements and, if and when such a report is required, receiving a favorable attestation report from our independent registered public accounting firm. If we do not maintain adequate financial and management personnel, processes and controls, we may not be able to manage our business effectively or accurately report our financial performance on a timely basis, which could cause a decline in our common stock price and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

  

We have incurred significant recurring negative net operating cash flows. We expect to incur minimal positive net operating cash flows or negative net operating cash flows over the next several years and may never achieve or maintain profitability.

 

We have historically had significant negative net operating cash flows since inception. For the years ended December 31, 2023, and 2022, net cash used in operations was $33.5 million and $18.7 million, respectively. We have financed our operations through December 31, 2023, with funds raised in private placements of redeemable convertible preferred stock, the issuance of convertible promissory notes and term debt, our initial public offering and other public and private offerings of our common stock, as well as through revenue received under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, sales of arimoclomol under the Arimoclomol EAP, the Corium Consulting Agreement and, since the consummation of the Merger, sales of OLPRUVA.

 

Our recurring operating losses and negative cash flows from operations raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. We have no current source of revenues to sustain our present activities, and we do not expect to generate revenues until, and unless, the FDA or other regulatory agencies approve our product candidates, and we successfully commercialize our approved products and product candidates. Accordingly, our ability to continue as a going concern will require us to obtain additional financing to fund our operations. The perception of our inability to continue as a going concern may make it more difficult for us to obtain financing for the continuation of our operations and could result in the loss of confidence by investors, suppliers and employees. We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to research and development, including preclinical studies and clinical trials, and commercialization. We are still in the early stages of commercializing our approved products and in development of many of our product candidates. We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to research and development, including preclinical studies and clinical trials. We are in various stages of development of our product candidates, and we have only completed development of, and received regulatory approval for AZSTARYS and OLPRUVA. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses over the next several years and our net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year as we:

 

  continue to integrate the operations of Acer following the recent Merger;
     
 

continue our ongoing preclinical studies, clinical trials and our product development activities for our pipeline of product candidates;

     
 

seek regulatory approvals for product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;

     
 

continue research and preclinical development and initiate clinical trials of our product candidates;

     
 

seek to discover and develop additional product candidates either internally or in partnership with other pharmaceutical companies;

     
 

adapt our regulatory compliance efforts to incorporate requirements applicable to marketed products;

     
 

maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio;

     
 

incur additional legal, accounting and other expenses in operating as a public company; and

     
 

add operational systems and personnel, if needed, to support any future commercialization efforts.

 

 

To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in developing and eventually commercializing prodrugs that generate significant revenue. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical studies and clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates, and manufacturing, marketing and selling, whether ourselves or through a license with a third party, any of our product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval, as well as discovering and developing additional product candidates. We are in various stages of these activities for our product candidates and we cannot guarantee that any strategy we adopt will be successful. We may never succeed in commercialization activities and, even if we do, may never generate revenue that is significant enough to achieve profitability.

 

Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with prodrug development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. If we are required by regulatory authorities to perform studies in addition to those currently expected, or if there are any delays in the initiation and completion of our clinical trials or the development of any of our product candidates, our expenses could increase.

 

Even if we achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would depress our value and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, maintain our research and development efforts, obtain product approvals, diversify our product offerings or continue our operations. A decline in our value could also cause you to lose all or part of your investment.

 

Identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may not generate the necessary data or results required to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates or claims necessary to make such candidates profitable and achieve product sales. In addition, our approved products or any of our product candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Our commercial revenue will be derived from sales of prodrug products. We cannot guarantee that we or Corium will be able to successfully commercialize OLPRUVA or AZSTARYS to any certain level, or any of the product candidates subject to the AZSTARYS License Agreement, even if approved, or that we will ever receive any additional payments under the AZSTARYS License Agreement from the commercial sales of AZSTARYS or any future payments under the AZSTARYS License Agreement. 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. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or debt securities, the terms of those securities or debt may restrict our ability to operate. Any future debt financing and equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include, covenants limiting and restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures, entering into profit-sharing or other arrangements or declaring dividends. If we raise additional funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may be required to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or product candidates or to grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or altogether cease our research and development programs or future commercialization efforts.

 

The auditor's opinion on our audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023, included in this annual report on Form 10-K, contains an explanatory paragraph relating to our ability to continue as a going concern.

 

The auditor's opinion on our audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2023, includes an explanatory paragraph stating that our recurring losses from operations, stockholders' deficit and negative operating cash flows raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. While we believe that we will be able to raise the capital we need to continue our operations, there can be no assurances that we will be successful in these efforts or will be able to resolve our liquidity issues or eliminate our operating losses. If we are unable to obtain sufficient funding, we would need to significantly reduce our operating plans and curtail some or all of our product development, commercialization, and strategic plans. Accordingly, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations will be materially and adversely affected, and we may be unable to continue as a going concern. If we are unable to continue as a going concern, we may have to liquidate our assets and may receive less than the value at which those assets are carried on our audited consolidated financial statements, and it is likely that investors will lose all or a part of their investment. If we seek additional financing to fund our business activities in the future and there remains substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern, investors or other financing sources may be unwilling to provide additional funding on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

 

 

 

 

We may need additional funding to pursue our business objectives. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or altogether cease our prodrug development programs or commercialization efforts or cease operations altogether.

 

Based on our current operating plan, our existing resources are expected to be sufficient to fund operating expense and capital investment requirements into, but not through, 2026. However, unless we are able to restructure the amounts outstanding on our margin loan facility, we may be required to repay the loan and thereby deplete the cash available to fund our operations. Because of this, the auditor's opinion on our audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2023, includes an explanatory paragraph stating that our recurring losses from operations and negative cash flows raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. We do not currently have sufficient funds to finance our continuing operations beyond the short-term or to further advance any or our product candidates further into clinical development and commercialization. In order to continue to commercialize our approved products and advance development of our product candidates, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations from one or more equity offerings, debt financings or other third-party funding, including potential strategic alliances and licensing or collaboration arrangements, and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to generate sufficient proceeds from sales, or be successful in completing other transactions, that will fund our operating expenses. If we are delayed in obtaining additional funding or are unable to complete a strategic transaction, we may discontinue our development activities on our product candidates or discontinue our operations. Even if we are able to fund continued development and any of our other product candidates is approved, we expect that we will need to complete a strategic transaction or raise substantial additional funding through public or private debt or equity securities to successfully commercialize any approved product or other product candidate.

 

We expect that our only sources of revenues will be through payments arising from sales of our approved products or potential consulting arrangements and any other future arrangements related to one of our product candidates. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to generate sufficient proceeds from the sale of our approved products or product candidates, if approved, or be successful in completing other transactions that will fully fund our operating expenses. Further, the recent economic uncertainty, may dramatically reduce our ability to secure debt or equity financing necessary to support our operations. If we are delayed in obtaining additional funding or are unable to complete a strategic transaction, we may discontinue our development activities on our product candidates or discontinue our operations. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

 

 
the progress and results of our preclinical studies, clinical trials, chemistry, manufacturing and controls (“CMC ”), and other product development and commercialization activities;
     
 
the scope, progress, results and costs of preclinical development, laboratory testing and clinical trials for our product candidates;
     
 
the ability to obtain differentiating claims in the labels for our product candidates;
     
 
the number and development requirements of other product candidates that we may pursue;
     
 
the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;
     
 
the efforts necessary to institute post-approval regulatory compliance requirements;
     
 
the costs and timing of future commercialization activities, including product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;
     
  the commercial revenue received from commercial sales of our approved products, or any of our product candidates subject to the terms of the AZSTARYS License Agreement, or sales of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval in the future, which may be affected by market conditions, including obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement of our approved products, or any of our product candidates, from third-party payors, including government programs and managed care organizations, and competition within the therapeutic class to which our approved products, or any our product candidates are assigned;
     
  the success in commercializing our approved products;
     
 
the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims; and
     
 
the extent to which we acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies.

 

 

 

 

 

Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties

 

We rely on and expect to continue to rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials for our product candidates, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily, including failing to meet deadlines for the completion of such trials.

 

We have engaged and expect to continue to engage CROs for our planned clinical trials of our product candidates. We rely on and expect to continue to rely on CROs, as well as other third parties, such as clinical data management organizations, medical institutions and clinical investigators, to conduct those clinical trials. Agreements with such third parties might terminate for a variety of reasons, including a failure to perform by the third parties. If we need to enter into alternative arrangements, our drug development activities would be delayed.

 

Our reliance on these third parties for research and development activities reduces our control over these activities but does not relieve us of our responsibilities. For example, we remain responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the trial. Moreover, the FDA requires us to comply with regulatory standards, commonly referred to as good clinical practices, or GCPs, for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of trial participants are protected. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCPs through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, investigators and trial sites. We also are required to register specified ongoing clinical trials and post the results of completed clinical trials on a government-sponsored database, ClinicalTrials.gov, within specified timeframes. In addition, we must conduct our clinical trials with product produced under cGMP requirements. Similar requirements apply in foreign jurisdictions. Failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat preclinical studies and clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Failure to comply with the applicable requirements related to clinical investigations by us, our CROs or clinical trial sites can also result in clinical holds and termination of clinical trials, debarment, FDA or foreign regulatory authorities refusal to approve applications based on the clinical data, warning letters, withdrawal of marketing approval if the product has already been approved, fines and other monetary penalties, delays, adverse publicity and civil and criminal sanctions, among other consequences.

 

Furthermore, these third parties may also have relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated protocols, we will not be able to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, marketing approvals for our product candidates and will not be able to, or may be delayed in our efforts to, successfully commercialize our product candidates.

 

In addition, investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and may receive cash or equity compensation in connection with such services. If these relationships and any related compensation result in perceived or actual conflicts of interest, or the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities conclude that the financial relationship may have affected the interpretation of the study, the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site may be questioned and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized, which could result in the delay or rejection of any NDA or foreign marketing authorization application we submit by the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities. Any such delay or rejection could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates. Further, our arrangements with investigators are also subject to scrutiny under other health care regulatory laws, such as the Anti-Kickback Statute and comparable foreign laws.

 

We also rely on and expect to continue to rely on other third parties to store and distribute product supplies for our clinical trials. Any performance failure on the part of our distributors could delay clinical development or marketing approval of our product candidates or commercialization of our products, producing additional losses and depriving us of potential product revenue.

 

If the third parties with whom we contract do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines 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, we may need to conduct additional trials, and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed. To the extent we are unable to successfully identify and manage the performance of third-party service providers in the future, our business may be adversely affected.

 

We contract with third parties for the manufacture of our approved products, partnered products and product candidates that utilize SDX, sodium phenylbutyrate, and arimoclomol, and we expect to continue to do so. This reliance on third-party manufacturers increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of SDX, sodium phenylbutyrate and arimoclomol, or such quantities at an acceptable cost, which could delay, prevent or impair commercialization or development efforts.

 

 

 

We do not have any manufacturing facilities. We procure the bulk drug substances for our approved products and product candidates from sole-source, third-party manufacturers and the partnered products and product candidates that utilize these moieties as the API used in our clinical trials from other third parties. We anticipate we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We also expect to continue to rely on third parties as we proceed with preclinical and clinical testing of our product candidates, as well as for commercial manufacture of our approved products, or any of our product candidates should such candidates receive marketing approval. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of SDX, sodium phenylbutyrate, arimoclomol, or other bulk drug substances or our approved products, partnered product or product candidates, or such quantities at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our ability to timely conduct our clinical trials or our other development or commercialization efforts.

 

We may be unable to establish any future agreements with third-party manufacturers or to do so on acceptable terms. Even if we are able to maintain our existing third-party relationships or establish any such agreements with other third-party manufacturers, reliance on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:

 

 

reliance on the third party for FDA and DEA and comparable foreign authorities regulatory compliance and quality assurance;

 

 

the possible misappropriation of our proprietary information, including our trade secrets and know-how;

 

 

disruption and costs associated with changing suppliers, including additional regulatory filings;

 

 

the possible breach, termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third party at a time that is costly or inconvenient for us;

 

 

a delay or inability to procure or expand sufficient manufacturing capacity; 

 

 

manufacturing and product quality issues related to scale-up of manufacturing;

 

 

costs and validation of new equipment and facilities required for scale-up;

 

 

the inability to negotiate manufacturing agreements with third parties under commercially reasonable terms;

 

 

termination or nonrenewal of manufacturing agreements with third parties in a manner or at a time that is costly or damaging to us;

 

 

the reliance on a limited number of sources, and in some cases, single sources for product components, such that if we are unable to secure a sufficient supply of these product components, we will be unable to manufacture and sell our product candidates in a timely fashion, in sufficient quantities or under acceptable terms; and

 

 

carrier disruptions or increased costs that are beyond our control.

 

Any of these events could lead to clinical trial delays, failure to obtain regulatory approval or impact our ability to successfully commercialize our products, if approved. Some of these events could be the basis for FDA or foreign regulatory authorities action, including injunction, recall, seizure or total or partial suspension of production.

 

 

The facilities used by our contract manufacturers to manufacture our approved products, and any of our product candidates are subject to review by the FDA pursuant to inspections that will be conducted after we submit our marketing application to the FDA, and such inspections could result in findings that lead to failure to obtain FDA approval of such marketing applications.

 

We do not, other than through our contractual arrangements, control the manufacturing process of our approved products, or any of our other product candidates, and we are completely dependent on, our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with cGMP requirements and for manufacture of both active drug substances and finished drug products. If our contract manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, we will not be able to secure and maintain regulatory approval of our marketing applications for the use of their manufacturing facilities for our products. In addition, other than through our contractual agreements, 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 manufacturing of our approved products, or any of our other product candidates, or if it withdraws any such approval in the future, we may need to find alternative manufacturing facilities, which would significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain marketing approval for or market our approved products, or any of our other product candidates, if approved.

 

Further, for our approved products and any of our product candidates, if approved, our suppliers will be subject to regulatory requirements, covering manufacturing, testing, quality control and record keeping relating to our approved products or any of our product candidates, if approved, and subject to ongoing inspections by the regulatory agencies. Failure by any of our suppliers to comply with applicable regulations may result in long delays and interruptions to our manufacturing capacity while we seek to secure another supplier that meets all regulatory requirements, as well as market disruption related to any necessary recalls or other corrective actions.

 

Third-party manufacturers may not be able to comply with cGMP regulations or similar regulatory requirements outside the United States. Our failure, or the failure of our third-party manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including warning letters, clinical holds or termination of clinical trials, fines, injunctions, restitution, disgorgement, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals or other permits, FDA refusal to approve pending applications, product detentions, FDA or DEA consent decrees placing significant restrictions on or suspending manufacturing and distribution operations, debarment, refusal to allow import or export, product detentions, adverse publicity, dear-health-care-provider letters or other warnings, license revocation, seizures or recalls of product candidates, operating restrictions, refusal of government contracts or future orders under existing contracts and civil and criminal liability, including False Claims Act liability, exclusion from participation in federal health care programs, and corporate integrity agreements among other consequences, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our prodrugs.

 

Our product candidates and any prodrugs that we may develop may compete with other product candidates and drugs for access to manufacturing facilities, and we may be unable to obtain access to these facilities on favorable terms.

 

There are a limited number of manufacturers that operate under cGMP or comparable foreign regulations and that might be capable of manufacturing for us. Any performance failure on the part of our existing or future manufacturers could delay clinical development or marketing approval. We do not currently have arrangements in place for redundant supply or a second source for our approved products or product candidates bulk drug substance. If our current contract manufacturer for our approved products or product candidates bulk drug substance cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such manufacturer and we may incur added costs and delays in identifying and qualifying any such replacement. Any performance failure or significant delay could negatively affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We have entered into collaborations with Commave, to develop, manufacture and commercialize AZSTARYS worldwide. In addition, we may seek collaborations with third parties for the development or commercialization of our other product candidates, or in other territories. If those collaborations are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of AZSTARYS or any of our other product candidates, if approved.

 

We entered into the AZSTARYS License Agreement with Commave pursuant to which we granted an exclusive, worldwide license to Commave to develop, manufacture and commercialize AZSTARYS. Corium was tasked by Commave to lead all commercialization activities for AZSTARYS under the AZSTARYS License Agreement. We cannot guarantee that the AZSTARYS License Agreement will be successful or that we will receive any future payments under the AZSTARYS License Agreement. For instance, Commave has the option to terminate the AZSTARYS License Agreement, in its entirety or on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis, at their convenience either (i) prior to the first regulatory approval of a product upon sixty days prior written notice or (ii) subsequent to the first regulatory approval of a product upon one hundred twenty days prior written notice. Further, even if Commave does not terminate the AZSTARYS License Agreement, we cannot guarantee that we will receive any additional milestone or royalty payments under the AZSTARYS License Agreement. In addition, under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, we have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that Corium will dedicate to the development, manufacturing or commercialization of AZSTARYS, and we may not always agree with Corium’s efforts. Our ability to generate revenue under the AZSTARYS License Agreement will depend, in part, on Corium’s ability to successfully perform the functions assigned to it under the AZSTARYS License Agreement.

 

We may also seek additional third-party collaborators for the development or commercialization of any of our other product candidates, which are not subject to the AZSTARYS License Agreement, or those that are subject to the AZSTARYS License Agreement, but the option is not exercised by Commave. In such cases, our likely collaborators would include large and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, regional, national and international pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies. If we do enter into any such collaboration arrangements with any third parties, we will likely have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our collaborators dedicate to the development or commercialization of our approved products or any of our other product candidates. Our ability to generate revenue from these arrangements will depend on our collaborators’ abilities to successfully perform the functions assigned to them in these arrangements.

 

 

Our collaboration with Commave, or Collaborator, pose the following risks to us:

 

 

the Collaborator has significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these collaborations;

 

 

the Collaborator may not perform their obligations as expected;

 

 

the Collaborator may not pursue commercialization of AZSTARYS, any of our product candidates covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, if approved, or may elect not to continue or renew commercialization programs based on post-approval clinical trial results, changes in a Collaborator's strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;

 

 

the Collaborator could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with AZSTARYS, or any of our other products covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, as applicable, if the Collaborator believes that competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours;

 

 

AZSTARYS, any of our other products covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, if approved, may be viewed by the Collaborator as competitive with their own product candidates or products, which may cause the Collaborator to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of AZSTARYS, or any of our other products covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, if approved;

 

 

the Collaborator may not commit sufficient resources to the development, marketing and distribution of AZSTARYS and any of our other products covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, as applicable;

 

 

disagreements with the Collaborator, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development or commercialization, might cause delays or termination of the development or commercialization of AZSTARYS, or any of our other products covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, as applicable, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to AZSTARYS or any of our other products covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;

 

 

the Collaborator may not properly maintain or defend our or their intellectual property rights or may use our or their proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate such intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;

 

 

the Collaborator may infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability; and

 

 

the license agreements may be terminated by the Collaborator under specified circumstances and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of AZSTARYS or any of our other products covered under the AZSTARYS License Agreement.

 

If we enter into any future collaborations we will face similar risks with any future collaborators as well.

 

The AZSTARYS License Agreement and any other licensing or collaboration agreements we may enter into may not lead to commercialization of AZSTARYS, or development of KP1077, or any of our other product candidates in the most efficient manner or at all. If Corium or a future collaborator of ours were to be involved in a business combination, the continued pursuit and emphasis on our drug development or commercialization program could be delayed, diminished or terminated.

 

 

If we are not able to establish collaborations for our product candidates, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.

 

Our prodrug development programs and the potential commercialization of our product candidates, if approved, will require substantial additional capital. For our product candidates, which are not subject to the terms of the AZSTARYS License Agreement, we may need to collaborate with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for the development and potential commercialization of those product candidates.

 

We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Whether we reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. Those factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of approval by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, the potential market for the subject product candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such product candidate to patients, the potential of competing products, the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge, and industry and market conditions generally.

 

The collaborator may also consider alternative product candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to collaborate on and whether such a collaboration could be more attractive than the one with us for our product candidate.

 

Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators.

 

We may not be able to negotiate collaborations on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to do so, we may have to curtail the development of product candidates, reduce or delay one or more of our development programs, delay potential commercialization of our product candidates or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities of our product candidates, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense of our product candidate. If we elect to increase our expenditures to fund development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we do not have sufficient funds, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates or bring our product candidates to market and generate product revenue.

 

Provisions in our agreements with Aquestive and Commave may inhibit our ability to enter into future collaborations with third parties.

 

We are party to a termination agreement with Aquestive Therapeutics, or Aquestive, that may limit the value of any sale, license or commercialization of AZSTARYS or KP1077. Under this termination agreement, Aquestive has the right to receive a royalty amount equal to 10% of any value generated by AZSTARYS or KP1077, and any product candidates which contain SDX, including royalty payments on any license of AZSTARYS or KP1077, the sale of AZSTARYS or KP1077 to a third party or the commercialization of AZSTARYS or KP1077. 

 

We also granted to Commave a right of first refusal to acquire, license or commercialize any additional product candidate which contains SDX and is intended to treat ADHD or any other CNS disorder with such right of first refusal expiring upon the acceptance of a new drug application for such product candidate. We also granted Commave a right of first negotiation and a right of first refusal, subject to specified exceptions, for any assignment of our rights under the AZSTARYS License Agreement. We cannot predict if these obligations will limit the value we may receive from any future sale or license of any additional product candidate.

 

 

 

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

 

If we are unable to obtain and maintain trade secret protection or patent protection for our technology, our approved products or our product candidates, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and drugs similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our technology, our approved products, or our product candidates, if approved, may be impaired.

 

Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain trade secret protection of our proprietary LAT platform technology as well as patent protection in the United States and other countries with respect to our approved products, and any of our product candidates. We seek to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our product technology and product candidates. As part of the AZSTARYS License Agreement, Commave obtained from us an exclusive, worldwide license to certain patents that cover AZSTARYS. 

 

The patent prosecution process is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. We may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the rights to patents, licensed to third parties by us.

 

Further, we may also not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the rights to patents, licensed from third parties to us. Therefore, any such patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. If such licensors or licensees fail to maintain such patents, or lose rights to those patents, the rights we have in- or out-licensed may be reduced or eliminated.

 

The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, generally, is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. In addition, the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States or visa-versa. For example, European patent law restricts the patentability of methods of treatment of the human body more than United States law. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and utility, or equivalent, patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically, for example, not published until 18 months after the filing date of such patent applications, or in some cases not at all. Therefore, we cannot know with certainty whether we were the first to make and/or use the inventions claimed in our owned or licensed patents or pending patent applications, or that we were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. As a result, the issuance, scope, priority, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Our pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued that protect our product candidates, in whole or in part, or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and drugs. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection.

 

 

 

Our patent position is subject to numerous additional risks, including the following:

 

 

we may fail to seek patent protection for inventions that are important to our success;

     
 

our pending patent applications may not result in issued patents;

     
 

we cannot be certain that we are the first to invent the inventions covered by pending patent applications or that we are the first to file such applications and, if we are not, we may be subject to priority disputes or lose rights;

     
 

we may be required to disclaim part or all of the term of certain patents or all of the term of certain patent applications;

     
 

we may not be able to acquire patent term extensions or supplemental certificates of certain patents, domestic or foreign, due to regulatory delays, among others, which may affect the term of enforceability of such patents over time;

     
 

we may file patent applications but have claims restricted or we may not be able to supply sufficient data to support our claims and, as a result, may not obtain the original claims desired or we may receive restricted claims; alternatively, it is possible that we may not receive any patent protection from an application;

     
 

even if our owned and licensed patent applications issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, and may not be of sufficient scope or strength to provide us with any commercial advantage;

     
 

our competitors may be able to design around our owned or licensed patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or drugs without infringing on our intellectual property rights;

     
 

we could inadvertently abandon a patent or patent application, resulting in the loss of protection of intellectual property rights in a particular country, and we, our collaborators or our patent counsel may take action resulting in a patent or patent application becoming abandoned which may not be able to be reinstated or if reinstated, may suffer patent term adjustments or loss;

     
 

the claims of our issued patents or patent applications when issued may not cover our product candidates;

     
 

no assurance can be given that our patents would be declared by a court or tribunal, domestic or foreign, to be valid or enforceable or that a competitor’s technology or product would be found by a court or tribunal, domestic or foreign, to infringe our patents and our patents or patent applications may be challenged by third parties in patent litigation, domestic or foreign, or in proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO, or its foreign counterparts, and may ultimately be declared invalid or unenforceable or narrowed in scope; 

     
 

there may be prior art of which we are not aware that may affect the validity or enforceability of a patent claim and there 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;

     
 

third parties may develop products that have the same or similar effect as our products without infringing our patents;

     
 

third parties may intentionally circumvent our patents by means of alternate designs or processes or file applications or be granted patents that would block or hurt our efforts;

     
 

there may be dominating or intervening patents relevant to our product candidates of which we are not aware;

     
 

obtaining regulatory approval for pharmaceutical products is a lengthy and complex process, and as a result, any patents covering our product candidates may expire before or shortly after such product candidates are approved and commercialized;

     
 

the patent and patent enforcement laws of some foreign jurisdictions do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as laws in the United States, and many companies have encountered significant difficulties in protecting and defending such rights in foreign jurisdictions; and

     
 

we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable.

 

 

Any of these factors could hurt our ability to gain full patent protection for our products. Registered trademarks and trademark applications in the United States and other countries are subject to similar risks as described above for patents and patent applications, in addition to the risks described below.

 

Further, a third party may misappropriate or reverse engineer our proprietary LAT platform technology, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and resultant product candidates, product technology or prodrugs, or limit the duration of the trade secret protection of our proprietary LAT platform technology.

 

Moreover, we may be subject to a third-party pre-issuance submission of prior art to the USPTO, or become involved in opposition, litigation, nullity, derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or drugs and compete directly with us, without payment to us or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize drugs without infringing third-party patent rights. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to seek patent protection or to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates.

 

In addition, the issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, ownership, scope, priority, validity or enforceability, and our owned and licensed patents may be challenged in the courts, patent offices and tribunals in the United States and abroad. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and drugs, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our product technology, product candidates and prodrugs.

 

Changes in patent law in the United States and other jurisdictions could alter or diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products and technologies.

 

The standards that the USPTO and patent offices in other countries use to grant patents are not always applied predictably or uniformly and can change. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries could increase the uncertainties and costs, and may diminish our ability to protect our inventions, obtain, maintain, and enforce our intellectual property rights and, more generally, could affect the value of our intellectual property or narrow the scope of our owned and licensed patents.

 

In addition, the patent positions of companies in the development and commercialization of pharmaceuticals are particularly uncertain. The United States Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. Depending on future actions by the United States Congress, the United States courts, the USPTO and the relevant law-making bodies in other countries, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future. For example, in the 2013 case Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the United States Supreme Court held that certain claims to DNA molecules are not patentable. While we do not believe that any of the patents owned or licensed by us will be found invalid based on this decision, future decisions by the courts, the United States Congress or the USPTO may impact the value of our patents.

 

For another example, on September 16, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, was signed into law. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted in the United States, redefine prior art and may also affect patent litigation. The USPTO recently developed new regulations and procedures to govern administration of the Leahy-Smith Act, and many of the substantive changes to patent law associated with the Leahy-Smith Act, and in particular, the first-to-file provisions, only became effective on March 16, 2013.

 

The Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents. For instance, the Leahy-Smith Act established the inter partes review and post grant review procedures that has lowered the burden of proof for invalidity challenges to issued patents and limited the ability to amend patent claims in response to such challenges. In addition, patent reform legislation may pass in the future that could lead to additional uncertainties and increased costs surrounding the prosecution, enforcement and defense of our owned and licensed patents and/or patent applications.

 

 

We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.

 

Competitors or other third parties may infringe our patents, trademarks, copyrights or other intellectual property. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time consuming and divert the time and attention of our management and scientific personnel. Our pending patent applications cannot be enforced against third parties practicing the technology claimed in such applications unless and until a patent issues from such applications. Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe their patents, in addition to counterclaims asserting that our patents are invalid or unenforceable, or both. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness, non-enablement or insufficient written description. 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. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. In any patent infringement proceeding, there is a risk that a court will decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, and that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue. There is also a risk that, even if the validity of such patents is upheld, the court will construe the patent’s claims narrowly or decide that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue on the grounds that our patent claims do not cover the invention, or decide that the other party’s use of our patented technology falls under the safe harbor to patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(e)(1). An adverse outcome in a litigation or proceeding involving our patents could limit our ability to assert our patents against those parties or other competitors and may curtail or preclude our ability to exclude third parties from making and selling similar or competitive products and technologies. Any of these occurrences could adversely affect our competitive business position, business prospects and financial condition. Similarly, if we assert trademark infringement claims, a court may determine that the marks we have asserted are invalid or unenforceable, or that the party against whom we have asserted trademark infringement has superior rights to the marks in question. In this case, we could ultimately be forced to cease use of such trademarks.

 

Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could significantly harm our business.

 

Our commercial success depends upon our ability, and the ability of any collaborators, to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. There is considerable intellectual property litigation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. In particular, we are focused on developing product candidates based on widely used therapeutic agents or drugs, many of which may be protected by proprietary rights of third parties.

 

Although we seek to develop proprietary prodrug formulations that do not infringe the intellectual property rights of others, we may become party to, or threatened with, future adversarial proceedings or litigation, domestic or foreign, regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our prodrugs or other aspects of our technology, including, for example, interference or derivation proceedings before the USPTO. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future.

 

If we are found to infringe a third party’s intellectual property rights, we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing and marketing our technology and drugs. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. We could be forced, including by court order, to cease commercializing the infringing technology or product. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some or all of our business operations.

 

Competing products may also be sold in other countries in which our patent coverage might not exist or be as strong. If we lose a foreign patent lawsuit alleging our infringement of a competitor’s patent, we could be prevented from marketing our products in one or more foreign countries. As a result, our ability to grow our business and compete in the market may be harmed.

 

 

Intellectual property litigation could cause us to spend substantial resources and distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities.

 

Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities.

 

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 hurt the price of our common stock. 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. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could compromise our ability to compete in the marketplace.

 

We may need to license intellectual property from third parties, and such licenses may not be available or may not be available on commercially reasonable terms.

 

A third party may hold intellectual property rights, including patent rights, which are important or necessary to the development of our product candidates. It may be necessary for us to use the patented or proprietary technology of third parties to commercialize our product candidates, in which case we would be required to obtain a license from these third parties. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, and we could be forced to accept unfavorable contractual terms. If we are unable to obtain such licenses on commercially reasonable terms, our business could be harmed.

 

If we or our third-party licensors fail to comply with our obligations in our intellectual property licenses and funding arrangements with third parties, we could lose rights that are important to our business.

 

We are currently party to license agreements for technologies that we anticipate using in our product development activities. In the future, we may become party to licenses that are important for product development and commercialization. If we or our third-party licensors fail to comply with the obligations under current or future license and funding agreements, our counterparties may have the right to terminate these agreements, we may be forced to terminate these agreement or we may no longer effectively rely on any licenses to us under these agreements, in which event we might not be able to develop, manufacture or market any product or utilize any technology that is covered by these agreements or may face other penalties under the agreements. Such an occurrence could materially and adversely affect the value of a product candidate being developed under any such agreement or could restrict our drug discovery activities. Termination of these agreements or reduction or elimination of our rights under these agreements may result in our having to negotiate new or reinstated agreements with less favorable terms or cause us to lose our rights under these agreements, including our rights to important intellectual property or technology.

 

The scope of our intellectual property may be reduced or may need to be reduced due to third-party intellectual property claims.

 

Our competitors may have filed, and may in the future file, patent applications covering technology similar to ours. Any such patent application may have priority over our patent applications, which could further require us to obtain rights to issued patents covering such technologies. If another party has filed a U.S. patent application on inventions similar to ours that claims priority to an application filed prior to March 16, 2013, we may have to participate in an interference proceeding declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention in the United States. The costs of these proceedings could be substantial, and it is possible that such efforts would be unsuccessful if, unbeknownst to us, the other party had independently arrived at the same or similar invention prior to our own invention, resulting in a loss of our U.S. patent position with respect to such inventions. In addition, changes enacted on March 16, 2013, to the U.S. patent laws under the Leahy-Smith Act resulted in the United States changing from a “first to invent” country to a “first to file” country. As a result, we may lose the ability to obtain a patent if another party files with the USPTO first and could become involved in proceedings before the USPTO to resolve disputes related to inventorship. We may also become involved in similar proceedings in other jurisdictions.

 

Furthermore, recent changes in U.S. patent law under the Leahy-Smith Act allow for post-issuance challenges to U.S. patents, including ex parte re-examinations, inter partes reviews and post-grant reviews. There is significant uncertainty as to how the new laws will be applied. If our U.S. patents are challenged using such procedures, we may not prevail, possibly resulting in altered or diminished claim scope or loss of patent rights altogether. Similarly, some countries, notably in Europe, also have post-grant opposition proceedings or nullity proceedings that can result in changes in scope or cancellation of patent claims.

 

 

We may be subject to claims by third parties asserting that we or our employees have misappropriated their intellectual property or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.

 

The FDA and foreign regulatory authorities closely regulate promotional materials and other promotional activities. Even if the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities initially approve product labeling that includes a description of our improved attribute claims, the FDA and foreign regulatory authorities may object to our marketing claims and product advertising campaigns. Failure to comply with the FDA’s and comparable foreign regulatory authorities’ promotional, marketing and advertising laws and regulations could lead to the issuance of warning letters, cyber letters, or untitled letters, adverse publicity, the requirement for dear-health-care-provider letters or other corrective information, fines and other monetary penalties, civil or criminal prosecution, including False Claims Act liability, restrictions on our operations and other operating requirements through consent decrees or corporate integrity agreements, debarment, exclusion from participation in federal health care programs and refusal of government contracts or future orders under existing contracts, among other consequences. Any of these consequences would harm the commercial success of our products.

 

Further, our promotional materials, statements and training methods must comply with the FDA’s and comparable foreign regulatory authorities’ prohibition of the promotion of unapproved, or off-label, use. Any regulatory approval that the FDA grants is limited to those specific diseases and indications for which a product is deemed to be safe and effective by FDA. Similar requirements apply in foreign jurisdictions. For example, the FDA-approved label for AZSTARYS is limited to the acute treatment of ADHD in patients 6 years of age and older, and the FDA-approved label for APADAZ is limited to the short-term (no more than 14 days) management of acute pain severe enough to require an opioid analgesic and for which alternative treatments are inadequate. Physicians may use our products off-label, as the FDA does not restrict or regulate a physician’s independent choice of treatment within the practice of medicine. However, if the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities determine that our promotional materials, statements or training constitutes promotion of an off-label use, it could request that we modify our promotional materials, statements or training methods or subject us to regulatory or enforcement actions, such as the issuance of an untitled letter, a warning letter, injunction, seizure, civil fine, disgorgement of money, operating restrictions or criminal penalties. We may also be subject to actions by other governmental entities or private parties, such as the False Claims Act, civil whistleblower or “qui tam” actions. It is also possible that other federal, state or foreign enforcement authorities might take action if they consider our promotional or training materials to constitute promotion of an off-label use, which could result in significant fines or penalties under other statutory authorities, such as laws prohibiting false claims for reimbursement. In that event, our reputation could be damaged and adoption of the products could be impaired. In addition, the off-label use of our products may increase the risk of product liability claims. Product liability claims are expensive to defend and could divert our management’s attention, result in substantial damage awards against us and harm our reputation.

 

Any trademarks we may obtain may be infringed or successfully challenged, resulting in harm to our business.

 

We expect to rely on trademarks as one means to distinguish our product candidates that are approved for marketing from the products of our competitors. We have registered trademarks, including those for LAT, Zevra, and OLPRUVA. In addition, we have solicited and applied for trademarks for the Zevra logo and several potential trade names and logos for future product candidates. Third parties may oppose or attempt to cancel our trademark applications or trademarks, or otherwise challenge our use of the trademarks. If our trademarks are successfully challenged, we could be forced to rebrand our products, which could result in loss of brand recognition and could require us to devote resources to advertising and marketing new brands. Our competitors may infringe our trademarks and we may not have adequate resources to enforce our trademarks.

 

If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.

 

In addition to seeking patent and trademark protection for our product candidates, we also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented show-how, know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our trade secrets, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to them, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. Despite these efforts, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets. Further, we may need to share our trade secrets and confidential know-how with future business partners, collaborators, contractors and others located in countries at heightened risk of theft of trade secrets, including through direct intrusion by private parties or actors in other countries, and those affiliated with or controlled by state actors.

 

Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures of our intellectual property, including our trade secrets, is difficult, and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property will be effective. In addition, we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for any such breaches. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets.

 

Moreover, our competitors may independently develop or reverse engineer knowledge, methods, show-how and know-how equivalent to our trade secrets. Competitors could purchase our products and replicate some or all of the competitive advantages we derive from our development efforts for technologies on which we do not have patent protection. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate such trade secrets, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position would be harmed.

 

 

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

 

Patents are of national or regional effect, and filing, prosecuting and defending patents on all of our products and technologies throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive. As such, our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States and 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 or technology and may export otherwise infringing products or technology to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement rights are not as strong as those in the United States. These products may compete with our products and technologies, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Further, the legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to pharmaceuticals or biologics, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in other jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any such lawsuits that we initiate and the damages and other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Similarly, if our trade secrets are disclosed in another jurisdiction, competitors worldwide could have access to our proprietary information and we may be without satisfactory recourse. Such disclosure could have a material adverse effect on our business. Moreover, our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights may be adversely affected by unforeseen changes in intellectual property laws of other countries. In addition, certain developing countries, including China and India, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In those countries, we and our licensors may have limited remedies if patents are infringed or if we or our licensors are compelled to grant a license to a third party, which could materially diminish the value of those patents. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. This could limit our potential revenue opportunities. 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.

 

In 2012, the European Patent Package, or EU Patent Package, regulations were passed with the goal of providing a single pan-European Unitary Patent and a new European Unified Patent Court, or UPC, for litigation involving European patents. Implementation of the EU Patent Package will likely occur in the first half of 2023. Under the UPC, all European patents, including those issued prior to ratification of the European Patent Package, will by default automatically fall under the jurisdiction of the UPC. The UPC will provide our competitors with a new forum to centrally revoke our European patents, and allow for the possibility of a competitor to obtain pan-European injunctions. It will be several years before we will understand the scope of patent rights that will be recognized and the strength of patent remedies that will be provided by the UPC. Under the EU Patent Package as currently proposed, we will have the right to opt our patents out of the UPC over the first seven years of the court’s existence, but doing so may preclude us from realizing the benefits of the new unified court.

 

Our decision to seek approval of our product candidates under the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway, if available, may increase the risk that patent infringement suits are filed against us, which would delay the FDAs approval of such product candidates.

 

Regarding any NDA that we may submit under the 505(b)(2) NDA pathway, if there are patents that claim the approved drug contained in our product candidates and referenced in our 505(b)(2) NDA, we must certify to the FDA and notify the patent holder that any patents listed for the approved drug in the FDA’s Orange Book publication are invalid, unenforceable or will not be infringed by the manufacture, use or sale of our prodrug. If a patent infringement lawsuit is filed against us within 45 days of its receipt of notice of our certification, the FDA is automatically prevented from approving our 505(b)(2) NDA until the earliest of 30 months, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit or a court decision in the infringement case that is favorable to us, or such shorter or longer period as may be ordered by a court. Such actions are routinely filed by patent owners. Accordingly, we may invest considerable time and expense in the development of our product candidates only to be subject to significant delay and patent litigation before our product candidates may be commercialized. We may not be successful in defending any patent infringement claim. Even if we are found not to infringe, or a plaintiff’s patent claims are found invalid or unenforceable, defending any such infringement claim would be expensive and time-consuming, and would delay launch of our product candidates and distract management from their normal responsibilities.

 

 

Risks Related to the Commercialization of Our Partnered Products and Product Candidates

 

If we are unable to establish sales, marketing and distribution capabilities for our approved products or product candidates, if approved, we may not be successful in commercializing any approved product candidate in the United States.

 

While we entered into the AZSTARYS License Agreement to establish a collaboration for the commercialization of AZSTARYS and any of our product candidates which are subject to such agreement, we currently have limited marketing and sales experience. In order to commercialize OLPRUVA for oral suspension in the U.S. for the treatment of certain patients with UCDs we have added marketing, sales, medical affairs, distribution, managerial and other non-technical capabilities, or have made arrangements with third parties to perform these services. For any of our other product candidates that receive marketing approval we may have to augment our commercial capabilities, or make arrangements with third parties to perform additional services, and we may not be successful in doing any of the foregoing. Building and maintaining a targeted specialty sales force is expensive and time consuming. Any failure or delay in the development of our internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities would adversely impact our commercialization efforts. We may choose to collaborate with third parties that have their own sales forces and established distribution systems, in lieu of or to augment any sales force and distribution systems we may create. If we are unable to enter into collaborations with third parties for the commercialization of approved product candidates, if any, on acceptable terms or at all, or if any such collaborator does not devote sufficient resources to the commercialization of our product or otherwise fails in commercialization efforts, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates that receive marketing approval. If we are not successful in commercializing our product candidates that receive marketing approval, either on our own or through collaborations with one or more third parties, our potential future revenue will be materially and adversely impacted.

 
Establishing our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, involves a number of risks. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time consuming and could delay any product launch. If the commercial launch of a product candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. This may be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.

 

Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our approved products and product candidates on our own include:

 

 

our inability to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;

     

 

our inability to access government and commercial health plan formularies or secure preferred coverage and adequate reimbursement levels;

     

 

the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians or achieve adequate numbers of physicians to prescribe any future prodrug products;

     
  the lack of complementary drugs to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines;
     

 

liability for personnel, including sales personnel, failing to comply with applicable legal requirements; and

     

 

costs associated with maintaining compliance with the FDA’s marketing and promotional requirements, including ongoing training and monitoring, as well as unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.

 

If we decide to enter into arrangements with third parties to perform these services for certain of our product candidates, our product revenue and our profitability, if any, are likely to be lower than if we were to sell, market and distribute any product candidates that we develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to sell, market and distribute our product candidates in the future, or may be unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us. We likely will have little control over such third parties, including Corium, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our approved products, or any of our product candidates, if approved, effectively. Further, we may be liable for conduct of third parties, including Corium, acting on our behalf, including failure to comply with legal requirements applicable to sales and marketing of our product or product candidates, if approved. If we do not establish sales, marketing and distribution capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third parties, we will not be successful in commercializing our approved products, or any of our product candidates, if approved.

 

 

Our approved products, or any of our product candidates that may receive marketing approval, may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.

 

Our approved products, or any of our product candidates that may receive marketing approval, may fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. If our approved products, or any of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, do not achieve an adequate level of market acceptance, they may not generate significant product revenue and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of our approved products, or any of our product candidates if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

 

the efficacy and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments, including less expensive generic treatments;

     

 

the ability to obtain differentiating claims in the labels for most of our product candidates;

     

 

our ability to offer our prodrug products for sale at competitive prices;

     

 

the clinical indications for which our product candidates are approved;

     
  the convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;
     

 

the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe these therapies;

     

 

the cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;

     

 

the steps that prescribers and dispensers must take, since our approved products are, and we expect that most of our product candidates are likely going to be considered controlled substances, as well as the perceived risks based upon their controlled substance status;

     

 

the ability to manufacture our product in sufficient quantities and yields;

     

 

the strength of marketing and distribution support;

     

 

the availability of third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement or willingness of patients to pay out of pocket in the absence of third-party coverage;

     

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects;

     

 

any potential unfavorable publicity;

     

 

any restrictions on the use, sale or distribution of our approved products or any of our product candidates, including through REMS; and

     

 

any restrictions on the use of our prodrug products together with other medications.

 

 

We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.

 

Our industry is characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. We will face competition and potential competition from a number of sources, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies, generic drug companies, drug delivery companies and academic and research institutions. Our competitors may develop or market drugs that are more effective, more convenient, more widely used and less costly or have a better safety profile than our products or product candidates and these competitors may also have significantly more resources than us and be more successful than us in manufacturing and marketing their products.

 

Currently, there are no approved drugs in the United States for the treatment of NPC. We consider our most direct competitor with respect to arimoclomol to be Zavesca (miglustat), which was originally developed by Actelion Pharmaceuticals and is now owned by Johnson & Johnson. Miglustat is currently approved for the treatment of NPC in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several countries in Asia and South America as ZAVESCA and in Japan as BRAZAVES.

 

If approved, we intend for KP1077 to compete against XYWAV®, marketed by Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ , and potentially with other products that are currently in development for the treatment of IH, including Harmony Biosciences’ WAKIX.  KP1077 could face potential competition from any products for the treatment of IH that are currently in or which may enter into clinical development.

 

AZSTARYS currently competes against currently marketed, branded and generic methylphenidate products for the treatment of ADHD. Some of these currently marketed products include CONCERTA®, marketed by J&J Innovative Medicines (formerly Jannsen), QUELBREE®, marketed by Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., QUILLIVANT XR®and QUILLICHEW ER®, marketed by Tris Pharma, RITALIN, FOCALIN® and FOCALIN XR®, marketed by Novartis AG,  METADATE CD®, marketed by UCB SA, DAYTRANA®, marketed by Noven Therapeutics, LLC, Neos Therapeutics’ CONTEMPLA XR-ODT®, marketed Aytu BioScience, Inc., JORNAY PM®, Ironshore Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and ADHANSIA XR®, marketed by Adlon Therapeutics,’. In addition, AZSTARYS will face potential competition from any other methylphenidate products for the treatment of ADHD that are currently in, or which may enter into, clinical development.

 

Our potential competitors and the related stage of development for their product candidates in our target indications for OLPRUVA (sodium phenylbutyrate) for oral suspension and celiprolol include for UCDs, Horizon Pharma plc / Immedica Group (Marketed) and Medunik USA (Marketed), and for vEDS, Aytu BioPharma (AR101/enzastaurin development indefinitely suspended October 2022)

 

Many of our potential competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and human resources than we do, as well as more experience in the development of product candidates, obtaining FDA and other regulatory approvals of products and the commercialization of those products. Consequently, our competitors may develop products for indications we are pursuing or may pursue in the future, and such competitors’ products may be more effective, better tolerated and less costly than our product candidates. Our competitors may also be more successful in manufacturing and marketing their products than we are. We will also face competition in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient enrollment in clinical trials.

 

Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their product candidates 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. If the competitor’s product were similar to our product candidates, we may be required to seek approval via alternative pathways, such as the ANDA, which is used for the development of generic drug products. We may also be blocked from product marketing by periods of patent protection or regulatory exclusivity.

 

In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payors seeking to encourage the use of generic drugs or giving drugs with improved attributes sufficient weight in a comparative clinical cost effectiveness analysis. For some of the indications that we are pursuing, drugs used off-label serve as cheaper alternatives to our product candidates. Their lower prices could result in significant pricing pressure, even if our product candidates are otherwise viewed as a preferable therapy. Additional drugs may become available on a generic basis over the coming years.

 

Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller and other early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.

 

Consequently, our competitors may develop products for the treatment of ADHD, pain, UCDs, or for other indications pursue or we may pursue in the future, and such competitors’ products may be more effective, better tolerated and less costly than our product candidates. Our competitors may also be more successful in manufacturing and marketing their products than we are. We will also face competition in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and subject enrollment in clinical trials.

 

 

We may not be able to obtain either five-year FDA regulatory exclusivity as a new chemical entity or three-year FDA regulatory exclusivity.

 

The FDA provides periods of regulatory exclusivity following their approval of an NDA, which provide the holder of an approved NDA limited protection from new competition in the marketplace for the innovation represented by its approved drug. Five-year exclusivity precludes approval of 505(b)(2) applications or ANDAs by delaying the submission or approval of the application, while three-year exclusivity precludes the approval of the application. We intend to seek new chemical entity, or NCE, status for any of our prodrug product candidates as appropriate. Five years of exclusivity are available to NCEs following the approval of an NDA by the FDA. An NCE is a drug that contains no active moiety that has been approved by the FDA in any other NDA. If a product is not eligible for the NCE exclusivity, it may be eligible for three years of exclusivity. Three-year exclusivity is available to the holder of an NDA, including a 505(b)(2) NDA, for a particular condition of approval, or change to a marketed product, such as a new formulation for a previously approved product, if one or more new clinical trials, other than bioavailability or bioequivalence trials, were essential to the approval of the application and were conducted or sponsored by the applicant.

 

There is a risk that the FDA may disagree with any claim that we may make that any of our prodrug product candidates are NCEs and therefore entitled to five-year exclusivity. The FDA may also take the view that the studies that we are conducting are not clinical trials, other than bioavailability and bioequivalence studies, that are essential to approval and therefore do not support three-year exclusivity. Further, to the extent that the basis for exclusivity is not clear, the FDA may determine to defer a decision until it receives an application which necessitates a decision.

 

If we do obtain either five or three years of exclusivity, such exclusivity will not block all potential competitors from the market. Competitors may be able to obtain approval for similar products with different forms of competitive differentiating mechanisms or may be able to obtain approval for similar products without a competitive differentiating mechanism.

 

Even if we or our collaborators are able to commercialize our approved products, or any of our product candidates, if approved, they may be subject to unfavorable pricing regulations, third-party coverage and reimbursement policies.

 

The successful commercialization of our approved products, and any of our product candidates for which marketing approval is obtained will depend, in part, on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for AZSTARYS, OLPRUVA, or any of our product candidates for which marketing approval is obtained, will be available from government payor programs at the federal and state levels, including Medicare and Medicaid, private health insurers and managed care plans and other third-party payors. Government authorities and other third-party payors decide which medical products they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels, including co-payments. A trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and other third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medical products. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for drugs and products. Coverage and reimbursement may not be available for any product that we commercialize and, even if these are available, the level of reimbursement may not be satisfactory. Inadequate reimbursement levels may adversely affect the demand for, or the price of, our approved products, or any of our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Obtaining and maintaining adequate reimbursement for our prodrug products may be difficult. We may be required to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies to justify coverage and reimbursement or the level of reimbursement relative to other therapies. Moreover, the trend has been for government and commercial health plans and their pharmacy benefit managers to commoditize drug products through therapeutic equivalence determinations, making formulary decisions based on cost. If coverage and adequate reimbursement are not available or reimbursement is available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our approved products or commercialize any of our product candidates for which marketing approval is obtained.

 

There may be significant delays in obtaining coverage and reimbursement for newly approved prodrug products, and coverage may be more limited than the indications for which the product is approved by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States. Moreover, eligibility for coverage and reimbursement does not imply that a product will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, manufacture, sale and distribution expenses. Interim reimbursement levels for new prodrug products, 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 product 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. Net prices for prodrug products 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. Private third-party payors often rely upon Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own reimbursement policies. Except for certain government health care programs, such as the Department of Defense’s TRICARE Uniform Formulary, no uniform policy requirement for coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors in the United States. Even state Medicaid programs have their own preferred drug lists that may disadvantage non-preferred brand drugs. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be applied consistently or obtained at all. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement rates from both government-funded and private payors for any approved prodrug products that we develop could significantly harm our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize prodrugs and our overall financial condition.

 

The regulations that govern marketing approvals, pricing, coverage and reimbursement for new drugs vary widely from country to country. Current and future 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 product 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 commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenue able to be generated 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 our product candidates obtain marketing approval.

 

There can be no assurance that our approved products, or any of our product candidates, if they are approved for sale in the United States or in other countries, will be considered medically reasonable and necessary for a specific indication, that they will be considered cost-effective by third-party payors, that coverage or an adequate level of reimbursement will be available, or that third-party payors’ reimbursement policies will not adversely affect the ability to sell our approved products, or our ability to sell any of any of our product candidates profitably if they are approved for sale.

 

 

We may be subject to enforcement action if we engage in improper marketing or promotion of our products.

 

The FDA closely regulates promotional materials and other promotional activities. Even if the FDA initially approves product labeling that includes a description of our improved attribute claims, the FDA may object to our marketing claims and product advertising campaigns. Failure to comply with the FDA’s promotional, marketing and advertising laws and regulations could lead to the issuance of warning letters, cyber letters, or untitled letters, adverse publicity, the requirement for dear-health-care-provider letters or other corrective information, fines and other monetary penalties, civil or criminal prosecution, including False Claims Act liability, restrictions on our operations and other operating requirements through consent decrees or corporate integrity agreements, debarment, exclusion from participation in federal health care programs and refusal of government contracts or future orders under existing contracts, among other consequences. Any of these consequences would harm the commercial success of our products.

 

Further, our promotional materials, statements and training methods must comply with the FDA’s prohibition of the promotion of unapproved, or off-label, use. Any regulatory approval that the FDA grants is limited to those specific diseases and indications for which a product is deemed to be safe and effective by FDA. For example, the FDA-approved label for AZSTARYS is limited to the acute treatment of ADHD in patients 6 years of age and older and the FDA approved label for OLPRUVA is limited to oral suspension in the U.S. for the treatment of certain patients with UCDs involving deficiencies of CPS, OTC, or AS. Physicians may use our products off-label, as the FDA does not restrict or regulate a physician’s independent choice of treatment within the practice of medicine. However, if the FDA determines that our promotional materials, statements or training constitutes promotion of an off-label use, it could request that we modify our promotional materials, statements or training methods or subject us to regulatory or enforcement actions, such as the issuance of an untitled letter, a warning letter, injunction, seizure, civil fine, disgorgement of money, operating restrictions or criminal penalties. We may also be subject to actions by other governmental entities or private parties, such as the False Claims Act, civil whistleblower or “qui tam” actions. It is also possible that other federal, state or foreign enforcement authorities might take action if they consider our promotional or training materials to constitute promotion of an off-label use, which could result in significant fines or penalties under other statutory authorities, such as laws prohibiting false claims for reimbursement. In that event, our reputation could be damaged and adoption of the products could be impaired. In addition, the off-label use of our products may increase the risk of product liability claims. Product liability claims are expensive to defend and could divert our management’s attention, result in substantial damage awards against us and harm our reputation.

 

Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and to limit commercialization of our approved products, or any of our product candidates that we may develop.

 

We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the testing of our product candidates in human clinical trials and will face an even greater risk as our approved products, and any of our product candidates that may be approved in the future, are commercialized. This includes the risk that our products may be misused. For example, our approved products do, and we anticipate that any of our product candidates we may choose to develop in the future, if approved, may carry, a boxed warning regarding lethality if our oral tablets or capsules are prepared for injection and hepatotoxicity, as is commonly done by abusers of opioids. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our product candidates or products caused injuries, we will incur substantial liabilities on behalf of ourselves. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

 

decreased demand for our approved products, and any of our product candidates that we may develop;

     

 

injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;

     

 

termination of clinical trial sites or entire trial programs;

     

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

     

 

initiation of investigations by regulators;

     

 

significant costs to defend the related litigation;

     

 

a diversion of management’s time and our resources;

     

 

substantial monetary awards paid to trial participants or patients;

     

 

product recalls, withdrawals or labeling revisions and marketing or promotional restrictions;

     

 

loss of revenue;

     

 

reduced resources of our management to pursue our business strategy; and

     

 

the inability to successfully commercialize any of our approved products, or any of our product candidates that might be approved in the future.

 

We currently hold $10.0 million in product liability insurance coverage in the aggregate, with a per incident limit of $10.0 million, which may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. We may need to increase our insurance coverage as we expand our clinical trials or upon commencement of commercialization of any product approved in the future. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise.

 

 

A variety of risks associated with international operations could materially adversely affect our business.

 

We expect to engage in significant cross-border activities, and we will be subject to risks related to international operations, including:

 

 

different regulatory requirements for maintaining approval of drugs in foreign countries;

     

 

differing payor reimbursement regimes, governmental payors or patient self-pay systems and price controls;

     

 

reduced protection for contractual and intellectual property rights in some countries;

     

 

unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers and regulatory requirements;

     

 

economic weakness, including inflation, labor shortages, supply chain shortages, or other economic or political uncertainties or instability in particular foreign economies and markets;

     

 

compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;

     
  foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
     

 

workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in North America;

     

 

tighter restrictions on privacy and the collection and use of patient and clinical trial participant data; and

     

 

business interruptions resulting from geopolitical actions, including war and terrorism, or natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons, floods and fires.

 

 

Risks Related to Regulatory Approval of Our Product Candidates and Other Legal Compliance Matters

 

Failure to obtain marketing approval in international jurisdictions would prevent our approved products, and any of our other product candidates from being marketed abroad.

 

In order to market and sell our products in the European Union and any other jurisdictions, we must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. The approval procedure varies among countries and can involve additional testing. The time required to obtain approval may differ substantially from that required to obtain FDA approval. The regulatory approval process outside the United States generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. In addition, in many countries outside the United States, it is required that the product be approved for reimbursement before the product can be approved for sale in that country. We may not obtain approvals from regulatory authorities outside the United States on a timely basis, if at all. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions, and approval by one regulatory authority outside the United States does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions or by the FDA. However, failure to obtain approval in one jurisdiction may impact our ability to obtain approval elsewhere. We may not be able to file for marketing approvals and may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our products in any market.

 

A variety of risks associated with marketing our approved products and any of our product candidates, if approved, internationally, could affect our business.

 

We may seek regulatory approval for our approved products and any of our product candidates, if approved, 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;

     

 

the potential for so-called parallel importing, which is what happens when a local seller, faced with high or higher local prices, opts to import goods from a foreign market with low or lower prices rather than buying them locally;

     

 

unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers, price and exchange controls and other regulatory requirements;

     

 

economic weakness, including inflation, labor shortages, supply chain shortages, or other economic or political uncertainties or 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;