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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 10-K

  

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

or

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

For the transition period from                     to  

Commission File Number 001-39114

 

 

Galera Therapeutics, Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

46-1454898

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

2 W. Liberty Blvd #100

Malvern, Pennsylvania 

19355

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

 

(610) 725-1500

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

 

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

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock,

$0.001 par value per share

GRTX

The Nasdaq Global 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 15(d) of the Act.  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).  YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, 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.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  YES  NO 

At June 30, 2020, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $111.6 million. Solely for purposes of this disclosure, shares of common stock held by executive officers, directors and certain stockholders of the registrant as of such date have been excluded because such holders may be deemed to be affiliates.

The number of shares of registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of March 5, 2021 was 24,976,142.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement, relating to its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

i


 

CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “could,” “intend,” “target,” “project,” “contemplate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential” or “continue” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including without limitation statements regarding our plans to develop and commercialize our product candidates, the timing of our ongoing or planned clinical trials, the timing of and our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals, the clinical utility of our product candidates, our commercialization, marketing and manufacturing capabilities and strategy, our expectations about the willingness of healthcare professionals to use our product candidates, our expectations regarding future payments from Blackstone, the sufficiency of our cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, the anticipated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, and the plans and objectives of management for future operations and capital expenditures are forward-looking statements.

The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are only predictions and are based largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and are subject to a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described under the sections in this Annual Report on Form 10-K entitled “Summary Risk Factors,” “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Because forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified and some of which are beyond our control, you should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The events and circumstances reflected in our forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties. Except as required by applicable law, we do not plan to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained herein, whether as a result of any new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise. We intend the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act.


ii


SUMMARY RISK FACTORS

Our business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including those described in Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. You should carefully consider these risks and uncertainties when investing in our common stock. The principal risks and uncertainties affecting our business include the following:

We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history and have not generated any revenue from product sales. We have incurred significant operating losses since our inception and anticipate that we will incur continued losses for the foreseeable future.

 

We are heavily dependent on the success of our lead product candidate, avasopasem manganese (GC4419, also referred to as avasopasem) and if avasopasem does not successfully complete clinical development or receive regulatory approval, our business may be harmed.

 

We may need substantial funding to meet our financial obligations and to pursue our business objectives. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to curtail our planned operations and the pursuit of our growth strategy.

 

The regulatory approval process is lengthy, expensive and uncertain, and we may be unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates under applicable regulatory requirements. The denial or delay of any such approval would delay commercialization of our product candidates and adversely impact our ability to generate revenue, our business and our results of operations.

 

We rely, and will 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.

 

If we are unable to establish our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, or enter into agreements with third parties to sell and market avasopasem or any other product candidates, we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates if and when they are approved, and we may not be able to generate any revenue.

 

We do not have our own manufacturing capabilities and will rely on third parties to produce additional clinical supplies, if needed, and commercial supplies of avasopasem and our other product candidates. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or such quantities at an acceptable cost, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.

 

The incidence and prevalence for target patient populations of our product candidates have not been established with precision. If the market opportunities for our product candidates are smaller than we estimate, or if any approval that we obtain is based on a narrower definition of the patient population, our revenue and ability to achieve profitability may be materially adversely affected.

 

The successful commercialization of avasopasem or any other product candidates will depend in part on the extent to which governmental authorities and health insurers establish coverage, adequate reimbursement levels and pricing policies. Failure to obtain or maintain coverage and adequate reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved, could limit our ability to market those products and decrease our ability to generate revenue.

 

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

 

iii


Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, cause us to suspend or discontinue clinical trials, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel strain of coronavirus has adversely impacted and could continue to adversely impact, our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials, results of operations and financial condition.


iv


 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

40

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

97

Item 2.

Properties

98

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

98

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

98

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

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

102

Item 6.

[Reserved]

102

Item 7.

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

103

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

117

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

118

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

140

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

140

Item 9B.

Other Information

140

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

141

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

141

Item 12.

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

141

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

142

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

142

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

143

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

146

 

v


 

 

PART I

Item 1. Business.

Overview

We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing a pipeline of novel, proprietary therapeutics that have the potential to transform radiotherapy in cancer. We leverage our expertise in superoxide dismutase mimetics to design drugs to reduce normal tissue toxicity from radiotherapy and to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy. Our lead product candidate, avasopasem manganese (GC4419, also referred to as avasopasem), is a potent and highly selective small molecule dismutase mimetic we are initially developing for the reduction of severe oral mucositis, or SOM. We are also developing a second dismutase mimetic product candidate, GC4711, to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT.

SOM is a common, debilitating complication of radiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer, or HNC. In February 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to avasopasem for the reduction of SOM induced by radiotherapy, with or without systemic therapy. In October 2018, we began evaluating avasopasem in a Phase 3 registrational trial, which we refer to as the ROMAN trial, and we expect to report topline data from this trial in the second half of 2021. We believe avasopasem, which to date is not approved for any indication, has the potential to be the first FDA-approved drug and the standard of care for the reduction in the incidence of SOM in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy, and we plan to further evaluate its use in other radiotherapy-induced toxicities, including esophagitis. In January 2020, we announced that the first patient was dosed in a Phase 2a trial evaluating the efficacy of avasopasem in reducing the incidence of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis in patients with lung cancer, which we refer to as the AESOP trial. We expect to report topline data from this trial in the first half of 2022. In June 2020, following a delay in the planned initiation of the trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first patient was dosed in a Phase 2a multi-center trial in Europe assessing the safety of avasopasem in patients with HNC undergoing standard-of-care radiotherapy, which we refer to as the EUSOM trial. We expect to report topline data from this trial in the second half of 2021.

Avasopasem has successfully completed two clinical trials to reduce SOM in patients with HNC undergoing intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, and also receiving cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug. SOM is commonly defined as Grade 3 or Grade 4 oral mucositis on the World Health Organization, or WHO, scale. We demonstrated proof-of-concept with avasopasem for this indication in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled 223-patient Phase 2b trial. In the trial, avasopasem met the primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant reduction in duration of SOM in the 90 mg treatment arm as compared to placebo, consistent with the results of our Phase 1b/2a SOM trial. The median duration of SOM in this arm was 1.5 days, a 92% reduction compared to placebo. Key secondary endpoints evaluating the incidence and severity of SOM also demonstrated substantial dose-dependent reductions of 34% and 47%, respectively, in the 90 mg treatment arm, and avasopasem was well tolerated in this trial. Severity is defined as the reduction in incidence of Grade 4 oral mucositis on the WHO scale. In addition, in this trial, consistent with results from our other clinical trials and preclinical studies to date, the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy was maintained through two years when combined with avasopasem. Following consultation with the FDA, we initiated the ROMAN trial, a single confirmatory, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 3 registrational trial of a 90 mg dose of avasopasem in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy. The primary endpoint of the ROMAN trial is the reduction in the incidence of SOM through the completion of radiotherapy.

Superoxide, a highly reactive molecule, is produced by every cell as a part of normal metabolism, and at higher levels in certain diseases. Left uncontrolled it is highly toxic, leading to cell damage or cell death. To prevent this, the body produces superoxide dismutase enzymes, or SODs, which convert superoxide to hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is much less toxic than superoxide to normal tissue. Radiotherapy induces a large burst of superoxide in the irradiated tissues, which can overwhelm these SODs, damaging normal cells. Such damage to the oral mucosa, located in the mouth, is referred to as oral mucositis, or OM, and is particularly common among patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy-induced SOM can lead to devastating complications. A majority of patients will suffer severe pain which is often managed with the use of opioids. Patients with SOM are at risk of dehydration and malnutrition as a result of the inability to eat or drink, and often require nutrition through a feeding tube or

1


 

intravenous line. SOM can also be dose-limiting, requiring a reduction or delay in subsequent radiotherapy, leading to poorer clinical outcomes. Approximately 11% of patients receiving radiotherapy for HNC experience unplanned breaks of a week or more in radiotherapy due to SOM, with each week of treatment delay decreasing tumor control by over 10%. Additionally, it is estimated that patients with HNC who developed OM when treated with radiotherapy incurred, on average, approximately $32,000 in additional medical expenses in the first six months from the start of radiotherapy compared to patients with HNC treated with radiotherapy who did not develop OM.

Each year in the United States, approximately 65,000 patients are diagnosed with HNC, according to the American Cancer Society. In the five largest European markets, approximately 68,000 patients are diagnosed annually with HNC, and an additional 23,000 in Japan. We estimate that approximately 65% of patients diagnosed with HNC will be treated with radiotherapy. All patients with HNC treated with radiotherapy are at risk for developing SOM, which suggests a target patient population of approximately 42,000 patients in the United States alone for our lead indication.

Our market research suggests the potential for significant, rapid uptake of avasopasem for SOM, if approved. Based on a third-party claims database, we estimate that over 80% of radiotherapy treatments for HNC patients are performed at approximately 700 sites. We have conducted primary market research at 125 of these sites. Based on this market research, 72% of the sites have infusion capabilities to administer avasopasem and an additional 17% of the sites could develop the capabilities to infuse with modifications at their facilities. Of the facilities that currently have the ability to infuse, the respondents at these sites suggested they would recommend avasopasem to 55% of their patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy, which is relatively consistent with prior market research. In a separate survey that we conducted of 150 U.S. radiation oncologists, respondents stated that they would recommend avasopasem to 69% of their patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy or targeted therapy. Furthermore, 96% of these physicians stated that they would try avasopasem within the first twelve months of it becoming available and 77% of physicians stated that they would adopt avasopasem within the first 12 months of it becoming available. We believe, if approved, avasopasem would be prescribed by physicians as standard-of-care treatment for patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy.

Based on observations from multiple studies, we estimate that approximately 70% of patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy will develop SOM and between 20% to 30% will develop Grade 4 OM. Despite this clear unmet need, no drug has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of SOM in patients with HNC. Current measures attempting to moderate SOM include basic oral care; anti-inflammatory agents; antimicrobials, coating agents, anesthetics and analgesics; laser and other light therapy, cryotherapy; and natural and other miscellaneous agents. The treatment guidelines developed by the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer and International Society of Oral Oncology, or MASCC / ISOO, demonstrate that there is a high unmet need for the treatment or prevention of OM in patients with HNC, and a lack of clear efficacy with existing treatment options.

We have expanded the evaluation of avasopasem into the reduction of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis, or mucositis of the esophagus, which often develops in patients receiving radiotherapy for lung, esophageal, breast or head and neck cancers or for lymphoma. Esophagitis is a frequent and radiotherapy-limiting side effect in these patients. Esophagitis can be life-threatening and symptoms include an inability to swallow, severe pain, ulceration, infection, bleeding and weight loss and it can require hospitalization. There are also no drugs approved by the FDA for the prevention or treatment of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis, with treatment options focused on minimizing the symptoms of the problem. These do not address the underlying cause of esophagitis. In January 2020, we announced the initiation of the Phase 2a AESOP trial for the reduction of the incidence of esophagitis in patients with lung cancer receiving IMRT.

Unlike existing treatment options that are largely palliative in nature, we believe avasopasem has the potential to address and mitigate the root cause of radiotherapy-induced mucositis, including OM and esophagitis. By removing superoxide, avasopasem is designed to reduce the damage radiotherapy causes to the patient’s normal tissue, and thereby reduce the incidence and severity of mucositis. In our on-going AESOP trial, we are seeking to reduce the incidence of Grade 2 or worse esophagitis as assessed by the National Cancer Institute, or NCI, Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events scale.

In addition to developing avasopasem for the reduction of normal tissue toxicity from radiotherapy, we are developing our dismutase mimetics to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of higher daily doses of radiotherapy,

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including SBRT. SBRT typically involves a patient receiving one to five large doses of radiotherapy, in contrast to the 30 to 35 small daily doses typical of IMRT. Cancer cells have been observed to be more susceptible than normal cells to increased levels of hydrogen peroxide. In our preclinical studies, we have observed increased anti-cancer efficacy of higher daily doses of radiotherapy in combination with our dismutase mimetics. In a preclinical study, we demonstrated that this increase in anti-cancer efficacy was due to the conversion of superoxide to hydrogen peroxide by our dismutase mimetics. This increased efficacy could be particularly important in settings where the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy alone is insufficient to achieve the desired outcome. Clinically, SBRT is increasingly used in patients with certain tumors, such as those seen in locally advanced pancreatic cancer, or LAPC, and non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, that are less responsive to the small daily doses typical of IMRT. Even with the use of SBRT, the opportunity for improvement in treatment outcomes is substantial.

To explore this opportunity, we successfully completed a pilot, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 1/2 trial of avasopasem in combination with SBRT in patients with LAPC. In October 2020, we announced interim data from this trial. In the analysis of the intent-to-treat population, multiple endpoints showed a positive trend in favor of improved anti-cancer efficacy with avasopasem compared to placebo. While many of the patients were early in their follow-up post treatment, addition of the dismutase mimetic to SBRT appeared to improve survival and response rate versus placebo. Toxicity was comparable across both treatment arms, with no significant differences in overall or Grade 3 GI toxicity post-SBRT. The data presented included all patients followed for a minimum of three months and 19 for more than one year, with data through August 24, 2020. We plan to provide final data from this trial with at least one year of follow-up on all patients in the second half of 2021.

We leveraged our observations from the pilot LAPC trial to prepare our GC4711 clinical trials in combination with SBRT. We have successfully completed Phase 1 trials of intravenous GC4711 in healthy volunteers and initiated a Phase 1/2 trial in patients with NSCLC, in October 2020, which we refer to as the GRECO-1 trial. The GRECO-1 trial is supported in part by a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, for the investigation of our dismutase mimetics in combination with SBRT for the treatment of lung cancer. We intend for this trial to assess the anti-cancer efficacy and safety of GC4711 in combination with SBRT. Subsequently, we intend to assess the anti-cancer efficacy and safety of GC4711 in combination with SBRT and a checkpoint inhibitor. We expect to report initial data from this trial in the first half of 2022.

We also plan to initiate a Phase 2b trial of GC4711 in combination with SBRT in patients with LAPC in the first half of 2021, which we refer to as the GRECO-2 trial. The GRECO-2 trial is designed as a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the impact on overall survival by adding GC4711 to SBRT following chemotherapy in patients with LAPC.

In September 2020, we initiated a pilot Phase 2 clinical trial of avasopasem to evaluate its ability to improve 28-day mortality in hospitalized patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 trial is designed to assess the safety and efficacy of avasopasem in improving 28-day mortality, compared to placebo. The trial will enroll up to 50 hospitalized adult patients critically ill with COVID-19 at several sites across the U.S. We expect to report topline data from this trial in the first half of 2021.

We retain worldwide rights to our product candidate portfolio. Our product candidate portfolio is protected by issued patents with claims directed to composition of matter and method of use, which, when including patent term extensions, are projected to expire between 2027 and 2038 in the United States.

We intend to commercialize avasopasem and our other current product candidates, if approved, by building a specialized sales and marketing organization of approximately 40 sales representatives focusing on radiation oncologists in the United States. We believe that this targeted sales organization would allow us to reach the concentrated prescribing base of approximately 4,000 U.S. radiation oncologists, who we believe are among the physicians most likely to use avasopasem and our other product candidates. Outside the United States, we may seek to establish collaborations to maximize the commercial opportunities for avasopasem and our other product candidates.

Our management team has extensive drug development and commercialization experience ranging from discovery through market registrational and commercial launches.

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Business Update Regarding COVID-19

The current COVID-19 pandemic continues to present a substantial public health and economic challenge around the world and is affecting our employees, communities, clinical trial sites and business operations, as well as the U.S. economy and international financial markets. The full extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will directly or indirectly impact our business, results of operations and financial condition will depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be accurately predicted, including new information that may emerge concerning COVID-19, the actions taken to contain it or treat its impact, including the effectiveness of vaccines and vaccine distribution efforts, and the economic impact on local, regional, national and international markets. See “Risk Factors—Other Risks Related to Our Business—The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel strain of coronavirus has adversely impacted and could continue to adversely impact, our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials, results of operations and financial condition” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

While we are currently continuing our ongoing clinical trials, the COVID-19 pandemic and related precautions have directly or indirectly impacted the timeline for certain of our clinical trials. We delayed the initiation of the EUSOM trial due to concerns with clinical trial enrollment in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first patient was dosed in this trial in June 2020, and target enrollment was decreased to approximately 35 patients due to the delay. This trial was expected to contribute to the safety database for avasopasem in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy. As a result of the delay in initiating the trial in Europe, the target enrollment for the ROMAN trial was increased to approximately 450 patients in order to ensure we are positioned to maintain the planned overall size of the safety database in a timely manner. We have since completed enrollment in the EUSOM trial and continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and any potential impact on the data readout for this trial, which is expected in the second half of 2021. Completion of enrollment for the ROMAN trial is expected in the first half of 2021 and topline data is expected in the second half of 2021, subject to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business.

Mitigation activities to minimize COVID-19-related operation disruptions are ongoing given the severity and evolving nature of the situation, and we are continuing to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations and ongoing clinical development activity, generally.

Our third-party contract manufacturing partners continue to operate at or near normal levels. While we currently do not anticipate any material interruptions in our clinical trial supply or manufacturing scale-up activities, it is possible that the COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts may have an impact in the future on our third-party suppliers and contract manufacturing partners' ability to manufacture our clinical trials supply or progress manufacturing scale-up activities.

We have also implemented measures designed to protect the health and safety of our workforce, including a work-from-home policy in line with state and local requirements for employees who can perform their jobs offsite. We are continuing our essential research and development activities at our laboratory and are taking precautionary measures to protect our employees working in our facilities in such capacities.

 

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Our Pipeline

The following table summarizes our product candidates:

 

Our Strategy

Our mission is to transform cancer therapy by reducing normal tissue toxicity induced by radiotherapy and to improve the lives of patients with cancer. We are also seeking to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy with the use of our dismutase mimetics. Key elements of our strategy are as follows:

 

Complete development and obtain FDA approval of avasopasem for the reduction of radiotherapy-induced toxicities. Avasopasem has received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA for the reduction of SOM induced by radiotherapy, with or without systemic therapy. We are currently evaluating avasopasem in a Phase 3 registrational trial to reduce the incidence of SOM in patients receiving radiotherapy for locally advanced HNC. We are also evaluating avasopasem in a Phase 2a trial to reduce the incidence of esophagitis in patients receiving radiotherapy for lung cancer. Based upon the outcomes of our ongoing trials, we may initiate additional clinical trials for avasopasem to reduce radiotherapy-induced toxicities in other cancer indications. We may also pursue a strategy for avasopasem, if approved for reduction in the incidence of SOM, of presenting clinical data to entities like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, or NCCN, to support the use of avasopasem to reduce esophagitis and/or other radiotherapy-induced toxicities as medically accepted indications in published drug compendia, notwithstanding that these indications may not be approved by the FDA.

 

Build a commercial infrastructure in the United States. We intend to commercialize avasopasem, if approved, by building a specialized sales and marketing organization in the United States focused on radiation oncologists. We believe a scientifically-oriented, customer-focused team of approximately 40 sales representatives would allow us to effectively reach the approximately 4,000 radiation oncologists in the United States. We also expect to leverage this sales organization to commercialize GC4711, if approved, and any of our future product candidates in the United States. Outside the United States, we may seek to establish collaborations for the commercialization of avasopasem and our other product candidates.

 

Advance the development of GC4711 in combination with SBRT to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy. Based on extensive preclinical research results and positive interim data from our pilot LAPC trial, we believe that GC4711 has the potential to increase the anti-cancer efficacy and safety profile of SBRT. We successfully completed Phase 1 trials with GC4711 in healthy volunteers and initiated a Phase 1/2 trial with GC4711 in combination with SBRT in

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patients with NSCLC in October 2020. In addition, we expect to initiate a Phase 2b trial with GC4711 in combination with SBRT in patients with LAPC in the first half of 2021.

 

Develop additional novel dismutase mimetics and formulations. We intend to leverage our expertise in superoxide dismutase mimetics to continue to develop novel compounds that are intended to reduce normal tissue toxicity from radiotherapy and increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy. Additionally, we believe we can broaden the utility of GC4711 or other novel dismutase mimetics in our portfolio by formulating them for oral delivery or other routes of administration. We are currently evaluating multiple formulations of GC4711 and other novel compounds. In addition, we intend to seek new applications for our dismutase mimetics, including other potential combinations in cancer therapy.

 

Seek strategic collaborative relationships. We intend to seek strategic collaborations to facilitate the capital-efficient development of our dismutase mimetics. We believe these collaborations could potentially provide significant funding to advance our dismutase mimetics candidate pipeline while allowing us to benefit from the development expertise of our collaborators.

Background on Superoxide and Superoxide Dismutase

Superoxide is similar to the molecular oxygen, O2, that is essential to breathing and life, except it carries one more electron. This extra electron, shown in the chemical formula O2•-, makes superoxide a reactive oxygen species that can react with a variety of biological molecules. Superoxide is produced constantly in every living cell by normal activities such as mitochondrial respiration, and if not removed rapidly, it causes damage to lipids, proteins, DNA and other critical biological molecules. As a result, it can harm or kill cells and has been implicated in a variety of biological disorders, including cancer. As protection, human cells produce SODs to eliminate superoxide by rapidly and selectively converting it to hydrogen peroxide at rates of 107 molecules per second or higher. Hydrogen peroxide is much less toxic than superoxide to normal cells, and is subsequently broken down by various enzymes, such as catalase (the natural disposal enzyme for hydrogen peroxide), to molecular oxygen and water. The SOD pathway is depicted below.

 

 

Radiotherapy induces bursts of superoxide in the irradiated tissues well in excess of normal amounts, which can overwhelm native SOD activity. It generates superoxide directly, by splitting water molecules immediately, and indirectly, by activating enzymes that produce large amounts of superoxide following radiation. In addition, once tissue damage has begun, inflammatory cells attracted to the irradiated region also produce superoxide prodigiously. The resulting high levels of superoxide can induce significant damage in normal cells, and, depending on which organs fall within the irradiated field, can drive a variety of normal tissue toxicities. A condition referred to as mucositis occurs when the cells lining the gastro-intestinal tract, known as the mucosa, are damaged or killed.

Scientific literature suggests that metabolic differences make cancer cells much less sensitive than normal cells to elevated superoxide; elevated superoxide levels may even be typical of some cancers. As a result, the removal of the excess superoxide generated by radiotherapy does not decrease the anti-cancer efficacy of

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radiotherapy. Meanwhile, scientific literature also suggests that cancer cells are much more sensitive than normal cells to elevated hydrogen peroxide, so the conversion of excess superoxide to hydrogen peroxide by SODs may contribute to the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy.

Artificially increasing SOD levels, by gene overexpression or administering recombinant SOD enzyme, has been shown in third-party preclinical and clinical studies to reduce radiotherapy-induced normal tissue toxicities, including mucositis. The preclinical studies have also suggested that increasing SOD levels can increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy. Current therapeutic applications of the SODs themselves, however, have been limited by their following characteristics:

 

large size and inability to enter cells and mitochondria, where superoxide is predominantly produced;

 

immunogenicity, particularly when derived from non-human sources;

 

short half-lives in circulation; and

 

inactivation or inhibition by various reactive oxygen species, including hydrogen peroxide.

Our Superoxide Dismutase Mimetics

We believe low molecular weight drugs that can mimic native SODs can overcome the limitations of using the native enzymes therapeutically. The challenge has been finding small molecule dismutase mimetics with similarly fast catalytic rates and high selectivity for superoxide that are also stable, safe and suitable for manufacturing. We are developing our dismutase mimetics to address this challenge.

Our class of dismutase mimetics are based on a common core structure, where a macrocyclic ring positions five nitrogen atoms to tightly hold a manganese atom in the ring’s center. These pentaaza macrocycles are manufactured with the manganese in the +2 oxidation state, or Mn+2. In solution, this Mn+2 reacts rapidly with the protonated form of superoxide, which has the chemical formula HO2• and is constantly in equilibrium with regular superoxide. In this reaction, Mn+2 gives up an electron and is oxidized to Mn+3, making hydrogen peroxide. Then, as quickly as superoxide can reach the Mn+3, it takes superoxide’s extra electron, reducing back to Mn+2, making molecular oxygen and bringing the dismutase mimetic full circle back to where it started.

Our Dismutase Mimetics Core Structure:

Pentaaza Macrocycles

 

 

We have designed, and are developing, our dismutase mimetics to have each of the following essential features:

 

Speed. Our dismutase mimetics catalyze the conversion of superoxide to hydrogen peroxide and molecular oxygen at a rapid rate of 2 × 107 molecules per second or more, comparable to native SODs. Their structures hold the manganese such that it can rapidly shift back and forth between Mn+2 and Mn+3, meaning that their catalytic rate, or the speed that they convert superoxide, is mostly dependent on how fast superoxide can get to the manganese.

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Selectivity. Our dismutase mimetics are designed to interact only with superoxide. Central to this selectivity are three key attributes: (1) the Mn+2 will not react with reducing agents; (2) oxidizing Mn+2 requires a powerful oxidizing agent, so it will not react with nitric oxide and molecular oxygen; and (3) the Mn+2 oxidizes rapidly via a single-electron pathway, excluding many other biologically relevant reactive oxygen species, including peroxynitrite, hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide, that operate as two-electron oxidizing agents.

 

Stability. Our dismutase mimetics hold on tightly to the manganese at the center of the macrocyclic ring, allowing them to maintain their functionality as dismutase mimetics while they remain in the body.

 

Safety. We have observed our dismutase mimetics to be well-tolerated in our preclinical studies and clinical trials in patients.

 

Synthesis. We have developed an efficient and cost-effective manufacturing process.

In radiotherapy, we believe our dismutase mimetics have the potential to reduce normal tissue toxicity by removing excessive superoxide. We have demonstrated this in preclinical models not only of mucositis, but also radiotherapy damage to the lungs, liver and other organs. Importantly, our dismutase mimetics do not interfere with the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy, as demonstrated in preclinical tumor models and in our placebo-controlled Phase 2b SOM trial in patients with HNC.

There is also the potential to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of SBRT, where our dismutase mimetics generate high daily doses of hydrogen peroxide. Preclinically we have shown this effect in a variety of cancer types, including head and neck, pancreatic, lung and breast cancer and, when SBRT is combined with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Given the combination of reduced normal tissue toxicity and increased anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy, we believe that our dismutase mimetics can transform radiotherapy.

We currently have two dismutase mimetic candidates in clinical development, avasopasem and GC4711. Leveraging our expertise, we plan to continue to develop novel compounds and believe we can broaden the utility of our technology by formulating one or more candidates for oral delivery or other routes of administration.

Radiotherapy-Induced Toxicities in Patients with Cancer

Over 50% of patients with cancer will be treated with radiotherapy at some time in their treatment cycle. While radiotherapy has variable success depending on the cancer being treated, the toxicity or side effects associated with its use can limit its effectiveness. Radiotherapy causes acute and late toxicities that affect various organs and functions.

One of the most common radiotherapy-induced toxicities results in a condition referred to as mucositis which occurs when cells lining the gastro-intestinal tract, known as the mucosa, are damaged or killed. The oral mucosa is a common location for mucositis to occur, particularly for patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy. Another common location for mucositis to occur in patients receiving radiotherapy is the esophagus, referred to as esophagitis.

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Oral Mucositis

OM occurs when radiotherapy induces the production of superoxide that attacks and breaks down the epithelial cells lining the mouth. The severity of OM is commonly measured using the WHO scale, which is also used by the FDA as a basis for product approvals. The scale consists of five Grades: Grade 0 through Grade 4. SOM is commonly defined as Grade 3 or Grade 4 OM.

 

Grade

 

WHO Scale Description

0

 

No OM

1

 

Erythema (redness) and soreness

2

 

Erythema and ulcers but patients can swallow solid food

3

 

Ulcers with extensive erythema and patients cannot swallow solid food

4

 

Oral alimentation (solid or liquid) is not possible

 

SOM can lead to devastating complications, including:

 

Pain. A majority of patients experience severe pain, often requiring opioids to manage the pain. A publication describing 191 patients being treated for HNC noted that of the 157 patients reporting the greatest amount of mouth and throat soreness, 70% were taking opioids to alleviate their pain.

 

Dehydration and malnutrition. Approximately 70% of patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy become unable to eat, drink, or both, often requiring nutrition through a gastrostomy tube or intravenous line.

 

Treatment interruption. SOM can be dose-limiting, requiring a reduction or delay in radiotherapy, leading to poorer clinical outcomes. Approximately 11% of patients experience unplanned breaks of a week or more in radiotherapy, with each week of treatment delay decreasing tumor control by over 10%.

 

Increased economic burden. Approximately 16% of patients receiving radiotherapy for HNC are hospitalized due to SOM. Based on a third-party analysis of medical insurance claims covering 40 million patient years, patients with HNC and treated with radiotherapy who developed OM incurred, on average, approximately $32,000 in additional medical expenses in the first six months from the start of radiotherapy compared to such patients who did not develop OM.

Each year in the United States, approximately 65,000 patients are diagnosed with HNC, according to the American Cancer Society. In the five largest European markets, approximately 68,000 patients are diagnosed annually with HNC, and an additional 23,000 in Japan.

All of the patients with locally advanced HNC being treated with standard-of-care radiotherapy are at risk for developing SOM and based on observations from multiple studies, we estimate that approximately 70% will develop SOM and between 20% to 30% will develop Grade 4 OM.

In a survey we conducted of 150 U.S. radiation oncologists, OM was identified as the most burdensome side effect caused by radiotherapy in patients being treated for HNC. OM was also characterized as the side effect most likely to cause treatment interruptions.

Current Treatment Landscape and Limitations

There are currently no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of OM in patients with HNC. In 2020, MASCC / ISOO published an update to the leading clinical practice guidelines for the management of OM. These guidelines, which are summarized below, underscore how limited the existing approaches are for the management of OM in patients with HNC, and that these approaches have been largely palliative to date.

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Basic oral care. The guidelines suggest the use of basic oral care protocols to prevent OM across all cancer modalities; however, the guidelines indicate the clinical evidence is weak in supporting the effectiveness of this approach.

 

Anti-inflammatory agents. The guidelines recommend the use of benzydamine mouthwash to prevent OM in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy doses up to 50 gray without concomitant chemotherapy and suggest the use of benzydamine for patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy with chemotherapy.

 

Antimicrobials, coating agents, anesthetics, and analgesics. The guidelines suggest the use of 0.2% morphine mouthwash to treat pain associated with OM in patients with HNC.

 

Laser and other light therapy. The guidelines recommend the use of low-level laser therapy to prevent OM in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy. However, some evidence suggests that low-level laser therapy may have long-term carcinogenic effects, so MASCC / ISOO advices the clinician to inform patients about the expected benefits and potential risks of this therapy.

 

Cryotherapy. The guidelines recommend the use of 30 minutes of oral cryotherapy to prevent OM in certain cancer patients, not including those receiving radiotherapy for HNC.

 

Natural and other miscellaneous agents. The guidelines suggest oral glutamine to prevent OM in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy. The suggestion is with caution because of the higher mortality rate seen in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation who receive parenteral glutamine. The guidelines also suggest the use of honey to prevent OM in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy, with or without chemotherapy.

These MASCC / ISOO guidelines demonstrate that there is a high unmet need for the treatment or prevention of OM in patients with HNC, driven by the lack of clear efficacy of the existing treatment options. This unmet need is further demonstrated by the findings from our survey of 150 U.S. radiation oncologists, where only 19% and 21% of physicians, respectively, stated that topical agents are effective in preventing or reducing the incidence of SOM and in treating or reducing the duration of SOM in patients with HNC. The respondents also stated that effectiveness in preventing or reducing the incidence of SOM was the most important product attribute. The FDA has also acknowledged this unmet need and the lack of effective therapies for the reduction of the duration, incidence and severity of SOM induced by radiotherapy by granting avasopasem Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy Designation.

Our Solution: Avasopasem for Radiotherapy-Induced Severe Oral Mucositis

Avasopasem is a potent and highly selective small molecule dismutase mimetic we are developing for the reduction of SOM in patients with HNC. We believe avasopasem, which to date is not approved for any indication, has the potential to address shortcomings associated with current approaches and become the standard of care treatment for SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC.

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Potential Benefits of Avasopasem for Severe Oral Mucositis

We believe that avasopasem has the potential to be the first FDA-approved drug and the standard of care for the reduction of SOM in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy, with the following benefits:

 

Mechanism of action designed to address the root cause of OM: Unlike existing treatment options that are largely symptomatic and reactive in nature, we believe avasopasem has the potential to address and mitigate the root cause of OM. Avasopasem is designed to rapidly convert superoxide to hydrogen peroxide, reducing mucosal damage and thereby the incidence and severity of mucositis.

 

Compelling Randomized Phase 2b clinical data: Results from our Phase 2b trial demonstrate the potential benefits of avasopasem across all evaluated parameters of SOM. Avasopasem has received Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA.

 

Maintenance of anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy: Two-year follow-up clinical data from our Phase 2b trial for avasopasem in patients with locally advanced HNC showed similar rates of tumor control and survival between avasopasem and placebo with no observed decrease in the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy. We believe this is significant as maintenance of anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy is of key importance to physicians when considering new drugs to manage side effects of radiotherapy.

 

Higher patient adherence: The intravenous formulation of avasopasem, administered in a clinical setting by a health care provider, promotes higher patient adherence, optimizing clinical outcomes.

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Clinical Development of Avasopasem for Severe Oral Mucositis

Below is a summary of our clinical development of avasopasem for the reduction of SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC.

 

Trial and Status

 

Trial Design

 

Trial Objectives

 

Trial Milestones

Phase 3 registrational trial for SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy (ROMAN trial)

 

Commenced in October 2018

 

     Randomized, double-blinded, multi-center, placebo-controlled

     Two arms: 90 mg and placebo

     Approximately 450 patients

 

     Primary objective: evaluate efficacy of avasopasem relative to placebo in reducing the incidence of SOM

     Key secondary objectives: evaluate efficacy of avasopasem relative to placebo in reducing:

     the severity of SOM

     the number of days of SOM experienced by all patients

     One-year tumor outcomes and two-year survival rates will be collected

 

     Enrollment expected to be completed in 1H 2021.

     Topline data expected in 2H 2021.

Phase 2a trial for SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy (EUSOM trial)

 

Commenced in June 2020

 

     Multi-center in Europe

     90 mg avasopasem given before each of typically 35 radiotherapy fractions

     38 patients

 

     Primary objective: assess safety of avasopasem in combination with IMRT and cisplatin

     Key secondary objective: evaluate efficacy of avasopasem in reducing the incidence of SOM

 

     Topline data expected in 2H 2021.

Phase 2b trial for SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy

 

Completed

 

     Randomized, double-blinded, multi-center, placebo-controlled

     Three arms: 30 mg, 90 mg and placebo

     223 patients

 

     Primary objective: assess efficacy of avasopasem relative to placebo in reducing the duration of SOM

     Key secondary objectives: assess efficacy of avasopasem relative to placebo in reducing:

     the incidence of SOM

     the severity of SOM

     Two-year tumor outcomes

 

     Primary endpoint met in 90 mg treatment arm:

     duration reduced compared to placebo arm (p* = 0.024)

median duration reduced 92%

     Key secondary endpoints:

     incidence and severity of SOM in the 90 mg treatment arm reduced 34% and 47%, respectively

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Trial and Status

 

Trial Design

 

Trial Objectives

 

Trial Milestones

Phase 1b/2a trial for SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy

 

Completed

 

     Open-label, multi-center dose escalation trial

     Doses ranged from 15 mg to 112 mg

     46 patients

 

     Primary objectives:

     evaluate safety and tolerability of avasopasem in combination with IMRT and cisplatin

     determine a maximum tolerated dose

     Key secondary objectives: assess potential of avasopasem to reduce the incidence, severity and duration of SOM

     One-year tumor outcomes

 

     Avasopasem was well tolerated

     Maximum tolerated dose was not reached

     One-year tumor outcomes consistent with historical control studies

 

*

p-value represents the chance that the observed results occurred by chance alone. A p-value of less than 0.05 is considered statistically significant.

Ongoing ROMAN Trial (Phase 3)

In February 2018, avasopasem was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA for the reduction of SOM induced by radiotherapy, with or without systemic therapy. As part of our correspondence with the FDA, we received the following guidance:

 

One pivotal trial is required to support a New Drug Application, NDA, filing;

 

The Phase 2b trial will be considered supportive to the Phase 3 pivotal trial;

 

Reduction in the incidence of SOM through the radiotherapy treatment period should be the primary endpoint of the Phase 3 registrational trial; and

 

All available tumor outcome data at the time of the NDA submission, including survival data, should be included in the NDA submission.

In October 2018, we initiated a randomized, double-blinded, multicenter, placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial of avasopasem in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy, which we refer to as the Reduction in Oral Mucositis with Avasopasem Manganese trial, or ROMAN trial. We plan to enroll approximately 450 patients in a 3:2 randomization favoring the avasopasem 90 mg treatment arm. Like our Phase 1b/2a and Phase 2b trials, the eligible population is patients with locally advanced, squamous cell HNC who are eligible for seven weeks of standard-of-care radiotherapy.

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ROMAN Trial Design (n≈450 patients)

 

 

The primary endpoint of the ROMAN trial is the reduction in the incidence of SOM through the radiotherapy period for patients being treated with 90 mg of avasopasem as compared to placebo received as a 60-minute intravenous infusion less than 60 minutes before radiation, Monday to Friday, for seven weeks. All patients will be assessed twice weekly for OM by trained evaluators during the course of their radiotherapy treatment.

Additional endpoints include, among others, reduction in the severity of SOM and reduction in the number of days of SOM experienced by all patients, as well as the effect of treatment on tumor outcomes measured by overall survival, or OS, progression-free survival, or PFS, locoregional control, or LRC, and distant metastasis-free, or DM-free, rates. For these purposes, we define the severity of SOM as the incidence of Grade 4 OM. Adverse events will be monitored during the trial period.

We expect to complete enrollment in the ROMAN trial by the first half of 2021 and to report topline data from this trial in the second half of 2021. If these results are positive, we plan to submit an NDA to the FDA.

Ongoing Phase 2a Trial in Patients with HNC in Europe (EUSOM Trial)

In June 2020, we initiated a Phase 2a multi-center trial of avasopasem in Europe evaluating avasopasem in combination with IMRT and concurrent cisplatin in patients with locally advanced HNC, which we refer to as the EUSOM trial.

The primary objective of this trial is to assess the safety of avasopasem in combination with IMRT and concurrent cisplatin. Secondary objectives include, among others, the reduction in the incidence of SOM through the radiotherapy period.

We have completed enrollment in the EUSOM trial and expect to report topline data from this trial in the second half of 2021.

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Phase 2b Trial in Patients with HNC

In December 2017, we announced positive topline data from a Phase 2b trial in 223 patients with locally advanced HNC being treated with IMRT and concurrent cisplatin at multiple sites in the United States and Canada. The trial was a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial assessing the effects of avasopasem on the median duration, incidence and severity of SOM. Patients received 30 mg of avasopasem, 90 mg of avasopasem or placebo as a 60-minute infusion less than 60 minutes before radiation, Monday to Friday, for seven weeks. All patients were assessed twice weekly for OM by trained evaluators during the course of their radiotherapy treatment. If SOM was present in a patient at the end of the course of his or her radiotherapy treatment, that patient continued to be evaluated weekly for up to eight additional weeks.

 

Phase 2b Trial Design (n=223)

 

 

The primary endpoints of the trial were reduction in the duration of SOM in the 90 mg and 30 mg treatment arms. Duration was defined as the number of days from when a patient was first assessed with SOM until the first day that patient was assessed with Grade 2 or less OM, with no subsequent occurrences of SOM.

In this trial, the 90 mg treatment arm of avasopasem demonstrated a statistically significant reduction compared to placebo on the primary endpoint (p=0.024). The median duration of SOM in this arm was 1.5 days, a 92% reduction compared to placebo.

Secondary endpoints included reduction in the incidence and severity of SOM in each of the 90 mg and 30 mg treatment arms. For these purposes, we define the severity of SOM as the incidence of Grade 4 OM. The incidence of SOM in the 90 mg treatment arm was reduced by 36% through 60 Gy and 34% through the full course of radiotherapy treatment compared to placebo and the severity of SOM in the 90 mg treatment arm was reduced by 47% through the full course of radiotherapy treatment compared to placebo. The gray, or Gy, is the International System of Units unit of absorbed radiation dose.  

In the 30 mg treatment arm, intermediate reductions compared to placebo were observed in median duration of SOM (58%), incidence of SOM through 60 Gy (31%) and through the full course of radiotherapy treatment (8%), and in severity of SOM (30%) through the full course of radiotherapy treatment.

In the trial, we also observed an apparent delay in the onset of SOM in the 90 mg treatment arm compared to placebo, reduced usage of opioids in both the 30 mg and 90 mg treatment arms compared to placebo, and reduced placement and use of gastrostomy tubes in the 90 mg treatment arm compared to placebo.

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The following chart depicts the course of SOM in each patient in the 90 mg treatment arm or the placebo arm who experienced at least one episode of SOM during the course of his or her treatment and follow-up. Each bar represents a single patient and illustrates the length of time between that patient’s first evaluated instance of SOM and his or her last evaluated instance of SOM, along with the severity of his or her SOM during that interval.

 

 

This chart demonstrates that (1) fewer patients in the 90 mg treatment arm developed SOM than in the placebo arm, (2) fewer patients in the 90 mg treatment arm developed Grade 4 OM than in the placebo arm, and (3) on average, SOM did not last as long for patients in the 90 mg treatment arm. This is consistent with the observed reductions in the individual numerical endpoints of median duration, incidence and severity.

We followed patients from this trial for tumor outcomes out to two years following radiotherapy. In the two-year assessment of tumor outcomes, we observed similar outcomes among the three arms in OS, PFS, LRC and DM-free rates.

Tumor Outcomes Maintained through 2 Years

 

 

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No difference was observed in the severity of adverse events among the three arms in the trial and the most frequent adverse events were similar among the three arms.

Safety Profile of Both Avasopasem Doses was Comparable to

Standard-of-Care Chemoradiotherapy (Placebo)

 

 

The percentage of patients with the most common adverse events in the Phase 2b trial are shown in the table below.

Most Frequent Adverse Events Similar

Across Active and Placebo Arms

 

 

Phase 1b/2a Trial in Patients with HNC

In August 2016, we completed a Phase 1b/2a, open-label, multi-center, dose escalation trial of the safety, tolerability, pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties of avasopasem in combination with radiotherapy and concurrent cisplatin in 46 patients with locally advanced HNC. The objectives of this trial were to evaluate the safety and tolerability of avasopasem and to assess the potential of avasopasem to reduce the duration, incidence and severity of SOM.

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In this trial, patients were assigned to treatment duration groups based upon the dose and duration of dosing of avasopasem received and we observed that the incidence, duration, and severity of SOM through six weeks of radiotherapy (with patients receiving a cumulative radiotherapy dose of 60 Gy) decreased for patients who received six to seven weeks of avasopasem. In the group receiving six to seven weeks of avasopasem, 29% of patients experienced SOM, with a median duration of 2.5 days, and no patients experienced Grade 4 OM. Avasopasem was well tolerated and a maximum tolerated dose was not reached.

Patients in the trial were followed for tumor outcomes at one-year post-radiotherapy. The observed LRC, DM-free, PFS, and OS rates in 44 patients evaluable for tumor outcome at one year were 93%, 93%, 84% and 93%, respectively. We believe these outcomes are similar to the outcomes observed in historical control studies, suggesting that avasopasem does not decrease the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy-Induced Esophagitis

Radiotherapy-induced esophagitis is a common and debilitating adverse effect that develops in patients receiving radiotherapy, most commonly for lung, esophageal, breast or head and neck cancers or for lymphoma. Radiotherapy-induced esophagitis is inflammation, edema, erythema, and erosion of the mucosal surface of the esophagus caused by radiotherapy. Esophagitis can be life-threatening, and symptoms include an inability to swallow, severe pain, ulceration, infection, bleeding and weight loss and may require hospitalization. The severity of esophagitis is graded using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events, which is a five-point grading scale:

 

Grade

 

Description

1

 

Patients are asymptomatic with only clinical observations

2

 

Patients are symptomatic with altered eating or swallowing, with oral supplements indicated

3

 

Patients exhibit severely altered eating or swallowing requiring tube feeding, total parenteral nutrition or hospitalization

4

 

Patient requires urgent operative intervention; condition is life-threatening

5

 

Results in death

 

Radiotherapy-induced esophagitis potentially represents a larger market opportunity than OM. In lung cancer (our first target market for esophagitis), there are approximately 230,000 new patients annually in the United States, of which approximately 50,000 are treated with radiotherapy. The overall frequency of Grade 2 or higher esophagitis in patients receiving radiotherapy for the treatment of lung cancer is approximately 50%. The results of our survey of 150 U.S. radiation oncologists suggested that they view OM data as being representative of potential efficacy in esophagitis, which we believe supports the feasibility of exploring the use of avasopasem for the reduction of esophagitis.

Current Treatment Landscape and its Limitations

There are currently no FDA-approved drugs and no established guidelines for the treatment of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis. Treatment options are not only ineffective but also largely symptomatic in nature, with medications being administered in conjunction with a focus on adequate hydration and nutrition. These approaches, which include various analgesics such as topical lidocaine and opioids, and tube or intravenous feeding, do not treat the underlying cause of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis.

Our Solution: Avasopasem for Radiotherapy-Induced Esophagitis

Unlike existing treatment options that are largely palliative in nature, we believe avasopasem has the potential to address and mitigate the root cause of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis. By removing superoxide, avasopasem is designed to reduce the damage radiotherapy ordinarily causes to the patient’s esophageal mucosa, and thereby reduce the incidence of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis. We believe avasopasem has the potential to become the standard of care for the reduction in the incidence of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis in patients with lung cancer.

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Clinical Development of Avasopasem for Esophagitis

Below is a summary of our clinical development of avasopasem for the treatment of esophagitis.

 

Trial and Status

 

Trial Design

 

Trial Objectives

 

Trial Milestones

Phase 2a trial for esophagitis in patients with lung cancer receiving IMRT
(AESOP trial)

 

Ongoing

 

•     90 mg avasopasem given before each of typically 30 radiotherapy fractions

•     Approximately 60 patients

 

•     Primary objective: assess efficacy of avasopasem in reducing the incidence of Grade 2 or higher esophagitis

 

•     Announced first patient dosed in January 2020.

•     Topline data expected in 1H 2022.

 

 

Ongoing Phase 2a Trial in Patients with Lung Cancer (AESOP Trial)

In January 2020, we announced the initiation of a Phase 2a trial of avasopasem in combination with radiotherapy with concurrent chemotherapy in approximately 60 patients with lung cancer, which we refer to as the AESOP trial.

The primary endpoint of the trial is to assess the efficacy of avasopasem in reducing the incidence of Grade 2 or higher esophagitis in these patients.

We expect to report topline data from the AESOP trial in the first half of 2022.

Increasing Anti-Cancer Efficacy of Radiotherapy

As cancer cells are much more sensitive than normal cells to elevated hydrogen peroxide, we believe the conversion of excess superoxide to hydrogen peroxide by our dismutase mimetics has the potential to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy. We are evaluating our dismutase mimetics to determine their ability to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of high daily doses of radiotherapy, which we have demonstrated in our preclinical studies. This increased efficacy could be particularly important in settings where the current anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy alone is insufficient to achieve the desired outcome.

Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Overview

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which solid tumors form in the tissues of the pancreas. It is a particularly aggressive form of cancer and represents the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States with approximately 57,000 new diagnoses and 46,000 deaths estimated in 2019. In the five largest European markets and Japan, there were approximately 109,000 new pancreatic cancer diagnoses in 2018. Over 30% of newly-diagnosed patients have non-metastatic disease that is unresectable due to the location of the primary tumor or its relationship to the surrounding vasculature. The first line of treatment for patients with unresectable tumors is chemotherapy. For those patients whose tumors remain unresectable following chemotherapy, SBRT is an emerging treatment option. Even with SBRT as an option, patients with pancreatic cancer often have a poor prognosis, with a five-year survival rate of only approximately 10%. As a result, there remains a large unmet need to increase the effectiveness of disease management and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Overview

According to the NCI, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. The NCI estimates that in 2018 there were approximately 234,000 new cases of lung cancer (both NSCLC and small cell lung cancer) in the United States and approximately 154,000 deaths. Approximately 175,000 patients are diagnosed with NSCLC each year in the United States, and are typically treated with some combination of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, depending on the severity of their disease, and SBRT is an established radiotherapy treatment for some forms of NSCLC. Even with all these current treatment options,

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NSCLC is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States with an estimated 142,670 deaths in 2019. As such, improving the effectiveness of lung cancer treatment and improving patient outcomes represents a significant unmet need.

Our Solution: GC4711 for Increasing Anti-Cancer Efficacy in Patients Receiving SBRT

GC4711 is our second dismutase mimetic product candidate. We are specifically targeting GC4711, an analog of avasopasem, with the goal of increasing the anti-cancer efficacy of SBRT. Based on our extensive preclinical data and positive interim data from our pilot LAPC trial, we believe GC4711 has the potential to increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy, and that it may also protect normal tissue during SBRT. By adding GC4711 to an SBRT regimen, we believe that our dismutase mimetics’ conversion of superoxide to hydrogen peroxide may increase the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy at current doses.

Phase 1 Trials

In December 2017, we completed a Phase 1 single-dose trial of intravenously-administered GC4711 in Australia. In March 2020, we completed a second Phase 1 trial of the dose and schedule of GC4711 administered by 15-minute intravenous infusions to healthy volunteers in Australia.

In these trials, GC4711 was observed to be well tolerated. There were no Grade 3, 4, or 5 adverse events, and no adverse events led to withdrawal from these trials. We used the results of these trials to identify the dose and schedule of GC4711 to be studied in future trials and to support an Investigative New Drug Application, or IND, filing for intravenous GC4711 delivered via 15-minute infusion.

Preclinical Results

We have observed in multiple xenograft and syngeneic tumor mouse models a strong correlation between the daily dose of radiation and the increase in anti-cancer efficacy with our dismutase mimetics. Notably, we observed that many of the mice at the highest daily dose of radiotherapy with a dismutase mimetic became tumor-free. The results of one such study, in which mice bearing NSCLC xenograft tumors received 24 mg/kg of avasopasem daily for five days concurrent with one of four different radiotherapy dosage regimens, are depicted below. For example, 5 Gy x 5 RT indicates that the mice received five daily doses of five Gy each. These radiotherapy regimens were selected because, without the addition of our dismutase mimetic, each should produce an equivalent reduction in tumor growth. The data reflects that expected result, but the increase in anti-cancer efficacy with addition of the dismutase mimetic increases significantly at the higher daily doses of radiotherapy.

H1299 Human NSCLC Tumors in Mice

 

5 Gy x 5 RT

7 Gy x 3 RT

10 Gy x2 RT

18 Gy x 1 RT

 

 

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In another preclinical study, mice bearing pancreatic cancer xenograft tumors treated with a single 12 Gy dose demonstrated a meaningful decrease in tumor volume when avasopasem was added, as depicted below. We believe that this result shows that our dismutase mimetics have the potential to synergize with SBRT to rapidly convert superoxide to hydrogen peroxide and exploit cancer cells’ increased sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide to promote cancer cell death.

 

 

Additional preclinical studies have provided further evidence supporting our dismutase mimetics’ biological mechanism in combination with radiotherapy in solid tumors. To test the hypothesis that our dismutase mimetics’ conversion of superoxide to hydrogen peroxide increases the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy, we genetically engineered NSCLC tumors to overexpress catalase enzyme when triggered. This overexpression of catalase, a native enzyme that rapidly removes hydrogen peroxide, blocked the dismutase mimetic’s synergy with radiotherapy in an experiment similar to the ones described above.

 

 

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We believe the results of our studies represent significant potential in the treatment of cancer, particularly as recent advances in radiotherapy, such as SBRT, are capable of administering targeted, high daily doses of radiotherapy to solid tumors. SBRT utilizes several beams of various intensities aimed at different angles to precisely target the tumor, with the goal of delivering the highest possible dose of radiotherapy to kill cancer cells while minimizing exposure to normal cells. For example, SBRT is an established radiotherapy treatment for NSCLC, used increasingly for small, peripheral lung tumors. Data to date suggest that SBRT could also increase the anti-cancer efficacy and safety of radiotherapy for many other patients with NSCLC, LAPC and other cancers. SBRT application for large or centrally located NSCLC tumors, however, faces unique challenges, as lung and other toxicities limit the amount of radiotherapy patients can tolerate. As such, the most suitable patients for this procedure currently are those with smaller, well-defined tumors who are ineligible for or cannot tolerate surgery.

The increase in anti-cancer efficacy of SBRT with our dismutase mimetics has been shown in a variety of models of lung, pancreatic, head and neck, breast and other cancers. In addition, because low oxygen levels typically found deep in larger tumors can interfere with the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy, it is important that our dismutase mimetics appear to also increase anti-cancer efficacy in hypoxic tumor models. Further, they may also reduce the normal tissue toxicities that restrict the patients now eligible for SBRT. Because of this we believe that the combination of GC4711 and SBRT has the potential to further increase the anti-cancer efficacy of and to broaden the group of patients who can benefit from SBRT.

The clinical research community is also exploring the possibility of increasing the anti-cancer efficacy of SBRT by combining it with checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy, merging the targeted efficacy of radiotherapy with the demonstrated durability of checkpoint therapy. In preclinical models combining our dismutase mimetics with SBRT and anti-PD-1, anti-PD-L1 or anti-CTLA4 checkpoint therapy, this triple combination was more effective than combinations of SBRT combined with checkpoint therapy or SBRT combined with dismutase mimetic. The triple combination increased control of the irradiated primary tumors and also appeared to reduce the metastatic spread of the cancer and even controlled pre-existing tumors outside the radiation field. Based upon these data, we believe there is an opportunity to assess the combination of SBRT, checkpoint therapy and GC4711 as a novel approach to treating various cancers.

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Clinical Development for Increasing Anti-Cancer Efficacy

Below is a summary of our clinical development of our dismutase mimetics for increasing the anti-cancer efficacy of radiotherapy.

 

Trial and Status

 

Trial Design

 

Trial Objectives

 

Trial Milestones

Phase 1b/2a pilot trial of avasopasem in patients with LAPC

 

Commenced in February 2018

 

Future trials in this indication planned to be conducted with GC4711

 

•     Adaptive SBRT dose escalation trial

•     Three dose levels of SBRT being evaluated with each patient receiving five doses of SBRT

•     SBRT daily dose levels range from 10 Gy/dose to 12 Gy/dose

•     Two arms: 90 mg and placebo

•     42 patients

 

•     Primary objective: determine the maximum tolerated dose of SBRT when combined with avasopasem relative to placebo

•     Key secondary objectives: assess progression-free survival and overall response rate (at 90 days) with 90 mg avasopasem relative to placebo

 

•     Interim results announced in October 2020.

•     Final data with at least one year of follow-up on all patients expected in 2H 2021.

Phase 1/2 trial of GC4711 in patients with NSCLC

(GRECO-1 trial)

 

Commenced in October 2020

 

•     Open-label safety run-in of SBRT and GC4711 in approximately 5 patients

•     Followed by randomized, double-blind, Phase 2 trial of SBRT and GC4711

•     Two arms: 100 mg and placebo

•     Approximately 66 patients

 

•     Primary objective: safety and improvements in measures of pneumonitis

•     Key secondary objectives: objective response rate, progression-free survival and overall survival with 100 mg GC4711 relative to placebo

 

•     Initial data expected in 1H 2022.

Phase 2b trial of GC4711 in patients with LAPC

(GRECO-2 trial)

 

Planned

 

•     Randomized, double-blinded, multi-center, placebo-controlled

•     Two arms: 100 mg and placebo

•     Approximately 160 patients

 

•     Primary objective: overall survival with 100 mg GC4711 relative to placebo

•     Key secondary objectives: progression-free survival, locoregional tumor control, distant metastasis rate, surgical resection outcomes, and objective response rate with 100 mg GC4711 relative to placebo

 

•     Trial enrollment expected to commence in 1H 2021.

 

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Phase 1/2 Pilot Trial of Avasopasem in Patients with LAPC

The primary objective of this trial was to determine the maximum tolerated daily dose of SBRT in conjunction with our dismutase mimetic, with secondary measures assessing, among others, OS, PFS, resectability and overall response rate compared to placebo.

In October 2020, we announced interim data from this trial. In the analysis of the intent-to-treat population, multiple endpoints showed a positive trend in favor of improved anti-cancer efficacy with avasopasem compared to placebo. While many of the patients were early in their follow-up post treatment, addition of the dismutase mimetic to SBRT appeared to improve survival and response rate versus placebo. Toxicity was comparable across both treatment arms, with no significant differences in overall or Grade 3 GI toxicity post-SBRT. The interim data from this trial enabled us to select the dose of SBRT for our subsequent trial in this indication, the GRECO-2 trial, of five daily doses at 10 Gy/dose. The data presented included all patients followed for a minimum of three months and 19 for more than one year, with data through August 24, 2020.

We plan to provide final data from this trial with at least one year of follow-up on all patients in the second half of 2021.

Ongoing Phase 1/2 Trial of GC4711 in Patients with NSCLC (GRECO-1 Trial)

In October 2020, we initiated a Phase 1/2 trial of GC4711 in combination with SBRT in patients with NSCLC, which we refer to as the GRECO-1 trial. We intend for this trial to assess the anti-cancer efficacy and safety of GC4711 in combination with SBRT. Subsequently, we intend to assess the anti-cancer efficacy and safety of GC4711 in combination with SBRT and a checkpoint inhibitor.

Approximately 5 patients will be a part of the Phase 1 open-label safety run-in portion of the trial. Following the safety run-in cohort, up to 66 NSCLC patients with locally advanced disease will receive GC4711 with SBRT or placebo with SBRT over five consecutive weekdays in the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 portion of trial.

The primary objective of the trial is to assess safety and improvements in measures of pneumonitis. Key secondary objectives, among others, include objective response rate, PFS and OS.

The GRECO-1 trial is supported in part by a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the NCI of the NIH for the investigation of our dismutase mimetics in combination with SBRT for the treatment of lung cancer. We expect to report initial data from the GRECO-1 trial in the first half of 2022.

Planned Phase 2b Trial of GC4711 in Patients with LAPC (GRECO-2 Trial)

We plan to initiate a randomized, double-blinded, multicenter, placebo-controlled Phase 2b trial of GC4711 in combination with SBRT in patients with LAPC, which we refer to as the GRECO-2 trial. We expect to enroll approximately 160 patients in this trial.

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The primary objective of this trial is to determine the impact on OS by adding GC4711 to SBRT following chemotherapy in patients with unresectable or borderline resectable nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer. Key secondary objectives, among others, will include PFS, locoregional tumor control, distant metastasis rate, surgical resection outcomes, and objective response rate.

We expect to initiate enrollment in the GRECO-2 trial in the first half of 2021.

Oral and Other Formulations

Preclinical studies conducted by us suggest that GC4711 and other novel dismutase mimetics in our portfolio can also be delivered by other routes of administration beyond intravenous. We are currently evaluating multiple formulations of GC4711 and these other novel compounds for future potential development.

Clinical Development of Avasopasem for COVID-19

Below is a summary of our clinical development of avasopasem for the treatment of COVID-19.

Trial and Status

 

Trial Design

 

Trial Objectives

 

Trial Milestones

Phase 2 pilot trial for COVID-19 in critically ill hospitalized adult patients

Ongoing

 

•     Randomized, double-blinded, multi-center, placebo-controlled

•     Two arms: 90 mg and placebo

  •     Up to 50 patients

 

•     Primary objective: assess 28-day mortality with 90 mg avasopasem relative to placebo

 

•     Topline data expected in 1H 2021.

 

Ongoing Phase 2 Pilot Trial in Critically Ill Patients with COVID-19

In September 2020, we announced the initiation of a randomized, double-blinded, multicenter, placebo-controlled Phase 2 pilot trial of avasopasem in up to 50 hospitalized patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.

The primary endpoint of the trial is to assess the efficacy of avasopasem in improving 28-day mortality compared to placebo. Patients receive 90 mg of avasopasem or placebo as a 3-hour intravenous infusion twice daily for seven days. The trial will also collect additional data, among others, related to the requirement for intensive care, mechanical ventilation, and organ function.

We expect to report topline data from this trial in the first half of 2021.  

Manufacturing

We do not own or operate, and currently have no plans to establish, any manufacturing facilities. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, for the supply of current good manufacturing practice-grade, or cGMP-grade, clinical trial materials and commercial quantities of our product candidates and products, if approved. We require all of our CMOs to conduct manufacturing activities in compliance with cGMP requirements and we maintain our avasopasem product candidate in refrigerated conditions prior to intravenous infusion. We have assembled a team of experienced employees and consultants to provide the necessary technical, quality and regulatory oversight of our CMOs.

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We anticipate that these CMOs will have the capacity to support both clinical supply and commercial-scale production, but we do not have any formal agreements at this time with any of these CMOs to cover commercial production. We believe that we have sufficient quantities of drug substance and drug product to supply our current Phase 3 and Phase 2a trials of avasopasem for the reduction of SOM and radiotherapy-induced esophagitis, respectively. We are in the process of implementing a redundant supply chain for avasopasem drug substance and drug product, with long-term agreements in place, to provide the drug substance and drug product prior to submission of an NDA.

We also may elect to pursue additional CMOs for manufacturing supplies of drug substance and finished drug product in the future. We believe that our standardized manufacturing process can be transferred to a number of other CMOs for the production of clinical and commercial supplies of our product candidates in the ordinary course of business.

Commercialization

Our aim is to become a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company. At our current stage, we have not yet established a commercial organization or distribution capabilities. We intend to commercialize avasopasem, if successfully developed and approved, by building a specialized sales and marketing organization in the United States focused on radiation oncologists. We believe a scientifically oriented, customer-focused team of approximately 40 sales representatives would allow us to effectively reach the approximately 4,000 radiation oncologists in the United States, who treat patients using an even smaller number of radiation machines. There are approximately 2,500 radiotherapy treatment sites in the United States. Based on a third-party claims database, we estimate that over 80% of radiotherapy treatments for HNC patients are performed at approximately 700 sites. Because of the limited number of physicians concentrated around a smaller number of radiation machines, we believe we can effectively commercialize avasopasem, if approved, in the United States with a small, focused commercial organization. We also expect to leverage this sales organization to commercialize GC4711, if approved, and any of our future product candidates in the United States. Outside the United States, we may seek to establish collaborations for the commercialization of avasopasem and our other product candidates.

Competition

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries put significant emphasis and resources into the development of novel and proprietary therapies for cancer treatment. While we believe that our knowledge, experience and scientific resources provide us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including large and specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic research institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing treatment options and new therapies that may become available in the future.

Many of our potential competitors may have significantly greater financial resources, a more established presence in the market, and more expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical and clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals and reimbursement, and marketing approved products than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostic industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These potential competitors may also compete with us in recruiting and retaining top qualified scientific, sales, marketing and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.

The key competitive factors affecting the success of avasopasem, GC4711 and any of our other product candidates, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience, price, the level of generic competition and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors. There are currently no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of OM in patients with HNC and no FDA-approved drugs or established guidelines for the treatment of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis.

A number of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that currently market and sell drugs or biologics are pursuing the development of therapies in the fields in which we are interested. Our commercial opportunity for any of our product candidates could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and

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commercialize products that are safer, more effective, less expensive, more convenient or easier to administer, or have fewer or less severe side effects, than any products that we may develop. Because our product candidates are designed to reduce the side effects, or to increase the anti-cancer efficacy, of radiotherapy, our commercial opportunities could also be reduced or eliminated if radiotherapy methods are improved in a way that reduces the incidence of such side effects or increases anti-cancer efficacy, or if new therapies are developed which effectively treat cancer without causing such side effects. Our competitors also may obtain FDA, EMA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market.

Intellectual Property

Our commercial success depends in part on our ability to obtain and maintain proprietary protection for avasopasem, GC4711 and any of our other product candidates, manufacturing methods and processes, novel discoveries, and other know-how; to operate without infringing on or otherwise violating the proprietary rights of others; and to prevent others from infringing or otherwise violating our proprietary rights. Our policy is to seek to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, filing or in-licensing U.S. and foreign patents and patent applications related to our product candidates and other proprietary technologies, inventions and improvements, including claims related to composition of matter and methods of use, that are important to the development and implementation of our business. We also rely on trademarks, trade secrets, know-how, continuing technological innovation and potential in-licensing opportunities to develop and maintain our proprietary position. For more information, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Intellectual Property.”

Patents and Patent Applications

As of December 31, 2020, our owned and currently pending and/or in-force patent portfolio consisted of approximately 19 issued U.S. patents, 9 pending U.S. patent applications, 117 issued foreign patents including 7 issued European patents that have been validated in many European countries, and 104 pending foreign applications.

The term of individual patents depends upon the legal term for patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries in which we file, including the United States, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest filing date of a non-provisional patent application. In the United States, a patent’s term may be lengthened by patent term adjustment, which compensates a patentee for administrative delays by the USPTO, in examining and granting a patent, or may be shortened if a patent is terminally disclaimed over an earlier expiring patent. In some instances, such a patent term adjustment may result in the term of a United States patent extending beyond 20 years from the earliest filing date of a non-provisional patent application. In the United States, the term of a patent that covers a drug product may also be eligible for patent term extension when regulatory approval is granted, provided the legal requirements are met. This permits patent term restoration as compensation for the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent term extension of up to a maximum of five years beyond the expiration of the patent if the patent is eligible for such an extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act. The length of the patent term extension is related to the length of time the drug is under regulatory review; however, it cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval. Only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended. Similar provisions are available in Europe and certain other jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug. In the future, if and when our drug candidates receive approval by the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on issued patents covering those drugs, depending upon the length of the clinical trials for each drug and other factors.

The two most advanced product candidates in our portfolio, avasopasem and GC4711, are protected by issued patents with claims directed to composition of matter and method of use. Avasopasem is covered by a composition of matter patent in the United States that has a natural expiration date in 2022. However, we believe the avasopasem composition of matter patent may be eligible for a patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act of no more than four and a half years which, if granted, could result in an expiration date in 2027. GC4711 is covered by a composition of matter patent in the United States, which also covers oral bioavailability of the product candidate, and has a natural expiration date in 2036. However, we believe the GC4711 composition of matter patent may be eligible for a patent term extension of at least about two years which, if granted, could result in an expiration date in 2038. The U.S. patent family covering the method of treating OM has a natural expiration date in late 2027, and if we are successful in obtaining a patent term extension of approximately two and a half years which we believe should be available, could result in an expiration date in early 2030. The U.S. patent family covering treating tissue damage resulting from radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination thereof by administering high doses

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of avasopasem, including that being tested in the ROMAN Phase 3 trial, has a natural expiration date in 2032, and if we are successful in obtaining a patent term extension which we believe should be available, could result in an expiration date in 2034. When including only current issued patents and related patent term extensions, our product candidate patent portfolio is projected to expire between 2027 and 2038 in the United States. Additional pending or future patent applications may supplement or extend this patent portfolio.

However, there can be no assurance that any of our pending patent applications will issue or that we will benefit from any patent term extension or favorable adjustment to the term of any of our patents. The applicable authorities, including the FDA in the United States, may not agree with our assessment of whether such patent term extensions should be granted, and if granted, they may grant more limited extensions than we request.

We also have pending patent families in the United States that cover certain combinations of our product candidates with several oncology products and therapies that may provide protection for the use of our product candidates in connection with those oncology products and therapies, which, if granted, are projected to expire between 2037 and 2039.

Trademarks and Trade Secrets

As of December 31, 2020, our owned and currently pending and/or in-force trademark portfolio consisted of 2 registered U.S. trademarks, 6 pending U.S. trademark applications, 14 registered foreign trademarks, and 10 pending foreign trademark applications.

Furthermore, we rely upon trade secrets, know-how, continuing technological innovation and potential in-licensing opportunities to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our proprietary information, in part, using confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our commercial partners, collaborators, employees, and consultants. These agreements are designed to protect our proprietary information and, in the case of the invention assignment agreements, to grant us ownership of technologies that are developed through a relationship with an employee or a third party. These agreements may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any such breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors. To the extent that our commercial partners, collaborators, employees, and consultants use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions.

Royalty Agreement with Blackstone Life Sciences (Formerly Known as Clarus Ventures)

In November 2018, we entered into the Royalty Agreement with Blackstone Life Sciences, or Blackstone. Pursuant to the Royalty Agreement, Blackstone agreed to pay us, in the aggregate, up to $80.0 million, or the Royalty Purchase Price, in four tranches of $20.0 million each upon the achievement of specified clinical milestones in our ROMAN trial. We agreed to apply the proceeds from such payments primarily to support clinical development and regulatory activities for avasopasem, GC4711 and any pharmaceutical product comprising or containing avasopasem or GC4711, or, collectively, the Products, as well as to satisfy working capital obligations and for general corporate expenses. We received the first tranche of the Royalty Purchase Price in November 2018, the second tranche of the Royalty Purchase Price in April 2019, and the third tranche of the Royalty Purchase Price in February 2020, in each case in connection with the achievement of the first three milestones, respectively, under the Royalty Agreement.

In May 2020, we entered into Amendment No. 1 to the Royalty Agreement, or the Amendment, with Clarus IV Galera Royalty AIV, L.P., or the Blackstone Purchaser. The Blackstone Purchaser is affiliated with Blackstone Life Sciences, successor in interest to Clarus Ventures. The Amendment increased the Royalty Purchase Price by $37.5 million to $117.5 million by increasing the fourth tranche from $20.0 million to $37.5 million and adding a new $20.0 million tranche upon the achievement of an additional clinical enrollment milestone.  

Pursuant to the amended Royalty Agreement, in connection with the payment of each tranche of the Royalty Purchase Price, we have agreed to sell, convey, transfer and assign to Blackstone all of our right, title and interest in a high single-digit percentage of (i) worldwide net sales of the Products and (ii) all amounts received by us or our affiliates, licensees and sublicensees with respect to Product-related damages (collectively, the Product Payments) during the Royalty Period. The Royalty Period means, on a Product-by-Product and country-by-country basis, the period of time commencing on the commercial launch of such Product in such country and ending on the

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latest to occur of (i) the 12th anniversary of such commercial launch, (ii) the expiration of all valid claims of our patents covering such Product in such country, and (iii) the expiration of regulatory data protection or market exclusivity or similar regulatory protection afforded by the health authorities in such country, to the extent such protection or exclusivity effectively prevents generic versions of such Product from entering the market in such country.

If Blackstone fails to fund the full amount of any remaining tranche of the Royalty Purchase Price within two business days of the conditions to the payment of such tranche having been satisfied, we may terminate our obligation to accept such tranche and any additional remaining tranches. In such event, Blackstone’s aggregate right, title and interest in the Product Payments shall be reduced to a low single-digit percentage.

Under the amended Royalty Agreement, if we commercialize our product candidates, we must establish a trained sales force sufficiently in advance of the anticipated commercial launch of our products. Along with other conditions, we may not grant any exclusive right or license under our patents and know-how related to our product candidates to any third party without the prior written consent of Blackstone. In addition, we may not enter into any out-license that would expressly allow a third party to use our intellectual property to develop or commercialize a product that is competitive with the Products.

The amended Royalty Agreement will remain in effect until the date on which the aggregate amount of the Product Payments paid to Blackstone exceeds a fixed single-digit multiple of the actual amount of the Royalty Purchase Price received by us, unless earlier terminated pursuant to the mutual written agreement of us and Blackstone.

In May 2020, as partial consideration for the Amendment, we issued two warrants to the Blackstone Purchaser to purchase an aggregate of 550,661 shares of our common stock at an exercise price equal to $13.62 per share, each of which will become exercisable upon the receipt by Galera of the applicable specified milestone payment. The issued warrants expire six years after the initial exercise date of each respective warrant.

Government Regulation

The FDA and comparable regulatory authorities in state and local jurisdictions and in other countries impose substantial and burdensome requirements upon companies involved in the clinical development, manufacture, marketing and distribution of drugs, such as those we are developing. These agencies and other federal, state and local entities regulate, among other things, the research and development, testing, manufacture, quality control, safety, effectiveness, labeling, storage, record keeping, approval, advertising and promotion, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, sampling and export and import of our product candidates.

U.S. Government Regulation

In the United States, the FDA regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and its implementing regulations. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval, may subject an applicant to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, such as the FDA’s refusal to approve pending NDAs, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold, issuance of warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement or civil or criminal penalties.

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

 

completion of preclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies in compliance with the FDA’s good laboratory practice, or GLP, regulations;

 

submission to the FDA of an Investigational New Drug application, or IND, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;

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approval by an independent IRB, at each clinical site before each trial may be initiated;

 

performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials in accordance with good clinical practice, or GCP, requirements to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed drug product for each indication;

 

submission to the FDA of an NDA;

 

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

 

satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities at which the product is produced to assess compliance with current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, requirements and to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the drug’s identity, strength, quality and purity;

 

FDA review and approval of the NDA, including consideration of the views of any FDA advisory committee, prior to commercial marketing or sale of the drug in the United States; and

 

Compliance with any post-approval requirements, including the potential requirement to implement a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, or to conduct a post-approval study.

Preclinical Studies

Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluation of product chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as animal studies to assess potential safety and efficacy. An IND sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical studies, together with manufacturing information, analytical data and any available clinical data or literature, among other things, to the FDA as part of an IND. Some preclinical studies may continue even after the IND is submitted. An IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time the FDA raises concerns or questions related to one or more proposed clinical trials and places the clinical trial on a clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. As a result, submission of an IND may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to commence.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational new drug to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with GCP requirements, which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent in writing for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. In addition, an IRB at each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial before it commences at that institution. Information about certain clinical trials must be submitted within specific timeframes to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, for public dissemination on their www.clinicaltrials.gov website.

Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases, which may overlap or be combined:

 

Phase 1: The drug is initially introduced into healthy human subjects or patients with the target disease or condition and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion and, if possible, to gain an early indication of its effectiveness.

 

Phase 2: The drug is administered to a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage.

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Phase 3: The drug is administered to an expanded patient population, generally at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites, in well-controlled clinical trials to generate enough data to statistically evaluate the efficacy and safety of the product for approval, to establish the overall risk-benefit profile of the product, and to provide adequate information for the labeling of the product.

Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and more frequently if serious adverse events occur. Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, or at all. Furthermore, the FDA or the sponsor may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects 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.

Marketing Approval

Assuming successful completion of the required clinical testing, the results of the preclinical studies and clinical trials, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacture, controls and proposed labeling, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications. In most cases, the submission of an NDA is subject to a substantial application user fee. Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, guidelines that are currently in effect, the FDA has a goal of ten months from the date of “filing” of a standard NDA for a new molecular entity to review and act on the submission. This review typically takes twelve months from the date the NDA is submitted to FDA because the FDA has approximately two months to make a “filing” decision.

In addition, under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003, as amended and reauthorized, certain NDAs or supplements to an NDA must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations, and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the 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 also may require submission of a REMS plan to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks. The REMS plan could include medication guides, physician communication plans, assessment plans, and/or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries, or other risk minimization tools.

The FDA conducts a preliminary review of all NDAs within the first 60 days after submission, before accepting them for filing, to determine whether they are sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. The FDA may request additional information rather than accept an NDA for filing. In this event, the application must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application is also subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether the drug is safe and effective and whether the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packaged or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, quality and purity.

The FDA may refer an application for a novel drug to an advisory committee. An advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that reviews, evaluates and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

Before approving an NDA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving an NDA, the FDA may inspect one or more clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCP requirements.

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After evaluating the NDA and all related information, including the advisory committee recommendation, if any, and inspection reports regarding the manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites, the FDA may issue an approval letter, or, in some cases, a complete response letter. A complete response letter generally contains a statement of specific conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the NDA and may require additional clinical trials or preclinical studies in order for FDA to reconsider the application. Even with submission of this additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. If and when those conditions have been met to the FDA’s satisfaction, the FDA will typically issue an approval letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications.

Even if the FDA approves a product, it may limit the approved indications for use of the product, require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a drug’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS, which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing studies or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes, and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.

FDA Expedited Programs

The FDA has various programs, including fast track designation, accelerated approval, priority review, and breakthrough therapy designation, which are intended to expedite or simplify the process for the development and FDA review of drugs that are intended for the treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. The purpose of these programs is to provide important new drugs to patients earlier than under standard FDA review procedures.

To be eligible for a fast track designation, the FDA must determine, based on the request of a sponsor, that a product is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrates the potential to address an unmet medical need. The FDA will determine that a product will fill an unmet medical need if it will provide a therapy where none exists or provide a therapy that may be potentially superior to existing therapy based on efficacy or safety factors. The FDA may review sections of the NDA for a fast track product on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted, if the sponsor provides a schedule for the submission of the sections of the NDA, the FDA agrees to accept sections of the NDA and determines that the schedule is acceptable, and the sponsor pays any required user fees upon submission of the first section of the NDA.

The FDA may give a priority review designation to drugs that offer major advances in treatment or provide a treatment where no adequate therapy exists. A priority review means that the goal for the FDA to review an application is six months, rather than the standard review of ten months under current PDUFA guidelines. Under the new PDUFA agreement, these six and ten month review periods are measured from the “filing” date rather than the receipt date for NDAs for new molecular entities, which typically adds approximately two months to the timeline for review and decision from the date of submission. Most products that are eligible for fast track designation are also likely to be considered appropriate to receive a priority review.

In addition, products studied for their safety and effectiveness in treating serious or life-threatening illnesses and that provide meaningful therapeutic benefit over existing treatments may be eligible for accelerated approval and may be approved on the basis of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials establishing that the drug product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require a sponsor of a drug receiving accelerated approval to perform post-marketing studies to verify and describe the predicted effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical endpoint, and the drug may be subject to accelerated withdrawal procedures.

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Moreover, under the provisions of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, passed in July 2012, a sponsor can request designation of a product candidate as a “breakthrough therapy.” A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. Drugs designated as breakthrough therapies are also eligible for accelerated approval. The FDA must take certain actions, such as holding timely meetings and providing advice, intended to expedite the development and review of an application for approval of a breakthrough therapy.

Even if a product qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification or decide that the time period for FDA review or approval will not be shortened. We may explore some of these opportunities for our product candidates as appropriate.

Post-Approval Requirements

Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising and promotion and reporting of adverse experiences with the product. 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 user fee requirements for any marketed products and the establishments at which such products are manufactured, as well as new application fees for supplemental applications with clinical data.

The FDA may impose a number of post-approval requirements as a condition of approval of an NDA. For example, the FDA may require post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization.

In addition, drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and state agencies, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and these state agencies for compliance with cGMP requirements. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP requirements 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.

Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in mandatory revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, complete withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;

 

safety alerts, Dear Healthcare Provider letters, press releases or other communications containing warning or other safety information about the product;

 

fines, warning letters or holds on post-approval clinical trials;

 

refusal of the FDA to approve pending NDAs or supplements to approved NDAs, or suspension or revocation of product approvals;

 

product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; or

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injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of products that are placed on the market. Drugs may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability.

In addition, the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical products is subject to the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, or 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.

Other Healthcare Laws

Pharmaceutical companies are subject to additional healthcare regulation and enforcement by the federal government and by authorities in the states and foreign jurisdictions in which they conduct their business. Such laws include, without limitation, U.S. federal and state anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, consumer fraud, pricing reporting, and transparency laws and regulations with respect to drug pricing and payments and other transfers of value made to physicians and other healthcare professionals, as well as similar foreign laws in the jurisdictions outside the U.S. Violations of such laws, or any other governmental regulations that apply, may result in penalties, including, without limitation, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, additional reporting and oversight obligations, the curtailment or restructuring of operations, exclusion from participation in governmental healthcare programs and individual imprisonment.

Coverage and Reimbursement

Sales of any pharmaceutical product depend, in part, on the extent to which such product will be covered by third-party payors, such as federal, state and foreign government healthcare programs, commercial insurance and managed healthcare organizations, and the level of reimbursement for such product by third-party payors. Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any newly approved product. Decisions regarding the extent of coverage and amount of reimbursement to be provided are made on a plan-by-plan basis. With respect to off-label uses, third-party payors may provide coverage and reimbursement under certain circumstances. By way of example, Medicare covers off-label uses of FDA-approved drugs if the use is supported as a medically accepted indication by certain compendia and is not otherwise listed as unsupported, not indicated, not recommended, or equivalent terms, in any such compendia. For products administered under the supervision of a physician, obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with such drugs. Additionally, separate reimbursement for the product itself or the treatment or procedure in which the product is used may not be available, which may impact physician utilization.

In addition, third-party payors are increasingly reducing reimbursements for pharmaceutical products and services. Moreover, for drugs and biologics administered under the supervision of a physician, obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with such products. The U.S. government and state legislatures have continued implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on coverage and reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit sales of any product. Decreases in third-party reimbursement for any product or a decision by a third-party payor not to cover a product could reduce physician usage and patient demand for the product.

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, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product, or it may instead adopt a system of direct or

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indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. 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, 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.

Healthcare Reform

In the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and we expect there will continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the healthcare system that could affect the pharmaceutical industry. In March 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, which substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers in the United States. The Affordable Care Act contained a number of provisions, including those governing enrollment in federal healthcare programs and reimbursement adjustments. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act increased the minimum level of Medicaid rebates payable by manufacturers of brand name drugs from 15.1% to 23.1% of the average manufacturer price; required collection of rebates for drugs paid by Medicaid managed care organizations; required manufacturers to participate in a coverage gap discount program, under which they must agree to offer 70 percent point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D; imposed a non-deductible annual fee on pharmaceutical manufacturers or importers who sell “branded prescription drugs” to specified federal government programs, implemented a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted, or injected; expanded of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs, created a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research; and established of a Center for Medicare Innovation at CMS to test innovative payment and service delivery models to lower Medicare and Medicaid spending, potentially including prescription drug spending.

Since its enactment, there have been judicial, executive and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act.  The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, although it is unclear how the Supreme Court will rule.  In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, including aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which was temporarily suspended from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, and further reduced payments to several types of Medicare providers. Moreover, there has recently been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted legislation designed, among other things, to bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. Individual states in the United States have also become increasingly active in implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures and, in some cases, mechanisms to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.

Foreign Regulation

In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical studies and commercial sales and distribution of our product candidates. Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from the comparable regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical studies or marketing of the product candidates in those countries. The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical studies, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country.  Failure to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.

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Clinical Trials

Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical study application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical studies. In the European Union, or EU, for example, a clinical trial authorization, or CTA, must be submitted to each country’s national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and the IRB, respectively. Once the CTA is approved by the national health authority and the ethics committee has granted a positive opinion in relation to the conduct of the trial in the relevant member state(s), in accordance with a country’s requirements, clinical study development may proceed.

Clinical trials of medicinal products in the European Union must be conducted in accordance with EU and national regulations and the International Conference on Harmonization, or ICH, guidelines on Good Clinical Practices, or 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 countries, the sponsor is liable to provide ‘no fault’ compensation to any study subject injured in the clinical trial.

Prior to commencing a clinical trial, the sponsor must obtain a CTA from the competent authority, and a positive opinion from an independent ethics committee. 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. Currently, CTAs must be submitted to the competent authority in each EU member state in which the trial will be conducted. Under the new Regulation on Clinical Trials, which is currently expected to take effect by early 2022, there will be a centralized application procedure where one national authority takes the lead in reviewing the application and the other national authorities have only limited involvement. Any substantial changes to the trial protocol or other information submitted with the CTA must be notified to or approved by the relevant competent authorities and ethics committees.  Medicines used in clinical trials must be manufactured in accordance with GMP. Other national and European Union-wide regulatory requirements may also apply.

Marketing Authorizations

In the European Union, medicinal products can only be placed on the market after obtaining a Marketing Authorization, or MA. To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational medicinal product under European Union regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application, or MAA. The application used to file the NDA in the United States is similar to that required in the European Union, with the exception of, among other things, country‑specific document requirements. The process for doing this depends, among other things, on the nature of the medicinal product.

Essentially, there are two types of MAs. The centralized procedure results in a single MA, issued by the European Commission, based on the opinion of the EMA’s CHMP, or Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, which is valid across the entire territory of the European Union. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human medicines that are: (i) derived from biotechnology processes, such as genetic engineering, (ii) contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune and other immune dysfunctions and viral diseases, (iii) designated orphan medicines and (iv) advanced therapy medicinal products, or ATMPs, such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy or tissue-engineered medicines. The centralized procedure may at the request of the applicant also be used in certain other cases.

National MAs, which are issued by the competent authorities of the EU member states and only cover their respective territory, are available for products 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 national competent authority 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.

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Under the centralized procedure, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a MAA by the EMA is 210 days. In exceptional cases, the CHMP might perform an accelerated review of a MAA in no more than 150 days (not including clock stops). Innovative products that target an unmet medical need and are expected to be of major public health interest may be eligible for a number of expedited development and review programs, such as the PRIME scheme, which provides incentives similar to the breakthrough therapy designation in the U.S. PRIME is a voluntary scheme aimed at enhancing the EMA’s support for the development of medicines that target unmet medical needs. It is based on increased interaction and early dialogue with companies developing promising medicines, to optimize their product development plans and speed up their evaluation to help them reach patients earlier. Product developers that benefit from PRIME designation can expect to be eligible for accelerated assessment but this is not guaranteed. The benefits of a PRIME designation include the appointment of a CHMP rapporteur before submission of a MAA, early dialogue and scientific advice at key development milestones, and the potential to qualify products for accelerated review earlier in the application process.

MAs have an initial duration of five years. After these five years, the authorization may be renewed for an unlimited period on the basis of a reevaluation of the risk-benefit balance.

Data and Marketing Exclusivity

The European Union also provides opportunities for market exclusivity. Upon receiving marketing authorization, new chemical entities generally receive eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity. If granted, data exclusivity prevents regulatory authorities in the EU from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic or biosimilar application. During the additional two‑year period of market exclusivity, a generic/biosimilar MA can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic/biosimilar product can be marketed until the expiration of the market exclusivity. The overall ten-year market exclusivity period may be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years, a new therapeutic indication with significant clinical benefit over existing therapies is approved. However, there is no guarantee that a product will be considered by the EU or member state regulatory authorities to be a new chemical entity, and products may not qualify for data exclusivity.

Post-Approval Requirements

Similar to the United States, both MA holders and manufacturers of medicinal products are subject to comprehensive regulatory oversight by the EMA, the European Commission and/or the competent regulatory authorities of the member states. The holder of a MA must establish and maintain a pharmacovigilance system and appoint an individual qualified person for pharmacovigilance who is responsible for oversight of that system. Key obligations include expedited reporting of suspected serious adverse reactions and submission of periodic safety update reports, or PSURs.

All new MAAs must include a risk management plan, or RMP, describing the risk management system that the company will put in place and documenting measures to prevent or minimize the risks associated with the product. The regulatory authorities may also impose specific obligations as a condition of the MA. Such risk-minimization measures or post-authorization obligations may include additional safety monitoring, more frequent submission of PSURs, or the conduct of additional clinical trials or post-authorization safety studies.  

The advertising and promotion of medicinal products is also subject to laws concerning promotion of medicinal products, interactions with physicians, misleading and comparative advertising and unfair commercial practices. All advertising and promotional activities for the product must be consistent with the approved summary of product characteristics, and therefore all off-label promotion is prohibited. Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines is also prohibited in the EU. Although general requirements for advertising and promotion of medicinal products are established under EU directives, the details are governed by regulations in each member state and can differ from one country to another.

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Failure to comply with EU and member state laws that apply to the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing approval, marketing authorization 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.

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

For other countries outside of the European Union, such as countries in Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical studies, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, again, the clinical studies are conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

Data Privacy and Security Laws

Numerous state, federal and foreign laws, including consumer protection laws and regulations, govern the collection, dissemination, use, access to, confidentiality and security of personal information, including health-related information. In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including data breach notification laws, health information privacy and security laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, and federal and state consumer protection laws and regulations (e.g., Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act), that govern the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information could apply to our operations or the operations of our partners. In addition, certain state and non-U.S. laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, the California Privacy Rights Act, or CPRA and the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, govern the privacy and security of personal information, including health-related information in certain circumstances, some of which are more stringent than HIPAA and many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts. Failure to comply with these laws, where applicable, can result in the imposition of significant civil and/or criminal penalties and private litigation.  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.

Employees

As of December 31, 2020, we had 38 employees. None of our employees is subject to a collective bargaining agreement or represented by a trade or labor union. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated in Delaware in November 2012. Our offices are located at 2 W. Liberty Blvd, Suite 100, Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355. Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “GRTX.”

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Available Information

Our internet website address is www.galeratx.com. In addition to the information about us and our subsidiaries contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, information about us can be found on our website. Our website and information included in or linked to our website are not part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, are available free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Additionally the SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information. The address of the SEC's website is www.sec.gov.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” before deciding whether to invest in our common stock. The occurrence of any of the events or developments described below could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In such an event, the market price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may impair our business operations.

Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Capital Needs

We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history and have not generated any revenue from product sales. We have incurred significant operating losses since our inception and anticipate that we will incur continued losses for the foreseeable future.

We have incurred losses in each year since our inception in 2012 and anticipate incurring losses for the foreseeable future. To date, we have invested substantially all of our efforts and financial resources in identifying, acquiring, in-licensing and developing our product candidates, including commencing and conducting clinical trials and providing general and administrative support for these operations. Our future success is dependent on our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for and successfully commercialize one or more of our product candidates. We have not yet demonstrated our ability to successfully complete any Phase 3 or other pivotal clinical trials, obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture a drug at commercial scale, or conduct sales and marketing activities. We currently generate no revenue from sales of any products, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a marketable product. Biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. Typically, it takes many years to develop one new drug from the time it is discovered to when it is available for treating patients, and development may cease for a number of reasons.

We have incurred significant losses related to expenses for research and development and our ongoing operations. Our net losses for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $74.2 million and $51.9 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $235.6 million. We expect to continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future, and we anticipate these losses will increase substantially as we:

 

continue our clinical development of our product candidates;  

 

advance our programs into more expensive clinical trials;

 

advance our ongoing research and preclinical development activities for our existing product candidates;

 

increase our manufacturing needs or add additional manufacturers or suppliers;

 

seek regulatory and marketing approvals for our product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials, if any;

 

establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain marketing approval;

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seek to identify, assess, acquire or develop additional product candidates;

 

make royalty or other payments under any royalty or purchase agreements, including our Amended and Restated Purchase and Sale Agreement, or the Royalty Agreement, as amended, by and among us, Clarus IV Galera Royalty AIV, L.P., Clarus IV-A, L.P., Clarus IV-B, L.P., Clarus IV-C, L.P. and Clarus IV-D, L.P., or, collectively, Blackstone or Blackstone Life Sciences (formerly Clarus);

 

seek to maintain, protect and expand our intellectual property portfolio;

 

seek to attract and retain skilled personnel;

 

create additional infrastructure to support our operations as a public company, our product development and our planned future commercialization efforts; and

 

experience any delays or encounter issues with any of the above, including but not limited to failed trials, complex results, safety issues, other regulatory challenges that require longer follow-up of existing trials, additional major trials or additional supportive trials in order to pursue marketing approval.

To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in developing and eventually commercializing product candidates that generate significant revenue. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates, obtaining regulatory approval, and manufacturing, marketing and selling any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval, as well as discovering and developing additional product candidates. We are only in the preliminary stages of most of these activities. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we do, may never generate revenue that is significant enough to achieve profitability.

In cases where we are successful in obtaining regulatory approval to market one or more of our product candidates, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which we gain regulatory approval, the accepted price for the product, the ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement, and whether we own the commercial rights for that territory. If the number of our addressable patients is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect, or the treatment population is narrowed by competition, physician choice or treatment guidelines, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of such products, even if approved.

Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product 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 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.

Further, the net losses we incur may fluctuate significantly from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year, such that a period to period comparison of our results of operations may not be a good indication of our future performance. We expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Even if we achieve profitability in the future, we may not be able to sustain profitability in subsequent periods. Our prior losses, combined with expected future losses, have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital.

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We may need substantial funding to meet our financial obligations and to pursue our business objective. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to curtail our planned operations and the pursuit of our growth strategy.

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 never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain regulatory approval and achieve product sales. We expect our expenses to increase in connection with our ongoing activities as we continue enrolling patients in and complete our Phase 3 ROMAN trial of avasopasem for the reduction in the incidence of severe oral mucositis, or SOM, in patients with locally advanced HNC, seek marketing approval for avasopasem, pursue clinical trials and marketing approval of avasopasem in other indications, pursue clinical trials and marketing approval of GC4711 and advance any of our other product candidates we may develop or otherwise acquire. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to manufacturing, product sales, marketing and distribution. We may also need to raise additional funds sooner if we choose to pursue additional indications for our product candidates or otherwise expand more rapidly than we presently anticipate. Furthermore, we expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed on attractive terms, if at all, we will be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate certain of our clinical development plans, research and development programs or future commercialization efforts.

The development process for our product candidates is highly uncertain, and we cannot estimate with certainty the actual amounts necessary to successfully complete the development, regulatory approval process and commercialization of our product candidates. Based on our current operating plan and assumptions, we believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as of December 31, 2020, together with the expected payments from Blackstone in the amount of $57.5 million upon the achievement of certain clinical milestones in the ROMAN trial, and the anti-cancer program in combination with SBRT under the amended Royalty Agreement, will be sufficient to enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second half of 2022. We expect to achieve these clinical enrollment milestones in the first half of 2021. Our operating plans may change as a result of many factors currently unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than expected, through public or private equity, debt financings or other sources. Our future capital requirements will depend on and could increase significantly as a result of many factors, including:

 

the results, time and cost necessary for completing our ongoing and planned clinical trials;

 

the number, size and type of any additional clinical trials;

 

the costs, timing and outcomes of seeking and potentially obtaining approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, such as the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, or the Competent Authorities of the member states of the European Union, or EU, including the potential for the FDA or comparable regulatory authorities to require that we conduct more studies and trials than those that we currently expect to conduct and the costs of post-marketing studies or risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, or REMS, that could be required by regulatory authorities;

 

the costs and timing of transferring manufacturing technology to third-party manufacturers, producing product candidates to support clinical trials and preparing to manufacture our product candidates;

 

our ability to successfully commercialize any of our product candidates, including the cost and timing of forming and expanding our sales organization and marketing capabilities;

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the amount of sales revenues from our product candidates, if approved, including the sales price and the availability of coverage and adequate third-party reimbursement;

 

competitive and potentially competitive products and technologies and patients’ receptivity to our product candidates and the technology underlying them in light of competitive products and technologies;

 

the cash requirements of any future acquisitions, developments or discovery of additional product candidates, including any licensing or collaboration agreements;

 

the time and cost necessary to respond to technological and market developments;

 

the costs of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing any patent claims and other intellectual property rights;

 

any product liability or other lawsuits related to our product candidates or any products;

 

the costs associated with being a public company;

 

our need and ability to hire additional personnel; and

 

the receptivity of the capital markets to financings by biotechnology companies generally and companies with product candidates and technologies such as ours specifically.

Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates. Dislocations in the financial markets may make equity and debt financing more difficult to obtain, and may have a material adverse effect on our ability to meet our fundraising needs when they arise. Additional funds may not be available when we need them, on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all. If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to significantly curtail, delay or discontinue one or more of our preclinical studies, clinical trials or other research or development programs, the commercialization of any product candidate. We may also be unable to expand our operations or otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities or may be required to relinquish rights to our product candidates or products. Any of these occurrences could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.

Until such time as we can generate substantial product revenues, if ever, we expect to finance our cash needs through securities offerings or debt financings, or possibly, license and collaboration agreements or research grants. The terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders and our issuance of additional securities, whether equity or debt, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our common stock to decline. The sale of additional equity or convertible securities would dilute all of our stockholders, including your ownership interest. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased fixed or variable payment obligations and we may be required to agree to certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire, sell or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. We could also be required to seek funds through arrangements with collaborators or otherwise at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable and we may be required to relinquish rights to some of our technologies, product candidates or future revenue streams, or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and prospects. If we raise funds through research grants, we may be subject to certain requirements, which may limit our ability to use the funds or require us to share information from our research and development. Raising additional capital through any of these or other means could adversely affect our business and the holdings or rights of our stockholders, and may cause the market price of our shares to decline.

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Risks Related to the Discovery and Development of Our Product Candidates

We are heavily dependent on the success of our lead product candidate, avasopasem, and if avasopasem does not successfully complete clinical development or receive regulatory approval, our business may be harmed.

We currently have no products that are approved for commercial sale. We have not completed the development of any product candidates and we may never be able to develop marketable products. We expect that a substantial portion of our efforts and expenditures over the next few years will be devoted to the advancement of avasopasem, through clinical trials and the regulatory approval process, as well as the commercialization of avasopasem following regulatory approval, if received. Accordingly, our business currently depends heavily on the successful completion of our ROMAN trial and subsequent regulatory approval and commercialization of avasopasem.

We cannot be certain that avasopasem will receive regulatory approval, or be successfully commercialized even if we receive regulatory approval. The research, testing, manufacturing, labeling, approval, sale, marketing and distribution of products are, and will remain, subject to extensive regulation by the FDA and other regulatory authorities in the United States and other countries that each have differing regulations. We are not permitted to market avasopasem in the United States until we receive approval of a New Drug Application, or NDA, or in any foreign country until we receive the requisite approvals from the appropriate authorities in such countries for marketing authorization.

We have not yet demonstrated our ability to complete later-stage or pivotal clinical trials, and there can be no assurance that our Phase 3 ROMAN trial of avasopasem will produce results sufficient for us to submit an NDA or differentiate our product from currently available treatment options for the reduction of SOM in patients with HNC. For example, as a result of the appearance of trace amounts of visible fine particles identified through stability testing of our avasopasem drug product candidate, our two INDs for avasopasem were temporarily placed on clinical hold in May and July 2019, respectively, following our April 2019 decision to voluntarily suspend dosing of avasopasem in all active clinical trials. We have since identified the particles as manganese carbonate, determined that the particles do not present safety or efficacy concerns for patients who may already have been dosed and have designed the manufacturing process to reduce formation of the particles. The FDA lifted the clinical holds in August 2019. Subsequently, in our ongoing stability testing of avasopasem, we have observed the appearance of visible manganese carbonate particles in drug product batches stored at room temperature (25°C) or refrigerated conditions. In our active clinical trials, we have notified the FDA that we are adding a filtration step to the preparation procedure for both avasopasem and placebo before administration to trial subjects to remove any particles that might form in the future, and we have notified the FDA of the reasons for this change. There can be no assurance that we will be able to eliminate the formation of particles such as manganese carbonate, that a similar or different manufacturing issue will not occur, or that one or more of our programs will not be placed on clinical hold in the future.

As a result of the clinical hold on our ROMAN trial, the data from the approximately 30 patients in the trial that did not complete dosing with avasopasem during the time the trial was on clinical hold will not be considered for purposes of our efficacy analysis in the trial. However, the data from these patients will be considered for purposes of evaluating the safety of avasopasem in our ROMAN trial. Following the lifting of the clinical hold, we increased the size of our ROMAN trial from 335 patients to approximately 365 patients.

While we are currently continuing our ongoing clinical trials, the COVID-19 pandemic and related precautions have directly or indirectly impacted the timeline for certain of our clinical trials of avasopasem. We delayed the initiation of the Phase 2a multi-center trial in Europe assessing the safety of avasopasem in patients with HNC undergoing standard-of-care radiotherapy due to concerns with clinical trial enrollment in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, the first patient was dosed in this trial. This trial was expected to contribute to the safety database for avasopasem in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy. As a result of the delay in initiating the trial in Europe, the target enrollment for the ROMAN trial was increased to approximately 450 patients in order to ensure we are positioned to maintain the overall planned size of the safety database in a timely manner.  

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In addition, our Phase 3 ROMAN trial may not demonstrate a statistically significant difference for the active 90 mg dose compared to placebo for the primary endpoint. Any failure to demonstrate a statistically significant difference compared to placebo would adversely impact the potential for regulatory approval, if any, of avasopasem in the United States. Furthermore, even if the statistical difference compared to placebo is achieved for the primary endpoint, we may not be able to demonstrate such differences for our secondary endpoints. As such, even if we were able to obtain approval for avasopasem, these key secondary endpoints would not be mentioned in the U.S. label, which could potentially adversely affect product differentiation.

We have not submitted an NDA for avasopasem or any other marketing authorization application for any other product candidates to the FDA or any comparable application to any other regulatory authority. Obtaining approval of an NDA or similar regulatory approval is an extensive, lengthy, expensive and inherently uncertain process, and the FDA or other foreign regulatory authorities may delay, limit or deny approval of any of our current or future product candidates for many reasons, including:

 

we may not be able to demonstrate that avasopasem is effective as treatments for any of our targeted indications to the satisfaction of the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities;

 

the relevant regulatory authorities may require additional pre-approval studies or clinical trials, which would increase our costs and prolong our development timelines;

 

the results of our clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical or clinical significance required by the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities for marketing approval;

 

the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may disagree with the number, design, size, conduct or implementation of our clinical trials;

 

the contract research organizations, or CROs, that we retain to conduct clinical trials may take actions outside of our control, or otherwise commit errors or breaches of protocols, that materially adversely impact our clinical trials and ability to obtain market approvals;

 

the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may not find the data from preclinical studies or clinical trials sufficient to demonstrate that the clinical and other benefits of avasopasem outweigh their safety risks;

 

the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may not be convinced that avasopasem has an acceptable safety profile;

 

the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data or significance of results from the preclinical studies and clinical trials of avasopasem, or may require that we conduct additional studies;

 

the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may not accept data generated from our clinical trial sites;

 

if our NDA or other foreign application is reviewed by an advisory committee, the FDA or other relevant regulatory authority, as the case may be, may have difficulties scheduling an advisory committee meeting in a timely manner or the advisory committee may recommend against approval of our application or may recommend that the FDA or other relevant regulatory authority, as the case may be, require, as a condition of approval, additional nonclinical studies or clinical trials, limitations on approved labeling or distribution and use restrictions;

 

the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may require additional post-marketing studies, which would be costly;

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the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may identify deficiencies in the manufacturing processes or facilities of our third-party manufacturers; and

 

the FDA or other relevant regulatory authorities may change their approval policies or adopt new regulations.

Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with uncertain timelines and outcomes, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future trial results. If development of our product candidates is unsuccessful or delayed, we may be unable to obtain required regulatory approvals and be unable to commercialize our product candidates on a timely basis, if at all.

Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure or delay can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. Success in preclinical studies and early clinical trials does not ensure that later clinical trials will be successful. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical industry, including biotechnology companies, have suffered significant setbacks in clinical trials, even after promising results in earlier preclinical studies or clinical trials. These setbacks have been caused by, among other things, preclinical findings made while clinical trials were underway and safety or efficacy observations made in clinical trials, including previously unreported adverse events. The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy traits despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. Notwithstanding any potential promising results in earlier studies, we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. Even if our clinical trials are completed, the results may not be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates.

In addition, interim, topline and preliminary data, such as the interim data on our pilot Phase 1b/2a trial of avasopasem in combination with SBRT in patients with LAPC, 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. We may make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Interim, topline, and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until final data are available. 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 or product and our company in general.

Furthermore, we rely on CROs and clinical trial sites to ensure the proper and timely conduct of our clinical trials. While we have agreements with our CROs governing their committed activities, and the ability to audit their performance, we have limited influence over their actual performance. We rely on third-party vendors, such as CROs, scientists and collaborators to provide us with significant data and other information related to our preclinical studies or clinical trials and our business. If such third parties provide inaccurate, misleading or incomplete data, our business, prospects and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

We may experience delays in initiating our clinical trials and we cannot be certain that the trials or any other future clinical trials for our product candidates will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll an adequate number of patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. Clinical trials can be delayed or terminated for a variety of reasons, including delay or failure related to:

 

the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, such as the Competent Authorities of the member states of the EU, disagreeing as to the design or implementation of our clinical trials;

 

the size of the study population for further analysis of the study’s primary endpoints;

 

obtaining regulatory approval to commence a trial;

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reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective CROs and clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;

 

obtaining institutional review board, or IRB, or Ethics Committee approval at each site;

 

recruiting suitable patients to participate in a trial;

 

having patients complete a trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;

 

clinical sites deviating from trial protocol or dropping out of a trial;

 

addressing patient safety concerns that arise during the course of a trial;

 

addressing any conflicts with new or existing laws or regulations;

 

adding a sufficient number of clinical trial sites; or

 

manufacturing sufficient quantities of product candidate for use in clinical trials.

We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs or Ethics Committees of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by the Data Safety Monitoring Board, or DSMB, for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities, such as the Competent Authorities of the member states of the EU. 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, such as the Competent Authorities of the member states of the EU, resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug, 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 plan to 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.

If we experience delays in the completion, or termination, of any clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of our product candidates may be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates will be delayed or not realized at all. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenues. Any of these occurrences may significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates.

If we encounter difficulties or delays enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.

The timely completion of clinical trials in accordance with their protocols depends, among other things, on our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients who remain in the study until its conclusion. We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons. The enrollment of patients depends on many factors, including:

 

the patient eligibility criteria defined in the protocol;

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the size of the patient population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints;

 

the proximity of patients to study sites;

 

the design of the trial;

 

our ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;

 

clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs that may be approved for the indications we are investigating;

 

our ability to obtain and maintain patient consents; and

 

the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the trials before completion.

In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials in such clinical trial site.

Delays in patient enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of the planned clinical trials, which could prevent completion of these trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our product candidates.

Success in preclinical studies or earlier clinical trials may not be indicative of results in future clinical trials.

Success in preclinical studies and early clinical trials does not ensure that later clinical trials will generate the same results or otherwise provide adequate data to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of a product candidate. Preclinical studies and Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials are primarily designed to test safety, to study pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics and to understand the side effects of product candidates at various doses and schedules. Success in preclinical studies and early clinical trials does not ensure that later, large-scale efficacy trials will be successful, nor does it predict final results. Our product candidates may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy in clinical development despite positive results in preclinical studies or having successfully advanced through initial clinical trials.

In addition, the design of a clinical trial can determine whether its results will support approval of a product, and flaws in the design of a clinical trial may not become apparent until the clinical trial is well advanced. As an organization, we have limited experience designing clinical trials and may be unable to design and execute a clinical trial to support regulatory approval. Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials even after achieving promising results in preclinical studies and earlier-stage clinical trials. Data obtained from preclinical and clinical activities are subject to varying interpretations, which may delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. In addition, we may experience regulatory delays or rejections as a result of many factors, including changes in regulatory policy during the period of our product candidate development. Any such delays could negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

We plan to conduct clinical trials for our product candidates outside the United States and the FDA may not accept data from such trials.

We have conducted certain of our clinical trials outside the United States, and we plan to conduct additional clinical trials outside the United States. For example, we conducted a Phase 1 dose and schedule escalation study of GC4711 in healthy volunteers in Australia. Although the FDA may accept data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States, acceptance of such study data by the FDA is subject to certain conditions.

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For example, the clinical trial must be conducted in accordance with good clinical practices, or GCP, requirements and the FDA must be able to validate the data from the clinical trial through an onsite inspection if it deems such inspection necessary.

Where data from foreign clinical trials are intended to serve as the sole basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless those data are applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice, the clinical trials were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence, and the data are considered valid without the need for an on-site inspection by the FDA or, if the FDA considers such an inspection to be necessary, the FDA is able to validate the data through an on-site inspection or other appropriate means. In addition, such clinical trials would be subject to the applicable local laws of the foreign jurisdictions where the clinical trials are conducted.

There can be no assurance the FDA will accept data from clinical trials conducted outside of the United States. There can also be no assurance that the comparable foreign regulatory authority in any jurisdiction in which we seek marketing approval for our product candidates will accept data from clinical trials conducted outside such jurisdiction. If the FDA or any such foreign regulatory authority does not accept any such data, it would likely result in the need for additional clinical trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay aspects of our development plan. In addition, the conduct of clinical trials outside the United States could have a significant impact on us. Risks inherent in conducting international clinical trials include:

 

foreign regulatory requirements that could burden or limit our ability to conduct our clinical trials;

 

administrative burdens of conducting clinical trials under multiple foreign regulatory schemes;

 

foreign exchange fluctuations;

 

manufacturing, customs, shipment and storage requirements;

 

cultural differences in medical practice and clinical research; and

 

diminished protection of intellectual property in some countries.

Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, cause us to suspend or discontinue clinical trials, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.

Undesirable side effects caused by our 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 approval by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, such as the EMA or the Competent Authorities of the member states of the EU. Results of our clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects or unexpected characteristics. To date, patients treated with our product candidates have experienced drug-related side effects including lymphopenia, nausea, fatigue, oropharyngeal pain, constipation, radiation skin injury and vomiting.

If unacceptable side effects arise in the development of our product candidates, we, the FDA, the IRBs or Ethics Committees at the institutions in which our studies are conducted, or the DSMB could suspend or terminate our clinical trials or the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease clinical trials or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Treatment-related side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. In addition, these side effects may not be appropriately recognized or managed by the treating medical staff. We expect to have to train medical personnel using our product candidates to understand the side effect profiles for our clinical trials and upon any commercialization of any of our product candidates. Inadequate training in recognizing or managing the potential side effects of our product candidates could result in patient injury or death. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

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Our clinical trials include cancer patients who are very sick and whose health may deteriorate, and we expect that additional clinical trials of our other product candidates will include similar patients with potentially deteriorating health. It is possible that some may die during our clinical trials for various reasons, including because the patient’s underlying disease continues to advance despite treatment, or because the patient experiences medical problems that may not be related to our product candidate. For example, during the treatment phase of our Phase 2b trial of avasopasem, there was one non-treatment-related death in each of the placebo, 30 mg treatment and 90 mg treatment arms. Even if the deaths are not related to our product candidate, the deaths could affect perceptions regarding the safety of our product candidates.

In addition, if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

 

regulatory authorities may suspend, withdraw or limit their approval of the product, or seek an injunction against its manufacture or distribution;

 

we may be required to recall a product or change the way such product is administered to patients;

 

additional restrictions may be imposed on the marketing of the particular product or the manufacturing processes for the product or any component thereof;

 

regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, such as a “black box” warning or a contraindication, 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 implement a REMS or create a Medication Guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients, or implement other changes to how a product is distributed or administered;

 

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

 

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

 

the product may become less competitive; and

 

our reputation may suffer.

Any of the foregoing events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product candidate, if approved, and result in the loss of significant revenues to us, which would materially and adversely affect our results of operations and business.

The regulatory approval process is lengthy, expensive and uncertain, and we may be unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates under applicable regulatory requirements. The denial or delay of any such approval would delay commercialization of our product candidates and adversely impact our ability to generate revenue, our business and our results of operations.

The development, research, testing, manufacturing, labeling, approval, selling, import, export, marketing, promotion and distribution of drug products are subject to extensive and evolving regulation by federal, state and local governmental authorities in the United States, principally the FDA, and by foreign regulatory authorities, such as the EMA or the Competent Authorities of the member states of the EU, which regulations differ from country to country. Neither we nor any future collaborator is permitted to market any of our product candidates in the United States until we receive regulatory approval of an NDA from the FDA.

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Obtaining regulatory approval of an NDA can be a lengthy, expensive and uncertain process. Prior to obtaining approval to commercialize a product candidate in the United States or abroad, we or our collaborators must demonstrate with substantial evidence from well-controlled clinical trials, and to the satisfaction of the FDA or other foreign regulatory agencies, that such product candidates are safe and effective for their intended uses. The number of preclinical studies and clinical trials that will be required for FDA approval varies depending on the product candidate, the disease or condition that the product candidate is designed to address, and the regulations applicable to any particular product candidate.

Results from preclinical studies and clinical trials can be interpreted in different ways. Even if we believe the preclinical or clinical data for our product candidates are promising, such data may not be sufficient to support approval by the FDA and other regulatory authorities. Administering product candidates to humans may produce undesirable side effects, which could interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and result in the FDA or other regulatory authorities denying approval of a drug candidate for any or all indications. The FDA may also require us to conduct additional studies or trials for our product candidates either prior to or post-approval, such as additional drug-drug interaction studies or safety or efficacy studies or trials, or it may object to elements of our clinical development program such as the number of subjects in our current clinical trials from the United States. We may experience difficulty in identifying and enrolling patients in such a trial, if one were to be required, which could interrupt, delay or halt the process of obtaining regulatory approval of our dismutase mimetics.

The FDA or any foreign regulatory bodies can delay, limit or deny approval of our product candidates or require us to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical testing or abandon a program for many reasons, including:

 

the FDA or the applicable foreign regulatory agency’s disagreement with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;

 

negative or ambiguous results from our clinical trials or results that may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory agencies for approval;

 

serious and unexpected drug-related side effects experienced by participants in our clinical trials or by individuals using drugs similar to our product candidates;

 

our inability to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or the applicable foreign regulatory body that our product candidates are safe and effective for the proposed indication;

 

the FDA’s or the applicable foreign regulatory agency’s disagreement with the interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;

 

our inability to demonstrate the clinical and other benefits of our product candidates outweigh any safety or other perceived risks;

 

the FDA’s or the applicable foreign regulatory agency’s requirement for additional preclinical studies or clinical trials;

 

the FDA’s or the applicable foreign regulatory agency’s disagreement regarding the formulation, labeling and/or the specifications of our product candidates;

 

the FDA’s or the applicable foreign regulatory agency’s failure to approve the manufacturing processes or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract; or

 

the potential for approval policies or regulations of the FDA or the applicable foreign regulatory agencies to significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.

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Of the large number of drugs in development, only a small percentage successfully complete the FDA or other regulatory approval processes and are commercialized. The lengthy approval process as well as the unpredictability of future clinical trial results may result in our failing to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates, which would significantly harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Even if we eventually complete clinical testing and receive approval of an NDA or foreign marketing application for our product candidates, the FDA or the applicable foreign regulatory agency may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly additional clinical trials, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and/or in the case of the FDA, the implementation of a REMS, which may be required to ensure safe use of the drug after approval. The FDA or the applicable foreign regulatory agency also may approve a product candidate for a more limited indication or a narrower patient population than we originally requested, and the FDA or applicable foreign regulatory agency may not approve the labeling that we believe is necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of a product candidate. Any delay in obtaining, or inability to obtain, applicable regulatory approval would delay or prevent commercialization of that product candidate and would materially adversely impact our business and prospects.

Changes in methods of product candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay.

As product candidates proceed through preclinical studies to late-stage clinical trials towards potential approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and formulation, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize processes and results. Such changes carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives. Any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. Such changes may also require additional testing, FDA notification or FDA approval. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and jeopardize our ability to commence sales and generate revenue.

For example, in an effort to optimize scale-up efficiencies for avasopasem, we implemented certain changes to the manufacturing process related to the order of addition of ingredients. However, subsequent to this manufacturing change trace amounts of visible fine particles were observed in the drug product. Following notification to the FDA in April 2019 that we had voluntarily suspended dosing of avasopasem in all active clinical trials until we were able to resolve the issue, our INDs for avasopasem were temporarily placed on clinical hold. While we have now modified the manufacturing process and the FDA lifted the clinical holds in August 2019, and subsequently we added a filtration step to the preparation procedure for both avasopasem and placebo before administration to trial subjects to remove any particles that might form in the future, there can be no assurance that a similar or different manufacturing issue will not occur and one or more of our programs will not be placed on clinical hold in the future.

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 development programs and product candidates that we identify for specific indications. As such, we are currently primarily focused on the development of avasopasem and GC4711. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications for avasopasem or GC4711 that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future 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.

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While we have received Breakthrough Therapy Designation for avasopasem, we may not receive such designation for our other product candidates, and such designation for avasopasem or any other product candidate may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and will not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.

We have received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA for avasopasem for the reduction of SOM induced by radiotherapy, with or without systemic therapy. We may also seek Breakthrough Therapy Designation for any other product candidates that we may develop. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a product that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints. For product candidates that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens. Designation as a breakthrough therapy is within the discretion of the FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe that a product candidate meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of Breakthrough Therapy Designation for a product candidate may not result in a faster development process, review or approval compared to products considered for approval under conventional FDA procedures and does not assure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more product candidates qualify as breakthrough therapies, the FDA may later decide that the products no longer meet the conditions for qualification. Similarly, our products may not qualify for similar programs in other jurisdictions, such as the PRIME scheme in the EU.

We have received Fast Track Designation for avasopasem, and we may seek such designation for some or all of our other product candidates. We may not receive such designation, and even for those product candidates for which we do, it may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and will not increase the likelihood that product candidates will receive marketing approval.

We have received Fast Track Designation from the FDA for avasopasem for the reduction of the severity and incidence of radiation and chemotherapy-induced OM, and we may seek Fast Track Designation and review for some or all of our other product candidates. If a drug is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition or disease, and preclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need, the product may qualify for Fast Track Designation, for which sponsors must apply. The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant this designation. Thus, even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for this designation, the FDA may decide not to grant it. Moreover, even if we do receive Fast Track Designation, we or our collaborators may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. In addition, the FDA may withdraw Fast Track Designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. Similarly, our products may not qualify for similar expedited approval routes in other jurisdictions, such as accelerated assessment in the EU.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions, such as the European Commission, the EMA or the Competent Authorities of the member states of the EU, must also approve the manufacturing and marketing of the product candidate in those countries. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, as studies conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we intend to charge for our products is also subject to approval.

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Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and/or receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market size will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed.

Additionally, following a national referendum and enactment of legislation by the government of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom formally withdrew from the European Union on January 31, 2020 and entered into a transition period. On December 24, 2020, the United Kingdom and the EU announced that they had agreed to the terms of their future trading relationship in the EU—UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, or TCA, which became binding on both the EU and the United Kingdom on January 1, 2021, and awaits the final agreement of the remaining 27 EU Member States. While agreement on the terms of the TCA has avoided a “no deal” Brexit scenario, and provides in principle for quota- and tariff-free trading of goods, it is nevertheless expected that the TCA will result in the creation of non-tariff barriers (such as increased shipping and regulatory costs and complexities) to the trade in goods between the United Kingdom and the EU. Further, the TCA does not provide for the continued free movement of services between the UK and the EU and imposes additional restrictions on the free movement of people between the UK and the EU.  The TCA includes provisions affecting pharmaceutical businesses (including on customs and tariffs). In addition, there are some specific provisions concerning pharmaceuticals. These include the mutual recognition of GMP inspections of manufacturing facilities for medicinal products and GMP documents issued. The TCA does not, however, contain wholesale mutual recognition of UK and EU pharmaceutical regulations and product standards. Significant political and economic uncertainty remains about how much the relationship between the United Kingdom and EU will differ as a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal. Further, the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union has resulted in the relocation of the EMA from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands. This relocation has caused, and may continue to cause, disruption in the administrative and medical scientific links between the EMA and the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, including delays in granting clinical trial authorization or marketing authorization, disruption of importation and export of active substance and other components of new drug formulations, and disruption of the supply chain for clinical trial product and final authorized formulations. The cumulative effects of the disruption to the regulatory framework may add considerably to the development lead time to marketing authorization and commercialization of products in the European Union and/or the United Kingdom. Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, any marketing approvals, as a result of Brexit or otherwise, would prevent us from commercializing our product candidates in the United Kingdom and/or the European Union and restrict our ability to generate revenue and achieve and sustain profitability. If any of these outcomes occur, we may be forced to restrict or delay efforts to seek regulatory approval in the United Kingdom and/or European Union for our product candidates, which could significantly and materially harm our business.

Even if we receive regulatory approval of our product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense, and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates.

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-market testing and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a REMS as a condition of approval of our product candidates, which could include requirements for a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export and recordkeeping for our product candidates will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with current good manufacturing practice-grade, or cGMP, requirements and GCP requirements for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our product candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of our product candidates, withdrawal of the product from the market, or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;

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fines, warning or untitled letters or holds on clinical trials;

 

refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or suspension or revocation of approvals;

 

product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of our product candidates; and

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response, and could generate negative publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize and generate revenue from our products. If regulatory sanctions are applied or if regulatory approval is withdrawn, the value of our company and our operating results will be adversely affected.

The FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. For instance, the EU has adopted Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 (Clinical Trials Regulation, or CTR) in April 2014, which is expected to come into application in 2022. The CTR will be directly applicable in all EU member states, repealing the current Clinical Trials Directive. Conduct of all clinical trials performed in the European Union will continue to be bound by currently applicable provisions until the new CTR becomes applicable. The extent to which ongoing clinical trials will be governed by the CTR will depend on when the CTR becomes applicable and on the duration of the individual clinical trial. If a clinical trial continues for more than three years from the day on which the CTR becomes applicable the CTR will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial. The CTR harmonizes the assessment and supervision processes for clinical trials throughout the EU via a Clinical Trials Information System, which will notably contain a centralized EU portal and database.

We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad. For example, the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election may impact our business and industry. Namely, the Trump administration took several executive actions, including the issuance of a number of Executive Orders, that could impose significant burdens on, or otherwise materially delay, FDA’s ability to engage in routine oversight activities such as implementing statutes through rulemaking, issuance of guidance, and review and approval of marketing applications. It is difficult to predict whether or how these executive actions will be implemented, or whether they will be rescinded or replaced by the Biden administration. The policies and priorities of the Biden administration are unknown and may materially impact the regulatory framework governing our product candidates. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may be subject to enforcement action and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.

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 to review and 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 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 agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.

Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies, such as the EMA following its relocation to Amsterdam and resulting staff changes, 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, including for 35 days beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA employees and stop critical activities.

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Separately, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 10, 2020 the FDA announced its intention to postpone most inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities, and on March 18, 2020, the FDA temporarily postponed routine surveillance inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities. Subsequently, on July 10, 2020 the FDA announced its intention to resume certain on-site inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities subject to a risk-based prioritization system. The FDA intends to use this risk-based assessment system to identify the categories of regulatory activity that can occur within a given geographic area, ranging from mission critical inspections to resumption of all regulatory activities. Regulatory authorities outside the United States may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting 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.

The FDA and other regulatory agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses. If we are found or alleged to have improperly promoted off-label uses, we may become subject to significant liability.

The FDA and other regulatory agencies, including the Component Authorities of the EU member states, strictly regulate the promotional claims that may be made about prescription products, as our product candidates would be, if approved. In particular, a product may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the FDA or such other regulatory agencies as reflected in the product’s approved labeling. Physicians may nevertheless prescribe such drugs to their patients in a manner that is inconsistent with the approved label. For example, if we obtain approval for avasopasem for the reduction in the incidence of SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy, we may pursue a strategy for avasopasem for the reduction of radiotherapy-induced esophagitis by presenting clinical data to entities like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, or NCCN, to support use of avasopasem under these circumstances as a medically accepted indication in published drug compendia, notwithstanding the fact that we may not seek approval for avasopasem for radiotherapy-induced esophagitis by the FDA. Even if we are successful in obtaining Category 1 or Category 2A status from NCCN for avasopasem for the reduction of esophagitis, we will nevertheless be restricted from marketing and promoting the product for the reduction of esophagitis unless and until it is approved by the FDA for such indication.

If we are found to have promoted off-label uses, or if the government takes the position that our presenting clinical data related to off-label uses of avasopasem to NCCN or other drug compendia publishers to establish compendia-listed indications constitutes off-label promotion, we may become subject to significant liability. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our product candidates, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would materially adversely affect our business and financial condition. The same applies in foreign jurisdictions, including the European Union.

Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties

We rely, and will 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 a CRO to conduct our ongoing Phase 3 registrational trial for avasopasem for the reduction in the incidence of SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy, our ongoing Phase 2a trial of avasopasem for the reduction in the incidence of esophagitis in patients with lung cancer receiving radiotherapy, our ongoing Phase 2a trial of avasopasem in Europe for the reduction of SOM in patients with locally advanced HNC receiving radiotherapy, our ongoing Phase 1/2 trial of GC4711 in patients with NSCLC, receiving SBRT, our planned Phase 2b trial of GC4711 in patients with LAPC, receiving SBRT, and expect to engage a CRO for future clinical trials of avasopasem, GC4711 and any other product candidates that we may progress to clinical development. We expect to continue to rely on third parties, such as clinical data management organizations, medical institutions and clinical investigators, to conduct those clinical trials. If any of our relationships with these third parties terminate, we may not be able to timely enter into arrangements with alternative third parties or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. In addition, any third parties conducting our clinical trials will not be our employees, and except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such third parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our clinical programs. If these third parties do not

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successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our product candidates. Consequently, our results of operations and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase substantially and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed significantly.

Switching or adding CROs involves substantial cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. Though we intend to carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.

We rely on these parties for execution of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and generally do not control their activities. Our reliance on these third parties for research and development activities will reduce our control over these activities but will not relieve us of our responsibilities. For example, we will 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 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. We are also required to register ongoing clinical trials and post the results of completed clinical trials on a government-sponsored database, ClinicalTrials.gov, within specified timeframes. Failure to do so can result in fines, adverse publicity and civil and criminal sanctions. If we or any of our CROs or other third parties, including trial sites, fails to comply with applicable GCPs, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials complies with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under cGMP conditions. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.

In addition, 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. The FDA may conclude that a financial relationship between us and a principal investigator has created a conflict of interest or otherwise affected interpretation of the trial. The FDA may therefore question the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized. This could result in a delay in approval, or rejection, of our marketing applications by the FDA and may ultimately lead to the denial of marketing approval of avasopasem, GC4711 and any other product candidates.

We also expect 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 revenue.

We contract with third parties for the manufacture and supply of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing and expect to continue to do so for commercialization. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or such quantities at an acceptable cost, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.

We do not have any manufacturing facilities or personnel. We do not have any long-term contractual arrangements with manufacturers and instead rely on third parties to manufacture our product candidates on a purchase-order or work-order basis. We currently have limited manufacturing arrangements, and we cannot be certain that we will be able to establish redundancy in manufacturers for our product candidates, which could lead to reliance on a limited number of manufacturers for one or more of our product candidates. This reliance increases the

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risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our drug candidates or products, if approved, or such quantities at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.

We also expect to rely on third-party manufacturers or third-party collaborators for the manufacture of commercial supply of avasopasem and any other product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. The facilities used by our contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to manufacture our product candidates must be approved by the FDA or other regulatory authorities pursuant to inspections that will be conducted after we submit our NDA or comparable marketing application to the FDA or other regulatory authority. We do not have control over a supplier’s or manufacturer’s compliance with laws, regulations and applicable cGMP standards and other laws and regulations, such as those related to environmental health and safety matters. If our CMOs cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or others, they will not be able to secure and maintain regulatory approval for their manufacturing facilities. In addition, we have no control over the ability of our CMOs to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority does not approve these facilities for the manufacture of our product candidates or if it withdraws any such approval in the future, we may need to find alternative manufacturing facilities, which would significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for or market our product candidates, if approved. If our current or future suppliers are unable to supply us with sufficient raw materials for our preclinical studies and clinical trials, we may experience delays in our development efforts as we locate and qualify new raw material manufacturers.

We may be unable to establish any agreements with future third-party manufacturers or to do so on acceptable terms. Even if we are able to establish agreements with third-party manufacturers, qualifying and validating such manufacturers may take a significant period of time and reliance on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:

 

reliance on the third party for regulatory compliance and quality assurance;

 

the possible breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third party;

 

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

 

the possible increase in costs for the raw materials or drug substance in avasopasem or any of our other product candidates; and

 

the possible termination or nonrenewal of any agreement by any third party at a time that is costly or inconvenient for us.

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Third-party manufacturers may not be able to comply with cGMP regulations or other 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 clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of product candidates or drugs, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our products.

Our product candidates and any drugs that we may develop may compete with other product candidates and drugs for access to manufacturing facilities. There are no assurances we would be able to enter into similar commercial arrangements with other manufacturers that operate under cGMP 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 may seek collaborations with third parties for the development or commercialization of our product candidates. If those collaborations are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of these product candidates.

We may seek third-party collaborators for the development and commercialization of our product candidates, including for the commercialization of any of our product candidates that are approved for marketing outside the United States. Our likely collaborators for any collaboration arrangements include large and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, regional and national pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies. If we do enter into any such 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 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.

Collaborations involving our product candidates would pose the following risks to us:

 

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

 

collaborators may not perform their obligations as expected, including compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements;

 

collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of any product candidates that achieve regulatory approval or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs based on clinical trial results, changes in the collaborators’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;

 

collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial program, stop a clinical trial or abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;

 

collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our product candidates if the collaborators believe that competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours;

 

product candidates discovered in collaboration with us may be viewed by our collaborators as competitive with their own product candidates or drugs, which may cause collaborators to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of our product candidates;

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a collaborator with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates that achieve regulatory approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such products;

 

disagreements with collaborators, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development, might cause delays or termination of the research, development or commercialization of product candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to product candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;

 

collaborators 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;

 

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

 

collaborations may be terminated for the convenience of the collaborator and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates.

Collaboration agreements may not lead to development or commercialization of product candidates in the most efficient manner or at all. If a present or future collaborator of ours were to be involved in a business combination, the continued pursuit and emphasis on our product development or commercialization program could be delayed, diminished or terminated.

If we seek, but are not able to establish, collaborations, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.

Our product development programs and the potential commercialization of our product candidates will require substantial additional capital. For some of our product candidates, we may decide 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 comparable 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 such product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. 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 them to market and generate revenue.

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Risks Related to Commercialization

Even if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it 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.

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

 

the timing of market introduction;

 

the efficacy, safety and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments, including for avasopasem;

 

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

 

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

 

the perception by members of the healthcare community, including physicians or patients, that the process of administering our product candidates, including our intravenous infusion procedure, is not unduly cumbersome;

 

the clinical indications for which our product candidates are approved;

 

product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities;

 

limitations or warnings contained in the labeling approved by the FDA or other regulatory authorities;

 

the limited number of infusion sites where our product candidates can be administered;

 

our ability to successfully develop, or make arrangements with third-party manufacturers for, commercial manufacturing processes for any of our product candidates that receive regulatory approval;

 

our ability to hire and retain a sales force in the United States;

 

the strength of marketing and distribution support;

 

the recognition of uses for our products as medically accepted indications in recognized drug compendia;

 

the availability of third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement for avasopasem and any other potential product candidates;

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects; and

 

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

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If we are unable to establish our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, or enter into agreements with third parties to sell and market avasopasem or any other product candidates, we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates if and when they are approved, and we may not be able to generate any revenue.

We do not currently have a sales, marketing or distribution infrastructure. We have never sold, marketed or distributed any therapeutic products. To achieve commercial success for any approved product candidate, we will need to establish a sales and marketing organization. Under the amended Royalty Agreement with Blackstone, we are required to establish a trained sales force sufficiently in advance of any anticipated commercial launch in a country where we seek to commercialize avasopasem or related product candidates. We expect to build a specialized sales and marketing organization of approximately 40 sales representatives to market our product candidates to the approximately 4,000 radiation oncologists in the United States. There are risks involved with establishing our own sales and marketing capabilities. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time consuming and could delay any drug 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 product candidates on our own include:

 

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

 

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

 

our inability to equip medical and sales personnel with effective materials, including medical and sales literature to help them educate physicians and other healthcare providers regarding applicable diseases and our future products;

 

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

 

our inability to develop or obtain sufficient operational functions to support our commercial activities; and

 

unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.

If we are unable to establish our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities and are forced to enter into arrangements with, and rely on, third parties to perform these services, our revenue and our profitability, if any, are likely to be lower than if we had developed such capabilities ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to sell, market and distribute our product candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us. We likely will have little control over such third parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our products effectively. 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 product candidates.

The incidence and prevalence for target patient populations of our product candidates have not been established with precision. If the market opportunities for our product candidates are smaller than we estimate, or if any approval that we obtain is based on a narrower definition of the patient population, our revenue and ability to achieve profitability may be materially adversely affected.

The precise incidence and prevalence for all the conditions we aim to address with our programs are unknown and cannot be precisely determined. Our projections of both the number of people who have these diseases, as well as the subset of people with these diseases who have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates, are based on beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including the scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research, and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new trials may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases.

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The total addressable market across all of our product candidates will ultimately depend upon, among other things, the diagnosis criteria included in the final label for each of our product candidates approved for sale for these indications, acceptance by the medical community and patient access, drug pricing and reimbursement. The number of patients in the United States and other major markets and elsewhere may turn out to be lower than expected, patients may not be otherwise amenable to treatment with our products or new patients may become increasingly difficult to identify or gain access to, all of which would adversely affect our results of operations and our business. Further, even if we obtain significant market share for our product candidates, because the potential target populations are very small, we may never achieve profitability despite obtaining such significant market share.

The successful commercialization of avasopasem or any other product candidates will depend in part on the extent to which governmental authorities and health insurers establish coverage, adequate reimbursement levels and pricing policies. Failure to obtain or maintain coverage and adequate reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved, could limit our ability to market those products and decrease our ability to generate revenue.

The availability of coverage and adequacy of reimbursement by governmental healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, private health insurers and other third-party payors are essential for most patients to be able to afford medical services and pharmaceutical products such as our product candidates, assuming FDA approval. Our ability to achieve acceptable levels of coverage and reimbursement for our products or procedures using our products by governmental authorities, private health insurers and other organizations will have an effect on our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates. Obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement for our products may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with drugs administered under the supervision of a physician. Separate reimbursement for the product itself or the treatment or procedure in which our product is used may not be available. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover or separately reimburse for our products or procedures using our products, could reduce physician utilization of our products once approved. Assuming there is coverage for our product candidates or procedures using our product candidates by a third-party payor, the resulting reimbursement payment rates may not be adequate or may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement in the United States, the European Union or elsewhere will be available for our product candidates or any product that we may develop, and any reimbursement that may become available may not be adequate or may be decreased or eliminated in the future.

Third-party payors increasingly are challenging prices charged for pharmaceutical products and services, and many third-party payors may refuse to provide coverage and reimbursement for particular drugs when an equivalent generic drug, biosimilar or a less expensive therapy is available. It is possible that a third-party payor may consider our product candidates as substitutable and only offer to reimburse patients for the less expensive product. Even if we show improved efficacy or improved convenience of administration with our product candidates, pricing of existing third-party therapeutics may limit the amount we will be able to charge for our product candidates. These payors may deny or revoke the reimbursement status of a given product or establish prices for new or existing marketed products at levels that are too low to enable us to realize an appropriate return on our investment in our product candidates. If reimbursement is not available or is available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates, and may not be able to obtain a satisfactory financial return on our product candidates.

There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly-approved products. In the United States, third-party payors, including private and governmental payors, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs, play an important role in determining the extent to which new drugs will be covered. The Medicare and Medicaid programs increasingly are used as models in the United States for how private payors and other governmental payors develop their coverage and reimbursement policies for drugs. Some third-party payors may require pre-approval of coverage for new or innovative devices or drug therapies before they will reimburse healthcare providers who use such therapies. We cannot predict at this time what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates.

No uniform policy for coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors in the United States. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our product candidates to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be applied consistently or obtained in the first instance.

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Furthermore, rules and regulations regarding reimbursement change frequently, in some cases on short notice, and we believe that changes in these rules and regulations are likely.

Outside the United States, international operations are generally subject to extensive governmental price controls and other market regulations, and we believe the increasing emphasis on cost-containment initiatives in Europe and other countries have and will continue to put pressure on the pricing and usage of our product candidates. In many countries, the prices of medical products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for medical products, but monitor and control company profits. Additional foreign price controls or other changes in pricing regulation could restrict the amount that we are able to charge for our product candidates. Accordingly, in markets outside the United States, the reimbursement for our product candidates may be reduced compared with the United States and may be insufficient to generate commercially-reasonable revenue and profits.

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for newly approved products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of our product candidates due to the trend toward managed health care, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products.

Enacted and future healthcare legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates and may affect the prices we may set.

In the United States, the European Union and other jurisdictions, there have been, and we expect there will continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes to the healthcare system that could affect our future results of operations. In particular, there have been and continue to be a number of initiatives at the U.S. federal and state levels that seek to reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of healthcare. For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, or collectively the Affordable Care Act, was enacted, which substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers. Among the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, those of greatest importance to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries include the following:

 

an annual, non-deductible fee payable by any entity that manufactures or imports certain branded prescription drugs (other than those designated as orphan drugs), which is apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government healthcare programs;

 

new requirements to report certain financial arrangements with physicians and teaching hospitals, including reporting “transfers of value” made or distributed to prescribers and other healthcare providers and reporting investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members;

 

a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected;

 

expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to certain individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability;

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a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research; and

 

establishment of a Center for Medicare Innovation at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, to test innovative payment and service delivery models to lower Medicare and Medicaid spending, potentially including prescription drug spending.

Since its enactment, there have been judicial, executive and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or the Tax Act, was enacted, which included a provision repealing, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the Affordable Care Act on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas, ruled that the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the Affordable Care Act, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid as well. On December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision that the individual mandate was unconstitutional but remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid as well.  The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case, although it is unclear how the Supreme Court will rule. It is uncertain the extent to which any changes to the law may impact our business or financial condition.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. For example, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, led to aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute will remain in effect through 2030, with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, unless additional action is taken by Congress; and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. These new laws or any other similar laws introduced in the future may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other health care funding, which could negatively affect our customers and accordingly, our financial operations.

Moreover, payment methodologies may be subject to changes in healthcare legislation and regulatory initiatives. For example, CMS may develop new payment and delivery models, such as bundled payment models. In addition, recently there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, and review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs. Individual states in the United States have also increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. In addition, regional healthcare authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other healthcare programs. This could reduce the ultimate demand for our product candidates or put pressure on our product pricing. We expect that additional U.S. healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts paid for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.

In the European Union, similar political, economic and regulatory developments may affect our ability to profitably commercialize our product candidates, if approved. In addition to continuing pressure on prices and cost containment measures, legislative developments at the EU or member state level may result in significant additional requirements or obstacles that may increase our operating costs. The delivery of healthcare in the European Union, including the establishment and operation of health services and the pricing and reimbursement of medicines, is almost exclusively a matter for national, rather than European Union, law and policy. National governments and health service providers have different priorities and approaches to the delivery of health care and the pricing and reimbursement of products in that context. In general, however, the healthcare budgetary constraints

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in most EU member states have resulted in restrictions on the pricing and reimbursement of medicines by relevant health service providers. Coupled with ever-increasing European Union and national regulatory burdens on those wishing to develop and market products, this could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved.

In markets outside of the United States and the European Union, reimbursement and healthcare payment systems vary significantly by country, and many countries have instituted price ceilings on specific products and therapies.

We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action in the United States, the European Union or any other jurisdiction. If we or any third parties we may engage are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we or such third parties are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, our product candidates may lose any regulatory approval that may have been obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.

Our future growth may depend, in part, on our ability to penetrate foreign markets, where we would be subject to additional regulatory burdens and other risks and uncertainties.

Our future profitability may depend, in part, on our ability to commercialize our product candidates in foreign markets for which we may rely on collaboration with third parties. We are evaluating the opportunities for the development and commercialization of our product candidates in foreign markets. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our product candidates before we receive regulatory approval from the applicable regulatory authority in that foreign market, and we may never receive such regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. To obtain separate regulatory approval in many other countries we must comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of such countries regarding safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials and commercial sales, pricing and distribution of our product candidates, and we cannot predict success in these jurisdictions. If we obtain approval of our product candidates and ultimately commercialize our product candidates in foreign markets, we would be subject to additional risks and uncertainties, including:

 

our customers’ ability to obtain reimbursement for our product candidates in foreign markets;

 

our inability to directly control commercial activities because we are relying on third parties;

 

the burden of complying with complex and changing foreign regulatory, tax, accounting and legal requirements;

 

different medical practices and customs in foreign countries affecting acceptance in the marketplace;

 

import or export licensing requirements;

 

longer accounts receivable collection times;

 

longer lead times for shipping;

 

language barriers for technical training and the need for language translations;

 

reduced protection of intellectual property rights in some foreign countries;

 

the existence of additional potentially relevant third-party intellectual property rights;

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foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations; and

 

the interpretation of contractual provisions governed by foreign laws in the event of a contract dispute.

Foreign sales of our product candidates could also be adversely affected by the imposition of governmental controls, political and economic instability, trade restrictions and changes in tariffs.

In some countries, particularly the countries in Europe, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a drug. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidate to other available therapies. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business could be harmed, possibly materially.

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

We will 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 if we commercially sell any product candidates that we may develop. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our product candidates caused injuries, we could incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

decreased demand for any product candidates that we may develop;

 

injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;

 

regulatory investigations that could require costly recalls or product modifications;

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

 

significant costs to defend the related litigation;

 

substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;

 

loss of potential revenue;

 

the diversion of management’s attention away from managing our business; and

 

the inability to commercialize any product candidates that we may develop.

Although we maintain product liability insurance coverage, it may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur and is subject to deductibles and coverage limitations. We anticipate that we will need to increase our insurance coverage when and if we successfully commercialize any product candidate. 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. If we are unable to obtain insurance at acceptable cost or otherwise protect against potential product liability claims, we will be exposed to significant liabilities, which may materially and adversely affect our business and financial position. These liabilities could prevent or interfere with our commercialization efforts.

Risks Related to Competition, Retaining Key Employees and Managing Growth

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

The development and commercialization of new drugs and biologics is highly competitive. We face competition with respect to our current product candidates, and will face competition with respect to any product

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candidates that we may seek to develop or commercialize in the future, from major pharmaceutical companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies worldwide. There are a number of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that currently market and sell drugs or biologics are pursuing the development of therapies in the fields in which we are interested. Some of these competitive products and therapies are based on entirely different scientific approaches to our approach. Potential competitors also include academic institutions, government agencies and other public and private research organizations that conduct research, seek patent protection and establish collaborative arrangements for research, development, manufacturing and commercialization.

Many of the companies against which we are competing or against which we may compete in the future have significantly greater financial resources, a more established presence in the market, and more expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and reimbursement and marketing approved products than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostic industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining highly qualified scientific, sales, marketing and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.

Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any drugs that we or our collaborators may develop. Because our product candidates are designed to reduce normal tissue toxicity from radiotherapy, or to increase the anti-cancer efficacy, our commercial opportunities could also be reduced or eliminated if radiotherapy methods are improved in a way that reduces normal tissue toxicity or increases anti-cancer efficacy, or if new therapies are developed which effectively treat cancer with less or without normal tissue toxicity. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we or our collaborators are able to enter the market. The key competitive factors affecting the success of all of our product candidates, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience, price, the effectiveness of companion diagnostics in guiding the use of related products, market acceptance by physicians and patients, the level of generic competition and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.

Many of our employees have become or will soon become vested in a substantial amount of our common stock or a number of common stock options. Our employees may be more likely to leave us if the shares they own have significantly appreciated in value relative to the original purchase prices of the shares, or if the exercise prices of the options that they hold are significantly below the market price of our common stock.

Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.

We have a limited operating history and are highly dependent on the research and development, clinical, commercial and business development expertise of the principal members of our management, scientific and clinical team. Although we have entered into employment agreements with our executive officers, each of them may terminate their employment with us at any time. We do not maintain “key person” insurance for any of our executives or other employees. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may be employed by employers other than us and may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will be limited.

Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, clinical, manufacturing and sales and marketing personnel will also be critical to our success. The failure to recruit, or the loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Furthermore, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory

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approval of and commercialize products. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. Failure to succeed in clinical trials may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified scientific personnel. If we are not able to continue to attract and retain, on acceptable terms, the qualified personnel necessary for the continued development of our business, we may not be able to sustain our operations or growth.

We will need to develop and expand our company, and we may encounter difficulties in managing this development and expansion, which could disrupt our operations.

We expect to increase our number of employees and the scope of our operations. To manage our anticipated development and expansion, we must continue to implement and improve our managerial, operational and financial systems, expand our facilities and continue to recruit and train additional qualified personnel. Also, our management may need to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from its day-to-day activities and devote a substantial amount of time to managing these development activities. Due to our limited resources, certain employees may need to perform activities that are beyond their regular scope of work, and we may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. This may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, give rise to operational mistakes, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity among remaining employees. The physical expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the development of our product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our expected development and expansion, our expenses may increase more than expected, our ability to generate revenue could be reduced and we may not be able to implement our business strategy. Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, and compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage the future development and expansion of our company.

We may not be successful in executing our growth strategy to identify, discover, develop, in-license or acquire additional product candidates or our growth strategy may not deliver the anticipated results.

We plan to source new product candidates that are complementary to our existing product candidates through our internal discovery program, or in-licensing or acquiring them from other companies or academic institutions. If we are unable to identify, discover, develop, in-license or acquire and integrate product candidates in accordance with this strategy, our ability to pursue this part of our growth strategy would be limited.

Research programs and business development efforts to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential programs or product candidates that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful. In-licensing and acquisitions of technology often require significant payments, expenses and will consume additional resources. We will need to devote a substantial amount of time and personnel to research, develop and commercialize any acquired technology, in addition to our existing portfolio of programs. Our research programs, business development efforts or licensing attempts may fail to yield additional complementary or successful product candidates for clinical development and commercialization for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

our research or business development methodology or search criteria and process may be unsuccessful in identifying potential product candidates with a high probability of success for development progression;

 

we may not be able or willing to assemble sufficient resources or expertise to in-license, acquire or discover additional product candidates;

 

for product candidates we seek to in-license or acquire, we may not be able to agree to acceptable terms with the licensor or owner of those product candidates;

 

our product candidates may not succeed in preclinical studies or clinical trials;

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we may not succeed in formulation or process development;

 

our product candidates may be shown to have harmful side effects or may have other characteristics that may make the products unmarketable or unlikely to receive regulatory approval;

 

competitors may develop alternatives that render our product candidates obsolete or less attractive;

 

product candidates that we develop may be covered by third parties’ patents or other exclusive rights;

 

product candidates that we develop may not allow us to leverage our expertise and our development and commercial infrastructure as currently expected;

 

the market for a product candidate may change during our program so that such a product may become unreasonable to continue to develop;

 

a product candidate may not be capable of being produced in commercial quantities at an acceptable cost, or at all; and

 

a product candidate may not be accepted as safe and effective by patients, the medical community or third-party payors.

If any of these events occurs, we may not be successful in executing our growth strategy or our growth strategy may not deliver the anticipated results.

Risks Related to Intellectual Property

If we are unable to adequately protect our proprietary technology and product candidates, if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, or if the terms of our patents are insufficient to protect our product candidates for an adequate amount of time, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates may be materially impaired.

We rely primarily upon a combination of patents, trademarks, trade secret protection, and other intellectual property rights as well as nondisclosure, confidentiality and other contractual agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our brands, product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, and other proprietary technologies. Our success depends on our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates, if approved, and use our proprietary technologies without alleged or actual infringement, misappropriation or other violation of the patents and other intellectual property rights of third parties. There have been many lawsuits and other proceedings asserting patents and other intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. We cannot assure you that our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 will not infringe existing or future third-party patents. Because patent applications can take many years to issue and may be confidential for 18 months or more after filing, there may be applications now pending of which we are unaware and which may later result in issued patents that we may infringe by commercializing our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. There may also be issued patents or pending patent applications that we are aware of, but that we think are irrelevant to our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, which may ultimately be found to be infringed by the manufacture, sale, or use of our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. Moreover, we may face claims from non-practicing entities that have no relevant product revenue and against whom our own patent portfolio may thus have no deterrent effect. In addition, many of our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 have a complex structure that makes it difficult to conduct a thorough search and review of all potentially relevant third-party patents. Because we have not yet conducted a formal freedom to operate analysis for patents related to our product candidates, we may not be aware of issued patents that a third party might assert are infringed by one of our current or future product candidates, which could materially impair our ability to commercialize our product candidates. Even if we diligently search third-party patents for potential infringement by our products or product candidates,

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including avasopasem or GC4711, we may not successfully find patents that our products or product candidates, including avasopasem or GC4711, may infringe. If we are unable to secure and maintain freedom to operate, others could preclude us from commercializing our product candidates.

The process of obtaining patent protection is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. We may choose not to seek patent protection for certain innovations or products and may choose not to pursue patent protection in certain jurisdictions, and under the laws of certain jurisdictions, patents or other intellectual property rights may be unavailable or limited in scope and, in any event, any patent protection we obtain may be limited. As a result, in some jurisdictions some of our products currently or in the future may not be, protected by patents. We generally apply for patents in those countries where we intend to make, have made, use, offer for sale, or sell products and where we assess the risk of infringement to justify the cost of seeking patent protection. However, we may not accurately predict all the countries where patent protection would ultimately be desirable. If we fail to timely file a patent application in any such country or major market, we may be precluded from doing so at a later date. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and, further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories in which we have patent protection that may not be sufficient to terminate infringing activities. In addition, the actual protection afforded by a patent varies on a product-by-product basis, from country to country, and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of regulatory-related extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular country and the validity and enforceability of the patent.

Furthermore, we cannot guarantee that any patents will be issued from any pending or future owned or licensed patent applications, or that any current or future patents will provide us with any meaningful protection or competitive advantage. Even if issued, existing or future patents may be challenged, including with respect to ownership, narrowed, invalidated, held unenforceable or circumvented, any of which could limit our ability to prevent competitors and other third parties from developing and marketing similar products or limit the length of terms of patent protection we may have for our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 and technologies. Moreover, should we be unable to obtain meaningful patent coverage for clinically relevant infusion rates for avasopasem and GC4711 in jurisdictions with commercially significant markets, our ability to extend and reinforce patent protection for these product candidates in those jurisdictions may be adversely impacted, which could limit our ability to prevent competitors and other third parties from developing and marketing similar products or limit the length of terms of patent protection we may have for those product candidates. Other companies may also design around technologies we have patented, licensed or developed. In addition, the issuance of a patent does not give us the right to practice the patented invention. Third parties may have blocking patents that could prevent us from marketing our products or practicing our own patented technology.

The patent positions of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies can be highly uncertain and involve complex legal, scientific and factual questions for which important legal principles remain unresolved. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights may be uncertain. The standards that the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO, and its foreign counterparts use to grant patents are not always applied predictably or uniformly. Changes in either the patent laws, implementing regulations or the interpretation of patent laws may diminish the value of our rights. The legal systems of certain countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, and many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending such rights in foreign jurisdictions. For example, patent laws in various jurisdictions, including significant commercial markets such as Europe, restrict the patentability of methods of treatment of the human body more than United States law does. In addition, many countries, including certain countries in Europe, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties (for example, the patent owner has failed to “work” the invention in that country, or the third party has patented improvements). In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of the patent. Moreover, the legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the aggressive enforcement of patent and other intellectual property protection, which makes it difficult to stop infringement.

Because patent applications in the United States, Europe and many other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all, and because publications of discoveries in scientific literature lag behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain that we were the first to conceive or reduce to practice the inventions claimed in our issued patents or pending patent applications, or that we were the first to file

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for protection of the inventions set forth in our patents or pending patent applications. We can give no assurance that all of the potentially relevant art relating to our patents and patent applications has been found; overlooked prior art could be used by a third party to challenge the validity, enforceability and scope of our patents or prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. As a result, we may not be able to obtain or maintain protection for certain inventions. Therefore, the validity, enforceability and scope of our patents in the United States, Europe and in other countries cannot be predicted with certainty and, as a result, any patents that we own or license may not provide sufficient protection against our competitors.

Third parties may challenge any existing patent or future patent we own or license through adversarial proceedings in the issuing offices or in court proceedings, including as a response to any assertion of our patents against them. In any of these proceedings, a court or agency with jurisdiction may find our patents invalid and/or unenforceable, or even if valid and enforceable, insufficient to provide protection against competing products and services sufficient to achieve our business objectives. We may be subject to a third-party pre-issuance submission of prior art to the USPTO, or reexamination by the USPTO if a third party asserts a substantial question of patentability against any claim of a U.S. patent we own or license. The adoption of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, in September 2011 established additional opportunities for third parties to invalidate U.S. patent claims, including inter partes review and post-grant review proceedings. Outside of the United States, patents we own or license may become subject to patent opposition or similar proceedings, which may result in loss of scope of some claims or the entire patent. In addition, such proceedings are very complex and expensive, and may divert our management’s attention from our core business. If any of our patents are challenged, invalidated, circumvented by third parties or otherwise limited or expire prior to the commercialization of our products, and if we do not own or have exclusive rights to other enforceable patents protecting our products or other technologies, competitors and other third parties could market products and use processes that are substantially similar to, or superior to, ours and our business would suffer.

The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain because legal means afford only limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep a competitive advantage. For example:

 

others may be able to develop products that are similar to, or better than, ours in a way that is not covered by the claims of our patents;

 

we might not have been the first to conceive or reduce to practice the inventions covered by our patents or pending patent applications;

 

we might not have been the first to file patent applications for our inventions;

 

any patents that we obtain may not provide us with any competitive advantages or may ultimately be found invalid or unenforceable; or

 

we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable.

We are generally also subject to all of the same risks with respect to protection of intellectual property that we license as we are for intellectual property that we own. We currently in-license certain intellectual property from third parties to be able to use such intellectual property in our products and product candidates and to aid in our research activities. In the future, we may in-license intellectual property from additional licensors. We may rely on certain of these licensors to file and prosecute patent applications and maintain, or assist us in the maintenance of, patents and otherwise protect the intellectual property we license from them. We may have limited control over these activities or any other intellectual property that may be related to our in-licensed intellectual property. For example, we cannot be certain that such activities by these licensors have been or will be conducted diligently or in compliance with applicable laws and regulations or will result in valid and enforceable patents and other intellectual property rights. We may have limited control over the manner in which our licensors initiate, or support our efforts to initiate, an infringement proceeding against a third-party infringer of the intellectual property rights, or defend certain of the intellectual property that is licensed to us. If we or our licensors fail to adequately protect this intellectual property, our ability to commercialize products could suffer.

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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 may infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate our patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets or other intellectual property, or those of our licensors. To counter infringement, misappropriation, unauthorized use or other violations, we may be required to file legal claims, which can be expensive and time consuming and divert the time and attention of our management and scientific personnel. In some cases, it may be difficult or impossible to detect third-party infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, even in relation to issued patent claims, and proving any such infringement may be even more difficult.

We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensees or any future licensors, infringement, misappropriation or other violations of our intellectual property rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States. Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe their patents. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity or unenforceability are commonplace. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. We cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a third party or a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of any future patent protection on our current or future product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. Such a loss of patent protection could harm our business. In addition, in a 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 exploiting the claimed subject matter 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 exploiting its technology on the grounds that our patents do not cover such technology. 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, using, importing and selling similar or competitive products. 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.

In any infringement, misappropriation or other intellectual property litigation, any award of monetary damages we receive may not be commercially valuable. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during litigation. Moreover, there can be no assurance that we will have sufficient financial or other resources to file and pursue such infringement claims, which typically last for years before they are concluded. Even if we ultimately prevail in such claims, the monetary cost of such litigation and the diversion of the attention of our management and scientific personnel could outweigh any benefit we receive as a result of the proceedings. We may not be able to detect or prevent misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States. Our business could be harmed if in litigation the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. Any litigation or other proceedings to enforce our intellectual property rights may fail, and even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees.

Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties.

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are subject to rapid technological change and substantial litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights. Our competitors in both the United States and abroad, many of which have substantially greater resources and have made substantial investments in patent portfolios and competing technologies, may have applied for or obtained or may in the future apply for or obtain, patents that will prevent, limit or otherwise interfere with our ability to make, use and sell our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 and services. Numerous third-party patents exist in the fields relating to our products and services, and it is difficult for industry participants, including us, to identify all third-party patent rights relevant to our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, services and technologies. As the

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biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others. Moreover, because some patent applications are maintained as confidential for a certain period of time, we cannot be certain that third parties have not filed patent applications that cover our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, services and technologies. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the issuance of any third-party patent would require us to alter our development or commercial strategies for our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 or processes, or to obtain licenses or cease certain activities.

Patents could be issued to third parties that we may ultimately be found to infringe. Third parties may have or obtain valid and enforceable patents or proprietary rights that could block us from developing products using our technology. If any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover the manufacturing process of our product candidates, constructs or molecules used in or formed during the manufacturing process, or any final product itself, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize the product candidate unless we obtain a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire or they are determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. Our failure to obtain or maintain a license to any technology that we require to develop or commercialize our current and future product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 may materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, we would be exposed to a threat of litigation.

From time to time, we may be party to, or threatened with, litigation or other proceedings with third parties, including non-practicing entities, who allege that our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, components of our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, services, and/or proprietary technologies infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their intellectual property rights. The types of situations in which we may become a party to such litigation or proceedings include:

 

we or our collaborators may initiate litigation or other proceedings against third parties seeking to invalidate the patents held by those third parties or to obtain a judgment that our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 or processes do not infringe those third parties’ patents;

 

we or our collaborators may participate at substantial cost in International Trade Commission proceedings to abate importation of third-party products that would compete unfairly with our products;

 

if our competitors file patent applications that claim technology also claimed by us or our licensors, we or our licensors may be required to participate in interference, derivation or opposition proceedings to determine the priority of invention, which could jeopardize our patent rights and potentially provide a third party with a dominant patent position;

 

if third parties initiate litigation claiming that our processes or product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 infringe their patent or other intellectual property rights, we and our collaborators will need to defend against such proceedings;

 

if third parties initiate litigation or other proceedings, including inter partes reviews, oppositions or other similar agency proceedings, seeking to invalidate patents owned by or licensed to us or to obtain a declaratory judgment that their products, services, or technologies do not infringe our patents or patents licensed to us, we will need to defend against such proceedings;

 

we may be subject to ownership disputes relating to intellectual property, including disputes arising from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711; and

 

if a license to necessary technology is terminated, the licensor may initiate litigation claiming that our processes or product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 infringe or misappropriate its patent or other intellectual property rights and/or that we breached our obligations under the license agreement, and we and our collaborators would need to defend against such proceedings.

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These lawsuits and proceedings, regardless of merit, are time-consuming and expensive to initiate, maintain, defend or settle, and could divert the time and attention of managerial and technical personnel, which could materially adversely affect our business. Any such claim could also force use to do one or more of the following:

 

incur substantial monetary liability for infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the product candidate, service, or technology at issue infringes or violates the third party’s rights, and if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay up to treble damages and the third party’s attorneys’ fees;

 

pay substantial damages to our customers or end users to discontinue use or replace infringing technology with non-infringing technology;

 

stop manufacturing, offering for sale, selling, using, importing, exporting or licensing the product or technology incorporating the allegedly infringing technology or stop incorporating the allegedly infringing technology into such product, service, or technology;

 

obtain from the owner of the infringed intellectual property right a license, which may require us to pay substantial upfront fees or royalties to sell or use the relevant technology and which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all;

 

redesign our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, services, and technology so they do not infringe or violate the third party’s intellectual property rights, which may not be possible or may require substantial monetary expenditures and time;

 

enter into cross-licenses with our competitors, which could weaken our overall intellectual property position;

 

lose the opportunity to license our technology to others or to collect royalty payments based upon successful protection and assertion of our intellectual property against others;

 

find alternative suppliers for non-infringing products and technologies, which could be costly and create significant delay; or

 

relinquish rights associated with one or more of our patent claims, if our claims are held invalid or otherwise unenforceable.

Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, intellectual property litigation, regardless of its outcome, may cause negative publicity, adversely impact prospective customers, cause product shipment delays, or prohibit us from manufacturing, marketing or otherwise commercializing our products, services and technology. Any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise additional funds or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation, financial condition or cash flows.

In addition, we may indemnify our customers and distributors against claims relating to the infringement of intellectual property rights of third parties related to our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. Third parties may assert infringement claims against our customers or distributors. These claims may require us to initiate or defend protracted and costly litigation on behalf of our customers or distributors, regardless of the merits of these claims. If any of these claims succeed, we may be forced to pay damages on behalf of our customers, suppliers or distributors, or may be required to obtain licenses for the product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 or services they use. If we cannot obtain all necessary licenses on commercially reasonable terms, our customers may be forced to stop using our products or services.

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Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, which could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. The occurrence of any of these events may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation, financial condition or cash flows.

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

In addition to patent and trademark protection, we also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. Because we expect to rely on third parties to manufacture our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, and we expect to continue to collaborate with third parties on the development of our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, we must, at times, share trade secrets with them. We seek to protect our trade secrets, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to them prior to disclosing our proprietary information, such as our consultants and vendors, or our former or current employees. These agreements typically limit the rights of third parties to use or disclose our confidential information, including our trade secrets. We also enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. Despite these efforts, however, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our trade secrets and other unpatented or unregistered proprietary information, and once disclosed, we are likely to lose trade secret protection. Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures of our intellectual property 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 enforce trade secret protection. A competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and have an adverse impact on our business, operating results and financial condition. Additionally, we cannot be certain that competitors will not gain access to our trade secrets and other proprietary confidential information or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques.

Changes in patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our existing and future product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 and processes.

As is the case with other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries involves both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time consuming, and inherently uncertain. In addition, the United States has recently enacted and is currently implementing wide-ranging patent reform legislation. Recent patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents. On September 16, 2011, 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, redefine prior art, may affect patent litigation, and switched the United States patent system from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system. Under a “first-to-file” system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether another inventor had conceived or reduced to practice the invention earlier. 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, in particular, the first-to-file provisions, only became effective on March 16, 2013. Accordingly, it is not clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. 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, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

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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 patents and pending patent applications. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have made, and will likely continue to make, changes in how the patent laws of the United States are interpreted. Similarly, foreign courts have made, and will likely continue to make, changes in how the patent laws in their respective jurisdictions are interpreted. We cannot predict future changes in the interpretation of patent laws or changes to patent laws that might be enacted into law by United States and foreign legislative bodies. Those changes may materially affect our patents or patent applications and our ability to obtain additional patent protection in the future.

The United States federal government retains certain rights in inventions produced with its financial assistance under the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, or the Bayh-Dole Act. The federal government retains a “nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license” for its own benefit. The Bayh-Dole Act also provides federal agencies with “march-in rights.” March-in rights allow the government, in specified circumstances, to require the contractor or successors in title to the patent to grant a “nonexclusive, partially exclusive, or exclusive license” to a “responsible applicant or applicants.” If the patent owner refuses to do so, the government may grant the license itself. We partner with a number of universities, including the University of Iowa and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, with respect to certain of our research, development and manufacturing. While it is our policy to avoid engaging our university partners in projects in which there is a risk that federal funds may be commingled, we cannot be sure that any co-developed intellectual property will be free from government rights pursuant to the Bayh-Dole Act. If, in the future, we co-own or license in technology which is critical to our business that is developed in whole or in part with federal funds subject to the Bayh-Dole Act, our ability to enforce or otherwise exploit patents covering such technology may be adversely affected.

If we do not obtain patent term extensions in the United States under the Hatch-Waxman Act and in foreign countries under similar legislation with respect to our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, thereby potentially extending the term of marketing exclusivity for such product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, our business may be harmed.

In the United States, a patent that covers an FDA-approved drug or biologic may be eligible for a term extension designed to restore the period of the patent term that is lost during the premarket regulatory review process conducted by the FDA. Depending upon the timing, duration and conditions of FDA marketing approval of our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Act, which permits a patent term extension of up to a maximum of five years beyond the normal expiration of the patent if the patent is eligible for such an extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act as compensation for patent term lost during development and the FDA regulatory review process, which is limited to the approved indication (and potentially additional indications approved during the period of extension) covered by the patent. This extension is limited to only one patent that covers the approved product, the approved use of the product, or a method of manufacturing the product. However, the applicable authorities, including the FDA and the USPTO in the United States, and any equivalent regulatory authority in other countries, may not agree with our assessment of whether such extensions are available, and may refuse to grant extensions to our patents, or may grant more limited extensions than we request.

We may not receive an extension if we fail to apply within applicable deadlines, fail to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise fail to satisfy applicable requirements. Even if we are granted such extension, the duration of such extension may be less than our request and the patent term may still expire before or shortly after we receive FDA marketing approval. If we are unable to extend the expiration date of our existing patents or obtain new patents with longer expiry dates, our competitors may be able to take advantage of our investment in development and clinical trials by referencing our clinical and preclinical data to obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration and launch their product earlier than might otherwise be the case.

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Obtaining and maintaining patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.

The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment, and other similar provisions during the patent application process. In addition, periodic maintenance fees on issued patents often must be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies over the lifetime of the patent. While an unintentional lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Non-compliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. If we fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 or procedures, we may not be able to stop a competitor from marketing products that are the same as or similar to our own, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.

We have not yet registered trademarks for a commercial trade name for our product candidate(s), including avasopasem and GC4711 in the United States or elsewhere. During trademark registration proceedings, our trademark application(s) may be rejected. Although we are given an opportunity to respond to those rejections, we may be unable to overcome such rejections. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many foreign jurisdictions, third parties can oppose pending trademark applications and seek to cancel registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings may be filed against our trademarks, and our trademarks may not survive such proceedings. Moreover, any name we propose to use with our product candidate(s), including avasopasem and GC4711 in the United States must be approved by the FDA, regardless of whether we have registered it, or applied to register it, as a trademark. The FDA typically conducts a review of proposed product names, including an evaluation of potential for confusion with other product names. If the FDA objects to any of our proposed proprietary product names, we may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable substitute name that would qualify under applicable trademark laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA.

Our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented, declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights in these trademarks and trade names, which we need in order to build name recognition with potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. In addition, third parties have used trademarks similar and identical to our trademarks in foreign jurisdictions, and have filed or may in the future file for registration of such trademarks. If they succeed in registering or developing common law rights in such trademarks, and if we are not successful in challenging such third-party rights, we may not be able to use these trademarks to market our products in those countries. In any case, if we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, then we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected.

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

Certain of our key patent families have been filed in the United States, as well as in numerous jurisdictions outside the United States. However, our intellectual property rights in certain jurisdictions outside the United States may be less robust. The laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. For example, the requirements for patentability may differ in certain countries, particularly developing countries, and we may be unable to obtain issued patents that contain claims that adequately cover or protect our current or future product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in certain foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of some countries, particularly developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, especially those relating to life sciences. This could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or the misappropriation of our other intellectual property rights. For example, many foreign countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner must grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against third parties, including government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, patents may provide limited or no benefit.

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Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions, whether or not successful, could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business. Furthermore, while we intend to protect our intellectual property rights in our expected significant markets, we cannot ensure that we will be able to initiate or maintain similar efforts in all jurisdictions in which we may wish to market current or future product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our technology in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our technology in and into those other jurisdictions where we do not have intellectual property rights. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and may also export infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but where enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Accordingly, our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights in such countries may be inadequate. In addition, changes in the law and legal decisions by courts in the United States and foreign countries may affect our ability to obtain and enforce adequate intellectual property protection for our technology.

We may not identify relevant third-party patents or may incorrectly interpret the relevance, scope or expiration of a third-party patent which might adversely affect our ability to develop and market our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711.

We cannot guarantee that any of our or our licensors’ patent searches or analyses, including the identification of relevant patents, the scope of patent claims or the expiration of relevant patents, are complete or thorough, nor can we be certain that we have identified each and every third-party patent and pending application in the United States and abroad that is relevant to or necessary for the commercialization of our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 in any jurisdiction. For example, U.S. patent applications filed before November 29, 2000 and certain U.S. patent applications filed after that date that will not be filed outside the United States remain confidential until patents issue. Patent applications in the United States and elsewhere are published approximately 18 months after the earliest filing for which priority is claimed, with such earliest filing date being commonly referred to as the priority date. Therefore, patent applications covering our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 could have been filed by others without our knowledge. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 or the use of our products. The scope of a patent claim is determined by an interpretation of the law, the written disclosure in a patent and the patent’s prosecution history. Our interpretation of the relevance or the scope of a patent or a pending application may be incorrect, which may negatively impact our ability to market our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. We may incorrectly determine that our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 are not covered by a third-party patent or may incorrectly predict whether a third party’s pending patent application will issue with claims of relevant scope. Our determination of the expiration date of any patent in the United States or abroad that we consider relevant may be incorrect, which may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 and services. Our failure to identify and correctly interpret relevant patents may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 and services.

If we fail to identify and correctly interpret relevant patents, we may be subject to infringement claims. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to successfully settle or otherwise resolve such infringement claims. If we fail in any such dispute, in addition to being forced to pay damages, we may be temporarily or permanently prohibited from commercializing any of our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 that are held to be infringing. We might, if possible, also be forced to redesign products, product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 or services so that we no longer infringe the third-party intellectual property rights. Any of these events, even if we were ultimately to prevail, could require us to divert substantial financial and management resources that we would otherwise be able to devote to our business.

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Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 for an adequate amount of time.

Patents have a limited lifespan, and the protection patents afford is limited. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest U.S. non-provisional filing date. Even if patents covering our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 are obtained, once the patent life has expired for patents covering a product or product candidate, we may be open to competition from competitive products and services. As a result, our patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.

Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our business.

While we seek broad coverage under our existing patent applications, there is always a risk that an alteration to products or processes may provide sufficient basis for a competitor to avoid infringing our patent claims. In addition, patents, if granted, expire and we cannot provide any assurance that any potentially issued patents will adequately protect our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. Once granted, patents may remain open to invalidity challenges including opposition, interference, re-examination, post-grant review, inter partes review, nullification or derivation action in court or before patent offices or similar proceedings for a given period after allowance or grant, during which time third parties can raise objections against such grant. In the course of such proceedings, which may continue for a protracted period of time, the patent owner may be compelled to limit the scope of the allowed or granted claims thus attacked, or may lose the allowed or granted claims altogether.

In addition, the degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because even granted intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, provide a barrier to entry against our competitors or potential competitors or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. Moreover, if a third party has intellectual property rights that cover the practice of our technology, we may not be able to fully exercise or extract value from our intellectual property rights. The following examples are illustrative:

 

others may be able to develop and/or practice technology that is similar to our technology or aspects of our technology, but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or control, assuming such patents have issued or do issue;

 

we or our licensors or any future strategic partners might not have been the first to conceive or reduce to practice the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own or have exclusively licensed;

 

we or our licensors or any future strategic partners might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions;

 

others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;

 

it is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents;

 

issued patents that we own or have exclusively licensed may not provide us with any competitive advantage, or may be held invalid or unenforceable, as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;

 

our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;

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third parties performing manufacturing or testing for us using our product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 or technologies could use the intellectual property of others without obtaining a proper license;

 

parties may assert an ownership interest in our intellectual property and, if successful, such disputes may preclude us from exercising exclusive rights over that intellectual property;

 

we may not develop or in-license additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;

 

we may not be able to obtain and maintain necessary licenses on commercially reasonable terms, or at all; and

 

the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.

Should any of these events occur, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of their former employers or other third parties.

We do and may employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our licensors, competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants and independent contractors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, and we are not currently subject to any claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties, we may in the future be subject to such claims.

Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Such intellectual property rights could be awarded to a third party, and we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to commercialize our technology or product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees, and could result in customers seeking other sources for the technology, or in ceasing from doing business with us.

Our intellectual property agreements with third parties may be subject to disagreements over contract interpretation, which could narrow the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology.

Certain provisions in our intellectual property agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could affect the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or affect financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

In addition, while we typically require our employees, consultants and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. To the extent that we fail to obtain such assignments, such assignments do not contain a self-executing assignment of intellectual property rights or such assignment agreements are breached, we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property and this may interfere with our ability to capture the commercial value of such intellectual property. If we fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Such intellectual property rights could be awarded to a third party, and we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to commercialize our technology or products. Such a license may not be available on commercially

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reasonable terms or at all. Even if we are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to our management and scientific personnel. Disputes regarding ownership or inventorship of intellectual property can also arise in other contexts, such as collaborations and sponsored research. We may be subject to claims that former collaborators or other third parties have an ownership interest in our patents or other intellectual property. If we are subject to a dispute challenging our rights in or to patents or other intellectual property, such a dispute could be expensive and time-consuming. If we are unsuccessful, we could lose valuable rights in intellectual property that we regard as our own.

We may not be successful in obtaining necessary intellectual property rights to future products through acquisitions and in-licenses.

Although we intend to develop products and technology through our own internal research, we may also seek to acquire or in-license technologies to grow our product offerings and technology portfolio. However, we may be unable to acquire or in-license intellectual property rights relating to, or necessary for, any such products or technology from third parties on commercially reasonable terms or at all. In that event, we may be unable to develop or commercialize such products or technology. We may also be unable to identify products or technology that we believe are an appropriate strategic fit for our Company and protect intellectual property relating to, or necessary for, such products and technology.

The in-licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights for product candidates, including avasopasem and GC4711 is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing strategies to in-license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights for products that we may consider attractive or necessary. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. Furthermore, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to additional technologies or products, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects for growth could suffer.

In addition, we expect that competition for the in-licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights for products and technologies that are attractive to us may increase in the future, which may mean fewer suitable opportunities for us as well as higher acquisition or licensing costs. We may be unable to in-license or acquire the third-party intellectual property rights for products or technology on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment.

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Other Risks Related to Our Business

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel strain of coronavirus has adversely impacted and could continue to adversely impact, our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials, results of operations and financial condition.

 

In 2020, a strain of novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, was declared a pandemic and spread across the world, including throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. The pandemic and government measures taken in response have also had a significant impact, both direct and indirect, on businesses and commerce, as worker shortages have occurred, supply chains have been disrupted, and facilities and production have been suspended. In response to the spread of COVID-19, we have closed our executive offices with our administrative employees continuing their work outside of our offices, restricted on-site staff to only those required on-site to execute their job responsibilities and limited the number of staff in any given research and development laboratory. While we are currently continuing our ongoing clinical trials, the COVID-19 pandemic and related precautions have directly or indirectly impacted the timeline for certain of our clinical trials. In April 2020, we delayed the initiation of the Phase 2a multi-center trial in Europe assessing the safety of avasopasem manganese in patients with HNC undergoing standard-of-care radiotherapy. The first patient was dosed in the trial in June 2020, and target enrollment was decreased to approximately 35 patients due to the delay. This trial was expected to contribute to the safety database for avasopasem in patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy. As a result of the delay in initiating the trial in Europe, the target enrollment for the ROMAN trial was increased to approximately 450 patients in order to ensure we are positioned to maintain the planned size of the safety database in a timely manner. We have since completed the enrollment in the Phase 2a trial in Europe and continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe regarding the data readout of this trial, which is expected in the second half of 2021. Completion of enrollment for the ROMAN trial is expected in the first half of 2021 and topline data is expected in the second half of 2021, subject to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business. We are continuing to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations and ongoing clinical development activity, generally. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may experience further disruptions that could severely impact our business, preclinical studies and clinical trials, including:

 

 

delays in receiving approval from local regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;

 

 

delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our clinical trials;

 

 

delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;

 

 

diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

 

risk that participants enrolled in our clinical trials will acquire COVID-19 while the clinical trial is ongoing, which could impact the results of the clinical trial, including by increasing the number of observed adverse events;

 

 

interruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site data monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others or interruption of clinical trial subject visits and study procedures (such as endoscopies that are deemed non-essential), which may impact the integrity of subject data and clinical study endpoints;

 

 

interruption or delays in the operations of the FDA, which may impact approval timelines;

 

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interruption of, or delays in receiving, supplies of our product candidates from our contract manufacturing organizations due to staffing or supply shortages, production slowdowns, global shipping delays or stoppages and disruptions in delivery systems;

 

 

limitations on employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people.

 

 

refusal of the FDA to accept data from clinical trials in affected geographies;

 

 

impacts from prolonged remote work arrangements, such as increased cybersecurity risks and strains on our business continuity plans; and

 

 

delays or difficulties with equity offerings due to disruptions and uncertainties in the securities market.

In addition, the trading prices for our and other biopharmaceutical companies’ stock have been highly volatile as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, we may face difficulties raising capital through sales of our common stock and any such sales may be on unfavorable terms. The COVID-19 outbreak continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the outbreak further impacts our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials, results of operations and financial condition will depend on future developments which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence. Such factors include but are not limited to the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions, quarantines, shelter-in-place orders and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions, the effectiveness of vaccines and vaccine distribution efforts, the ultimate impact of COVID-19 on financial markets and the global economy, and the effectiveness of other actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.

Our business operations and current and future relationships with investigators, healthcare professionals, consultants, third-party payors, patient organizations and customers will be subject to applicable healthcare regulatory laws, which could expose us to penalties.

Our business operations and current and future arrangements with investigators, healthcare professionals, consultants, third-party payors, patient organizations and customers, may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations. These laws may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we conduct our operations, including how we research, market, sell and distribute our product candidates, if approved. Such laws include:

 

the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons or entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or certain rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, lease, order or recommendation of, any good, facility, item or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under U.S. federal and state healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

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the U.S. federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the civil False Claims Act, and civil monetary penalties laws, which prohibit, among other things, including through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the U.S. federal government, claims for payment or approval that are false or fraudulent, knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim, or from knowingly making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the U.S. federal government. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items and services resulting from a violation of the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;

 

the U.S. federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created additional federal criminal statutes which prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, or knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement, in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services. Similar to the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

 

the U.S. Physician Payments Sunshine Act and its implementing regulations, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with specific exceptions, to report annually to the government information related to certain payments and other transfers of value to physicians (as defined by statute) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, such reporting obligations will also extend to payments and other transfer of value made during the prior calendar year to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, anesthesiology assistants and certified nurse midwives;

 

analogous U.S. state laws and regulations, including: state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to our business practices, including but not limited to, research, distribution, sales and marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including private insurers; state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the U.S. federal government, or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources; state laws and regulations that require drug manufacturers to file reports relating to pricing and marketing information, which requires tracking gifts and other remuneration and items of value provided to healthcare professionals and entities; and state and local laws that require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives; and

 

similar healthcare laws and regulations in the European Union and other jurisdictions, including reporting requirements detailing interactions with and payments to healthcare providers.

Ensuring that our internal operations and future business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations, agency guidance or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental laws and regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, exclusion from government-funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid or similar programs in other countries or jurisdictions, integrity oversight and reporting obligations to resolve allegations of non-compliance, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any of the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found to not be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to

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criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs and imprisonment, which could affect our ability to operate our business. Further, defending against any such actions can be costly, time-consuming and may require significant personnel resources. Therefore, even if we are successful in defending against any such actions that may be brought against us, our business may be impaired.

Unfavorable global economic conditions could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our results of operations could be adversely affected by general conditions in the global economy and in the global financial markets. For example, the global financial crisis caused extreme volatility and disruptions in the capital and credit markets. A severe or prolonged economic downturn, such as the global financial crisis, could result in a variety of risks to our business, including, weakened demand for our product candidates and our ability to raise additional capital when needed on acceptable terms, if at all. A weak or declining economy could also strain our suppliers, possibly resulting in supply disruption, or cause our customers to delay making payments for our services. Doing business internationally involves a number of risks, including but not limited to:

 

multiple, conflicting and changing laws and regulations such as privacy regulations, tax laws and export and import restrictions;

 

employment laws, regulatory requirements and other governmental approvals, permits and licenses;

 

failure by us to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for the use of our products in various countries;

 

additional potentially relevant third-party patent rights;

 

complexities and difficulties in obtaining protection and enforcing our intellectual property;

 

difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;

 

complexities associated with managing multiple payor reimbursement regimes, government payors or patient self-pay systems;

 

limits in our ability to penetrate international markets;

 

financial risks, such as longer payment cycles, difficulty collecting accounts receivable, the impact of local and regional financial crises on demand and payment for our products and exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations;

 

natural disasters, political and economic instability, including wars, terrorism, political unrest, outbreak of disease, such as the novel coronavirus, and boycotts;

 

curtailment of trade, and other business restrictions;

 

certain expenses including, among others, expenses for travel, translation and insurance; and

 

regulatory and compliance risks that relate to maintaining accurate information and control over sales and activities that may fall within the purview of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, its books and records provisions or its anti-bribery provisions.

Any of the foregoing could harm our business and we cannot anticipate all of the ways in which the current economic climate and financial market conditions could adversely impact our business.

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Our internal computer systems, or those of our third-party CMOs, CROs, contractors and consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our product candidates’ development programs.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our third-party CMOs, CROs, contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, theft, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. Attacks upon information technology systems are increasing in their frequency, levels of persistence, sophistication and intensity, and are being conducted by sophisticated and organized groups and individuals with a wide range of motives and expertise. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may also face increased cybersecurity risks due to our reliance on internet technology and the number of our employees who are working remotely, which may create additional opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. Furthermore, because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access to, or to sabotage, systems change frequently and often are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or implement adequate preventative measures. We may also experience security breaches that may remain undetected for an extended period. While we do not believe that we have experienced any such system failure or accident, from time to time, we have been the target of cybersecurity breach attempts and expect them to continue as cybersecurity threats have been rapidly evolving in sophistication and becoming more prevalent. While we do not believe that these cybersecurity breaches have had a material impact on our operations, future breaches may do so. If such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our programs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data for our product candidates could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach results in a loss of or damage to our data or applications or other data or applications relating to our technology or product candidates, or inappropriate disclosure or theft of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liabilities and the further development of our product candidates could be delayed.

Actual or perceived failures to comply with applicable data protection, privacy and security laws, regulations, standards and other requirements could adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

The global data protection landscape is rapidly evolving, and we are or may become subject to numerous state, federal and foreign laws, requirements and regulations governing the collection, use, disclosure, retention, and security of personal data, such as information that we may collect in connection with clinical trials in the U.S. and abroad. Implementation standards and enforcement practices are likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future, and we cannot yet determine the impact future laws, regulations, standards, or perception of their requirements may have on our business. This evolution may create uncertainty in our business, affect our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions or to collect, store, transfer use and share personal information, necessitate the acceptance of more onerous obligations in our contracts, result in liability or impose additional costs on us. The cost of compliance with these laws, regulations and standards is high and is likely to increase in the future. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with federal, state or foreign laws or regulation, our internal policies and procedures or our contracts governing our processing of personal information could result in negative publicity, government investigations and enforcement actions, claims by third parties and damage to our reputation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our operations, financial performance and business.

Most healthcare providers, including research institutions from which we obtain patient health information, are subject to privacy and security regulations promulgated under HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or the HITECH Act. In the U.S., HIPAA imposes, among other things, certain standards relating to the privacy, security, transmission and breach reporting of individually identifiable health information. We are not currently classified as a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA and thus are not subject to its requirements or penalties. However, any person may be prosecuted under HIPAA’s criminal provisions either directly or under aiding-and-abetting or conspiracy principles. Consequently, depending on the facts and circumstances, we could face substantial criminal penalties if we knowingly receive individually identifiable health information from a HIPAA-covered healthcare provider or research institution that has not satisfied HIPAA’s requirements for disclosure of individually identifiable health information. As our operations and business grow, we may become subject to or affected by new or additional data protection laws and regulations and face increased scrutiny or attention from regulatory authorities. In addition, we may maintain sensitive personally identifiable information, including health information, that we receive throughout

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the clinical trial process, in the course of our research collaborations, and directly from individuals (or their healthcare providers) who enroll in our patient assistance programs. As such, we may be subject to state laws requiring notification of affected individuals and state regulators in the event of a breach of personal information, which is a broader class of information than the health information protected by HIPAA. Such state laws and regulations will be subject to interpretation by various courts and other governmental authorities, thus creating potentially complex compliance issues for us and our future customers and strategic partners. For example, the CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA creates individual privacy rights for California consumers and increases the privacy and security obligations of entities handling certain personal information. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches that is expected to increase data breach litigation. The CCPA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability, and many similar laws have been proposed at the federal level and in other states. Further, the CPRA recently passed in California. The CPRA will impose additional data protection obligations on covered businesses, including additional consumer rights processes, limitations on data uses, new audit requirements for higher risk data, and opt outs for certain uses of sensitive data. It will also create a new California data protection agency authorized to issue substantive regulations and could result in increased privacy and information security enforcement. The majority of the provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2023, and additional compliance investment and potential business process changes may be required. In the event that we are subject to or affected by HIPAA, the CCPA, the CPRA or other domestic privacy and data protection laws, any liability from failure to comply with the requirements of these laws could adversely affect our financial condition Our clinical trial programs outside the United States may implicate international data protection laws, including the EU Data Protection Directive and legislation of the EU member states implementing it.

Our activities outside the United States impose additional compliance requirements and generate additional risks of enforcement for noncompliance. In Europe, the GDPR went into effect in May 2018 and imposes strict requirements for processing the personal data of individuals within the European Economic Area, or EEA. Companies that must comply with the GDPR face increased compliance obligations and risk, including more robust regulatory enforcement of data protection requirements and potential fines for noncompliance of up to €20 million or 4% of the annual global revenues of the noncompliant company, whichever is greater. Among other requirements, the GDPR regulates transfers of personal data subject to the GDPR to third countries that have not been found to provide adequate protection to such personal data, including the United States, and the efficacy and longevity of current transfer mechanisms between the EU and the United States remains uncertain. For example, in 2016, the EU and United States agreed to a transfer framework for data transferred from the EU to the United States, called the Privacy Shield, but the Privacy Shield was invalidated in July 2020 by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Further, from January 1, 2021, companies have to comply with the GDPR and also the United Kingdom GDPR, or UK GDPR, which, together with the amended UK Data Protection Act 2018, retains the GDPR in UK national law. The UK GDPR mirrors the fines under the GDPR, i.e., fines up to the greater of €20 million (£17.5 million) or 4% of global turnover. The relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU in relation to certain aspects of data protection law remains unclear, and it is unclear how United Kingdom data protection laws and regulations will develop in the medium to longer term, and how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated in the long term. Currently there is a four to six-month grace period agreed in the EU and United Kingdom Trade and Cooperation Agreement, ending June 30, 2021 at the latest, whilst the parties discuss an adequacy decision. However, it is not clear whether (and when) an adequacy decision may be granted by the European Commission enabling data transfers from EU member states to the United Kingdom long term without additional measures. These changes may lead to additional costs and increase our overall risk exposure.

Failure by our CROs and other third-party contractors to comply with the strict rules on the transfer of personal data outside of the European Union into the United States may result in the imposition of criminal and administrative sanctions on such collaborators, which could adversely affect our business. Furthermore, certain health privacy laws, data breach notification laws, consumer protection laws and genetic testing laws may apply directly to our operations and/or those of our collaborators and may impose restrictions on our collection, use and dissemination of individuals’ health information. Moreover, patients about whom we or our collaborators obtain health information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may have statutory or contractual rights that limit our ability to use and disclose the information. We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to ensure ongoing compliance with applicable privacy and data security laws. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.

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Although we work to comply with applicable laws, regulations and standards, our contractual obligations and other legal obligations, these requirements are evolving and may be modified, interpreted and applied in an inconsistent manner from one jurisdiction to another, and may conflict with one another or other legal obligations with which we must comply. Any failure or perceived failure by us, our third-party CMOs, CROs, contractors, or consultants to comply with applicable federal, state or local regulatory requirements, we could be subject to a range of regulatory actions that could affect our or our contractors’ ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates and could harm or prevent sales of any affected products that we are able to commercialize, or could substantially increase the costs and expenses of developing, commercializing and marketing our products. Any threatened or actual government enforcement action could also generate adverse publicity and require that we devote substantial resources that could otherwise be used in other aspects of our business. Increasing use of social media could give rise to liability, breaches of data security or reputational damage.

Violations of or liabilities under environmental, health and safety laws and regulations could subject us to fines, penalties or other costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.

We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures, the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes and the cleanup of contaminated sites. Our operations involve the use of potentially hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We could incur substantial costs as a result of violations of or liabilities under environmental requirements in connection with our operations or property, including fines, penalties and other sanctions, investigation and cleanup costs and third-party claims. Although we generally contract with third parties for the disposal of hazardous materials and wastes from our operations, we cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources.

Furthermore, environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have tended to become more stringent. We cannot predict the impact of changes to applicable laws and regulations and cannot be certain of our future compliance. In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts.

Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.

Insurance policies are expensive and protect us only from some business risks, which leaves us exposed to uninsured liabilities.

Some of the insurance policies we currently maintain include general liability, employment practices liability, property, workers’ compensation, umbrella, and directors’ and officers’ insurance. These policies may not adequately cover all categories of risk that our business may encounter.

Any additional product liability insurance coverage we acquire in the future may not be sufficient to reimburse us for any expenses or losses we may suffer. Moreover, insurance coverage is becoming increasingly expensive and in the future we may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in sufficient amounts to protect us against losses due to liability. If we obtain marketing approval for avasopasem, we intend to acquire insurance coverage to include the sale of commercial products; however, we may be unable to obtain product liability insurance on commercially reasonable terms or in adequate amounts. A successful product liability claim or series of claims brought against us could cause our share price to decline and, if judgments exceed our insurance coverage, could adversely affect our results of operations and business, including preventing or limiting the development and commercialization of any product candidates we develop. We do not carry specific biological or hazardous waste insurance coverage, and our property, casualty and general liability insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for damages and fines arising from biological or hazardous waste exposure or

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contamination. Accordingly, in the event of contamination or injury, we could be held liable for damages or be penalized with fines in an amount exceeding our resources, and our clinical trials or regulatory approvals could be suspended.

We also expect that operating as a public company will make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified people to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as executive officers. We do not know, however, if we will be able to maintain existing insurance with adequate levels of coverage. Any significant uninsured liability may require us to pay substantial amounts, which would adversely affect our cash position and results of operations.

We and our employees are increasingly utilizing social media tools as a means of communication both internally and externally.

Despite our efforts to monitor evolving social media communication guidelines and comply with applicable rules, there is risk that the use of social media by us or our employees to communicate about our product candidates or business may cause us to be found in violation of applicable requirements. In addition, our employees may knowingly or inadvertently make use of social media in ways that may not comply with our social media policy or other legal or contractual requirements, which may give rise to liability, lead to the loss of trade secrets or other intellectual property or result in public exposure of personal information of our employees, clinical trial patients, customers and others. Furthermore, negative posts or comments about us or our product candidates in social media could seriously damage our reputation, brand image and goodwill. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition and could adversely affect the price of our common stock.

Our employees and independent contractors, including consultants, vendors, and any third parties we may engage in connection with development and commercialization may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements, which could harm our business.

Misconduct by our employees and independent contractors, including consultants, vendors, and any third parties we may engage in connection with development and commercialization, could include intentional, reckless or negligent conduct or unauthorized activities that violate: (i) the laws and regulations of the FDA, the EMA and other comparable regulatory authorities, including those laws that require the reporting of true, complete and accurate information to such authorities; (ii) manufacturing standards; (iii) data privacy, security, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations; or (iv) laws that require the reporting of true, complete and accurate financial information and data. Specifically, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Activities subject to these laws could also involve the improper use or misrepresentation of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, creation of fraudulent data in preclinical studies or clinical trials or illegal misappropriation of drug product, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct by employees and other third parties, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with such laws or regulations. Additionally, we are subject to the risk that a person or government could allege such fraud or other misconduct, even if none occurred. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business and results of operations, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, monetary fines, disgorgements, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, other U.S. federal healthcare programs or healthcare programs in other jurisdictions, integrity oversight and reporting obligations to resolve allegations of non-compliance, individual imprisonment, other sanctions, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and curtailment of our operations.

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We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by natural disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.

Natural disasters could severely disrupt our operations and have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage, public health emergency, such as the novel coronavirus, or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as the manufacturing facilities on which we rely, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place may prove inadequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Our ability to use our net operating losses to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.

In general, under Section 382 of the Code, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change,” generally defined as a greater than 50% change by value in its equity ownership over a three-year period, is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre change net operating losses, or NOLs, to offset future taxable income. Our existing NOLs may be subject to limitations arising from previous ownership changes, and if we undergo an ownership change, our ability to utilize NOLs could be further limited by Section 382 of the Code. Future changes in our stock ownership, some of which might be beyond our control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code. For these reasons, in the event we experience a change of control, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of the NOLs even if we attain profitability.

We are a multinational company that faces complex taxation regimes in various jurisdictions. Audits, investigations, and tax proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

We are subject to income and non-income taxes in multiple jurisdictions. Income tax accounting often involves complex issues, and judgment is required in determining our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities. In particular, the jurisdictions in which we operate have detailed transfer pricing rules, which require that all transactions with non-resident related parties be priced using arm’s length pricing principles within the meaning of such rules. We could be subject to tax audits involving transfer pricing issues. We believe that our tax positions are reasonable and our tax reserves are adequate to cover any potential liability. However, tax authorities in certain jurisdictions may disagree with our position, including the propriety of our related party arm’s length transfer pricing policies and the tax treatment of corresponding expenses and income. If any of these tax authorities were successful in challenging our positions, we may be liable for additional income tax and penalties and interest related thereto in excess of any reserves established therefor, which may have a significant impact on our results and operations and future cash flow.

Risks Related to Our Common Stock

Our directors, officers and principal stockholders have significant voting power and may take actions that may not be in the best interests of our other stockholders.

Our officers, directors and principal stockholders each holding more than 5% of our common stock, collectively, control approximately 64.7% of our outstanding common stock as of December 31, 2020. As a result, these stockholders, if they act together, will be able to control the management and affairs of our company and most matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors and approval of significant corporate transactions. The interests of these stockholders may not be the same as or may even conflict with your interests. For example, these stockholders could attempt to delay or prevent a change in control of us, even if such change in control would benefit our other stockholders, which could deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their common stock as part of a sale of us or our assets, and might affect the prevailing market price of our common stock due to investors’ perceptions that conflicts of interest may exist or arise. As a result, this concentration of ownership may not be in the best interests of our other stockholders.

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We are an “emerging growth company,” and the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the JOBS Act. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (a) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenues of $1.07 billion or more, (b) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the date of the completion of our IPO (December 31, 2024), (c) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in nonconvertible debt during the previous three years, or (d) the date on which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer under the rules of the SEC, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter. For so long as we remain an emerging growth company, we are permitted and intend to rely on exemptions from certain disclosure requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. These exemptions include:

 

not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Section 404;

 

an exemption from compliance with the requirement of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding the communication of critical audit matters in the auditor’s report on the financial statements;

 

providing only two years of audited financial statements in addition to any required unaudited interim financial statements and a correspondingly reduced “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” disclosure;

 

reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation; and

 

exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved.

We may choose to take advantage of some, but not all, of the available exemptions. In particular, we have provided only two years of audited financial statements and have not included all of the executive compensation information that would be required if we were not an emerging growth company. We cannot predict whether investors will find our common stock less attractive if we rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our shares price may be more volatile.

We are a “smaller reporting company” and the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to smaller reporting companies may make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are considered a “smaller reporting company.” We are therefore entitled to rely on certain reduced disclosure requirements, such as an exemption from providing selected financial data and executive compensation information. These exemptions and reduced disclosures in our SEC filings due to our status as a smaller reporting company may make it harder for investors to analyze our results of operations and financial prospects. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock prices may be more volatile.

We have incurred and expect to continue to incur increased costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management will be required to devote substantial time to new compliance initiatives.

As a public company, we have incurred, and particularly after we are no longer an “emerging growth company,