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BRIDGEBIO PHARMA, INC.
2021 Form 10‑K Annual Report
Table of Contents
Special Note Regarding Forward‑Looking Statements
This Annual Report on Form 10‑K contains forward‑looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Such forward‑looking statements involve substantial risks, uncertainties and assumptions. All statements in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K, other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding our strategy, future operations, future operating expenses, future financial position, future revenue, projected costs, prospects, plans, intentions, expectations, goals and objectives may be forward‑looking statements. The words “anticipates,” “believes,” “could,” “designed,” “estimates,” “expects,” “goal,” “intends,” “may,” “objective,” “plans,” “projects,” “pursuing,” “will,” “would” and similar expressions (including the negatives thereof) are intended to identify forward‑looking statements, although not all forward‑looking statements contain these identifying words. The forward-looking statements in this report include, but are not limited to, statements about:
We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions, expectations or objectives disclosed in our forward‑looking statements and the assumptions underlying our forward‑looking statements may prove incorrect. Furthermore, if our forward‑looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. Therefore, you should not place undue reliance on our forward‑looking statements, and you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all. Actual results or events could differ materially from the plans, intentions, expectations and objectives disclosed in the forward‑looking statements that we make. Important factors that we believe could cause actual results or events to differ materially from our forward‑looking statements include, but are not limited to, those listed under “Risk Factors” in Item 1A of Part I, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7 of Part II and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K. Our forward‑looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K are based on current expectations as of the date hereof and we do not assume any obligation to update any forward‑looking statements on account of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
RISK FACTOR SUMMARY
Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. This summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, and other risks that we face, can be found below under the heading “Risk Factors” and should be carefully considered, together with other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, before making investment decisions regarding our common stock.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
We are a team of experienced drug discoverers, developers and innovators working to create life-altering medicines that target well-characterized genetic diseases at their source. We founded BridgeBio in 2015 to identify and advance transformative medicines to treat patients who suffer from Mendelian diseases, which are diseases that arise from defects in a single gene, and cancers with clear genetic drivers. Our pipeline of over 30 development programs ranges from early discovery to late-stage clinical development, and our commercial organization is focused on delivering our two approved therapies and preparing for the potential commercial launch of additional therapies. Several of our programs target indications that we believe present the potential for our product candidates, if approved, to target portions of market opportunities of at least $1.0 billion in annual sales.
We focus on genetic diseases because they exist at the intersection of high unmet patient need and tractable biology. Our approach is to translate research pioneered at academic laboratories and leading medical institutions into products that we hope will ultimately reach patients. We are able to realize this opportunity through a confluence of scientific advances, including: (i) identification of the genetic underpinnings of disease as more cost-efficient genome and exome sequencing becomes available; (ii) progress in molecular biology; and (iii) the development and maturation of longitudinal data and retrospective studies that enable the linkage of genes to diseases. We believe that this early-stage innovation represents one of the greatest practical sources for new drug creation.
We believe we have developed a world-class drug engineering product platform that supports the continued growth of our company and the advancement of our pipeline.
Our drug engineering platform is characterized by four stages: Discover, Create, Test and Deliver.
We believe we have developed a world class drug engineering platform that is sustainable and scalable, and already producing results. The discovery platform has yielded over 30 programs in the pipeline. We have filed over 10 INDs since 2015 and are testing our product candidates in over 20 clinical trials across the globe.
Our pipeline includes over 30 development programs. The following table summarizes our development programs, their estimated patient populations, their therapeutic modalities and their development status:
Of our programs, we believe the following have the greatest potential to drive significant near-term value for our company due to a combination of factors, including their stage of development, potential availability of expedited development pathways, degree of unmet medical need and potential market size in the applicable target indication:
PRECISION CARDIORENAL PORTFOLIO
Acoramidis (Eidos): TTR Amyloidosis
We are developing acoramidis, also known as AG10 and BBP-265, an oral small molecule TTR stabilizer, for the treatment of TTR amyloidosis, or ATTR. A Phase 3 clinical trial in patients with ATTR-CM, known as the ATTRibute-CM study, is currently ongoing. On December 27, 2021, we reported that ATTRibute-CM did not meet its Part A primary endpoint at Month 12. Mean observed six-minute walking distance, or 6MWD, decline for the acoramidis and placebo arms were 9 meters and 7 meters, respectively. Both declines were similar to healthy elderly adults and less than prior untreated ATTR-CM cohorts. We observed improvements at Month 12 on the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire Overall Score, or KCCQ-OS, a quality-of-life measurement, N-terminal pro BNP, or NT-proBNP, a cardiac biomarker, and serum TTR concentration, a measure of TTR stabilization. To protect the integrity of Part B, as sponsor, our access to unblinded adverse event data for Part A excluded adverse events leading to a cardiovascular hospitalization (as determined by investigators) excepting events with the outcome of death. Based on these data, acoramidis was generally well-tolerated with no safety signals of clinical concern identified. We anticipate reporting top-line 30-month outcomes data from Part B of the ATTRibute-CM study in mid-2023. We continue to believe acoramidis has the potential to demonstrate benefit on the 30-month hierarchical composite primary endpoint, which utilizes the Finkelstein-Schoenfeld methodology and includes all-cause mortality and cardiovascular hospitalizations.
ATTR is a disease caused by destabilization of TTR tetramers resulting in progressive amyloid deposition. TTR is a protein that occurs naturally in the form of a tetramer, which is a molecular structure consisting of four identical subunits, or monomers, and performs multiple physiologic roles, including the transport of essential hormones and vitamins. In ATTR, TTR tetramers become destabilized due to a mutation in the TTR gene or as part of the natural aging process. Destabilized TTR dissociates into monomers, self-aggregates and assembles into fibrils that are deposited, predominantly in the heart and nervous system, driving disease pathophysiology.
Cardiomyopathic ATTR is commonly categorized by its genotypic cause with wild-type ATTR cardiomyopathy, or ATTRwt-CM, which results from an age-related process and variant ATTR cardiomyopathy, or ATTRv-CM. Both forms of the disease are progressive and fatal. ATTRwt-CM and ATTRv-CM patients generally present with symptoms later in life (older than 50) and have median life expectancies of two to five years from diagnosis if untreated. Progression of both forms of the disease can cause significant disability, impact productivity and quality of life, and create a significant economic burden due to the costs associated with patient need for supportive care. As the disease progresses, ATTRwt-CM and ATTRv-CM patients may require frequent hospitalizations and repeated interventions.
The worldwide estimated prevalence of ATTRwt-CM and ATTRv-CM is greater than 400,000 and 40,000, respectively. We believe that cardiomyopathic ATTR is significantly underdiagnosed today. For example, recent literature has suggested that between 10% to 13% of patients diagnosed with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction may, in fact, have undiagnosed ATTR-CM. This single segment represents approximately half of the 6.0 million to 7.0 million estimated people with heart failure in the United States alone. With the increasing availability of disease-modifying therapeutics, disease awareness is heightened.
We believe the population of diagnosed ATTR-CM patients is also growing rapidly due to the shift to an accurate and reliable non-invasive diagnostic imaging technique. Historically, a heart biopsy was required to make a diagnosis of ATTR-CM. Recently, however, it has been shown that scintigraphy with technetium-labelled radiotracers is a highly accurate, non-invasive, and cost-effective method for ATTR-CM diagnosis. We believe that both increased disease awareness and availability of this non-invasive diagnostic imaging technique are allowing for earlier diagnosis of ATTR-CM patients and the identification of previously misdiagnosed patients.
Our Product Concept
Acoramidis is a clinical-stage, orally administered, small molecule TTR stabilizer being developed to treat ATTR at its source by reducing the level of amyloid formation through TTR stabilization. This has been shown in preclinical studies and clinical trials to prevent the dissociation of tetrameric TTR into monomers, and in preclinical studies, to reduce the rate of amyloid fibril formation. In addition, acoramidis has been shown to lead to increased circulating levels of tetrameric TTR. Acoramidis has been designed to bind TTR in a way that causes TTR’s conformational structure to mimic that of the well-characterized T119M variant, a naturally occurring rescue mutation that super stabilizes the TTR tetramer. Known as a trans-allelic trans-suppressor, the T119M variant has been observed to prevent the dissociation of TTR tetramers into monomers; T119M tetramers dissociate 40-fold more slowly than wild-type tetramers in biochemical assays. Known as a trans-allelic trans-suppressor, individuals who coinherit the T119M rescue mutation along with a TTR-destabilizing mutation are protected against the development of ATTR.
In third-party clinical trials of tafamidis and diflunisal, interventional approaches that increased TTR stabilization led to improved outcomes in this disease and were correlated with increases in serum TTR. Further, based on genetic data, there is a correlation between the level of TTR stabilization, serum TTR levels and disease severity. As a result, we believe that serum TTR is a predictive biomarker for disease prognosis and that there may be a relationship between more effective TTR stabilization, serum TTR levels and improved clinical outcomes. Based on head-to-head preclinical data, we believe that acoramidis has the potential to stabilize TTR to a greater extent than other TTR stabilizers.
Phase 2 Data
In November 2018, we announced Phase 2 data for acoramidis in symptomatic patients with ATTR-CM. The randomized, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging clinical trial included 49 patients with symptomatic ATTR-CM, of which 14 had ATTR-CM. Eligible patients were randomized in a 1:1:1 ratio to placebo or 400 mg or 800 mg of acoramidis twice daily. Overall, acoramidis was well-tolerated in symptomatic ATTR-CM subjects with no safety signals of potential clinical concern attributed to study drug. Acoramidis significantly raised serum TTR concentrations (p < 0.0001) by 50% and 36% in subjects administered 800 mg twice daily and 400 twice daily, respectively, at day 28. Normalized serum TTR levels were observed in all actively treated subjects at day 28. p-value is a statistical calculation that relates to the probability that the difference between groups happened by chance, with a p-value of less than 0.05 (i.e., less than 5% probability that the difference happened by chance) generally being used as the threshold to indicate statistical significance.
In November 2019, we announced data from our Phase 2 open-label extension, or OLE, suggesting long-term tolerability of acoramidis and stabilization of ATTR-CM disease measures. Acoramidis was well-tolerated in the OLE and no safety signals of potential clinical concern were attributed to study drug. The rate of all-cause mortality (including either death or cardiac transplantation, 8.5%) and cardiovascular-related hospitalizations (proportion experiencing at least one event, 25.5%) observed in an exploratory analysis of OLE participants following a median of 15 months since Phase 2 initiation were lower than those observed at 15 months in placebo-treated patients in the ATTR-ACT study (all-cause mortality including death or cardiac transplantation, 15.3%; cardiovascular-related hospitalizations, 41.8%).
Phase 3 Data
In February 2019, we initiated ATTRibute-CM, a global Phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of acoramidis in ATTR-CM. ATTRibute-CM enrolled 632 subjects with symptomatic ATTR-CM, associated with either wild-type or variant TTR and New York Heart Association, or NYHA, Class I-III symptoms. Subjects were randomized 2:1 between treatment (acoramidis 800 mg) and placebo twice daily in a two-part trial. In Part A, change in 6MWD at 12 months was compared between treatment and placebo groups as a potential registrational endpoint. In Part B, the study will continue for a total duration of 30 months, at which point the hierarchical composite primary endpoint including all-cause mortality and cardiovascular hospitalizations will be compared between treatment and control groups. Secondary endpoints include quality of life as assessed by the KCCQ-OS, safety parameters, serum TTR levels, a measure of TTR stabilization, and NT-proBNP levels, a cardiac biomarker. In Part B, concomitant use of tafamidis may be allowed. A schematic of the trial is shown below:
On December 27, 2021, we reported in a topline data release that Part A of the ATTRibute-CM study did not meet its primary endpoint of change from baseline in 6MWD (p = 0.76). Mean observed 6MWD decline for the acoramidis and placebo arms were 9 meters and 7 meters, respectively. Decline observed in both arms of ATTRibute-CM was similar to expected functional decline in healthy elderly adults. We observed improvements in acoramidis-treated participants relative to placebo-treated participants at Month 12 on secondary and exploratory endpoints including KCCQ-OS, NT-proBNP, and serum TTR concentration.
Acoramidis was generally well-tolerated with no safety signals of clinical concern identified. To protect the integrity of Part B, as sponsor, our access to unblinded adverse event data for Part A excludes adverse events leading to a cardiovascular hospitalization (as determined by investigators) excepting events with the outcome of death. Adverse events, or AEs, occurred in 85.3% of placebo-treated participants and 91.9% of acoramidis-treated participants. In both the placebo and active treatment groups, most of the AEs were mild to moderate in severity. Serious adverse events, or SAEs, occurred in 23.2% of placebo-treated participants and 20.2% of acoramidis-treated participants. AEs leading to death occurred in 6.2% of placebo-treated participants and 4.5% of acoramidis-treated participants.
We continue to believe acoramidis has the potential to demonstrate benefit on the 30-month hierarchical composite primary endpoint, which utilizes the Finkelstein-Schoenfeld methodology and includes all-cause mortality and cardiovascular hospitalizations. We anticipate reporting top-line 30-month outcomes data from Part B of the ATTRibute-CM study in mid-2023.
We believe that the total market for ATTR therapeutic interventions will continue to grow for the foreseeable future as the population of diagnosed patients increases as a result of heightened disease awareness and the adoption of non-invasive diagnostic techniques. The number of identified ATTR-CM patients in the United States has grown from less than 5,000 in 2019 to more than 30,000 in 2021. As such, if acoramidis is approved, we believe that there could be a significant population of newly diagnosed patients that could be treated with acoramidis who have not previously been treated with a disease-modifying therapy. If approved, we believe that acoramidis could have meaningful commercial potential. Further, we believe that acoramidis, if approved, has the potential to demonstrate benefit as a best-in-class stabilizer for the treatment of ATTR.
If acoramidis is approved as a treatment for ATTR-CM, we expect to face competition from Vyndaqel / Vyndamax (tafamidis meglumine / tafamidis), which is approved in certain territories, including the United States, the European Union, and Japan as a treatment for ATTR-CM. Additionally, there are a number of RNAi, antisense oligonucleotide, antibody, and gene editing product candidates that are currently in development as potential treatments for ATTR-CM.
Encaleret: Autosomal Dominant Hypocalcemia Type 1 and Hypoparathyroidism
Encaleret is an oral small molecule antagonist of the calcium sensing receptor, or CaSR, that we are developing for the treatment of Autosomal Dominant Hypocalcemia Type 1, or ADH1. We are currently studying encaleret in an ongoing Phase 2b clinical trial as a potential treatment for patients with ADH1. We reported early results from this study in 2021. In 13 participants in the Phase 2b study, encaleret normalized mean blood calcium and 24-hour urine calcium excretion, increased parathyroid hormone, or PTH, and decreased phosphate into the normal range during both Periods 1 and 2. Encaleret was well-tolerated when administered once or twice daily over 5 days, with no SAEs reported. Encaleret has been granted orphan drug and fast track designations by the FDA for the treatment of autosomal dominant hypocalcemia. Encaleret has also been grated orphan designation by the European Commission as a treatment for hypoparathyroidism, inclusive of ADH1.
Our Product Concept
Encaleret is an investigational small molecule antagonist of the CaSR. It has been studied in more than 1,200 human subjects in its prior development and was observed to increase serum calcium in a dose-dependent manner. The rationale for developing encaleret as a potential treatment for patients with ADH1 is based on both non-clinical and clinical evidence. Antagonists of the CaSR have been shown, in both in vitro and in vivo models, to shift the aberrant CaSR “set-point” back towards a normal IC50 for calcium, resulting in increased PTH secretion, elevation of blood calcium concentrations, and reduction of urinary calcium excretion in cellular and animal models of ADH1. By selectively antagonizing the CaSR, encaleret may restore normal CaSR function in individuals with ADH1 and may address symptoms associated with hypocalcemia and hypercalciuria.
Clinical Development Plan
A single-center Phase 2b study investigating encaleret in ADH1 at the National Institutes of Health is ongoing. We anticipate reporting complete results from this study in 2022. We also plan to initiate a Phase 3 registrational study in ADH1 in 2022.
Encaleret is the only molecule that has been publicly disclosed to be in development specifically for the treatment of ADH1. There are other identified companies developing compounds for the treatment of hypoparathyroidism using recombinant parathyroid hormone analogs or PTH receptor agonists: Takeda Pharmaceutical Company (Natpara), Ascendis Pharma A/S (TransCon PTH), Amolyt Pharma (AZP-3601), Chugai Pharmaceutical Company (PCO371), EnteraBio Ltd. (EB612), and Extend Biosciences Inc. (EXT607).
BBP-711: Primary Hyperoxaluria and Recurrent Stone Formers
BBP-711 is an oral, small molecule inhibitor of glycolate oxidase, or GO, that we are developing for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria and patients who experience recurrent kidney stones. BBP-711 is currently in clinical development. BBP-711 has received orphan drug designation from the FDA and EMA as a treatment of primary hyperoxaluria type 1, or PH1. BBP-711 has also been designated as a drug for a rare pediatric disease for treatment of PH1.
PH1 is a rare, autosomal-recessive inborn error of metabolism driven by mutations in the AGXT gene, which codes for the enzyme alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase, or AGT. Deficiencies in the AGT enzyme translate into the incapacity of PH1 patients to detoxify glyoxylate into glycine. As a result, glyoxylate is oxidized into oxalate, which cannot be metabolized by humans. Elevated oxalate levels form calcium oxalate, or CaOx, crystals, and subsequently kidney stones, which damage the kidneys, culminating in renal dysfunction. Prevalence for PH1 is estimated to be 5,000 patients in the United States and the European Union. Due to heterogeneous symptom presentation and similarity with other diseases, we believe that the disease is underdiagnosed. Standard of care involves symptomatic management through supplementation with vitamin B6, increased fluid intake, and citrate, to intensive dialysis and lithotripsy. Ultimately, the only curative treatment is a combined liver and kidney transplant.
In individuals without a primary form of hyperoxaluria, elevated excretion of oxalate can be caused by increased dietary absorption of oxalate, endogenous production of oxalate, or a combination of the two. Hyperoxaluria from increased dietary or endogenous production of oxalate also increase the risk for recurrent CaOx nephrolithiasis and is associated with chronic kidney disease, or CKD, progression. The prevalence of nephrolithiasis is high (e.g., approximately 9% in the United States) and has been increasing globally. Clinical stone events cause substantial pain, often require surgical intervention, and may be associated with severe complications including infections and renal failure, ultimately resulting in substantial medical resource utilization. Presentation typically occurs in working-age adults, resulting in substantial impact to quality of life and functional status. Though increased fluid consumption and diuretic medications can decrease the risk of recurrent nephrolithiasis, the rate or recurrence following an initial stone event remains high, and there are few pharmaceutical options for recurrent stone formers. We estimate the prevalence of recurrent stone formers with hyperoxaluria to be 1.5 million in the United States and the European Union.
Our Product Concept
BBP-711 is a clinical-stage, orally administered, small molecule inhibitor of GO. Peroxisomal GO has been shown to be a safe and efficient target for substrate reduction therapy in PH1 via nonclinical animal studies and clinical trials in PH1 patients. GO-deficient mice exhibit no phenotype other than elevated plasma and urine glycolate levels, consistent with case reports of individuals with a null mutation in the human hydroxyacid oxidase 1 (HAOX1) gene. Furthermore, GO-deficient mice crossed with mouse models of PH1 (Agxt-/-) result in double knockout mice that have a significantly decreased hyperoxaluric phenotype relative to PH1 mice. Knockdown of GO via the RNA interference therapeutic lumasiran similarly decreased the hyperoxaluric phenotype in PH1 mice, with urinary oxalate concentrations reduced by up to 50% after a single dose. Targeting GO by the RNA interference therapeutic lumasiran, reduced urinary oxalate by a mean of 65% in patients with PH1. As a consequence, inhibition of GO results in marked increases of glycolate levels, which is soluble and readily excreted in the urine. The resulting glycolic aciduria is not expected to raise any safety concern.
Based on the available evidence on the mechanism of action, administration of BBP-711 is predicted to lower plasma oxalate levels and urinary oxalate excretion in patients with hyperoxaluria.
Clinical development plan
We initiated a First-in-Human Phase 1 study in healthy adult volunteers in 2021. We anticipate reporting results from this study in 2022.
Other identified competitors developing or commercializing treatments for hyperoxaluria (excluding enteric hyperoxaluria) include Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (lumasiran), Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc. (nedosiran), Chinook Therapeutics Inc. (CHK-336), and BioMarin Pharmaceuticals Inc. (BMN-255).
Fosdenopterin: MoCD Type A
Fosdenopterin, an intravenous, or IV, formulation of synthetic cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate, or CPMP, was developed as a treatment of molybdenum cofactor deficiency, or MoCD, Type A. Fosdenopterin, under the brand name NULIBRY, was approved by the FDA in February 2021 for patients with MoCD Type A. The NULIBRY approval came with orphan drug exclusivity and a priority review voucher.
Fosdenopterin also has an orphan drug designation for the treatment of MoCD Type A with the EMA. In November 2021, we submitted a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, with the EMA. The MAA is undergoing an Accelerated Assessment Review by the EMA through a Centralized Procedure.
In June 2021, we, through our partnership with Medison, submitted a New Drug Application to the Ministry of Health in Israel seeking an approval as a treatment of MoCD Type A. The application is currently under Fast Track Review
MoCD Type A is an ultra-rare autosomal recessive inborn error of metabolism caused by disruption in molybdenum cofactor, or MoCo, biosynthesis which results in deficiencies in multiple enzyme activities, including sulfite oxidase, or SOX, and leads to uncontrolled sulfite toxicity in the brain. The disease typically presents very early in life, with median presentation at first day of life. The disease is characterized by severe and rapidly progressive acute sulfite-related neurological damage and associated heterogeneous neurological sequelae including seizures, feeding difficulties and in most cases death, with the median survival estimated to be approximately three years. Utilizing a conservative and less conservative variant dataset with associated pathogenicity scores, researchers calculated that the overall incidence of MoCD Type A is within the range of one in 341,690 to 411,187. NULIBRY is the only available treatment approved for any form of MoCD. Prior to NULIBRY approval, supportive care and anti-convulsant therapy have been used to manage symptoms.
Low-dose Infigratinib: Achondroplasia
We are developing low-dose infigratinib, an oral FGFR1-3 selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor, or TKI, for the treatment of achondroplasia. While we are also investigating infigratinib as a potential treatment for certain oncology indications, we are utilizing a significantly lower dose in children with achondroplasia than we are for our oncology programs. We are currently enrolling patients in PROPEL, a prospective observational study in children with achondroplasia and PROPEL 2, a Phase 2 dose-escalation and expansion study of infigratinib in children with achondroplasia. We anticipate that we will report initial data from PROPEL 2 in mid-2022.
Achondroplasia is the most frequent cause of disproportionate short stature, and mutations in the FGFR3 gene have been shown to be the molecular source of the condition. Achondroplasia has a prevalence of greater than 55,000 in the United States and European Union, and an estimated worldwide incidence of one in 10,000 to 30,000 live births. The condition leads to a disproportionate short stature with anomalies in bone development and potential for foramen magnum stenosis, spinal stenosis, cardiovascular complications and obesity. The average height is approximately 4’4” for a male and 4’1” for a female with achondroplasia. Lifespan and intelligence are most often normal.
Achondroplasia is an autosomal dominant condition caused by a gain-of-function point mutation in the FGFR3 gene. Approximately 97% of cases are due to G380R substitution and 80% of cases are the result of de novo mutations. FGFR3 is expressed in osteoblasts and chondrocytes where it plays a critical role in regulating bone growth through the MAPK pathway, which drives hypertrophic differentiation, and through the STAT1 pathway, which drives chondrocyte proliferation. Apart from growth hormones, which are approved in Japan, there is only one medicine approved for marketing by the FDA or the EMA for the treatment of achondroplasia: Voxzogo / vosoritide, a C-type natriuretic peptide, or CNP, analog which activates the MAPK pathway but not the STAT1 pathway.
Our Product Concept
FGFR3 gain-of-function mutations are the driver behind the pathophysiology of achondroplasia. As an FGFR1-3 inhibitor, we believe that infigratinib has the potential to decrease pathologic signaling downstream of FGFR3 and treat achondroplasia at its source. Unlike potentially competitive CNP mimetic approaches, which only inhibit MAPK signaling, our approach also inhibits STAT1 signaling.
Preclinical proof-of-concept has been demonstrated in an achondroplasia mouse model at dose levels as low as 2% of those used in our oncology trials. In our Phase 1 dose escalation clinical trials of infigratinib, we saw acceptable tolerability, including no instances of hyperphosphatemia, at three to six times the expected dose level in our achondroplasia trials. Based on these results, we do not expect significant tolerability issues at the proposed dose level in the clinic.
Infigratinib has been studied preclinically in a mouse model of achondroplasia that recapitulates anomalies of the growth plates, vertebrae, and intervertebral discs. Investigators observed that infigratinib rescued ex vivo bone growth of mutant mouse embryo femurs after six days of treatment. Further, 15 days of treatment showed in vivo bone growth, which mimics human achondroplasia in many respects. Effects on both appendicular and axial skeletal parameters were observed in this study.
Below are figures demonstrating the extent of femur growth and intervertebral disc width rescue in wild-type, untreated model, and infigratinib treated (2 mg/kg) model mice:
In vivo bone growth was further demonstrated at lower doses (0.2 mg/kg and 0.5 mg/kg) by the same laboratory. Together, preclinical studies at all doses have demonstrated meaningful increases in skeletal growth parameters between treated and untreated mutant mice, as follows:
lncrease in length compared to non-treated mouse (%)
Notably, treatment with infigratinib did not modify the expression of FGFR1 in the hypertrophic zone of the growth plate. The effects seen were mainly due to FGFR3 inhibition, with no other gross side effects being observed in these preclinical studies. Furthermore, survival was improved after 15 days in infigratinib treated mice, regardless of dose, as compared to untreated mice.
Clinical Development Plan
We are currently enrolling patients in PROPEL, a prospective observational study in children with achondroplasia. The study will establish annualized growth velocity, or AGV, for each child for a minimum period of six months. PROPEL is designed to provide baseline measurements for children that we anticipate enrolling in PROPEL 2, an ongoing Phase 2 study of low-dose infigratinib.
PROPEL 2 is designed as an open-label, dose-escalation and expansion trial in children with achondroplasia prior to growth plate closure. The primary objective of this study is to assess safety and tolerability in children with achondroplasia. Secondary objectives will include PK analyses, change in growth velocity, and assessment of quality of life. We anticipate that we will report initial data from PROPEL 2 in the second half of 2022.
Infigratinib is the only oral direct FGFR1-3 inhibitor that has been publicly disclosed in development for the treatment of achondroplasia. There are four other identified companies developing compounds for the treatment of achondroplasia using alternative mechanistic approaches: BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (vosoritide), Ascendis Pharma A/S (TransCon CNP), Pfizer Inc. (recifercept) and Sanofi S.A. (SAR442501).
BBP-418: Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2i
BBP-418 is an orally administered therapy for the treatment of Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy type 2i, or LGDM2i. We are currently studying BBP-418 in an ongoing open-label Phase 2 clinical trial with top-line data expected in 2022. Subject to successful Phase 2 read-out, we anticipate initiating a global Phase 3 clinical trial in 2022.
LGMD2i is an inherited neuromuscular disorder characterized by lower-limb weakness and loss of ambulation, and possible pulmonary and cardiac dysfunction. BBP-418 has a potentially addressable population of 7,000, including both LGMD2i and other dystroglycanopathies, in the United States and European Union. Currently, there is no disease-modifying treatment available. Standard of care is supportive care to alleviate end organ dysfunction.
BBP-589/PTR-01: Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa
We are developing BBP-589, an IV-administered recombinant collagen type VII, or rC7, protein replacement therapy, for the treatment of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, or RDEB. BBP-589 received orphan drug designation from the FDA and EMA in 2014 for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, or DEB, and we received fast track designation from the FDA in 2019 for the treatment of DEB.
We have completed our Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with RDEB. We anticipate that we will provide data from the Phase 2 study in early 2022. We have also initiated a Phase 2 extension study, which will provide drug to two patients and extend dosing out to six months.
BBP-671: PKAN and Organic Acidemias
BBP-671 is an oral, small molecule, allosteric activator of pantothenate kinases that we are developing for the treatment of Pantothenate Kinase Associated Neurodegeneration, or PKAN, and Organic Acidemias, or OAs. BBP-671 is currently in Phase 1 development. The healthy volunteer portion of the Phase 1 has completed, demonstrating initial safety and tolerability, target engagement, and suitable PK for BBP-671. BBP-671 has received orphan drug designation as a treatment of propionic acidemia, or PA, and as a treatment of PKAN in the United States and the European Union. BBP-671 was also designated as a drug for a rare pediatric disease for treatment of both PKAN and PA.
PKAN is a rare genetic disorder with progressive neurodegeneration. Early onset patients typically demonstrate motor deficits with possible visual problems from retinal degeneration within six years of age. Later onset disease is heterogeneous, with psychiatric symptoms and progressive parkinsonism developing in late childhood to adulthood. The prevalence of PKAN is approximately one in 1,000,000, with between 800 to 850 patients in the United States and the European Union. There are currently no approved treatments for PKAN.
OAs are caused by mutations in enzymes that disrupt amino acid metabolism leading to acute decompensations requiring hospitalization, as well as long-term complications involving multiple organ systems, such as the heart, pancreas, kidney, liver and brain. The incidence of OAs is approximately five in 100,000 births. The standard of care includes dietary restriction and supplementation, but unmet need remains high due to metabolic decompensations and long-term complications.
BBP-681: Venous and Lymphatic Malformations
BBP-681 is a transdermal PI3K inhibitor that we are developing for the treatment of cutaneous venous and lymphatic malformations. We are currently studying BBP-681 in an ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial and anticipate providing initial data from this study in 2022.
Venous malformations, or VMs, are large, disorganized veins that can cause significant morbidity due to functional impairment, pain, bleeding and disfigurement. Lymphatic malformations, or LMs, involve the lymphatic vessels and cause functional impairment and pain similar to VM, lymphatic leakage and disfigurement. The prevalence of VMs and LMs is greater than 75,000 and 42,000 in the United States and the European Union, respectively, in the skin. Standard of care is generally non-disease-modifying and invasive and ranges from compression bandages and aspirin, to laser ablation, surgical resection and sclerotherapy.
BBP-561: Netherton Syndrome
BBP-561 is a topical KLK5/7 inhibitor that we are developing for the treatment of Netherton Syndrome. BBP-561 is currently in preclinical development.
Netherton Syndrome is a devastating genetic disease characterized by skin breakdown complicated by risk of sepsis, severe malnutrition, and dehydration in affected neonates. It can additionally lead to chronic problems including allergy, infection and inflammation. The prevalence is approximately 4,000 to 17,000 patients in the United States and the European Union, respectively. No disease-modifying therapy exists. Palliative and preventative treatments are used to manage symptoms.
BBP-472: PI3KB Inhibitor for Autism-Spectrum Disorder Characterized by Loss of PTEN Protein
BBP-472 is a series of small molecule PI3KB inhibitors being designed to balance kinase signaling in the brain for the treatment of children with autism-spectrum disorders characterized by loss of the PTEN protein. BBP-472 is currently in preclinical development.
PRECISION ONCOLOGY PORTFOLIO
Infigratinib: FGFR-Driven Cancers
We are developing infigratinib, an oral FGFR1-3 selective TKI for the treatment of FGFR-driven cancers.
We obtained approval for TRUSELTIQ (infigratinib) from the FDA in May 2021 for the treatment of adults with previously treated, unresectable locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma with a fibroblast growth factor receptor 2, or FGFR2, fusion or other rearrangement as detected by an FDA-approved test. The review was conducted under Project Orbis, an initiative of the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence that allows for concurrent submission and review of oncology drugs among participating international regulatory agencies. Health Canada and the Therapeutics Good Administration, or TGA, of Australia concurrently reviewed our application under the program. Health Canada issued conditional approval of TRUSELTIQ in September 2021 and TGA provisionally registered TRUSELTIQ in November 2021. Our partner, Helsinn Group, filed a MAA with the EMA in late 2021 for infigratinib as a second-line or later therapy in patients with advanced and/or metastatic CCA with FGFR2 fusions or translocations. Helsinn announced EMA acceptance of the MAA in December 2021, confirming that the submission is sufficiently complete to begin the formal review process. Additionally, we are studying infigratinib as a potential treatment for FGFR-driven cancers in multiple ongoing clinical trials:
We received Fast Track Designation in adults with first-line advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma, and the FDA and EMA have granted orphan drug designation for infigratinib as a treatment of cholangiocarcinoma.
BBP-398: Targeting Multiple Oncology Indications
BBP-398 is a small molecule inhibitor of SHP2 that we are developing as a potential treatment of cancers driven by hyperactive receptor tyrosine kinase, or RTK, or MAPK signaling.
We are currently enrolling patients in a Phase 1 monotherapy dose escalation and expansion clinical trial in patients with RAS and RTK mutations. We anticipate providing a clinical update in mid-2022. Our Phase 1 monotherapy expansion trial will commence in the first half of this year and will study patients with RTK and NF1 loss of function mutations.
In 2022, we plan to initiate Phase 1 combination trials with BBP-398 in combination with KRASG12C, PD-1 and EGFR inhibitors. We entered into a co-development agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in July 2021 for the development of BBP-398 in combination with nivolumab. We also entered into an agreement with Amgen Inc. in January 2022, to supply sotorasib for our planned KRASG12C combination trial. The Phase 1 clinical trial studying BBP-398 and osimertinib (EGFR) will be run in China by our partner, LianBio. LianBio has development and commercialization rights to BBP-398 in China and select Asian markets under our Exclusive License Agreement that we entered into with LianBio in August 2020.
BBP-454: KRAS-Driven Cancers
BBP-454 is a preclinical development program focused on approaches to inhibit KRAS through novel selective mechanisms for the treatment of KRAS-driven cancers.
KRAS is a member of the RAS family of oncogenes, which also includes HRAS and NRAS, and together comprises some of the most well-known monogenic drivers of cancer. Mutations in NRAS are frequently found in leukemia and melanoma, while HRAS is frequently mutated in bladder, thyroid, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. KRAS mutations are a frequent driver of a number of the largest cancer indications with high unmet medical need, including 30% of non-small cell lung cancers, 98% of pancreatic adenocarcinomas and 45% of colorectal adenocarcinomas. The most common KRAS mutations involve a change from glycine at position 12 in the protein to aspartic acid (G12D, 36% of all KRAS mutations), valine (G12V, 24%), and cysteine (G12C, 15%), but also include mutations at glycine 13 and glutamine 61. In aggregate, over 500,000 patients in the United States and Europe are diagnosed with KRAS-driven cancers, annually.
KRAS-mutant cancers are driven by active, GTP-bound KRAS located at the cell membrane. We are developing multiple strategies that target KRAS through novel, mutation-agnostic mechanisms. We anticipate nominating our first development candidate from this discovery program in 2022.
BBP-954: Multiple Oncology Indications
BBP-954 is a preclinical discovery program for irreversible inhibitors of glutathione peroxidase 4, or GPX4, for the treatment of solid and hematological cancers. We entered into a co-development partnership with Helsinn in November 2021.
Ferroptosis is a form of oxidative programmed cell death that cancer cells must avoid in order to survive and form tumors. GPX4 is an enzyme that protects cancer cells from ferroptosis by neutralizing toxic lipid free radicals. By inhibiting GPX4, we aim to trigger ferroptosis in cancer cells. Preclinical data generated by us and third parties suggest many of the most common cancers are sensitive to GPX4 inhibition, both in monotherapy and combination with standard anti-cancer agents such as kinase inhibitors and chemotherapy. We believe that GPX4 may be potentially applicable to a number of common solid and hematologic cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, renal cell carcinoma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, among others.
BBP-631: Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
We are developing BBP-631, a AAV gene transfer product candidate, for the treatment of CAH, caused by 21OHD. BBP-631 was granted Fast Track designation from the FDA for the treatment of congenital adrenal hyperplasia 21-hydroxylase deficiency in 2021. We anticipate initial data from a Phase 1/2 first-in-human clinical trial of BBP-631 in the second half of 2022.
CAH is a debilitating and life-threatening disease with no available cure, despite newborn screening for the disease being conducted in every U.S. state. The disease is defined by an inability to produce cortisol and aldosterone, and an excess production of testosterone. Lack of cortisol disrupts glucose metabolism and the body’s normal response to stress, leading to potentially fatal adrenal crises, while lack of aldosterone disrupts sodium retention, resulting in low blood pressure, arrhythmia and dehydration. Additionally, excess testosterone causes virilization in females, often leading to ambiguous genitalia and masculinizing features at birth. Hormonal changes during puberty compound the CAH deficiencies. Females often suffer from limited fertility and require intensive treatment before, during and after pregnancy, and up to 40% of adult males will have adrenal rest tumors that can lead to gonadal dysfunction and infertility, occasionally requiring surgery.
Over 90% of CAH cases are caused by 21OHD, a genetic defect in the CYP21A2 gene coding for the enzyme 21OH. Mutations resulting in loss of enzymatic activity of 21OH prevent conversion of progesterone into 11-deoxycorticosterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP) into 11-deoxycortisol, which are the precursors to aldosterone and cortisol, respectively.
CAH patients with 21OHD can be divided into two categories depending on the type of genetic mutation: classic and non-classic. We are primarily focused on treating classic patients, who have the more severe phenotype and that can be categorized into simple virilizing (approximately 25% of patients) and salt-wasting (approximately 75%) by the severity of aldosterone deficiency and level of residual 21OH enzyme activity. Patients with the salt-wasting form of disease have residual enzyme activity of 0% to 1% of normal and patients with the simple virilizing phenotype have 1% to 10% enzyme activity. All patients with the classic form require treatment at birth, as cortisol deficiency can lead to adrenal crisis as early as one to four weeks of life and can quickly lead to death. The salt-wasting form has an incidence of one in 20,000 births, while the simple virilizing form has an incidence of one in 60,000 births. Together, these translate to an estimated 600 classic patients born in the United States and Europe per year. We estimate there are more than 75,000 patients in the United States and Europe in the total addressable patient population.
Current standard of care treatments do not cure patients, but replace missing glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, and mineralocorticoids, such as aldosterone, as well as reduce excessive androgen secretion. Although glucocorticoids are the mainstay of CAH therapy, individuals respond in varying ways, and chronic use of glucocorticoids in children and adults requires careful management because of the well-known side effects of these drugs, such as Cushingoid features, metabolic disease, obesity, hypertension, growth retardation, glucose intolerance, electrolyte disturbance, bone demineralization/increased risk of fracture and delayed puberty. Clinical management of classic CAH is often a very difficult balance between hyperandrogenism and hypercortisolism.
Our Product Concept
BBP-631 is an intravenously administered AAV5 gene transfer product candidate designed for the treatment of CAH due to 21OHD by replacing the 21OH enzyme in the adrenal cortex. Replacement of enzyme function has the potential to normalize flux through the pathway, simultaneously addressing the lack of cortisol and aldosterone, as well as the excess of testosterone and other androgens. Genotype-phenotype correlation studies in CAH suggest that non-classic patients, who are often asymptomatic and do not require treatment, have enzyme activity that is as little as 10% to 20% of normal individuals. We believe that an AAV gene therapy may be able to restore this level of enzymatic activity in CAH patients with both simple virilizing and salt-wasting forms of disease, providing substantial clinical impact and potentially eliminating the need for treatment with exogenous steroids. BBP-631 was granted both FDA and EMA orphan drug designation in 2018 for the treatment of CAH caused by 21OHD.
Initial preclinical activity was explored in a Cyp21 knockout mouse model using AAVrh10. An intravenous, or IV, injection of vector genomes was observed to improve multiple disease-related factors over a 15-week duration window, including an increase in body weight, a decrease in urinary progesterone (the main substrate of 21OH), and an increase in renin expression (signaling an increased capacity for salt retention).
A study in non-human primates, or NHP, comparing evaluated AAV serotypes 1, 5 and 6 identified AAV5 as the optimum serotype. We observed significant transfection in the adrenals where 21OH is synthesized. Additionally, AAV5 has relatively low seroprevalence in the human population, which may limit potential immunogenicity issues.
We have completed two sets of NHP studies designed to evaluate durability of expression, dosing/transgene expression relationships and preliminary safety. In the first set of experiments, which evaluated a lower dose of 3x10 12 vector genomes per kilogram, we observed sustained increases in Cyp21 mRNA levels up to six months out. We did not observe rapid decreases in vector genome counts and mRNA levels due to adrenal cell turnover between 1.5 and six months, providing preliminary support for sustained transgene expression.
In a second set of experiments, a total of 20 NHPs were treated with BBP-631 at one of three IV doses. Vector copy number and transgene mRNA expression in the adrenal glands were analyzed at four and 12 weeks post-dosing in the low- and medium-dose arms, and at 12 and 24 weeks post-dosing in the high-dose arm. No dose-related AEs were observed at any of the doses tested at any time point.
Overall, treatment with BBP-631 resulted in high vector copy number, or VCN, and mRNA expression in the adrenal gland, suggesting strong tropism and uptake of BBP-631 for the adrenal gland. In the high-dose arm, VCNs were maintained between 12 and 24 weeks. Furthermore, mRNA levels increased between 4 and 12 weeks for the medium dose arm and were consistent between 12 and 24 weeks for the high dose arm. Researchers also saw dose-dependent increases in both VCNs and mRNA levels across the three doses tested.
There are two alternative therapeutic classes being investigated for treatment of CAH. The first are corticotropin-releasing factor type 1, or CRF1, receptor antagonists. CRF1 receptor antagonists regulate the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH, from the pituitary gland, which stimulates androgen and cortisol synthesis in the adrenal gland. In healthy individuals, endogenous cortisol provides negative feedback to the release of ACTH, which keeps androgen synthesis well-regulated. Because this negative feedback is severely impaired in CAH patients, supraphysiologic doses of exogenous steroids are required to normalize androgen synthesis in these patients. While CRF1 receptor antagonists may regulate androgen synthesis, they do not address the lack of cortisol or aldosterone production in these patients. Therefore, steroid supplementation is still required with CRF1 receptor antagonists. Two CRF receptor antagonists, Crinecerfont (under development by Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc.) and Tildacerfont (under development by Spruce Biosciences, Inc.), are currently in Phase 3 and Phase 2b clinical trials, respectively.
The second alternative therapeutic class is ACTH receptor antagonists. Inhibition of this pathway, which is downstream of the CRF1 pathway, also results in inhibition of androgen and cortisol synthesis in the adrenal gland. However, like CRF1 receptor antagonists, ACTH inhibitors do not address the lack of cortisol or aldosterone production in these patients. CRN04904, an oral ACTH antagonist, is currently in Phase 1 clinical development by Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
While these alternative therapeutic mechanisms attempt to address meaningful aspects of the disease by potentially reducing the need for exogenous steroids, neither is able to address the disease at its source by targeting the complete set of features that define the disease. In particular, these mechanisms cannot obviate the need to administer steroids because they do not address the body’s inability to synthesize cortisol and aldosterone. In contrast, we believe enzymatic replacement by gene therapy has the potential to simultaneously address all facets of the disease by restoring proper flux through the hormonal pathways, reducing androgen production by providing alternative pathways for the precursor molecules to be converted into cortisol or aldosterone.
BBP-812: Canavan Disease
BBP-812 is an AAV gene therapy product candidate that we are developing for the treatment of Canavan Disease. BBP-812 was granted Fast Track designation from the FDA for the treatment of Canavan Disease in 2021. We anticipate initial data from a Phase 1/2 first-in-human clinical trial of BBP-812 in the second half of 2022.
Canavan Disease is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that begins in infancy. The disease is a leukodystrophy, caused by degradation of white matter in the brain. Patients typically miss developmental milestones, have a rapidly increasing head circumference, progressive lack of motor control, and often do not live past their mid-teens. The incidence of Canavan Disease is approximately one in 100,000 births worldwide. No treatments are approved for Canavan Disease; care is focused on symptom management.
BBP-818 is a preclinical AAV gene therapy product candidate that we are developing for the treatment of classic galactosemia. Classic galactosemia is caused by severe deficiency of the enzyme galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase, or GALT. The majority of infants with classic galactosemia are detected through newborn screening and placed on lifelong dietary restriction of galactose. Despite early detection and strict adherence to diet, children may experience language delay, speech defects, learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, osteopenia, and in females, primary ovarian insufficiency.
Preclinical studies in a mouse model of classic galactosemia conducted by Dr. Kent Lai at the University of Utah have shown that our BBP-818 therapy restored up to 72% of wild-type levels of GALT enzyme in the brain.
Additional Program-Related Information
We do not own or operate, and currently have no plans to establish, any manufacturing facilities. We currently depend on third-party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, for all of our requirements of raw materials, drug substance and drug product for our preclinical research and our ongoing clinical trials of our product candidates. Aside from a manufacturing agreement that we entered into in December 2019 through our subsidiary, BridgeBio Gene Therapy, LLC, we have not entered into long-term agreements with our current CMOs. We intend to continue to rely on CMOs for later-stage development and commercialization of our product candidates, including any additional product candidates that we may identify. Although we rely on CMOs, we have personnel and third-party consultants with extensive manufacturing experience to oversee the relationships with our contract manufacturers. Several of our development candidates have or are in the near term expected to have redundant and overlapping drug substance and drug product supply chains.
Sales and Marketing
We are building a commercial infrastructure in the United States and selected other territories to support the commercialization of our two approved therapies and of each of our product candidates when we believe a regulatory approval in a particular territory is likely. Because most of our target indications are rare diseases with a concentrated prescribing audience and a small number of key opinion leaders who influence the treatments prescribed for the relevant patient population, we currently believe that we can effectively address each market using our own targeted, specialty sales and marketing organization supported by internal sales personnel, an internal marketing group and distribution support. To date, we have two approved therapies, TRUSELTIQ (infigratinib) for the treatment of patients with previously-treated locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) harboring an FGFR2 fusion or rearrangement, and NULIBRY (fosdenopterin) for injection as the first therapy to reduce the risk of mortality in patients with MoCD Type A.
We evaluate our commercialization strategy as we advance each product candidate through clinical development and to regulatory approval. In any core markets outside of the United States that we may identify, where appropriate, we may utilize strategic partners, distributors or contract sales forces to expand the commercial availability of our products and product candidates, if approved. We currently do not expect that we will require large pharmaceutical partners for the commercialization of any of our products or product candidates, if approved, although we may consider partnering in certain territories or indications or for other strategic purposes, as we have done for TRUSELTIQ.
We strive to protect the proprietary technology that we believe is important to our business through a variety of methods, including seeking and maintaining patents and patent applications intended to cover our product candidates and compositions, their methods of use and processes for their manufacture, our platform technologies and any other aspects of inventions that are commercially important to the development of our business. We seek to obtain domestic and international patent protection and, in addition to filing and prosecuting patent applications in the United States, we may file counterpart patent applications in additional countries where we believe such foreign filing is likely to be beneficial, including Australia, Canada, Europe, China, Japan, and Mexico. We have entered into various license agreements to obtain the rights to use certain patents for the development and commercialization of our product candidates. See “—Our Material Agreements.” We also rely on trade secrets to protect aspects of our business that are not amenable to, or that we do not consider appropriate for, patent protection.
Our success will depend on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary rights protecting our commercially important technology, inventions and know-how related to our business, defend and enforce our current and future issued patents, if any, preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets and operate without infringing the valid and enforceable patents and proprietary rights of third parties. We continually assess and refine our intellectual property strategy in order to best fortify our position, and file additional patent applications when our intellectual property strategy warrants such filings. We also rely on know-how, continuing technological innovation, and potential in-licensing opportunities to develop and maintain our intellectual property portfolio. We seek to obtain domestic and international patent protection, and endeavor to promptly file patent applications for new commercially valuable inventions.
The patent positions of biopharmaceutical companies like us are generally uncertain and involve complex legal, scientific, and factual questions. In addition, the coverage claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued, and patent scope can be reinterpreted by the courts after issuance. Moreover, many jurisdictions permit third parties to challenge issued patents in administrative proceedings, which may result in further narrowing or even cancellation of patent claims. We cannot predict whether the patent applications we are currently pursuing will issue as patents in any particular jurisdiction or whether the claims of any patents, if issued, will provide sufficient protection from competitors.
Because patent applications in the United States and certain other jurisdictions are maintained in secrecy for 18 months or potentially even longer, and since publication of discoveries in the scientific or patent literature often lags behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain of the priority of inventions covered by pending patent applications. Moreover, we may have to participate in interference proceedings or derivation proceedings declared by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, to determine priority of invention.
As of February 23, 2022, our intellectual property portfolio is composed of 116 issued patents and 115 patent applications that we license from academic and research institutions and other third parties, and 32 issued patents and 304 pending patent applications that we own, including through our subsidiaries. These patents and patent applications generally provide us with the rights to develop our product candidates in the United States and worldwide. Our intellectual property portfolios for each of the programs that we consider to be our core value drivers are further described below.
QED Therapeutics, Inc.
For our subsidiary, QED Therapeutics, Inc., we license rights from Novartis to two issued U.S. patents, and related pending and issued foreign patents and patent applications in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Japan and Mexico, as well as in other countries in Asia and in South America, that are directed to compositions of matter of BBP-831. The foreign patents and patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire between 2025 and 2030. The issued U.S. patents are expected to expire between 2028 and 2029, which takes into account patent term adjustments granted by the USPTO as well as a terminal disclaimer of one issued patent to another U.S. patent. Upon the initial approval of infigratinib, QED applied for 1,517 days of patent term extension, or PTE, for the U.S. patent covering the infigratinib compound; assuming grant of the PTE application, the term of this patent may be extended from August 25, 2029, to October 19, 2033.
We also license rights from Novartis to two issued U.S. patents, one pending U.S. patent application, and related pending and issued foreign patents and patent applications in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Japan and Mexico, as well as in other countries in Asia and in South America, that are directed to pharmaceutical formulations containing BBP-831. The issued patents and patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire in 2034. In addition, we license rights from Novartis to one issued U.S. patent, one pending U.S. patent application, and related pending and issued foreign patents and patent applications in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Japan and Mexico, as well as in other countries in Asia and in South America, that are directed to methods of treating hypophosphatemic disorders. The issued patents and patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire in 2033.
We also license rights from Inserm Transfert ESA and Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris to one issued U.S. patent and one pending U.S. patent application, and one granted patent in Europe, that are directed to methods of treating achondroplasia using BBP-831. The issued U.S. patent, granted patent in Europe, and the pending patent application, if issued, are expected to expire in 2032.
In addition, QED Therapeutics, Inc. owns three pending U.S. patent applications, one pending PCT patent application, and related pending foreign patent applications in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Japan and Mexico, as well as in other countries in Asia and in South America, that are directed to methods of treating various cancers or skeletal disorders using BBP-831. If any patents issue from these patent applications, such patents would be expected to expire between 2040 and 2042.
Eidos Therapeutics, Inc.
For our subsidiary Eidos Therapeutics, Inc., we license rights from the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, or Stanford, to nine issued U.S. patents, two pending U.S. patent applications, one issued European patent, and one issued Japanese patent with claims directed to composition of matter and methods of use relating to acoramidis. These patents are expected to expire in 2031 or 2033.
In addition, we own three issued U.S. patents, four pending U.S. patent applications, and 51 related foreign patent applications pending in various jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada, Europe, China, Japan, and Mexico, with claims directed to salt and solid forms, methods of manufacturing, dosing methods, and formulations relating to acoramidis. The issued U.S. patents are expected to expire in 2038 or 2039. The pending U.S. and foreign patent applications, if issued, are also expected to expire in 2038 or 2039.
Adrenas Therapeutics, Inc.
For our subsidiary Adrenas Therapeutics, Inc., we own two pending U.S. patent applications and six related foreign patent applications pending in various jurisdictions including Canada, China, Europe, Japan, and Korea with claims directed to recombinant AAV vectors relating to BBP-631 and dosing of the same. These patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire in 2039 or 2042.
Phoenix Tissue Repair, Inc.
For our subsidiary Phoenix Tissue Repair, Inc., we license rights from the University of Southern California, or USC, to two issued U.S. patents, one pending U.S. patent application, and three related foreign patents issued in Europe and Hong Kong with claims directed to methods of treating epidermolysis bullosa with collagen 7. The issued U.S. and foreign patents and the pending U.S. patent application, if issued, are expected to expire in 2027 or 2028. We also license rights from USC to five foreign patents issued in various jurisdictions including Australia, Europe and Japan, with claims relating to the use of collagen 7 in combination with another agent to heal skin wounds. These foreign patents are expected to expire in 2031.
We also own six issued U.S. patents, six pending U.S. patent applications, nine foreign patents, and over 20 foreign patent applications pending in various jurisdictions with claims relating to collagen 7 materials and methods relating to the same. These patents and patent applications include pending and/or issued claims relating to collagen 7 detection assays, methods of making and purifying collagen 7, methods of treating subjects having age-related disorders with collagen 7, collagen 7 compositions, and methods of treating epidermolysis bullosa with collagen 7. These patents and patent applications, if issued, are expected to expire between 2026-2042.
Our subsidiary TheRas, Inc. co-owns with Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., or Leidos, and Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, or Livermore, three pending U.S. patent applications, one pending PCT application, and two pending foreign applications with claims directed to modulators of K-RAS, which include claims to the modulators as composition of matter and their use in therapy, including the treatment of cancer. Any patents issuing from this application are expected to expire in 2042 or 2043. In addition, TheRas co-owns with Leidos and Livermore one pending U.S. patent application with claims directed to compounds that may disrupt interactions between PI3Kα and small GTPases, which include claims to the compounds as composition of matter and their use in therapy, including the treatment of cancer. Any patents issuing from this application are expected to expire in 2043.
Our Material Agreements
License Agreement with Alexion
In September 2019, through our subsidiary Eidos Therapeutics, Inc., or Eidos, we entered into a license agreement, or the Alexion License Agreement, with Alexion Pharma International Operations Unlimited Company, a subsidiary of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., or together, Alexion, to develop and commercialize acoramidis in Japan. Additionally, in September 2019, Eidos entered into a stock purchase agreement with Alexion, pursuant to which Eidos sold to Alexion 556,173 shares of its common stock for aggregate cash proceeds of $25.0 million. Under the terms of the Alexion License Agreement, Eidos granted Alexion an exclusive license to certain of our intellectual property rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize acoramidis in Japan. In consideration for the license grant, Eidos received an upfront payment of $25.0 million, with the potential for an additional one-time payment of $30.0 million subject to the achievement of a regulatory milestone. In addition, Eidos is entitled to receive royalties in the low double-digits on net sales by Alexion of acoramidis in Japan. The royalty rate is subject to reduction if Alexion is required to obtain intellectual property rights from third parties to develop, manufacture or commercialize acoramidis in Japan, or upon the introduction of generic competition into the market.
License Agreement with the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
In April 2016, through Eidos, we entered into an exclusive license agreement with Stanford for rights relating to novel transthyretin aggregation inhibitors. Under our agreement, Stanford has granted us an exclusive worldwide license to make, use and sell products that are covered by the licensed patent rights. This license grant expires when the last licensed patent expires. The patent rights exclusively licensed to us under the license are described in more detail above under the heading “—Intellectual property— Eidos Therapeutics, Inc.”
Stanford retains the right, on behalf of itself and all other non-profit academic research institutions, to practice under the patent rights for any non-profit purpose, including sponsored research and collaborations. We may grant sublicenses to third parties so long as we are actively pursuing the development or commercialization of products covered by the patent rights. We may also be required to sublicense our rights under the agreement at Stanford’s request under certain conditions, including if we are unwilling or unable to serve a potential market or territory and there is a third party willing to be a sublicensee in such market or territory.
We are obligated to pay to Stanford a yearly license maintenance fee during the term of the agreement, but we may offset the maintenance fee against earned royalty payments due on net sales occurring in that year. Stanford is entitled to receive a royalty as a percentage of net sales of licensed products, in the low single digits. We have agreed to pay Stanford a percentage of non-royalty revenue we receive from our sublicensees, with the amount owed decreasing annually for three years based on when we enter into the applicable sublicense agreement. In addition, we are obligated to pay Stanford up to approximately $1.0 million upon the achievement of specific intellectual property, clinical and regulatory milestone events. In the event of a change of control transaction with respect to Eidos, we are obligated to pay Stanford a change of control fee of $250,000 in connection with the assignment of the license agreement to the acquirer of Eidos.
Under the license agreement with Stanford, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop, manufacture, and commercialize at least one licensed product; to develop markets for such licensed products; and to meet certain development milestones as agreed upon between us and Stanford.
Subject to the expiration of the license grant described above, the agreement does not have a specified term. We may terminate the agreement by providing prior written notice to Stanford, and Stanford has the right to terminate the agreement if we fail to achieve certain milestones or make payments under the agreement, or are not actively pursuing development of a licensed product, or if we otherwise materially breach the agreement and fail to cure such breach within a specified grace period.
BBP-831: License Agreement with Novartis International Pharmaceutical Ltd.
In January 2018, through our subsidiary QED Therapeutics, Inc., or QED, we entered into a license agreement with Novartis International Pharmaceutical Ltd., or Novartis, for certain intellectual property rights, including patents and know-how, related to BBP-831 for the treatment of patients with FGFR-driven diseases, including CCA, UC and achondroplasia. We refer to this agreement as the Novartis License.
Pursuant to the Novartis License, we obtained a license to research, develop, make, have made, use, import, offer for sale, sell, have sold and otherwise commercialize BBP-831, as well as therapeutic products incorporating BBP-831 that would, but for the license grant, infringe Novartis’ license patent rights, or that were developed using or that incorporate or embody Novartis’ licensed know-how, in all fields of use worldwide. The license grant to us includes the right to sublicense through multiple tiers. We also have certain rights to intellectual property licensed to Novartis’ affiliate under a materials transfer agreement with a third party.
The Novartis License is subject to Novartis’ existing obligations to supply a third party with BBP-831 to support the third party’s clinical trials, and we have an ongoing obligation to inform Novartis of our or our sublicensees’ intent to seek regulatory approval for and commercialize BBP-831 for various indications, with potential reversionary rights to Novartis in the event of a subsequent decision not to seek regulatory approval and commercialization, or a determination by Novartis that we have failed to sufficiently pursue regulatory approval and commercialization, for Novartis to grant such third party limited rights to develop and commercialize BBP-831.
Under the terms of the Novartis License, we made a one-time payment of $15.0 million to Novartis and agreed to issue shares of Series A preferred stock of QED valued at approximately $1.7 million in the aggregate to Novartis. In addition, we are obligated to make contingent milestone payments totaling $60.0 million upon achievement of certain regulatory milestones. We are also obligated to make contingent milestone payments totaling $35.0 million upon achievement of certain sales milestones for therapeutic products incorporating BBP-831. QED also agreed to pay Novartis tiered low double-digit royalties on net sales of therapeutic products incorporating BBP-831. Following FDA's approval of TRUSELTIQ in May 2021, we paid a one-time regulatory milestone payment to Novartis of $20.0 million.
Under the Novartis License, we are required to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop BBP-831, and to obtain regulatory approval for and commercialize BBP-831 in the United States and the European Union.
We may terminate the Novartis License in its entirety or on a product-by-product or country-by-country basis at any time with 60 days’ prior written notice to Novartis. Novartis may terminate if QED ceases to function as a going concern, is the subject of certain bankruptcy or similar proceedings, or otherwise winds down or discontinues its business. Either party may terminate for material breach that is not cured by the other party within a specified time period of receiving notice of such material breach. Otherwise, the Novartis License terminates on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis on the latest of the expiration of licensed patent rights, the expiration of regulatory exclusivity, or the tenth anniversary of the first commercial sale in such country.
BBP-870: Asset Purchase Agreement with Alexion Pharma Holding Unlimited Company
In June 2018, through our subsidiary Origin Biosciences, Inc., we entered into an asset purchase agreement with Alexion Pharma Holding Unlimited Company, or Alexion Pharma, pursuant to which we acquired Alexion’s right, title and interest in certain assets relating to fosdenopterin, including patents and other intellectual property rights.
In the event that a Priority Review Voucher, or PRV, is granted to us by the FDA, we have agreed to pay Alexion Pharma a percentage in the mid-teens of any proceeds received by us from our sale of the PRV to a third party. If we do not sell the PRV to a third party within 180 days after our receipt of the PRV, we are obligated to pay Alexion Pharma $18.8 million, which amount is creditable against any amounts otherwise due to Alexion Pharma in accordance with the preceding sentence upon any future sale by us of the PRV. We are obligated to make contingent milestone payments totaling $3.0 million upon achievement of certain development milestones and $17.0 million upon achievement of certain sales milestones for products containing the fosdenopterin molecule. We also agreed to pay Alexion Pharma tiered royalties ranging from the low-to mid-teens on net sales of products containing the fosdenopterin molecule.
In 2021, we paid Alexion a $2.0 million regulatory milestone upon the FDA’s approval of NULIBRY, a $1.0 million sales-based milestone payment, and $15.0 million as a result of the sale of the PRV to Eidos.
We are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to obtain a PRV, achieve specified milestone events and commercialize at least one product containing the fosdenopterin molecule after receipt of regulatory approval.
Government authorities in the United States at the federal, state and local level and in other countries regulate, among other things, the research, development, manufacture, testing, quality control, approval, labeling, packaging, storage, record-keeping, promotion, advertising, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, marketing and export and import of drug and biological products, including gene therapies, as well as diagnostics, and any future product candidates. Generally, before a new drug, biologic or diagnostic can be marketed, considerable data demonstrating its quality, safety and efficacy must be obtained, organized into a format specific for each regulatory authority, submitted for review and approved, authorized, or cleared by the applicable regulatory authority.
U.S. Government Regulation of Drug and Biological Products
In the United States, the FDA regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and its implementing regulations and biologics under the FDCA and the Public Health Service Act, or PHSA, and their implementing regulations. Both drugs and biologics also are subject to other federal, state and local statutes and regulations, such as those related to competition. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, and local 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 following approval may subject an applicant to administrative actions or judicial sanctions. These actions and sanctions could include, among other actions, the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, license revocation, a clinical hold, untitled or warning letters, voluntary or mandatory product recalls or market withdrawals, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement and civil or criminal fines or penalties. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on our business, the market acceptance of our products and our reputation.
Our product candidates must be approved by the FDA through either an NDA or a Biologics License Application, or BLA, process before they may be legally marketed in the United States. The process generally involves the following:
The preclinical and clinical testing and approval process requires substantial time, effort and financial resources, and the regulatory scheme for drugs and biologics is evolving and subject to change at any time. We cannot be certain that any approvals for our product candidates will be granted on a timely basis, or at all.
Before testing any drug, biological or gene therapy candidate in humans, the product candidate must undergo rigorous preclinical testing. Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluation of product chemistry and formulation, as well as in vitro and animal studies to assess safety and in some cases to establish a rationale for therapeutic use. The conduct of preclinical studies is subject to federal and state regulations and requirements, including GLP regulations for safety/toxicology studies.
An IND sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data or literature and plans for clinical trials, among other things, to the FDA as part of an IND. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational product to humans, and must become effective before human clinical trials may begin. Some long-term preclinical testing, such as animal tests of reproductive AEs and carcinogenicity, may continue 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 trial on 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. Additionally, the review of information in an IND submission may prompt FDA to, among other things, scrutinize existing INDs or marketed products and could generate requests for information or clinical holds on other product candidates or programs.
The clinical stage of development involves the administration of the investigational product to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators, generally physicians not employed by or under the trial sponsor’s control, in accordance with GCP requirements, which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial, dosing procedures, subject selection and exclusion criteria and the parameters to be used to monitor subject safety and assess efficacy. Each protocol, and any subsequent amendments to the protocol, must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Furthermore, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an IRB for each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted to ensure that the risks to individuals participating in the clinical trials are minimized and are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits. The IRB also approves the informed consent form that must be provided to each clinical trial subject or his or her legal representative, and must monitor the clinical trial until completed. There also are requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and completed clinical trial results to public registries. Information about certain clinical trials, including clinical trial results, must be submitted within specific timeframes for publication on the www.clinicaltrials.gov website.
In addition to the submission of an IND to the FDA before initiation of a clinical trial in the United States, certain human clinical trials involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules are subject to oversight by institutional biosafety committees, or IBC's, as set forth in the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules, or NIH Guidelines. Under the NIH Guidelines, recombinant and synthetic nucleic acids are defied as (i) molecules that are constructed by joining nucleic acid molecules and that can replicate in a living cell (i.e., recombinant nucleic acids); (ii nucleic acid molecules that are chemically or by other means synthesized or amplified, including those that are chemically or otherwise modified but can base pair with naturally occurring nucleic acid molecules (i.e., synthetic nucleic acids); or (iii) molecules that result from the replication of those described in (i) or (ii). Specifically, under the NIH Guidelines, supervision of human gene transfer trials includes evaluation and assessment by an IBC, a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees research utilizing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at that institution. The IBC assesses the safety of the research and identifies any potential risk to public health or the environment, and such review may result in some delay before initiation of a clinical trial. While the NIH Guidelines are not mandatory unless the research in question being conducted at or sponsored by institutions receiving NIH funding of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research, many companies and other institutions not otherwise subject to the NIH Guidelines voluntarily follow them.
A sponsor who wishes to conduct a clinical trial outside of the United States may, but need not, obtain FDA authorization to conduct the clinical trial under an IND. If a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor may submit data from the clinical trial to the FDA in support of an NDA or BLA. The FDA will accept a well-designed and well-conducted foreign clinical study not conducted under an IND if the study was conducted in accordance with GCP requirements, and the FDA is able to validate the data through an onsite inspection if deemed necessary.
Clinical trials generally are conducted in three sequential phases, known as Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3, and may overlap.
In August 2018, the FDA released a draft guidance entitled “Expansion Cohorts: Use in First-In-Human Clinical Trials to Expedite Development of Oncology Drugs and Biologics,” which outlines how drug developers can utilize an adaptive trial design commonly referred to as a seamless trial design in early stages of oncology drug development, i.e., the first-in-human clinical trial, to compress the traditional three phases of trials into one continuous trial called an expansion cohort trial. Information to support the design of individual expansion cohorts are included in IND applications and assessed by FDA. Expansion cohort trials can potentially bring efficiency to drug development and reduce developmental costs and time.
Post-approval trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication and are commonly intended to generate additional safety data regarding use of the product in a clinical setting. In certain instances, the FDA may mandate the performance of Phase 4 clinical trials as a condition of approval of an NDA or BLA.
Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials, among other information, must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and written IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and the investigators 15 days after the trial sponsor determines the information qualifies for reporting for serious and unexpected suspected AEs, findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human subjects and any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. The sponsor must also notify the FDA of any unexpected fatal or life-threatening suspected adverse reaction as soon as possible but in no case later than seven calendar days after the sponsor’s initial receipt of the information.
Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and other types of clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, if at all. 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 or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the drug or biologic has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients. Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. This group provides authorization for whether a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the trial. Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional animal studies and also must develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug or biologic as well as finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product and, among other things, companies must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested, and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the product candidates do not undergo unacceptable deterioration over their shelf life.
FDA Review Process
Following completion of the clinical trials, data are analyzed to assess whether the investigational product is safe and effective for the proposed indicated use or uses. The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials are then submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA or BLA, along with proposed labeling, chemistry and manufacturing information to ensure product quality and other relevant data. The NDA or BLA is a request for approval to market the drug or biologic for one or more specified indications and must contain proof of safety and efficacy for a drug or safety, purity and potency for a biologic. The application may include both negative and ambiguous results of preclinical studies and clinical trials, as well as positive findings. Data may come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and efficacy of a product’s use or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety and efficacy of the investigational product to the satisfaction of FDA. FDA approval of an NDA or BLA must be obtained before a drug or biologic may be marketed in the United States.
Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, as amended, each NDA or BLA must be accompanied by a user fee. FDA adjusts the PDUFA user fees on an annual basis. Fee waivers or reductions are available in certain circumstances, including a waiver of the application fee for the first application filed by a small business. Additionally, no user fees are assessed on NDAs or BLAs for products designated as orphan drugs, unless the product also includes a non-orphan indication.
The FDA reviews all submitted NDAs and BLAs before it accepts them for filing, and may request additional information rather than accepting the NDA or BLA for filing. The FDA must make a decision on accepting an NDA or BLA for filing within 60 days of receipt, and such decision could include a refusal to file by the FDA. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review of the NDA or BLA. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under PDUFA, the FDA targets ten months, from the filing date, in which to complete its initial review of a new molecular entity NDA or original BLA and respond to the applicant, and six months from the filing date of a new molecular entity NDA or original BLA designated for priority review. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard and priority NDAs or BLAs, and the review process is often extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification.
The FDA has developed the Oncology Center of Excellence RTOR pilot program to facilitate a more efficient review process for certain oncology product candidates. Although this program allows FDA to begin reviewing clinical data prior to submission of a complete NDA or BLA, the program is not intended to change the PDUFA review timelines.
Before approving an NDA or BLA, the FDA will conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facilities for the new product to determine whether they comply with cGMP requirements. The FDA will not approve the product 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. The FDA also may audit data from clinical trials to ensure compliance with GCP requirements. Additionally, the FDA may refer applications for novel products or products which present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee, typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions, if any. The FDA is not bound by recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations when making decisions on approval. The FDA likely will reanalyze the clinical trial data, which could result in extensive discussions between the FDA and the applicant during the review process. After the FDA evaluates an NDA or BLA, it will issue an approval letter or a Complete Response Letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug or biologic with specific prescribing information for specific indications. A Complete Response Letter indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete, and the application will not be approved in its present form. A Complete Response Letter usually describes all of the specific deficiencies in the NDA or BLA identified by the FDA. The Complete Response Letter may require the applicant to obtain additional clinical data, including the potential requirement to conduct additional pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial(s) and/or to complete other significant and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, or to conduct additional preclinical studies or manufacturing activities. If a Complete Response Letter is issued, the applicant may either resubmit the NDA or BLA, addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, or withdraw the application or request an opportunity for a hearing. Even if such data and information are submitted, the FDA may decide that the NDA or BLA does not satisfy the criteria for approval. Data obtained from clinical trials are not always conclusive and the FDA may interpret data differently than we interpret the same data.
Orphan Drug Designation and Exclusivity
Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan drug designation to a drug or biological product intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or 200,000 or more individuals in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the product available in the United States for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product.
Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an NDA or BLA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process.
If a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug for the same indication for seven years from the date of such approval, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity by means of greater effectiveness, greater safety or providing a major contribution to patient care or in instances of drug supply issues. Competitors, however, may receive approval of either a different product for the same indication or the same product for a different indication but that could be used off-label in the orphan indication. Orphan drug exclusivity also could block the approval of one of our products for seven years if a competitor obtains approval before we do for the same product, as defined by the FDA, for the same indication we are seeking approval, or if our product is determined to be contained within the scope of the competitor’s product for the same indication or disease. If we pursue marketing approval for an indication broader than the orphan drug designation we have received, we may not be entitled to orphan drug exclusivity. Orphan drug status in the European Union has similar, but not identical, requirements and benefits.
Rare Pediatric Disease Designation and Priority Review Vouchers
Under the FDCA, as amended, the FDA incentivizes the development of drugs and biologics that meet the definition of a “rare pediatric disease,” defined to mean a serious or life-threatening disease in which the serious of life-threatening manifestations primarily affect individuals aged from birth to 18 years and the disease affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States or affects more than 200,000 in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making in the United States a drug for such disease or condition will be received from sales in the United States of such drug. The sponsor of a product candidate for a rare pediatric disease may be eligible for a voucher that can be used to obtain a priority review for a subsequent human drug or biologic application after the date of approval of the rare pediatric disease drug product, referred to as a priority review voucher, or PRV. A sponsor may request rare pediatric disease designation from the FDA prior to the submission of its NDA or BLA. A rare pediatric disease designation does not guarantee that a sponsor will receive a PRV upon approval of its NDA or BLA. Moreover, a sponsor who chooses not to submit a rare pediatric disease designation request may nonetheless receive a PRV upon approval of their marketing application if they request such a voucher in their original marketing application and meet all of the eligibility criteria. If a PRV is received, it may be sold or transferred an unlimited number of times. Congress has extended the PRV program through September 30, 2024, with the potential for PRVs to be granted through September 30, 2026.
Expedited Development and Review Programs
A sponsor may seek to develop and obtain approval of its product candidates under programs designed to accelerate the development, FDA review and approval of new drugs and biologics that meet certain criteria. For example, the FDA has a fast track program that is intended to expedite or facilitate the process for reviewing new drugs and biologics that are intended to treat a serious or life threatening disease or condition and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. Fast track designation applies to both the product and the specific indication for which it is being studied. For a fast track-designated product, the FDA may consider sections of the NDA or BLA for review on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted, if the sponsor provides a schedule for the submission of the sections of the application, the FDA agrees to accept sections of the application and determines that the schedule is acceptable, and the sponsor pays any required user fees upon submission of the first section of the application. The sponsor can request the FDA to designate the product for fast track status any time before receiving NDA or BLA approval, but ideally no later than the pre-NDA or pre-BLA meeting.
A product submitted to the FDA for marketing, including under a fast track program, may be eligible for other types of FDA programs intended to expedite development or review, such as priority review and accelerated approval. Priority review means that, for a new molecular entity or original BLA, the FDA sets a target date for FDA action on the marketing application at six months after accepting the application for filing as opposed to ten months. A product is eligible for priority review if it is designed to treat a serious or life-threatening disease condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety and effectiveness compared to available therapies. The FDA will attempt to direct additional resources to the evaluation of an application for a new drug or biologic designated for priority review in an effort to facilitate the review. If criteria are not met for priority review, the application for a new molecular entity or original BLA is subject to the standard FDA review period of ten months after FDA accepts the application for filing. Priority review designation does not change the scientific/medical standard for approval or the quality of evidence necessary to support approval.
A product may also be eligible for accelerated approval if it is designed to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrates an effect on either 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, or IMM, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on IMM or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the disease or condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug or biologic receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. In addition, the FDA currently requires, unless otherwise informed by the agency, pre-approval of promotional materials, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product. FDA may withdraw approval of a drug or indication approved under accelerated approval if, for example, the confirmatory trial fails to verify the predicted clinical benefit of the product.
Additionally, a drug or biologic may be eligible for designation as a breakthrough therapy if the product is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over currently approved therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. If the FDA designates a breakthrough therapy, it may take actions appropriate to expedite the development and review of the application, which may include holding meetings with the sponsor and the review team throughout the development of the therapy; providing timely advice to, and interactive communication with, the sponsor regarding the development of the drug to ensure that the development program to gather the nonclinical and clinical data necessary for approval is as efficient as practicable; involving senior managers and experienced review staff, as appropriate, in a collaborative, cross-disciplinary review; assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the FDA review team to facilitate an efficient review of the development program and to serve as a scientific liaison between the review team and the sponsor; and considering alternative clinical trial designs when scientifically appropriate, which may result in smaller trials or more efficient trials that require less time to complete and may minimize the number of patients exposed to a potentially less efficacious treatment. Breakthrough therapy designation comes with all of the benefits of fast track designation, which means that the sponsor may file sections of the BLA for review on a rolling basis if certain conditions are satisfied, including an agreement with the FDA on the proposed schedule for submission of portions of the application and the payment of applicable user fees before the FDA may initiate a review.
As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress amended the FDCA to facilitate an efficient development program for, and expedite review of regenerative medicine advanced therapies, or RMATs, which include cell and gene therapies, therapeutic tissue engineering products, human cell and tissue products, and combination products using any such therapies or products. RMATs do not include those human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue based products regulated solely under section 361 of the PHSA and 21 CFR Part 1271. This program is intended to facilitate efficient development and expedite review of regenerative medicine therapies, which are intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and qualify for RMAT designation. A sponsor may request that the FDA designate a product candidate as a RMAT concurrently with or at any time after submission of an IND. The FDA has 60 calendar days to determine whether the product candidate meets the criteria, including whether there is preliminary clinical evidence indicating that the product candidate has the potential to address unmet medical needs for a serious or life-threatening disease or condition. A BLA for a product candidate that has received RMAT designation may be eligible for priority review or accelerated approval through use of surrogate or intermediate endpoints reasonably likely to predict long-term clinical benefit, or reliance upon data obtained from a meaningful number of sites. Benefits of RMAT designation also include early interactions with FDA to discuss any potential surrogate or intermediate endpoint to be used to support accelerated approval. A product candidate with RMAT designation that is granted accelerated approval and is subject to post-approval requirements may fulfill such requirements through the submission of clinical evidence from clinical studies, patient registries, or other sources of real world evidence, such as electronic health records; the collection of larger confirmatory data sets; or post-approval monitoring of all patients treated with such therapy prior to its approval.
The FDA has also announced the availability of the RTOR pilot program for oncology product candidates that are likely to demonstrate substantial improvements over available therapy, which may include drugs previously granted breakthrough therapy designation for the same or other indications and candidates meeting other criteria for other expedited programs, such as fast track and priority review. Submissions for RTOR consideration should also have straightforward study designs and endpoints that can be easily interpreted (such as overall survival or progression free survival). Acceptance into the RTOR pilot does not guarantee or influence approvability of the application, which is subject to the usual benefit-risk evaluation by FDA reviewers, but the program allows FDA to review data earlier, before an applicant formally submits a complete application. The RTOR pilot program does not affect FDA’s PDUFA timelines.
Even if a product qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification or the time period for FDA review or approval may not be shortened. Furthermore, fast track designation, priority review, accelerated approval, breakthrough therapy and RMAT designation do not change the standards for approval.
Pediatric Information and Pediatric Exclusivity
Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, certain NDAs and BLAs and certain supplements to an NDA or BLA must contain data to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of pediatric data or full or partial waivers. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA, amended the FDCA to require that a sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within 60 days of an end-of-Phase 2 meeting or, if there is no such meeting, as early as practicable before the initiation of the Phase 3 or Phase 2/3 study. The initial PSP must include an outline of the pediatric study or studies that the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The FDA and the sponsor must reach an agreement on the PSP. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon initial PSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from preclinical studies, early phase clinical trials and/or other clinical development programs.
A drug or biologic product can also obtain pediatric market exclusivity in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity, if granted, adds six months to existing exclusivity periods and patent terms. This six-month exclusivity, which runs from the end of other exclusivity protection or patent term, may be granted based on the voluntary completion of a pediatric study in accordance with an FDA-issued “Written Request” for such a study.
Following approval of a new product, the manufacturer and the approved product are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, monitoring and record-keeping activities, reporting of adverse experiences to applicable regulatory authorities, complying with promotion and advertising requirements, which include, among other things, standards for direct-to-consumer advertising, requirements for promotional activities on the internet, restrictions on promoting products for unapproved uses or in patient populations that are not described in the product's approved label (known as “off-label use”) and limitations on industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities. Although physicians may prescribe legally available products for off-label uses, manufacturers may not market or promote such off-label uses. The FDA does not regulate the behavior of physicians in their choice of treatment, but the FDA regulations do impose stringent restrictions on manufacturers' communications regarding off-label uses. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability, including investigation by federal and state authorities. Prescription drug promotional materials must be submitted to the FDA in conjunction with their first use or first publication, and may be required to be reviewed in advance in certain circumstances such as for products that receive accelerated approval.
Further, if there are any modifications to the drug or biologic, including changes in indications, labeling or manufacturing processes or facilities, the applicant may be required to submit and obtain FDA approval of a new NDA/BLA or NDA/BLA supplement, which may require the development of additional data or preclinical studies and clinical trials. Such regulatory reviews can result in denial or modification of the planned changes, or requirements to conduct additional tests or evaluations that can substantially delay or increase the cost of the planned changes.
The FDA may also place other conditions on approvals including the requirement for a REMS, to assure the safe use of the product. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the NDA or BLA must submit a proposed REMS. The FDA will not approve the NDA or BLA without an approved REMS, if required. A REMS could include medication guides, physician communication plans or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. Any of these limitations on approval or marketing could restrict the commercial promotion, distribution, prescription or dispensing of products. Product approvals may be withdrawn for non-compliance with regulatory requirements, if problems occur following initial marketing or if the FDA determines that the product is no longer safe or effective.
FDA regulations require that products be manufactured in specific approved facilities and in accordance with cGMP regulations. We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the production of clinical and commercial quantities of our products in accordance with cGMP regulations. NDA and BLA holders using contract manufacturers, laboratories or packagers are responsible for the selection and monitoring of qualified firms, and, in certain circumstances, qualified suppliers to these firms. These manufacturers must comply with cGMP regulations that require, among other things, quality control and quality assurance, the maintenance of records and documentation and the obligation to investigate and correct any deviations from cGMP. Manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs or biologics are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with cGMP requirements and other laws. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance. The discovery of violative conditions, including failure to conform to cGMP regulations, could result in enforcement actions, and the discovery of problems with a product after approval may result in restrictions on a product, manufacturer or holder of an approved NDA or BLA, including recall or withdrawal of the product from the market.
Any distribution of prescription drugs and biologics and pharmaceutical samples must comply with the U.S. Prescription Drug Marketing Act, or PDMA, and the PHSA. In addition, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, or DSCSA, was enacted in 2013 with the aim of building an electronic system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs and biologics distributed in the United States. The DSCSA mandates phased-in and resource-intensive obligations for pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and dispensers over a 10-year period that is expected to culminate in November 2023. The law's requirements include the quarantine and prompt investigation of a suspect product, to determine if it is illegitimate, notifying trading partners and the FDA of any illegitimate product, and compliance with product tracking and tracing requirements.
Once an approval is granted, the FDA may issue enforcement letters or withdraw the approval of the product if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the drug or biologic reaches the market. Corrective action could delay drug or biologic distribution and require significant time and financial expenditures. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a drug or biologic, including AEs of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may require revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information, including the addition of new warning and contraindications; 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:
Regulation of Companion Diagnostics
We believe that the success of certain of our product candidates may depend, in part, on the development and commercialization of a companion diagnostic. Companion diagnostics identify patients who are most likely to benefit from a particular therapeutic product; identify patients likely to be at increased risk for serious side effects as a result of treatment with a particular therapeutic product; or monitor response to treatment with a particular therapeutic product for the purpose of adjusting treatment to achieve improved safety or effectiveness. Companion diagnostics are regulated as medical devices by the FDA. In the United States, the FDCA and its implementing regulations, and other federal and state statutes and regulations govern, among other things, medical device design and development, preclinical and clinical testing, premarket clearance or approval, registration and listing, manufacturing, labeling, storage, advertising and promotion, sales and distribution, export and import, and post-market surveillance. Unless an exemption or FDA exercise of enforcement discretion applies, diagnostic tests generally require marketing clearance or approval from the FDA prior to commercialization. The two primary types of FDA marketing authorization applicable to a medical device are premarket notification, also called 510(k) clearance, and approval of a premarket, or PMA approval.
To obtain 510(k) clearance for a medical device, or for certain modifications to devices that have received 510(k) clearance, a manufacturer must submit a premarket notification demonstrating that the proposed device is substantially equivalent to a previously cleared 510(k) device or to a preamendment device that was in commercial distribution before May 28, 1976, or a predicate device, for which the FDA has not yet called for the submission of a PMA. In making a determination that the device is substantially equivalent to a predicate device, the FDA compares the proposed device to the predicate device or predicate devices and assesses whether the subject device is comparable to the predicate device or predicate devices with respect to intended use, technology, design and other features which could affect safety and effectiveness. If the FDA determines that the subject device is substantially equivalent to the predicate device or predicate devices, the subject device may be cleared for marketing. The 510(k) premarket notification pathway generally takes from three to twelve months from the date the application is completed, but can take significantly longer.
PMA applications must be supported by valid scientific evidence, which typically requires extensive data, including technical, preclinical, clinical and manufacturing data, to demonstrate to the FDA’s satisfaction the safety and effectiveness of the device. For diagnostic tests, a PMA application typically includes data regarding analytical and clinical validation studies. As part of its review of the PMA, the FDA will conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities to ensure compliance with the Quality System Regulation, or QSR, which requires manufacturers to follow design, testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance procedures. The FDA’s review of an initial PMA application is required by statute to take between six to ten months, although the process typically takes longer, and may require several years to complete. If the FDA evaluations of both the PMA application and the manufacturing facilities are favorable, the FDA will either issue an approval letter or an approvable letter, which usually contains a number of conditions that must be met in order to secure the final approval of the PMA. If the FDA’s evaluation of the PMA or manufacturing facilities is not favorable, the FDA will deny the approval of the PMA or issue a not approvable letter. A not approvable letter will outline the deficiencies in the application and, where practical, will identify what is necessary to make the PMA approvable. Once granted, PMA approval may be withdrawn by the FDA if compliance with post-approval requirements, conditions of approval or other regulatory standards is not maintained or problems are identified following initial marketing.
On July 31, 2014, the FDA issued a final guidance document addressing the development and approval process for “In Vitro Companion Diagnostic Devices.” According to the guidance document, for novel therapeutic products that depend on the use of a diagnostic test and where the diagnostic device could be essential for the safe and effective use of the corresponding therapeutic product, the premarket application for the companion diagnostic device should be developed and approved or cleared contemporaneously with the therapeutic, although the FDA recognizes that there may be cases when contemporaneous development may not be possible. However, in cases where a drug cannot be used safely or effectively without the companion diagnostic, the FDA’s guidance indicates it will generally not approve the drug without the approval or clearance of the diagnostic device. The FDA also issued a draft guidance in July 2016 setting forth the principles for co-development of an in vitro companion diagnostic device with a therapeutic product. The draft guidance describes principles to guide the development and contemporaneous marketing authorization for the therapeutic product and its corresponding in vitro companion diagnostic.
Once cleared or approved, the companion diagnostic device must adhere to post-marketing requirements including the requirements of FDA’s quality system regulation, adverse event reporting, recalls and corrections along with product marketing requirements and limitations. Like drug and biologic makers, companion diagnostic makers are subject to unannounced FDA inspections at any time during which the FDA will conduct an audit of the product(s) and the company’s facilities for compliance with its authorities.
Biosimilars and Exclusivity
Certain of our product candidates are regulated as biologics. An abbreviated approval pathway for biological products shown to be similar to, or interchangeable with, an FDA-licensed reference biological product was created by the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCI Act, as part of the ACA. This amendment to the PHSA, in part, attempts to minimize duplicative testing. Biosimilarity, which requires that the biological product be highly similar to the reference product notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive components and that there be no clinically meaningful differences between the product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity and potency, can be shown through analytical studies, animal studies and a clinical trial or trials. Interchangeability requires that a biological product be biosimilar to the reference product and that the product can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product in any given patient and, for products administered multiple times to an individual, that the product and the reference product may be alternated or switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biological product without such alternation or switch. Complexities associated with the larger, and often more complex, structure of biological products as compared to small molecule drugs, as well as the processes by which such products are manufactured, pose significant hurdles to implementation that are still being worked out by the FDA.
A reference biological product is granted four and twelve year exclusivity periods from the time of first licensure of the product. The FDA will not accept an application for a biosimilar or interchangeable product based on the reference biological product until four years after the date of first licensure of the reference product, and the FDA will not approve an application for a biosimilar or interchangeable product based on the reference biological product until twelve years after the date of first licensure of the reference product. “First licensure” typically means the initial date the particular product at issue was licensed in the United States. Date of first licensure does not include the date of licensure of (and a new period of exclusivity is not available for) a biological product if the licensure is for a supplement for the biological product or for a subsequent application by the same sponsor or manufacturer of the biological product (or licensor, predecessor in interest, or other related entity) for a change (not including a modification to the structure of the biological product) that results in a new indication, route of administration, dosing schedule, dosage form, delivery system, delivery device or strength, or for a modification to the structure of the biological product that does not result in a change in safety, purity, or potency. Therefore, one must determine whether a new product includes a modification to the structure of a previously licensed product that results in a change in safety, purity, or potency to assess whether the licensure of the new product is a first licensure that triggers its own period of exclusivity. Whether a subsequent application, if approved, warrants exclusivity as the “first licensure” of a biological product is determined on a case-by-case basis with data submitted by the sponsor.
Other Regulatory Matters
Manufacturing, sales, promotion and other activities following product approval are also subject to regulation by numerous regulatory authorities in the United States in addition to the FDA, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, including the Office of Inspector General and Office for Civil Rights, other divisions of the Department of HHS, the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and local governments.
Healthcare providers, physicians, and third party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any products for which we obtain marketing approval. Our current and future arrangements with healthcare providers and physicians and any future arrangements with third party payers, may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute any drugs for which we obtain marketing approval. In the United States, these laws include: the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the False Claims Act, and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
The Anti-Kickback Statute makes it illegal for any person, including a prescription drug manufacturer (or a party acting on its behalf), to knowingly and willfully solicit, receive, offer or pay any remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, that is intended to induce or reward referrals, including the purchase, recommendation, order or prescription of a particular drug, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. Violations of this law are punishable by imprisonment, criminal fines, administrative civil money penalties and exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs. In addition, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it. Moreover, the ACA provides that the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act or federal civil money penalties.
Although we would not submit claims directly to payors, drug manufacturers can be held liable under federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws, such as the federal civil False Claims Act, which imposes criminal and civil penalties, including through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, against individuals or entities (including manufacturers) for, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented to federal programs (including Medicare and Medicaid) claims for items or services, including drugs, that are false or fraudulent, claims for items or services not provided as claimed, or claims for medically unnecessary items or services. Penalties for a False Claims Act violation include three times the actual damages sustained by the government, plus mandatory civil penalties for each separate false claim, the potential for exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs and, although the federal False Claims Act is a civil statute, conduct that results in a False Claims Act violation may also implicate various federal criminal statutes. The government may deem manufacturers to have “caused” the submission of false or fraudulent claims by, for example, providing inaccurate billing or coding information to customers or promoting a product off-label. Claims which include items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute are false or fraudulent claims for purposes of the False Claims Act. Our future marketing and activities relating to the reporting of wholesaler or estimated retail prices for our products, if approved, the reporting of prices used to calculate Medicaid rebate information and other information affecting federal, state and third-party reimbursement for our products, and the sale and marketing of our product candidates, are subject to scrutiny under this law.
HIPAA created federal criminal statutes that prohibit among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud or to obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises, any money or property owned by, or under the control or custody of, any healthcare benefit program, including private third party payors, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a healthcare benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by trick, scheme or device, a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Like the 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 civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent.
We may be subject to data privacy and security regulations by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH), and their implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published in January 2013, which imposes requirements on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses, as well as their respective business associates, independent contractors, or agents of health covered entities, that perform services for them that involve the creation, maintenance, receipt, use, or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information relating to the privacy, security, and transmission of individual identifiable health information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s security standards directly applicable to business associates, defined as independent contractors or agents of covered entities, which include certain health care providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses, that create, receive or obtain protected health information in connection with providing a service for or on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys' fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, there may be additional federal, state, and non-U.S. laws which govern the privacy and security of health and other personal information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts. Failure to comply with these laws, where applicable, can result in the imposition of significant civil and criminal penalties.
In addition, many states in which we operate have laws that protect the privacy and security of sensitive and personal information. Certain state laws may be more stringent or broader in scope, or offer greater individual rights, with respect to sensitive and personal information than federal, international, or other state laws, and such laws may differ from each other, which may complicate compliance efforts. Where state laws are more protective than HIPAA, we must comply with the state laws we are subject to, in addition to HIPAA. In certain cases, it may be necessary to modify our planned operations and procedures to comply with these more stringent state laws. Further, in some cases where we process sensitive and personal information of individuals from numerous states, we may find it necessary to comply with the most stringent state laws applicable to any of the information. California recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which creates new individual privacy rights for California consumers (as defined in the law) and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA will require covered companies to provide certain disclosures to consumers about its data collection, use and sharing practices, and to provide affected California residents with ways to opt-out of certain sales or transfers of personal information. The CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020, and the California State Attorney General submitted final regulations for review on June 2, 2020, which were finalized and are now effective. The California State Attorney General has commenced enforcement actions against violators as of July 1, 2020. Further, a new California privacy law, the California Privacy Rights Act, or CPRA, was passed by California voters on November 3, 2020. The CPRA will create additional obligations with respect to processing and storing personal information that are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023 (with certain provisions having retroactive effect to January 1, 2022). We will continue to monitor developments related to the CPRA and anticipate additional costs and expenses associated with CPRA compliance. Other U.S. states also are considering omnibus privacy legislation and industry organizations regularly adopt and advocate for new standards in these areas. While the CCPA and CPRA contain an exception for certain activities involving PHI under HIPAA, we cannot yet determine the impact the CCPA, CPRA or other such future laws, regulations and standards may have on our business.
Additionally, some observers have noted that the CCPA and CPRA could mark the beginning of a trend toward more stringent privacy legislation in the U.S., which could increase our potential liability and adversely affect our business. Already, in the United States, we have witnessed significant developments at the state level. For example, on March 2, 2021, Virginia enacted the Consumer Data Protection Act (the “CDPA”) and, on July 8, 2021, Colorado’s governor signed the Colorado Privacy Act (“CPA”), into law. The CDPA and the CPA will both become effective January 1, 2023. While the CDPA and CPA incorporate many similar concepts of the CCPA and CPRA, there are also several key differences in the scope, application, and enforcement of the law that will change the operational practices of regulated businesses. The new laws will, among other things, impact how regulated businesses collect and process personal sensitive data, conduct data protection assessments, transfer personal data to affiliates, and respond to consumer rights requests.
A number of other states have proposed new privacy laws, some of which are similar to the above discussed recently passed laws. Such proposed legislation, if enacted, may add additional complexity, variation in requirements, restrictions and potential legal risk, require additional investment of resources in compliance programs, impact strategies and the availability of previously useful data and could result in increased compliance costs and/or changes in business practices and policies. The existence of comprehensive privacy laws in different states in the country would make our compliance obligations more complex and costly and may increase the likelihood that we may be subject to enforcement actions or otherwise incur liability for noncompliance.
Additionally, the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, or the Sunshine Act, within the ACA, and its implementing regulations, require that certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biological and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) report annually to CMS information related to certain payments or other transfers of value made or distributed to physicians and teaching hospitals, or to entities or individuals at the request of, or designated on behalf of, physicians, certain other healthcare professionals, and teaching hospitals and to report annually certain ownership and investment interests held by physicians, certain other healthcare professionals, and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. In addition, many states also govern the reporting of payments or other transfers of value, many of which differ from each other in significant ways, are often not pre-empted, and may have a more prohibitive effect than the Sunshine Act, thus further complicating compliance efforts.
Federal government price reporting laws, which require us to calculate and report complex pricing metrics in an accurate and timely manner to government programs. Additional federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers.
Similar federal, state and foreign fraud and abuse laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services. Such laws are generally broad and are enforced by various state agencies and private actions. Many U.S. states have adopted laws similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act, and may apply to our business practices, including, but not limited to, research, distribution, sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental payors, including private insurers. Additionally, we are subject to state and foreign equivalents of each of the healthcare laws and regulations described above, some of which may be broader in scope and may apply regardless of payor, in addition to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs. Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant federal government compliance guidance, and require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures. Several states also impose other marketing restrictions or require pharmaceutical companies to make marketing or price disclosures to the state and require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives. State and foreign laws, including, for example, the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, which became effective May 2018 also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts. There are ambiguities as to what is required to comply with these state requirements and if we fail to comply with an applicable state law requirement we could be subject to penalties. Finally, there are state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
In order to distribute products commercially, we must comply with state laws that require the registration of manufacturers and wholesale distributors of drug and biological products in a state, including, in certain states, manufacturers and distributors who ship products into the state even if such manufacturers or distributors have no place of business within the state. Several states have enacted legislation requiring pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to establish marketing compliance programs, file periodic reports with the state, make periodic public disclosures on sales, marketing, pricing, clinical trials and other activities, and/or register their sales representatives, as well as to prohibit pharmacies and other healthcare entities from providing certain physician prescribing data to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for use in sales and marketing, and to prohibit certain other sales and marketing practices. We must also comply with federal government price reporting laws, which require us to calculate and report complex pricing metrics in an accurate and timely manner to government programs. All of our activities are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws.
The scope and enforcement of each of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform, especially in light of the lack of applicable precedent and regulations. Federal and state enforcement bodies have recently increased their scrutiny of interactions between healthcare companies and healthcare providers, which has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, individual imprisonment, exclusion of drugs from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our financial results. Further, defending against any such actions can be costly and time consuming, and may require significant financial and personnel resources. Therefore, even if we are successful in defending against any such actions that may be brought against us, our business may be impaired. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs. Ensuring business arrangements comply with applicable healthcare laws, as well as responding to possible investigations by government authorities, can be time- and resource-consuming and can divert a company’s attention from the business.
In the U.S., to help patients afford our approved product, we may utilize programs to assist them, including patient assistance programs and co-pay coupon programs for eligible patients. PAPs are regulated by and subject to guidance from CMS OIG. In addition, at least one insurer has directed its network pharmacies to no longer accept co-pay coupons for certain specialty drugs the insurer identified. Our co-pay coupon programs could become the target of similar insurer actions. In addition, in November 2013, the CMS issued guidance to the issuers of qualified health plans sold through the ACA's marketplaces encouraging such plans to reject patient cost-sharing support from third parties and indicating that the CMS intends to monitor the provision of such support and may take regulatory action to limit it in the future. The CMS subsequently issued a rule requiring individual market qualified health plans to accept third-party premium and cost-sharing payments from certain government-related entities. In September 2014, the OIG of the HHS issued a Special Advisory Bulletin warning manufacturers that they may be subject to sanctions under the federal anti-kickback statute and/or civil monetary penalty laws if they do not take appropriate steps to exclude Part D beneficiaries from using co-pay coupons. Accordingly, companies exclude these Part D beneficiaries from using co-pay coupons.
On December 2, 2020, the HHS published a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between PBMs and manufacturers. Implementation of this change and new safe harbors for point-of-sale reductions in price for prescription pharmaceutical products and PBM service fees are currently under review by the current U.S. presidential administration and may be amended or repealed. Further, on December 31, 2020, CMS published a new rule, effective January 1, 2023, requiring manufacturers to ensure the full value of co-pay assistance is passed on to the patient or these dollars will count toward the Average Manufacturer Price and Best Price calculation of the drug. On May 21, 2021, PhRMA sued the HHS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to stop the implementation of the rule claiming that the rule contradicts federal law surrounding Medicaid rebates. It is unclear how the outcome of this litigation will affect the rule. We cannot predict how the implementation of and any further changes to this rule will affect our business.
Current and Future Legislation
In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and likely will continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system directed at broadening the availability of healthcare, improving the quality of healthcare, and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare.
For example, in March 2010, the ACA was enacted in the United States. The ACA includes measures that have significantly changed, and are expected to continue to significantly change, the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers. Among the provisions of the ACA of greatest importance to the pharmaceutical industry are that the ACA:
Since its enactment, there have been numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the most recent judicial challenge to the ACA brought by several states without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through August 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructed certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. It is unclear how other healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration or other efforts, if any, to challenge, repeal or replace the ACA will impact our business. Prior to the Biden administration, on October 13, 2017, former President Trump signed an Executive Order which terminated the cost sharing subsidies that reimburse insurers under the ACA. The former Trump administration concluded that cost-sharing reduction, or CSR, payments to insurance companies required under the ACA have not received necessary appropriations from Congress and announced that it will discontinue these payments immediately until those appropriations are made. Several state Attorneys General filed suit to stop the administration from terminating the subsidies, but their request for a restraining order was denied by a federal judge in California on October 25, 2017. On August 14, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in two separate cases that the federal government is liable for the full amount of unpaid CSRs for the years preceding and including 2017. For CSR claims made by health insurance companies for years 2018 and later, further litigation will be required to determine the amounts due, if any. Further, on June 14, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the federal government was not required to pay more than $12 billion in ACA risk corridor payments to third-party payors who argued the payments were owed to them. On April 27, 2020, the United States Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, concluding the government has an obligation to pay these risk corridor payments under the relevant formula. It is unclear what impact these rulings will have on our business.
In addition, CMS published a final rule that would give states greater flexibility as of 2020 in setting benchmarks for insurers in the individual and small group marketplaces, which may have the effect of relaxing the essential health benefits required under the ACA for plans sold through such marketplaces. On December 20, 2019, former President Trump signed into law the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1865), which repeals the Cadillac tax, the health insurance provider tax, and the medical device excise tax. It is impossible to determine whether similar taxes could be instated in the future.
In addition, other legislative and regulatory changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted:
In addition, there have been several changes to the 340B drug pricing program, which imposes ceilings on prices that drug manufacturers can charge for medications sold to certain health care facilities. On December 27, 2018, the District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated a reimbursement formula change under the 340B drug pricing program, and CMS subsequently altered the FYs 2019 and 2018 reimbursement formula on specified covered outpatient drugs (“SCODs”). The court ruled this change was not an “adjustment” which was within the Secretary’s discretion to make but was instead a fundamental change in the reimbursement calculation. However, most recently, on July 31, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the district court’s decision and found that the changes were within the Secretary’s authority. On September 14, 2020, the plaintiffs-appellees filed a Petition for Rehearing En Banc (i.e., before the full court), but was denied on October 16, 2020. Plaintiffs-appellees filed a petition for a writ of certiorari at the Supreme Court on February 10, 2021. On Friday July 2, 2021, the Supreme Court granted the petition. It is unclear how these developments could affect covered hospitals who might purchase our future products and affect the rates we may charge such facilities for our approved products in the future, if any.
Additionally, there has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to drug pricing practices. Specifically, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, and review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs. At a federal level, President Biden signed an Executive Order on July 9, 2021 affirming the administration’s policy to (i) support legislative reforms that would lower the prices of prescription drug and biologics, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, by imposing inflation caps, and, by supporting the development and market entry of lower-cost generic drugs and biosimilars; and (ii) support the enactment of a public health insurance option. Among other things, the Executive Order also directs HHS to provide a report on actions to combat excessive pricing of prescription drugs, enhance the domestic drug supply chain, reduce the price that the Federal government pays for drugs, and address price gouging in the industry; and directs the FDA to work with states and Indian Tribes that propose to develop section 804 Importation Programs in accordance with the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, and the FDA’s implementing regulations. FDA released such implementing regulations on September 24, 2020, which went into effect on November 30, 2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. On September 25, 2020, CMS stated drugs imported by states under this rule will not be eligible for federal rebates under Section 1927 of the Social Security Act and manufacturers would not report these drugs for “best price” or Average Manufacturer Price purposes. Since these drugs are not considered covered outpatient drugs, CMS further stated it will not publish a National Average Drug Acquisition Cost for these drugs. If implemented, importation of drugs from Canada may materially and adversely affect the price we receive for any of our product candidates. Further, on November 20, 2020 CMS issued an Interim Final Rule implementing the Most Favored Nation, or MFN, Model under which Medicare Part B reimbursement rates would have been be calculated for certain drugs and biologicals based on the lowest price drug manufacturers receive in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries with a similar gross domestic product per capita. However, on December 29, 2021 rescinded the Most Favored Nations rule.
Additionally, on November 30, 2020, HHS published a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. Pursuant to court order, the removal and addition of the aforementioned safe harbors were delayed and recent legislation imposed a moratorium on implementation of the rule until January 1, 2026. Further, on December 31, 2020, CMS published a new rule, effective January 1, 2023, requiring manufacturers to ensure the full value of co-pay assistance is passed on to the patient or these dollars will count toward the Average Manufacturer Price and Best Price calculation of the drug. On May 21, 2021, PhRMA sued the HHS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to stop the implementation of the rule claiming that the rule contradicts federal law surrounding Medicaid rebates. It is unclear how the outcome of this litigation will affect the rule. We cannot predict how the implementation of and any further changes to this rule will affect our business. Although a number of these and other proposed measures may require authorization through additional legislation to become effective, and the Biden administration may reverse or otherwise change these measures, both the Biden administration and Congress have indicated that they will continue to seek new legislative measures to control drug costs.
We expect that additional U.S. federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that the U.S. Federal Government will pay for healthcare drugs and services, which could result in reduced demand for our drug candidates or additional pricing pressures.
Individual states in the United States have also become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain drug access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. Legally mandated price controls on payment amounts by third-party payors or other restrictions could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. 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 drugs or put pressure on our drug pricing, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We cannot predict what healthcare reform initiatives may be adopted in the future. Further federal, state and foreign legislative and regulatory developments are likely, and we expect ongoing initiatives to increase pressure on drug pricing. Such reforms could have an adverse effect on anticipated revenues from product candidates and may affect our overall financial condition and ability to develop product candidates.
Packaging and Distribution in the United States
If our products are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. Products must meet applicable child-resistant packaging requirements under the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Manufacturing, sales, promotion and other activities also are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws.
The distribution of pharmaceutical products is subject to additional requirements and regulations, including extensive record-keeping, licensing, storage and security requirements intended to prevent the unauthorized sale of pharmaceutical products.
The failure to comply with any of these laws or regulatory requirements subjects firms to possible legal or regulatory action. Depending on the circumstances, failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements can result in criminal prosecution, fines or other penalties, injunctions, exclusion from federal healthcare programs, requests for recall, seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of product approvals, or refusal to allow a firm to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts. Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. Prohibitions or restrictions on sales or withdrawal of future products marketed by us could materially affect our business in an adverse way.
Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.
Other U.S. Environmental, Health and Safety Laws and Regulations
We may be subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. From time to time and in the future, our operations may involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials, and may also produce hazardous waste products. Even if we contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and waste products, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from the use or disposal of our hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations.
We maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees, but this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. However, we do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. Current or future environmental laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. In addition, failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
U.S. Patent Term Extension and Marketing Exclusivity
Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of FDA approval of a drug or biologic, some U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits extension of a patent term of up to five years beyond the normal expiration date of the patent as compensation for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. Patent term extension, however, cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date and only those claims covering such approved drug product, a method for using it or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. Only one patent applicable to an approved drug is eligible for the extension and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent. The USPTO, in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension. An NDA or BLA applicant may apply for extension of patent term for its currently owned or licensed patents to add patent life beyond its current expiration date, depending on the expected length of the clinical trials and other factors involved in the filing of the relevant NDA or BLA.
Marketing exclusivity provisions under the FDCA also can delay the submission or the approval of certain applications. The FDCA provides a five-year period of non-patent marketing exclusivity within the United States to the first applicant to gain approval of an NDA for a new chemical entity. A drug is a new chemical entity if the FDA has not previously approved any other new drug containing the same active moiety, which is the molecule or ion responsible for the action of the drug substance. During the exclusivity period, the FDA may not accept for review an ANDA, or a 505(b)(2) NDA submitted by another company for another version of such drug where the applicant does not own or have a legal right of reference to all the data required for approval. However, an application may be submitted after four years if it contains a certification of patent invalidity or non-infringement. The FDCA also provides three years of marketing exclusivity for an NDA, 505(b)(2) NDA or supplement to an existing NDA if new clinical investigations, other than bioavailability studies, that were conducted or sponsored by the applicant are deemed by the FDA to be essential to the approval of the application, for example, new indications, dosages or strengths of an existing drug. This three-year exclusivity covers only the conditions of use associated with the new clinical investigations and does not prohibit the FDA from approving ANDAs for drugs containing the original active agent. Five-year and three-year exclusivity will not delay the submission or approval of a full NDA. However, an applicant submitting a full NDA would be required to conduct or obtain a right of reference to all of the preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.
European Union Drug Development
In the European Union, our future products also may be subject to extensive regulatory requirements. As in the United States, medicinal products can be marketed only if a marketing authorization from the competent regulatory agencies has been obtained.
Similar to the United States, the various phases of preclinical and clinical research in the European Union are subject to significant regulatory controls.
In April 2014, the EU adopted the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014, or Regulation, which replaced the Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC, or Directive, on January 31, 2022. The transitory provisions of the new Regulation offer sponsors the possibility to choose between the requirements of the previous Directive and the new Regulation if the request for authorization of a clinical trial is submitted in the year after the new Regulation became applicable. If the sponsor chooses to submit under the previous Directive, the clinical trial continues to be governed by the Directive until three years after the new Regulation became applicable. If a clinical trial continues for more than three years after the Regulation became applicable, the new Regulation will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial.
The new Regulation overhauls the current system of approvals for clinical trials in the EU. Specifically, the new Regulation, which will be directly applicable in all Member States (meaning no national implementing legislation in each EU Member State is required), aims at simplifying and streamlining the approval of clinical trials in the EU. For instance, it provides for a streamlined application procedure via a single entry point and strictly defined deadlines for the assessment of clinical trial applications.
European Union Drug Review and Approval
In the EU, medicinal products can only be commercialized after obtaining a marketing authorization, or MA. There are two types of marketing authorizations.
Under the centralized procedure, the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human use, or CHMP, is responsible for conducting the initial assessment of a product and for several post-authorization and maintenance activities, such as the assessment of modifications or extensions to an existing MA. Under the centralized procedure in the EU, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application, or MAA, by the EMA is 210 days, excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the CHMP. Clock stops may extend the timeframe of evaluation of an MAA considerably beyond 210 days. Where the CHMP gives a positive opinion, it provides the opinion together with supporting documentation to the European Commission, who makes the final decision to grant an MA, which is issued within 67 days of receipt of the EMA’s recommendation. Accelerated assessment might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of major public health interest, particularly from the point of view of therapeutic innovation. If the CHMP accepts such request, the time limit of 210 days will be reduced to 150 days, excluding clock stops,, but it is possible that the CHMP may revert to the standard time limit for the centralized procedure if it determines that the application is no longer appropriate to conduct an accelerated assessment.
Under the above described procedures, before granting the MA, the EMA or the competent authorities of the Member States of the EU make an assessment of the risk-benefit balance of the product on the basis of scientific criteria concerning its quality, safety and efficacy.
Now that the United Kingdom (which comprises Great Britain and Northern Ireland) has left the European Union, Great Britain will no longer be covered by centralized MAs (under the Northern Ireland Protocol, centralized MAs will continue to be recognized in Northern Ireland). All medicinal products with a current centralized MA were automatically converted to Great Britain MAs on January, 1 2021. For a period of two years from January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, the UK medicines regulator, may rely on a decision taken by the European Commission on the approval of a new MA in the centralized procedure, in order to more quickly grant a new Great Britain MA. A separate application will, however, still be required. The MHRA also has the power to have regard to MAs approved in EU Member States through decentralized or mutual recognition procedures with a view to more quickly granting an MA in the United Kingdom or Great Britain.
European Union New Chemical Entity Exclusivity
In the EU, innovative medicinal products approved on the basis of a complete independent data package qualify for eight years of data exclusivity upon marketing authorization and an additional two years of market exclusivity. The data exclusivity, if granted, prevents generic or biosimilar applicants from referencing the innovator’s preclinical and clinical trial data contained in the dossier of the reference product when applying for a generic or biosimilar MA in the EU, during a period of eight years from the date on which the reference product was first authorized in the EU. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic or biosimilar MAA can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic or biosimilar product can be placed on the EU market until the expiration of the market exclusivity. The overall ten-year period will be extended to a maximum of 11 years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are determined to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with currently approved therapies. There is no guarantee that a product will be considered by the EMA to be an innovative medicinal product, and products may not qualify for data exclusivity. Even if a product is considered to be an innovative medicinal product so that the innovator gains the prescribed period of data exclusivity, however, another company could nevertheless also market another version of the product if such company obtained an MA based on an MAA with a complete independent data package of pharmaceutical tests, preclinical tests and clinical trials.
European Union Orphan Designation and Exclusivity
In the EU, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products grants orphan designation to promote the development of products that: (1) are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions; (2) either (i) such condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the EU when the application is made, or (ii) it is unlikely that the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would generate sufficient return in the EU to justify the necessary investment in its development; and (3)there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the EU, or, if a method exists, the product would be a significant benefit to those affected by that condition.
In the EU, orphan designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and ten years of market exclusivity is granted following grant of a marketing authorization. During this market exclusivity period, neither the EMA nor the European Commission nor any of the competent authorities in the EU Members States can accept an application or grant a marketing authorization for a “similar medicinal product.” A “similar medicinal product” is defined as a medicinal product containing a similar active substance or substances as contained in an authorized orphan medicinal product, and which is intended for the same therapeutic indication. This period may be reduced to six years if the orphan designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Market exclusivity may also be revoked in very select cases, such as if (i) it is established that a similar medicinal product is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior to the authorized product; (ii) the marketing authorization holder consents to such revocation; or (iii) the marketing authorization holder cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product. Orphan designation must be requested before submitting an application for marketing approval. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.
Since January 1, 2021, a separate process for orphan designation has applied in Great Britain. There is now no pre-marketing authorization orphan designation (as there is in the EU) in Great Britain and the application for orphan designation will be reviewed by the MHRA at the time of an MAA for a UK or Great Britain MA. The criteria for orphan designation are the same as in the EU, save that they apply to Great Britain only (e.g., there must be no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the condition concerned in Great Britain, as opposed to the EU).
European Pediatric Investigation Plan
In the EU, MAAs for new medicinal products have to include the results of studies conducted in the pediatric population, in compliance with a pediatric investigation plan, or PIP, agreed with the EMA’s Pediatric Committee, or PDCO, unless the EMA has granted a product-specific waiver, a class waiver, or a deferral for one or more of the measures included in the PIP. This requirement also applies when a company wants to add a new indication, pharmaceutical form or route of administration for a medicine that is already authorized. The PIP sets out the timing and measures proposed to generate data to support a pediatric indication of the drug for which marketing authorization is being sought. The PDCO can grant a deferral of the obligation to implement some or all of the measures of the PIP until there are sufficient data to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the product in adults. Further, the obligation to provide pediatric clinical trial data can be waived by the PDCO when this data is not needed or appropriate because the product is likely to be ineffective or unsafe in children, the disease or condition for which the product is intended occurs only in adult populations, or when the product does not represent a significant therapeutic benefit over existing treatments for pediatric patients. If an MA is obtained and trial results are included in the product information, even when negative, the product is eligible for six months’ supplementary protection certificate extension. In the case of orphan medicinal products, a two year extension of the orphan market exclusivity may be available. This pediatric reward is subject to specific conditions and is not automatically available when data in compliance with the PIP are developed and submitted.
Regulatory Requirements After a Marketing Authorization has been Obtained
If authorization for a medicinal product in the EU is obtained, the holder of the MA is required to comply with a range of requirements applicable to the manufacturing, marketing, promotion, and sale of medicinal products. These include:
The aforementioned EU rules are generally applicable in the European Economic Area, or EEA, which consists of the EU Member States, plus Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.
Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom
On June 23, 2016, the electorate in the United Kingdom voted in favor of leaving the European Union (commonly referred to as Brexit), and the UK formally left the EU on January 31, 2020. There was a transition period during which EU pharmaceutical laws continued to apply to the UK, which expired on December 31, 2020. However, the EU and the UK have concluded a trade and cooperation agreement, or TCA, which was provisionally applicable since January 1, 2021 and has been formally applicable since May 1, 2021. The TCA includes specific provisions concerning pharmaceuticals, which include the mutual recognition of GMP, inspections of manufacturing facilities for medicinal products and GMP documents issued, but does not foresee wholesale mutual recognition of UK and EU pharmaceutical regulations. At present, Great Britain has implemented EU legislation on the marketing, promotion and sale of medicinal products through the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (as amended) (under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU regulatory framework will continue to apply in Northern Ireland). The regulatory regime in Great Britain therefore largely aligns with current EU regulations, however it is possible that these regimes will diverge in future now that Great Britain’s regulatory system is independent from the EU and the TCA does not provide for mutual recognition of UK and EU pharmaceutical legislation.
European Data Collection
The collection and use of personal health data in the EEA is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which became effective May 25, 2018. The GDPR applies to any company established in the EEA and to companies established outside the EEA that process personal data in connection with the offering of goods or services to data subjects in the EEA or the monitoring of the behavior of data subjects in the EEA. The GDPR enhances data protection obligations for data controllers of personal data, including stringent requirements relating to the consent of data subjects, expanded disclosures about how personal data is used, requirements to conduct privacy impact assessments for “high risk” processing, limitations on retention of personal data, mandatory data breach notification and “privacy by design” requirements, and creates direct obligations on service providers acting as data processors. The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data outside of the EEA to countries that do not ensure an adequate level of protection, like the United States. Failure to comply with the requirements of the GDPR and the related national data protection laws of the EEA Member States may result in fines up to €20 million or 4% of a company’s global annual revenues for the preceding financial year, whichever is higher. Moreover, the GDPR grants data subjects the right to claim material and non-material damages resulting from infringement of the GDPR. Given the breadth and depth of changes in data protection obligations, maintaining compliance with the GDPR, will require significant time, resources and expense, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms ensuring compliance with the new data protection rules. This may be onerous and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
In addition, further to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on January 31, 2020, the GDPR ceased to apply in the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020. However, as of January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom’s European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 incorporated the GDPR (as it existed on December 31, 2020 but subject to certain UK specific amendments) into UK law, referred to as the UK GDPR. The UK GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018 set out the United Kingdom’s data protection regime, which is independent from but aligned to the European Union’s data protection regime. Non-compliance with the UK GDPR may result in monetary penalties of up to £17.5 million or 4% of worldwide revenue, whichever is higher. Although the UK is regarded as a third country under the European Union’s GDPR, the European Commission has now issued a decision recognizing the UK as providing adequate protection under the EU GDPR and, therefore, transfers of personal data originating in the EU to the UK remain unrestricted. Like the EU GDPR, the UK GDPR restricts personal data transfers outside the United Kingdom to countries not regarded by the United Kingdom as providing adequate protection. The UK government has confirmed that personal data transfers from the United Kingdom to the EEA remain free flowing.
Rest of the World Regulation
For other countries outside of the European Union and the United States, such as countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. Additionally, the clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with GCP requirements and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.
If we fail to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and
Additional Laws and Regulations Governing International Operations
If we further expand our operations outside of the United States, we must dedicate additional resources to comply with numerous laws and regulations in each jurisdiction in which we plan to operate. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, prohibits any U.S. individual or business from paying, offering, authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the foreign entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with certain accounting provisions requiring the company to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the corporation, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.
Compliance with the FCPA is expensive and difficult, particularly in countries in which corruption is a recognized problem. In addition, the FCPA presents particular challenges in the pharmaceutical industry, because, in many countries, hospitals are operated by the government, and doctors and other hospital employees are considered foreign officials. Certain payments to hospitals in connection with clinical trials and other work have been deemed to be improper payments to government officials and have led to FCPA enforcement actions.
Various laws, regulations and executive orders also restrict the use and dissemination outside of the United States, or the sharing with certain non-U.S. nationals, of information classified for national security purposes, as well as certain products and technical data relating to those products. If we expand our presence outside of the United States, it will require us to dedicate additional resources to comply with these laws, and these laws may preclude us from developing, manufacturing, or selling certain products and product candidates outside of the United States, which could limit our growth potential and increase our development costs.
The failure to comply with laws governing international business practices may result in substantial civil and criminal penalties and suspension or debarment from government contracting. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, also may suspend or bar issuers from trading securities on U.S. exchanges for violations of the FCPA’s accounting provisions.
Coverage and Reimbursement
Successful commercialization of new drug products depends in part on the extent to which reimbursement for those drug products will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers, and other organizations. In the United States and markets in other countries, patients generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Adequate coverage and reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other organizations. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which medications they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which drug products they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. The availability and extent of reimbursement by governmental and private payors is essential for most patients to be able to afford a drug product. Sales of drug products depend substantially, both domestically and abroad, on the extent to which the costs of drugs products are paid for by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or reimbursed by government health administration authorities, private health coverage insurers and other third-party payors.
A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular drug products. In many countries, the prices of drug products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. In general, the prices of drug products under such systems are substantially lower than in the United States. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for drug products, but monitor and control company profits. Accordingly, in markets outside the United States, the reimbursement for drug products may be reduced compared with the United States.
There is also significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the medicine is approved by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new drug products are typically made by CMS, an agency within the HHS. CMS decides whether and to what extent a new drug product will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare, and private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree. However, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors and coverage and reimbursement levels for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. Factors payors consider in determining reimbursement are based on whether the product is:
Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list or formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved products for a particular indication. Also, third-party payors may refuse to include a particular branded drug on their formularies or otherwise restrict patient access to a branded drug when a less costly generic equivalent or another alternative is available. Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged for medical products and services, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. We cannot be sure that reimbursement will be available for any product candidate that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, the level of reimbursement. In addition, many pharmaceutical manufacturers must calculate and report certain price reporting metrics to the government, such as average sales price, or ASP, and best price. Penalties may apply in some cases when such metrics are not submitted accurately and timely. Further, these prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs.
The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, or the MMA, established the Medicare Part D program to provide a voluntary prescription drug benefit to Medicare beneficiaries. Under Part D, Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in prescription drug plans offered by private entities that provide coverage of outpatient prescription drugs. Unlike Medicare Parts A and B, Part D coverage is not standardized. Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs, and each drug plan can develop its own drug formulary that identifies which drugs it will cover and at what tier or level. While all Medicare drug plans must give at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare, Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs, and each drug plan can develop its own drug formulary that identifies which drugs it will cover and at what tier or level. However, Part D prescription drug formularies must include drugs within each therapeutic category and class of covered Part D drugs, though not necessarily all the drugs in each category or class. Any formulary used by a Part D prescription drug plan must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs may increase demand for drugs for which we obtain marketing approval. Any negotiated prices for any of our products covered by a Part D prescription drug plan will likely be lower than the prices we might otherwise obtain. Moreover, while the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payors often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own payment rates. Any reduction in payment that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from non-governmental payors.
For a drug product to receive federal reimbursement under the Medicaid or Medicare Part B programs or to be sold directly to U.S. government agencies, the manufacturer must extend discounts to entities eligible to participate in the 340B drug pricing program. The required 340B discount on a given product is calculated based on the average manufacturer price, or AMP, and Medicaid rebate amounts reported by the manufacturer. As of 2010, the ACA expanded the types of entities eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing, although under the current state of the law these newly eligible entities (with the exception of children’s hospitals) will not be eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing on orphan drugs. As 340B drug pricing is determined based on AMP and Medicaid rebate data, the revisions to the Medicaid rebate formula and AMP definition described above could cause the required 340B discount to increase. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides funding for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness. In addition, there have been several changes to the 340B drug pricing program in recent years, which impose ceilings on prices that drug manufacturers can charge for medications sold to certain health care facilities. Legal challenges to reimbursement formula changes under the 340B drug pricing program are ongoing, and it is unclear how these developments could affect covered hospitals who might purchase our future products and affect the rates we may charge such facilities for our approved products in the future, if any.
The plan for the research was published in 2012 by the Department of HHS, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes for Health, and periodic reports on the status of the research and related expenditures are made to Congress. Although the results of the comparative effectiveness studies are not intended to mandate coverage policies for public or private payors, it is not clear what effect, if any, the research will have on the sales of our drug candidates, if any such drug or the condition that they are intended to treat are the subject of a trial. It is also possible that comparative effectiveness research demonstrating benefits in a competitor’s drug could adversely affect the sales of our drug candidate. If third-party payors do not consider our drugs to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our drugs after approval as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our drugs on a profitable basis.
These laws, and future state and federal healthcare reform measures may be adopted in the future, any of which may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product candidate is prescribed or used.
Outside of the United States, the pricing of pharmaceutical products and medical devices is subject to governmental control in many countries. For example, in the European Union, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some Member States provide that products may be marketed only after the proposed pricing has been approved. Some Member States may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost effectiveness of a particular therapy to currently available therapies or so-called health technology assessments, in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. A Member State may approve a specific price for the medicinal product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. Member States may allow companies to fix their own prices for products, but monitor and control product volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Efforts to control prices and utilization of pharmaceutical products and medical devices will likely continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our product candidates. Historically, products launched in the European Union do not follow price structures of the U.S. and generally prices tend to be significantly lower.
Human Capital Management
Our human capital philosophy relies on attracting and retaining team members who consistently demonstrate top performance. Our culture and our approach to talent reinforces this philosophy, including recruiting, professional development, performance management and total rewards. We have provided below additional details on some of our core human resources, or People, processes.
As of December 31, 2021, we and our subsidiaries, to which we refer as our affiliates, had 576 full-time employees and two part-time employees. Of these, 400 focus on driving forward research and development programs, either directly or through our affiliates, and 178 work across our affiliates to provide strategic business development, finance and executive leadership expertise, as well as general and administrative services generally across our affiliates. We have never had a work stoppage, and none of our employees is represented by a labor organization or under any collective-bargaining arrangements. We consider our employee relations to be good.
In 2020, we established an in-house talent acquisition capability to support our affiliates in hiring the right talent at the right time. This team of experienced recruiters works closely with hiring managers to understand the required skills and capabilities for an open role, and then supports the interview process and evaluation of candidates. We strive to hire top talent, and therefore need a high-quality recruiting process and candidate experience. We endeavor to fill every role with the most qualified candidate possible, which sometimes requires partnership with an external recruitment agency. We are consistently looking at new opportunities and avenues to recruit talented individuals to work at BridgeBio.
The talent acquisition team’s focus in 2021 is to meet the growth needs across BridgeBio and our affiliates. We recognize that our current and potential future team members have options for employment opportunities, including with other biotech and pharma companies, research and academic institutions, government entities, and consulting and investment firms. To attract and retain top performing team members, we focus on creating an environment that allows for autonomy, growth and impact while also offering a competitive total rewards package.
Professional Development and Performance Management
We invest in the professional development of our team members through regular feedback and guidance, as well as targeted learning and development opportunities to meet demonstrated needs. We established a set of five core attributes that we expect every BridgeBio team member to demonstrate while performing in their roles: Patient Champion, Entrepreneurial Operator, Truth Seeker, Inspires Excellence and High-Quality Executor.
BridgeBio conducts semi-annual formal performance reviews for all team members to evaluate performance against these attributes. These reviews include self, peer and manager feedback. The feedback focuses on strengths and opportunities for improvement to enable the professional development of all team members. At the end of the year, the performance review also includes a formal rating and informs compensation decisions, including performance bonus, salary adjustments and promotions.
Core Values and Ethics
Millions worldwide are afflicted with genetic diseases, but small patient populations and industry reluctance to conduct early-stage development means that for many, treatments have not been forthcoming. We are committed to bridging this gap: between business case and scientific possibility, between patient and hope. This starts with our first core value: to put patients first. We also strive to think independently. Our goal is to not simply accept the ideas and opinions of others as fact, but instead to ask “why?” and “why not?” We endeavor to bring a rigorous, first-principles mindset to each problem that we take on. We pride ourselves on being radically transparent. A commitment to independent thinking requires us to consider the ideas of others and to adopt them if they prove best. We strive to maintain a culture where any idea is worthy of both consideration and testing. We know that every minute counts. Our decentralized model strives to deliver treatments from discovery to patients as fast as humanly possible by utilizing focused teams of experts for each asset. Big decisions can be taken by people best-equipped to understand them, without wasting time on unnecessary cycles. And we let Science speak. Our model was designed to promote the rational assessment of our programs. Decisions about a program’s fate are driven by its performance against a set of objective criteria, giving each potential medicine’s scientific merits the last word. All employees are responsible for upholding these values and the BridgeBio Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which forms the foundation of our policies and practices.
To attract and retain top talent, we offer a competitive total rewards package. We peg total direct compensation at the upper end of market. We link a portion of every employee’s compensation to performance through a performance bonus program. To create a sense of ownership and align employee incentives with our long-term success, we offer eligible employees equity ownership in the company through stock option or restricted stock unit grants and our employee stock purchase plan. We also designed a program to incentivize affiliate-level employees to achieve specific milestones at core value-inflection points, such as IND or NDA approval.
We focus our benefits offering on areas critical to keeping our employees and their immediate families healthy and productive. We offer physical and mental health benefits to all employees who work at least 20 hours per week, on average. We have a flexible paid time off policy to empower team members to take the time they need, when they need it.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
We believe that a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture is critical to BridgeBio’s success. We are proud to promote unique voices within and outside our organization, and are eager to learn from others’ experiences, as we know that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a business imperative and key to our long-term success.
In 2021, our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, or DE&I, Steering Committee continued their impactful work in carrying out the DE&I vision for BridgeBio. One of the Committee’s major achievements was the successful rollout of Unconscious Bias education workshops across the Company. The workshops drove thoughtful discussion and direct action in hiring and performance evaluations. The DE&I sub-committees also designed and implemented point solutions to address issues that were surfaced through related focus groups and surveys. Among the many DE&I events the Committee organized and held throughout the year, we launched a DE&I Lunch & Learn series that focused on the prominent issues impacting underrepresented minorities in healthcare clinical trials and how we, as a company, can do our part to help address these disparities.
After building a strong foundation in 2020, the Women at Bridge employee resource group continued to have an impact across the Company in 2021. We built upon our speaker series and featured talks from influential women in the sciences, including members of our Board of Directors. Our mentorship program continued to drive impact as well. The success of Women at Bridge inspired a second employee resource group to emerge, Asians@Bridge, in the third quarter of 2021.
Response to COVID-19
With the continuation of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we continue to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of virus exposure for all employees, and to place our employees’ health and safety front and center. Our response to the pandemic in 2021 revolved around four major components: (1) adequate safety protocols; (2) mask mandates; (3) testing requirements; and (4) vaccination requirements.
Corporate and Other Information
We were incorporated as a Delaware corporation in 2019 under the name BridgeBio Pharma, Inc. Our principal executive offices are located at 421 Kipling Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301. Our telephone number is (650) 391-9740.
Our web page address is https://bridgebio.com. Our investor relations website is located at https://investor.bridgebio.com. We make available free of charge on our investor relations website under “SEC Filings” our Annual Reports on Form 10‑K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10‑Q, Current Reports on Form 8‑K, including exhibits, our directors’ and officers’ Section 16 Reports and any amendments to those reports after filing or furnishing such materials to the SEC. References to our website address do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on the website, and the information contained on the website is not part of this document or any other document that we file with or furnish to the SEC.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Our business involves significant risks, some of which are described below. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and the related notes. If any of the following risks actually occurs, it could harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition and future prospects. In such event, the market price of our common stock could decline, and you could lose all or part of your investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations. This Annual Report on Form 10-K also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of factors that are described below and elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Growth Strategy
Drug development is a highly uncertain undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. We have incurred significant losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We have not generated significant revenue since inception, which, together with our limited operating history, may make it difficult for you to assess our future viability.
Pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. We are a newly commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history upon which you can evaluate our business and prospects. Our subsidiaries, on whose success we largely rely, are primarily early-stage biopharmaceutical companies. To date, we have focused principally on identifying, acquiring or in-licensing and developing our products and product candidates at the subsidiary level, almost all of which are in discovery, lead optimization, preclinical or clinical development. While we have two approved products, our pipeline of product candidates will require substantial additional development time, including extensive clinical research, and resources before we would be able to apply for or receive additional regulatory approvals and begin generating revenue from sales of those product candidates, if approved.
We are not profitable and have incurred losses in each year since our inception in April 2015. Our net losses for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019 were $586.5 million, $505.5 million and $288.6 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $1.4 billion. We currently have two products approved for commercial sale, but have not generated any significant revenues from product sales, and have financed operations solely through the sale of equity securities and debt financings. We continue to incur significant research and development, or R&D, and other expenses related to ongoing operations and expect to incur losses for the foreseeable future. In addition, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that potential delays in our ongoing and planned clinical trials and adjustments to certain of our study procedures with respect to our ongoing clinical trials, such as enabling alternate site, telehealth and home visits and at-home drug delivery, could increase our expenditures or draw out our expenditures over a longer period of time than originally estimated. Additionally, changes to our selection of contract research organizations, or CROs, for non-clinical laboratory activities and engagement with contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to mitigate any potential near-term impacts to our supply chain may increase our expenditures relative to initial expectations. We anticipate these losses will increase substantially in future periods.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with drug development and commercialization, we are unable to predict the timing or amount of our expenses, or when we will be able to generate any meaningful revenue or achieve or maintain profitability, if ever. In addition, our expenses could increase beyond our current expectations if we are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, to conduct nonclinical or preclinical studies or clinical trials in addition to those that we currently anticipate or to otherwise provide data beyond that which we currently believe is necessary to support an application for marketing approval or to continue clinical development, or if there are any delays in any of our or our future collaborators’ clinical trials or the development of our product candidates that we may identify. We anticipate incurring significant costs associated with commercializing our approved products and any future product candidates, if approved, and ongoing compliance efforts.
We may never be able to successfully commercialize a marketable drug or achieve profitability. Revenue from the sale of any product will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which we have or may gain regulatory approval, the accepted price for the product, the ability to obtain reimbursement at any price and whether we own the commercial rights for that territory. Our growth strategy depends on our ability to generate revenue. Even if we achieve profitability in the future, we may not be able to sustain profitability in subsequent periods. Our failure to achieve sustained profitability would depress the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, diversify our research and development pipeline, market our products, and, if approved, product candidates that we may identify and pursue, or continue our operations. 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.
If we obtain a controlling interest in additional companies in the future, it could adversely affect our operating results and the value of our common stock, thereby disrupting our business.
As part of our strategy, we expect to form and invest in additional wholly-owned subsidiaries and variable interest entities, or VIEs. Investments in our existing and any future subsidiaries involve numerous risks, including, but not necessarily limited to:
risk of conducting research and development activities in new therapeutic areas or treatment modalities in which we have little to no experience;
diversion of financial and managerial resources from existing operations;
our ability to negotiate a proposed acquisition, in-license or investment in a timely manner or at a price or on terms and conditions favorable to us;
our ability to combine and integrate a potential acquisition into our existing business to fully realize the benefits of such acquisition;
the impact of regulatory reviews on a proposed acquisition, in-license or investment; and
the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted with respect to a potential acquisition, in-license or investment.
If we fail to properly evaluate potential acquisitions, in-licenses, investments or other transactions associated with the creation of new research and development programs or the maintenance of existing ones, we might not achieve the anticipated benefits of any such transaction, we might incur costs in excess of what we anticipate, and management resources and attention might be diverted from other necessary or valuable activities. For instance, in January 2021, we completed our acquisition of all of the outstanding shares of common stock of Eidos that were not previously owned by us or our subsidiaries, to which we refer as the Eidos Merger. In connection with the Eidos Merger and our integration of Eidos’ historical operations into our business, the attention of certain members of each company’s management and each company’s resources were diverted from day-to-day business operations. Additionally, the interests of our stockholders were diluted as a result of our issuance of shares of our common stock to Eidos’ stockholders and our assumption of certain equity awards of Eidos in connection with the transaction. We may engage in similar discussions in the future with respect to other potential transactions that may divert our time and resources from our ongoing operations. In addition, from time to time we have pursued, and may in the future pursue, research and development programs through our wholly-owned subsidiaries and VIEs that we may ultimately determine not to advance, based on our ongoing assessment of the likelihood of success relative to the costs and risks associated with the program.
Risks Related to the Development of Our Products and Product Candidates
We may encounter substantial delays in clinical trials, or may not be able to conduct or complete clinical trials on the expected timelines, if at all.
Clinical testing is expensive, time consuming and subject to uncertainty. We cannot guarantee that any of our ongoing and planned clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. Moreover, even if these trials are initiated or conducted on a timely basis, issues may arise that could result in the suspension or termination of such clinical trials. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing, and our ongoing and future clinical trials may not be successful. Events that may prevent successful or timely initiation or completion of clinical trials include:
Any inability to successfully initiate or complete clinical trials could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenue. In addition, if we make manufacturing or formulation changes to our product candidates or approved products, we may be required to or we may elect to conduct additional nonclinical studies or clinical trials to bridge data obtained from our modified product candidates to data obtained from nonclinical and clinical research conducted using earlier versions of these product candidates or approved products. Clinical trial delays could also shorten any periods during which our products have patent protection and may allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, which could impair our ability to successfully commercialize product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations.
We could also encounter delays if an ongoing or planned clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the data safety monitoring board, or DSMB, including for our ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial of acoramidis, our ongoing and planned Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials of infigratinib, our ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial of BBP-631 and our ongoing Phase 2 proof-of-concept clinical trial of encaleret, or by the FDA or other regulatory authority, or if the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted suspend or terminate the participation of their clinical investigators and sites subject to their review. Such authorities may suspend or terminate a clinical trial due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a product candidate, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. For instance, although acoramidis failed to meet its primary endpoint at Month 12 in the ATTRibute-CM Study, the ATTRibute-CM independent data monitoring committee recommended continuing the study through the Month 30 endpoint based on unblinded data reviews. We have in the past received, and may receive in the future, partial or full clinical hold notices from the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which have required, and may in the future require, us to conduct additional studies, generate additional data, amend our clinical trial protocols and/or delay or halt the initiation or continuation of our clinical trials. We may be required or may voluntarily determine to place one or more of our product candidates on clinical hold in the future for various reasons, which could delay or otherwise impair our clinical development efforts and ability to obtain regulatory approval for any such product candidate. Additionally, the FDA may determine, upon review of an IND submission, that we have not provided sufficient information needed to assess the risks to subjects of the proposed studies, or that our IND submission is otherwise insufficient to support initiation of a clinical trial. There is no guarantee that the FDA will agree that our responses are sufficient, and we may be required to conduct additional preclinical studies or manufacturing steps before the FDA allows our proposed clinical trials to proceed.
Moreover, principal investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and receive compensation in connection with such services. Under certain circumstances, we may be required to report some of these relationships to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may conclude that a financial relationship between us and a principal investigator has created a conflict of interest or otherwise affected interpretation of the study. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may therefore question the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized. This could result in a delay in approval, or rejection, of our marketing applications by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority, as the case may be, and may ultimately lead to the denial of marketing approval of one or more of our product candidates.
Delays in the initiation, conduct or completion of any clinical trial of our product candidates will increase our costs, slow down the product candidate development and approval process and delay or potentially jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue from such product candidates, if approved. 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. In the event we identify any additional product candidates to pursue, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND or a CTA will result in the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority allowing clinical trials to begin in a timely manner, if at all. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Results of earlier studies or clinical trials may not be predictive of future clinical trial results, and initial studies or clinical trials may not establish an adequate safety or efficacy profile for our product candidates to justify proceeding to advanced clinical trials or an application for regulatory approval.
The results of nonclinical and preclinical studies and clinical trials may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. In addition, for certain of our product candidates that we acquired, we did not undertake the preclinical studies and clinical trials ourselves. The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials in one set of patients or disease indications, or from preclinical studies or clinical trials that we did not lead, may not be predictive of those obtained in another. In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety or efficacy results between different clinical trials of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in trial procedures set forth in protocols, differences in the size and type of the patient populations, changes in and adherence to the dosing regimen and other clinical trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. In addition, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to various interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through nonclinical studies and initial clinical trials. For instance, acoramidis failed to meet its primary endpoint at Month 12 in the ATTRibute-CM Study as mean observed six-minute walk distance, or 6MWD, decline for the acoramidis and placebo arms were 9 meters and 7 meters, respectively, both of which declines are similar to healthy elderly adults and less than prior untreated ATTR-CM cohorts; however, the ATTRibute-CM independent data monitoring committee has recommended that the study continue through the Month 30 endpoint based on unblinded data reviews. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier studies, and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. Even if early-stage clinical trials are successful, we may need to conduct additional clinical trials of our product candidates in additional patient populations or under different treatment conditions before we are able to seek approvals from the FDA and regulatory authorities outside the United States to market and sell these product candidates. Our failure to obtain marketing approval for our product candidates for commercially viable indications, or at all, would substantially harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Additionally, some clinical trials of our product candidates performed to date were designed as open-label studies and were conducted at a limited number of clinical sites on a limited number of patients. An “open-label” clinical trial is one where both the patient and investigator know whether the patient is receiving the investigational product candidate or either an existing approved drug or placebo. Most typically, open-label clinical trials test only the investigational product candidate and sometimes may do so at different dose levels. Open-label clinical trials are subject to various limitations that may exaggerate any therapeutic effect as patients in open-label clinical trials are aware when they are receiving treatment. Open-label clinical trials may be subject to a “patient bias” where patients perceive their symptoms to have improved merely due to their awareness of receiving an experimental treatment. Moreover, patients selected for early clinical trials often include the most severe sufferers and their symptoms may have been bound to improve notwithstanding the new treatment. In addition, open-label clinical trials may be subject to an “investigator bias” where those assessing and reviewing the physiological outcomes of the clinical trials are aware of which patients have received treatment and may interpret the information of the treated group more favorably given this knowledge. Given that our Phase 2 clinical trial of acoramidis included an open-label clinical trial extension and our Phase 2 dose-escalation and expansion study of infigratinib in children with achondroplasia, or PROPEL 2, is designed as an open-label trial, the results from these clinical trials may not be predictive of future clinical trial results with these or other product candidates for which we include an open-label clinical trial when studied in a controlled environment with a placebo or active control.
We may encounter difficulties enrolling patients in clinical trials, and clinical development activities could thereby 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 trial until its conclusion. The indications for which we plan to evaluate our current product candidates represent a rare disease or condition with limited patient populations from which to draw participants in clinical trials. Due to our focus on the development of product candidates for the treatment of Mendelian diseases and genetically driven cancers, many of which are rare conditions, we may not be able to identify and enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics and criteria, in a timely manner.
We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including:
the size and nature of a patient population;
the patient eligibility criteria defined in the applicable clinical trial protocols, which may limit the patient populations eligible for clinical trials to a greater extent than competing clinical trials for the same indication;
the size of the study population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints;
the severity of the disease under investigation;
the proximity of patients to a trial site;
the design of the trial;
the ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;
the approval or concurrent enrollment of clinical trials involving competing product candidates currently under development for Mendelian diseases or genetically driven cancers, or competing clinical trials for similar therapies or targeting patient populations meeting our patient eligibility criteria;
clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages and side effects of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies and product candidates;
the ability to obtain and maintain patient consents; and
the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will not complete such trials for any reason, including due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
If we have difficulty enrolling sufficient numbers of patients to conduct clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, either of which would have an adverse effect on our business.
Use of our products or product candidates could be associated with side effects, adverse events or other properties or safety risks, which could delay or halt their clinical development, prevent their regulatory approval, cause us to suspend or discontinue clinical trials, abandon a product or product candidate, limit the commercial potential of a product or, if approved, a product candidate, or result in other significant negative consequences that could severely harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.
As is the case with pharmaceuticals generally, it is likely that there may be side effects and adverse events, or AEs, associated with use of our products or product candidates. Results of our clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects or unexpected characteristics. Undesirable side effects caused by our products or product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials, and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. The drug-related side effects of our products or product candidates could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
Moreover, if our product candidates are associated with undesirable side effects in preclinical studies or clinical trials or have characteristics that are unexpected, we may elect to abandon their development or limit their development to more narrow uses or subpopulations in which the undesirable side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective, which may limit the commercial expectations for the product candidate if approved. We may also be required to modify or terminate our study plans based on findings in our preclinical studies or clinical trials. For instance, in our Phase 2 clinical trial of infigratinib for the treatment of FGFR-driven cancers, the most commonly reported treatment emergent AE of any grade was hyperphosphatemia, which is an electrolyte disorder in which there is an elevated level of phosphate in the blood. These and other AEs that we may observe in our ongoing and future clinical trials of our product candidates could require us to delay, modify or abandon our development plans for the affected product candidate or other product candidates that share properties of the affected product candidate. Many product candidates that initially show promise in early-stage testing may later be found to cause side effects that prevent further development. As we work to advance existing product candidates and to identify new product candidates, we cannot be certain that later testing or trials of product candidates that initially showed promise in early testing will not be found to cause similar or different unacceptable side effects that prevent their further development.
It is possible that as we test our product candidates in larger, longer and more extensive clinical trials, or as the use of our products, and, if they receive regulatory approval, our product candidates, becomes more widespread, illnesses, injuries, discomforts and other AEs that were observed in earlier trials, as well as conditions that did not occur or went undetected in previous trials, will be reported by subjects. If such side effects become known later in development or upon approval, such findings may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
Additionally, adverse developments in clinical trials of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products conducted by others may cause the FDA or other regulatory oversight bodies to suspend or terminate our clinical trials, to change the requirements for approval of any of our product candidates, or to suspend, withdraw or otherwise modify approval of any of our products.
In addition to side effects caused by a product or product candidate, the administration process or related procedures also can cause adverse side effects. If any such AEs occur, our clinical trials of a product candidate could be suspended or terminated. If we are unable to demonstrate that any AEs were caused by the administration process or related procedures, the FDA, the European Commission, the European Medicines Agency, or the EMA, or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, or deny approval of, a product candidate for any or all targeted indications. Even if can demonstrate that all future serious adverse events, or SAEs, are not product-related, such occurrences could affect patient recruitment, the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial, or, for our approved products, commercial performance. Moreover, if we elect, or are required, to not initiate, delay, suspend or terminate any future clinical trial of any of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of such product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates may be delayed or eliminated. Any of these occurrences may harm our ability to develop other product candidates, and may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
Additionally, if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, the FDA could impose a boxed warning in the labeling of our product and could require us to adopt a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, and could apply elements to assure safe use to ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh its risks, which may include, among other things, a Medication Guide outlining the risks of the product for distribution to patients and a communication plan to health care practitioners. Furthermore, if we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by our products, or product candidates once approved, several potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
regulatory authorities may suspend or withdraw approvals of such product or product candidate;
regulatory authorities may require additional warnings or statements on the label;
regulatory authorities may refuse to approve label expansion for additional indications of such product or product candidate;
we may be required by the FDA to implement a REMS;
we may be required to change the way a product or product candidate is distributed, administered or conduct additional clinical trials;
we may be subject to regulatory investigations and enforcement actions;
we may decide to remove such product or product candidate from the marketplace;
we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients; and
our reputation may suffer.
Any of these occurrences could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product or product candidate, if approved, and may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
Certain of our product candidates are under development for the treatment of patient populations with significant comorbidities that may result in deaths or serious adverse or unacceptable side effects and require us to abandon or limit our clinical development activities.
Patients in certain of our ongoing and planned clinical trials of product candidates in genetically driven cancers, including clinical trials of infigratinib of FGFR-driven cancers and our Phase 1 monotherapy dose escalation and expansion clinical trial of BBP-398 in patients with RAS and RTK mutations, as well as patients who may undergo treatment with other product candidates that we may develop, may also receive chemotherapy, radiation, and/or other high dose or myeloablative treatments in the course of treatment of their disease, and may therefore experience side effects or AEs, including death, that are unrelated to our product candidates. While these side effects or AEs may be unrelated to our product candidates, they may still affect the success of our clinical trials. The inclusion of critically ill patients in our clinical trials may also result in deaths or other adverse medical events due to underlying disease or to other therapies or medications that such patients may receive. Any of these events could prevent us from advancing our product candidates through clinical development, and from obtaining regulatory approval, and would impair our ability to commercialize our product candidates. Any inability to advance our product candidates through clinical development may harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Interim, “top-line,” and preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available or as additional analyses are conducted, and as the data are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.
From time to time, we may publish interim, “top-line” or preliminary data from our clinical trials. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Preliminary or “top-line” data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, interim and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Material adverse changes between preliminary, “top-line” or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to Regulatory Review and Approval of our Products and Product Candidates
Our product candidates are in preclinical or clinical development, which is a lengthy and expensive process with uncertain outcomes and the potential for substantial delays. We cannot give any assurance that any of our product candidates will receive regulatory approval, which is necessary before they can be commercialized.
Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of our product candidates, we must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the product candidates in humans. To date, we have focused substantially all of our efforts and financial resources on identifying, acquiring, and developing our product candidates, including conducting lead optimization, nonclinical studies, preclinical studies and clinical trials, and providing general and administrative support for these operations. We cannot be certain that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. Our inability to successfully complete preclinical and clinical development could result in additional costs to us and negatively impact our ability to generate revenue. Our future success is dependent on our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize product candidates. While we currently have two products approved for sale, we have not generated significant revenue from sales of drugs, and we may never be able to successfully commercialize a marketable drug.
All of our product candidates require additional development; management of preclinical, clinical and manufacturing activities; and regulatory approval. In addition, we will need to obtain adequate manufacturing supply; complete the build-out of a commercial organization; commence product candidate-specific marketing efforts; and obtain reimbursement before we generate any significant revenue from commercial product sales from such product candidates, if ever. Many of our product candidates are in early-stage research or translational phases of development, and the risk of failure for these programs is high. We cannot be certain that our product candidates will be successful in clinical trials or receive regulatory approval. Further, our product candidates may not receive regulatory approval even if they are successful in clinical trials. If we do not receive regulatory approvals for our product candidates, and we are not able to successfully commercialize our approved products, we and our subsidiaries may not be able to continue operations, which may result in us winding down and dissolving the subsidiary, selling or out-licensing the technology or pursuing an alternative strategy.
If we are unable to obtain regulatory approval in one or more jurisdictions for any products or product candidates that we may identify and develop, our business will be substantially harmed.
We cannot commercialize a product until the appropriate regulatory authorities have reviewed and approved the product candidate. Approval by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities is lengthy and unpredictable, and depends upon numerous factors, including substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities. Approval policies, regulations or the type and amount of nonclinical or clinical data necessary to gain approval may change during the course of a product candidate’s development and may vary among jurisdictions, which may cause delays in the approval or the decision not to approve an application. While we have obtained regulatory approval from the FDA for NULIBRY (fosdenopterin) to reduce the risk of mortality in patients with molybdenum cofactor deficiency, or MoCD, Type A, and from the FDA and Health Canada for TRUSELTIQ (infigratinib) for the treatment of adults with previously treated, unresectable locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma with a FGFR2 fusion or other rearrangement, it is possible that our current product candidates and any other product candidates which we may seek to develop in the future will not ever obtain regulatory approval. We cannot be certain that any of our product candidates will receive regulatory approval or that NULIBRY and TRUSELTIQ and, if approved, any of our product candidates, will be successfully commercialized.
Obtaining marketing approval is an extensive, lengthy, expensive and inherently uncertain process, and regulatory authorities may delay, limit or deny approval of our product candidates for many reasons, including, but not limited to:
the inability to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that the applicable product candidate is safe and effective as a treatment for our targeted indications;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design, endpoints or implementation of our clinical trials;
the population studied in the clinical program may not be sufficiently broad or representative to assure safety or efficacy in the full population for which we seek approval;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials beyond those that we currently anticipate;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from nonclinical studies or clinical trials;
the data collected from clinical trials of product candidates that we may identify and pursue may not be sufficient to support the submission of a new drug application, or NDA, biologics license application, or BLA, or other submission for regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;
we may be unable to demonstrate to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that a product candidate’s risk-benefit ratio for its proposed indication is acceptable;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may identify deficiencies in the manufacturing processes, test procedures and specifications, or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract for clinical and commercial supplies; and
the approval policies or regulations of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may change in a manner that renders the clinical trial design or data insufficient for approval.
In addition, even if an NDA, BLA, or other submission for regulatory approval, is filed and accepted for review, the FDA or comparable regulatory authorities may delay their review or approval process or may decline to grant regulatory approval for a variety of reasons. The lengthy approval process, as well as the unpredictability of the results of clinical trials and evolving regulatory requirements, may result in our failure to obtain regulatory approval to market product candidates that we may pursue in the United States or elsewhere, which would significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Our clinical trials may fail to demonstrate substantial evidence of the safety and efficacy of product candidates that we may identify and pursue for their intended uses, which would prevent, delay or limit the scope of regulatory approval and commercialization.
Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of our product candidates, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive nonclinical studies, preclinical studies and clinical trials that the applicable product candidate is both safe and effective for use in each target indication, and in the case of our product candidates regulated as biological products, that the product candidate is safe, pure, and potent for use in its targeted indication. Each product candidate must demonstrate an adequate risk versus benefit profile in its intended patient population and for its intended use.
Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical development process. Most product candidates that begin clinical trials are never approved by regulatory authorities for commercialization. We have limited experience in designing clinical trials and may be unable to design and execute a clinical trial to support future marketing approvals.
We cannot be certain that our current clinical trials or any other future clinical trials will be successful. Additionally, any safety concerns observed in any one of our clinical trials in our targeted indications could limit the prospects for regulatory approval of our product candidates in those and other indications, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, even if such clinical trials are successfully completed, we cannot guarantee that the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities will interpret the results as we do, and more trials could be required before we submit our product candidates for approval. Success in clinical trials in a particular indication does not ensure that a product candidate will be successful in other indications. Similarly, approval of a product candidate in a particular indication does not ensure that that the product candidate will be successful in other indications. Moreover, results acceptable to support approval in one jurisdiction may be deemed inadequate by another regulatory authority to support regulatory approval in that other jurisdiction. To the extent that the results of the trials are not satisfactory to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities for support of a marketing application, we may be required to expend significant resources, which may not be available to us, to conduct additional trials in support of potential approval of our product candidates. Even if regulatory approval is secured for a product candidate, the terms of such approval may limit the scope and use of the specific product candidate, which may also limit its commercial potential.
We conduct clinical trials for product candidates outside the United States, and the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not accept data from such trials.
We currently conduct clinical trials outside the United States, including in Europe. For instance, our Phase 3 clinical trials of acoramidis include patients outside of the United States. The acceptance by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority of study data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States or another jurisdiction may be subject to certain conditions or may not be accepted at all. In cases where data from foreign clinical trials are intended to serve as the basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will generally not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless (i) the data are applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice; (ii) the trials were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence and pursuant to GCP regulations; and (iii) the data may be considered valid without the need for an on-site inspection by the FDA or, if the FDA considers such as inspection to be necessary, the FDA is able to validate the data through an on-site inspection or other appropriate means. Additionally, the FDA’s clinical trial requirements, including sufficient size of patient populations and statistical powering, must be met. Many foreign regulatory authorities have similar approval requirements. In addition, such foreign trials would be subject to the applicable local laws of the foreign jurisdictions where the trials are conducted. There can be no assurance that the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority will accept data from trials conducted outside of the United States or the applicable jurisdiction, including from our ongoing and planned Phase 3 clinical trials of acoramidis, for which we have enrolled cohorts outside the United States. If the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority does not accept such data, it would result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay aspects of our business plan, and which may result in product candidates that we may develop not receiving approval or clearance for commercialization in the applicable jurisdiction.
Even though we have obtained FDA approval for products in the United States, we may never obtain approval to commercialize any product candidates outside of the United States, which would limit our ability to realize their full market potential.
In order to market any products outside of the United States, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries regarding safety and effectiveness. Clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries, and regulatory approval in one country does not mean that regulatory approval will be obtained in any other country. Approval processes vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional or different administrative review periods from those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, as clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. For instance, we obtained approval for TRUSELTIQ from the FDA in May 2021. The review was conducted under Project Orbis, an initiative of the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence that allows for concurrent submission and review of oncology drugs among participating international regulatory agencies. Health Canada and the Therapeutics Good Administration, or TGA, of Australia concurrently reviewed our application under the program. Health Canada issued conditional approval of TRUSELTIQ in September 2021 and TGA provisionally registered TRUSELTIQ in November 2021. 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.
Seeking foreign regulatory approval could result in difficulties and costs and require additional nonclinical studies or clinical trials which could be costly and time-consuming. Regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our product candidates in those countries. The foreign regulatory approval process may include all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. While we have two products approved for sale in the United States, we do not have any product candidates approved for sale in international markets, and we do not have experience in obtaining regulatory approval in international markets. If we fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required approvals, or if regulatory approval in international markets is delayed, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our products will be harmed.
Even though we may apply for orphan drug designation for our product candidates, we may not be able to obtain such designations or maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug status, including orphan drug marketing exclusivity.
Our business strategy focuses on the development of product candidates for the treatment of genetic diseases, which may be eligible for FDA or EMA orphan drug designation. Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and European Union, may designate drugs or biologics for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a drug as an orphan drug if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals annually in the United States, or a patient population of 200,000 or more in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug will be recovered from sales in the United States. In order to obtain orphan drug designation, the request must be made before submitting an NDA or BLA. In the United States, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages, and user-fee waivers. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the generic identity of the drug and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process
If a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval of that particular product for the disease for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including an NDA or BLA, to market the same drug or biologic for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity or if the FDA finds that the holder of the orphan drug exclusivity has not shown that it can assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the orphan drug to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. As a result, even if one of our product candidates receives orphan exclusivity, the FDA can still approve other drugs or biologics for use in treating the same indication or disease or the same biologic for a different indication or disease during the exclusivity period. For example, the FDA granted orphan drug exclusivity for TRUSELTIQ for the treatment of adults with previously treated, unresectable locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma with a fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) fusion or other rearrangement as detected by an FDA-approved test and NULIBRY to reduce the risk of mortality in patients with molybdenum cofactor deficiency (MoCD) Type A. Furthermore, the FDA can waive orphan exclusivity if we are unable to manufacture sufficient supply of our product or orphan drug exclusivity can be overcome if a subsequent applicant demonstrates clinical superiority over our product.
In the European Union, the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products of the EMA grants orphan designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition, which either affects not more than five in 10,000 persons in the European Union, or products intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition when, without incentives, it is unlikely that the medicine would generate sufficient return to justify the necessary investment in its development. In each case, there must be no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention, or treatment which is authorized for marketing in the European Union, or, if a method exists, the product would be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition.
We have obtained from the FDA orphan drug designations for: BBP-009 for the treatment of nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, or Gorlin syndrome; acoramidis for the treatment of transthyretin amyloidosis; encaleret for the treatment of autosomal dominant hypocalcemia (including ADH type 1 and ADH type 2); BBP-589 for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa; BBP-631 for the treatment of CAH 21OHD; BBP-812 for the treatment of Canavan Disease; BBP-671 for the treatment of Pantothenate Kinase Associated Neurodegeneration, or PKAN, and Propionic Acidemia, or PA; and BBP-711 for the treatment of Primary hyperoxaluria, or PH1. We have obtained from the EMA orphan drug designation for: BBP-009 for the treatment of nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, or Gorlin syndrome; acoramidis for the treatment of ATTR amyloidosis; BBP-589 for the treatment of epidermolysis bullosa; fosdenopterin for the treatment of MoCD Type A; BBP-631 for the treatment of congenital adrenal hyperplasia; BBP-812 for the treatment of Canavan Disease; and BBP-418 for the treatment of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. We may seek orphan drug designation for other product candidates. Even if we obtain orphan drug designation, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan designated indication and may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective, if we are unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition, or if a subsequent applicant demonstrates clinical superiority over our products. In addition, although we may seek orphan drug designation for other product candidates, we may never receive such designations. Any failure to obtain, maintain or otherwise recognize the benefits of orphan drug designation for our products or product candidates could have a material adverse effect on our prospects.
On August 3, 2017, the Congress passed the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, or FDARA. FDARA, among other things, codified the FDA’s pre-existing regulatory interpretation to require that a sponsor demonstrate the clinical superiority of an orphan drug that is otherwise the same as a previously approved drug for the same rare disease in order to receive orphan drug exclusivity. The legislation reverses prior precedent holding that the Orphan Drug Act unambiguously requires that the FDA recognize the orphan exclusivity period regardless of a showing of clinical superiority. Moreover, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress did not further change this interpretation when it clarified that the interpretation codified in FDARA would apply in cases where FDA issued an orphan designation before the enactment of FDARA but where product approval came after the enactment of FDARA. The FDA may further reevaluate the Orphan Drug Act and its regulations and policies. We do not know if, when, or how the FDA may change the orphan drug regulations and policies in the future, and it is uncertain how any changes might affect our business. Depending on what changes the FDA may make to its orphan drug regulations and policies, our business could be adversely impacted.
The FDA has granted rare pediatric disease designation to BBP-671 for the treatment of PKAN and PA and BBP-711 for the treatment of PH1. However, a marketing application for BBP-671 or BBP-711, if approved, may not meet the eligibility criteria for a priority review voucher.
The FDA has granted rare pediatric disease designation to BBP-671 for the treatment of PKAN and PA and BBP-711 for the treatment of PH1. We were granted a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher upon approval of NULIBRY (fosdenopterin) by the FDA in February 2021. Designation of a drug as a drug for a rare pediatric disease does not guarantee that an NDA for such drug will meet the eligibility criteria for a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher at the time the application is approved. Under the Federal Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, we will need to request a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher in our original NDA for each of BBP-671 and BBP-711. The FDA may determine that an NDA for BBP-671 or BBP-711, if approved, does not meet the eligibility criteria for a priority review voucher, including for the following reasons:
PKAN, PA or PH1 no longer meets the definition of a rare pediatric disease;
the NDA contains an active ingredient (including any ester or salt of the active ingredient) that has been previously approved in an NDA;
the NDA is not deemed eligible for priority review;
the NDA does not rely on clinical data derived from studies examining a pediatric population and dosages of the drug intended for that population (that is, if the NDA does not contain sufficient clinical data to allow for adequate labeling for use by the full range of affected pediatric patients); or
the NDA is approved for a different adult indication than the rare pediatric disease for which BBP-671 or BBP-711 is designated (for example, if BBP-671 or BBP-711 is approved for an indication based on specific genetic alterations that would be inclusive of, but not limited to, BBP-671 or BBP-711).
The authority for the FDA to award rare pediatric disease priority review vouchers for drugs and biologics that receive rare pediatric disease designation on or prior to September 30, 2024 is currently limited to drugs and biologics that receive rare pediatric disease designation on or prior to September 30, 2024, and the FDA may only award rare pediatric disease priority review vouchers through September 30, 2026. However, it is possible the FDA’s authority to award rare pediatric disease priority review vouchers will be further extended by Congress. Absent any such extension, if an NDA for BBP-671 or BBP-711 is not approved prior to September 30, 2026 for any reason, regardless of whether it meets the criteria for a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher, it will not be eligible for a priority review voucher.
Accelerated approval by the FDA, even if granted for any of our product candidates, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and it does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
We received accelerated approval by the FDA for TRUSELTIQ for the treatment of adults with previously treated, unresectable locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma with a FGFR2 fusion or other rearrangement as detected by an FDA-approved test and we may seek approval of other product candidates using the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. A product may be eligible for accelerated approval if it treats a serious or life-threatening condition, generally provides a meaningful advantage over available therapies, and demonstrates an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a product receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. These confirmatory trials must be completed with due diligence. In addition, the FDA currently requires, unless otherwise requested by the agency, pre-approval of promotional materials for products under consideration for accelerated approval, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product. Even if we do receive accelerated approval, we may not experience a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and receiving accelerated approval does not provide assurance of ultimate full FDA approval.
We may not elect or be able to take advantage of any expedited development or regulatory review and approval processes available to product candidates granted breakthrough therapy, fast track or regenerative medicine advanced therapy designation by the FDA.
We intend to evaluate and continue ongoing discussions with the FDA on regulatory strategies that could enable us to take advantage of expedited development pathways for certain of our product candidates, although we cannot be certain that our product candidates will qualify for any expedited development pathways or that regulatory authorities will grant, or allow us to maintain, the relevant qualifying designations. Potential expedited development pathways that we could pursue include breakthrough therapy, fast track designation and/or regenerative medicine advanced therapy, or RMAT.
Breakthrough therapy designation is intended to expedite the development and review of product candidates that are designed to treat serious or life-threatening diseases when “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.” The designation of a product candidate as a breakthrough therapy provides potential benefits that include more frequent meetings with the FDA to discuss the development plan for the product candidate and ensure collection of appropriate data needed to support approval; more frequent written correspondence from the FDA about matters such as the design of the proposed clinical trials and use of biomarkers; intensive guidance on an efficient drug development program, beginning as early as Phase 1; organizational commitment involving senior managers; and eligibility for rolling review and priority review.
Fast track designation is designed for product candidates intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, where nonclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need for this disease or condition.
We may seek RMAT designation for one or more of our product candidates. In 2017, the FDA established the RMAT designation as part of its implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act to expedite review of any drug that meets the following criteria: it qualifies as a RMAT, which is defined as a cell therapy, therapeutic tissue engineering product, human cell and tissue product, or any combination product using such therapies or products, with limited exceptions; it is intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. Like breakthrough therapy designation, RMAT designation provides potential benefits that include more frequent meetings with the FDA to discuss the development plan for the product candidate, and eligibility for rolling review and priority review. Products granted RMAT designation may also be eligible for accelerated approval on the basis of a surrogate or intermediate endpoint reasonably likely to predict long-term clinical benefit, or reliance upon data obtained from a meaningful number of sites, including through expansion to additional sites. RMAT-designated products that receive accelerated approval may, as appropriate, fulfill their post-approval requirements through the submission of clinical evidence, clinical trials, patient registries, or other sources of real world evidence, such as electronic health records; through the collection of larger confirmatory data sets; or via post-approval monitoring of all patients treated with such therapy prior to approval of the therapy.
Although BBP-589 has received fast track designation for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, or DEB, BBP-009 has received breakthrough therapy designation for the reduction of life-long, serious clinical morbidity and disease burden of persistently developing BCCs in patients with basal cell nevus syndrome, or BCNS, which is also known as Gorlin Syndrome, , and BBP-551 has received fast track designation for the treatment of LCA due to inherited mutations in LRAT and RPE65 genes and for the treatment of autosomal recessive RP due to inherited mutations in LRAT and RPE genes, we may elect not to pursue any of breakthrough therapy, fast track or RMAT designations for our other product candidates, and the FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant these designations.
Even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for breakthrough therapy, fast track designation or RMAT, there can be no assurance that the FDA would decide to grant it. Breakthrough therapy designation, fast track and RMAT designation do not change the standards for product approval, and there is no assurance that such designation or eligibility will result in expedited review or approval or that the approved indication will not be narrower than the indication covered by the breakthrough therapy, fast track or RMAT designation. Thus, even if we do receive breakthrough therapy, fast track or RMAT designation, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. The FDA may withdraw breakthrough therapy, fast track or RMAT designation if it believes that the product no longer meets the qualifying criteria. Our business may be harmed if we are unable to avail ourselves of these or any other expedited development and regulatory pathways.
Additionally, certain oncology product candidates may be eligible for review under the Real-Time Oncology Review, or RTOR, pilot program, which is an initiative of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence designed to expedite the delivery of safe and effective cancer treatments to patients. Although this program allows the FDA to review data earlier, before an applicant formally submits a complete application, acceptance into the RTOR pilot does not guarantee or influence approvability of the application, which is subject to the usual benefit-risk evaluation by FDA reviewers, and it does not affect the FDA’s PDUFA timelines.
If we are unable to successfully validate, develop and obtain regulatory approval for companion diagnostic tests for our drug candidates that require or would commercially benefit from such tests, or experience significant delays in doing so, we may not realize the full commercial potential of these product candidates.
In connection with the clinical development of our product candidates for certain indications, we may work with collaborators to develop or obtain access to in vitro companion diagnostic tests to identify patient subsets within a disease category who may derive selective and meaningful benefit from our drug candidates. For example, we developed a companion diagnostic for infigratinib in patients with CCA in collaboration with Foundation Medicine, or FMI, which received FDA approval at the same time as TRUSELTIQ. Such companion diagnostics would be used during our clinical trials as well as in connection with the commercialization of our product candidates. To be successful, we or our collaborators will need to address a number of scientific, technical, regulatory and logistical challenges. The FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities regulate in vitro companion diagnostics as medical devices and, under that regulatory framework, will likely require the conduct of clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of any diagnostics we may develop, which we expect will require separate regulatory clearance or approval prior to commercialization.
We may rely on third parties for the design, development and manufacture of companion diagnostic tests for our therapeutic product candidates and approved products that may require such tests. If we enter into such collaborative agreements, we will be dependent on the sustained cooperation and effort of our future collaborators in developing and obtaining approval for these companion diagnostics. It may be necessary to resolve issues such as selectivity/specificity, analytical validation, reproducibility, or clinical validation of companion diagnostics during the development and regulatory approval processes. Moreover, even if data from preclinical studies and early clinical trials appear to support development of a companion diagnostic for a product candidate, data generated in later clinical trials may fail to support the analytical and clinical validation of the companion diagnostic. We and our future collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing, obtaining regulatory approval for, manufacturing and commercializing companion diagnostics similar to those we face with respect to our therapeutic candidates and therapeutics themselves, including issues with achieving regulatory clearance or approval, production of sufficient quantities at commercial scale and with appropriate quality standards, and in gaining market acceptance. If we are unable to successfully develop companion diagnostics for these therapeutic product candidates or approved products, or experience delays in doing so, the development of these therapeutic product candidates may be adversely affected, these therapeutic product candidates may not obtain marketing approval, and we may not realize the full commercial potential of any of these therapeutics that have or may obtain marketing approval. As a result, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, a diagnostic company with whom we contract may decide to discontinue selling or manufacturing the companion diagnostic test that we anticipate using in connection with development and commercialization of our product candidates or products or our relationship with such diagnostic company may otherwise terminate. We may not be able to enter into arrangements with another diagnostic company to obtain supplies of an alternative diagnostic test for use in connection with the development and commercialization of our product candidates or products or do so on commercially reasonable terms, which could adversely affect and/or delay the development or commercialization of our therapeutic candidates or therapeutics.
If approved, our investigational products regulated as biologics may face competition from biosimilars approved through an abbreviated regulatory pathway.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively the ACA, includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCIA, which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biological product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first licensed by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was first licensed. During this 12-year period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a BLA for the competing product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity, and potency of the other company’s product. The law is complex and is still being interpreted and implemented by the FDA. As a result, its ultimate impact, implementation, and meaning are subject to uncertainty.
We believe that any of our product candidates approved as a biological product under a BLA should qualify for the 12-year period of exclusivity. However, there is a risk that this exclusivity could be shortened due to congressional action or otherwise, or that the FDA will not consider our investigational medicines to be reference products for competing products, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated. Other aspects of the BPCIA, some of which may impact the BPCIA exclusivity provisions, have also been the subject of recent litigation. Moreover, the extent to which a biosimilar, once licensed, will be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biological products is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing.
If competitors are able to obtain marketing approval for biosimilars referencing any of our products, our products may become subject to competition from such biosimilars, which would impair our ability to successfully commercialize and generate revenues from sales of such products.
NULIBRY and TRUSELTIQ are, and any of our product candidates, if approved, 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.
NULIBRY and TRUSELTIQ are, and any of our product candidates, if approved, will be, subject to ongoing regulatory requirements and review by the FDA and other applicable regulatory authorities for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping, conduct of post-marketing studies, and submission of safety, efficacy, and other post-market information, including both federal and state requirements in the United States and requirements of comparable foreign regulatory authorities.
Manufacturers and manufacturers’ facilities are required to comply with extensive requirements imposed by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, regulations. As such, we and our CMOs will be subject to continual review and inspections to assess compliance with cGMP and adherence to commitments made in any NDA, BLA or marketing authorization application, or MAA. Accordingly, we and others with whom we work must continue to expend time, money, and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production and quality control. Furthermore, under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, for certain commercial prescription drug products, manufacturers and other parties involved in the supply chain must also meet chain of distribution requirements and build electronic, interoperable systems for product tracking and tracing and for notifying the FDA of counterfeit, diverted, stolen, and intentionally adulterated products or other products that are otherwise unfit for distribution in the U.S. In addition, the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical products, including samples, 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. Prescription drug products must also meet applicable child-resistant packaging requirements under the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act. If we are not able to comply with post-approval regulatory requirements, we could have the marketing approvals for our products withdrawn by regulatory authorities and our ability to market our products could be limited, which could adversely affect our ability to achieve or sustain profitability and we could be subject to substantial penalties. As a result, the cost of compliance with post-approval regulations may have a negative effect on our operating results and financial condition.
Any regulatory approvals that we have received for our products, and that we may receive for our product candidates, are or will be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed and promoted or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product. We will be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems, if any, to the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Any new legislation addressing drug safety issues could result in delays in product development or commercialization, or increased costs to assure compliance.
The FDA and other agencies, including the Department of Justice, closely regulate and monitor the post-approval marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of products to ensure that they are manufactured, marketed and distributed only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. We are required to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for our products. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs are subject to a variety of legal and regulatory restrictions and must be consistent with the information in the product’s approved label. As such, we may not promote our products for indications or uses for which they do not have approval.
The holder of an approved NDA, BLA or MAA must submit new or supplemental applications and obtain approval for certain changes to the approved product, product labeling, or manufacturing process. We could also be asked to conduct post-marketing clinical trials to verify the safety and efficacy of our products in general or in specific patient subsets. If original marketing approval was obtained via the accelerated approval pathway, we could be required to conduct a successful post-marketing clinical trial to confirm clinical benefit for our products. For example, TRUSELTIQ was granted accelerated approval by the FDA for the treatment of patients with previously-treated locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma harboring an FGFR2 fusion or rearrangement. As a condition of accelerated approval, we are required to conduct a confirmatory trial of TRUSELTIQ to verify clinical benefit. An unsuccessful post-marketing study or failure to conduct such a study with due diligence could result in the withdrawal of marketing approval.
If a regulatory agency discovers previously unknown problems with a product, such as AEs of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured, or disagrees with the promotion, marketing or labeling of a product, such regulatory agency may impose restrictions on that product or us, including requiring withdrawal of the product from the market. If we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency or enforcement authority may, among other things: