SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
|☐||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from ___________to ___________
Commission file number: 001-38068
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
|British Columbia, ||Canada||98-1398788|
|(State or other jurisdiction of|
incorporation or organization)
Suite 540—1385 West 8th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6H 3V9
(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (604) 678-1388
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common shares, no par value per share||ZYME||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No ¨
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Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
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If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
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The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing sale price of the registrant’s common shares on the last business day of its most recently completed second fiscal quarter, as reported on the NYSE was approximately $1,323.6 million.
The number of outstanding common shares of the registrant, no par value per share, as of February 22, 2021 was 46,135,906.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement in connection with the registrant’s 2021 annual meeting of shareholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) subsequent to the date hereof, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K. Such proxy statement will be filed with the SEC not later than 120 days following the end of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020
Table of Contents
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian securities laws, or collectively, forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements that may relate to our plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events, future revenue or performance, capital expenditures, financing needs and other information that is not historical information. Many of these statements appear, in particular, under the headings “Business,” “Risk Factors,” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”. Forward-looking statements can often be identified by the use of terminology such as “subject to”, “believe,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “project,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “would,” “could,” “can,” the negatives thereof, variations thereon and similar expressions, or by discussions of strategy. In addition, any statements or information that refer to expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, performance or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking. In particular, these forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
•the size of our addressable markets and our ability to commercialize product candidates;
•the achievement of advances in and expansion of our therapeutic platforms and antibody engineering expertise;
•the likelihood of product candidate development and clinical trial progression, initiation or success;
•our ability to predict and manage government regulation; and
•the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and operations.
All forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, those related to our examination of historical operating trends, are based upon our current expectations and various assumptions. Certain assumptions made in preparing the forward-looking statements include:
•our ability to manage our growth effectively;
•the absence of material adverse changes in our industry or the global economy;
•our ability to understand and predict trends in our industry and markets;
•our ability to maintain good business relationships with our strategic partners;
•our ability to comply with current and future regulatory standards;
•our ability to protect our intellectual property rights;
•our continued compliance with third-party license terms and the non-infringement of third-party intellectual property rights;
•our ability to manage and integrate acquisitions;
•our ability to retain key personnel; and
•our ability to raise sufficient debt or equity financing to support our continued growth.
We believe there is a reasonable basis for our expectations and beliefs, but they are inherently uncertain. We may not realize our expectations, and our beliefs may not prove correct. Actual results could differ materially from those described or implied by such forward-looking statements. The following uncertainties and factors, among others (including those set forth under “Risk Factors”), could affect future performance and cause actual results to differ materially from those matters expressed in or implied by forward-looking statements:
•our ability to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates without significant delays;
•the predictive value of our current or planned clinical trials;
•delays with respect to the development and commercialization of our product candidates, which may cause increased costs or delay receipt of product revenue;
•our, or any of our partners’, ability to enroll subjects in clinical trials and thereby complete trials on a timely basis;
•the design or our execution of clinical trials may not support regulatory approval, including where clinical trials are conducted outside the United States;
•the extent to which our business may be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic;
•the Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy designations for any of our product candidates may not expedite regulatory review or approval;
•the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) may not accept data from trials we conduct outside the United States;
•disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns;
•our discretion to discontinue or reprioritize the development of any of our product candidates;
•the potential for our product candidates to have undesirable side effects;
•no regulatory agency has made a determination that any of our product candidates are safe or effective for use by the general public or for any indication;
•our ability to face significant competition, including biosimilar products;
•the likelihood of broad market acceptance of our product candidates;
•our ability to obtain Orphan Drug Designation or exclusivity for some or all of our product candidates;
•our ability to commercialize products outside of the United States;
•the outcome of reimbursement decisions by third-party payors relating to our products;
•our expectations with respect to the market opportunities for any product that we or our strategic partners develop;
•our ability to pursue product candidates that may be profitable or have a high likelihood of success;
•our ability to use and expand our therapeutic platforms to build a pipeline of product candidates;
•our ability to meet the requirements of ongoing regulatory review;
•the threat of product liability lawsuits against us or any of our strategic partners;
•changes in product candidate manufacturing or formulation that may result in additional costs or delay;
•the potential disruption of our business and dilution of our shareholdings associated with acquisitions and joint ventures;
•the potential for foreign governments to impose strict price controls;
•the risk of security breaches or data loss, which could compromise sensitive business or health information;
•current and future legislation that may increase the difficulty and cost of commercializing our product candidates;
•economic, political, regulatory and other risks associated with international operations;
•our exposure to legal and reputational penalties as a result of any of our current and future relationships with various third parties;
•our ability to comply with export control and import laws and regulations;
•our history of significant losses since inception;
•our ability to generate revenue from product sales and achieve profitability;
•our requirement for substantial additional funding;
•the potential dilution to our shareholders associated with future financings;
•restrictions on our ability to seek financing, which may be imposed by future debt;
•our ability to maintain existing and future strategic partnerships;
•our ability to realize the anticipated benefits of our strategic partnerships;
•our ability to secure future strategic partners;
•our reliance on third-party manufacturers to produce our clinical product candidate supplies and on other third parties to store, monitor and transport bulk drug substance and drug product;
•our reliance on third parties to oversee clinical trials of our product candidates and, in some cases, maintain regulatory files for those product candidates;
•our reliance on third parties for various operational and administrative aspects of our business including our reliance on third parties’ cloud- based software platforms;
•our ability to operate without infringing the patents and other proprietary rights of third parties;
•our ability to obtain and enforce patent protection for our product candidates and related technology;
•our patents could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged;
•our intellectual property rights may not necessarily provide us with competitive advantages;
•we may become involved in expensive and time-consuming patent lawsuits;
•the risk that the duration of our patents will not adequately protect our competitive position;
•our ability to obtain protection under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (the “Hatch-Waxman Amendments”) and similar foreign legislation;
•we may be unable to protect the confidentiality of our proprietary information;
•our ability to comply with procedural and administrative requirements relating to our patents;
•the risk of claims challenging the inventorship of our patents and other intellectual property;
•our intellectual property rights for some of our product candidates are dependent on the abilities of third parties to assert and defend such rights;
•patent reform legislation and court decisions can diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products;
•we may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world;
•we will require FDA approval for any proposed product candidate names and any failure or delay associated with such approval may adversely affect our business;
•the risk of employee misconduct including noncompliance with regulatory standards and insider trading;
•our ability to market our products in a manner that does not violate the law and subject us to civil or criminal penalties;
•if we do not comply with laws regulating the protection of the environment and health and human safety, our business could be adversely affected;
•our ability to retain key executives and attract and retain qualified personnel;
•our ability to manage organizational growth;
•our exposure to potential securities class action litigation; and
•if securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our share price and trading volume could decline.
Consequently, forward-looking statements should be regarded solely as our current plans, estimates and beliefs. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. We cannot guarantee future results, events, levels of activity, performance or achievements. We do not undertake and specifically decline any obligation to update, republish or revise forward-looking statements to reflect future events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrences of unanticipated events, except as required by law.
We own or have rights to trademarks, service marks or trade names that we use in connection with the operation of our business. In addition, our names, logos and website names and addresses are our service marks or trademarks. Azymetric, Zymeworks, ZymeCAD, EFECT, ZymeLink and the phrase “Building Better Biologics” are our registered trademarks. The other trademarks, trade names and service marks appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks, tradenames and copyrights referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are listed without the ©, ® and TM symbols, but we will assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or the rights of the applicable licensors to these trademarks, service marks and tradenames.
We express all amounts in this Annual Report on Form 10-K in U.S. dollars, except where otherwise indicated. References to “$” and “US$” are to U.S. dollars and references to “C$” are to Canadian dollars.
Except as otherwise indicated, references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to “Zymeworks,” the “Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to Zymeworks Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
Item 1. Business
Zymeworks is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of next-generation multifunctional biotherapeutics. Our suite of complementary therapeutic platforms and our fully integrated drug development engine provide the flexibility and compatibility to precisely engineer and develop highly differentiated product candidates. These capabilities have resulted in multiple product candidates with the potential to drive positive outcomes in large underserved and unaddressed patient populations.
Our lead product candidate, zanidatamab (formerly known as ZW25), is a novel bispecific (dual-targeting) antibody that targets two distinct domains of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (“HER2”). The unique mechanism of action of zanidatamab may enable it to address unmet need in patient populations with HER2-expressing cancers, including those with lower levels of expression, for which there are no approved HER2-targeted agents. In clinical trials, monotherapy zanidatamab and zanidatamab in combination with chemotherapy have been well tolerated with promising antitumor activity in patients with heavily pretreated HER2-expressing cancers that have progressed after having received standard of care, including multiple HER2-targeted regimens. Based on these data, we initiated a number of global multicenter Phase 2 clinical trials to evaluate zanidatamab in specific indications and lines of therapy. These include (i) a pivotal trial in patients with previously treated HER2 gene amplified biliary tract cancer (“BTC”), (ii) the first-line treatment of HER2-positive metastatic gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas (“GEA”) in combination with standard of care chemotherapy, and (iii) previously-treated locally advanced and/or metastatic HER2-positive, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer in combination with Pfizer’s Ibrance® (palbociclib) and fulvestrant. Our partner, BeiGene, Ltd. (“BeiGene”), has initiated Phase 1b/2 clinical trials evaluating zanidatamab for (i) the first-line treatment of metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer in combination with docetaxel and for (ii) the first-line treatment of metastatic HER2-positive GEA in combination with tislelizumab and chemotherapy. In addition, zanidatamab continues to be evaluated in several indications including colorectal, endometrial and other HER2-expressing cancers.
Our second product candidate, ZW49, combines the unique design of zanidatamab with our ZymeLink antibody-drug conjugate (“ADC”) platform, comprised of our proprietary cytotoxin (cancer cell-killing compound) and cleavable linker. We designed ZW49 to be a best-in-class HER2-targeting ADC to further address unmet need across a range of HER2-expressing cancers. A Phase 1 clinical trial to establish safety and antitumor activity of ZW49 began in 2019.
We are also advancing a deep pipeline of preclinical product candidates and discovery-stage programs in oncology (including immuno-oncology (“I-O”) agents) and other therapeutic areas.
Our proprietary capabilities and technologies include several modular, complementary therapeutic platforms that can be used in combination with each other and with existing approaches. This ability to layer technologies without compromising manufacturability enables us to engineer next-generation biotherapeutics with synergistic activity, which we believe will result in improved patient outcomes. Our core platforms include:
•Azymetric, our bispecific platform, which enables therapeutic antibodies to simultaneously bind multiple distinct locations on a target (known as an epitope) or to multiple targets. This is achieved by tailoring multiple configurations of the antibody’s Fab regions (locations on the antibody to which epitopes bind);
•ZymeLink, our ADC platform, comprised of cytotoxins and the linker technology used to couple these cytotoxins to tumor-targeting antibodies or proteins. This platform can be used in conjunction with our other therapeutic platforms to increase safety and efficacy as compared to existing ADC technologies; and
•EFECT, which enables finely tuned modulation (both up and down) of immune cell recruitment and function.
Our protein engineering expertise and proprietary structure-guided molecular modeling capabilities enable these therapeutic platforms. Together with our internal antibody discovery and generation technologies, we have established a fully integrated drug development engine and toolkit capable of rapidly delivering a steady pipeline of next-generation product candidates in oncology and other therapeutic areas.
Our Azymetric, EFECT and ZymeLink therapeutic platforms have been further leveraged through multiple revenue-generating strategic partnerships with the following global pharmaceutical companies: Merck Sharp & Dohme Research GmbH (“Merck”), Eli Lilly and Company (“Lilly”), Celgene Corporation and Celgene Alpine Investment Co. LLC (formerly “Celgene” and now a Bristol-Myers Squibb company, “BMS”), GlaxoSmithKline Intellectual Property Development Limited (“GSK”), Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd. (“Daiichi Sankyo”), Janssen Biotech, Inc. (“Janssen”), LEO Pharma A/S (“LEO”), BeiGene, and Iconic Therapeutics, Inc. (“Iconic”).
Our goal is to leverage our next-generation therapeutic platforms and proprietary protein engineering capabilities to become a domain dominator in the discovery, development and commercialization of best-in-class multifunctional biotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer and other diseases with high unmet medical need.
Our key priorities to achieve this goal are to:
•complete enrollment of zanidatamab pivotal trial in second-line HER2-amplified BTC;
•launch zanidatamab pivotal trial in first-line HER2-positive GEA and present supporting Phase 2 clinical data;
•present data to support zanidatamab breast cancer development strategy;
•advance ZW49 into and complete cohort expansion; and
•present data from new therapeutic programs and technology platforms.
Product Candidate Pipeline and Advanced Preclinical and Discovery Programs
We currently have two lead product candidates in clinical development and several product candidates in preclinical development that leverage our multiple therapeutic platforms to address areas of significant unmet medical need. Our lead product candidates, zanidatamab and ZW49, utilize the Azymetric platform to address patient populations with all levels of HER2 expression, including those with lower HER2-expressing tumors. We are also actively advancing a diverse set of preclinical and discovery programs, which leverage one or more of our proprietary therapeutic platforms to create a deep pipeline of well-differentiated product candidates for oncology and other therapeutic areas.
The table below summarizes our current product candidate pipeline.
The table below summarizes the therapeutic class of our preclinical and advanced discovery programs.
The table below summarizes the stage of each of our partners’ most advanced publicly disclosed program.
Zanidatamab: HER2-Targeted Bispecific Antibody
Zanidatamab, our lead product candidate currently being evaluated in Phase 1, Phase 2, and pivotal clinical trials in the United States, Canada, Europe, and South Korea, is based on our Azymetric platform. It is a bispecific antibody that can simultaneously bind two non-overlapping epitopes, known as biparatopic binding, of HER2 resulting in dual HER2 signal blockade, increased antibody binding, receptor clustering, removal of HER2 protein from the cell surface, and potent effector function. These combined mechanisms of action have led to activity in preclinical models of breast cancer, including trastuzumab-resistant (currently branded as Herceptin) high HER2-expressing tumors, as well as in tumors with lower levels of HER2 expression. Approximately 81% of patients with HER2-expressing breast cancer and 57% of patients with HER2-expressing gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancer have tumors that express low to intermediate levels of HER2, making them ineligible for treatment with currently approved HER2-targeted therapies, such as Herceptin and Perjeta. In addition, multiple other cancers, including BTC, colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, endometrial, ovarian, bladder, salivary gland, and non-small cell lung cancer, express HER2 at varying levels. Therefore, there is a significant unmet need for HER2-targeted agents that can effectively treat these patients.
We are developing zanidatamab as a foundational HER2-targeted therapy for patients with solid tumors that overexpress HER2. We believe that zanidatamab has the potential to expand the opportunity for HER2-targeted therapies to include additional tumor types and tumors with lower HER2 expression levels as well as displace currently approved HER2-targeted therapies in several indications.
Potential Advantages of Zanidatamab
Zanidatamab’s biparatopic binding mode increases the number of antibodies bound to HER2 receptors at the cell surface relative to monospecific antibodies and promotes receptor clustering and internalization.
Zanidatamab mediates its therapeutic effect on HER2-expressing tumors through multiple mechanisms of action, including:
•cross-linked trans HER2 binding and HER2 receptor clustering;
•enhanced antibody internalization and HER2 downregulation;
•increased maximum binding density and potent effector function-mediated cytotoxicity; and
•enhanced blockade of ligand-dependent and ligand-independent tumor growth.
Clinical Development of Zanidatamab
A first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial for zanidatamab commenced in September 2016, consisting of three segments. We have completed Part 1, the dose escalation segment, and identified the Phase 2 recommended dose and schedule of zanidatamab as 20 mg/kg every other week. Part 2 and Part 3 of the Phase 1 clinical trial are underway and consist of five expansion cohorts that span HER2 High breast cancer, HER2 High gastric cancer, HER2 Intermediate breast cancer, HER2 Intermediate gastric cancer, and other HER2 gene amplified cancers to evaluate zanidatamab as both a monotherapy (Part 2) and in combination with standard of care chemotherapy (Part 3).Zanidatamab has been well tolerated with promising antitumor activity both as monotherapy and in combination with several types of chemotherapy in patients with heavily pre-treated HER2-expressing cancer that progressed after standard of care, including multiple HER2-targeted regimens. Based on these data, we initiated a number of global multicenter Phase 2 clinical trials to evaluate zanidatamab in specific indications and lines of therapy. These include (i) a pivotal in patients with previously treated HER2 gene amplified BTC, (ii) the first-line treatment of HER2-positive metastatic GEA in combination with standard of care chemotherapy, and (iii) previously-treated locally advanced and/or metastatic HER2-positive, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer in combination with Pfizer’s Ibrance® (palbociclib) and fulvestrant. Our partner, BeiGene, has initiated Phase 1b/2 clinical trials evaluating zanidatamab for (i) the first-line treatment of metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer in combination with docetaxel and for (ii) the first-line treatment of metastatic HER2-positive GEA in combination with tislelizumab and chemotherapy. In addition, zanidatamab continues to be evaluated as monotherapy in several indications including colorectal, endometrial and other HER2-expressing cancers.
In January 2021, we presented updated clinical data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (“ASCO”) Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium for HER2-expressing GEA patients who received zanidatamab either as monotherapy (n=35) or in combination with chemotherapies (n=28). The groups had a median of two to three (range 0-7) prior therapies, with a high percentage (88-91%) having received prior HER2-targeted therapies. In 33 response-evaluable patients who received zanidatamab as monotherapy (10 mg/kg weekly or 20 mg/kg every two weeks), the objective response rate (ORR) was 39% (13/33), 11 (33%) of which were confirmed by a subsequent scan. The disease control rate (DCR) was 61% (20/33) and median duration of response (DOR) was six months. In ten response-evaluable patients who received zanidatamab (20 mg/kg every two weeks) plus paclitaxel, the ORR was 60% (6/10), five (50%) of which were confirmed by a subsequent scan including one patient who experienced a complete response. The DCR was 90% (9/10) for this group. In 14 response-evaluable patients who received zanidatamab (20 mg/kg every two weeks or 30 mg/kg every three weeks) plus capecitabine, the confirmed ORR was 57% (8/14) and the DCR was 71% (10/14). Overall, the median DOR for zanidatamab plus chemotherapy was 8.9 months and the median progression-free survival (PFS) was 5.6 months with eight (29%) patients still on study at the time of data cut-off.
At the 2021 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, we also presented data from 21 patients diagnosed with HER2-amplified BTC who received zanidatamab at the recommended dose of 20 mg/kg every two weeks. Patients received a median of two (range 1-8) prior therapies and five (24%) of the patients were previously treated with the HER2-targeted therapy trastuzumab. Zanidatamab was well tolerated and demonstrated durable antitumor activity in these patients. The confirmed ORR in trastuzumab-naïve patients was 47% (7/15) and overall ORR was 40% (8/20). The overall DCR was 65% (13/20), and median DOR was 7.4 months with several patients still on study at the time of data cut-off.
Overall, in our Phase 1 study, zanidatamab has been well tolerated. The majority of treatment-related adverse events were mild or moderate (Grade 1 or 2) in severity, and response rates and median duration of response in refractory BTC and GEA compare favorably to current standard of care and emerging treatments. We are currently evaluating zanidatamab in the following clinical trials:
•NCT02892123 – Phase 1 study to evaluate the maximal tolerated dose, optimal biological dose or other recommended dose, and overall safety and tolerability of zanidatamab in patients with unresectable locally advanced and/or metastatic HER2-expressing cancers.
•NCT03929666 – A multicenter, global, Phase 2, open-label, two-part, first-line study to investigate the safety, tolerability, and antitumor activity of zanidatamab plus physician’s choice of combination chemotherapy in HER2-expressing GEA. Eligible patients include those with unresectable locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic HER2-expressing GEA.
•NCT04224272 – A multicenter, global, Phase 2, open-label, two-part study. Part one of the study will evaluate the safety and tolerability of zanidatamab in combination with palbociclib and fulvestrant and identify the recommended doses of zanidatamab and palbociclib. Part two of the study will evaluate antitumor activity at the recommended dose level.
•NCT04466891 – A multicenter, pivotal, open-label, single-arm trial evaluating the antitumor activity of zanidatamab monotherapy in patients with HER2-amplified, inoperable and advanced or metastatic BTC, including intra-hepatic cholangiocarcinoma, extra-hepatic cholangiocarcinoma, and gallbladder cancer.
In addition, we are planning to evaluate zanidatamab plus chemotherapy vs Herceptin® plus chemotherapy in a pivotal trial in first-line GEA. We also plan to explore zanidatamab in combination with chemotherapy in HER2 expressing neoadjuvant breast cancer, in colorectal cancer, and in combination with other immune-oncology and targeted-therapy drugs.
Zanidatamab has been granted Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA for patients with previously-treated HER2 gene-amplified BTC as well as two Fast Track designations, one for previously treated or recurrent HER2-positive BTC and another for first-line GEA in combination with standard of care chemotherapy. Zanidatamab also received Orphan Drug designation for the treatment of BTC, GEA and ovarian cancers in the United States and for gastric cancer in the European Union.
ZW49: HER2-Targeted Bispecific ADC
ZW49, our second product candidate, is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial. It is a biparatopic anti-HER2 ADC developed based on Zymeworks’ proprietary Azymetric and ZymeLink platforms and combines the unique design of zanidatamab with a proprietary ZymeLink cytotoxin and cleavable linker. We are developing ZW49 as a best-in-class HER2-targeting ADC for several indications characterized by HER2 expression, especially for patients whose tumors have progressed or are refractory to HER2-targeted agents and those that express lower levels of HER2 and are ineligible for treatment with HER2-targeted therapies including T-DM1.
Potential Advantages of ZW49
ZW49 combines the Azymetric biparatopic anti-HER2 antibody zanidatamab with our proprietary ZymeLink cytotoxin and cleavable linker. Our cytotoxin destabilizes tubulin, a protein necessary for cell division, and therefore kills rapidly dividing cancer cells. In preclinical models, compared to certain approved HER2-targeted therapies, ZW49 mediates a superior therapeutic effect on HER2-expressing tumors through multiple potential mechanisms, including:
•increased maximum HER2 binding density;
•unique biparatopic-induced HER2 receptor clustering;
•increased HER2-mediated ADC internalization; and
•enhanced toxin-mediated cytotoxicity and tumor growth inhibition.
Preclinical Development of ZW49
In preclinical studies, ZW49 demonstrated complete tumor regressions in a panel of high and low HER2-expressing patient-derived xenografts and promising efficacy in a model of breast cancer brain metastases. These results compared favorably when benchmarked against approved and leading HER2 ADCs in clinical development. In a repeat dose toxicology study in non-human primates, ZW49 was well tolerated at 18 mg/kg, suggesting a broad therapeutic window.
Clinical Development of ZW49
We are currently evaluating ZW49 as a monotherapy in a non-randomized, open-label Phase 1 clinical trial in patients with HER2 High breast, gastric and other HER2-expressing cancers, whose disease has progressed after all standard of care therapies. The primary objective of the Phase 1 clinical trial is to characterize the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and maximum tolerated dose of ZW49. The secondary objectives for the trial include evaluation of preliminary antitumor activity of ZW49, as well as an exploration of potential biomarkers of response. Based upon the observed safety and activity, subsequent development may focus on patients with HER2 High breast cancer, HER2 High gastric cancer, other HER2 High cancers, as well as cancers with lower levels of HER2 expression, including breast cancer.In January 2021, we announced an interim update from the ongoing ZW49 Phase 1 dose-escalation study. In 35 patients who have received ZW49 across all dosing regimens, there have been no dose limiting toxicities, no treatment-related hematologic, pulmonary, or liver toxicity, and no treatment-related deaths. Over 90% of treatment-related adverse events have been mild or moderate (Grade 1 or 2) in severity, with the most common being keratitis, fatigue, and diarrhea, which have been reversible and manageable in an outpatient setting. There have been no discontinuations due to treatment-related adverse events, and the maximum tolerated dose has not yet been established. ZW49 has demonstrated antitumor activity at all dose levels evaluated in the once every three week regimen including confirmed partial responses and stable disease per RECIST 1.1. Dose escalation is continuing at 3 mg/kg once every three weeks. Three indication-specific expansion cohorts (HER2-positive breast cancer, HER2-positive GEA, and a basket cohort of other HER2-positive cancers) utilizing the 2.5 mg/kg once every three week regimen have also been initiated to better ascertain antitumor activity in more homogeneous patient populations.
Other Product Candidates
We maintain ongoing discovery efforts to identify and test new target combinations, product candidates and platform technologies that have the potential to address unmet clinical needs. We have developed multiple undisclosed preclinical product candidates targeting a combination of known and novel tumor antigens based on our platform technologies. All of these candidates remain unpartnered. We will continue to focus on advancing multiple well-differentiated product candidates into clinical trials to build our pipeline portfolio as well as exploiting our protein engineering expertise to develop innovative therapeutic platforms.
Our Proprietary Therapeutic Platforms
Our expertise in protein engineering has enabled the development of our proprietary therapeutic platforms, a complementary suite of highly-tailored biologics solutions. Our therapeutic platforms can be used alone or in combination to develop multifunctional fit-for-purpose biotherapeutics with bispecific capabilities (Azymetric), targeted cytotoxin payload delivery (ZymeLink) and finely tuned immune function modulation (EFECT). The modular design and ease of use of our therapeutic platforms allow for the design and evaluation of multiple candidates with different formats to determine the optimal therapeutic combination early in development. We continue to leverage these therapeutic platforms to expand our pipeline of next-generation biotherapeutics that we believe could represent significant improvements to the standard of care in multiple cancer types.
Azymetric Bispecific Antibody Platform
The Azymetric platform consists of a library of proprietary amino acid substitutions that enable the transformation of monospecific antibodies into bispecific antibodies, which gives them the ability to simultaneously bind two non-overlapping epitopes. The Azymetric platform enables the development of biotherapeutics with dual-targeting of receptors/ligands and simultaneous blockade of multiple signaling pathways, increasing tumor-specific targeting and efficacy while reducing toxicities and the potential for drug resistance. In preclinical studies, the dual-targeting of Azymetric antibodies has demonstrated synergistic activity relative to the application of an equivalent dose of the corresponding monospecific antibodies. Azymetric bispecifics can also be engineered to enhance internalization of the antibody into the tumor cell and consequently increase the delivery of cytotoxins.
Azymetric bispecifics retain the desirable drug-like qualities of monoclonal antibodies, including long half-life, stability and low immunogenic potential, which increases their probability of success. Azymetric bispecifics are also compatible with standard manufacturing processes with high production yields and purity.
ZymeLink ADC Platform
The ZymeLink ADC platform is a suite of proprietary cytotoxins, stable linkers, and conjugation technologies that are compatible with our product candidates and enable delivery of cytotoxins directly to target cells. We believe that ZymeLink provides multiple competitive advantages over existing ADC approaches, including optimized activity and tolerability profiles through increased drug delivery to target cells with reduced off-target effects, as well as improved pharmacokinetics and stability.
EFECT Antibody Effector Function Modulation Platform
The EFECT platform consists of sets of modifications to the crystallizable fragment (“Fc”) region of antibodies that enable the selective modulation of recruited cytotoxic immune cells for diverse therapeutic applications. This allows us to rationally tailor the selective enhancement or suppression of immune effector function to optimize product candidates.
Strategic Partnerships and Collaborations
Our novel therapeutic candidates, together with the unique combination of proprietary protein engineering capabilities and resulting therapeutic platform technologies, have enabled us to enter into a number of strategic partnerships, many of which were subsequently expanded in scope. Our strategic partnerships, including with Merck, Lilly, BMS, GSK, Daiichi Sankyo, Janssen, LEO, BeiGene, and Iconic, provide us with the ability to accelerate clinical development of our therapeutic candidates in certain geographical regions and provide our strategic partners with access to components of our proprietary Azymetric, EFECT, and/or ZymeLink therapeutic platforms for their own therapeutics development. In addition, these strategic partnerships have provided us with non-dilutive funding as well as access to proprietary therapeutic assets, which increase our ability to rapidly advance our product candidates while maintaining commercial rights to our own therapeutic pipeline. Under our existing collaboration agreements, we have received $218.0 million to date in the form of non-refundable upfront payments and milestone payments, and we are also eligible to receive up to $2.8 billion in preclinical and development milestone payments and $5.8 billion in commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on potential future product sales. It is possible, however, that our strategic partners’ programs will not advance as currently contemplated, which would negatively affect the amount of development and commercial milestone payments and royalties on potential future product sales we may receive. Importantly, these partnerships include predominantly non-target-exclusive licenses for any of our therapeutic platforms, so we maintain the ability to develop therapeutics directed to many high-value targets utilizing our platforms. Our strategic partnerships include the following:
In August 2011, we entered into a research and license agreement with Merck, which was amended and restated in December 2014, to develop and commercialize three bispecific antibodies generated through the use of our Azymetric and EFECT platforms. Under the terms of the agreement, we granted Merck a worldwide, royalty-bearing antibody sequence pair exclusive license to research, develop and commercialize certain licensed products. We are eligible to receive up to $190.75 million for various license and milestone payments. To date, we have received an upfront payment of $1.25 million and research and development related payments totaling $5.5 million. We are eligible to receive additional payments for completion of investigational new drug (“IND”) enabling studies of up to $4.0 million, development milestone payments of up to $66.0 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $114.0 million. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties in the low to mid-single digits on product sales. Merck is solely responsible for the further research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the products.
In July 2020, we entered into a second licensing agreement with Merck granting Merck a worldwide, royalty-bearing license to research, develop and commercialize up to three new multispecific antibodies toward Merck’s therapeutic targets in the human health field and up to three new multispecific antibodies toward Merck’s therapeutic targets in the animal health field using our Azymetric and EFECT platforms. We are eligible to receive up to $419.3 million in option exercise fees and clinical development and regulatory approval milestone payments and up to $502.5 million in commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on worldwide sales.
In December 2013, we entered into a licensing and collaboration agreement with Lilly, under which Lilly has the right to research, develop and commercialize one bispecific antibody generated through the use of our Azymetric platform. Under the terms of the agreement, we granted Lilly a worldwide, royalty-bearing antibody target pair-specific exclusive license to research, develop and commercialize certain licensed products. We are eligible to receive up to $52.0 million for various license and milestone payments. To date, we have received an upfront payment of $1.0 million and research and development related payments of $3.0 million, and we are eligible to receive additional development milestone payments of up to $8.0 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $40.0 million. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties in the low to mid-single digits on product sales. Lilly is solely responsible for the further research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of the products.
In October 2014, we entered into a second licensing and collaboration agreement with Lilly to research, develop and commercialize one bispecific antibody generated through the use of our Azymetric platform. This agreement did not alter or amend the initial 2013 agreement. Under the terms of this 2014 agreement, we granted Lilly a worldwide, royalty-bearing
antibody sequence pair-specific license to research, develop and commercialize certain licensed products. We are eligible to receive up to $125.0 million in various license and milestone payments. To date, we have received research and development related payments totaling $10.0 million. We are eligible to receive additional development milestone payments of up to $20.0 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $95.0 million. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties in the low to mid-single digits on product sales. Lilly is solely responsible for the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the products.
In December 2014, we entered into a collaboration agreement with Celgene (now BMS) to research, develop and commercialize bispecific antibodies generated through the use of our Azymetric platform. This agreement was expanded in 2018 to increase the number of programs from eight to ten and to extend BMS’s research period. Under the terms of the agreement, we granted BMS a right to exercise options to worldwide, royalty-bearing, antibody sequence pair-specific exclusive licenses to research, develop and commercialize certain licensed products. We received an upfront payment of $8.0 million and an expansion fee of $4.0 million. BMS has the right to exercise options on up to ten programs and if BMS opts in on a program, we are eligible to receive up to $164.0 million per product candidate (up to $1.64 billion for all ten programs), comprised of a commercial license option payment of $7.5 million, development milestone payments of up to $101.5 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $55.0 million. To date, BMS has exercised one commercial license option and we have received a total of $7.5 million in product candidate-specific payments. After conclusion of BMS’s research period, BMS will be solely responsible for the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the products. In June 2020, our existing collaboration agreement with BMS was amended to expand the license grant to include the use of our EFECT platform for the development of therapeutic candidates and to extend the research term. We received an upfront expansion fee of $12.0 million and all other financial terms were unchanged.
In December 2015, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with GSK to research, develop and commercialize up to ten Fc-engineered monoclonal and bispecific antibodies generated through the use of our EFECT and Azymetric platforms. Under the terms of the agreement, we granted GSK a worldwide, royalty-bearing antibody target-exclusive license to new intellectual property generated to the EFECT platform under this collaboration and a non-exclusive license to the Azymetric platform to research, develop and commercialize future licensed products. We are eligible to receive up to $1.1 billion, including research, development and commercial milestone payments of up to $110.0 million for each product. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties in the low single digits on net sales of products. No development or commercial milestone payments or royalties have been received to date. We retained the right to develop up to four products, free of royalties, using the new intellectual property generated in this collaboration, and after a period of time, to grant licenses to such intellectual property for development of additional products by third parties. Under this agreement, we are sharing certain research and development responsibilities with GSK to generate new Fc-engineered antibodies. Each party will bear its own costs for the responsibilities assigned to it during the research period. After the conclusion of the research period, each party will be solely responsible for the further research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of its own respective products.
In April 2016, we entered into a platform technology transfer and license agreement with GSK to research, develop and commercialize up to six bispecific antibodies generated through the use of our Azymetric platform. This may include bispecific antibodies incorporating new engineered Fc regions generated under the 2015 GSK agreement. Under the terms of this 2016 agreement, we granted GSK a worldwide, royalty-bearing antibody sequence pair-specific exclusive license to research, develop and commercialize licensed products. In May 2019, this agreement was expanded to provide GSK access to Zymeworks’ unique heavy-light chain pairing technology under the Azymetric platform. Under the expanded agreement, we are eligible to receive up to $1.1 billion in milestone and other payments. To date, we have received an upfront technology access fee payment of $6.0 million. We are also eligible to receive research milestone payments of up to $37.5 million, development milestone payments of up to $183.5 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $867.0 million. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties in the low to mid-single digits on product sales. GSK bears all responsibility and costs associated with research, development and commercialization of products generated using the Azymetric platform.
In September 2016, we entered into a collaboration and cross-license agreement with Daiichi Sankyo to research, develop and commercialize one bispecific antibody generated through the use of our Azymetric and EFECT platforms. Under the terms of the agreement, we granted Daiichi Sankyo a worldwide, royalty-bearing antibody sequence pair-specific exclusive license to research, develop and commercialize certain licensed products. We are eligible to receive up to $149.9 million in milestone and other payments. To date, we have received an upfront technology access fee payment of $2.0 million and research and
commercial option related payments totaling $4.5 million. We are also eligible to receive additional development milestone payments of up to $63.4 million, and commercial milestone payments of up to $80.0 million. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties ranging from the low single digits up to 10% on product sales. We also gained non-exclusive rights to develop and commercialize up to three products using Daiichi Sankyo’s proprietary immune-oncology antibodies, with royalties in the low single digits to be paid to Daiichi Sankyo on sales of such products. Daiichi Sankyo is solely responsible for the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the products. Under the non-exclusive immuno-oncology antibody license to Zymeworks, we are solely responsible for all research, development and commercialization of the resulting products.
In May 2018, we entered into a new license agreement with Daiichi Sankyo to research, develop and commercialize two bispecific antibodies generated through the use of our Azymetric and EFECT platforms. This agreement did not alter or amend the initial 2016 agreement. Under the terms of this 2018 agreement, we granted Daiichi Sankyo a worldwide, royalty-bearing, antibody sequence pair-specific, exclusive license to research, develop and commercialize certain products. We are eligible to receive up to $484.7 million in various milestone and other payments. To date, we have received an upfront technology access fee payment of $18.0 million. We are also eligible to receive development milestone payments totaling up to $126.7 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $340.0 million. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties ranging from the low single digits up to 10% on product sales. Daiichi Sankyo is solely responsible for the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the products.
In November 2017, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Janssen to research, develop and commercialize up to six bispecific antibodies generated through the use of our Azymetric and EFECT platforms. Under the terms of the agreement, we granted Janssen a worldwide, royalty-bearing, antibody sequence pair-specific exclusive license to research, develop and commercialize certain products. We are eligible to receive up to $1.45 billion in various license and milestone payments. To date, we have received an upfront payment of $50.0 million. We are also eligible to receive development milestone payments of up to $282.0 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $1.12 billion. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties in the mid-single digits on product sales. Janssen has the option to develop two additional bispecific antibodies under this agreement subject to a future option payment. Janssen is solely responsible for the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the products.
In October 2018, we entered into a research and license agreement with LEO whereby we granted LEO a worldwide, royalty-bearing, antibody sequence pair-specific exclusive license to research, develop and commercialize two bispecific antibodies, generated through the use of our Azymetric and EFECT platforms, for dermatologic indications. Zymeworks retains rights to develop antibodies resulting from this collaboration in all other therapeutic areas. Pursuant to this agreement, we received an upfront payment of $5.0 million in 2018. In addition, (i) for the first therapeutic candidate, we are eligible to receive preclinical and development milestone payments of up to $74.0 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $157.0 million together with tiered royalties on future sales of up to 20% in the United States and up to high single digits elsewhere, and (ii) for the second therapeutic candidate, we are eligible to receive preclinical and development milestone payments of up to $86.5 million and commercial milestone payments of up to $157.0 million together with tiered royalties on future sales of up to low double digits globally. For products developed by Zymeworks outside of dermatology, LEO is eligible to receive commercial milestone payments and up to single-digit royalties on future sales. No development or commercial milestone payments or royalties have been received to date. Zymeworks and LEO are jointly responsible for certain research activities, with Zymeworks’ cost to be fully reimbursed by LEO. Each party is solely responsible for the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of its own products.
In November 2018, we entered into agreements with BeiGene whereby we granted BeiGene royalty-bearing exclusive licenses for the research, development and commercialization of zanidatamab and ZW49 in Asia (excluding Japan but including the People’s Republic of China, South Korea and other countries), Australia and New Zealand. In addition, we also granted BeiGene a worldwide, royalty-bearing, antibody sequence pair-specific license to research, develop and commercialize globally three bispecific antibodies generated through the use of our Azymetric and EFECT platforms.
Zanidatamab & ZW49
For the research, development and commercialization licenses to zanidatamab and ZW49, we received an upfront payment of $40.0 million in 2018. In aggregate for both zanidatamab and ZW49, we are also eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments of $390.0 million, together with tiered royalties from high single digits and up to 20% on future sales of the products. In March 2020, BeiGene dosed the first patient in a two-arm Phase 1b/2 trial evaluating zanidatamab in combination with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer and in combination with chemotherapy and BeiGene’s PD-1-targeted antibody tislelizumab as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic HER2-positive GEA. We received a payment of $5.0 million in relation to this milestone. Also, in November 2020, BeiGene dosed the first patient in South Korea in a pivotal, single-arm clinical trial of zanidatamab monotherapy in patients with advanced or metastatic HER2-amplified BTC. We received a payment of $10.0 million in relation to this milestone.
Under the agreement, Zymeworks and BeiGene are collaborating on certain global clinical studies and both Zymeworks and BeiGene will independently conduct other clinical studies in their own respective territories. Each of Zymeworks and BeiGene are responsible for all of the development and commercialization costs in their own territories.
Azymetric & EFECT Platforms
In 2018, we received an upfront payment of $20.0 million for the development and commercialization licenses of up to three bispecific antibody therapeutics using our Azymetric and EFECT platforms. We are also eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments of up to an aggregate of $702.0 million. In addition, we are eligible to receive tiered royalties in the mid-single digits on product sales. No development or commercial milestone payments or royalties have been received to date. BeiGene is solely responsible for the research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of the products.
In May 2019, we entered into a license agreement with Iconic to develop and commercialize its antibody-drug conjugate (ICON-2) targeting Tissue Factor, generated through the use of our ZymeLink platform. Under the terms of this agreement, we granted Iconic a worldwide, royalty-bearing, antibody sequence-specific, exclusive license to develop and commercialize certain products. In December 2020, Iconic licensed ICON-2 to Exelixis, Inc. and under our agreement with Iconic, we received a share of the $20.0 million option fee paid to Iconic by Exelixis, and we are eligible to receive a share of all future revenue received by Iconic, as well as tiered royalties on worldwide sales. Iconic and its partners are responsible for the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of the products.
Our business success will depend significantly on our ability to:
•secure, maintain and enforce patent and other proprietary protection for our core technologies, inventions and know-how;
•obtain and maintain licenses to key third-party intellectual property owned by such third parties;
•preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets; and
•operate without infringing upon valid, enforceable third-party patents and other rights.
We seek to secure and maintain patent protection for the composition of matter, manufacturing processes and methods of use for our drug candidates and for our underlying protein engineering capabilities and therapeutic platforms including Azymetric, EFECT, ZymeLink and ZymeCAD. We also utilize trade secrets, careful monitoring and limited disclosure of our proprietary information where patent protection is not appropriate. We also protect our proprietary information by ensuring that our employees, consultants, contractors and other advisors execute agreements requiring non-disclosure and assignment of inventions prior to their engagement. We will continue to expand our intellectual property holdings by seeking patent protection for new compositions of matter, new features and applications of our core therapeutic platforms, and innovative new therapeutic platforms, in the United States and other jurisdictions. We will also supplement internal innovation through in-licensing of new technologies and compositions of matter as appropriate. We intend to take advantage of any available data exclusivity, market exclusivity, patent term adjustment and patent term extensions.
We routinely monitor the status of existing and emerging intellectual property disclosed by third parties that may impact our business, and to the extent we identify any such disclosures, by evaluating them and taking appropriate courses of action.
As of December 31, 2020, our patent portfolio consists of 62 active patent families. Of these, 16 families relate to our key product candidates and programs including zanidatamab, ZW49 and our therapeutic platform technology. The remaining 46 patent families relate to other earlier stage potential product candidates or platforms that we do not consider material to our business at this time. One of our patent families is exclusively licensed from a third party. Two of our patent families are co-owned with VAR2 Pharmaceuticals ApS, one patent family is co-owned with the National Research Council Canada, and one patent family is co-owned with the Provincial Health Services Authority and University of Victoria Industry Partnerships. None of the licensed or co-owned patent families relate to our therapeutic platforms or our lead product candidates, zanidatamab and ZW49, and they are not material to our business. As of December 31, 2020, we have 133 issued patents, 38 of which are U.S. patents.
Therapeutic Antibody Portfolio
Our therapeutic antibody patent portfolio is directed to specific compositions of matter and methods of treatment for our product candidates, including target-specific interactions and immunomodulatory mechanisms.
• We own the zanidatamab and ZW49 patent portfolio. Zanidatamab is covered by an international patent application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) that is now in the national phase with applications pending in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia and the United States. This application relates to the composition of matter, methods of making and uses of zanidatamab, and if issued, is expected to expire in 2034, absent any adjustments or extensions. One U.S. patent has issued. An additional PCT application in the national phase in Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States is directed to treatment methods using zanidatamab.
• We have filed a PCT application covering ZW49 composition of matter and methods of making and using ZW49, which is now in the national phase with applications pending in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Israel, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and the United States. Corresponding applications were filed in Argentina and Taiwan that are not part of the PTC. Any patents that issue from national phase filings are expected to expire in 2039, absent any adjustments or extensions.
• Both zanidatamab and ZW49 are also protected by our two patent families relating to the Azymetric Fc, as described below. ZW49 is also protected by one of the ZymeLink patent families, as described below.
Therapeutic Platform Technology Portfolio
The therapeutic platform technology portfolio includes biological formats and variants thereof, including the Azymetric platform, the ZymeLink platform, the EFECT platform, and specific applications, manufacturing methods and assays related to the platform constructs and underlying computational chemistry.
•Azymetric: We own a portfolio of six patent families relating to the Azymetric platform for engineering Fc and Fab constructs for the development of bispecific antibodies.
Azymetric Fc: Two of the patent families relate to engineered antibody Fc region polypeptides having amino acid substitutions that preferentially form heterodimers, with PCT national phase applications pending or issued in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia and the United States. One U.S. patent has issued with 1,102 days of patent term adjustment and is expected to expire on November 10, 2034. A second U.S. patent has issued with 372 days of patent term adjustment and is expected to expire on November 9, 2033. If issued, the remaining patents in these families are expected to expire between 2031 and 2032, absent any adjustments or extensions. An additional issued U.S. patent covers method of expressing antibodies containing heterodimeric Fc regions in cells.
Azymetric Fab: Four patent families in the PCT national phase are pending or issued in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia and the United States and relate to antibodies having amino acid substitutions in Fab-region heavy and light chains for making correctly paired bispecific antibodies. Two U.S. patents have issued. These patent families are directed to compositions, methods of producing and uses of heterodimeric antibodies. If issued, patents in these families are expected to expire between 2031 and 2038, absent any adjustments or extensions.
•ZymeLink: We own the ZymeLink patent portfolio relating to novel toxin molecules and novel linkers by means of which these toxins can be conjugated to antibodies and other protein scaffolds. Two PCT applications are in the national phase in key jurisdictions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa and the United States, and are directed to novel hemiasterlin toxin derivatives, novel linker compositions, hemiasterlin-linker compositions, and antibody-hemiasterlin conjugate compositions, one of which
has issued in the United States. An additional PCT application is directed to novel auristatin derivatives, auristatin-linker compositions and antibody-auristatin conjugates and is in the national phase in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and the United States. Two U.S. patents have issued. Any patents that may issue from these families are expected to expire between 2034 and 2037, absent any adjustments or extensions.
•EFECT: The EFECT platform for engineering Fc constructs with modulated FcgR-binding and Fc effector function is protected by two PCT patent applications that we own, both of which are in the national stage with one application pending or issued in Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United States and the other pending or issued in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Russia and the United States. One patent has issued in the United States. These patent families are directed to compositions of matter and methods of making Fc constructs with altered FcgR-binding and Fc effector function; if issued, they are expected to expire between 2031 and 2034, absent any adjustments or extensions. We have also filed a U.S. provisional application relating to Fc modifications that modulate other aspects of Fc effector function.
•Computational Chemistry: We own a portfolio of 13 families of computational chemistry patents and patent applications that relate to the computational and algorithmic advances incorporated into the ZymeCAD suite of applications, including advances in general molecular modeling, conformational dynamics, docking, distal mutations, and molecular packing, as well as parallelization and graphical data analysis. Eleven of these patents have issued in the United States. Any patents that issue from these families are expected to expire between 2027 and 2035, absent any adjustments or extensions.
Technology Licensing and In-Licensed Intellectual Property
We identify and selectively enter into technology licensing agreements and intellectual property in-licensing agreements to support pipeline advancement. For example, we entered into an assignment agreement with CDRD Ventures Inc. (“CVI”), as part of our 2016 acquisition of Kairos Therapeutics Inc. (“Kairos”) to have all of CVI’s interests in the Kairos patents and intellectual property assigned to Zymeworks. We may be required to make future payments to CVI for ZW49 or other product candidates upon the direct achievement of certain clinical development milestones for products incorporating certain Kairos intellectual property, as well as low single-digit royalty payments on the net sales of such products. For out-licensed products and technologies incorporating certain Kairos intellectual property, we may be required to pay CVI a mid-single-digit percentage of the future revenue as a result of a revenue sharing agreement.
We rely on third-party contract manufacturing organizations to provide manufacturing, linker-toxin conjugation, and fill-finish services in order to generate all of the therapeutic antibody supply required for our clinical studies and other research and development activities. To retain focus on our expertise in developing new product candidates, we do not currently plan to develop or operate in-house manufacturing capacity. Our bispecific therapeutic antibody candidates require standard chemistry, manufacturing and control (“CMC”) processes typical of those required for monoclonal antibody manufacturing. We therefore expect to continue to be able to develop product candidates that can be manufactured in a cost-effective fashion by our network of well-validated third-party contract manufacturing organizations.
Through our contract manufacturing organizations, we currently have sufficient supply of our product candidates to carry out ongoing and planned preclinical studies. For zanidatamab, we also have sufficient current good manufacturing practices (“cGMP”)-grade supply, together with planned additional manufacturing runs, to complete our Phase 1 clinical trial and to initiate planned Phase 2 clinical trials. For ZW49, we have sufficient cGMP-grade supply, together with planned additional manufacturing runs, to complete our Phase 1 clinical trial.
The biopharmaceutical industry is characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. While we believe that our technology, knowledge, experience and scientific resources provide us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including major pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future.
With respect to target discovery activities, competitors and other third parties, including academic and clinical researchers, may be able to access rare families and identify targets before we do.
Many of the companies against which we compete or against which we may compete in the future have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and marketing approved products than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaboration arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites, recruiting patients for clinical trials, and by acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.
The key competitive factors affecting the success of all of our product candidates, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience and price, the effectiveness of alternative products, the level of competition and the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products or therapies that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA, European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payors seeking to encourage the use of generic or biosimilar products.
Zanidatamab and ZW49 are being developed for patients with solid tumors that express HER2, including patients with tumors expressing low levels of HER2. Competing approved HER2-targeted therapies include F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.’s (“Roche”) Herceptin, Perjeta, Phesgo, and Kadcyla as well as Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation’s Tykerb, Puma Biotechnology, Inc.’s Nerlynx, AstraZeneca PLC (“AstraZeneca”) / Daiichi Sankyo’s Enhertu, Seagen Inc.’s Tukysa, MacroGenics, Inc.’s Margenza, and various trastuzumab biosimilars. None of these drugs have been approved to treat tumors expressing low levels of HER2.
The FDA and corresponding regulatory authorities will ultimately review our clinical results and determine whether our product candidates are effective. No regulatory agency has made any such determination that any of our product candidates are effective for use by the general public for any indication.
Government authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level, and in other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacturing, quality control, approval, labeling, packaging, storage, record-keeping, promotion, advertising, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, marketing and export and import of products such as those we are developing. Our ADC product candidates are comprised of both a drug product and a biologic product, and will therefore be subject to regulation in the United States as combination products. If marketed individually, each component would be subject to different regulatory pathways and would require approval of independent marketing applications by the FDA. A combination product, however, is assigned to an FDA center that will have primary jurisdiction over its regulation based on a determination of the combination product’s primary mode of action, which is the single mode of action that provides the most important therapeutic action. In the case of our ADCs, we believe that the primary mode of action is attributable to the biologic component of the product. Thus, our product candidates are regulated as therapeutic biologics, with the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research having primary jurisdiction over premarket development.
Biological products are subject to regulation under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C Act”), the Public Health Service Act (“PHS Act”), and other federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations. Our product candidates must be approved by the FDA before they may be legally marketed in the United States and by the appropriate foreign regulatory agency before they may be legally marketed in foreign countries.
U.S. Biological Products Development Process
The process required by the FDA before a biologic may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:
•completion of extensive nonclinical, sometimes referred to as preclinical, laboratory tests and preclinical animal trials and applicable requirements for the humane use of laboratory animals and formulation studies in accordance with applicable regulations, including good laboratory practices (“GLP”);
•submission to the FDA of an IND application, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;
•performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials according to the FDA’s regulations commonly referred to as current good clinical practice (“cGCP”) regulations and any additional requirements for the protection of human research subjects and their health information, to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed biological product for its intended use. The FDA may also impose clinical holds on a biological product candidate at any time before or during clinical trials due to safety concerns or noncompliance. If the FDA imposes a clinical hold, trials may not recommence without FDA authorization and then only under terms authorized by the FDA.
•submission to the FDA of a Biologics License Application (“BLA”) for marketing approval that includes substantive evidence of safety, purity, and potency from results of nonclinical testing and clinical trials;
•satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities where the biological product is produced to assess compliance with cGMP requirements to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the biological product’s identity, strength, quality and purity;
•potential FDA audit of the nonclinical and clinical study sites that generated the data in support of the BLA; and
•FDA review and approval, or licensure, of the BLA.
Human clinical trials are typically conducted in sequential phases that may overlap or be combined:
•Phase 1. The biological product candidate is initially introduced into healthy human volunteers and tested for safety. In the case of some products for severe or life-threatening diseases, especially when the product may be too inherently toxic to ethically administer to healthy volunteers, the initial human testing is often conducted in patients.
•Phase 2. The biological product candidate is evaluated in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance, optimal dosage and dosing schedule.
•Phase 3. Clinical trials are undertaken to further evaluate dosage, clinical efficacy, potency, and safety in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical study sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk/benefit ratio of the product and provide an adequate basis for product labelling.
During all phases of clinical development, regulatory agencies require extensive reporting, monitoring and auditing of all clinical activities, clinical data, and clinical study investigators.
A sponsor, an institutional review board (“IRB”) or independent ethics committee, the FDA or other regulatory or monitoring authorities may suspend a clinical study at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk, failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or clinical protocols, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using the investigational drug, changes in government regulations or administrative actions.
Sponsors of clinical trials of FDA-regulated products, including biologics, are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information, which is publicly available at www.clinicaltrials.gov. Information related to the product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators, and other aspects of the clinical trial is then made public as part of the registration. Sponsors are also obligated to discuss the results of their clinical trials after completion. Disclosure of the results of these trials can be delayed until the new product or new indication being studied has been approved.
U.S. Review and Approval Processes
After the completion of clinical trials of a biological product candidate, FDA approval of a BLA must be obtained before commercial marketing of the biological product. When a BLA is submitted, the FDA conducts a preliminary review to
determine whether the application is sufficiently complete to be accepted for filing. If it is not, the FDA may refuse to file the application and request additional information, in which case the application must be resubmitted with the supplemental information, and review of the application is delayed. Upon accepting the BLA for filing, the FDA will conduct an in-depth review the BLA and may hold a public hearing where an independent advisory committee of expert advisors considers key questions regarding the product candidate. This advisory committee makes a recommendation to the FDA, which is not binding on the FDA, but is generally followed.
The FDA is authorized to designate certain products for expedited review if they are intended to address an unmet medical need in the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition. In particular, the FDA may designate a product for Fast Track review if it is intended, whether alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and it demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. For Fast Track designated products, sponsors may have a higher number of interactions with the FDA and the FDA may initiate review of sections of a Fast Track product’s NDA before the application is complete. The FDA has granted two Fast Track designations to zanidatamab for the first-line treatment of patients with HER2-overexpressing GEA in combination with standard of care chemotherapy and for refractory BTC.
The FDA also may designate a product as a Breakthrough Therapy if it is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other products, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically important endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For products that have been designated as a Breakthrough Therapy, interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens. Products designated as a Breakthrough Therapy by the FDA can also be eligible for accelerated approval. The FDA has granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for zanidatamab in HER2 gene-amplified BTC patients who have received prior systemic chemotherapy.
Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, certain applications for approval must include an assessment, generally based on clinical study data, of the safety and effectiveness of the subject drug in relevant pediatric populations. The FDA may waive or defer the requirement for a pediatric assessment, either at the company’s request or by the FDA’s initiative. The FDA may determine that a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”) is necessary to ensure that the benefits of a new product outweigh its risks. A REMS may include various elements, ranging from a medication guide or patient package insert to limitations on who may prescribe or dispense the drug or other elements to assure safe use, depending on what the FDA considers necessary for the safe use of the drug.
Before approving a BLA, the FDA will inspect the facilities at which the product is manufactured. 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. Additionally, before approving a BLA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure that the clinical trials were conducted in compliance with IND study requirements and cGCP requirements.
Notwithstanding the submission of relevant data and information, the FDA may ultimately decide that the BLA does not satisfy its regulatory criteria for approval and deny approval. Data obtained from clinical trials are not always conclusive and the FDA may interpret data differently than the applicant interprets the same data. If the FDA decides not to approve the BLA in its present form, the FDA will issue a complete response letter that usually describes all of the specific deficiencies in the BLA identified by the FDA. The deficiencies identified may be minor (for example, requiring labeling changes) or major (for example, requiring additional clinical trials). Additionally, the complete response letter may include recommended actions that the applicant might take to place the application in a condition for approval. If a complete response letter is issued, the applicant may either resubmit the BLA, addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, or withdraw the application.
If a product receives regulatory approval, the approval may be significantly limited to specific diseases and dosages or the indications for use may otherwise be limited, which could restrict the commercial value of the product. Further, the FDA may require that certain contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling. The FDA may impose restrictions and conditions on product distribution, prescribing, or dispensing in the form of a REMS, or otherwise limit the scope of any approval. In addition, the FDA may require post-marketing clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, designed to further assess a biological product’s safety and effectiveness, and testing and surveillance programs to monitor the safety of approved products that have been commercialized.
Orphan Drug Designation
The Orphan Drug Act established incentives for the development of drugs intended to treat rare diseases or conditions, which generally are diseases or conditions affecting less than 200,000 individuals in the United States at the time of the request for orphan designation. If a sponsor demonstrates that a drug is intended to treat a rare disease or condition and meets other applicable requirements, the FDA grants Orphan Drug Designation to the product for that use. Zanidatamab has been granted Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of BTC, GEA and ovarian cancer by the FDA.
The benefits of Orphan Drug Designation include tax credits for clinical testing expenses and exemption from user fees. A drug candidate that is approved for the orphan drug designated use typically is granted seven years of orphan drug exclusivity. During that period, the FDA generally may not approve any other application for the same product for the same indication, although there are exceptions, most notably when the later product is shown to be clinically superior to the product with exclusivity. However, the FDA Reauthorization Act, which was enacted in August 2017, requires, among other things, that certain orphan drugs for cancer be tested for children. The government has also increased focus on the potential misuse of the orphan drug approval process to increase the price of orphan drugs.
Even if regulatory approval is granted, a marketed product is subject to continuing comprehensive requirements under federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, including requirements and restrictions regarding adverse event reporting, recordkeeping, marketing, and compliance with cGMP. Adverse events reported after approval of a drug can result in additional restrictions on the use of a marketed product or requirements for additional post-marketing studies or clinical trials.
Maintaining substantial compliance with applicable federal, state and local statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Rigorous and extensive FDA regulation of biological products continues after approval, particularly with respect to cGMP requirements. Biological product manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved biological products 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. We will rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the production of clinical and commercial quantities of any products that we may commercialize. Manufacturers of our products are required to comply with applicable requirements in the cGMP regulations, including quality control and quality assurance and maintenance of records and documentation. Other post-approval requirements applicable to biological products include record-keeping requirements, reporting of adverse effects and reporting updated safety and efficacy information. Discovery of previously unknown problems or the failure to comply with the applicable regulatory requirements relating to the manufacturer or promotion of an approved product may result in restrictions on the marketing of a product or withdrawal of the product from the market as well as significant administrative, civil or criminal sanctions.
Biosimilars and Exclusivity
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”), signed into law on March 23, 2010, includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (“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, 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 full 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 their product. The BPCIA also created certain exclusivity periods for biosimilars approved as interchangeable products. At this juncture, it is unclear whether products deemed “interchangeable” by the FDA will, in fact, be readily substituted by pharmacies, which are governed by state pharmacy law.
Canadian Review and Approval Process
In Canada, our biologic product candidates and our research and development activities are primarily regulated by the Food and Drugs Act and the rules and regulations thereunder, which are enforced by Health Canada. Health Canada regulates, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, labeling, advertising, promotion, distribution, post-approval monitoring, marketing and import and export of pharmaceutical products. Drug approval laws require licensing of manufacturing facilities, carefully controlled research and testing of products, and government review and approval of experimental results prior to giving approval to sell drug products, including biologic drug products. Regulators
also typically require that rigorous and specific standards such as cGMP, GLP and cGCP are followed in the manufacture, testing and clinical development, respectively, of any drug product. The processes for obtaining regulatory approvals in Canada, along with subsequent compliance with applicable statutes and regulations, require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.
The principal steps required for drug approval in Canada is as follows:
Preclinical Toxicology Studies and Clinical Trials
Non-clinical studies are conducted in vitro and in animals to evaluate pharmacokinetics, metabolism and possible toxic effects to provide evidence of the safety of the drug candidate prior to its administration to humans in clinical studies and throughout development. Such studies are conducted in accordance with applicable laws and GLP.
In Canada, the process of conducting clinical trials with a new drug cannot begin until we have submitted a Clinical Trial Application (“CTA”) and the required number of days has lapsed without objection from Health Canada. Biological drugs carry additional risks, as compared to traditional small-molecule drugs, associated with complexity and variability in manufacturing that can contribute to increased lot-to-lot variation of the final product, and with the potential for adventitious agents. Therefore, the content requirements for the quality information for biological drugs to be used in clinical trials are different from those for standard small-molecule pharmaceutical drugs (for example, the inclusion of information on manufacturing facilities is required for biological drugs). In addition, it is necessary to have more stringent controls on the release of biologic drug lots used in authorized clinical trials.
Similar regulations apply in Canada regarding clinical trials as in the United States. In Canada, Research Ethics Boards (“REBs”), instead of IRBs, are used to review and approve clinical trial plans. Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases, as discussed above in the context of government regulation in the United States.
The manufacture of investigational drugs for the conduct of human clinical trials is subject to cGMP requirements. Investigational drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients imported into Canada are also subject to regulation by Health Canada relating to their labeling and distribution. Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials must generally be submitted at least annually to Health Canada and/or the applicable REBs, and more frequently if serious adverse events occur.
New Drug Application
Upon successful completion of Phase 3 clinical trials, the company sponsoring a new drug then assembles all the preclinical and clinical data and other testing relating to the product’s pharmacology, chemistry, manufacture, and controls, and submits it to Health Canada as part of a New Drug Submission (“NDS”). The NDS is then reviewed by Health Canada for approval to market the drug.
The testing and approval process for an NDS requires substantial time, effort and financial resources, and may take several years to complete. Biologic drugs, such as our candidates, differ from standard small-molecule drugs in that applicants must include more detailed chemistry and manufacturing information. This is necessary to help ensure the purity and quality of the product, for example to help ensure that it is not contaminated by an undesired microorganism. Data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing are not always conclusive and may be susceptible to varying interpretations, which could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. Health Canada may not grant approval of an NDS on a timely basis, or at all.
Even if Health Canada approves a product candidate, it may limit the approved indications for use of the product candidate, require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval studies be conducted to further assess a drug’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution restrictions or other risk management mechanisms.
Biologic products in particular are monitored post-approval by being placed on a lot-release schedule tailored to their potential risk, manufacturing, testing and inspection history to date. With higher-risk biologics, each lot is tested before being released for sale in Canada. Moderate-risk biologics are periodically tested at the discretion of Health Canada while manufacturers of low-risk biologics usually only need to contact Health Canada regarding lots being sold or for providing certification of complete and satisfactory testing. Products are carefully scrutinized before they are placed in any level of the lot-release process, and the testing regime for a biologic may be altered at any time.
Health Canada may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing studies or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications,
manufacturing changes, and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements, notification, and regulatory authority review and approval. Further, should new safety information arise, additional testing, product labeling or regulatory notification may be required.
Canadian Biosimilars and Exclusivity
The term biosimilar is used by Health Canada to describe a biologic drug that enters the market subsequent to a version previously authorized in Canada and with demonstrated similarity to a reference biologic drug. Accordingly, a biosimilar (previously known in Canada as a subsequent entry biologic or SEB) will in all instances be a subsequent entrant onto the Canadian market.
Based on Health Canada guidance documents, a biosimilar can rely in part on prior information regarding safety and efficacy that is deemed relevant due to the demonstration of similarity to the reference biologic drug and which influences the amount and type of original data required. Generic drugs are chemically derived products that are pharmaceutically equivalent to innovative drugs, whereas biosimilars are products of a biologic nature that are similar to innovative biologics. According to Health Canada, it is not currently possible to demonstrate that two biologic drugs are pharmaceutically equivalent, and therefore the regulatory approval process for generics and biosimilars is different: biosimilars are approved using the standard NDS pathway with some allowances made for reduced safety and efficacy information set out in guidance documents, while generic drugs are approved using an abbreviated new drug submission pathway set out in guidance and law. In part because it continues to be set out only in guidance and not law, the pathway for receiving biosimilar approval is somewhat in flux and subject to some uncertainty.
As discussed above, all biosimilars enter the market subsequent to a biologic drug product previously approved in Canada and to which the biosimilar is considered similar. As such, biosimilars are subject to existing laws and regulations outlined in the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations and the Food and Drug Regulations, and related guidance documents.
Similar to the Hatch-Waxman Amendments in the United States, Canada has the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations, which require a company that files a drug submission that references a patented product to address any relevant patents listed on the Patent Register prior to being able to receive approval from Health Canada. The Canadian regime is similar to the U.S. regime, but a number of distinctions do exist.
Like the United States, Canada also has data protection in addition to patent protection, but again differences exist between the two jurisdictions. For example, Canada’s data protection applies to “innovative drugs” (i.e., a drug that contains a medicinal ingredient not previously approved in a drug by the Minister of Health and that is not a variation of a previously approved medicinal ingredient such as a salt, ester, enantiomer, solvate or polymorph) and, where it exists, lasts for eight years in most (but not all) circumstances. In general biologics can be considered innovative drugs but biosimilars are not.
In addition to the foregoing, provincial, state and federal U.S. and Canadian laws regarding environmental protection and hazardous substances affect our business. These and other laws govern our use, handling and disposal of various biological, chemical and radioactive substances used in, and wastes generated by, our operations. If our operations result in contamination of the environment or expose individuals to hazardous substances, we could be liable for damages and governmental fines. We believe that we are in material compliance with applicable environmental laws and that continued compliance therewith will not have a material adverse effect on our business. We cannot predict, however, how changes in these laws may affect our future operations.
Government Regulation Outside of the United States
In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical studies and any commercial sales and distribution of our products.
Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical studies or marketing of the product in those countries. Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical study application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical studies. In the European Union (“EU”), for example, a CTA must be submitted to each country’s national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and the IRB, respectively. Once the CTA is approved in accordance with a country’s requirements, clinical study development may proceed.
The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical studies, product licensing, coverage, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, the clinical studies are conducted in accordance with cGCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.
Pharmaceutical Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement
Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval. In the United States and markets in other countries, sales of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will depend, in part, on pricing and the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors. These third-party payors may deny coverage or reimbursement for a product or therapy in whole or in part if they determine that the product or therapy was not medically appropriate or necessary. Third-party payors may attempt to control costs by limiting coverage to specific drug products on an approved list, or formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved drug products for a particular indication, requiring pre-approval of coverage for new or innovative drug therapies before they will reimburse healthcare providers who use such therapies, and by limiting the amount of reimbursement for particular procedures or drug treatments. Additionally, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. The Medicare and Medicaid programs are often used as models by private payors and other governmental payors to develop their coverage and reimbursement policies for drugs and biologics. However, one third-party payor’s decision to cover a particular drug product does not ensure that other payors will also provide coverage for the product, or will provide coverage at an adequate reimbursement rate.
The cost of pharmaceuticals continues to generate substantial governmental and third-party payor interest. We expect that the pharmaceutical industry will experience pricing pressures due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of managed care organizations and additional legislative proposals. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price and examining the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of medical products and services, in addition to their safety and efficacy. We may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of our products to obtain third-party payor coverage, in addition to the costs required to obtain the FDA approvals. Our product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development.
While we cannot predict whether any proposed cost-containment measures will be adopted or otherwise implemented in the future, these requirements or any announcement or adoption of such proposals could have a material adverse effect on our ability to obtain adequate prices for our product candidates and to operate profitably.
In international markets, pricing, reimbursement and healthcare payment systems vary significantly by country, and many countries have instituted price ceilings on specific products and therapies. There can be no assurance that our products will be considered medically reasonable and necessary for a specific indication, that our products will be considered cost effective by third-party payors, that coverage or an adequate level of reimbursement will be available or that third-party payors’ reimbursement policies will not adversely affect our ability to sell our products profitably.
The United States and some foreign jurisdictions are considering or have enacted a number of legislative and regulatory proposals to change the healthcare system in ways that could affect our ability to sell our future products profitably. Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality or expanding access. In the United States, the pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and has been significantly affected by major legislative initiatives.
We expect that the PPACA, as well as reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and lower reimbursement, and in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government-funded programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our drugs, once regulatory approval is obtained.
Other Healthcare Laws and Compliance Requirements
In the United States, the research, manufacturing, distribution, sale and promotion of drug products are subject to regulation by various federal, state and local authorities in addition to the FDA, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, other divisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (e.g., the Office of Inspector General), the U.S. Department of Justice, state attorneys general, and other state and local government agencies.
If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the U.S. federal and state laws described above or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including criminal and significant civil monetary penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, injunctions, recall or seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of pre-marketing product approvals, private qui tam actions brought by individual whistleblowers in the name of the government or refusal to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. We may also be subject to additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement with a governmental entity to resolve allegations that we have violated these laws. To the extent that any of our product candidates, once approved, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws and regulations, which may include, for instance, applicable post-approval requirements, including safety surveillance, anti-fraud and abuse laws, and implementation of corporate compliance programs and reporting of payments or transfers of value to healthcare professionals.
Sales and Marketing
As an early-stage biopharmaceutical company, we do not currently possess the commercial infrastructure required to launch and market our product candidates. For zanidatamab and ZW49, we have entered into development and commercialization agreements with BeiGene whereby BeiGene is responsible for certain clinical development activities and all commercial activities in Asia (excluding Japan but including the People’s Republic of China, South Korea and other countries), Australia and New Zealand. To date, we have not entered into any other agreements granting commercialization rights to zanidatamab, ZW49 or any of our other product candidates. To access the sales, marketing and distribution capacity required to market our drug candidates, we plan to selectively establish additional partnerships with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies having established commercial capabilities in relevant indications. The timing and nature of such agreements will be determined by market size and complexity, access to pre-commercial and commercial infrastructure and our resource availability for developing a commercial organization. For product candidates targeting patient populations that can be serviced by a small, specialized commercial effort, we may seek out co-development and co-promotion agreements granting commercialization rights to an established commercial partner in some jurisdictions while allowing us to build these capabilities in other jurisdictions.
Human Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2020, we had 355 employees, including 352 full-time employees, 239 of whom were primarily engaged in research and development activities and 104 of whom hold an M.D. or Ph.D. degree. 201 of our full-time employees are based in Canada and 151 in the United States. We consider our employees to be an essential driver of our business and key to our future prospects. We have a relatively low level of employee turnover, and we have been able to continue to attract employees to grow our headcount in support of our pipeline of research programs and clinical trials. We monitor our compensation programs closely and provide what we consider to be a competitive mix of compensation and benefits for all our employees, including participation in our equity programs. None of our employees are represented by a labor organization or covered by a collective bargaining arrangement. We consider our relationship with our employees to be excellent.
We were incorporated on September 8, 2003 under the Canada Business Corporations Act (“CBCA”) under the name “Zymeworks Inc.” On October 22, 2003, we were registered as an extra-provincial company under the Company Act (British Columbia), the predecessor to the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) (“BCBCA”). On May 2, 2017, we continued the Company to British Columbia under the BCBCA. We have one wholly owned subsidiary located in Seattle, Washington named Zymeworks Biopharmaceuticals Inc. Our principal and registered office is located at 1385 West 8th Avenue, Suite 540, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6H 3V9, and our telephone number is (604) 678-1388.
This Annual Report on Form 10-K, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, our current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to these reports are filed, or will be filed, as appropriate, with the SEC and the Canadian Securities Administrators (“CSA”).
These reports are available free of charge on our website, www.zymeworks.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such reports with or furnish such reports to the SEC and the Canadian regulatory authorities. Information contained on, or accessible through, our website is not a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and the inclusion of our website address in this document is an inactive textual reference.
Additionally, our filings with the SEC may be accessed through the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and our filings with the CSA may be accessed through the CSA’s System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (“SEDAR”) at www.sedar.com.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
You should consider carefully the following risk factors, as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto. If any of the events described in the following risks actually occur, our business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects could be materially adversely affected. 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 a number of factors, including the risks described below. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.” The risks below are not the only risks facing our company. Risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial also may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and/or prospects.
Summary of Risk Factors
Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our common shares 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 Form 10-K and our other filings with the SEC, before making an investment decision regarding our common shares.
•We have a limited number of product candidates, all which are still in early clinical development. If we do not obtain regulatory approval of one or more of our product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially adversely affected.
•Clinical trials are expensive, time consuming and difficult to design and implement and involve uncertain outcomes. Furthermore, the results of previous preclinical studies and clinical trials may not be predictive of future results, and the results of our current and planned clinical trials may not satisfy the requirements of the FDA or non-U.S. regulatory authorities.
•Our business has been and may continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
•Our product candidates may have undesirable side effects that may delay or prevent marketing approval or, if approval is received, require them to be taken off the market, require them to include safety warnings or otherwise limit their sales; no regulatory agency has made any determination that any of our product candidates are safe or effective for use by the general public for any indication.
•We face significant competition and if our competitors develop and market products that are more effective, safer or less expensive than our product candidates, our commercial opportunities will be negatively impacted.
•If any of our product candidates receive regulatory approval, the approved products may not achieve broad market acceptance among physicians, patients, the medical community and third-party payors, in which case revenue generated from their sales would be limited.
•Reimbursement decisions by third-party payors may have an adverse effect on pricing and market acceptance. If there is not sufficient reimbursement for our products, it is less likely that our products will be widely used.
•We may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our therapeutic platforms to build a pipeline of product candidates.
•If any product liability lawsuits are successfully brought against us or any of our strategic partners, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.
•Security breaches, loss of data and other disruptions could compromise sensitive information related to our business or protected health information or prevent us from accessing critical information and expose us to liability, which could adversely affect our business and our reputation.
•Current and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to commercialize any products that we or our strategic partners develop and affect the prices we may obtain.
•We have incurred significant losses since inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future. We have no products approved for commercial sale, and to date we have not generated any revenue or profit from product sales. We may never achieve or sustain profitability.
•We will require substantial additional funding, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all, and, if not available, may require us to delay, scale back, or cease our product development programs or operations.
•Our existing strategic partnerships are important to our business, and future strategic partnerships will likely also be important to us. If we are unable to maintain our strategic partnerships, or if these strategic partnerships are not successful, our business could be adversely affected.
•We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce our clinical product candidates and on other third parties to store, monitor and transport bulk drug substance and drug product. We and our third-party partners may encounter difficulties with respect to these activities that could delay or impair our ability to initiate or complete our clinical trials or commercialize approved products.
•We rely on third parties to monitor, support, conduct and oversee clinical trials of the product candidates that we are developing and, in some cases, to maintain regulatory files for those product candidates. We may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates or commercialize any products that may result from our development efforts if we are not able to maintain or secure agreements with such third parties on acceptable terms, if these third parties do not perform their services as required, or if these third parties fail to timely transfer any regulatory information held by them to us.
•We rely on third parties for various operational and administrative aspects of our business, including for certain cloud-based software platforms, which impact our financial, operational and research activities. If any of these third parties fail to provide timely, accurate and ongoing service or if the cloud-based platforms suffer outages that we are unable to mitigate, our business may be adversely affected.
•Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing the patents and other proprietary rights of third parties.
•If we are unable to obtain, maintain and enforce patent and trade secret protection for our product candidates and related technology, our business could be materially harmed.
•We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents and trade secrets, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.
•If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our proprietary information, the value of our technology and products could be adversely affected.
•Our share price is likely to be volatile and the market price of our common shares may drop below the price paid by shareholders.
•We are governed by the corporate laws of Canada, which in some cases have a different effect on shareholders than the corporate laws of the United States.
•U.S. civil liabilities may not be enforceable against us, our directors, our officers or certain experts named in our Annual Report on Form 10-K.
•Our principal shareholders, in aggregate, could exert substantial control over us which could delay or prevent a change in corporate control or result in the entrenchment of management or the board of directors.
•Provisions in our corporate charter documents and Canadian law could make an acquisition of us, which may be beneficial to our shareholders, more difficult and may prevent attempts by our shareholders to replace or remove our current management and/or limit the market price of our common shares.
Risks Related to Our Business and the Development and Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
We have a limited number of product candidates, all which are still in early clinical development. If we do not obtain regulatory approval of one or more of our product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially adversely affected.
We currently have no products approved for sale or marketing in any country, and may never be able to obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. As a result, we are not currently permitted to market any of our product candidates in the United States or in any other country until we obtain regulatory approval from the FDA or regulatory authorities outside the United States. Our product candidates are in early stages of development and we have not submitted an application, or received marketing approval, for any of our product candidates. Obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates will depend on many factors, including:
•completing clinical trials that demonstrate the efficacy and safety of our product candidates;
•preparation and submission to the appropriate regulatory authorities of an application for marketing approval that includes substantial evidence of safety, purity and potency from results of nonclinical testing and clinical trials;
•establishing commercial manufacturing capabilities;
•a potential pre-approval audit of the nonclinical and clinical trial sites that generated the data in support of the marketing application; and
•launching commercial sales, marketing and distribution operations.
Many of these factors are wholly or partially beyond our control, including clinical advancement, the regulatory submission process and changes in the competitive landscape. If we do not achieve one or more of these factors in a timely manner, we could experience significant delays or an inability to develop our product candidates at all.
Clinical trials are expensive, time consuming and difficult to design and implement and involve uncertain outcomes. Furthermore, the results of previous preclinical studies and clinical trials may not be predictive of future results, and the results of our current and planned clinical trials may not satisfy the requirements of the FDA or non-U.S. regulatory authorities.
Positive or timely results from preclinical or early-stage trials do not ensure positive or timely results in late-stage clinical trials or product approval by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. We will be required to demonstrate with substantial evidence through well-controlled clinical trials that our product candidates are safe and effective for use in a diverse population before we can seek regulatory approvals for their commercial sale. Our clinical trials may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we or any of our current and future strategic partners may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical or preclinical testing. Success in preclinical studies or early-stage clinical trials does not mean that future clinical trials or registration clinical trials will be successful because product candidates in later-stage clinical trials may fail to demonstrate sufficient safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of the FDA and non-U.S. regulatory authorities, despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. Product candidates that have shown promising results in early clinical trials may suffer significant setbacks in subsequent clinical trials or registration clinical trials. For example, a number of companies in the pharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials, even after obtaining promising results in earlier clinical trials. Similarly, preclinical interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results.
If clinical trials for our product candidates are prolonged, delayed or stopped, we may be unable to obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our product candidates on a timely basis, or at all, which would require us to incur additional costs and delay our receipt of any product revenue.
We are currently evaluating zanidatamab in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials and ZW49 in a Phase 1 clinical trial in patients with recurrent or metastatic HER2-expressing solid tumors. We may experience delays in our ongoing or future preclinical studies or clinical trials, and we do not know whether future preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll an adequate number of patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. The commencement or completion of these planned clinical trials could be substantially delayed or prevented by many factors, including:
•further discussions with the FDA or other regulatory agencies regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials;
•the limited number of, and competition for, suitable sites to conduct our clinical trials, many of which may already be engaged in other clinical trial programs, including some that may be for the same indication as our product candidates;
•any delay or failure to obtain approval or agreement to commence a clinical trial in any of the countries where enrollment is planned;
•inability to obtain sufficient funds required for a clinical trial;
•clinical holds on, or other regulatory objections to, a new or ongoing clinical trial;
•delay or failure to manufacture sufficient supplies of the product candidate for our clinical trials;
•delay or failure to reach agreement on acceptable clinical trial agreement terms or clinical trial protocols with prospective sites or contract research organizations (“CROs”), the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different sites or CROs;
•delay or failure to obtain an institutional review board (“IRB”) approval to conduct a clinical trial at a prospective site;
•slower than expected rates of patient recruitment and enrollment;
•failure of patients to complete the clinical trial;
•the inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients in studies to ensure adequate statistical power to detect statistically significant treatment effects;
•unforeseen safety issues, including severe or unexpected drug-related adverse effects experienced by patients, including possible deaths;
•lack of efficacy during clinical trials;
•termination of our clinical trials by one or more clinical trial sites;
•inability or unwillingness of patients or clinical investigators to follow our clinical trial protocols;
•inability to monitor patients adequately during or after treatment by us or our CROs;
•our CROs or clinical study sites failing to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, deviating from the protocol or dropping out of a study;
•the inability to address any noncompliance with regulatory requirements or safety concerns that arise during the course of a clinical trial;
•the need to repeat or terminate clinical trials as a result of inconclusive or negative results or unforeseen complications in testing; and
•our clinical trials may be suspended or terminated upon a breach or pursuant to the terms of any agreement with, or for any other reason by, current or future strategic partners that have responsibility for the clinical development of any of our product candidates.
Changes in regulatory requirements, policies and guidelines may also occur and we may need to significantly amend clinical trial protocols to reflect these changes with appropriate regulatory authorities. These changes may require us to renegotiate terms with CROs or resubmit clinical trial protocols to IRBs for re-examination, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial. Our clinical trials may be suspended or terminated at any time by the FDA, other regulatory authorities, the IRB overseeing the clinical trial at issue, any of our clinical trial sites with respect to that site, or us.
Any failure or significant delay in commencing or completing clinical trials for our product candidates would adversely affect our ability to obtain regulatory approval, and our commercial prospects and ability to generate product revenue will be diminished.
If we, or any of our partners, are unable to enroll patients in clinical trials, we will be unable to complete these trials on a timely basis.
Patient enrollment, a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials, is affected by many factors including the size and nature of the patient population, the proximity of subjects to clinical sites, the eligibility criteria for the trial, the design of the clinical trial, ability to obtain and maintain patient consents, risk that enrolled subjects will drop out before completion, competing clinical trials and clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the drug being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs that may be approved for the indications we are investigating. In particular, we are developing certain of our product candidates for the treatment of rare diseases, which have limited pools of patients from which to draw for clinical testing. If we, or any of our strategic partners that perform clinical tests for our product candidates, are unable to enroll a sufficient number of patients to complete clinical testing, we will be unable to gain marketing approval for such product candidates and our business will be harmed.
In addition, the U.S. federal Right to Try Act, among other things, provides a federal framework for patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA approval under the FDA expanded access program. While there is no obligation to make product candidates available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act, new and emerging legislation regarding expanded access to unapproved drugs could negatively impact enrollment in our clinical trials and our business in the future.
The design or our execution of clinical trials may not support regulatory approval.
The design or execution of a clinical trial can determine whether its results will support regulatory approval, and flaws in the design or execution of a clinical trial may not become apparent until the clinical trial is well advanced. In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety or efficacy results between different trials of the same product candidate due to numerous
factors, including changes in trial protocols, differences in size and type of the patient populations, adherence to the dosing regimen and other trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. We do not know whether any Phase 2, Phase 3 or other clinical trials we or any of our strategic partners may conduct will demonstrate consistent or adequate efficacy and safety to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates.
Further, the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and in determining when or whether regulatory approval will be obtained for any of our product candidates. Our product candidates may not be approved even if they achieve their primary endpoints in future Phase 3 clinical trials or registration trials. The FDA or other non-U.S. regulatory authorities may disagree with our trial design and our interpretation of data from preclinical studies and clinical trials. In addition, any of these regulatory authorities may change requirements for the approval of a product candidate even after reviewing and providing comments or advice on a protocol for a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial that has the potential to result in FDA or other agencies’ approval. In addition, any of these regulatory authorities may also approve a product candidate for fewer or more limited indications than we request or may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials. The FDA or other non-U.S. regulatory authorities may not approve the labeling claims that we believe would be necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates.
Our business has been and may continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a broad adverse impact on the global economy across many industries and has resulted in significant governmental measures being implemented to control the spread of the virus, including quarantines, travel restrictions and business shutdowns, as well as significant volatility in global financial markets. As a result of COVID-19, in March 2020, we transitioned our workforce to a remote working arrangement to protect the health and safety of our employees. In June 2020, we implemented a program to facilitate the phased return of employees to our lab and office facilities pursuant to enhanced health and safety protocols consistent with guidelines issued by local health authorities. Our preclinical research activities were supplemented by support from external CROs to complement the temporarily reduced capacity at our lab facilities. Certain clinical trial activities, including patient enrollment and site activations, were delayed or otherwise impacted by COVID-19.
The extent to which COVID-19 may cause more significant disruptions to our business and greater impacts to our results of operations will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, such as the duration of the pandemic (including future potential waves or cycles), travel restrictions and social distancing, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken to contain and treat the disease and to address its impact, including on financial markets.
If the COVID-19 pandemic worsens or continues for a prolonged period of time, particularly in regions where we or our strategic partners and suppliers do business, we could experience disruptions that could significantly impact our current and planned clinical trials, preclinical research and other business activities, including:
•disruption to and delays in preclinical research activities due to an extended closure or reduced capacity of lab facilities;
•further delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our ongoing and planned clinical trials;
•patients discontinuing their treatment or follow-up visits;
•further delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;
•disruptions in supply, logistics or other activities related to the procurement of materials, which could have a negative impact on our ability to conduct preclinical research, initiate or complete our clinical trials or commercialize our product candidates;
•diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of clinical trials;
•interruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others;
•interruption of key business activities due to illness and/or quarantine of key individuals and delays associated with recruiting, hiring and training new temporary or permanent replacements for such key individuals, both internally and at our third-party service providers and strategic partners;
•limitations in resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our business or our current or planned clinical trials or preclinical research, including because of sickness, the desire to avoid contact with large groups of people, restrictions on travel, or prolonged stay-at-home or similar working arrangements;
•delays in receiving approvals from regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;
•changes in regulations as part of a response to the COVID-19 pandemic which may require us to change the ways in which our clinical trials are conducted and incur unexpected costs, or require us to discontinue clinical trials altogether;
•delays in necessary interactions with regulators (including the FDA), ethics committees and other important agencies and contractors due to limitations in employee resources or furlough of government or contractor personnel;
•disruptions to our strategic partners’ operations, which could delay the development of our product candidates in certain geographical regions and thereby affect the timing of development and commercial milestone payments and royalties on potential future product sales we may receive; and
•limitations on our ability to recruit preclinical research, clinical, regulatory and other professional staff on the timeframe required to support our research and development programs.
In addition, COVID-19 could result in the continued significant disruption of global financial markets, reducing our ability to access capital, which could negatively affect our liquidity. COVID-19 has resulted in heightened financial market volatility that may continue, which could adversely impact the value of our common shares.
The Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy designations we have received for zanidatamab may not result in faster development, regulatory review or approval process.
The FDA has granted two Fast Track designations to zanidatamab for the first-line treatment of patients with HER2-overexpressing GEA in combination with standard of care chemotherapy and for refractory BTC. These Fast Track designations do not ensure that we will experience a faster development, regulatory review or approval process compared to conventional FDA procedures or that we will ultimately obtain regulatory approval. Additionally, the FDA may withdraw Fast Track designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program.
The FDA also granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for zanidatamab in patients with previously-treated HER2 gene-amplified BTC. The receipt of a Breakthrough Therapy designation for a product candidate may not ultimately result in a faster development process or review, and it does not in any way assure approval of a product candidate by the FDA. In addition, designation as a Breakthrough Therapy is within the discretion of the FDA and the FDA may decide to rescind a Breakthrough Therapy designation if it believes that a designated product candidate no longer meets the conditions for qualification of this program.
We have conducted, and may in the future conduct, clinical trials for existing or future product candidates in sites outside the United States, and the FDA may not accept data from trials conducted in such locations.
We have conducted, and may in the future choose to conduct, clinical trials outside the United States. Although the FDA may accept data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States, acceptance of this data is subject to certain conditions imposed by the FDA. In addition, while these clinical trials are subject to the applicable local laws, FDA acceptance of the data will be dependent upon its determination that the trials also complied with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. There can be no assurance the FDA will accept data from trials conducted outside the United States. If the FDA does not accept the data from any clinical trials we conduct outside the United States, it would likely result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay or halt our development of any future product candidates.
Disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could hinder their ability to hire, retain or deploy key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified product candidates from being developed, or approved or commercialized in a timely manner or at all, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and clear or approve new product candidates can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, statutory, regulatory, and policy changes, the FDA’s ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new product candidates to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA employees and stop critical activities. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA postponed most domestic and foreign inspections of manufacturing facilities, and regulatory authorities outside the United States adopted similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2020, the FDA announced plans to resume domestic on-site inspections in accordance with the FDA’s newly developed Advisory Rating system, which will assess a state’s phase of reopening and the current intensity and risk of COVID-19 infections in order to identify which regulatory activities may occur in a given geographic region. If
another prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns require the FDA or other regulatory authorities to suspend their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities again, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA or other regulatory authorities to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Successful development of our current and future product candidates is uncertain and we may discontinue or reprioritize the development of any of our product candidates at any time, at our discretion.
Before obtaining regulatory approval for the commercial distribution of our product candidates, we must conduct, at our own expense, extensive preclinical tests and clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. Preclinical and clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is uncertain as to outcome. Additionally, the results from nonclinical testing or early clinical trials of a product candidate may not predict the results that will be obtained in subsequent subjects or in subsequent human clinical trials of that product candidate or any other product candidate. There is a high failure rate for drugs proceeding through clinical studies. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in clinical development even after achieving promising results in earlier studies, and any such setbacks in any future clinical development could have a material adverse effect on our business and operating results. Alternatively, management may elect to discontinue development of certain product candidates to accommodate a shift in corporate strategy, despite positive clinical results. Based on our operating results and business strategy, among other factors, we may discontinue the development of any of our product candidates under development or reprioritize our focus on other product candidates at any time and at our discretion.
Our product candidates may have undesirable side effects that may delay or prevent marketing approval or, if approval is received, require them to be taken off the market, require them to include safety warnings or otherwise limit their sales; no regulatory agency has made any determination that any of our product candidates are safe or effective for use by the general public for any indication.
All of our product candidates are still in preclinical or early clinical development. Additionally, all of our product candidates are required to undergo ongoing safety testing in humans as part of clinical trials. Consequently, not all adverse effects of drugs can be predicted or anticipated. Unforeseen side effects from any of our product candidates could arise either during clinical development or, if approved by regulatory authorities, after the approved product has been marketed. Zanidatamab and ZW49 continue to be evaluated in clinical trials, and the results of these and future clinical trials may show that zanidatamab, ZW49 or our other product candidates cause undesirable or unacceptable side effects, which could interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials, and result in delay of, or failure to obtain, marketing approval from the FDA and other regulatory authorities, or result in marketing approval from the FDA and other regulatory authorities with restrictive label warnings, limited patient populations or potential product liability claims. Even if we believe that our clinical trials and preclinical studies demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates, only the FDA and other comparable regulatory agencies may ultimately make such determination. No regulatory agency has made any such determination that any of our product candidates are safe or effective for use by the general public for any indication.
If any of our product candidates receive marketing approval and we or others later identify undesirable or unacceptable side effects caused by such products:
•regulatory authorities may require us to take our approved product off the market;
•regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, specific warnings, a contraindication or field alerts to physicians and pharmacies, or impose a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy that includes restrictions and conditions on product distribution, prescribing and/or dispensing;
•we may be required to change the way the product is administered, conduct additional clinical trials or change the labeling of the product;
•we may be subject to limitations on how we may promote the product;
•sales of the product may decrease significantly;
•we may be subject to litigation or product liability claims; and
•our reputation may suffer.
Any of these events could prevent us or our current or future strategic partners from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the affected product or could substantially increase commercialization costs and expenses, which in turn could delay or prevent us from generating revenue from the sale of any future products.
We face significant competition and if our competitors develop and market products that are more effective, safer or less expensive than our product candidates, our commercial opportunities will be negatively impacted.
The life sciences industry is highly competitive and subject to rapid and significant technological change. We are currently developing biotherapeutics that will compete with other drugs and therapies that currently exist or are being developed. Products we may develop in the future are also likely to face competition from other drugs and therapies, some of which we may not currently be aware. We have competitors both in the United States and internationally, including major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies, universities and other research institutions. Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, manufacturing, marketing, drug development, technical and human resources than we do. Large pharmaceutical companies, in particular, have extensive experience in clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals, recruiting patients and in manufacturing pharmaceutical products. These companies also have significantly greater research and marketing capabilities than we do and may also have products that have been approved or are in late stages of development and collaborative arrangements in our target markets with leading companies and research institutions. Established pharmaceutical companies may also invest heavily to accelerate discovery and development of novel compounds or to in-license novel compounds that could make the product candidates that we develop obsolete. As a result of all of these factors, our competitors may succeed in obtaining patent protection or FDA approval or discovering, developing and commercializing products in our field before we do.
Specifically, there are a large number of companies developing or marketing treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders, including many major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. These treatments consist both of small-molecule drug products, as well as biologics that work by using next-generation antibody therapeutic platforms to address specific cancer targets. These companies include MacroGenics, Inc., AstraZeneca PLC/Daiichi Sankyo, Roche AG, Seagen, Inc. and others.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, more convenient or less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for our product candidates, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market.
Smaller and other early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These third parties compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. In addition, the biopharmaceutical industry is characterized by rapid technological change. If we fail to stay at the forefront of technological change, we may be unable to compete effectively. Technological advances or products developed by our competitors may render our technologies or product candidates obsolete, less competitive or not economical.
In addition, we expect to compete with biosimilar versions of already approved products like trastuzumab or pertuzumab, and even if our product candidates achieve marketing approval, they may be challenged to achieve a price premium over competitive biosimilar products and will compete for market share with them.
The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, which is included in the PPACA, authorized the FDA to approve similar versions of innovative biologics, commonly known as biosimilars. Under the PPACA, a manufacturer may submit an application for licensure of a biologic product that is “biosimilar to” or “interchangeable with” a previously approved biologic product or “reference product.” Manufacturers may not submit an application for a biosimilar to the FDA until four years following approval of the reference product, and the FDA may not approve a biosimilar product until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was approved. Even if our product candidates, if approved, are deemed to be reference products eligible for exclusivity, another company could market a competing version of that product if the FDA approves a full BLA for such 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 their product. Additionally, from time to time, there are proposals to repeal or modify the PPACA, including proposals that could significantly shorten the exclusivity period for biologics.
If any of our product candidates receive regulatory approval, the approved products may not achieve broad market acceptance among physicians, patients, the medical community and third-party payors, in which case revenue generated from their sales would be limited.
The commercial success of our product candidates will depend upon their acceptance among physicians, patients and the medical community. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates will depend on a number of factors, including:
•limitations or warnings contained in the approved labeling for a product candidate;
•changes in the standard of care for the targeted indications for any of our product candidates;
•limitations in the approved clinical indications for our product candidates;
•demonstrated clinical safety and efficacy compared to other products;
•sales, marketing and distribution support;
•availability of coverage and extent of reimbursement from managed care plans and other third-party payors;
•timing of market introduction and perceived effectiveness of competitive products;
•the degree of cost-effectiveness of our product candidates;
•availability of alternative therapies at similar or lower cost, including generic, biosimilar and over-the-counter products;
•the extent to which the product candidate is approved for inclusion on formularies of hospitals and managed care organizations;
•whether the product is designated under physician treatment guidelines as a first-line therapy or as a second- or third-line therapy for particular diseases;
•whether the product can be used effectively with other therapies to achieve higher response rates;
•adverse publicity about our product candidates or favorable publicity about competitive products;
•convenience and ease of administration of our products; and
•potential product liability claims.
If any of our product candidates are approved, but do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, patients and the medical community, we may not generate sufficient revenue from these products, and we may not become or remain profitable. In addition, efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payors on the benefits of our product candidates may require significant resources and may never be successful.
We may be unable to obtain orphan drug exclusivity in specific indications for zanidatamab or in future product candidates that we may develop. If our competitors are able to obtain orphan product exclusivity for their products in specific indications, we may not be able to have competing products approved in those indications by the applicable regulatory authority for a significant period of time.
The FDA has granted Orphan Drug Designation to zanidatamab for the treatment of BTC, GEA and ovarian cancer and we may seek Orphan Drug Designation for additional indications in the future. Orphan Drug Designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process.
Generally, if a product candidate with an Orphan Drug Designation subsequently receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to a period of marketing exclusivity, which precludes the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) or the FDA from approving another marketing application for the same drug for the same indication for that time period. The applicable period is seven years in the United States and ten years in Europe. The European exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if a product no longer meets the criteria for Orphan Drug Designation or if the product is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified. Orphan drug exclusivity may be lost if the FDA or EMA determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. The loss of Orphan Drug Designation could have a negative effect on our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates, earn revenues and achieve profitability.
Even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for zanidatamab, or for any other product candidates that receive an Orphan Drug Designation in the future, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs with different active moieties can be approved for the same condition. Further, in the United States, even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve the same drug for the same condition submitted by a competitor if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care.
Even if we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates, we may never obtain approval or commercialize such products 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 efficacy. 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 procedures vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods. Seeking foreign regulatory approvals could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and may require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, which would be costly and time consuming. Regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and region to region and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in those countries. Satisfying these and other regulatory requirements is costly, time consuming, uncertain and subject to unanticipated delays. In addition, our failure to obtain regulatory approval in any country may delay or have negative effects on the process for regulatory approval in other countries. We do not have any product candidates approved for sale in any jurisdiction, including 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, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our products will be harmed.
Reimbursement decisions by third-party payors may have an adverse effect on pricing and market acceptance. If there is not sufficient reimbursement for our products, it is less likely that our products will be widely used.
Even if our product candidates are approved for sale by the appropriate regulatory authorities, market acceptance and sales of these products will depend on reimbursement policies and may be affected by future healthcare reform measures. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which drugs they will reimburse and establish payment levels. We cannot be certain that reimbursement will be available for any products that we develop. If reimbursement is not available or is available on a limited basis, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any of our approved products.
In the United States, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, also called the Medicare Modernization Act (“MMA”), changed the way Medicare covers and pays for pharmaceutical products. The legislation established Medicare Part D, which expanded Medicare coverage for outpatient prescription drug purchases by the elderly but provided authority for limiting the number of drugs that will be covered in any therapeutic class. The MMA also introduced a new reimbursement methodology based on average sales prices for physician-administered drugs. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any products that we develop, due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations and additional legislative proposals.
There may be significant delays in obtaining coverage and reimbursement for newly approved drugs, and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the drug is approved by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities. Moreover, eligibility for coverage and reimbursement does not imply that a drug will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, manufacture, sale and distribution expenses. Interim reimbursement levels for new drugs, if applicable, may also be insufficient to cover our and any collaborator’s costs and may not be made permanent. Reimbursement rates may vary according to the use of the drug and the clinical setting in which it is used, may be based on reimbursement levels already set for lower cost drugs and may be incorporated into existing payments for other services. 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 currently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States. Our or any collaborator’s inability to promptly obtain coverage and profitable payment rates from both government-funded and private payors for any approved products that we or our strategic partners develop could have a material adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize product candidates and our overall financial condition.
If the market opportunities for any product that we or our strategic partners develop are smaller than we believe they are, our revenue may be adversely affected and our business may suffer.
We intend to initially focus our independent product candidate development on treatments for oncology. Our projections of addressable patient populations that have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates are based on estimates. If our projections are inaccurate, the market opportunities for any of our product candidates could be significantly diminished and have an adverse material impact on our business.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus on research programs, therapeutic platforms and product candidates that we identify for specific indications. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other therapeutic platforms or product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs, therapeutic platforms and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights.
We may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our therapeutic platforms to build a pipeline of product candidates.
A key element of our strategy is to use and expand our therapeutic platforms to build a pipeline of product candidates and progress these product candidates through clinical development for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in a pipeline of product candidates directed at various cancers, we may not be able to develop product candidates that are safe and effective. In addition, although we expect that our therapeutic platforms will allow us to develop further product candidates, they may not prove to be successful at doing so. Even if we are successful in continuing to build our pipeline, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development, including as a result of being shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. If we do not continue to successfully develop and begin to commercialize product candidates, we will face difficulty in obtaining product revenue in future periods, which could result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely affect our share price.
Even if we receive regulatory approval to commercialize any of the product candidates that we develop, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense.
Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or subject to certain conditions of approval, and may contain requirements for potentially costly post-approval trials, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the marketed product.
For any approved product, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and extensive oversight by regulatory authorities, including with respect to manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion and recordkeeping for the product. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-approval information and reports, as well as continued compliance with current good manufacturing practices (“cGMP”) and current good clinical practice (“cGCP”), for any clinical trials that we or our strategic partners conduct after approval. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:
•restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product;
•withdrawal of the product from the market or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;
•fines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;
•refusal by the FDA, EMA or another applicable regulatory authority to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or our strategic partners, or suspension or revocation of product license approvals;
•product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; and
•injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.
Occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material and adverse effect on our business and results of operations. Further, the FDA’s or other ex-U.S. regulators’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may
lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained, which would adversely affect our business, prospects and ability to achieve or sustain profitability.
If any product liability lawsuits are successfully brought against us or any of our strategic partners, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.
We face an inherent risk of product liability lawsuits related to the testing of our product candidates in seriously ill patients, and will face an even greater risk if product candidates are approved by regulatory authorities and introduced commercially. Product liability claims may be brought against us or our strategic partners by participants enrolled in our clinical trials, patients, health care providers or others using, administering or selling any of our future approved products. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against any such claims, we may incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of their merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
•decreased demand for any future approved products;
•injury to our reputation;
•withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
•termination of clinical trial sites or entire trial programs;
•increased regulatory scrutiny;
•significant litigation costs;
•substantial monetary awards to, or costly settlement with, patients or other claimants;
•product recalls or a change in the indications for which they may be used;
•loss of revenue;
•diversion of management and scientific resources from our business operations; and
•the inability to commercialize our product candidates.
We may need to have in place increased product liability coverage when we begin the commercialization of our product candidates. Insurance coverage is becoming increasingly expensive. As a result, we may be unable to maintain or obtain sufficient insurance at a reasonable cost to protect us against losses that could have a material adverse effect on our business. A successful product liability claim or series of claims brought against us, particularly if judgments exceed any insurance coverage we may have, could decrease our cash resources and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operation.
Changes in methods of product candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay.
As product candidates are developed through preclinical to late-stage clinical trials towards approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and formulation, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize processes and results. Such changes carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives. Any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and jeopardize our ability, or our strategic partners’ ability, to commence product sales and generate revenue.
Acquisitions or joint ventures could disrupt our business, cause dilution to our shareholders and otherwise harm our business.
We actively evaluate various strategic transactions on an ongoing basis. We may acquire other businesses, products or technologies as well as pursue strategic alliances, joint ventures or investments in complementary businesses. Any of these transactions could be material to our financial condition and operating results and expose us to many risks, including:
•disruption in our relationships with existing strategic partners or suppliers as a result of such a transaction;
•unanticipated liabilities related to acquired companies;
•difficulties integrating acquired personnel, technologies and operations into our existing business;
•retention of key employees;
•diversion of management time and focus from operating our business to management of strategic alliances or joint ventures or acquisition integration challenges;
•increases in our expenses and reductions in our cash available for operations and other uses; and
•possible write-offs or impairment charges relating to acquired businesses.
Also, the anticipated benefit of any strategic alliance, joint venture or acquisition may not materialize or such strategic alliance, joint venture or acquisition may be prohibited. Additionally, future acquisitions or dispositions could result in potentially dilutive issuances of our equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities or amortization expenses or write-offs of goodwill, any of which could harm our financial condition. We cannot predict the number, timing or size of future joint ventures or acquisitions, or the effect that any such transactions might have on our operating results.
Foreign governments tend to impose strict price controls, which may adversely affect our future profitability.
In most foreign countries, particularly in those in the European Union (“EU”), prescription drug pricing and reimbursement is subject to governmental control. In those countries that impose price controls, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we or our strategic partners may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidates to other available therapies.
Some countries require approval of the sale price of a drug before it can be marketed. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we or our strategic partners might obtain marketing approval for a product candidate in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay commercial launch of the product candidate, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenue that is generated from the sale of the product in that country. If reimbursement of such product candidates is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, or if there is competition from lower priced cross-border sales, our profitability will be negatively affected.
Security breaches, loss of data and other disruptions could compromise sensitive information related to our business or protected health information or prevent us from accessing critical information and expose us to liability, which could adversely affect our business and our reputation.
In the ordinary course of our business, we collect and store petabytes of sensitive data, including legally protected health information, personally identifiable information, intellectual property and proprietary business information owned or controlled by ourselves or our strategic partners. We manage and maintain our applications and data by utilizing a combination of on-site systems, managed data center systems and cloud-based data center systems. These applications and data encompass a wide variety of business-critical information, including research and development information, commercial information and business and financial information. We face four primary risks relative to protecting this critical information: loss of access risk, inappropriate disclosure risk, inappropriate modification risk and the risk of being unable to adequately monitor our controls over the first three risks.
Although we take measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure, our information technology and infrastructure and that of any third-party provider we may utilize, may be vulnerable to attacks by hackers or viruses or breached due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions. Any such breach or interruption could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed by unauthorized parties, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. Any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability under laws that protect the privacy of personal information, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), and regulatory penalties. Although we have implemented security measures and a formal enterprise security program to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, there is no guarantee that we can protect our systems from breach. Unauthorized access, loss or dissemination could also disrupt our operations (including our ability to conduct our analyses, pay providers, conduct research and development activities, collect, process and prepare company financial information, provide information about any future products, and manage the administrative aspects of our business) and damage our reputation, any of which could adversely affect our business.
HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH”), and its implementing regulations, impose certain requirements relating to the privacy, security, transmission and breach reporting of
individually identifiable health information upon entities subject to the law, such as health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and healthcare providers and their respective business associates that perform services for them that involve individually identifiable health information. Mandatory penalties for HIPAA violations can be significant, and criminal and monetary penalties, as well as injunctive relief, may be imposed for HIPAA violations. Although drug manufacturers are not directly subject to HIPAA, prosecutors are increasingly using HIPAA-related theories of liability against drug manufacturers and their agents and we also could be subject to criminal penalties if we knowingly obtain individually identifiable health information from a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA.
Furthermore, in the event of a breach as defined by HIPAA, HIPAA regulations impose specific reporting requirements to regulators, individuals impacted by the breach and the media. Issuing such notifications can be costly, time and resource intensive, and can generate significant negative publicity. Breaches of HIPAA may also constitute contractual violations that could lead to contractual damages or terminations. In addition, U.S. states have enacted and are considering enacting laws relating to the protection of patient health and other data, which may be more rigorous than, or impose additional requirements beyond those required by, HIPAA. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), which became effective on January 1, 2020, gives California residents expanded rights to access and delete their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing and receive detailed information about how their personal information is used by requiring covered companies to provide new disclosures to California consumers (as that term is broadly defined) and provide such consumers new ways to opt-out of certain sales of personal information. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations as well as a limited private right of action for data breaches, which may increase the volume of data breach litigation. While limited CCPA exemptions may apply to portions of our business, the recency of the CCPA’s implementing regulations and the California Attorney General’s enforcement activity means our obligations under the CCPA could evolve in the future, which may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. Many similar privacy laws have been proposed at the federal level and in other states, which could similarly increase our compliance obligations and costs in the future.
We may also become subject to laws and regulations in non-U.S. countries covering data privacy and the protection of health-related and other personal information. In particular, the European Economic Area (“EEA”) has adopted data protection laws and regulations that impose significant compliance obligations. Laws and regulations in these jurisdictions apply broadly to the collection, use, storage, disclosure, processing and security of personal information that identifies or may be used to identify an individual, such as names, contact information, and sensitive personal data such as health data. These laws and regulations are subject to frequent revisions and differing interpretations, and have generally become more stringent over time.
The General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (“GDPR”) applies to the processing of personal data in the EEA. The GDPR imposes many requirements for controllers and processors of personal data, including, for example, higher standards for obtaining consent from individuals to process their personal data, more robust disclosures to individuals and a strengthened individual data rights regime, shortened timelines for data breach notifications, limitations on retention and secondary use of information, increased requirements pertaining to health data and pseudonymized (i.e., key-coded) data and additional obligations when contracting third-party processors in connection with the processing of the personal data. The GDPR allows EEA countries to make additional laws and regulations further limiting the processing of genetic, biometric or health data. Failure to comply with the requirements of the GDPR and the applicable national data protection laws of EEA countries may result in fines of up to €20,000,000 or up to 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher, and other administrative penalties; we may also be liable should any individual who has suffered financial or non-financial damage arising from our infringement of the GDPR exercise their right to receive compensation against us. Furthermore, adverse publicity relating to our failure to comply with the GDPR could cause a loss of goodwill, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation, brand, business and financial condition.
On July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) invalidated the European Union-U.S. Privacy Shield (“Privacy Shield”) as a data transfer mechanism for transferring personal data from the EEA to the United States. Therefore, the Privacy Shield no longer qualifies as an appropriate safeguard for transfers of personal data from the EEA to the United States. and any transfers made on the basis of the Privacy Shield could attract regulatory scrutiny and penalties for non-compliance. While the Standard Contractual Clauses remain a valid mechanism to transfer personal data to third countries outside the EEA, the CJEU’s ruling has also imposed enhanced due diligence obligations on data exporters and importers to ensure that the laws of the country to which the personal data is transferred offer a level of data protection that is essentially equivalent to the EEA. Although we do not transfer personal data from the EEA to the United States via the Privacy Shield, the CJEU’s decision means that the status of transfers of personal data from the EEA to the United States is subject to significant regulatory uncertainty. To the extent we transfer personal data from the EEA to the United States, we may not be able to implement an appropriate data transfer mechanism to continue such international transfers of data.
Separate from, and in addition to, the GDPR requirements, certification requirements for the hosting of health data will vary by jurisdiction. To the extent we operate in various EEA countries, there might be other national healthcare regulations or
regulatory requirements with which we will be required to comply. For example, France requires hosts of health data to obtain a prior certification with the competent certification body.
The interpretation and application of consumer, health-related and data protection laws in the United States, the EEA, and elsewhere are often uncertain, contradictory and in flux. Any failure or perceived failure to comply with federal, state or foreign laws or regulations, contractual or other legal obligations related to data privacy or data protection may result in claims, warnings, communications, requests or investigations from individuals, supervisory authorities or other legal or regulatory authorities in relation to our processing of personal data. It is possible that these laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our practices. If so, this could result in government-imposed fines or orders requiring that we change our practices, which could adversely affect our business. In addition, these privacy regulations vary between states, may differ from country to country, and may vary based on whether testing is performed in the United States or in the local country. Complying with these various laws could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices and compliance procedures in a manner adverse to our business.
Furthermore, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Likewise, we rely on other third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates and to conduct clinical trials, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business.
In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may face increased cybersecurity risks due to our reliance on internet technology and the number of our employees who are working remotely, which may create additional opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities.
Current and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to commercialize any products that we or our strategic partners develop and affect the prices we may obtain.
The United States and some foreign jurisdictions are considering or have enacted a number of legislative and regulatory proposals to change healthcare systems in ways that could affect our ability to sell any of our product candidates profitably, if such product candidates are approved for sale. Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality and expanding access. In the United States, the pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and has been significantly affected by major legislative initiatives.
In March 2010, the PPACA became law in the United States. The PPACA may affect the operational results of companies in the pharmaceutical industry, including us, by imposing on them additional costs. For example, effective January 1, 2010, PPACA increased the minimum Medicaid drug rebates for pharmaceutical companies and imposed an annual fee on certain branded prescription drugs and biologics. There have been judicial, Congressional and executive branch challenges to certain aspects of the PPACA and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the PPACA in the future. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2017, effectively repealed the individual health insurance mandate, which is considered a key component of the PPACA, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of the PPACA and the individual mandate, with a decision expected during the current term in 2021. This and other ongoing challenges to the PPACA and new legislative proposals have resulted in uncertainty regarding the PPACA’s future viability and destabilization of the health insurance market.
Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the PPACA was enacted. For example, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, among other things, amended the PPACA, effective January 1, 2019, to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans. The Budget Control Act of 2011, which began in 2013 and will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken, calls for aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year, although the sequester has been temporarily suspended through the end of March 2021 under COVID-19 relief legislation. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. These laws may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, which could have a material adverse effect on potential customers for our product candidates, if approved, and, accordingly, our future financial operations. We are unable to predict the future course of federal or state health care legislation or foreign regulations relating to the marketing, pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceutical products.
In September 2020, the FDA issued a final rule that sets up a legal framework for allowing the importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance that addresses the treatment of certain imported drugs under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. In November 2020, former President Trump and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced regulations tying certain Medicare Part B drug prices
to international drug prices, modifying the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) safe harbors for pharmaceutical benefit managers and Medicare Part D plans, and making further changes to the rules implementing the Stark Law, other AKS safe harbors and the beneficiary inducements provision in the civil monetary penalties law. In January 2021, HHS agreed to delay implementation of the changes relating to manufacturer rebates on Medicaid Part D plans until January 2023. Further, many states have proposed or enacted legislation that seeks to indirectly or directly regulate pharmaceutical drug pricing, such as by requiring biopharmaceutical manufacturers to publicly report proprietary pricing information or to place a maximum price ceiling on pharmaceutical products purchased by state agencies. Both the U.S. Congress and state legislatures are considering and have proposed various bills that would reform drug purchasing and price negotiations, allow greater use of utilization management tools to limit Medicare Part D coverage, facilitate the import of lower-priced drugs from outside the United States and encourage the use of generic drugs. Such initiatives and legislation may affect the prices we may obtain for any of our product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product candidate, if approved, is prescribed or used.
Also, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny recently over the manner in which drug manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which have resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed bills designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. It is unclear whether any of these proposed bills will be signed into law, and if enacted, what effect these or other legislative measures would have on our business.
In the EU similar political, economic and regulatory developments may affect our ability to profitably commercialize any future products. In addition to continuing pressure on prices and cost containment measures, legislative developments at the EU or member state level may result in significant additional requirements or obstacles that may increase our operating costs. In international markets, reimbursement and healthcare payment systems vary significantly by country, and many countries have instituted price ceilings on specific products and therapies. Our future products, if any, might not be considered medically reasonable and necessary for a specific indication or cost-effective by third-party payors, an adequate level of reimbursement might not be available for such products, and third-party payors’ reimbursement policies might adversely affect our or our strategic partners’ ability to sell any future products profitably.
Legislative and regulatory proposals have been made to expand post-approval requirements and restrict sales and promotional activities for pharmaceutical products. We cannot be sure whether additional legislative changes will be enacted, or whether the FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes on the marketing approvals of our product candidates, if any, may be. In addition, increased scrutiny by the U.S. Congress of the FDA’s approval process may significantly delay or prevent marketing approval, as well as subject us to more stringent product labeling and post-approval testing and other requirements.
We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or elsewhere. If we or our strategic partners are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we or our strategic partners are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, our product candidates may lose any marketing approval that may have been obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability, which would adversely affect our business.
Our business may become subject to economic, political, regulatory and other risks associated with international operations.
Our business is subject to risks associated with conducting business internationally. Some of our suppliers and collaborative and clinical trial relationships are located outside the United States. Accordingly, our future results could be harmed by a variety of factors, including:
•economic instability or weakness, including inflation, reduced growth, diminished credit availability, weakened consumer confidence or increased unemployment;
•sociopolitical instability in particular foreign economies and markets;
•differing regulatory requirements for drug approvals in foreign countries;
•potentially reduced protection for intellectual property rights;
•difficulties in compliance with non-U.S. laws and regulations;
•changes in non-U.S. regulations and customs, tariffs and trade barriers, including any changes that China may impose as a result of political tensions between Canada and China or the United States and China;
•regulatory changes and economic conditions following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU and uncertainty related to the terms of the withdrawal;
•changes in non-U.S. currency exchange rates and currency controls;
•trade protection measures, import or export licensing requirements or other restrictive actions by U.S. or non-U.S. governments;
•differing reimbursement regimes, including price controls;
•negative consequences from changes in tax laws;
•workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;
•production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad;
•business interruptions resulting from geopolitical actions, including war and terrorism, or natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons, floods and fires; and
•supply and other disruptions resulting from the impact of public health epidemics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, on our strategic partners, third-party manufacturers, suppliers and other third parties upon which we rely.
Our business and current and future relationships with customers and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere will be subject, directly or indirectly, to applicable federal and state anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, transparency, health information privacy and security and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens, and diminished profits and future earnings.
Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval.
Our current and future arrangements with healthcare professionals, principal investigators, consultants, customers, and third-party payors and other entities may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, including the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the federal False Claims Act, that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we conduct clinical research on product candidates and market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain marketing approval. In addition, we may be subject to transparency laws and patient privacy regulation by the federal government and by the U.S. states and foreign jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. The applicable federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations that may affect our ability to operate include the following:
•the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration (including any kickback, bribe or rebate), directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service for which payment may be made under federal and state healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid;
•federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws, including the federal False Claims Act, impose criminal or civil penalties, as applicable, against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government (including the Medicare and Medicaid programs) or other third-party payor claims for payment that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;
•HIPAA established the federal offense of health care fraud, which among other things, imposes criminal liability for knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or to obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any healthcare benefit program, regardless of the payor (e.g. public or private) and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters;
•HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and its implementing regulations, which imposes certain obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information without the appropriate authorization by entities subject to the law, such as health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and healthcare providers and their respective business associates;
•the federal Open Payments program under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under Section 6002 of the PPACA and its implementing regulations, requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to HHS information related to “payments or other transfers of value” made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors and, effective in 2022, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants) and teaching hospitals, and applicable manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations to report annually to HHS ownership and investment interests held by physicians (as defined above) and their immediate family members; and
•analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, including: state anti-kickback and false claims laws that may apply to our business practices (including research, distribution, sales and marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by state governmental and non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers); state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the applicable compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government; state laws that require drug manufacturers to track gifts and other remuneration and items of value provided to healthcare professionals and entities and file reports relating to pricing and marketing information; and state and foreign laws that govern the privacy and security of health information in specified circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of any available statutory exceptions and safe harbors, it is possible that some of our current and future business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws.
Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations may involve substantial costs. 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, including damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of noncompliance with these laws and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. If any of the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business, including our strategic partners, is found not to be in compliance with applicable laws, it may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from participation in government healthcare programs, which could also materially affect our business.
We are subject to U.S. and certain foreign export and import controls, sanctions, embargoes, anti-corruption laws, and anti-money laundering laws and regulations. Compliance with these legal standards could impair our ability to compete in domestic and international markets. We can face criminal liability and other serious consequences for violations that can harm our business.
We are subject to export control and import laws and regulations, including the U.S. Export Administration Regulations, U.S. Customs regulations, various economic and trade sanctions regulations administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. § 201, the U.S. Travel Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, the United Kingdom Bribery Act 2010, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and other state and national anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws in the countries in which we conduct activities. Anti-corruption laws are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees, agents, contractors, and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or anything else of value to recipients in the public or private sector. We currently engage third parties for clinical trials outside of the United States and we may in the future engage third parties to sell our products abroad once we enter a commercialization phase, or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other regulatory approvals. We may have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our employees, agents, contractors, and other partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities. Any violation of the laws and regulations described above may result in substantial civil and criminal fines and penalties, imprisonment, the loss of export or import privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm, and other consequences.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need for Additional Capital
We have incurred significant losses since inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future. We have no products approved for commercial sale, and to date we have not generated any revenue or profit from product sales. We may never achieve or sustain profitability.
We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. We have incurred significant losses since our inception. Our net loss for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 was $180.6 million, $145.4 million and $36.6 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, our accumulated deficit was $471.3 million. We expect to continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase as we continue our research and development of, and seek regulatory approvals for, our product candidates, prepare for and begin to commercialize any approved product candidates and add infrastructure and personnel to support our product development efforts. The net losses and negative cash flows incurred to date, together with expected future losses, have had, and likely will continue to have, an adverse effect on our shareholders’ deficit and working capital. The amount of future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of future growth of our expenses and our ability to generate revenue.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. For example, our expenses could increase if we are required by the FDA to perform trials in addition to those that we currently expect to perform, or if there are any delays in completing our currently planned clinical trials or in the development of any of our product candidates.
To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in developing and commercializing product candidates with significant market potential. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities for which we are only in the preliminary stages, including developing product candidates, obtaining regulatory approval for such product candidates, and manufacturing, marketing and selling those product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval. We may never succeed in these activities and may never generate revenue from product sales that is significant enough to achieve profitability. Even if we achieve profitability in the future, we may not be able to sustain profitability in subsequent periods. Our failure to become or remain profitable would depress our market value and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, develop other product candidates, or continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company could also cause our shareholders to lose all or part of their investment.
Biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of uncertainty. We have never generated any revenue from product sales and may never be profitable.
We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to developing our proprietary therapeutic platforms, identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials. We and our partners are still in the early stages of developing our product candidates, and we have not completed development of any products. Our revenue to date has been primarily revenue from the license of our proprietary therapeutic platforms for the development of product candidates by others or revenue from our strategic partners. Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends in large part on our ability, alone or with our strategic partners, to achieve milestones and to successfully complete the development of, obtain the necessary regulatory approvals for, and commercialize, product candidates. We do not anticipate generating revenue from sales of products for the foreseeable future.
We will require substantial additional funding, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all, and, if not available, may require us to delay, scale back, or cease our product development programs or operations.
We are currently advancing two of our product candidates through clinical development as well as other potential product candidates through discovery and preclinical development. Developing pharmaceutical products, including conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, is expensive. In order to obtain regulatory approval, we will be required to conduct clinical trials for each indication for each of our product candidates. We will continue to require additional funding to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates and to continue to advance the development of our other product candidates, and such funding may not be available on acceptable terms or at all.
Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including:
•the number and characteristics of other product candidates that we pursue;
•the scope, progress, timing, cost and results of research, preclinical development, and clinical trials;
•the costs, timing and outcome of seeking and obtaining FDA and non-U.S. regulatory approvals;
•the costs associated with manufacturing our product candidates and establishing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities;
•our ability to maintain, expand and defend the scope of our intellectual property portfolio, including the amount and timing of any payments we may be required to make in connection with the licensing, filing, defense and enforcement of any patents or other intellectual property rights;
•our need and ability to hire additional management, scientific and medical personnel;
•the effect of competing products that may limit market penetration of our product candidates;
•our need to implement additional internal systems and infrastructure, including financial and reporting systems; and
•the economic and other terms, timing of and success of our existing strategic partnerships, and any collaboration, licensing, or other arrangements into which we may enter in the future, including the timing of receipt of any milestone or royalty payments under these agreements.
Until we can generate a sufficient amount of product revenue to finance our cash requirements, which we may never do, we expect to finance future cash needs primarily through a combination of public and private equity offerings, debt financings, strategic partnerships and grant funding.
If sufficient funds on acceptable terms are not available when needed, or at all, we could be forced to significantly reduce operating expenses and delay, scale back or eliminate one or more of our development programs or our business operations.
Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our shareholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish substantial rights.
To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, our shareholders’ ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these new securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our shareholders’ rights as common shareholders. Debt financing, if available at all, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures, or declaring dividends. If we raise additional funds through partnerships, collaborations, strategic alliances, or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, product candidates, or future revenue streams, or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us. We cannot assure that we will be able to obtain additional funding if and when necessary. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing on a timely basis, we could be required to delay, scale back or eliminate one or more of our development programs or grant rights to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.
Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties
Our existing strategic partnerships are important to our business, and future strategic partnerships will likely also be important to us. If we are unable to maintain our strategic partnerships, or if these strategic partnerships are not successful, our business could be adversely affected.
We have limited capabilities for drug development and do not yet have any capability for sales, marketing or distribution. Accordingly, we have entered into strategic partnerships with other companies that we believe can provide such capabilities, including our collaboration and license agreements with Merck, Lilly, BMS, GSK, Daiichi Sankyo, Janssen, LEO, BeiGene and Iconic. These relationships also have provided us with non-dilutive funding for our wholly owned pipeline and therapeutic platforms and we expect to receive additional funding under these strategic partnerships in the future. Our existing strategic partnerships, and any future strategic partnerships we enter into, may pose a number of risks, including the following:
•strategic partners have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these partnerships;
•strategic partners may not perform their obligations as expected;
•strategic partners may not pursue development and commercialization of any product candidates that achieve regulatory approval or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs based on clinical trial results, changes in the partners’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;
•strategic partners may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial program, stop a clinical trial or abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;
•strategic partners could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our product candidates if the strategic partners believe that competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than our product candidates;
•product candidates discovered in collaboration with us may be viewed by our strategic partners as competitive with their own product candidates or products, which may cause strategic partners to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of our product candidates;
•a strategic partner with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates that achieve regulatory approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such product candidates;
•disagreements with strategic partners, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development, might cause delays or termination of the research, development or commercialization of product candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to product candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;
•strategic partners may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;
•strategic partners may infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability;
•strategic partnerships may be terminated for the convenience of the partner and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates. For example, each of our collaboration and license agreements with Merck, Lilly, BMS, GSK, Daiichi Sankyo, Janssen, LEO, BeiGene and Iconic may be terminated for convenience upon the completion of a specified notice period;
•we may elect to enter into additional licensing or collaboration agreements to partner our product candidates in territories we currently retain, and in the event we grant exclusive rights to such partners, we would be precluded from potential commercialization of our product candidates within the territories in which we have a partner; and
•strategic partners may not have the ability or the development capabilities to perform their obligations as expected, including as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our strategic partners’ operations or business.
If our strategic partnerships do not result in the successful development and commercialization of product candidates or if one of our partners terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under the collaboration. If we do not receive the funding we expect under our strategic partnership agreements, our development of our therapeutic platforms and product candidates could be delayed and we may need additional resources to develop product candidates and our therapeutic platforms.
We face significant competition in seeking new strategic partners.
For some of our product candidates, we may in the future determine to collaborate with additional pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for development and potential commercialization of therapeutic products. Our ability to reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the strategic partner’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed strategic partner’s evaluation of a number of factors. These factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of approval by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, the potential market for the subject product candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such product candidate to patients, the potential of competing products, the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge, and industry and market conditions generally. The strategic partner may also consider alternative product candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to collaborate on and whether such a collaboration could be more attractive than the one with us for our product candidate.
Strategic partnerships are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future strategic partners. If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable strategic partners on a timely basis, on
acceptable terms, or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay one or more of our other development programs, delay potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to fund and undertake development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we fail to enter into strategic partnerships and do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates or bring them to market or continue to develop our therapeutic platforms and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce our clinical product candidates and on other third parties to store, monitor and transport bulk drug substance and drug product. We and our third-party partners may encounter difficulties with respect to these activities that could delay or impair our ability to initiate or complete our clinical trials or commercialize approved products.
We do not currently own or operate any manufacturing facilities. We rely on our strategic partners to manufacture product candidates licensed to them or work with multiple third-party contract manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of materials required for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical testing and clinical trials, in compliance with applicable regulatory and quality standards, and intend to do so for the commercial manufacture of our products. If we are unable to arrange for such third-party manufacturing sources, or fail to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to successfully produce sufficient supply of product candidate or we may be delayed in doing so. Such failure or substantial delay could materially harm our business.
The manufacture of biopharmaceutical products is complex and requires significant expertise and capital investment, including the development of advanced manufacturing techniques and process controls. The process of manufacturing our product candidates is extremely susceptible to product loss due to contamination, equipment failure or improper installation or operation of equipment, vendor or operator error, contamination and inconsistency in yields, variability in product characteristics and difficulties in scaling the production process. Even minor deviations from normal manufacturing processes could result in reduced production yields, product defects and other supply disruptions. If microbial, viral or other contaminations are discovered in our product candidates or in the third-party manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates are made, such manufacturing facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination. All of our engineered antibodies are manufactured by starting cells that are stored in a cell bank. We have one master cell bank and one working cell bank utilized for each antibody manufactured in accordance with cGMP. While we believe we would have adequate back up should any cell bank be lost in a catastrophic event, it is possible that we could lose multiple cell banks and have our manufacturing severely impacted by the need to replace the cell banks. Any adverse developments affecting manufacturing operations for our product candidates, if any are approved, may result in shipment delays, inventory shortages, lot failures, product withdrawals or recalls, or other interruptions in the supply of our products. We may also have to take inventory write-offs and incur other charges and expenses for products that fail to meet specifications, undertake costly remediation efforts or seek more costly manufacturing alternatives.
Furthermore, reliance on third-party manufacturers entails risks to which we would not be subject if we manufactured product candidates ourselves, including reliance on the third party for regulatory compliance and quality control and assurance, volume production, the possibility of breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third party because of factors beyond our control (including a failure to synthesize and manufacture our product candidates in accordance with our product specifications) and the possibility of termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third party at a time that is costly or damaging to us. In addition, the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities require that our product candidates be manufactured according to cGMP and similar foreign standards. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and their subcontractors are required to register their facilities or products manufactured at the time of submission of the marketing application and then annually thereafter with the FDA and certain state and foreign agencies. They are also subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA, state and other foreign authorities. Any subsequent discovery of problems with a product, or a manufacturing or laboratory facility used by us or our strategic partners, may result in restrictions on the product or on the manufacturing or laboratory facility, including marketed product recall, suspension of manufacturing, product seizure, or a voluntary withdrawal of the drug from the market. We may have little to no control regarding the occurrence of third-party manufacturer incidents. Any failure by our third-party manufacturers to comply with cGMP or failure to scale up manufacturing processes, including any failure to deliver sufficient quantities of product candidates in a timely manner, could lead to a delay in, or failure to obtain, regulatory approval of any of our product candidates.
In addition to third-party manufacturers, we rely on other third parties to store, monitor and transport bulk drug substance and drug product. If we are unable to arrange for such third-party sources, or fail to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we
may not be able to successfully supply sufficient product candidate or we may be delayed in doing so. Such failure or substantial delay could materially harm our business.
We rely on third parties to monitor, support, conduct and oversee clinical trials of the product candidates that we are developing and, in some cases, to maintain regulatory files for those product candidates. We may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates or commercialize any products that may result from our development efforts if we are not able to maintain or secure agreements with such third parties on acceptable terms, if these third parties do not perform their services as required, or if these third parties fail to timely transfer any regulatory information held by them to us.
We rely on entities outside of our control, which may include academic institutions, CROs, hospitals, clinics and other third-party strategic partners, to monitor, support, conduct and oversee preclinical studies and clinical trials of our current and future product candidates. We also rely on third parties to perform clinical trials on our current and future product candidates when they reach that stage. As a result, we have less control over the timing and cost of these studies and the ability to recruit trial subjects than if we conducted these trials with our own personnel.
If we are unable to maintain or enter into agreements with these third parties on acceptable terms, or if any such engagement is terminated prematurely, we may be unable to enroll patients on a timely basis or otherwise conduct our trials in the manner we anticipate. In addition, there is no guarantee that these third parties will devote adequate time and resources to our studies or perform as required by our contract or in accordance with regulatory requirements, including maintenance of clinical trial information regarding our product candidates. If these third parties fail to meet expected deadlines, fail to transfer to us any regulatory information in a timely manner, fail to adhere to protocols or fail to act in accordance with regulatory requirements or our agreements with them, or if they otherwise perform in a substandard manner or in a way that compromises the quality or accuracy of their activities or the data they obtain, then clinical trials of our product candidates may be extended or delayed with additional costs incurred, or our data may be rejected by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory agencies.
Ultimately, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal, regulatory and scientific standards, and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities.
We and our CROs are required to comply with cGCP regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA, the competent authorities of the member states of the EU and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for products in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these cGCP regulations through periodic inspections of clinical trial sponsors, principal investigators and clinical trial sites. If we or any of our CROs fail to comply with applicable cGCP regulations, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and our submission of marketing applications may be delayed or the FDA may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. Upon inspection, the FDA could determine that any of our clinical trials fail or have failed to comply with applicable cGCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under the cGMP regulations enforced by the FDA, and our clinical trials may require a large number of test subjects. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process and increase our costs. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of our CROs violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.
If any of our clinical trial sites terminate for any reason, we may experience the loss of follow-up information on patients enrolled in our ongoing clinical trials unless we are able to transfer the care of those patients to another qualified clinical trial site. Further, if our relationship with any of our CROs is terminated, we may be unable to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.
Switching or adding CROs or other suppliers can involve substantial cost and require extensive management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO or supplier commences work. As a result, delays may occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. If we are required to seek alternative supply arrangements, the resulting delays and potential inability to find a suitable replacement could materially and adversely impact our business.
We rely on third parties for various operational and administrative aspects of our business, including for certain cloud-based software platforms, which impact our financial, operational and research activities. If any of these third parties fail to provide timely, accurate and ongoing service or if the cloud-based platforms suffer outages that we are unable to mitigate, our business may be adversely affected.
We currently rely upon third-party consultants and contractors to provide certain operational and administrative services, including external financial, legal, clinical and research consultation. The failure of any of these third parties to provide accurate and timely service may adversely impact our business operations. In addition, if such third-party service providers were to cease operations, temporarily or permanently, face financial distress or other business disruption, or increase their fees, or if our relationships with these providers deteriorate, we could suffer increased costs until an equivalent provider could be found, if at all, or we could develop internal capabilities, if ever.
In addition, if we are unsuccessful in choosing or finding high-quality partners, if we fail to negotiate cost-effective relationships with them, or if we ineffectively manage these relationships, it could have an adverse impact on our business and financial performance.
Further, our operations depend on the continuing and efficient operation of our information technology and communications systems and infrastructure, and specifically on “cloud-based” platforms. These platforms are vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, vandalism, sabotage, terrorist attacks, floods, fires, power outages, telecommunications failures, and computer viruses or other deliberate attempts to harm the systems. The occurrence of a natural or intentional disaster, any decision to close a facility we are using without adequate notice, or particularly an unanticipated problem at our cloud-based virtual server facility, could result in harmful interruptions in our service, resulting in adverse effects to our business.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing the patents and other proprietary rights of third parties.
Our success will depend in part on our ability to operate without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. Other entities may have or obtain patents or proprietary rights that could limit our ability to make, use, sell, offer for sale or import our future approved products or impair our competitive position. For example, certain patents and patent applications held by third parties cover Fab and Fc region engineering methods for bispecific antibodies, and antibodies having mutations in Fab heavy and light chain regions and Fc regions to generate correctly paired bispecific antibodies. If our products or our strategic partners’ products incorporate any Fab or Fc region mutations covered by any claims of these patents or patents that may issue from these applications and we are unable to invalidate those patents, or if licenses for them are not available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, our business could be materially harmed.
We are also aware of third-party patents and patent applications containing claims directed to compositions and methods for treating various forms of cancer with antibodies targeting HER2, alone or in combination with other anti-cancer agents, which patents and applications could potentially be construed to cover our product candidates and the use thereof to treat cancer. If our products or our strategic partners’ products were to be found to infringe any such patents, and we were unable to invalidate those patents, or if licenses for them are not available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, our business could be materially harmed. These patents may not expire before we receive marketing authorization for our product candidates, and could delay the commercial launch of one or more future products. There is also no assurance that there are not third-party patents or patent applications of which we are aware, but which we do not believe are relevant to our business, which may, nonetheless, ultimately be found to limit our ability to make, use, sell, offer for sale or import our future approved products or impair our competitive position.
Patents that we may ultimately be found to infringe could be issued to third parties. Third parties may have or obtain valid and enforceable patents or proprietary rights that could block us from developing product candidates using our technology. Our failure to obtain a license to any technology that we require may materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, our failure to maintain a license to any technology that we require may also materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, we would be exposed to a threat of litigation.
In the pharmaceutical industry, significant litigation and other proceedings regarding patents, patent applications, trademarks and other intellectual property rights have become commonplace. Any such lawsuits and proceedings could be costly and could affect our results of operations and divert the attention of our management and scientific personnel. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the cost of such litigation and proceedings more effectively than we can because of their substantially greater resources. There is a risk that a court would decide that we or our strategic partners are infringing the third party’s patents and would order us or our strategic partners to stop the activities covered by the patents. In that event, we or our
strategic partners may not have a viable alternative to the technology protected by the patent and may need to halt work on the affected product candidate or cease commercialization of an approved product. In addition, there is a risk that a court will order us or our strategic partners to pay third-party damages or some other monetary award, depending upon the jurisdiction. An adverse outcome in any litigation or other proceeding could subject us to significant liabilities to third parties, potentially including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed, and we may be required to cease using the technology that is at issue or to license the technology from third parties. We may not be able to obtain any required licenses on commercially acceptable terms or at all. Any of these outcomes could have a material adverse effect on our business.
If we are unable to obtain, maintain and enforce patent and trade secret protection for our product candidates and related technology, our business could be materially harmed.
Our strategy depends on our ability to identify and seek patent protection for our discoveries. This process is expensive and time consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner or in all jurisdictions where protection may be commercially advantageous. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. Moreover, in some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we have licensed from third parties. Therefore, our owned or in-licensed patents and patent applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. Our patent applications cannot be enforced against third parties practicing the technology claimed in such applications unless, and until, patents issue from such applications, and then only to the extent the issued claims cover the technology. The patent applications that we own or in-license may fail to result in issued patents with claims that cover our current and future product candidates in the United States or in other foreign countries.
Moreover, the patent position of biopharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. The issuance of a patent does not ensure that it is valid or enforceable. Third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope of our issued patents, and such patents may be narrowed, invalidated, circumvented, or deemed unenforceable. In addition, changes in law may introduce uncertainty in the enforceability or scope of patents owned by biotechnology companies. If our patents are narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, third parties may be able to commercialize our technology or products and compete directly with us without payment to us. There is no assurance that all potentially relevant prior art relating to our patents and patent applications has been found, and such prior art could potentially invalidate one or more of our patents or prevent a patent from issuing from one or more of our pending patent applications. There is also no assurance that there is not prior art of which we are aware, but which we do not believe affects the validity or enforceability of a claim in our patents and patent applications, which may, nonetheless, ultimately be found to affect the validity or enforceability of a claim.
Furthermore, even if our patents are unchallenged, they may not adequately protect our intellectual property, provide exclusivity for our product candidates, prevent others from designing around our claims or provide us with a competitive advantage. The legal systems of certain countries do not favor the aggressive enforcement of patents, and the laws of foreign countries may not allow us to protect our inventions with patents to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Because patent applications in the United States and many foreign jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all, and because publications of discoveries in scientific literature lag behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain that we were the first to make the inventions claimed in our issued patents or pending patent applications, or that we were the first to file for protection of the inventions set forth in our patents or patent applications. As a result, we may not be able to obtain or maintain protection for certain inventions. Therefore, the issuance, validity, enforceability, scope and commercial value of our patents in the United States and in foreign countries cannot be predicted with certainty and, as a result, any patents that we own or license may not provide sufficient protection against competitors. We may not be able to obtain or maintain patent protection from our pending patent applications, from those we may file in the future, or from those we may license from third parties. Moreover, even if we are able to obtain patent protection, such patent protection may be of insufficient scope to achieve our business objectives. In addition, the issuance of a patent does not give us the right to practice the patented invention. Third parties may have blocking patents that could prevent us from marketing our own patented product and practicing our own patented technology.
Our patents covering one or more of our products or product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged.
Any of our intellectual property rights could be challenged or invalidated despite measures we take to obtain patent and other intellectual property protection with respect to our product candidates and proprietary technology. For example, if we were to initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that our patent is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States and in some other
jurisdictions, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, for example, lack of novelty, obviousness or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld material information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) or the applicable foreign counterpart, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. A litigant or the USPTO itself could challenge our patents on this basis even if we believe that we have conducted our patent prosecution in accordance with the duty of candor and in good faith. The outcome following such a challenge is unpredictable.
With respect to challenges to the validity of our patents, for example, there might be invalidating prior art, of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on a product candidate. Even if a defendant does not prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, our patent claims may be construed in a manner that would limit our ability to enforce such claims against the defendant and others. The cost of defending such a challenge, particularly in a foreign jurisdiction, and any resulting loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on one or more of our product candidates and our business.
Enforcing our intellectual property rights against third parties may also cause such third parties to file other counterclaims against us, which could be costly to defend, particularly in a foreign jurisdiction, and could require us to pay substantial damages, cease the sale of certain products or enter into a license agreement and pay royalties (which may not be possible on commercially reasonable terms or at all). Any efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights are also likely to be costly and may divert the efforts of our scientific and management personnel.
Our intellectual property rights will not necessarily provide us with competitive advantages.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. The following examples are illustrative:
•others may be able to make compounds that are similar to our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we or our strategic partners own or have exclusively licensed;
•others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;
•issued patents that we own or have exclusively licensed may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be held invalid or unenforceable, as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;
•we may obtain patents for certain compounds many years before we obtain marketing approval for products containing such compounds, and because patents have a limited life, which may begin to run prior to the commercial sale of the related product, the commercial value of our patents may be limited;
•our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;
•we may fail to develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;
•the laws of certain foreign countries may not protect our intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, or we may fail to apply for or obtain adequate intellectual property protection in all the jurisdictions in which we operate; and
•the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business, for example by preventing us from marketing one or more of our product candidates for one or more indications.
Any of the aforementioned threats to our competitive advantage could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents and trade secrets, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.
Third parties may seek to market biosimilar versions of any approved products. Alternatively, third parties may seek approval to market their own products similar to or otherwise competitive with our product candidates. In these circumstances, we may need to defend or assert our patents, including by filing lawsuits alleging patent infringement. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. In any of these types of proceedings, a court or agency with
jurisdiction may find our patents invalid or unenforceable. Even if we have valid and enforceable patents, these patents still may not provide protection against competing products or processes sufficient to achieve our business objectives.
Even after they have issued, our patents and any patents that we license may be challenged, narrowed, invalidated or circumvented. If our patents are invalidated or otherwise limited or will expire prior to the commercialization of our product candidates, other companies may be better able to develop products that compete with ours, which could adversely affect our competitive business position, business prospects and financial condition. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates.
The following are examples of litigation and other adversarial proceedings or disputes that we could become a party to involving our patents or patents licensed to us:
•we or our strategic partners may initiate litigation or other proceedings against third parties to enforce our patent and trade secret rights;
•third parties may initiate litigation or other proceedings seeking to invalidate patents owned by or licensed to us or to obtain a declaratory judgment that their product or technology does not infringe our patents or patents licensed to us;
•third parties may initiate opposition or reexamination proceedings challenging the validity or scope of our patent rights, requiring us or our strategic partners and/or licensors to participate in such proceedings to defend the validity and scope of our patents;
•there may be a challenge or dispute regarding inventorship or ownership of patents or trade secrets currently identified as being owned by or licensed to us;
•the USPTO may initiate an interference between patents or patent applications owned by or licensed to us and those of our competitors, requiring us or our strategic partners and/or licensors to participate in an interference proceeding to determine the priority of invention, which could jeopardize our patent rights; or
•third parties may seek approval to market biosimilar versions of our future approved products prior to expiration of relevant patents owned by or licensed to us, requiring us to defend our patents, including by filing lawsuits alleging patent infringement.
These lawsuits and proceedings would be costly and could affect our results of operations and divert the attention of our managerial and scientific personnel. Adversaries in these proceedings may have the ability to dedicate substantially greater resources to prosecuting these legal actions than we or our licensors can. There is a risk that a court or administrative body would decide that our patents are invalid or not infringed or trade secrets not misappropriated by a third party’s activities, or that the scope of certain issued claims must be further limited. An adverse outcome in a litigation or proceeding involving our own patents or trade secrets could limit our ability to assert our patents or trade secrets against these or other competitors, affect our ability to receive royalties or other licensing consideration from our licensees, and may curtail or preclude our ability to exclude third parties from making, using and selling similar or competitive products. Any of these occurrences could adversely affect our competitive business position, business prospects and financial condition.
We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States. Any litigation or other proceedings to enforce our intellectual property rights may fail, and even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees.
Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have an adverse effect on the price of our common shares.
The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain because legal means afford only limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep our competitive advantage. For example:
•others may be able to develop a platform that is similar to, or better than, ours in a way that is not covered by the claims of our patents;
•others may be able to make compounds that are similar to our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of our patents;
•we might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by patents or pending patent applications;
•we might not have been the first to file patent applications for these inventions;
•any patents that we obtain may not provide us with any competitive advantages or may ultimately be found invalid or unenforceable; or
•we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable or that afford meaningful trade secret protection.
Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our product candidates for an adequate amount of time.
Patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest U.S. non-provisional filing date. Various extensions may be available, but the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our product candidates are obtained, once the patent life has expired, we may be open to competition from competitive products, including biosimilars. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.
If we do not obtain protection under the Hatch-Waxman amendments and similar foreign legislation for extending the term of patents covering each of our product candidates, our business may be materially harmed.
Depending upon the timing, duration and conditions of FDA marketing approval of our product candidates, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent term extension of up to five years for a patent covering an approved product as compensation for effective patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. However, we may not receive an extension if we fail to apply within applicable deadlines, fail to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise fail to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the length of the extension could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or the term of any such extension is less than we request, the period during which we can enforce our patent rights for that product will be shortened and our competitors may obtain approval to market competing products sooner. As a result, our revenue from applicable products could be reduced, possibly materially. Further, if this occurs, our competitors may take advantage of our investment in development and trials by referencing our clinical and preclinical data and launch their product earlier than might otherwise be the case.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our proprietary information, the value of our technology and products could be adversely affected.
In addition to patent protection, we also rely on other proprietary rights, including protection of trade secrets, and other proprietary information. For example, we treat our proprietary computational technologies, including unpatented know-how and other proprietary information, as trade secrets. To maintain the confidentiality of trade secrets and proprietary information, we enter into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, strategic partners and others upon the commencement of their relationships with us. These agreements require that all confidential information developed by the individual or made known to the individual by us during the course of the individual’s relationship with us be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties. Our agreements with employees and our personnel policies also provide that any inventions conceived by the individual in the course of rendering services to us shall be our exclusive property. However, we may not obtain these agreements in all circumstances, and individuals with whom we have these agreements may not comply with their terms. Thus, despite such agreement, such inventions may become assigned to third parties. In the event of unauthorized use or disclosure of our trade secrets or proprietary information, these agreements, even if obtained, may not provide meaningful protection, particularly for our trade secrets or other confidential information. To the extent that our employees, consultants or contractors use technology or know-how owned by third parties in their work for us, disputes may arise between us and those third parties as to the rights in related inventions. To the extent that an individual who is not obligated to assign rights in intellectual property to us is rightfully an inventor of intellectual property, we may need to obtain an assignment or a license to that intellectual property from that individual, or a third party or from that individual’s assignee. Such assignment or license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.
Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming and the outcome is unpredictable. The disclosure of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and may materially
harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. Costly and time-consuming litigation could be necessary to enforce and determine the scope of our proprietary rights, and failure to maintain trade secret protection could adversely affect our competitive business position. In addition, if any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent such third party, or those to whom they communicate such technology or information, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor, or if we otherwise lose protection for our trade secrets or proprietary know-how, the value of this information may be greatly reduced and our business and competitive position could be harmed. Adequate remedies may not exist in the event of unauthorized use or disclosure of our proprietary information.
As is common in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, we employ individuals who were previously or concurrently employed at research institutions and/or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. We may be subject to claims that these employees, or we, have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed trade secrets or other proprietary information of their former employers, or that patents and applications we have filed to protect inventions of these employees, even those related to one or more of our product candidates, are rightfully owned by their former or concurrent employer. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. Such trade secrets or other proprietary information could be awarded to a third party, and we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to commercialize our technology or products. Such license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we are successful in defending against these claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, documentary, fee payment and other requirements imposed by regulations and governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for noncompliance with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents or applications will be due to the USPTO and various foreign patent offices at various points over the lifetime of our patents or applications. We have systems in place to remind us to pay these fees, and we rely on our outside patent annuity service to pay these fees when due. Additionally, the USPTO and various foreign patent offices require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us comply, and in many cases an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with rules applicable to the particular jurisdiction. However, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. If such an event were to occur, it could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship of our patents and other intellectual property.
Although we are not currently experiencing any claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our patents, we may in the future be subject to claims that former employees, strategic partners or other third parties have an interest in our patents or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. While it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. For example, the assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing or the assignment agreements may be breached, or we may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, valuable intellectual property. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.
Patent protection and patent prosecution for some of our product candidates may be dependent on, and the ability to assert patents and defend them against claims of invalidity may be maintained by, third parties.
There may be times in the future when certain patents that relate to our product candidates or any approved products are controlled by our licensees or licensors. Although we may, under such arrangements, have rights to consult with our strategic partners on actions taken as well as back-up rights of prosecution and enforcement, we have in the past and may in the future relinquish rights to prosecute and maintain patents and patent applications within our portfolio as well as the ability to assert such patents against infringers.
If any current or future licensee or licensor with rights to prosecute, assert or defend patents related to our product candidates fails to appropriately prosecute and maintain patent protection for patents covering any of our product candidates, or if patents covering any of our product candidates are asserted against infringers or defended against claims of invalidity or unenforceability in a manner that adversely affects such coverage, our ability to develop and commercialize any such product candidate may be adversely affected and we may not be able to prevent competitors from making, using and selling competing products.
Changes in patent laws or patent jurisprudence could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
The patent positions of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies can be highly uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions for which important legal principles remain unresolved. Changes in either the patent laws or in the interpretations of patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our intellectual property. We cannot predict the breadth of claims that may be allowed or found to be enforceable in our patents, in our strategic partners’ patents or in third-party patents. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have either narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this has created uncertainty with respect to the validity, scope and value of patents, once obtained.
For our U.S. patent applications containing a priority claim after March 16, 2013, there is a greater level of uncertainty in the patent law. In September 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, also known as the America Invents Act (“AIA”), was signed into law. The AIA includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law, including provisions that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and may also affect patent litigation.
The AIA and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have an adverse effect on our business. An important change introduced by the AIA is that, as of March 16, 2013, the United States transitioned to a “first-to-file” system for deciding which party should be granted a patent when two or more patent applications are filed by different parties disclosing or claiming the same invention. A third party that has filed, or files a patent application in the USPTO after March 16, 2013 but before us, could be awarded a patent covering a given invention, even if we had made the invention before it was made by the third party. This requires us to be cognizant of the time from invention to filing of a patent application.
Among some of the other changes introduced by the AIA are changes that limit where a patentee may file a patent infringement suit and providing opportunities for third parties to challenge any issued patent in the USPTO. This applies to all of our U.S. patents, even those issued before March 16, 2013. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in U.S. federal court necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action.
Depending on decisions by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. federal courts, the USPTO or similar authorities in foreign jurisdictions, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that may weaken our and our licensors’ ability to obtain new patents or to enforce existing patents we and our licensors or partners may obtain in the future.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our current or future products, if any, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Recent U.S. Supreme Court cases have narrowed the scope of what is considered patentable subject matter, for
example, in the areas of software and diagnostic methods involving the association between treatment outcome and biomarkers. This could impact our ability to patent certain aspects of our technology in the United States.
Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries do not favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biotechnology products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.
Additionally, the requirements for patentability may differ in certain countries. For example, China has a heightened requirement for patentability, and specifically requires a detailed description of medical uses of a claimed drug. In India, unlike the United States, there is no link between regulatory approval of a drug and its patent status. In addition to India, certain countries in Europe and developing countries, including China, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In those countries, we and our licensors may have limited remedies if patents are infringed or if we or our licensors are compelled to grant a license to a third party, which could materially diminish the value of those patents. This could limit our potential revenue opportunities. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we own or license.
We will need to obtain FDA approval for any proposed product candidate names, and any failure or delay associated with such approval may adversely affect our business.
Any proprietary name or trademark we intend to use for our product candidates will require approval from the FDA regardless of whether we have secured a formal trademark registration from the USPTO. The FDA typically conducts a review of proposed product candidate names, including an evaluation of the potential for confusion with other product names. The FDA may also object to a product name if it believes the name inappropriately implies certain medical claims or contributes to an overstatement of efficacy. If the FDA objects to any product candidate names we propose, we may be required to adopt an alternative name for our product candidates. If we adopt an alternative name, we would lose the benefit of any existing trademark applications for such product candidate and may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable product name that would qualify under applicable trademark laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA. We may be unable to build a successful brand identity for a new trademark in a timely manner or at all, which would limit our ability to commercialize our product candidates.
Risks Related to Additional Legal and Compliance Matters
Our employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.
We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other misconduct. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with FDA regulations, to provide accurate information to the FDA, to comply with federal and state health care fraud and abuse laws and regulations, to report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the health care industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Employee misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. We have adopted a Code of Conduct and Business Ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.
If we market products in a manner that violates healthcare fraud and abuse laws, or if we violate government price reporting laws, we may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
In addition to FDA restrictions on the marketing of pharmaceutical products, federal and state healthcare laws restrict certain business practices in the biopharmaceutical industry. Although we currently do not have any products on the market, we may be subject, and if our product candidates are approved and we begin commercialization will be subject, to additional healthcare laws and regulations enforced by the federal government and by authorities in the states and foreign jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. These state and federal healthcare laws, commonly referred to as “fraud and abuse” laws, have been applied in recent years to restrict certain marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry, and include anti-kickback, false claims, data privacy and security and transparency statutes and regulations.
Federal false claims laws prohibit, among other things, any person from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment to the federal government or knowingly making, or causing to be made, a false statement to get a false claim paid. The federal healthcare program anti-kickback statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce, or in return for, purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any healthcare item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid or other federally financed healthcare programs. Most states also have statutes or regulations similar to the federal anti-kickback law and federal false claims laws, which may apply to items such as pharmaceutical products and services reimbursed by private insurers. Administrative, civil and criminal sanctions may be imposed under these federal and state laws.
The federal civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity who, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent.
HIPAA created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud or obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up 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.
In addition, we may be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and its implementing regulations, imposes certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s security standards directly applicable to business associates—independent contractors or agents of covered entities that receive or obtain protected health information in connection with providing a service on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also created four new tiers of civil monetary penalties, and newly empowered state attorneys general with the authority to enforce HIPAA. In January 2013, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the Final Omnibus Rule under HIPAA pursuant to HITECH that makes significant changes to the privacy, security and breach notification requirements and penalties. The Final Omnibus Rule generally took effect in September 2013 and enhances certain privacy and security protections, and strengthens the government’s ability to enforce HIPAA. The Final Omnibus Rule also enhanced requirements for both covered entities and business associates regarding notification of breaches of unsecured protected health information. In addition, state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways. These state laws may not have the same effect and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
Additionally, the PPACA also included the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually information related to certain payments or other transfers of value made or distributed to physicians and teaching hospitals and, effective in 2022, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, or to entities or individuals at the request of, or designated on behalf of, such persons and teaching hospitals and to report annually certain ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Failure to comply with required reporting requirements could subject applicable manufacturers and others to substantial civil money penalties.
Also, many states have similar healthcare statutes or regulations that apply to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payor. Certain states require pharmaceutical companies to implement a comprehensive compliance program that includes a limit or outright ban on expenditures for, or payments to, individual medical or health professionals and/or require pharmaceutical companies to track and report gifts and other payments made to physicians and other healthcare providers.
If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the healthcare laws or regulations described above or any other laws that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including potentially significant criminal, civil or administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, exclusion of products from reimbursement under government programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens, diminished profits and future earnings or the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. To the extent that any of our products will be sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws and regulations, which may include, for instance, applicable post-marketing requirements, including safety surveillance, fraud and abuse laws, and implementation of corporate compliance programs and reporting of payments or transfers of value to healthcare professionals.
If we do not comply with laws regulating the protection of the environment and health and human safety, our business could be adversely affected.
Our research and development involves, and may in the future involve, the use of potentially hazardous materials and chemicals. Our operations may produce hazardous waste products. Although we believe that our safety procedures for handling and disposing of these materials comply with the standards mandated by local, state and federal laws and regulations, the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials cannot be eliminated. If an accident occurs, we could be held liable for resulting damages, which could be substantial. We are also subject to numerous environmental, health and workplace safety laws and regulations and fire and building codes, including those governing laboratory procedures, exposure to blood-borne pathogens, use and storage of flammable agents and the handling of biohazardous materials. Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance as prescribed by Washington State and the Province of British Columbia to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of these materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us. Additional federal, state and local laws and regulations affecting our operations may be adopted in the future. We may incur substantial costs to comply with, and substantial fines or penalties if we violate, any of these laws or regulations.
Risks Related to Employee Matters and Managing Growth
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
We are highly dependent on the research and development, clinical and business expertise of Dr. Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., our President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Diana Hausman, our Chief Medical Officer, and other members of our senior management, scientific and clinical teams. Although we have entered into employment agreements with our executive officers, each of them may terminate their employment with us at any time. The loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy.
Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, clinical, manufacturing and sales and marketing personnel will also be critical to our success. In addition, we will need to expand and effectively manage our managerial, operational, financial, development and other resources in order to successfully pursue our research, development and commercialization efforts for our existing and future product candidates. Furthermore, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited talent pool in our industry due to the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize products. Intense competition for attracting key skill-sets may limit our ability to retain and motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may be employed by employers other than us and may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will be limited.
We will need to grow our organization, and we may experience difficulty in managing this growth, which could disrupt our operations.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 352 full-time employees. As our development and commercialization plans and strategies develop, we expect to expand our employee base for managerial, operational, financial and other resources. Additionally, as our product candidates enter and advance through preclinical studies and any clinical trials, we will need to expand our development, manufacturing, regulatory sales and marketing capabilities or contract with other organizations to provide these capabilities for us. Future growth would impose significant added responsibilities on members of management, including the
need to identify, recruit, maintain, motivate and integrate additional employees. Also, our management may need to divert a disproportionate amount of their attention away from our day-to-day activities and devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities. We may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations, which may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, give rise to operational errors, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity amongst remaining employees. Our expected growth could require significant capital expenditures and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the development of existing and additional product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our expected growth, our expenses may increase more than expected, our ability to generate or grow revenue could be reduced and we may not be able to implement our business strategy. Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates and compete effectively with others in our industry will depend on our ability to effectively manage any future growth.
Risks Related to Our Common Shares
Our share price is likely to be volatile and the market price of our common shares may drop below the price paid by shareholders.
Investors should consider an investment in our common shares as risky and invest only if they can withstand a significant loss and wide fluctuations in the market value of their investment. Some of the factors that may cause the market price of our common shares to fluctuate or decrease include:
•results and timing of our clinical trials and clinical trials of our competitors’ products;
•failure or discontinuation of any of our development programs;
•issues in manufacturing our product candidates or future approved products;
•regulatory developments or enforcement in the United States and foreign countries with respect to our product candidates or our competitors’ products;
•competition from existing products or new products that may emerge;
•developments or disputes concerning patents or other proprietary rights;
•introduction of technological innovations or new commercial products by us or our competitors;
•announcements by us, our strategic partners or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, or capital commitments;
•changes in estimates or recommendations by securities analysts that cover our common shares;
•fluctuations in the valuation of companies perceived by investors to be comparable to us;
•public concern over our product candidates or any future approved products;
•future sales of our common shares;
•share price and volume fluctuations attributable to inconsistent trading volume levels of our shares;
•additions or departures of key personnel;
•changes in the structure of health care payment systems in the United States or overseas;
•failure of any of our product candidates, if approved, to achieve commercial success;
•economic and other external factors or other disasters or crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic;
•period-to-period fluctuations in our financial condition and results of operations, including the timing of receipt of any milestone or other payments under commercialization or licensing agreements;
•general market conditions and market conditions for biopharmaceutical stocks;
•overall fluctuations in U.S. equity markets; and
•other factors that may be unanticipated or out of our control.
In addition, the stock market in general, and the stock of biopharmaceutical companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of the relevant companies, including recently in connection with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in increased volatility
and decreased stock prices for many companies notwithstanding the lack of a fundamental change in their underlying business models or prospects. Broad market and industry factors, including potentially worsening economic conditions and other adverse effects or developments relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may negatively affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. The realization of any of the above risks or any of a broad range of other risks, including those described in this “Risk Factors” section, could have a material adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
An active trading market for our common shares may not be sustained.
An active trading market for our shares may not be sustained. If an active market for our common shares does not continue, it may be difficult for our shareholders to sell their shares without depressing the market price for the shares or sell their shares at or above the prices at which they acquired their shares or sell their shares at the time they would like to sell. Any inactive trading market for our common shares may also impair our ability to raise capital to continue to fund our operations by selling shares and may impair our ability to acquire other companies or technologies by using our shares as consideration.
Substantial future sales of our common shares, or the perception that these sales could occur, may cause the price of our common shares to drop significantly, even if our business is performing well.
A large volume of sales of our common shares could decrease the prevailing market price of our common shares and could impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of equity securities in the future. Even if a substantial number of sales of our common shares does not occur, the mere perception of the possibility of these sales could depress the market price of our common shares and have a negative effect on our ability to raise capital in the future.
We do not anticipate paying cash dividends, and accordingly, shareholders must rely on share appreciation for any return on their investment.
We have never paid any dividends on our common shares. We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to fund the development and growth of our business and do not anticipate that we will declare or pay any cash dividends on our common shares in the foreseeable future. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, of our common shares will be the sole source of gain on investment in our common shares for the foreseeable future. Investors seeking cash dividends should not invest in our common shares.
We are governed by the corporate laws of Canada, which in some cases have a different effect on shareholders than the corporate laws of the United States.
We are governed by the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) (“BCBCA”) and other relevant Canadian laws, which may affect the rights of shareholders differently than those of a company governed by the laws of a U.S. jurisdiction, and may, together with our charter documents, have the effect of delaying, deferring or discouraging another party from acquiring control of our company by means of a tender offer, a proxy contest or otherwise, or may affect the price an acquiring party would be willing to offer in such an instance. The material differences between the BCBCA and Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”) that may have the greatest such effect include the following: (i) for certain corporate transactions (such as mergers and amalgamations or amendments to our articles) the BCBCA generally requires the voting threshold to be a special resolution approved by 66 2/3% of shareholders, or as set out in the articles, as applicable, whereas DGCL generally only requires a majority vote; and (ii) under the BCBCA a holder of 5% or more of our common shares can requisition a special meeting of shareholders, whereas such right does not exist under the DGCL. We cannot predict whether investors will find our company and our common shares less attractive because we are governed by foreign laws.
U.S. civil liabilities may not be enforceable against us, our directors, our officers or certain experts named in our Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We are governed by the BCBCA and our principal place of business is in Canada. Certain of our directors and officers, as well as certain experts named herein, reside outside of the United States, and all or a substantial portion of their assets as well as all or a substantial portion of our assets are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult for investors to effect service of process within the United States upon us and such directors, officers and experts or to enforce judgments obtained against us or such persons, in U.S. courts, in any action, including actions predicated upon the civil liability provisions of U.S. federal securities laws or any other laws of the United States. Additionally, rights predicated solely upon civil liability provisions of U.S. federal securities laws or any other laws of the United States may not be enforceable in original actions, or actions to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts, brought in Canadian courts, including courts in the Province of British
Columbia. Furthermore, provisions in our articles provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the appellate courts therefrom, to the fullest extent permitted by law, will be the sole and exclusive forum for certain actions or proceedings brought against us, our directors and/or our officers. These provisions may limit our shareholders’ ability to bring a claim against us in a judicial forum that our shareholders consider favorable or convenient for such disputes and may discourage lawsuits with respect to such claims.
U.S. holders of the company’s shares may suffer adverse tax consequences if we are characterized as a passive foreign investment company.
We believe that we were not classified as a passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) for the taxable year ended December 31, 2020. However, the determination as to whether we are a PFIC for any taxable year is based on the application of complex U.S. federal income tax rules that are subject to differing interpretations. If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder (as defined under Item 5, “Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities – Certain U.S. Income Tax Considerations For U.S. Holders”) holds the common shares, it would likely result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences for such U.S. Holder. U.S. Holders should carefully read Item 5, “Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities – Certain U.S. Income Tax Considerations For U.S. Holders” for more information and consult their own tax advisors regarding the likelihood and consequences if we are treated as a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes, including the advisability of making a “qualified electing fund” election (including a protective election), which may mitigate certain possible adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences but may result in an inclusion in gross income without receipt of such income.
Our principal shareholders, in aggregate, could exert substantial control over us which could delay or prevent a change in corporate control or result in the entrenchment of management or the board of directors.
Our principal shareholders, being our shareholders that beneficially own (or upon exercise of convertible securities would own) 10% or more of our common shares, together with their affiliates and related persons, in aggregate, own or could acquire (contingent upon the exercise of convertible securities they own) approximately 28.9% of our outstanding common shares as of December 31, 2020 (18.5% excluding the exercise of convertible securities). Our directors and named executive officers beneficially own, in the aggregate, approximately 4.7% of our outstanding common shares as of December 31, 2020. Our principal shareholders, if acting together (with or without our directors and named executive officers), may have the ability to exert substantial control over the outcome of matters submitted to our shareholders for approval, including the election and removal of directors and any merger or sale of all or substantially all of our assets. In addition, our principal shareholders, if acting together (with or without our directors and named executive officers), may have the ability to exert substantial control over the management and affairs of our company. Accordingly, this concentration of ownership could harm the market price of our common shares by:
•delaying, deferring, or preventing a change in control;
•entrenching our management or the board of directors;
•impeding a merger, takeover, or other business combination involving us; or
•discouraging a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.
Provisions in our corporate charter documents and Canadian law could make an acquisition of us, which may be beneficial to our shareholders, more difficult and may prevent attempts by our shareholders to replace or remove our current management and/or limit the market price of our common shares.
Provisions in our notice of articles and articles, as well as certain provisions under the BCBCA, and applicable Canadian securities laws, may discourage, delay or prevent a merger, acquisition or other change in control of us that shareholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which they might otherwise receive a premium for their common shares. These provisions include the establishment of a staggered board of directors, which divides the board into three groups, with directors in each group serving a three-year term. The existence of a staggered board can make it more difficult for shareholders to replace or remove incumbent members of our board of directors. As such, these provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for our common shares, thereby depressing the market price of our common shares. In addition, because our board of directors is responsible for appointing the members of our management team, these provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our shareholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for shareholders to replace members of our board of directors. Among other things, these provisions include the following:
•shareholders cannot amend our articles unless such amendment is approved by shareholders holding at least a majority of the shares entitled to vote on such approval;
•our board of directors may, without shareholder approval, issue preferred shares having any terms, conditions, rights, preferences and privileges as the board of directors may determine; and
•shareholders must give advance notice to nominate directors or to submit proposals for consideration at shareholders’ meetings.
General Risk Factors
If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, shareholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our common shares.
Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we are required to establish and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting and adequate disclosure controls and procedures. Effective internal control over financial reporting is necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and, together with adequate disclosure controls and procedures, are designed to prevent fraud. Even if our management concludes that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, our independent registered public accounting firm may conclude that there are material weaknesses or significant deficiencies with respect to our internal controls or the level at which our internal controls are documented, designed, implemented or reviewed. Undetected material weaknesses in our internal controls could lead to financial statement restatements and require us to incur the expense of remediation. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our common shares. Furthermore, if we cannot provide reliable financial reports or prevent fraud, including as a result of remote working by our employees in connection with COVID-19 and related public health safety measures, our business and results of operations would likely be materially and adversely affected.
We are at risk of securities class action litigation.
Securities class action litigation has often been brought against companies following a decline in the market price of their securities. This risk is especially relevant for us because biotechnology companies have experienced significant stock price volatility in recent years. If we face such litigation, it could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could materially harm our business.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our share price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common shares will depend on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. We do not have any control over these analysts. We cannot assure that analysts will cover us or provide accurate or favorable coverage. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our stock or change their opinion of our common shares negatively, our share price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause our share price or trading volume to decline. Moreover, the research and reports that analysts publish may suggest a price for our common shares that does not fully or accurately reflect the true value of our company. Furthermore, even if such analyst publications are favorable, these reports could have negative consequences for us.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Our headquarters are located in Vancouver, British Columbia, where we lease separate office and laboratory space. The term of each lease expires in February 2022. We entered into a lease on January 25, 2019 to serve as our new Vancouver, British Columbia headquarters (our “New Headquarters”). Our New Headquarters will provide us with more space than our current Vancouver leases and will allow us to have our office and laboratory spaces in a single building. The commencement date of this lease depends upon completion of construction of the building and is currently estimated to be no later than in the fourth quarter of 2021. This lease has an initial term of ten years, with two five-year extension options.
We believe that our existing facilities are adequate for our immediate needs and we have entered into the lease for our New Headquarters to accommodate our anticipated growth. We believe that, should it be needed, additional space can be leased to accommodate any future growth.
Our U.S. office is located in Seattle, Washington. The expiration date of the lease is September 30, 2025.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
From time to time, we may become involved in legal proceedings or be subject to claims arising in the ordinary course of our business. As of December 31, 2020, we are not a party to any legal proceedings that, in the opinion of our management, would reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results or cash flows if determined adversely to us. Regardless of the outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources and other factors.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common shares began trading on the NYSE and the Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”) on April 28, 2017 under the symbol “ZYME.” Prior to such time, there was no public market for our common shares. We voluntarily delisted our common shares from the TSX as of the close of business on October 1, 2019. The following table sets forth the high and low sales prices per common share as reported on the NYSE and TSX for the periods indicated.
|December 31, 2020||56.73 ||38.03 ||n/a||n/a|
|September 30, 2020||46.76 ||28.71 ||n/a||n/a|
|June 30, 2020||41.49 ||31.16 ||n/a||n/a|
|March 31, 2020||52.75 ||20.33 ||n/a||n/a|
|December 31, 2019||45.83 ||24.00 |
|September 30, 2019||29.75 ||21.52 ||39.10 ||29.64 |
|June 30, 2019||23.17 ||14.65 ||30.43 ||19.75 |
|March 31, 2019||17.30 ||13.96 ||23.02 ||18.73 |
|December 31, 2018||15.73 ||10.72 ||20.52 ||14.34 |
|September 30, 2018||16.88 ||12.15 ||21.69 ||15.84 |
|June 30, 2018||29.00 ||10.37 ||30.36 ||13.37 |
|March 31, 2018||14.00 ||7.69 ||17.31 ||9.62 |
|December 31, 2017||9.33 ||6.87 ||11.60 ||9.00 |
|September 30, 2017||9.12 ||6.25 ||11.48 ||8.05 |
|April 28, 2017 to June 30, 2017||14.25 ||7.24 ||19.55 ||10.50 |
On February 22, 2021, the last reported sale price of our common shares on the NYSE was $40.51 per share.
As at February 22, 2021, we had 28 shareholders of record holding our common shares, of which seven were U.S. shareholders. A substantially greater number of holders of Zymeworks’ common stock are “street name” or beneficial holders whose shares of record are held by banks, brokers, and other financial institutions.
We have never paid any dividends on our common shares or any of our other securities. We currently intend to retain any future earnings to finance the growth and development of our business, and we do not anticipate that we will declare or pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay cash dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will be dependent upon our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, restrictions under any future indebtedness and other factors the board of directors deems relevant.
Certain Canadian Federal Income Tax Considerations for U.S. Holders
The following is a general summary of the principal Canadian federal income tax considerations generally applicable under Income Tax Act (Canada) (the “Tax Act”) to a holder of common shares, each of whom, at all relevant times, for the purposes of the Tax Act, holds such common shares as capital property, deals at arm’s length with the Company, is not affiliated with the Company and, for purposes of the Tax Act, is not, and is not deemed to be, a resident of Canada and has not and will not use or hold or be deemed to use or hold the common shares in the course of carrying on business in Canada (a “Non-Resident
Holder”) and is not a “specified shareholder” (as defined in subsection 18(5) of the Tax Act). A “specified shareholder” for these purposes generally includes a person who (either alone or together with persons with whom that person is not dealing at arm’s length for purposes of the Tax Act) owns or has the right to acquire or control 25% or more of the common shares determined on a votes or fair market value basis. Special rules, which are not discussed below, may apply to a non-resident of Canada that is an insurer that carries on business in Canada and elsewhere.
The common shares will generally be considered capital property to a Non-Resident Holder unless either (i) the Non-Resident Holder holds the common shares in the course of carrying on a business of buying and selling securities or (ii) the Non-Resident Holder has acquired the common shares in a transaction or transactions considered to be an adventure or concern in the nature of trade.
The term “U.S. Holder,” for the purposes of this section, means a Non-Resident Holder who, for purposes of the Canada-United States Tax Convention (1980) as amended, (the “Convention”), is at all relevant times a resident of the United States and is a “qualifying person” within the meaning of the Convention. In some circumstances, fiscally transparent entities (including limited liability companies) will be entitled to benefits under the Convention. U.S. Holders are urged to consult with their own tax advisors to determine their entitlement to benefits under the Convention based on their particular circumstances.
This summary is based on the current provisions of the Tax Act, the regulations thereunder (the “Regulations”), the current provisions of the Convention, and counsel’s understanding of the current published administrative policies and assessing practices of the Canada Revenue Agency (the “CRA”) publicly available prior to the date hereof. This summary also takes into account all specific proposals to amend the Tax Act and Regulations publicly announced by or on behalf of the Minister of Finance (Canada) prior to the date hereof (collectively, the “Proposed Tax Amendments”). No assurances can be given that the Proposed Tax Amendments will be enacted or will be enacted as proposed. Other than the Proposed Tax Amendments, this summary does not take into account or anticipate any changes in law or the administration policies or assessing practice of CRA, whether by judicial, legislative, governmental or administrative decision or action, nor does it take into account provincial, territorial or foreign income tax legislation or considerations, which may differ significantly from those discussed herein.
This summary is of a general nature only and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed to be, legal or tax advice to any U.S. Holder and no representations with respect to the income tax consequences to any particular U.S. Holder are made. This summary is not exhaustive of all Canadian federal income tax considerations. Accordingly, U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors with respect to their own particular circumstances. The discussion below is qualified accordingly.
Subject to certain exceptions that are not discussed herein, for purposes of the Tax Act, all amounts relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of common shares, including dividends, adjusted cost base and proceeds of dispositions must be determined in Canadian dollars using the daily exchange rate of the Bank of Canada on the particular date the particular amount arose or such other rate of exchange as acceptable to the CRA.
Disposition of Common Shares
A Non-Resident Holder will not be subject to tax under the Tax Act in respect of any capital gain realized by such Non-Resident Holder on a disposition of the common shares, nor will capital losses arising from the disposition be recognized under the Tax Act, unless the common shares constitute “taxable Canadian property” (as defined in the Tax Act) of the Non-Resident Holder at the time of disposition and the Non-Resident Holder is not entitled to relief under an applicable income tax treaty or convention. As long as the shares are then listed on a “designated stock exchange” (as defined in the Tax Act) (which currently includes the NYSE) at the time of disposition, the common shares generally will not constitute taxable Canadian property of a Non-Resident Holder, unless at any time during the 60-month period immediately preceding the disposition the following two conditions are met concurrently: (i) the Non-Resident Holder, persons with whom the Non-Resident Holder did not deal at arm’s length, partnerships in which the Non-Resident Holder or persons with whom the Non-Resident Holder did not deal at arm’s length holds a membership interest directly or indirectly through one or more partnerships, or the Non-Resident Holder together with all such persons, owned or was considered to own 25% or more of the issued shares of any class or series of shares of the capital stock of the Company; and (ii) more than 50% of the fair market value of the common shares was derived directly or indirectly from one or any combination of real or immovable property situated in Canada, “Canadian resource properties” (as defined in the Tax Act), “timber resource properties” (as defined in the Tax Act) or a options in respect of, or interests in, or civil law rights in, such properties, whether or not it exists.
If the common shares are taxable Canadian property to a Non-Resident Holder, any capital gain realized on the disposition or deemed disposition of such shares may not be subject to Canadian federal income tax pursuant to the terms of an applicable income tax treaty or convention between Canada and the country of residence of a Non-Resident Holder, including the Convention.
A Non-Resident Holder whose shares are taxable Canadian property should consult their own advisors.
Dividends on Common Shares
Under the Tax Act, dividends on common shares paid or credited to a Non-Resident Holder will be subject to Canadian withholding tax at the rate of 25% of the gross amount of the dividends. This withholding tax may be reduced pursuant to the terms of an applicable income tax treaty or convention between Canada and the country of residence of a Non-Resident Holder. Under the Convention, a U.S. Holder will generally be subject to Canadian withholding tax at a rate of 15% of the gross amount of such dividends (or 5% in the case of a U.S. Holder that is a company beneficially owning at least 10% of the Company’s voting shares). In addition, under the Convention, dividends may be exempt from Canadian non-resident withholding tax if paid to certain U.S. Holders that are qualifying religious, scientific, literary, educational or charitable tax-exempt organizations and qualifying trusts, companies, organizations or arrangements operated exclusively to administer or provide pension, retirement or employee benefits that are exempt from tax in the United States and that have complied with specific administrative procedures.
The CRA allows residents of any country with which Canada has a tax treaty to certify that they reside in that country, so they are eligible to have Canadian non-resident tax withheld on the payment of dividends at the reduced tax treaty rate. Individual registered shareholders should complete a Form NR301—“Declaration of Eligibility for Benefits (Reduced Tax) under a Tax Treaty for a Non-Resident Person” and return it to our transfer agent, Computershare Investor Services Inc.
Certain U.S. Income Tax Considerations For U.S. Holders
The following discussion is a general summary of certain U.S. federal income tax consequences of the ownership and disposition of the common shares. It applies only to U.S. Holders (as defined below) that acquire and hold the common shares as capital assets (generally, property held for investment purposes) and is of a general nature. This summary should not be construed to constitute legal or tax advice to any particular U.S. Holder.
This summary does not apply to or address U.S. Holders subject to special rules, including, without limitation, brokers, dealers in securities or currencies, traders in securities that elect to use a mark-to-market method of accounting for securities holdings, tax-exempt organizations, insurance companies, banks, thrifts and other financial institutions, persons liable for alternative minimum tax, persons that hold an interest in an entity that holds the common shares, persons that will own, or will have owned, directly, indirectly or constructively 10% or more (by vote or value) of the Company’s equity, persons that hold the common shares as part of a hedging, integration, conversion or constructive sale transaction or a straddle, or persons whose functional currency is not the U.S. dollar.
This summary does not purport to be a complete analysis of all of the potential U.S. federal income tax considerations that may be relevant to U.S. Holders in light of their particular circumstances. Further, it does not address any aspect of foreign, state, local or estate or gift taxation or the 3.8% surtax imposed on certain net investment income. Investors should consult their own tax advisor as to the U.S. federal, state, local, foreign and any other tax consequences of the ownership and disposition of the common shares.
This summary is based on the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), its legislative history, U.S. Treasury Regulations, Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rulings, published court decisions, and the Convention, all as in effect as of the date hereof, and any of which may be repealed, revoked or modified (possibly with retroactive effect) so as to result in U.S. federal income tax consequences different from those discussed below. This summary is applicable to U.S. Holders who are residents of the United States for purposes of the Convention and who qualify for the full benefits of the Convention.
A “U.S. Holder” is a beneficial owner of the common shares who, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, is a citizen or individual resident of the United States, a corporation (or other entity that is classified as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes) that is created or organized in or under the laws of the United States or any State thereof or the District of Columbia, an estate whose income is subject to U.S. federal income tax regardless of its source, or a trust (i) if a U.S. court can exercise primary supervision over the trust’s administration and one or more U.S. persons are authorized to control all substantial decisions of the trust, or (ii) that validly elects to be treated as a U.S. person for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
If a partnership or other pass-through entity holds the common shares of the Company, the U.S. federal income tax treatment of a partner, beneficiary, or other stakeholder will generally depend on the status of that person and the tax treatment of the pass-through entity. A partner, beneficiary, or other stakeholder in a pass-through entity holding the common shares should consult its own tax advisor with regard to the U.S. federal income tax treatment of its investment in the common shares.
Distributions on the Common Shares
Subject to the PFIC rules discussed below, the gross amount of any distribution received by a U.S. Holder with respect to the common shares (including any amounts withheld to pay Canadian withholding taxes) will be included in the gross income of the U.S. Holder as a dividend to the extent attributable to the Company’s current or accumulated earnings and profits, as determined under U.S. federal income tax principles. The Company does not intend to calculate its earnings and profits under U.S. federal income tax rules. Accordingly, U.S. Holders should expect that a distribution generally will be treated as a dividend for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Unless the Company is treated as a PFIC for the taxable year in which it pays a distribution or in the preceding taxable year (see “Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules” below), the Company believes that it may qualify as a “qualified foreign corporation,” in which case distributions treated as dividends and received by non-corporate U.S. Holders may be eligible for a preferential tax rate. Distributions on the common shares generally will not be eligible for the dividends received deduction available to U.S. Holders that are corporations.
The amount of any dividend paid in Canadian dollars (including any amounts withheld to pay Canadian withholding taxes) will equal the U.S. dollar value of the Canadian dollars calculated by reference to the exchange rate in effect on the date the dividend is received by the U.S. Holder, regardless of whether the Canadian dollars are converted into U.S. dollars. A U.S. Holder will have a tax basis in the Canadian dollars equal to their U.S. dollar value on the date of receipt. If the Canadian dollars received are converted into U.S. dollars on the date of receipt, the U.S. Holder should generally not be required to recognize foreign currency gain or loss in respect of the distribution. If the Canadian dollars received are not converted into U.S. dollars on the date of receipt, a U.S. Holder may recognize foreign currency gain or loss on a subsequent conversion or other disposition of the Canadian dollars. Such gain or loss will be treated as U.S. source ordinary income or loss.
A U.S. Holder may be entitled to deduct or credit Canadian withholding tax imposed on dividends paid to a U.S. Holder, subject to applicable limitations in the Code. For purposes of calculating a U.S. Holder’s foreign tax credit, dividends received by such U.S. Holder with respect to the common shares of a foreign corporation generally constitute foreign source income. However, and subject to certain exceptions, a portion of the dividends paid by a foreign corporation will be treated as U.S. source income for U.S. foreign tax credit purposes, in proportion to its U.S. source earnings and profits, if U.S. persons collectively own, directly or indirectly, 50% or more of the voting power or value of the foreign corporation’s common shares. If a portion of any dividends paid with respect to the common shares are treated as U.S. source income under these rules, it may limit the ability of a U.S. Holder to claim a foreign tax credit for any Canadian withholding taxes imposed in respect of such dividend, although certain elections under the Code and the Convention may be available to mitigate these effects. The rules governing the foreign tax credit are complex. U.S. Holders are urged to consult their own tax advisors regarding the availability of the foreign tax credit under their particular circumstances, including the impact of, and any exception available to, the special income sourcing rule described in this paragraph.
Sale, Exchange or Other Taxable Disposition of the Common Shares
Subject to the PFIC rules discussed below, a U.S. Holder will recognize a capital gain or loss on the sale, exchange or other taxable disposition of the common shares in an amount equal to the difference between the amount realized for the common shares and the U.S. Holder’s adjusted tax basis in the common shares. Capital gains of non-corporate U.S. Holders derived with respect to capital assets held for more than one year are eligible for reduced rates of taxation. The deductibility of capital losses is subject to limitations. Any capital gain or loss recognized by a U.S. Holder generally will be treated as U.S. source gain or loss for U.S. foreign tax credit purposes.
Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules
A foreign corporation will be considered a PFIC for any taxable year in which (1) 75% or more of its gross income is “passive income” under the PFIC rules or (2) 50% or more of the average quarterly value of its assets produce (or are held for the production of) “passive income.” For this purpose, “passive income” generally includes interest, dividends, certain rents and royalties, and certain gains. Royalties derived in the active conduct of a trade or business by a corporation in the licensing of property developed or created through its own officers or staff of employees is generally excluded from passive income, and interest, dividends, rents and royalties received from a related person (within the meaning of the PFIC rules) are excluded from passive income to the extent such payments are properly allocable to the active income of such related person. Moreover, for
purposes of determining if the foreign corporation is a PFIC, if the foreign corporation owns, directly or indirectly, at least 25%, by value, of the shares of another corporation, it will be treated as if it holds directly its proportionate share of the assets and receives directly its proportionate share of the income of such other corporation. If a corporation is treated as a PFIC with respect to a U.S. Holder for any taxable year, the corporation will continue to be treated as a PFIC with respect to that U.S. Holder in all succeeding taxable years, regardless of whether the corporation continues to meet the PFIC requirements in such years, unless certain elections are made.
The determination as to whether a foreign corporation is a PFIC is based on the application of complex U.S. federal income tax rules, which are subject to differing interpretations, and the determination will depend on the composition of the income, expenses and assets of the foreign corporation from time to time and the nature of the activities performed by its officers and employees. The Company believes that it was not classified as a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2020. However, the Company cannot provide any assurance regarding its PFIC status for the current or future taxable years given that the determination of PFIC status is fact-intensive and made on an annual basis. Neither the Company’s U.S. counsel nor U.S. tax advisor expresses any opinion with respect to the Company’s PFIC status or with respect to the Company’s expectations regarding its PFIC status.
If the Company is classified as a PFIC, a U.S. Holder that does not make any of the elections described below would be required to report any gain on the disposition of common shares as ordinary income, rather than as capital gain, and to compute the tax liability on the gain and any “Excess Distribution” (as defined below) received in respect of common shares as if such items had been earned ratably over each day in the U.S. Holder’s holding period (or a portion thereof) for the common shares. The amounts allocated to the taxable year during which the gain is realized or distribution is made, and to any taxable years in such U.S. Holder’s holding period that are before the first taxable year in which the Company is treated as a PFIC with respect to the U.S. Holder, would be included in the U.S. Holder’s gross income as ordinary income for the taxable year of the gain or distribution. The amount allocated to each other taxable year would be taxed as ordinary income in the taxable year during which the gain is realized or distribution is made at the highest tax rate in effect for the U.S. Holder in that other taxable year and would be subject to an interest charge as if the income tax liabilities had been due with respect to each such prior year. For purposes of these rules, gifts, exchanges pursuant to corporate reorganizations and use of common shares as security for a loan may be treated as a taxable disposition of the common shares. An “Excess Distribution” is the amount by which distributions during a taxable year in respect of a common share exceed 125% of the average amount of distributions in respect thereof during the three preceding taxable years (or, if shorter, the U.S. Holder’s holding period for the common shares).
Certain additional adverse tax rules will apply to a U.S. Holder for any taxable year in which the Company is treated as a PFIC with respect to such U.S. Holder and any of the Company’s subsidiaries is also treated as a PFIC (a “Subsidiary PFIC”). In such a case, the U.S. Holder will generally be deemed to own its proportionate interest (by value) in any Subsidiary PFIC and be subject to the PFIC rules described above with respect to the Subsidiary PFIC regardless of such U.S. Holder’s percentage ownership in the Company.
The adverse tax consequences described above may be mitigated if a U.S. Holder makes a timely “qualified electing fund” (a “QEF”) election with respect to its interest in the PFIC. Consequently, if the Company is classified as a PFIC, it would likely be advantageous for a U.S. Holder to elect to treat the Company as a QEF with respect to such U.S. Holder in the first year in which it holds common shares. If a U.S. Holder makes a timely QEF election with respect to the Company, the electing U.S. Holder would be required in each taxable year that the Company is considered a PFIC to include in gross income (i) as ordinary income, the U.S. Holder’s pro rata share of the ordinary earnings of the Company and (ii) as capital gain, the U.S. Holder’s pro rata share of the net capital gain (if any) of the Company, whether or not the ordinary earnings or net capital gain are distributed. An electing U.S. Holder’s basis in common shares will be increased to reflect the amount of any taxed but undistributed income. Distributions of income that had previously been taxed will result in a corresponding reduction of basis in the common shares and will not be taxed again as distributions to the U.S. Holder.
A QEF election made with respect to the Company will not apply to any Subsidiary PFIC; a QEF election must be made separately for each Subsidiary PFIC (in which case the treatment described above would apply to such Subsidiary PFIC). If a U.S. Holder makes a timely QEF election with respect to a Subsidiary PFIC, it would be required in each taxable year to include in gross income its pro rata share of the ordinary earnings and net capital gain of such Subsidiary PFIC, but may not receive a distribution of such income. Such a U.S. Holder may, subject to certain limitations, elect to defer payment of current U.S. federal income tax on such amounts, subject to an interest charge (which would not be deductible for U.S. federal income tax purposes if the U.S. Holder were an individual).
If the Company determines that it, and any subsidiary in which the Company owns, directly or indirectly, more than 50% of such subsidiary’s total aggregate voting power, is likely a PFIC in any taxable year, the Company intends to make available to U.S. Holders, upon request and in accordance with applicable procedures, a “PFIC Annual Information Statement” with respect to the Company and any such subsidiary for such taxable year. The “PFIC Annual Information Statement” may be used by U.S. Holders for purposes of complying with the reporting requirements applicable to a QEF election with respect to the Company and any Subsidiary PFIC. The U.S. federal income tax on any gain from the disposition of common shares or from the receipt of Excess Distributions may be greater than the tax if a timely QEF election is made.
Alternatively, if the Company were to be classified as a PFIC, a U.S. Holder could also avoid certain of the rules described above by making a mark-to-market election (instead of a QEF election), provided the common shares are treated as regularly traded on a qualified exchange or other market within the meaning of the applicable U.S. Treasury Regulations. However, a U.S. Holder will not be permitted to make a mark-to-market election with respect to a Subsidiary PFIC. U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors regarding the potential availability and consequences of a mark-to-market election, as well as the advisability of making a protective QEF election in case the Company is classified as a PFIC in any taxable year.
During any taxable year in which the Company or any Subsidiary PFIC is treated as a PFIC with respect to a U.S. Holder, that U.S. Holder generally must file IRS Form 8621, Information Return by a Shareholder of a Passive Foreign Investment Company or Qualified Electing Fund. U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors concerning annual filing requirements.
Required Disclosure with Respect to Foreign Financial Assets
Certain U.S. Holders are required to report information relating to an interest in the common shares, subject to certain exceptions (including an exception for common shares held in accounts maintained by certain financial institutions), by attaching a completed IRS Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, with their tax return for each year in which they hold an interest in the common shares. U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors regarding information reporting requirements relating to their ownership of the common shares.
This performance graph shall not be deemed “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act or incorporated by reference into any of our filings under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, except as shall be expressly set forth by specific reference in such filing.
The following stock performance graph illustrates a comparison of the total cumulative shareholder return on our common shares from April 28, 2017, which is the date our common shares commenced trading on the NYSE, through December 31, 2020, to two indices: the NYSE Composite Index (“NYA Index”) and the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index (“BTKTR Index”). The graph assumes an initial investment of $100 on April 28, 2017, and, where applicable, includes the reinvestment of dividends.
The comparisons in the graph above are not intended to forecast or be indicative of possible future performance of our common shares.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities
During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, we (i) granted our Canadian employees, consultants and advisors options to purchase an aggregate of 738,425 common shares under our equity compensation plans at exercise prices ranging from C$41.29 to C$67.20 and ranging from $35.20 to $44.92 per share, (ii) made an aggregate of 23,786 common shares available to eligible Canadian employees for purchase under our employee stock purchase plan at purchase price of $19.54 and $30.66 per share, and (iii) granted certain Canadian employees 44,377 restricted stock units under our equity compensation plan. Such options, shares and restricted stock units were issued and sold in offshore transactions pursuant to Regulation S under the Securities Act.
Issuer Repurchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
The following selected financial data is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and should be read in conjunction with, and is qualified in its entirety by, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” contained elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected Consolidated Statement of Operations Data for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019, and 2018 and Consolidated Balance Sheet Data as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected Consolidated Statement of Operations Data for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 and Consolidated Balance Sheet Data as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 have been derived from our audited financial statements that are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Our audited annual consolidated financial statements have been prepared in U.S. dollars and in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
|Year Ended December 31,|
|(dollars in thousands except share and per share amounts)|
|Consolidated Statement of Operations Data|
|Revenue||$||38,951 ||$||29,544 ||$||53,019 ||$||51,762 ||$||11,009 |
|Research and development||168,534 ||115,900 ||56,926 ||41,144 ||35,551 |
|General and administrative||57,885 ||64,177 ||29,457 ||18,550 ||12,554 |
|Impairment on acquired IPR&D||— ||768 ||— ||1,536 ||768 |
|Total operating expenses||226,419 ||180,845 ||86,383 ||61,230 ||48,873 |
|Loss from operations||(187,468)||(151,301)||(33,364)||(9,468)||(37,864)|
|Other income (expense), net||7,345 ||5,282 ||(1,021)||(494)||(1,020)|
|Loss before income taxes||(180,123)||(146,019)||(34,385)||(9,962)||(38,884)|
|Net income tax recovery (expense), net||(429)||582 ||(2,171)||(444)||5,075 |
Net loss per common share (basic)(1)
Net loss per common share (diluted)(1)
Weighted-average number of common shares (basic)(1)
|50,382,497 ||38,022,014 ||29,089,896 ||21,249,414 ||12,736,567 |
Weighted-average number of commons shares (diluted)(1)
|50,382,497 ||38,022,014 ||29,089,896 ||21,321,209 ||12,736,567 |
(1)See “Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements—Summary of Significant Accounting Policies—Net Income (Loss) Per Share” for an explanation of the method used to calculate basic and diluted net income (loss) per common share and the weighted-average number of common shares used in computation of the per common share amounts.
(2)We adopted Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 842 Leases (ASC 842) effective January 1, 2019 using a modified retrospective transition method. Results for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 are presented under ASC 842. Results for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 are not adjusted and continue to be reported in accordance with the Company’s historic accounting under previous lease guidance, ASC 840: Leases.
|Year Ended December 31,|
|(dollars in thousands)|
|Consolidated Balance Sheet Data|
|Cash and cash equivalents||$||242,036 ||$||128,451 ||$||42,205 ||$||35,946 |
|Short-term investments||184,318 ||170,453 ||157,959 ||51,851 |
|Working capital||369,410 ||229,278 ||174,383 ||77,674 |
|Long-term obligations||42,788 ||39,972 ||34,001 ||866 |
|Total assets||538,376 ||368,205 ||244,477 ||131,955 |
|Total liabilities||128,454 ||122,524 ||63,987 ||15,527 |
|Total shareholders’ equity||409,922 ||245,681 ||180,490 ||116,428 |
(1)We adopted ASC 842 effective January 1, 2019 using a modified retrospective transition method. Balance sheet data as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 is presented under ASC 842. Balance sheet data as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 is not adjusted and continue to be reported in accordance with the Company’s historic accounting under previous lease guidance, ASC 840: Leases.
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with the attached financial statements and notes thereto. This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the following sections, contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. For a detailed discussion of these risks and uncertainties, see Item 1A, “Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We caution the reader not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect management’s analysis only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We undertake no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Throughout this discussion, unless the context specifies or implies otherwise, the terms “Zymeworks,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Zymeworks Inc. and its subsidiary. For a discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for fiscal 2019 as compared to fiscal 2018 see Item 7 of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31 2019, filed with the SEC on March 2, 2020.
Zymeworks is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of next-generation multifunctional biotherapeutics. Our suite of complementary therapeutic platforms and our fully integrated drug development engine provide the flexibility and compatibility to precisely engineer and develop highly differentiated product candidates. These capabilities have resulted in multiple product candidates with the potential to drive positive outcomes in large underserved and unaddressed patient populations.
Our goal is to leverage our next-generation therapeutic platforms and proprietary protein engineering capabilities to become a domain dominator in the discovery, development and commercialization of best-in-class multifunctional biotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer and other diseases with high unmet medical need.
Our key priorities to achieve this goal are to:
•complete enrollment of zanidatamab pivotal trial in second-line HER2-amplified BTC;
•launch zanidatamab pivotal trial in first-line HER2-positive GEA and present supporting Phase 2 clinical data;
•present data to support zanidatamab breast cancer development strategy;
•advance ZW49 into and complete cohort expansion; and
•present data from new therapeutic programs and technology platforms.
We commenced operations in 2003 and have since devoted substantially all of our resources to research and development activities including developing our therapeutic platforms, identifying and developing potential product candidates and undertaking preclinical studies and clinical trials. Additionally, we have supported our research and development activities with general and administrative support, as well as by raising capital, conducting business planning and protecting our intellectual property. We have not generated any revenue from the sale of approved products to date and do not expect to do so until such time as we obtain regulatory approval and commercialize one or more of our product candidates. We cannot be certain of the timing or success of approval of our product candidates.
Since our initial public offering (“IPO”) in 2017, we have funded our operations primarily through public offerings, including the issuance of pre-funded warrants, and payments received under our license and collaboration agreements. Payments received from our license and collaboration agreements include upfront fees, milestone payments, as well as research support and reimbursement payments. Prior to our IPO, we also received financing from private equity placements and the issuance of convertible debt, which was subsequently converted into equity securities, and a credit facility. From inception to December 31, 2020, we have received $793.6 million, net of equity issue costs, from these sources of financing including proceeds from exercises of stock options and employee stock purchase plans. As of December 31, 2020, we had $451.6 million of cash resources consisting of cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments and certain long-term investments.
Although it is difficult to predict our funding requirements, based upon our current operating plan, we anticipate that our existing cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and certain long-term investments as of December 31, 2020, combined with the collaboration payments we anticipate receiving, will enable us to fund our planned operations into 2022 and potentially beyond.
We reported a net loss of $180.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 and through December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $471.3 million. Over the next several years, we expect to continue to incur losses as we increase our
research and development expenditures in connection with the ongoing development of our product candidates and other clinical, preclinical and regulatory activities.
COVID-19 has impacted our research and development activities, but has not caused significant disruptions to our business operations to date. In March 2020, we transitioned our workforce to a remote working arrangement to protect the health and safety of our employees. In June 2020, we implemented a program to facilitate the phased return of employees to our lab and office facilities pursuant to enhanced health and safety protocols consistent with guidelines issued by local health authorities. Our preclinical research activities were supplemented by support from external CROs to complement the temporarily reduced capacity at our lab facilities. Certain clinical trial activities, including patient enrollment and site activations, were delayed or otherwise impacted by COVID-19. To date, COVID-19 has not had a material impact on our financial condition, liquidity or longer-term strategic development and commercialization plans.
The extent to which COVID-19 may cause more significant disruptions to our business and greater impacts to our results of operations will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the duration and severity of outbreaks, including potential future waves or cycles, and the effectiveness of actions to contain and treat COVID-19. We cannot predict the duration, scope and severity of any potential business shutdowns or disruptions, including to our ongoing and planned clinical studies and our regulatory approval prospects. Further prolonged shutdowns or other business interruptions could result in material and negative effects to our ability to conduct our business in the manner and on the timelines currently planned, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, and financial condition. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve, and we will continue to monitor the effects of COVID-19 on our business. See Part I - Item 1A, “Risk Factors – Risks Related to Our Business and the Development and Commercialization of Our Product Candidates – Our business has been and may continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Zanidatamab Clinical Program:
In January 2021, we presented updated clinical data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (“ASCO”) Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium for zanidatamab, in both HER2-expressing biliary tract cancer (“BTC”) and gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma (“GEA”). Overall zanidatamab was well tolerated with the majority of treatment-related adverse events were mild or moderate (Grade 1 or 2) in severity and response rates and median duration of response in refractory BTC and GEA compare favorably to current standard of care and emerging treatments.
In November 2020, zanidatamab was granted Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA for patients with previously-treated HER2 gene-amplified BTC and the European Commission (“EC”) granted Orphan Drug designation for zanidatamab in patients with gastric cancer.
In November 2020, we announced an agreement with ALX Oncology Holdings Inc. (“ALX”) to enter into a clinical collaboration to evaluate the combination of zanidatamab and ALX148, a next-generation CD47 blocker, for the treatment of patients with advanced HER2-expressing breast cancer and other solid tumors.
In October 2020, the first patient was dosed in a Phase 2 investigator-initiated trial designed to evaluate zanidatamab in HER2 overexpressed advanced endometrial cancers and carcinosarcomas. The trial is being conducted by Dr. Vicky Makker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and is expected to enroll up to 25 patients with the primary endpoint of assessing the overall response rate.
In July 2020, we initiated a global Phase 2 trial of zanidatamab in patients with previously treated HER2 gene amplified BTC to support accelerated approval based on a primary endpoint of objective response rate, and secondary endpoints of duration of response and safety. In November 2020, our partner, BeiGene, notified us that it had dosed the first patient in South Korea under this study. In relation to this achievement, we received a milestone payment of $10.0 million under our license and collaboration agreement with BeiGene.
In March 2020, our partner, BeiGene, notified us that it had dosed the first patient in a two-arm Phase 1b/2 trial evaluating zanidatamab in combination with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer and in combination with chemotherapy and BeiGene’s PD-1-targeted antibody tislelizumab as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic HER2-positive GEA. This achievement triggered our receipt of a milestone payment of $5.0 million under our license and collaboration agreement with BeiGene.
In January 2020, we announced an agreement with Pfizer and the initiation of a Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating zanidatamab in combination with Pfizer’s Ibrance® (palbociclib), an oral CDK4/6 inhibitor, and the hormone therapy fulvestrant with the goal of providing a chemotherapy-free treatment option to people with advanced HER2-positive, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. We will sponsor the study, and Pfizer will provide palbociclib. Part one of the study will evaluate the safety and tolerability of zanidatamab in combination with palbociclib and fulvestrant and identify the recommended dose of zanidatamab and palbociclib. Part two of the study will evaluate antitumor activity at the recommended dose level. The trial will enroll up to 76 patients at sites in the United States, Canada, and Spain.
In January 2020, we announced that the FDA has granted Fast Track and Orphan Drug Designations to zanidatamab in refractory BTC.
ZW49 Clinical Program:
In January 2021, we announced an interim update from the ongoing ZW49 Phase 1 dose-escalation study. In 35 patients who have received ZW49 across all dosing regimens, there have been no dose limiting toxicities, no treatment-related hematologic, pulmonary, or liver toxicity, and no treatment-related deaths. Over 90% of treatment-related adverse events have been mild or moderate (Grade 1 or 2) in severity, with the most common being keratitis, fatigue, and diarrhea, which have been reversible and manageable in an outpatient setting. There have been no discontinuations due to treatment-related adverse events, and the maximum tolerated dose has not yet been established. ZW49 has demonstrated antitumor activity at all dose levels evaluated in the once every three week regimen including confirmed partial responses and stable disease per RECIST 1.1. Dose escalation is continuing at 3 mg/kg once every three weeks. Three indication-specific expansion cohorts (HER2-positive breast cancer, HER2-positive GEA, and a basket cohort of other HER2-positive cancers) utilizing the 2.5 mg/kg once every three week regimen have also been initiated to better ascertain antitumor activity in more homogeneous patient populations.
Licensing and Collaboration Agreements:
In July 2020, we entered into a new licensing agreement with Merck granting Merck a worldwide, royalty-bearing license to research, develop and commercialize up to three new multispecific antibodies toward Merck’s therapeutic targets in the human health field and up to three new multispecific antibodies toward Merck’s therapeutic targets in the animal health field using our Azymetric and EFECT platforms. We are eligible to receive up to $419.3 million in option exercise fees and clinical development and regulatory approval milestone payments and up to $502.5 million in commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on worldwide sales.
In June 2020, our existing collaboration agreement with BMS was amended to expand the license grant to include the use of our EFECT platform for the development of therapeutic candidates and to extend the research term. We received an upfront expansion fee of $12.0 million and all other financial terms were unchanged.
On January 27, 2020, we announced the closing of our underwritten public offering which consisted of the issuance of 5,824,729 common shares, including the exercise in full of the underwriters’ over-allotment option to purchase 900,000 additional shares, and, in lieu of common shares, to a certain investor, pre-funded warrants to purchase up to 1,075,271 common shares. The common shares were sold at a price to the public of $46.50 per common share and the pre-funded warrants were sold at a price of $46.4999 per pre-funded warrant, for aggregate gross proceeds to the Company of $320.8 million, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. The securities were offered in Canada pursuant to our final prospectus supplement, dated January 22, 2020 (the “Canadian Supplement”), to our Canadian final base shelf prospectus, dated November 18, 2019, and in the United States pursuant to our final prospectus supplement, dated January 22, 2020 (the “U.S. Supplement”, together with the Canadian Supplement, the “Supplements”), to our U.S. automatic shelf registration statement on Form S-3ASR, including a prospectus dated November 5, 2019. The Supplements were filed in Canada and the United States on January 23, 2020.
Board of Directors and Executive Team Changes:
In January 2021, Mr. James Priour was promoted to Chief Commercial Officer and named to the Executive Committee.
In March 2020, we announced the appointment of Dr. Kelvin Neu to our Board of Directors. Dr. Neu was a partner at Baker Bros. Advisors LP, a long term life-sciences investment firm, until January 2021.
Financial Operations Overview
Our revenue consists of collaboration revenue, including amounts recognized relating to upfront non-refundable payments for licenses or options to obtain future licenses, research and development funding and milestone payments earned under collaboration and license agreements. We expect that collaboration revenue from our strategic partnerships will be our primary source of revenue for the foreseeable future.
Research and Development Expense
Research and development expenses consist of expenses incurred in performing research and development activities. These expenses include conducting preclinical research studies, clinical trials, and other indirect expenses in support of advancing our product candidates and therapeutic platforms. The following items are included in research and development expenses:
•fees paid to CROs, consultants, subcontractors and other third-party vendors for work performed under our clinical trials and preclinical studies, including but not limited to laboratory work and analysis, database management, statistical analysis, and other activities;
•fees paid to third-party manufacturers to produce our clinical product candidate supplies and on other third parties to store, monitor and transport bulk drug substance and drug product;
•employee-related expenses such as salaries and benefits;
•stock-based compensation expense related to employees and consultants engaged in research and development activities;
•depreciation of laboratory equipment, computers and leasehold improvements;
•amounts paid to vendors and suppliers for laboratory supplies; and
•overhead expenses such as facilities and other allocated items.
It is difficult to determine with certainty the duration and completion costs of our current or future clinical trials and preclinical programs of our product candidates, or if, when or to what extent we will generate revenue from the commercialization and sale of any of our product candidates that obtain regulatory approval. We may never succeed in achieving regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. The duration, costs and timing of clinical trials and development of our product candidates will depend on a variety of factors, including the uncertainties of clinical trials and preclinical studies, uncertainties in clinical trial enrollment rates and significant and changing government regulation. In addition, the probability of success for each product candidate will depend on numerous factors, including competition, manufacturing capability and commercial viability. We will determine which programs to pursue and how much to fund each program in response to the scientific and clinical success of each product candidate, as well as an assessment of each product candidate’s commercial potential.
General and Administrative Expense
General and administrative expenses consist of salaries and related benefit costs for employees in our executive, finance, intellectual property, business development, human resources and other support functions, as well as legal and professional fees and other expenses. We expect general and administrative expenses to increase as we expand our infrastructure to support our ongoing research and development activities.
Other Income (Expense)
Other income (expense) primarily consists of interest income and foreign exchange gain (loss).
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Our management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations is based on our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The preparation of these consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates, judgments and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable. We review and evaluate these estimates on an ongoing basis. These assumptions and estimates form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities and amounts that have been recorded as revenue and expenses. Actual results and experiences may differ from these estimates. The results of any material revisions would be reflected in the consolidated financial statements prospectively from the date of the change in estimate.
The full extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may directly or indirectly impact our business, results of operations and financial condition, including revenues, expenses, clinical trials, research and development costs and employee-related
amounts, will depend on future developments that are evolving and highly uncertain, such as the duration and severity of outbreaks, including potential future waves or cycles, and the effectiveness of actions taken to contain and treat COVID-19. We considered the potential impact of COVID-19 when making certain estimates and judgments relating to the preparation of our condensed consolidated financial statements. While there was no material impact to our consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2020, our future assessment of the magnitude and duration of COVID-19, as well as other factors, could result in a material impact to our consolidated financial statements in future reporting periods.
For a summary of our significant accounting policies, see Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8, “Consolidated Financial Statements and Supplementary Data”. We consider the following accounting policies to be critical to an understanding of our financial condition and results of operations because these policies require the most subjective or complex judgments on the part of management in their application. There have been no material changes to our critical accounting policies during the year ended December 31, 2020.
Our revenue consists of amounts earned under research and development license and collaboration agreements with our strategic partners. Promised deliverables within these agreements may include grants of licenses, or options to obtain licenses, to our intellectual property, research and development services, and participation on joint research and/or development committees.
In accordance with Accounting Standards Codification Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers ("ASC 606"), the Company recognizes revenue when the Company’s customer obtains control of promised goods or services, in an amount that reflects the consideration which the Company expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. For collaborative arrangements that fall within the scope of ASC 808, Collaborative Arrangements ("ASC 808"), the Company applies the revenue recognition model under ASC 606 to part or all of the arrangements, when deemed appropriate. For collaboration arrangements within the scope of ASC 808 that contain multiple elements, The Company determines which elements of the arrangement are within the scope of ASC 808 and which elements are within the scope of ASC 606, which may require application of judgment. To determine revenue recognition for arrangements that the Company determines are within the scope of Topic 606, the Company performs the following five steps: (i) identify the contract(s) with a customer; (ii) identify the performance obligations in the contract; (iii) determine the transaction price; (iv) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and (v) recognize revenue when or as the Company satisfies a performance obligation. The Company only applies the five-step model to contracts when it is probable that the Company will collect the consideration that it is entitled to in exchange for the goods and services transferred to the customer. If the expectation at contract inception is such that the period between payment by the licensee and the completion of related performance obligations will be one year or less, the Company assumes that the contract does not have a significant financing component.
When applying the revenue recognition criteria of ASC 606 to license and collaboration agreements, management applies significant judgment when evaluating whether contractual obligations represent distinct performance obligations , allocating transaction price to performance obligations within a contract, determining when performance obligations have been met, assessing the recognition and future reversal of variable consideration, and determining and applying appropriate methods of measuring progress for performance obligations satisfied over time. These judgments are discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs for each type of payment received by the Company under the terms of the license and collaborations agreements.
Licenses of intellectual property including platform technology access: If the license to the Company’s intellectual property is determined to be distinct from the other performance obligations identified in the arrangement, the Company recognizes revenues from non-refundable, upfront fees allocated to the license when the license is transferred to the licensee and the licensee is able to use and benefit from the license. For licenses that are not distinct from other promises, the Company applies judgment to assess the nature of the combined performance obligation to determine whether the combined performance obligation is satisfied over time or at a point in time and, if over time, the appropriate method of measuring progress for purposes of recognizing revenue from non-refundable, upfront fees. The Company evaluates the measure of progress each reporting period and, if necessary, adjusts the related revenue recognition accordingly.
Milestone payments: At the inception of each arrangement that includes research, development or regulatory milestone payments, the Company evaluates whether the milestones are considered probable of being reached and estimates the amount to be included in the transaction price using the most likely amount method. If it is probable that a significant revenue reversal would not occur, the associated milestone value is included in the transaction price. Milestone payments that are not within the control of the Company or the licensee, such as regulatory approvals, are not considered probable of being achieved until those
approvals are received. The transaction price is then allocated to each performance obligation on a relative stand- alone selling price basis, for which the Company recognizes revenue as or when the performance obligations under the contract are satisfied.
At the end of each subsequent reporting period, the Company re-evaluates the probability of achievement of such development milestones and any related constraint, and if necessary, adjusts its estimate of the overall transaction price. Any such adjustments are recorded on a cumulative catch-up basis, which would affect license, collaboration and other revenues and earnings in the period of adjustment. The process of successfully achieving the criteria for the milestone payments is highly uncertain. Consequently, there is a significant risk that the Company may not earn all of the milestone payments from each of its strategic partners. Management applies significant judgment when assessing the likelihood of whether milestones are considered probable of being achieved and when allocating the transaction price to each performance obligation for revenue recognition purposes.
Royalties and commercial milestones: For arrangements that include sales-based royalties, including commercial milestone payments based on pre-specified level of sales, the Company recognizes revenue at the later of (i) when the related sales occur, or (ii) when the performance obligation to which some or all of the royalty has been allocated has been satisfied (or partially satisfied). Achievement of these royalties and commercial milestones may solely depend upon performance of the licensee. Since inception to date, the Company has not recognized any royalty revenue or commercial milestone from any of its out-licensing arrangements.
Research support and other payments: Payments by the licensees in exchange for research activities performed by the Company on behalf of the licensee are recognized as revenue upon performance of such activities at rates consistent with prevailing market rates. Payments for research supplies provided are recognized as revenue upon delivery of the supplies.
Research and Development Costs and Related Accrued Expenses
Research and development costs are expensed as incurred and include costs that we incur for our own and for our strategic partners’ research and development activities. These costs primarily consist of employee-related expenses, including salaries and benefits, expenses incurred under agreements with CROs on our behalf, costs associated with investigative sites and consultants that conduct our clinical trials, the cost of acquiring and manufacturing clinical trial materials and other allocated expenses, share-based compensation expense, and costs associated with nonclinical activities and regulatory approvals.
Clinical trial expenses represent a significant component of research and development expenses and we outsource a significant portion of these activities to third-party CROs. Third-party clinical trial expenses include investigator fees, site costs, clinical research organization costs and other trial-related vendor costs. As part of preparing our consolidated financial statements, we estimate accrued liabilities for services that have been performed by clinical research organizations or investigator sites but have not yet been invoiced to us. When making these estimates, management uses operational and contractual information from third party service providers and operational data from internal personnel. We make considerable judgements and estimates in determining the progress of patients based on enrollment and treatment data provided by the third-party service providers and internal personnel. The accrued balance factors in management’s best estimate of the date on which certain services commence, the level of services performed before a given date, whether certain services are invoiceable and the cost of such services. Any changes to the estimates could have a significant impact on the accruals for clinical trial activities that we outsourced to third party CROs. If the actual timing of provision of services or level of effort varies from our estimates, we adjust research and development expense and accrued liabilities accordingly on a prospective basis.
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
Goodwill and IPR&D assets classified as indefinite-lived are not amortized, but are evaluated for impairment annually or more frequently if impairment indicators arise. IPR&D becomes definite-lived upon the completion or abandonment of the associated research and development efforts. For definite-lived intangible assets, if there is a major event indicating that the carrying value may be impaired, then management will perform an impairment test.
Impairment tests for goodwill and intangibles assets involve considerable use of judgment and require management to make estimates and assumptions. The fair values of reporting units are derived from valuation models, which consider various factors such as discount rates, future earnings and growth rates. Changes in estimates and assumptions can affect the reported value of goodwill and intangible assets.
As at December 31, 2020, the Company performed a qualitative assessment for its annual impairment test of goodwill after concluding that it was not more likely than not that the fair value of the reporting unit was less than its carrying value. Consequently, the quantitative impairment test was not required. The Company concluded that there were no impairment indicators related to goodwill or other intangible assets as of December 31, 2020.
We recognize stock-based compensation expense on certain stock-based awards granted to employees and members of the board of directors based on their estimated fair values using the Black-Scholes option pricing model. The Black-Scholes option pricing model requires assumptions for various inputs to measure fair value, including expected term of the awards, underlying share price volatility, forfeiture rates, risk-free interest rate and expected dividend yields of our common shares. Management uses judgement to determine the inputs to the Black-Scholes option pricing model and changes in these assumptions could have a material impact to the fair value calculations and the amount and timing of share-based compensation expense recognized in earnings.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
A summary of recent accounting pronouncements is presented in Note 3 of our Annual Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2020 within this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Results of Operations for the Years Ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018
Year Ended December 31,
|2020||2019||2018||Change 2020 – 2019|
(dollars in millions)
Revenue from research and development collaborations
|$||39.0 ||$||29.5 ||$||53.0 |