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Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties
Our development and commercialization strategy for our product candidates relies in part upon certain patent rights that we license from third parties, and termination of such license could have a materially adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Some of our RNA technologies rely in part upon certain patent rights that we license from third parties. Pursuant to our license agreements, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and make available to the public products or processes as well as to achieve certain specified development, regulatory and commercial milestones. If we do not meet the specified milestones the third party may be able to terminate the license agreement. They may also terminate the license agreement if we are in breach of certain financial obligations or we are otherwise in default of certain obligations under the license agreement. If a license agreement were terminated, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If third parties on which we depend to conduct our pre-clinical studies or any clinical trials do not perform as contractually required, fail to satisfy regulatory or legal requirements or miss expected deadlines, our development programs could be delayed with materially adverse effects on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We rely on CROs, clinical data management organizations and consultants to design, conduct, supervise and monitor pre-clinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates. We and our clinical investigators and CROs are required to comply with various regulations, including Good Clinical Practices, or GCP, which are enforced by the FDA, and guidelines of the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area, or EEA, and comparable foreign regulatory authorities to ensure that the health, safety and rights of patients are protected in clinical development and clinical trials, and that trial data integrity is assured. Regulatory authorities ensure compliance with these requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of our investigators or CROs fail to comply with applicable requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, the EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with such requirements. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with products produced under current Good Manufacturing Practice, or cGMP, requirements, which mandate the methods, facilities and controls used in manufacturing, processing and packaging of a drug product to ensure its safety and identity. Failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat pre-clinical and clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.
Our CROs are not our employees, and except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such CROs, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our ongoing clinical and pre-clinical programs. If CROs do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our operations and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenues could be delayed. Additionally, any significant delays could cause us to miss diligence milestones under our license agreements and could cause licensors to terminate the agreements, which would further harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Because we have relied on third parties, our internal capacity to perform these functions is limited. Outsourcing these functions involves risk that third parties may not perform to our standards, may not produce results in a timely manner or may fail to perform at all. In addition, the use of third-party service providers requires us to disclose our proprietary information to these parties, which could increase the risk that this information will be misappropriated. We currently have a small number of employees, which limits the internal resources we have available to identify and monitor our third-party providers. To the extent we are unable to identify and successfully manage the performance of third-party service providers in the future, our business may be adversely affected. Though we carefully manage our relationships
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with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.
If we cannot contract with acceptable third parties on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, or if these third parties do not carry out their contractual duties, satisfy legal and regulatory requirements for the conduct of pre-clinical studies or clinical trials or meet expected deadlines, our clinical development programs could be delayed and otherwise adversely affected. In all events, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the trial. The FDA and the EMA require clinical trials to be conducted in accordance with GCP, including for conducting, recording and reporting the results of pre-clinical studies and clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of clinical trial participants are protected. Our reliance on third parties that we do not control does not relieve us of these responsibilities and requirements. Any such event could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We rely on third-party manufacturers and suppliers and we intend to rely on third parties to produce pre-clinical, clinical and commercial supplies of our product candidates.
We rely on third parties to supply the materials and components for, and manufacture, our research and development, pre-clinical and clinical trial supplies. We also intend to rely on third-party manufacturers to manufacture the aerosol delivery device that we intend to use to deliver eluforsen to CF patients. We do not own manufacturing facilities or supply sources for such components and materials. There can be no assurance that our supply of research and development, pre-clinical and clinical development drugs and other materials will not be limited, interrupted, restricted in certain geographic regions or of satisfactory quality or continue to be available at acceptable prices. In particular, any replacement of our drug product formulation manufacturer could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number of qualified replacements.
The manufacturing process for a product candidate is subject to FDA, EMA and other foreign regulatory authority review. Suppliers and manufacturers must meet applicable manufacturing requirements and undergo rigorous facility and process validation tests required by regulatory authorities in order to comply with regulatory standards such as cGMP. In the event that any of our suppliers or manufacturers fails to comply with such requirements or to perform its obligations to us in relation to quality, timing or otherwise, or if our supply of components or other materials becomes limited or interrupted for other reasons, we may be forced to manufacture the materials ourselves, for which we currently do not have the capabilities or resources, or enter into an agreement with another third party, which we may not be able to do on reasonable terms, if at all. In some cases, the technical skills or technology required to manufacture our product candidates may be unique or proprietary to the original manufacturer and we may have difficulty, or there may be contractual restrictions prohibiting us from, transferring such skills or technology to another third party and a feasible alternative may not exist. These factors would increase our reliance on such manufacturer or require us to obtain a license from such manufacturer in order to have another third party manufacture our product candidates. If we are required to change manufacturers for any reason, we will be required to verify that the new manufacturer maintains facilities and procedures that comply with quality standards and with all applicable regulations and guidelines. The delays associated with the verification of a new manufacturer could negatively affect our ability to develop product candidates in a timely manner or within budget.
We expect to continue to rely on third party manufacturers if we receive regulatory approval for any product candidate. To the extent that we have existing, or enter into future, manufacturing arrangements with third parties, we will depend on these third parties to perform their obligations in a timely manner consistent with contractual and regulatory requirements, including those related to quality control and assurance. If we are unable to obtain or maintain third-party manufacturing for product candidates, or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to develop and commercialize our product candidates successfully. Our or a third party’s failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:
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If a collaborative partner terminates or fails to perform its obligations under an agreement with us, the commercialization of our product candidates, if approved, could be delayed or terminated.
We are not currently party to any collaborative arrangements for the commercialization of any of our product candidates, although we may pursue such arrangements before any commercialization of our product candidates, if approved. For example, we intend to consider strategic alternatives that include spinouts, out-licensing or collaborative partnerships to develop and commercialize our RNA technologies or programs. If we entered into future collaborative arrangements for the commercialization of our product candidates or similar arrangements and any of our collaborative partners does not devote sufficient time and resources to a collaboration arrangement with us, we may not realize the potential commercial benefits of the arrangement, and our results of operations may be materially adversely affected. In addition, if any such future collaboration partner were to breach or terminate its arrangements with us, the commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed, curtailed or terminated.
Much of the potential revenue from future collaborations may consist of contingent payments, such as payments for achieving regulatory milestones or royalties payable on sales of drugs. The milestone and royalty revenue that we may receive under these collaborations will depend upon our collaborators’ ability to successfully develop, introduce, market and sell new products. In addition, collaborators may decide to enter into arrangements with third parties to commercialize products developed under collaborations using our technologies, which could reduce the milestone and royalty revenue that we may receive, if any. Future collaboration partners may fail to develop or effectively commercialize products using our products or technologies because they:
Competition may negatively impact a partner’s focus on and commitment to our product candidates and, as a result, could delay or otherwise negatively affect the commercialization of such product candidate. If any future collaboration partners fail to develop or effectively commercialize our product candidates for any of these reasons, our sales, if approved, may be limited, which would have a material adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition.
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Our relationships with customers and third-party payors will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.
Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our future arrangements with third-party payors and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute our products for which we obtain marketing approval. As a biopharmaceutical company, even though we do not and will not control referrals of healthcare services or bill directly to Medicare, Medicaid or other third-party payors, certain federal and state healthcare laws and regulations pertaining to fraud and abuse and patients’ rights are and will be applicable to our business. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations that may affect our ability to operate include the following:
Comparable laws and regulations exist in the countries within the European Economic Area, or EEA. Although such laws are partially based upon European Union law, they may vary from country to country. Both healthcare and industry
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specific, as well as general EU and national laws, regulations and industry codes constrain, for example, our interactions with government officials and healthcare practitioners, and the handling of healthcare data. Non-compliance with any of these laws or regulations could lead to criminal or civil liability.
Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will 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, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found to not be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs.
Our employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other misconduct. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with FDA or EMA regulations or similar regulations of other foreign regulatory authorities, to provide accurate information to the FDA, the EMA or other foreign regulatory authorities, to comply with certain manufacturing standards, to comply with U.S. federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations and similar laws and regulations established and enforced by comparable foreign regulatory authorities, to report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, 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 and implemented a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity, such as employee training on enforcement of the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business and results of operations, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.