SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
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____________
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
Commission File Number 001-38281
ERYTECH Pharma S.A.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter and translation of registrant’s name into English)
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
60 Avenue Rockefeller
69008 Lyon France
(Address of principal executive offices)
Chief Executive Officer
ERYTECH Pharma S.A.
60 Avenue Rockefeller
69008 Lyon France
Tel: +33 4 78 74 44 38 Fax: +33 4 78 75 56 29 E-mail: email@example.com
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
American Depositary Shares, each representing one
ordinary share, nominal value €0.10 per share
The Nasdaq Global Select Market
Ordinary shares, nominal value €0.10 per share*
The Nasdaq Global Select Market*
* Not for trading, but only in connection with the registration of the American Depositary Shares.
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act. None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act. None
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
Ordinary shares, nominal value €0.10 per share: 20,057,562 as of December 31, 2020
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
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. ¨ Yes x No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. x Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). xYes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, 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. ¨ Yes x No
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP ¨
International Financial Reporting Standards
as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board x
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. ¨ Item 17 ¨ Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). ¨ Yes x No
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Unless otherwise indicated in this Annual Report, “ERYTECH,” “the company,” “our company,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to ERYTECH Pharma S.A. and its consolidated subsidiary.
“ERYTECH Pharma,” “ERYCAPS,” “GRASPA,” the ERYTECH logo and other trademarks or service marks of ERYTECH Pharma S.A. appearing in this Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2020, or the Annual Report, are the property of ERYTECH Pharma S.A. or its subsidiary, ERYTECH Pharma, Inc. Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report are listed without the ® and ™ symbols, but such references should not be construed as any indicator that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their right thereto. All other trademarks, trade names and service marks appearing in this Annual Report are the property of their respective owners. We do not intend to use or display other companies’ trademarks and trade names to imply any relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.
Our audited consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB. Our consolidated financial statements are presented in euros, and unless otherwise specified, all monetary amounts are in euros. All references in this Annual Report to “$,” “US$,” “U.S.$,” “U.S. dollars,” “dollars” and “USD” mean U.S. dollars and all references to “€” and “euros” mean euros, unless otherwise noted. Throughout this Annual Report, references to ADSs mean American Depositary Shares or ordinary shares represented by such ADSs, as the case may be.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, that are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to our management. All statements other than present and historical facts and conditions contained in this Annual Report, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial positions, business strategy, plans and our objectives for future operations, are forward-looking statements. When used in this Annual Report, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “can,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “is designed to,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “objective,” “should,” or the negative of these and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
•our ability to attain, maintain and expand marketing approval for eryaspase, which is known under the trade name GRASPA in Europe and Israel;
•our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval of eryaspase in the indications for which we plan to develop, and any related restrictions, limitations or warnings in the label of an approved drug or therapy;
•the initiation, timing, progress and results of our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials including our pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of eryaspase for the treatment of second-line pancreatic cancer patients, which we refer to as the TRYbeCA-1 trial, and our proof-of-concept Phase 2 clinical trial in triple negative breast cancer in Europe, which we refer to as the TRYbeCA-2 trial;
•our ability to successfully develop our ERYCAPS platform and advance our pipeline of product candidates;
•the size and growth potential of the markets for our product candidates, if approved, and the rate and degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, including reimbursement that may be received from payors;
•the timing of our regulatory filings for our product candidates, along with regulatory developments in the United States, European Union and other foreign countries;
•our ability to maintain and enter into and successfully complete collaborations, licensing arrangements or in-license or acquire rights to other products, product candidates or technologies;
•our reliance on third parties to manufacture and conduct the clinical trials of our lead product candidate, which we refer to as eryaspase or GRASPA, and our other ERYCAPS product candidates, which could limit our commercialization efforts or delay or limit their future development or regulatory approval;
•our ability to develop sales, commercialization, marketing and manufacturing capabilities and strategy, including future hiring plans;
•our ability to produce adequate supplies of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing and to fulfill our contractual obligations to third-party distributors;
•the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on our business, operations, strategy, goals and anticipated timelines;
•the effects of increased competition as well as innovations by new and existing competitors in our industry;
•our ability to obtain funding for our operations and working capital requirements;
•our ability to maintain, protect and enhance our intellectual property rights and propriety technologies and to operate our business without infringing the intellectual property rights and proprietary technology of third parties;
•regulatory developments in the United States, Europe and other foreign countries;
•our ability to attract and retain qualified employees and key personnel;
•our estimates regarding expenses, future revenues, capital requirements and needs for additional financing;
•our planned level of capital expenditures and our belief that our existing cash, cash equivalents and short- term investments will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements;
•the uncertainty of economic conditions in certain countries in Europe and Asia, such as those related to the COVID-19 pandemic and general economic conditions; and
•whether we are classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for current and future periods; and
•other risks and uncertainties, including those listed in the section of this Annual Report titled “Item 3.D—Risk Factors.”
You should refer to the section of this Annual Report titled “Item 3.D—Risk Factors” for a discussion of important factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements. As a result of these
factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report will prove to be accurate. Furthermore, if our forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame or at all. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
You should read this Annual Report and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report and have filed as exhibits to this Annual Report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results, levels of activity, performance and events and circumstances may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.
In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete. Our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.
Unless otherwise indicated, information contained in this Annual Report concerning our industry and the markets in which we operate, including our general expectations and market position, market opportunity and market size estimates, is based on information from independent industry analysts, third-party sources and management estimates. Management estimates are derived from publicly available information released by independent industry analysts and third-party sources, as well as data from our internal research, and are based on assumptions made by us based on such data and our knowledge of such industry and market, which we believe to be reasonable. In addition, while we believe the market opportunity information included in this Annual Report is generally reliable and is based on reasonable assumptions, such data involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, including those discussed under the section of this Annual Report titled “Item 3.D—Risk Factors.”
SUMMARY RISK FACTORS
Investing in our shares involves numerous risks, including the risks described in “Item 3.D—Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 20-F. Below are some of our principal risks, any one of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects:
•We will need to raise substantial additional funding to pursue our business objectives, which may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all, and failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed may force us to delay, limit or terminate our product development efforts, potential commercialization efforts or other operations.
•We have incurred significant losses since our inception and expect that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future and we may never achieve profitability.
•Changes in European regulations may limit our ability to attract and obtain additional financing sources outside France.
•We have no approved products, which makes it difficult to assess our future prospects.
•We are heavily dependent on the success of our most advanced product candidate, eryaspase.
•We face substantial competition from companies with considerably more resources and experience than we have, which may result in others discovering, developing, receiving approval for, or commercializing products before or more successfully than us.
•If our product candidates are not approved for marketing by applicable government authorities, we will be unable to commercialize them.
•Our product candidates will need to undergo clinical trials that are time-consuming and expensive, the outcomes of which are unpredictable, and for which there is a high risk of failure. If clinical trials of our product candidates fail to satisfactorily demonstrate safety and efficacy to the EMA, FDA and other regulators, we may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of these product candidates.
•The United States and European formulations of eryaspase differ, and regulatory authorities in each jurisdiction may not accept data from alternative eryaspase formulations in other jurisdiction(s), which may result in delays and additional costs in order to conduct additional comparability studies or the need to repeat nonclinical and clinical studies in order to obtain approval in each jurisdiction in which we intend to commercialize eryaspase.
•In the United States, our product candidates will be regulated as biological products, or biologics, which may subject them to competition sooner than we currently anticipate.
•We rely on third parties to assist in our discovery and development activities, and the loss of any of our relationships with research institutions could hinder our product development prospects.
•We rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and perform data collection and analysis, which may result in costs and delays that prevent us from successfully commercializing our product candidates.
•Due to our limited resources and access to capital, our decisions to prioritize development of certain product candidates may adversely affect our business prospects.
•Even if we obtain marketing approvals for our product candidates, the terms of approvals and ongoing regulation of our products may limit how we market our products, which could materially impair our ability to generate revenues.
•Our production capacity could prove insufficient for our needs.
•Our production costs may be higher than we currently estimate.
•Our failure to maintain certain tax benefits applicable to French biopharmaceutical companies may adversely affect our results of operations, our cash flows and our financial condition.
•The COVID-19 coronavirus could adversely impact our business, including our clinical trials.
•Our ability to compete may decline if we do not adequately protect our proprietary rights.
•The market price of our equity securities may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance.
•The dual listing of our ordinary shares and our ADSs may adversely affect the liquidity and value of our ordinary shares and ADSs.
•The rights of shareholders in companies subject to French corporate law differ in material respects from the rights of shareholders of corporations incorporated in the United States.
Item1.Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers.
Item2.Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3.Key Information.
3.A.Selected Financial Data
We have elected to comply with Item 3.A of Form 20-F (Selected Financial Data), as amended February 10, 2021 and are omitting this disclosure in reliance thereon.
3.B.Capitalization and Indebtedness
3.C.Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
Our business faces significant risks. You should carefully consider all of the information set forth in this Annual Report and in our other filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, including the following risk factors which we face and which are faced by our industry. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks. This report also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our results could materially differ from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, as a result of certain factors including the risks described below and elsewhere in this Annual Report and our other SEC filings. See “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” above.
3.D.1.Risks Related to our Financial Position and Capital Needs
We will need to raise substantial additional funding to pursue our business objectives, which may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all, and failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed may force us to delay, limit or terminate our product development efforts, potential commercialization efforts or other operations.
Our net cash flows used in operating activities were €47.9 million, €43.3 million and €51.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, our cash and cash equivalents were €44.4 million ($54.4 million) compared to €73.2 million as of December 31, 2019 which represents an annual cash and cash equivalents net use of €28.7 million. We believe that our cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2020 with (i) the sale of shares under the ATM program in February 2021, for a gross amount of €6.6 million ($8.0 million) and (iii) the tranche of convertible notes issued in March 2021 for a gross amount of €3.0 million enable us to cover our cash requirements until the fourth quarter 2021. Moreover, we believe that we will be able to fund our operations until the first quarter 2022 with the possibility of further use of the OCABSA agreement to raise up to a maximum of €42.0 million until June 2022, subject to the regulatory limit of 20% dilution, representing approximately €30.0 million as of the date of this Annual Report based on a share price of €6.63 (closing share price on the day before the date of this Annual Report). However, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding to support our continuing operations beyond the first quarter 2022.
Refer to "Item 10.B. Liquidity and capital resources" and "Item 10.C Material Contracts for further information on the ATM program and on the OCABSA agreement".
Identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we or any current or future collaborators may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain regulatory approval and achieve product sales. In addition, eryaspase or any of our product candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Our commercial revenue, if any, will be derived from the sale of drugs that we do not
expect to be commercially available for several years, if at all. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional financing to achieve our business objectives. While we are pursuing various financing strategies, adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or any future commercialization efforts.
Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our shareholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our product candidates.
To date, we have financed our operations primarily through a combination of sale of equity securities, debt financings, including, but not limited to, the ATM offering program in the United States, the convertible bond financing pursuant to the OCABSA Agreement, state-guaranteed loans in France, or PGE loans, and public assistance programs in support of innovation, such as the conditional advances and subsidies from the Banque Publique d’Investissement, or Bpifrance, and research tax credits. Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial revenue from the sale of our product candidates, we expect to continue to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances and licensing arrangements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity securities or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a shareholder. Debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, 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.
We also implemented a convertible bond financing with European High Growth Opportunities Fund in June 2020 and an At the Market Program (ATM) in the United States, it being specified that the total number of new shares that may be issued in connection with these two instruments is capped at 20% of the number of shares admitted to trading on Euronext Paris, including shares admitted without a prospectus during the twelve months prior to their issuance.
If we raise additional funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may be required to relinquish valuable rights to our research programs or product candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings or other arrangements with third parties when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our drug development or future commercialization efforts or grant rights to third parties to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.
We have incurred significant losses since our inception and expect that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future and we may never achieve profitability.
We have not yet generated significant revenues and have incurred significant operating losses since our inception. We incurred net losses of €38.2 million, €62.7 million and €73.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively; these losses have adversely impacted, and will continue to adversely impact, our equity attributable to shareholders and net assets. These losses are principally the result of our research expenditures and development costs for conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, as well as general and administrative expenses associated with our operations. We anticipate that our operating losses will continue for at least the next several years as we continue our research and development activities and until we generate substantial revenues from any approved product candidates. As of December 31, 2020, we had a total shareholders' equity of €26.5 million.
We have devoted most of our financial resources to research and development, including our clinical and preclinical development activities. The amount of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the pace and amount of our future expenditures and our ability to obtain funding through equity or debt financings, strategic collaborations or tax credits until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenue. We have not yet received marketing approval for any of our product candidates. Even if we obtain regulatory approval to market a product candidate, our future revenues will depend upon the size of any markets in which our product candidates have received approval, and our ability to achieve sufficient market acceptance, reimbursement from third-party payors and adequate market share for our product candidates in those markets.
We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially as we:
•continue the preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates;
•expand the scope of our current clinical trials for our product candidates;
•expand our clinical and commercial manufacturing capabilities for our product candidates;
•seek regulatory and marketing approvals for our product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;
•establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain marketing approval and for which we have not entered into a third-party collaboration;
•seek to identify and validate additional product candidates;
•acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies;
•make milestone, royalty or other payments under in-license or collaboration agreements;
•maintain, protect and expand our intellectual property portfolio;
•attract new and retain existing skilled personnel; and
•create additional infrastructure or improve existing ones to support our operations.
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly from year to year, such that a period-to-period comparison of our results of operations may not be a good indication of our future performance. In any particular period or periods, our operating results could be below the expectations of securities analysts or investors, which could cause the price of the ordinary shares and ADSs to decline.
We may be forced to repay conditional advances prematurely if we fail to comply with our contractual obligations under certain innovation grant agreements.
Through December 31, 2020, we have received €2.4 million in non-refundable grants and €5.0 million in conditional advances from Bpifrance. To date, TEDAC is the only ongoing program funded by non-refundable grants and conditional advances. If we fail to comply with our contractual obligations under the applicable innovation grant agreements, including if we lose our exclusive right to commercially develop our product candidates, we could be forced to repay the conditional advances (amounting to €4.2 million at the date of this Annual Report) ahead of schedule. Such premature repayment could adversely affect our ability to finance our research and development projects, in which case we would need to locate alternative sources of capital, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.
We have entered into a note and warrant transaction consisting of tranches of convertible bonds with warrants attached (OCABSA) and may encounter adverse effects as a result thereof.
On June 24, 2020, we entered into the OCABSA Agreement, pursuant to which we may raise up to €60 million in the aggregate from the exercise of convertible notes, subject to the regulatory limit of 20% dilution, unless further authorized. The share warrants attached to the notes represent 10% of the nominal amount of the issued notes and have an exercise price of €8.91 per share. This exercise price represents a 20% premium over the lowest volume-weighted average daily price of the share over the reference period preceding the issue of the first tranche.
As of December 31, 2020, we issued five tranches of €3.0 million (on July 6, 2020, August 24, 2020, November 17, 2020, December 7, 2020 and December 22, 2020), for a total amount of €15.0 million, all of which convertible notes have been converted into ordinary shares and no warrants have been exercised. Since December 31, 2020, we issued one further tranche of €3.0 million on March 2, 2021 and we could decide to issue additional tranches up to a maximum of €42.0 million until June 2022, subject to the regulatory limit of 20% dilution. There is no guarantee that we will be able to raise this maximum amount, and our ability to issue additional tranches depends on a number of factors and conditions beyond our control.
By using this financing program, we may encounter the following adverse effects:
•the rapid and frequent sale of the new shares resulting from the conversion of the convertible notes and the exercise of the share warrants by the investor may adversely impact our share price;
•the total amount of issuances of convertible notes and share warrants may depend on certain regulatory approvals making the financing amount uncertain;
•as our share price has an impact on the number of shares issued upon the conversion of the convertible notes and the exercise of the share warrants, the number of shares issued upon the conversion of the convertible notes and the exercise of the share warrants is uncertain and may significantly fluctuate during the lifetime of the financing program; and
•conversion into ordinary shares of all or part of the convertible notes and the exercise of all or part of the share warrants could have a potentially significant dilutive effect for our shareholders.
As an example, a shareholder holding 1% of our share capital as of the date of this Annual Report would hold 0.73% of the share capital in the event of the conversion of outstanding notes, the exercise of outstanding warrants and the use of all the amounts remaining in the OCABSA Agreement (€42.0 million) and a share price of €6.63 (closing share price on the day before the date of this Annual Report), subject to obtaining additional authorizations relating thereto if applicable.
3.D.2.Risks Related to Development of our Product Candidates
We have no approved products, which makes it difficult to assess our future prospects.
A key element of our strategy is to use and expand our proprietary ERYCAPS platform to build a pipeline of innovative product candidates and to progress these drug candidates through clinical development for the treatment of severe forms of cancer and orphan diseases. The discovery of therapeutic drugs based on encapsulating molecules inside red blood cells is an emerging field, and the scientific discoveries that form the basis for our efforts to discover and develop drug candidates are relatively new. The scientific evidence to support the feasibility of developing drug candidates based on these discoveries is both preliminary and limited. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in a pipeline of product candidates, we have not yet obtained approval for any products, we have not yet generated any revenues from the sale of approved products and we may not be able to develop product candidates that are considered to be safe and effective. Our operations to date have been limited to developing our ERYCAPS platform technology and undertaking preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates, including our lead product candidate, eryaspase, also known as GRASPA, the approved trade name for eryaspase in Europe. However, we have not yet demonstrated an ability to overcome many of the risks and uncertainties frequently encountered by companies in new and rapidly evolving fields, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry. Consequently, the ability to predict our future operating results or business prospects is more limited than if we had a longer operating history or approved products on the market.
We are heavily dependent on the success of our most advanced product candidate, eryaspase.
Our business and future success depends on our ability to obtain regulatory approval for and, together with third-party collaborators, to successfully commercialize our lead product candidate, eryaspase, which is under clinical development for oncology indications. Eryaspase is our only product candidate in late-stage clinical development, and our business currently depends heavily on its successful development. Eryaspase will require additional clinical and non-clinical development, regulatory review and approval in multiple jurisdictions, substantial investment, access to sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity and significant marketing efforts before we can generate any revenue from product sales. We cannot be certain eryaspase will receive regulatory approval or be successfully commercialized even if we receive regulatory approval. In addition, because eryaspase is our most advanced product candidate, and because our other product candidates are based on the same ERYCAPS platform technology, if eryaspase encounters safety or efficacy problems, developmental delays or regulatory issues or other problems, our development plans and business would be significantly harmed.
We may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our ERYCAPS platform to develop marketable products.
We believe that our ERYCAPS platform has broad potential application and can be used to encapsulate a wide range of therapeutic agents within red blood cells for which long-circulating therapeutic activity and rapid and specific targeting is desired. However, we are at an early stage of development and our platform has not yet, and may never, lead to approved or marketable products. Even if we are successful in continuing to build our product pipeline, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development, including for reasons related to their harmful side effects, limited efficacy or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. Use of red blood cells as the basis for our ERYCAPS platform may result in similar risks that affect the ability of our products to receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize product candidates based upon our technological approach, we may not be able to obtain product or collaboration revenues in future periods, which would harm our business and our prospects.
We face substantial competition from companies with considerably more resources and experience than we have, which may result in others discovering, developing, receiving approval for, or commercializing products before or more successfully than us.
The biopharmaceuticals industry is highly competitive. Numerous biopharmaceutical laboratories, biotechnology companies, institutions, universities and other research entities are actively involved in the discovery, research, development and marketing of therapeutics to treat severe forms of cancer and orphan diseases, making it a highly competitive field. We have competitors in a number of jurisdictions, many of which have substantially greater name recognition, commercial infrastructures and financial, technical and personnel resources than we have.
L-asparaginase is currently available in four forms, and the current market primarily includes several products marketed by large pharmaceutical companies, including Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC and Servier. To our knowledge, there is no potential treatment being developed using non encapsulated L-asparaginase for the treatment of pancreatic cancer or other solid tumor indications, but this may change and current marketed asparaginase products may attempt to broaden their indications. Our products and product candidates may also have to compete with other products and product candidates in development by established pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies.
Established competitors may invest heavily to quickly discover and develop novel compounds that could make our product candidates obsolete or uneconomical. Any new product that competes with an approved product may need to demonstrate compelling advantages in efficacy, convenience, tolerability and safety to be commercially successful. Any of our product candidates that are approved in the future will also face other competitive factors, including generic competition, which could force us to lower prices or could result in reduced sales. In addition, new products developed by others could emerge as competitors to our product candidates. If we are not able to compete effectively against our current and future competitors, our business will not grow and our financial condition and operations will suffer.
Intravenous administration of our product candidates could present risks that exist in relation to blood transfusions.
Our product candidates must be intravenously injected and are therefore subject to risks associated with blood transfusions and the blood type compatibility of the donor. We currently acquire red blood cells from blood donations prepared and tested by blood banks, notably the Établissement Français du Sang, the New York Blood Center, the American Red Cross and the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service. However, using donor-derived red blood cells presents risks associated with the potential transmission of infectious agents, such as viruses, bacteria, prions and parasites, as well as risks associated with the development of allergies or other complications, such as allo-immunization, post-transfusion graft-versus-host disease, anaphylactic shock or death. Risks associated with the encapsulation of molecules inside red blood cells may vary and will depend on their toxicity. Although the blood banks that supply our red blood cells follow a strict preparation process, approved by health authorities, to detect and reduce possible risks for contamination by infectious agents, we cannot guarantee that our product candidates will not be contaminated, which could be detrimental to our product development and commercialization efforts.
3.D.3.Risks Related to the Discovery and Development of and Obtaining Regulatory Approval for our Product Candidates
If our product candidates are not approved for marketing by applicable government authorities, we will be unable to commercialize them.
The European Commission (following review by the European Medicines Agency, or EMA) in Europe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, in the United States and comparable regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions must approve new drug or biologic candidates before they can be commercialized, marketed, promoted or sold in those territories. We must provide these regulatory authorities with data from preclinical studies and clinical trials that demonstrate that our product candidates are safe and effective for a defined indication before they can be approved for commercial distribution. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is inherently uncertain as to outcome. We must provide data to ensure the identity, strength, quality and purity of the drug substance and drug product. Also, we must assure the regulatory authorities that the characteristics and performance of the clinical batches will be replicated consistently in the commercial batches. We have focused our development and planned commercialization efforts on Europe and the United States.
The processes by which regulatory approvals are obtained from the EMA and FDA to market and sell a new product are complex, require a number of years and involve the expenditure of substantial resources. We cannot assure you that eryaspase or any of our future product candidates will receive EMA or FDA approval. For example, in September 2015, we submitted a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, to the EMA for the approval of GRASPA as a treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. However, in November 2016, we announced our withdrawal of the MAA for GRASPA. In October 2017, we resubmitted to the EMA our MAA for GRASPA for relapsed or refractory ALL and subsequently announced our withdrawal of the MAA for GRASPA in June 2018. Even if we obtain marketing approval of any of our product candidates in a major pharmaceutical market such as the United States or Europe, we may never obtain approval or commercialize our products in other major markets, due to varying approval procedures or otherwise, which would limit our ability to realize their full market potential.
Our product candidates will need to undergo clinical trials that are time-consuming and expensive, the outcomes of which are unpredictable, and for which there is a high risk of failure. If clinical trials of our product candidates fail to satisfactorily demonstrate safety and efficacy to the EMA, FDA and other regulators, we may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of these product candidates.
Preclinical testing and clinical trials are long, expensive and unpredictable processes that can be subject to extensive delays. We cannot guarantee that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. It may take several years to complete the preclinical testing and clinical development necessary to commercialize a product candidate, and delays or failure can occur at any stage. Interim results of clinical trials do not necessarily predict final results, and success in preclinical testing and early clinical trials does not ensure that later clinical trials will be successful. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials even after promising results in earlier trials, and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. The design of a clinical trial can determine whether its results will support approval of a product, and flaws in the design of a clinical trial may not become apparent until the clinical trial is well advanced. An unfavorable outcome in one or more trials would be a major setback for our product candidates and
for us. Due to our limited financial resources, an unfavorable outcome in one or more trials may require us to delay, reduce the scope of, or eliminate one or more product development programs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition and on the value of our securities.
In connection with clinical testing and trials, we face a number of risks, including risks that:
•a product candidate is ineffective, inferior to existing approved medicines, unacceptably toxic, or has unacceptable side effects;
•patients may die or suffer other adverse effects for reasons that may or may not be related to the product candidate being tested;
•extension studies on long-term tolerance could invalidate the use of our product;
•the results may not confirm the positive results of earlier testing or trials; and
•the results may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the EMA, FDA or other regulatory agencies to establish the safety and efficacy of our product candidates.
The results of preclinical studies do not necessarily predict clinical success, and larger and later-stage clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy results despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. Furthermore, there can be no assurance that any of our clinical trials will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development of any of our product candidates. Our clinical trials of eryaspase conducted to date have generated favorable safety and efficacy data, other than our Phase 2b clinical trial in acute myeloid leukemia for which we did not achieve the primary endpoint. However, we may have different results in other indications. Differences in enrollment criteria and different combinations with other treatment modalities may also lead to different outcomes in our future clinical trials. As a result, we may not observe a similarly favorable safety or efficacy profile as in our prior clinical trials. There is a high failure rate for drugs proceeding through clinical trials. Many companies in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials after achieving positive results in early-stage development and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. These setbacks have been caused by, among other things, preclinical findings made while clinical trials were underway, or safety or efficacy observations made in preclinical studies and clinical trials, including previously unreported adverse events. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses and many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials nonetheless failed to obtain FDA or EMA approval. In addition, we cannot assure you that in the course of potential widespread use in the future, we will not suffer setbacks in maintaining production quality or stability.
If we do not successfully complete preclinical and clinical development, we will be unable to market and sell our product candidates and generate revenues. Even if we do successfully complete clinical trials, those results are not necessarily predictive of results of additional trials that may be needed before marketing applications may be submitted to the EMA or FDA, as applicable. For instance, despite having observed favorable results and safety profile in multiple clinical trials of eryaspase in patients with ALL, based on feedback from the regulatory agencies requiring additional investment, increasingly competitive landscape and the limited market opportunity for eryaspase with ALL, we decided in June 2018 to cease further clinical developments efforts in ALL. In addition, our research and development costs amounted to €33.5 million, €52.2 million and €57.6 million during the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Although there are a large number of drugs and biologics in development in Europe, the United States and other countries, only a small percentage result in the submission of a marketing application, even fewer are approved for commercialization, and only a small number achieve widespread physician and consumer acceptance following regulatory approval. If our clinical trials are substantially delayed or fail to prove the safety and effectiveness of our product candidates in development, we may not receive regulatory approval of any of these product candidates and our business and financial condition will be materially harmed.
Delays, suspensions and terminations in our clinical trials could result in increased costs to us and delay or prevent our ability to generate revenues.
Human clinical trials are very expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to design, implement and complete. The completion of trials for eryaspase or our other product candidates may be delayed for a variety of reasons, including delays in:
•demonstrating sufficient safety and efficacy to obtain regulatory approval to commence a clinical trial;
•reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective contract research organizations, or CROs, and clinical trial sites;
•validating test methods to support quality testing of the drug substance and drug product;
•obtaining sufficient quantities of the drug substance or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials;
•manufacturing sufficient quantities of a product candidate;
•obtaining approval of applications from regulatory authorities for the commencement of a clinical trial;
•obtaining institutional review board, or IRB, approval to conduct a clinical trial at a prospective clinical trial site;
•determining dosing and clinical trial design; and
•patient enrollment, which is a function of many factors, including the size of the patient population, the nature of the protocol, the proximity of patients to clinical trial sites, the availability of effective treatments for the relevant disease and the eligibility criteria for the clinical trial.
For example, in our Phase 1 clinical trial in the United States in adult ALL patients, patient enrollment took longer than expected.
The commencement and completion of clinical trials for our product candidates may be delayed, suspended or terminated due to a number of factors, including:
•lack of effectiveness of product candidates during clinical trials;
•adverse events, safety issues or side effects relating to the product candidates or their formulation;
•inability to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts to continue clinical trials or development programs, which are very expensive;
•the need to sequence clinical trials as opposed to conducting them concomitantly in order to conserve resources;
•our inability to maintain or enter into collaborations relating to the development and commercialization of our product candidates;
•our failure to conduct clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements;
•our inability to manufacture or obtain from third parties materials sufficient for use in preclinical studies and clinical trials;
•governmental or regulatory delays and changes in regulatory requirements, policy and guidelines, including mandated changes in the scope or design of clinical trials or requests for supplemental information with respect to clinical trial results;
•delays in patient enrollment, variability in the number and types of patients available for clinical trials, and lower-than anticipated retention rates for patients in clinical trials;
•difficulty in patient monitoring and data collection due to failure of patients to maintain contact after treatment; and
•varying interpretations of our data, and regulatory commitments and requirements by the EMA, FDA and similar regulatory agencies.
For example, our Investigational New Drug application, or IND, submitted to the FDA for eryaspase was on clinical hold from its original submission in July 2011 until March 21, 2013. Although we received acceptance from the FDA of our IND to extend our pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of eryaspase for the treatment of second-line pancreatic cancer patients to the United States in May 2019, we cannot assure you that any future IND will not be subject to clinical holds.
Many of these factors may also ultimately lead to denial of our marketing application for eryaspase or our other product candidates. If we experience delay, suspensions or terminations in a clinical trial, the commercial prospects for the related product candidate will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues will be delayed or such revenues could be reduced or fail to materialize.
We may find it difficult to enroll patients in our clinical trials, which could delay or prevent us from proceeding with clinical trials of our product candidates.
Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of our clinical trials depends on our ability to recruit patients to participate, as well as completion of required follow-up periods. If patients are unwilling to enroll in our clinical trials because of competitive clinical trials for similar patient populations or for other reasons, the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates may be delayed. These delays could result in increased costs, delays in advancing our product candidates, delays in testing the effectiveness of our product candidates or termination of clinical trials altogether.
Some of our current product candidates are being developed to treat severe forms of cancer and other orphan diseases, which are generally defined as having a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States. For example, 150,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and Europe. We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials if we cannot enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in the clinical trials required by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities. Also, we may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or
desired characteristics, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient enrollment can be affected by many factors, including:
•size of the patient population and process for identifying patients;
•eligibility and exclusion criteria for our clinical trials;
•perceived risks and benefits of our product candidates;
•severity of the disease under investigation;
•proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients;
•ability to obtain and maintain patient consent;
•patient drop-outs prior to completion of clinical trials;
•patient referral practices of physicians;
•ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment ; and
•COVID-19 pandemic; in that respect, we experienced a 3 to 4 months delay in patient enrollment in the TRYbeCA1 trial, which has been completed to date.
Our ability to successfully initiate, enroll and complete clinical trials in any foreign country is subject to numerous risks unique to conducting business in foreign countries, including:
•difficulty in establishing or managing relationships with CROs and physicians;
•different standards for the conduct of clinical trials;
•inability to locate qualified local consultants, physicians and partners; and
•the potential burden of complying with a variety of foreign laws, medical standards and regulatory requirements, including the regulation of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products and treatment.
If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients or finding additional clinical trial sites to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, any of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Changes in regulatory requirements, guidance from regulatory authorities or unanticipated events during the clinical trials of our product candidates could necessitate changes to clinical trial protocols or additional clinical trial requirements, which would result in increased costs to us and could delay our development timeline.
Changes in regulatory requirements, FDA guidance or guidance from the EMA or other European regulatory authorities, or unanticipated events during our clinical trials, may force us to amend clinical trial protocols. The regulatory authorities could also impose additional clinical trial requirements. Amendments to our clinical trial protocols would require resubmission to the FDA, EMA, national clinical trial regulators and IRBs for review and approval, which may adversely impact the cost, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial. If we experience delays completing, or if we terminate, any of our clinical trials, or if we are required to conduct additional clinical trials, the commercial prospects for our product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate product revenue will be delayed.
The United States and European formulations of eryaspase differ, and regulatory authorities in each jurisdiction may not accept data from alternative eryaspase formulations in other jurisdiction(s), which may result in delays and additional costs in order to conduct additional comparability studies or the need to repeat nonclinical and clinical studies in order to obtain approval in each jurisdiction in which we intend to commercialize eryaspase.
The formulations of eryaspase used to conduct clinical trials in the United States and Europe have differed in composition, manufacturing process and release specifications. After seeking feedback from regulatory agencies, we have conducted studies to harmonize the formulation of eryaspase, including in vitro comparability studies and stability studies. Even with this additional data, regulatory authorities may not find it acceptable to support the approval of eryaspase. If regulatory authorities require us to generate
additional nonclinical or clinical data, the generation of additional data could result in submission delays and additional costs in order to obtain marketing approval of eryaspase.
In the United States, our product candidates will be regulated as biological products, or biologics, which may subject them to competition sooner than we currently anticipate.
The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCIA, was enacted as part of the 2010 enactments of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively, the ACA, to establish an abbreviated licensure pathway for biological products shown to be biosimilar to, or interchangeable with, an FDA-licensed biological reference product. “Biosimilarity” means that the biological product is highly similar to the reference product notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive components and there are no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity, and potency of the product. To meet the higher standard of “interchangeability,” an applicant must provide sufficient information to show biosimilarity and demonstrate that the biological product can be expected to produce the same clinical result as the reference product in any given patient and, if the biological product is administrated more than once to an individual, the risk in terms of safety or diminished efficacy of alternating or switching between the use of the biological product and the reference product is not greater than the risk of using the reference product without such alternation or switch.
Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar or interchangeable product cannot be approved by the FDA until 12 years after the reference product was first licensed, and the FDA will not even accept an application for review until four years after the date of first licensure. The law is evolving, complex and is still being interpreted and implemented by the FDA. As a result, its ultimate impact, implementation, and meaning are subject to uncertainty. While it is uncertain when such processes intended to implement BPCIA may be fully adopted by the FDA, any such processes could have a material adverse effect on the future commercial prospects for our biological products.
We believe that any of our product candidates approved as a biological product under a Biologics License Application, or BLA, should qualify for the 12-year period of exclusivity. However, there is a risk that this exclusivity could be shortened due to congressional action or otherwise, potentially creating the opportunity for biosimilar or interchangeable competition sooner than we currently anticipate. Moreover, the process by which an interchangeable product, once approved, will be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biological products, such as drugs, is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing and subject to interpretation.
Even though we have obtained orphan drug designation from the FDA and EMA for eryaspase for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, ALL and AML, we may not be able to obtain orphan drug marketing exclusivity for any of our other product candidates for other indications.
Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and the European Union, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a drug as an orphan drug if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals annually in the United States. Similarly, in Europe, a medicinal product may receive orphan designation under Article 3 of Regulation (EC) 141/2000, as amended. This applies to products that are intended for a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition and either the condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the European Union when the application is made or the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would unlikely generate sufficient return in the European Union to justify the necessary investment. Moreover, in order to obtain orphan designation in the European Union, it is necessary to demonstrate that there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the condition authorized for marketing in the European Union, or if such a method exists, that the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition. The EMA will reassess whether GRASPA continues to meet the criteria for orphan drug designation in the European Union at the time it reviews a marketing authorization application for the product. If the EMA considers that GRASPA no longer meets these criteria, for example, because it does not offer a significant benefit over existing therapies, it may revoke GRASPA’s orphan drug designation prior to approval.
The EMA has granted orphan drug designation for GRASPA for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, ALL and AML, and the FDA has granted orphan drug designation for eryaspase for the same indications. We may seek orphan drug designation for our other product candidates, and with respect to other indications. Generally, if a drug with an orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, the drug is entitled to a period of marketing exclusivity, which precludes the FDA from approving another marketing application for the same drug for that time period or the EMA or any other medicines regulator in the European Union from approving a similar medicinal product. The applicable period is seven years in the United States and usually 10 years in the European Union. The European Union exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if a drug no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation or if the drug is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified. This exclusivity period may increase to 12 years if, among other things, the MAA includes the results of studies from an agreed pediatric investigation plan. 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 drug to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.
Even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product candidate, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the candidate from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the applicable regulatory authority can subsequently approve another drug for the same condition if it 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. Similarly, if our competitors are able to obtain orphan product exclusivity for their products in the same indications for which we are developing our product candidates, we may not be able to have our products approved by the applicable regulatory authority for a significant period of time.
In the European Union, GRASPA contains a known active substance, which would undermine its data and marketing exclusivities; however, this will not affect GRASPA’s orphan product exclusivity.
In the European Union, data exclusivity refers to the period of time during which another company cannot refer to our data held in the authority’s files in support of its marketing authorization. The subsequent market exclusivity refers to the period of time during which another company may use our data in support of its marketing authorization for a generic, hybrid or biosimilar product, but the product in question may not be placed on the market. For products containing new active substances, this effectively prevents certain products, such as generics and similar biological products, from being placed on the market during the combined data and marketing exclusivity period. This combined period usually lasts for 10 years from the date of approval of the product containing the new active substance.
Because the active ingredient in GRASPA is not a new active substance, the 10-year period of protection against generics and similar biological products is undermined. Competitors developing such products could receive European Union marketing authorizations and place their products on the European Union market within 10 years of GRASPA’s own marketing authorization, if obtained.
However, if we still have orphan drug designation for GRASPA in the treatments of pancreatic cancer, ALL and AML in Europe at the time we receive marketing approval from the EMA in these indications, we would still benefit from the independent period of market exclusivity afforded to orphan products. In the European Union, this is usually a period of 10 years from the date of marketing approval. The exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if a drug no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation or if the drug is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified. The exclusivity period may increase to 12 years if, among other things, the MAA includes the results of studies from an agreed pediatric investigation plan. During the orphan exclusivity period, regulators should not accept or approve applications for the approval of a similar medicine for the same therapeutic indication, unless the second product is demonstrably safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior. Regulators may approve different products for the same condition as GRASPA.
We rely on third parties to assist in our discovery and development activities, and the loss of any of our relationships with research institutions could hinder our product development prospects.
We currently have and expect to continue to depend on collaborations with public and private research institutions to conduct some of our early-stage drug discovery activities. If we are unable to enter into research collaborations with these institutions, or if any one of these institutions fails to work efficiently with us, the research, development or marketing of our product candidates planned as part of the research collaboration could be delayed or canceled. In the event a research agreement is terminated or we become no longer in a position to renew the arrangement under acceptable conditions, our drug discovery and development activities may also be delayed.
We rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and perform data collection and analysis, which may result in costs and delays that prevent us from successfully commercializing our product candidates.
We rely, and will rely in the future, on medical institutions, clinical investigators, CROs, contract laboratories and collaborators to perform data collection and analysis and to carry out our clinical trials.
For example, in June 2019, we entered in an exclusive worldwide license agreement with SQZ Biotechnologies pursuant to which we and SQZ Biotechnologies will focus on the development of novel red blood cell-based therapeutics for the treatment of immuno-oncology and tolerance induction. Our other main subcontractors and key partners include Etablissement Français du Sang, the American Red Cross, the New York Blood Center, Medac GmbH and the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service.
Our development activities or clinical trials conducted in reliance on third parties may be delayed, suspended, or terminated if:
•the third parties do not devote a sufficient amount of time or effort to our activities or otherwise fail to successfully carry out their contractual duties or to meet regulatory obligations or expected deadlines;
•we replace a third party; or
•the quality or accuracy of the data obtained by third parties is compromised due to their failure to adhere to clinical protocols, regulatory requirements, or for other reasons.
We generally would not have the ability to control the performance of third parties in their conduct of development activities. In the event of a default, bankruptcy or shutdown of, or a dispute with, a third party, we may be unable to enter into a new agreement with another third party on commercially acceptable terms. Further, third-party performance failures may increase our development costs, delay our ability to obtain regulatory approval, and delay or prevent the commercialization of our product candidates. In addition, our third-party agreements usually contain a clause limiting such third party’s liability, such that we may not be able to obtain full compensation for any losses we may incur in connection with the third party’s performance failures. While we believe that there are numerous alternative sources to provide these services, in the event that we seek such alternative sources, we may not be able to enter into replacement arrangements without incurring delays or additional costs.
We may enter into collaboration agreements with third parties for the development and commercialization of our product candidates, which may affect our ability to generate revenues.
We have limited capabilities for product development and may seek to enter into collaborations with third parties for the development and potential commercialization of our product candidates. For example, in June 2019, we entered into a collaboration with SQZ Biotechnologies to focus on the development of novel red blood-cell based therapeutics for the treatment of immuno-oncology and tolerance induction. Should we seek to collaborate with any additional third parties with respect to a prospective development program, we may not be able to locate a suitable collaborator and may not be able to enter into an agreement on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we succeed in securing collaborators for the development and commercialization of our product candidates, we will have limited control over the amount and timing that our collaborators may dedicate to the development or commercialization of our product candidates. These collaborations pose a number of risks, including the following:
•collaborators may not have sufficient resources or decide not to devote the necessary resources due to internal constraints such as budget limitations, lack of human resources, or a change in strategic focus;
•collaborators may believe our intellectual property is not valid or is unenforceable or the product candidate infringes on the intellectual property rights of others;
•collaborators may dispute their responsibility to conduct development and commercialization activities pursuant to the applicable collaboration, including the payment of related costs or the division of any revenues;
•collaborators may decide to pursue a competitive product developed outside of the collaboration arrangement;
•collaborators may not be able to obtain, or believe they cannot obtain, the necessary regulatory approvals; or
•collaborators may delay the development or commercialization of our product candidates in favor of developing or commercializing another party’s product candidate.
Thus, collaboration agreements may not lead to development or commercialization of product candidates in the most efficient manner or at all.
Some collaboration agreements are terminable without cause on short notice. Once a collaboration agreement is signed, it may not lead to commercialization of a product candidate. We also face competition in seeking out collaborators. If we are unable to secure new collaborations that achieve the collaborator’s objectives and meet our expectations, we may be unable to advance our product candidates and may not generate meaningful revenues.
Due to our limited resources and access to capital, our decisions to prioritize development of certain product candidates may adversely affect our business prospects.
Because we have limited resources and access to capital to fund our operations, we must decide which product candidates to pursue and the amount of resources to allocate to each. As such, we are currently primarily focused on the development of eryaspase for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and other solid tumors. Our decisions concerning the allocation of research, collaboration, management and financial resources toward particular compounds, product candidates or therapeutic areas may not lead to the development of viable commercial products and may divert resources away from more promising opportunities. Similarly, our potential decisions to delay, terminate or collaborate with third parties with respect to some of our product development programs may also prove not to be optimal and could cause us to miss valuable opportunities. 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 arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights. If we make incorrect determinations regarding the market potential of our product candidates or misread trends in the pharmaceutical industry, our business prospects could be harmed.
3.D.4.Risks Related to the Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
Even if we successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates, those candidates may not be commercialized successfully for other reasons.
Even if we successfully complete clinical trials for one or more of our product candidates and obtain relevant regulatory approvals, those candidates may not be commercialized for other reasons, including:
•failing to receive regulatory clearances required to market them as drugs;
•being subject to proprietary rights held by others;
•failing to obtain clearance from regulatory authorities on the manufacturing of our products;
•being difficult or expensive to manufacture on a commercial scale;
•having adverse side effects that make their use less desirable;
•failing to compete effectively with products or treatments commercialized by competitors; or
•failing to show that the long-term benefits of our products exceed their risks.
Even if any of our product candidates are commercialized, they may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors or the medical community in general necessary for commercial success.
Even if the medical community accepts a product as safe and efficacious for its indicated use, physicians may choose to restrict the use of the product if we are unable to demonstrate that, based on experience, clinical data, side-effect profiles and other factors, our product is preferable to any existing drugs or treatments. We cannot predict the degree of market acceptance of any product candidate that receives marketing approval, which will depend on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:
•the demonstration of the clinical efficacy and safety of the product;
•the approved labeling for the product and any required warnings;
•the advantages and disadvantages of the product compared to alternative treatments;
•our ability to educate the medical community about the safety and effectiveness of the product;
•the experience of clinicians with other potential treatments that use red blood cells to deliver therapeutics;
•the coverage and reimbursement policies of government and commercial third-party payors pertaining to the product; and
•the market price of our product relative to competing treatments.
If we are unable to establish sales, marketing and distribution capabilities for our product candidates, whether it be an internal infrastructure or an arrangement with a third party, we may not be successful in commercializing those product candidates if and when they are approved.
We do not have a sales or marketing infrastructure and have no experience in the sale, marketing or distribution of pharmaceutical drugs. To achieve commercial success for eryaspase, including in the United States, for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, as well as eryaspase for the treatment of other indications and any other product candidates for which we may obtain marketing approval, we will need to establish a sales and marketing organization to market or co-promote those products. There are risks involved with establishing our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities. For example, recruiting and training a sales force in competition with other pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies is expensive and time-consuming and could delay any product launch. If the commercial launch of a product candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. This may be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.
Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize products on our own include:
•our inability to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;
•the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians and educate an adequate number of physicians on the benefits of any future products;
•the lack of complementary products to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more products; and
•unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.
If we are unable to establish our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities and enter into arrangements with third parties to perform these services, our revenue and our profitability, if any, are likely to be lower than if we were to sell, market and distribute any products that we develop ourselves.
Even if we obtain marketing approvals for our product candidates, the terms of approvals and ongoing regulation of our products may limit how we market our products, which could materially impair our ability to generate revenues.
Even if we receive regulatory approval for a product candidate, this approval may carry conditions that limit the market for the product or put the product at a competitive disadvantage relative to alternative therapies. For instance, a regulatory approval may limit the indicated uses for which we can market a product or the patient population that may utilize the product or may be required to carry a warning in its labeling and on its packaging. Products with boxed warnings are subject to more restrictive advertising regulations than products without such warnings. These restrictions could make it more difficult to market any product candidate effectively. Accordingly, assuming we receive marketing approval for one or more of our product candidates, we will continue to expend time, money and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance.
Government restrictions on pricing and reimbursement, as well as other healthcare payor cost-containment initiatives, may negatively impact our ability to generate revenues even if we obtain regulatory approval to market a product.
Our ability to commercialize any products successfully also will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other organizations. Government authorities and other third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, determine which medications they will cover and establish reimbursement levels. Assuming we obtain coverage for a given product by a third-party payor, the resulting reimbursement payment rates may not be adequate or may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Patients who are prescribed medications for the treatment of their conditions, and their prescribing physicians, generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their prescription drugs. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover all or a significant portion of the cost of our products. Therefore, coverage and adequate reimbursement is critical to new product acceptance. Coverage decisions may depend upon clinical and economic standards that disfavor new drug products when more established or lower cost therapeutic alternatives are already available or subsequently become available.
Government authorities and other third-party payors are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs, such as by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices as a condition of coverage, are using restrictive formularies and preferred drug lists to leverage greater discounts in competitive classes and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. In addition, in the United States, federal programs impose penalties on drug manufacturers in the form of mandatory additional rebates and/or discounts if commercial prices increase at a rate greater than the Consumer Price Index-Urban, and these rebates and/or discounts, which can be substantial, may impact our ability to raise commercial prices. Further, no uniform policy requirement for coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors in the United States. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be applied consistently or obtained in the first instance.
The continuing efforts of governments, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare costs to contain or reduce costs of healthcare may negatively affect our commercialization prospects, including:
•our ability to set a price we believe is fair for our products, if approved;
•our ability to obtain and maintain market acceptance by the medical community and patients;
•our ability to generate revenues and achieve profitability; and
•the availability of capital.
We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any potential product candidate that we may commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, what the level of reimbursement will be. Coverage and reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. If coverage and reimbursement are not available or reimbursement is available only to limited levels, we may not successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.
In the United States, the ACA is significantly impacting the provision of, and payment for, healthcare. Various provisions of the ACA are designed to expand Medicaid eligibility, subsidize insurance premiums, provide incentives for businesses to provide healthcare
benefits, prohibit denials of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, establish health insurance exchanges, and provide additional support for medical research. With regard to pharmaceutical products specifically, the ACA, among other things, expanded and increased industry rebates for drugs covered under Medicaid programs and made changes to the coverage requirements under the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
There have been executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. For example, since January 2017, President Trump signed several Executive Orders and other directives designed to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the ACA or otherwise circumvent some of the requirements for health insurance mandated by the ACA. Concurrently, the U.S. Congress has considered legislation that would repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the ACA. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, several bills affecting the implementation of certain taxes under the ACA have been signed into law. Legislation enacted in 2017, informally titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the Tax Act, included a provision which repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate.” The 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the ACA-mandated “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and medical device tax and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminates the health insurer tax. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or the BBA, among other things, amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, to increase from 50 percent to 70 percent the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Act. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing this case, although it is uncertain when a decision will be made. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has yet ruled on the constitutionality of the ACA, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructs certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. It is also unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other litigation and healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will impact ACA and our business.
In addition, both the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 have instituted, among other things, mandatory reductions in Medicare payments to certain providers. The Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, includes reductions to Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute will remain in effect through 2030, except for a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unless additional Congressional action is taken. On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. Additional legislative proposals to reform healthcare and government insurance programs, along with the trend toward managed healthcare in the United States, could influence the purchase of medicines and reduce reimbursement and/or coverage of our product candidates, if approved.
Recently, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products. Such scrutiny has resulted in several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, reduce the costs of drugs under Medicare and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. At the federal level, the Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 included a $135 billion allowance to support legislative proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs. On July 24, 2020 and September 13, 2020, the Trump administration announced several executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that seek to implement several of the administration’s proposals. As a result, the FDA released a final rule on September 24, 2020, effective November 30, 2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. Further, on November 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The implementation of the rule has been delayed by the Biden administration from January 1, 2022 to January 1, 2023 in response to ongoing litigation. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers, the implementation of which have also been delayed pending review by the Biden administration until March 22, 2021. On November 20, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, issued an interim final rule implementing President Trump’s Most Favored Nation executive order, which would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered drugs to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries, effective January 1, 2021. On December 28, 2020, the United States District Court in Northern
California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of the interim final rule. The likelihood of implementation of any of the other Trump administration reform initiatives is uncertain as it is unclear whether the Biden administration will work to reverse these measures or pursue similar policy initiatives. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.
We expect that the ACA, as well as other healthcare 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 candidate. 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. Moreover, we cannot predict what healthcare reform initiatives may be adopted in the future.
In some foreign countries, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. In addition, in some foreign markets, the pricing of prescription drugs is subject to government control and reimbursement may in some cases be unavailable. The requirements governing drug pricing vary widely from country to country. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product, may refuse to reimburse a product at the price set by the manufacturer or may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for biopharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for eryaspase or any of our other product candidates that may be approved. Historically, biopharmaceutical products launched in the European Union do not follow price structures of the United States and generally tend to have significantly lower prices.
We believe that pricing pressures at the federal and state levels in the United States, as well as internationally, will continue and may increase, which may make it difficult for us to sell our potential product candidates that may be approved in the future at a price acceptable to us or any third parties with whom we may choose to collaborate. Further, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any of our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval could be subject to post-marketing restrictions or withdrawal from the market, and we may be subject to substantial penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our products following approval.
Any of our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval, as well as the manufacturing processes, post-approval studies and measures, labeling, advertising and promotional activities for such products, among other things, will be subject to continual requirements of and review by the EMA, FDA and other regulatory authorities. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration and listing requirements, requirements relating to manufacturing, quality control, quality assurance and corresponding maintenance of records and documents, requirements regarding the distribution of samples to physicians and recordkeeping. Even if marketing approval of a product candidate is granted, the approval may be subject to limitations on the indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, including the FDA requirement to implement a REMS to ensure that the benefits of a drug or biological product outweigh its risks.
The EMA and FDA may also impose requirements for costly post-marketing studies or clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of a product, such as long-term observational studies on natural exposure. The FDA and other agencies, including the Department of Justice, closely regulate and monitor the post-approval marketing and promotion of products to ensure that they are manufactured, marketed and distributed only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling. The EMA and FDA impose stringent restrictions on manufacturers’ communications regarding off-label use and if we do not market any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval for only their approved indications, we may be subject to warnings or enforcement action for off-label marketing. Violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and other statutes, including the civil False Claims Act, relating to the promotion and advertising of prescription drugs may lead to investigations or allegations of violations of federal and state health care fraud and abuse laws and state consumer protection laws.
Post marketing regulations in the EU and in State Members also require specifications regarding promotion and advertising of prescription drugs.
The EMA, FDA and other regulatory agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of drugs for off-label uses. If we are found to have improperly promoted off-label use, we may become subject to significant liability.
The EMA, FDA and other regulatory agencies strictly regulate the promotional claims that may be made about prescription drug products, such as our product candidates, if approved. In particular, a product may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the EMA, FDA or such other regulatory agencies as reflected in the product’s approved labeling. However, we may share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with the product’s approved labeling. For example, if we receive marketing approval for eryaspase, physicians, in their professional medical judgment, may nevertheless prescribe eryaspase to their patients in a manner that is inconsistent with the approved label. If we are found to have promoted such off-label use, we may become subject to significant liability under the FDCA and other statutory authorities, such as laws prohibiting false claims for reimbursement. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our products, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would harm our reputation and negatively impact our financial condition. In addition to European legislation, each Member State of the European Union also enforce specific laws regarding the regulation of promotional claims which may change depending of the country marketing.
Our future growth depends, in part, on our ability to penetrate foreign markets, where we would be subject to additional regulatory burdens and other risks and uncertainties.
Our future profitability will depend, in part, on our ability to commercialize our product candidates in markets within and without the United States and Europe. If we commercialize our product candidates in foreign markets, we would be subject to additional risks and uncertainties, including:
•economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular economies and markets;
•the burden of complying with complex and changing foreign regulatory, tax, accounting and legal requirements, many of which vary between countries;
•different medical practices and customs in foreign countries affecting acceptance in the marketplace;
•tariffs and trade barriers;
•other trade protection measures, import or export licensing requirements or other restrictive actions by U.S. or foreign governments;
•longer accounts receivable collection times;
•longer lead times for shipping;
•compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
•workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is common;
•language barriers for technical training;
•reduced protection of intellectual property rights in some foreign countries, and related prevalence of generic alternatives to therapeutics;
•foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations and currency controls;
•differing foreign reimbursement landscapes;
•uncertain and potentially inadequate reimbursement of our products; and
•the interpretation of contractual provisions governed by foreign laws in the event of a contract dispute.
Foreign sales of our products could also be adversely affected by the imposition of governmental controls, political and economic instability, trade restrictions and changes in tariffs.
Adverse market and economic conditions may exacerbate certain risks associated with commercializing our product candidates.
Future sales of our product candidates, it they are approved, will be dependent on purchasing decisions of and reimbursement from government health administration authorities, distributors and other organizations. As a result of adverse conditions affecting the
global economy and credit and financial markets, including disruptions due to political instability or otherwise, these organizations may defer purchases, may be unable to satisfy their purchasing or reimbursement obligations, or may delay payment for eryaspase or any of our product candidates that are approved for commercialization in the future. In addition, there have been concerns for the overall stability and suitability of the euro as a single currency given the economic and political challenges facing individual Eurozone countries. Continuing deterioration in the creditworthiness of Eurozone countries, the withdrawal of one or more member countries from the European Union, or the failure of the euro as a common European currency or an otherwise diminished value of the euro could materially and adversely affect our future product revenue from European sales of our products.
3.D.5.Risks Related to the Production and Manufacturing of our Product Candidates and Future Products, if Any
Our production capacity could prove insufficient for our needs.
Our production capacity may prove insufficient in the future to meet the growth of our business, including producing sufficient quantities of product candidates for preclinical studies, clinical trials and, ultimately, our customers and distributors. For instance, we have initiated a Phase 3 clinical trial in Europe and the United States in patients with second-line metastatic pancreatic cancer. Although we have extended our production capacity for our current clinical trials and a potential commercial launch, if approved, with the construction of a manufacturing facility in Princeton, New Jersey and the extension of our manufacturing facility in Lyon, France, there is no guarantee that we will or have properly estimated our required manufacturing capacities in or outside of the United States and Europe or that the third parties we rely on to provide required machinery and materials for the manufacturing process will be able to perform on our proposed timelines or meet our manufacturing demands, if at all. Also, if we must increase production capacity for any reason, we may need to make considerable investments that could lead to significant financing needs or require us to enter into subcontracting agreements in order to outsource part of the production.
We may not have access to the raw materials and other components, including asparaginase and red blood cells, necessary for the manufacturing of our product candidates.
We are dependent on third parties for the supply of various materials that are necessary to produce our product candidates for clinical trials.
With respect to eryaspase, we rely on Medac GmbH, or Medac, for the supply of asparaginase. Since we rely on a single-source supplier for asparaginase, if our agreement with Medac GmbH were to be terminated or if this supplier is unable to meet our demands for asparaginase, we could experience delays in our research or planned clinical trials or commercialization. We could be unable to find alternative suppliers of acceptable quality, in the appropriate volumes and at an acceptable cost.
With regard to the supply of red blood cells, we rely on the New York Blood Center and the American Red Cross in the United States and the French Blood Agency (Établissement Français du Sang) and the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service in Europe. The French Blood Agency (Établissement Français du Sang) is the sole operator in its territory for blood transfusions and is in charge of satisfying national needs for blood products. Although we have entered into agreements with the New York Blood Center, the American Red Cross, the French Blood Agency (Établissement Français du Sang) and the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service related to the supply of those materials, the supply could be reduced or interrupted at any time. In such case, we may not be able to find other suppliers of acceptable materials in appropriate quantities at an acceptable cost. If we lose key suppliers or the supply of materials is diminished or discontinued, or in the event of a major or international crisis impacting blood banks and the practice of blood donation, we may not be able to continue to develop, manufacture and market our product candidates or products in a timely and competitive manner.
In addition, these materials are subject to stringent manufacturing processes and rigorous testing. Delays in the completion and validation of facilities and manufacturing processes of these materials could adversely affect our ability to complete trials and commercialize our products in a cost-effective and timely manner. If we encounter difficulties in the supply of these materials, chemicals or biological products, or if we were not able to maintain our supply agreements or establish new supply agreements in the future, our product development and our business prospects could be significantly compromised.
Our manufacturing facilities are subject to significant government regulations and approvals. If we or our third-party manufacturers fail to comply with these regulations or maintain these approvals, our business will be materially harmed.
We currently manufacture our product candidates for use in Europe in our facility in Lyon, France. In addition, we have entered into agreements with the American Red Cross, the French Blood Agency (Établissement Français du Sang), the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service and the New York Blood Center to produce eryaspase for use in our clinical trials in Europe and in the United States and we built a U.S. manufacturing facility in Princeton, New Jersey, which began producing eryaspase for use in our U.S clinical trials in the fourth quarter of 2019. We also have an agreement with Medac to provide us with L-asparaginase for use in our production of eryaspase. We and our third-party manufacturers are subject to ongoing regulation and periodic inspection by the EMA, FDA and
other regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP, as part of our clinical trials. Any failure to follow and document our or their adherence to such cGMP regulations or other regulatory requirements may lead to significant delays in the availability of products for commercial sale or clinical trials, may result in the termination of or a hold on a clinical trial, or may delay or prevent filing or approval of marketing applications for our products.
Failure to comply with applicable regulations could also result in the EMA, FDA or other applicable regulatory authorities taking various actions, including:
•levying fines and other civil penalties;
•imposing consent decrees or injunctions;
•requiring us to suspend or put on hold one or more of our clinical trials;
•suspending or withdrawing regulatory approvals;
•delaying or refusing to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications;
•requiring us to suspend manufacturing activities or product sales, imports or exports;
•requiring us to communicate with physicians and other customers about concerns related to actual or potential safety, efficacy, and other issues involving our products;
•mandating product recalls or seizing products;
•imposing operating restrictions; and
•seeking criminal prosecutions.
Any of the foregoing actions could be detrimental to our reputation, business, financial condition or operating results. Furthermore, our key suppliers may not continue to be in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements, which could result in our failure to produce our products on a timely basis and in the required quantities, if at all. In addition, before any additional products would be considered for marketing approval in the United States, Europe or elsewhere, our suppliers will have to pass an audit by the applicable regulatory agencies. We are dependent on our suppliers’ cooperation and ability to pass such audits, and the audits and any audit remediation may be costly. Failure to pass such audits by us or any of our suppliers would affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates in the United States, Europe or elsewhere.
Our production costs may be higher than we currently estimate.
We manufacture our product candidates according to manufacturing best practices applicable to drugs for clinical trials and to specifications approved by the applicable regulatory authorities. If any of our products are found to be non-compliant, we would be required to manufacture the product again, which would entail additional costs and may prevent delivery of the product to patients on time.
Other risks inherent in the production process may have the same effect, such as:
•contamination of the controlled atmosphere area;
•unusable premises and equipment;
•new regulatory requirements requiring a partial and/or extended stop to the production unit to meet the requirements;
•unavailable qualified personnel;
•power failure of extended duration;
•logistical error; and
•rupture in the cold chain, which is a system for storing and transporting blood and blood products within the correct temperature range and conditions.
In addition, a rise in direct or indirect energy rates may increase product manufacturing and logistical costs. Any of these risks, should they occur, could disrupt our activities and compromise our financial position, results, reputation or growth.
3.D.6.Risks Related to Our Employees and Business
We may encounter difficulties in managing our growth, which could disrupt our operations.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 206 employees, and we expect to increase our number of employees and the scope of our operations. To manage our development and expansion, including the potential commercialization of our product candidates in Europe and the United States, we will need to implement and improve our managerial, operational and financial systems, expand our facilities and continue to recruit and train additional qualified personnel. Also, our management may need to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from its day-to-day activities and devote a substantial amount of time to managing these development activities. Due to our limited resources, we may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. This may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, give rise to operational mistakes, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity among remaining employees. The physical expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the development of our product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our expected development and expansion, our expenses may increase more than expected, our ability to generate or increase our revenue could be reduced and we may not be able to implement our business strategy. Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, and compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage the future development and expansion of our company.
We depend on qualified management personnel and our business could be harmed if we lose key personnel and cannot attract new personnel.
Our success depends to a significant degree upon the technical and management skills of our senior management team. The loss of the services of any of these individuals could have a material adverse effect on our ability to achieve our corporate objectives and successfully execute our business plan. Although we have implemented an executive compensation policy that includes variable compensation based on performance as well as share-based compensation plans for the benefit of our key employees, we cannot guarantee that this policy will be sufficient to retain these key employees. Our success also will depend upon our ability to attract and retain additional qualified management, marketing, technical, and sales executives and personnel. We compete for key personnel against numerous companies, including larger, more established companies with significantly greater financial resources than we possess. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in attracting or retaining such personnel, and the failure to do so, could harm our operations and our growth prospects.
Our failure to maintain certain tax benefits applicable to French biopharmaceutical companies may adversely affect our results of operations, our cash flows and our financial condition.
As a French biopharmaceutical company, we have benefited from certain tax advantages, including, for example, the CIR, which is a French tax credit aimed at stimulating research and development. The CIR can be offset against French corporate income tax due and the portion in excess, if any, may be refunded. The CIR is calculated based on our claimed amount of eligible research and development expenditures in France and amounted to €4.4 million, €3.9 million and €3.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The French tax authorities, with the assistance of the Research and Higher Education Ministry, may audit each research and development program in respect of which a CIR benefit has been claimed and assess whether such program qualifies in its view for the CIR benefit. The French tax authorities may challenge our eligibility for, or our calculation of, certain tax reductions or deductions in respect of our research and development activities. Should the French tax authorities be successful, the CIR representing the majority of the our operating revenues (74% of revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 and more than 90% for the years ended December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2020), our credits may be reduced, which would have a negative impact on our results of operations and future cash flows. We believe, due to the nature of our business operations, that we will continue to be eligible to receive the CIR tax credit. However, if the French Parliament decides to eliminate, or to reduce the scope or the rate of, the CIR benefit, either of which it could decide to do at any time, our results of operations could be adversely affected.
The COVID-19 coronavirus could adversely impact our business, including our clinical trials.
In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, was reported to have surfaced in Wuhan, China. Since then, the COVID-19 coronavirus has spread globally, including to France, the United States and many of the countries in which we have planned or ongoing clinical trials. If the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread in France and the United States, we may experience disruptions that could severely impact our business and clinical trials, including:
•delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our clinical trials;
•delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;
•diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;
•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; and
•limitations in employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people.
We experienced a 3 to 4 months delay in patient enrollment in the TRYbeCA1 study which has been completed to date, and therefore in the intermediary analysis of this study. With the exception of this delay, we did not suffer any delay in other studies that would be related to the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For our clinical trials that are being conducted in countries which are experiencing heightened impact from the COVID-19 coronavirus, in addition to the risks listed above, we may also experience the following adverse impacts:
•delays in receiving approval from local regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;
•delays in clinical sites receiving the supplies and materials needed to conduct our clinical trials;
•interruption in global shipping that may affect the transport of clinical trial materials, such as investigational drug product and comparator drugs used in our clinical trials;
•changes in local regulations as part of a response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak which may require us to change the ways in which our clinical trials are conducted, which may result in unexpected costs, or to discontinue the clinical trials altogether;
•delays in necessary interactions with local regulators, ethics committees and other important agencies and contractors due to limitations in employee resources or forced furlough of government employees; and
•refusal of the EMA or the FDA to accept data from clinical trials in these affected geographies.
The global outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the virus variants continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the COVID-19 coronavirus may impact our business and clinical trials will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions and social distancing in the European Union, the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the European Union, the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease such as the lockdown measures put in place in most countries. Further, the adverse effect on the financial markets, on the market price of our ADSs and/or ordinary shares, is unknown. To date, the global economy remains heavily impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We believe that the recently emerged variants of the Covid-19 coronavirus are not likely to modify the risks as described above..
Our business may become subject to economic, political, regulatory and other risks associated with international operations.
We are a company based in France with international operations, including in the United States. A significant portion 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 weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular non-U.S. economies and markets;
◦differing regulatory requirements for drug approvals in non-U.S. countries;
◦differing jurisdictions could present different issues for securing, maintaining or obtaining freedom to operate in such jurisdictions;
◦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;
◦changes in non-U.S. currency exchange rates of the euro and currency controls;
◦changes in a specific country's or region's political or economic environment, including the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU;
◦trade protection measures, import or export licensing requirements or other restrictive actions by U.S. or non-U.S. governments;
◦differing reimbursement regimes and price controls in certain non-U.S. markets;
◦negative consequences from changes in tax laws;
◦compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
◦workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;
◦difficulties associated with staffing and managing international operations, including differing labor relations;
◦production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad; and
◦business interruptions resulting from geo-political actions, including war and terrorism, or natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons, floods and fires, or public health emergencies, such as the novel COVID-19 coronavirus.
Our business may be exposed to foreign exchange risks.
Owing to the international scope of our operations, fluctuations in exchange rates, particularly between the euro and the U.S. dollar, may adversely affect us. Although we are based in the France, we source research and development, manufacturing, consulting and other services from the United States as well as other countries outside the European Union. We incur some of our expenses, and may in the future derive revenues, in currencies other than the euro.
We use the euro as our functional currency for our financial communications. However, a significant portion of our expenses, financial assets and liabilities are denominated in U.S dollars and are exposed to changes in foreign currency exchange rates. We also entered into a license agreement with SQZ Biotechnologies in 2019 and any potential revenues pursuant to this agreement will be made in U.S. dollars. We do not currently engage in hedging transactions or the use of forward contracts but may in the future in order to minimize the impact of uncertainty in future exchange rates on cash flows. A deterioration of the U.S dollar of the Euro could reduce our cash and cash equivalents. Refer to "Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk" for more information.
As we advance our clinical development in the United States and potentially commercialize our product candidates in that market, we expect to face greater exposure to exchange rate risk.. We cannot predict the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, and foreign currency fluctuations in the future may adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Therefore, fluctuations in the exchange rate between the euro and the U.S. dollar will also affect, among other matters, the value of our ordinary shares and ADSs.
We may use hazardous chemicals and biological materials in our business. Any claims relating to improper handling, storage or disposal of these materials could be time-consuming and costly.
Our research and development processes involve the controlled use of hazardous materials, including chemicals and biological materials. We cannot eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or discharge and any resultant injury from these materials. We may be sued for any injury or contamination that results from our use or the use by third parties of these materials, and our liability may exceed any insurance coverage and our total assets. French and U.S. federal, state, local or foreign laws and regulations govern the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these hazardous materials and specified waste products, as well as the discharge of pollutants into the environment and human health and safety matters. Compliance with environmental laws and regulations may be expensive and may impair our research and development efforts. If we fail to comply with these requirements, we could incur substantial costs, including civil or criminal fines and penalties, clean-up costs or capital expenditures for control equipment or operational changes necessary to achieve and maintain compliance. In addition, we cannot predict the impact on our business of new or amended environmental laws or regulations or any changes in the way existing and future laws and regulations are interpreted and enforced.
Product liability and other lawsuits could divert our resources, result in substantial liabilities and reduce the commercial potential of our product candidates.
Although we comply with cGMP, and Good Clinical Practices, or GCPs, the risk that we may be sued on product liability claims is inherent in the development and commercialization of biopharmaceutical products. Side effects of, or manufacturing defects in, products that we develop could result in the deterioration of a patient’s condition, injury or even death. Our liability could be sought after by patients participating in the clinical trials in the context of the development of the therapeutic products tested and unexpected side effects resulting from the administration of these products. For example, we reported adverse events in our Phase 2b clinical trial of second-line treatment of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer compared to treatment with chemotherapy alone. The percentage of patients with at least one adverse event reported as grade 3 or 4 (i.e., most commonly, increased gamma glutamyl transferase, neutropenia, deterioration of general health and anemia) amounted to 79% in the eryaspase treatment arm, versus 86% in the control arm, and the percentage of patients with at least one reported severe adverse event (i.e., most commonly, deterioration in general health and gastrointestinal hemorrhage) amounted to 45% in the eryaspase treatment arm versus 50% in the control arm.
Once a product is approved for sale and commercialized, the likelihood of product liability lawsuits increases. Criminal or civil proceedings might be filed against us by patients, regulatory authorities, biopharmaceutical companies and any other third party using or marketing our products. These actions could include claims resulting from acts by our partners, licensees and subcontractors, over which we have little or no control. These lawsuits may divert our management from pursuing our business strategy and may be costly to defend. In addition, if we are held liable in any of these lawsuits, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be forced to limit or forgo further commercialization of the affected products.
We maintain product liability insurance coverage for our clinical trials at levels which we believe are appropriate for our clinical trials. Nevertheless, our insurance coverage may be insufficient to reimburse us for any expenses or losses we may suffer. In addition, in the future, we may not be able to obtain or maintain sufficient insurance coverage at an acceptable cost or to otherwise protect against potential product or other legal or administrative liability claims by us or our collaborators, licensees or subcontractors, which could prevent or inhibit the commercial production and sale of any of our product candidates that receive regulatory approval. Product liability claims could also harm our reputation, which may adversely affect our ability to commercialize our products successfully.
Our internal computer systems, or those of our third-party contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our product development programs.
Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our third-party contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we do not believe that we have experienced any such system failure, accident or security breach to date, including cybersecurity incidents, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our programs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data for our product candidates could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the lost data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach results in a loss of or damage to our data or applications or other data or applications relating to our technology or product candidates, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liabilities and the further development of our product candidates could be delayed. As these threats continue to evolve, particularly around cybersecurity, we may be required to expend significant resources to enhance our control environment, processes, practices and other protective measures. Despite these efforts, such events could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We may acquire businesses or products, or form strategic alliances, in the future, and we may not realize the benefits of such acquisitions.
Our current growth strategy does not involve plans to acquire companies or technologies facilitating or enabling us to access to new medicines, new research projects, or new geographical areas, or enabling us to express synergies with our existing operations. However, if such acquisitions were to become necessary in the future, we may not be able to identify appropriate targets or make acquisitions under satisfactory conditions, in particular, satisfactory price conditions. In addition, we may be unable to obtain the financing for these acquisitions on favorable terms, which could require us to finance these acquisitions using our existing cash resources that could have been allocated to other purposes. If we acquire businesses with promising markets or technologies, we may not be able to realize the benefit of acquiring such businesses if we are unable to successfully integrate them with our existing operations and company culture. We may encounter numerous difficulties in developing, manufacturing and marketing any new products resulting from a strategic alliance or acquisition that delay or prevent us from realizing their expected benefits or enhancing our business. We cannot assure you that, following any such acquisition, we will achieve the expected synergies to justify the transaction.
European data processing is governed by restrictive regulations governing the collection, processing, and cross-border transfer of personal data.
The collection and use of personal data in the European Union is governed by the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679), or GDPR. This legislation imposes requirements relating to having legal bases for processing personal data relating to identifiable individuals and securing transfers of such data outside the European Economic Area including to the United States, providing information to those individuals regarding the processing of their personal data, keeping personal data secure, having data processing agreements with third parties who process personal data, responding to individuals’ requests to exercise their rights in respect of their personal data, reporting security breaches involving personal data to the competent national data protection authority and affected individuals, conducting record-keeping and,where applicable, appointing data protection officers, conducting data protection impact assessments. The GDPR imposes additional responsibilities and liabilities in relation to personal data that we process and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms ensuring compliance with the new data protection rules. The GDPR applies across the EEA and, by virtue of the UK GDPR in the United Kingdom, in a broadly uniform manner. However, the GDPR provides that EEA member states can make their own further laws and regulations to introduce specific requirements related to the processing of ‘special categories of personal data,’ including personal data related to health, biometric data used for unique
identification purposes and genetic information; as well as personal data related to criminal offences or convictions – in the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom Data Protection Act 2018 complements the UK GDPR in this regard. This fact may lead to greater divergence on the law that applies to the processing of such data types across the EEA and/or United Kingdom, compliance with which, as and where applicable, may increase our costs and could increase our overall compliance risk. Such country-specific regulations could also limit our ability to collect, use and share data in the context of our EEA and/or United Kingdom establishments (regardless of where any processing in question occurs), and/or could cause our compliance costs to increase, ultimately having an adverse impact on our business, and harming our business and financial condition. Failure to comply with the requirements of the GDPR and related national data protection laws of the member states of the European Union may result in substantial fines, other administrative penalties and civil claims being brought against us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, in some European countries, including France, the hosting of personal health data must be carried out by specifically certified hosting service providers. The absence or suspension of the appropriate certification of such hosting service provider may adversely affect our business, or even lead to penalties related to breach of security of personal data.
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, which 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, 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 collaborators 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 may engage third parties to sell our products sell our products outside the United States, to conduct clinical trials, and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other regulatory approvals. We 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 collaborators, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities. Any violations 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.
3.D.7.Risks Related to Other Legal Compliance Matters
We are subject to anti-bribery, anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations which may require substantial compliance efforts and could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings, among other penalties.
Healthcare providers, physicians and others will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of our products, if approved. Our business operations in the United States and our arrangements with clinical investigators, healthcare providers, consultants, third party payors and patients may expose us to broadly applicable federal and state anti-bribery fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws. These laws may impact, among other things, our research, proposed sales, marketing and education programs of our product candidates that obtain marketing approval. Restrictions under applicable U.S. federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations include, but are not limited to, the following:
•the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons or entities 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, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase or lease, order or recommendation of, any item, good, facility or service, for which payment may be made under federal healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid;
•the U.S. federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the civil False Claims Act, which can be enforced by individuals, on behalf of the government, through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, and civil monetary penalties laws prohibits individuals or entities from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, 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;
•the U.S. federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created additional federal, civil and criminal statutes that impose criminal and civil liability for, among other things, executing or attempting to execute
a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or knowingly and willingly falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making false statements relating to healthcare matters;
•HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and their implementing regulations, which impose requirements on certain healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses, known as “covered entities,” and persons or entities that perform functions or activities that involve individually identifiable health information on behalf of a covered entity, known as “business associates,” including mandatory contractual terms as well as their covered subcontractors, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;
•U.S. federal transparency requirements under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, enacted as part of the ACA, that require applicable manufacturers of covered drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with specific exceptions, to track and annually report to the CMS payments and other transfers of value provided to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, and certain ownership and investment interests held by physicians or their immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, such obligations will include payments and other transfers of value provided in the previous year to certain other healthcare professionals, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants, and certified nurse midwives;
•analogous state or foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers, state marketing and/or transparency laws applicable to manufacturers that may be broader in scope than the federal requirements, state laws that require biopharmaceutical companies to comply with the biopharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government, state laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers, marketing expenditures, or drug pricing, state and local laws that require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives, and state laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect as HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts;
•GDPR, the local EU data protection laws, and other ex-U.S. protections;
•the French “transparency” provisions, or “French Sunshine Act” (Articles L. 1453-1 and D. 1453-1 and seq. PHC), which contains provisions regarding transparency of fees received by some healthcare professionals from industries, such as companies manufacturing or marketing healthcare products (medicinal products, medical devices, etc.) or services related to these products in France. According to the provisions, these companies shall publicly disclose (on a specific public website available at www.entreprises-transparence.sante.gouv.fr) the advantages and fees paid to healthcare professionals amounting to €10 or above, as well as the agreements concluded with the latter, along with detailed information about each agreement (the precise subject matter of the agreement, the date of signature of the agreement, its end date, the total amount paid to the healthcare professional, etc.); and
•the French “anti-gift” provisions (Articles L.1453-3 to L.1453-12 PHC), setting out a general prohibition of payments and rewards from industries, i.e. companies manufacturing or marketing health products, to - but not only - healthcare professionals, with limited exceptions and strictly defines the conditions under which such payments or awards are lawful, notably the authorization of the Professional Boards if the financial counterpart is higher than a certain amount, this limit being different according to the nature of the benefit concerned
Ensuring that our business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will likely be costly. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices do 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 were found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, possible exclusion from government funded 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 non-compliance with these laws, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and curtailment of our operations, any of which could substantially disrupt our operations. If the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found not to be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs.
If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our research and development activities
involve the use of biological and hazardous materials and produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials, which could cause an interruption of our commercialization efforts, research and development efforts and business operations, environmental damage resulting in costly clean-up and liabilities under applicable laws and regulations governing the use, storage, handling and disposal of these materials and specified waste products. Although we believe that the safety procedures utilized by our third-party manufacturers for handling and disposing of these materials generally comply with the standards prescribed by these laws and regulations, we cannot guarantee that this is the case or eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials. In such an event, we may be held liable for any resulting damages and such liability could exceed our resources and state or federal or other applicable authorities may curtail our use of certain materials and/or interrupt our business operations. Furthermore, environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have tended to become more stringent. We cannot predict the impact of such changes and cannot be certain of our future compliance. In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
Although we maintain professional liability insurance which cover for costs and expenses we may incur due to environmental liability that may be asserted against us or due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities.
Our employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including violating applicable regulatory standards and requirements or engaging in insider trading, which could significantly harm our business.
We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other misconduct. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with legal requirements or the requirements of CMS, EMA, FDA and other government regulators, provide accurate information to applicable government authorities, comply with fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, report financial information or data accurately or 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, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations 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, including trading on, 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 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 may be ineffective 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 civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, possible exclusion from government funded 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 non-compliance, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and curtailment of our operations.
Changes in European regulations may limit our ability to attract and obtain additional financing sources outside France.
As a result of the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2019/452 of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 19, 2019 establishing a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the European Union, the list of sectors of activity which are subject to a control by the French authorities has been extended to cover foreign investments in additional economic sectors. Prior authorization of the Minister of Economy is required for investments in: (i) businesses participating, even occasionally, under the exercise of French public authority, (ii) businesses that would be liable to negatively impact public order, public security or the national defense interest, as well as (iii) business focused on research, production or trade of arms, ammunition, gunpowder and explosive substances.
A foreign direct investment will be subject to authorization where there is an (i) acquisition of control, under article L.233-3 of the French Commercial Code, of an entity subject to French law, (ii) where a party acquires all or part of a branch of activity of an entity subject to French law, (iii) or where a party crosses directly or indirectly, and acting alone or in concert, the 25% voting rights threshold of an entity subject to French law.
The French government has adapted the foreign investment control procedure in France within the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in two ways: (i) the inclusion, by a Ministerial order (arrêté) of April 27, 2020, of biotechnologies in the list of critical technologies and (ii) the addition, by a Decree (décret) of July 22, 2020 as amended by Decree n°2020-1729 of December 28, 2020, of the threshold of 10% of voting rights of a company subject to French law whose securities are listed on a stock exchange as triggering the control procedure.
The Decree of July 22, 2020, as amended by the decree of December 28, 2020, currently provides that this new 10% threshold will be effective until December 31, 2021 and a fast-track review procedure for foreign investments exceeding this threshold.
If an investment in the company subject to prior authorization is realized without this authorization having been granted, the Minister will be able to order the investor, subject to a fine for non-performance, to: (i) file an authorization application, (ii) restore the previous situation, or (iii) amend the investment and, if he considers that the conditions for the authorization have not been met, the Minister may also revoke the authorization or order the investor, subject to a fine for non-performance, to comply with the authorization. In both cases, he may also take provisional measures.
Furthermore, an investor who has carried out a transaction without prior authorization or has not complied with the orders or measures set by the French Minister of Economy will be liable to a fine of up to the greater of the following amounts: (i) double the amount of the irregular investment, (ii) 10% of the turnover (excluding taxes) of the company, (iii) five million euros for legal entities, and (iv) one million euros for individuals.
Inclusion of biotechnologies in the list of critical technologies subject to foreign investment control procedure could discourage foreign investment in the Company's securities, thereby limiting access to foreign sources of financing. If interested investors do not or cannot obtain such authorization, their investment could be cancelled and be subject to additional fees and/or monetary penalties.
Future changes to tax laws could materially adversely affect our company and reduce net returns to our shareholders.
Our tax treatment is subject to the enactment of, or changes in, tax laws, regulations and treaties, or the interpretation thereof, tax policy initiatives and reforms under consideration and the practices of tax authorities in jurisdictions in which we operate, including those related to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project, the European Commission’s state aid investigations and other initiatives. Such changes may include (but are not limited to) the taxation of operating income, investment income, dividends received or (in the specific context of withholding tax) dividends paid. We are unable to predict what tax reform may be proposed or enacted in the future or what effect such changes would have on our business, but such changes, to the extent they are brought into tax legislation, regulations, policies or practices, could affect our financial position and overall or effective tax rates in the future in countries where we have operations, reduce post-tax returns to our shareholders, and increase the complexity, burden and cost of tax compliance.
For example, the Tax Act enacted many significant changes to the U.S. tax laws. Future guidance from the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities with respect to the Tax Act may affect us, and certain aspects of the Tax Act could be repealed or modified in future legislation. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Act or any newly enacted federal tax legislation. Changes in corporate tax rates, the realization of net deferred tax assets relating to our operations, the taxation of foreign earnings, and the deductibility of expenses under the Tax Act or future reform legislation could have a material impact on the value of our deferred tax assets, could result in significant one-time charges, and could increase our future U.S. tax expense. We urge you to consult with your legal and tax advisors with respect to this legislation and the potential tax consequences of investing in or holding our common shares.
Tax authorities may disagree with our positions and conclusions regarding certain tax positions, resulting in unanticipated costs, taxes or non-realization of expected benefits.
A tax authority may disagree with tax positions that we have taken, which could result in increased tax liabilities. For example, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service or another tax authority could challenge our allocation of income by tax jurisdiction and the amounts paid between our affiliated companies pursuant to our intercompany arrangements and transfer pricing policies, including amounts paid with respect to our intellectual property development. Similarly, a tax authority could assert that we are subject to tax in a jurisdiction where we believe we have not established a taxable connection, often referred to as a “permanent establishment” under international tax treaties, and such an assertion, if successful, could increase our expected tax liability in one or more jurisdictions. A tax authority may take the position that material income tax liabilities, interest and penalties are payable by us, in which case, we expect that we might contest such assessment. Contesting such an assessment may be lengthy and costly and if we were unsuccessful in disputing the assessment, the implications could increase our anticipated effective tax rate, where applicable.
For U.S. tax purposes, our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.
In general, under Section 382 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or the Code, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards, or NOLs, to offset future taxable income. We have not performed a detailed analysis to determine whether an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code has occurred after each of our previous issuances of ordinary shares. In addition, if we underwent an ownership change in the past, our ability to utilize NOLs could be limited by Section 382 of the Code. Future changes in our share ownership, some of which are outside of our
control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code. Furthermore, our ability to utilize NOLs of companies that we may acquire in the future may be subject to limitations. As a result, even if we attain profitability, we may be unable to use a material portion of our NOLs and other tax attributes, which could negatively impact our future cash flows.
3.D.8.Risks Related to Intellectual Property
Our ability to compete may decline if we do not adequately protect our proprietary rights.
Our commercial success depends on obtaining and maintaining proprietary rights to our product candidates and defending these rights against third-party challenges. We will only be able to protect our product candidates and their uses from unauthorized use by third parties to the extent that valid and enforceable patents, or effectively protected trade secrets, cover them. Our ability to obtain patent protection for our product candidates is uncertain due to a number of factors, including:
•we or our licensors may not have been the first to make the inventions covered by pending patent applications or issued patents;
•we or our licensors may not have been the first to file patent applications for our product candidates or the compositions we developed or for their uses;
•others may independently develop identical, similar or alternative products or compositions and uses thereof;
•our or our licensors’ disclosures in patent applications may not be sufficient to meet the statutory requirements for patentability;
•any or all of our or our licensors’ pending patent applications may not result in issued patents;
•we or our licensors may not seek or obtain patent protection in countries that may eventually provide us a significant business opportunity;
•any patents issued to us or our licensors may not provide a basis for commercially viable products, may not provide any competitive advantages, or may be successfully challenged by third parties;
•our or our licensors’ compositions and methods may not be patentable;
•others may design around our patent claims to produce competitive products which fall outside of the scope of our patents; or
•others may identify prior art or other bases which could invalidate our or our licensors’ patents.
Even if we have or obtain patents covering our product candidates or compositions, we may still be barred from making, using and selling our product candidates or technologies because of the patent rights of others. Others may have filed, and in the future, may file, patent applications covering compositions or products that are similar or identical to ours. There are many issued U.S. and foreign patents relating to chemical compounds and therapeutic products, and some of these relate to compounds we intend to commercialize. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications owned by others exist in the cancer treatment field in which we are developing products. These could materially affect our ability to develop our product candidates or sell our products if approved. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending applications unknown to us that may later result in issued patents that our product candidates or compositions may infringe. These patent applications may have priority over patent applications filed by us.
Obtaining and maintaining a patent portfolio entails significant expense and resources. Part of the expense includes periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees, various other governmental fees on patents and/or applications due in several stages over the lifetime of patents and/or applications, as well as the cost associated with complying with numerous procedural provisions during the patent application process. We may not choose to pursue or maintain protection for particular inventions. In addition, there are situations in which failure to make certain payments or noncompliance with certain requirements in the patent process can result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. If we choose to forgo patent protection or allow a patent application or patent to lapse purposefully or inadvertently, our competitive position could suffer.
Legal actions to enforce our patent rights can be expensive and may involve the diversion of significant management time. In addition, these legal actions could be unsuccessful and could also result in the invalidation of our patents or a finding that they are unenforceable. We may or may not choose to pursue litigation or other actions against those that have infringed on our patents, or used them without authorization, due to the associated expense and time commitment of monitoring these activities. If we fail to protect or to enforce our intellectual property rights successfully, our competitive position could suffer, which could harm our results of operations.
Issued patents covering our product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court.
If we initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering our product candidate or technology, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate or technology is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge include alleged failures to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness or non-enablement. Grounds for unenforceability assertions include allegations that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post-grant review and/or inter partes review and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions, and opposition proceedings. Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment of our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates or competitive products. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to validity, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no 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 or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates.
Biopharmaceutical patents and patent applications involve highly complex legal and factual questions, which, if determined adversely to us, could negatively impact our patent position.
The patent positions of biopharmaceutical companies can be highly uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions. The interpretation and breadth of claims allowed in some patents covering biopharmaceutical compositions may be uncertain and difficult to determine and are often affected materially by the facts and circumstances that pertain to the patented compositions and the related patent claims. The standards of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, are evolving and could change in the future. Consequently, we cannot predict the issuance and scope of patents with certainty. Patents, if issued, may be challenged, invalidated or circumvented. U.S. patents and patent applications may also be subject to interference proceedings, and U.S. patents may be subject to reexamination proceedings, post-grant review and/or inter partes review in the USPTO. Foreign patents may be subject also to opposition or comparable proceedings in the corresponding foreign patent office, which could result in either loss of the patent or denial of the patent application or loss or reduction in the scope of one or more of the claims of the patent or patent application. In addition, such interference, reexamination, post-grant review, inter partes review and opposition proceedings may be costly. Accordingly, rights under any issued patents may not provide us with sufficient protection against competitive products or processes.
In addition, changes in or different interpretations of patent laws in the United States and foreign countries may permit others to use our or our licensors’ discoveries or to develop and commercialize our technology and products without providing any compensation to us, or may limit the number of patents or claims we can obtain. The laws of some countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as U.S. laws and those countries may lack adequate rules and procedures for defending our intellectual property rights.
If we fail to obtain and maintain patent protection and trade secret protection for our product candidates, we could lose our competitive advantage and competition we face would increase, reducing any potential revenues and adversely affecting our ability to attain or maintain profitability.
Developments in patent law could have a negative impact on our business.
From time to time, the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal courts, the U.S. Congress, the USPTO or similar foreign authorities may change the standards of patentability and any such changes could have a negative impact on our business. In addition, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the America Invents Act, which was signed into law in 2011, includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These changes include a transition from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system, changes to the way issued patents are challenged, and changes to the way patent applications are disputed during the examination process. These changes may favor larger and more established companies that have greater resources to devote to patent application filing and prosecution. The USPTO has developed new regulations and procedures to govern the full implementation of the America Invents Act, and many of the substantive changes to patent law associated with the America Invents Act, and, in particular, the first-to-file provisions, became effective on March 16, 2013. Substantive changes to patent law associated with the America Invents Act, or any subsequent U.S. legislation regarding patents, may affect our ability to obtain patents, and if obtained, to enforce or defend them. Accordingly, it is not clear what, if any, impact the America Invents Act will have on the cost of prosecuting our U.S. patent applications, our ability to obtain U.S. patents based on our discoveries and our ability to enforce or defend any patents that may issue from our patent applications, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
If we do not obtain protection under the Hatch-Waxman Amendments and similar non-U.S. 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, and similar legislation in the European Union. 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.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
In addition to patent protection, because we operate in the highly technical field of development of therapies, we rely in part on trade secret protection in order to protect our proprietary technology and processes. However, trade secrets are difficult to protect. We have entered into confidentiality and intellectual property assignment agreements with our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers, and other advisors. These agreements generally require that the other party keep confidential and not disclose to third parties all confidential information developed by the party or made known to the party by us during the course of the party’s relationship with us. These agreements also generally provide that inventions conceived by the party in the course of rendering services to us will be our exclusive property. However, these agreements may not be honored and may not effectively assign intellectual property rights to us.
In addition to contractual measures, we try to protect the confidential nature of our proprietary information using physical and technological security measures. Such measures may not, for example, in the case of misappropriation of a trade secret by an employee or third party with authorized access, provide adequate protection for our proprietary information. Our security measures may not prevent an employee or consultant from misappropriating our trade secrets and providing them to a competitor, and recourse we take against such misconduct may not provide an adequate remedy to protect our interests fully. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, courts outside the United States may be less willing to protect trade secrets. Trade secrets may be independently developed by others in a manner that could prevent legal recourse by us. If any of our confidential or proprietary information, such as our trade secrets, were to be disclosed or misappropriated, or if any such information was independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position could be harmed.
We will not seek to protect our intellectual property rights in all jurisdictions throughout the world and we may not be able to adequately enforce our intellectual property rights even in the jurisdictions where we seek protection.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on our product candidates in all countries and jurisdictions throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States could be less extensive than those in the United States, assuming that rights are obtained in the United States. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we do not pursue and obtain 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 products and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Even if we pursue and obtain issued patents in particular jurisdictions, our patent claims or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent third parties from so competing.
In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the federal and state laws in the United States. Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in certain foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of some countries, particularly developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, especially those relating to biopharmaceuticals or biotechnologies. This could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents, if obtained, or the misappropriation of our other intellectual property rights. For example, many foreign countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner must grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against third parties, including government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, patents may provide limited or no benefit. Patent protection must ultimately be sought on a country-by-country basis, which is an expensive and time-consuming process with uncertain outcomes. Accordingly, we may choose not to seek patent protection in certain countries, and we will not have the benefit of patent protection in such countries.
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, could put 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. In addition, changes in the law and legal decisions by courts in the United States and foreign countries may affect our ability to obtain adequate protection for our technology and the enforcement of intellectual property. 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.
Third parties may assert ownership to inventions we develop.
Collaborators or third party partners may in the future make claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our intellectual property developed in the context of their collaboration with us. We have written agreements with collaborators and third party partners that provide us the ownership of intellectual property or provide that we must negotiate certain intellectual property rights with collaborators and third party partners with respect to joint inventions or inventions made by them that arise from the results of the collaboration. In some instances, written provisions or conditions may be challenged or may not be adequate to address clearly the resolution of intellectual property rights that may arise from a collaboration. If we cannot successfully negotiate ownership of intellectual property to the inventions that result from our use of a third-party partner or collaborator’s materials where required, or if disputes otherwise arise with respect to the intellectual property developed with the use of a third-party partner or collaborator’s samples, we may be limited in our ability to capitalize on the market potential of these inventions. In addition, we may face claims by third parties that our agreements with employees, contractors, or consultants obligating them to assign intellectual property to us are ineffective, or in conflict with prior or competing contractual obligations of assignment, which could result in ownership disputes regarding intellectual property we have developed or will develop and interfere with our ability to capture the commercial value of such inventions. Litigation may be necessary to resolve an ownership dispute, and if we are not successful, we may be precluded from using certain intellectual property, or may lose our exclusive rights in that intellectual property. Either outcome could have an adverse impact on our business.
If we fail to comply with our obligations under license or technology agreements with third parties, we could lose license rights that are critical to our business.
We license intellectual property that is critical to our business, including licenses underlying the technology in our diagnostic tests, and in the future, we may enter into additional agreements that provide us with licenses to valuable intellectual property or technology. These licenses impose various royalty payments, milestones, and other obligations on us. If we fail to comply with any of these obligations, the licensor may have the right to terminate the license. Termination by the licensor would cause us to lose valuable rights, and could prevent us from distributing our current tests, or inhibit our ability to commercialize future test candidates. Our business would suffer if any current or future licenses terminate, if the licensors fail to abide by the terms of the license, if the licensors fail to prevent infringement by third parties, if the licensed patents or other rights are found to be invalid or unenforceable, or if we are unable to enter into necessary licenses on acceptable terms.
Third parties may assert that our employees or consultants have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information or misappropriated trade secrets.
We employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees and consultants do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, and no such claims against us are currently pending, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of a former employer or other third parties. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. 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.
A dispute concerning the infringement or misappropriation of our proprietary rights or the proprietary rights of others could be time-consuming and costly, and an unfavorable outcome could harm our business.
There is significant litigation in the biopharmaceutical industry regarding patent and other intellectual property rights. While we are not currently subject to any pending intellectual property litigation, and are not aware of any such threatened litigation, we may be exposed to future litigation by third parties based on claims that our product candidates, technologies or activities infringe the intellectual property rights of others. If our development activities are found to infringe any such patents, we may have to pay significant damages or seek licenses to such patents. A patentee could prevent us from using the patented drugs or compositions. We may need to resort to litigation to enforce a patent issued to us, to protect our trade secrets, or to determine the scope and validity of third-party proprietary rights. From time to time, we may hire scientific personnel or consultants formerly employed by other
companies involved in one or more areas similar to the activities conducted by us. Either we or these individuals may be subject to allegations of trade secret misappropriation or other similar claims as a result of prior affiliations. If we become involved in litigation, it could consume a substantial portion of our managerial and financial resources, regardless of whether we win or lose. We may not be able to afford the costs of litigation. Any adverse ruling or perception of an adverse ruling in defending ourselves against these claims could have a negative impact on our cash position. Any legal action against us or our collaborators could lead to:
•payment of damages, potentially treble damages, if we are found to have willfully infringed a party’s patent rights;
•injunctive or other equitable relief that may effectively block our ability to further develop, commercialize, and sell products; or
•us or our collaborators having to enter into license arrangements that may not be available on commercially acceptable terms, if at all.
Any of these outcomes could hurt our cash position and financial condition and our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest.
Our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names, which we will need to build name recognition by potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. Over the long term, if we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively.
3.D.9.Risks Related to Ownership of our Securities and our Status as a Non-U.S. Company with Foreign Private Issuer Status
The market price of our equity securities may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance.
The market price for our ADSs and ordinary shares has fluctuated and is likely to continue to fluctuate, substantially. The stock market in general and the market for biopharmaceutical companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that in some instances is unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. For example, on the day we announced our positive Phase 2b clinical trial results evaluating eryaspase in metastatic pancreatic cancer in March 2017, the closing price per ordinary share on Euronext Paris increased by 71% compared to the average of the closing price per ordinary share for the previous 20 trading days. Conversely, on the day we announced the discontinuation of our developments in AML in June 2018, the closing price per ordinary share on Euronext Paris decreased by 31% compared to the average of the closing price per ordinary share for the previous 20 trading days. A significant decrease in our share price could have a significant adverse effect on our financial condition, reputation and prospects.
As a result of this volatility in our market and industry, holders of our equity securities may not be able to sell their ADSs or ordinary shares at or above the price originally paid for the security. The market price for our ADSs and ordinary shares may be influenced by numerous factors, some of which are beyond our control, including:
•actual or anticipated fluctuations in our financial condition and operating results;
•actual or anticipated changes in our growth rate relative to our competitors;
•competition from existing products or new products that may emerge;
•announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, collaborations, or capital commitments;
•failure to meet or exceed financial estimates and projections of the investment community or that we provide to the public;
•issuance of new or updated research or reports by securities analysts;
•fluctuations in the valuation of companies perceived by investors to be comparable to us;
•share and ADS price and volume fluctuations attributable to inconsistent trading volume levels of our shares and ADSs;
•additions or departures of key management or scientific personnel;
•lawsuits threatened or filed against us, disputes or other developments related to proprietary rights, including patents, litigation matters, and our ability to obtain patent protection for our technologies;
•changes to coverage policies or reimbursement levels by commercial third-party payors and government payors and any announcements relating to coverage policies or reimbursement levels;
•announcement or expectation of additional debt or equity financing efforts;
•adverse regulatory decisions, including failure to receive regulatory approval for any of our product candidates;
•the termination of a strategic alliance or the inability to establish additional strategic alliances;
•sales of our ordinary shares or ADSs by us, our insiders or our other shareholders; and
•general economic and market conditions.
These and other market and industry factors may cause the market price and demand for our ordinary shares and ADSs to fluctuate substantially, regardless of our actual operating performance, which may limit or prevent holders of our equity securities from readily selling their ordinary shares or ADSs and may otherwise negatively affect the liquidity of the trading market for the ordinary shares and ADSs.
In addition, in the past, stockholders have initiated class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies following periods of volatility in the market prices of these companies’ stock. Such litigation, if instituted against us, could cause us to incur substantial costs and divert management’s attention and resources from our business.
The dual listing of our ordinary shares and our ADSs may adversely affect the liquidity and value of our ordinary shares and ADSs.
Our ADSs are listed on Nasdaq, and our ordinary shares are listed on Euronext Paris. We cannot predict the effect our dual listing will have on the value of our ADSs and ordinary shares. However, the dual listing of our ADSs and ordinary shares may dilute the liquidity of these securities in one or both markets and may adversely affect the trading market or price for our ADSs or ordinary shares.
If we do not achieve our projected development and commercialization goals in the timeframes we announce and expect, our business will be harmed and the price of our securities could decline as a result.
We sometimes estimate for planning purposes the timing of the accomplishment of various scientific, clinical, regulatory and other product development objectives. These milestones may include our expectations regarding the commencement or completion of scientific studies, clinical trials, the submission of regulatory filings, or commercialization objectives. From time to time, we may publicly announce the expected timing of some of these milestones, such as the completion of an ongoing clinical trial, the initiation of other clinical programs, receipt of marketing approval, or a commercial launch of a product. The achievement of many of these milestones may be outside of our control. All of these milestones are based on a variety of assumptions which may cause the timing of achievement of the milestones to vary considerably from our estimates, including:
•our available capital resources or capital constraints we experience;
•the rate of progress, costs and results of our clinical trials and research and development activities, including the extent of scheduling conflicts with participating clinicians and collaborators, and our ability to identify and enroll patients who meet clinical trial eligibility criteria;
•our receipt of approvals by the EMA, FDA and other regulatory agencies and the timing thereof;
•other actions, decisions or rules issued by regulators;
•our ability to access sufficient, reliable and affordable supplies of compounds and raw materials used in the manufacture of our product candidates;
•the efforts of our collaborators with respect to the commercialization of our products; and
•the securing of, costs related to, and timing issues associated with, product manufacturing as well as sales and marketing activities.
If we fail to achieve announced milestones in the timeframes we expect, the commercialization of our product candidates may be delayed, our business and results of operations may be harmed, and the trading price of the ordinary shares and ADSs may decline as a result.
Our ownership is concentrated in the hands of our principal shareholders and ADS holders and management, who continue to be able to exercise a direct or indirect controlling influence on us.
As of December 31, 2020, our executive officers, directors, current 5% or greater shareholders and their respective affiliated entities, including BVF Partners L.P, RA Capital Management LLC and Auriga Ventures III FCPR, together beneficially owned approximately 40% of our ordinary shares (including ordinary shares in the form of ADSs). As a result, these shareholders, acting together, will have
significant influence over all matters that require approval by our shareholders, including the election of directors and approval of significant corporate transactions. Corporate action might be taken even if other shareholders oppose them. This concentration of ownership might also have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control of our company that other shareholders may view as beneficial.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the price of the ordinary shares and ADSs and their trading volume could decline.
The trading market for the ADSs and ordinary shares depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If no or few securities or industry analysts cover our company, the trading price for our ADSs and ordinary shares would be negatively impacted. If one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades our equity securities or publishes incorrect or unfavorable research about our business, the price of the ordinary shares and ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, or downgrades our securities, demand for the ordinary shares and ADSs could decrease, which could cause the price of the ordinary shares and ADSs or their trading volume to decline.
We do not currently intend to pay dividends on our securities and, consequently, the ability of our shareholders and ADS holders to achieve a return on investment will depend on appreciation in the price of the ordinary shares and ADSs. In addition, French law may limit the amount of dividends we are able to distribute.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our share capital and do not currently intend to do so for the foreseeable future. We currently intend to invest our future earnings, if any, to fund our growth. Therefore, our shareholders and ADS holders are not likely to receive any dividends for the foreseeable future and any increase in value will depend solely upon future appreciation. Consequently, holders of our equity securities may need to sell all or part of their holdings of ordinary shares or ADSs after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any future gains.
Further, under French law, the determination of whether we have been sufficiently profitable to pay dividends is made on the basis of our statutory financial statements prepared and presented in accordance with accounting standards applicable in France. In addition, payment of dividends may subject us to additional taxes under French law. Please see the section of this Annual Report titled “Item 10.B—Memorandum and Articles of Association” for further details on the limitations on our ability to declare and pay dividends and the taxes that may become payable by us if we elect to pay a dividend. Therefore, we may be more restricted in our ability to declare dividends than companies not based in France.
In addition, exchange rate fluctuations may affect the amount of euros that we are able to distribute, and the amount in U.S. dollars that our shareholders receive upon the payment of cash dividends or other distributions we declare and pay in euros, if any. These factors could harm the value of our equity securities, and, in turn, the U.S. dollar proceeds that holders receive from the sale of ADSs.
Future sales, or the possibility of future sales, of a substantial number of our ADSs or ordinary shares could adversely affect the market price of our ADSs and ordinary shares.
As of December 31, 2020, 20,057,562 ordinary shares were issued and outstanding. Sales of a substantial number of shares of our ordinary shares or ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our securities and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. A substantial number of our shares are now generally freely tradable, subject, in the case of sales by our affiliates, to the volume limitations and other provisions of Rule 144 under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. If holders of these shares sell, or indicate an intent to sell, substantial amounts of our securities in the public market, the trading price of our securities could decline significantly.
We have also filed a registration statement with the SEC to register the ordinary shares that may be issued under our equity incentive plans. The ordinary shares subject to outstanding options under our equity incentive plans, ordinary shares reserved for future issuance under our equity incentive plans and ordinary shares subject to outstanding warrants will become eligible for sale in the public market in the future, subject to certain legal and contractual limitations. Sales of a large number of the shares issued under these plans in the public market could have an adverse effect on the market price of our securities. In addition, pursuant to the OCABSA Agreement, we may issue ordinary shares upon conversion of convertible notes and/or exercise of share warrants. In the event that such ordinary shares are sold in the public market, such sales of ordinary shares pursuant to the OCABSA Agreement could also have an adverse effect on the market price of our securities.
The rights of shareholders in companies subject to French corporate law differ in material respects from the rights of shareholders of corporations incorporated in the United States.
We are a French company with limited liability. Our corporate affairs are governed by our bylaws and by the laws governing companies incorporated in France. The rights of shareholders and the responsibilities of members of our board of directors are in many ways different from the rights and obligations of shareholders in companies governed by the laws of U.S. jurisdictions. For example, in the performance of its duties, our board of directors is required by French law to consider the interests of our company, its shareholders, its employees and other stakeholders, rather than solely our shareholders and/or creditors. It is possible that some of these parties will have interests that are different from, or in addition to, the interests of our shareholders or holders of our ADSs. See the sections of this Annual Report titled “Item 10. B—Memorandum and Articles of Association” and “Item 16.G—Corporate Governance.”
U.S. holders of our equity securities may have difficulty enforcing civil liabilities against our company and directors and senior management and experts named herein.
Certain members of our board of directors and senior management and certain experts named herein are non-residents of the United States, and all or a substantial portion of our assets and the assets of such persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may not be possible to serve process on such persons or us in the United States or to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts against them or us based on civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States. Additionally, it may be difficult to assert U.S. securities law claims in actions originally instituted outside of the United States. Foreign courts may refuse to hear a U.S. securities law claim because foreign courts may not be the most appropriate forums in which to bring such a claim. Even if a foreign court agrees to hear a claim, it may determine that the law of the jurisdiction in which the foreign court resides, and not U.S. law, is applicable to the claim. Further, if U.S. law is found to be applicable, the content of applicable U.S. law must be proved as a fact, which can be a time-consuming and costly process, and certain matters of procedure would still be governed by the law of the jurisdiction in which the foreign court resides. In particular, there is some doubt as to whether French courts would recognize and enforce certain civil liabilities under U.S. securities laws in original actions or judgments of U.S. courts based upon these civil liability provisions. In addition, awards of punitive damages in actions brought in the United States or elsewhere may be unenforceable in France. An award for monetary damages under the U.S. securities laws would be considered punitive if it does not seek to compensate the claimant for loss or damage suffered but is intended to punish the defendant. French law provides that a shareholder, or a group of shareholders, may initiate a legal action to seek indemnification from the directors of a corporation in the corporation’s interest if it fails to bring such legal action itself. If so, any damages awarded by the court are paid to the corporation and any legal fees relating to such action may be borne by the relevant shareholder or the group of shareholders.
The enforceability of any judgment in France will depend on the particular facts of the case as well as the laws and treaties in effect at the time. The United States and France do not currently have a treaty providing for recognition and enforcement of judgments (other than arbitration awards) in civil and commercial matters.
Our bylaws and French corporate law contain provisions that may delay or discourage a takeover attempt.
Provisions contained in our bylaws and French corporate law could make it more difficult for a third-party to acquire us, even if doing so might be beneficial to our shareholders. In addition, provisions of our bylaws impose various procedural and other requirements, which could make it more difficult for shareholders to effect certain corporate actions. These provisions include the following:
•under French law, the owner of 90% of the share capital or voting rights of a public company listed on a regulated market in a Member State of the European Union or in a state party to the European Economic Area, or EEA, Agreement, including France, has the right to force out minority shareholders following a tender offer made to all shareholders;
•under French law, a non-resident of France as well as any French entity controlled by non-residents of France may have to file a declaration for statistical purposes with the Bank of France (Banque de France) within 20 working days following the date of certain direct foreign investments in us, including any purchase of our ADSs. In particular, such filings are required in connection with investments exceeding €15,000,000 that lead to the acquisition of at least 10% of our share capital or voting rights or cross such 10% threshold. See “Item 10.B - Limitations Affecting Shareholders of a French Company;”
•under French law, certain investments in a French company relating to certain strategic industries by individuals or entities not residents in a Member State of the European Union or controlled by individuals of entities not resident in a Member State of the European Union are subject to prior authorization of the Ministry of Economy pursuant to Law n°2019-486 (and as from April 1, 2020 pursuant to the decree n°2019-1590). See “Item 10.B - Limitations Affecting Shareholders of a French Company;”. Within the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the French government has included biotechnologies in the list of strategic industries by a Ministerial order (arrêté) of April 27, 2020. See section D "Risk Factors - Risks Related to our Financial Position and Capital Needs ";
•a merger (i.e., in a French law context, a stock for stock exchange following which our company would be dissolved without being liquidated into the acquiring entity and our shareholders would become shareholders of the acquiring entity) of our company into a company incorporated in the European Union would require the approval of our board of directors as well as a two-thirds majority of the votes held by the shareholders present, represented by proxy or voting by mail at the relevant meeting;
•a merger of our company into a company incorporated outside of the European Union would require the unanimous approval of our shareholders;
•under French law, a cash merger is treated as a share purchase and would require the consent of each participating shareholder;
•our shareholders have granted and may grant in the future our board of directors broad authorizations to increase our share capital or to issue additional ordinary shares or other securities, such as warrants, to our shareholders, the public or qualified investors, including as a possible defense following the launching of a tender offer for our shares;
•our shareholders have preferential subscription rights on a pro rata basis on the future issuance by us of any additional securities for cash or a set-off of cash debts, which rights may only be waived by the extraordinary general shareholders’ meeting (by a two-thirds majority vote) of our shareholders or on an individual basis by each shareholder;
•our board of directors has the right to appoint directors to fill a vacancy created by the resignation or death of a director, for the remaining duration of such director’s term of office and subject to the approval by the shareholders of such appointment at the next shareholders’ meeting, which prevents shareholders from having the sole right to fill vacancies on our board of directors;
•our board of directors can be convened by our chairman or our managing director, if any, or, when no board meeting has been held for more than two consecutive months, by directors representing at least one third of the total number of directors;
•our board of directors meetings can only be regularly held if at least half of the directors attend either physically or by way of videoconference or teleconference enabling the directors’ identification and ensuring their effective participation in the board’s decisions;
•our shares are nominative or bearer, if the legislation so permits, according to the shareholder’s choice;
•approval of at least a majority of the votes held by shareholders present, represented by a proxy, or voting by mail at the relevant ordinary shareholders’ general meeting is required to remove directors with or without cause;
•advance notice is required for nominations to the board of directors or for proposing matters to be acted upon at a shareholders’ meeting, except that a vote to remove and replace a director can be proposed at any shareholders’ meeting without notice;
•our bylaws can be changed in accordance with applicable laws;
•the crossing of certain thresholds has to be disclosed and can impose certain obligations; see the section of this Annual Report titled “Item 10.B—Memorandum and Articles of Association”;
•transfers of shares shall comply with applicable insider trading rules and regulations and, in particular, with the Market Abuse Directive and Regulation dated April 16, 2014; and
•pursuant to French law, the sections of our bylaws relating to the number of directors and election and removal of a director from office, may only be modified by a resolution adopted by two-thirds of the votes held by our shareholders present, represented by a proxy or voting by mail at the meeting.
Holders of our ADSs may not be able to exercise their right to vote the ordinary shares underlying such ADSs.
Holders of our ADSs may exercise voting rights with respect to the ordinary shares represented by the ADSs only in accordance with the provisions of the amended and restated deposit agreement. The amended and restated deposit agreement provides that, upon receipt of notice of any meeting of holders of our ordinary shares, the depositary will fix a record date for the determination of ADS holders who shall be entitled to give instructions for the exercise of voting rights. Upon timely receipt of notice from us, if we so request, the depositary shall distribute to the holders as of the record date (1) the notice of the meeting or solicitation of consent or proxy sent by us and (2) a statement as to the manner in which instructions may be given by the holders.
Holders of our ADSs may instruct the depositary of their ADSs to vote the ordinary shares underlying such ADSs. Otherwise, holders of our ADSs will not be able to exercise voting rights unless they withdraw the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs they hold. However, a holder of our ADSs may not know about the meeting far enough in advance to withdraw those ordinary shares. If we ask for a holder of our ADSs’ instructions, the depositary, upon timely notice from us, will notify him or her of the upcoming vote and
arrange to deliver our voting materials to him or her. We cannot guarantee to any holder of ADSs that he or she will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that he or she can instruct the depositary to vote his or her ordinary shares or to withdraw his or her ordinary shares so that he or she can vote them directly. Pursuant to the terms of our amended deposit agreement, in certain situations if, in the opinion of our management, the matter is not materially adverse to the interests of our shareholders, we may request that if the depositary does not receive timely voting instructions from a holder of ADSs, the depositary may give a proxy to a person designated by us to vote, in its discretion, the ordinary shares underlying the unvoted ADSs, as long as the matter is endorsed by our board. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for the manner of carrying out voting instructions. This means that a holder of ADSs may not be able to exercise his or her right to vote, and there may be nothing he or she can do if the ordinary shares underlying his or her ADSs are not voted as he or she requested.
The right as a holder of ADSs to participate in any future preferential subscription rights or to elect to receive dividends in shares may be limited, which may cause dilution to the holders of our ADSs.
Under French law, if we issue additional securities for cash, current shareholders will have preferential subscription rights for these securities on a pro rata basis unless they waive those rights at an extraordinary meeting of our shareholders (by a two-thirds majority vote) or individually by each shareholder. However, our ADS holders in the United States will not be entitled to exercise or sell such rights unless we register the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. In addition, the amended and restated deposit agreement provides that the depositary will not make rights available to holders of our ADSs unless the distribution to ADS holders of both the rights and any related securities are either registered under the Securities Act or exempted from registration under the Securities Act. Further, if we offer holders of our ordinary shares the option to receive dividends in either cash or shares, under the amended and restated deposit agreement the depositary may require satisfactory assurances from us that extending the offer to holders of our ADSs does not require registration of any securities under the Securities Act before making the option available to holders of our ADSs. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. Moreover, we may not be able to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, ADS holders may be unable to participate in our rights offerings or to elect to receive dividends in shares and may experience dilution in their holdings. In addition, if the depositary is unable to sell rights that are not exercised or not distributed or if the sale is not lawful or reasonably practicable, it will allow the rights to lapse, in which case holders of our ADSs will receive no value for these rights.
Holders of our ADSs may be subject to limitations on the transfer of such ADSs and the withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares.
ADSs, which may be evidenced by ADRs, are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary think it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law, government or governmental body, or under any provision of the amended and restated deposit agreement, or for any other reason subject to an ADS holder’s right to cancel such ADSs and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares. Temporary delays in the cancellation of such ADSs and withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares may arise because the depositary has closed its transfer books or we have closed our transfer books, the transfer of ordinary shares is blocked to permit voting at a shareholders’ meeting or we are paying a dividend on our ordinary shares. In addition, a holder of ADSs may not be able to cancel his or her ADSs and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares when he or she owes money for fees, taxes and similar charges and when it is necessary to prohibit withdrawals in order to comply with any laws or governmental regulations that apply to ADSs or to the withdrawal of ordinary shares or other deposited securities.
As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from a number of rules under the U.S. securities laws and are permitted to file less information with the SEC than a U.S. company. This may limit the information available to holders of our ADSs or ordinary shares.
We are a foreign private issuer, as defined in the SEC’s rules and regulations and, consequently, we are not subject to all of the disclosure requirements applicable to public companies organized within the United States. For example, we are exempt from certain rules under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, that regulate disclosure obligations and procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations applicable to a security registered under the Exchange Act, including the U.S. proxy rules under Section 14 of the Exchange Act. In addition, our officers and directors are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our securities. Moreover, while we currently make annual and semi-annual filings with respect to our listing on Euronext Paris and expect to continue to file such reports, we are not required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. public companies and we are not required to file quarterly reports on
Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K under the Exchange Act. Accordingly, there is less publicly available information concerning our company than there would be if we were a U.S. domestic issuer.
As a foreign private issuer, we are permitted and we follow certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from Nasdaq’s corporate governance standards. These practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the corporate governance standards of the Nasdaq Global Select Market.
As a foreign private issuer listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, we are subject to Nasdaq’s corporate governance standards. However, Nasdaq rules provide that foreign private issuers are permitted to follow home country corporate governance practices in lieu of Nasdaq’s corporate governance standards as long as notification is provided to Nasdaq of the intention to take advantage of such exemptions. We currently rely on exemptions for foreign private issuers and follow French corporate governance practices in lieu of Nasdaq’s corporate governance standards, to the extent possible. Certain corporate governance practices in France, which is our home country, may differ significantly from Nasdaq corporate governance standards. For example, as a French company, neither the corporate laws of France nor our bylaws require a majority of our directors to be independent and we can include non-independent directors as members of our remuneration committee, and our independent directors are not required to hold regularly scheduled meetings at which only independent directors are present.
We are also exempt from provisions set forth in Nasdaq rules which require an issuer to provide in its bylaws for a generally applicable quorum, and that such quorum may not be less than one-third of the outstanding voting stock. Consistent with French law, our bylaws provide that a quorum requires the presence of shareholders having at least (1) 20% of the shares entitled to vote in the case of an ordinary shareholders’ general meeting or at an extraordinary shareholders’ general meeting where shareholders are voting on a capital increase by capitalization of reserves, profits or share premium, or (2) 25% of the shares entitled to vote in the case of any other extraordinary shareholders’ general meeting.
As a foreign private issuer, we are required to comply with Rule 10A-3 of the Exchange Act, relating to audit committee composition and responsibilities. Under French law, the audit committee may only have an advisory role and appointment of our statutory auditors, in particular, must be decided by the shareholders at our annual meeting.
Therefore, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would have under Nasdaq’s corporate governance standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.
We are an “emerging growth company” under the JOBS Act and are able to avail ourselves of reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies, which could make our ADSs less attractive to investors.
We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the U.S. Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act, and we intend to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not “emerging growth companies,” including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. In addition, Section 107 of the JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company can take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. We have elected not to take advantage of the extended transition period provided under Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. Since IFRS makes no distinction between public and private companies for purposes of compliance with new or revised accounting standards, the requirements for our compliance as a private company and as a public company are the same.
We cannot predict if holders of our ADSs will find the ADSs less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some holders find the ADSs less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for the ADSs and the price of the ADSs may be more volatile. We may take advantage of these reporting exemptions until we are no longer an emerging growth company. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (i) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenue of $1.07 billion or more; (ii) December 31, 2022, which is the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the date of the completion of our November 2017 global offering; (iii) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in nonconvertible debt during the previous three years; and (iv) the date on which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer under the rules of the SEC.
We may lose our foreign private issuer status in the future, which could result in significant additional cost and expense.
While we currently qualify as a foreign private issuer, the determination of foreign private issuer status is made annually on the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter and, accordingly, the next determination will be made with respect
to us on June 30, 2021. In the future, we would lose our foreign private issuer status if we fail to meet the requirements necessary to maintain our foreign private issuer status as of the relevant determination date. We will remain a foreign private issuer until such time that more than 50% of our outstanding voting securities are held by U.S. residents and any of the following three circumstances applies: (i) the majority of our executive officers or directors are U.S. citizens or residents; (ii) more than 50% of our assets are located in the United States; or (iii) our business is administered principally in the United States.
The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws as a U.S. domestic issuer would likely be significantly more than costs we incur as a foreign private issuer. If we lost our foreign private issuer status, we would be required to file periodic reports and registration statements on U.S. domestic issuer forms with the SEC, which are more detailed and extensive in certain respects than the forms available to a foreign private issuer. We would be required under current SEC rules to prepare our financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, rather than IFRS, and modify certain of our policies to comply with corporate governance practices associated with U.S. domestic issuers. Such conversion of our financial statements to U.S. GAAP would involve significant time and cost. In addition, we would lose our ability to rely upon exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements on U.S. stock exchanges that are available to foreign private issuers such as the ones described herein and exemptions from procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies.
U.S. holders of our ADSs or ordinary shares may suffer adverse tax consequences if we are characterized as a passive foreign investment company.
Based on the composition of our gross income, assets, activities and market capitalization in 2020, the nature of our business and due to fluctuations in our stock price, we believe that we may have been characterized as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for our taxable year ending December 31, 2020. However, because our PFIC status is subject to a number of uncertainties and it is very early in the year, neither we nor our tax advisors can provide any assurances with respect to our PFIC status for the prior, current, or any future taxable year. Moreover, because the calculation of the value of our assets may be based in part on the value of our ADSs, the value of which may fluctuate considerably, our PFIC status may change from year to year and is difficult to predict. A separate determination must be made after the close of each taxable year as to whether we are a PFIC for that year. As a result, our PFIC status may change from year to year and we have not yet made any determination as to our expected PFIC status for the current year. Our status as a PFIC will depend on the composition of our income (including whether we receive certain non-refundable grants or subsidies and whether such amounts and reimbursements of certain refundable research tax credits will constitute gross income for purposes of the PFIC income test) and the composition and value of our assets, which may be determined in large part by reference to the market value of the ADSs and our ordinary shares, which may be volatile, from time to time. Our status may also depend, in part, on how quickly we utilize the cash proceeds from our global offerings in our business. Our U.S. counsel expresses no opinion regarding our conclusions or our expectations regarding our PFIC status.
Generally, if, for any taxable year, at least 75% of our gross income is passive income, or at least 50% of the value of our assets is attributable to assets that produce passive income or are held for the production of passive income, including cash, we will be characterized as a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes. For purposes of these tests, passive income includes dividends, allocations of income with respect to any partnership, interest, and gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business. If we are characterized as a PFIC, U.S. holders of the ADSs may suffer adverse tax consequences, including having gains realized on the sale of the ADSs treated as ordinary income, rather than capital gain, the loss of the preferential rate applicable to dividends received on the ADSs by individuals who are U.S. holders, and having interest charges apply to distributions by us and the proceeds of sales of the ADSs. See “Item 10. E. Taxation—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Company Considerations.”
If a U.S. holder is treated as owning at least 10% of our ADSs or ordinary shares, such holder may be subject to adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences.
If a U.S. holder (as defined below under “Item 10. E. Taxation—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations”) is treated as owning (directly, indirectly or constructively) at least 10% of the value or voting power of our ADSs or ordinary shares, such U.S. holder will be treated as a “United States shareholder” with respect to each “controlled foreign corporation” in our group (if any). Because our group includes at least one U.S. subsidiary (ERYTECH Pharma, Inc.), if we were to form or acquire any non-U.S. subsidiaries in the future, they may be treated as controlled foreign corporations. A U.S. shareholder of a controlled foreign corporation will be required to annually report and include in its U.S. taxable income its pro rata share of “Subpart F income,” “global intangible low-taxed income” and investments in U.S. property by the controlled foreign corporations, regardless of whether we make any distributions. An individual that is a U.S. shareholder with respect to a controlled foreign corporation generally would not be allowed certain tax deductions or foreign tax credits that would be allowed to a U.S. shareholder that is a U.S. corporation. We cannot provide any assurances that we will assist investors in determining whether any non-U.S. subsidiaries that we may form or acquire in the future would be treated as a controlled foreign corporation or whether such investor would be treated as a U.S. shareholder with respect to any of such controlled foreign corporations. Further, we cannot provide any assurances that we will furnish to any U.S.
shareholder the information that may be necessary to comply with the reporting and tax paying obligations discussed above. Failure to comply with these reporting and tax paying obligations may subject you to significant monetary penalties and may prevent the statute of limitations with respect to your U.S. federal income tax return for the year for which reporting was due from starting. U.S. holders should consult their tax advisors regarding the potential application of these rules to their investment in our ADSs or ordinary shares.
We have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If we are unable to remediate these material weaknesses, or if we experience additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately or timely report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the trading price of our ADSs or ordinary shares.
We have identified two material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2018, which have not been remediated as of December 31, 2020. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
If we are unable to remediate these material weaknesses, or if we experience additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately or timely report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the value of our securities.
In connection with the preparation of our financial results for the year ended December 31, 2018, our management concluded that, as of December 31, 2018, our internal control over financial reporting was not effective as a result of two material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting related to: (i) the monitoring of research and development projects, as controls designed to track actual costs incurred against invoices received were not operating at a sufficient level of precision due to insufficient personnel with an appropriate level of knowledge and training in internal control over complex processes; and (ii) the lack of sufficiently developed and documented internal controls for our U.S. subsidiary. We believe these two material weaknesses concerning (i) the monitoring of research and development projects and (ii) the lack of sufficiently developed and documented internal controls for our U.S. subsidiary were not fully remediated as of December 31, 2020.
During the year 2020, we have deployed the following remediation efforts focused on improving our internal control over financial reporting and to specifically address the control deficiencies that led to our material weaknesses:
•hire a vendor coordinator to reinforce the team dedicated to the monitoring of research and development projects for which process level controls have not been considered as effective in 2019;
•strengthen the controls over our research and development financial information to detect and correct errors and some of which are still in the process of being implemented;
•analyze the existing segregation of duties environment implemented in our U.S. subsidiary, identify potential organizational conflicts due to the size of the team and when possible define mitigating controls;
•On-going design and implementation of effective controls over certain information technology (“IT”) systems relevant to the preparation of the consolidated financial statements, with a specific focus on users’ access controls.
We plan to continue to deploy the following remediation efforts focused on improving our internal control over financial reporting and to specifically address the control deficiencies that led to our material weaknesses:
•reinforce our U.S. finance team by the recruitment of a new staff accountant to ensure a proper segregation of duties at an operational level.
•keep implementing effective controls over certain information technology (“IT”) systems relevant to the preparation of the consolidated financial statements.
•finalize the implementation and the rolling out of the controls over our research and development financial information to detect and correct errors.
We believe that these activities will further support the remediation of these material weaknesses. However, we cannot assure you that the measures we have taken to date, and actions we may take in the future, will be sufficient to remediate the control deficiencies that led to our material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting or that they will prevent or avoid potential future material weaknesses. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm has not performed an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act because no such evaluation has been
required. Had our independent registered public accounting firm performed an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, additional material weaknesses may have been identified. If we are unable to successfully remediate our existing or any future material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, or identify any additional material weaknesses, the accuracy and timing of our financial reporting may be adversely affected, we may be unable to maintain compliance with securities law requirements regarding timely filing of reports in addition to applicable stock exchange listing requirements, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting, and the trading price of our ADSs or ordinary shares may decline as a result.
If we fail to establish and maintain proper internal controls, our ability to produce accurate financial statements or comply with applicable regulations could be impaired.
We are required, pursuant to Section 404(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404(a), to furnish a report by management on, among other things the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting on an annual basis. This assessment includes disclosure of any material weaknesses identified by our management in our internal control over financial reporting. In connection with the preparation of our financial results for the year ended December 31, 2020, we identified two material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. Our Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting included in this Annual Report describes these material weaknesses and includes our conclusion that our internal controls were not effective as of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report. While we have established certain procedures and control over our financial reporting processes, including initiating remediation efforts with respect to the material weaknesses, we cannot assure you that these efforts will prevent restatements of our financial statements in the future. Although Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404(b), requires our independent registered public accounting firm to issue an annual report that addresses the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, we have opted to rely on the exemptions provided in the JOBS Act, and consequently will not be required to comply with SEC rules that implement Section 404(b) until such time as we are no longer an EGC.
The presence of material weaknesses could result in financial statement errors which, in turn, could lead to errors in our financial reports, delays in our financial reporting, which could require us to restate our operating results or our auditors may be required to issue a qualified audit report. We might not identify one or more material weaknesses in our internal controls in connection with evaluating our compliance with Section 404(a). In order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, we will need to expend significant resources and provide significant management oversight. Implementing any appropriate changes to our internal control may require specific compliance training of our directors and employees, entail substantial costs in order to modify our existing accounting systems, take a significant period of time to complete and divert management’s attention from other business concerns. These changes may not, however, be effective in achieving and maintaining the adequacy of our internal control.
If either we are unable to conclude that we have effective internal control over financial reporting, as is the case currently, or, at the appropriate time, our independent auditors are unwilling or unable to provide us with an unqualified report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as required by Section 404(b), investors may lose confidence in the accuracy or completeness of our financial reports, the price of our ADSs or ordinary shares could decline and we may be subject to litigation, sanctions or investigations by regulatory authorities, including the SEC and Nasdaq. Failure to remediate any material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or to maintain other effective control systems required of public companies, could also restrict our future access to the capital markets. In addition, if we are unable to meet the requirements of Section 404, we may not be able to remain listed on Nasdaq.
Item 4.Information on the Company.
4.A.History and Development of the Company
Our legal and commercial name is ERYTECH Pharma S.A. We were incorporated as a société par actions simplifiée, or S.A.S., under the laws of the French Republic on October 26, 2004 and became a société anonyme, or S.A., on September 29, 2005. We are registered at the Register of Commerce and Companies of Lyon (Registre du commerce et des sociétés) under the number 479 560 013. In April 2014, we incorporated our wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, ERYTECH Pharma, Inc. In February 2016, we opened our U.S. office in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in 2018, we entered into a lease agreement for a U.S. manufacturing facility in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, which has been operational since the fourth quarter of 2019.
Our principal executive offices are located at 60 Avenue Rockefeller, 69008 Lyon, France. Our telephone number at our principal executive offices is +33 4 78 74 44 38. Our agent for service of process in the United States is ERYTECH Pharma, Inc. Our website address is www.erytech.com. The reference to our website is an inactive textual reference only and information contained in, or that can be accessed through, our website or any other website cited herein is not part of this Annual Report. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission maintains a website (www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding registrants, such as ERYTECH, that file electronically with the SEC. We expect our capital expenditures to
increase in absolute terms in the near term as we continue to advance our research and development programs, prepare for commercialization, if approved, and grow our operations. For the near future, these investments will be located in France where our corporate headquarters and our primary production facility are currently located, and in the United States for our secondary production facility.
Our actual capital expenditures for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 amounted to €14.2 million, €12.1 million and €0.4 million, respectively. These capital expenditures were related primarily to the buildup of our fixed assets for our pharmaceutical facility and laboratory and to a lesser extent to the purchase of office and computer equipment. We do not capitalize clinical research and development costs until we obtain marketing authorization for a product candidate.
We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing innovative therapies for severe forms of cancer and orphan diseases. Leveraging our proprietary ERYCAPS platform, which uses a novel technology to encapsulate therapeutic drug substances inside erythrocytes, or red blood cells, or RBC. We are developing a pipeline of product candidates for patients with high unmet medical needs. Our lead product candidate eryaspase, which we also refer to as GRASPA, targets the metabolism of cancer cells by depriving the cells of asparagine, an amino acid necessary for their survival and critical in maintaining the cells’ rapid growth rate. We are currently developing eryaspase for the treatment of severe tumors, including pancreatic cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, and triple negative breast cancer, or TNBC.
In 2018, we initiated a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of eryaspase for the treatment of second-line advanced pancreatic cancer patients. Patient enrollment in this trial, which we refer to as the TRYbeCA-1 trial, began in September 2018 in Europe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved our Investigational New Drug, or IND, application in May 2019, and the TRYbeCA-1 trial opened for patient enrollment in the United States in October 2019. We have obtained clinical trial authorizations in the United States and from 11 European countries and have conducted the clinical trial at close to 90 clinical sites in Europe and in the United States. In April 2020, the FDA granted eryaspase Fast Track Designation as a potential second-line treatment for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Eryaspase has also received orphan drug designation, or ODD, for pancreatic cancer in both the United States and Europe. We completed the patient enrollment in the TRYbeCA-1 trial in December 2020. A total of 512 patients participated in the trial, slightly above the target enrollment of 482 patients. The trial recently accrued the required number of events for the planned interim superiority analysis, to be performed by an Independent Data Monitoring Committee, or IDMC. We published the results from the interim superiority analysis from the TRYbeCA-1 trial on February 8, 2021. Based on such analysis, the trial will continue toward a final analysis, expected in the fourth quarter 2021.
We are also supporting a proof-of-concept investigator-sponsored, or IST, Phase 1 clinical trial, which we refer to as the rESPECT trial, evaluating the safety and tolerability of eryaspase in combination with FOLFIRINOX for the treatment of first-line pancreatic cancer patients, as well as in other indications of pancreatic cancer. The Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is the sponsor of this trial. We announced the enrollment of the first patient in this trial in January 2021. Two more patients were enrolled in February, completing the first treatment cohort. The trial is expected to determine the maximum tolerated dose by the end of 2021.
We launched a proof-of-concept Phase 2 clinical trial in TNBC in Europe, which we refer to as the TRYbeCA-2 trial, in the fourth quarter of 2018. The trial is enrolling patients in three European countries. We expect to report first results from the TRYbeCA-2 trial in the fourth quarter of 2021.
We are also supporting a Phase 2 clinical trial initiated and sponsored by investigators of the Nordic Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, or NOPHO. This trial is evaluating the safety and pharmacological profile of eryaspase in ALL patients, who developed hypersensitivity reactions to pegylated L-asparaginase. In December 2020, positive results from the trial were presented at the American Society of Hematology 2020 Annual Meeting. The trial was conducted at 21 clinical sites in the Nordic and Baltic countries of Europe and enrolled 55 patients. The primary objective of the trial was enzyme activity of eryaspase. The endpoint was met. We are in discussions with the FDA to evaluate the possibility of pursuing regulatory approval for eryaspase in the United States in this indication based on this investigator sponsored Phase 2 trial. We expect to provide an update in the first half of 2021. If the potential for an approval can be confirmed, we anticipate filing a BLA in the second half of 2021.
In addition to the encapsulation of L-asparaginase, we believe that our ERYCAPS platform has broad potential application and can be used to encapsulate a wide range of therapeutic agents for which long-circulating therapeutic activity or rapid and specific targeting is desired. For example, we developed erymethionase, a preclinical product candidate which encapsulates methionine-γ-lyase in RBC and is designed to target the amino acid metabolism of cancer cells and induce tumor starvation. We intend to continue to work on the development of erymethionase as well as potential other therapeutic strategies based on methionine depletion, depending on financial resources and business strategy.We have also developed two preclinical programs aimed at maximizing the value creation potential of
our ERYCAPS program, which we believe may result in attractive partnering opportunities: enzyme replacement and immune modulation. As part of our value creation strategy, in June 2019, we entered into a collaboration with SQZ Biotechnologies, a cell therapy company developing novel treatments in multiple therapeutic areas, to focus on the development of novel red blood cell-based therapeutics for the treatment of immuno-oncology and tolerance induction.
We were incorporated in 2004. In May 2013, we completed the initial public offering of our ordinary shares on Euronext Paris. In November 2017, we completed a global public offering, consisting of a U.S. initial public offering of American Depositary Shares, or ADSs, each representing one ordinary share, and a concurrent private placement in Europe and other countries outside of the United States and Canada of our ordinary shares. Our ordinary shares are listed on Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol “ERYP” and our ADSs are listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “ERYP.”
Our mission is to help patients live better, longer. Our vision is to be the leader in red blood-cell based therapeutics to treat severe forms of cancer and orphan diseases. The key elements of our strategy to achieve this goal include the following:
Advance the development of eryaspase for the treatment of pancreatic cancer Following positive Phase 2b clinical trial results regarding eryaspase as second-line treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer, we launched TRYbeCA-1, a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of eryaspase, also as a second-line treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer, in Europe and in the United States. Patient enrollment began in September 2018 and was completed in December 2020. A total of 512 patients participated in the trial. An interim superiority analysis was conducted by an independent data monitoring committee and announced on February 8, 2021. Based on such analysis, the trial will continue toward a final analysis, expected in the fourth quarter 2021. In view of broadening the indication scope of eryaspase to other pancreatic cancer settings such as first-line metastatic and locally advanced pancreatic cancer, we are supporting a proof-of-concept investigator-sponsored Phase 1 clinical trial, evaluating the safety eryaspase in combination with FOLFIRINOX. The Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is the sponsor of the trial. This rESPECT trial is expected to determine the maximum tolerated dose by the end of 2021.
Develop eryaspase for the treatment of other oncology indications Based on the results of scientific publications and preclinical studies as well as our clinical trials to date, we believe that targeting the asparagine metabolism of cancer cells could potentially slow down or halt the growth of different tumor types. Based on these results, we are conducting other clinical trials and are planning to seek regulatory authorizations for eryaspase for the treatment of selected oncology indications beyond pancreatic cancer. Current development tracks are in:
•ALL: Following positive results in December 2020 of a Phase 2 clinical trial initiated and sponsored by NOPHO, we are currently evaluating the possibility of pursuing regulatory approval in the United States based on this investigator sponsored Phase 2 trial. We are in discussions with the FDA regarding our planned BLA submission of eryaspase for the treatment ALL and anticipate to provide an update in the first half of 2021. If the potential for an approval can be confirmed, we expect filing a BLA in the second half of 2021.
•TNBC: we continue our Phase 2 proof-of-concept clinical trial initiated in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2018. The trial is now enrolling patients in three European countries and we expect to report first results in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Leverage our ERYCAPS platform to develop additional innovative and novel red blood-cell based therapeutics targeting cancer and orphan diseases In addition to encapsulating L-asparaginase, the active ingredient in eryaspase, we plan to leverage the broad applicability of our ERYCAPS platform to develop additional product candidates that use other therapeutic drug substances. We developed at a preclinical stage erymethionase, methionine-γ-lyase, or MGL, encapsulated in red blood cells, to target methionine-dependent cancer cells and induce tumor starvation. We intend to continue to work on the development of our methionine depletion program in the future, subject to future financial resources and business strategy, but are not currently devoting significant financial resources due to other strategic priorities. We are also evaluating other cancer metabolism targeting enzymes such as arginine-deiminase. In addition to our developments in cancer metabolism, we are also evaluating other therapeutic approaches such as cancer immunotherapy and enzyme replacement therapies for metabolic diseases in view of potentially establishing partnering options. To support this strategy, we intend to continue to seek robust worldwide intellectual property protection for our ERYCAPS platform and our resulting product candidates.
Execute on research and development and commercialization opportunities that maximize the value of our proprietary ERYCAPS platform We seek to maximize shareholder value from our proprietary ERYCAPS platform technology through a combination of in-house development and well-selected partnering opportunities in development and commercialization. In some instances, we may elect to continue development and commercialization activities through the expansion of our in-house capabilities, but we will also
evaluate and pursue collaborative arrangements with third parties for the development and distribution of our product candidates for specified indications and in specified territories where appropriate. For example, in June 2019, we entered into a collaboration with SQZ Biotechnologies for the immune modulation program. We may also explore co-development or out-licenses of our platform technology to third parties and the creation of spin-out companies. As we move our product candidates through development toward regulatory approval in the United States and Europe, we will evaluate several options for each product candidate’s commercialization strategy. These options include building our own internal sales force and distribution units or entering into collaborations with third parties for the distribution and marketing of approved products.
4.B.3.Our ERYCAPS Platform Technology
Our ERYCAPS platform uses our proprietary technology to entrap active drug substances inside red blood cells using reversible hypotonic and hypertonic osmotic stress. Our platform technology uses transfusion-grade, standard packed red blood cells of all four blood groups (O, A, B and AB) from blood donors with a specific blood type which we obtain from blood banks. We match the red blood cells used to the blood type of the patient receiving treatment. To allow the therapeutic compounds to enter into the red blood cells, we subject the red blood cells to a hypotonic solution. This causes swelling of cells and opening of pores in the cellular membrane. At this time, therapeutic molecules can enter the red blood cells. Once the desired concentration of molecules is reached inside the red blood cells, we subject the red blood cells to a hypertonic solution to restore the osmotic pressure to normal. This step causes water to flow out of the cell and the pores to close, rendering the cellular membrane impermeable to molecules above a specific size, including the molecules that have been trapped inside the cell.
The extent to which a red blood cell can swell, known as osmotic fragility, is not uniform and varies between packages of red blood cells. When we obtain a package of red blood cells from a blood bank, we measure a number of key hematological parameters, including the osmotic fragility of the particular sample. Based on the level of osmotic fragility measured, we are able to calculate the specific amount of osmotic pressure to apply in order to achieve the desired concentration of drug substance in each production batch. This patent-protected process allows us to reduce variations in the amount of drug substance to be encapsulated, which ensures that quantifiable amounts of drug substance can be captured in each batch. Our expertise in understanding osmotic fragility and optimizing the red blood cell encapsulation parameters is the cornerstone of our proprietary ERYCAPS platform.
We believe that our ERYCAPS platform technology is an innovative approach that offers several key potential benefits:
•Prolonged duration of activity. Red blood cells are biocompatible carriers that have a half-life of approximately one month in the body, and this duration of activity appears not to be significantly affected by our proprietary encapsulation process. This long half-life, coupled with the protection from the cellular membrane, allows encapsulated therapeutic drug substances to remain in the body longer, thereby increasing the duration of their therapeutic activity and their potential efficacy with lower dosages and fewer injections. In the case of L-asparaginase, encapsulation of red blood cells has been shown in our clinical trials to extend the half-life of free-form L-asparaginase from one day to approximately two to three weeks.
•Decreased risk of side effects. The red blood cell membrane protects the body from toxicities associated with the trapped drug substance, which reduces the potential for adverse side effects from the drug.
•High reproducibility with rapid turnaround on commercial scale. Our encapsulation process is automated and is designed to produce batches of loaded red blood cells in a highly reproducible, reliable and rapid manner. At our cGMP-certified production facilities, the process for delivering eryaspase to patients typically takes approximately 24 hours from the start of production to delivery of the product candidate to the hospital. We have produced over 5,100 bags of eryaspase to date for use in clinical trials, and we estimate our current production facilities, including our expanded Lyon facilities and our newly constructed U.S. facility in Princeton, New Jersey, which has been operational since the fourth quarter of 2019 will be sufficient to establish supply for our ongoing Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials, as well as anticipated initial commercial needs of eryaspase, if we receive the appropriate marketing authorizations.
•Stability and ease of administration. After manufacturing and release of the product, eryaspase has shown to remain stable for five days in refrigeration followed by six hours at room temperature. This allows efficient transportation to the hospitals where the patients are treated, as well as flexibility in the timing of the administration to the patients.
•Broad applicability. Our initial efforts have focused on encapsulating enzymes, such as L-asparaginase, that deplete nutrients necessary for the growth and proliferation of tumor cells, resulting in their starvation and death. Based on our preclinical studies and clinical experience to date, we believe that a variety of additional therapeutic molecules can be encapsulated within red blood cells to induce tumor starvation, both for blood cancers and solid tumors, and to develop cancer immunotherapies and enzyme replacement therapies.
Our intellectual property portfolio contains issued patents and patent applications in the United States and foreign countries, including 15 patent families directed to our production process, our ERYCAPS® platform, our product candidates, methods of use and/or
treatment, and related diagnostic tests. Our core patent covers eryaspase in the United States until the end of 2029, with potential extension to the end of 2034, and in Europe until 2025, with a potential extension to 2030. We have exclusively in-licensed one patent family from Radboud University in the Netherlands relating to synergistic combinations of amino acid depletion agents.
4.B.5.Our Lead Product Candidate Eryaspase—A Unique Approach to Cancer Treatment
Eryaspase, our first product candidate developed using our proprietary ERYCAPS platform consists of the enzyme L-asparaginase encapsulated inside erythrocytes, or red blood cells. L-asparaginase breaks down asparagine, a naturally occurring amino acid, into L-aspartic acid and ammonia. Asparagine is produced by healthy cells in the body for their own use in protein synthesis. Cancer cells also need asparagine to grow and proliferate, even more than normal cells, but most cancer cells cannot produce enough asparagine and must rely on circulating asparagine to survive. Injection of L-asparaginase, either by intravenous or intramuscular modes of administration, can lower asparagine levels throughout the body, thereby depriving cancer cells of a key nutrient and causing them to starve and ultimately die. The use of L-asparaginase to deplete asparagine is a well-established treatment for ALL patients, and in particular, pediatric ALL patients. However, important side effects including allergies, coagulation disorders, pancreatic and hepatic toxicities can limit treatment compliance, particularly in adults, limiting the potential use of current, non-encapsulated L-asparaginases beyond ALL. We believe that encapsulating L-asparaginase in red blood cells, utilizing our proprietary ERYCAPS platform, reduce the side effects of L-asparaginase, which we believe broadens the potential use of L-asparaginase outside the pediatric ALL setting, including for the treatment of aggressive solid and liquid tumors. Eryaspase has been administered to more than 630 patients in clinical trials and compassionate use programs to date.
Eryaspase is administered by intravenous infusion. Once administered, the red blood cells containing L-asparaginase circulate in the bloodstream and remove asparagine mainly through a mechanism of active transportation of asparagine into the red blood cells. Active transporters for asparagine are present in the membrane of red blood cells. They cause normal red blood cells to contain two to three times more asparagine within the cell than in the surrounding plasma. When L-asparaginase is encapsulated in the red blood cells, it causes the inner concentration of asparagine to decrease, which activates the natural mechanism of the red blood cell to draw asparagine circulating in the blood plasma into the red blood cell. This asparagine is rapidly degraded inside the red blood cells as well. When maintained long enough, this pumping and degradation activity leads to a systemic depletion of asparagine levels in the bloodstream without releasing L-asparaginase into the bloodstream. The red blood cell membrane also protects the encapsulated L-asparaginase from antibodies present in the patient’s blood that would substantially lessen or neutralize the enzyme’s activity or cause
allergic reactions. As a result, the enzyme can remain active and potentially effective in the red blood cell for a longer period of time, while at the same time reducing the potential for toxicity and related side effects. Our research indicates that the encapsulation process does not significantly alter the life span of the red blood cell.
The following diagram illustrates the main mode of action of eryaspase:
Clinical Development of Eryaspase (GRASPA)
The table below sets forth summary information regarding our clinical trials of eryaspase conducted to date.
Completed clinical trials
|Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer|
|141||18+||Second-line patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma|
•Efficacy (progression-free survival or overall survival) and safety of eryaspase in combination with chemotherapy
|100 U/kg||EU||Randomized, open label, controlled|
•Determination of the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and recommended Phase 2 dose
|EU||Non- randomized, open label|
|Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia|
|2/3||GRASPALL 2009-06||80||1 to 55||Relapsed/refractory|
•Mean duration (days) of ASNase activity >100 U/L
•Incidence of allergic reactions (induction phase)
•Efficacy and safety of eryaspase with combination therapy and determination of the MTD in elderly
|1/2||GRASPALL 2005-01||24||1 to 55||Relapsed/refractory|
•Determination of the MTD and recommended Phase 2 dose
|EU||Randomized, open label|
•Determination of the MTD and recommended Phase 3 dose
|1||GRASPALL 2012-10-EAP||18||Up to 55||At risk - all lines|
•Safety of eryaspase in combination with polychemotherapy
|150 U/kg||EU||Non-randomized, open label|
|Acute Myeloid Leukemia|
|2b||ENFORCE 1||123||65 to 85||First-line, unfit|
|100 U/ kg||EU||Multicenter, open label, randomized, controlled|
On going clinical trials
|1||STUDY00002008 (rESPECt)||12-18 |
|18+||First line patients with locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer||Determination of the MTD, tolerability and safety of Eryaspase in combination with the dose-modified FOLFIRINOX||25 / 50 / 75 / 100 U/Kg||US||Single arm, Open label|
Second-line patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma
|100 U/kg||EU/US||Open label, randomized|
|2||TRYbeCA-2||64||18+||Metastatic or locally recurrent Triple-Negative Breast Cancer / 1st line|
•Objective response rate determined by an independent radiological review
|100 U/kg||EU||Open label, randomized 1:1 (chemotherapy ± eryaspase)|
|Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia|
|2||NOPHO||55*||1 to 45||Second-line post PEG-asparaginase|
•PK / PD, safety and immunogenicity
|150 U/kg||EU||Single arm, open label|
*Enrollment for these clinical trials is completed at the date of this Annual Report. The figures represent the number of patients effectively enrolled.
Eryaspase for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer and Other Solid Tumors
Researchers have investigated the potential to target asparagine metabolism in solid tumor indications, and based on the observation that many solid tumors, like lymphoblasts, lack the asparagine synthetase, or ASNS, enzyme, a rationale for the use of asparaginase in solid tumors exists. L-asparaginase has been shown to have growth inhibitory effects in different solid tumor cell lines and in xenograft models. The toxicity profile of existing asparaginase products has, however, been prohibitive for their use in patients. Historically, Phase 1 clinical trials conducted by researchers have been modified or halted because of excess toxicity.
Background and Potential for L-asparaginase as a Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer
We estimate there are approximately 150,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed each year in Europe and the United States. Pancreatic cancer is a particularly aggressive cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 10%, and is one of the fastest growing cancer indications. According to estimates published by the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth largest
cause of cancer deaths in the United States. According to an article published in the scientific journal Cancer Research in 2014, pancreatic cancer is projected to surpass colon and breast cancer to become the second largest cause of cancer deaths by 2030. The following table summarizes the number of estimated cases and deaths in the United States in 2017 and 2030 in various solid tumor indications, as well as the five-year survival rate of each type of cancer for the years 2006 through 2012.
CASES (U.S., IN
DEATHS (U.S., IN
|Lung and bronchus||223 ||225 ||156 ||156 ||19 ||%|
|Pancreas||54 ||88 ||43 ||63 ||9 |
|Liver||41 ||83 ||29 ||51 ||18 |
|Colon and rectum||135 ||114 ||50 ||47 ||66 |
|Breast||255 ||294 |