Our future operating results may vary substantially from anticipated results due to a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control. The following discussion highlights some of these factors and the possible impact of these factors on future results of operations. If any of the following factors actually occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially harmed. In that case, the value of our common stock could decline substantially and you may lose all or part of your investment.
You are encouraged to review these risk factors as well as those presented in our filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Risks Related to our Business and Industry
- our receipt of royalties relating to Egalet’s sale of Oxaydo®;
- MainPointe’s successful marketing and sale of our Nexafed® products and other products utilizing our Impede® Technology, and market acceptance, increased demand for and sales of our Nexafed® products;
- our receipt of milestone payments and royalties relating to our Limitx™ Technology products in development from future licensees, of which no assurance can be given; and
- the receipt of FDA approval and the successful commercialization by future licensees (if any) of products utilizing our Limitx™ Technology and our ability to commercialize our Impede® Technology without infringing the patents and other intellectual property rights of third parties.
- obtain and increase market demand for, and sales of, Oxaydo®;
- obtain acceptance of Oxaydo® by physicians and patients;
- obtain and maintain adequate levels of coverage and reimbursement for Oxaydo® from commercial health plans and government health programs, which we refer to collectively as third-party payors, particularly in light of the availability of other branded and generic competitive products;
- maintain compliance with regulatory requirements;
- price Oxaydo® competitively and enter into price discounting contracts with third-party payors;
- establish and maintain agreements with wholesalers and distributors on commercially reasonable terms;
- manufacture and supply Oxaydo® to meet commercial demand, including obtaining sufficient quota from the DEA; and
- maintain intellectual property protection for Oxaydo® and obtain favorable drug listing treatment by the FDA to minimize generic competition.
- the relative advantages and disadvantages of our products compared to competitive products;
- the relative timing to commercial launch of our products compared to competitive products;
- the relative safety and efficacy of our products compared to competitive products;
- the product labeling approved by the FDA for our products;
- the perception of health care providers of their role in helping to prevent abuse and their willingness to prescribe abuse-deterrent products to do so;
- the willingness of third party payers to reimburse for our prescription products;
- the willingness of pharmacy chains to stock our products;
- the willingness of pharmacists to recommend our Nexafed® products to their customers; and
- the willingness of consumers to pay for our products.
- An annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports certain branded prescription drugs and biologic agents;
- An increase in the minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program;
- A new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, under which manufacturers must agree to offer 50 percent point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D;
- Extension of a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability to covered drugs dispensed to individuals who are enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations;
- A new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research;
- A revision to the definition of “average manufacturer price” for reporting purposes; and
- Encouragement for the development of comparative effectiveness research, which may reduce the extent of reimbursement for our products if such research results in any adverse findings.
- litigation or other proceedings we or our licensee(s) may initiate against third parties to enforce our patent rights or other intellectual property rights, including the Paragraph IV Proceedings described below in the next risk factor;
- litigation or other proceedings we or our licensee(s) may initiate against third parties seeking to invalidate the patents held by such third parties or to obtain a judgment that our products do not infringe such third parties’ patents;
- litigation or other proceedings third parties may initiate against us or our licensee(s) to seek to invalidate our patents or to obtain a judgment that third party products do not infringe our patents;
- if our competitors file patent applications that claim technology also claimed by us, we may be forced to participate in interference, inter partes or opposition proceedings to determine the priority of invention and whether we are entitled to patent rights on such invention; and
- if third parties initiate litigation claiming that our products infringe their patent or other intellectual property rights, we will need to defend against such proceedings.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
We have a history of operating losses and may not achieve profitability sufficient to generate a positive return on shareholders’ investment; our auditors have included in their 2016 audit report an explanatory paragraph as to substantial doubt as to our ability to continue as a going concern.
We had a net loss of $7.4 million, $5.0 million and $13.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Our current unrestricted cash and cash equivalents will not be sufficient to fund the development of our products utilizing our Limitx™ and Impede® Technologies, and our related operating expenses beyond mid-2017 while maintaining compliance with the $2.5 million compensating balance requirement under our term loan with Oxford Finance LLC. Our auditors have included in their report relating to our 2016 financial statements a “going concern” explanatory paragraph as to substantial doubt of our ability to continue as a going concern that assumes the realization of our assets and the satisfaction of our liabilities and commitments in the normal course of business. Our future profitability will depend on several factors, including:
We are currently focused primarily on the development of our lead Limitx™ product candidate, LTX-04, as well as our other Limitx™ programs, which we believe will result in our continued incurrence of significant research, development and other expenses related to those programs. If preclinical studies or the clinical trials for any of our Limitx™ drug candidates fail or produce unsuccessful results and those drug candidates do not gain regulatory approval, or if any of our Limitx™ drug candidates, if approved, fail to achieve market acceptance, we may never become profitable.
We cannot assure you that Oxaydo® or our Nexafed® products will be successfully commercialized or our Limitx™ Technology or Impede® Technology products in development will be successfully developed or be approved for commercialization by the FDA.
Even if Egalet succeeds in commercializing Oxaydo®, if MainPointe is successful in commercializing our Nexafed® products, or if we or a licensee succeed in developing and commercializing one or more of our pipeline Limitx™ or Impede® Technology products, we expect to continue using cash reserves for the foreseeable future. Our expenses may increase in the foreseeable future as a result of continued research and development of our product candidates, maintaining and expanding the scope of our intellectual property, and hiring of additional research and development staff.
We will need to generate revenues from royalties on sales to achieve and maintain profitability. If Egalet does not successfully commercialize Oxaydo®, if MainPointe does not successfully commercialize the Nexafed® products, or if we or our licensee (if any) cannot successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our products in development, including our Limitx™ product candidates, we will not be able to generate such royalty revenues or achieve future profitability. Our failure to achieve or maintain profitability would have a material adverse impact on our operations, financial condition and on the market price of our common stock.
We will be required to raise additional funds to finance our operations and remain a going concern; we may not be able to do so when necessary, and/or the terms of any financings may not be advantageous to us.
Our operations to date have consumed substantial amounts of cash. Negative cash flows from our operations are expected to continue over at least the next several years. Our cash utilization amount is highly dependent on the progress of our product development programs, particularly, the results of our preclinical and clinical studies of our Limitx™ product candidates and the cost, timing and outcomes of regulatory approval for our Limitx™ product candidates. In addition, the further development of our ongoing clinical trials will depend on upcoming analysis and results of those studies and our financial resources at that time. Our current unrestricted cash and cash equivalents will not be sufficient to fund the development of our products utilizing our Limitx™ and Impede® Technologies, and our related operating expenses beyond mid-2017 while maintaining compliance with the $2.5 million compensating balance requirement under our term loan with Oxford Finance LLC.
If we fail to comply with the covenants and other obligations under our term loan, the lender may be able to accelerate amounts owed under the facility and may foreclose upon the assets securing our obligations.
In December 2013, we (including our wholly-owned subsidiary Acura Pharmaceutical Technologies, Inc., or APT, entered into a loan and security agreement with Oxford Finance LLC, or Oxford, pursuant to which we borrowed $10 million from Oxford. Our loan and security agreement with Oxford was amended on January 7, 2015 in connection with our collaboration and license agreement with Egalet on October 13, 2016 in connection with our license agreement with KemPharm and on March 16, 2017 in connection with our license agreement with MainPointe. Under the Oxford loan agreement, as amended, we are subject to a variety of affirmative and negative covenants. These covenants include required financial reporting, providing an unqualified auditor’s opinion together with our annual financial statements within 120 days of the end of our fiscal year (the unqualified audit opinion covenant), limitations on certain dispositions and licensing of assets, limitations on the incurrence of additional debt, and the requirement to maintain at least $2.5 million in cash reserves until we raise an additional $6.0 million following the execution of our license agreement with KemPharm through the issuance of equity securities and from upfront payments under license, joint venture, collaboration or other partnering transactions, provided that at least $3.0 million of such amount must be through the issuance and sale of our equity securities. To secure our performance of our obligations under this loan and security agreement, we granted Oxford a security interest in all of our assets, and pledged to Oxford the stock of APT. Our failure to comply with the terms of the loan and security agreement, including the unqualified audit opinion covenant, the occurrence of a material adverse change in our business, operations or condition (financial or otherwise) or prospects, the material impairment in our prospect of repayment, a material impairment in the perfection or priority of the Oxford’s lien on our assets or the value of Oxford’s collateral, or the occurrence of certain other specified events could result in an event of default that, if not cured or waived, could result in the acceleration of all or a substantial portion of our loan, coupled with prepayment penalties, an additional interest payment of $795,000, potential foreclosure on our assets, and other adverse results.
If Oxford were to declare an event of default, it would have the option, among other things, of accelerating the debt under our loan and security agreement and foreclosing on the Company’s assets pledged as collateral for the term loan. Any declaration of an event of default would significantly harm our business and would likely cause the price of our common stock to decline.
We are largely dependent on our successful development of our Limitx™ product candidates and on the commercial success of Oxaydo®.
We anticipate that, for at least fiscal 2017 and 2018, our ability to generate revenues and become profitable will depend in large part on our successful development of our Limitx™ product candidates and on the commercial success of our only FDA approved product, Oxaydo®. We expect that a substantial portion of our efforts and expenditures over the next few years will be devoted to our lead Limitx™ product candidate, LTX-04, and other Limitx™ product candidates in development. We completed our first Phase I clinical study for LTX-04 in mid-2016 and are engaged in formulation development or early preclinical development for our other Limitx™ product candidates. Accordingly, our business is currently substantially dependent on the successful development, clinical testing, regulatory approval and commercialization of our Limitx™ product candidates, which may never occur. If our clinical studies for LTX-04 are not successful we may determine that further clinical development of LTX-04 or other Limitx™ product candidates should be discontinued. If clinical studies for these product candidates produce unsuccessful results and we are forced or elect to cease their development, our business and prospects would be substantially harmed. We expect that any revenues from our Limitx™ product candidates will be derived from upfront payments, milestone payments and royalties under license agreements with one or more pharmaceutical company partners, of which no assurance can be given.
The commercial success of Oxaydo® will depend on many factors, including our and our licensee Egalet’s ability to:
There can be no assurance that Egalet will devote sufficient resources to the marketing and commercialization of Oxaydo®. Egalet’s marketing of Oxaydo® may result in low market acceptance and insufficient demand for, and sales of, the product. If Egalet fails to successfully commercialize Oxaydo® and generate and increase sales, we may be unable to generate sufficient revenues to sustain or grow our business and we may never become profitable, and our business, financial condition and results of operations will be materially adversely affected.
If MainPointe is not successful in commercializing our Nexafed® Products, our revenues and business will suffer.
We We commenced the launch and commercial distribution of Nexafed® in mid-December 2012 and launched our Nexafed® Sinus Pressure + Pain product in February 2015. Our Nexafed® products compete in the highly competitive market for cold, sinus and allergy products generally available to the consumer without a prescription. Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial and other resources and are able to expend more funds and effort than MainPointe in marketing their competing products. Category leading brands are often supported by regional and national advertising and promotional efforts. Our Nexafed® products will compete with national brands as well as pharmacy store brands that are offered at a lower price. There can be no assurance that MainPointe will succeed in commercializing our Nexafed® products, or that the pricing of our Nexafed® products will allow us to generate significant royalty revenues. Regulations have been enacted in several state or local jurisdictions requiring a doctor’s prescription to obtain pseudoephedrine products. An expansion of such restrictions to other jurisdictions or even nationally will adversely impact MainPointe’s ability to market our Nexafed® products as over-the-counter, or OTC, products and negatively impact royalty payments to us from Nexafed® products sales. There can be no assurance that MainPointe will devote sufficient resources to marketing and commercialization of our Nexafed® products. MainPointe’s failure to successfully commercialize our Nexafed®® products will have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
If Egalet is not successful in commercializing Oxaydo®, our revenues and our business will suffer.
Pursuant to our Collaboration and License Agreement with Egalet, or the Egalet Agreement, Egalet is responsible for manufacturing, marketing, pricing, promotion, selling and distribution of Oxaydo®. If the Egalet Agreement is terminated in accordance with its terms, including due to a party’s failure to perform its obligations or responsibilities under the Agreement, then we would need to commercialize Oxaydo® ourselves, for which we currently have no infrastructure, or alternatively enter into a new agreement with another pharmaceutical company, of which no assurance can be given. If we are unable to build the necessary infrastructure to commercialize Oxaydo® ourselves, which would substantially increase our expenses and capital requirements, which we are currently unable to fund, or are unable to find a suitable replacement commercialization partner, we would be unable to generate any revenue from Oxaydo®. Even if we are successful at replacing the commercialization capabilities of Egalet, our revenues and/or royalties from Oxaydo® could be adversely impacted.
Egalet’s third party manufacturing facility currently is the sole commercial source of supply of Oxaydo®. If Egalet’s manufacturing facility fails to obtain sufficient DEA quotas for oxycodone, fails to source adequate quantities of active and inactive ingredients, fails to comply with regulatory requirements, or otherwise experiences disruptions in commercial supply of Oxaydo®, product revenue and our royalties could be adversely impacted.
Egalet has various products in development for which Oxaydo® will vie for such licensee’s development, promotional, marketing, and selling resources. If Egalet fails to commit sufficient promotional, marketing and selling resources to Oxaydo®, our expected royalties could be adversely impacted. Additionally, there can be no assurance that Egalet will commit the resources required for the successful commercialization of Oxaydo®.
The market for our opioid product candidates is highly competitive with many marketed non-abuse deterrent brand and generic products and other abuse deterrent product candidates in development. If Egalet prices Oxaydo® inappropriately, fails to position Oxaydo® properly, targets inappropriate physician specialties, or otherwise does not provide sufficient promotional support, product revenue and our royalties could be materially adversely impacted.
Egalet’s promotional, marketing and sales activities in connection with Oxaydo® are subject to various federal and state fraud and abuse laws, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the federal False Claims Act. The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying remuneration, directly or indirectly, to induce, or in return for, the purchase or recommendation of an item or service reimbursable under a federal healthcare program. The federal False Claims Act imposes liability on any person who, among other things, knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment by a federal healthcare program. If Egalet’s activities are found to be in violation of these laws or any other federal and state fraud and abuse laws, Egalet may be subject to penalties, including civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines and the curtailment or restructuring of its activities with regard to the commercialization of Oxaydo®, which could harm the commercial success of Oxaydo® and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our failure to continue the development of our Limitx™ opioid product candidates including hydromorphone HCI or hydrocodone/acetaminophen, or to successfully establish a license agreement with a pharmaceutical company for the development and commercialization of such products, will adversely impact our ability to develop, market and sell our Limitx™ technology products and our revenues and business will be materially adversely affected.
To We are engaged in the development of product candidates utilizing or Limitx™ technology, including Phase 1 exploratory pharmacokinetic studies for our hydromorphone HCI lead product candidate. Our plan for developing, manufacturing and commercializing our Limitx™ opioid products includes entering into an agreement similar to the Egalet Agreement with a strategically focused pharmaceutical company. There can be no assurance, however, that our early-stage development of our Limitx™ product candidates will be successful, or even if successful, that we will be successful in entering into such an agreement. Pending any such agreement, and subject to available funding, we expect to continue the development of our Limitx™ product candidates on our own. The continued development of our Limitx™ product candidates will likely require additional financing, which may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all. In the absence of available financing, or our failure to successfully enter into a license agreement with a pharmaceutical company to develop and commercialize our Limitx™ products, we may have to limit the size or scope of, or delay or abandon, the development of some or all of our product candidates, which would adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations.
We must rely on current cash reserves, royalties from Egalet on Egalet’s sales of Oxaydo®, royalties from MainPointe on its sales of Nexafed® products and payments that may be made under the Bayer Agreement to fund operations.
To fund our continued operations, we expect to rely on our current cash resources, royalty payments under the Egalet Agreement relating to Oxaydo®, royalty payments under the MainPointe Agreement relating to our Nexafed® products, collaboration reimbursement, milestones and royalty payments that may be made under the Bayer Agreement, and milestones and royalty payments that may be made under future license agreements with other pharmaceutical company partners for our product candidates in development, of which no assurances can be given. No assurance can be given that current cash reserves, royalties from Egalet on Oxaydo® net sales, royalties from MainPointe on Nexafed® products net sales, and payments under the Bayer agreement will be sufficient to fund continued operations and the development of our product candidates until such time as we generate revenues from any of our products in development. Moreover, no assurance can be given that we will be successful in raising additional financing or, if financing is obtained, that such financing will be sufficient to fund operations until we generate sufficient revenues from Oxaydo® and Nexafed® products, or until product candidates utilizing our Limitx™ or Impede® Technologies may be commercialized. In the event our cash reserves are insufficient to fund continued operations, we may need to suspend some or all of our product development efforts or possibly discontinue operations.
Our and our licensees’ ability to market and promote Oxaydo® and Limitx™ technology products by describing the abuse deterrent features of such products will be determined by the FDA approved label for such products.
The commercial success of Oxaydo® and our Limitx™ Technology products in development will depend upon our and our licensees’ ability to obtain FDA approved labeling describing such products’ abuse deterrent features or benefits. Our or our licensees’ failure to achieve FDA approval of product labeling containing such information will prevent or substantially limit our and our licensees’ advertising and promotion of such abuse deterrent features in order to differentiate our products from other immediate release opioid products containing the same active ingredients, and would have a material adverse impact on our business and results of operations. In April 2015, the FDA published guidance for industry on the evaluation and labeling of abuse-deterrent opioids. While the 2015 FDA Guidance is non-binding on the FDA, it outlines FDA’s current thinking on the development and labeling of abuse-deterrent products. The 2015 FDA Guidance provides for three distinct levels of pre-marketing studies that are potentially eligible for inclusion in the labeling: (1) laboratory-based in vitro manipulation and extraction studies, (2) pharmacokinetic studies, and (3) clinical abuse potential studies. The 2015 FDA Guidance further prescribes additional post-approval or epidemiology studies to determine whether the marketing of a product with abuse-deterrent properties results in meaningful reductions in abuse, misuse, and related adverse clinical outcomes, including addiction, overdose, and death in the post-approval setting, which can also be included in the labeling. FDA notes “the science of abuse deterrence is relatively new. Both the technologies involved and the analytical, clinical, and statistical methods for evaluating those technologies are rapidly evolving. For these reasons, FDA will take a flexible, adaptive approach to the evaluation and labeling of potentially abuse-deterrent opioid products”.
We or our licensee may seek to include descriptions of studies that characterize the abuse-deterrent properties in the label for our Aversion® and Limitx™ Technology products in development. We have committed to the FDA to undertake epidemiological studies to assess the actual consequences of abuse of Oxaydo® in the market. However, the extent to which a description of the abuse deterrent properties or results of epidemiological or other studies will be added to or included in the FDA approved product label for our products in development will be the subject of our and our licensees’ discussions with, and agreement by, the FDA as part of the new drug application, or NDA, review process for each of our product candidates. The outcome of those discussions with the FDA will determine whether we or our licensees will be able to market our products with labeling that sufficiently differentiates them from other products that have comparable therapeutic profiles. While the FDA approved label for Oxaydo® includes the results from a clinical study which evaluated the effects of nasally snorting crushed Oxaydo® and commercially available oxycodone tablets and limitations on wetting or dissolving Oxaydo®, it does not, however, include the results of our laboratory studies intended to evaluate Oxaydo®’s potential to limit extraction of oxycodone HCl from dissolved Oxaydo® Tablets and resist conversion into an injectable, or IV solution. The absence of the results of these extraction and syringe studies in the FDA approved label for Oxaydo® may substantially limit our licensee’s ability to differentiate Oxaydo® from other immediate release oxycodone products, which would have a material adverse effect on market acceptance of Oxaydo® and on our business and results of operations.
Notwithstanding the FDA approved labeling for Oxaydo®, there can be no assurance that our Limitx™ Technology products in development will receive FDA approved labeling that describes the abuse deterrent features of such products. If the FDA does not approve labeling containing such information, we or our licensees will not be able to promote such products based on their abuse deterrent features, may not be able to differentiate such products from other immediate release opioid products containing the same active ingredients, and may not be able to charge a premium above the price of such other products, which could materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Further, because the FDA closely regulates promotional materials and other promotional activities, even if the FDA initially approves product labeling that includes a description of the abuse deterrent characteristics of our product, as in the case of Oxaydo®, the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion, or OPDP, will continue to review the acceptability of promotional claims and product advertising campaigns for our marketed products. This could lead to the issuance of warning letters or untitled letters, suspension or withdrawal of Oxaydo® from the market, recalls, fines, disgorgement of money, operating restrictions, injunctions or criminal prosecution, which could harm the commercial success of our product and materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our product candidates are unproven and may not be approved by the FDA.
We are committing a majority of our resources to the development of product candidates utilizing our Limitx™ and Impede® Technologies. Notwithstanding the receipt of FDA approval of Oxaydo® and our marketing of our Nexafed® products, there can be no assurance that any product candidate utilizing our Impede® or Limitx™ Technologies will meet FDA’s standards for commercial distribution. Further, there can be no assurance that other product candidates that may be developed using Limitx™, Impede® or Aversion® Technologies will achieve the targeted end points in the required clinical studies or perform as intended in other pre-clinical and clinical studies or lead to an NDA submission or filing acceptance. Our failure to successfully develop and achieve final FDA approval of our product candidates in development will have a material adverse affect on our financial condition.
If the FDA disagrees with our determination that certain of our products meet the over-the-counter, or OTC, Monograph requirements, once those products are commercialized, they may be removed from the market; the FDA or the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, may object to our advertisement and promotion of the extraction characteristics and benefits of our Nexafed® products.
Drugs that have been deemed safe and effective by the FDA for use by the general public without a prescription are classified as OTC drug products. Certain OTC drug products may be commercialized without premarket review by the FDA if the standards set forth in the applicable regulatory monograph are met. An OTC monograph provides the marketing conditions for the applicable OTC drug product, including active ingredients, labeling, and other general requirements, such as compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP and establishment registration. Any product which fails to conform to each of the general conditions in a monograph is subject to regulatory action. Further, although the FDA regulates OTC drug product labeling, the FTC regulates the advertising and marketing of OTC drug products. We believe that our Nexafed® products licensed to MainPointe are classified for OTC sale under an FDA OTC monograph, which will allow for their commercialization without submitting an NDA or abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA to the FDA. We have also determined that, provided MainPointe adheres to the FDA’s requirements for OTC monograph products, including product labeling, we can advertise and promote the extraction characteristics and benefits of our Nexafed® products which are supported by our research studies. No assurance can be given, however, that the FDA will agree that our Nexafed® products may be sold under the FDA’s OTC monograph product regulations or that the FDA or FTC will not object to MainPointe’s advertisement and promotion of our Nexafed® products’ extraction characteristics and benefits. If the FDA determines that our Nexafed® products do not conform to the OTC monograph or if MainPointe fails to meet the general conditions, once commercialized, the products may be removed from the market and we and MainPointe may face various actions including, but not limited to, restrictions on the marketing or distribution of such products, warning letters, fines, product seizure, or injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties. Any of these actions may materially and adversely affect our financial condition and operations. Additionally, the FDA has recently announced that it is considering material changes to how it regulates OTC drug products and held a hearing in late March 2014 for public comment. Changes to the existing OTC regulations could result in a requirement that an NDA or ANDA be filed for our Nexafed® products or other Impede® Technology products in order to commercialize such products. If the FDA requires the submission of a NDA or ANDA to obtain marketing approval for our Nexafed®® products or other Impede® Technology products, this would result in substantial additional costs, suspend the commercialization of our Nexafed® products and require FDA approval prior to sale, of which no assurance can be provided. In such case, the label for our Nexafed® products or other Impede® Technology products would be subject to FDA review and approval and there can be no assurance that we or our licensees will be able to market Nexafed® or other Impede® Technology products with labeling sufficient to differentiate it from products that have comparable therapeutic profiles. If we or our licensees are unable to advertise and promote the extraction characteristics of Nexafed® or other Impede® Technology products, we or our licensees may be unable to compete with national brands and pharmacy chain store brands.
Relying on third party contract research organizations, or CROs may result in delays in our pre-clinical, clinical or laboratory testing. If pre-clinical, clinical or laboratory testing for our product candidates are unsuccessful or delayed, we will be unable to meet our anticipated development and commercialization timelines.
To obtain FDA approval to commercially sell and distribute in the United States any of our prescription product candidates, we or our licensees must submit to the FDA a NDA demonstrating, among other things, that the product candidate is safe and effective for its intended use. As we do not possess the resources or employ all the personnel necessary to conduct such testing, we rely on CROs for the majority of this testing with our product candidates. As a result, we have less control over our development program than if we performed the testing entirely on our own. Third parties may not perform their responsibilities on our anticipated schedule. Delays in our development programs could significantly increase our product development costs and delay product commercialization.
The commencement of clinical trials with our product candidates may be delayed for several reasons, including, but not limited to, delays in demonstrating sufficient pre-clinical safety required to obtain regulatory approval to commence a clinical trial, reaching agreements on acceptable terms with prospective CROs, clinical trial sites and licensees, manufacturing and quality assurance release of a sufficient supply of a product candidate for use in our clinical trials and/or obtaining institutional review board approval to conduct a clinical trial at a prospective clinical site. Once a clinical trial has begun, it may be delayed, suspended or terminated by us or regulatory authorities due to several factors, including ongoing discussions with regulatory authorities regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials, a determination by us or regulatory authorities that continuing a trial presents an unreasonable health risk to participants, failure to conduct clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements, lower than anticipated recruitment or retention rate of patients in clinical trials, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial sites by regulatory authorities, the imposition of a clinical hold by FDA, lack of adequate funding to continue clinical trials, and/or negative or unanticipated results of clinical trials.
Clinical trials required by the FDA for commercial approval may not demonstrate safety or efficacy of our product candidates. Success in pre-clinical testing and early clinical trials does not assure that later clinical trials will be successful. Results of later clinical trials may not replicate the results of prior clinical trials and pre-clinical testing. Even if the results of our or our licensee’s pivotal phase III clinical trials are positive, we and our licensees may have to commit substantial time and additional resources to conduct further pre-clinical and clinical studies before we or our licensees can submit NDAs or obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates.
Clinical trials are expensive and at times, difficult to design and implement, in part because they are subject to rigorous regulatory requirements. Further, if participating subjects or patients in clinical studies suffer drug-related adverse reactions during the course of such trials, or if we, our licensees or the FDA believes that participating patients are being exposed to unacceptable health risks, we or our licensees may suspend the clinical trials. Failure can occur at any stage of the trials, and we or our licensees could encounter problems causing the abandonment of clinical trials or the need to conduct additional clinical studies, relating to a product candidate.
Even if our clinical trials and laboratory testing are completed as planned, their results may not support commercially viable product label claims. The clinical trial process may fail to demonstrate that our product candidates are safe and effective for their intended use. Such failure may cause us or our licensees to abandon a product candidate and may delay the development of other product candidates.
We have no commercial manufacturing capacity and rely on third-party contract manufacturers to produce commercial quantities of our products.
We do not have the facilities, equipment or personnel to manufacture commercial quantities of our products and therefore must rely on our licensees or other qualified third-party contract manufactures with appropriate facilities and equipment to contract manufacture commercial quantities of products utilizing our Limitx™ and Impede® Technologies. These licensees and third- party contract manufacturers are also subject to cGMP regulations, which impose extensive procedural and documentation requirements. Any performance failure on the part of our licensees or contract manufacturers could delay commercialization of any approved products, depriving us of potential product revenue.
Our drug products, including our licensed Nexafed® products, require precise, high quality manufacturing. Failure by our contract manufacturers to achieve and maintain high manufacturing standards could result in patient injury or death, product recalls or withdrawals, delays or failures in testing or delivery, cost overruns, or other problems that could materially adversely affect our business. Contract manufacturers may encounter difficulties involving production yields, quality control, and quality assurance. These manufacturers are subject to ongoing periodic unannounced inspection by the FDA and corresponding state and foreign agencies to ensure strict compliance with cGMP and other applicable government regulations; however, beyond contractual remedies that may be available to us, we do not have control over third-party manufacturers’ compliance with these regulations and standards.
If for some reason our contract manufacturers cannot perform as agreed, or if we are unable to reach agreement with our contract manufacturers on the terms of continued supply of our products, we may be required to replace them. Although we believe there are a number of potential replacements, we will incur added costs and delays in identifying and qualifying any such replacements. In addition, a new manufacturer would have to be educated in, or develop substantially equivalent processes for, production of our products or drug candidates, which could adversely impact the continued supply of our products or drug candidates.
We or our licensees may not obtain required FDA approval; the FDA approval process is time-consuming and expensive.
The development, testing, manufacturing, marketing and sale of pharmaceutical products are subject to extensive federal, state and local regulation in the United States and other countries. Satisfaction of all regulatory requirements typically takes years, is dependent upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidate, and requires the expenditure of substantial resources for research, development and testing. Substantially all of our operations are subject to compliance with FDA regulations. Failure to adhere to applicable FDA regulations by us or our licensees would have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial condition. In addition, in the event we are successful in developing product candidates for distribution and sale in other countries, we would become subject to regulation in such countries. Such foreign regulations and product approval requirements are expected to be time consuming and expensive.
We or our licensees may encounter delays or rejections during any stage of the regulatory review and approval process based upon the failure of clinical or laboratory data to demonstrate compliance with, or upon the failure of the product candidates to meet, the FDA’s requirements for safety, efficacy and quality; and those requirements may become more stringent due to changes in regulatory agency policy or the adoption of new regulations. After submission of a NDA, the FDA may refuse to file the application, deny approval of the application, require additional testing or data and/or require post-marketing testing and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of a product. For instance, the FDA’s approval of Oxaydo® is conditioned on us or Egalet conducting a post-approval epidemiological study to assess the actual abuse levels and consequences of Oxaydo® in the market. The Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, sets time standards for the FDA’s review of NDAs. The FDA’s timelines described in the PDUFA guidance are flexible and subject to change based on workload and other potential review issues and may delay the FDA’s review of an NDA. Further, the terms of approval of any NDA, including the product labeling, may be more restrictive than we or our licensees desire and could affect the marketability of our products.
Even if we comply with all the FDA regulatory requirements, we or our licensees may not obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates in development. For example, we previously submitted a NDA to the FDA for an Aversion® Technology product containing niacin, intended to provide impediments to over-ingesting the product. Such niacin containing product was not approved by the FDA. If we or our licensees fail to obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates in development, we will have fewer commercialized products and correspondingly lower revenues. Even if regulatory approval of our products in development is received, such approval may involve limitations on the indicated uses or promotional claims we or our licensees may make for our products, or otherwise not permit labeling that sufficiently differentiates our product candidates from competitive products with comparable therapeutic profiles but without abuse deterrent features (see risk factor above entitled “Our and our licensees ability to market and promote Oxaydo® and Limitx™ Technology products by describing the abuse deterrent features of such products will be determined by the FDA approved label for such products”). Such events would have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial condition. We may market certain of our products without the prior application to and approval by the FDA. The FDA may subsequently require us to withdraw such products and submit NDA’s for approval prior to re-marketing.
The FDA also has the authority to revoke or suspend approvals of previously approved products for cause, to debar companies and individuals from participating in the drug-approval process, to request recalls of allegedly violative products, to seize allegedly violative products, to obtain injunctions to close manufacturing plants allegedly not operating in conformity with current cGMP and to stop shipments of allegedly violative products. In the event the FDA takes any such action relating to our products, such actions would have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial condition.
We must maintain FDA approval to manufacture clinical supplies of our product candidates at our facility; failure to maintain compliance with FDA requirements may prevent or delay the manufacture of our product candidates and costs of manufacture may be higher than expected.
We have installed the equipment necessary to manufacture clinical trial supplies of our Limitx™ and Impede® Technology product candidates in tablet formulations at our Culver, Indiana facility. To be used in clinical trials, all of our product candidates must be manufactured in conformity with cGMP regulations. All such product candidates must be manufactured, packaged, and labeled and stored in accordance with cGMPs. Modifications, enhancements or changes in manufacturing sites of marketed products are, in many circumstances, subject to FDA approval, which may be subject to a lengthy application process or which we may be unable to obtain. Our Culver, Indiana facility, and those of any third-party manufacturers that we or our licensees may use, are periodically subject to inspection by the FDA and other governmental agencies, and operations at these facilities could be interrupted or halted if the FDA deems such inspections are unsatisfactory. Failure to comply with FDA or other governmental regulations can result in fines, unanticipated compliance expenditures, recall or seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, suspension of FDA review of our product candidates, termination of ongoing research, disqualification of data for submission to regulatory authorities, enforcement actions, injunctions and criminal prosecution.
We develop our products, and manufacture clinical supplies, at a single location. Any disruption at this facility could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
We rely on our Culver, Indiana facility for developing our product candidates and the manufacture of clinical supplies of our product candidates. If the Culver, Indiana facility were damaged or destroyed, or otherwise subject to disruption, it would require substantial lead-time to repair or replace. If our Culver facility were affected by a disaster, we would be forced to rely entirely on CROs and third-party contract manufacturers for an indefinite period of time. Although we believe we possess adequate insurance for damage to our property and for the disruption of our business from casualties, such insurance may not be sufficient to cover all of our potential losses and may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. Moreover, any disruptions or delays at our Culver, Indiana facility could impair our ability to develop our product candidates utilizing the Impede® or Limitx™ Technologies, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations
Our operations are subject to environmental, health and safety, and other laws and regulations, with which compliance is costly and which exposes us to penalties for non-compliance.
Our business, properties and product candidates are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, natural resources and worker health and safety and the use, management, storage and disposal of hazardous substances, waste and other regulated materials. Because we own and operate real property, various environmental laws also may impose liability on us for the costs of cleaning up and responding to hazardous substances that may have been released on our property, including releases unknown to us. These environmental laws and regulations also could require us to pay for environmental remediation and response costs at third-party locations where we dispose of or recycle hazardous substances. The costs of complying with these various environmental requirements, as they now exist or may be altered in the future, could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our failure to successfully establish new license agreements with pharmaceutical companies for the development and commercialization of our other products in development may adversely impair our ability to develop, market and sell such products.
The Egalet Agreement grants Egalet an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize Oxaydo®. Our license agreement with KemPharm Inc., or the KemPharm Agreement, grants exclusive worldwide rights to KemPharm to utilize our Aversion® technology in certain of KemPharm’s prodrug products. Our license agreement with MainPointe grants exclusive rights in the U.S. and Canada (with option rights to expand the licensed territory) to our Nexafed® products with option rights to certain other pseudoephedrine-containing products utilizing our Impede® technology. We believe that opportunities exist to enter into license agreements similar to the Egalet Agreement, the KemPharm Agreement and the MainPointe Agreement with other pharmaceutical company partners for the development and commercialization of our Limitx™, Impede® and Aversion® Technologies in the United States and worldwide. However, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in entering into such license agreements in the future. If we are unable to enter into such agreements, our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates, and our financial condition and results of operations, would be materially adversely affected.
If our licensees do not satisfy their obligations, we will be unable to develop our licensed product candidates.
As part of the Egalet Agreement, the KemPharm Agreement, the MainPointe Agreement, the Bayer Agreement or any license agreement we may enter into relating to any of our Limitx™ or Impede® Technology products in development or our Aversion® technology, we will not have day-to-day control over the activities of our licensees with respect to any product candidate. If a licensee fails to fulfill its obligations under an agreement with us, we may be unable to assume the development and/or commercialization of the product covered by that agreement or to enter into alternative arrangements with another third party. In addition, we may encounter delays in the commercialization of the products that are the subject of a license agreement. Accordingly, our ability to receive any revenue from the products covered by such agreements will be dependent on the efforts of our licensee. We could be involved in disputes with a licensee, which could lead to delays in or termination of, our development and/or commercialization programs and result in time consuming and expensive litigation or arbitration. In addition, any such dispute could diminish our licensee’s commitment to us and reduce the resources they devote to developing and/or commercializing our products. If any licensee terminates or breaches its agreement, or otherwise fails to complete its obligations in a timely manner, our chances of successfully developing and/or commercializing our product candidates would be materially adversely effected. Additionally, due to the nature of the market for Oxaydo® and our Limitx™ and Impede® product candidates, it may be necessary for us to license a significant portion of our product candidates to a single company, thereby eliminating our opportunity to commercialize other product candidates with other licensees.
If we fail to maintain our license agreement with Egalet, we may have to commercialize Oxaydo® on our own.
Our plan for manufacturing and commercializing Oxaydo® currently requires us to maintain our license agreement with Egalet. In addition to other customary termination provisions, the Egalet Agreement provides that Egalet may terminate the Egalet Agreement upon certain notice periods. If Egalet elects to terminate the Egalet Agreement, or if we are otherwise unable to maintain our existing relationship with Egalet, we would have to commercialize Oxaydo® ourselves for which we currently have no infrastructure, or alternatively enter into a new agreement with another pharmaceutical company, of which no assurance can be given. Our ability to commercialize Oxaydo® on our own may require additional financing, which may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all. .
The market may not be receptive to products incorporating our Aversion®, Impede® or Limitx™ Technologies.
The commercial success of our products will depend on acceptance by health care providers and others that such products are clinically useful, cost-effective and safe. There can be no assurance given that our products utilizing the Aversion®, Impede® or Limitx™ Technologies would be accepted by health care providers and others. Factors that may materially affect market acceptance of our product candidates include but are not limited to:
Oxaydo® and our product candidates, if successfully developed and commercially launched, will compete with both currently marketed and new products launched in the future by other companies. Health care providers may not accept or utilize any of our products. Physicians and other prescribers may not be inclined to prescribe our prescription products unless our products demonstrate commercially viable advantages over other products currently marketed for the same indications. Pharmacy chains may not be willing to stock any of our products and pharmacists may not recommend Nexafed® products to consumers. Further, consumers may not be willing to purchase our products. If our products do not achieve market acceptance, we may not be able to generate significant revenues or become profitable.
If we, our licensees or others identify serious adverse events or deaths relating to any of our products once on the market, we may be required to withdraw our products from the market, which would hinder or preclude our ability to generate revenues.
We or our licensees are required to report to relevant regulatory authorities all serious adverse events or deaths involving our product candidates or approved products. If we, our licensees, or others identify such events, regulatory authorities may withdraw their approvals of such products; we or our licensees may be required to reformulate our products; we or our licensees may have to recall the affected products from the market and may not be able to reintroduce them onto the market; our reputation in the marketplace may suffer; and we may become the target of lawsuits, including class actions suits. Any of these events could harm or prevent sales of the affected products and could materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Our revenues may be adversely affected if we fail to obtain insurance coverage or adequate reimbursement for our products from third-party payers.
The ability of our licensees to successfully commercialize our products may depend in part on the availability of reimbursement for our prescription products from government health administration authorities, private health insurers, and other third-party payers and administrators, including Medicaid and Medicare. We cannot predict the availability of reimbursement for newly-approved products utilizing our Aversion®, Impede® or Limitx™ Technologies. Third-party payers and administrators, including state Medicaid programs and Medicare, are challenging the prices charged for pharmaceutical products. Government and other third-party payers increasingly are limiting both coverage and the level of reimbursement for new drugs. Third-party insurance coverage may not be available to patients for any of our product candidates. The continuing efforts of government and third-party payers to contain or reduce the costs of health care may limit our commercial opportunity. If government and other third-party payers do not provide adequate coverage and reimbursement for any product utilizing our technologies, health care providers may not prescribe them or patients may ask their health care providers to prescribe competing products with more favorable reimbursement. In some foreign markets, pricing and profitability of pharmaceutical products are subject to government control. In the United States, we expect there may be federal and state proposals for similar controls. In addition, we expect that increasing emphasis on managed care in the United States will continue to put pressure on the pricing of pharmaceutical products. Cost control initiatives could decrease the price that we or our licensees charge for any of our products in the future. Further, cost control initiatives could impair our ability or the ability of our licensees to commercialize our products and our ability to earn revenues from commercialization.
In both the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been and we expect there will continue to be a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the health care system that could impact our or our licensees’ ability to sell our products profitably. In particular, in 2010, the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, collectively, the Healthcare Reform Law, was enacted. The Healthcare Reform Law substantially changes the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers and significantly affects the pharmaceutical industry. Among the provisions of the Healthcare Reform Law of greatest importance to the pharmaceutical industry are the following:
At this time, it remains uncertain what the full impact of these provisions will be on the pharmaceutical industry generally or our business in particular. The full effects of these provisions will become apparent as these laws are implemented and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other agencies issue applicable regulations or guidance as required by the Healthcare Reform Law. Moreover, in the coming years, additional changes could be made to governmental healthcare programs that could significantly impact the success of our products.
In addition the newly elected administration has indicated it intends to replace portions of the Healthcare Reform Law. This could affect reimbursement for our product and introduces numerous uncertainties into the industry’s operations.
If we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities for our products that are not licensed to third parties, our revenues and our business will suffer.
We do not currently have an extensive organization for the sales, marketing and distribution of pharmaceutical products and the cost of establishing and maintaining such an organization may exceed the cost-effectiveness of doing so. If we do not license the commercialization of a product, we may have to build our sales, marketing, managerial and other non-technical capabilities or make arrangements with third parties to perform these services. If we are unable to establish or fund adequate sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, whether independently or with third parties, it will impair our ability to sell products and have a material adverse effect on our operations.
Consolidation in the healthcare industry could lead to demands for price concessions or for the exclusion of some suppliers from certain of our markets, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Because healthcare costs have risen significantly, numerous initiatives and reforms by legislatures, regulators and third-party payers to curb these cost increases have resulted in a trend in the healthcare industry to consolidate product suppliers and purchasers. As the healthcare industry consolidates, competition among suppliers to provide products to purchasers has become more intense. This in turn has resulted, and will likely continue to result, in greater pricing pressures and the exclusion of certain suppliers from important market segments as group purchasing organizations, and large single accounts continue to use their market power to influence product pricing and purchasing decisions. We expect that market demand, government regulation, third-party reimbursement policies and societal pressures will continue to influence the worldwide healthcare industry, resulting in further business consolidations, which may exert further downward pressure on the prices of our anticipated products. This downward pricing pressure may adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations. Under each of the Egalet Agreement, the KemPharm Agreement and the MainPointe Agreement, our licensees control the price of the licensed products, and we expect that our licensees, if any, of our products in development, will control the price of such products and may provide price discounts and price reductions in its discretion. Such price discounts and reductions will reduce the net sales of our licensed products and, correspondingly, our royalty payments under such license agreements. In addition, if any of our large customers is acquired or merged with another provider of similar products, we may lose that customer’s business. For example, for the year ended December 31, 2016 Rite Aid accounted for approximately 55% of our Nexafed® revenue. Walgreens is not currently a customer of Nexafed® and is in the process of acquiring Rite Aid. Following Walgreens’ acquisition of Rite Aid, it is possible that MainPointe could lose the Nexafed® revenue derived from Rite Aid, and we would lose the corresponding royalty payments under the MainPointe Agreement, unless Walgreens elects to purchase Nexafed®.
Our success depends on our ability to protect our intellectual property.
Our success depends on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection for products developed utilizing our technologies, in the United States and in other countries, and to enforce these patents. The patent positions of pharmaceutical firms, including us, are generally uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions. Notwithstanding our receipt of U.S. patents covering our Aversion®, Impede® and Limitx™ Technologies, there is no assurance that any of our patent claims in our other pending non-provisional and provisional patent applications relating to our technologies will issue or if issued, that any of our existing and future patent claims will be held valid and enforceable against third-party infringement or that our products will not infringe any third-party patent or intellectual property. Moreover, any patent claims relating to our technologies may not be sufficiently broad to protect our products. In addition, issued patent claims may be challenged, potentially invalidated or potentially circumvented. Our patent claims may not afford us protection against competitors with similar technology or permit the commercialization of our products without infringing third-party patents or other intellectual property rights.
Our success also depends on our not infringing patents issued to others. We may become aware of patents belonging to competitors and others that could require us to obtain licenses to such patents or alter our technologies. Obtaining such licenses or altering our technology could be time consuming and costly. We may not be able to obtain a license to any technology owned by or licensed to a third party that we or our licensees require to manufacture or market one or more of our products. Even if we can obtain a license, the financial and other terms may be disadvantageous.
Our success also depends on maintaining the confidentiality of our trade secrets and know-how. We seek to protect such information by entering into confidentiality agreements with employees, potential licensees, raw material suppliers, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants and other parties. These agreements may be breached by such parties. We may not be able to obtain an adequate, or perhaps any, remedy to such a breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently developed by our competitors. Our inability to protect our intellectual property or to commercialize our products without infringing third-party patents or other intellectual property rights would have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial condition.
We also rely on or intend to rely on our or our licensees’ trademarks, trade names and brand names to distinguish our products from the products of our competitors, and have registered or applied to register many of these trademarks. However, our trademark applications may not be approved. Third parties may also oppose our or our licensees’ trademark applications or otherwise challenge our use of the trademarks. In the event that our or our licensees’ trademarks are successfully challenged, we or our licensees could be forced to rebrand our product, which could result in loss of brand recognition and could require us or our licensees to devote resources to advertising and marketing these new brands. Further, our competitors may infringe our trademarks, or we may not have adequate resources to enforce our trademarks.
We may become involved in patent litigation or other intellectual property proceedings relating to our Aversion®, Impede® or Limitx™ Technologies or product candidates, which could result in liability for damages or delay or stop our development and commercialization efforts.
The pharmaceutical industry has been characterized by significant litigation and other proceedings regarding patents, patent applications and other intellectual property rights. The situations in which we may become parties to such litigation or proceedings may include:
The costs of resolving any patent litigation, including the Paragraph IV Proceedings, or other intellectual property proceeding, even if resolved in our favor, could be substantial. Many of our potential competitors will be able to sustain the cost of such litigation and proceedings more effectively than we can because of their substantially greater resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other intellectual property proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace. Patent litigation, including the Paragraph IV Proceedings, and other intellectual property proceedings may also consume significant management time.
In the event that a competitor infringes upon our patent or other intellectual property rights, enforcing those rights may be costly, difficult and time consuming. Even if successful, litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights or to defend our patents against challenge could be expensive and time-consuming and could divert our management’s attention. We may not have sufficient resources to enforce our intellectual property rights or to defend our patent or other intellectual property rights against a challenge. If we are unsuccessful in enforcing and protecting our intellectual property rights and protecting our products, it could harm our business. In certain circumstances, we expect that our licensees will have first right to control the enforcement of certain of our patents against third party infringers. Our licensees may not put adequate resources or effort into such enforcement actions or otherwise fail to restrain infringing products. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, including the Paragraph IV Proceedings, a court may decide that a patent of ours is invalid or is unenforceable, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation, including the Paragraph IV Proceedings, or defense proceedings could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing.
Our technologies or products may be found to infringe claims of patents owned by others. If we determine that we are, or if we are found to be infringing a patent held by another party, we, our suppliers or our licensees might have to seek a license to make, use, and sell the patented technologies and products. In that case, we, our suppliers or our licensees might not be able to obtain such license on acceptable terms, or at all. The failure to obtain a license to any third party technology that may be required would materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. If a legal action is brought against us or our licensees, we could incur substantial defense costs, and any such action might not be resolved in our favor. If such a dispute is resolved against us, we may have to pay the other party large sums of money and use of our technology and the testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale of one or more of our products could be restricted or prohibited. Even prior to resolution of such a dispute, use of our technology and the testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale of one or more of our products could be restricted or prohibited.
We are aware of certain United States and international pending patent applications owned by third parties with claims potentially encompassing Oxaydo® and our other products. If such patent applications result in valid and enforceable issued patents, containing claims in their current form or otherwise encompassing our products we or our licensees may be required to obtain a license to such patents, should one be available, or alternatively, alter our products so as to avoid infringing such third-party patents. If we or our licensees are unable to obtain a license on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, we or our licensees could be restricted or prevented from commercializing our products. Additionally, any alterations to our products or our technologies could be time consuming and costly and may not result in technologies or products that are non-infringing or commercially viable.
We are aware of an issued United States patent owned by a third party having claims encompassing the use of one of our Aversion® inactive ingredients. We are also aware of an issued United States patent owned by a third party having claims encompassing a pharmaceutical preparation containing viscosity producing ingredients that can be drawn into a syringe when dissolved in 10mL’s or less of aqueous solution. While we believe that our Aversion® products do not infringe these patents, or that such patents are otherwise invalid, there can be no assurance that we or our licensees will not be sued for infringing these patents, and if sued, there can be no assurance that we or our licensees will prevail in any such litigation. If we or our licensees are found to infringe either or both of these patents, we or our licensees may seek a license to use the patented technology. If we are unable to obtain such a license, of which no assurance can be given, we or our licensees may be restricted or prevented from commercializing our Aversion® products.
We are aware of certain issued United States patents owned by a third party having claims encompassing a process used to manufacture oxycodone HCl of high purity and pharmaceutical products resulting therefrom. As required by the FDA, Oxaydo® contains a similar high purity oxycodone HCl manufactured by a supplier that is not the owner or licensee of such patents. The owner of these patents has filed patent infringement actions relating to these patents against companies that have filed abbreviated new drug applications with the FDA for extended-release versions of oxycodone HCl. To our knowledge, the patent owner has not initiated any patent infringement actions against the sellers of immediate-release oxycodone HCl products or their suppliers of oxycodone HCl, however, we cannot be certain that these immediate-release products actually utilize a high purity oxycodone. We cannot provide assurance that our licensee or its oxycodone HCl supplier will not be sued for infringing these patents. In the event of an infringement action, our licensee and their oxycodone HCl supplier would have to either: (a) demonstrate that the manufacture of the oxycodone HCl used in Oxaydo® does not infringe the patent claims, (b) demonstrate the patents are invalid or unenforceable, or (c) enter into a license with the patent owner. If our licensee or their oxycodone HCl supplier is unable to demonstrate the foregoing, or obtain a license to these patients, our licensee may be required or choose to withdraw Oxaydo® from the market.
We are aware of a certain issued United States patent owned by a third party having claims similar to our second generation Impede® Technology directed to ingredient amounts that are generally more than the amounts used in our technology. While we believe our technology does not infringe this patent, we cannot provide assurance that we will not be sued under such patent or if sued, that we will prevail in any such suit.
We cannot assure you that our technologies, products and/or actions in developing our products will not infringe third-party patents. Our failure to avoid infringing third-party patents and intellectual property rights in the development and commercialization of our products would have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial condition.
Generic manufacturers are using litigation and regulatory means to seek approval for generic versions of Oxaydo®, which could cause Egalet’s sales to suffer and adversely impact our royalty revenue.
Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, the FDA can approve an ANDA for a generic version of a branded drug and what is referred to as a Section 505(b)(2) NDA, for a branded variation of an existing branded drug, without requiring such applicant to undertake the full clinical testing necessary to obtain approval to market a new drug. An ANDA applicant usually needs to only submit data demonstrating that its product has the same active ingredient(s) and is bioequivalent to the branded product, in addition to any data necessary to establish that any difference in strength, dosage form, inactive ingredients, or delivery mechanism does not result in different safety or efficacy profiles, as compared to the reference drug.
The Hatch-Waxman Act requires an applicant for a drug that references one of our branded drugs to notify us of their application if they assert in their application that the patents we have listed in the Orange Book will not be infringed or otherwise are invalid or unenforceable (a Paragraph IV Certification). Upon receipt of this notice, we or our licensee will have 45 days to bring a patent infringement suit known as a Paragraph IV Proceeding in federal district court against such applicant. If such a suit is commenced, the FDA is generally prohibited from granting approval of the ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) NDA until the earliest of 30 months from the date the FDA accepted the application for filing, the conclusion of litigation in the generic applicant’s favor or expiration of the patent(s). If the litigation is resolved in favor of the applicant or the challenged patent expires during the 30-month stay period, the stay is lifted and the FDA may thereafter approve the application based on the standards for approval of ANDAs and Section 505(b)(2) NDAs. Frequently, the unpredictable nature and significant costs of patent litigation leads the parties to settle to remove this uncertainty. Settlement agreements between branded companies and generic applicants may allow, among other things, a generic product to enter the market prior to the expiration of any or all of the applicable patents covering the branded product, either through the introduction of an authorized generic or by providing a license to the applicant for the patents subject to the litigation.
On September 20, 2012, we announced that we had received a Paragraph IV Certification Notice under 21 U.S.C. 355(j) (a Paragraph IV Notice) from a generic sponsor of an ANDA for a generic drug listing Oxaydo® (formerly known as Oxecta®) as the reference listed drug. Since such date, we have received similar Paragraph IV Notices from four other generic pharmaceutical companies that have filed ANDAs listing Oxaydo® as the reference drug. The Paragraph IV Notices refer to our U.S. Patent Numbers 7,201,920, 7,510,726 and 7,981,439, which cover our Aversion® Technology and Oxaydo®. The Paragraph IV Notices state that each generic sponsor believes that such patents are invalid, unenforceable or not infringed. On October 31, 2012, we initiated suit against each of Watson Laboratories, Inc. – Florida (Watson), Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., Impax Laboratories, Inc. and Sandoz Inc., and on April 29, 2013, we initiated suit against Ranbaxy, Inc., each in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware alleging infringement of our U.S. Patent No. 7,510,726 listed in the FDA’s Orange Book. The commencement of such litigation prohibits the FDA from granting approval of the filed ANDAs until the earliest of 30 months from the date the FDA accepted the application for filing, or the conclusion of litigation. In January 2013, we dismissed our suit against Watson on the grounds that Watson had amended its ANDA from a Paragraph IV Certification to a Paragraph III Certification, which indicated its intent not to market its generic Oxaydo® product in advance of our patent expiring.
On October 9, 2013, we announced that we had entered into distinct Settlement Agreements with each of Par and Impax, to settle our patent infringement action pending against them in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In the suit, we alleged that a generic Oxaydo® product for which each of Par and Impax is separately seeking approval to market in the United States pursuant to an ANDA filing with the FDA infringes a U.S. patent owned by us. Par is the first filer of an ANDA for a generic Oxaydo® product and is entitled to the 180-day first filer exclusivity under applicable law and FDA regulations.
Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement with Par, Par may launch its generic Oxaydo® product in the U.S., through the grant of a non-exclusive, royalty-bearing license from us that would trigger on January 1, 2022. We currently have Orange Book patents that are due to expire between November 2023 and March 2025. In certain limited circumstances, our license to Par would become effective prior to January 1, 2022. Par is required to pay us royalties in the range of 10% to 15% of Par’s net profits from the sale of its generic Oxaydo® product.
Under the Settlement Agreement with Impax, Impax may launch its generic Oxaydo® product in the U.S., through the grant of a non-exclusive, royalty-free license from us that would trigger 180 days following the first sale of a generic Oxaydo® product in the U.S. by an entity that is entitled to the 180 day first-filer exclusivity under applicable law and FDA regulations (or if no entity is entitled to such 180 day exclusivity period, the date on which a generic Oxaydo® product is first sold in the U.S. or November 27, 2021, whichever date occurs first). In certain circumstances, our license to Impax would become effective prior to such time.
On May 8, 2014, we announced that we had entered into a Settlement Agreement with Ranbaxy Inc. to settle our patent infringement action pending in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In the suit, we alleged that a generic of our Oxaydo® product for which Ranbaxy is seeking approval to market in the United States pursuant to an ANDA filed with the FDA infringes U.S. patents owned by us. The Settlement Agreement provides that Ranbaxy’s current generic of our Oxaydo® product that is the subject of its ANDA filing does not infringe our Orange Book listed patents with the FDA. We have not provided Ranbaxy a license to our patents and we may re-commence patent infringement litigation against Ranbaxy if Ranbaxy changes the formulation of its current generic Oxaydo® product.
On May 21, 2014, we announced that we had entered into a Settlement Agreement with Sandoz Inc. to settle our patent infringement action pending against Sandoz in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In the suit, we alleged that a generic of our Oxaydo® product for which Sandoz is seeking approval to market in the United States pursuant to an ANDA filed with the FDA infringes a U.S. patent owned by us. Under the Settlement Agreement, Sandoz may launch its generic to the Oxaydo® product in the U.S., through the grant of a non-exclusive license from us that would trigger 180 days following the first sale of a generic to the Oxaydo® product in the U.S. by an entity that is entitled to the 180 day first-filer exclusivity under applicable law and FDA regulations (or if no entity is entitled to such 180 day exclusivity period, the date on which a generic to the Oxaydo® product is first sold in the U.S). In certain circumstances, our license to Sandoz would become effective prior to such time. Sandoz is not obligated to pay us a royalty if its current formulation of its generic to the Oxaydo® product is approved by the FDA. In the event Sandoz changes or modifies the structure of its generic Oxaydo® product, or materially changes or modifies the amounts or type of any excipient used in the Sandoz formulation disclosed in its ANDA filing with the FDA as of July 30, 2013, Sandoz is required to pay us a royalty based upon the Net Profits (as defined in the Settlement Agreement) derived from the net sales of such changed or modified Sandoz generic Oxaydo® product in the United States.
It is possible that other generic manufacturers may also seek to launch a generic version of Oxaydo® and challenge our patents. Any determination in any such infringement actions that our patents covering our Aversion® Technology and Oxaydo® are invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, or that the products covered by generic sponsors’ ANDAs do not infringe our patents could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial condition.
We may be exposed to product liability claims and may not be able to obtain or maintain adequate product liability insurance.
Our business exposes us to potential product liability risks, which are inherent in the testing, manufacturing, marketing and sale of pharmaceutical products. Product liability claims might be made by patients, health care providers or others that sell or consume our products. These claims may be made even with respect to those products that possess regulatory approval for commercial sale. We are currently covered by clinical trial product liability insurance on a claims-made basis and for product liability insurance covering our sale and distribution of our Nexafed® products. This coverage may not be adequate to cover any product liability claims. Product liability coverage is expensive. In the future, we may not be able to maintain such product liability insurance at a reasonable cost or in sufficient amounts to protect us against losses due to product liability claims. Any claims that are not covered by product liability insurance could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The pharmaceutical industry is characterized by frequent litigation. Those companies with significant financial resources will be better able to bring and defend any such litigation. No assurance can be given that we would not become involved in future litigation, in addition to the ongoing Reglan/Metoclopramide mass tort litigation discussed below under “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” of this Report. Such litigation may have material adverse consequences to our financial condition and results of operations.
We face significant competition, which may result in others developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.
Our products and technologies compete to varying degrees against both brand and generic products offering similar therapeutic benefits and being developed and marketed by small and large pharmaceutical (for prescription products) and consumer packaged goods (for OTC products) companies. Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial and other resources and are able to expend more funds and effort than us and our licensees in research, development and commercialization of their competitive technologies and products. Prescription generic products and OTC store brand products will offer cost savings to third party payers and/or consumers that will create pricing pressure on our products. Also, these competitors may have a substantial sales volume advantage over our products, which may result in our licensee’s costs of manufacturing being higher than our competitors’ costs. If our products are unable to capture and maintain market share, we or our licensees may not achieve significant product revenues and our financial condition and results of operations will be materially adversely affected.
We believe potential competitors may be developing opioid abuse deterrent technologies and products. Such potential competitors include, but may not be limited to, Pain Therapeutics, Pfizer Inc., Purdue Pharma, Atlantic Pharmaceuticals, Egalet Corporation, KemPharm, Shionogi, Nektar Therapeutics, Signature Therapeutics, QRx Pharma, Tris Pharma, Pisgah Labs, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Sun Pharmaceuticals and Collegium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. These companies appear to be focusing their development efforts on ER Opioid Products, except for Atlantic Pharmaceuticals, Pisgah Labs, and KemPharm.
Our Impede® Technology products containing PSE, including our licensed Nexafed® products, will compete in the highly competitive market for cold, sinus and allergy products generally available to the consumer without a prescription. Some of our competitors will have multiple consumer product offerings both within and outside the cold, allergy and sinus category providing them with substantial leverage in dealing with a highly consolidated pharmacy distribution network. The competing products may have well established brand names and may be supported by national or regional advertising. Our Nexafed® products compete directly with Johnson & Johnson’s Sudafed® brand as well as generic formulations manufactured by Perrigo Company and others.
We are concentrating a substantial majority of our efforts and resources on developing product candidates utilizing our Limitx™ and Impede® Technologies. The commercial success of products utilizing such technologies will depend, in large part, on the intensity of competition, FDA approved product labeling for our products compared to competitive products, and the relative timing and sequence for commercial launch of new products by other companies developing, marketing, selling and distributing products that compete with the products utilizing our Limitx™ and Impede® Technologies. Alternative technologies and non-opioid products are being developed to improve or replace the use of opioid analgesics. In the event that such alternatives to opioid analgesics are widely adopted, then the market for products utilizing our Limitx™ and Impede® Technologies may be substantially decreased, thus reducing our ability to generate future revenues and adversely affecting our ability to generate a profit.
Key personnel are critical to our business and our success depends on our ability to retain them.
We are dependent on our management and scientific team, including Robert Jones, our President and Chief Executive Officer, Peter A. Clemens, our Chief Financial Officer, and Albert W. Brzeczko, Ph.D., our Vice President of Technical Affairs. We may not be able to attract and retain personnel on acceptable terms given the competition for such personnel among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, universities and non-profit research institutions. While we have employment agreements with our CEO and CFO, all of our employees are at-will employees who may terminate their employment at any time. We do not have key personnel insurance on any of our officers or employees. The loss of any of our key personnel, or the inability to attract and retain such personnel, may significantly delay or prevent the achievement of our product and technology development and business objectives and could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our products are subject to regulation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, and such regulation may affect the development and sale of our products.
The DEA regulates certain finished drug products and active pharmaceutical ingredients, including certain opioid active pharmaceutical ingredients and pseudoephedrine HCl that are contained in our products. Consequently, their manufacture, research, shipment, storage, sale and use are subject to a high degree of regulation. Furthermore, the amount of active ingredients we can obtain for our clinical trials is limited by the DEA and our quota may not be sufficient to complete clinical trials. There is a risk that DEA regulations may interfere with the supply of the products used in our clinical trials.
In addition, we and our licensees and contract manufacturers are subject to ongoing DEA regulatory obligations, including, among other things, annual registration renewal, security, recordkeeping, theft and loss reporting, periodic inspection and annual quota allotments for the raw material for commercial production of our products. The DEA, and some states, conduct periodic inspections of registered establishments that handle controlled substances. Facilities that conduct research, manufacture, store, distribute, import or export controlled substances must be registered to perform these activities and have the security, control and inventory mechanisms required by the DEA to prevent drug loss and diversion. Failure to maintain compliance, particularly non-compliance resulting in loss or diversion, can result in regulatory action that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations, or initiate proceedings to revoke those registrations. In certain circumstances, violations could lead to criminal proceedings.
Individual states also have controlled substances laws. Though state controlled substances laws often mirror federal law, because the states are separate jurisdictions, they may separately schedule drugs, as well. While some states automatically schedule a drug when the DEA does so, in other states there has to be a rulemaking or a legislative action. State scheduling may delay commercial sale of any controlled substance drug product for which we obtain FDA approval and adverse scheduling could have a material adverse effect on the attractiveness of such product. We or our licensees must also obtain separate state registrations in order to be able to obtain, handle, and distribute controlled substances for clinical trials or commercial sale, and failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements could lead to enforcement and sanctions from the states in addition to those from the DEA or otherwise arising under federal law.
We are increasingly dependent on information technology and our systems and infrastructure face certain risks, including cybersecurity and data storage risks.
Significant disruptions to our information technology systems or breaches of information security could adversely affect our business. In the ordinary course of business, we collect, store and transmit confidential information, and it is critical that we do so in a secure manner in order to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of such confidential information. Our information technology systems are potentially vulnerable to service interruptions and security breaches from inadvertent or intentional actions by our employees, partners, vendors, or from attacks by malicious third parties. Maintaining the secrecy of this confidential, proprietary, and/or trade secret information is important to our competitive business position. While we have taken steps to protect such information and invested in information technology, there can be no assurance that our efforts will prevent service interruptions or security breaches in our systems or the unauthorized or inadvertent wrongful access or disclosure of confidential information that could adversely affect our business operations or result in the loss, dissemination, or misuse of critical or sensitive information. A breach of our security measures or the accidental loss, inadvertent disclosure, unapproved dissemination or misappropriation or misuse of trade secrets, proprietary information, or other confidential information, whether as a result of theft, hacking, or other forms of deception, or for any other cause, could enable others to produce competing products, use our proprietary technology and/or adversely affect our business position. Further, any such interruption, security breach, loss or disclosure of confidential information could result in financial, legal, business, and reputational harm to us and could have a material effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and/or cash flow.
Prior ownership changes limit our ability to use our tax net operating loss carryforwards.
Significant equity restructuring often results in an Internal Revenue Section 382 ownership change that limits the future use of Net Operating Loss, or NOL, carryforwards and other tax attributes. We have determined that an ownership change (as defined by Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code) did occur as a result of a capital restructuring that occurred in 2004. Neither the amount of our NOL carryforwards nor the amount of limitation of such carryforwards claimed by us have been audited or otherwise validated by the Internal Revenue Service, which could challenge the amount we have calculated. The recognition and measurement of our tax benefit includes estimates and judgment by our management, which includes subjectivity. Changes in estimates may create volatility in our tax rate in future periods based on new information about particular tax positions that may cause management to change its estimates.
Risks Relating to Our Common Stock
Our quarterly results of operations will fluctuate, and these fluctuations could cause our stock price to decline.
Our quarterly and annual operating results are likely to fluctuate in the future. These fluctuations could cause our stock price to decline. The nature of our business involves variable factors, such as the timing of any license agreement, the timing of launch and market acceptance of our products, and the timing of the research, development and regulatory submissions of our products in development that could cause our operating results to fluctuate. The forecasting of the timing and amount of sales of our products is difficult due to market uncertainty and the uncertainty inherent in seeking FDA and other necessary approvals for our product candidates. As a result, in some future quarters or years, our clinical, financial or operating results may not meet the expectations of securities analysts and investors, which could result in a decline in the price of our stock.
Our stock price has been and may continue to be volatile, and the value of an investment in our common stock may decline.
During 2016, our stock traded as high as $3.52 per share and as low as $0.71 per share. The trading price of our common stock is likely to continue to be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. These factors could include:
- results from our pre-clinical and clinical development programs, including our Limitx™ product candidates;
- FDA actions related to our products in development;
- FDA actions related to any of our potential products;
- announcements regarding the sales of Oxaydo®;
- announcements regarding the progress of sales of Oxaydo®;
- announcements regarding the progress of our preclinical and clinical programs;
- our licensee’s success in the commercialization of our Nexafed® products;
- announcements regarding the sales of our Nexafed® products;
- announcements regarding the execution of license agreements with third parties for our products or product candidates;
- failure of any of our products in development, if approved, to achieve commercial success;
- quarterly variations in our results of operations or those of our competitors;
- our ability to develop and market new and enhanced products on a timely basis;
- announcements by us or our competitors of acquisitions, regulatory approvals, clinical milestones, new products, significant contracts, commercial relationships or capital commitments;
- third-party coverage and reimbursement policies;
- additions or departures of key personnel;
- commencement of, or our involvement in, litigation;
- the inability of our contract manufacturers to provide us with adequate commercial supplies of our products;
- changes in governmental regulations or in the status of our regulatory approvals;
- changes in earnings estimates or recommendations by securities analysts;
- any major change in our board or management;
- general economic conditions and slow or negative growth of our market; and
- political instability, natural disasters, war and/or events of terrorism.
From time to time, we estimate the timing of the accomplishment of various scientific, clinical, regulatory and other product development goals or milestones. These milestones may include the commencement or completion of scientific studies and clinical trials and the submission of regulatory filings. Also, from time to time, we expect that we will publicly announce the anticipated timing of some of these milestones. All of these milestones are based on a variety of assumptions. The actual timing of these milestones can vary dramatically compared to our estimates, in some cases for reasons beyond our control. If we do not meet these milestones as publicly announced, our stock price may decline and the commercialization of our products and potential products may be delayed.
In addition, the stock market has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of publicly traded companies. Broad market and industry factors may seriously affect the market price of companies’ stock, including ours, regardless of actual operating performance. These fluctuations may be even more pronounced in the trading market for our stock. In addition, in the past, following periods of volatility in the overall market and the market price of a particular company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against these companies. This litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our management’s attention and resources.
We do not have a history of paying dividends on our common stock.
Historically, we have not declared and paid any cash dividends on our common stock. In addition, our Loan and Security Agreement with Oxford Finance LLC restricts our ability to pay dividends during the term of such Agreement. We intend to retain all of our earnings for the foreseeable future to finance the operation and expansion of our business. As a result, you may only receive a return on your investment in our common stock if the market price of our common stock increases.
Any future sale of a substantial number of shares included in our current registration statement could depress the trading price of our stock, lower our value and make it more difficult for us to raise capital.
In order to raise additional capital, we may in the future offer additional shares of our common stock or other securities convertible into or exchangeable for our common stock at prices that may not be the same as the then current trading price of our common stock. The price per share at which we sell additional shares of our common stock, or securities convertible or exchangeable into common stock, in future transactions may be higher or lower than the then current trading price of our common stock.
As of March 15, 2017, our three largest shareholders owned an aggregate of approximately 5,178,000 shares of our common stock (representing approximately 44% of our outstanding shares). All of such shares are available for resale by such stockholders. If some or all of such shares are sold by it may have the effect of depressing the trading price of our common stock. In addition, such sales could make it more difficult for us to raise capital if needed in the future.
Our common stock is deemed a “penny stock,” which would make it more difficult for our investors to sell their shares.
Our common stock is subject to the “penny stock” rules adopted under Section 15(g) of the Exchange Act. The penny stock rules generally apply to companies whose common stock is not listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market or other national securities exchange and trades at less than $4.00 per share, other than companies that have had average revenue of at least $6,000,000 for the last three years or that have tangible net worth of at least $5,000,000 ($2,000,000 if the company has been operating for three or more years). These rules require, among other things, that brokers who trade penny stock to persons other than “established customers” complete certain documentation, make suitability inquiries of investors and provide investors with certain information concerning trading in the security, including a risk disclosure document and quote information under certain circumstances. Many brokers have decided not to trade penny stocks because of the requirements of the penny stock rules and, as a result, the number of broker-dealers willing to act as market makers in such securities is limited. If we remain subject to the penny stock rules for any significant period, it could have an adverse effect on the market, if any, for our securities. If our securities are subject to the penny stock rules, investors will find it more difficult to dispose of our securities.
At times, our shares of common stock have been thinly traded, so you may be unable to sell at or near ask prices or even at all if you need to sell your shares to raise money or otherwise desire to liquidate your shares.
Our common stock is currently quoted on the OTCQB and experiences periods when it could be considered “thinly-traded.” This situation may be attributable to a number of factors, including the fact that we are a small company which is relatively unknown to stock analysts, stock brokers, institutional investors and others in the investment community that generate or influence sales volume, and that even if we came to the attention of such persons, they tend to be risk averse and would be reluctant to follow an unproven company such as ours or purchase or recommend the purchase of our shares until such time as we became more seasoned and viable. As a consequence, there may be periods of several days, weeks or months when trading activity in our shares is minimal, as compared to a seasoned issuer which has a large and steady volume of trading activity that will generally support continuous sales without an adverse effect on share price. We cannot give you any assurance that a broader or more active public trading market for our common stock will be sustained, or that current trading levels will be sustained or not diminish.
We are a smaller reporting company, and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to smaller reporting companies will make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are currently a “smaller reporting company,” meaning that we are not an investment company, an asset- backed issuer, or a majority-owned subsidiary of a parent company that is not a smaller reporting company and have a public float of less than $75 million and annual revenues of less than $50 million during the most recently completed fiscal year. “Smaller reporting companies” are able to provide simplified executive compensation disclosures in their filings; are exempt from the provisions of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requiring that independent registered public accounting firms provide an attestation report on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting; and have certain other decreased disclosure obligations in their SEC filings, including, among other things, only being required to provide two years of audited financial statements in annual reports and in certain registration statements. Decreased disclosures in our SEC filings due to our status as a “smaller reporting company” may make it harder for investors to analyze our results of operations and financial prospects.