SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
☒ Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
For the quarterly period ended June 30, 2019.
☐ Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
For the transition period from to .
Commission File Number
NEWLINK GENETICS CORPORATION
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in Its Charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
2503 South Loop Drive
Ames, Iowa 50010
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of principal executive offices)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Stock||NLNK||The Nasdaq Stock Market|
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ý No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ý No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer o
Accelerated filer o
Non-accelerated filer ☒
Smaller reporting company ☒
Emerging growth company ☐
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ý
As of August 6, 2019, there were 37,312,620 shares of the registrant’s Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share, outstanding.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Table of Contents
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets
(In thousands, except share data)
|June 30,||December 31,|
Cash and cash equivalents
|$||105,372 ||$||120,738 |
Prepaid expenses and other current assets
|4,015 ||5,536 |
Income tax receivable
|353 ||339 |
|458 ||459 |
Total current assets
|110,198 ||127,072 |
Property and equipment, net
|3,314 ||3,727 |
|7,159 ||— |
Income tax receivable
|140 ||140 |
Total non-current assets
|10,613 ||3,867 |
|Total assets||$||120,811 ||$||130,939 |
|Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity|
|$||689 ||$||555 |
|7,235 ||8,139 |
Current portion of deferred rent
|— ||92 |
Current portion of lease liability
|641 ||— |
Current portion of notes payable
|63 ||61 |
Total current liabilities
|8,628 ||8,847 |
Royalty obligation payable to Iowa Economic Development Authority
|6,000 ||6,000 |
|11 ||43 |
|7,485 ||— |
|— ||906 |
|Total long-term liabilities||13,496 ||6,949 |
|Total liabilities||22,124 ||15,796 |
Blank check preferred stock, $0.01 par value: Authorized shares — 5,000,000 at June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018; issued and outstanding shares — 0 at June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018
|— ||— |
Common stock, $0.01 par value: Authorized shares — 75,000,000 at June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018; issued 37,413,093 and 37,343,547 at June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively; and outstanding 37,300,960 and 37,251,220 at June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively
|373 ||373 |
Additional paid-in capital
|410,946 ||407,199 |
Treasury stock, at cost: 112,133 and 92,327 shares at June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively
Total stockholders' equity
|98,687 ||115,143 |
|Total liabilities and stockholders' equity||$||120,811 ||$||130,939 |
|See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.|
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Condensed Consolidated Statements
(In thousands, except share and per share data)
|Three Months Ended June 30,||Six Months Ended June 30,|
|$||— ||$||1,884 ||$||— ||$||11,268 |
Licensing and collaboration revenue
|151 ||368 ||257 ||884 |
Total operating revenues
|151 ||2,252 ||257 ||12,152 |
| Research and development||5,237 ||12,088 ||10,440 ||32,402 |
General and administrative
|5,638 ||7,912 ||11,205 ||16,204 |
Total operating expenses
|10,875 ||20,000 ||21,645 ||48,606 |
|Loss from operations||(10,724)||(17,748)||(21,388)||(36,454)|
|Other income and expense:|
|Miscellaneous (expense) income, net||(10)||10 ||(5)||34 |
|624 ||461 ||1,248 ||846 |
Other income, net
|590 ||435 ||1,218 ||831 |
|Net loss before taxes||(10,134)||(17,313)||(20,170)||(35,623)|
|Income tax benefit||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Basic and diluted loss per share||$||(0.27)||$||(0.47)||$||(0.54)||$||(0.96)|
|Basic and diluted average shares outstanding||37,276,443 ||37,165,529 ||37,275,954 ||37,160,334 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Condensed Consolidated Statement of Stockholders' Equity
(In thousands, except share data)
|Six Month Period ended June 30, 2019|
|Balance at December 31, 2018||37,251,220 ||$||373 ||$||407,199 ||$||(1,417)||$||(291,012)||$||115,143 |
|— ||— ||1,944 ||— ||— ||1,944 |
|Restricted stock vested||44,329 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Repurchase of common stock||(19,447)||— ||— ||(32)||— ||(32)|
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(10,036)||(10,036)|
|Balance at March 31, 2019||37,276,102 ||373 ||409,143 ||(1,449)||(301,048)||107,019 |
|Share-based compensation||— ||— ||1,773 ||— ||— ||1,773 |
|Restricted stock vested||1,250 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Sales of shares under stock purchase plan||23,967 ||— ||30 ||— ||— ||30 |
|Repurchase of common stock||(359)||— ||— ||(1)||— ||(1)|
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(10,134)||(10,134)|
|Balance at June 30, 2019||37,300,960 ||$||373 ||$||410,946 ||$||(1,450)||$||(311,182)||$||98,687 |
|Six Month Period ended June 30, 2018|
|Balance at December 31, 2017||37,109,556 ||$||372 ||$||389,786 ||$||(1,142)||$||(237,459)||$||151,557 |
|Share-based compensation||— ||— ||4,820 ||— ||— ||4,820 |
|Restricted stock vested||84,262 ||1 ||105 ||— ||— ||106 |
|Sales of shares under stock purchase plan||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Repurchase of common stock||(28,720)||— ||— ||(261)||— ||(261)|
|Cumulative effect of accounting change||— ||— ||— ||— ||42 ||42 |
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(18,310)||(18,310)|
|Balance at March 31, 2018||37,165,098 ||373 ||394,711 ||(1,403)||(255,727)||137,954 |
|Share-based compensation||— ||— ||4,177 ||— ||— ||4,177 |
|Restricted stock vested||1,250 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Sales of shares under stock purchase plan||32,111 ||— ||130 ||— ||— ||130 |
|Repurchase of common stock||(359)||— ||— ||(2)||— ||(2)|
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(17,313)||(17,313)|
|Balance at June 30, 2018||37,198,100 ||$||373 ||$||399,018 ||$||(1,405)||$||(273,040)||$||124,946 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
|Six Months Ended June 30,|
Cash Flows From Operating Activities
| Net loss||$||(20,170)||$||(35,623)|
Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash used in operating activities:
| Share-based compensation||3,717 ||8,997 |
Depreciation and amortization
|399 ||637 |
Gain on sale of fixed assets
| Amortization of right-of-use asset and change in operating lease liability||(32)||— |
|Changes in operating assets and liabilities:|
| Prepaid expenses and other current assets||1,521 ||519 |
| Other receivables||1 ||9,865 |
| Accounts payable and accrued expenses||(770)||(5,862)|
| Income taxes receivable||(14)||(4)|
| Unearned revenue||— ||(56)|
| Deferred rent||— ||(51)|
Net cash used in operating activities
|Cash Flows From Investing Activities|
| Purchase of equipment||— ||(7)|
| Proceeds on sale of equipment||9 ||108 |
|Net cash provided by investing activities||9 ||101 |
|Cash Flows From Financing Activities|
| Issuance of common stock, net of offering costs||30 ||236 |
| Repurchase of common stock||(33)||(263)|
| Principal payments on notes payable||(29)||(104)|
|Net cash used in financing activities||(32)||(131)|
|Net decrease in cash and cash equivalents||(15,366)||(21,642)|
|Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period||120,738 ||158,708 |
|Cash and cash equivalents at end of period||$||105,372 ||$||137,066 |
|Supplemental disclosure of cash flows information:|
|Cash paid for interest||$||2 ||$||5 |
|Cash paid for taxes, net||$||14 ||$||5 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
1. Description of Business
On June 4, 1999, NewLink Genetics Corporation (NewLink) was incorporated as a Delaware corporation. NewLink was formed to develop treatments for patients with cancer and other diseases. NewLink initiated operations in April 2000.
NewLink and its subsidiaries (the Company) are devoting substantially all of their efforts toward research and development. The Company has never earned revenue from commercial sales of its drugs.
The accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements as of June 30, 2019 and for the three and six months ended June 30, 2019 have been prepared assuming the Company will continue as a going concern. The Company raised net proceeds of $37.6 million from its initial public offering in 2011, completed a follow-on offering of its common stock raising net proceeds of $49.0 million in 2013, and raised an additional $58.7 million in net proceeds from an at the market (ATM) offering completed in 2015.
During 2017, the Company sold 1,940,656 shares of its common stock under an ATM offering, with aggregate net proceeds of $19.3 million after commissions of $398,000 paid to Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. (Cantor) as the placement agent, and other costs of $163,000. In October 2017, the Company sold 5,750,000 of its shares of common stock in a public offering for aggregate net proceeds of $55.2 million after underwriters’ discounts, commissions and other expenses of $3.7 million.
The Company’s cash and cash equivalents as of June 30, 2019 are expected to be adequate to satisfy the Company’s liquidity requirements through 2021. If available liquidity becomes insufficient to meet the Company’s operating obligations as they come due, the Company’s plans include selling additional shares of common stock, alternative funding arrangements and/or reducing expenditures as necessary to meet the Company’s cash requirements. However, there is no assurance that, if required, the Company will be able to raise additional capital or reduce discretionary spending to provide the required liquidity. Failure by the Company to successfully execute its plans or otherwise address its liquidity needs may have a material adverse effect on its business and financial position, and may materially affect the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.
2. Basis of Presentation
The accompanying unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements have been prepared and presented by the Company in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP) and the rules and regulations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC), and, in management’s opinion, reflect all adjustments necessary to present fairly the Company’s interim condensed financial information.
Certain information and footnote disclosures normally included in the Company’s annual financial statements prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP have been condensed or omitted. The accompanying unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements should be read in conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018, included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K. The financial results for any interim period are not necessarily indicative of financial results for the full year.
3. Significant Accounting Policies
Use of Estimates
The preparation of the condensed consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the condensed consolidated financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
Principles of Consolidation
The condensed consolidated financial statements include the financial statements of NewLink and its wholly-owned subsidiaries. All significant intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation.
Financial Instruments and Concentrations of Credit Risk
Cash and cash equivalents, receivables, and accounts payable are recorded at cost, which approximates fair value based on the short-term nature of these financial instruments. The carrying value of notes payable was $74,000 and $104,000 as of June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively, which approximate fair value using Level 2 inputs (computed in accordance with ASC 820). The Company is unable to estimate the fair value of the royalty obligation based on future product sales, as the timing of payments, if any, is uncertain.
Financial instruments that potentially subject the Company to concentrations of credit risk consist primarily of cash and cash equivalents. Cash and cash equivalents are held by financial institutions and are federally insured up to certain limits. At times, the Company’s cash and cash equivalents balance exceeds the federally insured limits. To limit the credit risk, the Company invests its excess cash primarily in high-quality securities such as certificates of deposit and money market funds.
Property and Equipment
Property and equipment are capitalized as the Company believes they have alternative future uses and are stated at cost, less accumulated depreciation of $7.3 million and $7.0 million as of June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively. Depreciation on all property and equipment is calculated on the straight-line method over the shorter of the lease term or estimated useful life of the asset. Computer equipment has useful lives of to five years, lab equipment has a useful life of five years, and contract manufacturing organization equipment has a useful life of five years.
Recently Adopted Accounting Pronouncements
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-02 (Topic 842), Leases, to improve financial reporting for leasing transactions. The Company adopted the standard on January 1, 2019 using the modified retrospective method, as required, applying the new standard to all leases existing as of the date of initial application. The Company has elected that the date of the initial application, January 1, 2019, will be the effective date. Consequently, financial information will not be updated and the disclosures required under the new standard will not be provided for dates and periods before January 1, 2019. The Company elected the "package of practical expedients", which permits the Company not to reassess under the new standard its prior conclusions about lease identification, lease classification and initial direct costs. The Company did not elect to apply the use-of-hindsight or the practical expedient pertaining to land easements; as the latter is not applicable to the Company.
Upon adoption of the standard, the Company recorded a lease liability of $8.5 million and a right of use asset of $7.5 million associated with these leases. Included in the right-of-use asset are lease incentives that were previously recorded as deferred rent liability of $1.0 million as of December 31, 2018 on the consolidated balance sheet. There was no material impact to the consolidated statement of operations.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
Revenues are recognized under Topic 606 when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to the Company's customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration the Company expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services. Prior to transferring the government contracts over to Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. (Merck) in June 2018, the Company received payments from government entities under its grants and contracts with the Department of Defense and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These agreements provided the Company cost reimbursement plus a percentage for certain types of expenditures in return for research and development activities over a contractually defined period. Grant revenues were recognized over time and measured using the input method. The Company used labor costs and subcontractor fees as inputs to measure progress towards satisfying its performance obligations under these agreements. Under this method, the Company recognized revenue generally in the period during which the related costs were incurred, in an amount that reflected the consideration the Company expected to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services transferred to the government entities due to the government entities' control over the research and development activities.
The grants and contracts with government entities were fully transferred to Merck as of June 2018. Accordingly, during the six months ended June 30, 2019, the Company recognized no grant revenue. The Company had $273,000 and $309,000 of receivables relating to the government contracts on the balance sheet as of June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively. The Company had $40,000 and $54,000 of accrued expenses for subcontractor fees incurred under the government contracts as of June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively.
5. License and Research Collaboration Agreement
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
In November 2014, the Company entered into a licensing and collaboration agreement (the Merck Agreement) with Merck to develop, manufacture and commercialize rVSV-ZEBOV-GP, an Ebola vaccine the Company licensed from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Under the terms of the Merck Agreement, the Company granted Merck an exclusive, royalty bearing license to rVSV-ZEBOV-GP and related technology. Under the Merck Agreement, the Company received a $30.0 million non-refundable, upfront payment in December 2014, and a one-time $20.0 million non-refundable milestone payment in February 2015 upon the initiation of the pivotal clinical trial using the current rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine product as one arm of the trial. In addition, the Company can receive escalating royalties on potential commercial sales by Merck of the current product candidate ranging from single digit to double digits on the rVSV-ZEBOV-GP license agreement product sales and escalating royalties on potential commercial sales by Merck of products other than current products within the Company’s patent rights ranging from low to high single digit, on increasing levels of annual net sales worldwide. Merck is expected to lead the development of rVSV-ZEBOV-GP and any other rVSV-based viral hemorrhagic fever vaccine product candidates in order to create a marketable product safe for human use.
The Merck Agreement was amended on December 5, 2017 in connection with our entry into an amended and restated PHAC license on December 5, 2017. The amended Merck Agreement absolves our subsidiary, BioProtection Systems Corporation (BPS), from any future obligation to negotiate or amend the terms of the PHAC license, converts the scope of Merck's sublicense under PHAC’s intellectual property rights to be non-exclusive in the Ebola Sudan field of use, and requires Merck to reimburse us in certain circumstances where we may be obligated to pay royalties to PHAC as a result of Merck’s product sales but Merck would not otherwise be obligated to pay a royalty to us. On April 26, 2018, the Company entered into an agreement with Merck, the U.S. BioMedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to transfer the government grants from BARDA and DTRA to Merck. The transfer was completed in June 2018 and Merck has replaced the Company as the prime contractor on all such grants.
For the three and six months ended June 30, 2019, the Company recognized revenues under the amended Merck Agreement of $151,000 and $257,000, respectively, for work the Company performed as a subcontractor of Merck under the government contracts that were transferred to Merck. For the three and six months ended June 30, 2018, the Company recognized license and collaboration revenue under the amended Merck Agreement of $368,000 and $828,000, respectively, for the reimbursement of costs not covered under government contracts.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
6. Common Stock Equity Incentive Plan
2009 Equity Incentive Plan
In April 2000, the stockholders approved the Company's 2000 Equity Incentive Plan (the 2000 Plan), in July 2009, the stockholders approved the Company's 2009 Equity Incentive Plan (the 2009 Plan), and in May 2019, the stockholders approved to amend and extend the Company's 2009 Equity Incentive Plan (the 2019 Plan). Following the approval of the 2019 Plan, no additional stock awards will be granted under the 2009 Plan. Shares that remained available for issuance pursuant to the exercise of options or issuance or settlement of stock awards under the 2009 Plan became available for issuance pursuant to the 2019 Plan and all shares that would have otherwise returned to the 2009 Plan became available for issuance pursuant to the 2019 Plan. Under the provisions of the 2019 Plan, the Company may grant the following types of common stock awards:
•Incentive Stock Options
•Nonstatutory Stock Options
•Restricted Stock Awards
•Stock Appreciation Rights
Awards under the 2019 Plan, as amended, may be made to officers, employees, members of the Board of Directors, advisors, and consultants to the Company. As of June 30, 2019, there were 12,400,653 shares of common stock authorized for the 2019 Plan and 2,747,181 shares remained available for issuance.
The following table summarizes the authorized increases of common stock under the 2009 Plan:
Authorized Shares Added
|May 15, 2010||1,238,095 |
|January 7, 2011||714,285 |
|January 1, 2012||823,649 |
|January 1, 2013||839,407 |
|January 1, 2014||1,062,920 |
|January 1, 2015||1,119,233 |
|January 1, 2016||1,152,565 |
|January 1, 2017||1,166,546 |
|January 1, 2018||1,484,382 |
|January 1, 2019||1,490,048 |
The increases in the authorized shares of common stock under the 2009 Plan in 2010 and 2011 were approved by the Company’s stockholders. The increases in the authorized shares of common stock under the 2009 Plan in 2012 through 2019 were made pursuant to an “evergreen provision,” in accordance with which, on January 1 of each year, from 2013 to (and including) 2019, a number of shares of common stock in an amount equal to 4% of the total number of shares of common stock outstanding on December 31 of the preceding calendar year, or such lesser amount of shares (or no shares) approved by the Company's Board of Directors, was added or will be added to the shares reserved under the 2009 Plan.
On May 9, 2019, the Company’s stockholders approved an amendment to the 2009 Plan which, among other modifications, included decreasing the automatic annual “evergreen provision” from 4% to 3%, in accordance with which, on January 1 of each year, from 2020 to (and including) 2029, a number of shares of common stock in an amount equal to 3% of the total number of shares of common stock outstanding on December 31 of the preceding calendar year, or such lesser amount of shares (or no shares) approved by the Company's Board of Directors, was added or will be added to the shares reserved under the 2009 Plan.
2010 Non-Employee Directors' Stock Award Plan
Under the terms of the Company’s 2010 Non-Employee Directors’ Stock Award Plan (the Directors’ Plan) which became effective on November 10, 2011, 238,095 shares of common stock were reserved for future issuance. On May 9, 2013, an additional 161,905 shares of common stock were added to the shares reserved for future issuance under the Directors' Plan. As of June 30, 2019, no shares remain available for issuance under the Directors' Plan.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
2010 Employee Stock Purchase Plan
Under the terms of the Company’s 2010 Employee Stock Purchase Plan (the 2010 Purchase Plan), which became effective on November 10, 2011, 214,285 shares of common stock were reserved for future issuance. On May 9, 2013, an additional 185,715 shares of common stock were added to the shares reserved for future issuance under the 2010 Purchase Plan. As of June 30, 2019, 29,542 shares remained available for issuance under the 2010 Purchase Plan.
Share-based compensation expense for the three months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018 was $1.8 million and $4.2 million, respectively. Share-based compensation expense for the six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018 was $3.7 million and $9.0 million, respectively. Share-based compensation expense is allocated between research and development and general and administrative expenses within the condensed consolidated statements of operations.
As of June 30, 2019, the total compensation cost related to nonvested option awards not yet recognized was $7.0 million and the weighted-average period over which it is expected to be recognized is 2.5 years.
Stock Options and Performance Stock Options
The following table summarizes the stock option activity, including options with market and performance conditions, for the six months ended June 30, 2019:
Outstanding at beginning of period
|7,979,644 ||$||11.86 ||4.5|
|1,561,675 ||1.80 |
|— ||— |
Outstanding at end of period
|8,509,711 ||$||10.96 ||5.5|
Options exercisable at end of period
|5,847,372 ||$||13.78 ||3.9|
The Company estimates the fair value of each stock option grant on the date of grant using a Black-Scholes option pricing model. For stock option grants issued with a market condition, the Company used a Monte Carlo simulation valuation model to determine the grant date fair value.
The following table summarizes the range of assumptions used to estimate the fair value of stock options granted, including those options granted with a market condition, during the six months ended June 30, 2019:
Risk-free interest rate
|2.3% to 2.7%|
Expected dividend yield
|—% || |
|77.6% to 79.6%|
Expected term (in years)
|4.0 to 7.7|
Weighted-average grant-date fair value per share
No options were exercised during the six months ended June 30, 2019. The fair value of awards vested during the six months ended June 30, 2019 was $4.0 million.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
During the six months ended June 30, 2019, the Company’s Board of Directors approved and granted 650,000 shares of equity awards to certain executives with either market or performance conditions. The equity awards had a weighted-average grant date fair value per share of $1.24. The equity awards vest upon the achievement of certain performance conditions. Certain performance conditions relating to the equity awards granted in 2017 were met during the three and six months ended June 30, 2019 and 79,849 shares vested.
Restricted Stock and Performance Restricted Stock
Restricted stock is common stock that is subject to restrictions, including risks of forfeiture, determined by the planning committee of the Board of Directors in its sole discretion, for as long as such common stock remains subject to any such restrictions. A holder of restricted stock has all rights of a stockholder with respect to such stock, including the right to vote and to receive dividends thereon, except as otherwise provided in the award agreement relating to such award. Restricted stock awards are classified as equity within the consolidated balance sheets. The fair value of each restricted stock grant is estimated on the date of grant using the closing price of the Company's common stock on The Nasdaq Stock Market on the date of grant.
A summary of the Company's unvested restricted stock, including restricted stock with performance conditions, at June 30, 2019 and changes during the six months ended June 30, 2019 are as follows:
Number of restricted stock shares
Weighted average grant date fair value
Unvested at beginning of period
|68,585 ||$||37.75 |
|— ||— |
|— ||— |
Unvested at end of period
|23,006 ||$||34.82 |
As of June 30, 2019, the total remaining unrecognized compensation cost related to restricted stock was approximately $476,000 and is expected to be recognized over a weighted-average period of 0.5 years.
The Company does not have a formal policy regarding the source of shares issued upon exercise of stock options or issuance of restricted stock. The Company expects shares issued to be issued from treasury shares or new shares.
Option Exchange Program
On June 20, 2019, the Company filed a Tender Offer Statement on Schedule TO relating to an option exchange program for its officers and employees (Option Exchange) to exchange certain stock options to purchase up to an aggregate of 5,849,059 shares of the Company's common stock that had been granted to eligible holders, for a lesser number of new stock options with a lower exercise price. Stock options granted prior to December 31, 2018 with an exercise price equal to or greater than $2.97 and held by eligible holders in continuous service through the termination of the Option Exchange were eligible for exchange in the program.
The eligible shares were exercisable for a reduced number of shares based on the following exchange ratios:
|Exercise Price Range per Share||Number of Outstanding Eligible Options||Exchange Ratio (Surrendered Stock Options to New Stock Options)|
|$2.97-$10.99|| ||2,725,812 ||2 to 1|
|$11.00-$24.99|| ||720,373 ||3 to 1|
|$25.00-And Up|| ||468,671 ||4 to 1|
Upon the expiration time of the Option Exchange on July 31, 2019, 45 eligible employees and 5 eligible directors had tendered an aggregate of 3,914,856 options, representing 67% of the total eligible options, for 1,720,341 new options to purchase shares of common stock. Each new stock option was granted on July 31, 2019, pursuant to the Company's 2009 Plan, as amended, with an exercise price per share of $1.77 per share, which was the closing market price on the grant date of the new options.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
The Company has certain facility leases with non-cancellable terms ranging between and years, with certain renewal options.
The Company records lease liabilities based on the present value of lease payments over the lease term using an incremental borrowing rate to discount its lease liabilities, as the rate implicit in the lease is typically not readily determinable. To compute the present value of the lease liability, the Company used a weighted-average discount rate of 5%. Certain lease agreements include renewal options that are under the Company's control. The Company includes optional renewal periods in the lease term only when it is reasonably certain that the Company will exercise its option. The weighted-average remaining lease term as of June 30, 2019 is 11.5 years.
The Company does not separate lease components from non-lease components. Variable lease payments include payments to lessors for taxes, maintenance, insurance and other operating costs as well as payments that are adjusted based on an index or rate. The Company's lease agreements do not contain any residual value guarantees or restrictive covenants.
Future minimum lease payments under the non-cancellable operating leases (with initial or remaining lease terms in excess of one year) as of June 30, 2019 are as follows (in thousands):
|For the Year Ended December 31:|
|Total future minimum lease payments||10,854 |
|Less: imputed interest||(2,728)|
|Total ||$||8,126 |
The following table summarizes the aggregate undiscounted non-cancelable future minimum lease payments for operating leases under the prior lease standard as of December 31, 2018 (in thousands):
|For the Year Ended December 31:|
8. Income Taxes
For the three and six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018, the Company has recorded no income tax benefit (expense). The income tax amount for the three and six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018 differs from the amount that would be expected after applying the statutory U.S. federal income tax rate primarily due to a full valuation allowance recorded against anticipated net operating loss carryforwards.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
The Company has a noncurrent income tax receivable as of June 30, 2019 for $140,000 which was recorded as an income tax benefit in 2017 and is for the receipt of alternative minimum tax (AMT) credit carryovers. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the Tax Act), provides that the AMT credit carryovers are partially refundable beginning in 2018 as an offset to a tax liability. The Company expects the amount to be fully refunded by 2021.
In assessing the realizability of deferred tax assets, management considers whether it is more likely than not that some portion or all of the deferred tax assets will not be realized. The ultimate realization of deferred tax assets is dependent upon the generation of future taxable income during the periods in which those temporary differences become deductible. Management considers the scheduled reversal of deferred tax liabilities, projected taxable income, and tax planning strategies in making this assessment. Valuation allowances have been established for the entire amount of the net deferred tax assets as of June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively, due to the uncertainty of future recoverability.
The Company has a reserve for uncertain tax positions related to state tax matters of $653,000 as of June 30, 2019 recorded within Accrued Expenses in the condensed consolidated balance sheet, which includes the accrual of interest and penalties. The Company does not expect the amount to change significantly within the next 12 months.
9. Net Loss per Share of Common Stock
Basic loss per share is based upon the weighted-average number of shares of common stock outstanding during the period, without consideration of common stock equivalents. Diluted loss per share is based upon the weighted-average number of common shares outstanding during the period plus additional weighted-average potentially dilutive common stock equivalents during the period when the effect is dilutive.
The following table presents the computation of basic and diluted loss per share of common stock (in thousands, except share and per share data):
|Three Months Ended June 30,||Six Months Ended June 30,|
Loss attributable to common stockholders
Basic and diluted weighted-average shares outstanding
|37,276,443 ||37,165,529 ||37,275,954 ||37,160,334 |
Basic and diluted loss per share
All common stock equivalents are excluded from the computation of diluted loss per share during periods in which losses are reported since the result would be anti-dilutive. As of June 30, 2019, anti-dilutive stock options and restricted stock awards excluded from our calculation totaled 8,509,711 and 23,006, respectively. As of June 30, 2018, anti-dilutive stock options and restricted stock awards excluded from our calculation totaled 8,542,990 and 94,344, respectively.
10. Restructuring Charges
The Company records liabilities for costs associated with exit or disposal activities in the period in which the liability is incurred. Employee severance costs are accrued when the restructuring actions are probable and estimable. Costs for one-time termination benefits in which the employee is required to render service until termination in order to receive the benefits, is recognized ratably over the future service period. The Company also records costs incurred with contract terminations associated with restructuring activities.
In July 2018, the Company completed an organizational review of its clinical programs and reduced its headcount by approximately 30% as compared to June 30, 2018 and made several changes to senior leadership effective July 26, 2018 in order to conserve resources to advance its clinical development programs. No restructuring charges were recorded during the three and six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018.
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
The following table shows the amount accrued for restructuring activities which is recorded within Accrued Expenses in the condensed consolidated balance sheet (in thousands):
Employee Severance Cost
|Balance as of December 31, 2018||$||649 ||$||649 |
|— ||— |
|466 ||466 |
|Balance as of June 30, 2019||$||183 ||$||183 |
11. Commitments and Contingencies
From time to time, claims are asserted against the Company arising in the ordinary course of business. In the opinion of management, liabilities, if any, arising from existing claims are not expected to have a material effect on the Company's earnings, financial position, or liquidity.
On or about May 12, 2016, Trevor Abramson filed a putative securities class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (the Court), captioned Abramson v. NewLink Genetics Corp., et al., Case 1:16-cv-3545 (the Securities Action). Subsequently, the Court appointed Michael and Kelly Nguyen as lead plaintiffs and approved their selection of Kahn, Swick & Foti, LLC as lead counsel in the Securities Action. On October 31, 2016, the lead plaintiffs filed an amended complaint asserting claims under the federal securities laws against the Company, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer Charles J. Link, Jr., and the Company’s Chief Medical Officer and President Nicholas Vahanian, (collectively, the Defendants). The amended complaint alleges the Defendants made material false and/or misleading statements that caused losses to the Company’s investors. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on July 14, 2017. On March 29, 2018, the Court dismissed the amended complaint for failure to state a claim, without prejudice, and gave the lead plaintiffs until May 4, 2018 to file any amended complaint attempting to remedy the defects in their claims. On May 4, 2018, the lead plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint asserting claims under the federal securities laws against the Defendants. Like the first amended complaint, the second amended complaint alleges that the Defendants made material false and/or misleading statements or omissions relating to the Phase 2 and 3 trials and efficacy of the product candidate algenpantucel-L that caused losses to the Company’s investors. The lead plaintiffs do not quantify any alleged damages in the second amended complaint but, in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs, they sought to recover damages on behalf of themselves and other persons who purchased or otherwise acquired the Company’s stock during the putative class period of September 17, 2013 through May 9, 2016, inclusive, at allegedly inflated prices and purportedly suffered financial harm as a result. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint on July 31, 2018. On February 13, 2019, the Court dismissed the second amended complaint for failure to state a claim, with prejudice, and closed the case. On March 14, 2019, lead plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal. The briefing on lead plaintiffs' appeal was completed in early July 2019 and oral argument before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is currently scheduled for the week of October 21, 2019. The Company intends to continue defending the Securities Action vigorously.
On or about April 26, 2017, Ronald Morrow filed a shareholder derivative lawsuit on behalf of the Company in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, or the Court, against the Company’s Chief Executive Officer Charles J. Link, Jr., the Company’s Chief Medical Officer and President Nicholas Vahanian, and Company directors Thomas A. Raffin, Joseph Saluri, Ernest J. Talarico, III, Paul R. Edick, Paolo Pucci, and Lota S. Zoth (collectively, the Morrow Defendants), captioned Morrow v. Link., et al., Case 1:17-cv-03039 (the Morrow Action). The complaint alleges that the Morrow Defendants caused the Company to issue false statements in its 2016 proxy statement regarding risk management and compensation matters in violation of federal securities law. The complaint also asserts state law claims against the Morrow Defendants for breaches of fiduciary duties, unjust enrichment, abuse of control, insider trading, gross mismanagement, and corporate waste, alleging that the Morrow Defendants made material misstatements or omissions related to the Phase 2 and 3 trials and efficacy of the product candidate algenpantucel-L, awarded themselves excessive compensation, engaged in illegal insider trading, and grossly mismanaged the Company. The plaintiff does not quantify any alleged damages in the complaint but seeks restitution for damages to the Company, attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, as well as an order directing that proposals for strengthening board oversight be put to a vote of the Company’s shareholders. The language for such proposals is not specified in the complaint. The plaintiff also contemporaneously filed a statement of relatedness, informing the Court that the Morrow Action is related to Abramson v. NewLink Genetics Corp., et al., Case 1:16-cv-3545. On May 19, 2017, the plaintiff dismissed the Morrow Action without prejudice. Also on May 19, 2017, plaintiffs’ counsel in the Morrow Action filed
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
a new shareholder derivative complaint that is substantively identical to the Morrow Action, except that the plaintiff is Rickey Ely. The latter action is captioned Ely v. Link, et al., Case 17-cv-3799, or the Ely Action. By agreement of the parties and order dated June 26, 2017, the Court temporarily stayed the Ely Action until the Securities Action is dismissed or otherwise finally resolved. Under the terms of the stay, the plaintiff in the Ely Action has until March 15, 2019 (30 days after dismissal of the Securities Action with prejudice) to file an amended derivative complaint or rest upon the current derivative complaint. By further agreement of the parties, dated March 15, 2019, the Ely Action will continue to be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal in the Securities Action. If the Securities Action continues to be dismissed in its entirety following its appeal plaintiff in the Ely Action has agreed to withdraw or dismiss the action, with prejudice. The Company disputes the claims in the Ely Action and intends to defend against them vigorously.
12. Subsequent Events
Charles J. Link, Jr, M.D. retired from the Company and the Board of Directors, effective August 3, 2019. Dr. Link entered into a separation agreement with the Company under which he will be provided with certain compensation and benefits, as described in the Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 2, 2019. In connection with Dr. Link's retirement, the Company expects to report a severance charge in the third quarter ending September 30, 2019.
In conjunction with the retirement of Dr. Link, the Board formed the Office of the Chief Executive Officer with the purpose to allow for effective management of the Company’s business during the transition in leadership and the further advancement of the Company’s strategic goals. Effective August 3, 2019, the members of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer are: Carl Langren, Chief Financial Officer; Eugene Kennedy, M.D., Chief Medical Officer; Brad Powers, General Counsel; and Lori Lawley, Vice President, Finance and Controller. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the members of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer have been given full executive authority and will oversee the execution of the Company’s operations and strategic initiatives.
ITEM 2. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
This Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and such statements are subject to the “safe harbor” created by those sections. Forward-looking statements are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information available to our management as of the date hereof. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “expect,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “projects,” “predicts,” “potential” and similar expressions intended to identify forward-looking statements. Examples of these statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding: our ongoing and planned preclinical studies and clinical trials; the timing of the release of the results of data from ongoing preclinical studies and clinical trials; the timing of and our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for our product candidates; the clinical utility of our product candidates; our plans to leverage our existing technologies to discover and develop additional product candidates; our ability to quickly and efficiently identify and develop product candidates; our intellectual property position; the potential benefits of strategic collaboration agreements and our ability to enter into strategic arrangements; our estimates regarding expenses, future revenues, capital requirements and needs for additional financing; plans to develop, commercialize, market and manufacture our product candidates; and other risks and uncertainties, including those described in Part II, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” of this Quarterly Report and in our other periodic reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in our forward-looking statements for many reasons, including those risks. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which apply only as of the date of this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q. You should read this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q completely. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements publicly, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future.
The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with the unaudited financial statements and notes thereto included in Part I, Item 1 of this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q.
NewLink Genetics Corporation (the Company, NewLink, we, our or us) is a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company focused on developing novel immunotherapeutic products for the treatment of patients with cancer. Our leading small-molecule product candidates currently in clinical development target the indoleamine-2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO) pathway, which is one of the key pathways for cancer immune escape. These product candidates, indoximod and NLG802 (a prodrug of indoximod), are IDO pathway inhibitors with mechanisms of action that center around breaking the immune system’s tolerance to cancer. We also have an additional small molecule product candidate, NLG207 (formerly CRLX101), which is a nanoparticle-drug conjugate (NDC) consisting of a cyclodextrin-based polymer backbone linked to camptothecin, a topoisomerase 1 inhibitor.
Based on early clinical data from our Phase 1/2 clinical trials, our clinical program is focused on targeted indications with great unmet need where indoximod, NLG802, and NLG207 have produced encouraging early data. We plan to advance our core clinical programs and expect to present additional data supporting these research efforts in 2019. We anticipate presenting updated Phase 1b data for indoximod for the cohort of pediatric patients with newly diagnosed treatment-naïve diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
IDO Pathway Inhibitors
In cancer, the IDO pathway regulates immune response by suppressing T-cell activation, which enables cancer to avoid immune response. IDO is overexpressed in many cancers, both within tumor cells as a direct defense against T-cell attack, and also within antigen presenting cells in tumor-draining lymph nodes, thereby promoting peripheral tolerance to tumor associated antigens (TAAs). When hijacked by developing cancers in this manner, the IDO pathway may facilitate the survival, growth, invasion and metastasis of malignant cells whose expression of TAAs might otherwise be recognized and attacked by the immune system.
The IDO pathway refers to a series of reactions initiated by IDO that result in the reduction of the amino acid tryptophan in the local tumor environment. We believe the local presence of tryptophan in adequate concentrations promotes antitumor T-cells, and the local reduction of tryptophan combined with the presence of the breakdown product of tryptophan metabolism, kynurenine, is understood to suppress the activation of T-cells. Preclinical and, increasingly, clinical data suggest that IDO
pathway inhibitors may also enhance the anti-tumor effects of other immunotherapies, chemotherapies and radiation when used as a combination therapy for patients with cancer.
We have a clinical development program primarily focused on the IDO pathway. Our small-molecule IDO pathway inhibitor product candidates currently in clinical development include indoximod and NLG802. Our product candidates are designed to counteract immunosuppressive effects of the IDO pathway, a fundamental mechanism regulating immune response. Indoximod acts as a tryptophan mimetic, thereby signaling the activation of antitumor T-cells by the activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), acts directly on T-cells, and modulates aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-mediated effects.
We have observed an encouraging safety profile for our IDO pathway inhibitors. They are also orally bioavailable and we believe they offer the potential to be synergistic with other therapies such as radiation, chemotherapy, vaccination and immunotherapies involving other checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-PD-1, anti-programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1), or anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CLTA4). Clinical data suggest an increase in clinical activity without adding significant toxicity.
Indoximod, our lead IDO pathway inhibitor, is currently in clinical development in combination with other cancer therapeutics for patients with DIPG, acute myeloid leukemia, and melanoma. We believe there may be additional opportunities to apply indoximod to a broader set of cancer indications. More than 900 patients have been treated with indoximod to date and it has generally been well-tolerated, including in combination with PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors, various chemotherapy agents, radiation, and a cancer vaccine.
A tablet formulation of indoximod hydrochloride has been developed for adult patients and a sprinkle formulation is being developed for pediatric indications. We plan to use our new tablet formulation of indoximod in future clinical trials.
Two U.S. patents covering both the salt and prodrug formulations of indoximod were issued in the U.S. on August 15, 2017 and February 19, 2019 providing exclusivity until at least 2036. We are currently pursuing international patent coverage for these formulations.
NLG802 is a prodrug of indoximod. NLG802 is intended to increase bioavailability and exposure to indoximod above levels currently achievable by direct oral administration of indoximod. We filed an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in the first quarter of 2017 and the first patient was dosed with NLG802 in a Phase 1 clinical trial in July 2017. The purpose of this Phase 1 trial is to assess preliminary safety and to determine the recommended dose for subsequent Phase 2 evaluations. NLG802 is a new chemical entity with patent coverage into 2036. We are also pursuing international patent coverage for NLG802.
In May 2019, we presented updated results for the Phase 1 dose escalation trial for NLG802 at the Immuno-Oncology 2019 World Congress. Pharmacokinetics (PK) results were also reported from this study. After continuous twice-daily dosing with NLG802 at all levels, significantly higher PK exposure was observed. At 1452 mg twice daily, the highest dose administered, NLG802 produced a 6-fold increase in Cmax and a 4.7-fold increase in AUC compared with molar equivalent indoximod dosing.
The treatment regimen was well tolerated with no NLG802-related serious adverse events reported. The recommended Phase 2 dose was established at 1452 mg BID based on achieving preclinical exposure levels required for pharmacodynamic effects of indoximod.
NLG919, a direct enzymatic inhibitor, was previously in clinical development as part of our collaboration with Genentech, Inc. (Genentech). In October 2014, we entered into an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration agreement with Genentech (the Genentech Agreement). The Genentech Agreement provided for the development and commercialization of NLG919. On December 6, 2017, the Genentech Agreement with respect to NLG919 was terminated. As part of the partial termination, worldwide rights to NLG919 reverted to us and Genentech granted us a license under certain of Genentech’s intellectual property to develop and commercialize NLG919. We continue to explore the potential for further development and licensing opportunities but do not have an active program for the drug product candidate as of June 30, 2019.
Additional Product Candidates
NLG207 is a NDC consisting of a cyclodextrin-based polymer backbone linked to camptothecin, a topoisomerase-1, or top-1, inhibitor. Because the vasculature in tumors is more permeable than normal tissue, we believe NDCs have the potential to enhance drug delivery to tumors by enabling gradual payload release inside cancer cells to augment antitumor activity while reducing off-target toxicity. NLG207 has been studied in more than 400 patients as monotherapy or in combination with other anticancer agents for patients with solid tumors.
A Phase 2 trial evaluating NLG207 plus paclitaxel for patients with recurrent ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer was completed in collaboration with the Gynecological Oncology Group and the results of the trial were presented at the annual meeting for the American Association for Cancer Research on April 2, 2019.
Ebola Vaccine Candidate
In November 2014, we entered into the Merck Agreement to develop and potentially commercialize our rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP vaccine product candidate and other aspects of our vaccine technology. The rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP vaccine product candidate was originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and is designed to utilize the rVSV vector to induce immunity against Ebola virus when replacing the VSV glycoprotein with corresponding glycoproteins from filoviruses. Under the Merck Agreement, we received an upfront payment of $30.0 million in October 2014, and in February 2015 we received a milestone payment of $20.0 million. We have the potential to earn royalties on sales of the vaccine in certain countries, if the vaccine is approved by the FDA and successfully commercialized by Merck. rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP is also eligible to receive a priority review voucher and we are entitled to a portion of the value of the voucher if it is granted. In addition to milestone payments from Merck, we were awarded contracts for development of the rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP from the U.S. BioMedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA), and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), totaling $52.1 million during 2016 and $67.0 million during 2014 and 2015. Funds of $2.1 million were de-obligated from the DTRA grant awards in 2017. We have received total awards of $118.8 million.
On April 26, 2018 we entered into an agreement with Merck, DTRA and BARDA to transfer the government grants from BARDA and DTRA to Merck. The transfer was completed in June 2018 and Merck has replaced us as the prime contractor on all such grants.
In July 2018, the Company completed an organizational review of its clinical programs and reduced its headcount by approximately 30% as compared to June 30, 2018 and made several changes to senior leadership effective July 26, 2018 in order to conserve its resources. No restructuring charges were recorded during the three and six months ended June 30, 2019 relating to this reorganization.
Founded in 1999, our executive offices and manufacturing facilities are located in the Iowa State University Research Park in Ames, Iowa. We have approximately 50,160 square feet, comprising executive office space and space dedicated to manufacturing, testing and product storage, leased with the Iowa State University Research Park Corporation. We have additional executive and administrative space in Austin, Texas and clinical, regulatory and executive offices in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
We incurred a net loss of $20.2 million for the six months ended June 30, 2019. We expect to continue to incur losses over the next several years as we incur expenses to complete our clinical trial programs for our product candidates, develop our pipeline and pursue regulatory approval of our product candidates.
Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Judgments and Estimates
We have prepared our financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP which requires us to make estimates, assumptions and judgments that affect the reported amount of assets, liabilities, expenses and related disclosures at the date of the financial statements, as well as revenues and expenses during the reporting periods. As such, to understand our financial statements, it is important to understand our critical accounting policies. A critical accounting policy is one that is both important to the portrayal of our financial condition and results of operation and requires management’s most difficult, subjective or complex judgments, often as a result of the need to make estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain. Actual results could, therefore, differ materially from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
Our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018 discusses our most critical accounting policies. Since December 31, 2018, there have been no material changes in the critical accounting policies discussed in our 2018 Annual Report.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
We adopted ASC Topic 842 on January 1, 2019 and have disclosed the impact adoption had on our condensed consolidated financial statements within Note 3 of the “Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements” of this Form 10-Q. We do not believe that any other recently issued effective pronouncements, or pronouncements issued but not yet effective, if adopted, would have a material effect on the accompanying financial statements.
Results of Operations
Comparison of the Three Months Ended June 30, 2019 and 2018
Revenues. Revenues for the three months ended June 30, 2019 were $151,000, a decrease of $2.1 million from $2.3 million for the same period in 2018. The decrease in revenue was due to a decrease in grant revenue of $1.9 million, primarily attributable to a decrease in billings under the government grant contracts which were fully transferred to Merck in June 2018, and a decrease of $217,000 in licensing revenue, attributable to lower billings to Merck. We recognized licensing revenue during the three months ended June 30, 2019 for work we performed as a subcontractor of Merck.
Research and Development Expenses. Research and development expenses for the three months ended June 30, 2019 were $5.2 million, a decrease of $6.9 million from $12.1 million for the same period in 2018. The decrease was primarily due to reductions of $2.4 million in contract research and manufacturing spend, $2.0 million in clinical trial expense, $1.8 million in personnel-related and stock compensation expense, $400,000 in supplies and licensing, and $300,000 in legal and consulting expense.
General and Administrative Expenses. General and administrative expenses for the three months ended June 30, 2019 were $5.6 million, a decrease of $2.3 million from $7.9 million for the same period in 2018. The decrease was due primarily to reductions of $1.9 million in personnel-related and stock compensation expense and $400,000 in supplies.
Income Tax Benefit. We did not record any income tax benefit for the three months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Net Loss. The net loss for the three months ended June 30, 2019 was $10.1 million compared to a net loss of $17.3 million for the same period in 2018. The basic and diluted weighted-average shares of common stock outstanding for the three months ended June 30, 2019 were 37,276,443, resulting in a basic and diluted loss per share of $0.27. For the three months ended June 30, 2018, the basic and diluted weighted-average shares of common stock outstanding were 37,165,529, resulting in basic and diluted loss per share of $0.47.
Comparison of the Six Months Ended June 30, 2019 and 2018
Revenues. Revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2019 were $257,000, a decrease of $11.9 million from $12.2 million for the same period in 2018. The decrease in revenue was due to a decrease in grant revenue of $11.3 million, primarily attributable to a decrease in billings under the government grant contracts which were fully transferred to Merck in June 2018, and a decrease of $627,000 in licensing revenue, attributable to lower billings to Merck. We recognized licensing revenue during the six months ended June 30, 2019 for work we performed as a subcontractor of Merck.
Research and Development Expenses. Research and development expenses for the six months ended June 30, 2019 were $10.4 million, a decrease of $22.0 million from $32.4 million for the same period in 2018. The decrease was primarily due to reductions of $12.3 million in contract research and manufacturing spend, $4.1 million in personnel-related and stock compensation expense, $4.0 million in clinical trial expense, $1.0 million in supplies and licensing, and $600,000 in legal and consulting expenses.
General and Administrative Expenses. General and administrative expenses for the six months ended June 30, 2019 were $11.2 million, a decrease of $5.0 million from $16.2 million for the same period in 2018. The decrease was due primarily to reductions of $3.9 million in personnel-related and stock compensation expense, $900,000 in supplies, and $170,000 in legal and consulting expense.
Income Tax Benefit. We did not record any income tax benefit for the six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Net Loss. The net loss for the six months ended June 30, 2019 was $20.2 million compared to a net loss of $35.6 million for the same period in 2018. The basic and diluted weighted-average shares of common stock outstanding for the six months ended June 30, 2019 were 37,275,954, resulting in a basic and diluted loss per share of $0.54. For the six months ended June 30, 2018, the basic and diluted weighted-average shares of common stock outstanding were 37,160,334, resulting in basic and diluted loss per share of $0.96.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
As of June 30, 2019, we had cash and cash equivalents of $105.4 million. We have historically funded our operations principally through the private placement of equity securities, public offerings of common stock, and license and milestone payments received under our collaboration agreements. We believe that our cash and cash equivalents on hand will be sufficient to fund our operations through 2021.
With the exception of fiscal year 2014, we have incurred operating losses and an accumulated deficit as a result of ongoing research and development spending since inception. We anticipate that we will continue to generate operating losses as we incur expenses to complete our clinical trial programs for our product candidates, develop our pipeline and pursue regulatory approval of our product candidates.
We may seek to sell additional equity or debt securities or obtain a credit facility if our available cash and cash equivalents are insufficient to satisfy our liquidity requirements or if we develop additional opportunities to do so. The sale of additional equity and debt securities may result in additional dilution to our stockholders. If we raise additional funds through the issuance of debt securities or preferred stock, these securities could have rights senior to those of our common stock and could contain covenants that would restrict our operations. We may require additional capital beyond our currently forecasted amounts. Any such required additional capital may not be available on reasonable terms, if at all. If we were unable to obtain additional financing, we may be required to reduce the scope of, delay or eliminate some or all of our planned research and development activities, which could harm our business.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with the research and development of our product candidates, we are unable to estimate the exact amounts of our working capital requirements. Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:
•the scope, progress, results, and costs of clinical trials for our product candidates, and discovery and development activities related to new product candidates;
•the timing of, and the costs involved in, obtaining regulatory approvals for our product candidates;
•the cost of commercialization activities if any of our product candidates are approved for sale, including marketing, sales, facilities, and distribution costs;
•the cost of manufacturing our product candidates and any products we commercialize;
•our ability to establish and maintain strategic collaborations, licensing or other arrangements and the financial terms of such agreements;
•whether, and to what extent, we are required to repay our outstanding government provided loans;
•the costs involved in preparing, filing, prosecuting, maintaining, defending and enforcing patent claims, including litigation costs and the outcome of such litigation; and
•the timing, receipt and amount of sales of, or royalties on, our future products, if any.
We believe that our cash and cash equivalents on hand will be sufficient to fund our operations through 2021.
The following table sets forth the primary sources and uses of cash for each of the periods set forth below:
|Six Months Ended June 30,|
Net cash used in operating activities
Net cash provided by investing activities
|9 ||101 |
|Net cash used in financing activities||(32)||(131)|
|Net decrease in cash and equivalents||$||(15,366)||$||(21,642)|
For the six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018, we used cash of $15.3 million and $21.6 million, respectively, for our operating activities. The decrease in cash used in operating activities was primarily due to the decrease in research and development activity and changes in working capital for the six months ended June 30, 2019 as compared to the six months ended June 30, 2018.
For the six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018, our investing activities provided cash of $9,000 and $101,000, respectively. The cash provided by investing activities during the six months ended June 30, 2019 was due to proceeds received from sales of property and equipment of $9,000. The cash provided by investing activities during the six months ended June 30, 2018 was due to proceeds received from sales of property and equipment of $108,000, offset by $7,000 used in the purchase of equipment.
For the six months ended June 30, 2019 and 2018, our financing activities used cash of $32,000 and $131,000, respectively. The cash used in financing activities during the six months ended June 30, 2019 was due to the net payments made on long-term obligations and notes payable of $29,000 and repurchases of common stock of $33,000, offset by the issuance of shares of common stock of $30,000. The cash provided by financing activities during the six months ended June 30, 2018 was primarily due to the issuance of shares of common stock for net proceeds of $236,000, offset by net payments on long-term obligations and notes payable of $104,000, and repurchase of common stock of $263,000.
ITEM 3. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
We are exposed to market risk related to changes in interest rates. As of June 30, 2019 and December 31, 2018, we had cash and cash equivalents of $105.4 million and $120.7 million, respectively, consisting primarily of money market funds. Our primary exposure to market risk is interest rate sensitivity, which is affected by changes in the general level of United States interest rates. Due to the short-term duration of our investment portfolio and the low-risk profile of our investments, an immediate 10% change in interest rates would not have a material effect on the fair market value of our portfolio.
Our long-term debt bears interest at fixed rates. Any change in interest rates would have an immaterial impact on our financial statements.
ITEM 4. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
Evaluation of Disclosure Controls and Procedures
The Company’s principal executive officer and principal financial officer have concluded, based on an evaluation of the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures (as defined in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Rules 13a-15(e) or 15d-15(e)) as required by paragraph (b) of Exchange Act Rules 13a-15 or 15d-15 that, as of June 30, 2019, the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures were effective.
Changes in Internal Control over Financial Reporting
In connection with the evaluation of the Company's internal control over financial reporting that occurred during the quarter ended June 30, 2019, which is required under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by paragraph (d) of Exchange Rules 13a-15 or 15d-15 (as defined in paragraph (f) of Rule 13a-15), management determined that there was no change that materially affected or is reasonably likely to materially affect internal control over financial reporting.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We did not have during the periods presented, and we do not currently have, any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined under SEC rules.
PART II. OTHER INFORMATION
ITEM 1. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
On or about May 12, 2016, Trevor Abramson filed a putative securities class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (the Court), captioned Abramson v. NewLink Genetics Corp., et al., Case 1:16-cv-3545 (the Securities Action). Subsequently, the Court appointed Michael and Kelly Nguyen as lead plaintiffs and approved their selection of Kahn, Swick & Foti, LLC as lead counsel in the Securities Action. On October 31, 2016, the lead plaintiffs filed an amended complaint asserting claims under the federal securities laws against the Company, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer Charles J. Link, Jr., and the Company’s Chief Medical Officer and President Nicholas Vahanian (collectively, the Defendants). The amended complaint alleges the Defendants made material false and/or misleading statements that caused losses to the Company’s investors. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on July 14, 2017. On March 29, 2018, the Court dismissed the amended complaint for failure to state a claim, without prejudice, and gave the lead plaintiffs until May 4, 2018 to file any amended complaint attempting to remedy the defects in their claims. On May 4, 2018, the lead plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint asserting claims under the federal securities laws against the Defendants. Like the first amended complaint, the second amended complaint alleges that the Defendants made material false and/or misleading statements or omissions relating to the Phase 2 and 3 trials and efficacy of the product candidate algenpantucel-L that caused losses to the Company’s investors. The lead plaintiffs do not quantify any alleged damages in the second amended complaint but, in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs, they sought to recover damages on behalf of themselves and other persons who purchased or otherwise acquired the Company’s stock during the putative class period of September 17, 2013 through May 9, 2016, inclusive, at allegedly inflated prices and purportedly suffered financial harm as a result. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint on July 31, 2018. On February 13, 2019, the Court dismissed the second amended complaint for failure to state a claim, with prejudice, and closed the case. On March 14, 2019, lead plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal. The briefing on lead plaintiffs' appeal was completed in early July 2019 and oral argument before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is currently scheduled for the week of October 21, 2019. The Company intends to continue defending the Securities Action vigorously.
On or about April 26, 2017, Ronald Morrow filed a shareholder derivative lawsuit on behalf of the Company in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, or the Court, against the Company’s Chief Executive Officer Charles J. Link, Jr., the Company’s Chief Medical Officer and President Nicholas Vahanian, and Company directors Thomas A. Raffin, Joseph Saluri, Ernest J. Talarico, III, Paul R. Edick, Paolo Pucci, and Lota S. Zoth (collectively, the Morrow Defendants), captioned Morrow v. Link., et al., Case 1:17-cv-03039 (the Morrow Action). The complaint alleges that the Morrow Defendants caused the Company to issue false statements in its 2016 proxy statement regarding risk management and compensation matters in violation of federal securities law. The complaint also asserts state law claims against the Morrow Defendants for breaches of fiduciary duties, unjust enrichment, abuse of control, insider trading, gross mismanagement, and corporate waste, alleging that the Morrow Defendants made material misstatements or omissions related to the Phase 2 and 3 trials and efficacy of the product candidate algenpantucel-L, awarded themselves excessive compensation, engaged in illegal insider trading, and grossly mismanaged the Company. The plaintiff does not quantify any alleged damages in the complaint but seeks restitution for damages to the Company, attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, as well as an order directing that proposals for strengthening board oversight be put to a vote of the Company’s shareholders. The language for such proposals is not specified in the complaint. The plaintiff also contemporaneously filed a statement of relatedness, informing the Court that the Morrow Action is related to Abramson v. NewLink Genetics Corp., et al., Case 1:16-cv-3545. On May 19, 2017, the plaintiff dismissed the Morrow Action without prejudice. Also on May 19, 2017, plaintiffs’ counsel in the Morrow Action filed a new shareholder derivative complaint that is substantively identical to the Morrow Action, except that the plaintiff is Rickey Ely. The latter action is captioned Ely v. Link, et al., Case 17-cv-3799, or the Ely Action. By agreement of the parties and order dated June 26, 2017, the Court temporarily stayed the Ely Action until the Securities Action is dismissed or otherwise finally resolved. Under the terms of the stay, the plaintiff in the Ely Action has until March 15, 2019 (30 days after dismissal of the Securities Action with prejudice) to file an amended derivative complaint or rest upon the current derivative complaint. By further agreement of the parties, dated March 15, 2019, the Ely Action will continue to be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal in the Securities Action. If the Securities Action continues to be dismissed in its entirety following its appeal plaintiff in the Ely Action has agreed to withdraw or dismiss the action, with prejudice. The Company disputes the claims in the Ely Action and intends to defend against them vigorously.
Item 1A. RISK FACTORS
Investing in our common stock involves significant risks, some of which are described below. In evaluating our business, investors should carefully consider the following risk factors. These risk factors contain, in addition to historical information, forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those discussed below. The order in which the following risks are presented is not intended to reflect the magnitude of the risks described. The occurrence of any of the following risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. In that case, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment.
Risks Relating to Clinical Development and Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
If our product candidates do not meet safety and efficacy endpoints in clinical trials, they will not receive regulatory approval, and we will be unable to market them. We have not completed testing of any of our product candidates in controlled clinical trials.
The clinical development and regulatory approval process is expensive and time-consuming. The timing of any future product approval cannot be accurately predicted. If we fail to obtain regulatory approval for our current or future product candidates, we will be unable to market and sell them, and therefore we may never be profitable.
As part of the regulatory process, we must conduct clinical trials for each product candidate to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of the FDA and other regulatory authorities abroad. The number and design of clinical trials that will be required varies depending on the product candidate, the condition being evaluated, the trial results and regulations applicable to any particular product candidate. Any inability to successfully complete preclinical and clinical development could result in additional costs to us.
Prior clinical trial program designs and results are not necessarily predictive of future clinical trial designs or results. Initial results may not be confirmed upon full analysis of the detailed results of a trial. Product candidates in later-stage clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy despite having progressed through initial clinical trials with acceptable endpoints. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products.
We are heavily dependent on the success of the clinical development of indoximod, and if we fail to complete clinical trials, fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy in those clinical trials, fail to obtain regulatory approval or fail to commercialize indoximod successfully, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be harmed.
The indoximod clinical development program currently encompasses a number of Phase 1 and 2 combination trials across multiple cancer indications. If we fail to complete any of these trials or fail to obtain regulatory approval, our ability to commercialize indoximod will be materially and adversely affected and our business, financial condition and results of operations would be harmed.
If we make changes to any of our product candidates, additional clinical trials may be required resulting in additional costs and delays.
We have an ongoing research program to investigate potential opportunities to improve the potency, efficacy and/or safety profile of some of our product candidates through modifications to their formulations or chemical compositions. These efforts may not be successful. If a new formulation or composition appears promising, we may decide to undertake clinical development of such formulation or composition even if an existing product candidate has shown acceptable safety and efficacy in clinical trials. The nature and extent of additional clinical trials that might be required for a new formulation or composition would depend on many factors. If we were to decide to pursue clinical development of a new formulation or composition, we would incur additional costs and the timeline for potential commercialization would be delayed. There can be no assurance that
any new formulation or composition would prove to be safe or effective or superior to an existing product candidate. Any delay in commercialization of a new formulation or composition may adversely affect our competitive position.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we must focus on research programs and product candidates for the specific indications that we believe are the most scientifically and commercially promising. As a result, we have in the past determined to let certain of our development projects remain idle, including by allowing IND applications to lapse into inactive status, and we may in the future decide to forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or other indications that later prove to have greater scientific or commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable scientific or commercial products or profitable market opportunities. In addition, we may spend valuable time and managerial and financial resources on research programs and product candidates for specific indications that ultimately do not yield any scientifically or commercially viable products. Furthermore, our resource allocation decisions and our decisions about whether and how to develop or commercialize any particular product candidate may be based on evaluations of the scientific and commercial potential or target market for the product candidate that later prove to be materially inaccurate. If we enter into collaborations, licensing or other royalty arrangements to develop or commercialize a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate in situations where it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole rights to development and commercialization.
We may face delays in completing our clinical trials, or we may not be able to complete them at all.
We have not completed all of the clinical trials necessary to support an application with the FDA for approval to market any of our product candidates. Our current and future clinical trials may be delayed or terminated as a result of many factors, including:
•we may experience delays or failure in reaching agreement on acceptable clinical trial contracts or clinical trial protocols with prospective sites;
•regulators or institutional review boards may not authorize us to commence a clinical trial;
•regulators or institutional review boards may suspend or terminate clinical research for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or concerns about patient safety;
•we may suspend or terminate our clinical trials if we believe that they expose the participating patients to unacceptable health risks;
•we may need to reformulate or change the dosing of our product candidates;
•our clinical trials may have slower than expected patient enrollment or lack of a sufficient number of patients that meet their enrollment criteria;
•patients may not complete clinical trials due to safety issues, side effects, dissatisfaction with the product candidate, or other reasons;
•we may experience difficulty in maintaining contact with patients after treatment, preventing us from collecting the data required by our clinical trial protocol;
•product candidates may demonstrate a lack of efficacy during clinical trials;
•our third-party contractors, including those manufacturing our product candidates or components of ingredients thereof or conducting clinical trials on our behalf, may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner or at all;
•the supply or quality of raw materials or manufactured product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient, inadequate or not available at an acceptable cost, or we may experience interruptions in supply;
•we may experience governmental or regulatory delays, failure to obtain regulatory approval or changes in regulatory requirements, policy and guidelines;
•enrollment in and conduct of our clinical trials may be adversely affected by the regulatory approval of competing agents in this class, competition with ongoing clinical trials or scheduling conflicts with participating clinicians; and
•we may experience delays in achieving clinical trial endpoints and completing data analysis for a trial.
In addition, we rely on academic institutions, physician practices and clinical research organizations to conduct, supervise or monitor some or all aspects of clinical trials involving our product candidates. We have less control over the timing and other aspects of these clinical trials than if we conducted the monitoring and supervision entirely on our own. Third parties may not perform their responsibilities for our clinical trials on our anticipated schedule or consistent with a clinical trial protocol or applicable regulations. We also may rely on clinical research organizations to perform our data management and analysis. They may not provide these services as required or in a timely or compliant manner.
Moreover, our development costs will increase if we are required to complete additional or larger clinical trials for our product candidates prior to FDA approval. If the delays or costs are significant, our financial results and ability to commercialize our product candidates will be adversely affected.
If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical trials could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.
Clinical trials for our product candidates require us to identify and enroll a large number of patients with the disease under investigation, or healthy volunteers willing to participate in certain trials. We may not be able to enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics to achieve diversity in a clinical trial, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient enrollment is affected by factors including:
•severity of the disease under investigation;
•design of the trial protocol;
•size of the patient population;
•eligibility criteria for the clinical trial in question;
•perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;
•changes in the standard of care that make the trial as designed less attractive to clinicians and patients;
•availability of competing therapies and clinical trials, including announced clinical trials evaluating potentially competing IDO pathway inhibitors in clinical settings similar to our clinical trials;
•the results of clinical trials of other IDO pathway inhibitors;
•efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;
•patient referral practices of physicians;
•ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment; and
•proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients.
Regulatory authorities may not approve our product candidates even if they meet safety and efficacy endpoints in clinical trials.
We have discussions with and obtain guidance from regulatory authorities regarding certain aspects of our clinical development activities. These discussions are not binding commitments on the part of regulatory authorities. Under certain circumstances, regulatory authorities may revise or retract previous guidance during the course of our clinical activities or after the completion of our clinical trials. A regulatory authority may also disqualify a clinical trial in whole or in part from consideration in support of approval of a potential product for commercial sale or otherwise deny approval of that product. Prior to regulatory approval, a regulatory authority may elect to obtain advice from outside experts regarding scientific issues and/or marketing applications under a regulatory authority review. In the United States, these outside experts are convened through the FDA’s Advisory Committee process, which would report to the FDA and make recommendations that may differ from the views of the FDA. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an Advisory Committee, but it typically follows such recommendations. In addition, should an Advisory Committee be convened, it would be expected to lengthen the time for obtaining regulatory approval, if such approval is obtained at all.
The FDA and other foreign regulatory agencies can delay, limit or deny marketing approval for many reasons, including:
•a product candidate may not be considered safe or effective;
•our manufacturing processes or facilities may not meet the applicable requirements; and
•changes in their approval policies or adoption of new regulations may require additional work on our part.
Any delay in, or failure to receive or maintain, approval for any of our product candidates could prevent us from ever generating meaningful revenues or achieving profitability in future years.
Our product candidates may not be approved even if they achieve their endpoints in clinical trials. Regulatory agencies, including the FDA, or their advisors may disagree with our trial design and our interpretations of data from preclinical studies and clinical trials. Regulatory agencies may change requirements for approval even after a clinical trial design has been approved. Regulatory agencies also may approve a product candidate for fewer or more limited indications than requested or may grant approval subject to the performance of post-marketing studies. In addition, regulatory agencies may not approve the labeling claims that are necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates.
Under the Merck Agreement, we have ongoing obligations related to the development of our Ebola vaccine product candidate, which may result in greater costs and a longer timeframe for regulatory approval than we estimate, yet we will receive limited revenues, if any, from any future sales of our Ebola vaccine product candidate.
Under the Merck Agreement, we have ongoing obligations related to the development of our Ebola vaccine product candidate, including obligations related to clinical trials, government contracting and licensing of the vaccine technology, which may cause us to incur costs or losses materially larger than we expect. However, because we have exclusively licensed the right to research, develop, manufacture and distribute our Ebola vaccine product candidate to Merck and we are only entitled to certain royalty and other payments under the Merck Agreement, we will receive limited revenues, if any, even if we or Merck are successful in developing and commercializing our Ebola vaccine product candidate.
The time and cost of product development and the timeframe for regulatory approval of any Ebola vaccine product candidate are uncertain and may be longer and more costly than we estimate. Our Ebola vaccine product candidate is a live virus based on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). There are no commercial vaccines based upon this virus, and unforeseen problems related to the use of our live virus vaccine may prevent or materially increase costs and delays of further development or approval of our Ebola vaccine product candidate. There may be unknown safety risks associated with the vaccine, and regulatory agencies such as the FDA may require us to conduct extensive safety testing prior to approval to demonstrate a low-risk of rare and severe adverse events caused by the vaccine.
Public perception of vaccine safety issues, including adoption of novel vaccines based upon VSV, may adversely influence willingness of subjects to participate in clinical trials, or if approved, of physicians to prescribe, and of patients to receive, novel vaccines. For example, our Ebola vaccine product candidate is currently being developed for the prevention of, and may later be developed for the treatment of patients infected with, Ebola, and public aversion to vaccines for Ebola or vaccines in general may adversely influence later-stage clinical trials of this product candidate or, if approved, its commercial success.
Even if approved, a number of factors may adversely affect commercial sales. Lack of familiarity with the viral vaccine and potential adverse events associated with vaccination may adversely affect physician and patient perception and uptake of our potential product. Furthermore, there are no assurances that the vaccine will be approved for inclusion in government stockpile programs, which may be material to the commercial success of the product candidate, either in the United States or abroad. If our Ebola vaccine product candidate eventually is approved and sold commercially, we will receive limited revenues under the Merck Agreement. Finally, in certain cases, our obligations to pay royalties to PHAC may exceed the royalties we receive from Merck.
We may be required to suspend, repeat or terminate our clinical trials if they are not conducted in accordance with regulatory requirements, the results are negative or inconclusive or the trials are not well designed.
Clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with the FDA’s Good Clinical Practice (GCP) requirements, or other applicable foreign government guidelines and are subject to oversight by the FDA, other foreign governmental agencies and Institutional Review Boards at the medical institutions where the clinical trials are conducted. In addition, clinical trials must be conducted with product candidates produced under current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements and may require large numbers of test subjects. Clinical trials may be suspended by the FDA, other foreign governmental agencies, or us for various reasons, including:
•deficiencies in the conduct of the clinical trials, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or clinical protocols;
•inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial sites by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold;
•the product candidate may have unforeseen adverse side effects;
•the time required to determine whether the product candidate is effective may be longer than expected;
•fatalities or other adverse events arising during a clinical trial due to medical problems that may not be related to clinical trial treatments;
•failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug;
•the quality or stability of the product candidate may fall below acceptable standards; or
•insufficient quantities of the product candidate to complete the trials.
In addition, changes in regulatory requirements and guidance may occur and we may need to amend clinical trial protocols to reflect these changes. Amendments may require us to resubmit our clinical trial protocols to Institutional Review Boards for reexamination, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial. Due to these and other factors indoximod, NLG802, NLG207, NLG919, and other product candidates could take significantly longer to gain regulatory approval than we expect or we may never gain approval for additional indications, which could reduce our revenue by delaying or terminating their commercialization.
Some of our product candidates have been studied, or in the future may be studied, in clinical trials co-sponsored by organizations or agencies other than us, or in investigator-initiated clinical trials, which means we have little control over the conduct of such trials.
We supplied indoximod in support of a Phase 2 investigator-initiated clinical trial, and we provided clinical supply of dorgenmeltucel-L in support of a Phase 2 investigator-initiated clinical trial. Our Ebola vaccine product candidate was studied in clinical trials in West Africa. We may continue to supply and otherwise support similar trials in the future. However, because we are not the sponsors of these trials, we do not control the protocols, administration or conduct of these trials, including follow-up with patients and ongoing collection of data after treatment, and, as a result, are subject to risks associated with the way these types of trials are conducted, in particular should any problems arise. These risks include difficulties or delays in communicating with investigators or administrators, procedural delays and other timing issues and difficulties or differences in interpreting data.
If we cannot demonstrate the safety of our product candidates in preclinical and/or other non-clinical studies, we will not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials or obtain approval for our product candidates.
In order to move a product candidate not yet being tested in humans into a clinical trial, we must first demonstrate in preclinical testing that the product candidate is safe. Furthermore, in order to obtain approval, we must also demonstrate safety in various preclinical and non-clinical tests. We may not have conducted or may not conduct in the future the types of preclinical and other non-clinical testing ultimately required by regulatory authorities, or future preclinical tests may indicate that our product candidates are not safe for use in humans. Preclinical testing is expensive, can take many years and can have an uncertain outcome. In addition, success in initial preclinical testing does not ensure that later preclinical testing will be successful. We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, the preclinical testing process, which could delay or prevent our ability to develop or commercialize our product candidates, including:
•our preclinical testing may produce inconclusive or negative safety results, which may require us to conduct additional preclinical testing or to abandon product candidates that we believed to be promising;
•our product candidates may have unfavorable pharmacology, toxicology or carcinogenicity;
•our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects; and
•the FDA or other regulatory authorities may determine that additional safety testing is required.
Any such events would increase our costs and could delay or prevent our ability to commercialize our product candidates, which could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Even if ultimately approved, indoximod, NLG802, NLG207, NLG919, our Ebola vaccine product candidate or any other potential product we or our collaborators may commercialize and market may be later withdrawn from the market or subject to promotional limitations.
We or our collaborators may not be able to obtain the labeling claims necessary or desirable for the promotion of any potential future products. We or our collaborators may also be required to undertake post-marketing clinical trials. If the results of such post-marketing studies are not satisfactory, the FDA or a comparable agency in a foreign country may withdraw marketing authorization or may condition continued marketing on commitments from us or our collaborators that may be expensive and/or time-consuming to fulfill. In addition, if we or others identify adverse side effects after any of our potential products are on the market, or if manufacturing problems occur, regulatory approval may be withdrawn and reformulation of our potential products, additional clinical trials, changes in labeling of our potential products and/or additional marketing applications may be required. Any reformulation or labeling changes may limit the marketability of our potential products.
We will need to develop or acquire additional capabilities in order to commercialize any product candidates that obtain FDA approval, and we may encounter unexpected costs or difficulties in doing so.
We will need to acquire additional capabilities and effectively manage our operations and facilities to successfully pursue and complete future research, development and commercialization efforts. Currently, we have limited experience in preparing applications for marketing approval, commercial-scale manufacturing, managing large-scale information technology systems or managing a large-scale distribution system. We will need to add personnel and expand our capabilities, which may strain our existing managerial, operational, regulatory compliance, financial and other resources.
To do this effectively, we must:
•train, manage and motivate a growing employee base;
•accurately forecast demand for our products; and
•expand existing operational, financial and management information systems.
We will need to increase our manufacturing capacity, which may include negotiating and entering into additional third-party agreements to meet our commercial manufacturing requirements.
If we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell our product candidates, we may be unable to generate significant product revenue.
We do not have a sales organization and have no experience in the sales and distribution of pharmaceutical products. There are risks involved with establishing our own sales capabilities and increasing our marketing capabilities, as well as entering into arrangements with third parties to perform these services. Developing an internal sales force is expensive and time consuming and could delay any product launch. On the other hand, if we enter into arrangements with third parties to perform sales, marketing and distribution services, our product revenues or the profitability of these product revenues to us could potentially be lower than if we market and sell these products ourselves.
We entered into the Merck Agreement in November 2014 for the research, development, manufacture and distribution of our Ebola vaccine product candidate. Even if our Ebola vaccine product candidate is approved by regulators for marketing and sale, Merck may be unsuccessful in its efforts to commercialize our Ebola vaccine product candidate, respectively, or may devote fewer resources to such efforts than we would consider optimal.
We may establish our own specialty sales force and/or engage other biopharmaceutical or other healthcare companies with established sales, marketing and distribution capabilities to sell, market and distribute any future products. We may not be able to establish a specialty sales force or establish sales, marketing or distribution relationships on acceptable terms. Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize any future products without strategic collaborators or licensees include:
•our inability to recruit and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;
•the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to an adequate number of physicians to educate them about the attributes of any future products;
•the lack of complementary products to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines; and
•unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.
Because the establishment of sales, marketing and distribution capabilities depends on the progress toward commercialization of our product candidates, and because of the numerous risks and uncertainties involved with establishing those capabilities, we are unable to predict when, if ever, we will establish our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities. If we are not able to collaborate with third parties and are unsuccessful in recruiting sales, marketing and distribution personnel or in building the necessary infrastructure, we will have difficulty commercializing our product candidates, which would adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Failure to attract and retain key personnel could impede our ability to develop our products and to obtain new collaborations or other sources of funding.
Because of the specialized scientific nature of our business, our success is highly dependent upon our ability to attract and retain qualified scientific and technical personnel, consultants and advisors. We are highly dependent on the principal members of our scientific and management staff. Effective August 3, 2019 Charles J. Link, Jr., our founder and former Chief Executive Officer, Chief Scientific Officer and Chairman of the Board, retired from his posts as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Company. This change, or the long-term loss of services of any other key executives, might significantly delay or prevent the achievement of our research, development, and business objectives. We do not maintain key-man life insurance with respect to any of our employees, nor do we intend to secure such insurance.
We will need to recruit additional personnel in order to achieve our operating goals. In order to pursue product development and marketing and sales activities, if any, we will need to hire additional qualified scientific personnel to perform research and development, as well as personnel with expertise in clinical testing, government regulation, manufacturing, marketing and sales. We also rely on consultants and advisors to assist in formulating our research and development strategy and adhering to complex regulatory requirements. We face competition for qualified individuals from numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities and other research institutions. There can be no assurance that we will be able to attract and retain such individuals on acceptable terms, if at all. Additionally, our most significant facility is located in Iowa, which may make attracting and retaining qualified scientific and technical personnel from outside of Iowa difficult. The failure to attract and retain qualified personnel, consultants and advisors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Relating to Manufacturing Activities
We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce our preclinical and clinical product candidate supplies and we intend to rely on third parties to produce commercial supplies of any product candidates that may be approved in the future. Any failure by a third-party manufacturer to produce supplies for us may delay or impair our ability to complete our clinical trials or commercialize our product candidates.
We do not possess all of the capabilities to fully commercialize any of our product candidates on our own. If we are unable to arrange for third-party manufacturing sources or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to complete development of such product candidates or market them. In addition, we currently rely on our partner Merck for the supply of our Ebola vaccine product candidate and other third party manufacturers for our supply of indoximod, NLG802, NLG207, and NLG919 for preclinical and clinical studies. Problems with any of our facilities or processes, or our contract manufacturers’ facilities or processes, could prevent or delay the production of adequate supplies of indoximod, NLG802, NLG207, NLG919, our Ebola vaccine product candidate or other finished products.
Any prolonged delay or interruption in the operations of our current or future contract manufacturers’ facilities could result in cancellation of shipments, loss of components in the process of being manufactured or a shortfall in the availability of a product. A number of factors could cause interruptions, including the inability of a supplier to provide raw materials, equipment malfunctions or failures, damage to a facility due to natural disasters, changes in international or U.S. regulatory requirements or standards that require modifications to our manufacturing processes, action by regulatory authorities or by us that results in the halting or slowdown of production of components or finished product due to regulatory issues, a contract manufacturer going out of business or failing to produce product as contractually required or other similar factors. Because manufacturing processes are highly complex and are subject to a lengthy regulatory approval process, alternative qualified production capacity and sufficiently trained or qualified personnel may not be available on a timely or cost-effective basis or at all. Difficulties or delays in our contract manufacturers’ production of product candidates could delay our clinical trials, increase our costs, damage our reputation and cause us to lose revenue and market share if we are unable to meet market demand for any products that are approved for sale on a timely basis.
Reliance on third-party manufacturers entails risks to which we would not be subject if we manufactured product candidates ourselves, including reliance on the third party for regulatory compliance and quality assurance, the possibility of breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third party because of factors beyond our control, failure of the third party to accept orders for supply of drug substance or drug product and the possibility of termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third-party based on its own business priorities and at a time that is costly or damaging to us. In addition, the FDA and other regulatory authorities require that our product candidates be manufactured according to cGMP and similar foreign standards. Any failure by our third-party manufacturers to comply with cGMP or failure to scale-up manufacturing processes as needed, including any failure to deliver sufficient quantities of product candidates in a timely manner, could lead to a delay in, or failure to obtain, regulatory approval of any of our product candidates. In addition, such failure could be the basis for action by the FDA to withdraw approvals for product candidates that may have been granted to us and for other regulatory action, including recall or seizure, fines, imposition of operating restrictions, total or partial suspension of production or injunctions.
We rely on our manufacturers to purchase from third-party suppliers the materials necessary to produce our product candidates for our clinical studies. There are a small number of suppliers for certain capital equipment and raw materials that are used to manufacture our product candidates. Such suppliers may not sell this capital equipment or these raw materials to our manufacturers at the times we need them or on commercially reasonable terms. We do not have any control over the process or timing of the acquisition of this capital equipment or these raw materials by our manufacturers. Moreover, we currently do not have any agreements for the commercial production of these raw materials. Any significant delay in the supply of a product candidate or the raw material components thereof for an ongoing clinical trial due to the need to replace a third-party manufacturer could considerably delay completion of our clinical studies, product testing and potential regulatory approval of our product candidates. If our manufacturers or we are unable to purchase these raw materials after regulatory approval has been obtained for our product candidates, the commercial launch of our product candidates would be delayed or there would be a shortage in supply, which would impair our ability to generate revenues from the sale of our product candidates.
Because of the complex nature of many of our early-stage compounds and product candidates, our manufacturers may not be able to manufacture such compounds and product candidates at a cost or in quantities or in a timely manner necessary to develop and commercialize related products. If we successfully commercialize any of our product candidates, we may be required to establish or access large-scale commercial manufacturing capabilities. In addition, as our drug development pipeline increases and matures, we will have a greater need for clinical trial and commercial manufacturing capacity. To meet our projected needs for commercial manufacturing in the event that one or more of our product candidates gains marketing approval, third parties with whom we currently work will need to increase their scale of production or we will need to secure alternate suppliers.
Furthermore, we do not currently have experience with the management of relationships related to commercial-scale contract manufacturing, and we may incur substantial costs to develop the capability to negotiate and enter into relationships with third-party contract manufacturers.
We and our contract manufacturers are subject to significant regulation with respect to manufacturing of our products.
All entities involved in the preparation of a therapeutic drug for clinical trials or commercial sale, including our Company, our existing contract manufacturers and those we may engage in the future, and Merck in its capacity as our licensee, are subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or used in late-stage clinical trials must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP regulations. These regulations govern manufacturing processes and procedures (including record keeping) and the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of investigational products and products approved for sale. Our facilities and quality systems and the facilities and quality systems of some or all of our third party contractors must pass a pre-approval inspection for compliance with the applicable regulations as a condition of regulatory approval of any of our product candidates. In addition, the regulatory authorities may, at any time, audit or inspect a manufacturing facility involved with the preparation of any of our product candidates or the associated quality systems for compliance with the regulations applicable to the activities being conducted. If any such inspection or audit identifies a failure to comply with applicable regulations or if a violation of our product specifications or applicable regulations occurs independent of such an inspection or audit, we or the relevant regulatory authority may require remedial measures that may be costly and/or time-consuming for us or a third party to implement and that may include the temporary or permanent suspension of a clinical trial or commercial sales or the temporary or permanent closure of a facility. Any such remedial measures imposed upon us or third parties with whom we contract could materially harm our business. In addition, to the extent that we rely on foreign contract manufacturers, as we do currently for our Ebola vaccine product candidate, we are or will be subject to additional risks including the need to comply with export and import regulations.
If our current or future contract manufacturers are not in compliance with regulatory requirements at any stage, including post-marketing approval, we may be fined, forced to remove a product from the market and/or experience other adverse consequences, including delays, which could materially harm our business.
Our facility is located in areas where floods and tornados are known to occur, and the occurrence of a flood, tornado or other catastrophic disaster could damage our facilities and equipment, which could cause us to curtail or cease operations.
Our primary facility is located in Ames, Iowa, which is susceptible to floods and tornados, and our facility is therefore vulnerable to damage or disruption from floods and tornados. We are also vulnerable to damage from other types of disasters, such as power loss, fire and similar events. If any disaster were to occur, our ability to operate our business could be seriously impaired. We currently carry business insurance (real, personal and business income) of approximately $14.4 million in the aggregate, but this policy does not cover disasters such as floods and earthquakes. We may not have adequate insurance to cover our losses resulting from disasters or other similar significant business interruptions, and we do not plan to purchase additional insurance to cover such losses due to the cost of obtaining such coverage. Any significant losses that are not recoverable under our insurance policies could seriously impair our business and financial condition.
Significant disruptions of information technology systems or breaches of data security could adversely affect our business.
We are increasingly dependent on information technology systems and infrastructure, including mobile technologies, to operate our business. In the ordinary course of our business, we collect, store and transmit large amounts of confidential information, including intellectual property, proprietary business information and personal information. It is critical that we do so in a secure manner to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of such confidential information. We have also outsourced elements of our information technology infrastructure, and as a result we manage a number of third-party vendors who may or could have access to our confidential information. The size and complexity of our information technology systems, and those of third-party vendors with whom we contract, make such systems potentially vulnerable to breakdown, malicious intrusion, security breaches and other cyber-attacks. In addition, the prevalent use of mobile devices that access confidential information increases the risk of data security breaches, which could lead to the loss of confidential information, trade secrets or other intellectual property. While we have implemented security measures to protect our data security and information technology systems, such measures may not prevent the adverse effect of such events. Significant disruptions of our information technology systems or breaches of data security could adversely affect our business.
Risks Relating to Regulation of Our Industry
The industry within which we operate and our business are subject to extensive regulation, which is costly and time-consuming and which may subject us to unanticipated delays.
The research, development, testing, manufacturing, labeling, packaging, marketing, distribution, promotion and advertising of biologic and pharmaceutical products such as our product candidates are subject to extensive regulation by governmental regulatory authorities in the United States and other countries. The drug development and approval process is generally lengthy, expensive and subject to unanticipated delays. Data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing are subject to varying interpretations that could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. In addition, delays or rejections may be encountered based upon changes in regulatory policy for product approval during the period of development and regulatory review of each submitted application for approval. To obtain approval for a product candidate, we must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the regulatory authorities that the product candidate is safe and effective in the case of a small-molecule pharmaceutical product, or is safe, pure and potent in the case of a biologic, which typically takes several years or more depending upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product and requires the expenditure of substantial resources.
There can be no assurance that we will not encounter problems in clinical trials that would cause us or the regulatory authorities to delay or suspend clinical trials. Any such delay or suspension could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. There can be no assurance that we will not encounter problems in clinical trials that would cause us or the regulatory authorities to delay or suspend clinical trials. Any such delay or suspension could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. There can be no assurance that clinical trials for any of our product candidates currently under development will be completed successfully or within any specified time period, if at all. Further, there can also be no assurance that such testing will show any product to be safe, pure, potent or effective. We cannot predict when, if ever, we might submit for regulatory review our product candidates currently under development. In addition, regardless of how much time and resources we devote to the development of a product candidate, there can be no assurance that regulatory approval will be obtained for that product candidate.
Even if such regulatory approval is obtained, we, our products and any contract manufacturers or commercial collaborators of ours will be subject to continual regulatory review in both the United States and other countries. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with regard to a product, distributor or manufacturer may result in restrictions, including withdrawal of the product from the market and/or disqualification or decertification of the distributor or manufacturer. If we, our product candidates or the manufacturing facilities for our product candidates fail to comply with regulatory requirements of the FDA and/or non-U.S. regulatory authorities, we could be subject to administrative or judicially imposed sanctions, including:
•civil or criminal penalties;
•suspension of or withdrawal of regulatory approval;
•total or partial suspension of any ongoing clinical trials or of production;
•voluntary or mandatory product recalls and publicity requirements;
•refusal to approve pending applications for marketing approval of new products or supplements to approved applications filed by us;
•restrictions on operations, including costly new manufacturing requirements; or
•seizure or detention of our products or import bans.
The FDA and comparable agencies in foreign countries impose substantial requirements on the introduction of new biologic and pharmaceutical products through lengthy and detailed preclinical and clinical testing procedures, sampling activities and other costly and time-consuming compliance procedures. Clinical trials are vigorously regulated and must meet requirements for FDA review and oversight and requirements under GCP guidelines. A new drug may not be marketed in the United States until the FDA has approved it. There can be no assurance that we will not encounter delays or rejections or that the FDA will not make policy changes during the period of product development and FDA regulatory review of each submitted biologics license application (BLA) and new drug application (NDA). A delay in obtaining, or failure to obtain, such approvals would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Even if regulatory approval were obtained, it would be limited as to the indicated uses for which the product may be promoted or marketed. A marketed product, its manufacturer and the facilities in which it is manufactured are subject to continual review and periodic inspections. If marketing approval is granted, we would be required to comply with FDA requirements for manufacturing, labeling, advertising, record-keeping and reporting of adverse experiences and other information. Drugs may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label, although physicians, in the practice of medicine, may prescribe approved drugs for unapproved indications. Companies may also share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with the labeling. In addition, we would be required to continue to comply with federal and state anti-kickback and other healthcare fraud and abuse laws that pertain to the marketing of pharmaceuticals, among other things. Failure to comply with regulatory requirements and other factors could subject us to regulatory or judicial enforcement actions, including product recalls or seizures, injunctions, withdrawal of the product from the market, civil penalties, criminal prosecution, refusals to approve new products and withdrawals of existing approvals, as well as enhanced product liability exposure, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Sales of our products outside the United States will be subject to foreign regulatory requirements governing clinical trials, marketing approval, manufacturing and pricing. Noncompliance with these requirements could result in enforcement actions or penalties or could delay the introduction of our products in certain countries.
The requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement outside the United States vary greatly from country to country. The time required to obtain approvals outside the United States may differ from that required to obtain FDA approval. We may not obtain foreign regulatory approvals on a timely basis, or at all. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries, and approval by one foreign regulatory authority does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or by the FDA. Foreign regulatory authorities could also require additional testing. Failure to comply with these regulatory requirements or obtain required approvals could impair our ability to develop foreign markets for our products and may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
We are also subject to laws generally applicable to businesses including, but not limited to, federal, state and local regulations relating to wage and hour matters, employee classification, mandatory healthcare benefits, unlawful workplace discrimination and whistleblowing. Any actual or alleged failure to comply with any regulation applicable to our business or any whistleblowing claim, even if without merit, could result in costly litigation or regulatory action or otherwise harm our business, results of operations, financial condition, cash flow and future prospects.
The availability of coverage and amount of reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved, and the manner in which government and private payers may reimburse for our potential products, are uncertain.
In both the United States and foreign markets, sales of our proposed products will depend in part on the availability of coverage and reimbursement from third-party payers such as government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other organizations. In addition, the process for determining whether a third party payor will provide coverage for a pharmaceutical typically is separate from the process for setting the price of such product or for establishing the reimbursement rate that the payer will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price and cost-effectiveness of medical products and services.
Significant uncertainty exists as to the reimbursement status of newly approved healthcare products. There can be no assurance that our proposed products will be considered cost-effective or that adequate third-party reimbursement will be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development.
Our future levels of revenues and profitability may be affected by the continuing efforts of governmental and third-party payers to contain or reduce the costs of healthcare. We cannot predict the effect that private sector or governmental health care reforms may have on our business, and there can be no assurance that any such reforms will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Legislation and regulations affecting the pricing of pharmaceuticals may change before any of our proposed products are approved for marketing. Adoption of such legislation could further limit reimbursement for medical products and services. As a result, we may elect not to market future products in certain markets.
Moreover, while we are in clinical trials, we will not be reimbursed for any of our materials used during the clinical trials, however, certain services rendered to clinical trial participants may be reimbursable by third-party payors for standard of care treatment if not otherwise reimbursed under the applicable clinical trial study budget.
The biopharmaceutical industry is subject to significant regulation and oversight in the United States, in addition to approval of products for sale and marketing; our failure to comply with these laws could harm our results of operations and financial condition.
In addition to FDA restrictions on marketing of biopharmaceutical products, our operations may be directly, or indirectly through our relationships with healthcare providers, customers and third-party payers, subject to various federal and state fraud and abuse laws, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. These laws may impact, among other things, our proposed sales, and education programs, and these laws have been applied to restrict certain marketing practices in the biopharmaceutical industry. In addition, we may be subject to patient privacy regulation by both the U.S. federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include, among others, the following:
•The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving remuneration to induce or in return for purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging for the purchase, lease, or order of any health care item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or other federally financed healthcare programs. This statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers and formulary managers on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting certain common activities from prosecution, the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchases or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Our practices may not in all cases meet all of the criteria for safe harbor protection from anti-kickback liability. In addition, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. Moreover, a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act.
•The federal civil False Claims Act prohibits any person or entity from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government a claim for payment or approval that is false or fraudulent or from knowingly making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government. Several pharmaceutical and other health-care companies have been prosecuted under these laws for allegedly providing free product to customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal programs for the product. Other companies have been prosecuted for causing false claims to be submitted because of off-label promotion. Private parties may initiate qui tam whistleblower lawsuits against any person or entity under the federal civil False Claims Act in the name of the government and share in the proceeds of the lawsuit.
•The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended (HIPAA), imposes criminal and civil liability for knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, or knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services; similar to the federal Anti- Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
•HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH), and their implementing regulations imposes certain obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information without appropriate authorization on covered entities, such as health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and healthcare providers as well as their business associates that perform certain services involving the use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information.
•The federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibits, among other things, the adulteration or misbranding of drugs and medical devices.
•The federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and its implementing regulations require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report annually to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians, other healthcare providers, and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and other healthcare providers and their immediate family members.
•Analogous state laws and regulations include: state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to our business practices, including but not limited to, research, distribution, sales and marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by any third-party payer, including private insurers; state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the U.S. federal government, or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources; state laws and regulations that require drug manufacturers to file reports relating to pricing and marketing information and that require tracking gifts and other remuneration and items of value provided to healthcare professionals and entities; state and local laws that require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives; and state laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
Ensuring that our future business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations could involve substantial costs. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental laws and regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, exclusion from government-funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. It is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of these laws, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative or executive action, either in the United States or abroad. For example, certain policies of the Trump administration may impact our business and industry. Namely, the Trump administration has taken several executive actions, including the issuance of a number of Executive Orders, that could impose significant burdens on, or otherwise materially delay, FDA’s ability to engage in routine regulatory and oversight activities such as implementing statutes through rulemaking, issuance of guidance, and review and approval of marketing applications. Notably, on January 30, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order, applicable to all executive agencies, including the FDA, that required that for each notice of proposed rulemaking or final regulation to be issued in fiscal year 2017, the agency shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed, unless prohibited by law. These requirements are referred to as the “two-for-one” provisions. This Executive Order included a budget neutrality provision that required the total incremental cost of all new regulations in the 2017 fiscal year, including repealed regulations, to be no greater than zero, except in limited circumstances. For fiscal years 2018 and beyond, the Executive Order requires agencies to identify regulations that can be repealed to offset any incremental cost of a new regulation and approximate the total costs or savings associated with each new regulation or repealed regulation.
In interim guidance issued by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the United States Office of Management and Budget on February 2, 2017, the administration indicates that the “two-for-one” provisions may apply not only to agency regulations, but also to significant agency guidance documents. Further, on February 24, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order requiring each agency to designate a regulatory reform officer and create a regulatory reform task force to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification. It is difficult to predict how these requirements will continue to be enforced, the extent to which they will continue to impact the FDA’s ability to exercise its regulatory authority, and the negative impact they may have on our business.
Healthcare legislative reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
The U.S. and some foreign jurisdictions are considering or have enacted a number of additional legislative and regulatory proposals to change the healthcare system in ways that could affect our ability to sell our products profitably. Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality and/or expanding access. For example, in the United States, the pharmaceutical industry has been affected by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively the ACA), which, among other things, imposed new fees on entities that manufacture or import certain branded prescription drugs and expanded pharmaceutical manufacturer obligations to provide discounts and rebates to certain government programs. There have been judicial and congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, as well as recent efforts by the Trump administration to repeal or replace certain aspects of the ACA. Since January 2017, President Trump has signed two Executive Orders and other directives designed to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the ACA or otherwise circumvent some of the requirements for health insurance mandated by the ACA. Concurrently, Congress has considered legislation that would repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the ACA. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, two bills affecting the implementation of certain taxes under the ACA have been signed into law. The Tax Act includes a provision repealing, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate.” Additionally, on January 22, 2018, President Trump signed a continuing resolution on appropriations for fiscal year 2018 that delayed the implementation of certain ACA-mandated fees, including the so-called “Cadillac” tax on certain high cost employer-sponsored insurance plans, the annual fee imposed on certain health insurance providers based on market share, and the medical device excise tax on non-exempt medical devices. Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the BBA) among other things, amends the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, to increase from 50 percent to 70 percent the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” In July 2018, CMS published a final rule permitting further collections and payments to and from certain ACA qualified health plans and health insurance issuers under the ACA risk adjustment program in response to the outcome of federal district court litigation regarding the method CMS uses to determine this risk adjustment. On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Act. Although the Texas U.S. District Court Judge, as well as the presidential administration and CMS have stated that the ruling will have no immediate effect pending appeal of the decision, it is unclear how this decision, subsequent appeals, and other efforts to repeal and replace the ACA will impact the ACA and our business.
In addition, there has been particular and increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices in recent years, particularly with respect to drugs that have been subject to relatively large price increases over relatively short time periods. There have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. The Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 contains further drug price control measures that could be enacted during the 2019 budget process or in other future legislation, including, for example, measures to permit Medicare Part D plans to negotiate the price of certain drugs under Medicare Part B, to allow some states to negotiate drug prices under Medicaid, and to eliminate cost sharing for generic drugs for low-income patients. While some of the existing measures and other proposed measures will require authorization to become effective, Congress and the Trump administration have each indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. Additionally, the Trump administration released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out of pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. HHS has already started the process of soliciting feedback on some of these measures and, at the same, is immediately implementing others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option
of using step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2010. This final rule codified CMS’s policy change that was effective January 1, 2019. Any of these initiatives could harm our ability to generate revenues.
In the future, there will likely continue to be proposals relating to the reform of the U.S. healthcare system, some of which could further limit coverage and reimbursement of drug products, including our product candidates. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products.
Individual states are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access, and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures and to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. Legally mandated price controls on payment amounts by third-party payers or other restrictions could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. In addition, regional healthcare authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine which pharmaceutical products and suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other healthcare programs. This could reduce ultimate demand for our products or put pressure on our product pricing, which could negatively affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.
Furthermore, regulatory authorities’ assessment of the data and results required to demonstrate safety and efficacy can change over time and can be affected by many factors, such as the emergence of new information, including on other products, changing policies and agency funding, staffing and leadership. We cannot be sure whether future changes to the regulatory environment will be favorable or unfavorable to our business prospects. For example, average review times at the FDA for marketing approval applications have fluctuated over the last 10 years, and we cannot predict the review time for any of our submissions with any regulatory authorities. In addition, review times can be affected by a variety of factors, including budget and funding levels and statutory, regulatory and policy changes.
Additionally, on May 30, 2018, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017 (the Right to Try Act) was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain IND products that have completed a Phase I clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program.
We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislative or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad.
We use hazardous materials in our business and must comply with environmental laws and regulations, which can be expensive.
Our research and development involves the controlled use of hazardous materials, chemicals, various active microorganisms and volatile organic compounds, and we may incur significant costs as a result of the need to comply with numerous laws and regulations. We are subject to laws and regulations enforced by the FDA, the Drug Enforcement Agency, foreign health authorities and other regulatory requirements, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and other current and potential federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of our products, materials used to develop and manufacture our product candidates, and resulting waste products. Although we believe that our safety procedures for handling and disposing of such materials, and for killing any unused microorganisms before disposing of them, comply with the standards prescribed by state and federal regulations, the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials cannot be completely eliminated. In the event of such an accident, we could be held liable for any damages that result and any such liability could exceed our resources.
Failure to comply with existing or future data protection laws and regulations related to privacy or data security could lead to government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal fines or penalties), private litigation, other liabilities, and/or adverse publicity. Compliance or the failure to comply with such laws could increase the costs of our products and services, could limit their use or adoption, and could otherwise negatively affect our operating results and business.
Regulation of data processing is evolving, as federal, state, and foreign governments continue to adopt new, or modify existing, laws and regulations addressing data privacy and security, and the collection, processing, storage, transfer, and use of data. We and our partners may be subject to current, new, or modified federal, state, and foreign data protection laws and regulations (i.e., laws and regulations that address privacy and data security). These new or proposed laws and regulations are subject to differing interpretations and may be inconsistent among jurisdictions, and guidance on implementation and compliance practices are often updated or otherwise revised, which adds to the complexity of processing personal data. These and other requirements could require us or our partners to incur additional costs to achieve compliance, limit our competitiveness, necessitate the acceptance of more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to use, store, transfer, and process data, impact our or our partners’ ability to process or use data in order to support the provision of our products or services, or affect our or our partners’ ability to offer our products and services in certain locations.
In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws, and federal and state consumer protection laws (e.g., Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act), that govern the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information could apply to our operations or the operations of our partners. In addition, we may obtain health information from third parties (including research institutions from which we obtain clinical trial data) that are subject to privacy and security requirements under HIPAA. Depending on the facts and circumstances, we could be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties including if we obtain, use, or disclose individually identifiable health information maintained by a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA.
International data protection laws, including, without limitation, the European Union Directive 95/46/EC (the Directive), and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (the GDPR) that took effect in May 2018, and member state data protection legislation, may also apply to health-related and other personal information obtained outside of the United States. These laws impose strict obligations on the ability to process health-related and other personal information of data subjects in the European Union, including in relation to use, collection, analysis and transfer of such personal information. These laws include several requirements relating to the consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, limitations on data processing, establishing a legal basis for processing, notification of data processing obligations or security incidents to appropriate data protection authorities or data subjects, the security and confidentiality of the personal data and various rights that data subjects may exercise.
The Directive and the GDPR prohibits, without an appropriate legal basis, the transfer of personal data to countries outside of the European Economic Area, or EEA, such as the United States, which are not considered by the European Commission to provide an adequate level of data protection. Switzerland has adopted similar restrictions.
Although there are legal mechanisms to allow for the transfer of personal data from the EEA and Switzerland to the United States, uncertainty about compliance with European Union data protection laws remains. For example, ongoing legal challenges in Europe to the mechanisms allowing companies to transfer personal data from the EEA to the United States could result in further limitations on the ability to transfer personal data across borders, particularly if governments are unable or unwilling to reach new or maintain existing agreements that support cross-border data transfers, such as the European Union-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield framework. Additionally, other countries have passed or are considering passing laws requiring local data residency.
Under the GDPR, regulators may impose substantial fines and penalties for non-compliance. Companies that violate the GDPR can face fines of up to the greater of 20 million Euros or 4% of their worldwide annual turnover (revenue). The GDPR has increased our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process, requiring us to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the GDPR and other EU and international data protection rules.
Failure to comply with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation, and/or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Moreover, patients about whom we or our partners obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose the information. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights, failed to comply with data protection laws, or breached our contractual
obligations related to security or privacy, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business. Compliance with data protection laws may be time-consuming, require additional resources and could result in increased expenses, reduce overall demand for our products and services and make it more difficult to meet expectations of our commitments to customers or partners.
Any of these matters could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, or operational results.
We have a history of net losses. We incurred a net loss for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and expect to continue to incur net losses for the foreseeable future, and we may never achieve or maintain profitability in the future.
We were profitable in the year ended December 31, 2014, primarily as a result of upfront payments under the Genentech Agreement and the Merck Agreement. We are not entitled to receive any additional upfront payments under these licensing or collaboration agreements. We do not expect any milestone or royalty payments under these or other agreements, if any, to be sufficient to make us profitable in future years. We incurred a loss of $20.2 million for the six months ended June 30, 2019 and we do not expect to be profitable for the foreseeable future. We anticipate that we will continue to incur operating losses over the next several years as we continue our clinical development programs.