SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, DC 20549
|☒||QUARTERLY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the quarterly period ended September 30, 2020
|☐||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number: 001-36579
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
800 Saginaw Drive,
Redwood City, CA
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $0.0001 par value
The Nasdaq Global 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 x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes x No ¨
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 definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
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. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No x
As of October 30, 2020, there were 97,477,603 shares of the registrant’s common stock, par value $0.0001 per share, outstanding.
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I—FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Item 1. Financial Statements
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets
|September 30, 2020||December 31, 2019|
|Cash and cash equivalents||$||72,696 ||$||65,897 |
|381,766 ||100,138 |
|Prepaid expenses and other current assets||5,238 ||9,835 |
Total current assets
|459,700 ||175,870 |
|Operating lease right-of-use assets||19,698 ||20,963 |
Property and equipment, net
|27,295 ||24,884 |
|999 ||999 |
Deposit and other long-term assets
|19 ||11 |
|Total assets||$||507,711 ||$||222,727 |
Liabilities and stockholders’ equity
|$||3,034 ||$||4,103 |
|Accrued expenses and other current liabilities||8,642 ||11,271 |
Lease liability, current portion
|4,435 ||4,034 |
Total current liabilities
|16,111 ||19,408 |
Lease liability, net of current portion
|26,752 ||28,214 |
|Other non-current liabilities||136 ||148 |
|42,999 ||47,770 |
|Preferred stock||— ||— |
|10 ||7 |
|Additional paid-in capital||930,211 ||560,704 |
Accumulated other comprehensive loss
Total stockholders’ equity
|464,712 ||174,957 |
|Total liabilities and stockholders' equity||$||507,711 ||$||222,727 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Loss
(In thousands except per share data)
|Three Months Ended September 30,||Nine Months Ended September 30,|
|Collaboration and license revenue||$||— ||$||250 ||$||— ||$||250 |
|Research and development||16,653 ||9,944 ||50,581 ||29,045 |
|General and administrative||11,351 ||7,389 ||30,989 ||20,097 |
|Total operating expenses||28,004 ||17,333 ||81,570 ||49,142 |
|Other income, net||235 ||965 ||1,695 ||3,331 |
|Other comprehensive loss:|
|Net unrealized (loss)/gain on marketable securities||(20)||4 ||120 ||27 |
|Foreign currency translation adjustment||13 ||(11)||— ||27 |
|Net loss per share — basic and diluted||$||(0.31)||$||(0.25)||$||(0.99)||$||(0.71)|
Weighted-average common shares used to compute net loss per share - basic and diluted
|88,867 ||64,484 ||80,995 ||63,764 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Stockholders’ Equity
|Common Stock||Additional Paid-In|
|Balance at December 31, 2019||67,329 ||$||7 ||$||560,704 ||$||(725)||$||(385,029)||$||174,957 |
|Stock-based compensation expense||— ||— ||3,409 ||— ||— ||3,409 |
Issuance of common stock, net of issuance costs of $332
|10,925 ||1 ||140,872 ||— ||— ||140,873 |
|Common stock issued upon exercise of stock options||1,310 ||— ||9,650 ||— ||— ||9,650 |
|Common stock issued upon net exercise of warrants||7 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Common stock issued upon release of restricted stock units||462 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Restricted stock surrendered for taxes||(155)||— ||(1,922)||— ||— ||(1,922)|
|Foreign currency translation adjustments ||— ||— ||— ||(54)||— ||(54)|
|Unrealized loss on marketable securities, net||— ||— ||— ||(54)||— ||(54)|
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(22,906)||(22,906)|
|Balance at March 31, 2020||79,878 ||8 ||712,713 ||(833)||(407,935)||303,953 |
|Stock-based compensation expense||— ||— ||4,785 ||— ||— ||4,785 |
|Issuance of common stock, additional issuance costs||— ||— ||(51)||— ||— ||(51)|
|Issuance of common stock upon exercise of stock options||643 ||— ||2,487 ||— ||— ||2,487 |
|Common stock issued under employee stock purchase plan||57 ||— ||475 ||— ||— ||475 |
|Issuance of common stock upon release of restricted stock units||66 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Restricted stock surrendered for taxes||(5)||— ||(121)||— ||— ||(121)|
|Foreign currency translation adjustments||— ||— ||— ||41 ||— ||41 |
|Unrealized gain on marketable securities, net||— ||— ||— ||194 ||— ||194 |
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(29,200)||(29,200)|
|Balance at June 30, 2020||80,639 ||8 ||720,288 ||(598)||(437,135)||282,563 |
|Stock-based compensation expense||— ||— ||6,020 ||— ||— ||6,020 |
Issuance of common stock, net of issuance costs of $385
|16,675 ||2 ||203,381 ||— ||— ||203,383 |
|Issuance of common stock upon exercise of stock options||83 ||— ||516 ||— ||— ||516 |
|Common stock issued upon net exercise of warrants||29 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Common stock issued under employee stock purchase plan||1 ||— ||6 ||— ||— ||6 |
|Issuance of common stock upon release of restricted stock units||43 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Restricted stock surrendered for taxes||(3)||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Foreign currency translation adjustments||— ||— ||— ||13 ||— ||13 |
|Unrealized loss on marketable securities, net||— ||— ||— ||(20)||— ||(20)|
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(27,769)||(27,769)|
|Balance at September 30, 2020||97,467 ||$||10 ||$||930,211 ||$||(605)||$||(464,904)||$||464,712 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Stockholders’ Equity - continued
|Common Stock||Additional Paid-In|
|Balance at December 31, 2018||62,965 ||$||6 ||$||522,503 ||$||(799)||$||(320,543)||$||201,167 |
|Stock-based compensation expense||— ||— ||1,762 ||— ||— ||1,762 |
|Common stock issued upon exercise of stock options||119 ||— ||162 ||— ||— ||162 |
|Common stock issued upon release of restricted stock units||397 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Restricted stock surrendered for taxes||(145)||— ||(504)||— ||— ||(504)|
|Foreign currency translation adjustments||— ||— ||— ||42 ||— ||42 |
|Unrealized gain on marketable securities, net||— ||— ||— ||3 ||— ||3 |
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(14,489)||(14,489)|
|Balance at March 31, 2019||63,336 ||6 ||523,923 ||(754)||(335,032)||188,143 |
|Stock-based compensation expense||— ||— ||2,626 ||— ||— ||2,626 |
|Issuance of common stock, private placement||20 ||— ||134 ||— ||— ||134 |
|Common stock issued upon exercise of stock options||823 ||— ||2,312 ||— ||— ||2,312 |
|Common stock upon release of restricted stock units||220 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Restricted stock surrendered for taxes||(73)||— ||(700)||— ||— ||(700)|
|Common stock issued under employee stock purchase plan||51 ||— ||163 ||— ||— ||163 |
|Foreign currency translation adjustments||— ||— ||— ||(4)||— ||(4)|
|Unrealized gain on marketable securities, net||— ||— ||— ||20 ||— ||20 |
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(14,954)||(14,954)|
|Balance at June 30, 2019||64,377 ||6 ||528,458 ||(738)||(349,986)||177,740 |
|Stock-based compensation expense||— ||— ||2,661 ||— ||— ||2,661 |
|Issuance of common stock upon exercise of stock options||191 ||1 ||144 ||— ||— ||145 |
|Issuance of common stock upon release of restricted stock units||27 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Restricted stock unit withholdings||(14)||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Taxes paid for RSUs||— ||— ||(207)||— ||— ||(207)|
|Foreign currency translation adjustments||— ||— ||— ||(11)||— ||(11)|
|Unrealized gain on marketable securities, net||— ||— ||— ||4 ||— ||4 |
|Net loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||(16,118)||(16,118)|
|Balance at September 30, 2019||64,581 ||$||7 ||$||531,056 ||$||(745)||$||(366,104)||$||164,214 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
|Nine Months Ended September 30,|
|Cash flows from operating activities:|
|Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash used in operating activities:|
|Depreciation and amortization||3,081 ||1,219 |
|Stock-based compensation expense||14,214 ||7,049 |
|Amortization of premium and accrued interest on marketable securities||(773)||(813)|
|Other||25 ||46 |
|Changes in operating assets and liabilities:|
|Prepaid expenses and other current assets||5,194 ||(1,868)|
|Other assets||(8)||— |
|Operating lease right-of-use asset||1,265 ||1,620 |
|Accounts payable||1,444 ||(680)|
|Accrued expenses and other current liabilities||(573)||1,891 |
|Lease liability||(1,061)||2,762 |
|Net cash used in operating activities||(57,067)||(34,335)|
|Cash flows from investing activities:|
|Purchases of marketable securities||(511,845)||(133,144)|
|Maturities of marketable securities||223,765 ||95,155 |
|Sales of marketable securities||6,748 ||— |
|Purchases of property and equipment||(10,411)||(10,874)|
|Net cash used in investing activities||(291,743)||(48,863)|
|Cash flows from financing activities:|
|Proceeds from offerings of common stock, net of issuance costs||344,547 ||— |
|Proceeds from issuance of common stock||— ||134 |
|Proceeds from issuance of common stock pursuant to option exercises||12,653 ||2,618 |
|Taxes paid related to net share settlement of restricted stock units||(2,043)||(1,411)|
|Proceeds from employee stock purchase plan||481 ||163 |
|Repayment of loan||(29)||(84)|
|Net cash provided by financing activities||355,609 ||1,420 |
|Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash||6,799 ||(81,778)|
|Cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash at beginning of period||66,896 ||155,948 |
|Cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash at end of period||$||73,695 ||$||74,170 |
|Supplemental schedule of noncash investing and financing information|
|Fixed assets in accounts payable, accrued expenses and other current liabilities||$||325 ||$||3,625 |
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc.
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
1. Organization and Basis of Presentation
Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc. (the “Company” or "Adverum") is a clinical-stage gene therapy company targeting unmet medical needs in ocular and rare diseases. The Company develops gene therapy product candidates intended to provide durable efficacy by inducing sustained expression of a therapeutic protein. The Company’s core capabilities include clinical development, novel vector discovery, and in-house manufacturing expertise, specifically in scalable process development, assay development, and current Good Manufacturing Practices (“cGMP”) quality control. Since the Company’s inception, it has devoted its efforts to performing research and development activities, filing patent applications, hiring personnel and raising capital to support these activities.
The Company has not generated any revenue from the sale of products since its inception. The Company has experienced net losses since its inception and had an accumulated deficit of $464.9 million as of September 30, 2020. The Company expects to incur losses and have negative net cash flows from operating activities as it engages in further research and development activities. The Company believes that it has sufficient funds to continue operations into mid-2022.
Basis of Presentation—The accompanying unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“U.S. GAAP”) and follow the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) for interim reporting. As permitted under those rules, certain footnotes or other financial information that are normally required by U.S. GAAP can be condensed or omitted. These unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements have been prepared on the same basis as the Company’s annual consolidated financial statements and, in the opinion of management, reflect all adjustments, consisting only of normal recurring adjustments, which are necessary for a fair statement of the Company’s consolidated financial information. The results of operations for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020 are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for the full year or any other future period. The balance sheet as of December 31, 2019 is derived from the audited consolidated financial statements at that date but does not include all of the information required by U.S. GAAP for complete consolidated financial statements.
The full extent to which the novel coronavirus disease ("COVID-19") pandemic will directly or indirectly impact the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition, including expenses and manufacturing, clinical trials and research and development costs, is dependent upon future developments that are highly uncertain at this time.
The accompanying unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements and related financial information should be read in conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes thereto included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 filed with the SEC.
2. Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Use of Estimates
The accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. 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, disclosure of contingent liabilities and the reported amounts of expenses in the condensed consolidated financial statements and the accompanying notes. On an ongoing basis, management evaluates its estimates, including those related to clinical trial accruals, fair value of assets and liabilities, income taxes, and stock-based compensation. Management bases its estimates on historical experience and on various other market-specific and relevant assumptions that management believes to be reasonable under the circumstances. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
In June 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") 2016-13, Financial Instruments – Credit Losses: Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments (“Topic 326”) and also issued subsequent amendments to the initial guidance: ASU 2018-19, ASU 2019-04, ASU 2019-05, and ASU 2019-11. The standard requires that financial assets measured at amortized cost be presented at the net amount expected to be collected. The measurement of expected credit losses is based on historical experience, current conditions, and reasonable and supportable forecasts that affect collectability. Topic 326 also eliminates the concept of “other-than-temporary” impairment when evaluating available-for-sale debt securities and instead focuses on determining whether any impairment is a result of a credit loss or other factors. An entity will recognize an allowance for credit losses on available-for-sale debt securities rather than an other-than-temporary impairment that reduces the cost basis of the investment. Topic 326 will become effective for the Company beginning after December 15, 2022 and interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of adopting Topic 326, but does not expect the effect of adoption to be material.
3. Fair Value Measurements and Fair Value of Financial Instruments
The authoritative guidance on the fair value hierarchy for disclosure of fair value measurements is as follows:
Level 1: Quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities.
Level 2: Observable inputs other than Level 1 prices, such as quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities, quoted prices in markets that are not active, or other inputs that are observable or can be corroborated by observable market data for substantially the full term of the assets or liabilities.
Level 3: Unobservable inputs that are supported by little or no market activity and that are significant to the fair value of the assets or liabilities.
The fair value of Level 1 securities is determined using quoted prices in active markets for identical assets. Level 1 securities consist of highly liquid money market funds. Financial assets and liabilities are considered Level 2 when their fair values are determined using inputs that are observable in the market or can be derived principally from or corroborated by observable market data such as pricing for similar securities, recently executed transactions, cash flow models with yield curves, and benchmark securities. In addition, Level 2 financial instruments are valued using comparisons to like-kind financial instruments and models that use readily observable market data as their basis. U.S. government and agency securities, commercial paper, corporate bond and certificates of deposit are valued primarily using market prices of comparable securities, bid/ask quotes, interest rate yields and prepayment spreads and are included in Level 2. In certain cases, where there is limited activity or less transparency around inputs to valuation, securities are classified as Level 3 within the valuation hierarchy.
The following is a summary of the Company’s cash equivalents and short-term investments:
|September 30, 2020|
Money market funds
|$||727 ||$||— ||$||— ||$||727 |
U.S. government and agency securities
|394,905 ||144 ||(18)||395,031 |
|53,729 ||13 ||(1)||53,741 |
|Total cash equivalents and short-term investments||449,361 ||157 ||(19)||449,499 |
Less: cash equivalents
|(67,735)||— ||2 ||(67,733)|
|Total short-term investments||$||381,626 ||$||157 ||$||(17)||$||381,766 |
|December 31, 2019|
|Money market funds||$||15,056 ||$||— ||$||— ||$||15,056 |
|U.S. government and agency securities||37,974 ||14 ||(2)||37,986 |
|Commercial paper||87,983 ||8 ||(8)||87,983 |
|Corporate bonds||10,495 ||6 ||— ||10,501 |
|Total cash equivalents and short-term investments||151,508 ||28 ||(10)||151,526 |
|Less: cash equivalents||(51,391)||— ||3 ||(51,388)|
|Total short-term investments||$||100,117 ||$||28 ||$||(7)||$||100,138 |
As of September 30, 2020, $61.4 million of marketable securities had remaining maturities between and two years. The remainder of the marketable securities have a remaining maturity of less than one year. As the Company may sell these securities at any time for use in current operations even if the securities have not yet reached maturity, all marketable securities are classified as current assets in the Company's consolidated balance sheet. Management regularly reviews all of the Company’s investments for other-than-temporary declines in estimated fair value. Management determined that the gross unrealized losses on the Company’s marketable securities as of September 30, 2020 were temporary in nature and none were in continuous loss position for 12 months or more. Therefore, none of the Company’s marketable securities were other-than-temporarily impaired as of September 30, 2020.
4. Balance Sheet Components
Property and Equipment, Net
Property and equipment, net consists of the following:
|September 30, 2020||December 31, 2019|
|Computer equipment and software||$||924 ||$||752 |
|Laboratory equipment||9,147 ||6,291 |
|Furniture and fixtures||1,263 ||678 |
|Leasehold improvements||25,304 ||1,602 |
|Construction in progress||137 ||23,553 |
|Total property and equipment||36,775 ||32,876 |
|Less accumulated depreciation and amortization||(9,480)||(7,992)|
|Property and equipment, net||$||27,295 ||$||24,884 |
Depreciation and amortization expense related to property and equipment for the three months ended September 30, 2020 and 2019 was $1.2 million, and $0.4 million, respectively, and for the nine months ended September 30, 2020 and 2019 was $3.1 million and $1.2 million, respectively.
Accrued Expenses and Other Current Liabilities
Accrued expenses and other current liabilities consist of the following:
|September 30, 2020||December 31, 2019|
|Employee compensation||$||4,858 ||$||4,055 |
|Accrued preclinical, clinical and process development costs||2,298 ||1,973 |
|Accrued professional services||943 ||2,607 |
|Other||543 ||2,636 |
|Total accrued expenses and other current liabilities||$||8,642 ||$||11,271 |
5. Equity Incentive Awards
The following table summarizes the Company’s option activity and related information:
|Balance at December 31, 2019||8,995 ||$||7.19 |
|Options granted||3,920 ||18.84 |
|Options exercised||(2,036)||6.22 |
|Options forfeited||(617)||10.20 |
|Balance at September 30, 2020||10,262 ||$||11.65 |
|Exercisable as of September 30, 2020||3,486 ||$||7.95 |
Restricted Stock Units (“RSUs”)
The following table summarizes the Company’s RSUs activity and related information:
|Number of Units|
Date Fair Value
|Outstanding at December 31, 2019||1,121 ||$||4.59 |
|Granted||104 ||15.75 |
|Vested and released||(572)||4.53 |
|Outstanding at September 30, 2020||558 ||$||6.33 |
Stock-Based Compensation Expense
The following table presents, by operating expense, the Company’s stock-based compensation expense:
|Three Months Ended|
|Nine Months Ended|
|Research and development||$||2,051 ||$||1,352 ||$||4,967 ||$||2,829 |
|General and administrative||3,969 ||1,309 ||9,247 ||4,220 |
|Total stock-based compensation expense||$||6,020 ||$||2,661 ||$||14,214 ||$||7,049 |
6. Net Loss per Share
Basic net loss per share is calculated by dividing the net loss by the weighted-average number of shares of common stock outstanding for the period. Diluted net loss per share is computed by giving effect to all potential dilutive common stock equivalents outstanding for the period using the treasury stock method. Outstanding stock options, RSUs, rights under the employee stock purchase plan (“ESPP”) and warrants are considered to be common stock equivalents and are only included in the calculation of diluted net loss per share when their effect is dilutive.
The following common stock equivalents outstanding at the end of the periods presented were excluded from the calculation of diluted net loss per share for the periods indicated because including them would have had an anti-dilutive effect:
|September 30, 2020||September 30, 2019|
|Stock options||10,262 ||8,655|
|Restricted stock units||558 ||1,137|
|Warrants to purchase common stock||40 ||90|
|10,926 ||9,978 |
7. Related Party Transactions
In our February 2020 underwritten public offering of common stock, James Scopa, a member of our Board, and Anne Kenner, as Trustees for the James P. Scopa and Anne E. Kenner Family Trust (the “Trust”) purchased on behalf of the Trust 10,000 shares of our common stock at a price of $13.75 per share, the public offering price in our February 2020 underwritten public offering of common stock, for an aggregate purchase price of $0.1 million, payable in cash.
In our August 2020 underwritten public offering of common stock, our CEO and one other executive officer purchased an aggregate of 15,384 shares of our common stock at a price of $13.00 per share, the public offering price in our August 2020 underwritten public offering of common stock, for an aggregate purchase price of $0.2 million, payable in cash.
Item 2. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The interim financial statements included in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and this Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations should be read in conjunction with the financial statements and notes thereto for the year ended December 31, 2019, and the related Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, contained in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, as filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 12, 2020. In addition to historical information, this discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (Securities Act), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”). In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These forward-looking and other statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, including those discussed in the section titled “Risk Factors,” set forth in Part II – Other Information, Item 1A below and elsewhere in this report that could cause actual results to differ materially from historical results or anticipated results. In particular, we encourage you to review the risk factor related to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic titled “The coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic has impacted our business practices and the effects of its continued impact on our business, results of operations, and financial condition will depend on future developments, which cannot be predicted.”
We are a clinical-stage gene therapy company targeting unmet medical needs in ocular and rare diseases. We develop gene therapy product candidates intended to provide durable efficacy by inducing sustained expression of a therapeutic protein. Our core capabilities include novel vector discovery, preclinical and clinical development and in-house manufacturing expertise, specifically in scalable process development, assay development, and current Good Manufacturing Practices (“cGMP”) quality control.
Our lead product candidate ADVM-022 is a single intravitreal (“IVT”) injection gene therapy designed to deliver long-term durability with robust treatment response, reduce the treatment burden of frequent anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (“anti-VEGF”) injections, and improve real-world vision outcomes for patients. ADVM-022 is being developed for the treatment of patients with chronic retinal diseases who respond to standard-of-care anti-VEGF therapy, including wet age-related macular degeneration (“wet AMD”) and diabetic macular edema (“DME”). ADVM-022 utilizes a proprietary vector capsid, AAV.7m8, carrying an aflibercept coding sequence under the control of a proprietary expression cassette.
Wet AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in patients over 60 years of age, with a prevalence of approximately 1.2 million individuals in the U.S. and 3 million worldwide. In recognition of the need for new treatment options for wet AMD, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) granted Fast Track designation for ADVM-022 for the treatment of wet AMD.
We are conducting the OPTIC trial, designed as a multi-center, open-label, Phase 1, dose-ranging safety trial of ADVM-022 in patients with wet AMD who have demonstrated responsiveness to anti-VEGF treatment. Patients in OPTIC are treatment experienced, and previously required frequent anti-VEGF injections to control their wet AMD and to maintain functional vision. Patients received a high dose (6 x 10^11 vg/eye) of ADVM-022 in Cohort 1 (n=6) and Cohort 4 (n=9), and patients received a low dose (2 x 10^11 vg/eye) of ADVM-022 in Cohort 2 (n=6) and Cohort 3 (n=9).
In OPTIC, ADVM-022 continues to show robust treatment response from both high and low doses. As reported in our most recent presentation of OPTIC data in early August 2020, we have observed long-term durability beyond 15 months from a single IVT injection of ADVM-022 with zero anti-VEGF rescue injections in Cohort 1 (high dose). ADVM-022 continues to be well tolerated across all four cohorts. In addition, we have seen encouraging early safety data with prophylactic steroid eye drops from Cohort 4 (high dose) consistent with Cohort 3 (low dose). In November 2020, we plan to present additional clinical data from all four cohorts. As we continue to follow patients in OPTIC, we plan to present additional clinical data from this trial in 2021.
Based on the promising data observed thus far from OPTIC, we plan to initiate a pivotal trial for ADVM-022 in wet AMD in mid-2021. As we advance ADVM-022 for two large ocular disease indications, we are initiating process scale-up from 200L to 1000L scale to support the future commercial product launch of ADVM-022. In addition, we are beginning to plan for in-house manufacturing capabilities with the initiation of site selection.
Diabetes impacts over 30 million people in the United States, over 400 million people globally and is increasing in prevalence. Approximately 5% of adults with type II diabetes are impacted by DME, a vision-threatening complication of diabetic retinopathy (“DR”) and the leading cause of vision loss in patients with DR. Based on the promising safety and efficacy data from the OPTIC trial for ADVM-022 in patients with wet AMD, we are advancing our novel gene therapy for patients with DME. We are conducting the INFINITY Phase 2 trial, a multi-center, randomized, double-masked, active comparator-controlled study evaluating a single IVT injection of ADVM-022 in patients with DME.
In the INFINITY trial, we are randomizing patients and plan to enroll approximately 33 patients. The INFINITY trial is designed to demonstrate superior control of disease activity following a single IVT injection of ADVM-022 compared to a single aflibercept injection, as measured by time to worsening of DME disease activity in the study eye. Additional objectives include assessments of treatment burden, visual acuity, retinal anatomy and safety outcomes. Participants in this double-masked trial are being randomized to one of three arms for their study eye treatment: Arm 1 will receive high dose (6 x 10^11 vg/eye) of ADVM-022, Arm 2 will receive low dose (2 x 10^11 vg/eye) of ADVM-022, and Arm 3 will receive aflibercept at a dose of 2 mg. As we advance the INFINITY trial, we plan to present clinical data from this trial in the second half of 2021.
We have licensed the right to use AAV.7m8 to GenSight Biologics S.A. (“GenSight”) to deliver certain therapeutic transgenes, including channel rhodopsin protein, which GenSight is using in their product candidate GS030 for retinitis pigmentosa, currently in clinical development.
In the first quarter of 2020, we moved into our new facility in Redwood City, California. This new 81,000 square foot facility serves as our corporate headquarters and includes expanded laboratory space as well as space for expanded manufacturing process capabilities.
Impact of COVID-19
Our results of operations and financial condition for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020 were not significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the full extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will directly or indirectly impact these areas in the future is unknown at this time and will depend on future developments that are unpredictable. We are actively monitoring and managing our response and assessing actual and potential impacts to these areas. Please refer to the “Risk Factors” section for further discussion of the risks we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact on Operations
We are continuously evaluating and addressing potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations. To date, we have experienced limited impact due to COVID-19 on our operations. Our offices, laboratories, clinical trial sites, contract research organizations (“CROs”), contract manufacturing organizations, and other collaborators and partners are located in jurisdictions where quarantines, executive orders, shelter-in-place orders, guidelines, and other similar orders and restrictions intended to control the spread of the disease have been put in place by governmental authorities.
We are committed to the health and safety of our employees and their families and doing our part to slow the community spread of COVID-19. In mid-March, we implemented a number of actions, including a work-from-home policy for employees whose jobs do not require them to be onsite, allowing for flexible work schedules, restricting in-person meetings, and limiting onsite activities to only the most time-critical or necessary operational activities. We have maintained certain essential in-person laboratory functions in order to advance key research and development initiatives, supported by the implementation of updated onsite procedures. We believe these measures and others have allowed us to mitigate, but not eliminate, the effects and risks on our on-site operations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact on Clinical Trials
The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our ongoing and planned clinical trials is uncertain and subject to change. To date, we have experienced limited impact due to COVID-19 on our ongoing clinical programs, including the OPTIC and INFINITY clinical trials. We are working closely with our clinical trial sites to monitor and attempt to address or limit the potential negative impacts of the evolving COVID-19 outbreak on patient safety, patient enrollment, continued participation of patients already enrolled in our clinical studies, protocol compliance, data quality, and overall study integrity. Despite these efforts, we are unsure as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic will significantly impact trial enrollment or completion of our current or planned clinical studies.
Impact on Supply Chain and Manufacturing
While we have not yet experienced significant disruptions to our supply chain and manufacturing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot be certain that this trend will continue. Based on current information, we believe that our partners in our supply chain have been and will continue to serve us continuously during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, certain of these partners have prioritized and allocated more resources and capacity to supply drug product or raw materials to other companies engaged in the study of potential treatments or vaccinations for COVID-19, which could result in supply interruptions. We have sufficient drug supply for our ongoing current clinical trials; however, to mitigate against future potential delays in product supply, we are currently implementing additional measures to address these risks, including securing additional supplies and manufacturing capacity reserve, which have resulted in additional expenses and may result in other additional expenses in the future.
We have not generated positive cash flow or net income from operations since our inception and, as of September 30, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $464.9 million. We expect to incur substantial expenses and increasing losses from operations in the foreseeable future as we continue our research and development efforts, advance our product candidates through preclinical and clinical development, manufacture clinical study materials, seek regulatory approval, and prepare for and, if approved, proceed to commercialization. We are at an early stage of development and may never be successful in developing or commercializing our product candidates.
While we may in the future generate revenue from a variety of sources, including license fees, milestone and research and development payments in connection with strategic partnerships, and potentially revenue from product sales if any of our product candidates are approved, to date we have not generated any revenue from product sales.
We currently have no operational clinical or commercial manufacturing facilities, and all of our clinical manufacturing activities are currently contracted out to third parties. Additionally, we use third-party CROs to carry out our clinical development and we do not have a sales organization.
We expect to incur substantial and increasing expenditures in the foreseeable future for the development and potential commercialization of our product candidates. We will need substantial additional funding in the future to support our operating activities as we advance our product candidates through preclinical and clinical development, seek regulatory approval and prepare for and, if approved, proceed to commercialization. Adequate funding may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to raise capital, or to do so on acceptable terms, when needed, or to form additional collaboration partnerships to support our efforts, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or potential commercialization efforts.
As of September 30, 2020, we had $454.5 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments. We believe that we have sufficient cash to fund operations into mid-2022.
To date we have not generated any revenue from the sale of our products. We have generated revenue through research, collaboration and license arrangements with strategic partners. Our ability to generate product revenue and become profitable depends upon our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development, we are unable to predict the amount or timing of product revenue. Even if we are able to generate revenue from the sale of our products, our sales may not be sufficient to generate cash from operations, in which case we may be unable to continue our operations at planned levels and be forced to reduce our operations.
Research and Development Expenses
Conducting a significant amount of research and development is central to our business model. Research and development expenses primarily include personnel-related costs, stock-based compensation expenses, laboratory supplies, consulting costs, external contract research and development expenses, including expenses incurred under agreements with CROs, the cost of acquiring, developing and manufacturing clinical study materials, and overhead expenses, such as rent, equipment depreciation, insurance and utilities.
We expense research and development costs as incurred. We defer and expense advance payments for goods or services for future research and development activities as the goods are delivered or the related services are performed.
We estimate preclinical study and clinical trial expenses based on the services performed pursuant to contracts with research institutions and CROs that conduct and manage preclinical studies and clinical trials on our behalf. In accruing service fees, we estimate the time period over which services will be performed and the level of effort to be expended in each period. We estimate the amounts incurred through communications with third party service providers and our estimates of accrued expenses as of each balance sheet date are based on information available at the time. If the actual timing of the performance of services or the level of effort varies from the estimate, we will adjust the accrual accordingly.
At this time, we cannot reasonably estimate the nature, timing or aggregate costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the development of any of our product candidates. The successful development and commercialization of a product candidate is highly uncertain, and clinical development timelines, the probability of success, and development and commercialization costs can differ materially from expectations.
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative expenses primarily include personnel-related costs, stock-based compensation, professional fees for legal, consulting, audit and tax services, overhead expenses, such as rent, equipment depreciation, insurance and utilities, and other general operating expenses not otherwise included in research and development expenses. Our general and administrative expenses may increase in future periods if and to the extent we elect to increase our investment in infrastructure to support continued research and development activities and potential commercialization of our product candidates. We will continue to evaluate the need for such investment in conjunction with our ongoing consideration of our pipeline of product candidates. We anticipate increased expenses related to audit, legal and regulatory functions, as well as director and officer insurance premiums and investor relations costs.
Other Income, Net
Other income, net primarily consists of interest income on our cash equivalents and short-term investments in marketable securities.
Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Judgments and Estimates
Our management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations are based upon our unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The preparation of these condensed consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses. On an on-going basis, we evaluate our critical accounting policies and estimates. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable in the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions and conditions. There have been no material changes to our critical accounting policies from those described in our Annual Report on Form 10-K as filed with the SEC on March 12, 2020.
Results of Operations
Comparison of the Three and Nine Months Ended September 30, 2020 and 2019
|Three Months Ended|
Nine Months Ended
|Collaboration and license revenue||$||— ||$||250 ||$||(250)||$||— ||$||250 ||$||(250)|
|Research and development||16,653 ||9,944 ||6,709 ||50,581 ||29,045 ||21,536 |
General and administrative
|11,351 ||7,389 ||3,962 ||30,989 ||20,097 ||10,892 |
Total operating expenses
|28,004 ||17,333 ||10,671 ||81,570 ||49,142 ||32,428 |
Other income, net
|235 ||965 ||(730)||1,695 ||3,331 ||(1,636)|
Our revenue for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019 was related to a milestone payment under our license agreement with GenSight.
Research and Development Expense
Research and development expense increased $6.7 million to $16.7 million for the three months ended September 30, 2020 from $9.9 million for the three months ended September 30, 2019. This overall increase was primarily related to a $2.2 million increase in personnel-associated costs including higher stock-based compensation expense, salaries and bonus mainly driven by headcount increase, a $2.0 million increase in production costs related to product candidate ADVM-022 and earlier-stage research programs, a $0.9 million increase in laboratory costs, a $0.7 million increase in expenses for consultants and contractors, and a $0.6 million increase in clinical trial. Stock-based compensation included in research and development expenses was $2.1 million for the third quarter of 2020, compared to $1.4 million for the third quarter of 2019.
Research and development expense increased $21.5 million to $50.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2020 from $29.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2019. This overall increase was primarily related to a $9.4 million increase in production costs related to product candidate ADVM-022 and earlier-stage research programs, a $6.0 million increase in personnel-associated costs including higher stock-based compensation expense, salaries and bonus mainly driven by headcount increase, a $1.8 million increase in laboratory costs, a $1.3 million increase in expenses for consultants, contractors, and other outside services, a $1.1 million increase in facilities costs as we moved into the new facilities during the first quarter of 2020, and a $0.7 million increase in clinical trial. Stock-based compensation expense included in research and development expenses was $5.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, compared to $2.8 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2019.
For the periods presented, our research and development activities were attributable to our wet AMD, DME, rare disease programs and earlier-stage research programs. We expect that research and development expenses will increase in future periods as we continue to invest in advancing our gene therapy product candidate ADVM-022 and earlier-stage research programs.
General and Administrative Expense
General and administrative expense increased $4.0 million to $11.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2020 from $7.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2019, primarily related to an increase of $3.5 million in personnel-associated costs including higher stock-based compensation expense, salaries and bonus mainly driven by headcount increase. The overall increase was also caused by increases of $0.7 million in depreciation expense as we moved into the new facilities during the first quarter of 2020 and $0.3 million in insurance and license fees, partially offset by a $0.5 million decrease in expenses for consultants and contractors. Stock-based compensation expense included in general and administrative expenses was $4.0 million for the third quarter of 2020, compared to $1.3 million for the third quarter of 2019.
General and administrative expense increased $10.9 million to $31.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2020 from $20.1 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2019, primarily related to an increase of $7.5 million in personnel-associated costs including higher stock-based compensation expense, salaries and bonuses mainly driven by headcount increase. The overall increase was also caused by increases of $1.7 million in depreciation expense as we moved into the new facilities during the first quarter of 2020, $0.9 million in fees for audit, tax, patent and other professional services, and $0.7 million in insurance and license fees. Stock-based compensation expense included in general and administrative expenses was $9.2 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, compared to $4.2 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2019.
We expect that general and administrative expenses will increase in future periods as we continue to support advancing our gene therapy programs. We anticipate increased expenses related to audit, legal, finance and investor functions to support our organizational growth.
Other Income, Net
The decreases of $0.7 million and $1.6 million in other income, net, for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020 as compared to 2019, respectively, were primarily due to a lower yield from our short term investments.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
We have not generated positive cash flow or net income from operations since our inception and as of September 30, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $464.9 million. As of September 30, 2020, we had $454.5 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments compared to $166.0 million as of December 31, 2019. We believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments as of September 30, 2020 will be sufficient to fund our operations into mid-2022.
In August 2020, we sold an aggregate of 16,675,000 shares of our common stock for $203.4 million in net proceeds after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses.
In February 2020, we sold an aggregate of 10,925,000 shares of our common stock for $140.8 million in net proceeds after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses.
We expect to incur substantial expenditures in the foreseeable future for the development and potential commercialization of our product candidates and ongoing internal research and development programs, and expenses to build out our new facility. At this time, we cannot reasonably estimate the nature, timing or aggregate amount of costs for our development, potential commercialization, and internal research and development programs. However, in order to complete our planned preclinical trials and current and future clinical trials, and to complete the process of obtaining regulatory approval for our product candidates, as well as to build the sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure that we believe will be necessary to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, we will require substantial additional funding in the future.
If and when we seek additional funding, we will do so through equity or debt financings, collaborative or other arrangements with corporate sources or through other sources of financing. Adequate additional funding may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. Our failure to raise capital in the future could have a negative impact on our financial condition and our ability to pursue our business strategies. To complete development and commercialization of any of our product candidates, we anticipate that we will need to raise substantial additional capital, the requirements of which will depend on many factors, including:
•the initiation, progress, timing, costs and results of preclinical studies and any clinical trials for our product candidates;
•the outcome, timing of and costs involved in, seeking and obtaining approvals from the FDA and other regulatory authorities, including the potential for the FDA and other regulatory authorities to require that we perform more studies than those that we currently expect;
•the ability of our product candidates to progress through clinical development activities successfully;
•our need to expand our research and development activities;
•the rate of progress and cost of our commercialization of our products;
•the cost of preparing to manufacture our products on a larger scale;
•the costs of commercialization activities including product sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution;
•the degree and rate of market acceptance of any products launched by us or future partners;
•the costs of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing any patent claims and other intellectual property rights;
•our need to implement additional infrastructure and internal systems;
•our ability to hire additional personnel;
•our ability to enter into additional collaboration, licensing, commercialization or other arrangements and the terms and timing of such arrangements;
•the emergence of competing technologies or other adverse market developments; and
•the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
If we are unable to raise additional funds when needed, we may be required to delay, reduce, or terminate some or all of our development programs and clinical trials. We may also be required to sell or license other technologies or clinical product candidates or programs that we would prefer to develop and commercialize ourselves.
Nine Months Ended
|Net cash used in operating activities||$||(57,067)||$||(34,335)|
|Net cash used in investing activities||(291,743)||(48,863)|
|Net cash provided by financing activities||355,609 ||1,420 |
|Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash||$||6,799 ||$||(81,778)|
Cash Used in Operating Activities
During the nine months ended September 30, 2020, net cash used in operating activities was $57.1 million, primarily as a result of net loss of $79.9 million due to the continued activities developing our product candidates, partially offset by $16.5 million of non-cash charges mainly related to $14.2 million of stock-based compensation expense and $3.1 million of depreciation and amortization expenses, and $6.3 million of net increase in operating assets and liabilities, which fluctuate due to timing of expenses and payments.
During the nine months ended September 30, 2019, net cash used in operating activities was $34.3 million, primarily as a result of net loss of $45.6 million due to the continued activities developing our product candidates, partially offset by $9.1 million of non-cash charges primarily related to $7.0 million of stock-based compensation expense and $1.2 million depreciation and amortization expenses, and $2.1 million of net decrease in operating assets and liabilities, which fluctuate due to timing of expenses and payments.
Cash Used in Investing Activities
Net cash used in investing activities for the nine months ended September 30, 2020 consisted of $281.3 million of net purchases of marketable securities and $10.4 million of purchases of property and equipment primarily related to the new facility.
Net cash used in investing activities for the nine months ended September 30, 2019 consisted of $38.0 million of net purchases of marketable securities and $10.9 million of purchases of property and equipment. Purchases of property and equipment primarily consisted of the leasehold improvements related to the new facility.
Cash Provided by Financing Activities
Net cash provided by financing activities for nine months ended September 30, 2020 consisted of $344.5 million of net proceeds from the sale of our common stock, $12.7 million of net proceeds from the exercise of stock options, and $0.5 million in proceeds from employee stock purchase plan, partially offset by $2.0 million in taxes paid relating to net share settlement of restricted stock units and repayment of loans.
Net cash provided by financing activities for nine months ended September 30, 2019 consisted primarily of $2.6 million of the net proceeds from the exercises of stock options, and $0.2 million proceeds from employee stock purchases, partially offset by $1.4 million in taxes paid relating to net share settlement of restricted stock units and repayment of loans.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements as defined in Regulation S-K, Item 303(a)(4)(ii).
Item 3. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk
Under SEC rules and regulations, as a smaller reporting company, we are not required to provide the information required by this item.
Item 4. Controls and Procedures
Evaluation of disclosure controls and procedures. Management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, evaluated the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures, as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Exchange Act, as of September 30, 2020. The evaluation of our disclosure controls and procedures included a review of our processes and implementation and the effect on the information generated for use in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q. We conduct this type of evaluation quarterly so that our conclusions concerning the effectiveness of these controls can be reported in our periodic reports filed with the SEC. The overall goals of these evaluation activities are to monitor our disclosure controls and procedures and to make modifications as necessary. We intend to maintain these disclosure controls and procedures, modifying them as circumstances warrant.
Based on that evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer concluded that, as of September 30, 2020, our disclosure controls and procedures were effective to provide reasonable assurance that information required to be disclosed by us in the reports that we file or submit under the Exchange Act is (i) recorded, processed, summarized and reported as and when required and (ii) accumulated and communicated to our management, including the Chief Executive Officer and our Chief Financial Officer, as appropriate to allow timely discussion regarding required disclosure.
Changes in internal control over financial reporting. There have been no changes in our internal control over financial reporting during the three months ended September 30, 2020 that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
Limitations on the Effectiveness of Controls
Our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, does not expect that our disclosure controls and procedures or our internal control over financial reporting will prevent all error and all fraud. A control system, no matter how well conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. Further, the design of a control system must reflect the fact that there are resource constraints, and the benefit of controls must be considered relative to their costs. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that all control issues and instances of fraud, if any, within Adverum have been detected. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
PART II – OTHER INFORMATION
Item 1. Legal Proceedings
Item 1A. Risk Factors
You should consider carefully the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q. If any of the following risks are realized, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected. The risks described below are not the only risks facing us. Risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial also may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Further, the current coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic and actions taken to address the pandemic may exacerbate the risks described below.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need for Capital
We have incurred significant operating losses since inception, and we expect to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We may never become profitable or, if achieved, be able to sustain profitability.
We have incurred significant operating losses since we were founded in 2006 and expect to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future as we continue development of our product candidates. Losses have resulted principally from costs incurred in our research and development programs and from our general and administrative expenses. In the future, we intend to continue to conduct research and development, regulatory compliance activities and, if any of our product candidates is approved, sales and marketing activities that, together with anticipated general and administrative expenses, will likely result in us incurring significant losses for the next several years.
We currently generate no revenue from sales, and we may never be able to commercialize any of our product candidates. We do not currently have the required approvals to market any of our product candidates, and we may never receive such approvals. We may not be profitable even if we or any of our future development partners succeed in commercializing any of our product candidates. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with developing and commercializing our product candidates, we are unable to predict the extent of any future losses or when we will become profitable, if at all.
We expect that our cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments will be sufficient to fund our lead gene therapy programs into mid-2022. If this expectation proves to be wrong, we may be forced to delay, limit or terminate certain of our development efforts before then.
We currently expect our cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments to fund our planned operations into mid-2022. However, this estimate is based on a number of assumptions that may prove to be wrong, including our expectations about the timing of planned clinical trials and expected investments into our manufacturing capabilities, and changing circumstances beyond our control may cause capital to be consumed more rapidly than currently anticipated. As a result, our operating plan may change, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned, through collaboration agreements and public or private financings. If we run low on capital before we are able to achieve meaningful clinical data for some or all of our product candidates, we may be unable to successfully raise additional funds, and, consequentially, may need to significantly curtail some or all of our development activities.
We will need to raise additional funding, which may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all. If we fail to obtain additional capital necessary to fund our operations, we will be unable to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates.
We will require substantial future capital in order to complete the preclinical and clinical development for our product candidates and potentially to commercialize these product candidates. Any future clinical trials or expansion of ongoing clinical trials of our product candidates would cause an increase in our spending levels, as would other corporate activities such as building a manufacturing facility to supply our product candidates. The amount and timing of any expenditure needed to implement our development and commercialization programs will depend on numerous factors, including:
•the type, number, scope, progress, expansion costs, results of and timing of any future preclinical studies and clinical trials of any of our product candidates which we are pursuing or may choose to pursue in the future;
•the need for, and the progress, costs and results of, any additional clinical trials or nonclinical studies of our product candidates we may initiate based on the results of any clinical trials that we may plan or discussions with the FDA, including any additional clinical trials or nonclinical studies the FDA or other regulatory agencies may require evaluating the safety of our product candidates;
•the costs of obtaining, maintaining and enforcing our patents and other intellectual property rights;
•the costs and timing of obtaining or maintaining manufacturing for our product candidates, including commercial manufacturing;
•the costs and timing of establishing sales and marketing capabilities and enhanced internal controls over financial reporting;
•the terms and timing of establishing collaborations, license agreements and other partnerships;
•costs associated with any new product candidates that we may develop, in-license or acquire;
•the effect of competing technological and market developments;
•our ability to establish and maintain partnering arrangements for development; and
•the costs associated with being a public company.
Some of these factors are outside of our control. We do not expect our existing capital resources to be sufficient to enable us to fund the completion of our clinical trials and remaining development programs through commercial introduction. We expect that we will need to raise additional funds in the future.
We have no product candidate approved by any regulatory authority, have not sold any products, and we do not expect to sell or derive revenue from any product sales for the foreseeable future. We may seek additional funding through collaboration agreements and public or private financings.
Additional funding may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all and the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders. In addition, the issuance of additional shares by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our shares to decline.
If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we will be unable to complete any future clinical trials for our product candidates and we may be required to significantly curtail some or all of our activities. We also could be required to seek funds through arrangements with collaborative partners or otherwise that may require us to relinquish rights to our product candidates or some of our technologies or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us.
Risks Related to the Discovery and Development of Our Product Candidates
Our business will depend substantially on the success of one or more of our product candidates. If we are unable to develop, obtain regulatory approval for, or successfully commercialize, any or all of our product candidates, our business will be materially harmed.
Our product candidates are in the early stages of development and will require substantial preclinical and/or clinical development and testing, manufacturing process improvement and validation, bridging studies and regulatory approval prior to commercialization. It is critical to our business to successfully develop and ultimately obtain regulatory approval for one or more of these product candidates. Our ability to commercialize our product candidates effectively will depend on several factors, including the following:
•successful completion of preclinical studies and clinical trials, including the ability to demonstrate safety and efficacy of our product candidates;
•receipt of marketing approvals for any future products for which we complete clinical trials, including securing regulatory exclusivity to the extent available;
•establishing commercial manufacturing capabilities, for example, by engaging third-party manufacturers or developing our own manufacturing capabilities that can provide products and services to support clinical development and the market demand for our product candidates, if approved;
•successful launch and commercial sales of the product, whether alone or in collaboration with potential partners;
•acceptance of the product as a viable treatment option by patients, the medical community and third-party payers;
•establishing market share while competing with other therapies;
•a continued acceptable safety profile of our products following regulatory approval;
•maintaining compliance with post-approval regulations and other requirements; and
•qualifying for, identifying, registering, maintaining, enforcing and defending intellectual property rights and claims covering our product candidates.
If we or our collaborators do not achieve one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to commercialize our product candidates, which would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Of the large number of biologics and drugs in development in the pharmaceutical industry, only a small percentage result in the submission of a biologics license application (“BLA”) to the FDA and even fewer are approved for commercialization. Furthermore, even if we do receive regulatory approval to market any of our product candidates, any such approval may be subject to limitations on the indicated uses for which we may market the product, or limitations related to its distribution. Accordingly, even if we are able to obtain the requisite financing to continue to fund our development programs, there can be
no assurance that any of our product candidates will be successfully developed or commercialized. If we or any of our future development partners are unable to develop, or obtain regulatory approval, or, if approved, successfully commercialize, any of our product candidates, we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to continue our business.
Our gene therapy platform is based on a novel technology, which makes it difficult to predict the time and cost of product candidate development and subsequently obtaining regulatory approval.
We have concentrated our research and development efforts on our gene therapy platform and our future success depends on the successful development of product candidates based on this platform. There can be no assurance that any development problems we have experienced or may experience in the future related to our platform will not cause significant delays or unanticipated costs, or that such development problems can be solved. We may also experience delays in developing a sustainable, reproducible and scalable manufacturing process or transferring that process to commercial partners, which may prevent us from completing our clinical trials or commercializing our product candidates on a timely or profitable basis, if at all.
In addition, the clinical trial requirements of the FDA, the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) and other regulatory agencies and the criteria these regulators may use to determine the safety and efficacy of a product candidate vary substantially according to the type, complexity, novelty and intended use and market of the potential products. The regulatory approval process for novel gene therapy products such as ours can be more expensive and take longer than for other product types, which are better known or more extensively studied to date. Regulatory approaches and requirements for gene therapy products continue to evolve, and any changes could create significant delay and unpredictability for product development and approval as compared to technologies with which regulatory agencies have more substantial experience. For example, the FDA issued a series of gene therapy guidance documents in January 2020 that we are evaluating and that may impact our future development efforts and clinical trial designs.
Also, before a clinical study can begin, each study site's institutional review board (“IRB”) and its Institutional Biosafety Committee will have to review the proposed clinical trial to assess appropriateness to conduct the clinical study at that site. In addition, adverse developments in clinical trials of gene therapy products conducted by others may cause the FDA or other oversight bodies to change the requirements for human research on or for approval of any of our product candidates.
These regulatory review committees and advisory groups, and the guidelines they promulgate, may lengthen our regulatory review process, require us to perform additional studies, increase our development costs, increase or otherwise change chemistry, manufacturing and controls ("CMC") requirements, lead to changes in our regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of our product candidates or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. As we advance our product candidates, we will usually be required to consult with these, and potentially other, regulatory and advisory groups and comply with applicable guidelines or recommendations. If we fail to do so, we may be required to delay or discontinue development of our product candidates. Delay or failure to obtain, or unexpected costs incurred in obtaining, the regulatory approval necessary to bring a potential product to market could decrease our ability to generate sufficient product revenue to maintain our business.
We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates.
The success of our business depends primarily upon our ability to identify, develop and commercialize products based on our platform technology. Our research programs may fail to identify other potential product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons. For example, our research methodology may be unsuccessful in identifying potential product candidates or our potential product candidates may be shown to lack efficacy, have harmful side effects, or may have other characteristics that may make the products unmarketable or unlikely to receive marketing approval.
If any of these events occur, we may be forced to abandon our development efforts for a program or programs, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects and could potentially cause us to cease operations. Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential programs or product candidates that may ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.
Few of our product candidates and proprietary viral vectors have been tested in clinical trials.
Drug development has inherent risk. Few of our product candidates and proprietary viral vectors have been evaluated in clinical trials in patients. Our lead product candidate, ADVM-022 for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration ("wet AMD") and DME, uses a proprietary vector, AAV.7m8, which has undergone limited human testing, and may experience unexpected results in clinical trials in the future. We, or any licensee or development partner, will be required to demonstrate through adequate and well-controlled clinical trials that our product candidate or another party’s product candidate containing one of our proprietary viral vectors are safe and effective for use in their target indications before seeking regulatory approvals for commercial sale. Drug development is a long, expensive and uncertain process, and delay or failure can occur at any stage
of development, including after commencement of any of our clinical trials or any clinical trials using our proprietary viral vectors. Any such delay or failure could significantly harm our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials are not always predictive of future results. Any product candidate we or any of our future development partners advance into clinical trials may not have favorable results in later clinical trials, if any, or receive regulatory approval.
If our product candidates are not shown to be safe and effective, we may not realize the value of our investment in our technology. Promising preclinical results generated with a product candidate in animal models do not guarantee similar results when the candidate is tested in humans. For example, the levels of protein expression achieved from a vector in a preclinical model, including non-human primate (“NHP”) models, may be significantly higher than the level of protein expression achieved in humans. Similarly, human subjects administered our product candidates may develop side effects that were not observed in animal models and/or are more severe than those observed in animal models. In addition, even industry-accepted animal models may not accurately replicate human disease. For example, the laser-induced choroidal neovascularization model in NHPs is the industry accepted animal model for wet AMD, where efficacy is assessed by reduction of the number of clinically relevant neovascular lesions. Even so, this model does not replicate all aspects of wet AMD in humans, some of which may be relevant to the success of ADVM-022. Success in preclinical studies or in early clinical trials does not mean that later clinical trials will be successful, because product candidates in later-stage clinical trials may fail to demonstrate sufficient safety or efficacy despite having progressed through preclinical and initial clinical testing. Further, safety and/or efficacy issues with a product candidate may only become apparent when the candidate is tested in human patients suffering from the relevant disease. In addition, in clinical trials, such as our OPTIC and INFINITY trials, each cohort of patients may be treated with a different dose of the tested drug or different prophylactic steroid regimen, potentially resulting in different safety profiles or efficacy levels in each of the cohorts. Furthermore, the initiation of future trials for a product candidate will be dependent upon demonstrating sufficient safety and efficacy to the relevant regulatory authorities in preceding or other ongoing trials using the same product candidate. Companies frequently suffer significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials, even after earlier clinical trials have shown promising results. In addition, only a small percentage of products under development result in the submission of a marketing application and even fewer are approved for commercialization. Even if our clinical trials successfully meet their endpoints for safety and efficacy, FDA and/or other regulatory agencies may still conclude that the product candidate has not demonstrated a beneficial risk/benefit profile or otherwise does not meet the relevant standard for approval.
We cannot guarantee that results from any clinical trials that we plan will be successful, and any safety or efficacy concerns observed in any one of our clinical trials in our targeted indications could limit the prospects for regulatory approval of our product candidates in those and other indications.
Preliminary and interim data from our clinical trials that we may announce or publish from time to time may change as each clinical trial progresses.
From time to time, we may announce or publish preliminary or interim data from our clinical trials. Preliminary and interim results of a clinical trial are not necessarily predictive of final results. Preliminary and interim data are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues or further patient follow up occurs and more patient data become available. For example, although we have periodically announced interim data from patients in our OPTIC trial, which showed all ADVM-022 related adverse events (“AEs”) as mild to moderate, there is no guarantee that in the future, we will not have more severe drug- or treatment-related adverse events, including serious adverse events (“SAEs”) or drug-limiting toxicities (“DLTs”) in patients treated with ADVM-022. In addition, in certain clinical trials, such as our OPTIC trial, individual cohorts of patients are enrolled with different dosages and other treatment conditions under our protocol. These different dosages and other treatment conditions may affect clinical outcomes, including safety profiles or efficacy, such as the number of rescue injections required, in each of the cohorts. As a result, preliminary and interim data should be viewed with caution and not relied upon until the final data from a locked database for the entire clinical trial are available. Material changes in the final data compared to preliminary or interim data could significantly harm our business prospects.
Our product candidates are subject to extensive regulation, compliance with which is costly and time consuming, and such regulation may cause unanticipated delays or prevent the receipt of the required approvals to commercialize our product candidates.
The preclinical and clinical development, manufacturing, analytical testing, labeling, storage, record-keeping, advertising, promotion, import, export, marketing and distribution of our product candidates are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA and by comparable regulatory authorities in foreign markets. In the U.S., we are not permitted to market our product candidates until we receive regulatory approval from the FDA. The process of obtaining regulatory approval is expensive, often takes many years and can vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the products involved, as well as the
target indications and patient population. Approval policies or regulations may change, and the regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the drug approval process, including the ability to delay, limit or deny approval of a product candidate for many reasons. Despite the time and expense invested in clinical development of product candidates, regulatory approval is never guaranteed.
The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities can delay, limit or deny approval of a product candidate for many reasons, including:
•such authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our or any of our future development partners’ clinical trials;
•we or any of our future development partners may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or other regulatory authorities that a product candidate is safe and effective for any indication;
•the FDA or other regulatory authorities may not accept clinical data from trials which are conducted at multinational clinical facilities or in countries where the standard of care is potentially different from that of the U.S.;
•the results of clinical trials may not demonstrate the safety or efficacy required by such authorities for approval; we or any of our future development partners may be unable to demonstrate that a product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;
•such authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;
•approval may be granted only for indications that are significantly more limited than what we apply for and/or with other significant restrictions on distribution and use;
•such authorities may find deficiencies in the manufacturing processes, analytical testing, or facilities of third-party manufacturers or testing laboratories with which we or any of our future development partners contract for clinical and commercial supplies; or
•the approval policies or regulations of such authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our or any of our future development partners’ clinical data insufficient for approval.
With respect to foreign markets, approval procedures vary among countries and, in addition to the aforementioned risks, can involve additional product testing, administrative review periods and agreements with pricing authorities. In addition, events raising questions about the safety of related products, including those already on the market, may result in increased cautiousness by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities in reviewing our product candidates based on safety, efficacy or other regulatory considerations and may result in significant delays in obtaining regulatory approvals. Any delay in obtaining, or inability to obtain, applicable regulatory approvals would prevent us or any of our future development partners from commercializing our product candidates.
If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.
Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in the INFINITY trial for ADVM-022 for the treatment of DME and any future planned clinical trials will be critical to our success. The timing of current and future clinical trials will depend on the speed at which we can recruit patients to participate in future testing of these product candidates.
Patient enrollment, a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials, is affected by many factors including the size and nature of the patient population, the proximity of patients to clinical sites, the eligibility criteria for the trial, the design of the clinical trial, competing clinical trials, clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs that may be approved for the indications we are investigating and patient’s safety concerns over participating in a clinical trial during a pandemic. We will be required to identify and enroll a sufficient number of patients with DME for the INFINITY trial, and we will be required to identify and enroll a sufficient number of patients for any future clinical trials for our product candidates. Potential patients may not be adequately diagnosed or identified with the diseases which we are targeting or may not meet the entry criteria for our trials. Additionally, some patients may have neutralizing antibodies at titer levels that would prevent them from being enrolled in a clinical trial for any of our product candidates, or may meet other exclusion criteria. The incidence of neutralizing antibodies in the population of patients, particularly for rare diseases, is unknown, and may be higher than we expect. As a consequence, enrollment in our clinical trials may be limited or slowed. We also may encounter difficulties in identifying and enrolling patients with a stage of disease appropriate for such future clinical trials. We may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics to achieve diversity in a trial.
Rare diseases impact a small number of individuals in the U.S. (fewer than 200,000) and therefore there is a limited patient pool from which to draw for clinical trials. Enrollment of eligible patients with rare or orphan diseases may be limited or slower than we anticipate in light of the small patient populations involved.
We plan to seek initial marketing approval of these product candidates in the U.S. and/or Europe and we may not be able to successfully conduct clinical trials if we cannot enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in the clinical trials
required by the FDA or the EMA or other regulatory agencies. In addition, the process of finding and diagnosing patients may prove costly.
Further, if patients are unwilling to participate in our gene therapy studies because of negative publicity from adverse events in the biotechnology or gene therapy industries or inadequate results in our preclinical studies or clinical trials or for other reasons, including competitive clinical trials for similar patient populations or available approved therapies, our recruitment of patients, conduct of preclinical studies or clinical trials and ability to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates may be hindered.
Trials using early versions of retroviral vectors, which integrate into, and thereby alter, the host cell’s DNA, have led to several well-publicized adverse events. Our product candidates use an adeno-associated viral vector ("AAV") delivery system. Nonetheless, if patients negatively associate our product candidates with the adverse events caused by previous gene therapy products, they may not choose to enroll in our clinical trials, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients to conduct clinical trials on our product candidates as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate future clinical trials, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
The occurrence of serious complications or side effects in connection with use of our product candidates, either in preclinical studies or clinical trials or post-approval, could lead to discontinuation of our clinical development program, refusal of regulatory authorities to approve our product candidates or, post-approval, revocation of marketing authorizations or refusal to approve new indications, which could severely harm our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
During the conduct of preclinical studies and clinical trials, animal models and patients may experience changes in their health, including illnesses, injuries and discomforts. Often, it is not possible to determine whether or not the product candidate being studied caused these conditions. In addition, patients may not comply with the requirements of the study, such as missing physician visits or not taking eye drops as prescribed, which may result in changes to their health or vision that are then attributed to the product candidate. Various illnesses, injuries, and discomfort may be reported from time-to-time in clinical trials of our product candidates. It is possible that as we test our product candidates in larger, longer and more extensive clinical programs, or as use of these product candidates becomes more widespread if they receive regulatory approval, illnesses, injuries, discomfort and other adverse events that were observed in earlier trials, as well as conditions that did not occur or went undetected in previous trials, will be reported by patients. Many times, side effects are only detectable after investigational products are tested in large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials or later stage clinical trials, or, in some cases, after they are made available to patients on a commercial scale after approval. If additional clinical experience indicates that one or more of our product candidates has side effects or causes serious or life-threatening side effects, the development of one or more of our product candidates may fail or be delayed, or, if one or more of our product candidates has received regulatory approval, such approval may be revoked, which would severely harm our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
When a patient experiences a negative health event during a clinical trial, we must determine if it is related to our product candidate in order to understand the safety of our product candidates. The patients we enroll in our clinical trials for our current product candidates are less healthy than the general population, which increases the likelihood that a negative health event, unrelated to our product candidate, may occur. These health events may be misattributed to our product candidate, either by us, our investigators, or by regulators. Such misattribution could cause regulatory approval of our product candidates to be denied or delayed. For example, the patients enrolled in our OPTIC trial, and any future clinical trials for wet AMD, are often geriatric and have other health conditions unrelated to wet AMD. Similarly, patients enrolled in our INFINITY trial, and any future clinical trials for DME, suffer from diabetes, which has a number of comorbidities. We cannot assure you that we will be able to accurately determine whether or not a negative health event experienced by a patient in any of these or subsequent trials was related to ADVM-022, nor can we assure you that the FDA or other regulatory authority responsible for reviewing the safety of ADVM-022 will agree with our determination. If a patient in OPTIC, INFINITY, or another clinical trial experiences a negative health event, and that event is misattributed to ADVM-022, the trial may be placed on clinical hold, and regulatory approval of ADVM-022 may be delayed or denied.
In addition, if a patient enrolled in one of our clinical trials experiences a negative health event, they may be forced to withdraw from our trial, or may become temporarily unavailable for follow-up visits, which may impact the amount or quality of data we obtain from our trial, which in turn may delay or prevent regulatory approval of our product candidate. Because patients we enroll in our clinical trials for any of our product candidates are likely to be less healthy than the general population, and particularly in trials like OPTIC that enroll a small number of patients, this risk is increased.
Our product candidates built on AAV vectors have similar risks to other gene therapy vectors, including inflammation, cytotoxic T-cell responses, anti-AAV antibodies and immune response to the transgene product, such as T-cell responses and/or
antibodies against the expressed protein. For example, based on our current clinical experience, ocular inflammation is a known side effect of ADVM-022 administration, but the duration of inflammation caused by ADVM-022, our ability to manage that inflammation using steroids or other anti-inflammatory treatments, and any potential clinical sequelae of that inflammation and treatments used to manage inflammation are not fully understood. If we are unable to manage this inflammation appropriately, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may not approve ADVM-022. Even if we achieve marketing approval, doctors may not prescribe, and patients may not use ADVM-022 or our other product candidates if they deem the levels or risk of inflammation to be unacceptable. Further, patients treated with ADVM-022 could develop antibodies against AAV.7m8 capsid and/or aflibercept protein. These antibodies could preclude these patients from receiving other AAV-based gene therapies and/or recombinant aflibercept protein in the future. Studies have also found that intravenous delivery of certain AAV vectors at very high doses may result in adverse events and have prompted the recommendation that studies involving high doses of AAV vectors should be monitored carefully for such adverse events. In addition, patients given infusions of any protein may develop severe hypersensitivity reactions, infusion reactions, or serious side effects including transaminitis. With respect to our product candidates that are being or may be studied in diseases of the eye, there are additional potential serious complications related to intravitreal injection, such as retinal detachment, endophthalmitis, ocular inflammation, cataract formation, glaucoma, hypotony, damage to the retina or cornea, and bleeding in the eye. Serious complications or serious, unexpected side effects in connection with the use of our product candidates could materially harm our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Additionally, our lead product candidate, ADVM-022 is designed for long-term, sustained expression of an exogenous protein, aflibercept. Even though Eylea® (aflibercept) has been approved by several regulatory authorities, including the FDA, for the treatment of wet AMD, there may be side effects associated with aflibercept being expressed as a gene therapy treatment modality. If such side effects are serious or life-threatening, the development of our product candidate and future product candidates may fail or be delayed, or, if such product candidate(s) have received regulatory approval, such approval may be revoked, which would severely harm our business prospects, financial condition and results of operation.
Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties
We will rely on third parties to conduct some preclinical testing and all of our planned clinical trials. If these third parties do not meet our deadlines or otherwise fail to conduct the trials as required, our clinical development programs could be delayed or unsuccessful and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates when expected or at all.
We do not have the ability to conduct all aspects of our preclinical testing, clinical testing, or clinical trials ourselves. We are dependent on third parties to conduct preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates, and, therefore, the timing of the initiation and completion of these studies or trials is controlled in part by these third parties and may occur at times substantially different from our estimates. Specifically, we use and rely on medical institutions, clinical investigators, contract research organizations (“CROs”) and consultants to conduct our trials in accordance with our clinical protocols and regulatory requirements. Our CROs, investigators and other third parties play a significant role in the conduct of these trials and subsequent collection and analysis of data.
There is no guarantee that any CROs, investigators or other third parties on which we rely for administration and conduct of our clinical trials will devote adequate time and resources to such trials or perform as contractually required. If any of these third parties fails to meet expected deadlines, fails to adhere to our clinical protocols, fails to meet regulatory requirements, or otherwise performs in a substandard manner, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated. If any of our clinical trial sites terminates for any reason, we may experience the loss of follow-up information on patients enrolled in our ongoing clinical trials unless we are able to transfer those patients to another qualified clinical trial site.
In addition, principal investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and may receive cash or equity compensation in connection with such services. If these relationships and any related compensation result in perceived or actual conflicts of interest, the utility of certain data from the clinical trial may be questioned and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized, which could result in the delay or rejection of any IND or BLA we submit to the FDA, or equivalent submissions to other regulatory authorities. Any such delay or rejection could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates.
We have relied, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of our vector production, process development, assay development, product manufacturing, product testing, protocol development, and research, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily.
We do not expect to independently conduct all aspects of our vector production, product manufacturing, product testing, protocol development, protocol performance, and research. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties with respect to these items. We may not be able to enter into agreements with these third parties and if we do enter into
agreements with these third parties, any of these third parties may not be successful at fulfilling their contractual obligations or may choose to terminate their engagements with us at any time. If we need to enter into alternative arrangements, it could delay our product development activities. Our reliance on these third parties for vector production, process development, assay development, product manufacturing, product testing, protocol development, protocol performance, and research activities will reduce our control over these activities but will not relieve us of our responsibility to ensure compliance with all required regulations. If any of these third parties on which we rely do not perform satisfactorily, we will remain responsible for ensuring that:
•each of our preclinical studies and clinical trials are conducted in accordance with the study plan and protocols and applicable regulatory requirements;
•vector production, product manufacturing, and product testing are conducted in accordance with applicable cGMP requirements and other applicable regulatory requirements;
•other research, process development, and assay development are conducted in accordance with applicable industry and regulatory standards and norms;
any of which we may not be able to do.
These third parties may not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our studies in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated study plans and protocols. If third parties breach their contractual obligations to us, we may not be able to start or complete, or may be delayed in starting or completing, the preclinical studies and clinical trials required to support future IND submissions, development work, and approval of our product candidates.
Reliance on third-party manufacturers entails risks to which we would not be subject to if we manufactured the product candidates ourselves, including:
•the inability to negotiate manufacturing agreements with third parties under commercially reasonable terms;
•reduced control as a result of using third-party manufacturers for some or all aspects of manufacturing activities;
•termination or nonrenewal of manufacturing agreements with third parties in a manner or at a time that is costly or damaging to us; and
•disruptions to the operations of our third-party manufacturers or suppliers caused by conditions unrelated to our business or operations, including the acquisition, change in control, or bankruptcy of the manufacturer or supplier.
Any of these events could lead to clinical trial delays or failure to obtain regulatory approval, or impact our ability to successfully commercialize future products.
We and our contractors are subject to significant regulation with respect to manufacturing and testing our product candidates. We have a limited number of vendors on which we rely, including, in some cases, single source vendors, and the contract vendors on which we rely may not continue to meet regulatory requirements, may have limited capacity, or may have other factors limiting their ability to comply with their contracts with us.
We currently have relationships with a limited number of suppliers for the manufacturing and testing of our vector product candidates. Our suppliers may require licenses to manufacture or test such components if such processes are not owned by the suppliers or in the public domain and we may be unable to transfer or sublicense the intellectual property rights we may have with respect to such activities, and may be unable to acquire such rights, to the extent that we do not already have them.
All entities involved in the preparation of therapeutics for clinical trials or commercial sale, including our existing contract vendors for our product candidates, are subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or used in clinical trials must be manufactured and tested 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. Poor control of production processes can lead to the introduction of adventitious agents or other contaminants, or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of our product candidates that may not be detectable in final product testing.
We or our contract manufacturers must supply all necessary documentation in support of a BLA on a timely basis and must adhere to the FDA’s cGMP regulations enforced by the FDA through its facilities inspection program as well as other regulations enforced by other regulatory authorities. Our contract manufacturers have not produced a commercially-approved AAV product and therefore have not yet demonstrated compliance with cGMP regulations to the satisfaction of the FDA or other regulatory authority. 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 our product candidates or any of our other potential products. If the facility does not pass a pre-approval plant inspection, FDA or other regulatory approval of the products will not be granted. In addition, the regulatory authorities may, at any time, audit or inspect our manufacturing facilities or those of our third-party contractors involved with the preparation of our product candidates or our other potential products or the associated quality systems for compliance with the
regulations applicable to the activities being conducted. Should the FDA or other regulatory authority determine that the facility is not in compliance with applicable regulations, the manufacture and release of our product candidates may not be possible, and our business could be harmed.
Changes in laws and governmental policies may have an effect on regulations. For example, on January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the European Union (EU), commonly referred to as Brexit. Under the withdrawal agreement agreed between the UK and the EU, the UK will be subject to a transition period until December 31, 2020 (the “Transition Period”) during which EU rules will continue to apply. During the Transition Period, negotiations between the UK and the EU are expected to continue in relation to the future customs and trading relationship between the UK and the EU following the expiration of the Transition Period. Under the formal withdrawal arrangements between the UK and the EU, the parties had until June 30, 2020 to agree to extend the Transition Period if required. No such extension was agreed prior to such date. No agreement has yet been reached between the UK and the EU and it may be the case that no formal customs and trading agreement will be reached prior to the expiration of the Transition Period on December 31, 2020. We and our contract vendors currently rely on other contractors based in the UK. After the Transition Period, if the implementation of new governmental policies associated with Brexit occurs, these governmental policies may affect our UK-based contractors’ ability to comply with applicable regulations, including existing EU regulations. If they are unable to return to compliance, or if an acceptable substitute vendor cannot be identified, it may negatively impact our business. Further, to the extent that our UK-based contractors have supply relationships with vendors in the EU, these contractors may experience difficulties, delay or increased costs in receiving materials from their vendors in the EU, which could have a material adverse effect on our UK-based contractors’ ability to provide the services or materials to us.
The regulatory authorities also may, at any time, following approval of a product for sale, audit our manufacturing facilities or those of our third-party contractors. If any such inspection or audit identifies a failure to comply with applicable regulations or if we become aware of a violation of our product specifications or applicable regulations, independent of 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 which may include the temporary or permanent suspension of a clinical trial or commercial sales or the temporary or permanent closure of a facility. Such violations could also result in civil and/or criminal penalties. Any such remedial measures or other civil and/or criminal penalties imposed upon us or third parties with whom we contract could materially harm our business.
If we or our third-party contractors fail to maintain regulatory compliance, the FDA can impose regulatory sanctions including, among other things, refusal to approve a pending application for a new biologic product, revocation of a pre-existing approval, injunction, seizure of product, or other civil or criminal penalties or closing one or more manufacturing or testing facilities. As a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially harmed.
Additionally, if the service provided by an approved manufacturing or testing contractor is interrupted, there could be a significant disruption in commercial supply. An alternative contractor would need to be qualified through a BLA supplement which could result in further delay. The regulatory agencies may also require additional studies showing comparability between approved product or testing, and product or testing provided after a contractor change, if a new manufacturing or testing contractor is relied upon for commercial production. Switching contractors may involve substantial costs and is likely to result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.
These factors could cause the delay of clinical trials, regulatory submissions, required approvals or commercialization of our product candidates, causing us to incur higher costs, and preventing us from commercializing our product candidates successfully. Furthermore, if our suppliers fail to meet contractual requirements, and we are unable to secure one or more replacement suppliers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost, our clinical trials may be delayed, or we could lose potential revenue.
Our reliance on third parties requires us to share our trade secrets and other confidential information, which increases the possibility that a competitor will discover them or that our confidential information, including trade secrets, will be misappropriated or disclosed.
Because we rely on third parties to research and develop and to manufacture our product candidates, we must, at times, share confidential information, including trade secrets, with them. We seek to protect our proprietary technology in part by entering into confidentiality agreements and, if applicable, material transfer agreements, consulting agreements or other similar agreements containing confidentiality provisions with our advisors, employees, third-party contractors and consultants prior to beginning research or disclosing proprietary information. These agreements typically limit the rights of the third parties to use or disclose our confidential information, including our trade secrets. Despite the contractual provisions employed when working with third parties, the need to share trade secrets and other confidential information increases the risk that such trade secrets become known by our competitors, are purposefully or inadvertently incorporated into the technology of others, or are disclosed or used in violation of these agreements. Public disclosure of our confidential information also prevents us from
seeking patent protection for that or related discoveries. Given that our proprietary position is based, in part, on our know-how and trade secrets, the unauthorized use or disclosure of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.
In addition, these agreements typically restrict the ability of our advisors, employees, third-party contractors and consultants to publish data potentially relating to our confidential information and trade secrets, although our agreements may contain certain limited publication rights. For example, any academic institution that we may collaborate with in the future will usually expect to be granted rights to publish data arising out of such collaboration, provided that we are notified in advance and given the opportunity to delay publication for a limited time period in order for us to secure patent protection of intellectual property rights arising from the collaboration, in addition to the opportunity to remove confidential information or trade secrets from any such publication. However, we may fail to recognize or identify to our collaborator such confidential information or trade secrets during the appropriate timeframe prior to publication, and they may be publicly disclosed without us filing for patent or other protection. In the future we may also conduct joint research and development programs that may require us to share trade secrets under the terms of our research and development or similar agreements.
Despite our efforts to protect our trade secrets, our competitors may discover our trade secrets, either through breach of our agreements with third parties, or publication of information by any of our third-party collaborators. A competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets could impair our competitive position and have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
Any suspension of, or delays in the commencement or completion of, clinical trials for our product candidates could result in increased costs to us, delay or limit our ability to generate revenue and adversely affect our commercial prospects.
Before we can initiate clinical trials in the U.S. for our product candidates, we need to submit the results of preclinical testing to the FDA, along with other information including information about product candidate chemistry, manufacturing and controls and our proposed clinical trial protocol, as part of an IND. We may rely in part on preclinical, clinical and quality data generated by CROs and other third parties for regulatory submissions for our product candidates. If these third parties do not provide timely data for our product candidates, it will delay our plans for our IND submissions and clinical trials. If those third parties do not make this data available to us, we will likely have to develop all necessary preclinical and clinical data on our own, which will lead to significant delays and increase development costs of the product candidate. In addition, the FDA may require us to conduct additional preclinical testing for any product candidate before it allows us to initiate clinical testing under any IND, which may lead to additional delays and increase the costs of our preclinical development. Delays with any regulatory authority or agency may significantly affect our product development timeline. Delays in the commencement or completion of any clinical trials that we plan for our product candidates could significantly affect our product development costs. We do not know whether any trials that we plan will begin on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. The commencement and completion of clinical trials can be delayed or terminated for a number of reasons, including delays or terminations related to:
•the FDA failing to grant permission to proceed or placing the clinical trial on hold;
•patients failing to enroll or remain in our trial at the rate we expect;
•patients choosing an alternative treatment for the indication for which we are developing our product candidates, or participating in competing clinical trials;
•lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial;
•patients experiencing severe or unexpected drug-related adverse effects;
•a facility manufacturing any of our product candidates or any of their components being ordered by the FDA or other government or regulatory authorities to temporarily or permanently shut down due to violations of cGMP or other applicable requirements, or infections or cross-contaminations of product candidates in the manufacturing process;
•any changes to our manufacturing process that may be necessary or desired;
•third-party clinical investigators losing the licenses or permits necessary to perform our clinical trials, lacking the ability or resources to appropriately handle our product candidates, not performing our clinical trials on our anticipated schedule or consistent with the clinical trial protocol, Good Clinical Practice or regulatory requirements, or other third parties not performing data collection or analysis in a timely and accurate manner;
•inspections of clinical trial sites by the FDA or the finding of regulatory violations by the FDA or an IRB that require us to undertake corrective action, result in suspension or termination of one or more sites or the imposition of a clinical hold on the IND or that prohibit us from using some or all of the data in support of our marketing applications;
•third-party contractors becoming debarred or suspended or otherwise penalized by the FDA or other government or regulatory authorities for violations of regulatory requirements, in which case we may need to find a substitute contractor, and we may not be able to use some or all of the data produced by such contractors in support of our marketing applications; or
•one or more IRBs refusing to approve, suspending or terminating the trial at an investigational site, precluding enrollment of additional patients, or withdrawing its approval of the trial.
Product development costs will increase if we have delays in testing or approval of any of our product candidates, or if we need to perform more or larger clinical trials than planned. Additionally, changes in regulatory requirements and policies 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 IRBs for review and approval, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial. If we experience delays in completion of our clinical trials, or if we, the FDA or other regulatory authorities, the IRB, other reviewing entities, or any of our clinical trial sites suspend or terminate any of our clinical trials, the commercial prospects for our product candidate may be harmed and our ability to generate product revenue may be delayed. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, termination or suspension of, or a delay in the commencement or completion of, clinical trials, may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of a product candidate. If we make manufacturing or formulation changes to our product candidates, we may need to conduct additional studies to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. Further, if one or more clinical trials are delayed or terminated, our competitors may be able to bring products to market before we do, and the commercial viability of our product candidates could be significantly reduced.
If we do not achieve our projected development goals in the time frames we announce and expect, the commercialization of our product candidates, if approved, may be delayed and the credibility of our management team may be adversely affected and, as a result, our stock price may decline.
From time to time, we estimate the timing of the accomplishment of various scientific, clinical, regulatory and other product development goals, which we sometimes refer to as milestones. These milestones may include the commencement or completion of, or the availability of data from, scientific studies and clinical trials and the submission of regulatory filings. From time to time, we may publicly announce the expected timing of some of these milestones. All of these milestones will be based on a variety of assumptions. The actual timing of these milestones can vary dramatically compared to our estimates, in some cases for reasons beyond our control. If we do not meet these milestones as publicly announced, the commercialization of our products may be delayed and the credibility of our management team may be adversely affected and, as a result, our stock price may decline.
Final marketing approval for our product candidates by the FDA or other regulatory authorities for commercial use may be delayed, limited or denied, any of which would adversely affect our ability to generate operating revenue.
Even if we are able to successfully complete our clinical trials and submit a BLA, we cannot predict whether or when we will obtain regulatory approval to commercialize our product candidates, and we cannot, therefore, predict the timing of any future revenue. We cannot commercialize our product candidates until the appropriate regulatory authorities have reviewed and approved the applicable applications. We cannot assure you that the regulatory agencies will complete their review processes in a timely manner or that we will obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates. In addition, we may experience delays or rejections based upon additional government regulation from future legislation or administrative action or changes in FDA policy during the period of product development, clinical trials and FDA regulatory review. If marketing approval for any product candidate is delayed, limited or denied, our ability to market the product candidate, and our ability to generate product sales, would be adversely affected.
Even if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, they could be subject to restrictions or withdrawal from the market, and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates, when and if any of them are approved.
Even if U.S. regulatory approval is obtained, the FDA may still impose significant restrictions on a product’s indicated uses, marketing or distribution or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly and time-consuming post-approval studies, post-market surveillance or clinical trials. Following approval, if at all, of any of our product candidates, such candidate will also be subject to ongoing FDA requirements governing the labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, safety surveillance, advertising, promotion, recordkeeping and reporting of safety and other post-market information. In addition, manufacturers of drug products and their facilities are subject to continual review and periodic inspections by the FDA and other regulatory authorities for compliance with cGMP requirements relating to manufacturing, quality control, quality assurance and corresponding maintenance of records and documents. If we or a regulatory agency discovers previously unknown problems with a product, such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured, a regulatory agency may impose restrictions on that product, the manufacturing facility or us, including requesting recall or withdrawal of the product from the market or suspension of manufacturing.
If we or the manufacturing facilities for any product candidate that may receive regulatory approval fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency may:
•issue warning letters or untitled letters;
•seek an injunction or impose civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines;
•suspend or withdraw regulatory approval;
•suspend any ongoing clinical trials;
•refuse to approve pending applications or supplements or applications filed by us;
•institute import holds;
•suspend or impose restrictions on operations, including costly new manufacturing requirements; or
•seize or detain products, refuse to permit the import or export of product or request us to initiate a product recall.
The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our ability to commercialize our product candidates and generate revenue. The FDA has the authority to require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”) plan as part of a BLA or after approval, which may impose further requirements or restrictions on the distribution or use of an approved drug, such as limiting prescribing to certain physicians or medical centers that have undergone specialized training, limiting treatment to patients who meet certain safe-use criteria and requiring treated patients to enroll in a registry.
In addition, if any of our product candidates is approved, our product labeling, advertising and promotion would be subject to regulatory requirements and ongoing regulatory review. The FDA strictly regulates the promotional claims that may be made about prescription products. In particular, a product may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the FDA as reflected in the product’s approved labeling. If we receive marketing approval for a product candidate, physicians may nevertheless prescribe it to their patients in a manner that is inconsistent with the approved label. If we are found to have promoted such off-label uses, we may become subject to significant liability. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant sanctions. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or be subject to permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed.
Even if we receive regulatory approval, we still may not be able to successfully commercialize any of our product candidates, and the revenue that we generate from its sales, if any, could be limited.
Even if any of our product candidates receive regulatory approval, they may not gain market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payers or the medical community. Coverage and reimbursement of our product candidates by third-party payers, including government payers, is also generally necessary for commercial success. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates will depend on a number of factors, including:
•demonstration of clinical efficacy, including duration of efficacy, and safety compared to other more-established products;
•the limitation of our targeted patient population and other limitations or warnings contained in any FDA-approved labeling;
•acceptance of new therapeutic options by health care providers and their patients;
•the prevalence and severity of any adverse effects;
•new procedures or methods of treatment that may be more effective in treating or may reduce the incidences of wet AMD, DME, or other conditions that our product candidates are intended to treat;
•pricing and cost-effectiveness;
•the effectiveness of our or any future collaborators’ sales and marketing strategies;
•our ability to obtain and maintain sufficient third-party coverage and reimbursement from government health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, private health insurers and other third-party payers;
•unfavorable publicity relating to the product candidate; and
•the willingness of patients to pay out-of-pocket in the absence of third-party coverage and reimbursement.
If any product candidate is approved but does not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, hospitals, healthcare payers or patients, we may not generate sufficient revenue from that product candidate and may not become or remain profitable. Our efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payers on the benefits of such a product candidate may require significant resources and may never be successful. In addition, our ability to successfully commercialize any of our product candidates will depend on our ability to manufacture our products, differentiate our products from competing products and defend and enforce our intellectual property rights relating to our products.
If the market for our product candidate, if approved, in the treatment of wet AMD or DME, or any other indication we seek to treat is smaller than we believe it is, our future revenue may be adversely affected, and our business may suffer.
We are advancing the development of ADVM-022 for the treatment of wet AMD, a disease we believe to be the most common cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 50 in developed countries. We are also advancing the development of ADVM-022 for the treatment of DME. If the size of the market for wet AMD, DME, or any other indication we seek to treat is smaller than
we anticipate (including in our rare disease programs), we may not be able to achieve profitability and growth. Our projections of the number of people who have wet AMD, DME and other indications, as well as the subset of people with the disease who have the potential to benefit from treatment with ADVM-022 or other future product candidates, are based on estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including the scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations and market research and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new studies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected.
The effort to identify patients with diseases we seek to treat is in early stages as we conduct the OPTIC trial of ADVM-022 for the treatment of wet AMD and enroll patients in the INFINITY trial of ADVM-022 for the treatment of DME, and we cannot accurately predict the number of patients for whom treatment might be possible. For example, some patients with wet AMD have neutralizing antibodies at titer levels that may prevent them from benefiting from ADVM-022. If this patient population is larger than we estimate, the market for ADVM-022 may be smaller than we anticipate, and our future revenue may be adversely affected. In addition, we expect prophylactic steroid treatment will be required to manage inflammation associated with treatment with ADVM-022, and certain patients cannot be treated with prophylactic steroids. If this proportion of patient population is larger than we estimate, the market for ADVM-022 may be smaller than we anticipate. Additionally, the potentially addressable patient population may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates for other reasons, and new patients may become increasingly difficult to identify or gain access to, which would adversely affect our results of operations and our business.
Further, even if we obtain significant market share for any of our rare disease programs, because the potential target population is very small, we may never achieve profitability despite obtaining such significant market share.
Additionally, because the target patient population for any of our rare disease programs is relatively small, the pricing and reimbursement of these product candidates, if approved, must be adequate to support commercial infrastructure. If we are unable to obtain adequate levels of reimbursement, our ability to successfully market and sell any of our product candidates targeting such rare disease will be adversely affected. The manner and level at which reimbursement is provided for services related to this product candidate (e.g., for administration of such product to patients) is also important. Inadequate reimbursement for such services may lead to physician resistance and adversely affect our ability to market or sell our product candidates targeting such rare disease.
Coverage and reimbursement may be limited or unavailable in certain market segments for our product candidates, which could make it difficult for us to sell our product candidates profitably.
Market acceptance and sales of our product candidates will depend significantly on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third-party payers for any of our product candidates and may be affected by existing and future health care reform measures. Government authorities and third-party payers, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which drugs they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels.
Reimbursement by a third-party payer may depend upon a number of factors including the third-party payer’s determination that use of a product candidate is:
•a covered benefit under its health plan;
•safe, effective and medically necessary;
•appropriate for the specific patient; and
Obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval for a product candidate from a government or other third-party payer is a time-consuming and costly process that could require us to provide supporting scientific, clinical and cost effectiveness data for the use of the applicable product candidate to the payer. We may not be able to provide data sufficient to gain acceptance with respect to coverage and reimbursement. While there is no uniform coverage and reimbursement policy among payers in the United States, private payers often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own reimbursement rates. We cannot be sure that coverage or adequate reimbursement will be available for any of our product candidates. Further, reimbursement amounts may reduce the demand for, or the price of, our product candidates. If reimbursement is not available or is available only in limited levels, we may not be able to commercialize certain of our product candidates profitably, or at all, even if approved.
A number of cell and gene therapy products recently have been approved by the FDA. Although the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) approved its first method of coverage and reimbursement for one such product, the methodology has been subject to challenge by members of Congress. CMS’s decision as to coverage and reimbursement for one product does not mean that all similar products will be eligible for analogous coverage and reimbursement. As there is no uniform policy for coverage and reimbursement amongst third-party payors in the United States, even if CMS approves coverage and reimbursement for any of our product candidates, it is unclear what affect, if any, such a decision will have on our ability to obtain and maintain coverage and adequate reimbursement from other private payors.
As a result of legislative proposals and the trend toward managed health care in the U.S., third-party payers are increasingly attempting to contain health care costs by limiting both coverage and the level of reimbursement of new drugs. By way of example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively, the Affordable Care Act was enacted with a goal of reducing the cost of healthcare and substantially changing the way healthcare is financed by both government and private insurers. The Affordable Care Act, among other things, addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations and established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain prescription drugs.
There remain executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Since January 2017, President Trump has signed Executive Orders and other directives designed to eliminate, circumvent or loosen the implementation of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act or otherwise circumvent some of the requirements for health insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Concurrently, Congress has considered legislation that would repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the Affordable Care Act. While Congress has not passed repeal legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 includes a provision that repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the Affordable Care Act 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, the 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the Affordable Care Act’s mandated “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and medical device tax and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminates the health insurer tax. Moreover, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or the BBA, among other things, amended the Affordable Care Act, 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 Part D drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” Further, in December 2018, CMS published a final rule permitting further collections and payments to and from certain Affordable Care Act-qualified health plans (“QHPs”) and health insurance issuers under the Affordable Care Act adjustment program in response to the outcome of federal district court litigation regarding the method CMS uses to determine this risk adjustment. On April 27, 2020, the United States Supreme Court reversed a Federal Circuit decision that previously upheld Congress' denial of $12 billion in "risk corridor" funding. In December 2018, a federal district court judge in Texas found the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to be unconstitutional and therefore the entire law to be invalid. In December 2019, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the ruling regarding the individual mandate but remanded the case to the district court for additional analysis of the question of severability and whether other portions of the law remain valid. On March 2, 2020, the United States Supreme Court granted the petitions for writs of certiorari to review this case. It is unclear how such litigation and other efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will impact the Affordable Care Act and our business.
Other legislative changes have also been proposed and adopted in the U.S. since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This included aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and due to subsequent legislative changes to the statute, including the BBA, will stay in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was signed into law in March 2020 and is designed to provide financial support and resources to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and extended the sequester by one year, through 2030.
These cost reduction initiatives could decrease the coverage and reimbursement that we receive for any approved products and could seriously harm our business. We expect that additional healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal, state and foreign governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates, if approved, or additional pricing pressures.
Recently there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over pharmaceutical pricing practices in light of the rising cost of prescription drugs and biologics. Such scrutiny has resulted in several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for products. At the federal level, the Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 includes a $135 billion allowance to support legislative proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs. On March 10, 2020, the Trump administration sent “principles” for drug pricing to Congress, calling for legislation that would, among other things, cap Medicare Part D beneficiary out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses, provide an option to cap Medicare Part D beneficiary monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and place limits on pharmaceutical price increases. Further, the Trump administration previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contained 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. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services solicited feedback on some of these measures and has implemented others under its existing authority. On July 24, 2020, the Trump administration announced four executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that attempt to implement several of the administration’s proposals. Although a number of these and other measures may require additional 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. At the state level, legislatures 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, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.
The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payers of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of health care may adversely affect:
•the demand for any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval;
•our ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our product candidates;
•our ability to generate revenue and achieve or maintain profitability;
•the level of taxes that we are required to pay; and
•the availability of capital.
It is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, on August 6, 2020, the Trump administration issued another executive order that instructs the federal government to develop a list of “essential” medicines and then buy them and other medical supplies from U.S. manufacturers instead of from companies around the world, including China.
Due to the novel nature of our technology and the potential for our product candidates to offer therapeutic benefit in a single administration, we face uncertainty related to pricing and reimbursement for these product candidates.
Our product candidates are designed to provide potential therapeutic benefit after a single administration and, therefore, the pricing and reimbursement of our product candidates, if approved, must be adequate to support commercial infrastructure. If we are unable to obtain adequate levels of reimbursement, our ability to successfully market and sell our product candidates will be adversely affected. The manner and level at which reimbursement is provided for services related to our product candidates (e.g., for administration of our product to patients) is also important. Inadequate reimbursement for such services may lead to physician resistance and adversely affect our ability to market or sell our product candidates.
We are subject to many manufacturing and distribution risks, any of which could substantially increase our costs and limit supply of our product candidates.
The process of manufacturing our product candidates is complex, highly regulated and subject to several risks, including:
•The manufacturing and distribution of biologics is extremely susceptible to product loss due to contamination, equipment failure, improper installation or operation of equipment or vendor or operator error. Even minor deviations from normal manufacturing processes could result in reduced production yields, product defects, and other supply disruptions. If microbial, viral, or other contaminations are discovered in our product candidates or in the manufacturing facility in which our product candidates are made, such manufacturing facility may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination.
•The manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates are made could be adversely affected by equipment failures, labor shortages, contaminants, raw materials shortages, natural disasters, power failures, and numerous other factors.
•We and our contract manufacturers must comply with the FDA’s cGMP regulations and guidelines. We and our contract manufacturers may encounter difficulties in achieving quality control and quality assurance and may experience shortages in qualified personnel. We and our contract manufacturers are subject to inspections by the FDA and comparable agencies in other jurisdictions to confirm compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. Any failure to follow cGMP or other regulatory requirements or any delay, interruption, or other issues that arise in the manufacture, fill-finish, packaging or storage of our product candidates as a result of a failure of our facilities, or the facilities or operations of third parties, to comply with regulatory requirements or pass any regulatory authority inspection could significantly impair our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates. This may lead to significant delays in the availability of sufficient supply of the product candidate substance for our clinical trials or the termination or hold on a clinical trial, or the delay or prevention of a filing or approval of marketing applications for our product candidates.
•Significant noncompliance could also result in the imposition of sanctions, including fines, injunctions, civil penalties, failure of regulatory authorities to grant marketing approvals for our product candidates, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of products, operating restrictions, and criminal prosecutions, any of which could be costly and damage our reputation. If we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may not be permitted to market our product candidates, if approved, and/or may be subject to product recalls, seizures, injunctions or criminal prosecution.
•Our product candidates are biologics and require processing steps that are more complex than those required for most chemical pharmaceuticals. Moreover, unlike chemical pharmaceuticals, the physical and chemical properties of a biologic such as our product candidates generally cannot be adequately characterized prior to manufacturing the final product. As a result, an assay of the finished product is not sufficient to ensure that the product will perform in the intended manner. Accordingly, we expect to employ multiple steps to attempt to control our manufacturing process and assure that the product or product candidate is made strictly and consistently in compliance with the process.
•We have to develop the manufacturing process for late stage clinical product, and our current process has not been fully characterized and therefore is open to potential variations that could lead to defective product substance that does not meet specification.
•Problems with the manufacturing, storage or distribution of our product candidates, including even minor deviations from our established parameters, could result in product defects or manufacturing failures that result in lot failures, product recalls, product liability claims and insufficient inventory.
•Some of the raw materials required in our manufacturing process are derived from biological sources. Such raw materials are difficult to procure and may also be subject to contamination or recall. A material shortage, contamination, recall or restriction on the use of biologically derived substances in the manufacture of our product candidates could adversely impact or disrupt commercialization.
•Any adverse developments affecting manufacturing operations for our product candidates may result in shipment delays, inventory shortages, lot failures, product withdrawals or recalls, or other interruptions in the supply of our product candidates. We may also have to take inventory write-offs and incur other charges and expenses for product substance that fails to meet specifications, undertake costly remediation efforts, or seek more costly manufacturing alternatives. We may encounter problems manufacturing sufficient research-, clinical-, or commercial-grade materials that meet FDA, EMA or other applicable standards or specifications with consistent and acceptable production yields and costs.
We may not be successful in establishing and maintaining development or other strategic collaborations, which could adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize product candidates and receive milestone and/or royalty payments.
We have entered into development or other strategic collaborations with major biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. Research activities under our collaboration agreements are subject to mutually agreed-on research plans and budgets, and if we and our strategic partners are unable to agree on the research plan or research budget in a timely fashion or at all, performance of research activities will be delayed. In addition, some of our strategic partners may terminate any agreements they enter into with us or allow such agreements to expire by their terms. If we fail to maintain our current or future strategic collaborations, we may not realize milestone and royalty payments or other revenues under the collaboration agreements.
We may form strategic alliances in the future, and we may not realize the benefits of such alliances.
We may form strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations, or enter into licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our existing business, including for the continued development or commercialization of our product candidates. These relationships or those like them may require us to incur non-recurring and other charges, increase our near-and long-term expenditures, issue securities that dilute our existing stockholders, or disrupt our management and business. In addition, we face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish a strategic partnership or other alternative arrangements for our product candidates because third parties may view the risk of failure in future clinical trials as too significant, or the commercial opportunity for our product candidate as too limited. We cannot be certain that, following a strategic transaction or license, we will achieve the revenue or specific net income that justifies such transaction. Even if we are successful in our efforts to establish development partnerships, the terms that we agree upon may not be favorable to us, and we may not be able to maintain such development partnerships if, for example, development or approval of a product candidate is delayed or sales of an approved product candidate are disappointing. Any delay in entering into development partnership agreements related to our product candidates could delay the development and commercialization of our product candidates and reduce their competitiveness if they reach the market.
If our competitors develop treatments for the target indications of our product candidates that are approved, marketed more successfully, or demonstrated to be safer or more effective or easier to administer than our product candidates, our commercial opportunity will be reduced or eliminated.
We operate in highly competitive segments of the biopharmaceutical markets. We face competition from many different sources, including larger and better-funded pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and gene therapy companies, as well as from academic institutions, government agencies and private and public research institutions. Our product candidates, if successfully developed and approved, will compete with established therapies as well as with new treatments that may be introduced by our competitors. There are a variety of drug candidates and gene therapies in development or being commercialized by our competitors for the indications that we intend to test. Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, product candidate development, manufacturing, and marketing resources than we do. Large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have extensive experience in clinical testing and obtaining regulatory approval for drugs. In addition, universities and private and public research institutes may be active in our target disease areas, and some could be in direct competition with us. We also may compete with these organizations to recruit management, scientists, and clinical development personnel. We will also face competition from these third parties in establishing clinical trial sites, registering patients for clinical trials, and in identifying and in-licensing new product candidates. For example, REGENXBIO is developing RGX-314, an AAV-based gene therapy delivering a gene encoding a therapeutic antibody fragment similar to ranibizumab (Lucentis®) for the treatment of wAMD and diabetic retinopathy, which competes for the same patients, study site resources, and personnel as ADVM-022. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.
New developments, including the development of other biotechnology and gene therapy technologies and methods of treating disease, occur in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and gene therapy industries at a rapid pace. Developments by competitors may render our product candidates obsolete or noncompetitive. Competition in drug development is intense. In addition, we believe that duration of efficacy is an important consideration by physicians and patients when choosing a therapy. However, we do not know and may not know prior to any potential approval the duration of efficacy of our product candidates. We anticipate that we will face intense and increasing competition as new treatments enter the market and advanced technologies become available.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, the availability and price of our competitors’ products could limit the demand, and the price we are able to charge, for our product candidates. For example, Lucentis and EYLEA are currently available in the U.S. for treatment of wet AMD, diabetic macular edema, macular edema secondary to retinal vein occlusion and diabetic retinopathy. We will not achieve our business plan if the acceptance of our product candidates is inhibited by price competition or the reluctance of physicians to switch from existing methods of treatment to our product candidates, or if physicians switch to other new drug products or choose to reserve our product candidates for use in limited circumstances. Our inability to compete with existing or subsequently introduced drug products or other therapies would have a material adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.