SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
☒ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
☐ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from: __________ to __________
(Commission File Number)
180 LIFE SCIENCES CORP.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
or Other Jurisdiction of
3000 El Camino Real, Bldg. 4, Suite 200
Palo Alto, CA
|(Address of Principal Executive Offices)||(Zip Code)|
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Stock, par value $0.0001 per share||ATNF||The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (NASDAQ Capital Market)|
|Warrants to purchase shares of Common Stock||ATNFW||The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (NASDAQ Capital Market)|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No ☑
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☑
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☐ No ☑
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ☐ 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 the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☐||Accelerated filer||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer||☑||Smaller reporting 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 has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☑
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was approximately $20,791,676. For purposes of calculating the aggregate market value of shares held by non-affiliates, we have assumed that all outstanding shares are held by non-affiliates, except for shares held by each of our executive officers, directors and 5% or greater stockholders. In the case of 5% or greater stockholders, we have not deemed such stockholders to be affiliates unless there are facts and circumstances which would indicate that such stockholders exercise any control over our company, or unless they hold 10% or more of our outstanding common stock. These assumptions should not be deemed to constitute an admission that all executive officers, directors and 5% or greater stockholders are, in fact, affiliates of our company, or that there are not other persons who may be deemed to be affiliates of our company. Further information concerning shareholdings of our officers, directors and principal stockholders is included in Part III, Item 12 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
As of July 7, 2021, there were 30,768,873 shares of common stock issued and outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information||v|
|Item 1A.||Risk Factors||41|
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments||74|
|Item 3.||Legal Proceedings||74|
|Item 4.||Mine Safety Disclosures||74|
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities||75|
|Item 6.||Selected Financial Data||77|
|Item 7.||Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations||77|
|Item 7A.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk||86|
|Item 8.||Financial Statements and Supplemental Data||86|
|Item 9.||Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure||87|
|Item 9A.||Controls and Procedures||87|
|Item 9B.||Other Information||88|
|Item 10.||Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance||89|
|Item 11.||Executive Compensation||100|
|Item 12.||Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters||106|
|Item 13.||Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence||108|
|Item 14.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services||110|
|Item 15.||Exhibits, Financial Statements and Schedules||111|
|Item 16.||Form 10–K Summary||115|
The following are abbreviations and definitions of certain terms used in this Report, which are commonly used in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry:
“ACA” means the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, which is a U.S. federal statute which provides numerous rights and protections that make health coverage fairer and easier to understand, along with subsidies (through “premium tax credits” and “cost-sharing reductions”) to make it more affordable. The law also expands the Medicaid program to cover more people with low incomes.
“Analgesics” are a class of medications designed specifically to relieve pain.
“ANDA” means an abbreviated new drug application which contains data which is submitted to the FDA for the review and potential approval of a generic drug product.
“Anti-TNF” is a pharmaceutical drug that suppresses the physiologic response to TNF.
“Cannabinoids” mean compounds found in cannabis sativa L., and when used throughout this prospectus, refer to compounds found in the hemp plant which do not contain THC.
“CBD” or cannabidiol is an active ingredient in cannabis derived from the hemp plant. CBD is a non-psychoactive oxidative degradation product of THC.
“CBG” or cannabigerol is one of the compounds found in the cannabis plant.
“CCMO” means De Centrale Commissie Mensgebonden Onderzoek (CCMO), or the Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects, the organizational responsible for reviewing and regulating medical research involving human subjects in The Netherlands.
“CHMP” means the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, formerly known as Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products, which is the European Medicines Agency’s committee responsible for elaborating the agency’s opinions on all issues regarding medicinal products for human use.
“CMS” means the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is a federal agency within the HHS that administers the Medicare program and works in partnership with state governments to administer Medicaid.
“Corticosteroids” are a class of drug that lowers inflammation in the body.
“CRO” means a contract research organization which is a company that provides support to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries in the form of research services outsourced on a contract basis.
“CSA” means the Controlled Substances Act, the statute establishing federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain substances is regulated.
“CTA” means a Clinical Trial Application, which is a submission to the competent National Regulatory Authority(ies) for obtaining authorization to conduct a clinical trial in a specific country. It is an application with necessary information on investigational medicinal products. The purpose of a CTA is to provide all the important details about the clinical trial to the health authorities in order to obtain the product approval.
“DEA” means the Drug Enforcement Administration, a United States federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug trafficking and distribution within the United States.
“EMA” means the European Medicines Agency, an agency of the EU in charge of the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products.
“EU” means the European Union.
“FDC Act” means the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which is a set of U.S. laws passed by Congress in 1938 giving authority to the FDA to oversee the safety of food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics.
“FDA” means U.S. The Food and Drug Administration, which is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of U.S. food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
“FS” means Frozen Shoulder, a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in an individual’s shoulder joint.
“GCP” means good clinical practice, which is an international quality standard, which governments can then transpose into regulations for clinical trials involving human subjects. GCP follows the International Council on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH), and enforces tight guidelines on ethical aspects of clinical research.
“GLP” means good laboratory practice, which is a quality system concerned with the organization process and the conditions under which non-clinical health and environmental safety studies are planned, performed, monitored, recorded, archived and reported.
“GMP” means good manufacturing practice regulations promulgated by the FDA under the authority of the FDC Act. These regulations, which have the force of law, require that manufacturers, processors, and packagers of drugs, medical devices, some food, and blood take proactive steps to ensure that their products are safe, pure, and effective.
“HHS”, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also known as the Health Department, is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.
“HIPAA” means the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which has the goal of making it easier for people to keep health insurance, protect the confidentiality and security of healthcare information and help the healthcare industry control administrative costs.
“IBD” means inflammatory bowel disease, an umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
“IND” means investigational new drug application. Before a clinical trial can be started, the research must be approved. An investigational new drug or IND application or request must be filed with the FDA when researchers want to study a drug in humans. The IND application must contain certain information, such as: results from studies so that the FDA can decide whether the treatment is safe for testing in people; how the drug is made, who makes it, what’s in it, how stable it is, and more; detailed outlines for the planned clinical studies, called study protocols, are reviewed to see if people might be exposed to needless risks; and details about the clinical trial team to see if they have the knowledge and skill to run clinical trials.
“Individually identifiable health information” is defined by HIPPA to mean information that is a subset of health information, including demographic information collected from an individual, and: (1) is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, employer, or health care clearinghouse; and (2) relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual; the provision of health care to an individual; or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual; and (a) that identifies the individual; or (b) with respect to which there is reasonable basis to believe the information can be used to identify the individual.
“IRB” means an Institutional Review Board, which is group that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects. In accordance with FDA regulations, an IRB has the authority to approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or disapprove research. This group review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.
“Medicaid” is a federal and state health insurance program in the U.S. that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, including nursing home care and personal care services.
“Medicare” is a national health insurance program in the U.S. It primarily provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, but also for some younger people with disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
“MHRA” means The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom which is responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe.
“MRP” means a Mutual Recognition Procedure, a market authorization which is granted in one EU member state and is recognized in other EU member states.
“NDA” means the FDA’s New Drug Application, which is the vehicle in the United States through which drug sponsors formally propose that the FDA approve a new pharmaceutical for sale and marketing.
“NIHR” means The National Institute for Health Research is a United Kingdom government agency which funds research into health and care, and is the largest national clinical research funder in Europe.
“Orphan Drug Designation” means a pharmaceutical agent developed to treat medical conditions which, because they are so rare, would not be profitable to produce without government assistance.
“Phase 1” trials are typically where the drug is initially introduced into healthy human subjects and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution and elimination. In the case of some drug candidates for severe or life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, especially when the drug candidate may be inherently too toxic to ethically administer to healthy volunteers, the initial human testing is often conducted in patients.
“Phase 2” trials are generally when clinical trials are initiated in a limited patient population intended to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the drug candidate for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage. Phase 2 trials are sometimes further divided into: Phase 2a and Phase 2b trials — Phase 2a is focused specifically on dosing requirements. A small number of patients are administered the drug in different quantities to evaluate whether there is as a dose-response relationship, which is an increase in response that correlates with increasing increments of dose. In addition, the optimal frequency of dose is also explored; and Phase 2b trials are designed specifically to rigorously test the efficacy of the drug in terms of how successful it is in treating, preventing or diagnosing a disease.
“Phase 3” trials are when clinical trials are undertaken to further evaluate dosage, clinical efficacy and safety in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk-benefit ratio of the drug candidate and provide an adequate basis for regulatory approval and product labeling.
“Phase 4” trials are studies required to be conducted as a condition of approval in order to gather additional information on the drug’s effect in various populations and any side effects associated with long-term use.
“Physiotherapy” is treatment to restore, maintain, and make the most of a patient’s mobility, function, and well-being.
“POCD” means post-operative cognitive dysfunction/delirium.
“RA” means rheumatoid arthritis.
“REMS” means a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy is a drug safety program that the FDA can require for certain medications with serious safety concerns to help ensure the benefits of the medication outweigh its risks.
“SCA” means Synthetic Cannabidiol Analogues, which are synthetic pharmaceutical grade molecules close or distant analogues of non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and pain.
“Sponsor” means the applicant or drug sponsor, which is the person or entity who assumes responsibility for the marketing of a new drug, including responsibility for compliance with applicable provisions of the FSC Act and related regulations. Note that as used herein the term “Sponsor” may also refer to the Sponsor of our IPO, depending on the context in which such term is used.
“THC” means tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
“TNF” means tumor necrosis factor, which is part of the body’s response to inflammation.
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (this “Report”) contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the following words: “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “ongoing,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. Forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time the statements are made and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements in this Report. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, any statements that are not statements of current or historical facts. These statements are based on management’s current expectations, but actual results may differ materially due to various factors, including, but not limited to:
|●||our ability to execute our plans to develop, manufacture, distribute and market new drug products and the timing and costs of these development, manufacturing, distribution and marketing programs, including approval by the applicable regulatory authorities;|
|●||our success in retaining or recruiting, or changes required in, our officers, key employees or directors;|
|●||our potential ability to obtain substantial additional financing in the near term to advance our business;|
|●||the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business operations and our research and development initiatives;|
|●||risks associated with penalties arising from not filing our periodic reports and certain registration statements timely;|
|●||the impact of any future restatements of our financial results, including any restatements arising from the acts or omissions of management of KBL prior to the Closing of the Business Combination, or associated with changes in accounting standards, policies, guidelines, interpretations or principles;|
|●||changes in our future operating results;|
|●||failure to maintain the listing on, or the delisting of our securities from, NASDAQ;|
|●||the ability of our officers and directors to generate a number of potential investment opportunities;|
|●||our public securities’ potential liquidity and trading;|
|●||the lack of a market for our securities; or|
|●||our financial performance.|
The forward-looking statements contained herein are based on our current expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effects on us. Future developments affecting us may not be those that we have anticipated. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (some of which are beyond our control) and other assumptions that may cause actual results or performance to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those factors described under “Summary Risk Factors” and those disclosed under “Risk Factors”, below. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should any of our assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary in material respects from those projected in these forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required under applicable securities laws.
You should read the matters described and incorporated by reference in “Risk Factors” and the other cautionary statements made in this Report, and incorporated by reference herein, as being applicable to all related forward-looking statements wherever they appear in this Report. We cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this Report will prove to be accurate and therefore prospective investors are encouraged not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Other than as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, even though our situation may change in the future.
Summary Risk Factors
We face risks and uncertainties related to our business, many of which are beyond our control. In particular, risks associated with our business include:
|●||We are clinical stage biotechnology company that had no revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, and do not anticipate generating revenue for the near future;|
|●||Our need for additional financing, both near term and long term, to support our operations, our ability to raise such financing as needed, the terms of such financing, if available, potential significant dilution associated therewith, and covenants and restrictions we may need to comply with in connection with such funding;|
|●||Restrictions on our ability to issue securities, anti-dilution and most favored nation rights provided in connection therewith;|
|●||Our dependence on the success of our future product candidates, some of which may not receive regulatory approval or be successfully commercialized; problems in our manufacturing process for our new products and/or our failure to comply with manufacturing regulations, or unexpected increases in our manufacturing costs; problems with distribution of our products; and failure to adequately market our products;|
|●||Risks associated with the growth of our business, our ability to maintain such growth, difficulties in managing our growth, and executing our growth strategy;|
|●||Liability for previously restated financial statements and associated with ineffective controls and procedures;|
|●||Our dependence on our key personnel and our ability to attract and retain employees;|
|●||Risks from intense competition from companies with greater resources and experience than we have;|
|●||Risks that our future product candidates, if approved, may be unable to achieve the expected market acceptance and, consequently, limit our ability to generate revenue from new products;|
|●||The fact that the majority of our license agreements provide the licensors and/or counter-parties the right to use and/or exploit such licensed intellectual property;|
|●||Preclinical studies and earlier clinical trials may not necessarily be predictive of future results and may not have favorable results; we have limited marketing experience, and our future ability to successfully commercialize any of our product candidates, even if they are approved in the future is unknown; and business interruptions could delay us in the process of developing our future product candidates and could disrupt our product sales;|
|●||Third-party payors may not provide coverage and adequate reimbursement levels for any future products;|
|●||Liability from lawsuits (including product liability lawsuits, stockholder lawsuits and regulatory matters), including judgments, damages, fines and penalties;|
|●||Security breaches, loss of data and other disruptions which could prevent us from accessing critical information or expose us to liabilities or damages;|
|●||Risks associated with clinical trials that are expensive, time-consuming, uncertain and susceptible to change, delay or termination and which are open to differing interpretations;|
|●||Our ability to comply with existing and future rules and regulations, including federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations and implementation of, or changes to, such healthcare laws and regulations;|
|●||Delays in the trials, testing, application, or approval process for drug candidates and/or out ability to obtain approval for promising drug candidates, and the costs associated therewith;|
|●||Our ability to adequately protect our future product candidates or our proprietary technology in the marketplace, claims and liability from third parties regarding our alleged infringement of their intellectual property;|
|●||Differences in laws and regulations between countries and other jurisdictions;|
|●||Changes in laws or regulations, including, but not limited to tax laws and controlled substance laws, or a failure to comply with any laws and regulations;|
|●||Conflicts of interest between our officers, directors, consultants and scientists;|
|●||Penalties associated with our failure to comply with certain pre-agreed contractual obligations and restrictions;|
|●||Dilution caused by future fund raising, the conversion/exercise of outstanding convertible securities, and downward pressure on the value of our securities caused by such future issuances/sales;|
|●||Negative effects on our business from the COVID-19 pandemic and other potential future pandemics;|
|●||The extremely volatile nature of our securities and potential lack of liquidity therefore;|
|●||The fact that our Certificate of Incorporation provides for indemnification of officers and directors, limits the liability of officers and directors, allows for the authorization of preferred stock without stockholder approval, includes certain anti-takeover provisions;|
|●||Our ability to maintain the listing of our common stock and warrants on NASDAQ and the costs of compliance with SEC and NASDAQ rules and requirements;|
|●||Risks associated with our status as an emerging growth company and the provisions of the JOBS Act, which we are able to take advantage of, due to such status;|
|●||Failure of our information technology systems, including cybersecurity attacks or other data security incidents, that could significantly disrupt the operation of our business;|
|●||The fact that we may acquire other companies which could divert our management’s attention, result in additional dilution to our stockholders and otherwise disrupt our operations and harm our operating results and if we make any acquisitions, they may disrupt or have a negative impact on our business;|
|●||The fact that we may apply working capital and future funding to uses that ultimately do not improve our operating results or increase the value of our securities; and|
|●||Our growth depends in part on the success of our strategic relationships with third parties.|
This information included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes included at the end of this report.
Please see the “Glossary” above for a list of biotechnology industry abbreviations and definitions used throughout this Report.
Our logo and some of our trademarks and tradenames are used in this Report. This Report also includes trademarks, tradenames and service marks that are the property of others. Solely for convenience, trademarks, tradenames and service marks referred to in this Report may appear without the ®, ™ and SM symbols. References to our trademarks, tradenames and service marks are not intended to indicate in any way that we will not assert to the fullest extent under applicable law our rights or the rights of the applicable licensors if any, nor that respective owners to other intellectual property rights will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto. We do not intend the use or display of other companies’ trademarks and trade names to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.
The market data and certain other statistical information used throughout this Report are based on independent industry publications, reports by market research firms or other independent sources that we believe to be reliable sources. Industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies generally indicate that their information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, although they do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. We are responsible for all of the disclosures contained in this Report, and we believe these industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies are reliable. While we are not aware of any misstatements regarding any third-party information presented in this Report, their estimates, in particular, as they relate to projections, involve numerous assumptions, are subject to risks and uncertainties, and are subject to change based on various factors, including those discussed under the section entitled “Risk Factors” beginning on page 41 of this Report. These and other factors could cause our future performance to differ materially from our assumptions and estimates. Some market and other data included herein, as well as the data of competitors as they relate to 180 Life Sciences Corp., is also based on our good faith estimates.
Our fiscal year ends on December 31. Interim results are presented on a quarterly basis for the quarters ended March 31, June 30, and September 30, the first quarter, second quarter and third quarter, respectively, with the quarter ended December 31st being referenced herein as our fourth quarter. Fiscal 2020 means the year ended December 31, 2020, whereas fiscal 2019 means the year ended December 31, 2019.
Unless the context requires otherwise, references to the “Company,” “we,” “us,” “our,” “180 Life”, “180LS” and “180 Life Sciences Corp.” refer specifically to 180 Life Sciences Corp. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
In addition, unless the context otherwise requires and for the purposes of this Report only:
|●||“CAD” refers to Canadian dollars;|
|●||“Exchange Act” refers to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended;|
|●||“£” or “GBP” refers to British pounds sterling;|
|●||“SEC” or the “Commission” refers to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission; and|
|●||“Securities Act” refers to the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.|
Where You Can Find Other Information
We file annual, quarterly, and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. Our SEC filings are available to the public over the Internet at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and are available for download, free of charge, soon after such reports are filed with or furnished to the SEC, on the “Investors”—”SEC Filings”—”All SEC Filings” page of our website at www.180lifesciences.com. Copies of documents filed by us with the SEC are also available from us without charge, upon oral or written request to our Secretary, who can be contacted at the address and telephone number set forth on the cover page of this Report. Our website address is www.180lifesciences.com/. The information on, or that may be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into this Report and should not be considered a part of this Report.
On November 6, 2020, 180 Life Sciences Corp., then known as KBL Merger Corp. IV (the “Company”, sometimes referred to herein as KBL prior to the Business Combination) consummated the previously announced business combination (the “Business Combination”) following a special meeting of stockholders, where the stockholders of the Company considered and approved, among other matters, a proposal to adopt that certain Business Combination Agreement (as amended, the “Business Combination Agreement”), dated as of July 25, 2019, entered into by and among the Company, KBL Merger Sub, Inc. (“Merger Sub”), 180 Life Corp. (f/k/a 180 Life Sciences Corp.), Katexco Pharmaceuticals Corp. (“Katexco”), CannBioRex Pharmaceuticals Corp. (“CBR Pharma”), 180 Therapeutics L.P. (“180 LP” and together with Katexco and CBR Pharma, the “180 Subsidiaries” and, together with 180 Life Sciences Corp., the “180 Parties”), and Lawrence Pemble, in his capacity as representative of the stockholders of the 180 Parties (the “Stockholder Representative”). Pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, among other things, Merger Sub merged with and into 180, with 180 continuing as the surviving entity and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company (the “Merger”). The Merger became effective on November 6, 2020 (the closing of the Merger being referred to herein as the “Closing”). In connection with, and prior to, the Closing, 180 Life Sciences Corp. filed a Certificate of Amendment of its Certificate of Incorporation in Delaware to change its name to 180 Life Corp., and KBL Merger Corp. IV changed its name to 180 Life Sciences Corp.
We are a clinical stage biotechnology company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, focused on the development of therapeutics for unmet medical needs in chronic pain, inflammation, inflammatory diseases and fibrosis by employing innovative research, and, where appropriate, combination therapy. We have three product development platforms each of which (i) focus on different diseases, pains or medical conditions and target different factors, molecules or proteins and (ii) have or will have their own product candidates:
|●||Anti-TNF platform: Focusing on fibrosis and anti-tumour necrosis factor (“anti-TNF”);|
|●||SCAs platform: Focusing on drugs which are synthetic cannabidiol (“CBD”) or cannabigerol (“CBG”) analogues (“SCAs”); and|
|●||α7nAChR platform: Focusing on alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (“α7nAChR”).|
We have several future product candidates in development, including one product candidate in a Phase 2b clinical trial in the United Kingdom (“UK”) and the Netherlands for Dupuytren’s disease, a condition that affects the development of fibrous connective tissue in the palm of the hand. Our Company was founded by several world-leading scientists, in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors. Our world-renowned scientists Prof. Sir Marc Feldmann, Prof. Lawrence Steinman, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, Dr. Jonathan Rothbard, and Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal have significant experience and significant previous success in drug discovery. The scientists are from the University of Oxford (“Oxford”), Stanford University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem (the “Hebrew University”), and the management team has extensive experience in financing and growing early-stage healthcare companies.
Currently, we are conducting clinical trials only for certain indications under the anti-TNF platform. Of our three product development platforms, only one, the SCAs platform, involves products that are related to CBD (and not to cannabis or THC), and no clinical trials for any indications or products under the SCAs platform are currently being conducted in the United States or abroad.
Our goal is to capitalize on our research in chronic pain, inflammation and fibrosis by pursuing the following strategies:
|●||Advance our clinical-stage product candidate for Dupuytren’s disease from its current late-stage development to seek and obtain approval in the UK, European Union (“EU”) and the United States (“U.S.”) for such product candidate, potentially commercialize the product candidate in the UK, EU and the U.S. and identify the optimal commercial pathway in other markets around the world;|
|●||Move our pre-clinical product candidates into clinical trials, seek and obtain approval in the UK, EU and U.S. for such future product candidates, and potentially commercialize such future product candidates in the U.S., UK and Europe;|
|●||Leverage our proprietary product development platforms to discover, develop and commercialize novel first-in-class products for the treatment of chronic pain, inflammation and fibrosis; and|
|●||Strengthen our position in research in chronic pain, inflammation and fibrosis.|
Overview of Product Development Platforms
The following chart summarizes the products and indications, including those currently in clinical trial, for our three product development platforms.
“*Regulatory approvals obtained from the MHRA and CCMO and the relevant accredited ethics committees to perform clinical trials in the UK and The Netherlands. No meetings have been held with, and no applications or requests for approval have been submitted to the FDA for any products at this time.”
The product development platforms are each described in more detail below.
Our anti-TNF platform began at our wholly-owned subsidiary, 180 LP. This platform is focused on studying the molecular mechanism of inflammatory diseases and fibrosis and on the discovery of TNF as a mediator of fibrosis, as well as other immune-driven diseases. This research was first undertaken in the 1980s by our Co-Chairman, Prof. Sir Marc Feldmann, based on analysis of tissue from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (“RA”). We are applying this same approach to the analysis of human disease tissue from patients with active fibrosis, research led by Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal in Oxford (who is also the Chairman of our Clinical Advisory Board), which has led to the identification of new therapeutic targets and approaches that we are developing. Profs. Nanchahal and Feldmann, in collaboration with other scientists, are leveraging their experience and expertise in developing anti-inflammatories to search for new applications for anti-TNF therapeutics. We are seeking to demonstrate that anti-TNF drugs, such as adalimumab, have a positive effect on new indications such as Dupuytren’s disease, frozen shoulder and post-operative cognitive dysfunction/delirium (“POCD”).
Our first and currently only product candidate in clinical development is for the potential treatment of early-stage fibrosis of the hand, Dupuytren’s disease, for which there is currently no approved treatment in the UK or EU. Collagenase from Clostridium histolyticum has been approved in the USA for late-stage Dupuytren’s disease. The proposed treatment will be administered by a local injection of adalimumab, an anti-TNF antibody into early-stage disease tissue. The results for the Phase 2a clinical trial for Dupuytren’s disease, supported by the Wellcome Trust, UK Department of Health and the Company, were published in July 2018. The study demonstrated positive tissue response indicative of anti-fibrotic mechanisms, as well as guiding dosing for follow up trials. Having defined the most efficacious dose and preparation and based on these positive proof of concept data, the Company, together with the Wellcome Trust and the UK Department of Health, initiated a Phase 2b trial in patients with early stage Dupuytren’s disease. The initial plan was to randomize 138 patients in a ratio of 1:1 to receive four injections of adalimumab or placebo at three-month intervals, and followed for a total of 18 months from baseline. With additional funding from the Wellcome Trust, the Phase 2b trial completed recruitment of 181 patients in April 2019, having commenced dosing in February 2017. The final patient was enrolled in April 2019. This trial has been completed and the data is being verified and analyzed, and we expect to present top line data towards the end of the third quarter or early part of the fourth quarter of 2021. Through this fibrosis and anti-TNF product development platform, we are also performing research for the development of potential treatments of frozen shoulder, liver and lung fibrosis and POCD.
The following chart summarizes the timing of current and future clinical trials, based on current proposals, under the anti-TNF platform.
We have obtained regulatory approvals from the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Dutch Centrale Commissie Mensgebonden Onderzoek (CCMO), as well as from the relevant accredited ethics committees, in order to perform clinical trials in the UK and The Netherlands solely for indications under the anti-TNF platform. We have not held any meetings with, and no applications or requests for approval have been submitted to, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for any indications or products under the anti-TNF platform at this time.
Our SCAs platform began at our wholly-owned subsidiary, CBR Pharma with the collaborative work of its founders Prof. Mechoulam and Prof. Feldmann. This platform focuses on the development of synthetic pharmaceutical grade molecules close or distant analogues of non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and pain. These development efforts are a result of a 20-year collaboration between Prof. Feldmann, who discovered and commercialized anti-TNF therapy for treatment of RA and subsequently a number of inflammatory diseases, which is currently the best-selling drug class in the world, and Prof. Mechoulam, a world leading expert in cannabis chemistry who successfully identified THC, CBD and, subsequently, the endocannabinoids. We are working with a research team based at the Kennedy Institute at Oxford, consisting of Prof. Feldmann, Prof. Richard Williams and others, and a research team based at Hebrew University, consisting of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, Prof. Avi Domb, Prof. Amnon Hoffman and others, to generate new drugs, test them, and optimize their uptake and delivery to disease targets. The aim is to develop novel, orally active analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications based on synthetic compounds to target chronic diseases. We term these synthetic compounds generically as “synthetic CBD analogues” (“SCAs”). Our primary development targets are arthritis and chronic and recurrent pain, while our secondary development targets are diabetes/diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, obesity and fatty liver disease.
The following chart summarizes the timing of current and future clinical trials, based on current proposals, under the SCAs platform.
No regulatory approvals have been sought or obtained from appropriate authorities at this time for any products or indications under the SCAs platform.
Our α7nAChR platform began at our wholly-owned subsidiary, Katexco, where its founders identified α7nAChR as a key receptor for the amyloid proteins associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. α7nAChR is expressed on the surface of both neuronal cells in the brain and on important cells of the immune system. The research conducted by Dr. Jonathan Rothbard and Prof. Steinman has shown that small molecules available as drugs taken by mouth can engage this receptor and potently reduce inflammatory diseases. Dr. Rothbard and Prof. Steinman have also shown that α7nAChR is critical in reducing disease animal models of multiple sclerosis and RA, as well as heart attack and stroke. Our α7nAChR product development platform is currently focused on developing α7nAChR agonists for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, initially ulcerative colitis induced after cessation of smoking.
No regulatory approvals have been sought or obtained from appropriate authorities at this time for any products or indications under the α7nAChR platform.
We are attempting to build a broad and diverse pipeline of product candidates in chronic pain, inflammation and fibrosis. Our product candidates are and will be selected for development based on: potential to address unmet medical needs; development feasibility as determined by our preclinical research and development efforts; potential to rapidly achieve proof-of-concept based on easy-to-measure validated regulatory endpoints; and significant commercial potential.
Anti-TNF Platform Dupuytren’s Disease
Dupuytren’s disease, also referred to as hand fibrosis, tends to manifest itself in middle to later age populations and causes fingers in the hand to curl irreversibly. According to an article published in the Journal of Hand Surgery in 2011, it is estimated that approximately 4% to 6% of the Western adult population suffers from Dupuytren’s disease, which, in the U.S., translates to approximately 11 million people. According to Market Research Future, the market for Dupuytren’s disease is expected to rise to $5.5 billion by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of approximately 4%. We believe these estimates could rise with the development of an effective treatment. Surgery remains the standard treatment for patients with Dupuytren’s contractures, but is associated with extended recovery periods and risks of recurrence. Furthermore, patients have to wait until their fingers are bent as there is no approved treatment for early stage Dupuytren’s disease. We believe that, if successful, our anti-TNF product candidate may become a preferred treatment option for patients as it will be the only modality targeted at early-stage patients. Early treatment is advantageous, as it can prevent deformity and reduce the need for surgery.
Phase 2 Clinical Trials
Our wholly-owned subsidiary, 180 LP, contributed to the funding of a Phase 2a clinical trial for Dupuytren’s disease along with the Wellcome Trust and the UK Department of Health, which using an experimental medicine clinical trial design demonstrated positive tissue response, as well as guiding dosing and tolerability for follow up trials. The data was published in June 2018. Having defined the most efficacious dose and preparation and based on these positive proof of concept data, the Company, together with the Wellcome Trust and the UK Department of Health, initiated a Phase 2b trial in patients with early stage Dupuytren’s disease. The initial plan was to randomize 138 patients in a ratio of 1:1 to receive four injections of adalimumab or placebo at three-month intervals and followed for a total of 18 months from baseline. The Phase 2b trial, which was funded by grants from the Wellcome Trust and the UK Department of Health, with a contribution from 180 LP to purchase the drug, completed recruitment of 181 patients in April 2019 and commenced dosing in February 2017 in the UK and Groningen, the Netherlands. This trial has been completed and the data is being verified and analyzed, and we expect to present top line data towards the end of the third quarter or early part of the fourth quarter of 2021.
Other Product Candidates or Indications
In addition to the potential treatment for Dupuytren’s disease described above, we are seeking to repurpose anti-TNF for use as a treatment for other fibrotic conditions such as frozen shoulder. Prof. Feldmann’s previous work in the 1980s demonstrated that anti-TNF is an effective anti-inflammatory with many possible uses, and it was subsequently approved for various forms of inflammatory arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as other indications. This has since created what is currently the best-selling drug class in the world, anti-TNF therapeutics, which, according to Research and Markets, was valued at over $40 billion in 2019. By using a well-known and extensively used therapeutic, adalimumab, the research and development process may be truncated because of existing product information relating to safety, as the drug has been widely used over the past 20 years in millions of patients.
Frozen shoulder, also referred to as adhesive capsulitis, is an extremely painful and debilitating condition that affects an individual’s most basic activities, including sleep. Frozen shoulder affects approximately 9% of the population in Western countries between the ages of 25 and 64 according to an article published in Arthritis & Rheumatology in 2004. In addition, approximately 20% of people suffering from a frozen shoulder will develop the same problem in their other shoulder. According to an article published in Shoulder & Elbow in 2010, it is estimated that up to 30% of patients with diabetes develop frozen shoulder, and the symptoms tend to be more persistent and recalcitrant in this group.
During the pain predominant inflammatory phase, patients are typically treated with analgesics, physiotherapy and corticosteroid injections. Patients with persistent stiffness may be referred to secondary care for capsular release by manipulation under anesthesia, hydrodilatation or surgical arthroscopy. There is currently no approved targeted therapy, and in conjunction with the National Institute for Health Research (UK), we are investigating the feasibility of recruiting patients during the early pain-predominant inflammatory phase the disease and delivery of a local injection of anti-TNF. The set up stage for this Phase 2 clinical trial for the local injection of anti-TNF for frozen shoulder started in June 2021. Trial protocol is being finalized and a £250,000 grant has been awarded from NIHR to the University of Oxford to support execution and clinical trial sites are being identified. The Company will provide additional funding to support this trial.
Human Liver Fibrosis
Fibrosis of the liver is characterized by long-term damage to the organ caused by the replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue. The condition is most commonly caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (“NAFLD”), which encompasses non-alcoholic fatty liver (“NFL”) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (“NASH”). NAFLD affects approximately 30% of the U.S. population, according to an article published in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology in 2016. Approximately 2% of patients with NFL and approximately 15% to 20% of patients with NASH progress to cirrhosis, fibrosis of the liver with major health issues.
There is no current approved treatment for individuals with NASH. We therefore believe that there is a large potential market for the creation of an effective preventative treatment. According to Allied Market Research, the market for treating liver fibrosis was approximately $13 billion in 2018, and is projected to rise to approximately $20 billion in 2022, rising at a CAGR of over 11% per year. We initiated preclinical studies for NASH based on human liver samples during the second quarter of 2020.
POCD is a common neuropsychiatric syndrome, defined as disturbance of attention, awareness and cognition, which develops over a short period of time and tends to fluctuate during the course of the day. Patients with hip fracture are at particularly high risk of developing POCD. United Kingdom national audit data for 2018 showed that 25% of all patients with hip fracture suffered from delirium. POCD is associated with poor functional outcomes, reduced quality of life and longer hospital stays. People with hip fracture who developed delirium are twice as likely to die as inpatients, and nearly four times more likely to need placement in a nursing home. POCD has also been closely associated with long-term cognitive impairment.
Hip fractures are one of the main challenges facing elderly patients and healthcare systems. According to an article published in The Lancet Public Health in 2017, hip fractures are associated with an average loss of 2.7% of the healthy life expectancy in the middle-aged and older population in the U.S. and Europe. People suffering hip fracture have a mean age of 83 years, are frail, and two-thirds are women. They suffer a 30-day mortality of 7%, and experience a persistent reduction in their health-related quality-of-life similar to that of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. According to various studies, POCD is developed in 13-40% of patients following cardiac surgery. With 500,000 cardiac surgeries and 450,000 hip surgeries in the USA each year, in advanced age patients, a beneficial therapy to treat POCD would be a significant benefit to these patients. We plan to initiate a Phase 2 study using anti-TNF for POCD during the second quarter of 2022. An issued patent to protect this potential use has been licensed from The Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research.
Cannabinoids are a class of compounds derived from cannabis plants. The two major cannabinoids contained in cannabis are CBD and THC. Although one cannabinoid, THC, is known to cause psychoactive effects associated with the use of herbal cannabis, no other cannabinoid is known to share these properties. In recent decades, there have been major scientific advances that have led to the discovery of new plant-derived cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. There are at least two types of cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid receptor 1 (“CB1”) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (“CB2”), in the human endocannabinoid system. CB1 receptors are considered to be among the most widely expressed G protein-coupled receptors in the brain and are particularly abundant in areas of the brain concerned with movement and postural control, pain and sensory perception, memory, cognition, emotion, and autonomic and endocrine function. CB1 receptors are also found in peripheral tissues including peripheral nerves and non-neuronal tissues such as muscle, liver tissues and fat. CB2 receptors are expressed primarily in tissues in the immune system and are believed to mediate the immunological effects of cannabinoids. CBD does not interact with CB1R and is only a weak agonist of CB2R. CBD interacts with other important neurotransmitter and neuromodulatory systems in the human body, including transient receptor potential channels, adenosine uptake and serotonin receptors. The far-reaching and diverse pharmacology of the numerous cannabinoids provides significant potential for development of cannabinoid therapeutics across many indications and disease areas, but also adds to the complexity of the research.
Product Candidates or Indications
We believe that there are unmet needs for orally available, relatively safe anti-inflammatory drugs, especially those with analgesic properties. We believe that SCAs have the potential to fulfill these needs and we have started to develop novel, orally available and patentable drug candidates to treat certain diseases or conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, psoriasis, obesity and fatty liver, and various painful conditions. Our work on SCAs is currently in the preclinical development stage.
Because medical cannabis is a complex mixture of compounds from plants, providing a consistent level of the active compound of interest or controlling the level of the other natural compounds is difficult. Accordingly, we are working on orally available SCAs, not derived from plants, to address the deleterious issues of medical cannabis described above. If successful, these SCAs could become approved drug products that offer a robustly consistent and safe dosage that allows patient intake to be carefully controlled.
We believe that the development and clinical study of SCAs will reveal that SCAs have several key advantages over medical cannabis, including:
|●||use of a pure compound (>99.5%) rather than a mixture of compounds;|
|●||ability to test and control dosing, which in turn controls efficacy and side effect levels;|
|●||creation of a reproducible product; and|
|●||ability to engineer novel synthetic analogues to control binding preferences to select receptors, control agonist or antagonist effects of receptor binding (pharmacokinetics and dynamics), modify half-life of the drug in the body, and create pro-drug forms that are only activated in specified tissues, thereby potentially reducing off target side effects.|
In addition to the above advantages, testing SCAs in scientific, double-blind clinical trials would help to allay physicians’ concerns regarding the therapeutic use of marijuana-based compounds. This change could increase the number of patients that have access to these drug therapies. If clinical studies are successful, there are a number of potential markets and indications for SCAs which we could target, which include individuals suffering from chronic and recurrent pain, diabetes, osteoarthritis, obesity and fatty liver disease.
Two of our lead scientists, Prof. Steinman and Dr. Rothbard, previously identified a key receptor for the amyloid proteins associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, called α7nAChR. The α7nAChR is expressed on the surface of both neuronal cells in the brain and on cells of the immune system. The research conducted by Dr. Rothbard and Prof. Steinman has shown that small molecules available as drugs taken by mouth can engage this receptor and potently reduce inflammatory diseases. Dr. Rothbard and Prof. Steinman have shown that this receptor is critical in reducing disease in animal models of multiple sclerosis and RA, as well as heart attack and stroke.
Our efforts to understand the role of the high concentration of small heat shock proteins (“sHsp”) found in the lesions in the brains of patients with multiple sclerosis led us to realize that the protein was (i) immune suppressive and (ii) therapeutic in animal 2 models of multiple sclerosis, cardiac and retinal ischemia, and stroke. A significant realization was that amyloid fibrils composed of proteins or small peptides exhibited biological responses equivalent to the sHsps. The fibrils and the sHsps specifically bound and activated macrophages (“MΦ”) and regulatory B cells. Crosslinking and precipitation experiments demonstrated that both species bound nAChR and signaled through Jak2/Stat3. We realized that nicotine treatment of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (“EAE”) induces an identical pattern of immune suppression as our treatments and exhibits pre-clinical efficacy that is comparable with many of the drugs that are approved for multiple sclerosis (MS) when they were tested in EAE models. Collectively, these observations have informed our strategy to develop an orally available, small molecule agonist of α7nAChR for inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
The α7 subunit of α7nAChR is an integral part of an endogenous immune suppressive pathway, in which activation of the vagus nerve stimulates acetylcholine secretion, which in turn binds α7nAChR on MΦs and regulatory B lymphocytes. Activation of the MΦs initiates an immunosuppressive cascade of events that lead to reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines, suppression of B and T cell activation and control of inflammation.
In autoimmune diseases like RA, where there is intense inflammation destroying joints, and in multiple sclerosis, where the brain is under attack with damage to vital neurologic circuits, the body’s immune system turns against its own tissues. Other diseases ranging from atherosclerosis to gout, also reveal manifestations of an unwanted autoimmune attack.
Activation of the α7nAChR results in a signaling cascade involving Jak2 and Stat3 leading to the conversion of the macrophages to an immune suppressive phenotype and the production of IL-10. IL-10 is known to reduce inflammatory cytokines, most prominently TNF, IL-1, and IL-6. Consequently, α7nAChR agonists should complement anti-TNF therapy, which opens up the possibility of developing a new class of orally available medicines which are anti-inflammatory but much safer than existing medications such as NSAIDS, Cox2 inhibitors, methotrexate, and Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. This is because α7nAChR agonists are activating an endogenous regulatory pathway, rather than blocking important pathways needed for diverse processes. The market opportunity arises from the complex and expensive effort by several large and small biotechnology companies in the development of a spectrum of orally available partial agonists specific for α7nAChR. The compounds underwent extensive preclinical assessment and were used in 18 studies comprising 2,670 subjects.
The drugs universally were shown to be safe, but ineffective in trials for neurologic and psychiatric diseases, namely Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. In randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials for cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, the compounds failed to meet their primary endpoint.
We plan to use these previous studies as a foundation to potentially develop a patentable α7nAChR analog within this family to use as an immune suppressive to treat a range of inflammatory and autoimmune indications including RA, IBD, relapsing and progressive forms of multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis, gout and osteoarthritis. Our scientists have found that the α7 receptor on macrophages and regulatory B lymphocytes are different from the target of the drugs developed so far.
Product Candidates or Indications
We intend to identify, characterize, synthesize, and patent an orally available small molecular weight agonist of α7nAChR by screening non-patented analogs of large numbers of known agonists defined by pharmaceutical companies. We intend to outsource this work to Evotec GMBH, an integrated early discovery organization, and one which we have worked with in the past, specializing in ion channels and transporters, offering clients specialized technologies and scientific expertise to move from target to lead compounds.
Following a safety and efficacy assessment program, we intend to select candidates for pre-clinical development as a prelude to the potential initiation of clinical studies, which could potentially be followed by an Investigational New Drug Application (“IND”) to the FDA. Our first intended target indication for its α7nAChR development platform is smoking cessation induced ulcerative colitis.
Outsourcing and Manufacturing
We are currently outsourcing our clinical trials, which are conducted at Oxford University, Edinburgh, UK and Groningen, The Netherlands and only involve certain indications under the anti-TNF platform. We expect to continue to outsource our clinical trials and conduct them at (1) in the case of the anti-TNF platform, Oxford University and Groningen, The Netherlands, (2) in the case of the SCAs platform, Hebrew University and Oxford University and (3) in the case of the α7nAChR platform, to be determined.
We also expect to outsource all of our manufacturing activities, including those activities at the research or clinical stage, with SCAs to be produced at Hebrew University and α7nAChR to be produced by Evotec and the anti-TNF platform utilizing off-the-shelf adalimumab. In addition, we expect our products to be good manufacturing practice (GMP) grade and produced by accredited contract research organizations (CROs).
We have entered into material research and licensing agreements (the “Research Agreements”) with various universities and parties in order to conduct research to develop potential product candidates. We have also entered into other material consulting and advisory services agreements with various scientists (the “Consulting Agreements”) to assist with such research.
Overview of Research Agreements
The Research Agreements include agreements with the Hebrew University and Oxford. For the anti-TNF platform, the Research Agreements with Oxford allow 180LS to contribute financially to sponsor the research being conducted for the anti-TNF platform. In return, 180LS will receive an exclusive option to license any IP arising from the Research Agreements. There are also license agreements in place whereby we have exclusively licensed certain intellectual property from Oxford.
For the SCA program, we have agreements in place with Hebrew University and Oxford, pursuant to which we intend to conduct research to develop and characterize novel SCAs for the treatment of certain target indications, and to perform early-phase clinical trials. Through the Research Agreements with Hebrew University and Oxford, we established research facilities at the Hebrew University and Oxford, in which the development and testing of new cannabinoids designed and synthesized at the Hebrew University will be facilitated. The labs at the Hebrew University, led by Prof. Mechoulam, will synthesize the chemical compounds and perform preliminary efficacy and safety studies.
Once these initial studies are completed at the Hebrew University, the chemical compounds are sent to Prof. Richard Williams at Oxford, where further evaluation is carried out to identify candidates which have the best potential for clinical efficacy and commercial development. Subsequently, we will support the clinical development of the lead compound(s), culminating in Phase 2 clinical trials to establish clinical utility in chronic pain and inflammatory indications.
The research team at Hebrew University has identified a series of SCAs that have demonstrated promising analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in mouse models. These studies comprise testing the effects on pain responses, production of TNF (pro-inflammatory cytokine key to multiple inflammatory disorders), and local joint swelling, indicative of inflammation. Early studies during the first phase of the project have identified three to five compounds that are being analyzed in arthritis models at Oxford.
Previously, certain SCAs developed by the Hebrew University have been shown to inhibit the production of TNF, and to be very effective in collagen induced arthritis, a mouse model of human RA that was established with the specific aim of evaluating novel anti-arthritic compounds. CB2 receptor agonists (i.e., the receptor for cannabinoids) have been confirmed by third parties to reduce the production and activity of inflammatory mediators such as TNF, and to suppress joint swelling, synovial membrane thickening and the expression of pro-inflammatory markers. These effects can be demonstrated at doses that do not affect general motor activity and behavior of the animals tested.
The Hebrew Licensed Technology (as defined below) will be evaluated for efficacy and safety using in-house pre-clinical models of inflammatory pain in parallel with absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion and safety assessments carried out by third-party professional contract research organizations (“CRO”). In parallel, blood will be collected from treated animals to determine levels of key circulating proteins that may serve as blood biomarkers that report on response to treatment. Other studies are anticipated to comprise studying the effects of treatment on immune responses that are expected to be informative for steering future studies towards other auto-immune indications.
Following the above safety and efficacy assessment program, we intend to select candidates for clinical studies.
Clinical trial design and regulatory affairs will be undertaken by the research team at Oxford and their advisors, led by Prof. Sallie Lamb (working at University of Exeter & University of Oxford). We expect that initial indications will focus on chronic pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; however, we envisage that other indications to include neuropathic pain will be considered for subsequent trials.
A recent review examining treatment aspirations for RA patients, as well as the founders’ expertise in this field, has led us to believe that there are still major unmet needs in key areas such as pain, physical and mental function, as well as fatigue, and hence there is a need for new medications, especially with orally available drugs. There is also a significant gap in the availability of well-tolerated drugs that have immunomodulatory and analgesic activity that would be suitable for treatment of early RA or undifferentiated arthritis, for which conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or biologics would be inappropriate. Research led by Prof. Richard Williams at Oxford was instrumental in the pre-clinical development of TNF inhibitors, and in the development of robust and predictive in vivo and in vitro assays. These assays helped provide the scientific basis for the clinical development, not only of biologics, but also of small molecular weight inhibitors of TNF production, such as Apremilast, which is now in widespread clinical use. More recently, the research team at the Hebrew University characterized a number of synthetic SCAs with anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties.
The SCAs that will be our product candidates are synthetically manufactured rather than extracted from cannabis plants. We believe that SCAs offer several advantages over botanically-derived cannabinoids, including consistent, reproducible pharmaceutical-grade active ingredients (“API”), with well-defined purity. We believe such candidates may improve the desired therapeutic effect without adverse psychoactive effects associated with botanical cannabis compounds. Synthetic manufacturing also allows for a more efficient chemistry, manufacturing and control process. We believe synthetic manufacturing will allow for a more clearly defined and straightforward FDA approval pathway by avoiding the potential problems faced when seeking approval for product candidates containing botanically derived cannabinoids, which include inconsistent API production and additional toxicology related to botanical impurities.
In summary, the initial focus of the research will be on the development of safe and well-tolerated compounds with analgesic and immunomodulatory activity and with the capacity to synergize with current therapies, which primarily target downstream inflammatory processes. After conducting initial research and development, we will select the most promising of the chemical compounds to move into Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, which we expect to commence by the third quarter of 2022.
The Research Agreements are each described below.
Research Agreements with the Hebrew University
On May 13, 2018, our wholly-owned subsidiary CBR Pharma entered into a research and license agreement (the “2018 Hebrew Agreement”) with Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ltd. (“Yissum”), pursuant to which Yissum granted CBR Pharma a worldwide exclusive license (the “2018 Hebrew License”) to develop and commercialize certain patents (the “2018 Hebrew Licensed Patents”), know-how and research results (collectively, the “2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology”), in order to develop, manufacture, market, distribute or sell products, all within the use of the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology for the treatment of any and all veterinary and human medical conditions, including obesity, pain, inflammation and arthritis (the “2018 Field”).
Pursuant to the 2018 Hebrew Agreement, notwithstanding the grant of the 2018 Hebrew License, Yissum, on behalf of Hebrew University, will retain the right to (i) make, use and practice the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology for Hebrew University’s own research and educational purposes; (ii) license or otherwise convey to other academic and not-for-profit research organizations the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology for use in non-commercial research; and (iii) license or otherwise convey the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology to any third party for research or commercial applications outside the 2018 Field.
The 2018 Hebrew Agreement further provides that CBR Pharma is entitled to grant one or more sublicenses to the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology for exploitation in the 2018 Field.
All right, title and interest in and to the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology vest solely in Yissum, and CBR Pharma will hold and make use of the rights granted pursuant to the 2018 Hebrew License solely in accordance with the terms of the 2018 Hebrew Agreement.
As consideration for the 2018 Hebrew License, CBR Pharma paid Yissum a license fee of $75,000 and agreed to continue to pay an annual license maintenance fee (the “License Maintenance Fee”) of $50,000, beginning on May 1, 2019 and thereafter on the first day of May each year. The License Maintenance Fee is non-refundable, but may be credited each year against royalties on account of net sales of products made from May 1 to April 30 of each year.
Yissum has also agreed to undertake research and to synthesize chemical compounds that will be used by CBR Pharma, through additional research at both Oxford and Hebrew University, to develop orally active analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications. Compounds will be shipped from Hebrew University to Oxford for use in pre-clinical studies to establish efficacy in pain and inflammation.
Upon the achievement of certain milestones in respect of the chemical compounds derived from the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology, CBR Pharma is obligated to make certain payments to Yissum, including but not limited to the following:
|Submission of the first IND testing for the FDA||$||75,000|
|Commencement of one Phase 1/2 trial with the FDA||$||100,000|
|Commencement of one Phase 3 trial with the FDA||$||150,000|
|For each product market authorization/clearance (maximum of $500,000)||$||100,000|
|For every $250 million in accumulated sales of the product until $1 billion in sales is achieved||$||250,000|
CBR Pharma will pay Yissum royalties equal to (i) 3% of the net sales for the first annual $500 million of net sales, and (ii) 5% of the net sales after the net sales are at or in excess of $500 million.
In the event of a sale by CBR Pharma stockholders of their common shares or the transfer or assignment of the 2018 Hebrew Agreement, CBR Pharma is obligated to pay Yissum a fee of 5% of the consideration received by CBR Pharma pursuant to such corporate transaction. In the event of an initial public offering, or a go-public event, CBR Pharma was obligated to issue registered common shares to Yissum equal to 5% of the issued and outstanding common shares, on a fully-diluted basis, concurrently with the closing of such transaction. The Business Combination that was consummated on November 6, 2020, was considered a go-public event, pursuant to which the Company issued 240,541 of its common shares to Yissum prior to the closing of the Business Combination. See Note 14 Commitments and Contingencies and Note 15 – Stockholders’ Equity for more information on the shares issued to Yissum as per the research and license agreement.
CBR Pharma has also agreed to reimburse Yissum (to a maximum of $30,000) for costs incurred for patent expenses.
Yissum and CBR Pharma also agreed to establish a research program for which CBR Pharma funded a $400,000 budget for the 12-month period ended May 2019, which is in the process of being extended by an amendment.
The 2018 Hebrew Agreement will terminate upon the occurrence of the later of the following: (i) the expiration of the last of the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Patents; (ii) the expiration of the last exclusivity on any product granted by any regulatory or government body; (iii) the expiration of a continuous period of twenty years during which there was no commercial sale of any product in any country; or (iv) if we elect to obtain an exclusive license to the know-how under the terms of the 2018 Hebrew Agreement, the expiration of such exclusive license.
On November 11, 2019, CBR Pharma entered into an additional research and license agreement (the “2019 Hebrew Agreement”) with Yissum, pursuant to which Yissum granted CBR Pharma a worldwide sole and exclusive license (the “2019 Hebrew License”) to develop and commercialize certain patents (the “2019 Hebrew Licensed Patents”), know-how and research results (collectively, the “2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology,” and together with the 2018 Hebrew Licensed Technology, the “Hebrew Licensed Technology”), in order to develop, manufacture, market, distribute, sell, repair and refurbish products, all within the use of the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology for (i) Cannabinoid phenolate metal salts, including mono, di and trivalent metals such as Li, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, Fe and Al and their mixtures with native or synthetic cannabinoids, their pharmaceutical formulations, including for oral and topical administration; and (ii) pharmaceutical formulations, for the administration of cannabinoid chemical derivatives, including any and all veterinary and human medical conditions, including obesity, pain, inflammation and arthritis (the “2019 Field”).
Pursuant to the 2019 Hebrew Agreement, notwithstanding the grant of the 2019 Hebrew License, Yissum, on behalf of Hebrew University, will retain the right to (i) make, use and practice the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology for Hebrew University’s own research and educational purposes, but not for commercial purposes, and subject to the maintenance of confidentiality for any know-how or unpublished patent information contain in the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology; (ii) license or otherwise convey to other academic and not-for-profit research organizations the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology for use in non-commercial research and subject to the maintenance of confidentiality for any know-how or unpublished patent information contain in the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology; and (iii) license or otherwise convey the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology to any third party for research or commercial applications outside the 2019 Field, subject to the maintenance of confidentiality for any know-how or unpublished patent information contain in the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology.
The 2019 Hebrew Agreement further provides that CBR Pharma is entitled to grant one or more sublicenses to the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology for exploitation in the 2019 Field.
All right, title and interest in and to the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology vest solely in Yissum, and CBR Pharma will hold and make use of the rights granted pursuant to the 2019 Hebrew License solely in accordance with the terms of the 2019 Hebrew Agreement.
The 2019 Hebrew Licensed Technology will terminate upon the occurrence of the later of the following: (i) the expiration of the last of the 2019 Hebrew Licensed Patents; (ii) the expiration of the last exclusivity on any product granted by any regulatory or government body; (iii) the expiration of a continuous period of twenty years plus any applicable patent extension period, during which there was no commercial sale of any product in any country; or (iv) if we elect to obtain an exclusive license to the know-how under the terms of the 2019 Hebrew Agreement, the expiration of such exclusive license.
On January 1, 2020, CBR Pharma and Yissum entered into the first amendment to the 2018 Hebrew Agreement, which provided for additional research to be done at Yissum on new derivatives of certain molecules. Pursuant to the terms of the First Amendment, the Company will pay Yissum $200,000 per year plus 35% additional for University overhead for the additional research performed by each professor over an 18-month period, starting May 1, 2019. The additional research was initially expected to end in April 2021 and we are in negotiations with Yissum to extend the agreement.
Research Agreements with the University of Oxford
On November 1, 2013, our wholly-owned subsidiary 180 LP entered into an agreement (the “First Oxford Agreement”) with Oxford, pursuant to which 180 LP will sponsor Oxford’s research and development of repurposing anti-TNF for Dupuytren’s disease.
Pursuant to the First Oxford Agreement, each payment is to be made to ISIS Innovation (the University of Oxford) at different milestones of the project, outlined below:
|Minimum investment completed||£||10,000|
|Initiation of Phase 2 trial for a licensed product||£||10,000|
|Initiation of Phase 3 trial for a licensed product||£||10,000|
|Registerable Phase 3 trial primary endpoint achieved for a licensed product||£||20,000|
|Any issued U.S. patent of the licensed intellectual property rights||£||5,000|
|Approval by FDA of an NDA filed by 180 LP or one of its sub-licensees for a licensed product||£||30,000|
|Approval by EMA of an MAA filed by 180 LP or one of its sub-licensees for a licensed product||£||30,000|
|First commercial sale of a licensed product by 180 LP or any sub-licensee in the U.S.||£||50,000|
|First commercial sale of a licensed product by 180 LP or any sub-licensee in the EU||£||50,000|
ISIS Innovation is also eligible for royalty payments equal to 0.5% of net sales in any country where there is a valid claim, 0.25% of net sales in other countries and a fee income royalty rate of 7.5% on all up-front, milestone and other one-off payments under or in connection with all sub-licenses and other contracts granted by 180 LP with respect to the licensed technology. The First Oxford Agreement is effective, unless earlier terminated, for so long as the specified patent application remains in effect as an issued patent, pending patent application or supplementary protection certificate or for a term of 20 years, whichever is longer.
On August 15, 2018, CannBioRex Pharma Limited, a company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales (“CannUK”) and a wholly-owned subsidiary of our wholly-owned subsidiary CBR Pharma, entered into the Research Agreement (the “Second Oxford Agreement”) with Oxford, pursuant to which CBR Pharma (through CannUK) will sponsor Oxford’s research and development of SCAs developed from the Hebrew Licensed Technology. At Oxford, the SCAs generated in the Hebrew University are being tested for analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in established pre-clinical models.
Pursuant to the Second Oxford Agreement, Oxford will undertake a research project (the “Research Project”) based around the clinical development of SCAs that are known to exhibit both anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. The aim of the Research Project is to develop and characterize chemical compounds that are synthesized at Hebrew University to create treatments for chronic pain, RA and other chronic inflammatory conditions, and to eventually obtain regulatory approval to initiate early-phase clinical trials by mid to late 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The Second Oxford Agreement had an initial term of one year beginning on March 22, 2019, but was extended by amendment to March 31, 2020, or any later date agreed to by the parties, unless terminated earlier. The Second Oxford Agreement was not extended any further after March 31, 2020.
CannUK, as the sponsor of the Research Project, agreed to make the following payments to Oxford:
|Signature of the Oxford Agreement||£||166,800|
|6 months post start of the Research Project||£||166,800|
|9 months post start of the Research Project||£||166,800|
|12 months post start of the Research Project, after report||£||55,600|
On September 18, 2020, CannUK entered into another research agreement with Oxford (the “Third Oxford Agreement”), pursuant to which CannUK will sponsor work led by Prof. Nanchahal at the University of Oxford to investigate the mechanisms underlying fibrosis. In connection with the agreement, CannUK will initially provide $100,000 and then at 6-month intervals further funding to support the salary of Dr. Lynn Williams and consumables.
CannUK, as the sponsor, agreed to make the following payments to Oxford:
|30 days post signing of the Third Oxford Agreement||£||80,000|
|6 months post signing of the Third Oxford Agreement||£||178,867|
|12 months post signing of the Third Oxford Agreement||£||178,867|
|24 months post signing of the Third Oxford Agreement||£||178,867|
|36 months post signing of the Third Oxford Agreement||£||178,867|
On September 21, 2020, CannUK entered into another research agreement with Oxford (the “Fourth Oxford Agreement”), pursuant to which CannUK will sponsor work at the University of Oxford to develop and characterize novel cannabinoid derived new chemical entities (NCEs) for the treatment of inflammatory diseases towards initiation of early phase clinical trials in patients within a period of 3 years.
CannUK, as the sponsor, agreed to make the following payments to Oxford:
|30 days post signing of the Fourth Oxford Agreement||£||101,778|
|6 months post signing of the Fourth Oxford Agreement||£||101,778|
|12 months post signing of the Fourth Oxford Agreement||£||101,778|
|18 months post signing of the Fourth Oxford Agreement||£||101,778|
|24 months post signing of the Fourth Oxford Agreement||£||101,778|
On May 24, 2021, CannUK entered into another research agreement with Oxford (the “Fifth Oxford Agreement”), pursuant to which CannUK will sponsor work at the University of Oxford to conduct a multi-centre, randomised, double blind, parallel group, feasibility study of anti-TNF injection for the treatment of adults with frozen shoulder during the pain-predominant phase.
CannUK, as the sponsor, agreed to make the following payments to Oxford:
|Upon signing of the Fifth Oxford Agreement||£||70,546|
|6 months post signing of the Fifth Oxford Agreement||£||70,546|
|12 months post signing of the Fifth Oxford Agreement||£||70,546|
|24 months post signing of the Fifth Oxford Agreement||£||70,546|
Stanford License Agreement
On May 8, 2018, Katexco Pharmaceuticals Corp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of our wholly-owned subsidiary Katexco, entered into an option agreement (the “Stanford Option”) with the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (“Stanford”), pursuant to which Stanford granted Katexco an option to acquire an exclusive license for the development and commercialization of certain inventions. In consideration for the Stanford Option, Katexco paid Stanford $10,000 (the “Option Payment”), creditable against the license issue fee agreement.
On July 25, 2018 (the “Stanford Effective Date”) Katexco exercised the Stanford Option, and entered into an exclusive license agreement (the “Stanford License Agreement”) with Stanford, pursuant to which Katexco was granted the rights to certain U.S. patents related to (i) alpha B-crystallin as a therapy for autoimmune demyelination and (ii) peptides as short as six amino acids that form amyloid fibrils that activate B-1 cells and macrophages and are anti-inflammatory and therapeutic in autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases (the “Stanford Licensed Patents”). Through the Stanford License Agreement, Katexco established research facilities at Stanford. We will support the clinical development of the lead compound(s), culminating in Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to establish potential clinical utility in ulcerative colitis indications.
Under the Stanford License Agreement, no rights of Stanford, including intellectual property rights, are granted to Katexco other than those rights granted under the Stanford Licensed Patents.
As consideration for the grant of the Stanford Licensed Patents, Katexco paid Stanford an initial fee of $50,000, inclusive of the Option Payment. The Company also issued 111,466 of common shares to Stanford, and provided a letter stating the value of such shares. A portion of the shares issued to Stanford were later distributed to five individuals, including our Chief Scientific Officer and co-chairman.
Beginning upon the first anniversary of the Stanford Effective Date and each anniversary thereafter, Katexco will pay Stanford an annual license maintenance fee of $20,000 on the first and second anniversaries and $40,000 on each subsequent anniversary. Furthermore, Katexco is obligated to make the following payments, including (i) $100,000 upon initiation of Phase 2 trial, (ii) $500,000 upon the first FDA approval of a product (the “Licensed Product”) resulting from the Stanford Licensed Patents, and (iii) $250,000 upon each new Licensed Product thereafter. Royalties, calculated at 2.5% of net sales (calculated as gross revenue received by Katexco or its sublicensees, their distributors or designees, from the sale, transfer or other disposition of products based on the Stanford Licensed Patents minus 5%), will be payable to Stanford. In addition, Katexco has reimbursed Stanford $51,385 to offset the Stanford Licensed Patent’s patenting expenses, and will reimburse Stanford for all Stanford Licensed Patent’s patenting expenses, including any interference and or re-examination matters, incurred by Stanford after March 3, 2018.
We can terminate the Stanford License Agreement without cause by providing a 30-day notice. In the case of a change of control, upon the assignment of the Stanford License Agreement, Katexco is obligated to pay Stanford a $200,000 change of control fee. The Stanford License Agreement also provides Stanford with the right to purchase for cash up to either (i) 10% or (ii) the percentage necessary for Stanford to maintain its pro rata ownership interest in Katexco, of Katexco’s equity securities issued in a private offering. The shares issued to Stanford in connection with the Stanford License Agreement, gave Stanford and the five individuals who received a portion of the shares a total ownership of 2.11% in Katexco’s stock, prior to the Reorganization.
The Evotec Agreement
On June 7, 2018, our wholly-owned subsidiary Katexco entered into the Evotec Agreement with Evotec, a leading CRO, pursuant to which Evotec was retained to perform certain research services. Pursuant to the Evotec Agreement, the goal of the joint project (the “Evotec Project”) is to identify small molecules that pharmacologically stimulate the human ChrFam7a receptor and function. The Evotec Project is being conducted in two phases over a 24-month period where resources are allocated by the steering committee, which is controlled equally by the parties to the Evotec Agreement, on a quarterly basis.
Subject to certain exemptions described in the Evotec Agreement, Katexco owns all intellectual property rights, conceived, invented, discovered or made by Evotec during the performance of its services, other than intellectual property rights owned or controlled by Evotec relating to its already existing technology and components to be used in the services to be provided under the Evotec Agreement.
The Evotec Agreement is subject to a minimum payment of $4,937,500 and a maximum payment of $5,350,250 to Evotec. This program was paused in mid-2019 and the Company is currently in negotiations with Evotec to continue this program.
The Petcanna Agreement
On August 20, 2018, we entered into a sublicense agreement with Petcanna Pharma Corp. (“Petcanna”), a private company which was founded by Prof. Sir Marc Feldmann (our Co-Executive Chairman), and Yissum (the “Petcanna Agreement”).
Under the Petcanna Agreement, we granted Petcanna an exclusive, worldwide, non-transferable, non-sublicensable sublicense to make commercial use of the certain patents related to cyclohexenyl compounds and listed in the Petcanna Agreement (the “Petcanna IP”) in order to develop, manufacture, market, distribute or sell products that incorporate the Petcanna IP in products that are intended for the treatment of veterinary medical conditions, initially osteoarthritis.
As consideration for the sublicense, Petcanna agreed to issue to us approximately 9,000,000 of Petcanna’s common shares in the fourth quarter of 2018. As of the date of this filing, Petcanna has not issued shares to any shareholder and has not commenced operations. We intend to retain 85% of such shares, and transfer 15% of such shares to Yissum. In the event that Yissum does not accept such shares, we will have an obligation to pay Yissum 15% of the-then current fair market value of such shares. Petcanna will also pay a 1% royalty to us on Petcanna’s net sales of products that incorporate the Petcanna IP.
All right, title and interest in and to the Petcanna IP, including any improvements to the Petcanna IP, will vest solely in our company.
Unless the parties to the Petcanna Agreement agree otherwise in writing, the Petcanna Agreement will terminate on the occurrence of the later of: (i) the date of expiration of the last of the Petcanna IP, (ii) the date of the final expiration of exclusivity on any Product granted by any regulatory or government body, and (iii) the expiration of a continuous period of twenty (20) years during which there was no First Commercial Sale of any product. The terms “Product” and “First Commercial Sale” apply as they are defined in the Petcanna Agreement. Our ability to grant this sublicense to Petcanna is contingent upon (i) Yissum having the necessary rights to the Hebrew Patent Applications assigned to it from all applicable parties, (ii) Yissum being able to grant a license to us per the terms of the Hebrew Agreement, and (iii) the Hebrew Patent Applications and any related resulting patents being valid and maintained in good standing for the respective terms of the Hebrew Licensing Agreement and the Petcanna Agreement.
Kennedy License Agreement
On September 27, 2019, our wholly-owned subsidiary 180 LP entered into an exclusive license agreement (the “Kennedy License Agreement”) with the Kennedy Trust For Rheumatology Research (“Kennedy”), pursuant to which Kennedy granted to 180 LP an exclusive license in the U.S., Japan and member countries of the EU (including the United Kingdom), to certain licensed patents (the “Kennedy Licensed Patents”), including the right to grant sublicenses, and the right to research, develop, sell or manufacture any pharmaceutical product (i) whose research, development, manufacture, use, importation or sale would infringe on the Kennedy Licensed Patents absent the license granted under the Kennedy License Agreement or (ii) containing an antibody that is a fragment of or derived from an antibody whose research, development, manufacture, use, importation or sale would infringe on the Kennedy Licensed Patents absent the license granted under the Kennedy License Agreement, for all human uses, including the diagnosis, prophylaxis and treatment of diseases and conditions.
Under the Kennedy License Agreement, Kennedy reserves the perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, worldwide right for the Kennedy Licensed Patents and its affiliates, employees, students and other researchers to carry out any acts which would otherwise infringe on the Kennedy Licensed Patents for the purposes of teaching and carrying out research and development, including the right to accept external sponsorship for such research and development and the right to grant sub-licenses for the same purposes.
As consideration for the grant of the Kennedy Licensed Patents, 180 LP paid Kennedy an upfront fee of £60,000, and will also pay Kennedy royalties equal to (i) 1% of the net sales for the first annual $1 billion of net sales, and (ii) 2% of the net sales after the net sales are at or in excess of $1 billion, as well as 25% of all sublicense revenue, provided that the amount of such percentage of sublicense revenue based on amounts which constitute royalties shall not be less than 1% on the first cumulative $1 billion of net sales of the products sold by such sublicenses or their affiliates, and 2% on that portion of the cumulative net sales of the products sold by such sublicenses or their affiliates in excess of $1 billion.
The term of the royalties paid to Kennedy will expire on the later of (i) the last valid claim of a patent included in the Kennedy Licensed Patents which covers or claims the exploitation of a product in the applicable country; (ii) the expiration of regulatory exclusivity for the product in the country; or (iii) 10 years from first commercial sale of the product in the country.
We may terminate the Kennedy License Agreement without cause by providing 90-days’ notice.
The Consulting Agreements are each described below.
Consulting Agreements with Yissum and each of Prof. Mechoulam and Prof. Gallily
On May 13, 2018, in connection with the Hebrew Agreement, we entered into consulting agreements (each, a “Consulting Agreement” and, collectively, the “Consulting Agreements”) with Yissum and each of Prof. Mechoulam and Prof. Gallily (each, a “Consultant”). Pursuant to the Consulting Agreements, each of the Consultants agreed to provide advice, support, theories, techniques and improvements in our scientific research and product development activities related to the commercialization of the Hebrew Licensed Technology (the “Consulting Services”).
In consideration of the Consulting Services, we will pay Yissum a quarterly consultancy fee of $12,500 for each Consultant. According to the Consulting Agreements, any inventions, know-how, or intellectual property developed by a Consultant in the course of providing the Consulting Services will be owned (a) by Yissum alone, if the Consultant developed such inventions, know-how or intellectual property alone or with other Hebrew University employees or associates; or (b) jointly by Yissum and us, if the Consultant developed such inventions, know-how or intellectual property together with any employee or consultant of our company; and, in either case, such technology will be deemed to be the Hebrew Licensed Technology under the Hebrew Agreement, and will be handled in accordance with its terms.
Each Consulting Agreement is in effect for a period of three years, and may be extended for additional one-year periods at each time, by mutual written consent of the parties to such Consulting Agreement.
Advisory Services or Consulting Agreements with each of John Todd, Kevin Tracy, Christopher Loren Van Deusen and William Taylor
On July 1, 2018, our wholly-owned subsidiary Katexco entered into advisory services agreements (each, an “Advisory Services Agreement”, and, collectively, the “Advisory Services Agreements”) with each of John Todd, Kevin Tracey, Christopher Loren Van Deusen and William Taylor (each, an “Advisor”). Pursuant to the Advisory Services Agreements, each Advisor agreed to provide advisory services in relation to research and development of drugs combining the use of synthetic CBD with nicotine receptor treatments aimed at autoimmune diseases and multiple sclerosis, as well as to conduct such other services and duties as may be reasonably requested from time to time (the “Advisory Services”).
Each Advisor will be paid an annual fee of $20,000 in consideration of the Advisory Services, and may be granted stock options of the Company in an amount to be determined in the future.
Each Advisory Services Agreement is in effect until July 1, 2019, unless terminated earlier in accordance with its terms, and will automatically renew for successive one-year periods from such date unless one party delivers written notice to the other, at least 60 days before the next renewal term, that it wishes to terminate.
On July 1, 2018, the parties entered into an addendum to the Advisory Services Agreement of Kevin Tracey (the “Addendum”), in order to ensure that the commitments of Dr. Tracey thereunder are consistent with his obligations to The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and to Northwell Health (“Feinstein”). Pursuant to the Addendum, Katexco agreed and understood that Dr. Tracey is obligated to assign, and has preemptively assigned, to Feinstein all of his rights in intellectual property conceived or made by Dr. Tracey and arising from research that has been or is supported entirely or partly by Feinstein resources. In addition, Katexco acknowledged that it has no rights, by reason of the Advisory Services Agreement, in any intellectual property that is subject to Dr. Tracey’s obligations to Feinstein. The Addendum further provided that the mere de minimis use of Feinstein’s facilities by Dr. Tracey in the performance of his services under the Advisory Services Agreement will not, without more, bestow upon Feinstein any rights to any intellectual property generated by Dr. Tracey under the Advisory Services Agreement.
In connection with and as part of the Advisory Services Agreements, each Advisor entered into a protection of corporate interests agreement (each, a “POCI Agreement”) with Katexco, pursuant to which each Advisor agreed that Katexco (or its designee) own all right, title and interest in and to all “inventions”, defined as all inventions, original works of authorship, developments, concepts, improvements, designs, discoveries, ideas, trademarks, confidential information, work product, data, and all tangible and intangible materials, in each case whether or not patentable or registrable under copyright or other intellectual property laws anywhere in the world, that such Advisor may (solely or jointly with others) conceive of, develop, create, improve, acquire, reduce to practice or otherwise make, refine or bring into existence, or cause any of the foregoing to be done, whether or not during regular working hours and whether or not such advisor is or was specifically instructed to do so, where: (i) it in any way relates to the present or proposed programs, services, products or business of the Katexco group of entities or to tasks assigned to the Advisor in relation to his engagement; or (ii) such advisor, in any way, used any of the Katexco group of entities’ property, products, processes, software or other resources, including any confidential information.
The provisions of each POCI Agreement will survive the termination of the engagement of the Advisor for any reason, whether voluntary or involuntary.
Advisory Services Agreement with Rajesh Munglani
On July 27, 2018, we entered into advisory services agreement (the “Munglani Services Agreement”) with Rajesh Munglani, acting under Rajesh Munglani Limited. Pursuant to the Munglani Services Agreement, Mr. Munglani agreed to advise on aspects of pre-clinical and clinical development, in return for (i) £20,000 per year, inclusive of any applicable taxes, and (ii) an option to acquire 500,000 shares of CBR Pharma, determined on a pro rata basis based on the number of months in the advisory period, defined as three years from July 27, 2018. The option to acquire shares of CBR Pharma was not issued and the Company may issue options to Dr. Munglani at an amount to be determined in the future.
The Munglani Services Agreement provides that all interests in patents (including, without limitation, provisional patents), patent applications, inventions, improvements, enhancements, discoveries, whether patentable or not, arising out of or relating to the Munglani Services Agreement, as well as all Work Product (as defined in the Munglani Services Agreement) will be deemed works made for hire under applicable copyright law, if applicable, and will belong exclusively to our company.
The Munglani Services Agreement may be terminated by either party by providing thirty (30) days’ prior written notice to the other party.
Advisory Services Agreement with Irene Tracey
On November 19, 2018, we entered into advisory services agreement (the “Tracey Services Agreement”) with Irene Tracey. Pursuant to the Tracey Services Agreement, Ms. Tracey agreed to advise us on aspects of pre-clinical and clinical development, in return for (i) £20,000 per year and (ii) an option to acquire 200,000 shares of CBR Pharma, determined on a pro rata basis based on the number of months in the advisory period, defined as three years from November 19, 2018. The option to acquire shares of CBR Pharma was not issued and the Company may issue options to Prof. Tracey in an amount to be determined in the future.
The Tracey Services Agreement provides that all interests in patents (including, without limitation, provisional patents), patent applications, inventions, improvements, enhancements, discoveries, whether patentable or not, arising out of or relating to the Tracey Services Agreement, as well as all Work Product (as defined in the Tracey Services Agreement) will be deemed works made for hire under applicable copyright law, if applicable, and will belong exclusively to our company, excepting any different terms agreed in contractual arrangements with Oxford when undertaking specific research with us and during which IP might be generated by Ms. Tracey that needs protecting by Oxford as part of the agreed contract.
The Tracey Services Agreement may be terminated by either party by providing thirty (30) days’ prior written notice to the other.
Inflammation consultancy Agreements with each of Prof. Sir Marc Feldmann and Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal
On November 1, 2013, our wholly-owned subsidiary 180 LP entered into letter agreements regarding inflammation consultancy services (each, an “Inflammation Consultancy Agreement”, and, collectively, the “Inflammation Consultancy Agreements”) with Isis Innovation Limited for the services of each of Prof. Sir Marc Feldmann and Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal (each, an “Inflammation Consultant”). Pursuant to the Inflammation Consultancy Agreements, each Inflammation Consultant agreed to provide advice and expertise on inflammatory and degenerative diseases including fibrosis as exemplified by Dupuytren’s Disease and osteoinduction (bone formation), in relation to the technology, programs and products of 180 LP, and, specifically, to provide general and specific advice and guidance on how 180 LP might further develop its different programs that are ongoing, contemplated, or conceived at or by 180 LP (the “Inflammation Consulting Services”).
In consideration of the Inflammation Consulting Services, Prof. Sir Marc Feldmann and Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal were paid a fixed fee of $500 and $10,000 per annum, respectively.
The initial term of each Advisory Services Agreement was until November 1, 2015. On November 8, 2015, each of the Advisory Services Agreement was extended until November 1, 2020. A new contract with Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal is described below. A new contract with Prof. Sir Marc Feldman is currently under negotiation at terms not materially different from the prior contract.
Prof Jagdeep Nanchahal Consulting Agreement
On February 25, 2021, we (and CannBioRex Pharma Limited, which was added as a party to the agreement later), entered into a Consultancy Agreement dated February 22, 2021, and effective December 1, 2020, with Prof Jagdeep Nanchahal (as amended, the “Consulting Agreement”). Prof Nanchahal has been providing services to the Company and/or its subsidiaries since 2014, and is currently a greater than 5% stockholder of the Company and the Chairman of our Clinical Advisory Board.
On March 31, 2021, we entered into a First Amendment to Consultancy Agreement with Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal, which amended the Consultancy Agreement entered into with Prof. Nanchahal on February 25, 2021, to include CannBioRex Pharma Limited, a corporation incorporated and registered in England and Wales (“CannBioRex”), and an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, as a party thereto, and to update the prior Consultancy Agreement to provide for cash payments due to Prof. Nanchahal to be paid by CannBioRex, for tax purposes, provide for CannBioRex to be party to certain other provisions of the agreement and to provide for the timing of certain cash bonuses due under the terms of the agreement.
Prof Nanchahal is a surgeon scientist focusing on defining the molecular mechanisms of common diseases and translating his findings through to early phase clinical trials. He undertook his Ph.D., funded by the UK Medical Research Council, whilst a medical student in London and led a lab group funded by external grants throughout his surgical training. After completing fellowships in microsurgery and hand surgery in the USA and Australia, he was appointed as a senior lecturer at Imperial College. His research is focused on promoting tissue regeneration by targeting endogenous stem cells and reducing fibrosis. In 2013 his group identified anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) as therapeutic target for Dupuytren’s disease, a common fibrotic condition of the hand. He is currently leading a phase 2b clinical trial funded by the Wellcome Trust and Department of Health to assess the efficacy of local administration of anti-TNF in patients with early stage Dupuytren’s disease. He is a proponent of evidence-based medicine and was the only plastic surgery member of the NICE Guidance Development Groups on complex and non-complex fractures. He was a member of the group that wrote the Standards for the Management of Open Fractures published in 2020. This is an open-source publication to facilitate the care of patients with these severe injuries.
Pursuant to the Consulting Agreement, Prof Nanchahal agreed, during the term of the agreement, to serve as a consultant to the Company and provide such services as the Chief Executive Officer and/or the board of directors of the Company shall request from time to time, including but not be limited to: (1) conducting clinical trials in the fields of Dupuytren’s disease, frozen shoulder and post-operative delirium/cognitive decline; and (2) conducting laboratory research in other fibrotic disorders, including fibrosis of the liver and lung (collectively, the “Services”).
In consideration for providing the Services, the Company (through CannBioRex Pharma Limited) agreed to pay Prof Nanchahal 15,000 British Pounds (GBP) per month (approximately $20,800) during the term of the agreement, increasing to GBP 23,000 (approximately $32,000) on the date (a) of publication of the data from the phase 2b clinical trial for Dupuytren’s disease (RIDD) and (b) the date that the Company has successfully raised over $15 million in capital. The fee will increase annually thereafter to reflect progression in other clinical trials and laboratory research as approved by the board of directors. The Company also agreed to pay Prof Nanchahal a bonus (“Bonus 1”) in the sum of GBP 100,000 upon submission of the Dupuytren’s disease clinical trial data for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, for prior work performed, including completion of the recruitment to the RIDD (Dupuytren’s) trial, the Company agreed to pay Prof Nanchahal GBP 434,673 (approximately $605,000)(“Bonus 2”). At the election of Prof Nanchahal, Bonus 2 shall be paid at least 50% (fifty percent) or more, as Prof Nanchahal elects, in shares of the Company’s common stock, at a share price of $3.00 per share, or the share price on the date of the grant, whichever is lower, with the remainder paid in GBP. Bonus 2 shall be deemed earned and payable upon the Company raising a minimum of $15 million in additional funding, through the sale of debt or equity, after December 1, 2020 (the “Vesting Date”) and shall not be accrued, due or payable prior to such Vesting Date. Bonus 2 shall be payable by the Company within 30 calendar days of the Vesting Date. Finally, Prof Nanchahal shall receive another one-time bonus (“Bonus 3”) of GBP 5,000 (approximately $7,000) on enrollment of the first patient to the phase 2 frozen shoulder trial, and another one-time bonus (“Bonus 4”) of GBP 5,000 (approximately $7,000) for enrollment of the first patient to the phase 2 delirium/POCD trial. On March 30, 2021, the Company issued Prof Nanchahal 100,699 shares of Company common stock in lieu of GBP 217,337 and on April 15, 2021, the Company issued Prof Nanchahal 37,715 shares of Company common stock in lieu of GBP 82,588. The Company also waived the requirement for the Company having to raise $15 million in order for Prof Nanchahal to agree to receive an aggregate of GBP 300,000 via the issuance of shares. Prof Nanchahal agreed that the remaining GBP 134,673 that is due pursuant to Bonus 2 shall be paid after the Company has raised a minimum of $15 million in additional funding.
Notwithstanding the above, the board of directors or Compensation Committee of the Company may grant Prof Nanchahal additional bonuses from time to time in their discretion, in cash, stock or options.
The Consulting Agreement has an initial term of three years, and renews thereafter for additional three-year terms, until terminated as provided in the agreement. The Consulting Agreement can be terminated by either party with 12 months prior written notice (provided the Company’s right to terminate the agreement may only be exercised if Prof Nanchahal fails to perform his required duties under the Consulting Agreement), or by the Company immediately if (a) Prof Nanchahal fails or neglects efficiently and diligently to perform the Services or is guilty of any breach of its or his obligations under the agreement (including any consent granted under it); (b) Prof Nanchahal is guilty of any fraud or dishonesty or acts in a manner (whether in the performance of the Services or otherwise) which, in the reasonable opinion of the Company, has brought or is likely to bring Prof Nanchahal, the Company or any of its affiliates into disrepute or is convicted of an arrestable offence (other than a road traffic offence for which a non-custodial penalty is imposed); or (c) Prof Nanchahal becomes bankrupt or makes any arrangement or composition with his creditors. If the Consulting Agreement is terminated by the Company for any reason other than cause, Prof Nanchahal is entitled to a lump sum payment of 12 months of his fee as at the date of termination.
The Consulting Agreement includes a 12 month non-compete and non-solicitation obligation of Prof Nanchahal, preventing him from competing against the Company in any part of any country in which he was actively engaged in the Company’s business, subject to certain exceptions, including research conducted at the University of Oxford. The Consulting Agreement also includes customary confidentiality and assignment of inventions provisions, in each case subject to the Company’s previously existing agreements with various universities, including the University of Oxford, where Prof Nanchahal serves as a Professor of Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Our success depends in significant part on our ability to protect the proprietary elements of our product candidates, technology and know-how, to operate without infringing on the proprietary rights of others, and to defend challenges and oppositions from others and prevent others from infringing on our proprietary rights. We have sought, and will continue to seek, patent protection in the U.S., UK, Europe and other countries for our proprietary technologies. Our intellectual property portfolio as of September 30, 2019, includes fifteen patent families with issued and/or pending claims, pharmaceutical formulations, drug delivery and the therapeutic uses of SCAs, as well as know-how and trade secrets.
Within the U.S., we have licensed six issued patents and thirteen pending patent applications under active prosecution. There are an additional eight issued patents outside of the U.S. Our policy is to seek patent protection for the technology, inventions and improvements that we consider important to the development of our business, but only in those cases where we believe that the costs of obtaining patent protection is justified by the commercial potential of the technology, and typically only in those jurisdictions that we believe present significant commercial opportunities. We also rely on trademarks, trade secrets, know-how and continuing innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position.
The term of individual patents depends upon the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries in which we have filed, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest date of filing a non-provisional patent application. In the U.S., a patent’s term may be lengthened by patent term adjustment, which compensates a patentee for administrative delays by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), in granting a patent, or may be shortened if a patent is terminally disclaimed over another patent.
The term of a patent that covers an FDA-approved drug may also be eligible for extension, which permits term restoration as compensation for the term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (the Hatch-Waxman Act) permits an extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. The length of the patent term extension is related to the length of time the drug is under regulatory review. Extensions cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended. Similar provisions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug are available in Europe and other non-U.S. jurisdictions.
To protect our rights to any of our issued patents and proprietary information, we may need to litigate against infringing third parties, avail ourselves of the courts or participate in hearings to determine the scope and validity of those patents or other proprietary rights.
We also rely on trade secret protection for our confidential and proprietary information. Our policy requires our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships with us.
From time to time, in the normal course of our operations, we will be a party to litigation and other dispute matters and claims relating to intellectual property.
180LS’ Research, Development and License Agreements
180LS has entered into research and licensing agreements with various parties, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Oxford. For information regarding these agreements, see “Material Agreements”, above.
Below is a description of the competitive environment of each of our product candidate development platforms and potential product candidates.
Our treatment is for early stage Dupuytren’s disease, for which there is no approved treatment. Existing treatments focus on late stage Dupuytren’s disease, when the fingers are irreversibly curled into the palm. Surgery remains the typical standard treatment but the relatively long post-operative rehabilitation has driven the reach for less invasive techniques. Xiaflex, a drug developed by Auxilium, has shown effective in treating patients with contractures although many patients experience relatively mild side effects. An alternative approach is disruption of the late stage cords with a needle and data from a comparative clinical trial published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American) in 2018 showed similar recurrence rates between collagenase and percutaneous needle fasciotomy at 2 years. A clinical trial funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme (UK) is currently underway in the UK, comparing the cost efficacy of surgery for Dupuytren’s disease with a collagenase injection, which softens the fibrous tissue. The aims of the study are to determine (i) whether collagenase injections are as effective and as safe as surgery for treating this condition and (ii) the costs of both treatments.
Despite roughly 3,000 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies globally, only a handful of companies are actively developing synthetic cannabinoids for human and veterinary health. Presently, most of the focus of these companies is on pain management, multiple sclerosis and epileptic-seizure disorders, and most of these companies are using natural plant products.
We expect that the market for cannabinoid therapeutics will also grow significantly in the coming years due to increasing awareness of the potential benefits that cannabinoid products may provide over existing therapies. Interest in cannabinoid therapeutics has increased over the past several years as some pre-clinical and clinical data has emerged highlighting the potential efficacy and safety benefits of cannabinoid and synthetic cannabinoid therapeutics. Pharmaceutical companies that have publicized their engagement in testing cannabinoid and synthetic cannabinoid therapeutics include Zynerba, Skye Bioscience, IntelGenx, Ananda Scientific, InMed Pharmaceuticals, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC (acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals), Tetra Bio-Pharma, and GB Sciences.
Multiple companies are working in the cannabis therapeutic area and are pursuing regulatory approval for their product candidates. For example, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC, which markets Sativex, a botanical cannabinoid oral mucosal for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is seeking FDA approval in the U.S., and Epidiolex, a liquid formulation of highly purified cannabidiol extract, which was recently approved as a treatment for Dravet’s Syndrome, Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, and various childhood epilepsy syndromes. Skye Bioscience, Inc. is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of synthetic cannabinoid derived therapeutics to target glaucoma. Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings, Inc.’s lead drug candidate, lenabasum, is a novel, synthetic, oral, cannabinoid (CB2 agonist) designed to treat four serious and rare chronic inflammatory diseases (systemic sclerosis (“SSc”), dermatomyositis (“DM”), cystic fibrosis (“CF”) and systemic lupus erythematosus), and the FDA has granted lenabasum Orphan Drug Designation as well as Fast Track Status for SSc and CF, and Orphan Drug Designation for DM. Zynerba Pharmaceuticals focuses on pharmaceutically-produced transdermal cannabinoid therapies for rare and near-rare neuropsychiatric disorders and is currently evaluating ZygelTM, a patent-protected transdermal CBD gel for the treatment of Fragile X syndrome, for which it filed an NDA with the FDA, developmental and epileptic encephalopathies and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Competition to the acetylcholine receptor program is diverse, ranging from a small biotechnology company, Attenua, who is using an α7nAChR agonist, bradanicline, in Phase 2 clinical trials for chronic cough to electroceutical companies. The latter group of companies is very competitive, all of whom are developing devices to stimulate the vagus nerve as a therapy for inflammation. For example, Endonovo Therapeutics has developed a non-invasive electroceutical device using pulsed short-wave radiofrequency at 27.12 MHz that has been FDA-cleared and CE Marked for the palliative treatment of soft tissue injuries and post-operative pain and edema, and has Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration) (“CMS”) national coverage for the treatment of chronic wounds. Additionally, SetPoint Medical Corp is using vagal nerve stimulation for IBD and RA.
The electroceutical companies can be viewed as competition, or a vast proof-of-concept. Because in many respects, the α7nAChR program can be viewed as a chemical stimulation of the vagus nerve, and each of the indications benefiting from electrical stimulation, should be amenable to chemical stimulation.
Lastly, each of the large pharmaceutical companies that initially developed α7nAChR agonists could revitalize their programs and use their drugs in clinical trials for inflammatory indications.
We have obtained regulatory approvals from the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Dutch Centrale Commissie Mensgebonden Onderzoek (CCMO), as well as from the relevant accredited ethics committees, in order to perform clinical trials in the UK and The Netherlands solely for indications under the anti-TNF platform. We have not held any meetings with, and no applications or requests for approval have been submitted to, the FDA for any indications or products under any of our product development platforms at this time.
FDA Approval Process
In the U.S., pharmaceutical products are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA. The U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the “FDC Act”), and other federal and state statutes and regulations, govern, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, storage, recordkeeping, approval, labeling, promotion and marketing, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, sampling, and import and export of pharmaceutical products. Failure to comply with applicable U.S. requirements may subject a company to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, such as imposition of clinical holds, FDA refusal to approve pending NDAs or supplements to approved NDAs, withdrawal of approvals, warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, civil penalties and criminal prosecution.
Pharmaceutical product candidate development in the U.S. typically involves pre-clinical laboratory and animal tests, the submission to the FDA of an IND, which must become effective before clinical testing may commence. For commercial approval, the sponsor must submit adequate tests by all methods reasonably applicable to show that the drug is safe for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended or suggested in the proposed labeling. The sponsor must also submit substantial evidence, generally consisting of adequate, well-controlled clinical trials to establish that the drug will have the effect it purports or is represented to have under the conditions of use prescribed, recommended or suggested in the proposed labeling. Satisfaction of FDA pre-market approval requirements typically takes many years and the actual time required may vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidate or disease.
Pre-clinical tests include laboratory evaluation of product candidate chemistry, formulation and toxicity, as well as animal trials to assess the characteristics and potential safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The conduct of the pre-clinical tests must comply with federal regulations and requirements, including FDA’s GLP regulations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations implementing the Animal Welfare Act of 1996. The results of pre-clinical testing are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND along with other information, including information about product candidate chemistry, manufacturing and controls, and a proposed clinical trial protocol. Long-term pre-clinical tests, such as animal tests of reproductive toxicity and carcinogenicity, may continue after the IND is submitted.
A 30-day waiting period after the submission of each IND is required prior to the commencement of clinical testing in humans. If the FDA has not imposed a clinical hold on the IND or otherwise commented or questioned the IND within this 30-day period, the clinical trial proposed in the IND may begin.
Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational new drug to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of a qualified investigator. Clinical trials must be conducted: (i) in compliance with GCP, an international standard and U.S. legal requirement meant to protect the rights and health of patients and to define the roles of clinical trial sponsors, administrators and monitors, (ii) in compliance with other federal regulations, and (iii) under protocols detailing the objectives of the trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Each protocol involving testing on U.S. patients and subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND.
The FDA may order the temporary, or permanent, discontinuation of a clinical trial at any time or impose other sanctions if it believes that the clinical trial either is not being conducted in accordance with FDA requirements or presents an unacceptable risk to the clinical trial patients. The trial protocol and informed consent information for patients in clinical trials must also be submitted to an Institutional Review Board (“IRB”), for approval. An IRB may also prevent a clinical trial from beginning or require the clinical trial at the site to be halted, either temporarily or permanently, for failure to comply with the IRB’s requirements or may impose other conditions.
Clinical trials to support NDAs for marketing approval are typically conducted in three sequential phases, but the phases may overlap or otherwise vary in particular circumstances. In Phase 1, the initial introduction of the drug into healthy human subjects or patients, the drug is tested to assess metabolism, pharmacokinetics, pharmacological actions, side effects associated with increasing doses and, if possible, early evidence on effectiveness. Phase 2 usually involves trials in a limited patient population to determine the effectiveness of the drug for a particular indication, dosage tolerance and optimum dosage, and to identify common adverse effects and safety risks. If a compound demonstrates evidence of effectiveness and an acceptable safety profile in Phase 2 evaluations, Phase 3 trials are undertaken to obtain the additional information about clinical efficacy and safety in a larger number of patients, typically at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites, to permit the FDA to evaluate the overall benefit-risk relationship of the drug and to provide adequate information for the labeling of the drug. In most cases, the FDA requires two adequate and well-controlled Phase 3 clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of the drug. The FDA may, however, determine that a single Phase 3 trial with other confirmatory evidence may be sufficient in some instances. In some cases, the FDA may require post-market studies, known as Phase 4 studies, to be conducted as a condition of approval in order to gather additional information on the drug’s effect in various populations and any side effects associated with long-term use. Depending on the risks posed by the drugs, other post-market requirements may be imposed.
After completion of the required clinical testing, a New Drug Application (“NDA”) is prepared and submitted to the FDA. The FDA approval of the NDA is required before marketing of the product candidate may begin in the U.S. The NDA must include the results of all pre-clinical, clinical, and other testing and a compilation of data relating to the product candidate’s pharmacology, chemistry, manufacture, and controls. The cost of preparing and submitting an NDA is substantial. Under federal law, the submission of most NDAs is also subject to an application user fee, which, for the year ended December 31, 2020, was in the amount of approximately $2.9 million.
The FDA has 60 days from its receipt of an NDA to determine whether the application will be accepted for filing based on the agency’s threshold determination that it is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review. Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, the FDA has agreed to certain performance goals in the review of NDAs. FDA’s current performance goals call for FDA to complete review of 90 percent of standard (non-priority) NDAs within 10 months of receipt and within six months for priority NDAs, but two additional months are added to standard and priority NDAs for a new molecular entity. A drug is eligible for priority review if it addresses an unmet medical need in a serious or life-threatening disease or condition. The review process for both standard and priority review may be extended by FDA for three additional months to consider certain late-submitted information, or information intended to clarify information already provided in the submission. These timelines are not legally binding on the FDA.
The FDA may also refer applications for novel drug products, or drug products that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy, to an advisory committee, which is typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it generally follows such recommendations. Before approving an NDA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP.
Additionally, the FDA will inspect the facility or the facilities at which the drug is manufactured. The FDA will not approve the product candidate unless compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (“GMPs”), is satisfactory and the NDA contains data that provide substantial evidence that the drug is safe and effective in the indication studied.
After the FDA evaluates the NDA and the manufacturing facilities, the FDA issues either an approval letter or a complete response letter. A complete response letter generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing, or information, in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. If, or when, those deficiencies have been addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmission of the NDA, the FDA will issue an approval letter. The FDA has committed to reviewing 90 percent of resubmissions within two or six months depending on the type of information included. Notwithstanding the submission of any requested additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval.
An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications. As a condition of NDA approval, the FDA may require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”), to help ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks. REMS can include medication guides, communication plans for health care professionals, and Elements to Assure Safe Use (ETASU). ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring, and the use of patient registries. The requirement for a REMS can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the drug. Moreover, product candidate approval may require substantial post approval testing and surveillance to monitor the drug’s safety or efficacy. Once granted, product candidate approvals may be withdrawn if compliance with regulatory standards is not maintained or problems are identified following initial marketing.
Disclosure of Clinical Trial Information
Sponsors of clinical trials of certain FDA-regulated products, including prescription drugs, are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information on a public website maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Information related to the product candidate, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigator, and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration. Sponsors are also obligated to disclose the results of these trials after completion. The deadline for submitting the results of these trials can be extended for up to two years if the sponsor certifies that it is seeking approval of an unapproved product or that it will file an application for approval of a new indication for an approved product within one year. Competitors may use the publicly available information to gain knowledge regarding the design and progress of our development programs.
Fast Track Designation and Accelerated Approval
If our drug candidate meets the requirements of the FDA’s fast track program, we would seek to have our drug candidate expedited through this program. The FDA has programs to facilitate the development, and expedite the review, of drugs that are intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition for which there is no effective treatment and which demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. Under the fast-track program, the sponsor of a new drug candidate may request that FDA designate the drug candidate for a specific indication as a fast track drug concurrent with, or after, the filing of the IND for the drug candidate. FDA must determine if the drug candidate qualifies for fast track designation within 60 days of receipt of the sponsor’s request. In addition to other benefits such as the ability to engage in more frequent interactions with FDA, FDA may initiate review of sections of a fast track drug’s NDA before the application is complete. This rolling review is available if the applicant provides, and FDA approves, a schedule for the submission of the remaining information and the applicant pays applicable user fees. However, FDA’s time period goal for reviewing an application does not begin until the last section of the NDA is submitted. Additionally, the fast track designation may be withdrawn by FDA if FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process.
Under the FDA’s accelerated approval regulations, FDA may approve a drug for a serious or life-threatening illness that provides meaningful therapeutic benefit to patients over existing treatments based upon a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments.
In clinical trials, a surrogate endpoint is a measurement of laboratory or clinical signs of a disease or condition that substitutes for a direct measurement of how a patient feels, functions or survives. Surrogate endpoints can often be measured more easily or more rapidly than clinical endpoints. A drug candidate approved on this basis is subject to rigorous post-marketing compliance requirements, including the completion of Phase 4 or post- approval clinical trials to confirm clinical benefit. Failure to conduct required post-approval studies, or confirm a clinical benefit during post-marketing studies, will allow FDA to withdraw the drug from the market on an expedited basis. Unless otherwise informed by the FDA, for an accelerated approval product an applicant must submit to the FDA for consideration during the preapproval review period copies of all promotional materials, including promotional labeling as well as advertisements, intended for dissemination or publication within 120 days following marketing approval. After 120 days following marketing approval, unless otherwise informed by the FDA, the applicant must submit promotional materials at least 30 days prior to the intended time of initial dissemination of the labeling or initial publication of the advertisement.
Breakthrough Therapy Designation
As with the FDA’s fast track program, if our drug candidate meets the requirements to receive the FDA’s Breakthrough Therapy designation, we would seek to have our drug candidate expedited through this program. The FDA’s Breakthrough Therapy designation program is intended to expedite the development and review of products that treat serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. A Breakthrough Therapy is defined, under the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, as a drug that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The designation includes all of the features of fast track designation, as well as more intensive FDA interaction and guidance. The Breakthrough Therapy designation is a distinct status from both accelerated approval and priority review, but these can also be granted to the same product candidate if the relevant criteria are met. The FDA must take certain actions, such as holding timely meetings and providing advice, intended to expedite the development and review of an application for approval of a breakthrough therapy. All requests for breakthrough therapy designation will be reviewed within 60 days of receipt, and FDA will either grant or deny the request.
Fast track designation, accelerated approval, priority review, and Breakthrough Therapy designation do not change the standards for approval but may expedite the development or approval process. Even if the FDA grants one of these designations, the FDA may later decide that the drug products no longer meet the conditions for qualification.
The U.S. Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (the Hatch-Waxman Act)
Orange Book Listing
In seeking approval for a drug through an NDA, applicants are required to list with the FDA each patent whose claims cover the applicant’s product candidate or a claimed method of use of the product candidate. Upon approval of a drug, each of the eligible patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, commonly known as the Orange Book. Drugs listed in the Orange Book must, in turn, be the subject of a special certification by the filer of an abbreviated new drug application (“ANDA”), for a generic version of the drug, or by the applicant of a hybrid application known as a 505(b)(2) application. An ANDA provides for marketing of a drug product candidate that has the same active ingredient(s) in the same strengths and dosage form as the reference listed innovator drug and has been shown to be bioequivalent to the reference listed drug. Other than the requirement for bioequivalence testing (absent a waiver), ANDA applicants are not required to conduct, or submit results of, pre-clinical or clinical tests to prove the safety or effectiveness of their drug product candidate. Drugs approved in this way are commonly referred to as “generic equivalents” to the listed drug, are considered therapeutically equivalent to the listed drug, and can often be substituted by pharmacists under prescriptions written for the original listed drug.
The ANDA applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the approved product candidate in the FDA’s Orange Book. Specifically, the applicant must certify that: (i) the required patent information has not been filed; (ii) the listed patent has expired; (iii) the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (iv) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product candidate. The ANDA applicant may also elect to submit a “section viii statement”, certifying that its proposed ANDA labeling does not contain (or carves out) any language regarding the patented method-of- use, rather than certify to a listed method-of-use patent.
If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents, the ANDA application will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired.
A certification that the new product candidate will not infringe the already approved product candidate’s listed patents, or that such patents are invalid or unenforceable, is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA and patent holders once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of the receipt of notice of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA until the earlier of 30 months, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit, a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA applicant, or some other order of the court.
Competitors may also seek to market versions of our drug products via a section 505(b)(2) application, which is a type of somewhat abbreviated NDA. NDA Section 505(b)(2) applications may be submitted for drug products that represent a modification, such as a new indication or new dosage form, of a previously approved drug. Section 505(b)(2) applications may rely on the FDA’s previous findings for the safety and effectiveness of the previously approved drug in addition to information obtained by the 505(b)(2) applicant to support the modification of the previously approved drug. Preparing Section 505(b)(2) applications may be less costly and time-consuming than preparing an NDA based entirely on new data and information. Section 505(b)(2) applications are subject to the same patent certification procedures as an ANDA.
Upon NDA approval of a new chemical entity (“NCE”), which is a drug that contains no active moiety that has been approved by the FDA in any other NDA, that drug receives five years of marketing exclusivity during which time the FDA cannot receive any ANDA or 505(b)(2) application seeking approval of a drug that references a version of the NCE drug. Certain changes to a drug, such as the addition of a new indication to the package insert, are associated with a three-year period of exclusivity during which the FDA cannot approve an ANDA or 505 (b)(2) application that includes the change.
An ANDA or 505(b)(2) application may be submitted one year before NCE exclusivity expires if a Paragraph IV certification is filed. If there is no listed patent in the Orange Book, there may not be a Paragraph IV certification and thus no ANDA or 505(b)(2) may be filed before the expiration of the exclusivity period.
For a botanical drug, FDA may determine that the active moiety is one or more of the principle components or the complex mixture as a whole. This determination would affect the utility of any five-year exclusivity as well as the ability of any potential generic competitor to demonstrate that it is the same drug as the original botanical drug.
Five-year and three-year exclusivities do not preclude FDA approval of a 505(b)(1) application for a version of the drug during the period of exclusivity, provided that the 505(b)(1) conducts or obtains a right of reference to all of the pre-clinical studies and adequate and well controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.
Patent Term Extension
After NDA approval, owners of relevant drug patents may apply for up to a five-year patent extension. The allowable patent term extension is calculated as half of the drug’s testing phase — the time between IND submission and NDA submission — and all of the review phase — the time between NDA submission and approval up to a maximum of five years. The time can be shortened if FDA determines that the applicant did not pursue approval with due diligence. The total patent term after the extension may not exceed 14 years.
For patents that might expire during the application phase, the patent owner may request an interim patent extension. An interim patent extension increases the patent term by one year and may be renewed up to four times. For each interim patent extension granted, the post-approval patent extension is reduced by one year. The director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) must determine that approval of the drug covered by the patent for which a patent extension is being sought is likely. Interim patent extensions are not available for a drug for which an NDA has not been submitted.
Advertising and Promotion
Once an NDA is approved, a product candidate will be subject to certain post-approval requirements. For instance, FDA closely regulates the post-approval marketing and promotion of drugs, including standards and regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising, off-label promotion, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities and promotional activities involving the internet.
Drugs may be marketed only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling.
Changes to some of the conditions established in an approved application, including changes in indications, labeling, or manufacturing processes or facilities, require submission and FDA approval of a new NDA or NDA supplement before the change can be implemented. An NDA supplement for a new indication typically requires clinical data similar to that in the original application, and the FDA uses the same procedures and actions in reviewing NDA supplements as it does in reviewing NDAs.
Adverse Event Reporting and GMP Compliance
Adverse event reporting on an expedited basis and submission of periodic adverse event reports is required following FDA approval of an NDA. The FDA also may require post-marketing testing, known as Phase 4 testing, REMS and surveillance to monitor the effects of an approved product, or the FDA may place conditions on an approval that could restrict the distribution or use of the product. In addition, quality-control, drug manufacture, packaging, and labeling procedures must continue to conform GMPs after approval. Drug manufacturers and certain of their subcontractors are required to register their establishments with FDA and certain state agencies. Registration with the FDA subjects entities to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA, during which the agency inspects manufacturing facilities to assess compliance with GMPs. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the areas of production and quality control to maintain compliance with GMPs. Regulatory authorities may withdraw product approvals, issue warning letters, request product recalls or take other enforcement actions if a company fails to comply with regulatory standards, if it encounters problems following initial marketing or if previously unrecognized problems are subsequently discovered.
Special Protocol Assessment
A sponsor may reach an agreement with the FDA under the Special Protocol Assessment (“SPA”), process as to the required design and size of clinical trials intended to form the primary basis of an efficacy claim. According to its performance goals, the FDA has committed to evaluating 90 percent of the protocols within 45 days of its receipt of the requests to assess whether the proposed trial is adequate, and that evaluation may result in discussions and a request for additional information. An SPA request must be made before the proposed trial begins, and all open issues must be resolved before the trial begins. If a written agreement is reached, it will be documented and made part of the administrative record. Under the FDC Act and FDA guidance implementing the statutory requirement, an SPA is generally binding upon the FDA as to the design of the trial except in limited circumstances, such as if the FDA identifies a substantial scientific issue essential to determining safety or efficacy after the study begins, public health concerns emerge that were unrecognized at the time of the protocol assessment, the sponsor and FDA agree to the change in writing, or if the study sponsor fails to follow the protocol that was agreed upon with the FDA.
The CSA and the implementing regulations impose registration, security, recordkeeping and reporting, storage, manufacturing, distribution, dispensing, importation and other requirements on controlled substances under the oversight of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). The DEA is the federal agency, responsible for regulating controlled substances, and requires those individuals or entities that manufacture, import, export, distribute, research, or dispense controlled substances to comply with the regulatory requirements in order to prevent the diversion and abuse of controlled substances.
The DEA regulates controlled substances as Schedule I, II, III, IV or V substances, depending on the substance’s medical effectiveness and abuse potential. Pharmaceutical products having a currently accepted medical use that are otherwise approved for marketing may be listed as Schedule II, III, IV or V substances, with Schedule II substances presenting the highest potential for abuse and physical or psychological dependence, and Schedule V substances presenting the lowest relative potential for abuse and dependence. The DEA has placed certain drug products that include cannabidiol, on Schedule V.
Following NDA approval of a drug containing a Schedule I controlled substance, that substance must be rescheduled as a Schedule II, III, IV or V substance before it can be marketed. The Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act enacted on November 25, 2015 and its implementing regulations has removed uncertainty associated with the timing of the DEA rescheduling process after NDA approval, under which a manufacturer may market its product no later than 90 days after the later of: (1) the date on which DEA receives from FDA the scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation; or (2) the date on which DEA receives from FDA notification that FDA has approved the drug. The Act also clarifies that the seven-year orphan exclusivity period begins with the approval of the NDA or DEA scheduling, whichever is later. This changes the previous situation whereby the orphan “clock” began to tick upon FDA’s NDA approval, even though the product could not be marketed until DEA scheduling was complete.
The CSA requires that facilities that manufacture, distribute, dispense, import or export any controlled substance must register annually with the DEA. Separate registrations are required for importation and manufacturing activities, and each registration authorizes the specific schedules of controlled substances the registrant may handle. Prior to issuance of a controlled substance registration, the DEA inspects all manufacturing facilities to review security, recordkeeping, reporting and handling of the controlled substances. The specific security requirements vary by, among other things, the type of business activity conducted, and the type, form, and quantity of controlled substances handled.
In addition, the states have their own distinct controlled substance laws and regulations, including licensure, distribution, dispensing, recordkeeping and reporting requirements for controlled substances. State boards of pharmacy or similar authorities regulate use of controlled substances in each state. Failure to comply with applicable requirements, such as the loss or diversion of controlled substances, can result in administrative fines, suspension or revocation of licenses, and civil and criminal liabilities.
UK/Europe/Rest of World Government Regulation
In addition to regulations in the U.S., we are and will be subject, either directly or through our distribution partners, to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical trials and any commercial sales (including pricing and reimbursement) and distribution of our products, if approved.
Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in non-U.S. countries prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries.
In the EU, medicinal products are subject to extensive pre- and post-marketing regulation by regulatory authorities at both the EU and national levels. Additional rules also apply at the national level to the manufacture, import, export, storage, distribution and sale of controlled substances. In many EU member states the regulatory authority responsible for medicinal products is also responsible for controlled substances. Responsibility is, however, split in some member states. Generally, any company manufacturing or distributing a medicinal product containing a controlled substance in the EU will need to hold a controlled substances license from the competent national authority and will be subject to specific record-keeping and security obligations. Separate import or export certificates are required for each shipment into or out of the member state.
In the UK, medicinal products are subject to extensive regulation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”), which is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care. MHRA regulates by ensuring that medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion meet applicable standards of safety, quality and efficacy, in addition to supporting innovation and research and development that is beneficial to public health.
Clinical Trials and Marketing Approval
Certain countries outside of the U.S. have a process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application much like an IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In Europe, for example, a clinical trial application (“CTA”), must be submitted to the competent national health authority and to independent ethics committees in each country in which a company intends to conduct clinical trials. Once the CTA is approved in accordance with a country’s requirements and a company has received favorable ethics committee approval, clinical trial development may proceed in that country.
Requirements for the conduct of clinical trials in the UK and EU, including GCP, are implemented in the Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC and the GCP Directive 2005/28/EC. Pursuant to Directive 2001/20/EC and Directive 2005/28/EC, as amended, a system for the approval of clinical trials in the EU has been implemented through national legislation of EU member states. Under this system, approval must be obtained from the relevant competent national authority of each EU member state in which a clinical trial is planned. A CTA must be submitted and supported by an investigational medicinal product dossier along with additional supporting information pursuant to Directive 2001/20/EC, Directive 2005/28/EC and other applicable guidance documents. Furthermore, a clinical trial may only commence after a competent ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion on the clinical trial application in the UK or the specific EU member state.
In April 2014, the Clinical Trials Regulation, Reg. (EU) No 536/2014 (the “New Regulation”) was adopted to replace the Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC (the “Prior Directive”). To ensure that the rules for clinical trials are identical throughout the EU, new EU clinical trials legislation was passed as a “regulation” that is directly applicable to EU member states. A new, single CTA is planned for all EU member states, which will be submitted via an online portal to streamline the authorization process. Until the New Regulation is fully implemented, clinical trials will continue to be implemented under the Prior Directive.
The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country, even though there is already some degree of legal harmonization in the EU member states resulting from the national implementation of underlying EU legislation. In all cases, the clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with the International Conference on Harmonization guidelines on GCP and other applicable regulatory requirements.
To obtain regulatory approval to place a drug on the market in the UK or EU countries, we must submit a marketing authorization application. This application is similar to the NDA in the U.S., with the exception of, among other things, country-specific document requirements. All application procedures require an application in the common technical document, format, which includes the submission of detailed information about the manufacturing and quality of the product, and nonclinical and clinical trial information. Drugs can be authorized in the UK or EU by using (i) the centralized authorization procedure, (ii) the mutual recognition procedure, (iii) the decentralized procedure or (iv) national authorization procedures.
The European Commission created the centralized procedure for the approval of human drugs to facilitate marketing authorizations that are valid throughout the UK and EU and, by extension (after national implementing decisions) in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which, together with the EU member states, comprise the European Economic Area. Applicants file marketing authorization applications with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), where they are reviewed by a relevant scientific committee, in most cases the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (“CHMP”). The European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) forwards CHMP opinions to the European Commission, which uses them as the basis for deciding whether to grant a marketing authorization. This procedure results in a single marketing authorization granted by the European Commission that is valid across the EU, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human drugs that are: (i) derived from biotechnology processes, such as genetic engineering, (ii) contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune and other immune dysfunctions and viral diseases, (iii) officially designated “orphan drugs” (drugs used for rare human diseases) and (iv) advanced-therapy medicines, such as gene-therapy, somatic cell-therapy or tissue-engineered medicines. The centralized procedure may at the voluntary request of the applicant also be used for human drugs that do not fall within the above-mentioned categories if the CHMP agrees that the human drug (a) contains a new active substance not yet approved on November 20, 2005; (b) constitutes a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation or (c) authorization under the centralized procedure is in the interests of patients at the EU level.
Under the centralized procedure in the EU, the maximum time frame for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application by the EMA is 210 days (excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the CHMP), with adoption of the actual marketing authorization by the European Commission thereafter.
Accelerated evaluation might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest from the point of view of therapeutic innovation, defined by three cumulative criteria: the seriousness of the disease to be treated; the absence of an appropriate alternative therapeutic approach, and anticipation of exceptional high therapeutic benefit. In this circumstance, EMA ensures that the evaluation for the opinion of the CHMP is completed within 150 days and the opinion issued thereafter.
For those medicinal products for which the centralized procedure is not available, the applicant must submit marketing authorization applications to the national medicines regulators through one of three procedures: (i) the mutual recognition procedure (which must be used if the product has already been authorized in at least one other EU member state, and in which the EU member states are required to grant an authorization recognizing the existing authorization in the other EU member state, unless they identify a serious risk to public health), (ii) the decentralized procedure (in which applications are submitted simultaneously in two or more EU member states) or (iii) national authorization procedures (which results in a marketing authorization in a single EU member state).
Mutual Recognition Procedure
The mutual recognition procedure (“MRP”), for the approval of human drugs is an alternative approach to facilitate individual national marketing authorizations within the UK and EU. Basically, the MRP may be applied for all human drugs for which the centralized procedure is not obligatory. The MRP is applicable to the majority of conventional medicinal products, and must be used if the product has already been authorized in one or more member states.
The characteristic of the MRP is that the procedure builds on an already-existing marketing authorization in the UK or a member state of the EU that is used as a reference in order to obtain marketing authorizations in other EU member states. In the MRP, a marketing authorization for a drug already exists in one or more member states of the EU and subsequently marketing authorization applications are made in other EU member states by referring to the initial marketing authorization. The member state in which the marketing authorization was first granted will then act as the reference member state. The member states where the marketing authorization is subsequently applied for act as concerned member states. The concerned member states are required to grant an authorization recognizing the existing authorization in the reference member state, unless they identify a serious risk to public health.
The MRP is based on the principle of the mutual recognition by EU member states of their respective national marketing authorizations. Based on a marketing authorization in the reference member state, the applicant may apply for marketing authorizations in other member states. In such case, the reference member state shall update its existing assessment report about the drug in 90 days. After the assessment is completed, copies of the report are sent to all member states, together with the approved summary of product characteristics, labeling and package leaflet. The concerned member states then have 90 days to recognize the decision of the reference member state and the summary of product characteristics, labeling and package leaflet. National marketing authorizations shall be granted within 30 days after acknowledgement of the agreement.
Should any member state refuse to recognize the marketing authorization by the reference member state, on the grounds of potential serious risk to public health, the issue will be referred to a coordination group. Within a timeframe of 60 days, member states shall, within the coordination group, make all efforts to reach a consensus. If this fails, the procedure is submitted to an EMA scientific committee for arbitration. The opinion of this EMA Committee is then forwarded to the European Commission, for the start of the decision-making process. As in the centralized procedure, this process entails consulting various European Commission Directorates General and the Standing Committee on Human Medicinal Products.
In the UK and EU, marketing authorization applications for generic medicinal products do not need to include the results of pre-clinical and clinical trials, but instead can refer to the data included in the marketing authorization of a reference product for which regulatory data exclusivity has expired. If a marketing authorization is granted for a medicinal product containing a new active substance, that product benefits from eight years of data exclusivity, during which generic marketing authorization applications referring to the data of that product may not be accepted by the regulatory authorities, and a further two years of market exclusivity, during which such generic products may not be placed on the market. The two-year period may be extended to three years if during the first eight years a new therapeutic indication with significant clinical benefit over existing therapies is approved.
Orphan Medicinal Products
The EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (“COMP”), may recommend orphan medicinal product designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting not more than five in 10,000 persons in the EU. Additionally, orphan designation is granted for products intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the product in the UK and EU would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the medicinal product. The COMP may only recommend orphan medicinal product designation when the product in question offers a significant clinical benefit over existing approved products for the relevant indication. Following a positive opinion by the COMP, the European Commission generally grants orphan status within 30 days. When the draft decision of the European Commission is not aligned with the COMP opinion, the COMP will reassess orphan status in parallel with EMA review of a marketing authorization application and orphan status may be withdrawn at if the drug no longer fulfills the orphan criteria (for instance, because a new product was approved for the indication and no data is available to demonstrate a significant benefit over that new product). Orphan medicinal product designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and ten years of market exclusivity is granted following marketing authorization. During this period, the competent authorities may not accept or approve any similar medicinal product for the same therapeutic indication, unless it offers a significant clinical benefit or if the holder of the marketing authorization for the original orphan drug is unable to supply sufficient quantities of the drug. This period may be reduced to six years if the orphan medicinal product designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity.
In the EU and the UK, companies developing a new medicinal product must agree to a Pediatric Investigation Plan (“PIP”), with the EMA or the MHRA and must conduct pediatric clinical trials in accordance with that PIP unless a waiver applies, for example, because the relevant disease or condition occurs only in adults. The marketing authorization application for the product must include the results of pediatric clinical trials conducted in accordance with the PIP, unless a waiver applies, or a deferral has been granted, in which case the pediatric clinical trials must be completed at a later date. Products that are granted a marketing authorization on the basis of the pediatric clinical trials conducted in accordance with the PIP are eligible for a six-month extension of the protection under a supplementary protection certificate (if the product covered by it qualifies for one at the time of approval). This pediatric reward is subject to specific conditions and is not automatically available when data in compliance with the PIP are developed and submitted.
If we fail to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension of clinical trials, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.
In addition, most countries are parties to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971, which governs international trade and domestic control of narcotic substances, including cannabis extracts. Countries may interpret and implement their treaty obligations in a way that creates a legal obstacle to our obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates in those countries. These countries may not be willing or able to amend or otherwise modify their laws and regulations to permit our product candidates to be marketed, or achieving such amendments to the laws and regulations may take a prolonged period of time. In that case, we would be unable to market our products in those countries in the near future or perhaps at all.
In the UK, medicinal products are subject to extensive regulation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”), which is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care. MHRA regulates by ensuring that medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion meet applicable standards of safety, quality and efficacy, in addition to supporting innovation and research and development that is beneficial to public health.
Sales of pharmaceutical products in the U.S. will depend, in part, on the extent to which the costs of the products will be covered by third-party payers, such as government health programs, and commercial insurance and managed health care organizations. These third-party payers are increasingly challenging the prices charged for medical products and services. Additionally, the containment of health care costs has become a priority of federal and state governments, and the prices of drugs have been a focus in this effort. The U.S. government, state legislatures and foreign governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, utilization management and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit our net revenue and results. If these third-party payers do not consider our products to be cost effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our products after approval as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products on a profitable basis.
The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (“MMA”), imposed requirements for the distribution and pricing of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries and included a major expansion of the prescription drug benefit under Medicare Part D. Under Part D, Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in prescription drug plans offered by private entities that provide coverage of outpatient prescription drugs. Part D is available through both stand-alone prescription drug benefit plans and prescription drug coverage as a supplement to Medicare Advantage plans. Unlike Medicare Parts A and B, Part D coverage is not standardized. Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs, and each drug plan can develop its own drug formulary that identifies which drugs it will cover and at what tier or level. However, Part D prescription drug formularies must include drugs within each therapeutic category and class of covered Part D drugs, though not necessarily all the drugs in each category or class. Any formulary used by a Part D prescription drug plan must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs may increase demand for products for which we receive marketing approval. However, any negotiated prices for our products covered by a Part D prescription drug plan will likely be lower than the prices we might otherwise obtain. Moreover, while the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payers often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own payment rates. Any reduction in payment that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from nongovernmental payers.
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This law provides funding for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness. This research is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes for Health, and periodic reports on the status of the research and related expenditures must be made to Congress. Although the results of the comparative effectiveness studies are not intended to mandate coverage policies for public or private payers, it is not clear how such a result could be avoided and what if any effect the research will have on the sales of our product candidates, if any such product or the condition that it is intended to treat is the subject of a study. It is also possible that comparative effectiveness research demonstrating benefits in a competitor’s product could adversely affect the sales of our product candidates. Decreases in third-party reimbursement for our product candidates or a decision by a third-party payer to not cover our product candidates could reduce physician usage of the product candidate and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively, the “ACA”) was enacted in March 2010. The ACA was enacted with the goal of expanding coverage for the uninsured while at the same time containing overall health care costs. With regard to pharmaceutical products, among other things, the ACA expanded and increased industry rebates for drugs covered under Medicaid programs and made changes to the coverage requirements under the Medicare D program. We still cannot fully predict the impact of the ACA on pharmaceutical companies as many of the ACA reforms require the promulgation of detailed regulations implementing the statutory provisions which has not yet been completed, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has publicly announced that it is analyzing the ACA regulations and policies that have been issued to determine if changes should be made. In addition, although the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of most of the ACA, some states have stated their intentions to not implement certain sections of the ACA and some members of Congress are still working to repeal the ACA. These challenges add to the uncertainty of the changes enacted as part of the ACA. In addition, the current legal challenges to the ACA, as well as Congressional efforts to repeal the ACA, add to the uncertainty of the legislative changes enacted as part of the ACA.
In addition, in some foreign countries, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing vary widely from country to country. For example, some EU jurisdictions operate positive and negative list systems under which products may only be marketed once a reimbursement price has been agreed. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval, some of these countries may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for medicines but monitor and control company profits. Such differences in national pricing regimes may create price differentials between EU member states. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products. Historically, products launched in the EU do not follow price structures of the U.S. In the EU, the downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription medicines, has become intense. As a result, barriers to entry of new products are becoming increasingly high and patients are unlikely to use a drug product that is not reimbursed by their government or other public or private payers.
Other Health Care Laws and Compliance Requirements
In the U.S., our activities are potentially subject to regulation by various federal, state and local authorities in addition to the FDA, including the CMS, other divisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (e.g., the Office of Inspector General), the U.S. Department of Justice and individual U.S. Attorney offices within the Department of Justice, and state and local governments. For example, sales, marketing and scientific/educational grant programs must comply with the anti-fraud and abuse provisions of the Social Security Act, the False Claims Act, the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and similar state laws, each as amended. Pricing and rebate programs must comply with the Medicaid rebate requirements of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 and the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 (“VHCA”), each as amended. If products are made available to authorized users of the federal supply schedule, additional laws and requirements apply. Under the VHCA, drug companies are required to offer certain drugs at a reduced price to a number of federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and U.S. Department of Defense, the Public Health Service and certain private Public Health Service-designated entities in order to participate in other federal funding programs including Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, discounted prices must be offered for certain U.S. Department of Defense purchases for its TRICARE program via a rebate system. Participation under the VHCA requires submission of pricing data and calculation of discounts and rebates pursuant to complex statutory formulas, as well as the entry into government procurement contracts governed by the federal acquisition regulations.
In order to distribute products commercially, we must comply with state laws that require the registration of manufacturers and wholesale distributors of pharmaceutical products in a state, including, in certain states, manufacturers and distributors who ship products into the state, even if such manufacturers or distributors have no place of business within the state. Several states have enacted legislation requiring pharmaceutical companies to establish marketing compliance programs, file periodic reports with the state, make periodic public disclosures on sales and marketing activities or register their sales representatives. Other legislation has been enacted in certain states prohibiting certain other sales and marketing practices. All of our activities are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws. Likewise, these activities are subject to authorization or license requirements, or other legal requirements, under EU or EU member states’ law, or the law of other countries where we operate or have products manufactured or distributed.
Cost of Compliance with Environmental Laws.
Our operations are subject to regulations under various federal, state, local and foreign laws concerning the environment, including laws addressing the discharge of pollutants into the air and water, the management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, and the cleanup of contaminated sites. We could incur substantial costs, including cleanup costs, fines and civil or criminal sanctions and third-party damage or personal injury claims, if in the future we were to violate or become liable under environmental laws. We are not aware of any costs or effects of our compliance with environmental laws.
Employees and Human Capital Management
As of July 2, 2021, we and our subsidiaries had six full-time employees. Two of these employees are located in the UK, and four are located in the U.S.
In addition, we employ a limited number of part-time employees on a temporary basis, as well as scientific advisors, consultants and service providers, mainly through academic institutions and contract research organizations.
We have never had a work stoppage and none of our employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements or represented by a labor union. We believe that we have good relationships with our employees.
Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, retaining, incentivizing, and integrating our existing and new employees, advisors, and consultants. The principal purposes of our equity and cash incentive plans are to attract, retain and reward personnel through the granting of stock-based and cash-based compensation awards, in order to increase stockholder value and the success of our company by motivating such individuals to perform to the best of their abilities and achieve our objectives.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we focused our health and safety efforts on protecting our employees and their families. We swiftly implemented changes that we determined were in the best interest of our employees and the communities in which we operate, and which are aligned with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in compliance with state and local regulations. This includes having all of our employees work from home.
In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, which causes the infectious disease known as COVID-19, was reported in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on January 30, 2020 and a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. In March and April, many U.S. states and foreign countries began issuing ‘stay-at-home’ orders.
Enrollment of patients in our clinical trials, maintaining patients in our ongoing clinical trials, doing follow up visits with recruited patients and collecting data have been, and may continue to be, delayed or limited as certain of our clinical trial sites limit their onsite staff or temporarily close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing government restrictions. In addition, patients may not be able or willing to visit clinical trial sites for dosing or data collection purposes due to limitations on travel and physical distancing imposed or recommended by federal or state governments or patients’ reluctance to visit the clinical trial sites during the pandemic. These factors resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic could delay or prevent the anticipated readouts from our clinical trials.
The pandemic is continuing and the full extent to which COVID-19 will ultimately impact us depends on future unknowable developments, including the duration and spread of the virus, the efficacy, availability and willingness of individuals to take vaccines, as well as potential new seasonal outbreaks.
We plan to continue to evaluate our business operations based on new information as it becomes available regarding the pandemic and will make changes that we consider necessary in light of any new developments.
We were formed as a blank check company organized under the laws of the State of Delaware on September 7, 2016. We were formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, capital stock exchange, stock purchase, asset acquisition or other similar business combination with one or more operating businesses. Since formation, we focused our efforts on acquiring an operating company in the healthcare and related wellness industry although our efforts in identifying a prospective target business were not limited to a particular industry.
Initial Public Offering
On June 7, 2017, pursuant to the Company’s Initial Public Offering (the “IPO”), the Company sold 11,500,000 Units at a purchase price of $10.00 per Unit, inclusive of 1,500,000 Units sold to the underwriters on June 23, 2017 upon the underwriters’ election to fully exercise their over-allotment option, generating gross proceeds of $115,000,000. Each “Unit” consisted of one share of the Company’s common stock, one right to receive one-tenth of one share of the Company’s common stock upon the consummation of a business combination (“Right”), and one redeemable warrant to purchase one-half of one share of the Company’s common stock (“Warrant”). Each Warrant will entitle the holder to purchase one-half of one share of common stock at an exercise price of $5.75 per half share ($11.50 per whole share), subject to adjustment. No fractional shares will be issued upon exercise of the warrants. The Warrants became exercisable on the later of (i) 30 days after the completion of the initial business combination and (ii) 12 months from the closing of the Initial Public Offering, and expire five years after the completion of the Business Combination or earlier upon redemption or liquidation.
The Company may redeem the Warrants, in whole and not in part, at a price of $0.01 per Warrant upon 30 days’ notice (“30-day redemption period”), only in the event that the last sale price of the common stock equals or exceeds $18.00 per share for any 20 trading days within a 30-trading day period ending on the third trading day prior to the date on which notice of redemption is given, provided there is an effective registration statement with respect to the shares of common stock underlying such Warrants and a current prospectus relating to those shares of common stock is available throughout the 30-day redemption period. If the Company calls the Warrants for redemption as described above, the Company’s management will have the option to require all holders that wish to exercise Warrants to do so on a “cashless basis.” In determining whether to require all holders to exercise their warrants on a “cashless basis,” the management will consider, among other factors, the Company’s cash position, the number of Warrants that are outstanding and the dilutive effect on the Company’s stockholders of issuing the maximum number of shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of the Warrants. Each holder of a Right received one-tenth (1/10) of one share of common stock upon consummation of the Business Combination. No fractional shares were issued upon exchange of the Rights.
Concurrent with the closing of the IPO, KBL IV Sponsor LLC (the “Sponsor”) and the underwriters purchased an aggregate of 450,000 of unregistered Units (“Private Units”) at $10.00 per Unit, generating gross proceeds of $4,500,000 in a private placement. In addition, on June 23, 2017, the Company consummated the sale of an additional 52,500 Private Units at a price of $10.00 per Unit, which were purchased by the Sponsor and underwriters, generating gross proceeds of $525,000. Of these, 377,500 Private Units were purchased by the Sponsor and 125,000 Private Units were purchased by the underwriters. The proceeds from the Private Units were added to the net proceeds from the IPO held in a Trust Account (the “Trust Account”). The Private Units (including their component securities) were not transferable, assignable or salable until 30 days after the completion of the Business Combination and the warrants included in the Private Units (the “Private Placement Warrants”) will be non-redeemable so long as they are held by the Sponsor, the underwriters or their permitted transferees. If the Private Placement Warrants are held by someone other than the Sponsor, the underwriters or their permitted transferees, the Private Placement Warrants will be redeemable by the Company and exercisable by such holders on the same basis as the warrants included in the Units sold in the IPO. In addition, for as long as the Private Placement Warrants are held by the underwriters or its designees or affiliates, they may not be exercised after five years from the effective date of the registration statement related to the IPO. Otherwise, the Private Placement Warrants have terms and provisions that are identical to those of the warrants sold as part of the Units in the IPO and have no net cash settlement provisions.
On July 25, 2019, we entered into a Business Combination Agreement (as amended from time to time, the “Business Combination Agreement”), with KBL Merger Sub, Inc. (“Merger Sub”), 180 Life Corp. (f/k/a 180 Life Sciences Corp.)(“180”), Katexco Pharmaceuticals Corp. (“Katexco”), CannBioRex Pharmaceuticals Corp. (“CBR Pharma”), 180 Therapeutics L.P. (“180 LP” and together with Katexco and CBR Pharma, the “180 Subsidiaries” and, together with 180 Life Sciences Corp., the “180 Parties”), and Lawrence Pemble, in his capacity as representative of the stockholders of the 180 Parties (the “Stockholder Representative”). The business combination described in the Business Combination Agreement (the “Business Combination”), closed and became effective on November 6, 2020 (the “Closing”). Pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, among other things, Merger Sub merged with and into 180, with 180 continuing as the surviving entity and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company (the “Merger”). In connection with, and prior to, the Closing, 180 Life Sciences Corp. filed a Certificate of Amendment of its Certificate of Incorporation in Delaware to change its name to 180 Life Corp., and we (which was known as of our entry into the Business Combination as KBL Merger Corp. IV, changed our name to 180 Life Sciences Corp.).
180 was incorporated in Delaware on January 28, 2019. Prior to the Closing of the Business Combination, 180 operated through three subsidiaries: 180 LP, a Delaware limited partnership formed on September 6, 2013; Katexco, a company incorporated in British Columbia, Canada on March 7, 2018; and CBR Pharma, a company incorporated in British Columbia, Canada on March 8, 2018.
In July 2019, 180 and each of 180 LP, Katexco and CBR Pharma completed a corporate restructuring, pursuant to which 180 LP, Katexco and CBR Pharma became wholly-owned subsidiaries of 180LS (the “Reorganization”). The corporate restructuring arrangements with respect to Katexco and CBR Pharma were completed under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia).
On November 6, 2020 (the “Closing Date”), the Company consummated the Business Combination following a special meeting of stockholders held on November 5, 2020, where the stockholders of the Company considered and approved, among other matters, a proposal to adopt the Business Combination. Pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, among other things, Merger Sub merged with and into 180, with 180 continuing as the surviving entity and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. The Merger became effective on November 6, 2020 (such time, the “Effective Time”, and the closing of the Merger being referred to herein as the “Closing”). In connection with, and prior to, the Closing, 180 filed a Certificate of Amendment of its Certificate of Incorporation in Delaware to change its name to 180 Life Corp. and KBL Merger Corp. IV changed its name to 180 Life Sciences Corp.
At the Effective Time, each share of 180 common stock issued and outstanding prior to the Effective Time was automatically converted into the right to receive approximately 168.3784 shares of the common stock, par value $0.0001 per share, of the Company (such shares of Common Stock issuable to the common stockholders of 180 pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, the “Merger Consideration Shares”). An aggregate of 16,989,989 shares of common stock have been issued to date to the common stockholders of 180 as Merger Consideration Shares, including the Escrow Shares (as defined below). Also at the Effective Time, each share underlying the 180 preferred stock issued and outstanding prior to the Effective Time was converted into the right to receive one Class C Special Voting Share of the Company, or one Class K Special Voting Share of the Company, as applicable (such shares, the “Special Voting Shares”). The Special Voting Shares entitle the holder thereof to an aggregate number of votes, on any particular matter, proposition or question, equal to the number of Exchangeable Shares (as defined below) of each of CannBioRex Purchaseco ULC and Katexco Purchaseco ULC, Canadian subsidiaries of 180, respectively, that are outstanding from time to time.
As a result of the Merger, the existing exchangeable shares (collectively, the “Exchangeable Shares”) of CannBioRex Purchaseco ULC and/or Katexco Purchaseco ULC were adjusted in accordance with the share provisions in the articles of CannBioRex Purchaseco ULC or Katexco Purchaseco ULC, as applicable, governing the Exchangeable Shares such that they were multiplied by the exchange ratio for the Merger and became exchangeable into shares of Common Stock. The Exchangeable Shares entitle the holders to dividends and other rights that are substantially economically equivalent to those of holders of Common Stock, and holders of Exchangeable Shares have the right to vote at meetings of the stockholders of the Company. An aggregate of 510,011 shares of Common Stock are reserved for issuance to the holders of the Exchangeable Shares upon the exchange thereof.
Pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, 1,499,999 of the Merger Consideration Shares (such shares, the “Escrow Shares”) were deposited into an escrow account (the “Escrow Account”) to serve as security for, and the exclusive source of payment of, the Company’s indemnity rights under the Business Combination Agreement, all of which will be released to the same stockholders 12 months following the Closing of the Business Combination.
As a result of the Business Combination, the former stockholders of 180 became the controlling stockholders of the Company and 180 became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. The Business Combination was accounted for as a reverse merger, whereby 180 is considered the acquirer for accounting and financial reporting purposes.
In connection with the Closing, the Company withdrew $9,006,493 of funds from the Trust Account (as defined below) to fund the redemptions of 816,461 shares.
The chart below shows our current organizational structure:
Our principal executive offices are located at 3000 El Camino Real, Bldg. 4, Suite 200, Palo Alto, CA 94306, and our telephone number is (678) 507-0669. We maintain a website at www.180lifesciences.com. We have not incorporated by reference into this Report the information in, or that can be accessed through, our website, and you should not consider it to be a part of this Report.
Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act
In April 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (“JOBS Act”) was enacted into law. The JOBS Act provides, among other things:
|●||Exemptions for “emerging growth companies” from certain financial disclosure and governance requirements for up to five years and provides a new form of financing to small companies;|
|●||Amendments to certain provisions of the federal securities laws to simplify the sale of securities and increase the threshold number of record holders required to trigger the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act;|
|●||Relaxation of the general solicitation and general advertising prohibition for Rule 506 offerings;|
|●||Adoption of a new exemption for public offerings of securities in amounts not exceeding $50 million; and|
|●||Exemption from registration by a non-reporting company of offers and sales of securities of up to $1,000,000 that comply with rules to be adopted by the SEC pursuant to Section 4(6) of the Securities Act and exemption of such sales from state law registration, documentation or offering requirements.|
In general, under the JOBS Act a company is an “emerging growth company” if its initial public offering (“IPO”) of common equity securities was affected after December 8, 2011 and the company had less than $1.07 billion of total annual gross revenues during its last completed fiscal year. A company will no longer qualify as an “emerging growth company” after the earliest of
|(i)||the completion of the fiscal year in which the company has total annual gross revenues of $1.07 billion or more,|
|(ii)||the completion of the fiscal year of the fifth anniversary of the company’s IPO;|
|(iii)||the company’s issuance of more than $1 billion in nonconvertible debt in the prior three-year period, or|
|(iv)||the company becoming a “larger accelerated filer” as defined under the Exchange Act.|
The JOBS Act provides additional new guidelines and exemptions for non-reporting companies and for non-public offerings. Those exemptions that impact the Company are discussed below.
Financial Disclosure. The financial disclosure in a registration statement filed by an “emerging growth company” pursuant to the Securities Act, will differ from registration statements filed by other companies as follows:
|(i)||audited financial statements required for only two fiscal years (provided that “smaller reporting companies” such as the Company are only required to provide two years of financial statements);|
|(ii)||selected financial data required for only the fiscal years that were audited (provided that “smaller reporting companies” such as the Company are not required to provide selected financial data as required by Item 301 of Regulation S-K); and|
|(iii)||executive compensation only needs to be presented in the limited format now required for “smaller reporting companies”.|
However, the requirements for financial disclosure provided by Regulation S-K promulgated by the Rules and Regulations of the SEC already provide certain of these exemptions for smaller reporting companies. The Company is a smaller reporting company. Currently a smaller reporting company is not required to file as part of its registration statement selected financial data and only needs to include audited financial statements for its two most current fiscal years with no required tabular disclosure of contractual obligations.
The JOBS Act also exempts the Company’s independent registered public accounting firm from having to comply with any rules adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”) after the date of the JOBS Act’s enactment, except as otherwise required by SEC rule.
The JOBS Act further exempts an “emerging growth company” from any requirement adopted by the PCAOB for mandatory rotation of the Company’s accounting firm or for a supplemental auditor report about the audit.
Internal Control Attestation. The JOBS Act also provides an exemption from the requirement of the Company’s independent registered public accounting firm to file a report on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting, although management of the Company is still required to file its report on the adequacy of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting.
Section 102(a) of the JOBS Act exempts “emerging growth companies” from the requirements in §14A(e) of the Exchange Act for companies with a class of securities registered under the Exchange Act to hold stockholder votes for executive compensation and golden parachutes.
Other Items of the JOBS Act. The JOBS Act also provides that an “emerging growth company” can communicate with potential investors that are qualified institutional buyers or institutions that are accredited to determine interest in a contemplated offering either prior to or after the date of filing the respective registration statement. The JOBS Act also permits research reports by a broker or dealer about an “emerging growth company” regardless of whether such report provides sufficient information for an investment decision. In addition, the JOBS Act precludes the SEC and FINRA from adopting certain restrictive rules or regulations regarding brokers, dealers and potential investors, communications with management and distribution of research reports on the “emerging growth company’s” initial public offerings (IPOs).
Section 106 of the JOBS Act permits “emerging growth companies” to submit registration statements under the Securities Act on a confidential basis provided that the registration statement and all amendments thereto are publicly filed at least 21 days before the issuer conducts any road show. This is intended to allow “emerging growth companies” to explore the IPO option without disclosing to the market the fact that it is seeking to go public or disclosing the information contained in its registration statement until the company is ready to conduct a roadshow.
Election to Opt Out of Transition Period. Section 102(b)(1) of the JOBS Act exempts “emerging growth companies” from being required to comply with new or revised financial accounting standards until private companies (that is, those that have not had a Securities Act registration statement declared effective or do not have a class of securities registered under the Exchange Act) are required to comply with the new or revised financial accounting standard.
The JOBS Act provides that a company can elect to opt out of the extended transition period and comply with the requirements that apply to non-emerging growth companies but any such election to opt out is irrevocable. The Company has elected not to opt out of the transition period.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
You should be aware that there are substantial risks for an investment in our common stock. You should carefully consider these risk factors before you decide to invest in our common stock.
If any of the following risks were to occur, such as our business, financial condition, results of operations or other prospects, any of these could materially affect our likelihood of success. If that happens, the market price of our common stock, if any, could decline, and prospective investors would lose all or part of their investment in our common stock.
Risks Related to Our Business Operations
Our business, financial condition and results of operations are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including those described below. This section discusses factors that, individually or in the aggregate, could cause our actual results to differ materially from expected and historical results. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks. It is not possible to predict or identify all such factors. Consequently, the following description of Risk Factors is not a complete discussion of all potential risks or uncertainties applicable to our business.
Our current cash balance is only sufficient to fund our planned business operations through the third quarter of 2021. If additional capital is not available, we may not be able to pursue our planned business operations, may be forced to change our planned business operations, or may take other actions that could adversely impact our stockholders.
We are a clinical stage biotechnology company that currently has no revenue. Thus, our business does not generate the cash necessary to finance our planned business operations. We will require significant additional capital to: (i) develop FDA-approved products and commercialize such products; (ii) fund research and development activities relating to, and obtain regulatory approval for, our product candidates; (iii) protect our intellectual property; (iv) attract and retain highly-qualified personnel; (v) respond effectively to competitive pressures; and (vi) acquire complementary businesses or technologies.
Our future capital needs depend on many factors, including: (i) the scope, duration and expenditures associated with our research, development and commercialization efforts; (ii) continued scientific progress in our programs; (iii) the outcome of potential partnering or licensing transactions, if any; (iv) competing technological developments; (v) our proprietary patent position; and (vi) the regulatory approval process for our products.
We will need to raise substantial additional funds through public or private equity offerings, debt financings or strategic alliances and licensing arrangements to finance our planned business operations. We may not be able to obtain additional financing on terms favorable to us, if at all. General market conditions, as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may make it difficult for us to seek financing from the capital markets, and the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders. For example, if we raise additional funds by issuing equity securities, further dilution to our stockholders will result, which may substantially dilute the value of their investment. Any equity financing may also have the effect of reducing the conversion or exercise price of our outstanding convertible or exercisable securities, which could result in the issuance (or potential issuance) of a significant number of additional shares of our common stock. In addition, as a condition to providing additional funds to us, future investors may demand, and may be granted, rights superior to those of existing stockholders. Debt financing, if available, may involve restrictive covenants that could limit our flexibility to conduct future business activities and, in the event of insolvency, could be paid before holders of equity securities received any distribution of our assets. We may be required to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates, or grant licenses through alliance, joint venture or agreements on terms that are not favorable to us, in order to raise additional funds. If adequate funds are not available, we may have to delay, reduce or eliminate one or more of our planned activities with respect to our business, or terminate our operations. These actions would likely reduce the market price of our common stock.
We will need additional capital which may not be available on commercially acceptable terms, if at all, which raises questions about our ability to continue as a going concern.
As of December 31, 2020, the Company had an accumulated deficit of $48,357,638. Net loss for the year ended December 31, 2020, amounted to $10,884,058 and as of December 31, 2020, we had a working capital deficit of $17,406,356. The accompanying consolidated financial statements have been prepared assuming the Company will continue as a going concern. Additionally, as of December 31, 2020, we have outstanding debts of $3,781,486. As we are not generating revenues, we need to raise a significant amount of capital in order to pay our debts and cover our operating costs. There is no assurance that we will be able to raise such needed capital or that such capital will be available under favorable terms.
We are subject to all the substantial risks inherent in the development of a new business enterprise within an extremely competitive industry. Due to the absence of a long-standing operating history and the emerging nature of the markets in which we compete, we anticipate operating losses until we can successfully implement our business strategy, which includes all associated revenue streams. We may never ever achieve profitable operations or generate significant revenues.
We currently have a monthly cash requirement spend of approximately $500,000. We believe that in the aggregate, we will require significant additional capital funding to support and expand the research and development and marketing of our products, fund future clinical trials, repay debt obligations, provide capital expenditures for additional equipment and development costs, payment obligations, office space and systems for managing the business, and cover other operating costs until our planned revenue streams from products are fully-implemented and begin to offset our operating costs, if ever.
Since our inception, we have funded our operations with the proceeds from equity and debt financings. We have experienced liquidity issues due to, among other reasons, our limited ability to raise adequate capital on acceptable terms. We have historically relied upon the issuance equity and promissory notes that are convertible into shares of our common stock to fund our operations and have devoted significant efforts to reduce that exposure. We anticipate that we will need to issue equity to fund our operations and repay our outstanding debt for the foreseeable future. If we are unable to achieve operational profitability or we are not successful in securing other forms of financing, we will have to evaluate alternative actions to reduce our operating expenses and conserve cash.
These conditions raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern for the next twelve months. The accompanying consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America on a going concern basis, which contemplates the realization of assets and the satisfaction of liabilities in the normal course of business. Accordingly, the consolidated financial statements do not include any adjustments relating to the recoverability of assets and classification of liabilities that might be necessary should the Company be unable to continue as a going concern. The consolidated financial statements included herein also include a going concern footnote.
Additionally, wherever possible, our Board of Directors will attempt to use non-cash consideration to satisfy obligations. In many instances, we believe that the non-cash consideration will consist of restricted shares of our common stock, preferred stock or warrants to purchase shares of our common stock. Our Board of Directors has authority, without action or vote of the shareholders, but subject to NASDAQ rules and regulations (which generally require shareholder approval for any transactions which would result in the issuance of more than 20% of our then outstanding shares of common stock or voting rights representing over 20% of our then outstanding shares of stock), to issue all or part of the authorized but unissued shares of common stock, preferred stock or warrants to purchase such shares of common stock. In addition, we may attempt to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock, possibly at a discount to market in the future. These actions will result in dilution of the ownership interests of existing shareholders, may further dilute common stock book value, and that dilution may be material. Such issuances may also serve to enhance existing management’s ability to maintain control of us, because the shares may be issued to parties or entities committed to supporting existing management.
We have significant and increasing liquidity needs and may require additional funding.
Research and development, management and administrative expenses and cash used for operations will continue to be significant and may increase substantially in the future in connection with new research and development initiatives, clinical trials, continued product commercialization efforts and the launch of our future product candidates. We will need to raise additional capital to fund our operations, continue to conduct clinical trials to support potential regulatory approval of marketing applications, and to fund commercialization of our future product candidates.
The amount and timing of our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:
|●||the timing of FDA approval, if any, and approvals in international markets of our future product candidates, if at all;|
|●||the timing and amount of revenue from sales of our products, or revenue from grants or other sources;|
|●||the rate of progress and cost of our clinical trials and other product development programs;|
|●||costs of establishing or outsourcing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities;|
|●||costs and timing of any outsourced growing and commercial manufacturing supply arrangements for our future product candidates;|
|●||costs of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing any patent claims and other intellectual property rights associated with our future product candidates;|
|●||the effect of competing technological and market developments;|
|●||personnel, facilities and equipment requirements; and|
|●||the terms and timing of any additional collaborative, licensing, co-promotion or other arrangements that we may establish.|
While we expect to fund our future capital requirements from a number of sources, such as cash flow from operations and the proceeds from further public and/or private offerings, we cannot assure you that any of these funding sources will be available to us on favorable terms, or at all. Further, even if we can raise funds from all of the above sources, the amounts raised may not be sufficient to meet our future capital requirements.
We are currently subject to a restriction on our ability to issue securities.
The Company agreed in the February 2021 Purchase Agreement (discussed in greater detail below under “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Recent Funding Transactions—February 2021 Private Purchase“) that, until the earlier of (1) thirty days after the date on which the registration statement that is filed pursuant to the February 2021 Registration Rights Agreement to register the resale by the February 2021 Purchasers of the shares and the warrant shares is declared effective by the SEC (such date, the “Effective Date”) and (2) thirty days after such date that the shares may be sold without limitation pursuant to Rule 144 under the Securities Act, neither the Company nor any subsidiary thereof would (i) issue, enter into any agreement to issue or announce the issuance or proposed issuance of any shares of common stock (or common stock equivalents) or (ii) file any registration statement or any amendment or supplement thereto, in each case other than (A) as contemplated pursuant to the Registration Rights Agreement and (B) as contemplated by that certain Registration Rights Agreement, dated June 12, 2020, by and between the Company and the parties signatory thereto. Such restriction may limit our ability to raise funding, force us to seek debt financing, and/or may have a material adverse effect on our cash flows and the value of our securities.
We are dependent on the success of our future product candidates, some of which may not receive regulatory approval or be successfully commercialized.
Our success will depend on our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our future product candidates through our development programs, including our product candidate for the treatment of Dupuytren’s disease and any other product candidates developed through our fibrosis & anti-TNF, CBD derivatives, and α7nAChR development platforms. We may never be able to develop products which receive regulatory approval in the U.S. or elsewhere. There can be no assurance that the FDA, EMA or any other regulatory authority will approve these product candidates.
Our ability to successfully commercialize our future product candidates will depend on, among other things, our ability to successfully complete pre-clinical and other non-clinical studies and clinical trials and to receive regulatory approvals from the FDA and similar foreign regulatory authorities. Delays in the regulatory process could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We have recently grown our business and will need to increase the size and complexity of our organization in the future, and we may experience difficulties in managing our growth and executing our growth strategy.
Our management, personnel and systems currently in place may not be adequate to support our business plan and future growth. We will need to increase our number of full-time equivalent employees in order to conduct Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials of our future products and to establish a commercial organization and commercial infrastructure. As a result of these future activities, the complexity of our business operations is expected to substantially increase. We will need to develop and expand our scientific, manufacturing, sales and marketing, managerial, compliance, operational, financial and other resources to support our planned research, development, manufacturing and commercialization activities.
Our need to effectively manage our operations, growth and various projects requires that we:
|●||continue to improve our operational, financial, management and regulatory compliance controls and reporting systems and procedures;|
|●||attract and retain sufficient numbers of talented employees;|
|●||manage our commercialization activities effectively and in a cost-effective manner (currently trial and development for our clinical trials is very cost effective); and|
|●||manage our development efforts effectively while carrying out our contractual obligations to contractors and other third parties.|
We have utilized and continue to utilize the services of part-time outside consultants and contractors to perform a number of tasks for our company, including tasks related to compliance programs, clinical trial management, regulatory affairs, formulation development and other drug development functions. Our growth strategy may entail expanding our use of consultants and contractors to implement these and other tasks going forward. If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our use of consultants and contractors, we may be unable to successfully implement the tasks necessary to effectively execute on our planned research, development, manufacturing and commercialization activities and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.
We face liability for previously restated financial statements.
We filed a Current Report on Form 8-K on December 31, 2020 and another Current Report on Form 8-K on February 3, 2021, where we announced that due to matters we discovered which related to KBL, prior to the Business Combination, certain historical financial statements were unreliable. As a result, we restated our financial statements for the three and six months ended June 30, 2020 and for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020, because of errors in such financial statements which were identified after such financial statements were filed with the SEC in our original quarterly reports for the quarters ended June 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020. While we believe these restatements are the result of the actions of, and are the responsibility of, the management of KBL (none of whom remain employed by the Company), we may be subject to stockholder litigation, rating downgrades, negative publicity and difficulties in attracting and retaining key clients, employees and management personnel as a result of such restatements. Additionally, our securities may trade at prices lower than similarly situated companies which have not had to restate their financial statements.
Our failure to appropriately account for complex financial instruments may result in the requirement that we restate our financial statements.
Certain of our current securities, and future securities we issue may, require complex accounting treatment and analysis. The SEC recently issued a Statement on Accounting and Reporting Considerations for Warrants Issued by Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (“SPACs”)(the “Statement”) on April 12, 2021 and may in the future issue further statements on SPAC accounting. While we believe that our financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020 comply with the guidance issued on April 12, 2021, it is possible that as a result of the information and guidance set forth in the Statement, or in future statements or advisories released by the SEC or an accounting standards board, that we will need to restate our financial statements, and such guidance (including as set forth in the Statement), could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations for prior periods which are required to be restated, if any, and/or on future periods moving forward, even if a restatement is not required.
Operating results may vary significantly in future periods.
Our financial results are unpredictable and may fluctuate, for among other reasons, due to commercial sales of our future product candidates; our achievement of product development objectives and milestones; clinical trial enrollment and expenses; research and development expenses; and the timing and nature of contract manufacturing and contract research payments. A high portion of our costs are predetermined on an annual basis, due in part to our significant research and development costs. Thus, small declines in future revenue could disproportionately affect financial results in a quarter.
We depend on our key personnel and our ability to attract and retain employees.
Our future growth and success depend on our ability to recruit, retain, manage and motivate our employees. We are highly dependent on our current management and scientific personnel, including our Chief Executive Officer, Dr. James N. Woody, our Co-Chairmen, Sir Marc Feldman, Ph.D., and Lawrence Steinman, M.D., our Chief Scientific Officer, Jonathan Rothbard, Ph.D., and our scientists, Raphael Mechoulam and Jagdeep Nanchahal. The inability to hire or retain experienced management personnel could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan and harm our operating results. Due to the specialized scientific and managerial nature of our business, we rely heavily on our ability to attract and retain qualified scientific, technical and managerial personnel. The competition for qualified personnel in the biotechnological field is intense and we may be unable to continue to attract and retain qualified personnel necessary for the development of our business or to recruit suitable replacement personnel.
Problems in our manufacturing process for our new chemical entities, failure to comply with manufacturing regulations or unexpected increases in our manufacturing costs could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are responsible for the manufacture and supply of our future product candidates in the CBD derivatives and α7nAChR programs for commercial use and for use in clinical trials. The manufacturing of our future product candidates necessitates compliance with GMPs and other regulatory requirements in international jurisdictions. Our ability to successfully manufacture our future product candidates will involve manufacture of finished products and labeling and packaging, which includes product information, tamper proof evidence and anti-counterfeit features, under tightly controlled processes and procedures. In addition, we will have to ensure chemical consistency among our batches, including clinical trial batches and, if approved, marketing batches. Demonstrating such consistency may require typical manufacturing controls as well as clinical data. We will also have to ensure that our batches conform to complex release specifications. If we are unable to manufacture our future product candidates in accordance with regulatory specifications, or if there are disruptions in our manufacturing process due to damage, loss or otherwise, or failure to pass regulatory inspections of our manufacturing facilities, we may not be able to meet demand or supply sufficient product for use in clinical trials, and this may also harm our ability to commercialize our future product candidates on a timely or cost-competitive basis, if at all.
We may not develop and expand our manufacturing capability in time to meet demand for our product candidates, and the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities may not accept our facilities or those of our contract manufacturers as being suitable for the production of our products and product candidates. Any problems in our manufacturing process could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We expect to face intense competition from companies with greater resources and experience than we have; and may face competition from competitors seeking to market our products under a Section 505(b)(2) application.
The pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive and subject to rapid change. The industry continues to expand and evolve as an increasing number of competitors and potential competitors enter the market. Many of these competitors and potential competitors have substantially greater financial, technological, managerial and research and development resources and experience than our company. Some of these competitors and potential competitors have more experience than our company in the development of pharmaceutical products, including validation procedures and regulatory matters. In addition, our future product candidates, if successfully developed, will compete with product offerings from large and well-established companies that have greater marketing and sales experience and capabilities than our company or our collaboration partners have. In particular, Insys Therapeutics, Inc. is developing CBD in Infantile Spasms (“IS”), and potentially other indications. Zogenix, Inc. has reported positive data in two Phase 3 trials of low dose fenfluramine in Dravet syndrome and has commenced a Phase 3 trial with this product in Lennox Gastaut Syndrome. Biocodex recently received regulatory approval from the FDA for the drug Stiripentol (Diacomit) for the treatment of Dravet syndrome. Other companies with greater resources than our company may announce similar plans in the future. In addition, there are non-FDA approved CBD preparations being made available from companies in the medical marijuana industry, which might attempt to compete with our future product candidates.
Additionally, competitors may also seek to market versions of our drug products via a section 505(b)(2) application, which is a type of somewhat abbreviated NDA. NDA Section 505(b)(2) applications may be submitted for drug products that represent a modification, such as a new indication or new dosage form, of a previously approved drug. Section 505(b)(2) applications may rely on the FDA’s previous findings for the safety and effectiveness of the previously approved drug in addition to information obtained by the 505(b)(2) applicant to support the modification of the previously approved drug. Preparing Section 505(b)(2) applications may be less costly and time-consuming than preparing an NDA based entirely on new data and information. Section 505(b)(2) applications are subject to the same patent certification procedures as an ANDA.
If we are unable to compete successfully, our commercial opportunities will be reduced and our business, results of operations and financial conditions may be materially harmed.
Our future product candidates, if approved, may be unable to achieve the expected market acceptance and, consequently, limit our ability to generate revenue from new products.
Even when product development is successful and regulatory approval has been obtained, our ability to generate sufficient revenue depends on the acceptance of our products by physicians and patients. We cannot assure you that any of our future product candidates will achieve the expected level of market acceptance and revenue if and when they obtain the requisite regulatory approvals. The market acceptance of any product depends on a number of factors, including the indication statement, warnings required by regulatory authorities in the product label and new competing products. Market acceptance can also be influenced by continued demonstration of efficacy and safety in commercial use, physicians’ willingness to prescribe the product, reimbursement from third-party payors such as government health care programs and private third-party payors, the price of the product, the nature of any post-approval risk management activities mandated by regulatory authorities, competition, and marketing and distribution support. Further, our U.S. distribution depends on the adequate performance of a reimbursement support hub and contracted specialty pharmacies in a closed-distribution network. An ineffective or inefficient U.S. distribution model at launch may lead to inability to fulfill demand, and consequently a loss of revenue. The success and acceptance of a product in one country may be negatively affected by its activities in another. If we fail to adapt our approach to clinical trials in the U.S. market to meet the needs of EMA or other European regulatory authorities, or to generate the health economics and outcomes research data needed to support pricing and reimbursement negotiations or decisions in Europe, we may have difficulties obtaining marketing authorization for our products from EMA/European Commission and may have difficulties obtaining pricing and reimbursement approval for our products at a national level. Any factors preventing or limiting the market acceptance of our products could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
All of our patents in the Anti-TNF and Fibrosis program are method of use patents, which may result in biosimilar drugs being used without our permission.
The success of our most advanced drug development platform depends on the enforceability of our method of use patents, as there are currently many biosimilar anti-TNF drugs in the market. If we are unable to obtain a composition of matter patents, and enforce such patents, our ability to generate revenue from the anti-TNF platform may be significantly limited and competitors may be able to use our research to bring competing drugs to market which would reduce our market share.
The majority of our license agreements provide the licensors and/or counter-parties the right to use and/or exploit such licensed intellectual property.
The majority of our license agreements provide the licensors and/or counter-parties the right to use and/or exploit such licensed intellectual property, and in some cases provide them ownership of such intellectual property, know-how and research results. As such, we may be in competition with parties who we have license agreements with, will likely not have the sole right to monetize, sell or distribute our product candidates and may be subject to restrictions on use and territory of sales. Any or all of the above may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and cash flows and ultimately the value of our securities.
Because the results of preclinical studies and earlier clinical trials are not necessarily predictive of future results, we may not have favorable results in our planned and future clinical trials.
Any positive results from our preclinical testing, Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of our product candidate for Dupuytren’s disease or any other product candidate may not necessarily be predictive of the results from planned or future clinical trials for such product candidates. Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in clinical trials after achieving positive results in preclinical and early clinical development, and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. These setbacks have been caused by, among other things, preclinical findings while clinical trials were underway or safety or efficacy observations in clinical trials, including adverse events. Moreover, our interpretation of clinical data or our conclusions based on the preclinical in vitro and in vivo models may prove inaccurate, as preclinical and clinical data can be susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials nonetheless failed to obtain FDA approval or a marketing authorization granted by the European Commission. If we fail to produce positive results in our planned clinical trial for our product candidate for the treatment of Dupuytren’s disease, or our future clinical trials, the development timeline and regulatory approval and commercialization prospects for such product candidates, and, correspondingly, our business and financial prospects, would be materially adversely affected.
We have limited marketing experience, and we may not be able to successfully commercialize any of our future product candidates, even if they are approved in the future.
Our ability to generate revenues ultimately will depend on our ability to sell our approved products and secure adequate third-party reimbursement. We currently have no experience in marketing and selling our products. The commercial success of our future products depends on a number of factors beyond our control, including the willingness of physicians to prescribe our future products to patients, payors’ willingness and ability to pay for our future products, the level of pricing achieved, patients’ response to our future products, and the ability of our future marketing partners to generate sales. There can be no guarantee that we will be able to establish or maintain the personnel, systems, arrangements and capabilities necessary to successfully commercialize our future products or any product candidate approved by the FDA or other regulatory authority in the future. If we fail to establish or maintain successful marketing, sales and reimbursement capabilities or fail to enter into successful marketing arrangements with third parties, our product revenues may suffer.
If the price for any of our future approved products decreases or if governmental and other third-party payors do not provide coverage and adequate reimbursement levels, our revenue and prospects for profitability will suffer.
Patients who are prescribed medicine for the treatment of their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their prescription drugs. Reimbursement systems in international markets vary significantly by country and by region, and reimbursement approvals generally must be obtained on a country-by-country basis. Coverage and adequate reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Coverage decisions may depend upon clinical and economic standards that disfavor new drug products when more established or lower cost therapeutic alternatives are already available or subsequently become available. Even if we obtain coverage for our future product candidates, the resulting reimbursement payment rates may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Patients may not use our future product candidates if coverage is not provided or reimbursement is inadequate to cover a significant portion of a patient’s cost.
In addition, the market for our future product candidates in the U.S. will depend significantly on access to third-party payors’ drug formularies, or lists of medications for which third-party payors provide coverage and reimbursement. The industry competition to be included in such formularies often leads to downward pricing pressures on pharmaceutical companies. Also, third-party payors may refuse to include a particular branded drug in their formularies or otherwise restrict patient access to a branded drug when a less costly generic equivalent or other alternative is available.
Third-party payors, whether foreign or domestic, or governmental or commercial, are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs. The current environment is putting pressure on companies to price products below what they may feel is appropriate. Our future revenues and overall success could be negatively impacted if we sell future product candidates at less than an optimized price. In addition, in the U.S., no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for our future product candidates may differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our future product candidates to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage will be obtained. If we are unable to obtain coverage of, and adequate payment levels for, our future product candidates, physicians may limit how much or under what circumstances they will prescribe or administer them and patients may decline to purchase them. This could affect our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates, and thereby adversely impact our profitability, results of operations, financial condition and future success.
In addition, where we have chosen to collaborate with a third party on product candidate development and commercialization, our partner may elect to reduce the price of our products to increase the likelihood of obtaining reimbursement approvals. In many countries, products cannot be commercially launched until reimbursement is approved and the negotiation process in some countries can exceed 12 months. In addition, pricing and reimbursement decisions in certain countries can be affected by decisions made in other countries, which can lead to mandatory price reductions and/or additional reimbursement restrictions across a number of other countries, which may adversely affect sales and profitability. In the event that countries impose prices that are not sufficient to allow us or our partners to generate a profit, our partners may refuse to launch the product in such countries or withdraw the product from the market, which would adversely affect sales and profitability.
Business interruptions could delay us in the process of developing our future product candidates and could disrupt our product sales.
Loss of our manufacturing facilities, stored inventory or laboratory facilities through fire, theft or other causes, could have an adverse effect on our ability to meet demand for our future product candidates or to continue product development activities and to conduct our business. Failure to supply our partners with commercial products may lead to adverse consequences, including the right of partners to assume responsibility for product supply. Even if we obtain insurance coverage to compensate us for such business interruptions, such coverage may prove insufficient to fully compensate us for the damage to our business resulting from any significant property or casualty loss to our inventory.
If product liability lawsuits are successfully brought against us, we will incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit the commercialization of our future product candidates.
Although we have never had any product liability claims or lawsuits brought against us, we face potential product liability exposure related to the testing of our future product candidates in human clinical trials, and we will face exposure to claims in jurisdictions where we market and distribute in the future. We may face exposure to claims by an even greater number of persons when we begin marketing and distributing our products commercially in the U.S. and elsewhere. In the future, an individual may bring a liability claim against us alleging that one of our future product candidates caused an injury. While we continue to take what we believe are appropriate precautions, we may be unable to avoid significant liability if any product liability lawsuit is brought against us. Large judgments have been awarded in class action or individual lawsuits based on drugs that had unanticipated side effects. Although we have purchased insurance to cover product liability lawsuits, if we cannot successfully defend our company against product liability claims, or if such insurance coverage is inadequate, we will incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in decreased demand for our products, reputational damage, withdrawal of clinical trial participation participants, litigation costs, product recall costs, monetary awards, increased costs for liability insurance, lost revenues and business interruption.
Our employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and legal requirements.
We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other misconduct. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with FDA, SEC or Office of Inspector General regulations, or regulations of any other applicable regulatory authority, failure to provide accurate information to the FDA or the SEC, comply with applicable manufacturing standards, other federal, state or foreign laws and regulations, report information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities. Employee misconduct could also involve the improper use of information, including information obtained in the course of clinical trials, or illegal appropriation of drug product, which could result in government investigations and serious harm to our reputation. Despite our adoption of a Code of Ethics, employee misconduct is not always possible to identify and deter. The precautions we take to detect and prevent these prohibited activities may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against our company, and we are not successful in defending our company or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.
We are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption laws, as well as export control laws, customs laws, sanctions laws and other laws governing our operations. If we fail to comply with these laws, we could be subject to civil or criminal penalties, other remedial measures, and legal expenses, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our operations are subject to anti-corruption laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), and other anti-corruption laws that apply in countries in which we do business. The FCPA and these other laws generally prohibit our company and our employees and intermediaries from bribing, being bribed or making other prohibited payments to government officials or other persons to obtain or retain business or gain some other business advantage. We and our commercial partners operate in a number of jurisdictions that pose a high risk of potential FCPA violations, and we participate in collaborations and relationships with third parties whose actions could potentially subject us to liability under the FCPA or local anti-corruption laws. In addition, we cannot predict the nature, scope or effect of future regulatory requirements to which our international operations might be subject or the manner in which existing laws might be administered or interpreted.
We are also subject to other laws and regulations governing our international operations, including regulations administered by the governments of the U.S., Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom and authorities in the EU, including applicable export control regulations, economic sanctions on countries and persons, customs requirements and currency exchange regulations, collectively referred to as the Trade Control Laws.
However, there is no assurance that we will be completely effective in ensuring our compliance with all applicable anti-corruption laws, including the FCPA or other legal requirements, including Trade Control Laws. If we are not in compliance with the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws or Trade Control Laws, we may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other sanctions and remedial measures, and legal expenses, which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. Likewise, any investigation of any potential violations of the FCPA, other anti-corruption laws by the U.S. or other authorities could also have an adverse impact on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Security breaches, loss of data and other disruptions could compromise sensitive information related to our business, prevent us from accessing critical information or expose us to liability, which could adversely affect our business and our reputation.
In the ordinary course of business, we expect to collect and store sensitive data, including legally protected patient health information, credit card information, personally identifiable information about our employees, intellectual property, and proprietary business information. We expect to manage and maintain our applications and data utilizing on-site systems. These applications and data encompass a wide variety of business-critical information including research and development information, commercial information and business and financial information.
The secure processing, storage, maintenance and transmission of this critical information is vital to our operations and business strategy, and we devote significant resources to protecting such information. Although we take measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure, our information technology and infrastructure may be vulnerable to attacks by hackers, or viruses, breaches or interruptions due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions, or lapses in compliance with privacy and security mandates. Any such virus, breach or interruption could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed by unauthorized parties, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. We have measures in place that are designed to prevent, and if necessary, to detect and respond to such security incidents and breaches of privacy and security mandates. However, in the future, any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability under laws that protect the privacy of personal information, such as HIPAA and European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), government enforcement actions and regulatory penalties. Unauthorized access, loss or dissemination could also disrupt our operations, including our ability to process samples, provide test results, share and monitor safety data, bill payors or patients, provide customer support services, conduct research and development activities, process and prepare company financial information, manage various general and administrative aspects of our business and may damage our reputation, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In May 2016, the EU formally adopted the GDPR, which applies to all EU member states and became effective on May 25, 2018 and replaced the European Union Data Protection Directive. The regulation introduces stringent new data protection requirements in the EU and substantial fines for breaches of the data protection rules. It may increase our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms ensuring compliance with the new data protection rules. The GDPR is a complex law and the regulatory guidance is still evolving, including with respect to how the GDPR should be applied in the context of clinical trials or other transactions from which we may gain access to personal data. These changes in the law will increase our costs of compliance and result in greater legal risks.
Risks Related to Development and Regulatory Approval of our Future Product Candidates
Clinical trials are expensive, time-consuming, uncertain and susceptible to change, delay or termination. The results of clinical trials are open to differing interpretations.
We have three separate programs for producing anti-inflammatory agents: (1) investigating new clinical opportunities for anti-TNF, (2) identifying orally available, small molecules that are agonists of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, and (3) identifying patentable analogs of CBD that initially will be used as pain medications. However, these programs, including the related clinical trials, are expensive, time consuming and difficult to design and implement.
Regulatory agencies may analyze or interpret the results of clinical trials differently than us. Even if the results of our clinical trials are favorable, the clinical trials for a number of its future product candidates are expected to continue for several years and may take significantly longer to complete. In addition, the FDA or other regulatory authorities, including state, local and foreign authorities, or an IRB, with respect to a trial at our institution, may suspend, delay or terminate its clinical trials at any time, require us to conduct additional clinical trials, require a particular clinical trial to continue for a longer duration than originally planned, require a change to its development plans such that we conduct clinical trials for a product candidate in a different order, e.g., in a step-wise fashion rather than running two trials of the same product candidate in parallel, or could suspend or terminate the registrations and quota allotments we require in order to procure and handle controlled substances, for various reasons, including the following, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations:
|●||lack of effectiveness of any product candidate during clinical trials;|
|●||discovery of serious or unexpected toxicities or side effects experienced by trial participants or other safety issues, such as drug interactions, including those which cause confounding changes to the levels of other concomitant medications;|
|●||slower than expected rates of subject recruitment and enrollment rates in clinical trials;|
|●||difficulty in retaining subjects who have initiated a clinical trial but may withdraw at any time due to adverse side effects from the therapy, insufficient efficacy, fatigue with the clinical trial process or for any other reason;|
|●||delays or inability in manufacturing or obtaining sufficient quantities of materials for use in clinical trials due to regulatory and manufacturing constraints;|
|●||inadequacy of or changes in our manufacturing process or product formulation;|
|●||delays in obtaining regulatory authorization to commence a trial, including “clinical holds” or delays requiring suspension or termination of a trial by a regulatory agency, such as the FDA, before or after a trial is commenced;|
|●||DEA related recordkeeping, reporting security or other violations at a clinical site, leading the DEA or state authorities to suspend or revoke the site’s-controlled substance license and causing a delay or termination of planned or ongoing trials;|
|●||changes in applicable regulatory policies and regulation, including changes to requirements imposed on the extent, nature or timing of studies;|
|●||delays or failure in reaching agreement on acceptable terms in clinical trial contracts or protocols with prospective clinical trial sites;|
|●||uncertainty regarding proper dosing;|
|●||delay or failure to supply product for use in clinical trials which conforms to regulatory specification;|
|●||unfavorable results from ongoing pre-clinical studies and clinical trials;|
|●||failure of our contract research organizations (“CROs”), or other third-party contractors to comply with all contractual requirements or to perform their services in a timely or acceptable manner;|
|●||failure by our company, our employees, our CROs or their employees to comply with all applicable FDA or other regulatory requirements relating to the conduct of clinical trials;|
|●||scheduling conflicts with participating clinicians and clinical institutions;|
|●||failure to design appropriate clinical trial protocols;|
|●||regulatory concerns with CBD derivative products generally and the potential for abuse, despite only working with non-plant based non-psychoactive products;|
|●||insufficient data to support regulatory approval;|
|●||inability or unwillingness of medical investigators to follow our clinical protocols; or|
|●||difficulty in maintaining contact with patients during or after treatment, which may result in incomplete data.|
Any failure by our company to comply with existing regulations could harm our reputation and operating results.
We are subject to extensive regulation by U.S. federal and state and foreign governments in each of the U.S., European and Canadian markets, in which we plan to sell our products, or in markets where we have product candidates progressing through the approval process.
We must adhere to all regulatory requirements including FDA’s Good Laboratory Practice (“GLP”), Good Clinical Practice (“GCP”), and GMP requirements, pharmacovigilance requirements, advertising and promotion restrictions, reporting and recordkeeping requirements, and their European equivalents. If we or our suppliers fail to comply with applicable regulations, including FDA pre-or post-approval requirements, then the FDA or other foreign regulatory authorities could sanction our company. Even if a drug is approved by the FDA or other competent authorities, regulatory authorities may impose significant restrictions on a product’s indicated uses or marketing or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly post-marketing trials. Any of product candidates which may be approved in the U.S. will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, import, export, advertising, promotion, sampling, recordkeeping and submission of safety and other post-market information, including both federal and state requirements. In addition, manufacturers and manufacturers’ facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to GMP. As such, we and our contract manufacturers (in the event contract manufacturers are appointed in the future) are subject to continual review and periodic inspections to assess compliance with GMP. Accordingly, we and others with whom we work will have to spend time, money and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production, quality control and quality assurance. We will also be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems, if any, to the FDA, and to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for its products. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs are subject to a variety of legal and regulatory restrictions and must be consistent with the information in the product’s approved label. Similar restrictions and requirements exist in the EU and other markets where we operate.
If 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, or disagrees with the promotion, marketing or labeling of the product, it may impose restrictions on that product or on our company, including requiring withdrawal of the product from the market. If we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency or enforcement authority may issue warning letters, impose civil or criminal penalties, suspend regulatory approval, suspend any of our ongoing clinical trials, refuse to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications submitted by us, impose restrictions on our operations, or seize or detain products or require a product recall.
In addition, it is possible that our future products will be regulated by the DEA, under the Controlled Substances Act or under similar laws elsewhere. DEA scheduling is a separate process that can delay when a drug may become available to patients beyond an NDA approval date, and the timing and outcome of such DEA process is uncertain. See also “Risks Related to Controlled Substances.”
In addition, any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to spend significant time and resources in response, and could generate negative publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize and generate revenue from our future product candidates. If regulatory sanctions are applied or if regulatory approval is withdrawn, the value of our business and our operating results may be adversely affected.
Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses, divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business and damage our reputation. We expect to spend significant resources on compliance efforts and such expenses are unpredictable. Changing laws, regulations and standards might also create uncertainty, higher expenses and increase insurance costs. As a result, we intend to invest all reasonably necessary resources to comply with evolving standards, and this investment might result in increased management and administrative expenses and a diversion of management time and attention from revenue-generating activities to compliance activities.
We are subject to federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations and implementation of or changes to such healthcare laws and regulations could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
In both the U.S. and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory proposals to change the healthcare system in ways that could impact our ability to sell our future product candidates. If we are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other federal, state or foreign regulations, we may be subject to administrative, civil and/or criminal penalties, damages, fines, individual imprisonment, we from federal health care programs and the restructuring of our operations. Any of these could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial results. Since many of these laws have not been fully interpreted by the courts, there is an increased risk that we may be found in violation of one or more of their provisions. Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we ultimately are successful in our defense, will cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention away from the operation of our business. In addition, in many foreign countries, particularly the countries of the EU the pricing of prescription drugs is subject to government control.
In some foreign countries, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing vary widely from country to country.
For example, some EU jurisdictions operate positive and negative list systems under which products may only be marketed once a reimbursement price has been agreed. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval, some of these countries may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for medicines but monitor and control company profits. Such differences in national pricing regimes may create price differentials between EU member states. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products. Historically, products launched in the UK and EU do not follow price structures of the U.S. In the UK and EU, the downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription medicines, has become intense. As a result, barriers to entry of new products are becoming increasingly high and patients are unlikely to use a drug product that is not reimbursed by their government. We may face competition from lower-priced products in foreign countries that have placed price controls on pharmaceutical products. In addition, the importation of foreign products may compete with any future product that we may market, which could negatively impact our profitability.
Specifically, in the U.S., we expect that the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that we may receive for any approved product. There have been judicial challenges to certain aspects of the ACA and numerous legislative attempts to repeal and/or replace the ACA in whole or in part, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. At this time, the full effect that the ACA will have on our business in the future remains unclear. An expansion in the government’s role in the U.S. healthcare industry may cause general downward pressure on the prices of prescription drug products, lower reimbursements or any other product for which we obtain regulatory approval, reduce product utilization and adversely affect our business and results of operations. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability, or commercialize any of our future product candidates for which we may receive regulatory approval.
Information obtained from expanded access studies may not reliably predict the efficacy of our future product candidates in company-sponsored clinical trials and may lead to adverse events that could limit approval.
The expanded access studies we are currently supporting are uncontrolled, carried out by individual investigators and not typically conducted in strict compliance with GCPs, all of which can lead to a treatment effect which may differ from that in placebo-controlled trials. These studies provide only anecdotal evidence of efficacy for regulatory review. These studies contain no control or comparator group for reference and this patient data is not designed to be aggregated or reported as study results. Moreover, data from such small numbers of patients may be highly variable. Information obtained from these studies, including the statistical principles that we and the independent investigators have chosen to apply to the data, may not reliably predict data collected via systematic evaluation of the efficacy in company-sponsored clinical trials or evaluated via other statistical principles that may be applied in those trials. Reliance on such information to design our clinical trials may lead to trials that are not adequately designed to demonstrate efficacy and could delay or prevent our ability to seek approval of our future product candidates.
Expanded access programs provide supportive safety information for regulatory review. Physicians conducting these studies may use our future product candidates in a manner inconsistent with the protocol, including in children with conditions beyond those being studied in trials which we sponsor. Any adverse events or reactions experienced by subjects in the expanded access program may be attributed to our future product candidates and may limit its ability to obtain regulatory approval with labeling that we consider desirable, or at all.
There is a high rate of failure for drug candidates proceeding through clinical trials.
Generally, there is a high rate of failure for drug candidates proceeding through clinical trials. We may suffer significant setbacks in our clinical trials similar to the experience of a number of other companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, even after receiving promising results in earlier trials. Further, even if we view the results of a clinical trial to be positive, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of the data. In the event that we obtain negative results from clinical trials for product candidates or other problems related to potential chemistry, manufacturing and control issues or other hurdles occur and our future product candidates are not approved, we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue or obtain financing to continue our operations, our ability to execute on our current business plan may be materially impaired, and our reputation in the industry and in the investment community might be significantly damaged. In addition, our inability to properly design, commence and complete clinical trials may negatively impact the timing and results of our clinical trials and ability to seek approvals for our drug candidates.
If we are found in violation of federal or state “fraud and abuse” laws or similar laws in other jurisdictions, we may be required to pay a penalty and/or be suspended from participation in federal or state health care programs, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In the U.S., we are subject to various federal and state health care “fraud and abuse” laws, including anti-kickback laws, false claims laws and other laws intended to reduce fraud and abuse in federal and state health care programs, which could affect our company particularly upon successful commercialization of our products in the U.S. The Medicare and Medicaid Patient Protection Act of 1987, or federal Anti-Kickback Statute, makes it illegal for any person, including a prescription drug manufacturer (or a party acting on its behalf), to knowingly and willfully solicit, receive, offer or pay any remuneration that is intended to induce the referral of business, including the purchase, order or prescription of a particular drug for which payment may be made under a federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. Under federal law, some arrangements, known as safe harbors, are deemed not to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Although we seek to structure our business arrangements in compliance with all applicable requirements, it is often difficult to determine precisely how the law will be applied in specific circumstances. Accordingly, it is possible that our practices may be challenged under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and Federal False Claims Act. Violations of fraud and abuse laws may be punishable by criminal and/or civil sanctions, including fines and/or exclusion or suspension from federal and state health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and debarment from contracting with the U.S. government. In addition, private individuals have the ability to bring actions on behalf of the government under the federal False Claims Act as well as under the false claims laws of several states.
While we believe that we have structured our business arrangements to comply with these laws, that the government could allege violations of, or convict us of violating, these laws. If we are found in violation of one of these laws, we could be required to pay a penalty and could be suspended or excluded from participation in federal or state health care programs, and our business, results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected.
The Members States of the EU and other countries also have anti-kickback laws and can impose penalties in case of infringement, which, in some jurisdictions, can also be enforced by competitors.
Serious adverse events or other safety risks could require us to abandon development and preclude, delay or limit approval of our future product candidates, limit the scope of any approved label or market acceptance, or cause the recall or loss of marketing approval of products that are already marketed.
If any of our future product candidates prior to or after any approval for commercial sale, cause serious or unexpected side effects, or are associated with other safety risks such as misuse, abuse or diversion, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
|●||regulatory authorities may interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials;|
|●||regulatory authorities may deny regulatory approval of our future product candidates;|
|●||regulatory authorities may require certain labeling statements, such as warnings or contraindications or limitations on the indications for use, and/or impose restrictions on distribution in the form of a REMS in connection with approval or post-approval;|
|●||regulatory authorities may withdraw their approval, require more onerous labeling statements, impose a more restrictive REMS, or require it to recall any product that is approved;|
|●||we may be required to change the way the product is administered or conduct additional clinical trials;|
|●||our relationships with our collaboration partners may suffer;|
|●||we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients; or|
|●||our reputation may suffer. The reputational risk is heightened with respect to those of our future product candidates that are being developed for pediatric indications.|
We may voluntarily suspend or terminate our clinical trials if at any time we believe that the products present an unacceptable risk to participants, or if preliminary data demonstrates that our future product candidates are unlikely to receive regulatory approval or unlikely to be successfully commercialized. Following receipt of approval for commercial sale of a product, we may voluntarily withdraw or recall that product from the market if at any time we believe that its use, or a person’s exposure to it, may cause adverse health consequences or death. To date, we have not withdrawn, recalled or taken any other action, voluntary or mandatory, to remove an approved product from the market. In addition, regulatory agencies, IRBs or data safety monitoring boards may at any time recommend the temporary or permanent discontinuation of our clinical trials or request that we cease using investigators in the clinical trials if they believe that the clinical trials are not being conducted in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements, or that they present an unacceptable safety risk to participants. Although we have never been asked by a regulatory agency, IRB or data safety monitoring board to temporarily or permanently discontinue a clinical trial, if we elect or are forced to suspend or terminate a clinical trial of any of our future product candidates, the commercial prospects for that product will be harmed and our ability to generate product revenue from that product may be delayed or eliminated. Furthermore, any of these events may result in labeling statements such as warnings or contraindications. In addition, such events or labeling could prevent us or our partners from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the affected product and could substantially increase the costs of commercializing our future product candidates and impair our ability to generate revenue from the commercialization of these products either by our company or by our collaboration partners.
The development of a REMS for our future product candidates could cause delays in the approval process and would add additional layers of regulatory requirements that could impact our ability to commercialize our future product candidates in the U.S. and reduce their market potential.
Even if the FDA approves our NDA for any of our future product candidates without requiring a REMS as a condition of approval of the NDA, the FDA may, post-approval, require a REMS for any of our future product candidates if it becomes aware of new safety information that makes a REMS necessary to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks. REMS elements can include medication guides, communication plans for health care professionals, and elements to assure safe use (“ETASU”). ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring and the use of patient registries. Moreover, product approval may require substantial post-approval testing and surveillance to monitor the drug’s safety or efficacy. We may be required to adopt a REMS for our future product candidates to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks of abuse, misuse, diversion and other potential safety concerns. There can be no assurance that the FDA will approve a manageable REMS for our future product candidates, which could create material and significant limits on our ability to successfully commercialize our future product candidates in the U.S. Delays in the REMS approval process could result in delays in the NDA approval process. In addition, as part of the REMS, the FDA could require significant restrictions, such as restrictions on the prescription, distribution and patient use of the product, which could significantly impact our ability to effectively commercialize our future product candidates, and dramatically reduce their market potential, thereby adversely impacting our business, financial condition and results of operations. Even if initial REMS are not highly restrictive, if, after launch, our future product candidates were to be subject to significant abuse/non-medical use or diversion from illicit channels, this could lead to negative regulatory consequences, including a more restrictive REMS.
Risks Related to our Reliance Upon Third Parties
Our existing collaboration arrangements and any that we may enter into in the future may not be successful, which could adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our future product candidates.
We are a party to, and may seek additional, collaboration arrangements with pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies for the development or commercialization of our future product candidates. We may, with respect to our future product candidates, enter into new arrangements on a selective basis depending on the merits of retaining commercialization rights for ourselves as compared to entering into selective collaboration arrangements with leading pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies for each product candidate, both in the U.S. and internationally. To the extent that we decide to enter into collaboration agreements, we will face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators and the terms of any collaboration or other arrangements that we may establish may not be favorable to it.
Any existing or future collaboration that we enter into may not be successful. The success of our collaboration arrangements will depend heavily on the efforts and activities of our collaborators. Collaborators generally have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these collaborations. Disagreements between parties to a collaboration arrangement regarding development, intellectual property, regulatory or commercialization matters, can lead to delays in the development process or commercialization of the applicable product candidate and, in some cases, termination of the collaboration arrangement. These disagreements can be difficult to resolve if neither of the parties has final decision-making authority. Any such termination or expiration could harm our business reputation and may adversely affect it financially.
We expect to depend on a limited number of suppliers for materials and components in order to manufacture our future product candidates. The loss of these suppliers, or their failure to supply us on a timely basis, could cause delays in our current and future capacity and adversely affect our business.
We expect to depend on a limited number of suppliers for the materials and components required to manufacture our future product candidates. As a result, we may not be able to obtain sufficient quantities of critical materials and components in the future. A delay or interruption by our suppliers may also harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, the lead time needed to establish a relationship with a new supplier can be lengthy, and we may experience delays in meeting demand in the event we must switch to a new supplier. The time and effort to qualify for and, in some cases, obtain regulatory approval for a new supplier could result in additional costs, diversion of resources or reduced manufacturing yields, any of which would negatively impact our operating results. Our dependence on single-source suppliers exposes us to numerous risks, including the following: our suppliers may cease or reduce production or deliveries, they may be subject to government investigations and regulatory actions that limit or prevent production capabilities for an extended period of time, raise prices or renegotiate terms; our suppliers may become insolvent; we may be unable to locate a suitable replacement supplier on acceptable terms or on a timely basis, or at all; and delays caused by supply issues may harm our reputation, frustrate our customers and cause them to turn to our competitors for future needs.
Risks Related to our Intellectual Property
We may not be able to adequately protect our future product candidates or our proprietary technology in the marketplace.
Our success will depend, in part, on our ability to obtain patents, protect our trade secrets and operate without infringing on the proprietary rights of others. We rely upon a combination of patents, trade secret protection (i.e., know-how), and confidentiality agreements to protect the intellectual property of our future product candidates. The strengths of patents in the pharmaceutical field involve complex legal and scientific questions, and can be uncertain. Where appropriate, we seek patent protection for certain aspects of our products and technology. Filing, prosecuting and defending patents globally can be prohibitively expensive.
Our policy is to look to patent technologies with commercial potential in jurisdictions with significant commercial opportunities. However, patent protection may not be available for some of the products or technology we are developing. If we must spend significant time and money protecting, defending or enforcing our patents, designing around patents held by others or licensing, potentially for large fees, patents or other proprietary rights held by others, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be harmed. We may not develop additional proprietary products that are patentable. As of the date hereof, we have an extensive portfolio of patents, including many granted patents and patents pending approval.
The patent positions of pharmaceutical products are complex and uncertain. The scope and extent of patent protection for our future product candidates are particularly uncertain. Our future product candidates will be based on medicinal chemistry instead of cannabis plants. While we have sought patent protection, where appropriate, directed to, among other things, composition-of-matter for its specific formulations, their methods of use, and methods of manufacture, we do not have and will not be able to obtain composition of matter protection on these previously known CBD derivatives per se. We anticipate that the products we develop in the future will be based upon synthetic compounds we may discover. Although we have sought, and will continue to seek, patent protection in the U.S., Europe and other countries for our proprietary technologies, future product candidates, their methods of use, and methods of manufacture, any or all of them may not be subject to effective patent protection. If any of our products are approved and marketed for an indication for which we do not have an issued patent, our ability to use our patents to prevent a competitor from commercializing a non-branded version of our commercial products for that non-patented indication could be significantly impaired or even eliminated.
Publication of information related to our future product candidates by our company or others may prevent it from obtaining or enforcing patents relating to these products and product candidates. Furthermore, others may independently develop similar products, may duplicate our products, or may design around our patent rights. In addition, any of our issued patents may be opposed and/or declared invalid or unenforceable. If we fail to adequately protect our intellectual property, we may face competition from companies who attempt to create a generic product to compete with our future product candidates. We may also face competition from companies who develop a substantially similar product to our future product candidates that is not covered by any of our patents.
Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting, defending and enforcing intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property rights, particularly those relating to pharmaceuticals, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial cost and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business.
If third parties claim that intellectual property used by our company infringes upon their intellectual property, our operating profits could be adversely affected.
There is a substantial amount of litigation, both within and outside the U.S., involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical industry. We may, from time to time, be notified of claims that we are infringing upon patents, trademarks, copyrights or other intellectual property rights owned by third parties, and we cannot provide assurances that other companies will not, in the future, pursue such infringement claims against us, our commercial partners or any third-party proprietary technologies we have licensed. If we were found to infringe upon a patent or other intellectual property right, or if we failed to obtain or renew a license under a patent or other intellectual property right from a third party, or if a third party from whom we were licensing technologies was found to infringe upon a patent or other intellectual property rights of another third party, we may be required to pay damages, including damages of up to three times the damages found or assessed, if the infringement is found to be willful, suspend the manufacture of certain products or reengineer or rebrand our products, if feasible, or we may be unable to enter certain new product markets. Any such claims could also be expensive and time consuming to defend and divert management’s attention and resources. Our competitive position could suffer as a result. In addition, if we have declined or failed to enter into a valid non-disclosure or assignment agreement for any reason, we may not own the invention or its intellectual property, and our products may not be adequately protected. Thus, we cannot guarantee that any of our future product candidates, or our commercialization thereof, does not and will not infringe any third party’s intellectual property.
If we are not able to adequately prevent disclosure of trade secrets and other proprietary information, the value of our technology and products could be significantly diminished.
We rely on trade secrets to protect our proprietary technologies, especially where we do not believe patent protection is appropriate or obtainable. However, trade secrets are difficult to protect. We rely in part on confidentiality agreements with current and former employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers, contract manufacturers, vendors and other advisors to protect our trade secrets and other proprietary information. These agreements may not effectively prevent disclosure of confidential information and may not provide an adequate remedy in the event of unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. In addition, we cannot guarantee that we have executed these agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets. Any party with whom we or they have executed such an agreement may breach that agreement and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches.
Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. Also, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they disclose such trade secrets, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor or other third-party, our competitive position would be harmed.
Risks Related to Controlled Substances
Controlled substance legislation differs between countries, and legislation in certain countries may restrict or limit our ability to sell our future product candidates.
Most countries are parties to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971, which governs international trade and domestic control of narcotic substances, including cannabis extracts. Countries may interpret and implement their treaty obligations in a way that creates a legal obstacle to us obtaining marketing approval for our future products in those countries. These countries may not be willing or able to amend or otherwise modify their laws and regulations to permit our future products to be marketed, or achieving such amendments to the laws and regulations may take a prolonged period of time. In that case, we would be unable to market our future product candidates in those countries in the near future or perhaps at all.
The product candidates that we are developing may be subject to U.S. controlled substance laws and regulations and failure to comply with these laws and regulations, or the cost of compliance with these laws and regulations, may adversely affect the results of our business operations, both during clinical development and post approval, and our financial condition.
The product candidates that we are developing may contain controlled substances as defined in The United States Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, as amended (“CSA”). Controlled substances that are pharmaceutical products are subject to a high degree of regulation under the CSA, which establishes, among other things, certain registration, manufacturing quotas, security, recordkeeping, reporting, import, export and other requirements administered by the DEA. The DEA classifies controlled substances into five schedules: Schedule I, II, III, IV or V substances. Schedule I substances by definition have a high potential for abuse, no currently “accepted medical use” in the U.S., lack accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and may not be prescribed, marketed or sold in the U.S. Pharmaceutical products approved for use in the U.S. which contain a controlled substance are listed as Schedule II, III, IV or V, with Schedule II substances considered to present the highest potential for abuse or dependence and Schedule V substances the lowest relative risk of abuse among such substances.
While cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance, products approved for medical use in the U.S. that contain cannabis or cannabis extracts should be placed in Schedules II-V, since approval by the FDA satisfies the “accepted medical use” requirement. If and when any of our future product candidates receive FDA approval, the DEA will make a scheduling determination. If the FDA, the DEA or any foreign regulatory authority determines that our future product candidates may have potential for abuse, it may require us to generate more clinical or other data than we currently anticipate to establish whether or to what extent the substance has an abuse potential, which could increase the cost and/or delay the launch of that product.
Facilities conducting research, manufacturing, distributing, importing or exporting, or dispensing controlled substances must be registered (licensed) to perform these activities and have the security, control, recordkeeping, reporting and inventory mechanisms required by the DEA to prevent drug loss and diversion. All these facilities must renew their registrations annually, except dispensing facilities, which must renew every three years. The DEA conducts periodic inspections of certain registered establishments that handle controlled substances. Obtaining the necessary registrations may result in delay of the importation, manufacturing or distribution of our future products. Furthermore, failure to maintain compliance with the CSA, particularly non-compliance resulting in loss or diversion, can result in regulatory action that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations, or initiate proceedings to restrict, suspend or revoke those registrations. In certain circumstances, violations could lead to criminal proceedings.
Individual states have also established controlled substance laws and regulations. Although state-controlled substances laws often mirror federal law, because the states are separate jurisdictions, they may separately schedule our future product candidates as well. State scheduling may delay commercial sale of any product for which we obtain federal regulatory approval and adverse scheduling could have a material adverse effect on the commercial attractiveness of such product. We or our partners must also obtain separate state registrations, permits or licenses in order to be able to obtain, handle, and distribute controlled substances for clinical trials or commercial sale, and failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements could lead to enforcement and sanctions by the states in addition to those from the DEA or otherwise arising under federal law.
Because our products may be controlled substances in the U.S., to conduct clinical trials in the U.S., each of our research sites must submit a research protocol to the DEA and obtain and maintain a DEA researcher registration that will allow those sites to handle and dispense our products and to obtain product from our importer. If the DEA delays or denies the grant of a research registration to one or more research sites, the clinical trial could be significantly delayed, and we could lose clinical trial sites. The importer for the clinical trials must also obtain an importer registration and an import permit for each import.
The legislation on cannabis in the EU differs among the member states, as this area is not yet fully harmonized. In Germany, for example, cannabis is regulated as a controlled substance (Betäubungsmittel) and its handling requires specific authorization.
The legalization and use of medical and recreational cannabis in the U.S. and abroad may impact our business.
There is a substantial amount of change occurring in the U.S. regarding the use of medical and recreational cannabis products. While cannabis products not approved by the FDA are Schedule I substances as defined under federal law, and their possession and use is not permitted according to federal law (except for research purposes, under DEA registration), at least 36 jurisdictions and the District of Columbia have enacted state laws to enable possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes, and at least 25 jurisdictions for recreational purposes. The U.S. Farm Bill, which was passed in 2018, descheduled certain material derived from hemp plants with extremely low tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) content. Although our business is quite distinct from that of online and dispensary cannabis companies, future legislation authorizing the sale, distribution, use, and insurance reimbursement of non-FDA approved cannabis products could affect our business.
General Business Risks Relating to our Company
The December 2017 tax reform bill could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
On December 22, 2017, then President Trump signed into law a comprehensive tax reform bill (the “Tax Act”), that significantly reforms the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). The Tax Act, among other things, contains significant changes to corporate taxation, including a permanent reduction of the corporate income tax rate, a partial limitation on the deductibility of business interest expense, limitation of the deduction for certain net operating losses to 80% of current year taxable income, an indefinite net operating loss carryforward, immediate deductions for certain new investments instead of deductions for depreciation expense over time and modification or repeal of many business deductions and credits. The presentation of our financial condition and results of operations have been recorded in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which requires the financial statement impact of the Tax Act to be recorded in the period in which the Tax Act was enacted. The financial statement impact of the Tax Act is based on our current interpretation of the provisions contained in the Tax Act and the Treasury Regulations and administrative guidance relating thereto. Any significant variance of our current interpretation of this law from any future Treasury Regulations or administrative guidance could result in a change to the presentation of our financial condition and results of operations and could negatively affect our business. The overall impact of the Tax Act and any future tax reform is uncertain and our business and financial condition could be adversely affected.
Changes in laws or regulations, or a failure to comply with any laws and regulations, may adversely affect our business, investments and results of operations.
We are subject to laws, regulations and rules enacted by national, regional and local governments. In particular, we are required to comply with certain SEC, NASDAQ and other legal or regulatory requirements. Compliance with, and monitoring of, applicable laws, regulations and rules may be difficult, time consuming and costly. Those laws, regulations and rules and their interpretation and application may also change from time to time and those changes could have a material adverse effect on our business, investments and results of operations. In addition, a failure to comply with applicable laws, regulations and rules, as interpreted and applied, could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
Certain of our executive officers and directors are now, and all of them may in the future become, affiliated with entities engaged in business activities similar to those conducted by us and, accordingly, may have conflicts of interest in determining to which entity a particular business opportunity should be presented.
Our executive officers and directors are, or may in the future become, affiliated with entities that are engaged in business activities similar to those that are conducted by us. Our officers and directors also may become aware of business opportunities which may be appropriate for presentation to us and the other entities to which they owe certain fiduciary or contractual duties. Accordingly, they may have conflicts of interest in determining whether a particular business opportunity should be presented to our company or to another entity. These conflicts may not be resolved in our favor and a potential opportunity may be presented to another entity prior to its presentation to us. Our Certificate of Incorporation provides that we renounce our interest in any corporate opportunity offered to any director or officer unless such opportunity is expressly offered to such person solely in his or her capacity as a director or officer of our company and such opportunity is one we are legally and contractually permitted to undertake and would otherwise be reasonable for us to pursue.
Our executive officers, directors, security holders and their respective affiliates may have competitive pecuniary interests that conflict with our interests.
We have not adopted a policy that expressly prohibits our directors, executive officers, security holders or affiliates from having a direct or indirect pecuniary or financial interest in any investment to be acquired or disposed of by us or in any transaction to which we are a party or have an interest. In fact, we may enter into a strategic transaction with a target business that is affiliated with our directors or executive officers. Nor do we have a policy that expressly prohibits any such persons from engaging for their own account in business activities of the types conducted by us. Accordingly, such persons or entities may have a conflict between their interests and ours. Certain of our officers and directors hold positions with companies which may be competitors of us. See also the biographies of our officers and directors below under “Directors, Officers and Corporate Governance“.
We face significant penalties and damages in the event registration statements we filed to register certain securities sold in our prior offerings are subsequently suspended or terminated and/or if we fail to timely deliver securities upon conversion of our convertible notes.
We previously registered the shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of certain outstanding convertible promissory notes under the Securities Act, for resale. The agreements pursuant to which we sold such securities, and in some cases, the securities themselves, provide for liquidated damages upon the occurrence of certain events. Due to the recent requirement that we restate our June 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020 quarterly financial statements, and the similar requirement that we update such registration statement to reflect such restatement, the holders are due certain penalties.
For example, because the registration statement was unavailable for the resale of the shares of common stock underlying the convertible notes, for more than ten consecutive calendar days, then, in addition to any other rights the holders may have under the convertible notes or under applicable law, on the tenth day after the registration statement was unavailable for use for the resale of shares, and on each monthly anniversary of each such date thereafter, until the registration statement is available for us or sixty calendar days after the applicable event date, whichever occurs first, we are required to pay to each holder of certain of our convertible notes an amount in cash, as partial liquidated damages and not as a penalty, equal to 2% of the amount each holder paid the Company for the original subscription of convertible notes and preferred stock; provided, that the maximum amount payable shall not exceed 4%. If not in paid in full within seven days after the date payable, such amount accrues interest at 18% per annum until paid in full; and such amount was not timely paid. Such penalties and/or others which we are subject, could adversely affect our cash flow and cause the value of our securities to decline in value.
Such requirement to amend the registration statement also represented an event of default under certain of the convertible notes, which have a principal balance of $316,111. As a result of such default, immediately, without need for notice or demand all of which are waived, interest on the notes accrues and is owed daily at an increased interest rate equal to the lesser of two percent per month (twenty-four percent (24.0%) per annum) or the maximum rate permitted under applicable law, and the convertible notes may be accelerated at the option of the holders thereof (payable in either cash or shares of common stock), in an amount equal to the greater of (a) one hundred thirty percent (130%) of the sum of the outstanding amount of the notes (including principal, interest, penalties and other amounts due thereunder)(the “Default Sum”); and (i) the Default Sum, divided by the conversion price, multiplied by (ii) the highest closing price of the Company’s common stock on the period from the first date of default under the convertible notes until such default amount is paid.
Separately, we face penalties of $1,000 per day for each day that we fail to deliver shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of certain of our outstanding convertible notes, if such shares are not delivered within two trading days after a conversion notice is given and in such case the holders of such notes also have buy-in rights pursuant to which additional penalties could be due. To date we have failed to timely deliver certain shares of common stock upon conversion of outstanding convertible notes. Such penalties and/or others which we are subject, could adversely affect our cash flow and cause the value of our securities to decline in value.
The value of our existing intangible assets may become impaired, depending upon future operating results.
Our intangible assets were approximately $51.5 million as of December 31, 2020, representing approximately 93% of our total assets. We evaluate our intangible assets annually, or more often if there is a triggering event, to determine whether all or a portion of their carrying value may no longer be recoverable, in which case a charge to earnings may be necessary. Any future evaluations requiring an asset impairment charge for intangible assets would adversely affect future reported results of operations and stockholders’ equity, although such charges would not affect our cash flow.
Our outstanding warrants may have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
In our IPO, we issued warrants to purchase 5,750,000 shares of common stock as part of the units offered in our IPO and, simultaneously with the closing of our IPO, we issued in a private placement an aggregate of 502,500 private placement warrants contained in the private placement units, each exercisable to purchase one-half of one share of common stock at $5.75 per half share. Additionally, in February 2021, we sold warrants to purchase up to 2,564,000 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $5.00 per share. Such warrants, if and when exercised, will increase the number of issued and outstanding shares of our common stock and potentially reduce the value of the outstanding shares of common stock.
We may not be able to establish appropriate internal controls over financial reporting. Failure to achieve and maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting could lead to misstatements in our financial reporting and adversely affect our business.
As a private company, 180 was not required to document and test its internal controls over financial reporting nor was its management required to certify the effectiveness of internal controls and its auditors were not required to opine on the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting. Ensuring that we have adequate internal financial and accounting controls and procedures in place to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis is a costly and time-consuming effort. The growth of our operations has created a need for additional resources within the accounting and finance functions due to the increasing need to produce timely financial information and to ensure the level of segregation of duties customary for a U.S. public company. Even after establishing internal controls, our management does not expect that our internal controls will prevent or detect all errors and all fraud. A control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the control system’s objectives will be met. No evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud, if any, within the business will have been detected.
Our business has been, and may continue to be, adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported to have surfaced in Wuhan, China. In January 2020, COVID-19 spread to other parts of the word, including the United States and Europe, and efforts to contain its spread have intensified, with varying degrees of success. As a result, businesses have closed and limits have been placed on travel and everyday activities. The extent to which COVID-19 may impact our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions, and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease. Should the COVID-19 pandemic continue, our plans could be delayed or interrupted. The spread of COVID-19 has also created global economic uncertainty, which may cause partners, suppliers and potential customers to closely monitor their costs and reduce their spending budget. The foregoing could materially adversely affect the clinical trials, supply chain, financial condition and financial performance of our company.
Enrollment of patients in our clinical trials, maintaining patients in our ongoing clinical trials, doing follow up visits with recruited patients and collecting data have been, and may continue to be, delayed or limited as certain of our clinical trial sites limit their onsite staff or temporarily close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing government restrictions. In addition, patients may not be able or willing to visit clinical trial sites for dosing or data collection purposes due to limitations on travel and physical distancing imposed or recommended by federal or state governments or patients’ reluctance to visit the clinical trial sites during the pandemic. These factors resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic could delay or prevent the anticipated readouts from our clinical trials, which could ultimately delay or prevent our ability to generate revenues and could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
Risks Related to our Common Stock and Warrants
The market price of our common stock has been extremely volatile and may continue to be volatile due to numerous circumstances beyond our control.
The market price of our common stock has fluctuated, and may continue to fluctuate, widely, due to many factors, some of which may be beyond our control. These factors include, without limitation:
|●||comments by securities analysts or other third parties, including blogs, articles, message boards and social and other media;|
|●||large stockholders exiting their position in our securities or an increase or decrease in the short interest in our securities;|
|●||actual or anticipated fluctuations in our financial and operating results;|
|●||risks and uncertainties associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;|
|●||changes in foreign currency exchange rates;|
|●||the commencement, enrollment or results of our planned or future clinical trials of our product candidates or those of our competitors;|
|●||the success of competitive drugs or therapies;|
|●||regulatory or legal developments in the United States and other countries;|
|●||the success of competitive products or technologies;|
|●||developments or disputes concerning patent applications, issued patents or other proprietary rights;|
|●||the recruitment or departure of key personnel;|
|●||the level of expenses related to our product candidates or clinical development programs;|
|●||the results of our efforts to discover, develop, acquire or in-license additional product candidates;|
|●||actual or anticipated changes in estimates as to financial results, development timelines or recommendations by securities analysts;|
|●||our inability to obtain or delays in obtaining adequate drug supply for any approved drug or inability to do so at acceptable prices;|
|●||disputes or other developments relating to proprietary rights, including patents, litigation matters and our ability to obtain patent protection for our technologies;|
|●||significant lawsuits, including patent or stockholder litigation;|
|●||variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;|
|●||changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems, including coverage and adequate reimbursement for any approved drug;|
|●||market conditions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors;|
|●||general economic, political, and market conditions and overall fluctuations in the financial markets in the United States and abroad; and|
|●||investors’ general perception of us and our business.|
Stock markets in general and our stock price in particular have recently experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies and our company. For example, on March 26, 2021, our common stock experienced an intra-day trading high of $10.60 per share and a low of $6.72 per share. In addition, since the closing of the Business Combination, the sale prices of our common stock has ranged from a high of $13.05 per share (on April 13, 2021) to a low of $1.90 per share (on November 19, 2020). During this time, we have not experienced any material changes in our financial condition or results of operations that would explain such price volatility or trading volume. These broad market fluctuations may adversely affect the trading price of our securities. Additionally, these and other external factors have caused and may continue to cause the market price and demand for our common stock to fluctuate substantially, which may limit or prevent our stockholders from readily selling their shares of our common stock and may otherwise negatively affect the liquidity of our common stock.
Information available in public media that is published by third parties, including blogs, articles, message boards and social and other media may include statements not attributable to the Company and may not be reliable or accurate.
We are aware of a large volume of information being disseminated by third parties relating to our operations, including in blogs, message boards and social and other media. Such information as reported by third parties may not be accurate, may lead to significant volatility in our securities and may ultimately result in our common stock or other securities declining in value.
A significant number of our shares are eligible for sale and their sale or potential sale may depress the market price of our common stock.
Sales of a significant number of shares of our common stock in the public market could harm the market price of our common stock. Most of our common stock is available for resale in the public market and we are also required to register for resale the 2,564,000 shares of common stock and 2,564,000 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of warrants, sold by us in a private transaction in February 2021. If a significant number of shares were sold, such sales would increase the supply of our common stock, thereby potentially causing a decrease in its price. Some or all of our shares of common stock may be offered from time to time in the open market pursuant to effective registration statements and/or compliance with Rule 144 (which is available starting November 6, 2021, subject to compliance with Rule 144, due to our status as a former “shell company”), which sales could have a depressive effect on the market for our shares of common stock. Subject to certain restrictions, a person who has held restricted shares for a period of six months may generally sell common stock into the market. The sale of a significant portion of such shares when such shares are eligible for public sale may cause the value of our common stock to decline in value.
Certain of our outstanding securities include lower priced and most favored nation rights.
A total of $316,111 of outstanding convertible notes include rights to adjust the conversion price thereof (currently equal to the lowest of the last five days of volume weighted average price of our common stock), to the price of any securities we sell or issue in the future (including convertible securities), which a price less than then conversion price thereof, subject to certain customary exceptions. Additionally, such notes include a most favored nation right whereby such notes are deemed updated with any more favorable terms that of securities we issue or sell in the future. Such lower priced and most favorable nation rights may make it harder or more costly for us to raise funding in the future, may significantly lower the conversion price of, or material adjust the terms of, such applicable convertible notes, and/or may cause significant dilution to existing stockholders.
There may not be sufficient liquidity in the market for our securities in order for investors to sell their shares. The market price of our common stock may continue to be volatile.
The market price of our common stock will likely continue to be highly volatile. Some of the factors that may materially affect the market price of our common stock are beyond our control, such as conditions or trends in the industry in which we operate or sales of our common stock. This situation is attributable to a number of factors, including the fact that we are a small company which is relatively unknown to stock analysts, stock brokers, institutional investors and others in the investment community that generate or influence sales volume, and that even if we came to the attention of such persons, they tend to be risk-averse and would be reluctant to follow an unproven company such as ours or purchase or recommend the purchase of our shares until such time as we became more seasoned and viable.
As a consequence, there may be periods of several days or more when trading activity in our shares is minimal or non-existent, as compared to a mature issuer which has a large and steady volume of trading activity that will generally support continuous sales without an adverse effect on share price. It is possible that a broader or more active public trading market for our common stock will not develop or be sustained, or that trading levels will not continue. These factors may materially adversely affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our performance. In addition, the public stock markets have experienced extreme price and trading volume volatility. This volatility has significantly affected the market prices of securities of many companies for reasons frequently unrelated to the operating performance of the specific companies. These broad market fluctuations may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Risks Associated with Our Governing Documents and Delaware Law
Our Certificate of Incorporation provides for indemnification of officers and directors at our expense and limits their liability, which may result in a major cost to us and hurt the interests of our stockholders because corporate resources may be expended for the benefit of officers or directors.
Our Certificate of Incorporation provides for indemnification as follows: “To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, the Corporation is authorized to provide indemnification of, and advancement of expenses to, such agents of the Corporation (and any other persons to which Delaware law permits the Corporation to provide indemnification) through Bylaw provisions, agreements with such agents or other persons, vote of stockholders or disinterested directors or otherwise, in excess of the indemnification and advancement otherwise permitted by Section 145 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, subject only to limits created by applicable Delaware law (statutory or non-statutory), with respect to actions for breach of duty to the Corporation, its stockholders and others.”
We have been advised that, in the opinion of the SEC, indemnification for liabilities arising under federal securities laws is against public policy as expressed in the Securities Act and is, therefore, unenforceable. In the event that a claim for indemnification for liabilities arising under federal securities laws, other than the payment by us of expenses incurred or paid by a director, officer or controlling person in the successful defense of any action, suit or proceeding, is asserted by a director, officer or controlling person in connection with our activities, we will (unless in the opinion of our counsel, the matter has been settled by controlling precedent) submit to a court of appropriate jurisdiction, the question whether indemnification by us is against public policy as expressed in the Securities Act and will be governed by the final adjudication of such issue. The legal process relating to this matter if it were to occur is likely to be very costly and may result in us receiving negative publicity, either of which factors is likely to materially reduce the market and price for our shares.
Our Certificate of Incorporation contains a specific provision that limits the liability of our directors for monetary damages to the Company and the Company’s stockholders and requires us, under certain circumstances, to indemnify officers, directors and employees.
The limitation of monetary liability against our directors, officers and employees under Delaware law and the existence of indemnification rights to them may result in substantial expenditures by us and may discourage lawsuits against our directors, officers and employees.
Our Certificate of Incorporation contains a specific provision that limits the liability of our directors for monetary damages to the Company and the Company’s stockholders. We also have contractual indemnification obligations under our employment and engagement agreements with our executive officers and directors. The foregoing indemnification obligations could result in us incurring substantial expenditures to cover the cost of settlement or damage awards against our directors and officers, which the Company may be unable to recoup. These provisions and resultant costs may also discourage us from bringing a lawsuit against our directors and officers for breaches of their fiduciary duties and may similarly discourage the filing of derivative litigation by our stockholders against our directors and officers, even though such actions, if successful, might otherwise benefit us and our stockholders.
Our directors have the right to authorize the issuance of shares of preferred stock and additional shares of our common stock.
Our directors, within the limitations and restrictions contained in our Certificate of Incorporation and without further action by our stockholders, have the authority to issue shares of preferred stock from time to time in one or more series and to fix the number of shares and the relative rights, conversion rights, voting rights, and terms of redemption, liquidation preferences and any other preferences, special rights and qualifications of any such series. Any issuance of shares of preferred stock could adversely affect the rights of holders of our common stock. Should we issue additional shares of our common stock at a later time, each investor’s ownership interest in our stock would be proportionally reduced.
Anti-takeover provisions may impede the acquisition of the Company.
Certain provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) have anti-takeover effects and may inhibit a non-negotiated merger or other business combination. These provisions are intended to encourage any person interested in acquiring control of us to negotiate with, and to obtain the approval of, our directors, in connection with such a transaction. As a result, certain of these provisions may discourage a future acquisition of the Company, including an acquisition in which the stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares. In addition, we can also authorize “blank check” preferred stock, which could be issued by our board of directors without stockholder approval and may contain voting, liquidation, dividend and other rights superior to our common stock.
Compliance, Reporting and Listing Risks
We incur significant costs to ensure compliance with U.S. and NASDAQ Capital Market reporting and corporate governance requirements.
We incur significant costs associated with our public company reporting requirements and with applicable U.S. and NASDAQ Capital Market corporate governance requirements, including requirements under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and other rules implemented by the SEC and The NASDAQ Capital Market. The rules of The NASDAQ Capital Market include requiring us to maintain independent directors, comply with other corporate governance requirements and pay annual listing and stock issuance fees. All of such SEC and NASDAQ obligations require a commitment of additional resources including, but not limited, to additional expenses, and may result in the diversion of our senior management’s time and attention from our day-to-day operations. We expect all of these applicable rules and regulations to significantly increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time consuming and costly. We also expect that these applicable rules and regulations may make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers.
We will continue to incur increased costs as a result of being a reporting company, and given our limited capital resources, such additional costs may have an adverse impact on our profitability.
We are an SEC-reporting company. The rules and regulations under the Exchange Act require reporting companies to provide periodic reports with interactive data files, which require that we engage legal, accounting and auditing professionals, and eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) and EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval) service providers. The engagement of such services can be costly, and we may continue to incur additional losses, which may adversely affect our ability to continue as a going concern. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as a variety of related rules implemented by the SEC, have required changes in corporate governance practices and generally increased the disclosure requirements of public companies. For example, as a result of being a reporting company, we are required to file periodic and current reports and other information with the SEC and we have adopted policies regarding disclosure controls and procedures and regularly evaluate those controls and procedures.
The additional costs we continue to incur in connection with becoming a reporting company (expected to be several hundred thousand dollars per year) will continue to further stretch our limited capital resources. Due to our limited resources, we have to allocate resources away from other productive uses in order to continue to comply with our obligations as an SEC reporting company. Further, there is no guarantee that we will have sufficient resources to continue to meet our reporting and filing obligations with the SEC as they come due.
We may not be able to comply with NASDAQ’s continued listing standards.
Our common stock and warrants trade on The NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbols BURL “ATNF” and “ATNFW,” respectively. Notwithstanding such listing, there can be no assurance any broker will be interested in trading our securities. Therefore, it may be difficult to sell your securities if you desire or need to sell them. Our underwriters are not obligated to make a market in our securities, and even they do make a market, they can discontinue market making at any time without notice. Neither we nor the underwriters can provide any assurance that an active and liquid trading market in our securities will develop or, if developed, that such market will continue.
There is also no guarantee that we will be able to maintain our listings on The NASDAQ Capital Market for any period of time by perpetually satisfying NASDAQ’s continued listing requirements. Our failure to continue to meet these requirements may result in our securities being delisted from NASDAQ.
Among the conditions required for continued listing on The NASDAQ Capital Market, NASDAQ requires us to maintain at least $2.5 million in stockholders’ equity or $500,000 in net income over the prior two years or two of the prior three years, to have a majority of independent directors, and to maintain a stock price over $1.00 per share. Our stockholders’ equity may not remain above NASDAQ’s $2.5 million minimum, we may not generate over $500,000 of yearly net income, we may not be able to maintain independent directors, and we may not be able to maintain a stock price over $1.00 per share.
Furthermore, we are required to maintain a majority of independent directors and at least three members on our audit committee. On January 5, 2021, the Company received a letter from the NASDAQ Stock Market, LLC that the Company was no longer in compliance with NASDAQ Listing Rules 5605(b)(1) and 5605(c)(2), which require that the Company’s board of directors be comprised of a majority of independent directors and that the Company have an Audit Committee consisting of at least three independent members, respectively (the “Continued Listing Rules”). NASDAQ provided the Company 45 days, or until February 19, 2021, to submit to NASDAQ a plan detailing how the Company intended to regain compliance with the rules. The Company timely submitted such plan and on March 1, 2021, the Company received notice from NASDAQ that the Company has been granted an extension until June 30, 2021 to regain compliance with the Continued Listing Rules. On May 27, 2021, June 10, 2021 and June 28, 2021, we issued Form 8-Ks announcing that four independent directors will be joining the Board of the Company with two appointments effective on the earlier of (a) the same business day following the filing of this Report with the SEC; and (b) July 2, 2021, and two appointments effective on the same business day following the filing of this Report with the SEC, which we believe will put us in compliance with the above noted NASDAQ Listing Rule.
On April 16, 2021, the Company received a notice from NASDAQ stating that the Company was not in compliance with NASDAQ Listing Rule 5250(c)(1) because it had not yet filed this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 with the SEC by the required date such filing was due. Under NASDAQ rules, the Company had 60 calendar days from the date of the NASDAQ notification letter, or until June 15, 2021, to file this report with the SEC, which report was filed by such required date.
On May 19, 2021, the Company received another notice from NASDAQ stating that the Company is not in compliance with NASDAQ Listing Rule 5250(c)(1) because it has not yet filed its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2021 (the “Q1 2021 Form 10-Q”) with the SEC. Under NASDAQ rules, the Company has 60 calendar days from the date of the initial NASDAQ notification letter, relating to this Annual Report (discussed above), or until June 15, 2021, to file the Q1 2021 Form 10-Q with the SEC. If the Company was unable to file the Q1 2021 Form 10-Q with the SEC by June 15, 2021, the Company was permitted to submit a plan to regain compliance with NASDAQ’s listing rules on or prior to that date, which plan of compliance has been submitted to NASDAQ. The Company timely submitted such plan and on June 22, 2021, and the Company received notice from Nasdaq that the Company has been granted an extension until July 31, 2021, to regain compliance with Nasdaq’s continued listing rule as it relates to the untimely filings. In the event the Company does not regain compliance within the extension period, Nasdaq will provide the Company written notice of the delisting of the Company’s securities, at which time the Company may appeal the decision to a Hearings Panel. However, there can be no assurance that the Company will be able to regain compliance within any extension period granted by NASDAQ.
If we fail to comply with NASDAQ rules and requirements, our stock may be delisted. In addition, even if we demonstrate compliance with the requirements above, we will have to continue to meet other objective and subjective listing requirements to continue to be listed on The NASDAQ Capital Market. Delisting from The NASDAQ Capital Market could make trading our common stock and/or warrants more difficult for investors, potentially leading to declines in our share price and liquidity. Without a NASDAQ Capital Market listing, stockholders may have a difficult time getting a quote for the sale or purchase of our stock, the sale or purchase of our stock would likely be made more difficult and the trading volume and liquidity of our stock could decline. Delisting from The NASDAQ Capital Market could also result in negative publicity and could also make it more difficult for us to raise additional capital. The absence of such a listing may adversely affect the acceptance of our common stock and/or warrants as currency or the value accorded by other parties. Further, if we are delisted, we would also incur additional costs under state blue sky laws in connection with any sales of our securities. These requirements could severely limit the market liquidity of our common stock and/or warrants and the ability of our stockholders to sell our common stock and/or warrants in the secondary market. If our common stock and/or warrants are delisted by NASDAQ, our common stock and/or warrants may be eligible to trade on an over-the-counter quotation system, such as the OTCQB Market, where an investor may find it more difficult to sell our stock or obtain accurate quotations as to the market value of our common stock and/or warrants. In the event our common stock and/or warrants are delisted from The NASDAQ Capital Market, we may not be able to list our common stock and/or warrants on another national securities exchange or obtain quotation on an over-the counter quotation system.
We have identified material weaknesses in our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. If not remediated, our failure to establish and maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting could result in material misstatements in our financial statements and a failure to meet our reporting and financial obligations, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and the trading price of our common stock.
Maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and effective disclosure controls and procedures are necessary for us to produce reliable financial statements. As reported herein under “Controls and Procedures“, we have determined that our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective. Separately, management assessed the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2020, and determined that such internal control over financial reporting were not effective as a result of such assessments. Such determinations were based in part, on our need to restate our financial statements for the three and six and three and nine months ended June 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020, because of errors in such financial statements, which we believe were the result of misrepresentations by and actions of, and are the responsibility of, the management of KBL (none of whom remain employed by the Company), which were identified after such financial statements were filed with the SEC in our quarterly reports for the quarters ended June 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020, which restated financial statements have been filed to date.
A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the Company’s annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. A control deficiency exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, to prevent or detect misstatements on a timely basis.
Maintaining effective disclosure controls and procedures and effective internal control over financial reporting are necessary for us to produce reliable financial statements and the Company is committed to remediating its material weaknesses in such controls as promptly as possible. However, there can be no assurance as to when these material weaknesses will be remediated or that additional material weaknesses will not arise in the future. Any failure to remediate the material weaknesses, or the development of new material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, could result in material misstatements in our financial statements and cause us to fail to meet our reporting and financial obligations, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and the trading price of our common stock, and/or result in litigation against us or our management. In addition, even if we are successful in strengthening our controls and procedures, those controls and procedures may not be adequate to prevent or identify irregularities or facilitate the fair presentation of our financial statements or our periodic reports filed with the SEC.
We may experience adverse impacts on our reported results of operations as a result of adopting new accounting standards or interpretations.
Our implementation of and compliance with changes in accounting rules, including new accounting rules and interpretations, could adversely affect our reported financial position or operating results or cause unanticipated fluctuations in our reported operating results in future periods.
Risks Relating to The JOBS Act
The JOBS Act allows us to postpone the date by which we must comply with certain laws and regulations and to reduce the amount of information provided in reports filed with the SEC. We cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to “emerging growth companies” will make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are and we will remain an “emerging growth company” until the earliest to occur of (i) the last day of the fiscal year during which our total annual revenues equal or exceed $1.07 billion (subject to adjustment for inflation), (ii) the last day of the end of our 2022 fiscal year (5 years from our first public offering), (iii) the date on which we have, during the previous three-year period, issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt, or (iv) the date on which we are deemed a “large accelerated filer” (with at least $700 million in public float) under the Exchange Act. For so long as we remain an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act, we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not “emerging growth companies” as described in further detail in the risk factors below. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we will rely on some or all of these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile. If we avail ourselves of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements, as is currently our plan, our reduced disclosure may make it more difficult for investors and securities analysts to evaluate us and may result in less investor confidence.
Our election not to opt out of the JOBS Act extended accounting transition period may not make our financial statements easily comparable to other companies.
Pursuant to the JOBS Act, as an “emerging growth company”, we can elect to opt out of the extended transition period for any new or revised accounting standards that may be issued by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) or the SEC. We have elected not to opt out of such extended transition period which means that when a standard is issued or revised and it has different application dates for public or private companies, we, as an “emerging growth company”, can adopt the standard for the private company. This may make a comparison of our financial statements with any other public company which is not either an “emerging growth company” nor an “emerging growth company” which has opted out of using the extended transition period, more difficult or impossible as possible different or revised standards may be used.
The JOBS Act also allows us to postpone the date by which we must comply with certain laws and regulations intended to protect investors and to reduce the amount of information provided in reports filed with the SEC.
The JOBS Act is intended to reduce the regulatory burden on “emerging growth companies”. The Company meets the definition of an “emerging growth company” and so long as it qualifies as an “emerging growth company,” it will, among other things:
|●||be exempt from the provisions of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requiring that its independent registered public accounting firm provide an attestation report on the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting;|
|●||be exempt from the “say on pay” provisions (requiring a non-binding stockholder vote to approve compensation of certain executive officers) and the “say on golden parachute” provisions (requiring a non-binding stockholder vote to approve golden parachute arrangements for certain executive officers in connection with mergers and certain other business combinations) of The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) and certain disclosure requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act relating to compensation of Chief Executive Officers;|
|●||be permitted to omit the detailed compensation discussion and analysis from proxy statements and reports filed under the Exchange Act and instead provide a reduced level of disclosure concerning executive compensation; and|
|●||be exempt from any rules that may be adopted by the PCAOB requiring mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report on the financial statements.|
The Company currently intends to take advantage of all of the reduced regulatory and reporting requirements that will be available to it so long as it qualifies as an “emerging growth company”. The Company has elected not to opt out of the extension of time to comply with new or revised financial accounting standards available under Section 102(b)(1) of the JOBS Act. Among other things, this means that the Company’s independent registered public accounting firm will not be required to provide an attestation report on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting so long as it qualifies as an “emerging growth company”, which may increase the risk that weaknesses or deficiencies in the internal control over financial reporting go undetected. Likewise, so long as it qualifies as an “emerging growth company”, the Company may elect not to provide certain information, including certain financial information and certain information regarding compensation of executive officers, which it would otherwise have been required to provide in filings with the SEC, which may make it more difficult for investors and securities analysts to evaluate the Company. As a result, investor confidence in the Company and the market price of its common stock may be adversely affected.
Notwithstanding the above, we are also currently a “smaller reporting company”, meaning that we are not an investment company, an asset-backed issuer, or a majority-owned subsidiary of a parent company that is not a smaller reporting company and have a public float of less than $75 million and annual revenues of less than $50 million during the most recently completed fiscal year. In the event that we are still considered a “smaller reporting company”, at such time are we cease being an “emerging growth company”, the disclosure we will be required to provide in our SEC filings will increase, but will still be less than it would be if we were not considered either an “emerging growth company” or a “smaller reporting company”. Specifically, similar to “emerging growth companies”, “smaller reporting companies” are able to provide simplified executive compensation disclosures in their filings; are exempt from the provisions of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requiring that independent registered public accounting firms provide an attestation report on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting; and have certain other decreased disclosure obligations in their SEC filings, including, among other things, only being required to provide two years of audited financial statements in annual reports. Decreased disclosures in our SEC filings due to our status as an “emerging growth company” or “smaller reporting company” may make it harder for investors to analyze the Company’s results of operations and financial prospects.
General Risk Factors
Provisions in our Certificate of Incorporation and Delaware law may inhibit a takeover of us, which could limit the price investors might be willing to pay in the future for our common stock and could entrench management.
Our Certificate of Incorporation contains provisions that may discourage unsolicited takeover proposals that stockholders may consider to be in their best interests. These provisions include a staggered board of directors and the ability of the board of directors to designate the terms of and issue new series of preferred shares, which may make more difficult the removal of management and may discourage transactions that otherwise could involve payment of a premium over prevailing market prices for our securities. We are also subject to anti-takeover provisions under Delaware law, which could delay or prevent a change of control. Together, these provisions may make more difficult the removal of management and may discourage transactions that otherwise could involve payment of a premium over prevailing market prices for our securities.
Failure to adequately manage our planned aggressive growth strategy may harm our business or increase our risk of failure.
For the foreseeable future, we intend to pursue an aggressive growth strategy for the expansion of our operations through increased product development and marketing. Our ability to rapidly expand our operations will depend upon many factors, including our ability to work in a regulated environment, market value-added products effectively to independent pharmacies, establish and maintain strategic relationships with suppliers, and obtain adequate capital resources on acceptable terms. Any restrictions on our ability to expand may have a materially adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition. Accordingly, we may be unable to achieve our targets for sales growth, and our operations may not be successful or achieve anticipated operating results.
Additionally, our growth may place a significant strain on our managerial, administrative, operational, and financial resources and our infrastructure. Our future success will depend, in part, upon the ability of our senior management to manage growth effectively. This will require us to, among other things:
|●||implement additional management information systems;|
|●||further develop our operating, administrative, legal, financial, and accounting systems and controls;|
|●||hire additional personnel;|
|●||develop additional levels of management within our company;|
|●||locate additional office space;|
|●||maintain close coordination among our engineering, operations, legal, finance, sales and marketing, and client service and support organizations; and|
|●||manage our expanding international operations.|
As a result, we may lack the resources to deploy our services on a timely and cost-effective basis. Failure to accomplish any of these requirements could impair our ability to deliver services in a timely fashion or attract and retain new customers.
Our proprietary information, or that of our customers, suppliers and business partners, may be lost or we may suffer security breaches.
In the ordinary course of our business, we expect to collect and store sensitive data, including valuable and commercially sensitive intellectual property, clinical trial data, its proprietary business information and that of our future customers, suppliers and business partners, and personally identifiable information of our customers, clinical trial subjects and employees, patients, in its data centers and on our networks. The secure processing, maintenance and transmission of this information is critical to our operations. Despite our security measures, our information technology and infrastructure may be vulnerable to attacks by hackers or breached due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions. Any such breach could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. Any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability under laws that protect the privacy of personal information, regulatory penalties, disrupt our operations, damage our reputation, and cause a loss of confidence in our products and our ability to conduct clinical trials, which could adversely affect our business and reputation and lead to delays in gaining regulatory approvals for our future product candidates. Although we maintain business interruption insurance coverage, our insurance might not cover all losses from any future breaches of our systems.
Failure of our information technology systems, including cybersecurity attacks or other data security incidents, could significantly disrupt the operation of our business.
Our business increasingly depends on the use of information technologies, which means that certain key areas such as research and development, production and sales are to a large extent dependent on our information systems or those of third-party providers. Our ability to execute our business plan and to comply with regulators’ requirements with respect to data control and data integrity, depends, in part, on the continued and uninterrupted performance of our information technology systems, or IT systems and the IT systems supplied by third-party service providers. As information systems and the use of software and related applications by our company, our business partners, suppliers, and customers become more cloud-based, there has been an increase in global cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats, including more sophisticated and targeted cyber-related attacks that pose a risk to the security of our information systems and networks and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of data and information. In addition, our IT systems are vulnerable to damage from a variety of sources, including telecommunications or network failures, malicious human acts and natural disasters. Moreover, despite network security and backup measures, some of our servers are potentially vulnerable to physical or electronic break-ins, computer viruses and similar disruptive problems. Despite the precautionary measures we and our third-party service providers have taken to prevent unanticipated problems that could affect our IT systems, a successful cybersecurity attack or other data security incident could result in the misappropriation and/or loss of confidential or personal information, create system interruptions, or deploy malicious software that attacks our systems. It is also possible that a cybersecurity attack might not be noticed for some period of time. In addition, sustained or repeated system failures or problems arising during the upgrade of any of our IT systems that interrupt our ability to generate and maintain data, and in particular to operate our proprietary technology platform, could adversely affect our ability to operate our business. The occurrence of a cybersecurity attack or incident could result in business interruptions from the disruption of our IT systems, or negative publicity resulting in reputational damage with our stockholders and other stakeholders and/or increased costs to prevent, respond to or mitigate cybersecurity events. In addition, the unauthorized dissemination of sensitive personal information or proprietary or confidential information could expose us or other third-parties to regulatory fines or penalties, litigation and potential liability, or otherwise harm our business.
We may acquire other companies which could divert our management’s attention, result in additional dilution to our stockholders and otherwise disrupt our operations and harm our operating results.
We may in the future seek to acquire businesses, products or technologies that we believe could complement or expand our product offerings, enhance our technical capabilities or otherwise offer growth opportunities. The pursuit of potential acquisitions may divert the attention of management and cause us to incur various expenses in identifying, investigating and pursuing suitable acquisitions, whether or not they are consummated. If we acquire additional businesses, we may not be able to integrate the acquired personnel, operations and technologies successfully, effectively manage the combined business following the acquisition or realize anticipated cost savings or synergies. We also may not achieve the anticipated benefits from the acquired business due to a number of factors, including:
|●||incurrence of acquisition-related costs;|
|●||diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns;|
|●||unanticipated costs or liabilities associated with the acquisition;|
|●||harm to our existing business relationships with collaboration partners as a result of the acquisition;|
|●||harm to our brand and reputation;|
|●||the potential loss of key employees;|
|●||use of resources that are needed in other parts of its business; and|
|●||use of substantial portions of our available cash to consummate the acquisition.|
In the future, if our acquisitions do not yield expected returns, we may be required to take charges to our operating results arising from the impairment assessment process. Acquisitions may also result in dilutive issuances of equity securities or the incurrence of debt, which could adversely affect our operating results. In addition, if an acquired business fails to meet our expectations, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected.
If we make any acquisitions, they may disrupt or have a negative impact on our business.
If we make acquisitions in the future, funding permitting, which may not be available on favorable terms, if at all, we could have difficulty integrating the acquired company’s assets, personnel and operations with our own. We do not anticipate that any acquisitions or mergers we may enter into in the future would result in a change of control of the Company. In addition, the key personnel of the acquired business may not be willing to work for us. We cannot predict the effect expansion may have on our core business. Regardless of whether we are successful in making an acquisition, the negotiations could disrupt our ongoing business, distract our management and employees and increase our expenses. In addition to the risks described above, acquisitions are accompanied by a number of inherent risks, including, without limitation, the following:
|●||the difficulty of integrating acquired products, services or operations;|
|●||the potential disruption of the ongoing businesses and distraction of our management and the management of acquired companies;|
|●||difficulties in maintaining uniform standards, controls, procedures and policies;|
|●||the potential impairment of relationships with employees and customers as a result of any integration of new management personnel;|
|●||the potential inability or failure to achieve additional sales and enhance our customer base through cross-marketing of the products to new and existing customers;|
|●||the effect of any government regulations which relate to the business acquired;|
|●||potential unknown liabilities associated with acquired businesses or product lines, or the need to spend significant amounts to retool, reposition or modify the marketing and sales of acquired products or operations, or the defense of any litigation, whether or not successful, resulting from actions of the acquired company prior to our acquisition; and|
|●||potential expenses under the labor, environmental and other laws of various jurisdictions.|
Our business could be severely impaired if and to the extent that we are unable to succeed in addressing any of these risks or other problems encountered in connection with an acquisition, many of which cannot be presently identified. These risks and problems could disrupt our ongoing business, distract our management and employees, increase our expenses and adversely affect our results of operations.
We may apply working capital and future funding to uses that ultimately do not improve our operating results or increase the value of our securities.
In general, we have complete discretion over the use of our working capital and any new investment capital we may obtain in the future. Because of the number and variety of factors that could determine our use of funds, our ultimate expenditure of funds (and their uses) may vary substantially from our current intended operating plan for such funds.
We intend to use existing working capital and future funding to support the development of our products and services, product purchases in our wholesale distribution division, the expansion of our marketing, or the support of operations to educate our customers. We will also use capital for market and network expansion, acquisitions, and general working capital purposes. However, we do not have more specific plans for the use and expenditure of our capital. Our management has broad discretion to use any or all of our available capital reserves. Our capital could be applied in ways that do not improve our operating results or otherwise increase the value of a stockholder’s investment.
We have never paid or declared any dividends on our common stock.
We have never paid or declared any dividends on our common stock or preferred stock. Likewise, we do not anticipate paying, in the near future, dividends or distributions on our common stock. Any future dividends on common stock will be declared at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend, among other things, on our earnings, our financial requirements for future operations and growth, and other facts as we may then deem appropriate. Since we do not anticipate paying cash dividends on our common stock, return on your investment, if any, will depend solely on an increase, if any, in the market value of our common stock.
Stockholders may be diluted significantly through our efforts to obtain financing and satisfy obligations through the issuance of additional shares of our common stock.
Wherever possible, our board of directors will attempt to use non-cash consideration to satisfy obligations. In many instances, we believe that the non-cash consideration will consist of restricted shares of our common stock or where shares are to be issued to our officers, directors and applicable consultants. Our board of directors has authority, without action or vote of the stockholders, but subject to NASDAQ rules and regulations (which generally require stockholder approval for any transactions which would result in the issuance of more than 20% of our then outstanding shares of common stock or voting rights representing over 20% of our then outstanding shares of stock), to issue all or part of the authorized but unissued shares of common stock. In addition, we may attempt to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock, possibly at a discount to market. These actions will result in dilution of the ownership interests of existing stockholders, which may further dilute common stock book value, and that dilution may be material. Such issuances may also serve to enhance existing management’s ability to maintain control of the Company because the shares may be issued to parties or entities committed to supporting existing management.
Our growth depends in part on the success of our strategic relationships with third parties.
In order to grow our business, we anticipate that we will need to continue to depend on our relationships with third parties, including our technology providers. Identifying partners, and negotiating and documenting relationships with them, requires significant time and resources. Our competitors may be effective in providing incentives to third parties to favor their products or services, or utilization of, our products and services. In addition, acquisitions of our partners by our competitors could result in a decrease in the number of our current and potential customers. If we are unsuccessful in establishing or maintaining our relationships with third parties, our ability to compete in the marketplace or to grow our revenue could be impaired and our results of operations may suffer. Even if we are successful, we cannot assure you that these relationships will result in increased customer use of our products or increased revenue.
Claims, litigation, government investigations, and other proceedings may adversely affect our business and results of operations.
We are currently subject to, and expect to continue to be regularly subject to, actual and threatened claims, litigation, reviews, investigations, and other proceedings. Any of these types of proceedings may have an adverse effect on us because of legal costs, disruption of our operations, diversion of management resources, negative publicity, and other factors. Our current legal proceedings are described in “Note 14. Commitments and Contingencies”, under the heading “Litigation and Other Loss Contingencies”, in the consolidated financial statements included herein beginning on page F-1. The outcomes of these matters are inherently unpredictable and subject to significant uncertainties. Determining legal reserves and possible losses from such matters involves judgment and may not reflect the full range of uncertainties and unpredictable outcomes. Until the final resolution of such matters, we may be exposed to losses in excess of the amount recorded, and such amounts could be material. Should any of our estimates and assumptions change or prove to have been incorrect, it could have a material effect on our business, consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. In addition, it is possible that a resolution of one or more such proceedings, including as a result of a settlement, could require us to make substantial future payments, prevent us from offering certain products or services, require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business, requiring development of non-infringing or otherwise altered products or technologies, damaging our reputation, or otherwise having a material effect on our operations.
For all of the foregoing reasons and others set forth herein, an investment in our securities involves a high degree of risk.
|ITEM 1B.||UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS|
|ITEM 3.||LEGAL PROCEEDINGS|
From time to time, we may be a party to litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business.
Such current litigation or other legal proceedings are described in, and incorporated by reference in, this “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K from, “Note 14. Commitments and Contingencies”, under the heading “Litigation and Other Loss Contingencies”, in the consolidated financial statements included herein beginning on page F-1. The Company believes that the resolution of currently pending matters will not individually or in the aggregate have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations. However, assessment of the current litigation or other legal claims could change in light of the discovery of facts not presently known to the Company or by judges, juries or other finders of fact, which are not in accord with management’s evaluation of the possible liability or outcome of such litigation or claims.
Additionally, the outcome of litigation is inherently uncertain. If one or more legal matters were resolved against the Company in a reporting period for amounts in excess of management’s expectations, the Company’s financial condition and operating results for that reporting period could be materially adversely affected.
|ITEM 4.||MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES|
|ITEM 5.||MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES|
Our common stock, warrants, rights and units were previously listed on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbols “KBLM”, “KBLMW”, “KBLMR” and “KBLMU”, respectively. Our units commenced public trading on April 7, 2017 and our common stock, warrants and rights each commenced separate public trading on May 2, 2017. Our units automatically separated into the component securities upon consummation of the Business Combination and, as a result, no longer trade as a separate security, and our common stock and warrants began trading on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbols “ATNF” and “ATNFW,” respectively. Prior the Closing of the Business Combination, each unit consisted of one share of our common stock, one right convertible into 1/10th of one share of our common stock, and one warrant to purchase one half of one share of our common stock at an exercise price of $11.50 per whole share.
As of July 2, 2021, there were 30,768,873 shares of common stock issued and outstanding held by 112 holders of record, and 8,628,908 shares of common stock underlying 14,630,158 warrants outstanding to purchase shares of our common stock, with a weighted average exercise price of $9.52 per share, held by 19 holders of record.
Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans
We have reserved 3,718,140 shares of our common stock for grant under our 2020 Omnibus Incentive Plan (“OIP”), of which 1,877,320 shares are available for future awards as of the date of this Report. The OIP is intended to be a vital component of our compensation program and the primary equity plan we use to grant equity-based incentive awards to our directors, officers, employees and consultants. Our Board believes that granting equity awards under the OIP will serve to align the interests of the key services providers of the Company and its subsidiaries with the Company’s stockholders, and that it would be in the best interest of the Company and its stockholders to make such grants.
We have never paid or declared any cash dividends on our common stock and do not anticipate paying cash dividends in the foreseeable future. We anticipate that we will retain all of our future earnings for use in the operation of our business and for general corporate purposes. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors. Accordingly, investors must rely on sales of their common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any future gains on their investments.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities
The disclosures below include information on recent sales of unregistered securities during the three months ended December 31, 2020 and from the period from January 1, 2021 to the filing date of this report, and do not include information which has previously been included in a Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q or in a Current Report on Form 8-K:
In November 2020:
|●||250,000 restricted shares of common stock were issued to broker-dealers to satisfy past obligations arising from advisory work;|
|●||63,269 restricted shares of common stock were issued to insiders (Sir Marc Feldmann and Lawrence Steinman) as a result of conversion of $239,320 of convertible debt; and|
|●||10,360 restricted shares of common stock were issued to non-related parties as a result of conversion of $39,189 of convertible debt.|
In March 2021
|●||We issued 158,382 shares of common stock upon the conversion of $432,384 of outstanding convertible notes at a conversion price of $2.73 per share, pursuant to the terms of such notes;|
|●||We issued 1,815 shares of common stock to an external consultant for investor relations services to be rendered;|
|●||We issued 22,870 shares of common stock to external consultants of the Company for services rendered, at a price of $6.34 per share;|
|●||2,503 restricted shares of common stock were issued for director fees due to Donald A. McGovern, Jr. our lead independent director in consideration for services rendered; and|
|●||2,101 restricted shares of common stock were issued for director fees due to Larry Gold, an independent director in consideration for services rendered.|
In April 2021
|●||138,414 restricted shares of common stock were issued for services rendered in connection with a Bonus to Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal, our Chairman of our Clinical Advisory Committee (including 100,699 shares, the issuance of which was previously reported on a Current Report on Form 8-K); and|
|●||We issued 37,715 shares of common stock to Dr. Jagdeep Nanchahal, a consultant, pursuant to the terms of his consulting agreement, as partial consideration for a bonus owed to Dr. Nanchahal.|
* * * * *
We claim an exemption from registration pursuant to Section 4(a)(2) and/or Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act, for such issuances described above, since the foregoing issuances did not involve a public offering, the recipients were (a) “accredited investors”; and/or (b) had access to similar documentation and information as would be required in a Registration Statement under the Securities Act. The securities were offered without any general solicitation by us or our representatives. The securities are subject to transfer restrictions, and the certificates evidencing the securities contain an appropriate legend stating that such securities have not been registered under the Securities Act and may not be offered or sold absent registration or pursuant to an exemption therefrom and such securities may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an exemption from registration under the Securities Act and any applicable state securities laws.
We claim an exemption from registration provided by Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act, for such note conversions, as the securities were exchanged by us with our existing security holders in transactions where no commission or other remuneration was paid or given directly or indirectly for soliciting such exchange.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Special Voting Shares
We have two classes of preferred stock designated, named our Class C Special Voting Shares and our Class K Special Voting Shares (collectively, the “Special Voting Shares”), with the rights and preferences specified below.
The Special Voting Shares have a par value of $0.0001 per share. The rights and preferences of each Special Voting Shares consists of the following:
|●||The right to vote in all circumstances in which our common stock have the right to vote, with the common stock as one class;|
|●||The Special Voting Shares entitle the holder Odyssey Trust Company (the Trustee) to an aggregate number of votes equal to the number of shares of common stock that were issuable to the holders of the previously outstanding shares of CannBioRex Purchaseco ULC and/or Katexco Purchaseco ULC, Canadian subsidiaries of 180 (the “Exchangeable Shares”);|
|●||The holder of the Special Voting Shares (and, indirectly, the holders of the Exchangeable Shares) has the same rights as the holders of the common stock as to notices, reports, financial statements and attendance at all stockholder meetings;|
|●||No entitlement to dividends;|
|●||The holder of the Special Voting Shares is not entitled to any portion of any related distribution upon windup, dissolution or liquidation of the Company; and|
|●||The Company may cancel the Special Voting Shares when there are no Exchangeable Shares outstanding and no option or other commitment of CannBioRex Purchaseco ULC and Katexco Purchaseco ULC which could require either CannBioRex Purchaseco ULC and Katexco Purchaseco ULC to issue more Exchangeable Shares.|
As set forth above, the holders of the Exchangeable Shares, through the applicable Special Voting Share, have voting rights and other attributes corresponding to the Common Stock. The Exchangeable Shares provide an opportunity for certain former Canadian resident holders of CBR Pharma or Katexco securities to obtain a deferral of taxable capital gains for Canadian income tax purposes in connection with the Reorganization.
|ITEM 6.||SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA|
A registrant such as the Company, that qualifies as a smaller reporting company, as defined by §229.10(f)(1), is not required to provide the information required by this Item.
|ITEM 7.||MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS|
The following discussion and analysis of the results of operations and financial condition of 180 Life Sciences Corp. as of and for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the notes to those consolidated financial statements that are included elsewhere in this Annual Report. This Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations contains statements that are forward-looking. See “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information“ above. Actual results could differ materially because of the factors discussed in “Risk Factors” elsewhere in this Annual Report, and other factors that we may not know.
Organization of MD&A
Our Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (the “MD&A”) is provided in addition to the accompanying consolidated financial statements and notes to assist readers in understanding our results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows. MD&A is organized as follows:
|●||Business Overview and Recent Events|
|●||Results of Operations. An analysis of our financial results comparing the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 and 2019.|
|●||Liquidity and Capital Resources. An analysis of changes in our balance sheets and cash flows and discussion of our financial condition.|
|●||Critical Accounting Policies. Accounting estimates that we believe are important to understanding the assumptions and judgments incorporated in our reported financial results and forecasts.|
Business Overview and Recent Events
On November 6, 2020 (“Closing Date”), the previously announced Business Combination was consummated following a special meeting of stockholders, where the stockholders of KBL considered and approved, among other matters, a proposal to adopt the Business Combination Agreement. Pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, KBL Merger Sub merged with 180, with 180 continuing as the surviving entity and becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of KBL. As part of the Business Combination, KBL issued 17,500,000 shares of common stock and equivalents to the stockholders of 180, in exchange for all of the outstanding capital stock of 180. The Business Combination became effective November 6, 2020 and 180 filed a Certificate of Amendment of its Certificate of Incorporation in Delaware to change its name to 180 Life Corp., and KBL changed its name to 180 Life Sciences Corp.
This MD&A and the related financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020 primarily covers the historical operations of 180 to the Closing Date (November 6, 2020) and then the combined operations of the two entities from the Closing Date to December 31, 2020. The Business Combination was accounted for as a reverse recapitalization with the assets and liabilities of KBL being consolidated commencing with the Closing Date. Thus, the results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2020, only include the combined results after the Closing Date. See Note 5 - Business Combination to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements included at the end of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
This MD&A and the related financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily covers the historical operations of Katexco to the date of combination on July 16, 2019 and then for the combined operations of the three operating entities from the Closing Date to December 31, 2020. The Reorganization was accounted for as a reverse merger with the assets and liabilities of CBR Pharma and 180 LP valued and recorded as of the Closing Date under purchase accounting. Thus, the results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2020, only include the combined results after the Closing Date. See Note 4 - Reorganization and Recapitalization to the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements included at the end of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Following the Closing of the Business Combination, we transitioned our operations to those of 180, which is a clinical stage biotechnology company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, focused on the development of therapeutics for unmet medical needs in chronic pain, inflammation, fibrosis and other inflammatory diseases, where anti-TNF therapy will provide a clear benefit to patients, by employing innovative research, and, where appropriate, combination therapy. We have three product development platforms:
|●||fibrosis and anti-tumor necrosis factor (“TNF”);|
|●||drugs which are derivatives of cannabidiol (“CBD”); and|
|●||alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (“α7nAChR”).|
We have several future product candidates in development, including one product candidate in a Phase 2b clinical trial in the United Kingdom for Dupuytren’s disease, a condition that affects the development of fibrous connective tissue in the palm of the hand. 180 was founded by several world-leading scientists in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.
We intend to invest resources to successfully complete the clinical programs that are underway, discover new drug candidates, and develop new molecules to build up on its existing pipeline to address unmet clinical needs. The product candidates are designed via a platform comprised of defined unit operations and technologies. This work is performed in a research and development environment that evaluates and assesses variability in each step of the process in order to define the most reliable production conditions.
We may rely on third-party CMOs and other third parties for the manufacturing and processing of the product candidates in the future. We believe the use of contract manufacturing and testing for the first clinical product candidates is cost-effective and has allowed us to rapidly prepare for clinical trials in accordance with its development plans. We expect that third-party manufacturers will be capable of providing and processing sufficient quantities of these product candidates to meet anticipated clinical trial demands.
In December 2019, a new strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in Mainland China and during the first quarter of 2020 the virus had spread to over 150 countries, resulting in a global pandemic. This COVID-19 pandemic and the public health responses to contain it have resulted in global recessionary conditions, which did not exist at December 31, 2019. Among other effects, government-mandated closures, stay-at-home orders and other related measures have significantly impacted global economic activity and business investment in general. A continuation or worsening of the levels of market disruption and volatility seen in the recent past could have an adverse effect on our ability to access capital, and on our business, results of operations and financial condition. We have been closely monitoring the developments and have taken active measures to protect the health of our employees, their families, and our communities. The ultimate impact on the 2021 fiscal year and beyond will depend heavily on the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health responses, including government-mandated closures, stay-at-home orders and social distancing mandates, as well as the substance and pace of macroeconomic recovery, all of which are uncertain and difficult to predict considering the rapidly evolving landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health responses to contain it. As of December 31, 2020, COVID-19 has delayed and paused patient follow ups in one of our clinical trials to the end of 2021, additionally COVID-19 has delayed the initiation of certain clinical trials.
Close of Business Combination
On November 6, 2020 (the “Closing Date”), the Company consummated the previously announced Business Combination following a special meeting of stockholders held on November 5, 2020, where the stockholders of the Company considered and approved, among other matters, a proposal to adopt the Business Combination Agreement (as amended, the “Business Combination Agreement”), dated as of July 25, 2019. Pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, among other things, a subsidiary of the Company merged with and into 180, with 180 continuing as the surviving entity and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company (the “Merger”). The Merger became effective on November 6, 2020. The Business Combination was accounted for as a reverse recapitalization of 180. All of 180’s capital stock outstanding immediately prior to the merger was exchanged for (i) 15,736,348 shares of 180LS common stock, (ii) 2 shares of Class C and Class K Special Voting Shares exchangeable into 1,763,652 shares of 180LS common stock which are presented as outstanding in the accompanying Statement of Changes in Stockholders’ Equity (Deficiency) due to the reverse recapitalization. The Company’s 6,928,645 outstanding shares of common stock are presented as being issued on the date of the Business Combination.
On February 19, 2021, the Company entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement with a number of institutional investors (the “Purchasers”) pursuant to which the Company agreed to sell to the Purchasers an aggregate of 2,564,000 shares (the “Shares”) of the Company’s common stock and warrants to purchase up to an aggregate of 2,564,000 shares of the Company’s common stock (the “Warrants”), at a combined purchase price of $4.55 per Share and accompanying Warrant (the “Offering”). Aggregate gross proceeds from the Offering were approximately $11.7 million, prior to deducting placement agent fees and estimated offering expenses payable by the Company. Net proceeds to the Company from the Offering, after deducting the placement agent fees and offering expenses payable by the Company, were approximately $10.8 million. The Offering closed on February 23, 2021.
Maxim Group LLC (the “Placement Agent”) acted as exclusive placement agent in connection with the Offering pursuant to an Engagement Letter between the Company and the Placement Agent dated January 26, 2021 (as amended on February 18, 2021). Pursuant to the Engagement Letter, the Placement Agent received a commission equal to seven percent (7%) of the aggregate gross proceeds of the Offering, or $816,634.
Conversion of Bridge Notes
On March 8, 2021, the holders of the Company’s convertible bridge notes, which were issued in December 27, 2019 and January 3, 2020 to various purchasers, converted an aggregate of $432,384, which included accrued interest of $66,633 owed under such convertible bridge notes, into an aggregate of 158,383 shares of common stock pursuant to the terms of such notes, as amended, at a conversion price of $2.73 per share.
Convertible Debt Conversions
From November 27, 2020 to February 5, 2021, the holders of the Company’s convertible promissory notes converted an aggregate of $4,782,107 owed under such convertible notes into an aggregate of 1,986,751 shares of common stock, pursuant to the terms of such notes, as amended, at conversion prices of between $2.00 and $3.29 per share.
On November 6, 2020, the Company issued Series A convertible preferred stock for gross proceeds of $3,000,000. From November 27, 2020 to December 18, 2020, the holders of the Series A convertible preferred stock converted an aggregate conversion amount of $3,666,667 into an aggregate of 1,619,144 shares of common stock, pursuant to the terms of the agreement, as amended, at conversion prices of between $2.24 and $2.31 per share.
We claim an exemption from registration pursuant to Section 4(a)(2) and/or Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act, for such issuances described above, since the foregoing issuances did not involve a public offering, the recipients were (a) “accredited investors”; and/or (b) had access to similar documentation and information as would be required in a Registration Statement under the Securities Act. The securities were offered without any general solicitation by us or our representatives. The securities are subject to transfer restrictions, and the certificates evidencing the securities contain an appropriate legend stating that such securities have not been registered under the Securities Act and may not be offered or sold absent registration or pursuant to an exemption therefrom and such securities may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an exemption from registration under the Securities Act and any applicable state securities laws.
We claim an exemption from registration provided by Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act, for such note conversions, as the securities were exchanged by us with our existing security holders in transactions where no commission or other remuneration was paid or given directly or indirectly for soliciting such exchange.
See Note 18 – Subsequent Events to the audited financial statements included at the end of this Report for a more detailed discussion of these matters and other events subsequent to December 31, 2020.
Significant Financial Statement Components
Research and Development
To date, 180’s research and development expenses have related primarily to discovery efforts and preclinical and clinical development of its three product platforms: fibrosis and anti-TNF; drugs which are derivatives of CBD, and α7nAChR. Research and development expenses consist primarily of costs associated with those three product platforms, which include:
|●||expenses incurred under agreements with 180’s collaboration partners and third-party contract organizations, investigative clinical trial sites that conduct research and development activities on its behalf, and consultants;|
|●||costs related to production of clinical materials, including fees paid to contract manufacturers;|
|●||laboratory and vendor expenses related to the execution of preclinical and clinical trials;|
|●||employee-related expenses, which include salaries, benefits and stock-based compensation; and|
|●||facilities and other expenses, which include expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities, depreciation and amortization expense and other supplies.|
We expense all research and development costs in the periods in which they are incurred. We accrue for costs incurred as services are provided by monitoring the status of each project and the invoices received from its external service providers. We adjust our accrual as actual costs become known. When contingent milestone payments are owed to third parties under research and development arrangements or license agreements, the milestone payment obligations are expensed when the milestone results are achieved.
Research and development activities are central to our business model. Product candidates in later stages of clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of clinical development, primarily due to the increased size and duration of later-stage clinical trials. We expect that research and development expenses will increase over the next several years as clinical programs progress and as we seek to initiate clinical trials of additional product candidates. It is also expected that increased research and development expenses will be incurred as additional product candidates are selectively identified and developed. However, it is difficult to determine with certainty the duration and completion costs of current or future preclinical programs and clinical trials of product candidates.
The duration, costs and timing of clinical trials and development of product candidates will depend on a variety of factors that include, but are not limited to, the following:
|●||per patient trial costs;|
|●||the number of patients that participate in the trials;|
|●||the number of sites included in the trials;|
|●||the countries in which the trials are conducted;|
|●||the length of time required to enroll eligible patients;|
|●||the number of doses that patients receive;|
|●||the drop-out or discontinuation rates of patients;|
|●||potential additional safety monitoring or other studies requested by regulatory agencies;|
|●||the duration of patient follow-up;|
|●||and the efficacy and safety profile of the product candidates.|
In addition, the probability of success for each product candidate will depend on numerous factors, including competition, manufacturing capability and commercial viability. We will determine which programs to pursue and fund in response to the scientific and clinical success of each product candidate, as well as an assessment of each product candidate’s commercial potential.
Because the product candidates are still in clinical and preclinical development and the outcome of these efforts is uncertain, we cannot estimate the actual amounts necessary to successfully complete the development and commercialization of product candidates or whether, or when, we may achieve profitability. Due to the early-stage nature of these programs, we do not track costs on a project-by-project basis. As these programs become more advanced, we intend to track the external and internal cost of each program.
General and Administrative
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and other staff-related costs, including stock-based compensation for shares of common stock issued to founders for personnel in executive, commercial, finance, accounting, legal, investor relations, facilities, business development and human resources functions and include vesting conditions.
Other significant general and administrative costs include costs relating to facilities and overhead costs, legal fees relating to corporate and patent matters, insurance, investor relations costs, fees for accounting and consulting services, and other general and administrative costs. General and administrative costs are expensed as incurred, and we accrue amounts for services provided by third parties related to the above expenses by monitoring the status of services provided and receiving estimates from our service providers and adjusting our accruals as actual costs become known.
It is expected that the general and administrative expenses will increase over the next several years to support our continued research and development activities, potential manufacturing activities, potential commercialization of its product candidates and the increased costs of operating as a public company. These increases are anticipated to include increased costs related to the hiring of additional personnel, developing commercial infrastructure, fees to outside consultants, lawyers and accountants, and increased costs associated with being a public company, as well as expenses related to services associated with maintaining compliance with NASDAQ listing rules and SEC requirements, insurance and investor relations costs.
Other income primarily represents fees earned for research and development work performed for other companies, some of which are related parties.
Interest expense consists primarily of interest expense related to debt instruments.
Gain (Loss) on Extinguishment of Convertible Notes
Gain (loss) on extinguishment of convertible notes represents the shortfall (excess) of the reacquisition cost of convertible notes as compared to their carrying value.
Change in Fair Value of Derivative Liabilities
Change in fair value of derivative liabilities represents the non-cash change in fair value of derivative liabilities during the reporting period.
Change in Fair Value of Accrued Issuable Equity
Change in fair value of accrued issuable equity represents the non-cash change in fair value of accrued equity prior to its formal issuance.
CONSOLIDATED RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Consolidated Results of Operations
For the Year Ended December 31, 2020 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2019
|For the Years Ended|
|Research and development||$||2,217,371||$||1,981,299|
|Research and development - related parties||75,633||54,020|
|General and administrative||3,169,260||5,607,808|
|General and administrative - related parties||185,848||286,745|
|Modification of stock award - related party||-||12,959,360|
|Rental income - related parties||-||(25,946||)|
|Total Operating Expenses||5,648,112||20,863,286|
|Loss From Operations||(5,648,112||)||(20,863,286||)|
|Other (Expense) Income:|
|Gain (loss) on sale and disposal of property and equipment||(37,174||)||1,714|
|Other income - related parties||240,000||552,329|
|Interest expense - related parties||(84,550||)||(23,074||)|
|Loss on extinguishment of convertible notes payable, net||(2,580,655||)||(703,188||)|
|Change in fair value of derivative liabilities||(1,816,309||)||-|
|Change in fair value of accrued issuable equity||9,405||(327,879||)|
|Change in fair value of accrued issuable equity - related parties||-||(3,881,819||)|
|Total Other Expense, Net||(5,256,373||)||(4,540,256||)|
|Loss Before Income Taxes||(10,904,485||)||(25,403,542||)|
|Income tax benefit||20,427||9,496|
Research and Development
During the year ended December 31, 2020, we incurred research and development expenses of $2,217,371 compared to $1,981,299 incurred for the year ended December 30, 2019, representing an increase of $236,072 or 12%. The increase includes a $1,374,000 decrease in research and development expenses related to the temporary pausing of drug discovery services in 2020 provided by Evotec International GmbH in connection with a research and development agreement, a decrease in research and development expenses related to a reclassification of $109,000 in connection with 2018 tax credits and $327,000 in connection with estimated 2020 tax credits, partially offset by research and development agreements amended and entered into with Yissum during 2020 related to the formulation of cannabinoid metal salts and the evaluation of potential drugs in inflammation and pain of $855,000, an increase of $1,058,000 related to stock compensation paid to Yissum Research Development Company, an increase of $192,000 due to two new research and development agreements that were entered into that relate to fibrosis and treatment of inflammation and respiratory viruses, and $58,212 due to a decrease of miscellaneous research and development expenses.
Research and Development – Related Parties
During the year ended December 31, 2020, we incurred research and development expenses – related parties of $75,633, representing twelve months of expenses in connection with the Company’s consulting fees for clinical research versus six months of expense (approximately $54,000) recognized during 2019.
General and Administrative
During the year ended December 31, 2020, we incurred general and administrative expenses of $3,169,260 compared to $5,607,808 incurred for the year ended December 30, 2019, representing a decrease of $2,438,548 or 43%. The decrease is attributable to a swing from bad debt expense to bad debt recoveries in the amount of approximately $2,400,000, a decrease in travel expenses of approximately $394,000 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, a decrease in professional and consulting fees of $196,000 primarily attributable to increased merger and reorganization fees in 2019, partially offset by an increase in compensation of approximately $212,000 for services provided by directors, officers or greater than 10% stockholders, and an increase of $145,000 related to new patents, in connection with amounts paid to Stanford University of $33,000 for anti-inflammatory and therapeutic technology, amounts paid to our IP counsels of $54,000 related to patent filings and patent application filings, and amounts paid to a legal firm for $70,000 related to treatment research.