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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _____ to _____
Commission File Number: 001-36296
Sesen Bio, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware26-2025616
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
245 First Street, Suite 1800
Cambridge, MA
02142
(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (617444-8550
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $0.001 par valueSESNThe Nasdaq Global Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:    None 
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 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 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit 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,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
Accelerated filerEmerging growth company
Non-accelerated filer
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 common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, computed by reference to the closing price of the common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market on June 30, 2021, the last business day of the registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter, was approximately $870.7 million.
There were 199,463,645 shares of the registrant's common stock outstanding as of February 21, 2022.

Documents Incorporated by Reference
Portions of the registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement relating to the 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders ("2022 Proxy Statement"), which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.




SESEN BIO, INC.
Annual Report on Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year ended December 31, 2021
Table of Contents
  Page
Forward-looking Statements
Risk Factors Summary
PART I
Item 1.Business.
Item 1A.Risk Factors.
Item 1B.Unresolved Staff Comments.
Item 2.Properties.
Item 3.Legal Proceedings.
Item 4.Mine Safety Disclosures.
PART II
Item 5.Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Item 6.[Reserved.]
Item 7.Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
Item 7A.Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.
Item 8.Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
Item 9.Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure.
Item 9A.Controls and Procedures.
Item 9B.Other Information.
Item 9C.Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections.
PART III
Item 10.Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance.
Item 11.Executive Compensation.
Item 12.Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters.
Item 13.Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence.
85
Item 14.Principal Accountant Fees and Services.
PART IV
Item 15.Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules.
Item 16.Form 10-K Summary.

Unless the context otherwise requires, all references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to "Sesen," the “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” include Sesen Bio, Inc. and its subsidiaries.
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FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including statements regarding our strategy, future operations, future product research or development, future financial position, future revenues, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management, are forward-looking statements. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “goals,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “target,” “potential,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “should,” "contemplate," “continue” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words.
The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, among other things, statements about:
our plans and ability to resolve the issues identified in the complete response letter (“CRL”) we received from the US Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) regarding our Biologics License Application (“BLA”) for Vicineum™ for the treatment of bacillus Calmette-Guérin (“BCG”)-unresponsive non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (“NMIBC”);
our plans and ability to resolve the concerns identified in the European Medicines Agency’s (“EMA”) Withdrawal Assessment Report related to our marketing authorization application (“MAA”) for Vysyneum™ (the “EMA Withdrawal Report”);
our belief that we have a clear understanding of what additional information regarding chemistry, manufacturing and controls ("CMC") is required for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum;
our ability to utilize Vicineum manufactured during process validation for any future clinical trials needed to address issues raised in the CRL, including an additional Phase 3 clinical trial, and that any such future clinical trials can proceed while addressing CMC issues raised in the CRL;
our expectation to discuss the study protocol for an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive carcinoma in situ (“CIS”) of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in a Type C Meeting with the FDA scheduled for March 28, 2022 (“Type C Meeting”);
our expectations regarding an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG to address questions related to clinical matters raised in the CRL;
our intentions to use the information from the Type A Meetings following the CRL we received regarding our BLA for Vicineum to determine the appropriate path forward with regulators;
our plans and ability to resubmit a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG to the FDA following the issuance of the CRL by the FDA, and if approved by the FDA, our ability to commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
our plans and ability to resume pursuing regulatory approval of Vysyneum (the proprietary brand name that was conditionally approved by the EMA for oportuzumab monatox in the European Union) of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in the European Union when there is more clarity from the FDA on next steps for Vicineum in the US;
our intentions to work closely with the FDA to understand next steps for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the US;
our intentions to work closely with the EMA to understand next steps for Vysyneumfor the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the European Union;
the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;
our expected future loss and accumulated deficit levels;
the difficulties and expenses associated with obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the United States, the European Union and other non-US jurisdictions, and the labeling under any approval we may obtain;
our projected financial position and estimated cash burn rate;
our belief that we will have sufficient future cash flows from additional geographic regions outside the US to support the value of our goodwill and EU indefinite-lived, acquired in-process research and development ("IPR&D");
our plans to continue to evaluate timelines for commercialization and probability of success of development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
our estimations regarding any remeasurement of contingent consideration liability in the future;
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our estimations regarding any potential impairment to our goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible asset in the future;
our estimates regarding expenses, future revenues, capital requirements and needs for, and ability to obtain, additional
financing;
our need to raise substantial additional capital to fund our operations;
the success, cost and timing of our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials in the United States and other non-US
jurisdictions;
our dependence on third parties, including contract research organizations (“CROs”) in the conduct of our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, including an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
the timing and costs associated with our manufacturing process and technology transfer to Qilu Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Qilu”) for the production of Vicineum drug substance and drug product, and our reliance on Qilu to perform under our agreement with Qilu;
market acceptance of our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
the size and growth of the potential markets for our product candidates, and our ability to serve those markets;
our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our product candidates and our proprietary technology;
our strategic operating plan to sublicense Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG to business development partners in all regions outside the US, including the European Union, to earn a potential combination of upfront, milestone, and royalty payments, and the business development partner to bear the majority of regulatory and commercialization costs;
our belief that the probability of success of future approval in the European Union for Vysyneum increases if FDA approval for Vicineum has already been obtained;
our beliefs regarding key advantages of our targeted fusion protein therapeutics (“TFPT”) platform;
our expectation that Vicineum may work via a dual mechanism of action to directly kill cancer cells and activate a local inflammatory process that stimulates T-cells, which then proliferate and destroy the cancer cells;
our expectation that there may be potential for a synergistic effect when Vicineum is given in combination with checkpoint inhibitors;
our expectations regarding the amount and timing of milestone and royalty payments pursuant to our out-license agreements and OUS business development partnership agreements, including our license agreement with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd and Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. (collectively, “Roche”), (the “Roche License Agreement”) and our exclusive license agreement with Qilu for the development, manufacture and commercialization of Vicineum in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ("Greater China");
our ability to regain compliance with Nasdaq’s minimum bid price requirement;
our plans to seek additional OUS business development partnerships; and
the success of competing therapies and products that are or become available.
The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are only predictions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, among others, the following:
we may not be able to resolve the issues raised in the CRL we received from the FDA regarding our BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC;
we may not be able to resolve the concerns identified in the EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report;
we may not determine a viable path forward for continued clinical development of Vicineum, which would prevent us from resubmitting a BLA for Vicineum;
we may not achieve profitable operations or access needed capital;
we may experience delays or difficulties related to the continued clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, including delays in clinical trial sites receiving the supplies and materials needed to conduct clinical trials, difficulties
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in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff and difficulties in enrolling patients or treating patients in active trials due to COVID-19 or otherwise;
clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, including an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum, or any of our other product candidates, may not demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of the FDA, EMA or other non-US regulatory authorities or otherwise produce favorable results;
we may not obtain marketing approval of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the United States, the European Union or other non-US jurisdictions;
Vicineum may not gain market acceptance for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the United States, the European Union or other non-US jurisdictions;
the market opportunity for Vicineum may be limited to those patients who are ineligible for established therapies or for
whom prior therapies have failed;
we may experience issues or delays with third-party disposition, labelling and packaging of clinical supply of Vicineum;
our competitors may discover, develop or commercialize products before, or more successfully than, we do;
we may be unable to obtain, maintain, defend and enforce patent claims and other intellectual property rights;
we may be unable to defend against pending or threatened litigation, which may be costly and time-consuming;
we may fail to comply with all regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our products;
we may recognize impairment of our goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible asset;
we may not meet the Nasdaq minimum bid price requirement during any compliance period or in the future;
we may not be granted relief from delisting from Nasdaq if necessary; and
such other factors described in “Item 1A. Risk Factors” and “Item 5. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our product candidates are investigational biologics undergoing clinical development and have not been approved by the FDA, EMA or other comparable non-US regulatory authorities. On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum in its present form. On August 20, 2021, we withdrew our MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in order to pause our plans to pursue regulatory approval of Vysyneum in the European Union until there is more clarity from the FDA on next steps for Vicineum in the United States. In October and December 2021, we participated in a CMC Type A Meeting and a Clinical Type A Meeting, respectively, with the FDA to discuss issues raised in the CRL and design elements of an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum, which the FDA confirmed will be required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. Following these Type A Meetings, we believe we have greater clarity of the requirements for potential resubmission of a BLA. A Type C Meeting has been scheduled with the FDA for March 28, 2022 in which we expect to discuss the study protocol for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
The events and circumstances reflected in our forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. You should read this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the documents that we have filed as exhibits to this Annual Report on Form 10-K completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are made as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Except as required by applicable law, we do not plan to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained herein, whether as a result of any new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.
Unless the context otherwise requires, all references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the “Company,” “Sesen,” “we,” “us,” and “our” include Sesen Bio, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

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Risk Factors Summary
The following summarizes the principal factors that make an investment in us speculative or risky, all of which are more fully described in “Item 1A. Risk Factors” below. This summary should be read in conjunction with “Item 1A. Risk Factors” and should not be relied upon as an exhaustive summary of the material risks facing our business.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need for Additional Capital
We have incurred significant losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future.
With the exception of specified regulatory, development and commercial milestones under our out-licensing and OUS business development partnership agreements, we currently have no source of revenue and may never become profitable.
We will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.
Risks Related to Clinical Development and Regulatory Approval of Vicineum
We are dependent on our lead product candidate, Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. If we are unable to obtain marketing approval for or successfully commercialize our lead product candidate, either alone or through an out-license or an OUS business development partnership, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business could be materially harmed.
If additional clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of the FDA, the EMA or other non-US regulatory authorities or do not otherwise produce favorable results, we will be unable to complete the development and potential commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
We may not be able to develop a more sensitive bioanalytical assay which is needed for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
If we experience any of a number of possible unforeseen events in connection with our clinical trials, potential marketing approval or commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG could be delayed or prevented.
If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of patients in clinical trials, our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals could be delayed or prevented.
Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG may cause undesirable side effects, serious adverse events or have other properties that could delay or halt clinical trials, delay or prevent its regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of its labeling, if approved, or result in significant negative consequences following any marketing approval.
We will need to obtain regulatory authority approval of any proposed names for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, and any failure or delay associated with such naming approval may adversely impact our business.
The marketing approval process is expensive, time-consuming and uncertain. As a result, we cannot predict when or if we, or any licensees or partners, will obtain marketing approval to commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG or any other product candidate.
Failure to obtain marketing approval in non-US jurisdictions would prevent our product candidates from being marketed abroad, and any approval we are granted for our product candidates in the United States would not assure approval of product candidates in non-US jurisdictions.
Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and to limit commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, if approved.
We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.
Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties
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We will depend on Qilu for the development and commercialization of Vicineum in Greater China.
We rely on third parties to conduct our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates.
We are dependent on third parties to formulate and manufacture Vicineum, which exposes us to a number of risks that may delay development, regulatory approval and commercialization of our products or result in higher product costs.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for our technology and products, or if our licensors are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for the technology or products that we license from them, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our technology and products may be impaired.
We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.
Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
Risks Related to Regulatory Compliance
Current and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, and affect the prices we may obtain.
Our failure to comply with data protection laws and regulations could lead to government enforcement actions and significant penalties against us, and adversely impact our operating results.
Risks Related to Our Business and Operations
The COVID-19 coronavirus could adversely impact our business.
Our future success depends on our ability to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
We rely significantly on information technology and any failure, inadequacy, interruption or security lapse of that technology, including any cyber security incidents, could materially adversely affect our business.
We and certain of our officers have been named as defendants in three pending securities class action lawsuits and three related shareholder derivative lawsuits have been filed. These lawsuits, and potential similar or related lawsuits, could result in substantial damages, divert management’s time and attention from our business, and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. These lawsuits, and any other lawsuits to which we are subject, will be costly to defend and are uncertain in their outcome.
Our employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements, which could cause significant liability for us and harm our reputation.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock
If we are unable to regain compliance with the listing requirements of the Nasdaq Global Market, our common stock may be delisted from the Nasdaq Global Market which could have a material adverse effect on our business and could make it more difficult for you to sell your shares.
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PART I
Item 1.     Business.
Overview
We are a late-stage clinical company advancing targeted fusion protein therapeutics ("TFPTs") for the treatment of patients with cancer. We genetically fuse the targeting antibody fragment and the cytotoxic protein payload into a single molecule which is produced through our proprietary one-step, microbial manufacturing process. We target tumor cell surface antigens with limited expression on normal cells. Binding of the target antigen by the TFPT allows for rapid internalization into the targeted cancer cell. We have designed our targeted proteins to overcome the fundamental efficacy and safety challenges inherent in existing antibody-drug conjugates ("ADCs") where a payload is chemically attached to a targeting antibody.
Our most advanced product candidate, Vicineum, also known as VB4-845, is a locally-administered targeted fusion protein composed of an anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule ("EpCAM") antibody fragment tethered to a truncated form of Pseudomonas exotoxin A for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
In December 2020, we submitted our completed BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC to the FDA, which was accepted for filing by the FDA in February 2021. The FDA granted Priority Review for the BLA and set a target PDUFA date for a decision on the BLA of August 18, 2021. On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum in its present form and provided recommendations specific to additional clinical/statistical data and analyses in addition to CMC issues pertaining to a recent pre-approval inspection and product quality. On August 20, 2021, we withdrew our MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in order to pause our plans to pursue regulatory approval of Vysyneum in the European Union until there is more clarity from the FDA on next steps for Vicineum in the United States. Vysyneum is the proprietary brand name that was conditionally approved by the EMA for oportuzumab monatox in the European Union. In October 2021, the EMA issued its Withdrawal Assessment Report relating to our MAA for Vysyneum, as is consistent with the EMA’s standard practice when an MAA is withdrawn. The EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report reflects the initial assessment and corresponding questions from the EMA and identifies major objections in the areas of quality, good clinical practice, efficacy and safety. Due to the high concordance between FDA and European Commission approvals, we believe that the probability of success of future approval in the European Union for Vysyneum increases if FDA approval for Vicineum has already been obtained.
On October 29, 2021, we participated in a Type A Meeting with the FDA to discuss questions related to CMC raised in the CRL (the “CMC Type A Meeting”). During the CMC Type A Meeting, we and the FDA reviewed issues related to CMC to be further discussed during the review of a BLA for Vicineum upon potential resubmission. We believe we have a clear understanding of what additional information regarding CMC is required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. Additionally, although not an issue raised in the CRL, the FDA confirmed at the CMC Type A Meeting that Vicineum manufactured using the proposed commercial process is comparable to Vicineum used in prior clinical trials. The FDA also confirmed that we can utilize Vicineum manufactured during process validation for any future clinical trials needed to address issues raised in the CRL, and that these potential trials can proceed while addressing CMC issues.
On December 8, 2021, we participated in a Type A Meeting with the FDA to discuss design elements of an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum (the “Clinical Type A Meeting”), which the FDA confirmed will be required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. The trial design may include these elements:
A randomized clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of Vicineum compared to investigators’ choice of intravesical chemotherapy;
Trial may include both patients who have received adequate BCG1 and patients who have received less than adequate BCG;
The FDA encouraged us to submit the final results from the Phase 3 VISTA trial for Vicineum with a BLA resubmission.
1As per the 2018 FDA guidance on NMIBC, adequate BCG is defined as at least one of the following: (i) at least five of six doses of an initial induction course plus at least two of three doses of maintenance therapy or (ii) at least five of six doses of an initial induction course plus at least two of six doses of a second induction course.
On January 7, 2022, the FDA granted our request for a Type C Meeting to discuss the study protocol for an additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. The Type C Meeting has been scheduled for March 28, 2022.
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One of the items we expect to be discussed in the Type C Meeting is the patient population for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial, which may be different than the patient population studied in previous clinical trials for Vicineum for the treatment of NMIBC in two primary ways.
First, the additional Phase 3 clinical trial may include patients with only non-muscle invasive carcinoma in situ (CIS) of the bladder, and may not include patients with only papillary disease of the bladder. This change would lead to a smaller overall patient population than previously studied, as some of our past clinical trials of Vicineum in NMIBC have included patients with CIS or high-grade papillary disease of the bladder.
Second, the additional Phase 3 clinical trial may include patients who have received less than adequate BCG in addition to those who have received adequate BCG, per the FDA’s guidance. Receipt of less than adequate BCG could be due to (i) failure of, or intolerance to, a BCG therapy prior to reaching the FDA’s definition of adequate BCG or (ii) supply shortages of BCG, among other reasons. This change would lead to a larger patient population than previously studied, as past clinical trials of Vicineum in NMIBC only included patients who had previously been treated with adequate BCG.
Potential changes related to the additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum will be discussed at the upcoming Type C Meeting with the FDA scheduled for March 28, 2022.
Our TFPT Platform
Our current product candidates are based on our proprietary TFPT platform and are focused on addressing areas of unmet medical need in cancer. Our novel TFPTs have been designed to overcome the efficacy and safety challenges of existing ADCs and are being developed for both local and systemic-administration. Our TFPTs are single protein therapeutics composed of targeting domains genetically fused via peptide linkers to cytotoxic protein payloads that are produced through our proprietary recombinant one-step, microbial manufacturing process. Our TFPT platform uses protein binding antibody fragments, which include Fabs, single chain variable domains ("ScFvs"), and non-covalent scFv dimers ("diabodies"), derived from the domains of antibodies that confer antigen recognition. We select antibody fragments for our product candidates depending upon the target therapeutic indication. We target tumor cell surface antigens that allow for rapid internalization into the targeted cancer cell and that also have limited expression in normal cells. For local administrations, we utilize an immunogenic cytotoxic protein payload designed to both target cancer cells and promote a heightened local immune response against the tumor. For systemic-administrations, we use deBouganin, a plant-derived, protein payload of reduced immunogenic potential that we believe can be repeatedly administered via infusion without the generation of an efficacy-limiting immune response against the payload.
Locally-administered TFPTs
We utilize our TFPTs with immunogenic cytotoxic protein payloads for tumors that can be targeted locally rather than systemically. Local administration allows for the TFPT to reach the tumor without being cleared by the immune system, which enables us to maximize the concentration of TFPTs directly to tumors. Our locally-administered TFPT Vicineum, which is our lead product candidate in development for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, contains a targeting antibody binding domain that is designed to bind to EpCAM, a protein over-expressed in many cancers. This binding domain is genetically fused to a truncated form of exotoxin A ("ETA"), which is an immunogenic cytotoxic protein payload that is produced by the bacterial species Pseudomonas. This product candidate is designed to bind to EpCAM on the surface of cancer cells. The TFPT-EpCAM complex is subsequently internalized into the cell and, once inside the cell, the TFPT is cleaved by a cellular enzyme to release the cytotoxic protein payload, thus enabling cancer cell killing.
We also believe that our TFPTs designed for local administration may not only directly kill cancer cells through targeted delivery of a cytotoxic protein payload, but also potentiate an anti-cancer therapeutic immune response. This immune response is believed to be triggered by the immunogenic cell death of the cancer cells due to our payload's mechanism of action and the subsequent release of tumor antigens and the immunologically active setting created by the nature of the cytotoxic protein payloads. We believe that this immune response may also enhance the action of checkpoint inhibitors, that require a pre-existing immune response for maximum efficacy.
Our most advanced locally-administered TFPT product candidate is Vicineum, in development for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and recurrent, locally advanced or metastatic EpCAM-expressing squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck ("SCCHN"). This TFPT is not, however, suitable for systemic-administration over multiple doses because the body’s immune system would recognize and eliminate foreign proteins, such as ETA, prior to their reaching targeted cancer cells.
Systemically-administered TFPTs
We also utilize our TFPTs with a de-immunized payload where systemic-administration is required. Our systemically-administered TFPTs are built around deBouganin. Since the body’s immune system naturally recognizes and attempts to
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eliminate foreign proteins, we designed our systemically-administered TFPTs with a deBouganin payload to avoid inducing an immunogenic response. DeBouganin is constructed by mutating the immunogenic T-cell epitopes from bouganin so that they are not recognized as foreign by the immune system. However, we also believe that deBouganin may enhance the action of checkpoint inhibitors as a result of the promotion of a local tumor immune response following the death of cancer cells. Our systemically-administered product candidate is VB6-845d for the treatment of multiple types of EpCAM-positive solid tumors.
Our Differentiated Approach to Targeted Therapies
We believe that our TFPT platform will address many challenges experienced with existing ADCs. The basic construct for our TFPTs and existing ADCs is similar as each is comprised of a targeting domain that specifically binds to cancer cells and delivers a cytotoxic payload. However, existing ADCs have been associated with limitations that we believe are addressed by our TFPTs.
Limitations of Existing ADC Approaches to Treating Tumors
    We believe existing ADCs have the following fundamental efficacy and safety challenges:
Deliver insufficient drug to tumors. Existing ADCs utilize full-length antibodies, which, due to their large size, have a reduced ability to penetrate tumors, thereby potentially reducing their efficacy.
Inability to kill a broad array of cancer cells within a tumor. Subsets of cancer cells within tumors may have mechanisms to resist and not be responsive to the cytotoxic payloads, or small molecule chemotherapies, used in existing ADCs.
Off-target toxicities due to unstable chemical linkage between targeting antibody and cytotoxic payload. Existing ADCs utilize chemical linkage strategies to join antibodies to small molecule cytotoxic payloads. While in the circulatory system, these chemical linkages can break and release free cytotoxic payloads in the circulation. These free small molecule cytotoxic payloads are not targeted and cannot discriminate between dividing cancer cells and non-cancerous cells, thus resulting in increased off-target toxicities.
Limited combination therapy potential. Adverse events may limit the potential utility of existing ADCs in combination therapies with immune checkpoint inhibitors which have their own adverse events, including immune-related adverse events.
Complex and challenging manufacturing process. The multi-step manufacturing process of existing ADCs creates a non-homogeneous product that limits efficacy and drives greater costs than those estimated for our manufacturing process.
Advantages of our TFPT Platform
    We believe our TFPTs offer the following key advantages:
Deliver a greater amount of drug to tumors. Our TFPTs are designed using smaller targeting proteins that have an increased ability to exit the circulatory system and have binding properties designed to enable deeper penetration into targeted tumors, and we believe this will increase efficacy.
Ability to kill a broader array of cancer cells within a tumor. Our novel cytotoxic payloads consist of proteins rather than small molecule cytotoxic payloads. We believe the larger size of our cytotoxic protein payloads helps circumvent multi-drug resistance mechanisms that can make certain cancer cells resistant to small molecule cytotoxic payloads. By contrast to existing ADCs, which employ cytotoxic payloads that inhibit cellular replication and are effective at killing rapidly proliferating cancer cells, our cytotoxic protein payloads inhibit protein synthesis and are designed to kill not only rapidly proliferating, but also slowly growing cancer cells including tumor progenitor cells/cancer stem-like cells.
Increase safety due to a more stable linkage between targeting protein and cytotoxic payload. Our single protein molecules are designed to remain intact until they reach the inside of the cancer cell and to not release free cytotoxins into the circulatory system, thereby minimizing off-target toxicity.
Promote a therapeutic immune response. We believe that the potent TFPT toxin-mediated killing of cancer cells in this immunologically active setting leads to the efficient presentation of cancer antigens to the immune system, thereby promoting an anti-tumor cellular immune response. Our locally-administered TFPTs utilize an immunogenic cytotoxic payload that we believe promotes a heightened immune response in the local tumor environment.
Potential combination with checkpoint inhibitors. We believe that the potential effect of checkpoint inhibitors, which are antibodies that promote the action of anti-tumor T-cells by blocking inhibitory ligand/receptor interactions that include PD-1 and PD-L1, may be enhanced when used in combination with other agents. We believe that, by mediating specific killing of tumor cells and promoting anti-tumor immune responses, our TFPTs, while potentially effective on their own, may complement checkpoint inhibitors. In particular, we believe that the
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use of our cytotoxin payload ETA, which induces immunogenic cell death, may facilitate the presentation of tumor cell surface antigens following the death of cancer cells, thereby providing a tumor immune response to enhance the action of checkpoint inhibitor therapies.
Utilize a simpler and more efficient manufacturing process. Our proprietary recombinant one-step manufacturing process creates a homogeneous product that we believe will improve efficacy and result in lower manufacturing costs.
Our Strategy
We are committed to designing, engineering, developing and commercializing TFPTs to identify and address oncology indications that suffer from a high unmet medical need. The key elements of our strategy are as follows:
Obtain regulatory approval of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. In December 2020, we submitted our completed BLA for Vicineum to the FDA for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, which was accepted for filing by the FDA in February 2021. The FDA granted Priority Review for the BLA and set a target PDUFA date for a decision on the BLA of August 18, 2021. On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum in its present form. On August 20, 2021, we withdrew our MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in order to pause our plans to pursue regulatory approval of Vysyneum in the European Union until there is more clarity from the FDA on next steps for Vicineum in the United States. In October and December 2021, we participated in a CMC Type A Meeting and a Clinical Type A Meeting, respectively, with the FDA to discuss issues raised in the CRL and design elements of an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum, which the FDA confirmed will be required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. Following these Type A Meetings, we believe we have greater clarity of the requirements for potential resubmission of a BLA. We have a Type C Meeting scheduled with the FDA for March 28, 2022 in which we expect to discuss the study protocol for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
Maximize the commercial potential Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. We own exclusive, worldwide rights to Vicineum and we have out-licensed the rights to Vicineum in Greater China, the Middle East and North Africa region (“MENA”) and Turkey. If Vicineum receives marketing approval from the FDA for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, we plan to pursue commercialization strategies that maximize the value of Vicineum in the United States by partnering with a contract sales organization. Based on our market research, we believe Vicineum has an innovative profile with a high possibility that patients, healthcare professionals and payors will be advocates for its use for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, which we believe represents a significant commercial opportunity. We believe that we will be able to effectively communicate differentiating characteristics and key attributes of Vicineum to patients, physicians and payors, with the goal of establishing favorable reimbursement as well as a favorable formulary status in targeted urology practices. Additionally, we believe that our plans to partner with a contract sales organization should allow us to address the urologists-initiated treatment market for non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the United States in an efficient and effective way.
Expand on the value of Vicineum through strategic partnerships. If we obtain regulatory approval for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, we intend to build a North American specialty urology sales force to market the product in the United States. Outside the United States, we will continue to seek additional business development partners with urology expertise by selectively partnering with pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies when we believe that a partner could bring additional resources and expertise to maximize the value of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. In 2020 and 2021, we entered into license agreements to support such commercialization efforts outside the United States for Greater China, MENA and Turkey.
Explore opportunities in combination therapies. We plan to continue discussions with potential partners that utilize technologies whose mechanism of action could be complementary to our TFPT platform. These technologies include, but are not limited to, checkpoint inhibitors, immune modulators and other immuno-oncology agents. In June 2017, we entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (“CRADA") with the National Cancer Institute ("NCI") for the development of Vicineum in combination with AstraZeneca’s immune checkpoint inhibitor durvalumab for the treatment of NMIBC. Vicineum is believed to work via a dual
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mechanism of action to directly kill cancer cells and activate a local inflammatory process that stimulates T-cells, which then proliferate and destroy the cancer cells. Because of this second mechanism, there may be potential for a synergistic effect when given in combination with checkpoint inhibitors. Under the terms of the CRADA, this hypothesis is being tested by the NCI in Phase 1 clinical trial in patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC to evaluate the safety, efficacy and biological correlates of Vicineum in combination with durvalumab (“NCI Trial”). On September 10, 2021, preliminary results from an interim analysis of 12 patients in the NCI Trial (“Interim Analysis”) were presented at a conference hosted by the American Urological Association. Enrollment in the Phase 1 clinical trial is ongoing. Based on the Interim Analysis, the combination of Vicineum and durvalumab has been generally well-tolerated with no new safety signals emerging (no Grade 4 or 5 treatment-related adverse events) and has a similar safety profile compared to both agents used individually. The Interim Analysis also indicated a 3-month complete response rate of 42% (5/12) and a 12-month complete response rate of 17% (2/12).
We have deferred further development of Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN and of VB6-845d in order to focus our efforts and our resources on our ongoing development and, if approved, the commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. We are also exploring collaborations for Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN and for VB6-845d.
Our Product Pipeline
At this time, we are focused exclusively on the clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and have deferred further development of our other product candidates. The following table sets forth our current development stage programs:
https://cdn.kscope.io/56d1227c6326c2dfd66fa5f9265016b7-sesn-20211231_g1.jpg
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Vicineum for the Treatment of Non-Muscle Invasive CIS of the Bladder in Patients Previously Treated with Adequate or Less Than Adequate BCG
Overview
We are developing Vicineum, oportuzumab monatox, for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. Vicineum is given via intravesical administration directly into the bladder. Vicineum utilizes an immunogenic cytotoxic protein payload that is a truncated form of ETA produced by the bacterial species Pseudomonas. Vicineum also includes an anti-EpCAM ScFv targeting domain that is required to deliver the ETA into EpCAM-expressing cancer cells. The toxicity to non-cancerous bladder cells is minimized due to their not having EpCAM over-expressed on their surface. In August 2018, we received Fast Track designation from the FDA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The FDA has conditionally accepted the proprietary brand name VICINEUM™ for our product candidate, oportuzumab monatox.
Disease Overview
Most cancers that form in the bladder are transitional cell carcinomas that derive from the transitional cell lining of the bladder. Transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder can be characterized as either high-grade or low-grade. Low-grade bladder cancer often occurs in the lining of the bladder, but rarely invades the muscular wall of the bladder or spreads to other parts of the body and is unlikely to be fatal. High-grade bladder cancer commonly occurs in the bladder, has a strong tendency to invade the muscular wall of the bladder, spread to other parts of the body and is more likely to result in death. Bladder cancer is also divided into muscle-invasive and non-muscle invasive, based on invasion of the muscularis propria, which is the thick muscle deep in the bladder wall. Muscle-invasive disease is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.
There are three forms of high-grade NMIBC: Ta, a papillary tumor in the innermost layer of the bladder lining; T1, a papillary tumor that has started to grow into the connective tissue beneath the bladder lining; and CIS, flat lesions of the transitional cell lining of the bladder. Papillary tumors are generally low-grade with low risk of progression, although about two to nine percent are high-grade, with a moderately high risk of progression to muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Evaluable CIS tumors are always high-grade, with a worse prognosis than papillary tumors, as such CIS tumors are more aggressive, with a higher probability of progression to muscle-invasive disease. Furthermore, the incidence of CIS in conjunction with Ta or T1 tumors results in a higher risk of recurrence and progression. About 75% to 85% of bladder cancers are non-muscle invasive. Of these, Ta tumors account for about 70%, T1 tumors account for about 20% and CIS lesions account for about 10%.
According to World Cancer Research Fund International figures, bladder cancer is the tenth most common cancer diagnosed worldwide and the second most common malignancy of the genitourinary system, which refers to cancers of the urinary system of men and women and the reproductive organs of men. In 2020, there were an estimated 573,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed and 213,000 deaths worldwide, according to data from the Global Cancer Observatory. The 5-year global prevalence of bladder cancer, or the number of individuals with bladder cancer in a 5-year period, is estimated at 1.7 million individuals. The most recent data from the NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End-Result Program ("SEER") estimated that approximately 84,000 new cases of bladder cancer would be diagnosed in 2021 and there would be approximately 17,000 deaths due to bladder cancer in the United States during 2021. Based on a 2014 publication in Current Opinion in Urology, among cancers in the United States, bladder cancer has the highest per-patient treatment costs, with an estimated overall cost of approximately $4.0 billion annually and has the highest overall cost among the elderly. Based on our assessment of the market, the treatment paradigm has remained the same since those figures were generated, and we believe the cost of care has increased.
NMIBC makes up 75% to 85% of all bladder cancers. The high recurrence rate and ongoing invasive monitoring requirement of bladder cancers are the key contributors to the economic and human toll of this disease. Bladder cancer occurs predominantly in older patients (about nine of the ten people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55 years). The median age at diagnosis is approximately 73 years of age. Overall, the five-year survival rate for bladder cancer in the United States is 77%. While the five-year survival rates are 98% for stage zero and 88% for stage one NMIBC, once the cancer becomes invasive, the rates drop dramatically with five-year survival rates of 63%, 46% and 15% for stage two, three and four muscle invasive bladder cancers, respectively. We are targeting patients with non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. Our initial target market includes the approximately 6,000 patients in the US diagnosed annually, including those patients with non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. We would expect that, if Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG is approved by the FDA, patients would receive treatment until the earlier of 2 years and disease recurrence.
Current Approaches to Treatment
Within non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, the initial treatment of Ta or T1 is transurethral resection of the bladder tumor ("TURBT") followed by BCG treatment. For CIS, whether or not TURBT is an option, BCG is the standard of care. BCG is a live attenuated strain of Mycobacterium bovis, with
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a diminished virulence in humans. Since BCG works by utilizing an immune/inflammatory mechanism, BCG is generally initiated two to four weeks after TURBT, allowing the urothelium to heal and lowering the risk of systemic infection. When high-grade bladder tumors have been completely resected, BCG is used as adjuvant therapy to prevent recurrence. In patients with residual disease after resection, BCG helps to eradicate residual disease and delay progression. The BCG regimen consists of an induction phase followed by a maintenance phase. The induction phase involves six consecutive once-weekly instillations of the drug into the bladder. The maintenance phase involves three consecutive once-weekly instillations repeated every three to six months for at least one year. The response rate to a single induction phase of BCG is 60% to 70% with an additional 30% to 50% of the non-responders becoming responders following a second induction phase. However, BCG’s failure rate for all responders is estimated to be as high as 50% within the first 12 months of treatment and 90% within five years.
For patients who received BCG and whose disease is now BCG-unresponsive, surgical removal of the bladder, or a radical cystectomy has been recommended due to the risk of progression to muscle invasive disease, which greatly reduces a patient’s prognosis. Radical cystectomy is a complex surgery associated with a mortality rate of 8% within six months of surgery. The surgery also entails a number of short-term risks including bleeding and/or clots, infections, bowel obstruction, bowel perforation, peritonitis and injury to the urethra. More than 25% of radical cystectomy patients require hospital readmission for surgery-related complications within 90 days following surgery. The impact of radical cystectomy is life-altering, with major lifestyle changes, including incontinence and sexual dysfunction, and daily issues related to management of the external bag for urine collection.
Keytruda was approved by the FDA in January 2020 for the treatment of patients with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)-unresponsive, high-risk, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary tumors who are ineligible for or have elected not to undergo cystectomy and is the only approval of Keytruda in the NMIBC space. Keytruda has been on the market for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive CIS (+/- Ta/T1) patients since January 2020. In 2009, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Valstar (valrubicin) was re-launched in the United States for the treatment of BCG-refractory CIS bladder cancer in patients for whom radical cystectomy is not an option. Valstar is administered directly into the bladder once a week for six weeks. Due to drug resistance and toxicities, Valstar has had limited clinical utility. Other than Keytruda and Valstar, there are no other approved therapies for BCG-unresponsive CIS bladder cancer. However, there are various other intravesical product candidates in development for the treatment of NMIBC, including product candidates developed by FerGene Inc. (Adstiladrin/nadofaragene firadenovec (rAd-IFN/Syn3)), AADi, LLC (ABI-009), ImmunityBio (Anktiva/N-803 in combination with BCG), Theralase Technologies Inc. (TLD-1433), Janssen (Erdafitinib and TAR-200) and CG Oncology (CG0070). In addition, systemically-administered checkpoint inhibitors are being evaluated for the treatment of NMIBC including products developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb (Opdivo alone or in combination with BCG +/- BMS986205), F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Tecentriq) and AstraZeneca (Imfinzi). Another route of administration for checkpoint inhibitor is currently being evaluated by Pfizer with the subcutaneous administration of Sasanlimab (PF-06801591) for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC patients.
Regulatory Update
United States
In December 2020, we submitted our completed BLA for Vicineum for BCG-unresponsive NMIBC to the FDA, which was accepted for filing by the FDA in February 2021. The FDA granted Priority Review for the BLA and set a target PDUFA date for a decision on the BLA of August 18, 2021. On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum in its present form and provided recommendations specific to additional clinical/statistical data and analyses in addition to CMC issues pertaining to a recent pre-approval inspection and product quality.
On October 29, 2021, we participated in a CMC Type A Meeting with the FDA. During the CMC Type A Meeting, we and the FDA reviewed issues related to CMC to be further discussed during the review of a BLA for Vicineum upon potential resubmission. We believe we have a clear understanding of what additional information regarding CMC is required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. Additionally, although not an issue raised in the CRL, the FDA confirmed at the CMC Type A Meeting that Vicineum manufactured using the proposed commercial process is comparable to Vicineum used in prior clinical trials. The FDA also confirmed that we can utilize Vicineum manufactured during process validation for any future clinical trials needed to address issues raised in the CRL, and that any of these future trials can proceed while addressing CMC issues raised in the CRL.
On December 8, 2021, we participated in a Clinical Type A Meeting with the FDA to discuss design elements of an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum, which the FDA confirmed will be required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. The FDA encouraged us to include the Vista Trial data in a BLA resubmission.
On January 7, 2022, the FDA granted our request for a Type C Meeting to discuss the study protocol for an additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive
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CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. The Type C Meeting has been scheduled for March 28, 2022.
Although the FDA previously conditionally accepted the name Vicineum for our product candidate, oportuzumab monatox, in the United States, this approval is subject to further and final review by FDA upon potential resubmission of a BLA. If the FDA objects to our proposed proprietary product name, we may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable proprietary product name that would qualify under applicable laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA.
European Union
On March 5, 2021, we submitted a MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC under the EMA’s centralized procedure. On March 31, 2021, we were informed that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the EMA had conditionally accepted the proprietary brand name Vysyneum for our product candidate, oportuzumab monatox, in the European Union.
On August 20, 2021, we withdrew our MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in order to pause our plans to pursue regulatory approval of Vysyneum in the European Union until there is more clarity from the FDA on next steps for Vicineum in the United States.
On October 20, 2021, the EMA issued its Withdrawal Assessment Report relating to our MAA for Vysyneum, as is consistent with the EMA’s standard practice when an MAA is withdrawn. The Assessment Report reflects the initial assessment and corresponding questions from the EMA and identifies major objections in the areas of quality, good clinical practice, efficacy and safety. Due to the high concordance between FDA and European Commission approvals, we believe that the probability of success of future approval in the European Union for Vysyneum increases if FDA approval for Vicineum has already been obtained.
Although the EMA previously conditionally accepted the name Vysyneum for our product candidate, oportuzumab monatox, in the European Union, this approval is subject to further and final review by the EMA upon potential resubmission of the MAA. If the EMA objects to our proposed proprietary product name, we may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable proprietary product name that would qualify under applicable laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the EMA.
China
On July 30, 2020, we and our wholly-owned subsidiary, Viventia Bio, Inc., entered into an exclusive license agreement with Qilu Pharmaceutical, Co., Ltd. (“Qilu”) pursuant to which we granted Qilu an exclusive, sublicensable, royalty-bearing license, under certain intellectual property owned or exclusively licensed by us, to develop, manufacture and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC and other types of cancer in Greater China. The Investigational New Drug application (“IND”) for Vicineum submitted by Qilu to the Center for Drug Evaluation of the China National Medical Products Administration was accepted for review in January 2021 and approved in March 2021.
On June 1, 2021, we entered into a Global Supply Agreement with Qilu pursuant to which Qilu will be part of the manufacturing network for, if approved, global commercial supply of Vicineum drug substance and drug product.
On July 20, 2021 we and Qilu announced the enrollment of the first patient in China in a Phase 3 clinical trial to assess the efficacy and safety of Vicineum in patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The open-label, single-arm, multi-center bridging trial will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Vicineum in approximately 53 patients with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary disease, high-grade Ta papillary disease or T1 papillary disease of any grade. Patients will be required to have failed previous treatment with BCG for inclusion in the trial. The primary endpoints are the complete response rate (for CIS patients) and the recurrence-free rate (for papillary patients) at six months, with the complete response rate and the recurrence-free rate at three months, safety and tolerability as the secondary endpoints. Based on the partnership agreement between Sesen Bio and Qilu Pharmaceutical, the trial is being run at the sole cost of Qilu Pharmaceutical.
MENA
On November 30, 2020, we and our wholly owned subsidiary, Viventia Bio, Inc., entered into an exclusive license agreement with Hikma Pharmaceuticals LLC, to develop and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in the MENA region (20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa). No submission for registration has taken place in any of the countries as approvals are contingent on FDA or EMA approval.
Turkey
On August 5, 2021, we entered into an exclusive license agreement with EİP Eczacıbaşı İlaç Pazarlama A.Ş., to develop and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in Turkey and Northern Cyprus. No submission for registration has taken place in either region as approvals are contingent on FDA or EMA approval.
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Internal Review
In September 2021 we disclosed that our Board of Directors (the “Board”) initiated an independent internal review conducted by outside counsel with the assistance of subject matter experts focusing on the conduct of, and data generated from, the clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, and the overall safety of Vicineum (the “Review”). The Review took place over the course of five months, involved full cooperation from our management team, a review of more than 600,000 documents, and 39 interviews of current and former employees and consultants. It is now complete. As a result of the Review, the Board continues to fully support our current management team and believes no changes or amendments relating to our prior disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) or the FDA relating to Vicineum, the Phase 3 VISTA trial for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, or the BLA for Vicineum are warranted. We intend to work cooperatively with the FDA in preparing for an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum.
New Proposed Phase 3 Clinical Trial
On January 7, 2022, the FDA granted our request for a Type C Meeting to discuss the study protocol for an additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. The Type C Meeting has been scheduled for March 28, 2022.
Prior Phase 3 Clinical Trial – VISTA Trial
We, through our subsidiary Viventia, commenced our single-arm, multi-center, open-label Phase 3 clinical trial ("VISTA Trial') in patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC who have received adequate BCG and whose disease is now BCG-unresponsive, and for whom the then-current standard of care was a radical cystectomy in the third quarter of 2015 in the United States and Canada. Based on safety and efficacy data observed with the longer 12-week induction in our Phase 2 clinical trial, the FDA agreed to our plan to employ more frequent dosing in the VISTA Trial, in which the primary endpoints were complete response ("CR") and duration of response ("DoR") in patients with CIS whose disease is BCG-unresponsive. In November 2016, the FDA issued draft guidance regarding appropriate clinical trial design for new drugs and biologics for BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, including the use of single-arm trials. The FDA finalized this guidance in February 2018 and retained many of the recommendations from the 2016 draft guidance regarding clinical trial design, including the use of single-arm trials. We believe that our VISTA Trial design was consistent with these aspects of the FDA’s guidance.
The primary and secondary endpoints for the VISTA Trial were as follows:
Dose
30 mg of Vicineum (in 50 mL of saline)
Total enrollment
133 patients, including 93 CIS patients whose disease is BCG-unresponsive
Primary endpoints
CRR at 3 months in patients with CIS (with or without papillary disease) whose disease is BCG-unresponsive; and
Kaplan-Meier estimate of DoR for BCG-unresponsive CIS patients who experience a CR at 3 months (post-induction).
Patients with CIS were considered to have a CR if at the time of any disease status evaluation (per protocol every 13 weeks or any unscheduled evaluation) there was no evidence of high-grade disease (CIS, high-grade Ta or any grade T1 disease) or disease progression (e.g., to muscle invasive disease). Low-grade disease was not considered a treatment failure in these patients, and they could remain on study treatment following TURBT.
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Secondary endpoints
Event-free survival in all patients;
CRR at 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 months in patients with CIS whose disease is BCG-unresponsive;
Time to cystectomy in all patients;
Time to disease recurrence in papillary patients;
PFS in all patients;
OS in all patients; and
Safety and tolerability of Vicineum therapy in all patients.
Exploratory endpoint
To evaluate biomarkers that may be associated with response or disease progression or treatment failure, which may include, for example, EpCAM status, tumor subtype morphology, furin levels in tumor cell endosomes, presence of a glycosaminoglycan coat and presence of receptors that could impede a host anti-tumor immune response, such as PD-L1.
The VISTA Trial completed enrollment in April 2018 with a total of 133 patients across three cohorts based on histology and time to disease recurrence after adequate BCG treatment (under 2018 FDA guidance on treatment of NMIBC, adequate BCG is defined as at least one of the following (i) at least five of six doses of an initial induction course plus at least two of three doses of maintenance therapy or (ii) at least five of six doses of an initial induction course plus at least two of six doses of a second induction course):
Cohort 1 (n=86): Patients with CIS with or without papillary disease that was determined to be refractory or recurred within six months of their last course of adequate BCG;
Cohort 2 (n=7): Patients with CIS with or without papillary disease that recurred after six months, but less than 11 months, after their last course of adequate BCG; and
Cohort 3 (n=40): Patients with high-risk (Ta or T1) papillary disease without CIS that recurred within six months of their last course of adequate BCG.
The primary endpoints of the VISTA Trial were CRR at 3 months in patients with CIS (with or without papillary disease) whose disease is BCG-unresponsive and DoR for BCG-unresponsive CIS patients who experience a CR.
As of the May 29, 2019 data cutoff date, preliminary primary and secondary endpoint data for each of the trial cohorts were as follows:
Cohort 1 (n=86) Evaluable Population (n=82) Complete Response Rate, for CIS:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Complete Response Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=82
39% (28%-50%)
6-months
n=82
26% (17%-36%)
9-months
n=82
20% (12%-30%)
12-months
n=82
17% (10%-27%)
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.
Cohort 2 (n=7) Evaluable Population (n=7) Complete Response Rate, for CIS:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Complete Response Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=7
57% (18%-90%)
6-months
n=7
57% (18%-90%)
9-months
n=7
43% (10%-82%)
12-months
n=7
14% (0%-58%)
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.

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Pooled Cohorts 1 and 2 (n=93) Evaluable Population (n=89) Complete Response Rate, for CIS:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Complete Response Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=89
40% (30%-51%)
6-months
n=89
28% (19%-39%)
9-months
n=89
21% (13%-31%)
12-months
n=89
17% (10%-26%)
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.
Phase 3 Pooled Complete Response Rate vs. Phase 2 Pooled Complete Response Rate:
Time Point
Phase 3 Pooled CRR (95% Confidence Interval)
Phase 2 Pooled CRR (95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
40% (30%-51%)
40% (26%-56%)
6-months
28% (19%-39%)
27% (15%-42%)
9-months
21% (13%-31%)
18% (8%-32%)
12-months
17% (10%-26%)
16% (7%-30%)

Cohort 3 (n=40) Evaluable Population (n=38) Recurrence-Free Rate†:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Recurrence-Free Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=38
71% (54%-85%)
6-months
n=38
58% (41%-74%)
9-months
n=38
45% (29%-62%)
12-months
n=38
42% (26%-59%)
†Recurrence-free rate is defined as the percentage of patients that are recurrence-free at the given assessment time point.
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.
    Duration of Response: The median DoR for patients in Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 combined (n=93) is 287 days (95% CI, 154-NE), using the Kaplan-Meier method. Additional ad hoc analysis of pooled data for all patients with CIS (Cohorts 1 and 2, n=93) shows that among patients who achieved a complete response at 3 months, 52% remained disease-free for a total of 12 months or longer after starting treatment, using the Kaplan-Meier method. DoR is defined as the time from first occurrence of complete response to documentation of treatment failure or death.
    We have conducted additional analyses for secondary endpoints. These additional data include the following:
Time to Cystectomy: Across all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial, greater than 75% of all patients are estimated to remain cystectomy-free at 3 years, using the Kaplan-Meier method. Additional ad hoc analysis shows that approximately 88% of responders are estimated to remain cystectomy-free at 3 years. Time to cystectomy is defined as the time from the date of first dose of study treatment to surgical bladder removal. The first 2018 FDA guidance on treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC patients states that the goal of therapy in such patients is to avoid cystectomy. Therefore, time to cystectomy is a key secondary endpoint in the VISTA Trial.
Time to Disease Recurrence: High-grade papillary (Ta or T1) NMIBC is associated with high rates of progression and recurrence. The median time to disease recurrence for patients in Cohort 3 (n=40) is 402 days (95% CI, 170-NE), using the Kaplan-Meier method. Time to disease recurrence is defined as the time from the date of the first dose of study treatment to the first occurrence of treatment failure or death on or prior to treatment discontinuation.
Progression-Free Survival ("PFS"): 90% of all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial are estimated to remain progression-free for 2 years or greater, using the Kaplan-Meier method. PFS is defined as the time from the date of first dose of study treatment to the first occurrence of disease progression (e.g., T2 or more advanced disease) or death on or prior to treatment discontinuation.
Event-Free Survival: 29% of all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial are estimated to remain event-free at 12 months, using the Kaplan-Meier method. Event-free survival is defined as the time from the date
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of first dose of study treatment to the first occurrence of disease recurrence, progression or death on or prior to treatment discontinuation.
Overall Survival ("OS"): 96% of all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial are estimated to have an overall survival of 2 years or greater, using the Kaplan-Meier method. OS is defined as the time from the date of first dose of study treatment to death from any cause.
Data is as of the May 29, 2019 data cut from the Phase III VISTA trial. The clinical data shown are based on the data submitted in the BLA on December 18, 2020. Final numbers are pending. On August 13, 2021, the FDA issued a CRL for the BLA that included requests for additional clinical and statistical data.
Safety Results
As of the May 29, 2019 data cutoff date, in patients across all cohorts (n=133) of our Phase 3 VISTA Trial of Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, 88% experienced at least one adverse event, with 95% of adverse events being Grade 1 or 2. The most commonly reported treatment-related adverse events were dysuria (14%), hematuria (13%) and urinary tract infection (12%), all of which are consistent with the profile of bladder cancer patients and the use of catheterization for treatment delivery. These adverse events were determined by the clinical investigators to be manageable and reversible, and only four patients (3%) discontinued treatment due to an adverse event. Serious adverse events, regardless of treatment attribution, were reported in 14% of patients. There were four treatment-related serious adverse events reported in three patients including acute kidney injury (Grade 3), pyrexia (Grade 2), cholestatic hepatitis (Grade 4) and renal failure (Grade 5 or death). There were no age-related increases in adverse events observed in the VISTA Trial.
Phase 1 and 2 Clinical Trials
Phase 1 Clinical Trial. We initiated an open-label, dose-escalating Phase 1 clinical trial of Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in September 2004 at 22 sites in Canada. We enrolled 64 patients with high-grade Ta or T1 tumors with or without CIS (17 of which had CIS) and who had previously received at least one treatment of BCG. The Phase 1 clinical trial was designed to assess safety and determine the maximum tolerated dose, and the recommended Phase 2 dose. The secondary objective was to explore the anti-tumor activity of Vicineum.
Eight dose levels were initially evaluated, ranging from 0.1 to 10.56 mg, and given once weekly for six consecutive weeks. Each dose was administered by instillation and held for two hours prior to voiding. Safety data from each dose cohort was evaluated after three weeks of treatment before proceeding to the next dose cohort. A maximum tolerated dose was not reached; therefore, additional escalations through 13.73 mg, 17.85 mg, 23.20 mg and 30.16 mg were undertaken. No dose-limiting toxicities were reported and no maximum tolerated dose was reached in these additional dose-escalations. Vicineum was generally well-tolerated at each of these escalated doses.
A CR was defined in this Phase 1 clinical trial as non-positive urine cytology and either normal cystoscopy or abnormal cystoscopy with negative biopsy. Of the 64 patients enrolled, only 61 were considered to be evaluable for efficacy as two patients were excluded from the analysis due to an absence of BCG treatment prior to this Phase 1 clinical trial, and there was one unrelated death for whom no final tumor assessment was obtained. Evidence of clinical efficacy, as defined by a CR, was achieved by 24 of the 61 randomized patients (39%). Only three of the 17 patients (18%) treated in the 0.1-<1 mg/dose range were CRs. In contrast, seven of the 14 patients (50%) treated in 1.0-<10 mg/dose range and 14 of the 30 patients (46.7%) treated in the ≥10 mg/dose range experienced CRs at the three-month assessment. Of the patients with CIS, five of the 17 patients (29%) achieved a CR, while non-recurrence was observed in seven of the 16 patients with T1 (43.8%) and 12 of the 28 patients with Ta (42.8%). This Phase 1 clinical trial was completed in April 2006.
Phase 2 Clinical Trial. Based on our Phase 1 clinical trial conducted in Canada, we submitted the IND for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC to the FDA in August 2005, and we initiated an open-label Phase 2 clinical trial of Vicineum in March 2007 at 20 sites in Canada and the United States. We enrolled 46 patients with CIS (with or without Ta or T1) who had previously received at least one treatment of BCG. Of the 46 patients enrolled, 27 patients (58.7%) had received at least two treatments of BCG. The Phase 2 clinical trial was designed to determine the tolerability and explore the potential for clinical benefit from Vicineum. Clinical benefit was defined in this Phase 2 clinical trial as a CR or no evidence of disease at the three-month evaluation. A CR was defined in this Phase 2 clinical trial as no histological evidence of disease and negative urine cytology. Any cases with no histological evidence of disease on initial biopsy but atypical or suspicious urine cytology were also considered CRs only if they remained negative after being evaluated with repeat biopsy, directed and random. A patient was considered to have a durable CR if that patient obtained a CR and remained disease-free for a period of at least 12 months from initiation of treatment.
The dosing regimen for our Phase 2 clinical trial included an induction phase followed by a maintenance phase, consisting of three weekly treatments and then nine weeks of no treatment repeated every three months for at least one year. There were two treatment groups in this Phase 2 clinical trial. Treatment Arm A consisted of 23 patients, of which 22 were ultimately evaluable as one patient violated eligibility requirements early in this Phase 2 clinical trial. Twenty-two patients in the induction phase
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received six consecutive once-weekly instillations of 30 mg of Vicineum. At the three-month assessment, patients with residual disease but no disease progression-where disease progression was defined as being muscle invasive-were eligible for either a second induction phase or a maintenance phase, which consisted of three consecutive once-weekly instillations repeated every three months for at least one year. Of the 13 patients who did not achieve a CR at the three-month assessment, nine patients elected additional treatment. From these nine, two became CRs after receiving maintenance dosing. Treatment Arm B was added to evaluate a longer induction cycle using the same dose. In Treatment Arm B, 23 patients in the induction phase received 12 consecutive once-weekly instillations of 30 mg Vicineum. At the three-month assessment, the combined CR rate for both treatment arms was 40%. At the 12-month assessment, the CR rate in Treatment Arm A was 13%, but 17% in Treatment Arm B. Of those patients who did not achieve a CR at the three-month assessment, 73% had either a reduction in tumor size or did not experience further tumor growth.
The data below shows the percentage change in surface area of cancer within the bladder, based on bladder mapping data utilizing cystoscopy in 40 patients. The following charts demonstrate the responses in this Phase 2 clinical trial in Treatment Arm A and Treatment Arm B:
https://cdn.kscope.io/56d1227c6326c2dfd66fa5f9265016b7-sesn-20211231_g2.jpg
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https://cdn.kscope.io/56d1227c6326c2dfd66fa5f9265016b7-sesn-20211231_g3.jpg
This Phase 2 clinical trial was completed in September 2009.
Near the completion of this Phase 2 clinical trial in 2009, Valstar was re-launched in the United States for the treatment of BCG-refractory CIS bladder cancer in patients for whom immediate cystectomy would be associated with unacceptable morbidity or mortality. However, because physicians were not widely prescribing Valstar to their patients and it was not an approved therapy in Europe, this disrupted our originally designed clinical path of a head-to-head pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of Vicineum against Valstar. Due to the uncertainty of the standard of care in this space, our efforts were put on hold until a clear clinical path was established. In May 2013, the FDA co-sponsored a public workshop where it evaluated potential trial designs for the development of therapies for NMIBC and specifically provided regulatory guidance supporting the idea that a single-arm clinical trial could provide sufficient evidence of benefit if the results were robust. The panel suggested it is acceptable to include high-risk papillary patients without CIS in a clinical trial with CIS patients because the clinical management and outcome if left untreated is considered to be the same. In September 2014, we conducted an end of Phase 2 meeting with the FDA and, consistent with our interactions with the FDA during this meeting, refocused our resources to commence an open-label, non-randomized Phase 3 clinical trial of Vicineum in BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, which ended up being our Phase 3 VISTA Trial.
Safety data
We believe that our safety data from 110 patients in our Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials support further development of Vicineum for the treatment of NMIBC BCG failures. There were no Grade 4 or Grade 5 serious adverse events that were considered by the clinical investigators to be related to Vicineum during the Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of NMIBC BCG failures. There was one Grade 5 serious adverse event, or death, which was determined by the clinical investigator to be unrelated to Vicineum. The most common reported treatment-related adverse events were an abnormally frequent passage of small amounts of urine, blood in the urine and painful urination, the majority of which were considered to be mild or moderate in severity. No patients discontinued treatment due to a Vicineum-related adverse event during the Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials.
Outside of United States ("OUS") Business Development Partnering
Greater China
On July 30, 2020, we and our wholly-owned subsidiary, Viventia Bio, Inc., entered into an exclusive license agreement with Qilu Pharmaceutical, Co., Ltd. ("Qilu") pursuant to which we granted Qilu an exclusive, sublicensable, royalty-bearing license, under certain intellectual property owned or exclusively licensed by us, to develop, manufacture and commercialize Vicineum
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for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC and other types of cancer in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. We also granted Qilu a non-exclusive, sublicensable, royalty-bearing sublicense, under certain other intellectual property licensed by us to develop, manufacture and commercialize Vicineum in Greater China. We retain (i) development and commercialization rights in the rest of the world excluding Greater China, the Middle East and North Africa region (“MENA”) and Turkey and (ii) manufacturing rights with respect to Vicineum in the rest of the world excluding Greater China.
During 2020, we received a total of $10 million in net proceeds associated with the Qilu License Agreement. We are also entitled to receive up to an additional $23 million upon the achievement of certain technology transfer, development and regulatory milestones, as well as a 12% royalty based upon annual net sales of Vicineum in Greater China. The royalties are payable upon the first commercial sale of Vicineum in a region and continuing until the latest of (i) twelve years after the first commercial sale of Vicineum in such region, (ii) the expiration of the last valid patent claim covering or claiming the composition of matter, method of treatment, or method of manufacture of Vicineum in such region, and (iii) the expiration of regulatory or data exclusivity for Vicineum in such region. The royalty rate is subject to reduction under certain circumstances, including when there is no valid claim of a licensed patent that covers Vicineum in a particular region or no data or regulatory exclusivity of Vicineum in a particular region.
Qilu is responsible for all costs related to developing, obtaining regulatory approval of and commercializing Vicineum for the prevention and treatment of cancers including, but not limited to, NMIBC and various sub-types of NMIBC (the “Field”) in Greater China. Qilu is required to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop, seek regulatory approval for, and commercialize Vicineum in the Field in Greater China. A joint development committee was established between us and Qilu to coordinate and review the development, manufacturing and commercialization plans with respect to Vicineum in Greater China. We and Qilu also executed the terms and conditions of a supply agreement and related quality agreement pursuant to which we will manufacture or have manufactured and supply Qilu with all quantities of Vicineum necessary for Qilu to develop and commercialize Vicineum in the Field in Greater China until we have completed manufacturing technology transfer to Qilu and approval of a Qilu manufactured product by the National Medical Products Administration in China ("NMPA") for Vicineum has been obtained.
The Qilu License Agreement will expire on a licensed product-by-licensed product and region-by-region basis on the date of the expiration of all applicable Royalty Terms. Either party may terminate the Qilu License Agreement for the other party’s material breach following a cure period or upon certain insolvency events. Qilu has the right to receive a refund of all amounts paid to us in the event the Qilu License Agreement is terminated under certain circumstances. The Qilu License Agreement includes customary representations and warranties, covenants and indemnification obligations for a transaction of this nature.
The Investigational New Drug application ("IND") for Vicineum submitted by Qilu to the Center for Drug Evaluation of the China National Medical Products Administration was accepted for review in January 2021 and approved in March 2021, resulting in a $3 million milestone payment from Qilu, the first milestone payment out of the $23 million in potential milestone payments. We recorded $2.8 million (net of VAT) as license revenue during the three-month period ended March 31, 2021.
In June 2021, the Qilu License Agreement was recognized by Shandong Province, Bureau of Science and Technology as "Technology Transfer". An agreement that is designated as a Technology Transfer shall be entitled to a tax incentive of value-added tax ("VAT") recovery. As such, we recorded $0.9 million of revenue during the three months ended June 30, 2021 for additional purchase price resulting from Qilu's obligation to pay Sesen an amount equal to its recovery of VAT. We will not be subject to VAT on future potential milestone payments.
On July 20, 2021 we and Qilu announced the enrollment of the first patient in China in a Phase 3 clinical trial to assess the efficacy and safety of Vicineum in patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The open-label, single-arm, multi-center bridging trial will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Vicineum in approximately 53 patients with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary disease, high-grade Ta papillary disease or T1 papillary disease of any grade. Patients will be required to have failed previous treatment with BCG for inclusion in the trial. The primary endpoints are the complete response rate (for CIS patients) and the recurrence-free rate (for papillary patients) at six months, with the complete response rate and the recurrence-free rate at three months, safety and tolerability as the secondary endpoints. Based on the Qilu License Agreement, the trial is being run at the sole cost of Qilu.
MENA
On November 30, 2020, we and our wholly owned subsidiary, Viventia Bio, Inc., entered into an exclusive license agreement with Hikma Pharmaceuticals LLC, to develop and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in the MENA region (20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa). In consideration for the rights granted by us, Hikma agreed to pay to us an upfront payment, sales related milestones payments, and royalties on net sales in the MENA region for the term of the Hikma License Agreement.

Turkey
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On August 5, 2021, we entered into an exclusive license agreement with EIP pursuant to which we granted EIP an exclusive license to register and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in Turkey and Northern Cyprus. Under the terms of the license agreement, we are entitled to receive an upfront payment of $1.5 million. We are in the process of amending the license agreement to defer payment of the upfront payment to coincide with the potential FDA approval of Vicineum. We are also eligible to receive additional regulatory and commercial milestone payments of $2.0 million and are entitled to receive a 30% royalty on net sales in Turkey and Northern Cyprus.
Vicineum for the Treatment of SCCHN
Vicineum (formerly referred to as Proxinium in publications, focused on this clinical setting), is also being developed as a treatment for patients with recurrent, locally advanced or metastatic EpCAM-expressing SCCHN who have received at least one prior platinum-based chemotherapy regimen. To treat SCCHN, Vicineum is administered via injection directly into the targeted tumor, or intratumoral injection. Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN has received Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA and the EMA and Fast Track designation from the FDA.
In our two Phase 1 clinical trials encompassing 44 patients treated with Vicineum, a complete resolution or reduction in size of injected tumors was observed in 16 of the 30 evaluable patients (53%) with EpCAM-expressing tumors as assessed by the investigators’ clinical measurements, the investigators' overall assessment including qualitative changes and assessment of available radiologic data. An additional 27% of evaluable patients had stable disease and, therefore, the results indicate an overall tumor control rate of approximately 80%. In addition, three out of the four patients with CRs of injected tumors had regression or complete resolution of adjacent non-injected lesions. Vicineum was generally well-tolerated during the clinical trials. Dose-limiting toxicity in the Phase 1 clinical trials was transaminase elevation in liver enzymes.
In our clinical trials involving Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN, we also observed some stabilization, partial reduction and complete resolution of non-injected tumors. We believe that TFPT mediated killing of cancer cells occurs via a mechanism known as ICD, which is known to enhance the presentation of neoantigens to the immune system. We believe that this, combined with the immunogenic nature of our cytotoxic protein payload creates a heightened immune response, wherein naive cytotoxic T-cells are stimulated by antigen presenting cells, such as dendritic cells, presenting tumor cell surface antigens following the death of cancer cells. We believe that this anti-tumor response may complement checkpoint inhibitor therapies.
In our clinical trials involving Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN, there were no Grade 5 serious adverse events that were considered by the clinical investigator to be related to Vicineum. The serious adverse events (Grade 3 and Grade 4) that were reported in the clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN and were considered to be possibly, probably or definitely related to treatment consisted of abnormal tumor growth, anorexia, cancer pain, decrease in red blood cells, difficulty swallowing, elevated calcium levels, facial pain, fatigue, high blood sugar, influenza like illness, injection site pain, liver function abnormalities, low albumin level, low sodium concentration, nausea, rash, swelling, tumor hemorrhage and tumor necrosis.
For the combined Phase 1 (VB4-101 and VB4-101A) and Phase 2 (VB4-845-01-IIA) studies, seven subjects died during the clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN, but none of the deaths were deemed to be Vicineum-related. Out of the four patients who discontinued treatment due to liver function test abnormalities, 2 subjects were in study VB4-101 and 2 were subjects were in VB4-101A). Four subjects withdrew from the clinical trials. Three of the four subjects withdrew at their request and one of the four subjects withdrew at the request of the investigator.
Phase 3 (VB4-845-01-lllA) VB4-845-01-lllA was a randomized, multicentre therapeutic confirmatory study evaluating the safety and efficacy of Vicineum plus BSC versus BSC alone in the treatment of patients with advanced SCCHN who had received at least 1 anti-cancer treatment regimen for advanced disease. One hundred and sixty-six of the approximately 292 patients were enrolled at 75 sites. The primary endpoint for the study was overall survival. A total of 166 patients had been randomized into the study. Of the 166 patients, 82 were randomized to the Vicineum treatment plus BSC arm and 84 patients were randomized to the BSC arm.
VB4-845-01-IIIA was terminated early due to a corporate decision unrelated to safety or efficacy. At the time of study termination, survival data was available for 133 of 142 patients that had been randomized. A total of 66 were enrolled on the BSC arm and 67 enrolled in the Vicineum plus BSC treatment arm. Of the 66 BSC patients enrolled in the BSC arm, there were 43 documented deaths in this treatment arm; the date of death was known for 36 patients and unknown for 7. Of the patients treated with Vicineum, 41 deaths were documented with the date of death known for 37 patients and unknown for 4.
Interim safety data was available for 132 of 139 patients that had been randomized. One hundred and eleven patients reported at least 1 AE. Thirty-six patients reported 205 adverse events (AEs) that were treatment related. Most of the treatment-related AEs were mild to moderate in severity. Of the 205 treatment-related AEs reported, there were 23 Grade 3 events and 2 Grade 4 events. There were no Grade 5 related AEs reported. The 2 related Grade 4 events were 2 occurrences of tumour necrosis in 1 patient; both were considered probably related to the treatment. Most related AEs resolved on their own and did not require additional treatment. Others were treated with concomitant medications.
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Four patients in the Vicineum plus BSC group reported Grade 3 increases in both ALT and AST. One patient reported a Grade 3 increase in ALT and another patient reported a Grade 3 increase in AST. All of the Grade 3 increases in ALT/AST occurred in the Vicineum plus BSC group. No Grade 4 increases in ALT/AST were reported. In 1 patient, Vicineum was discontinued due to liver function test abnormalities, in 1 patient Vicineum was interrupted due to liver function test abnormalities and in the last patient Vicineum was discontinued due to disease progression.
We have deferred further development of Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN in order to focus our efforts and our resources on our ongoing development and, if approved, the commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. We are also exploring collaborations for the development of Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN.
We own or exclusively license worldwide rights to our Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN intellectual property portfolio that provides for an unextended patent term until 2036. See ‘‘Our Intellectual Property’’ below for additional details.
VB6-845d
Our lead systemically-administered product candidate, VB6-845d, is being developed as a treatment for multiple types of EpCAM-positive solid tumors. VB6-845d is a TFPT consisting of an EpCAM targeting Fab genetically linked to deBouganin, which is administered by intravenous infusion. DeBouganin acts by inhibiting protein synthesis and helps circumvent multi-drug resistance mechanisms. EpCAM is over-expressed on the cell surface of many solid tumors, including breast, colorectal, gastric, lung, ovarian and prostate. EpCAM overexpression has been shown to be involved in promoting malignant progression. In addition, EpCAM overexpression is associated with increased tumor grade, disease progression, increased proliferative phenotypes and diminished survival. EpCAM is also a cancer stem cell marker. A Phase 1 clinical trial conducted with VB6-845, the prior version of VB6-845d, revealed no clinically relevant immune response to the deBouganin payload. Five of seven patients (71.4%) maintained stable disease (meaning no change in tumor size from baseline) after one completed cycle of treatment (four weeks). Two patients had decreases in target tumor size, and one subject who continued treatment through a third cycle (12 weeks) maintained stable disease. Interim safety data from our Phase 1 clinical trial was consistent with expectations for the study population of patients with advanced solid tumors and the anticipated effects of targeted biological therapies containing immunogenic sequences.
Based upon the antibody responses directed against the Fab seen in our Phase 1 clinical trial conducted in Russia and in the country of Georgia, we de-immunized the Fab portion of VB6-845 to create VB6-845d. In April 2016, we submitted an IND to the FDA in preparation of initiating a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of VB6-845d in patients with EpCAM-positive cancers in the United States. The IND was withdrawn in July 2016 after we received initial feedback from the FDA indicating that they had identified hold and non-hold deficiencies that needed to be addressed. In December 2016, we submitted a request for a pre-IND meeting to seek input on the manufacturing, nonclinical and clinical plans for VB6-845d prior to resubmitting an IND. In February 2017, the FDA provided guidance on our manufacturing and nonclinical plans for VB6-845d. Overall, we believe that our pre-clinical data and the interim Phase 1 clinical data support further clinical investigation of VB6-845d to explore whether it may fulfill the significant unmet medical need in the treatment of patients with EpCAM-positive solid tumors. Specifically, we believe that VB6-845d has potential to be a first-in-class TFPT capable of providing clinical benefit in these difficult to treat patient populations.
We believe that our TFPTs utilizing our de-immunized deBouganin payload may be enhanced if combined with checkpoint inhibitors. We believe that deBouganin’s potential effect on cancer cells could promote an immunogenic response that may enhance the action of checkpoint inhibitors.
We have deferred further development of VB6-845d in order to focus our efforts and our resources on our ongoing development and, if approved, commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. We are also exploring collaborations for VB6-845d.
We own or exclusively license worldwide rights to our VB6-845d intellectual property portfolio that provides for an unextended patent term until at least June 2025 and, method of treatment patents and applications for VB6-845d are granted, until at least 2036. See ‘‘Our Intellectual Property’’ below for additional details.
LUMC
On December 8, 2020, we and Leiden University Medical Center (“LUMC”) agreed to the co-development of an imaging agent (the “Imaging Agent”) that is comprised of an antibody fragment of Vicineum™, and an imaging molecule supplied by LUMC. The Imaging Agent is designed to delineate tumor from normal tissue during surgery so that the tumor margin is clearly visible, thereby helping to ensure clear margins after surgical excision of cancerous tissue. A Phase 1/2 clinical trial of the Imaging Agent was successfully completed by LUMC with favorable tolerability and demonstrated tumor detection, which we believe further supports the targeting specificity of Vicineum. We signed an agreement with LUMC whereby we have an option to obtain an exclusive, worldwide license to any intellectual property related to the Imaging Agent.
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EBI-031 - Out-License Agreement with Roche
In June 2016, we entered into the Roche License Agreement, pursuant to which we granted Roche an exclusive, worldwide license, including the right to sublicense, to our patent rights and know-how related to our monoclonal antibody EBI-031 and all other IL-6 anti-IL antagonist monoclonal antibody technology owned by us (collectively, the “Licensed Intellectual Property”). Under the Roche License Agreement, Roche is required to continue developing, at its cost, EBI-031 and any other product made from the Licensed Intellectual Property that contains an IL-6 antagonist anti-IL monoclonal antibody (the “Roche Licensed Product”) and pursue ongoing patent prosecution, at its cost. At the time of the Roche License Agreement, EBI-031, which was derived using our previous AMP-Rx platform, was in pre-clinical development as an intravitreal injection for diabetic macular edema and uveitis.
Financial Terms
We received from Roche an upfront license fee of $7.5 million in August 2016 upon the effectiveness of the Roche License Agreement following approval by our stockholders, and Roche agreed to pay up to an additional $262.5 million upon the achievement of specified regulatory, development and commercial milestones with respect to up to two unrelated indications. Specifically, an aggregate amount of up to $197.5 million is payable to us for the achievement of specified milestones with respect to the first indication, consisting of (i) $72.5 million in development milestones, the next of which is $30.0 million for initiation of the first Phase III study, (ii) $50.0 million in regulatory milestones and (iii) $75.0 million in commercialization milestones. In September 2016, Roche paid us the first development milestone of $22.5 million as a result of the IND application for EBI-031 becoming effective on or before September 15, 2016.
In December 2021, a $20 million milestone was achieved due to Roche initiating a Phase II clinical trial. We invoiced Roche $20 million with payment terms of 30 days following the achievement of the corresponding milestone event, pursuant to the Roche License Agreement. In January 2022 the payment of $20 million was received.
Additional amounts of up to $65.0 million are payable upon the achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones in a second indication.
In addition, we are entitled to receive royalty payments in accordance with a tiered royalty rate scale, with rates ranging from 7.5% to 15% of net sales of potential future products containing EBI-031 and up to 50% of these rates for net sales of potential future products containing other IL-6 compounds, with each of the royalties subject to reduction under certain circumstances and to the buy-out options of Roche.
Buy-Out Options
The Roche License Agreement provides for two “option periods” during which Roche may elect to make a one-time payment to us and, in turn, terminate its diligence, milestone and royalty payment obligations under the Roche License Agreement. Specifically, (i) Roche may exercise a buy-out option following the first dosing ("Initiation") in the first Phase 2 study for a Roche Licensed Product until the day before Initiation of the first Phase 3 study for a Roche Licensed Product, in which case Roche is required to pay us $135.0 million within 30 days after Roche’s exercise of such buy-out option and receipt of an invoice from us, or (ii) Roche may exercise a buy-out option following the day after Initiation of the first Phase 3 study for a Roche Licensed Product until the day before the acceptance for review by the FDA or other regulatory authority of a BLA or similar application for marketing approval for a Roche Licensed Product in either the United States or in the EU, in which case Roche is required to pay us, within 30 days after Roche’s exercise of such buy-out option and receipt of an invoice from us, $265.0 million, which amount would be reduced to $220.0 million if none of our patent rights containing a composition of matter claim covering any compound or Roche Licensed Product has issued in the EU.
Termination
Either we or Roche may each terminate the Roche License Agreement if the other party breaches any of its material obligations under the Roche License Agreement and does not cure such breach within a specified cure period. Roche may terminate the Roche License Agreement following effectiveness by providing advance written notice to us or by providing written notice if we are debarred, disqualified, suspended, excluded, or otherwise declared ineligible from certain federal or state agencies or programs. We may terminate the Roche License Agreement if, prior to the first filing of a BLA for a Roche Licensed Product, there is a period of 12 months where Roche is not conducting sufficient development activities with respect to the products made from the Licensed Intellectual Property.
Clinical Development
In July 2019, Roche reported that it started a multi-center, non-randomized, open-label, multiple ascending dose Phase 1 study to investigate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of intravitreal EBI-031 monotherapy in patients with diabetic macular edema. Further, Roche reported that once determined, an extended cohort will be dosed with the optimal dose of EBI-031 while another arm of the trial will test EBI-031 in combination with Lucentis (ranibizumab) following intravitreal administration in patients with diabetic macular edema.
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In December 2021, Roche reported that it started enrollment of two Phase 2 clinical trials in patients with diabetic macular edema (“DME”). The first clinical trial, BP43445 (NCT05151731), is a multicenter, randomized, double-masked, active comparator-controlled trial to investigate the efficacy, safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of EBI-031 administered intravitreally in patients with DME. The second clinical trial, BP43464 (NCT05151744), is a combination trial to assess the efficacy, safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of EBI-031 with ranibizumab (an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor) compared with ranibizumab alone in DME patients. For both trials, only one eye will be chosen as the trial eye and the duration of the trial will be 52 weeks.
Our Intellectual Property
We currently own or exclusively license approximately 13 families of patents and applications, which generally relate to our TFPT-based product candidates and evolving our platform of targeting agents, cytotoxins (such as deBouganin) and linker technologies. As our product candidates evolve through clinical development, we continue to monitor advancements and bolster patent coverage where possible.
Product Candidate - Vicineum
We exclusively license two families under a license agreement with the University of Zurich ("Zurich") (the "Zurich License Agreement") which, among other things, include composition of matter claims directed to EpCAM antibody chimeras, EpCAM antibody chimera-cytotoxin conjugates, and their potential use in treating bladder and head and neck cancer. These families claim all or portions of Vicineum, as well as methods of treating bladder and head and neck cancer consist of issued patents in the United States, Europe, Canada, China, Israel and Japan and also include pending applications in the United States. The expiry dates of the patents in this family are April 2024 and June 2025, subject to any applicable patent term adjustment or extension that may be available on a jurisdictional basis. See "Our Vicineum License Agreements" below for additional information.
In addition to the Zurich portfolio, we own two issued US patents related to Vicineum. The expiry date of these patents is February 2029, subject to any applicable patent term extension that may be available on a jurisdictional basis.
In addition, we have patent families relating to treatment regimens using Vicineum that include issued patents in the United States, Australia and Japan and patent applications in Canada, Europe and Hong Kong. These patents will expire in 2036.
Additionally, we have a license agreement with Micromet AG ("Micromet") (the "Micromet License Agreement"), now part of Amgen, Inc., which grants us non-exclusive rights, with certain sublicense rights, for know-how and patents allowing exploitation of certain single chain antibody products. These patents cover some key aspects of Vicineum. See "Our Vicineum License Agreements" below for additional information.
We also have a license agreement with XOMA Ireland Limited ("XOMA") (the "XOMA License Agreement") which grants us non-exclusive rights, with certain sublicense rights, to certain XOMA patent rights and know-how related to certain expression technology, including plasmids, expression strains, plasmid maps and production systems. These patents and related know-how cover some key aspects of Vicineum. See "Our Vicineum License Agreements" below for additional information.
EBI-031 and our Legacy Product Candidates
We own the following families of patents and patent applications related to EBI-031 and our legacy product candidates. As of February 28, 2022, our patent portfolio includes the following patents and applications related to our legacy product candidates:
a provisional application directed to compositions and methods for increasing the retention of therapeutic agents in the eye which, if converted and granted, is expected to expire in 2038.
a provisional application directed to compositions and methods for increasing the retention of anti-VEGF therapeutic agents in the eye which, if converted and granted, is expected to expire in 2038; and
a provisional application directed to compositions and methods for increasing the retention of RGD therapeutic agents in the eye which, if converted and granted, is expected to expire in 2038.
To the best of our knowledge based on correspondence received on February 25, 2022, the following families are owned by us, and licensed to Roche pursuant to the Roche License Agreement dated June 10, 2016:
patents covering the IL-6 antagonistic anti-IL6 monoclonal antibodies and active fragments thereof, including IL-6 antibody EBI-029, filed in the United States, Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and South Africa, that expire in November 2033;
patent applications covering the IL-6 antagonistic anti-IL6 monoclonal antibodies and active fragments thereof, including IL-6 antibody EBI-029, filed in Brazil, Canada, Europe, India, Mexico, United States and Singapore, and, if granted, are expected to expire in 2033;
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patents covering IL-6 antagonistic anti-IL6 monoclonal antibodies and active fragments thereof, including the IL-6 antibody EBI-031, in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Columbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States and United Kingdom, that expire in November 2035;
patent applications covering IL-6 antagonistic anti-IL6 monoclonal antibodies and active fragments thereof, including the IL-6 antibody EBI-031, having applications pending or to be filed in Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Europe, Egypt, India, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States and Vietnam, and, if granted, are expected to expire in 2035; and
patent applications in China, Europe, Japan and the United States, each corresponding to a United States provisional application covering the IL-6 antibody EBI-031 formulation, which, if granted, are expected to expire in 2037.
Our Vicineum License Agreements
In-License Agreement with Zurich
Overview and Exclusivity
We have a License Agreement with the University of Zurich ("Zurich") which grants us exclusive license rights, with the right to sublicense, to make, have made, use and sell under certain patents primarily directed to our targeting agent, including an EpCAM chimera and related immunoconjugates and methods of use and manufacture of the same. These patents cover some key aspects of Vicineum. Upon receipt of the CRL regarding our BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, we became obligated to pay $0.5 million in a milestone payment to Zurich. We are also obligated to pay up to a 4% royalty on the net product sales for products covered by or manufactured using a method covered by a valid claim in the Zurich patent rights. Royalties owed to Zurich will be reduced if the total royalty rate owed by us to Zurich and any other third party is 10% or greater, provided that the royalty rate to Zurich may not be less than 2% of net sales. The obligation to pay royalties in a particular country expires upon the expiration or termination of the last of the Zurich patent rights that covers the manufacture, use or sale of a product. There is no obligation to pay royalties in a country if there is no valid claim that covers the product or a method of manufacturing the product. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we recorded an expense of $0.3 million for the achievement of the development milestone related to the submission of our BLA for Vicineum with the FDA. For the year ended December 31, 2021, we recorded an expense of $0.5 million for the regulatory milestone related to receipt of the CRL from the FDA in August 2021.
Patent Rights
We are responsible for the patent filing, prosecution and maintenance activities pertaining to the patent rights, at our sole expense, while Zurich is afforded reasonable opportunities to review and comment on such activities. If appropriate, we shall apply for an extension of the term of any licensed patent where available, for example, in at least the United States, Europe and Japan. In the event of any substantial infringement of the patent rights, we may request Zurich to take action to enforce the licensed patents against third parties. If the infringing activity is not abated within 90 days and Zurich has elected not to take legal action, we may bring suit in our own name (and in Zurich’s name, if necessary). Such action will be at our own expense and Zurich will have the opportunity to join at its own expense. Recoveries from any action shall generally belong to the party bringing the suit, but (a) in the event that we bring the action and an acceptable settlement or monetary damages are awarded, then Zurich will be reimbursed for any amount that would have been due to Zurich if the products sold by the infringer actually had been sold by us, or (b) in the event a joint legal action is brought, then the parties shall share the expense and recoveries shall be shared in proportion to the share of expense paid by the respective party. Each party is required to cooperate with the other in litigation proceedings at the expense of the party bringing the action.
Term and Termination
The term of the Zurich License Agreement expires as of the expiration date of the last patent to expire within the Zurich patent rights. We are currently projecting an expiration date for the United States licensed patents in June 2025, subject to any applicable patent term extension that may be available on a jurisdictional basis. Zurich has the right to terminate the Zurich License Agreement if we breach any obligation of the agreement and fail to cure such breach within the applicable cure periods. We have the right to terminate the Zurich License Agreement at any time and for any reason by giving 90 days written notice to Zurich.
In-License Agreement with Micromet
Overview
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We have a License Agreement with Micromet AG ("Micromet"), now part of Amgen, Inc., which grants us nonexclusive rights, with certain sublicense rights, for know-how and patents allowing exploitation of certain single chain antibody products. These patents cover some key aspects of Vicineum. Under the terms of the License Agreement with Micromet, as of December 31, 2021, we may be obligated to pay up to €2.4 million in milestone payments for the first product candidate that achieves applicable regulatory and sales-based development milestones (approximately $2.7 million at exchange rates in effect on December 31, 2021). We are also required to pay up to a 3.5% royalty on the net sales for products covered by the agreement, which includes Vicineum. The royalty rate owed to Micromet in a particular country will be reduced to 1.5% if there are no valid claims covering the product in that country. The obligation to pay royalties in a particular country expires upon the later of the expiration date of the last valid claim covering the product and the tenth anniversary of the first commercial sale of the product in such country. Finally, we are required to pay to Micromet an annual license maintenance fee of €50,000 (approximately $56,625 at exchange rates in effect as of December 31, 2021), which can be credited towards any royalty payment we owe to Micromet. We recorded an expense of €0.7 million ($0.9 million) related to achievement of a development milestone in the three months ended December 31, 2020, due to the submission of our BLA for Vicineum with the FDA in December 2020. We recorded an expense of €0.5 million ($0.6 million) related to the submission of the MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum™ in the first quarter of 2021.
Patent Rights
Micromet, at its sole expense, is responsible for the patent filing, prosecution and maintenance activities pertaining to the patent rights. In any patent enforcement action initiated by Micromet, we may be required, upon the request of Micromet and at Micromet’s expense, to provide reasonable assistance to Micromet with respect to such enforcement action.
Term and Termination
The term of the Micromet License Agreement expires as of the expiration of any royalty obligations under the License Agreement. Either party has the right to terminate the Micromet License Agreement if the other party fails to comply with any of its material obligations under the Micromet License Agreement and fails to cure such non-compliance within the applicable cure periods.
In-License Agreement with XOMA
Overview
We have a License Agreement with XOMA Ireland Limited ("XOMA") which grants us non-exclusive rights to certain XOMA patent rights and know-how related to certain expression technology, including plasmids, expression strains, plasmid maps and production systems. These patents and related know-how cover some key aspects of Vicineum. Under the terms of the License Agreement with XOMA, we are required to pay up to $0.25 million in milestone payments for a product candidate that incorporates know-how under the license and achieves applicable clinical development milestones. Based on current clinical status, we anticipate that these milestones may be triggered by Vicineum’s clinical development pathway. We are also required to pay a 2.5% royalty on the net sales for products incorporating XOMA’s technology, which includes Vicineum. We have the right to reduce the amount of royalties owed to XOMA on a country-by-country basis by the amount of royalties paid to other third parties, provided that the royalty rate to XOMA may not be less than 1.75% of net sales. In addition, the foregoing royalty rates are reduced by 50% with respect to products that are not covered by a valid patent claim in the country of sale. The obligation to pay royalties in a particular country expires upon the later of the expiration date of the last valid claim covering the product and the tenth anniversary of the first commercial sale of the product in such country.
Patent Rights
XOMA, at its sole expense, is responsible for the patent filing, prosecution and maintenance activities pertaining to the patent rights. In any patent enforcement action initiated by XOMA, we may be required, upon the request of XOMA and at XOMA’s expense, to provide reasonable assistance to XOMA with respect to such enforcement action.
Term and Termination
The term of the XOMA License Agreement expires as of the expiration of any royalty obligations under the XOMA License Agreement. Either party has the right to terminate the XOMA License Agreement if the other party fails to comply with any of its material obligations under the XOMA License Agreement and fails to cure such non-compliance within the applicable cure periods.
Our Manufacturing
We lease a 31,100 square foot manufacturing, laboratory, warehouse and office facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We have three 15-liter fermenters, one 30-liter fermenter, one 150-liter fermenter, one 500-liter fermenter and one 1,500-liter fermenter. Our classified fermentation suite and post-production processing capabilities were dedicated to producing our pre-clinical study and clinical trial batches of Vicineum. In September 2017, we completed the manufacturing of all Vicineum necessary for our Phase
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3 VISTA Trial and for our CRADA with the NCI. In conjunction with this achievement, we ended our manufacturing activities at our facility in Winnipeg and completed the technology transfer process to outsource future Vicineum clinical and commercial to third-party manufacturers.
Fujifilm and Baxter
In October 2018, we entered into a Master Bioprocessing Services Agreement with Fujifilm (the “Fujifilm MSA”) for the manufacturing process and technology transfer of Vicineum drug substance production.
In November 2019, we entered into a Commercial Manufacturing and Supply Agreement with Baxter (the “Baxter CSA”) for the manufacturing process and technology transfer of Vicineum drug product production.
In August 2020, we completed manufacturing of the drug substance process performance qualification (“PPQ”) batches at Fujifilm and in September 2020, we successfully completed the drug product PPQ batches at Baxter. All of the completed drug substance PPQ batches and drug product PPQ batches met all quality acceptance criteria.
In December 2020, we received and analyzed all of the analytical comparability test results from the drug substance and drug product PPQ batches. For analytical comparability, we conducted testing across four categories: release testing, biophysical characterization, forced degradation studies, and stability studies. This approach is in alignment with requirements of the FDA, the EMA and the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use. The test results for Vicineum produced by Fujifilm and Baxter were found to be highly comparable to our supply of Vicineum produced at our Winnipeg facility.
On October 29, 2021, at the CMC Type A Meeting, the FDA confirmed that Vicineum manufactured using the proposed commercial process is comparable to Vicineum used in prior clinical trials and confirmed that we can utilize Vicineum manufactured during process validation for any future clinical trials needed to address issues raised in the CRL regarding the BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, and that any of these future trials can proceed while addressing CMC issues raised in the CRL.
In January 2022, we signed a Scope of Work ("SOW #11") with Fujifilm under the Fujifilm MSA for the manufacturing of commercial batches of Vicineum in 2022 and 2023.
We intend to use Vicineum produced by Fujifilm and Baxter for any future clinical trials of Vicineum, including the additional Phase 3 clinical trial, and, if approved, for commercial supply.
Qilu
In June 2021, we entered into a Global Supply Agreement with Qilu pursuant to which Qilu will be part of the manufacturing network for, if approved, global commercial supply of Vicineum drug substance and drug product.
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Our Competition
The pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive, subject to rapid and significant technological change and has a strong emphasis on developing proprietary products. While we believe that our next generation TFPT platform, knowledge, experience and scientific resources provide us with competitive advantages, we face competition from both large and small pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and other research organizations; specifically with companies, institutions and organizations that are actively researching and developing products that attach proprietary cell-killing payloads to antibodies for targeted delivery to cancer cells. Our competitors include, but are not limited to:
NMIBC: Merck & Co., Inc. (Keytruda/pembrolizumab and BCG) (approved drugs), Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Valstar/valrubicin) (approved drug), FerGene Inc. (Adstiladrin/nadofaragene firadenovec (rAd-IFN/Syn3)), Medical Enterprises Ltd. (Synergo RITE plus mitomycin C), Aadi, LLC (ABI-009), ImmunityBio (Anktiva/N-803 in combination with BCG), CG Oncology. (CG0070), Theralase Technologies Inc. (TLD-1433 photodynamic compound), Bristol-Myers Squibb (Opdivo/nivolumab with or without BCG or BMS-986205), F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Tecentriq/Atezolizumab), AstraZeneca (Imfinzi/durvalumab with or without BCG or External Beam Radiotherapy), Eli Lilly and Company (Gemcitabine) and Telormedix SA (Vesimune); Pfizer, Inc. (Sasanlimab);
SCCHN: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (Opdivo/nivolumab) (approved drug), Eli Lilly and Company, and Merck (Erbitux, pembrolizumab) (approved drugs);
Multiple types of solid tumors: Amgen Inc. (Panitumumab) (approved drug), Bayer AG and Onyx Pharmaceuticals (Sorafenib) (approved drug), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Eli Lilly and Company, and Merck (Erbitux) (approved drug), F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Bevacizumab) (approved drug), Genentech, Inc. (Bevacizumab, Erlotinib and Trastuzumab) (approved drugs), Pfizer, Inc. (Sunitinib) and Trion Research GmbH (Removab); and
In addition to competition from alternative treatments, we may also face competition from products that are biosimilar to, and possibly interchangeable with, our product candidates. Biosimilar products are expected to become available over the coming years. Even if our product candidates achieve marketing approval, they may be priced at a significant premium over competitive biosimilar products if any have been approved by then and insurers or other third-party payors may encourage or even require the use of lower priced biosimilar products. Even if our treatments receive market authorization, they may not be listed on the formularies of payors (public or private insurers) or reimbursed. This may impact the uptake of the drug as a treatment option for patients and/or the price at which the drug can be sold at. Further, if the drug is reimbursed it may be at a narrower indication than the full scope of market authorization.
Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, pre-clinical studies, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approval and marketing than we do. These competitors are also active in seeking patent protection and licensing arrangements in anticipation of collecting royalties for use of technology that they have developed. Moreover, specialized biologics, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies may prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.
Our commercial opportunity could be substantially limited in the event that our competitors develop and commercialize products that are more effective, safer, less toxic, more convenient or cheaper than our comparable products. In geographies that are critical to our commercial success, competitors may also obtain regulatory approvals before us, resulting in our competitors building a strong market position in advance of our product’s entry. We believe the factors determining the success of our programs will be the drug design, effectiveness against multi-drug resistance mechanisms, efficacy, safety, price and convenience of our product candidates.
Government Regulation
As a clinical-stage biologics company, we are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA, and other national, supranational, state, provincial and local regulatory agencies. We are also subject to extensive regulation by similar governmental authorities in other countries in which we operate. In the United States, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("FDCA") and the Public Health Service Act ("PHSA") and their implementing regulations set forth, among other things, requirements for the research, testing, development, manufacture, quality control, safety, effectiveness, approval, post-approval monitoring and reporting, labeling, storage, record keeping, distribution, import, export, advertising and promotion of our product candidates. Although the discussion below focuses on regulation in the United States, we anticipate seeking approval to market our products in other countries. Generally, our activities in other countries will be subject to regulation that is similar in nature and scope to that imposed in the United States, although there can be important differences. Additionally, some significant aspects of regulation in the EU are addressed in a centralized way through the European Commission following the opinion of the EMA, but country-specific regulation in the individual European Union Member States ("EU Member States") remains essential in many respects. The process of obtaining regulatory marketing approvals and the subsequent compliance with
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appropriate supranational, federal, state, provincial, local and non-US statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources, and we may not be successful in any given jurisdiction.
US Government Regulation
In the United States, drug products are regulated by the FDA under the FDCA and other laws, including, in the case of biologics, the PHSA. Drug products are also subject to other federal, state and local statutes and regulations. A failure to comply with any applicable requirements during the product development, approval, or post-approval periods may lead to administrative or judicial sanctions, including, among other things, the imposition by the FDA or an institutional review board ("IRB") of a hold on clinical trials, refusal to approve pending marketing applications or supplements, withdrawal of approval, warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, or administrative, civil and/or criminal investigation, penalties or prosecution.
In the United States, all of our product candidates are regulated by the FDA as biologics. Biologics require the submission of a BLA and approval by the FDA prior to being marketed in the United States. Manufacturers of biologics may also be subject to state and local regulation.
The steps required before a biologic may be marketed in the United States generally include:
completion of pre-clinical studies, animal studies and formulation studies, some in compliance with the FDA’s current Good Laboratory Practices ("GLP") regulations, and the Animal Welfare Act administered and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture;
submission to the FDA of an IND to support human clinical testing, which must become effective before human clinical trials may commence;
approval by an IRB before each trial may be initiated at each clinical site;
performance of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials under protocols submitted to the FDA and reviewed and approved by each IRB, conducted in accordance with federal regulations and current Good Clinical Practices ("GCP") to establish the safety, purity and potency of the biologic for each targeted indication;
submission of a BLA to the FDA;
satisfactory completion of an FDA Advisory Committee review, if applicable;
satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facilities at which the biologic is produced to assess compliance with cGMP and to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate; and
FDA review and approval of a BLA.
Pre-clinical Studies
Pre-clinical studies include laboratory evaluation of product chemistry, formulation and toxicity, as well as animal studies to assess the characteristics and potential safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The conduct of the pre-clinical studies must comply with federal regulations and requirements, including, as applicable, GLP and the Animal Welfare Act. The results of the pre-clinical studies, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. The FDA evaluates the IND to determine whether there is an adequate basis for starting the product candidate in initial clinical trials, and the IND must become effective before human clinical trials may be commenced. Additional pre-clinical studies 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 during this 30-day period the FDA does not raise any concerns or issues that must be addressed prior to the commencement of clinical trials or does not impose a clinical hold, the IND becomes effective 30 days following the FDA’s receipt of the IND and the clinical trial proposed in the IND may begin.
Clinical Trials
Clinical trials involve the administration of the product candidate to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators. Clinical trials are subject to extensive regulation and must be conducted in compliance with (i) federal regulations, (ii) GCP standards, which set safeguards to protect the rights and health of patients and establish standards for conducting, recording data from, and reporting results of clinical trials, and (iii) protocols detailing the objectives of the trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated, if any. Non-US studies conducted under an IND generally must meet the same requirements that apply to studies being conducted in the United States. The informed written consent of each study patient must be obtained before the patient may begin participation in the clinical trial. The study protocol, study plan, and informed consent forms for each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an IRB for each clinical site, and the study must be conducted under the auspices of an IRB for each trial site. Investigators and IRBs must also comply with FDA regulations and guidelines, including those regarding oversight of study patient informed consent, complying with the study protocol and investigational plan, adequately monitoring the clinical trial, and timely reporting of adverse events.
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The clinical trial program for a product candidate is generally divided into three phases. Although the phases are usually conducted sequentially, they may overlap or be combined. The three phases are as follows:
Phase 1. Phase 1 involves the initial introduction of a product candidate into humans. Phase 1 clinical trials are typically conducted in healthy human subjects, but in some situations are conducted in patients with the target disease or condition. These clinical trials are generally designed to evaluate the safety, metabolism, pharmacokinetic ("PK") properties and pharmacologic actions of the product candidate in humans, the side effects associated with increasing doses and, if possible, to gain early evidence of effectiveness. During Phase 1 clinical trials, sufficient information about the product candidate’s PK properties and pharmacological effects may be obtained to inform and support the design of Phase 2 clinical trials. The total number of participants included in Phase 1 clinical trials varies, but is generally in the range of 20 to 80;
Phase 2. Phase 2 includes the controlled clinical trials conducted to obtain initial evidence of effectiveness of the product candidate for a particular indication(s) in patients with the target disease or condition, to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage, and to gather additional information on possible adverse side effects and safety risks associated with the product candidate. Phase 2 clinical trials are typically well-controlled, closely monitored, and conducted in a limited patient population, usually involving no more than several hundred participants; and
Phase 3. Phase 3 clinical trials are clinical trials conducted in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. They are performed after preliminary evidence suggesting effectiveness of the product candidate has been obtained and are intended to further evaluate dosage, clinical effectiveness and safety, to establish the overall benefit-risk relationship of the product candidate and to provide an adequate basis for regulatory approval. Phase 3 clinical trials usually involve several hundred to several thousand participants. In most cases, the FDA requires two adequate and well controlled Phase 3 clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of the product candidate, although a single Phase 3 clinical trial with other confirmatory evidence may be sufficient in certain instances.
The decision to suspend or terminate development of a product candidate may be made by either a health authority body, such as the FDA, by an IRB, or by a company for various reasons and during any phase of clinical trials. 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. In some cases, clinical trials are overseen by a data safety monitoring board ("DSMB"), which is an independent group of qualified experts organized by the trial sponsor to evaluate at designated points in time whether or not a trial may move forward and/or should be modified. These decisions are based on unblinded access to data from the ongoing trial and generally involve determinations regarding the benefit-risk ratio for study patients and the scientific integrity and validity of the clinical trial.
In addition, there are requirements for the registration of certain clinical trials of product candidates on public registries, such as www.clinicaltrials.gov, and the submission of certain information pertaining to these trials, including clinical trial results, after trial completion.
Assuming successful completion of all required testing in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements, a sponsor submits extensive information about the product candidate to the FDA in the form of a BLA to request marketing approval for the product candidate in specified indications.
Biologics License Applications
In order to obtain approval to market a biologic in the United States, a marketing application must be submitted to the FDA that provides data establishing the safety and effectiveness of the product candidate for the proposed indication. The application includes all relevant data available from pertinent pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, including negative or ambiguous results as well as positive findings, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacturing, controls and proposed labeling, among other things. Data can come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and effectiveness of a product candidate, or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety and effectiveness of the product candidate to the satisfaction of the FDA. For example, in November 2016, the FDA issued a draft guidance document on developing new drugs and biologics for treating BCG-unresponsive NMIBC and finalized this guidance in February 2018.
Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, the fees payable to the FDA for reviewing an original BLA, as well as annual program fees for approved products, can be substantial, subject to certain limited deferrals, waivers and reductions that may be available. The FDA has 60 days from receipt of a BLA 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. The FDA may refuse to accept for filing any BLA that it deems incomplete or not properly reviewable at the time of submission, in which case the BLA will have to be updated and resubmitted. The FDA’s PDUFA review goal is to review 90% of priority BLA applications within
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six months of filing and 90% of standard applications within 10 months of filing, but the FDA can and frequently does extend this review timeline to consider certain later-submitted information or information intended to clarify or supplement information provided in the initial submission.
The FDA may not complete its review or approve a BLA within these established goal review times. The FDA reviews the BLA to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product is safe, pure, and potent for its intended use, and whether the product is being manufactured in compliance with cGMP. The FDA may also refer applications for novel product candidates which present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee, typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.
Before approving a BLA, the FDA will inspect the facilities at which the product candidate is manufactured or the facilities that are significantly involved in the product development and distribution process and will not approve the product candidate unless cGMP compliance is satisfactory. Additionally, before approving a BLA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP. Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, certain BLAs must include an assessment, generally based on clinical trial data, of the safety and effectiveness of the biological product in relevant pediatric populations. The FDA may waive or defer the requirement for a pediatric assessment, either at a company’s request or by its own initiative, including waivers for certain products not likely to be used in a substantial number of pediatric patients. Products with orphan drug designation are exempt from these requirements for orphan-designated indications with no formal waiver process required.
After the FDA evaluates the BLA and the manufacturing facilities, it issues either an approval letter or a CRL. A CRL generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing or information in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum in its present form and provided recommendations specific to additional clinical/statistical data and analyses in addition to CMC issues pertaining to a recent pre-approval inspection and product quality. If and when those deficiencies have been addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmission of a BLA, the FDA may issue an approval letter. The FDA’s PDUFA review goal is to review such resubmissions within two or six months of receipt, 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 and deny approval of a resubmitted BLA. FDA approval of any application may include many delays or never be granted. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the product candidate with specific prescribing information for specific indications. As a condition of BLA approval, the FDA may require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy ("REMS") to help ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh the potential risks. REMS can include Medication Guides, communication plans for healthcare professionals, and also may include 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 biologic. Moreover, product approval may require substantial post-approval testing and surveillance to monitor the biologic’s safety, purity, or potency, which can be costly.
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 BLA or a supplemental BLA before the change can be implemented. A supplemental BLA for a new indication typically requires clinical data similar to that in the original application, and the FDA generally uses the same procedures and actions in reviewing a supplemental BLA as it does in reviewing a new BLA.
Product approvals may be withdrawn if compliance with regulatory standards is not maintained or if safety or manufacturing problems occur following initial marketing. For example, quality control and manufacturing procedures must conform, on an ongoing basis, to cGMP requirements, and the FDA periodically inspects manufacturing facilities to assess compliance with cGMP. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to spend time, money and effort to maintain cGMP compliance. In addition, new or modified government requirements, including from new legislation, may be established that could delay or prevent regulatory approval of our product candidates under development or affect our ability to maintain product approvals we have obtained.
Biosimilars and Market Exclusivity
Under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 ("BPCIA"), the FDA can approve products that are biosimilar to (but not generic copies of) innovative biologics on the basis of less extensive data than is required by a full BLA. To be biosimilar, a biological product must be highly similar to an already-licensed FDA biological product, or reference product and can have no clinically meaningful differences in safety, purity and potency from the reference product. An interchangeable biosimilar product must meet additional standards for interchangeability and, if approved, may be substituted
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for the reference product. At this juncture, it is unclear whether any product biosimilar deemed ‘‘interchangeable’’ by the FDA, in fact, will be readily substituted by pharmacies, which are governed by state pharmacy law.
After an innovator has marketed its product for four years, a manufacturer may file an application for approval of a ‘‘biosimilar’’ version of the innovator product. However, although an application for approval of a biosimilar may be filed four years after approval of the innovator product, qualified innovative biological products receive 12 years of regulatory exclusivity, meaning that the FDA may not approve a biosimilar version until 12 years after the innovative biological product was first approved by the FDA under the PHSA. The BPCIA also provides a mechanism for innovators to enforce the patents that protect innovative biological products and for biosimilar applicants to challenge the patents. Such patent litigation may begin as early as four years after the innovative biological product is first approved by the FDA. Although the patents for the reference biologic may be challenged by the biosimilar applicant during that time period pursuant to the BPCIA statutory patent challenge framework, no biosimilar or interchangeable product will be licensed by the FDA until the end of the exclusivity period. The first biologic product candidate submitted under the abbreviated approval pathway that is determined to be interchangeable with the reference product has exclusivity against any other determinations of interchangeability to the reference product for the lesser of (i) one year after first commercial marketing of the interchangeable biosimilar product, (ii) 18 months after approval of the interchangeable biosimilar product if there is no legal challenge, (iii) 18 months after the resolution in the interchangeable biosimilar product applicant’s favor of a lawsuit challenging the reference product’s patents, and (iv) 42 months after approval of the interchangeable biosimilar product if a lawsuit is ongoing within the 42-month period.
The objectives of the BPCIA are conceptually similar to those of the Hatch-Waxman Act, which established abbreviated pathways for the approval of generic drugs. The FDA has published several guidance documents providing direction on developing and obtaining approval of biosimilar product candidates. The guidance documents to date explain, among other things, that the FDA will approve a biosimilar product if there are no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity and potency. A determination of biosimilarity may be based upon: (1) analytical studies showing that the biological product is highly similar to, with no clinically meaningful differences from, the reference product, (2) animal studies, including toxicity assessments, and/or (3) a clinical trial or trials (including assessment of immunogenicity and PKs) that are sufficient to demonstrate safety, purity and potency in one or more appropriate conditions of use for which the reference product is licensed and for which licensure is sought for the biological product. The FDA recommends that sponsors use a stepwise approach to developing the data and information needed to support biosimilarity. At each step, the sponsor should evaluate the extent of residual uncertainty of biosimilarity that remains and incorporate the FDA’s advice for additional studies to address remaining uncertainty. To meet the higher standard for interchangeability the sponsor must demonstrate, in addition to biosimilarity, that the proposed biological product can be expected to produce the same clinical result and, if administered more than once to any given patient, the safety risk and potential for diminished efficacy associated with switching between the proposed biological product and the reference product is not greater than continuing to use the reference product. A biological product that is determined to be interchangeable may be substituted for the reference product without the intervention of the prescribing healthcare provider. In March 2015, the FDA approved the first biosimilar product under the BPCIA, and it has approved other biosimilar products since then. If any of our product candidates is approved by the FDA, the approval of a biosimilar to one of our products could have a material impact on our business. In particular, a biosimilar could be significantly less costly to bring to market and priced significantly lower than our products, if approved by the FDA.
The "Purple Book," first published by the FDA in September 2014, lists biological products, including any biosimilar and interchangeable biological products licensed by the FDA under the PHSA. The lists include the date a biological product was licensed under Section 351(a) of the PHSA and whether the FDA evaluated the biological product for reference product exclusivity under Section 351(k)(7) of the PHSA. The Purple Book will also enable a user to see whether a biological product licensed under Section 351(k) of the PHSA has been determined by the FDA to be biosimilar to or interchangeable with a reference biological product. Biosimilar and interchangeable biological products licensed under Section 351(k) of the PHSA will be listed under the reference product to which biosimilarity or interchangeability was demonstrated.
Advertising and Promotion
The FDA and other federal regulatory agencies closely regulate the marketing and promotion of biologics through standards and regulations for, among other things, direct-to-consumer advertising, communications regarding unapproved uses, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and promotional activities involving the internet. A biologic cannot be promoted before it is approved. After approval, promotion of a biologic can include only those claims relating to safety and effectiveness that are consistent with the labeling approved by the FDA.
Healthcare providers are permitted, however, to prescribe products for unapproved uses (also known as ‘‘off-label’’ uses) – that is, uses not approved by the FDA and therefore not described in the product’s labeling – because the FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine. However, FDA restricts manufacturers’ communications regarding unapproved uses. Broadly speaking, a manufacturer may not promote a product for an unapproved use, but may engage in non-promotional, balanced communication regarding unapproved uses under specified conditions. Failure to comply with applicable FDA requirements and restrictions in
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this area may subject a company to adverse publicity and enforcement action by the FDA, the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ"), or the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS"), as well as state authorities. Such enforcement action could subject a company to a range of penalties that could have a significant commercial impact, including civil and criminal fines and agreements that materially restrict the manner in which a company promotes or distributes products.
Post-approval Regulation
After regulatory approval of a product is obtained, a company is required to comply with a number of post-approval requirements. For example, as a condition of BLA approval, the FDA may require post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization. Regulatory approval of oncology products often requires that patients in clinical trials be followed for long periods to determine the overall survival benefit of the product. In addition, as a holder of an approved BLA, a company would be required to report adverse reactions and production problems to the FDA, to provide updated safety and efficacy information, and to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotional labeling for any of its products.
The manufacturing of our product candidates is required to comply with applicable FDA manufacturing requirements contained in the FDA’s cGMP regulations. Biologic manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved biologics are also required to register their establishments and list any products they make with the FDA and to comply with related requirements in certain states. The FDA and certain state agencies periodically inspect manufacturing facilities to assess compliance with cGMP and other laws.
Discovery of problems with a product after approval may result in serious and extensive restrictions on a product or the manufacturer or holder of an approved BLA, as well as lead to potential market disruptions. These restrictions may include suspension of product manufacturing until the FDA is assured that quality standards can be met, continuing oversight of manufacturing by the FDA under a ‘‘consent decree,’’ which frequently includes the imposition of costs and continuing inspections over a period of many years, as well as possible withdrawal of the product from the market. Other potential consequences include interruption of production, issuance of warning letters or other enforcement letters, refusal to approve pending BLAs or supplements to approved BLAs, product seizure or detention, and injunctions or imposition of civil and/or criminal penalties.
In addition, changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated, and, depending on the significance of the change, may require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation, correction, and reporting of any deviations from cGMP and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon a company and any third-party manufacturers that a company may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain compliance with cGMP and other aspects of regulatory compliance.
Newly discovered or developed safety or effectiveness data may require changes to a product’s approved labeling, including the addition of new warnings and contraindications, and also may require the implementation of other risk management measures, such as additional post-market clinical trials to assess new safety risks or distribution-related or other restrictions under a REMS.
Patent Term Extension
Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of the FDA approval of our product candidates, some of our US patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension. The provisions of the Hatch-Waxman Act permit a patent term extension of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. However, patent term restoration cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. The patent term restoration period is generally one-half the time between the effective date of an IND and the submission date of a BLA plus the time between the submission date of a BLA and the approval of that application. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent. The United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"), in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration. In the future, we may apply for patent term extension for one of our currently owned or licensed patents to add patent life beyond its current expiration date, depending on the expected length of the clinical trials and other factors involved in the filing of the relevant BLA.
Many other countries also provide for patent term extensions or similar extensions of patent protection for biologic products. For example, in Japan, it may be possible to extend the patent term for up to five years and in Europe, it may be possible to obtain a supplementary patent certificate that would effectively extend patent protection for up to five years.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA") prohibits any United States individual or business from paying, offering, or authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any non-US official, political party or candidate
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for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the non-US entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with accounting provisions requiring such companies to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the corporation, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.
European Union and other International Government Regulation
In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical trials and any commercial sales and distribution of our product candidates. Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product candidate, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in countries outside of the United States prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of a product in those countries. Some countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a CTA much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In the EU, for example, a CTA must be submitted to the competent authorities of the EU Member States where the clinical trial is conducted and to an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and IRB, respectively. Once the CTA is approved in accordance with a country’s requirements, clinical trial development may proceed.
Marketing Authorization Application for Biologic Medicinal Products
To obtain regulatory approval to commercialize a new product under EU regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application.
In the EU, a marketing authorization for a medicinal product can be obtained through a centralized, mutual recognition, decentralized procedure, or national procedure (single country). The centralized procedure is mandatory for certain medicinal products, including orphan medicinal products and certain biologic products and optional for certain other products, including medicinal products that are a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation, or whose authorization would be in the interest of public or animal health.
In accordance with the centralized procedure, the applicant can submit a single application for marketing authorization to the EMA which will provide a positive opinion regarding the application if it meets certain quality, safety, and efficacy requirements. Based on the opinion of the EMA, the European Commission takes a final decision to grant a centralized marketing authorization which permits the marketing of a product in all 27 EU Member States and three of the four European Free Trade Association States - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Under the centralized procedure in the EU, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application 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 EMA CHMP.
For other countries outside of the EU, such as the United Kingdom and countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. Internationally, clinical trials are generally required to be conducted in accordance with GCPs, applicable regulatory requirements of each jurisdiction and the medical ethics principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki. If we fail to comply with applicable non-US regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.
Advertising, Promotion and Compliance
In the EU, the advertising and promotion of our products will also be subject to EU laws and EU Member States’ national laws governing promotion of medicinal products, interactions with physicians, misleading and comparative advertising and unfair commercial practices. Other EU Member State national legislation may also apply to the advertising and promotion of medicinal products. These laws require that promotional materials and advertising in relation to medicinal products comply with the product’s Summary of Product Characteristics ("SmPC"), as approved by the competent authorities. The SmPC is the document that provides information to physicians concerning the safe and effective use of the medicinal product. The SmPC forms an intrinsic and integral part of the marketing authorization granted for the medicinal product. Promotion of a medicinal product that does not comply with the SmPC is considered to constitute off-label promotion and is prohibited in the EU. The applicable laws at the EU level and in the individual EU Member States also prohibit the direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription-only medicinal products. Violations of the rules governing the promotion of medicinal products in the EU could be penalized by administrative measures, fines and imprisonment.
During all phases of development (pre- and post-marketing), failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements may result in administrative or judicial sanctions. These penalties could include the imposition of a clinical hold on trials, refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, product detention or refusal to permit the import or export of products, injunctions, fines, civil penalties or criminal prosecution. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us.
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Orphan Drug Designation
The FDA may grant Orphan Drug Designation to biologics intended to treat a rare disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States or a disease or condition that affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States but there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the biologic would be recovered from sales in the United States.
In the United States, Orphan Drug Designation entitles a party to financial incentives, such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax credits for certain research and user fee waivers under certain circumstances. In addition, if a product receives the first FDA approval for the indication for which it has orphan designation, the product is entitled to seven years of market exclusivity, which means the FDA may not approve any other application for a biologic for the same indication for a period of seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity. The FDA can revoke a product’s orphan drug exclusivity under certain circumstances, including when the product sponsor is unable to assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the product to meet patient needs. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving a different drug for the same disease or condition, or the same biologic for a different disease or condition.
In the EU, medicinal products: (a) that are used to diagnose, treat or prevent life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions that affect no more than five in 10,000 people in the EU; or (b) that are used to treat or prevent life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic conditions and that, for economic reasons, would be unlikely to be developed without incentives; and (c) where no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the condition concerned exists, or, if such a method exists, the medicinal product would be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition, may be granted an orphan designation in the EU. The application for orphan designation must be submitted to the EMA and approved by the European Commission before an application is made for marketing authorization for the product. Once designated, Orphan medicinal product designation also entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers. Moreover, ten years of market exclusivity is granted following marketing authorization, if the product continues to be designated as an orphan medicinal product upon grant of the marketing authorization. During this ten-year period, with a limited number of exceptions, neither the competent authorities of the EU Member States, the EMA, or the European Commission are permitted to accept applications or grant marketing authorization for other similar medicinal products with the same therapeutic indication. However, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar medicinal product with the same orphan indication during the ten-year period with the consent of the marketing authorization holder for the original orphan medicinal product or if the manufacturer of the original orphan medicinal product is unable to supply sufficient quantities. Marketing authorization may also be granted to a similar medicinal product with the same orphan indication if this latter product is demonstrated to be safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior to the original orphan medicinal product. This period of market exclusivity may be reduced to six years, at the end of the fifth year, if the orphan designation criteria are no longer met, including where it can be demonstrated on the basis of available evidence that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity.
Orphan drug designation must be requested before submission of an application for marketing approval or marketing authorization. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, nor shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process.
Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN has received Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA and the EMA.
Expedited Programs in the United States and Other Jurisdictions
In the United States, a product may be granted Fast Track designation if it is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such condition. With Fast Track designation, the sponsor may be eligible for more frequent opportunities to obtain the FDA’s feedback, and the FDA may initiate review of sections of a BLA before the application is complete. This Rolling Review is available if the applicant provides, and the FDA approves, a schedule for the remaining information. Even if a product receives Fast Track designation, the designation can be rescinded and provides no assurance that a product will be reviewed or approved more expeditiously than would otherwise have been the case, or that the product will be approved at all.
FDA may designate a product candidate as a breakthrough therapy if it finds that the product candidate is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other product candidates or approved products, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product candidate may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints. For product candidates designated as breakthrough therapies, more frequent interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development. Product candidates designated as breakthrough therapies by the FDA may also be eligible for Priority Review. We may apply for breakthrough therapy designation for some of our product candidates. However, even if we believe one of our product candidates meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may disagree and determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of a breakthrough therapy designation for a product candidate
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may not result in a faster development process, review or approval compared to product candidates considered for approval under conventional FDA procedures and, in any event, does not assure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our product candidates qualify as breakthrough therapies, the FDA may later decide that the product candidates no longer meet the conditions for designation.
Accelerated approval under FDA regulations allows a product designed to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition that provides a meaningful therapeutic advantage over available therapies to be approved on the basis of either an intermediate clinical endpoint or a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. Approvals of this kind typically include requirements for confirmatory clinical trials to be conducted with due diligence to validate the surrogate endpoint or otherwise confirm clinical benefit and for all promotional materials to be submitted to the FDA for review prior to dissemination.
The FDA may grant Priority Review designation to a product candidate, which sets the target date for FDA action on the application at six months from FDA filing, or eight months from the sponsor’s submission. Priority Review may be granted where a product is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and, if approved, has the potential to provide a safe and effective therapy where no satisfactory alternative therapy exists or a significant improvement in safety or efficacy compared to available therapy. If criteria are not met for Priority Review, the standard FDA review period is ten months from FDA filing or 12 months from sponsor submission. Priority Review designation does not change the scientific/medical standard for approval or the quality of evidence necessary to support approval.
Under the Centralized Procedure in the EU, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application 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. Accelerated evaluation might be granted by CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, which should be justified and assessed on a case-by-case basis. In this circumstance, EMA ensures that the opinion of CHMP is given within 150 days.
Vicineum has received Fast Track and Priority Review designations from the FDA for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC and Fast Track designation from the FDA for the treatment of SCCHN.
Healthcare Reform
In the United States and some non-US jurisdictions, there have been, and continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could, among other things, prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability, or the ability of any partners, to profitably sell any products for which we, or they, obtain marketing approval. We expect that current laws, 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, or any partners, may receive for any approved products.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS"), the agency that administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs, may revise reimbursement and implement coverage restrictions. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products.
In addition, in March 2010, President Obama signed one of the most significant healthcare reform measures in decades. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (collectively, the "ACA") substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers and significantly impacts the pharmaceutical industry. The ACA has impacted existing government healthcare programs and has resulted in the development of new programs. For example, the ACA provides for Medicare payment for performance initiatives.    
    Among the ACA's provisions of importance to the pharmaceutical industry are the following:
an annual, non-deductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports specified branded prescription products and biological products;
an increase in the statutory minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program ("MDRP") to 23.1% for innovator drugs and 13% for non-innovator drugs of the average manufacturer price ("AMP");
a new methodology by which AMP is calculated and reported by manufacturers for products that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected and not generally dispensed through retail community pharmacies;
expansion of healthcare fraud and abuse laws, including the civil False Claims Act and the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, new government investigative powers and enhanced penalties for noncompliance;
a new partial prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients ("Medicare Part D") coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of
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applicable brand products to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturers’ outpatient products to be covered under Medicare Part D (subsequent legislation increased this amount to 70% effective as of January 1, 2019);
extension of manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability from fee-for-service Medicaid utilization to include the utilization of Medicaid managed care organizations as well;
expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to additional individuals, thereby potentially increasing manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability;
expansion of the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health Service Act's 340B drug pricing program;
new requirements to report to CMS annually specifying financial arrangements with physicians and teaching hospitals, as defined in the ACA and its implementing regulations, including reporting any ‘‘payments or other transfers of value’’ made or distributed to prescribers, teaching hospitals, and other healthcare providers and reporting any ownership and investment interests held by physicians and other healthcare providers and their immediate family members and applicable group purchasing organizations during the preceding calendar year;
a new requirement to annually report product samples that manufacturers and distributors provide to physicians;
a mandatory non-deductible payment for employers with 50 or more full-time employees (or equivalents) who fail to provide certain minimum health insurance coverage for such employees and their dependents;
establishment of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within CMS to test innovative payments and service delivery models; and
a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research
Certain provisions of the ACA have been subject to judicial challenges, as well as efforts to repeal, replace, or otherwise modify them or to alter their interpretation or implementation. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted on December 22, 2017, eliminated the tax-based payment for individuals who fail to maintain minimum essential coverage under section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, commonly referred to as the “individual mandate,” effective January 1, 2019. Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 among other things, amended the Medicare statute, effective January 1, 2019, to reduce the coverage gap in most Medicare prescription drug plans, commonly known as the “donut hole,” by raising the manufacturer discount under the Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program to 70%. Additional legislative changes, regulatory changes and judicial challenges related to the ACA remain possible. It is unclear how the ACA and its implementation, as well as efforts to repeal, replace, or otherwise modify, or invalidate, the ACA, or portions thereof, will affect our business.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. For example, the Budget Control Act of 2011, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, among other things, led to aggregate reductions in Medicare payments for all items and services, including prescription drugs and biologics, to service providers of, on average, 2% per fiscal year beginning April 1, 2013, and due to subsequent legislation, will continue until 2030 (with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022). On December 10, 2021, President Biden signed a law that provides for 1% Medicare sequestration in the second quarter of 2022 and allows the full 2% sequestration thereafter until 2030. To offset the temporary suspension during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2030, the sequestration will be 2.25% for the first half of the year, and 3% in the second half of the year.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 also, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several categories of healthcare providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.
Additional legislative changes, regulatory changes, or guidance could be adopted, which may impact the marketing approvals and reimbursement for our product candidates. For example, there has been increasing legislative, regulatory, and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to drug pricing practices. There have been several Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation and regulatory initiatives designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, evaluate the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government healthcare program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. For example, Congress is currently considering changes that could affect our overall rebate liability. Changes under consideration include a drug price negotiation program, Medicare Part B and Part D inflation rebates, under which manufacturers would owe rebates if the average sales price or average manufacturer price of a drug were to increase faster than the pace of inflation, and Part D benefit redesign, including a proposed new manufacturer discount program.
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It is possible that the ACA, as currently enacted or may be amended in the future, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, more rigorous coverage criteria, and new payment methodologies and in additional downward pressure on coverage and payment and the price that we receive for any approved product. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors.
Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement
Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any products for which we obtain regulatory approval. In the United States and in other countries, sales of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will depend in part on the availability of reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government health administrative authorities, managed care providers, private health insurers and other organizations. The process for determining whether a payor will provide coverage for a biologic may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the biologic. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, or formulary, which might not include all of the products approved by the FDA, or comparable non-US regulatory authorities for a particular indication or if a product is included it may not be listed on the formulary for all the indications or it may be listed on a narrower basis than what is approved by the FDA, or comparable non-US regulatory authorities. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price and examining the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of medical products and services, in addition to their safety and efficacy. We may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of our products, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA, or other comparable non-US regulatory authorities’ approvals. A payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development.
In 2003, the United States Congress enacted legislation creating Medicare Part D, which became effective at the beginning of 2006. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs may increase demand for any products for which we receive marketing approval. However, to obtain payments under this program, we would be required to sell products to Medicare recipients through prescription drug plans operating pursuant to this legislation. These plans will likely negotiate discounted prices for our products. Federal, state and local governments in the United States continue to consider legislation to limit the growth of healthcare costs, including the cost of prescription drugs. Future legislation could limit payments for pharmaceuticals such as the product candidates that we are developing or modify manufacturer discounts. For example, Congress is currently considering legislation that would sunset the current Part D discount program and replace it with a new manufacturer discount program, effective 2024. Congress further could enact a Medicare Part D inflation rebate, under which manufacturers would owe rebates if the average manufacturer price of a drug were to increase faster than the pace of inflation.
Different pricing and reimbursement schemes exist in other countries. Further, there are national, provincial and territorial formularies funded by government healthcare systems, in addition to formularies for private payors (private insurers) and hospitals or hospital groups. Listing on the formularies and price depend on evidence and submissions regarding the cost-benefit of the drug and comparison of the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies and is often subject to negotiations.
In the EU, once a marketing authorization is granted for a medicinal product the applicant is required to engage in pricing and reimbursement discussions and negotiate with a separate pricing authority in each of the EU Member States. The EU Member States governments influence the price of pharmaceutical products through their pricing and reimbursement rules and control of national healthcare systems that fund a large part of the cost of those products to consumers. Some jurisdictions operate positive and negative list systems under which products may only be marketed once a reimbursement price has been agreed upon. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval, some of the EU Member States may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies. Other EU Member States allow companies to fix their own prices for medicinal products but monitor and control company profits. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly pharmaceuticals, has become more intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Furthermore, many EU Member States and other non-US countries use prices for medicinal products established in other countries as “reference prices” to help determine the price of the product in their own territory. Consequently, a downward trend in prices of medicinal products in some countries could contribute to similar downward trends elsewhere. The EU Member States have discretion to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. We may face competition for our products, if approved, from lower priced products in non-US countries that have placed price controls on pharmaceutical products. In addition, in some countries, cross-border imports from low-priced markets exert a commercial pressure on pricing within a country.
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Health Technology Assessment ("HTA") of medicinal products is becoming an increasingly common part of the pricing and reimbursement procedures in some EU Member States. These EU Member States include France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. The HTA process in European Economic Area ("EEA") countries is governed by the national laws of these countries. HTA is the procedure according to which the assessment of the public health impact, therapeutic impact and the economic and societal impact of use of a given medicinal product in the national healthcare systems of the individual country is conducted. HTA generally focuses on the clinical efficacy and effectiveness, safety, cost, and cost-effectiveness of individual medicinal products as well as their potential implications for the healthcare system. Those elements of medicinal products are compared with other treatment options available on the market.
The outcome of HTA regarding specific medicinal products will often influence the pricing and reimbursement status granted to these medicinal products by the competent authorities of individual EU Member States. The extent to which pricing and reimbursement decisions are influenced by the HTA of the specific medicinal product vary between EU Member States.
The marketability of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale may suffer if the government and third-party payors fail to provide adequate coverage and reimbursement. In addition, an increasing emphasis on managed care in the United States has increased and will continue to increase the pressure on pharmaceutical pricing. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time.
Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which we receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.
American Society of Clinical Oncology ("ASCO") Value Assessment for Cancer Treatments
On May 31, 2016, ASCO published a framework to assess the value of cancer treatment options. The framework was developed in response to concern that new, expensive cancer treatments may not be supported by adequate medical evidence. The purpose of the framework is to provide a standardized quantification of cancer treatments and assist oncologists and patients in deciding between new cancer treatments and the standard of care. The framework takes into account a medication’s (i) efficacy, (ii) safety and (iii) cost, to derive an overall treatment value.
While we believe that the safety and efficacy profiles of our product candidates are potentially better than that of the standard of care and, if approved, we intend to price our products competitively, we do not know how the data will be assessed by ASCO. It is also unknown whether use of this application could adversely affect the assessment of any of our product candidates. If this framework were adopted and utilized by payors and physicians, and if Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG were to receive low ratings, this could adversely affect the price and reimbursement of Vicineum, if approved, reduce prescriptions and harm our business.
Other Healthcare Laws and Compliance Requirements
Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. Our arrangements with third-party payors and customers will expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain marketing approval. In addition, we may be subject to transparency laws and patient privacy regulation by United States federal and state governments and by governments in non-US jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. We have described below some of the key federal, state and non-US healthcare laws and regulations that may affect our ability to operate.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce or in return for purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any healthcare item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid or other federally financed healthcare programs. This statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exemptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some business arrangements from prosecution, the exemptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly and practices that involve remuneration intended to induce prescribing, purchasing or recommending may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exemption or safe harbor. Our practices may not in all cases meet all of the criteria for safe harbor protection from federal Anti-Kickback Statute liability. Liability may be established under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute without proving actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the civil False Claims Act (discussed below).
The federal civil False Claims Act prohibits, among other things, any person from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment of government funds; knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim to the federal government; or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding, decreasing, or concealing an obligation to pay money to the federal government. The False
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Claims Act also permits a private individual acting as a “whistleblower” to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the statute and to share in any monetary recovery. Pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies have faced enforcement actions under the federal civil False Claims Act for, among other things, allegedly providing free product to customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal programs for the product and for allegedly causing false claims to be submitted because of the companies’ marketing of the product for unapproved, and thus non-reimbursable, uses. In addition, a claim can be deemed to be false due to failure to comply with legal or regulatory requirements material to the government’s payment decision. False Claims Act liability is potentially significant in the healthcare industry because the statute provides for treble damages and significant mandatory penalties per false claim or statement. Pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies also are subject to other federal false claims laws, including, among others, federal criminal healthcare fraud and false statement statutes.
The fraud provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and its implementing regulations (collectively, "HIPAA"), among other things, impose criminal and civil liability for knowingly and willfully executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third party payors and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services.
The federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act, being implemented as the Open Payments Program, which requires manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to CMS information related to direct or indirect payments and other transfers of value to physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held in our by physicians and their immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, applicable manufacturers also will be required to report information regarding payments and transfers of value provided to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists and certified nurse-midwives.
Many states have adopted analogous laws and regulations, including state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to items or services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs or, in several states, regardless of the payor. Several states have enacted legislation requiring pharmaceutical companies to, among other things, establish marketing compliance programs; file periodic reports with the state, including reports on gifts and payments to individual healthcare providers; make periodic public disclosures on sales, marketing, pricing, clinical trials and other activities; and/or register their sales representatives. Some states prohibit pharmacies and other healthcare entities from providing specified physician prescribing data to pharmaceutical companies for use in sales and marketing. Some states prohibit other specified sales and marketing practices, including the provision of gifts, meals, or other items to certain healthcare providers, and/or offering co-pay support to patients for certain prescription drugs. All of our activities are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws. In addition, 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 some states, manufacturers and distributors who ship products into the state even if such manufacturers or distributors have no place of business within the state.
In addition, we may be subject to data privacy and security laws and regulations by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. The legislative and regulatory landscape for privacy and data protection continues to evolve, and there has been an increasing focus on privacy and data protection issues which may affect our business. Numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including state security breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws and federal and state consumer protection laws, including the California Consumer Privacy Act ("CCPA"), govern the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information. In addition, state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in specified circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts. Failure to comply with such laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions and create liability for us (including the imposition of significant civil or criminal penalties), private litigation and/or adverse publicity that could negatively affect our business.
HIPAA imposes requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. We may obtain health information from third parties, such as research institutions, that are subject to privacy and security requirements under HIPAA. Although we are not directly subject to HIPAA other than with respect to providing certain employee benefits, we could potentially be subject to criminal penalties if we, our affiliates, or our agents knowingly obtain, use, or disclose individually identifiable health information maintained by a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA.
Other jurisdictions have corresponding laws and regulations governing the handling of personal information and third-party communications that may be more or less stringent than those of the United States.
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In the United States, our activities are potentially subject to additional regulation by various federal, state and local authorities in addition to the FDA, including CMS, other divisions of HHS (for example, the Office of Inspector General), the DOJ and individual United States Attorney offices within the DOJ, and state and local governments.
If we participate in the MDRP, we will have certain price reporting obligations to the MDRP, and we may have obligations to report average sales price ("ASP") figures to the Medicare program. Under the MDRP, we would be required to pay a rebate to each state Medicaid program for our covered outpatient drugs that are dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries and paid for by a state Medicaid program as a condition of having federal funds available for our drugs under Medicaid and Medicare Part B. Those rebates would be based on pricing data reported by us on a monthly and quarterly basis to CMS. These data would include AMP and, in the case of innovator products, the best price for each drug which, in general, represents the lowest price available from the manufacturer to any entity in the United States in any pricing structure, calculated to include all sales and associated rebates, discounts and other price concessions. On December 21, 2020, CMS issued a final rule that modified MDRP regulations to permit reporting multiple best price figures with regard to value based purchasing arrangements (beginning in 2022); provide definitions of “line extension,” “new formulation,” and related terms with the practical effect of expanding the scope of drugs considered to be line extensions (beginning in 2022); and revise best price and AMP exclusions of manufacturer-sponsored patient benefit programs, including with respect to the potential inapplicability of such exclusions in the context of pharmacy benefit manager “accumulator” programs (beginning in 2023).
Federal law also requires that a company that participates in the MDRP report ASP information each quarter to CMS for certain categories of drugs that are paid under Part B of the Medicare program. Manufacturers calculate ASP based on a statutorily defined formula and interpretations of the statute. CMS uses these submissions to determine payment rates for drugs under Medicare Part B. For calendar quarters beginning January 1, 2022, manufacturers will be required to report the average sales price for certain drugs under the Medicare program regardless of whether they participate in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. In addition, starting in 2023, manufacturers must pay refunds to Medicare for single source drugs or biologicals, or biosimilar biological products, reimbursed under Medicare Part B and packaged in single-dose containers or single-use packages for units of discarded drug reimbursed by Medicare Part B in excess of 10 percent of total allowed charges under Medicare Part B for that drug. Manufacturers that fail to pay refunds could be subject to civil monetary penalties of 125 percent of the refund amount.
Federal law requires that any company that participates in the MDRP also participate in the Public Health Service’s 340B drug pricing program in order for federal funds to be available for the manufacturer’s drugs under Medicaid and Medicare Part B. The 340B program requires participating manufacturers to agree to charge statutorily defined covered entities no more than the 340B “ceiling price” for the manufacturer’s covered outpatient drugs. The Health Resources and Services Administration ("HRSA"), which administers the 340B program, issued a final regulation regarding the calculation of the 340B ceiling price and the imposition of civil monetary penalties on manufacturers that knowingly and intentionally overcharge covered entities, which became effective on January 1, 2019. HRSA also has implemented a ceiling price reporting requirement, pursuant to which manufacturers must report the 340B ceiling prices for their covered outpatient drugs to HRSA on a quarterly basis. HRSA then publishes those prices to 340B covered entities. Moreover, under a final regulation effective January 13, 2021, HRSA newly established an administrative dispute resolution (“ADR”) process for claims by covered entities that a manufacturer has engaged in overcharging, and by manufacturers that a covered entity violated the prohibitions against diversion or duplicate discounts. Such claims are to be resolved through an ADR panel of government officials rendering a decision that could be appealed only in federal court. An ADR proceeding could subject a manufacturer to onerous procedural requirements and could result in additional liability. HRSA further could terminate a manufacturer’s agreement to participate in the 340B program for a failure to comply with 340B program requirements. In the event that HRSA were to terminate such an agreement, federal payments may not be available under Medicaid or Medicare Part B for our covered outpatient drugs that we are able to successfully commercialize.
In addition, in order to be eligible to have its products paid for with federal funds under the Medicaid and Medicare Part B programs and purchased by certain federal agencies and grantees, a manufacturer also must participate in the Department of Veterans Affairs Federal Supply Schedule ("FSS") pricing program, established by Section 603 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992. Under this program, the manufacturer is obligated to make its “covered drugs” (biologics or innovator drugs) available for procurement on an FSS contract and charge a price to four federal agencies - Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Public Health Service and Coast Guard - that is no higher than the statutory federal ceiling price. We also expect to participate in the Tricare Retail Pharmacy Program, under which we would pay quarterly rebates to DoD for prescriptions of innovator drugs dispensed to Tricare beneficiaries through Tricare Retail network pharmacies. The requirements under the 340B and FSS programs could reduce the revenue we may generate from any products that are commercialized in the future and could adversely affect our business and operating results.
Pricing and rebate calculations vary among products and programs. The calculations are complex and are often subject to interpretation by manufacturers, governmental or regulatory agencies, and the courts. The Medicaid rebate amount for each covered outpatient drug is computed each quarter based on the manufacturer’s submission to CMS of its current AMP and, in
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the case of innovator products, best price figures, for the quarter. If we participate in the MDRP and become aware that our reporting for a prior quarter was incorrect, or has changed, we will be obligated to resubmit the corrected data for a period not to exceed twelve quarters from the quarter in which the data originally were due. Such restatements and recalculations would increase our costs for complying with the laws and regulations governing the MDRP. Any corrections to our rebate calculations could result in an overage or underage in our rebate liability for past quarters, depending on the nature of the correction. Price recalculations also may affect the ceiling price at which we would be required to offer our products to certain covered entities, such as safety-net providers, under the 340B program, and we may be obligated to issue refunds to covered entities.
If we participate in the MDRP or our products are covered under Medicare Part B, we will be liable for errors associated with our submission of pricing data. We cannot assure you that our submissions, if we participate in these programs, will not be found by CMS to be incomplete or incorrect. In addition to retroactive rebates and the potential for 340B program refunds, if we are found to have knowingly submitted false AMP, ASP or best price information to the government, we may be liable for civil monetary penalties per item of false information. If we are found to have made a misrepresentation in the reporting of our ASP, the Medicare statute provides for civil monetary penalties for each misrepresentation for each day in which the misrepresentation was applied. Civil monetary penalties also can be applied if we are found to have intentionally charged 340B covered entities more than the statutorily mandated ceiling price. Our failure to submit monthly/quarterly AMP, ASP and best price data on a timely basis could result in a civil monetary penalty per day for each day the information is late beyond the due date. Such failure also could be grounds for CMS to terminate our Medicaid drug rebate agreement, pursuant to which we would participate in the Medicaid program. In the event that CMS terminates our rebate agreement, federal payments may not be available under Medicaid or Medicare Part B for our covered outpatient drugs that we are able to successfully commercialize.
Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of available statutory and regulatory exemptions, it is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the federal and state laws described above or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including (depending on the applicable law) criminal and significant civil monetary penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government programs, injunctions, recall or seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of pre-marketing product approvals, private ‘‘qui tam’’ actions brought by individual whistleblowers in the name of the government or refusal to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. To the extent that any of our products are sold in a non-US country, we may be subject to similar non-US laws and regulations, which may include, for instance, applicable post-marketing requirements, including safety surveillance, anti-fraud and abuse laws, and implementation of corporate compliance programs and more extensive reporting of payments or transfers of value to healthcare professionals.
In the EU, interactions between pharmaceutical companies and physicians are also governed by strict laws, regulations, industry self-regulation codes of conduct and physicians’ codes of professional conduct in the individual EU Member States. The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is prohibited. The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians is also governed by the national anti-bribery laws of the EU Member States and by the United Kingdom's Bribery Act 2010.
The national laws of certain EU Member States require payments made to physicians to be publicly disclosed. Moreover, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations ("EFPIA") Code on disclosure of transfers of value from pharmaceutical companies to healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations imposes a general obligation on members of EFPIA or related national industry bodies to disclose transfers of value to healthcare professionals. In addition, agreements with physicians must often be the subject of prior notification and approval by the physician’s employer, his/her competent professional organization, and/or the competent authorities of the individual EU Member States. These requirements are provided in the national laws, industry codes, or professional codes of conduct, applicable in the individual EU Member States.
If we fail to comply with applicable non-US regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, warning letters or untitled letters, injunctions, civil, administrative, or criminal penalties, monetary fines or imprisonment, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, suspension of ongoing clinical studies, refusal to approve pending applications or supplements to applications filed by us, suspension or the imposition of restrictions on operations, product recalls, the refusal to permit the import or export of our products or the seizure or detention of products.
Environmental and Safety Laws
We are subject to a variety of federal, provincial and local regulations relating to the use, handling, storage and disposal of hazardous materials, including chemicals and radioactive and biological materials. Our operations involve such hazardous materials and produce such hazardous waste products. Although we believe that our safety procedures for handling and disposing of these materials comply with the standards prescribed by federal, provincial and local regulations, the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials cannot be eliminated. Radioactive materials in Canada come under
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federal jurisdiction. Canada’s Nuclear Safety and Control Act 1997 c.9 contains a general prohibition against any activity, including possession of radioactive material, except in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in a federal license issued by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulation does however, exempt licensing requirements for small quantities of radioactive substances that either meet concentrations set out in a schedule to the Regulation or, for radioactive substances not set out in the schedule, that meet certain regulatory criteria. Our operations do not currently require a federal license issued by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Our operations in Canada may be subject to license approvals, notification requirements and investigation and enforcement for air and water and waste matters.
Corporate History and Acquisition of Viventia
We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware in 2008. We were formerly known as Denovo Therapeutics, Inc. and Newco LS14, Inc. before changing our name to Eleven Biotherapeutics, Inc. in February 2010 and again to Sesen Bio, Inc. in May 2018.
In September 2016, we entered into a Share Purchase Agreement with Viventia Bio, Inc., a corporation incorporated under the laws of the Province of Ontario, Canada, the shareholders of Viventia named therein (collectively, the "Selling Shareholders") and, solely in its capacity as seller representative, Clairmark Investments Ltd., a corporation incorporated under the laws of the Province of Ontario, Canada (“Clairmark”), pursuant to which we agreed to and simultaneously completed the acquisition of all of the outstanding capital stock of Viventia from the Selling Shareholders (the "Viventia Acquisition"). In connection with the closing of the Viventia Acquisition, we issued 4.0 million shares of our common stock to the Selling Shareholders according to their pro rata share of Viventia’s then-outstanding shares of common stock, which represented approximately 19.9% of our voting power as of immediately prior to the issuance of such shares of common stock. Clairmark is an affiliate of Leslie L. Dan, who served on our board of directors until his retirement in July 2019.
In connection with the Viventia Acquisition, we are obligated to pay to the Selling Shareholders certain post-closing contingent cash payments upon the achievement of specified milestones and based upon net sales, in each case subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the acquisition agreement, including: (i) a one-time milestone payment of $12.5 million payable upon the first sale of Vicineum (the "Purchased Product"), in the United States; (ii) a one-time milestone payment of $7.0 million payable upon the first sale of the Purchased Product in any one of certain specified European countries; (iii) a one-time milestone payment of $3.0 million payable upon the first sale of the Purchased Product in Japan; and (iv) and quarterly earn-out payments equal to two percent (2%) of net sales of the Purchased Product during specified earn-out periods. Such earn-out payments are payable with respect to net sales in a country beginning on the date of the first sale in such country and ending on the earlier of (i) December 31, 2033, and (ii) fifteen years after the date of such sale, subject to early termination in certain circumstances if a biosimilar product is on the market in the applicable country.
Under the Share Purchase Agreement, we, our affiliates, licensees and subcontractors are required to use commercially reasonable efforts, for the first seven years following the closing of the Viventia Acquisition, to achieve marketing authorizations throughout the world and, during the applicable earn-out period, to commercialize the Purchased Product in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, China and Canada.
Human Capital
Our key human capital management objectives are to recruit, retain, manage and motivate our employees. There are a limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize products. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense given the numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies looking for similar personnel as well as universities and research institutions. We rely on our executive officers and other key employees to achieve our research, development and commercialization objectives and to successfully implement our business strategy. We also rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy.
We are committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace in which our employees from all backgrounds can fully contribute to the growth and success of our business. We communicate shared values and leadership behaviors, which are expected of all employees. Additionally, every employee has an annual performance review and has opportunities to contribute to corporate goals. We rely on a variety of sources to fill open positions, including job boards and postings on our corporate website.
We have a demonstrated history of investing in our workforce through comprehensive and competitive compensation and benefits, and a focus on health and employee wellbeing. We have adopted our 2014 Stock Incentive Plan ("2014 Plan") and Employee Stock Purchase Plan (“ESPP”) to enable us and our subsidiaries to recruit and retain highly qualified employees, directors and consultants, provide those individuals with an incentive for productivity, and provide those individuals with an opportunity to share in our growth and value.
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As of December 31, 2021, we had thirty-five full-time employees and no part-time employees, nine hold Ph.D. degrees and one is a veterinary doctor. This number consists of fifteen employees engaged in administration and twenty employees engaged in research and development (eight in clinical and regulatory, three in supply chain, five in manufacturing/engineering, and four in quality and support). Two of our employees are located in our corporate headquarters in Cambridge, fifteen of our employees are located in our Winnipeg facility, and five of our employees are located in our Philadelphia office. We have no collective bargaining agreements with our employees, and none are represented by labor unions. We have not experienced any work stoppages. We believe our relationship with our employees is satisfactory.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 30% of our employees have continued to work at our Winnipeg facility, where we have adopted health screening, implemented socially distancing and personal protective equipment requirements, enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols, and modified workspaces to reduce the potential for transmission of the virus. All other employees who do not require access to our facility to perform their work have been working from home during the pandemic.
Corporate Information and Access to SEC Reports
Our principal executive offices are located at 245 First Street, Suite 1800, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, our telephone number is (617)-444-8550 and our website address is www.sesenbio.com. We make our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports, available free of charge in the “Investors” section of our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we file these reports with the SEC. We routinely post these reports, recent news and announcements, financial results and other important information about our business on our website at www.sesenbio.com. Information contained on our website is not a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
In addition, the SEC maintains an Internet website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.

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Item 1A.    Risk Factors.
Our business is subject to substantial risks and uncertainties. The occurrence of any of the following risks and uncertainties, either alone or taken together, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects. In these circumstances, the market price of our common shares could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Risks and uncertainties of general applicability and additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need for Additional Capital
We have incurred significant losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future.
We are a specialty pharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. Over the past few years, we have focused primarily on developing our lead product candidate, Vicineum. Since our inception, we have received no revenues from sales of our products, have incurred significant operating losses and expect to continue to incur operating losses for the foreseeable future as we continue the clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and seek marketing approval from the FDA. We had net losses of $0.3 million, $22.4 million and $107.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. We incurred negative cash flows from operating activities of $68.9 million, $30.8 million and $37.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. As of December 31, 2021, we had cash and cash equivalents of $162.6 million, net working capital (current assets less current liabilities) of $194.0 million and an accumulated deficit of $316.3 million. We have financed our operations to date primarily through private placements of our common stock, preferred stock, common stock warrants and convertible bridge notes, venture debt borrowings, our initial public offering ("IPO"), our follow-on public offerings, sales effected in at-the-market ("ATM") offerings and, our out-licensing and OUS business development partnership agreements. The majority of our revenue to date has been from milestone payments received under our out-licensing and OUS business development partnership agreements. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses over the next several years. Our net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year.
We expect to incur losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase as we:
continue our clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
seek marketing approval for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the United States and the European Union;
establish a commercialization infrastructure and scale up external manufacturing and distribution capabilities to commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, if approved;
adapt our regulatory compliance efforts to incorporate requirements applicable to marketed drugs;
seek and conduct combination trials of one or more of our product candidates;
seek to develop additional product candidates;
in-license or acquire the rights to other products, product candidates or technologies; and
maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio;
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with drug development and commercialization, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. If we are required by regulatory authorities to perform trials in addition to those expected or if there are any delays in the initiation and completion of our clinical trials or the development of any of our product candidates, our expenses could increase.
With the exception of specified regulatory, development and commercial milestones under our out-licensing and OUS business development partnership agreements, we currently have no source of revenue and may never become profitable.
Our ability to become and remain profitable depends on our ability to generate revenue. Although we may be entitled to certain payments under our out-licensing and OUS business development partnership agreements, neither we nor any of our business development partners have commercialized any of our product candidates. We do not expect to generate significant revenue from the development of our product candidates unless and until we or one of our business development partners obtain marketing approval for, and commercialize, Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. Our ability to generate revenue from Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG will depend on a number of factors, including:
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our ability to obtain regulatory approval for, and successfully commercialize, Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
our ability to complete and submit applications to, and obtaining regulatory approval from, non-US regulatory authorities;
the size of the markets in the territories for which we or our business development partners gain regulatory approval;
our ability to find a suitable contract sales organization ("CSO") to help us market and promote Vicineum, if approved;
our ability to develop and maintain effective medical affairs, sales, marketing and distribution to market and sell Vicineum, if approved;
our ability to enter into and maintain commercially reasonable agreements with wholesalers, distributors and other third parties in our supply chain;
our success in establishing a commercially viable price for Vicineum, if approved;
our success in defending against potential competition and other developments in our market generally;
our ability to manufacture commercial quantities of Vicineum at acceptable cost levels;
our ability to obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors, including government payors; and
our and our business development partners' ability to successfully complete development activities, including necessary clinical trials, for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
Even if Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG is approved for commercial sale, Vicineum may not gain market acceptance or achieve commercial success. If our addressable market is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect or the treatment population is narrowed by competition, physician choice or clinical practice guidelines, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of Vicineum. In addition, we would anticipate incurring significant costs associated with commercializing Vicineum, if approved. We may not achieve profitability soon after generating product sales from Vicineum, if ever. If we are unable to generate product revenues from Vicineum, we will not become profitable and may be unable to continue operations without continued funding.
Even if we achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would depress the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, maintain our development efforts, obtain drug approvals, diversify our offerings or continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company could also cause you to lose all or part of your investment.
We will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.
We are devoting substantial financial resources to our ongoing and planned activities, including a new Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, and functions associated with operating as a public company. We expect to continue to spend substantial amounts to continue the clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, and, if approved, commercialize Vicineum. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or any future commercialization efforts.
Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
the costs and timing of continuing the clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
the success of our commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, if approved;
the outcome, timing and cost of the regulatory approval process for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG by the FDA and comparable non-US regulatory authorities, including the potential for the FDA to require that we perform more studies and clinical trials than those we currently expect;
the costs and timing of the implementation of commercial-scale manufacturing activities;
our ability to establish and maintain commercial arrangements on favorable terms, if at all, particularly manufacturing, marketing and distribution arrangements for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
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the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;
our obligation to make milestone, royalty and other payments to third party licensors under our in-licensing agreements;
the extent to which we in-license or acquire rights to other products, product candidates or technologies; and
the effect of competing technological and market developments.
We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available when needed on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts, when required or on acceptable terms, we also could be required to:
seek out-licensing or commercialization partners to assist in the clinical development or commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG in the United States and other markets;
delay, limit, reduce or terminate the clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG; or
significantly curtail our operations.
Based on our current operating plan, we believe that our cash and cash equivalents of $162.6 million as of December 31, 2021, will be sufficient to fund our operations into 2024; however, we have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and our capital resources may be utilized faster than we currently expect.
Future sales and issuances of shares of our common stock or rights to purchase shares of our common stock, including common stock purchase warrants and stock options, could result in additional dilution of the percentage ownership of our stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.
Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenues, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, government or other third-party funding, licensing and OUS business development partnership agreements, strategic alliances and marketing and distribution arrangements and other commercial arrangements. We do not have any committed external source of funds other than the amounts payable under our out-licensing and OUS business development partnership agreements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, our stockholders’ ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders’ rights as holders of our common stock.
We have also adopted the 2014 Plan to enable us and our subsidiaries to recruit and retain highly qualified employees, directors and consultants, provide those individuals with an incentive for productivity, and provide those individuals with an opportunity to share in our growth and value. As of December 31, 2021, we had an aggregate of 15.8 million stock options and RSUs outstanding under the 2014 Plan, our prior equity plan and inducement awards granted outside of our equity plans. In addition, as of December 31, 2021, we had 8.9 million shares of common stock available for grant under our 2014 Plan. Future equity incentive grants and issuances of shares of common stock under the 2014 Plan, or other grants outside of the 2014 Plan pursuant to inducement equity awards, may have an adverse effect on the market price of shares of our common stock.
Further, debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.
If we raise additional funds through government or other third-party funding, licensing or OUS business development partnership agreements, strategic alliances or marketing and distribution arrangements, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or product candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or future commercialization efforts or grant rights to develop and market products or product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.
Risks Related to Clinical Development and Regulatory Approval of Vicineum
We are dependent on our lead product candidate, Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. If we are unable to obtain marketing approval for or successfully commercialize our lead product candidate, either alone or through an out-license or OUS business development partnership, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business could be materially harmed.
We currently have no products approved for sale and have invested a significant portion of our efforts and financial resources in the development of Vicineum. On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in its present form. On August 20, 2021, we withdrew our MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in order to pause
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our plans to pursue regulatory approval of Vysyneum in the European Union until there is more clarity from the FDA on next steps for Vicineum in the United States. In October and December 2021, we participated in a CMC Type A Meeting and a Clinical Type A Meeting, respectively, with the FDA to discuss issues raised in the CRL and to discuss design elements of an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum, which the FDA confirmed will be required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. Following these Type A Meetings, we believe we have greater clarity of the requirements for potential resubmission of a BLA. We have a Type C Meeting scheduled with the FDA for March 28, 2022, in which we expect to discuss the study protocol for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
We may be unable to address the issues identified in the CRL from the FDA or resubmit a BLA for Vicineum, or address the concerns identified in the EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report or resubmit our MAA for Vysyneum, including because of a lack of capital or otherwise.
Even if the issues identified in the CRL or the concerns identified in the EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report are resolved to the satisfaction of the FDA or the EMA, respectively, the FDA and the European Commission retain the right not to approve a BLA or MAA, respectively, or to require additional information, or to raise additional issues with regard to regulatory approval, which could further delay or prevent its approval or limit product labelling claims.
Our prospects are substantially dependent on our ability and the ability of our out-licensing and OUS business development partners to obtain marketing approval for and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. In addition, either the substance of the issues identified by the FDA in the CRL, or the CRL itself, or the concerns identified in the EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report could have an adverse impact on future efforts to obtain marketing authorization for Vicineum from other non-US regulatory authorities, or on our future efforts to commercialize Vicineum and gain acceptance of Vicineum from third party payors. The success of Vicineum will depend on several factors, including the following:
successfully completing the clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
addressing the issues identified in the CRL we received from the FDA and the concerns identified in the EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report;
receiving marketing approvals from the FDA, the European Commission or comparable non-US regulatory authorities, including our ability to address the issues identified by the FDA in the CRL or the EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report;
developing and maintaining the commercial manufacturing supply and distribution chain for Vicineum;
performance of our current and future out-licensing or OUS business development partners;
the extent of any required post-marketing approval commitments to applicable regulatory authorities;
obtaining and maintaining patent, trade secret protection and regulatory exclusivity, both in the United States and internationally;
protecting our rights in our intellectual property portfolio;
launching commercial sales, if and when marketing approval is received;
demonstrating an acceptable safety profile prior to and following any marketing approval;
obtaining marketplace acceptance, if approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;
establishing and maintaining pricing sufficient to realize a meaningful return on our investment; and
competition with other therapies.
If we or our OUS business development partners are unable to develop, receive marketing approval for, or successfully commercialize Vicineum or experience delays as a result of any of these factors or otherwise, our business could be materially harmed.
If additional clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of the FDA, the EMA or other non-US regulatory authorities or do not otherwise produce favorable results, we will be unable to complete the development and potential commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, we must complete pre-clinical development and conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of Vicineum in humans. In order to address the issues identified in the CRL we received from the FDA for the BLA for Vicineum and the concerns
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identified in the EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report, we will need to complete one or more additional clinical trials. Such trials will require us to incur substantial additional costs and will delay the potential commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is uncertain as to outcome. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. Further, the outcome of pre-clinical studies and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and preliminary results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results.
Even if such clinical trials are successfully completed as planned, the results may not support approval of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG under the laws and regulations of the FDA, the European Commission or comparable non-US regulatory authorities. We cannot be certain that additional clinical data will demonstrate Vicineum is both safe and effective for its intended uses to the satisfaction of the FDA, the EMA or comparable non-US regulatory authorities. Pre-clinical and clinical data and analyses are often able to be interpreted in different ways. Even if we view our results favorably, we may be unable to demonstrate safety and efficacy of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG to the satisfaction of the FDA, the EMA or other non-US regulatory authorities. If a regulatory authority has a different view, we may still fail to obtain regulatory approval of Vicineum. This, in turn, would prevent us from commercializing Vicineum and our ability to generate revenues in the future would be materially impaired.
We may not be able to develop a more sensitive bioanalytical assay which is needed for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
We will need to develop a more sensitive bioanalytical assay for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG than was used in our prior VISTA Trial for Vicineum. This bioanalytical assay will be used to measure levels of Vicineum in the blood. The development of a new bioanalytical assay for a novel biologic like Vicineum can be complex. There is risk that an adequately sensitive bioanalytical assay may not be scientifically or economically feasible or that any new bioanalytical assay developed by us or a third party will not be accepted by the FDA or other comparable regulatory bodies. As a result, further development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG may be negatively impacted or delayed, which would have an adverse impact on our business.
If we experience any of a number of possible unforeseen events in connection with our clinical trials, potential marketing approval or commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG could be delayed or prevented.
We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval or commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG that we may develop, including:
clinical trials of Vicineum may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon the development of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower or more challenging than we anticipate, or patients may drop out of these clinical trials at a higher rate than we anticipate;
our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements, including GCP or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all;
inspection of the clinical trial operations, trial sites or manufacturing facilities by the FDA or other comparable non-US regulatory authorities could result in findings of non-compliance and the imposition of a clinical suspension or termination;
regulators or IRBs/Ethics Committees may delay or not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;
we may experience delays or fail to reach agreement with the FDA or a comparable non-US regulatory authority on a trial design that we are able to execute;
we may be unable to identify and maintain a sufficient number of trial sites, many of which may already be engaged in other clinical trial programs, including for the same indications as our clinical trials;
we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable clinical trial contracts or clinical trial protocols with prospective trial sites;
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trial sites and investigators may deviate from clinical trial protocols or otherwise fail to conduct the trial in accordance with regulatory requirements, and investigators may drop out of the clinical trial;
trial sites may withdraw from our clinical trials, including as a result of changing standards of care or ineligibility of a site to participate in our clinical trials;
we may decide, or regulators or IRBs/Ethics Committees or other reviewing entities, including comparable non-US regulatory authorities, may require us to suspend or terminate clinical research for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements including GCP or a finding that the patients are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
the cost of clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG may be greater than we anticipate;
we may receive feedback from DSMBs or the FDA, or a comparable non-US regulatory authority, that might require modification to the protocol for the clinical trial or performance of additional studies before clinical trials may continue;
as a clinical trial proceeds, or as the results of earlier stage studies or concurrent studies become available, we may determine that we need to modify the protocol and/or other aspects of the clinical trial before it may continue;
the FDA, a comparable non-US regulatory authority, or we may decide to, or a DSMB may recommend to, suspend or terminate clinical trials at any time for safety issues or for any other reason;
the supply or quality of Vicineum or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of Vicineum may be insufficient or inadequate;
Vicineum may have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics, causing us or our investigators, regulators or IRBs/Ethics Committees to suspend or terminate the trials;
lack of adequate funding to continue a clinical trial, including the occurrence of unforeseen costs due to enrollment delays, requirements to conduct additional clinical trials or increased expenses associated with the services of our CROs and other third parties; and
changes in applicable laws, governmental regulations or administrative actions.
We rely on CROs and clinical trial sites to ensure the proper and timely conduct of our clinical trials, and while we have agreements governing their activities, we have limited control over their actual performance. Any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our development and regulatory submission process for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and jeopardize our ability to obtain regulatory approval, commence commercial sales and generate revenues, if Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG is ultimately approved.
Further, conducting clinical trials outside of the United States, as we have done historically for Vicineum (both for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC and for the treatment of SCCHN) and as we may decide to do in the future, presents additional risks that may delay completion of our clinical trials. These risks include the failure of enrolled patients in countries outside of the United States to adhere to clinical protocol as a result of differences in healthcare services or cultural customs, managing additional administrative burdens associated with non-US regulatory frameworks, as well as political and economic risks relevant to such countries.
If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG beyond those that we currently contemplate, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of Vicineum or other testing, if the results of these trials or tests are not favorable or are only modestly favorable or if there are safety concerns, we may:
be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
not obtain marketing approval at all;
obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;
obtain approval with labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings, or is subject to a REMS;
be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements; or
have Vicineum removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.
Our product development costs will also increase if we experience delays in testing or marketing approvals. We do not know whether any of our pre-clinical studies or clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed
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on schedule, or at all. Significant pre-clinical or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do and impair our ability to successfully commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of patients in clinical trials, our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals could be delayed or prevented.
We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or similar non-US regulatory authorities. We have previously experienced difficulties with clinical trial enrollment and retention, which led to the early termination of our Phase 3 trial of Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN in 2008, and we may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials in the future for a variety of reasons.
Subject enrollment is affected by a number of factors, including:
the severity of the disease under investigation;
the eligibility criteria for the clinical trial in question;
the size of the patient population for the disease;
the size of the patient population required for statistically significant analysis of the clinical trial’s primary endpoints;
the design of the clinical trial;
the clinicians' and patients' perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study, including relative to alternative treatments;
the efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;
the patient referral practices of physicians;
any ongoing clinical trials conducted by competitors for the same indication;
the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the clinical trials before completion;
the ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment; and
the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients.
Further, our ability to successfully initiate, enroll and complete a clinical trial in any country outside of the United States, should we decide to do so, is subject to numerous risks unique to conducting business in such countries, including:
difficulty in establishing or managing relationships with CROs and physicians;
different or additional standards for the conduct of clinical trials;
absence in some countries of established groups with sufficient regulatory expertise for review of the protocols associated with our product candidates;
ensuring that clinical trial quality is sufficient to meet the standards of the FDA or other regulatory authorities;
our inability to locate qualified local consultants, physicians and partners; and
the potential burden of complying with a variety of non-US laws, medical standards and regulatory requirements, including the regulation of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products and treatments.
In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for other product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials in such clinical trial site. Moreover, because our product candidates represent a departure from more commonly used methods for cancer treatment, potential patients and their doctors may be inclined to use conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy, rather than enroll patients in any of our clinical trials.
Our inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials would result in significant delays, could require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether and could delay or prevent our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals. Enrollment delays in our clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our product candidates, which would cause the value of our company to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing.
Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG may cause undesirable side effects, serious adverse events or have other properties that could delay or
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halt clinical trials, delay or prevent its regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of its labeling, if approved, or result in significant negative consequences following any marketing approval.
Undesirable side effects or serious adverse events caused by Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt respective clinical trials and could result in a restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other comparable non-US regulatory authorities.
There were no Grade 4 or Grade 5 serious adverse events that were considered by the clinical investigators to be related to Vicineum during the Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of NMIBC. There was one Grade 5 serious adverse event, or death, which was determined by the clinical investigator to be unrelated to Vicineum. The most common reported treatment-related adverse events were an abnormally frequent passage of small amounts of urine, blood in the urine and painful urination, the majority of which were considered to be mild or moderate in severity. No patients discontinued treatment due to a Vicineum-related adverse event during the Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials.
As of the May 29, 2019 data cutoff date, in patients across all cohorts (n=133) of our Phase 3 VISTA Trial of Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, 88% experienced at least one adverse event, with 95% of adverse events being Grade 1 or 2. The most commonly reported treatment-related adverse events were dysuria (14%), hematuria (13%) and urinary tract infection (12%) - all of which are consistent with the profile of bladder cancer patients and the use of catheterization for treatment delivery. These adverse events were determined by the clinical investigators to be manageable and reversible, and only four patients (3%) discontinued treatment due to an adverse event. Serious adverse events, regardless of treatment attribution, were reported in 14% of patients. There were four treatment-related serious adverse events reported in three patients including acute kidney injury (Grade 3), pyrexia (Grade 2), cholestatic hepatitis (Grade 4) and renal failure (Grade 5 or death). There were no age-related increases in adverse events observed in the VISTA Trial.
In addition, side effects and serious adverse events or further safety or toxicity issues that we may experience in our clinical trials or in post-marketing experience, if approved, could lead to the FDA's or other comparable non-US regulatory authority's imposition of a REMS or other post-marketing obligations, which could hinder us from generating revenues or achieving profitability. Results of our clinical trials could reveal an unacceptably high severity and prevalence of side effects or serious adverse events. As a result, our clinical trials could be suspended or terminated, and the FDA or comparable non-US regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development or deny approval of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. The related drug-side effects or serious adverse events in our clinical trials could affect clinical trial patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the clinical trial or result in potential product liability claims.
Additionally, if Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects or serious adverse events caused by Vicineum, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
we may suspend or be forced to suspend marketing of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
we may be obliged to conduct a product recall or product withdrawal;
regulatory authorities may suspend, vary, or withdraw their approvals of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
regulatory authorities may order the seizure or recall of Vicineum;
regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label or a REMS or other post-marketing obligations that could diminish the usage or otherwise limit the commercial success of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
we may be required to conduct post-marketing studies;
we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients;
we could be required to pay fines and face other administrative, civil and criminal penalties; and
our reputation may suffer.
Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, if approved.
We will need to obtain regulatory authority approval of any proposed names for oportuzumab monatox for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, and any failure or delay associated with such naming approval may adversely impact our business.
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Although the FDA previously conditionally accepted the name Vicineum, and EMA previously conditionally accepted the name Vysyneum, for our product candidate, oportuzumab monatox, these approvals are subject to further and final review by FDA and EMA upon potential resubmission of our respective applications and at the time of regulatory authority review of such applications. If the FDA or EMA object to any proposed proprietary product name, we may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable proprietary product name that would qualify under applicable laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA and EMA, as applicable.
The marketing approval process is expensive, time-consuming and uncertain. As a result, we cannot predict when or if we, or any licensees or partners, will obtain marketing approval to commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG or any other product candidate.
Securing marketing approval requires the submission of extensive pre-clinical and clinical data and supporting information to regulatory authorities for each therapeutic indication to establish the product candidate’s quality, safety, and efficacy. The process of obtaining marketing approvals, both in the United States and abroad, is expensive and may take many years, especially if additional clinical trials are required, if approval is obtained at all. In October and December 2021, we participated in a CMC Type A Meeting and Clinical Type A Meeting, respectively, with the FDA to discuss issues raised in the CRL and design elements of an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum, which the FDA confirmed will be required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. We have a Type C Meeting scheduled with the FDA for March 28, 2022, in which we expect to discuss the study protocol for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
Securing marketing approval also requires the submission of information about the product manufacturing process to, and inspection of manufacturing facilities by, the regulatory authorities. The FDA or other comparable non-US regulatory authorities may determine that any product candidate that we may develop is not safe, effective or of appropriate quality, is only moderately effective or has undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that preclude our obtaining marketing approval or prevent or limit commercial use. Any marketing approval we ultimately obtain may be limited or subject to restrictions or post-approval commitments that render the approved product not commercially viable.
The different requirements and expectations of the non-US regulatory authorities compared with the FDA may lengthen the regulatory review process, require us to conduct additional studies or clinical trials, increase our development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of these product candidates or lead to significant post approval limitations or restrictions. If we experience delays in obtaining regulatory approvals, the commercial prospects for our product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate revenues will be materially impaired.
Failure to obtain marketing approval in non-US jurisdictions would prevent our product candidates from being marketed abroad, and any approval we are granted for our product candidates in the United States would not assure approval of product candidates in non-US jurisdictions.
In order to market and sell any product candidate that we may develop outside of the United States, we or our third-party licensees or commercialization partners must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. The approval procedure varies among countries and can involve additional testing. The time required to obtain approval may differ substantially from that required to obtain FDA approval. The regulatory approval process outside the United States generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. In addition, in many countries outside the United States it is required that the product be approved for reimbursement before the product can be sold in that country. We or these third parties may not obtain approvals from regulatory authorities outside the United States on a timely basis, if at all. For example, on March 5, 2021, we submitted our MAA to the EMA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC under the EMA’s centralized procedure. On August 20, 2021, we withdrew our MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. We have decided to pause our plans to pursue regulatory approval of Vysyneum in the European Union until there is more clarity from the FDA on the next steps for Vicineum in the United States. Additionally, on October 20, 2021, the EMA issued its Withdrawal Assessment Report relating to our MAA for Vysyneum, as is consistent with the EMA’s standard practice when an MAA is withdrawn. The Assessment Report reflects the initial assessment and corresponding questions from the EMA and identifies major objections in the areas of quality, good clinical practice, efficacy and safety. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions, and approval by one regulatory authority outside the United States does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions or by the FDA. We may not be able to file for marketing approvals and may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our products in any market. If we are unable to obtain approval of our product candidates by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions, the commercial prospects of our product candidates may be significantly diminished, and our business prospects could decline.
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We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do.
The development and commercialization of new biologics products is highly competitive. We face competition with respect to Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG from both large and small pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and other research organizations. There are a number of large pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that currently market and sell products or are pursuing the development of products for the treatment of NMIBC. For instance, in January 2020, the FDA approved Merck & Co., Inc.'s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) as a systemic monotherapy to treat patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC with CIS with or without papillary tumors who are ineligible for or have elected not to undergo cystectomy. In addition, FerGene Inc. is developing Adstiladrin (nadofaragene firadenovec (rAd-IFN/Syn3) for BCG-unresponsive NMIBC for the United States market. On May 17, 2020, the FDA issued a CRL that indicated outstanding questions regarding CMC = issues of Adstiladrin. In September 2020, CG Oncology (CG0070, a recombinant adenovirus type 5, same type as Adstiladrin) initiated a Phase 3 study for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive patients with expected primary and study completion dates of December 2022 and December 2024, respectively. In December 2020, ImmunityBio (Anktiva/N-803 in combination with BCG) released preliminary Phase 2 data for the CIS cohort and is expected to file its BLA following a meeting with the FDA in the first quarter of 2022. However, the Phase 2 trial did not include a BCG only control arm. In May 2020, the preliminary results of the Phase 2 study of Tecentriq for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive CIS patients were presented at ASCO by the NCI (National Cancer Institute) which sponsored the trial. The data showed that the trial did not meet its primary endpoint and further development of Tecentriq remains uncertain. Finally, another route of administration for checkpoint inhibitors is currently being evaluated by Pfizer with the subcutaneous administration of Sasanlimab (PF-06801591) for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC patients. There is intense and rapidly evolving competition in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical and antibody fragment and immuno-oncology therapeutics fields. Some of these competitive products and therapies are based on scientific approaches that are similar to our approach, and others are based on entirely different approaches.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than product candidates that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market.
In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payors, particularly Medicare, seeking to encourage the use of generic drug products. Generic products are currently being used as part of the standard of care for the indications that we are pursuing, and additional products are expected to become available on a generic basis over the coming years. If any product candidate that we may develop achieves marketing approval, we expect that it will be priced at a significant premium over competitive generic products.
More established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their greater size, cash resources and institutional experience. Compared to us, many of our competitors may have significantly greater financial, technical and human resources. As a result of these factors, our competitors may obtain regulatory approval of their product candidates before we are able to, which may limit our ability to develop or commercialize our product candidates. Our competitors may also develop drugs that are safer, more effective, more widely used and less expensive than ours, and may also be more successful than us in manufacturing and marketing their products. These appreciable advantages could render our product candidates obsolete or non-competitive before we can recover the expenses of development and commercialization.
Our product candidates may face competition from biosimilar products.
With the enactment of the BPCIA, abbreviated pathways for approval of biosimilar and interchangeable biological products were created. The BPCIA establishes legal authority for the FDA to review and approve biosimilars for marketing, as well as biosimilars that have been designated as “interchangeable” with a previously approved biologic, or reference product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be approved by the FDA until 12 years after the reference product was approved under a full BLA. This period of regulatory exclusivity runs concurrently with, but is independent of, periods of patent protection for the reference product.
We believe that any of our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, approved as a biological product under a full BLA should qualify for a 12-year period of exclusivity. However:
the United States Congress could amend the BPCIA to significantly shorten this exclusivity period as has been previously proposed; and
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a potential competitor could seek and obtain approval of its own BLA during our exclusivity period instead of seeking approval of a biosimilar version.
The BPCIA is complex and its provisions continue to be interpreted and implemented by the FDA and United States courts. As a result, the ultimate impact, implementation and implications of the BPCIA are subject to uncertainty and could compromise the future commercial prospects for our biological products. Moreover, it is not yet clear the extent to which a biosimilar, once approved, may be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for pharmaceutical products; this will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing at both the federal and state levels of government.
Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and to limit commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, if approved.
We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the use of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG caused injuries, we will incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
decreased demand for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;
withdrawal of clinical trial patients;
significant costs to defend the related litigation;
substantial monetary awards to trial patients;
loss of revenue;
reduced time and attention of our management to pursue our business strategy; and
the inability to commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
We currently hold $10.0 million CAD in product liability insurance coverage in the aggregate, with a per incident limit of $10.0 million CAD, which may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. We would need to increase our insurance coverage if we expand our clinical development activities beyond historical levels. We would need to further increase our insurance coverage if Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG is approved, and we commence commercialization. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise.
Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties
We will depend on Qilu for the development and commercialization of Vicineum in Greater China.
On July 30, 2020, we entered into the Qilu License Agreement. Under the terms of the Qilu License Agreement, Qilu has an exclusive license to manufacture, develop and commercialize Vicineum in Greater China, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The timing and amount of any milestone and royalty payments we may receive under the Qilu License Agreement will depend in part on Qilu’s efforts. We will also depend on Qilu to comply with all applicable laws relative to the manufacturing, development and commercialization of Vicineum in Greater China. We do not control the individual efforts of Qilu, and any failure by Qilu to devote sufficient time and effort to the manufacture, development and commercialization of Vicineum could have a material adverse impact on our financial results and operations, such as by a failure of Qilu to meet its obligations to us, including future milestone and royalty payments. In addition, if Qilu were to violate, or was alleged to have violated, any laws or regulations during the performance of its obligations for us, it is possible that we could suffer financial and reputational harm or other negative outcomes, including possible legal consequences.
Any termination, breach or expiration of the Qilu License Agreement could have a material adverse effect on our financial position by reducing or eliminating the potential for us to receive milestones and royalties. In such an event, we may be required to devote additional efforts and to incur additional costs associated with pursuing the manufacture, development and commercialization of Vicineum in Greater China. If we breach our obligations under the Qilu License Agreement and are unable to cure such breach, Qilu may terminate the Qilu License Agreement and retain all rights to manufacture, develop and commercialize Vicineum in Greater China with no obligation to make any additional milestone or royalty payments. Qilu has the right to receive a refund of all amounts paid us in the event the Qilu License Agreement is terminated under certain
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circumstances. In addition, the royalty rate is subject to reduction under certain circumstances, including when there is no valid claim of a licensed patent for Vicineum in a particular region or no data or regulatory exclusivity for Vicineum in a particular region.
We have entered into and may enter into additional OUS business development partnerships or out-license agreements with third parties for the commercialization or development of our product candidates. If our OUS business development partnerships or out-licenses are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of these product candidates.
We have sought and may seek additional third-party partners or licensees for development and commercialization of our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. Our current and likely commercialization partners or licensees include large and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, regional and national pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies. Our ability to generate revenues from these arrangements depend and will depend on our partners' or licensees' abilities and efforts to successfully perform the functions assigned to them in these arrangements.
OUS business development partnerships and licenses involving our product candidates pose a number of risks, including the following:
partners or licensees have significant discretion in determining the amount and timing of efforts and resources that they will apply to these partnerships or licenses;
partners or licensees may not perform their obligations as expected;
partners or licensees may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial program, stop a clinical trial or abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;
partners or licensees may not pursue commercialization and development of our product candidates that receive marketing approval or may elect not to continue or renew commercialization or development programs based on clinical trial results, changes in any such partner’s or licensee’s strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;
partners or licensees could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our products or product candidates if the partners or licensees believe that competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours;
product candidates discovered under the partnership or license with us may be viewed by our partners or licensees as competitive with their own product candidates or products, which may cause partners or licensees to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of our product candidates;
partners or licensees with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates that achieve regulatory approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such product or products;
partners or licensees could become involved in a business combination, which might deemphasize or terminate the commercialization or development of any product candidate licensed to it by us;
disagreements with partners or licensees, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development, might cause delays or termination of the research, development or commercialization of product candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to product candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would divert management attention and resources, be time-consuming and expensive;
partners or licensees may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;
partners or licensees may infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability; and
commercialization partners or licenses may be terminated for the convenience of the partner or licensee and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates.
OUS business development partnership agreements and licenses may not lead to commercialization or development of product candidates in the most efficient manner, or at all. If any partnerships or licenses that we enter into, do not result in the successful commercialization and development of products or if one of our partners or licensees terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under the partnership or license. All of the
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risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K also apply to the activities of any current or future OUS business development partners and licensees.
Additionally, if one of our partners or licensees terminates its agreement with us, we may find it more difficult to attract new partners or licensees and our perception in the business and financial communities could be harmed.
If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable new partners or licensees on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to fund and undertake development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we fail to enter into partnerships and do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates or bring them to market or continue to develop our product platform.
We rely on third parties to conduct our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates.
We rely on domestic and international third-party CROs to monitor and manage data for our pre-clinical and clinical programs. We rely on these parties for execution of our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, and we control only some aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol and legal, regulatory and scientific standards, and our reliance on the CROs does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We also rely on third parties to assist in conducting our pre-clinical studies in accordance with GLP and the Animal Welfare Act requirements. We and our CROs are required to comply with US federal regulations and GCP, which are international standards meant to protect the rights and health of patients and assure the credibility of clinical trial data that are enforced by the FDA and comparable non-US regulatory authorities for all of our product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce GCP through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of our CROs fail to comply with applicable GCP, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable non-US regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications.
On October 27, 2021, the FDA published a Warning Letter (the “FDA Warning Letter”) issued to a former clinical investigator in our VISTA trial for Vicineum arising from a 2021 FDA inspection related to the review of our BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. We discontinued use of the clinical site and the clinical investigator over four years ago when we learned of professional misconduct by the clinical investigator that was unrelated to the VISTA trial. The FDA Warning Letter indicated that the clinical investigator did not comply with applicable statutory requirements and applicable regulations regarding conduct of clinical investigations. The clinical investigator's medical license was temporarily suspended on May 29, 2017, due to inaccurate recordkeeping, which was unassociated with Sesen Bio and the patients in the VISTA trial. We notified the FDA of the misconduct at that time. There was no evidence found that patients were harmed by the clinical investigator’s actions. We included the corresponding patient data from the clinical site in the BLA submission to the FDA, which were thoroughly analyzed and discussed during the BLA review.
We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with GCP requirements. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under cGMP requirements. Failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.
Our CROs are not our employees, and except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such CROs, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our ongoing clinical, non-clinical and pre-clinical programs. If CROs do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines or if the quality or accuracy of the data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our protocols, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our results of operations and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenues could be delayed.
Because we have relied and will continue to rely on third parties, our internal capacity to perform these functions is limited. Outsourcing these functions involves risk that third parties may not perform to our standards, may not produce results in a timely manner or may fail to perform at all. In addition, the use of third-party service providers requires us to disclose our proprietary information to these parties, which could increase the risk that this information will be misappropriated. We currently have a small number of employees, which limits the internal resources we have available to identify and monitor our third-party providers. To the extent we are unable to identify and successfully manage the performance of third-party service
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providers in the future, our business may be adversely affected. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.
If we lose our relationships with CROs, our product development efforts could be delayed.
We rely on domestic and international third-party vendors and CROs for pre-clinical studies and clinical trials related to our product development efforts. Switching or adding additional CROs would involve additional cost and requires management time and focus. Our CROs generally have the right to terminate their agreements with us in the event of an uncured material breach. In addition, some of our CROs have an ability to terminate their respective agreements or research projects with us pursuant to such agreements if it can be reasonably demonstrated that the safety of the patients participating in our clinical trials warrants such termination in accordance with the reasonable opinion of the relevant CRO. Identifying, qualifying and managing performance of third-party service providers can be difficult, time consuming and cause delays in our development programs. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO commences work and the new CRO may not provide the same type or level of services as the original provider. If any of our relationships with our third-party CROs terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or to do so on commercially reasonable terms.
We are dependent on third parties to formulate and manufacture Vicineum, which exposes us to a number of risks that may delay development, regulatory approval and commercialization of our products or result in higher product costs.
In September 2017, we completed the manufacturing of all Vicineum necessary for our VISTA Trial and for our CRADA with the NCI. In conjunction with this achievement, we ended our manufacturing activities at our facility in Winnipeg and completed the technology transfer process to outsource future Vicineum clinical and commercial to third-party manufacturers.
On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum in its present form and, among other things, raised CMC issues pertaining to a recent pre-approval inspection and product quality. At the CMC Type A Meeting held in October 2021, the FDA confirmed that Vicineum manufactured using the proposed commercial process is comparable to Vicineum used in prior clinical trials and that we can utilize Vicineum manufactured during process validation for any future clinical trials needed to address issues raised in the CRL, and that such trials can proceed while addressing CMC issues. Therefore, we have no current plans to re-build internal manufacturing capacity for Vicineum and we expect to continue to rely on third-party expertise in this area.
Our reliance on third-party manufacturers exposes us to certain risks that we would not be subject to if we manufactured Vicineum ourselves, including:
The development of manufacturing capabilities to produce clinical supply of Vicineum may require our third-party manufacturers to invest substantial additional funds and hire and retain technical personnel who have the necessary manufacturing experience. Our third-party manufacturers may fail to devote sufficient time and resources to develop the capabilities to manufacture Vicineum.
Because of the complex nature of Vicineum, our third party manufacturers, or other third parties we rely on, may encounter difficulties in achieving the volume of production needed to satisfy our clinical supply demands, may not be able to achieve such volume at an acceptable cost, may experience technical issues that impact comparability, quality, or compliance with applicable regulations governing the manufacture of biological products, and may experience shortages of qualified personnel to adequately staff production operations.
Our third-party manufacturers could default on their agreements with us to meet our requirements for supply of Vicineum, or they may terminate or decide not to renew their agreements with us, based on their own business priorities, at a time that is costly or damaging to us. If our third-party manufacturers were to terminate our arrangements or fail to meet our manufacturing demands, we may be delayed in our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
It may be difficult or impossible for us to find replacement manufacturers on acceptable terms quickly, or at all. Identifying alternate manufacturers may be difficult because the number of potential manufacturers that have the necessary expertise to produce biologics is limited. Additionally, the FDA must approve any alternative manufacturer before we may use the alternative manufacturer to produce clinical supply of Vicineum.
If any third-party manufacturer makes improvements in the manufacturing process for Vicineum, we may not own, or may have to share, the intellectual property rights to such improvements.
A third-party manufacturer may gain knowledge from working with us that could be used to supply one of our competitors with a product that competes with ours.
Our reliance on third-party manufacturers reduces our control over production and supply of Vicineum but does not relieve us of our responsibility to ensure compliance with applicable legal and regulatory standards. The FDA and other non-US
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regulatory authorities require that our product candidates and any products that we may eventually commercialize be manufactured according to cGMP and similar non-US standards. Methods of manufacture as well as validation of manufacturing procedures and quality control systems are reviewed by regulatory authorities, such as the FDA and other comparable non-US regulatory authorities, to determine their effect on the quality, purity and potency of product candidates. All such manufacturing procedures, validation programs and quality assessment activities must be properly documented in accordance with regulatory requirements. Any failure by our third-party manufacturers to comply with cGMP or similar non-US standards, including any failure to deliver sufficient quantities of product candidates in a timely manner, could lead to a delay in, or failure to obtain, regulatory approval of any of our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. For example, we may be unable to resolve the issues raised in the CRL pertaining to a recent pre-approval inspection and product quality.
In addition, a failure by our third-party manufactures to comply with cGMP or similar non-US standards could be the basis for the FDA or any other non-US regulatory authorities to issue a warning or untitled letter, withdraw approvals for product candidates previously granted to us, or take other regulatory or legal action, including recall or seizure, total or partial suspension of production, suspension of ongoing clinical trials, refusal to approve pending applications or supplemental applications, detention of product, refusal to permit the import or export of products, injunction, imposing administrative or civil penalties, or pursuing criminal prosecution.
If we or our third-party manufacturers fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur significant costs.
We and our third-party manufacturers are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. From time to time and in the future, our operations may involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials, and produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. Our failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
Further, with respect to the operations of our third-party contract manufacturers, it is possible that if they fail to operate in compliance with applicable environmental, health and safety laws and regulations or properly dispose of wastes associated with our products, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, suffer reputational harm or experience a disruption in the manufacture and supply of our product candidates or products.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for our technology and products, or if our licensors are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for the technology or products that we license from them, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our technology and products may be impaired.
Our success depends in large part on our and our licensors’ ability to obtain and maintain patent protection in the United States and other countries with respect to Vicineum and our other proprietary technology and product candidates. We and our licensors have sought to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our novel technologies and product candidates. The patent prosecution process is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications in jurisdictions of interest at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. Moreover, in some circumstances, we do not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we license from third parties. Therefore, these patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. If such licensors fail to maintain such patents, or lose rights to those patents, the rights we have licensed may be reduced or eliminated.
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The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our and our licensors’ patent rights are highly uncertain. Our and our licensors’ pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued which protect our technology or products or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and products. In addition, the laws of non-US countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. For example, European patent law restricts the patentability of methods of treatment of the human body more than United States law does. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all. Therefore, we cannot know with certainty whether we or our licensors were the first to make the inventions claimed in our owned or licensed patents or pending patent applications, or that we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our owned or licensed patent rights are highly uncertain. Our pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued which protect our technology or products, in whole or in part, or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and products. In particular, during prosecution of any patent application, the issuance of any patents based on the application may depend upon our ability to generate additional pre-clinical or clinical data that support the patentability of our proposed claims. We may not be able to generate sufficient additional data on a timely basis, or at all. Moreover, changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection.
Moreover, we may be subject to a third-party preissuance submission of prior art to the USPTO or become involved in opposition, derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or products and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party patent rights. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates. In addition, invalidation of our patent rights by third parties could jeopardize the anticipated revenue streams from current licensees.
Even if our owned and licensed patent applications issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors from competing with us or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage. Our competitors may be able to circumvent our owned or licensed patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or products in a non-infringing manner.
The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and our owned and licensed patents may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or freedom to operate or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our technology and products. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on Vicineum and our other product candidates and technologies throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our or our licensors’ intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws and practices of countries outside the United States do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Moreover, the intellectual property laws of the United States change over time. For example, several United States Supreme Court cases have redefined what is considered to be patentable subject matter. Consequently, we and our licensors may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our and our licensors’ inventions in all countries inside or outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our and our licensors’ inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and may export infringing products to territories where we or our licensors have patent protection, but where enforcement is not as strong as in the United States. These products may compete with our products in jurisdictions where we do not have any issued patents and our patent claims or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from so competing.
Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in non-US jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of
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patents and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biopharmaceuticals, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our or our licensor’s patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally in those countries. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in non-US jurisdictions could result in substantial cost and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our and our licensors’ patents at risk of being invalidated or being interpreted narrowly and put our and our licensors’ patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us or our licensors. We or our licensors may not prevail in any lawsuits that we or our licensors initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful.
The laws of certain countries outside of the US may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, and such laws may also be subject to change. For example, methods of treatment and manufacturing processes may not be patentable in certain jurisdictions, and the requirements for patentability may differ in certain countries, particularly developing countries. Furthermore, generic and/or biosimilar product manufacturers or other competitors may challenge the scope, validity or enforceability of our or our licensors’ patents, requiring us or our licensors to engage in complex, lengthy and costly litigation or other proceedings.
Generic or biosimilar product manufacturers may develop, seek approval for, and generic versions or biosimilar versions, respectively, of our products. The FDA has published several guidance documents on biosimilar product development. If a biosimilar product is also found to be interchangeable with a reference product, it may be substituted for the reference product. Complexities associated with the larger, and often more complex, structures of biological products, as well as the process by which such products are manufactured, pose significant hurdles to implementation, which are still being worked out by the FDA. If any of our product candidates are approved by the FDA, the approval of a biologic product biosimilar to or interchangeable with one of our products could have a material impact on our business. In particular, a biosimilar could be significantly less costly to bring to market and priced significantly lower than our products, if approved by the FDA.
Many countries, including EU countries, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled under certain circumstances to grant licenses to third parties. In those countries, we and our licensors may have limited remedies if patents are infringed or if we or our licensors are compelled to grant a license to a third party, which could materially diminish the value of those patents. This could limit our potential revenue opportunities. Accordingly, our and our licensors’ efforts to enforce intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we own or license.
We have not yet registered our trademarks in all of our potential markets, and failure to secure those registrations could adversely affect our business.
Our future trademark applications may not be allowed for registration, and our registered trademarks may not be maintained or enforced. During trademark registration proceedings, we may receive rejections from the USPTO or other applicable non-US intellectual property offices. Although we are given an opportunity to respond to those rejections, we may be unable to overcome such rejections, or have to expend additional resources to secure registrations, such as commencing cancellation proceedings against third-party trademark registrations to remove them as obstacles to our trademark applications. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many non-US jurisdictions, third parties are given an opportunity to oppose pending trademark applications and to seek to cancel registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings may be filed against our trademarks, and our trademarks may not survive such proceedings. If we do not secure registrations for our trademarks, we may encounter more difficulty in enforcing them against third parties than we otherwise would.
We depend on our license agreements with Zurich, Micromet and XOMA, and if we cannot meet the requirements under the agreements, we could lose important rights to Vicineum, which could have material adverse effect on our business.
We have an exclusive license agreement with Zurich. Pursuant to the Zurich License Agreement, we were granted an exclusive license, with the right to sublicense, under certain patents primarily relating, in part, to our targeting agents, EpCAM chimera and immunoconjugates (including aspects of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN) and methods of use, to make, use, sell and import products that would otherwise infringe such patents in the field of the treatment, stasis and palliation of disease in humans. If we fail to meet our obligations under the Zurich License Agreement, Zurich may have the right to terminate our license, and upon the effective date of such termination, our right to use the licensed Zurich patent rights would end. To the extent such licensed technology or patent rights relate to our product candidates, we would expect to exercise all rights and remedies available to us, including attempting to cure any breach by us, and otherwise seek to preserve our rights under the patent rights licensed to us, but we may not be able to do so in a timely manner, at an acceptable cost to us or at all. Any uncured, material breach under the Zurich License Agreement could result in our loss of rights to practice the patent rights licensed to us under the Zurich License Agreement, and to the extent such patent rights and other technology relate to our product candidates or other of our compounds, it could have a material adverse effect on our commercialization efforts for our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN.
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We also have a license agreement with Micromet, which grants us non-exclusive rights, with certain sublicense rights, for know-how and patents allowing exploitation of certain single chain antibody products. If we fail to meet our obligations under the Micromet License Agreement, Micromet may have the right to terminate our license, and upon the effective date of such termination, our right to use the licensed Micromet patent rights would end. To the extent such licensed technology or patent rights relate to our product candidates, we would expect to exercise all rights and remedies available to us, including attempting to cure any breach by us, and otherwise seek to preserve our rights under the patent rights licensed to us, but we may not be able to do so in a timely manner, at an acceptable cost to us or at all. Any uncured, material breach under the Micromet License Agreement could result in our loss of rights to practice the patent rights licensed to us under the Micromet License Agreement, and to the extent such patent rights and other technology relate to our product candidates or other of our compounds, it could have a material adverse effect on our commercialization efforts for our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN.
We also have a license agreement with XOMA, which grants us non-exclusive rights, with certain sublicense rights, to certain XOMA patent rights and know-how related to certain expression technology, including plasmids, expression strains, plasmid maps and production systems. If we fail to meet our obligations under the XOMA License Agreement, XOMA may have the right to terminate our license, and upon the effective date of such termination, our right to use the licensed XOMA patent rights and related know-how would end. To the extent such licensed technology or patent rights relate to our product candidates, we would expect to exercise all rights and remedies available to us, including attempting to cure any breach by us, and otherwise seek to preserve our rights under the patent rights licensed to us, but we may not be able to do so in a timely manner, at an acceptable cost to us or at all. Any uncured, material breach under the XOMA License Agreement could result in our loss of rights to practice the patent rights licensed to us under the XOMA License Agreement, and to the extent such patent rights and other technology relate to our product candidates or other of our compounds, it could have a material adverse effect on our commercialization efforts for our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN.
We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.
Competitors may infringe our issued patents or other intellectual property. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time consuming. Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe their patents, trademarks or other intellectual property. In addition, in a patent infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, construe the patent’s claims narrowly or refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation proceeding could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly. In a trademark infringement proceeding, we could be enjoined from continued use of a trademark deemed to be infringing and forced to rebrand product packaging, product inserts, market and advertising materials, resulting in a loss of sales and established goodwill in that name or mark. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed a trademark.
Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock.
Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
Our commercial success depends upon our ability, and the ability of our partners, to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. There is considerable intellectual property litigation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. We may become party to, or threatened with, future adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our products and technology, including interference or derivation proceedings before the USPTO. The risks of being involved in such litigation and proceedings may increase as our product candidates near commercialization and as we gain the greater visibility associated with being a public company. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future. We may not be aware of all such intellectual property rights potentially relating to our product candidates and their uses. Thus, we do not know with certainty that any product candidate, or our commercialization thereof, does not and will not infringe or otherwise violate any third party’s intellectual property.
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If we are found to infringe a third party’s intellectual property rights, we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing and marketing our products and technology. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. We could be forced, including by court order, to cease commercializing the infringing technology or product. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar negative impact on our business.
We may be subject to claims by third parties asserting that our employees, consultants, independent contractors or we have misappropriated their intellectual property, or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.
Many of our employees and our licensors’ employees, including our senior management, were previously employed at universities, medical institutions or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Some of these employees, including members of our senior management, executed proprietary rights, non-disclosure and non-competition agreements, or similar agreements, in connection with such previous employment. Although we try to ensure that our employees do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that these employees or we have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such employee’s former employer. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. Our and their assignment agreements may not be self-executing or may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property.
If we fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
In addition to seeking patents for some of our technology and product candidates, we also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect these trade secrets, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to them, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. Despite these efforts, any of these parties may breach the agreements 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. In addition, 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 communicate it, 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, our competitive position would be harmed.
Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our competitive advantage.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. The following examples are illustrative:
others may be able to make product candidates that are the same as or similar to our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or have licensed;
biosimilar product manufacturers may develop, seek approval for, and launch biosimilar versions of our products, which could be significantly less costly to bring to market and priced significantly lower than our products;
we or our licensors might not have been the first inventor to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions;
others may design around our intellectual property rights or independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing or misappropriating our intellectual property rights;
it is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents with claims that cover our products or even issued patents;
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issued patents that we own or have exclusively licensed may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be held invalid or unenforceable as a result of legal challenges;
our competitors might conduct research and development activities in the United States and other countries that provide a safe harbor from patent infringement claims for certain research and development activities, as well as in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;
we may not develop additional proprietary technologies or product candidates that are patentable; and
the intellectual property rights of others may have an adverse effect on our business.
Risks Related to Regulatory Compliance
If and when we commercialize, our relationships with customers and third-party payors may be subject, directly or indirectly, to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, transparency, and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens and diminished profits and future earnings.
Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. Our future arrangements with third-party payors and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain marketing approval. In addition, we may be subject to transparency laws and patient privacy regulation by United States federal and state governments and by governments in non-US jurisdictions in which we conduct our business.
For a full discussion of these laws, see the subsection titled “Other Healthcare Laws and Compliance Requirements” in Item 1.
Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations may involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, including, without limitation, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, it may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from participation in government funded healthcare programs.
Current and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of our product candidates, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, and affect the prices we may obtain.
In the United States and some non-US jurisdictions, there have been, and continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could, among other things, prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability, or the ability of any commercialization partners, to profitably sell any products for which we, or they, obtain marketing approval. We expect that current laws, 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, or any commercialization partners, may receive for any approved products.
CMS, the agency that administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs, may revise reimbursement and implement coverage restrictions. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products.
In addition, in March 2010, President Obama signed into law the ACA. Among the provisions of the ACA of potential importance to our business and our product candidates are the following:
an annual, non-deductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports specified branded prescription products and biological products;
an increase in the statutory minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the MDRP to 23.1% for innovator drugs and 13% for non-innovator drugs of the AMP;
a new methodology by which AMP is calculated and reported by manufacturers for products that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected and not generally dispensed through retail community pharmacies;
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expansion of healthcare fraud and abuse laws, including the civil False Claims Act and the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, new government investigative powers and enhanced penalties for noncompliance;
a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% (as of January 1, 2019) point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand products to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturers’ outpatient products to be covered under Medicare Part D;
extension of manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability from fee-for-service Medicaid utilization to include the utilization of Medicaid managed care organizations as well;
expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to additional individuals, thereby potentially increasing manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability;
expansion of the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health Service Act's 340B drug pricing program;
new requirements to report to CMS annually specifying financial arrangements with physicians and teaching hospitals, as defined in the ACA and its implementing regulations, including reporting any ‘‘payments or other transfers of value’’ made or distributed to prescribers, teaching hospitals, and other healthcare providers and reporting any ownership and investment interests held by physicians and other healthcare providers and their immediate family members and applicable group purchasing organizations during the preceding calendar year;
a new requirement to annually report product samples that manufacturers and distributors provide to physicians;
a mandatory non-deductible payment for employers with 50 or more full-time employees (or equivalents) who fail to provide certain minimum health insurance coverage for such employees and their dependents;
establishment of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within CMS to test innovative payment and service delivery models; and
a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.
Certain provisions of the ACA have been subject to judicial challenges, as well as efforts to repeal, replace, or otherwise modify them or to alter their interpretation or implementation. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted on December 22, 2017, eliminated the tax-based payment for individuals who fail to maintain minimum essential coverage under section 5000A of the Code, commonly referred to as the “individual mandate,” effective January 1, 2019. Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 among other things, amended the Medicare statute, effective January 1, 2019, to reduce the coverage gap in most Medicare prescription drug plans, commonly known as the “donut hole,” by raising the manufacturer discount under the Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program to 70%. Additional legislative changes, regulatory changes and judicial challenges related to the ACA remain possible. It is unclear how the ACA and its implementation, as well as efforts to repeal, replace, or otherwise modify, or invalidate, the ACA, or portions thereof, will affect our business.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. For example, the Budget Control Act of 2011, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, among other things, led to aggregate reductions in Medicare payments for all items and services, including prescription drugs and biologics, to service providers of, on average, 2% per fiscal year beginning April 1, 2013, and due to subsequent legislation, will continue until 2030 (with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022). On December 10, 2021, President Biden signed a law that provides for 1% Medicare sequestration in the second quarter of 2022 and allows the full 2% sequestration thereafter until 2030. To offset the temporary suspension during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2030, the sequestration will be 2.25% for the first half of the year, and 3% in the second half of the year.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 also, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several categories of healthcare providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. These new laws may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any of our product candidates for which regulatory approval is obtained, including Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial operations.
Additional legislative changes, regulatory changes, or guidance could be adopted, which may impact the marketing approvals and reimbursement for our product candidates. For example, there has been increasing legislative, regulatory, and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to drug pricing practices. There have been several Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation and regulatory initiatives designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, evaluate the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government healthcare program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. For example, Congress is currently considering changes that could affect our overall rebate liability. Changes under consideration include a drug price negotiation program, Medicare Part B and Part D inflation rebates, under which manufacturers would owe rebates if the average sales price
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or average manufacturer price of a drug were to increase faster than the pace of inflation, and Part D benefit redesign, including a proposed new manufacturer discount program. If healthcare policies or reforms intended to curb healthcare costs are adopted or if we experience negative publicity with respect to pricing of our products or the pricing of pharmaceutical drugs generally, the prices that we charge for any approved products may be limited, our commercial opportunity may be limited and/or our revenues from sales of our products may be negatively impacted.
It is possible that the ACA, as currently enacted or may be amended in the future, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, more rigorous coverage criteria, and new payment methodologies and in additional downward pressure on coverage and payment and the price that we receive for any approved product. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products. We cannot be sure whether additional legislative changes will be enacted in the United States or outside of the United States, or whether regulatory changes, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes on the marketing approvals of our product candidates, if any, may be.
Our failure to comply with data protection laws and regulations could lead to government enforcement actions and significant penalties against us, and adversely impact our operating results.
The regulatory environment surrounding information security, data collection, and privacy is increasingly demanding. In the United States, we are subject to a number of data protection laws and regulations (i.e., laws and regulations that address privacy and data security) at both the federal and state levels. The legislative and regulatory landscape for data protection continues to evolve, and in recent years there has been an increasing focus on privacy and data security issues. Numerous federal and state laws, including state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws, and federal and state consumer protection laws, such as Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, govern the collection, use, and disclosure of health-related and other personal information.
In addition, we may obtain health information from third parties (e.g., healthcare providers who prescribe our products) that are subject to privacy and security requirements in the United States under HIPAA. Although we are not directly subject to HIPAA-other than potentially with respect to providing certain employee benefits-we could be subject to criminal penalties if we knowingly obtain, use or disclose individually identifiable health information maintained by a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA. Finally, a data breach affecting sensitive personal information, including health information, could result in significant legal and financial exposure and reputational damages that could potentially have an adverse effect on our business.
In addition to US data protection laws and regulations, we also may be subject to European and other international data protection requirements, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Our failure to comply with data privacy and security laws and regulations, or changes in the way in which these laws are implemented, could lead to unfavorable outcomes, including increased compliance costs, delays or impediments in the development of new products, increased operating costs, diversion of management time and attention, regulatory liability as a result of government enforcement actions and significant penalties against us, civil liability as a result of claims initiated by data subjects (including claims initiated as class actions) contracting parties or other third parties as a result of non-compliance with data protection laws and/or contractual obligations, and adverse publicity that could negatively affect our operating results, financial condition and our overall and business. Federal regulators, state attorneys general, and plaintiffs’ attorneys, including class action attorneys, have been and will likely continue to be active in this space. Such liabilities could adversely impact our results of operations, financial condition and our overall business.
Laws and regulations governing any international operations we may have in the future may preclude us from developing, manufacturing and selling certain products outside of the United States and require us to develop and implement costly compliance programs.
For our current and future operations outside of the United States, we must dedicate additional resources to comply with numerous laws and regulations in each jurisdiction in which we operate. The FCPA prohibits any United States individual or business from paying, offering, authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any non-US official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the non-US entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with certain accounting provisions requiring us to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the corporation, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.
Compliance with the FCPA is expensive and difficult, particularly in countries in which corruption is a recognized problem. In addition, the FCPA presents particular challenges in the pharmaceutical industry, because, in many countries, hospitals are operated by the government, and doctors and other hospital employees are considered non-US officials. Certain payments to
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hospitals in connection with clinical trials and other work have been deemed to be improper payments to government officials and have led to FCPA enforcement actions.
Various laws, regulations and executive orders also restrict the use and dissemination outside of the United States, or the sharing with certain non-United States nationals, of information classified for national security purposes, as well as certain products and technical data relating to those products. If we expand our presence outside of the United States, it will require us to dedicate additional resources to comply with these laws, and these laws may preclude us from developing, manufacturing, or selling certain products and product candidates outside of the United States, which could limit our growth potential and increase our development costs.
The failure to comply with laws governing international business practices may result in substantial civil and criminal penalties and suspension or debarment from government contracting. The SEC also may suspend or bar issuers from trading securities on United States exchanges for violations of the FCPA’s accounting provisions.
Our employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements, which could cause significant liability for us and harm our reputation.
We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other misconduct, including intentional failure to comply with FDA regulations or similar regulations of comparable non-United States regulatory authorities, failure to provide accurate information to the FDA or comparable non-United States regulatory authorities, including the competent authorities of the EU Member States, failure to comply with manufacturing standards we have established, failure to comply with federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations and similar laws and regulations established and enforced by comparable non-United States regulatory authorities, and failure to report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. Employee misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity 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, standards or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business and results of operations, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.
Risks Related to our Business and Operations
The COVID-19 coronavirus could adversely impact our business.
We continue to monitor the effect of the novel strain of coronavirus, COVID-19. The COVID-19 coronavirus has spread and has caused significant disruptions around the world. We may experience disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that could severely impact our business, including:
delays or difficulties related to the continued clinical development of Vicineum for non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, including delays in clinical trial sites receiving the supplies and materials needed to conduct clinical trials, difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff and difficulties in enrolling patients or treating patients in active trials;
difficulties in raising additional capital needed for the continued development of Vicineum for non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG and if approved, commercialization for Vicineum due to the long-term negative effects of the pandemic on the financial, banking and capital markets;
delays in necessary interactions with regulators and other important agencies and contractors due to limitations in employee resources, travel restrictions or forced furlough of government employees;
interruption of key business activities due to illness and/or quarantine of key individuals and delays associated with recruiting, hiring and training new temporary or permanent replacements for such key individuals, both internally and at our third-party service providers;
evolving changes in local regulations as part of a response to the COVID-19 outbreak that may require us to change the ways in which operate, which may result in unexpected costs; and
interruption of key commercialization, manufacturing, and related activities due to limitations on work and travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to evolve. 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, 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 virus. The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operational and financial performance, including our ability to execute our business strategies and
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initiatives in the expected time frame, will depend on future developments, including the duration of the pandemic and continuing restrictions on travel and transports, and shelter-in-place, social distancing, and similar measures, all of which are uncertain and difficult to predict. The broad-based business and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic could materially affect our business condition, results of operations and cash flows, including our ability to raise additional capital.
Our future success depends on our ability to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
Our future growth and success depend on our ability to recruit, retain, manage and motivate our employees. The loss of any member of our senior management team or the inability to hire or retain experienced management personnel could compromise our ability to execute our business plan and harm our operating results. Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, clinical, manufacturing and sales and marketing personnel will also be critical to our success. The loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Furthermore, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize products. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may be employed by employers other than us and may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will be limited.
We rely significantly on information technology and any failure, inadequacy, interruption or security lapse of that technology, including any cyber security incidents, could materially adversely affect our business.
In the ordinary course of business, we rely on information technology networks and systems, some of which are provided, hosted or managed by third parties, to collect, store, process and transmit electronic data. In addition, we handle certain data, including proprietary business information and personal information that is subject to data protection laws and regulations. Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of third parties with which we contract are vulnerable to damage from cyber-attacks, computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. System failures, accidents or security breaches could cause interruptions in our operations and could result in a material disruption of our clinical and commercialization activities and business operations, in addition to possibly requiring substantial expenditures of resources to remedy. The loss of clinical trial data could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data.
Although we have implemented processes, procedures, and controls to help mitigate the risks associated with a cyber security incident, there can be no assurance that these measures will be sufficient for all possible situations. Even security measures that are appropriate, reasonable, and/or in accordance with applicable legal requirements may not be able to protect the networks, systems and information we maintain and those of third parties with which we contract. Unauthorized parties, whether within or outside our company, may disrupt or gain access to our systems, or those of third parties with whom we do business, through human error, misfeasance, fraud, trickery, or other forms of deceit, including break-ins, use of stolen credentials, social engineering, phishing, ransomware, computer viruses or other malicious codes, and similar means of unauthorized and destructive tampering. Even the most well-protected information, networks, systems and facilities remain potentially vulnerable because the techniques used in such attempted cyber security incidents evolve and generally are not recognized until launched against a target. Accordingly, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate security barriers or other preventative measures, making it impossible for us to entirely mitigate this risk. While we have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, threats and disruptions to our information technology infrastructure, none of them to date has had a material impact on our business or operations. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, our product research, development and, if approved, commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG could be delayed, or we could be subject to regulatory and other government investigations, enforcement actions, or incur liability, substantial fines or costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, our reputation, results of operations and financial condition. Although we maintain insurance coverage for various cyber security risks, there can be no guarantee that all costs or losses incurred will be fully insured.
Our restructuring plan and the associated headcount reduction may not result in anticipated savings, could result in total costs and expenses that are greater than expected and could disrupt our business.
On August 30, 2021, we approved a restructuring plan to reduce operating expenses and better align our workforce with the needs of our business following receipt of the CRL from the FDA regarding our BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-
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unresponsive NMIBC. The restructuring plan included a reduction in our workforce by 18 positions (approximately 35%) as well as additional cost-saving initiatives intended to preserve capital while we continue development of Vicineum. Restructuring expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021 were approximately $5.5 million, consisting primarily of severance and other employee-related costs of $2.8 million and contract termination costs of $2.7 million.
We may not realize, in full or in part, the anticipated benefits, savings and improvements in our cost structure from our restructuring efforts due to unforeseen difficulties, delays or unexpected costs. If we are unable to realize the expected operational efficiencies and cost savings from the restructuring, our operating results and financial condition would be adversely affected. Furthermore, our restructuring plan may be disruptive to our operations. For example, our headcount reductions could yield unanticipated consequences, such as increased difficulties in implementing our business strategy, including retention of our remaining employees.
We and certain of our officers have been named as defendants in three pending securities class action lawsuits and three related shareholder derivative lawsuits have been filed. These lawsuits, and potential similar or related lawsuits, could result in substantial damages, divert management’s time and attention from our business, and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. These lawsuits, and any other lawsuits to which we are subject, will be costly to defend and are uncertain in their outcome.
On August 19, 2021, August 31, 2021 and October 7,2021, three substantially identical securities class action lawsuits captioned Bibb v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-07025, Cizek v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-07309 and Markman v. Sesen Bio, Inc. et al., Case No. 1:21-cv-08308 were filed against us and certain of our officers in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The three complaints allege violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder based on statements made by us concerning our BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The three complaints seek compensatory damages and costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees. On October 29, 2021, the court consolidated the three cases under the caption In re Sesen Bio, Inc. Securities Litigation, Master File No. 1:21-cv-07025-AKH (the “Securities Litigation”), and appointed Ryan Bibb, Rodney Samaan, Lionel Dreshaj and Benjamin Dreshaj (“Lead Plaintiffs”) collectively as the lead plaintiffs under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. On November 1, 2021, two stockholders filed motions to reconsider asking the court to appoint a different lead plaintiff. The court has not ruled on those motions at this time. On November 24, 2021, defendants filed a motion to transfer venue to the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts. That motion was fully briefed as of December 13, 2021, but the court has not yet ruled on that motion. On December 6, 2021, the Lead Plaintiffs filed an amended class action complaint (the “Amended Complaint”). The Amended Complaint alleges the same violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder on the same theory as the prior complaints. Defendants’ response to the Amended Complaint is due to be filed on March 7, 2022.
On September 20, 2021 and September 24, 2021, two substantially similar derivative lawsuits captioned Myers v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-11538 and D’Arcy v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-11577 were filed against our board of directors and certain of our officers in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, with Sesen Bio, Inc. named as a nominal defendant. On January 12, 2022, a third derivative complaint captioned Tang v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et al., was filed in Superior Court in Massachusetts against our board of directors and certain of our officers in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, with us named as nominal defendant, but no defendant has yet been served. The three derivative complaints allege breach of fiduciary duties, waste of corporate assets, and violations of federal securities laws based on statements made by us concerning our BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The D’Arcy complaint further alleges unjust enrichment, abuse of control, gross mismanagement and aiding and abetting thereof. The three derivative complaints seek unspecified damages, restitution and disgorgement of profits, benefits and compensation obtained by the defendants and costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees. On October 18, 2021, the court consolidated the two federal court cases under the caption In re Sesen Bio, Inc. Derivative Litigation, Lead Case No. 1:21-cv-11538 (the “Federal Derivative Litigation”). On December 22, 2021, the court entered a joint stipulation among the parties to stay the Federal Derivative Litigation until after a ruling on any motion to dismiss filed by defendants in the Securities Litigation. Defendants intend to seek a similar stay of the state court derivative litigation in the event any defendant is served.
We believe that these lawsuits are without merit and intend to vigorously defend against these actions. However, whether or not the claims are successful, litigation is often expensive and can divert management’s attention and resources from other business concerns, which could adversely affect our business.
We currently are not able to estimate the possible cost to us from these actions, as the pending lawsuits are currently at an early stage, and we cannot be certain how long it may take to resolve the pending lawsuits or the possible amount of any damages that we may be required to pay. If we are ultimately required to pay significant defense costs, damages or settlement amounts, such payments could adversely affect our operations.
We may be the target of similar litigation in the future. The market price of our common stock has experienced and may continue to experience volatility, and in the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock
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have been subject to securities litigation. Any future litigation could result in substantial costs and divert our management’s attention from other business concerns, which could seriously harm our business. We maintain liability insurance; however, if any costs or expenses associated with the pending lawsuits or any other litigation exceed our insurance coverage, we may be forced to bear some or all costs and expenses directly, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations or stock price.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock
If we are unable to regain compliance with the listing requirements of the Nasdaq Global Market, our common stock may be delisted from the Nasdaq Global Market which could have a material adverse effect on our business and could make it more difficult for you to sell your shares.
Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Market, and we are therefore subject to its continued listing requirements, including requirements with respect to the market value of publicly-held shares, market value of listed shares, minimum bid price per share, and minimum stockholders' equity, among others, and requirements relating to board and committee independence. If we fail to satisfy one or more of the requirements, we may be delisted from the Nasdaq Global Market.
On January 24, 2022, we received notice (the "Notice") from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC ("Nasdaq") that we are not currently in compliance with the $1.00 minimum bid price requirement for continued listing on the Nasdaq Global Market, as set forth in Nasdaq Listing Rule 5450(a)(1). The Notice indicated that, consistent with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A), we have 180 calendar days, or until July 25, 2022, to regain compliance with the minimum bid price requirement by having the closing bid price of our common stock meet or exceed $1.00 per share for at least ten consecutive business days. The notification had no immediate effect on the listing of our common stock, and our common stock will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “SESN” at this time.
If we do not regain compliance by July 25, 2022, we may be eligible for an additional 180 calendar day grace period. If we fail to regain compliance during the applicable period, we will receive notification from Nasdaq that our common stock is subject to delisting. At that time, we may then appeal the delisting determination to a Nasdaq hearings panel. Such notification will have no immediate effect on our listing on the Nasdaq Global Market, nor will it have an immediate effect on the trading of our common stock pending such hearing. There can be no assurance, however, that we will be able to regain compliance with Nasdaq’s minimum bid price requirement. If we regain compliance with the Nasdaq’s minimum bid price requirement, there can be no assurance that we will be able to maintain compliance with the continued listing requirements for the Nasdaq Global Market or that our common stock will not be delisted from the Nasdaq Global Market in the future. In addition, we may be unable to meet other applicable listing requirements of the Nasdaq Global Market, including maintaining minimum levels of stockholders’ equity or market values of our common stock in which case, our common stock could be delisted notwithstanding our ability to demonstrate compliance with the minimum bid price requirement.
Delisting from the Nasdaq Global Market may adversely affect our ability to raise additional financing through the public or private sale of equity securities, may significantly affect the ability of investors to trade our securities and may negatively affect the value and liquidity of our common stock. Delisting also could have other negative results, including the potential loss of employee confidence, the loss of institutional investors or interest in business development opportunities.
If we are delisted from Nasdaq and we are not able to list our common stock on another exchange, our common stock could be quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board or in the “pink sheets.” As a result, we could face significant adverse consequences including, among others:
a limited availability of market quotations for our securities;
a determination that our common stock is a “penny stock” which will require brokers trading in our common stock to adhere to more stringent rules and possibly result in a reduced level of trading activity in the secondary trading market for our securities;
a limited amount of news and little or no analyst coverage for us;
we would no longer qualify for exemptions from state securities registration requirements, which may require us to comply with applicable state securities laws; and
a decreased ability to issue additional securities (including pursuant to short-form Registration Statements on Form S-3) or obtain additional financing in the future.
If our common stock becomes subject to the penny stock rules, it would become more difficult to trade our shares.
The SEC has adopted rules that regulate broker-dealer practices in connection with transactions in penny stocks. Penny stocks are generally equity securities with a price of less than $5.00, other than securities registered on certain national securities exchanges or authorized for quotation on certain automated quotation systems, provided that current price and volume information with respect to transactions in such securities is provided by the exchange or system. If we do not retain our listing on Nasdaq and if the price of our common stock is less than $5.00, our common stock may be deemed a penny stock. The
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penny stock rules require a broker-dealer, before a transaction in a penny stock not otherwise exempt from those rules, to deliver a standardized risk disclosure document containing specified information. In addition, the penny stock rules require that before effecting any transaction in a penny stock not otherwise exempt from those rules, a broker-dealer must make a special written determination that the penny stock is a suitable investment for the purchaser and receive (i) the purchaser’s written acknowledgment of the receipt of a risk disclosure statement; (ii) a written agreement to transactions involving penny stocks; and (iii) a signed and dated copy of a written suitability statement. These disclosure requirements may have the effect of reducing the trading activity in the secondary market for our common stock, and therefore stockholders may have difficulty selling their shares.
Provisions in our corporate charter documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of our company, which may be beneficial to our stockholders, more difficult and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.
Provisions in our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation (the "Certificate of Incorporation") and our bylaws may discourage, delay or prevent a merger, acquisition or other change in control of our company that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which our stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares. These provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock, thereby depressing the market price of our common stock. In addition, because our board of directors is responsible for appointing the members of our management team, these provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors. Among other things, these provisions:
establish a classified board of directors such that only one of three classes of directors is elected each year;
allow the authorized number of our directors to be changed only by resolution of our board of directors;
limit the manner in which stockholders can remove directors from our board of directors;
establish advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals that can be acted on at stockholder meetings and nominations to our board of directors;
require that stockholder actions must be affected at a duly called stockholder meeting and prohibit actions by our stockholders by written consent;
limit who may call stockholder meetings;
authorize our board of directors to issue preferred stock without stockholder approval, which could be used to institute a “poison pill” that would work to dilute the stock ownership of a potential hostile acquirer, effectively preventing acquisitions that have not been approved by our board of directors; and
require the approval of the holders of at least 75% of the votes that all our stockholders would be entitled to cast to amend or repeal specified provisions of our Certificate of Incorporation or bylaws.
Moreover, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which prohibits a person who owns in excess of 15% of our outstanding voting stock from merging or combining with us for a period of three years after the date of the transaction in which the person acquired in excess of 15% of our outstanding voting stock, unless the merger or combination is approved in a prescribed manner.
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Item 1B.    Unresolved Staff Comments.
Not applicable.
Item 2.    Properties.
We lease a 31,100 square foot manufacturing, laboratory, warehouse and office facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We have three 15-liter fermenters, one 30-liter fermenter, one 150-liter fermenter, one 500-liter fermenter and one 1,500-liter fermenter. Our classified fermentation suite and post-production processing capabilities were dedicated to producing our pre-clinical study and clinical trial batches of Vicineum. In September 2017, we completed the manufacturing of all Vicineum necessary for our Phase 3 VISTA Trial and for our CRADA with the NCI. In conjunction with this achievement, we ended our manufacturing activities at our facility in Winnipeg and completed the technology transfer process to outsource future Vicineum clinical and commercial to third-party manufacturers. We operate our Winnipeg facility under a two-year renewable lease expiring in September 2022, and we have a right to renew the lease for one subsequent three-year term.
Our corporate headquarters is located in Cambridge, MA, where we occupy office space under a lease that was executed in October 2016. The initial term of the lease expired in July 2017, with the lease now continuing on a renewable four-month term unless terminated by either party with the requisite notice. The lease is currently extended through June 2022.
We also have office space in Philadelphia, PA, where we occupy office space under a lease executed in December 2017. The initial term of the lease expired in May 2018, which now continues on renewable six-month terms unless terminated by either party with the requisite notice. The lease has been extended through May 2022.
We believe that our existing facilities are adequate to meet our current needs and that suitable additional alternative spaces will be available in the future on commercially reasonable terms.
Item 3.    Legal Proceedings.
On August 19, 2021, August 31, 2021, and October 7, 2021, three substantially identical securities class action lawsuits captioned Bibb v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-07025, Cizek v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-07309 and Markman v. Sesen Bio, Inc. et al., Case No. 1:21-cv-08308 were filed against us and certain of our officers in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The three complaints allege violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, based on statements made by us concerning the BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The three complaints seek compensatory damages and costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees. On October 29, 2021, the court consolidated the three cases under the caption In re Sesen Bio, Inc. Securities Litigation, Master File No. 1:21-cv-07025-AKH (the “Securities Litigation”), and appointed Ryan Bibb, Rodney Samaan, Lionel Dreshaj and Benjamin Dreshaj (“Lead Plaintiffs”) collectively as the lead plaintiffs under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. On November 1, 2021, two stockholders filed motions to reconsider asking the court to appoint a different lead plaintiff. The court has not ruled on those motions at this time. On November 24, 2021, defendants filed a motion to transfer venue to the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts. That motion was fully briefed as of December 13, 2021, but the court has not yet ruled on that motion. On December 6, 2021, the Lead Plaintiffs filed an amended class action complaint (the “Amended Complaint”). The Amended Complaint alleges the same violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder on the same theory as the prior complaints. Defendants’ response to the Amended Complaint is due to be filed on March 7, 2022.
On September 20, 2021 and September 24, 2021, two substantially similar derivative lawsuits captioned Myers v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-11538 and D’Arcy v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:21-cv-11577 were filed against our board of directors and certain of our officers in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, with us named as nominal defendant. On January 12, 2022, a third derivative complaint captioned Tang v. Sesen Bio, Inc., et al., was filed in Superior Court in Massachusetts against our board of directors and certain of our officers in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, with us named as nominal defendant, but no defendant has yet been served. The three derivative complaints allege breach of fiduciary duties, waste of corporate assets and violations of federal securities laws, based on statements made by us concerning the BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The D’Arcy complaint further alleges unjust enrichment, abuse of control, gross mismanagement and aiding and abetting thereof. The three derivative complaints seek unspecified damages, restitution and disgorgement of profits, benefits and compensation obtained by the defendants and costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees. On October 18, 2021, the court consolidated the two federal court cases under the caption In re Sesen Bio, Inc. Derivative Litigation, Lead Case No. 1:21-cv-11538 (the “Federal Derivative Litigation”). On December 22, 2021, the court entered a joint stipulation among the parties to stay the Federal Derivative Litigation until after a ruling on any motion to dismiss filed by defendants in the Securities Litigation. Defendants intend to seek a similar stay of the state court derivative litigation in the event any defendant is served.
We believe that these lawsuits are without merit and intends to vigorously defend against them. The lawsuits are in the early stages, and, at this time, no assessment can be made as to the likely outcome or whether the outcome will be material to us.
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Item 4.    Mine Safety Disclosures.
Not applicable.
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PART II
Item 5.    Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Stock Price
Our common stock trades under the symbol "SESN" on the Nasdaq Global Market.
Holders
As of February 21, 2022, there were 17 holders of record of our common stock. This number does not include beneficial owners whose shares were held in street name.
Dividends
We have never declared or paid, and for the foreseeable future do not expect to declare or pay, cash dividends on our common stock. We currently intend to retain all of our future earnings, if any, to finance the growth and development of our business.
Unregistered Sales of Securities
None.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer
None.
Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans
The information required by this item regarding our equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Item 12 of Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Item 6.     [Reserved.]
Item 7.    Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto and other financial information included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition to historical information, some of the information contained in the following discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. You should review "Item 1A. Risk Factors" of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in the following discussion and analysis.
Overview
We are a late-stage clinical company advancing targeted fusion protein therapeutics ("TFPTs") for the treatment of patients with cancer. We genetically fuse the targeting antibody fragment and the cytotoxic protein payload into a single molecule which is produced through our proprietary one-step, microbial manufacturing process. We target tumor cell surface antigens with limited expression on normal cells. Binding of the target antigen by the TFPT allows for rapid internalization into the targeted cancer cell. We have designed our targeted proteins to overcome the fundamental efficacy and safety challenges inherent in existing antibody-drug conjugates ("ADCs") where a payload is chemically attached to a targeting antibody.
Our most advanced product candidate, Vicineum, also known as VB4-845, is a locally-administered targeted fusion protein composed of an anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule ("EpCAM") antibody fragment tethered to a truncated form of Pseudomonas exotoxin A for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
In December 2020, we submitted our completed BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC to the FDA, which was accepted for filing by the FDA in February 2021. The FDA granted Priority Review for the BLA and set a target PDUFA date for a decision on the BLA of August 18, 2021. On August 13, 2021, we received a CRL from the FDA indicating that the FDA had determined that it could not approve the BLA for Vicineum in its present form and provided recommendations specific to additional clinical/statistical data and analyses in addition to CMC issues pertaining to a recent pre-approval inspection and product quality. On August 20, 2021, we withdrew our MAA to the EMA for Vysyneum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in order to pause our plans to pursue regulatory approval of Vysyneum in the European Union until there is more clarity from the FDA on next steps for Vicineum in the United States. Vysyneum is the proprietary brand name that was conditionally approved by the EMA for oportuzumab monatox in the European Union. In
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October 2021, the EMA issued its Withdrawal Assessment Report relating to our MAA for Vysyneum, as is consistent with the EMA’s standard practice when an MAA is withdrawn. The EMA Withdrawal Assessment Report reflects the initial assessment and corresponding questions from the EMA and identifies major objections in the areas of quality, good clinical practice, efficacy and safety. Due to the high concordance between FDA and European Commission approvals, we believe that the probability of success of future approval in the European Union for Vysyneum increases if FDA approval for Vicineum has already been obtained.
On October 29, 2021, we participated in a Type A Meeting with the FDA to discuss questions related to CMC raised in the CRL (the “CMC Type A Meeting”). During the CMC Type A Meeting, we and the FDA reviewed issues related to CMC to be further discussed during the review of a BLA for Vicineum upon potential resubmission. We believe we have a clear understanding of what additional information regarding CMC is required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. Additionally, although not an issue raised in the CRL, the FDA confirmed at the CMC Type A Meeting that Vicineum manufactured using the proposed commercial process is comparable to Vicineum used in prior clinical trials. The FDA also confirmed that we can utilize Vicineum manufactured during process validation for any future clinical trials needed to address issues raised in the CRL, and that these potential trials can proceed while addressing CMC issues.
On December 8, 2021, we participated in a Type A Meeting with the FDA to discuss design elements of an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum (the “Clinical Type A Meeting”), which the FDA confirmed will be required for a potential resubmission of a BLA. The trial design may include these elements:
A randomized clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of Vicineum compared to investigators’ choice of intravesical chemotherapy;
Trial may include both patients who have received adequate BCG1 and patients who have received less than adequate BCG;
The FDA encouraged us to submit the final results from the Phase 3 Vista Trial for Vicineum with a BLA resubmission.
1As per the 2018 FDA guidance on NMIBC, adequate BCG is defined as at least one of the following: (i) at least five of six doses of an initial induction course plus at least two of three doses of maintenance therapy or (ii) at least five of six doses of an initial induction course plus at least two of six doses of a second induction course.
On January 7, 2022, the FDA granted our request for a Type C Meeting to discuss the study protocol for an additional Phase 3 clinical trial that we plan to conduct for potential resubmission of a BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. The Type C Meeting has been scheduled for March 28, 2022.
One of the items we expect to be discussed in the Type C Meeting is the patient population for the additional Phase 3 clinical trial, which may be different than the patient population studied in previous clinical trials for Vicineum for the treatment of NMIBC in two primary ways.
First, the additional Phase 3 clinical trial may include patients with only non-muscle invasive carcinoma in situ (CIS) of the bladder, and may not include patients with only papillary disease of the bladder. This change would lead to a smaller overall patient population than previously studied, as some of our past clinical trials of Vicineum in NMIBC have included patients with CIS or high-grade papillary disease of the bladder.
Second, the additional Phase 3 clinical trial may include patients who have received less than adequate BCG in addition to those who have received adequate BCG, per the FDA’s guidance. Receipt of less than adequate BCG could be due to (i) failure of, or intolerance to, a BCG therapy prior to reaching the FDA’s definition of adequate BCG or (ii) supply shortages of BCG, among other reasons. This change would lead to a larger patient population than previously studied, as past clinical trials of Vicineum in NMIBC only included patients who had previously been treated with adequate BCG.
Potential changes related to the additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum will be discussed at the upcoming Type C Meeting with the FDA scheduled for March 28, 2022.
The single-arm, multi-center, open-label Phase 3 clinical trial (“VISTA Trial”) completed enrollment in April 2018 with a total of 133 patients across three cohorts based on histology and time to disease recurrence after adequate BCG treatment:
Cohort 1 (n=86): Patients with CIS with or without papillary disease that was determined to be refractory or recurred within six months of their last course of adequate BCG;
Cohort 2 (n=7): Patients with CIS with or without papillary disease that recurred after six months, but less than 11 months, after their last course of adequate BCG; and
Cohort 3 (n=40): Patients with high-risk (Ta or T1) papillary disease without CIS that recurred within six months of their last course of adequate BCG.
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The primary endpoints of the VISTA Trial were CRR at 3 months in patients with CIS (with or without papillary disease) whose disease is BCG-unresponsive and duration of response ("DoR") for BCG-unresponsive CIS patients who experience a complete response ("CR").
As of the May 29, 2019 data cutoff date, preliminary primary and secondary endpoint data for each of the trial cohorts were as follows:
Cohort 1 (n=86) Evaluable Population (n=82) Complete Response Rate, for CIS:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Complete Response Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=82
39% (28%-50%)
6-months
n=82
26% (17%-36%)
9-months
n=82
20% (12%-30%)
12-months
n=82
17% (10%-27%)
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.
Cohort 2 (n=7) Evaluable Population (n=7) Complete Response Rate, for CIS:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Complete Response Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=7
57% (18%-90%)
6-months
n=7
57% (18%-90%)
9-months
n=7
43% (10%-82%)
12-months
n=7
14% (0%-58%)
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.
Pooled Cohorts 1 and 2 (n=93) Evaluable Population (n=89) Complete Response Rate, for CIS:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Complete Response Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=89
40% (30%-51%)
6-months
n=89
28% (19%-39%)
9-months
n=89
21% (13%-31%)
12-months
n=89
17% (10%-26%)
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.
Phase 3 Pooled Complete Response Rate vs. Phase 2 Pooled Complete Response Rate:
Time Point
Phase 3 Pooled CRR (95% Confidence Interval)
Phase 2 Pooled CRR (95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
40% (30%-51%)
40% (26%-56%)
6-months
28% (19%-39%)
27% (15%-42%)
9-months
21% (13%-31%)
18% (8%-32%)
12-months
17% (10%-26%)
16% (7%-30%)

Cohort 3 (n=40) Evaluable Population (n=38) Recurrence-Free Rate†:
Time Point
Evaluable Patients*
Recurrence-Free Rate
(95% Confidence Interval)
3-months
n=38
71% (54%-85%)
6-months
n=38
58% (41%-74%)
9-months
n=38
45% (29%-62%)
12-months
n=38
42% (26%-59%)
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†Recurrence-free rate is defined as the percentage of patients that are recurrence-free at the given assessment time point.
*Response-evaluable population includes any mITT patient who completed the induction phase.
Duration of Response: The median DoR for patients in Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 combined (n=93) is 287 days (95% CI, 154-NE), using the Kaplan-Meier method. Additional ad hoc analysis of pooled data for all patients with CIS (Cohorts 1 and 2, n=93) shows that among patients who achieved a complete response at 3 months, 52% remained disease-free for a total of 12 months or longer after starting treatment, using the Kaplan-Meier method. DoR is defined as the time from first occurrence of complete response to documentation of treatment failure or death.
    We have conducted additional analyses for secondary endpoints. These additional data include the following:
Time to Cystectomy: Across all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial, greater than 75% of all patients are estimated to remain cystectomy-free at 3 years, using the Kaplan-Meier method. Additional ad hoc analysis shows that approximately 88% of responders are estimated to remain cystectomy-free at 3 years. Time to cystectomy is defined as the time from the date of first dose of study treatment to surgical bladder removal. The first 2018 FDA guidance on treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC patients states that the goal of therapy in such patients is to avoid cystectomy. Therefore, time to cystectomy is a key secondary endpoint in the VISTA Trial.
Time to Disease Recurrence: High-grade papillary (Ta or T1) NMIBC is associated with high rates of progression and recurrence. The median time to disease recurrence for patients in Cohort 3 (n=40) is 402 days (95% CI, 170-NE), using the Kaplan-Meier method. Time to disease recurrence is defined as the time from the date of the first dose of study treatment to the first occurrence of treatment failure or death on or prior to treatment discontinuation.
Progression-Free Survival ("PFS"): 90% of all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial are estimated to remain progression-free for 2 years or greater, using the Kaplan-Meier method. PFS is defined as the time from the date of first dose of study treatment to the first occurrence of disease progression (e.g., T2 or more advanced disease) or death on or prior to treatment discontinuation.
Event-Free Survival: 29% of all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial are estimated to remain event-free at 12 months, using the Kaplan-Meier method. Event-free survival is defined as the time from the date of first dose of study treatment to the first occurrence of disease recurrence, progression or death on or prior to treatment discontinuation.
Overall Survival ("OS"): 96% of all 133 patients treated with Vicineum in the VISTA Trial are estimated to have an overall survival of 2 years or greater, using the Kaplan-Meier method. OS is defined as the time from the date of first dose of study treatment to death from any cause.
Data is as of the May 29, 2019 data cut from the Phase III VISTA trial. The clinical data shown are based on the data submitted in the BLA on December 18, 2020. Final numbers are pending. On August 13, 2021, the FDA issued a CRL for the BLA that included requests for additional clinical and statistical data.
Safety Results
As of the May 29, 2019 data cutoff date, in patients across all cohorts (n=133) of our Phase 3 VISTA Trial of Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, 88% experienced at least one adverse event, with 95% of adverse events being Grade 1 or 2. The most commonly reported treatment-related adverse events were dysuria (14%), hematuria (13%) and urinary tract infection (12%) - all of which are consistent with the profile of bladder cancer patients and the use of catheterization for treatment delivery. These adverse events were determined by the clinical investigators to be manageable and reversible, and only four patients (3%) discontinued treatment due to an adverse event. Serious adverse events, regardless of treatment attribution, were reported in 14% of patients. There were four treatment-related serious adverse events reported in three patients including acute kidney injury (Grade 3), pyrexia (Grade 2), cholestatic hepatitis (Grade 4) and renal failure (Grade 5 or death). There were no age-related increases in adverse events observed in the VISTA Trial.
Manufacturing
In October 2018, we entered into a Master Bioprocessing Services Agreement with Fujifilm (the "Fujifilm MSA") for the manufacturing process and technology transfer of Vicineum drug substance production.
In November 2019, we entered into a Commercial Manufacturing and Supply Agreement with Baxter for the manufacturing process and technology transfer of Vicineum drug product production.
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In August 2020, we completed manufacturing of the drug substance process performance qualification (“PPQ”) batches at Fujifilm and in September 2020, we successfully completed the drug product PPQ batches at Baxter. All of the completed drug substance PPQ batches and drug product PPQ batches met all quality acceptance criteria.
In December 2020, we received and analyzed all of the analytical comparability test results from the drug substance and drug product PPQ batches. For analytical comparability, we conducted testing across four categories: release testing, biophysical characterization, forced degradation studies, and stability studies. This approach is in alignment with requirements of the FDA, the EMA and the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use. The test results for Vicineum produced by Fujifilm and Baxter were found to be highly comparable to supply of Vicineum at our Winnipeg facility.
In June 2021, we entered into a Global Supply Agreement with Qilu pursuant to which Qilu will be part of the manufacturing network for, if approved, global commercial supply of Vicineum drug substance and drug product.
On October 29, 2021, at the CMC Type A Meeting, the FDA confirmed that Vicineum manufactured using the proposed commercial process is comparable to Vicineum used in prior clinical trials and confirmed that we can utilize Vicineum manufactured during process validation for any future clinical trials needed to address issues raised in the CRL regarding the BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, and that any of these future trials can proceed while addressing CMC issues raised in the CRL.
In January 2022, we signed a Scope of Work ("SOW #11") with Fujifilm under the Fujifilm MSA for the manufacturing of commercial batches of Vicineum in 2022 and 2023.
We intend to use Vicineum produced by Fujifilm and Baxter for any future clinical trials of Vicineum and, if approved, for commercial supply.
Outside of United States ("OUS") Business Development Partnering
Greater China
On July 30, 2020, we and our wholly-owned subsidiary, Viventia Bio, Inc., entered into an exclusive license agreement with Qilu Pharmaceutical, Co., Ltd. ("Qilu") pursuant to which we granted Qilu an exclusive, sublicensable, royalty-bearing license, under certain intellectual property owned or exclusively licensed by us, to develop, manufacture and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC and other types of cancer in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ("Greater China"). We also granted Qilu a non-exclusive, sublicensable, royalty-bearing sublicense, under certain other intellectual property licensed by us to develop, manufacture and commercialize Vicineum in Greater China. We retain (i) development and commercialization rights in the rest of the world excluding Greater China, the Middle East and North Africa region (“MENA”) and Turkey and (ii) manufacturing rights with respect to Vicineum in the rest of the world excluding Greater China.
During 2020, we received a total of $10 million in net proceeds associated with the Qilu License Agreement. We are also entitled to receive up to an additional $23 million upon the achievement of certain technology transfer, development and regulatory milestones, as well as a 12% royalty based upon annual net sales of Vicineum in Greater China. The royalties are payable upon the first commercial sale of Vicineum in a region and continuing until the latest of (i) twelve years after the first commercial sale of Vicineum in such region, (ii) the expiration of the last valid patent claim covering or claiming the composition of matter, method of treatment, or method of manufacture of Vicineum in such region, and (iii) the expiration of regulatory or data exclusivity for Vicineum in such region. The royalty rate is subject to reduction under certain circumstances, including when there is no valid claim of a licensed patent that covers Vicineum in a particular region or no data or regulatory exclusivity of Vicineum in a particular region.
The Investigational New Drug application ("IND") for Vicineum submitted by Qilu to the Center for Drug Evaluation of the China National Medical Products Administration was accepted for review in January 2021 and approved in March 2021, resulting in a $3 million milestone payment from Qilu, the first milestone payment out of the $23 million in potential milestone payments. We recorded $2.8 million (net of VAT) as license revenue during the three-month period ended March 31, 2021.
In June 2021, the Qilu License Agreement was recognized by Shandong Province, Bureau of Science and Technology as "Technology Transfer". An agreement that is designated as a Technology Transfer shall be entitled to a tax incentive of value-added tax ("VAT") recovery. As such, we recorded $0.9 million of revenue during the three months ended June 30, 2021, for additional purchase price resulting from Qilu's obligation to pay Sesen an amount equal to its recovery of VAT. We will not be subject to VAT on future potential milestone payments to Qilu.
On July 20, 2021 we and Qilu announced the enrollment of the first patient in China in a Phase 3 clinical trial to assess the efficacy and safety of Vicineum in patients with BCG-unresponsive NMIBC. The open-label, single-arm, multi-center bridging trial will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Vicineum in approximately 53 patients with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary disease, high-grade Ta papillary disease or T1 papillary disease of any grade. Patients will be required to have failed previous treatment with BCG for inclusion in the trial. The primary endpoints are the complete response rate (for CIS patients)
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and the recurrence-free rate (for papillary patients) at six months, with the complete response rate and the recurrence-free rate at three months, safety and tolerability as the secondary endpoints. Based on the Qilu License Agreement, the trial is being run at the sole cost of Qilu.
MENA
On November 30, 2020, we and our wholly owned subsidiary, Viventia Bio, Inc., entered into an exclusive license agreement with Hikma Pharmaceuticals LLC, to develop and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in MENA region (20 countries in Middle East and North Africa) (the “MENA License Agreement”). In consideration for the rights granted by us, Hikma agreed to pay to us an upfront payment, sales related milestones payments, and royalties on net sales in the MENA region for the term of the Hikma License Agreement.
Turkey
On August 5, 2021, we entered into an exclusive license agreement with EİP Eczacıbaşı İlaç Pazarlama A.Ş., (“EIP”) pursuant to which we granted EIP an exclusive license to register and commercialize Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC in Turkey and Northern Cyprus. Under the terms of the licensing agreement, we are entitled to receive an upfront payment of $1.5 million. We are in the process of amending the license agreement to defer payment of the upfront payment to coincide with the potential FDA approval of Vicineum. We are also eligible to receive additional regulatory and commercial milestone payments of $2.0 million and are entitled to receive a 30% royalty on net sales in Turkey and Northern Cyprus.
Internal Review
In September 2021 we disclosed that our Board of Directors (the “Board”) initiated an independent internal review conducted by outside counsel with the assistance of subject matter experts focusing on the conduct of, and data generated from, the clinical trials of Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, and the overall safety of Vicineum (the “Review”). The Review took place over the course of five months, involved full cooperation from our management team, a review of more than 600,000 documents, and 39 interviews of current and former employees and consultants. It is now complete. As a result of the Review, the Board continues to fully support our current management team and believes no changes or amendments relating to our prior disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) or the FDA relating to Vicineum, the Phase 3 VISTA trial for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, or the BLA for Vicineum are warranted. We intend to work cooperatively with the FDA in preparing for an additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum.
Components of Our Results of Operations
License Revenue
License revenue consists of revenue recognized pursuant to our commercialization partnership agreements, including the Qilu License Agreement, which is assessed under ASC Topic 606, Revenue ("ASC 606"). In the future, we may generate revenue from a combination of up-front payments, milestone payments and royalties in connection with our commercialization partnership agreements, including the Qilu License Agreement.
Research and Development
Research and development expenses consist primarily of costs incurred for the development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, which include:
employee-related expenses, including salaries, benefits, travel and share-based compensation expense;
expenses incurred under agreements with contract research organizations ("CROs") and investigative sites that conduct our clinical trials, including the additional Phase 3 clinical trial for Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
expenses associated with developing manufacturing capabilities;
expenses associated with transferring manufacturing capabilities to contract manufacturing organizations ("CMOs") for commercial-scale production;
facilities, depreciation and other expenses, which include direct and allocated expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities, insurance and other supplies;
expenses associated with regulatory activities; and
expenses associated with license milestone fees.
We expense research and development costs as incurred. We recognize external development costs based on an evaluation of the progress to completion of specific tasks using information and data provided to us by our vendors and our clinical sites.
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The successful development and commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG is highly uncertain. This is due to the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development and commercialization, including the uncertainty of:
the scope, progress, outcome and costs of our clinical trials, including the additional Phase 3 clinical trial, and other research and development activities;
the efficacy and potential advantages of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG compared to alternative treatments, including any standard of care;
the market acceptance of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG;
the cost and timing of the implementation of commercial-scale manufacturing of Vicineum;
obtaining, maintaining, defending and enforcing patent claims and other intellectual property rights;
significant and changing government regulation;
the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
the timing, receipt and terms of any marketing approvals.
A change in the outcome of any of these variables with respect to the development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG could mean a significant change in the costs and timing associated with the development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG. For example, if the FDA or another regulatory authority were to require us to conduct clinical trials or other testing beyond those that we currently contemplate will be required for the completion of clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG, we could be required to expend significant additional financial resources and time on the completion of clinical development of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
We allocate direct research and development expenses, consisting principally of external costs, such as fees paid to investigators, consultants, central laboratories and CROs in connection with our clinical trials, costs related to manufacturing or purchasing clinical trial materials and technology transfer and license milestone fees, to specific product programs. We do not allocate employee and contractor-related costs, costs associated with our platform and facility expenses, including depreciation or other indirect costs, to specific product programs because these costs may be deployed across multiple product programs under research and development and, as such, are separately classified. The table below provides research and development expenses incurred for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC and other expenses by category. We have deferred further development of Vicineum for the treatment of SCCHN and VB6-845d in order to focus our efforts and our resources on our ongoing development and, if approved, commercialization of Vicineum for the treatment of non-muscle invasive CIS of the bladder in patients previously treated with adequate or less than adequate BCG.
We did not allocate research and development expenses to any other specific product program during the periods presented (in thousands):
Year ended December 31,
202120202019
Programs:
Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC$15,110 $22,234 $16,023 
Total direct program expenses15,110 22,234 16,023 
Personnel and other expenses:
Employee and contractor-related expenses8,977 5,775 6,513 
Platform-related lab expenses172 303 513 
Facility expenses524 442 442 
Other expenses529 437 1,172 
Total personnel and other expenses10,202 6,957 8,640 
Total Research and Development$25,312 $29,191 $24,663 
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General and Administrative
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and related costs for personnel, including share-based compensation and benefits, in executive, operational, finance, business development and human resource functions. Other general and administrative expenses include facility-related costs, professional fees for legal, insurance, investment banking fees, patent, consulting and accounting services, pre-commercial United States market research and pre-launch market readiness for the potential commercial launch of Vicineum.
Restructuring Charge
On August 30, 2021, we approved a restructuring plan to reduce operating expenses and better align our workforce with the needs of our business following receipt of the CRL from the FDA regarding the BLA for Vicineum for the treatment of BCG-unresponsive NMIBC (the “Restructuring Plan”). The Restructuring Plan included a reduction in our workforce by 18 positions (or approximately 35% of our workforce) as well as additional cost-saving initiatives intended to preserve capital while we continue development of Vicineum. Restructuring costs related to the Restructuring Plan were recorded in operating expenses in our Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Loss.
Intangibles Impairment Charge
Our intangible assets consist of indefinite-lived, acquired in-process research and development ("IPR&D") worldwide product rights to Vicineum as a result of the acquisition of Viventia in 2016. IPR&D assets acquired in a business combination are considered indefinite-lived until the completion or abandonment of the associated research and development efforts. We recognize an impairment loss when and to the extent that the estimated fair value of an intangible asset is less than its carrying value. In addition, on a quarterly basis, we perform a qualitative review of our business operations to determine whether events or changes in circumstances have occurred which could indicate that the carrying value of our intangible assets was not recoverable. If an impairment indicator is identified, an interim impairment assessment is performed. The fair value of the acquired intangible assets for the US and EU rights of Vicineum is determined using a risk-adjusted discounted cash flow approach, which includes probability adjustments for projected revenues and operating expenses based on the success rates assigned to each stage of development for each geographical region as well as discount rates applied to the projected cash flows.
Change in Fair Value of Contingent Consideration
In connection with the Viventia Acquisition in September 2016, we recorded contingent consideration pertaining to the amounts potentially payable to Viventia's shareholders pursuant to the terms of the Share Purchase Agreement among us, Viventia and the other signatories thereto and are based on regulatory approval in certain markets and future revenue levels. The fair value of contingent consideration is assessed at each balance sheet date and changes, if any, to the fair value are recognized in earnings (or loss) for the period.
Other Income, Net
Other income, net consists primarily of interest income earned on cash and cash equivalents and, to a lesser extent, any gains or losses on foreign exchange.
Provision for Income Taxes
Benefit for income taxes is driven by the intangible impairment charge, changing the value of deferred tax liabilities. Provision for income taxes consists of income taxes incurred to non-US jurisdictions pursuant to our OUS business development partnership agreements, including the Qilu License Agreement.
Our Results of Operations
Comparison of the Years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020
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 Year ended December 31,Increase/(Decrease)
 20212020DollarsPercentage
 (in thousands, except percentages)
Revenue:
License and related revenue$26,544 $11,236 $15,308 136 %
Total revenue26,544 11,236 15,308 136 %
Operating expenses:
Research and development$25,312 $29,191 $(3,879)(13)%
General and administrative29,393 14,302 15,091 106 %
Restructuring charge5,528 — 5,528 — %
Intangibles impairment charge31,700 — 31,700 — %
Change in fair value of contingent consideration(56,840)(11,180)(45,660)408 %
Total operating expenses35,093 32,313 2,780 %
Loss from Operations(8,549)(21,077)12,528 (59)%
Other (expense) income:
Other (expense) income, net(60)125 (185)(148)%
Net Loss and Comprehensive Loss Before Taxes(8,609)(20,952)