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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

 

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended: December 31, 2020

 

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                 to

Commission File Number 001-36150

 

SORRENTO THERAPEUTICS, INC.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

33-0344842

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

4955 Directors Place

San Diego, California

 

92121

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(858) 203-4100

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: 

 

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol (s)

 

Name of exchange on which registered

Common Stock, par value $0.0001 per share

 

SRNE

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

 

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 Section 15(d) of the Exchange 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 (Section 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).      Yes      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 filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

Smaller reporting company

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. 

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 Act).      Yes      No

The aggregate market value of voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant is calculated based upon the closing sale price of the common stock on June 30, 2020 (the last trading day of the registrant’s second fiscal quarter of 2020), as reported on the Nasdaq Capital Market, was approximately $1.4 billion.

At February 5, 2021, the registrant had 280,322,985 shares of common stock outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

None.

 

 


SORRENTO THERAPEUTICS, INC.

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2020

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

Page No.

PART I

  

2

Item 1.

Business

2

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

23

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

66

Item 2.

Properties

66

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

67

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

67

PART II

 

68

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

68

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

68

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

69

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

78

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

78

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

78

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

78

Item 9B.

Other Information

79

PART III

  

80

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

80

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

83

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

97

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence

99

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

103

PART IV

 

104

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

104

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

109

 

 

i


FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or Form 10-K, contains “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove incorrect, could cause our results to differ materially and adversely from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are contained principally in Item 1—“Business,” Item 1.A—“Risk Factors” and Item 7—“Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” but appear throughout the Form 10-K. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to our expectations, beliefs or intentions regarding our potential product offerings, business, financial condition, results of operations, strategies or prospects and other matters that do not relate strictly to historical facts or statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. These statements are often identified by the use of words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “ongoing,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “potential,” “predicts,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” or “would,” and similar expressions and variations or negatives of these words. These forward-looking statements are based on the expectations, estimates, projections, beliefs and assumptions of our management based on information currently available to management, all of which are subject to change. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that are difficult to predict and could cause our actual results and the timing of certain events to differ materially and adversely from future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those identified below, and those discussed under Item 1.A—“Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Furthermore, such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of such statements for any reason, except as otherwise required by law.

 

1


PART I

Item 1.

Business.

Overview

Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: SRNE), together with its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Company”, “we”, “us”, and “our”) is a clinical stage and commercial biopharmaceutical company focused on delivering innovative and clinically meaningful therapies to address unmet medical needs.

At our core, we are antibody-centric and leverage our proprietary G-MAB™ library and targeted delivery modalities to generate the next generation of cancer therapeutics. Our fully human antibodies include PD-1, PD-L1, CD38, CD123, CD47, CTLA-4, CD137 and SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies, among others. We also have programs assessing the use of our technologies and products in autoimmune, inflammatory, viral and neurodegenerative diseases.

Our vision is to leverage these antibodies in conjunction with proprietary targeted delivery modalities to generate the next generation of cancer therapeutics. These modalities include proprietary chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (“CAR-T”), dimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (“DAR-T”), antibody drug conjugates (“ADCs”) as well as bispecific antibody approaches. We acquired Sofusa®, a revolutionary drug delivery technology, in July 2018, which delivers biologics directly into the lymphatic system to potentially achieve improved efficacy and fewer adverse effects than standard parenteral immunotherapy. Additionally, our majority-owned subsidiary, Scilex Holding Company (“Scilex Holding”), acquired the assets of Semnur Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Semnur”) in March 2019. Semnur’s SEMDEXATM (“SP-102”) compound has the potential to become the first Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”)-approved epidural steroid product for the treatment of sciatica. In response to the global SARS-CoV-2 (“COVID-19”) pandemic, we are utilizing the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (“BTK”) inhibitor (in-licensed from ACEA Therapeutics, Inc.) in a U.S. Phase II study of cytokine storm associated with a COVID-19 infection and in a Phase II trial in Brazil in mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 patients, and we are also internally developing potential coronavirus antiviral therapies and vaccines, including ACE-MABTM, COVIDTRAPTM, COVI-MABTM, COVI-GUARDTM, COVI- SHIELDTM , COVI-AMG™ and T-VIVA-19TM; and diagnostic test solutions, including COVI-TRACK™, COVI-STIX™ and COVI-TRACE™.

With each of our clinical and pre-clinical programs, we aim to tailor our therapies to treat specific stages in the evolution of a disease, from elimination, to equilibrium and escape. In addition, our objective is to focus on tumors that are resistant to current treatments and where we can design focused trials based on a genetic signature or biomarker to ensure patients have the best chance of a durable and significant response. We have several immuno-oncology programs that are in or near to entering the clinic. These include cellular therapies, oncolytic viruses (SeprehvecTM) and a palliative care program targeted to treat intractable cancer pain. Our cellular therapy programs focus on CAR-T and DAR-T for adoptive cellular immunotherapy to treat both solid and liquid tumors.

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our mission has been to leverage our deep expertise in developing targeted antibodies for cancer immunotherapy to create best-in-category treatments and diagnostics to ease suffering and assist in the global response to COVID-19. We have leveraged, and continue to leverage, our G-MAB library and antibody development engineering capabilities to advance a number of promising diagnostics and neutralizing antibody candidates to test and treat COVID-19 and the immune reactions associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Our first generation SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody was STI-1499 (COVI-GUARD™), which was engineered to prevent antibody dependent enhancement. This antibody was then optimized to produce the highly potent STI-2020, which is currently being developed in two outpatient formations: COVI-AMG (IV-push injection) and COVI-DROPS (nasal). COVI-AMG has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for a Phase I study of healthy volunteers, a Phase II study in outpatients with COVID-19 and a Phase II study in hospitalized patients with moderate or severe COVID-19, and we are awaiting FDA clearance for a Phase I study of COVI-DROPS of healthy volunteers and patients with mild COVID-19. Sorrento also has developed two promising potential rescue treatments with Abivertinib, an oral next generation dual EGFR/BTK inhibitor, to treat moderate to severe hospitalized COVID-19 patients and COVI-MSC™, a human allogeneic adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells for patients suffering from COVID-19-induced acute respiratory distress (ARD). Both have been cleared by the FDA and are in Phase Ib clinical studies. We are also working with Brazilian regulators (“ANVISA”) to conduct a COVID-19 study with Abivertinib and potentially with COVI-AMG TM. In pre-clinical development, we are rapidly screening new neutralizing antibodies to address the multiple emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 to potentially add to STI-2020 in a cocktail (COVI-SHIELD™) and exploring novel mechanistic approaches such as soluble recombinant fusion protein traps (COVIDTRAPTM) to potentially inhibit the binding of SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein with host ACE2 receptors, thereby potentially preventing viral cell entry.

In furtherance of our goal to develop products across the entire continuum of COVID-19 solutions, we are further developing a number of highly sensitive and rapid diagnostic tests. COVI-STIX™ is a lateral flow antigen test that uses a proprietary platinum-based colloid and antibody combination, resulting in high sensitivity and accuracy. This is a simple and rapid (15-minute) test with a shallow nasal swab and is designed for point-of-care and at-home use. COVI-TRACK™ is a rapid SARS-CoV-2 IgG/IgM antibody

2


test kit intended for use initially in clinical laboratories and in point of care settings to quickly identify individuals with anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies post-infection or post- vaccination. COVI-TRACEwas licensed from Columbia University as a rapid single step on-site colorimetric detection test for SARS-COV-2 genomic RNA from a saliva sample using targeted nucleic acid amplification for high throughput point-of-care situations.

We have reported early data from Phase I trials of our carcinoembryonic antigen (“CEA”)-directed CAR-T program. We have treated five patients with stage 4, unresectable adenocarcinoma (four with pancreatic and one with colorectal cancer) and CEA-positive liver metastases with anti-CEA CAR-T. We successfully submitted an Investigational New Drug application (IND”) for anti-CD38 CAR-T for the treatment of refractory or relapsed multiple myeloma (RRMM), obtained clearance from the FDA and commenced a human clinical trial for this indication in early 2018. We have dosed eleven patients. We intend to close this study to further enrollment and start up a similar anti-CD38 CAR-T construct without the myc-tag (which cannot be used in Europe), and to continue treating RRMM patients in a Phase Ib/IIa study, which will begin enrollment in the first quarter of 2021. We filed INDs for our CD47 mAb and the first of our DAR-T platform product candidates in the first quarter of 2021.

Broadly speaking, we believe we are one of the world’s leading CAR-T and DAR-T companies today due to our investments in technology and infrastructure, which have enabled significant progress in developing our next-generation non-viral, “off-the-shelf” allogeneic DAR-T solutions. With “off-the-shelf” solutions, DAR-T therapy can truly become a drug product platform rather than a treatment procedure.

With respect to our ADC program, we began enrolling patients in the first quarter of 2021 in a Phase Ib ascending dose study of our CD38 ADC for systemic Amyloid light-chain (“AL”) amyloidosis. Based upon our recently announced exclusive license from Mayo Clinic for its antibody-drug-nanoparticle albumin-bound (“ADNAB”) platform, the next generation in ADC technology, we intend to file several INDs to treat various cancer targets.

Outside of immuno-oncology programs, as part of our global aim to provide a wide range of therapeutic products to meet underserved markets, we have made investments in non-opioid pain management. These include resiniferatoxin (“RTX”), which is a non-opioid-based toxin that specifically targets transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (“TRPV1”) which, depending on the site of injection, can ablate, or destroy, nerves expressing TRPV1 or temporarily defunctionalize them. TRPV1 is responsible for the noxious chronic and inflammatory pain signaling that occurs post injury or trauma, but leaves other nerve functions intact. RTX has been granted orphan drug status for the treatment of intractable pain with end-stage cancer and two Phase Ib trials (intrathecal and epidural routes) in that indication have or will soon be completed. A Phase Ib trial studying tolerance and efficacy of RTX for the control of moderate to severe osteoarthritis knee pain was initiated in late 2018 and intermediate results have shown efficacy with no dose limiting toxicities. The osteoarthritis trial enrolled the last patient in the first quarter of 2020, and we expect to release the final safety clinical data by the middle of 2021. We plan to start knee arthritis registrational trials after the completion of required preclinical studies.

Also, in this area, we have developed in-house and acquired proprietary technologies to responsibly develop next generation, branded pharmaceutical products to better manage patients’ medical conditions, maximize the quality of life of patients and assist healthcare providers. The flagship product of our majority-owned subsidiary, Scilex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (“Scilex Pharma”), ZTlido® (lidocaine topical system 1.8%) (“ZTlido”), is a next-generation lidocaine delivery system, which was approved by the FDA for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, a severe neuropathic pain condition in February 2018, and was commercially launched in October 2018. Scilex Pharma has now built a full commercial organization, which includes sales, marketing, market access and medical affairs. ZTlido has demonstrated superior adhesion in comparative head-to-head studies as compared to Lidoderm and is manufactured by our Japanese partner in their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

Our Strategy

Our primary goal is to leverage our fully human antibody development expertise to address significant unmet medical needs that can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life.  In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we marshalled our resources to generate antibody-based treatments and diagnostic initiatives for COVID-19 in addition to acquiring other treatment assets to treat the entire spectrum of COVID-19 infections, from outpatients with mild infections, to hospitalized patients with moderate or severe infections.  Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to make progress in our oncology programs and treatments for refractory chronic pain conditions, such as intractable pain due to advanced cancer or knee osteoarthritis.

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Our core strategic objectives and resources are:

1. Using a deliberate process to optimize our lead product candidates to fill identified unmet needs and advance them rapidly into the clinic for initiation of Phase I studies.  Once demonstrated to be safe and efficacious, we plan to continue to drive through later phase (II and III) studies toward a new drug application (“NDA”) filing.  Early in this process, we evaluate each program for potential accelerated approval or breakthrough therapy designation to fast-track development.

2. Collaborating with key opinion leaders and leading clinical and research institutes to enhance our clinical development plans and achieve our goals.  We currently have such agreements in place with the Mayo Clinic, Karolinska Institute, The Scripps Research Institute (“TSRI”), the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) and Tufts Medical School, among others.

3. Having active programs that utilize our antibodies in CAR-T, DAR-T, our antibody-drug conjugate platform (using our covalent linker technology), ADNAB platform, and our Sofusa® DoseConnect™ lymphatic delivery device to treat various oncology indications.  Additionally, we have active programs to treat the spectrum of COVID-19 infections with our highly potent neutralizing antibodies (“nAbs”) to treat outpatients with mild COVID-19 symptoms (IV COVI-AMG™ and intranasal COVI-DROPS™) and hospitalized patients with moderate infections (COVI-GUARD™), abivertinib (Bruton’s tyrosine kinase; BTK inhibitor) and mesenchymal stem cells to treat severe COVID-19 with or without acute respiratory distress syndrome. We are also planning to use our nAb, COVI-AMG™, paired with a DNA plasmid platform for intramuscular injection to induce one’s own body to generate nAbs to fight COVID-19.  Finally, we continue to progress resiniferatoxin, an ultrapotent TRPV-1 agonist, into Phase III for the treatment of intractable pain in advanced cancer and into a Phase II dose-ranging and proof-of-concept study in severe knee osteoarthritis.  Our subsidiary, Scilex Holding, is completing its Phase III epidural approach to the treatment of lumbar radiculopathy.

4. Continuing, through our preclinical programs, to generate development candidates with exciting potential to meet unmet needs. We anticipate generating data to support more than a dozen new INDs in 2021.  These include moving our checkpoint inhibitors from our core antibody portfolio into the clinic with our strategic key opinion leaders and institutional partners. We will continue to develop our fully human monoclonal antibody (mAb) portfolio for new ADCs and bispecific mAbs (“BsAbs”).  In addition, we expect to commence several clinical trials with the Sofusa® device to explore safety and efficacy features of this innovative drug delivery technology.

5. Manufacturing our preclinical and clinical materials to support Phase I and II trials in-house. We have established quality control and quality assurance programs to ensure that our products are produced under current good manufacturing practices (“cGMPs”), and other applicable domestic and foreign regulations.

6. Continuing to explore strategic partnerships to share in the risk reward of our core franchises and to derive near term value from our non-core programs. Our partnering objectives include generating revenue through license fees, milestone-related development fees and royalties as well as profit shares or joint ventures to generate potential returns from our product candidates and technologies.

Segment Information

Effective January 1, 2019, we realigned our business into two new operating and reportable segments, Sorrento Therapeutics and Scilex.

Sorrento Therapeutics. The Sorrento Therapeutics segment is organized around our Immune-Oncology therapeutic area, leveraging our proprietary G-MAB™ antibody library and targeted delivery modalities to generate the next generation of cancer therapeutics. These modalities include proprietary CAR-T, DAR-T, ADCs as well as bispecific antibody approaches. Additionally, this segment also includes Sofusa®, a drug delivery technology that delivers biologics directly into the lymphatic system to potentially achieve improved efficacy and fewer adverse effects than standard parenteral immunotherapy, and RTX, which is a non-opioid-based neurotoxin currently in clinical trials for late stage cancer pain and moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee pain.

Scilex. The Scilex segment is largely organized around our non-opioid pain management operations. Revenues from the Scilex segment are exclusively derived from the sale of ZTlido.

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Clinical Programs

G-MAB: Fully Human Antibody Library Platform

Our G-MAB™ library, which forms the backbone of many of our product candidates, was initially invented by Henry Ji, Ph.D., our co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer. We believe our proprietary G-MAB™ library is one of the industry’s largest and most diverse fully human antibody libraries, with an estimated one quadrillion unique antibodies available for drug discovery and development. We believe G-MAB™ may offer the following advantages over competing antibody libraries:

 

G-MAB™ has been designed to provide a full spectrum of human immunoglobulin gene recombination in fully-human mAbs. Unlike chimeric and humanization technologies, G-MAB™ has allowed the generation of antibodies with fully-human protein sequences without the challenges and limitations of animal-to-human gene transfer procedures.

 

Because G-MAB™ represents an in vitro human mAb library technology, research suggests that it enables faster and cost-effective in vitro screening of a large number of antigens. G-MAB™ is designed so that any antigen of interest can be investigated, with no dependence on the successful induction of a host immune response against the antigen.

The following is a depiction of the types of fully human mAbs that we have derived from G-MAB™. It includes antibodies that bind to a wide range of targets, from small molecular weight antigens to large protein complexes antigens, such as G-Protein Coupled Receptors (“GPCRs”), a difficult class of antigens to raise therapeutics antibodies against.

 

Our objective is to leverage G-MAB™ to develop first in class or best in class antibody drug candidates that will possess greater efficacy and fewer side effects as compared to existing drugs and develop them as novel monotherapies, ADCs (such as c-MET), components of bispecific antibodies, and as part of our adoptive immunotherapy (CD38, BCMA), oncolytic virus program and intracellular targeting programs (STAT3, mutant KRAS).

To date, we have screened over 100 validated targets and generated a number of fully human antibodies against these targets which are at various stages of development. These include PD-1, PD-L1, CD38, BCMA, CTLA-4, CD123, CD47, c-MET, VEGFR2, CCR2 and CD137 among others. Upon the completion of preclinical studies, our objective is to, independently or in tandem with our strategic collaborators, file INDs for these product candidates.

COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)

COVID-19 is a new pandemic disease caused by a single-stranded RNA virus termed SARS-CoV-2.  Infection with COVID-19 may cause severe disease requiring hospitalization in up to a third of patients, with frequent progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (“ARDS”) and a high mortality rate. A virus-induced hyperinflammatory response or “cytokine storm” has been hypothesized to be a major contributor to ARDS through modulation of pulmonary macrophages, dendritic cells and other immune cells.  Patients with COVID-19 may develop elevated blood levels of multiple inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and those who are admitted to intensive care have even higher levels of these cytokines, which may indicate a far worse outcome.

We have leveraged our expertise in producing fully-human monoclonal antibodies and our extensive G-MAB™ antibody library to develop potent neutralizing antibodies directed to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.  In addition, we have acquired assets that target the entire spectrum of COVID-19 infections, from outpatients who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms to hospitalized patients with moderate symptoms to patients with severe or critical COVID-19 in intensive care units.  Paired with our highly sensitive and specific diagnostic tests for COVID-19, we have developed the ability to diagnose early and treat every stage of this pandemic infection.

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STI-2020 (COVI-AMG™) is the affinity-matured neutralizing antibody developed from STI-1499 (COVI-GUARD) which has been shown in vitro to be effective against the original Wuhan, China COVID-19 strain and emerging strains, D614G and N439K.  STI-2020, formulated for intravenous administration, blocks viral interactions with the ACE-2 receptor to prevent cell entry and replication and was engineered to lack any antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) and tissue cross-reactivity (including possible hypersensitivity) neither of which has been observed in in vitro or in vivo preclinical studies.  In the Syrian Golden hamster model, intravenous STI-2020 rapidly reverses COVID-19 infection and clears viral particles from lung tissues.  After a successful IND submission, intravenous STI-2020 (administered as a slow intravenous push, not as an infusion) is currently in the clinic enrolling a healthy subject study to obtain initial safety and pharmacokinetic data before the intended studies in outpatients with mild COVID-19 infections in the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

STI-2099 (COVI-DROPS™) is STI-2020 formulated for intranasal delivery.  The neutralizing potency of STI-2020 lends itself to intranasal delivery, which may be an effective way of rapidly reducing infectivity and clearing viral burden from the nasopharynx and lung airways.  STI-2099 may be a preferred treatment for children who may not be willing to receive an injection. With IND clearance expected in the first quarter of 2021, we plan on conducting healthy subject studies comparing intranasal STI-2099 alone or in combination with intravenous STI-2020 for an “outside/inside” approach to reduce infectivity and treat the systemic infection in late first quarter of 2021.  This first study will be conducted as a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study at the Dahms Clinical Research Unit at the University Hospitals, Case Western University.  After verifying safety, we expect to rapidly move into a Phase Ib study and Phase II studies enrolling outpatients who are asymptomatic or have mild COVID-19 symptoms and using intranasal STI-2099 alone or in combination with intravenous STI-2020.  Studies are planned for the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

STI-5656 (abivertinib maleate) is a potent, small molecule third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor (“TKI”) of epidermal growth factor receptor (“EGFR”) and, importantly, also a BTK receptor.  It inhibits the gatekeeper mutation of EGFR; T790M, as well as the common activating mutations (L858R, 19del), and has minimal inhibitory activity against the wild type (“WT”) receptor, contributing to its observed safety.  Additionally, STI-5656 irreversibly binds to the BTK receptor at nanomolar potency, preventing the phosphorylation of the receptor and has shown potent immunomodulatory activities by inhibiting key pro-inflammatory cytokine production, including IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha, all of which are correlated with higher morbidity and mortality in ARDS and “cytokine storm” due to COVID-19 infections.  STI-5656 is currently enrolling subjects in a Phase II study of intensive care unit subjects with severe or critical COVID-19 in the United States.  We also are starting up a larger Phase II study in Brazil.  

STI-8282 Mesenchymal Stem Cells: After acquiring an allogeneic culture-expanded adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell (“MSC”) asset from Personalized Stem Cells, we transitioned the open IND and are currently enrolling a Phase Ib study of subjects with severe COVID-19 infections complicated by impending ARDS who will each receive three infusions of STI-8282 MSCs in hopes of preventing the pulmonary fibrosis, edema, inflammation and other comorbid processes accompanying respiratory failure.  This study is enrolling at a single California site, but will be expanded to other sites in the United States and Brazil.

STI-8472 (COVI-GeneMAb™): Finally, while not directly a “treatment” for COVID-19, the acquisition of SmartPharm Therapeutics, Inc. in September 2020 gave us the ability to use non-viral DNA and RNA gene delivery platforms to create a gene-encoded therapeutic product candidate using our STI-2020 neutralizing antibody.  With this combination, an intramuscular injection can cause the person’s own body to produce the neutralizing antibody for possibly months instead of having to rely on intermittent injections of externally manufactured antibodies, such as STI-2020.  STI-8472 (COVI-GeneMAb™) is the combination of the non-viral DNA plasmid with gene-encoded STI-2020.  We are in the process of completing the IND-enabling preclinical and chemistry, manufacturing and controls steps necessary to file an IND in the first quarter of 2021. We envision a combination of an STI-2020 injection to “treat” and STI-8472 to “prevent” reinfection in those positive for COVID-19 or in subjects negative for COVID-19, along with STI-8472 to prevent infection. This may be a valuable option for those who refuse to be vaccinated for health or other reasons.  This program received approved funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”), an advanced-technology branch of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Anti-CD38 CAR-T Program

Chimeric antigen receptors (“CARs”) have been created for commercial and clinical development programs.  The architecture of the CAR consists of a single fusion protein with several functional components: a single-chain variable fragment (“scFv”) derived from an anti-tumor antibody fused to a structural support segment, a transmembrane portion, and one or more intracellular signaling domains.  Potential drawbacks of the CAR technology are the use of scFv that often possess inferior biophysical stability and biochemical functionality compared to their parental antibodies.

The membrane glycoprotein CD38 is widely found on the surface of lymphoid and myeloid lineages including B, T and NK cells, but absent from most mature resting lymphocytes with the notable exception of terminally differentiated plasma cells. Because CD38 is highly expressed on multiple myeloma cells, it represents a valuable and validated therapeutic target against myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a hematologic malignancy in which clonal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow or extramedullary sites

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and give rise to clinical complications such as painful, lytic bone lesions, hypercalcemia, renal impairment, cytopenias, and symptomatic plasmacytomas.

STI-2798 and STI-5171 (anti-CD38 CAR-T): Our proprietary, second generation anti-CD38 CAR-T therapy is being developed for the treatment of RRMM.  Our anti-CD38 CAR-T is based on a fully human anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody derived from our G-MAB™ antibody library.  We recently completed a Phase Ib ascending dose safety study of STI-5171 which began in 2018 with the initial anti-CD38 CAR-T platform.  While long-term follow up is continuing, in the last two dose cohorts (106 or 107 cells/kg body weight), we achieved a 50% overall response rate.  We improved on the CAR-T construct by removing the “myc tag” (which cannot be used in Europe) CAR-T product candidate (STI-2798) and made changes to the lymphodepletion protocol in hopes of improving long-term cell persistence.  After a successful IND submission for STI-2798, our new anti-CD38 CAR-T (-myc), we are activating sites and will continue to enroll subjects with RRMM in the coming year.  

Anti-CD38 KOKI DAR-T Program

We are addressing the potential weaknesses of CAR constructs while building on the clinical experience generated within our current CAR-T programs with the design of dimeric antigen receptors (“DARs”) based on the complete antigen-binding fragment (“Fab”) of the parental antibody.  It is generally accepted that Fabs more closely mimic the functional and biophysical properties of natural antibodies.  Utilizing the same antibody binding domain sequence, we have compared CAR constructs with a scFv binding domain to a DAR construct with a Fab or two chain binding domain.  Our data showed that the DAR-T cells exhibited a higher functional activity with regards to cytokine production, and cytotoxicity against target-expressing tumor cells compared to CAR-T cells. In preclinical mouse models, the DAR-T cells demonstrated increased anti-tumor potency as well.  We are currently applying our DAR technology to our ongoing cell therapy programs for multiple hematological and solid tumor indications, including but not limited to multiple myeloma, lymphoma, liver cancer, sarcoma, pancreatic cancer and glioma.

STI-1492, an allogeneic non-viral anti-CD38 A2 KOKI DAR-T cell agent (second generation anti-CD38 “knock-out knock-in” dimeric antigen receptor 4-1BBζ - engineered T cells), is completing FDA-required steps before beginning our clinical enrollment.  STI-1492 consists of allogeneic donor T cells that are engineered to express an anti-CD38 antigen receptor for the treatment of patients with RRMM.  The DAR consists of a fragment antigen-binding variable region (Fab) instead of the scFv utilized by CARs. During the production of STI-1492, there is a “knock-in” of the DAR into the T-cell receptor (“TCR”) alpha constant region (“TRAC”) gene. The TCR alpha is simultaneously inactivated (“knock-out”) by this DAR knock-in process, allowing allogeneic T cells to be administered therapeutically without the development of graft versus host disease.  The anti-CD38 A2 DAR vector is integrated into the TCR locus by CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing methods instead of by a lentivirus/retrovirus.  In addition, STI-1492 utilizes a 4-1BB co-stimulatory domain. The anti-CD38 DAR design is associated with enhanced cytotoxic activity, longer persistence and possibly less toxicity compared with the anti-CD38 CAR design in preclinical studies.  The ability to administer this agent as modified allogeneic T cells allows STI-1492 to be stored as an off-the-shelf agent that eliminates the need for leukapheresis and the treatment delay for the manufacturing process for each individual patient associated with autologous cellular therapy.

Our KOKI technology may offer several potential benefits over existing virus-based technology using transgene-encoding lentivirus, retrovirus or adeno-associated virus to introduce antigen receptor constructs into healthy donor (allogeneic) or cancer patient (autologous) T cells.  These potential advantages of our non-viral KOKI technology include:

 

site-specific integration of transgenes into a pre-selected locus in the T cell genome

 

streamlined method for transgene construct production without need for laborious and time-consuming virus production, release and validation processes, resulting in a shorter research and development timelines for IND-enabling activities and

 

applicability to both autologous and allogeneic cellular therapies

We intend to use our G- MAB™ library to generate a number of monoclonal antibodies that can be used with our KOKI DAR-T platform to target a number of difficult to treat cancers.

Anti-CD38 Antibody-Drug Conjugate (ADC) Program

AL amyloidosis is an incurable disease that is characterized by a clonal population of bone marrow plasma cells that produces a monoclonal light chain immunoglobulin.  The clonal plasma cells often make up less than 10% of the nucleated cells in the bone marrow in patients with AL amyloidosis.  The light chain immunoglobulin is of a ĸ or λ type and is produced as either an intact molecule or a fragment.  The light chain protein produced by the dysfunctional plasma cells associated with AL amyloidosis is misfolded, forming β-pleated sheets that deposit in tissues in the form of amyloid fibrils.  The insoluble tissue protein deposits interfere with organ function and the soluble circulating light chains may be toxic to organs as well.  The clinical features of AL amyloidosis depend on which organs are involved and may include restrictive cardiomyopathy, nephrotic syndrome, hepatic dysfunction, peripheral and/or autonomic neuropathy and signs or symptoms of an atypical multiple myeloma.

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STI-6129 ADC is composed of a human monoclonal anti-CD38 A2 antibody (STI-5171) covalently bound by a chemical linker to a dolastatin tubulin inhibitor chemotherapeutic derivative (duostatin 5.2).  STI-5171 was generated from Sorrento’s proprietary antibody library. The binding affinity of STI-5171 to CD38 is comparable to that of daratumumab (Sorrento data on file). The STI-6129 ADC is produced by conjugation of the drug-linker-duostatin moiety to the parent STI-5171 monoclonal antibody.  The heavy chain of the STI-5171 parent antibody included in the STI-6129 ADC has been modified by a C246→S mutation that substitutes a serine amino acid for cysteine. This substitution results in an antibody with 3 inter-chain disulfide bonds instead of the 4 disulfide bonds present in wild type IgG1 antibodies and provides an ADC with drug to antibody ratio of 3 (Sorrento data on file). Upon binding to CD38 target cell surface antigen, the STI-6129 ADC is internalized by the cell and undergoes lysosomal degradation resulting in the release of the duostatin 5.2 chemotherapeutic agent.  This targeted delivery of potent chemotherapeutic agents is designed to enhance activity against the aberrant plasma cells in AL amyloidosis, minimize toxicity in normal tissues, and provide sustained delivery of the chemotherapy over time.  The proprietary covalent linker technology reduces premature release of the duostatin which may reduce ocular toxicity and other adverse events.  After a successful IND submission, STI-6129 is currently enrolling patients in an ascending dose study to identify the maximum tolerated dose to be used for the treatment of AL amyloidosis.  Once a recommended Phase II dose is identified, an expansion cohort will be enrolled.  Additionally, we are partnering with Columbia University in New York City to assess STI-6129 in the treatment of RRMM.

Anti-CD47 Fully Human Monoclonal Antibody Program (STI-6643)

Several studies have described the role of cluster of differentiation 47/Signal regulatory protein-alpha (“CD47/SIRPα”) interaction in regulating macrophage-mediated phagocytosis and dendritic cell-mediated cross-priming of T cells.  CD47 is a ubiquitously expressed immuno-regulatory glycoprotein (also known as integrin-associated protein) of the immunoglobulin superfamily best known for its so called ‘don’t eat me’ function that prevents phagocytic removal of healthy cells by the body’s immune system.  Many cancers present high levels of this signal on their cell surface, thereby disrupting anti-cancer immune responses.  Given CD47’s essential role as a negative checkpoint for innate immunity and subsequent adaptive immunity, the CD47-SIRPα axis has been explored as a new target for cancer immunotherapy and its disruption has demonstrated great therapeutic promise in reestablishing antitumor activity in vivo.  However, significant anemia and thrombocytopenia has plagued early product candidates (e.g., Hu5F9-G4 or magrolimab, a humanized IgG4 monoclonal antibody) due to CD47 expression on normal cells, particularly aging red blood cells which may lose this ‘marker of self’ becoming susceptible to clearance by splenic macrophages.  This major ‘on-target’ dose limiting toxicity was seen with magrolimab in preclinical studies and required complicated priming methodologies to reduce this risk.

STI-6643 is our novel fully human CD47 monoclonal antibody that blocks CD47/SIRPα to promote in vitro anti-tumor phagocytic activity.  When incubated with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in a mixed lymphocyte reaction assay, STI-6643 demonstrated minimal T, B or NK cell depletion as opposed to reference clones (prepared based on sequence analysis) which could result in improved efficacy by preserving the infiltrating anti-tumor immune cells.  Additionally, STI-6643 showed 15- to 30-fold reduction in observed hemagglutination in human and cynomolgus monkey red blood cells, respectively, and despite its high binding to canine red blood cells, it showed reduced hemagglutination in comparison to magrolimab (clone prepared based on the sequence analysis).  An IND submission is pending clearance for STI-6643 in the treatment of a variety of advanced cancers. We hope to begin enrollment in the first quarter of 2021.

Antibody-Drug Nanoparticle Albumin Bound (ADNAB) Platform

We are currently involved in a partnership with Mayo Clinic Rochester, with Dr. Svetomir Markovic, to use the nanoparticle human serum albumin bound paclitaxel (or other chemotherapeutic agents) platform to bind various monoclonal antibodies to the external surface of the albumin micelles to form stable complexes that can be designed to target specific cancers for delivery directly to the tumor microenvironment.  This partnership would leverage our existing antibody library, including PD-1, PD-L1, CD38, BCMA, CTLA-4, CD123, CD47, c-MET, VEGFR2, CCR2 and CD137, among others, to create ADNAB products that may enhance tumor response.  The first programs (B cell lymphomas, melanoma and gynecological cancers) are already ongoing under an investigator-initiated IND that we will support moving forward and when initial proof of concept is available, we intend to transfer the IND and offer the product candidate to other sites around the country.

Sofusa® Lymphatic Delivery System (S-LDS)

Sofusa is a novel technology platform designed for targeted drug delivery to lymphatics vessels and lymph nodes.  Abnormal immune system function is implicated in many conditions such as cancer and autoimmune diseases (e.g., Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and Psoriasis).  Sofusa’s proprietary nanotopography draped microneedles have been shown to reversibly open tight junctions in the skin and facilitate paracellular and transcellular transport across the epidermis.  In pre-clinical biodistribution studies, this proprietary microneedle and microfluidics system has consistently demonstrated the ability to deliver over 40-fold in drug concentration to lymph nodes (with lower drug concentration in systemic organs) when compared to traditional intravenous (“IV”) and subcutaneous (“SC”) injections. After a 1-hour administration with Sofusa, elevated lymph node concentrations are sustained

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beyond 36 hours. Multiple pharmacodynamic models confirm that increased exposure to drug targets in the lymphatics has potential to improve clinical response, potentially at significantly lower doses vs IV or SC administration.

Phase I clinical safety studies have now been completed for a large molecule (etanercept) and for a small molecule (sumatriptan).  We have filed two INDs and are authorized to proceed with our first human efficacy studies with an anti-TNFα in Rheumatoid Arthritis and with a checkpoint inhibitor in oncology. This checkpoint study is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a Sofusa anti-PD1 antibody in patients with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma. In this pilot study, we will evaluate the feasibility of Sofusa delivery in patients with skin cancers accessible to biopsies for intensive biomarker assessments. These trials will help assess whether the principles of better efficacy and safety seen in lymphatic administration of drugs in animal models can be replicated in patients. If the Sofusa Lymphatic Delivery System is successful in the clinic, the commercial Sofusa® DoseDisc™ wearable device may offer not only the potential for both improved clinical response, but also a more convenient dosing alternative to traditional SC injections or IV infusions for patients.

Based upon the Sofusa core microneedle technology, we have also developed the Sofusa MuVaxx™ device for the administration of small volume peptides and vaccines.  The skin (rich in dendritic cells) and lymph nodes are the primary organs for generating both humoral immunity (IgG and IgM) and cellular immunity (memory T-Cells) for long-term protection.  In a pre-clinical COVID-19 vaccine study, the Sofusa device resulted in 10-40X higher T-Cell response versus IM and intradermal injections. The Sofusa MuVaxx device is designed to be a simple low-cost attachment to a standard syringe for rapid large-scale deployment of our vaccine candidates.

Oncolytic Virus Program (Seprehvir® and Seprehvec®)

We previously completed two trials using Herpes simplex virus lacking infected cell protein 34.5 (“HSV1716”) or Seprehvir to treat solid pediatric or young adult non-central nervous system tumors or malignant pleural mesothelioma with intratumoral, intravenous of intrapleural administration.  A second-generation product, Seprehvec, is a platform that can generate a number of possible product candidates and the first, STI-1386, is gearing up for an IND submission early in 2021 with targeted cancers still to be finalized.

Resiniferatoxin (“RTX”) Programs

RTX is a naturally occurring compound obtained from cactus-like succulents of the Euphorbia species. An ultra-potent TRPV1 agonist, RTX belongs to the same general TRPV1 family as capsaicin, the active ingredient in red chili peppers. As an agonist, RTX produces a sustained opening of calcium channels expressed on neurons, either in the end-terminals or cell bodies, of C-fibers or A-delta fibers.  The effect from this sustained calcium influx depends on the location that RTX is injected.  When injected peripherally near end-terminals (for example intra-articularly), a sustained defunctionalization or desensitization occurs resulting in reduction in noxious chronic pain symptoms that can last for months.  When injected neuraxially (intrathecally or epidurally) rapid programmed cell death of TRPV1-expressing neurons targeted by the RTX injection can produce long-lasting improvement in noxious chronic pain that has been refractory to treatment (e.g., cancer related pain). RTX does not interact with and leaves unaffected non-TRPV1-expressing nerves (touch, motor control and position sense).

An investigator-sponsored Phase I clinical trial of intrathecal RTX has been ongoing at the NIH under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. To date, 14 patients with terminal cancer pain have been treated intrathecally at the NIH.

A Phase Ib clinical trial with epidural RTX was completed in 2020 in 17 subjects with intractable pain due to advanced cancer. No dose limiting toxicity was observed at doses up to 25 mcg RTX and RTX demonstrated promising efficacy in relieving intractable pain associated with advanced cancer.  A Phase II/III study was submitted to the IND in December 2020 and will begin enrolling early in 2021.

Another Phase Ib clinical trial with intra-articular RTX administration for moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee was completed with no dose limiting toxicities at any of the administered doses. 94 patients were enrolled at RTX doses from 5 mcg to 25 mcg; 40 subjects enrolled in the placebo-controlled ascending dose portion of the study, 38 subjects received 12.5 mcg and 16 subjects received 25 mcg.  The preliminary efficacy results in this study show promising evidence of a significant improvement lasting well beyond 6 months.  These preliminary results will need to be documented in a Phase II proof-of-concept study comparing several RTX doses against placebo, which is planned for early 2021.

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Scilex Holding

Scilex Holding is focused on cost-effectively developing and commercializing non-opioid therapies that will provide safe and substantial, localized pain relief for large market opportunities. The following chart illustrates the current product and product candidates for which Scilex Holding has worldwide commercialization rights, except with respect to Japan for ZTlido and SP-103:

 

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ZTlido

ZTlido is a lidocaine topical system approved for the relief of pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia (“PHN”). PHN is a chronic neuropathic pain syndrome that results as a complication following an infection of herpes zoster, also known as shingles. Herpes zoster symptoms typically resolve after a few weeks, but the pain caused by the nerve injury can persist for months to years in the affected area. ZTlido is designed as a lighter, thinner product which has improved adhesion relative to Lidoderm (lidocaine patch 5%), while providing a bioequivalent delivery of lidocaine in an efficient drug delivery system.

We launched ZTlido in October 2018 with support from an integrated commercial organization using a dedicated contract sales force and our own sales management, marketing and managed care capabilities. We market ZTlido through a dedicated sales force of 60 individuals, targeting approximately 10,000 primary care physicians, pain specialists, neurologists and palliative care physicians. We are utilizing a multi-channel marketing strategy to expand awareness and utilization of ZTlido.

SEMDEXA

SEMDEXA is a Phase III product candidate we are developing to be an injectable viscous gel formulation of a widely used corticosteroid designed to address the serious risks posed by off-label epidural steroid injections, or ESIs, for the treatment of sciatica, a pathology of low back pain. We believe SEMDEXA, if successfully developed, has the potential to reduce the disability related to sciatica and help delay or avoid spine surgery. SEMDEXA has been granted fast track designation by the FDA and, if approved, could become the only FDA-approved alternative to off-label ESIs, which are administered over 10 million times annually in the United States. We are currently evaluating SEMDEXA in a pivotal Phase III Corticosteroid Lumbar Epidural Analgesia for Radiculopathy trial, which is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy in the proposed indication. We expect top-line results from the study in the second half of 2021, and if results are positive, we intend to submit a request to the FDA for breakthrough designation.

SP-103

SP-103 is an investigational, non-aqueous lidocaine topical system undergoing clinical development in low back pain conditions. SP-103 builds on the learnings from ZTlido because both products share a similar adhesive drug delivery formulation and manufacturing technology. If approved, we believe that SP-103 could become the first-in-class lidocaine topical product for low back pain indications. All current uses of topical lidocaine products for low back pain are off-label. SP-103 has three times the drug load of ZTlido (108 mg versus 36 mg) in the adhesive system to potentially deliver threefold level of the drug within a targeted area, still with the convenience of a single topical system. Additionally, SP-103 is designed to deliver a localized dose of lidocaine that is threefold greater than any lidocaine topical product that we are aware of either on the market or in development. If approved, we believe SP-103 may be able to address the limitations of prescription lidocaine patches in treating low back pain by delivering a higher dose of lidocaine to the application site. We expect the Phase II trial to commence in the second half of 2021.

Patents and Other Proprietary Rights

We are able to protect our technology from unauthorized use by third parties only to the extent that it is covered by valid and enforceable patents, is effectively maintained as a trade secret, or is protected by confidentiality agreements. Accordingly, patents and other proprietary rights are essential elements of our business.

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We have multiple issued patents and pending patent applications in the U.S. and in selected foreign jurisdictions that cover our G-MAB™ technology, G-MAB™-derived antibodies, other proprietary antibody-centric technologies, and pain management compounds, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

1)

The G-MABTM discovery antibody library technology. Certain aspects of this technology are covered by issued patents and are the subject matter of pending patent applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2023.

 

2)

The G-MABTM-derived immuno-oncology antibody candidate portfolio. Certain of these antibody candidates are covered by issued patents and are the subject matter of pending patent applications and granted patents with potential patent coverage to at least 2033.

 

3)

The bispecific antibody technology directed to the combination of two different monoclonal antibodies or fragments that can target multiple or different antigens. The bispecific antibody technology is the subject matter of pending applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2040.

 

4)

The COVID-19 technologies and product candidates, including neutralizing antibodies (COVI-GUARDTM; COVI-AMGTM and COVI-DROPSTM), other therapeutic and/or product candidates and diagnostic platforms, are the subject of pending patent applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2040.

 

5)

The ADC technology using proprietary conjugation chemistries (called C-LockTM and K-LockTM), initially developed by Concortis Biosystems, Corp., one of our subsidiaries. This ADC technology is the subject matter of pending patent applications and granted patents with potential patent coverage to at least 2033. Additional ADC directed to different antigen targets and/or toxin derivatives are the subject matter of pending patent applications and granted patents with potential patent coverage to at least 2038.

 

6)

The chimeric antigen receptor T-cell - (CAR-T)-based technology is an immunotherapy platform and is the subject matter of pending patent applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2035. Candidates arising from the platform are the subject matter of pending applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2038.

 

7)

The dimeric antigen receptor T-cells (DAR-T)-based technology is an allogeneic immunotherapy platform and is the subject of pending patent applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2039. Candidates arising from the platform are the subject matter of pending applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2040.

 

8)

The oncolytic virus technology is a human herpes simplex virus (HSV)-based immunotherapy platform designed to target and destroy tumor cells while also stimulating anti-tumor patient immune responses. It is the subject of pending patent applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2036. We have filed patent applications on improvements to this technology with potential patent coverage to at least 2037.

 

9)

The corticosteroid injectable pain management technology, which is formulated as a viscous gel injection for the treatment of lumbosacral radicular pain/sciatica, was obtained by the acquisition of Semnur Pharmaceuticals in March 2019 and it is the subject matter of pending patent applications and granted patents with potential patent coverage to at least 2036.

 

10)

The resiniferatoxin (RTX)-based pain management technology is an experimental TRPV1 agonist agent developed as a single injection pain treatment that ablates afferent nerves that conduct pain signals while sparing other nerve functions. Certain aspects of this technology are covered by an issued patent in the U.S. providing patent protection to at least 2021 and are the subject matter of pending patent applications that will provide potential patent coverage to at least 2040.

 

11)

The lidocaine-based pain management technology was obtained by the acquisition of Scilex Pharma. Certain aspects of this technology are covered by several issued U.S. patents, which will not expire until at least 2031. Additional patent applications to improvements of this technology have been filed and have the potential to provide patent coverage to at least 2039 and may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost-effectiveness.

 

12)

The Sofusa technology was acquired from Kimberly-Clark Corporation (“KCC”); Kimberly-Clark Global Sales, LLC (“KCCGS”); and Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. (“KCCW” and together with KCC and KCCGS, “Kimberly-Clark”) in July 2018 as a novel technology platform designed to deliver large molecules, such as antibodies, directly into lymphatic capillaries and tumor draining lymph nodes. This micro-epidermal infusion system features a proprietary microneedle array and microfluidics reservoir. The Sofusa technology is the subject of multiple granted and pending applications with potential patent coverage to at least 2040.

Certain factors can either extend patent terms or provide other forms of exclusivity (e.g., data exclusivity) for varying periods depending on the date of patent filing, date of grant or the legal term of a patent in the various jurisdictions in which patent protection is obtained. The actual protection afforded by a patent, which can vary from country to country, also depends upon the type of patent, the scope of claim coverage and the availability of legal remedies in the particular country.

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While trade secret protection is an essential element of our business and we have taken security measures to protect our proprietary information and trade secrets, we cannot guarantee that our unpatented proprietary technology will afford us significant commercial protection. We seek to protect our trade secrets by entering into confidentiality agreements with third parties, employees and consultants. Our employees and consultants also sign agreements requiring that they assign to us their interest in any intellectual property arising from their work for us. All employees sign an agreement not to engage in any conflicting employment or activity during their employment with us and not to disclose or misuse our confidential information. However, it is possible that these agreements may be breached or invalidated and, if so, there may not be an adequate corrective remedy. Accordingly, we cannot guarantee that employees, consultants or third parties will not breach the confidentiality provisions in our contracts, infringe or misappropriate our trade secrets or other proprietary rights, or that measures we are taking to protect our proprietary rights will be adequate.

In the future, third parties may file claims asserting that our technologies or products infringe on their intellectual property. We cannot predict whether third parties will assert such claims against us or against the licensors of technology licensed to us, or whether those claims will harm our business. If we are forced to defend ourselves against such claims, whether they are with or without merit and whether they are resolved in favor of, or against, our licensors or us, we may face costly litigation and the diversion of management’s attention and resources. As a result of such disputes, we may have to develop costly non-infringing technology or enter into licensing agreements. These agreements, if necessary, may be unavailable on terms acceptable to us, or at all.

Competition

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition, a strong emphasis on proprietary products and intellectual property. While we believe that our scientific knowledge, technology and development experience provide us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including major pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions, governmental agencies and public and private research institutions, some or all of which may have greater access to capital or resources than we do. For any products that we may ultimately commercialize, not only will we compete with any existing therapies and those therapies currently in development, we will have to compete with new therapies that may become available in the future.

We expect that the market will become increasingly competitive in the future. Many of our competitors, either alone or together with their collaborative partners, operate larger research and development programs, and have substantially greater commercial and financial resources than we do, as well as significantly greater experience in: developing product candidates and technologies, undertaking preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtaining FDA and other regulatory approvals of product candidates, formulating and manufacturing product candidates and launching, marketing and selling product candidates. As a result, these companies may obtain marketing approval more rapidly than we are able and may be more effective in developing, selling and marketing their products.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is an active area of research and several immune-related products have been identified in recent years that modulate the immune system. Many of these products utilize dendritic cells, a form of immune cell that presents cancer target peptides to T cells and that can in turn result in T-cell activation. More recently, bispecific antibodies and checkpoint inhibitors (for instance PD‑1/PD-L1 antibodies) have been identified as having utility in the treatment of cancer. Bi-specific antibodies commonly target both the cancer peptide and the TCR, thus bringing both cancer cells and T cells into close proximity to maximize the chance of TCR binding and hence an immune response to the cancer cells. Checkpoint inhibitors on the other hand, work by targeting receptors that inhibit T-cell effectiveness and proliferation and thereby essentially activate T cells. Other immunotherapies that are being actively investigated include: antibody drug complexes, TCR-mimic antibodies, oncolytic viruses, cancer vaccines.

We are aware of companies developing therapies in various areas related to our specific research and development programs. Specifically, there are a growing number of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and academic institutions researching and developing autologous and allogeneic CAR-T therapies in both the solid and liquid tumor setting. These CAR-T cell therapies are at a variety of stages of preclinical, clinical development and approval. Such therapies are directed towards a broad target spectrum, including but not limited to: DLL3, EGFR, GD2, HER-2, IL13rα2, Lewis Y, L1-CAM, Mesothelin, MUC16, PSCA, PSMA and ROR1. The two approved CAR-T therapies both target CD19.

RTX

The pain management field in particular is a growing industry due to increased attention on opioid usage for pain, which has created a rapidly emerging market and has fueled an increased interest in opioid alternatives. The rise of various small and early-stage companies in the non-opioid pain management field may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly if they enter into collaborative arrangements with large, established companies.

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COVID-19 Product Candidates

Neutralizing antibodies (nAbs): Sorrento has several nAbs either in development or in the clinic.  These nAbs are directed against the COVID-19 spike protein.  The lead nAb, STI-2020, has been shown to be effective in preclinical studies against various escape mutations (D614G, N439K, and B117 variants) as part of Sorrento’s ongoing surveillance program.  Two companies (Regeneron and Lilly) have obtained EUA clearance for their nAbs (Regeneron’s casirivimab/imdevimab cocktail and Lilly’s bamlanivimab). There are several other companies which have nAbs in early development. In addition, companies which are involved in vaccine development are indirect competitors in this space, although the vaccines known to be in development are not nAbs-based.

Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (BTKI): Sorrento currently is in mid-Phase 2 trials for abivertinib, its dual EGFR/BTKI, to treat acute respiratory distress due (ARD) to COVID-19. There are several other BTKIs approved for oncology conditions that could theoretically be used to treat COVID-19-induced ARD.  Acalabrutinib (Calquence™) was used in two Phase 2 studies but failed to meet its primary endpoint.

Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AdMSCs): We are currently enrolling a Phase 1b study treating COVID-19-induced ARD and ARD syndrome (ARDS). There are a large number of companies and universities exploring various MSCs (adipose, bone marrow, cord blood, umbilical and other sources) in Phase 1 and 2 studies to treat moderate to severe COVID-19.

Scilex

ZTlido and our product candidate, SP-103, if approved, face and will likely face competition from prescription and generic topical lidocaine patches, including Lidoderm and generic lidocaine patches manufactured by Teva, Mylan and Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. Additionally, SP-103, if approved, will likely compete with various opioid pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDs”), muscle relaxants, antidepressants and anticonvulsants, particularly as we seek approval for the treatment of chronic low back pain.

SEMDEXA, if approved, has the potential to become the first FDA-approved epidural steroid product for the treatment of sciatica. While there are currently no FDA approved ESIs indicated for the treatment of sciatica, we are aware of certain non-steroid product candidates in development. For example, Sollis Therapeutics, Inc. is developing its product candidate, a non-opioid, non-steroid clonidine micropellet to be administered through epidural injection, which is currently in Phase III development. SEMDEXA, if approved, will compete with various opioid pain medications, NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and surgical procedures. Procedures may include nerve blocks and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulations. We may also face indirect competition from the off-label and unapproved use of branded and generic injectable steroids.

The key competitive factors affecting the success of ZTlido, SEMDEXA and SP-103 are likely to be their efficacy, durability, safety, price and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.

Government Regulation

Government authorities in the U.S. (including federal, state and local authorities) and in other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the manufacturing, research and clinical development, marketing, labeling and packaging, storage, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, advertising and promotion, export and import of pharmaceutical products, such as those we are developing. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Moreover, failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements may result in, among other things, warning letters, clinical holds, civil or criminal penalties, recall or seizure of products, injunction, disbarment, partial or total suspension of production or withdrawal of the product from the market. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us.

U.S. Government Regulations

In the U.S., the FDA regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”) and its implementing regulations. Drugs are also subject to other federal, state and local statutes and regulations. The process required by the FDA before product candidates may be marketed in the U.S. generally involves the following:

 

completion of extensive preclinical laboratory tests and preclinical animal studies, all performed in accordance with the FDA’s Good Laboratory Practice (“GLP”) regulations. Preclinical testing generally includes evaluation of our product candidates in the laboratory or in animals to characterize the product and determine safety and efficacy;

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submission to the FDA of an IND, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin and must be updated annually;

 

performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the product candidate for each proposed indication;

 

submission to the FDA of a Biologics License Application (“BLA”) or a NDA after completion of all pivotal clinical trials;

 

a determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of a BLA or an NDA to file the BLA or NDA for review;

 

satisfactory completion of an FDA pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facilities at which the active pharmaceutical ingredient (“API”) and finished drug product are produced and tested to assess compliance with cGMP regulations;

 

satisfactory completion of an FDA pre-approval inspection of one or more of the clinical sites at which the clinical trials were conducted;

 

at the discretion of the FDA, a public Advisory Committee Meeting where the data is reviewed by experts who discuss the data and give their opinion (which the FDA is not obliged to follow) of the adequacy of the data to support an approval; and

 

FDA review and approval of a BLA or an NDA prior to any commercial marketing or sale of the drug in the U.S.

In addition, we are subject to regulation under state, federal, and international laws and regulations regarding occupational safety, laboratory practices, import and export of materials and products, environmental protection and the use and handling of hazardous substance control, and other regulations. Our clinical trial and research and development activities involve the controlled use of hazardous materials and chemical compounds. Although we believe that our safety procedures for handling and disposing of such materials comply with the standards prescribed by state and federal regulations, the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials cannot be completely eliminated. In the event of such an accident, we could be held liable for any damages that result and any such liability could exceed our financial resources. In addition, disposal of radioactive materials used in our clinical trials and research efforts may only be made at approved facilities. We believe that we are in material compliance with all applicable laws and regulations including those relating to the handling and disposal of hazardous and toxic waste.

An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational drug product to humans. The central focus of an IND submission is on the general investigational plan and the protocol(s) for human studies. The IND also includes results of animal studies or other human studies, as appropriate, as well as manufacturing information, analytical data and any available clinical data or literature to support the use of the investigational new drug. An IND must become effective before human clinical trials may begin. An IND will automatically become effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time the FDA raises concerns or questions related to the proposed clinical trials. In such a case, the IND may be placed on clinical hold and the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns or questions before clinical trials can begin. Accordingly, submission of an IND may or may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to commence.

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational drug to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with Good Clinical Practices (“GCPs”), which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the efficacy criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Additionally, approval must also be obtained from each clinical trial site’s institutional review board (“IRB”) before the trials may be initiated, and the IRB must monitor the study until completed. There are also requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and clinical trial results to public registries.

The pre-approval clinical investigation of a drug is generally divided into three phases (the numbers of subjects/patients are approximate and vary from indication to indication). Although the phases are usually conducted sequentially, they may overlap or be combined. The three phases of an investigation are as follows:

 

Phase I. Phase I includes the initial introduction of an investigational new drug into humans. Phase I clinical trials are typically closely monitored and may be conducted in patients with the target disease or condition or in healthy volunteers. These studies are designed to evaluate the safety, dosage tolerance, metabolism and pharmacologic actions of the investigational drug in humans, the side effects associated with increasing doses, and if possible, to gain early evidence on effectiveness. During Phase I clinical trials, sufficient information about the investigational drug’s pharmacokinetics and pharmacological effects may be obtained to permit the design of well-controlled and scientifically valid Phase II clinical trials. The total number of participants included in Phase I clinical trials varies, but is generally in the range of 20 to 80.

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Phase II. Phase II includes controlled clinical trials conducted to preliminarily or further evaluate the effectiveness of the investigational drug for a particular indication(s) in patients with the disease or condition under study, to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage, and to identify possible adverse side effects and safety risks associated with the drug. Phase II clinical trials are typically well-controlled, closely monitored, and conducted in a limited patient population, usually involving no more than several hundred participants.

 

Phase III. Phase III clinical trials are generally controlled clinical trials conducted in an expanded patient population generally at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. They are performed after preliminary evidence suggesting effectiveness of the drug has been obtained, and are intended to further evaluate dosage, clinical effectiveness and safety, to establish the overall benefit-risk relationship of the investigational drug product, and to provide an adequate basis for product approval. Phase III clinical trials usually involve several hundred to several thousand participants. In general, two Phase III trials are needed for an approval.

A pivotal trial is a clinical trial that adequately meets regulatory agency requirements for the evaluation of a drug candidate’s efficacy and safety such that it can be used to justify the approval of the product. Generally, pivotal trials are also Phase III trials but may be Phase II trials if the trial design provides a well-controlled and reliable assessment of clinical benefit, particularly in situations where there is an unmet medical need.

The FDA, the IRB or the clinical trial sponsor may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. This group provides authorization for whether or not a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the study. We may also suspend or terminate a clinical trial based on evolving business objectives and/or competitive climate.

Assuming successful completion of all required testing in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements, detailed investigational drug product information is submitted to the FDA in the form of an NDA requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications.

The application includes all relevant data available from pertinent preclinical 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 use of a product, 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 investigational drug product to the satisfaction of the FDA.

Once the BLA or NDA submission has been accepted for filing, the FDA’s goal is to review applications within ten months of submission or, if the application relates to an unmet medical need in a serious or life-threatening indication, six months from submission. The review process is often significantly extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification. The FDA may refer the application to an advisory committee for review, evaluation and recommendation as to whether the application should be approved. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it typically follows such recommendations.

During the evaluation of the BLA or NDA, the FDA conducts inspections of manufacturing facilities where the drug product and/or its API will be produced and some of the clinical sites that conducted the trials, and it may issue an approval letter or a Complete Response Letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications. A Complete Response Letter indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete and the application is not ready for approval. A Complete Response Letter may require additional clinical data, an additional pivotal Phase III clinical trial(s), and/or other significant, expensive and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, preclinical studies or manufacturing. Even if such additional information is submitted, the FDA may ultimately decide that the BLA or NDA does not satisfy the criteria for approval. The FDA could also approve the BLA or NDA with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (“REMS”) plan to mitigate risks, which could include medication guides, physician communication plans, or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. The FDA also may condition approval on, among other things, changes to proposed labeling, development of adequate controls and specifications, or a commitment to conduct one or more post-market studies or clinical trials. Such post-market testing may include Phase IV 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 drug.

After regulatory approval of a drug product is obtained, we are required to comply with a number of post-approval requirements. As a holder of an approved BLA or NDA, we would be required to report, among other things, certain adverse reactions

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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 our products. Also, quality control and manufacturing procedures must continue to conform to cGMP after approval to ensure and preserve the long term stability of the drug product. The FDA periodically (about every two years) inspects manufacturing facilities to assess compliance with cGMP, which imposes extensive procedural, substantive and record keeping requirements. 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 and correction of any deviations from cGMP and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon us and any third-party manufacturers that we 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.

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the production, distribution, shipping and storage of clinical and commercial quantities of our product candidates. Future FDA and state inspections may identify compliance issues at our facilities or at the facilities of our contract manufacturers that may disrupt production or distribution or require substantial resources to correct. In addition, discovery of previously unknown problems with a product or the failure to comply with applicable requirements may result in restrictions on a product, manufacturer or holder of an approved BLA or NDA, including withdrawal or recall of the product from the market or other voluntary, FDA-initiated or judicial action that could delay or prohibit further marketing. 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. Also, new government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could delay or prevent regulatory approval of our product candidates under development.

Europe/Rest of World Government Regulations

In addition to regulations in the U.S., 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 products.

Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries. Certain countries outside of the U.S. have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In Europe, for example, a clinical trial application (“CTA”) must be submitted to each country’s national health authority and 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.

The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, the clinical trials are conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational drug under European Union regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application. The application used to file the NDA in the U.S. is similar to that required in Europe, with the exception of, among other things, country-specific document requirements. For other countries outside of the European Union, such as 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. In all cases, again, the clinical trials are conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

If we fail to comply with applicable foreign 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.

Available Special Regulatory Procedures

Formal Meetings

We can engage and seek guidance from health authorities relating to the development and review of investigational drugs, as well as marketing applications. In the U.S., there are different types of official meetings that may occur between us and the FDA. Each meeting type is subject to different procedures. Conclusions and agreements from each of these meetings are captured in the official final meeting minutes issued by the FDA. Meetings with the FDA are free.

The European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) also provides the opportunity for dialogue with us. This is usually done in the form of Scientific Advice, which is given by the Scientific Advice Working Party of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (“CHMP”). A fee is incurred with each Scientific Advice meeting.

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Advice from either the FDA or EMA is typically provided based on specific questions concerning, for example, quality (chemistry, manufacturing and controls testing), nonclinical testing and clinical trials and pharmaco-vigilance plans and risk-management programs. Such advice is not legally binding on the sponsor. To obtain binding commitments from health authorities in the U.S. and the European Union, Special Protocol Assessment (“SPA”) or Protocol Assistance procedures are available. An SPA is an evaluation by the FDA of a protocol with the goal of reaching an agreement with the sponsor that the protocol design, clinical endpoints and statistical analyses are acceptable to support regulatory approval of the product candidate with respect to effectiveness in the indication studied. The FDA’s agreement to an SPA is binding upon the FDA except in limited circumstances, such as if the FDA identifies a substantial scientific issue essential to determining the safety or effectiveness of the product after clinical trials begin, or if the trial sponsor fails to follow the protocol that was agreed upon with the FDA. There is no guarantee that a trial will ultimately be adequate to support an approval even if the trial is subject to an SPA.

Orphan Drug Designation

The FDA may grant orphan drug designation to drugs intended to treat a rare disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., or, if it affects more than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the drug for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales in the U.S. In the European Union, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (“COMP”) grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition affecting not more than 5 in 10,000 persons in the European Union Community. Additionally, designation is granted for products intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in the European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the drug or biological product.  

In the U.S., orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. In addition, if a product receives the first FDA approval for the indication for which it has orphan designation, the product is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity, which means the FDA may not approve any other application to market the same drug for the same indication for a period of 7 years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity.

In the European Union, orphan drug designation also entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and 10 years of market exclusivity is granted following drug or biological product approval. This period may be reduced to 6 years if the orphan drug designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity.

Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an application for marketing approval. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.

Authorization Procedures in the European Union

Medicines can be authorized in the European Union by using either the centralized authorization procedure or national authorization procedures.

 

Centralized procedure. The EMA implemented the centralized procedure for the approval of human medicines to facilitate marketing authorizations that are valid throughout the European Union. This procedure results in a single marketing authorization issued by the EMA that is valid across the European Union, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human medicines that are: derived from biotechnology processes, such as genetic engineering, contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders or autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, and officially designated orphan medicines.

 

For medicines that do not fall within these categories, an applicant has the option of submitting an application for a centralized marketing authorization to the EMA, as long as the medicine concerned is a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation, or if its authorization would be in the interest of public health.

 

National authorization procedures. There are also two other possible routes to authorize medicinal products in several countries, which are available for investigational drug products that fall outside the scope of the centralized procedure:

 

Decentralized procedure. Using the decentralized procedure, an applicant may apply for simultaneous authorization in more than one European Union country of medicinal products that have not yet been authorized in any European Union country and that do not fall within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure.

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Mutual recognition procedure. In the mutual recognition procedure, a medicine is first authorized in one European Union Member State, in accordance with the national procedures of that country. Following this, further marketing authorizations can be sought from other European Union countries in a procedure whereby the countries concerned agree to recognize the validity of the original, national marketing authorization.

Priority Review/Standard Review (U.S.) and Accelerated Review (European Union)

Based on results of the Phase III clinical trial(s) submitted in a BLA or NDA, upon the request of an applicant, the FDA may grant the BLA or NDA a priority review designation, which sets the target date for FDA action on the application at six months. Priority review is granted where preliminary estimates indicate that a product, if approved, has the potential to provide a safe and effective therapy where no satisfactory alternative therapy exists, or a significant improvement compared to marketed products is possible. If criteria are not met for priority review, the BLA or NDA is subject to the standard FDA review period of 10 months. 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 European Union, 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 the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, defined by three cumulative criteria: the seriousness of the disease (e.g., heavy disabling or life-threatening diseases) to be treated; the absence or insufficiency of an appropriate alternative therapeutic approach; and anticipation of high therapeutic benefit. In this circumstance, EMA ensures that the opinion of the CHMP is given within 150 days, excluding clock stops.

There can be no assurance that we or any of our partners would be able to satisfy one or more of these requirements to conduct preclinical or clinical trials or receive any regulatory approvals.

Pharmaceutical Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement

Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any drug products for which we obtain regulatory approval. In the U.S. and markets 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 drug product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the drug product. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific drug products on an approved list, or formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved drugs for a particular indication. 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 approvals. Our product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost-effective. A payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug 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 U.S. government enacted legislation providing a partial prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries, 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. Further, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (collectively, the “Healthcare Reform Law”), substantially changed the way healthcare is financed in the U.S. by both government and private insurers. Among other cost containment measures, the Healthcare Reform Law established:

 

An annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports certain branded prescription drugs and biologic agents;

 

A new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which pharmaceutical manufacturers who wish to have their drugs covered under Part D must offer discounts to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period (the “donut hole”); and

 

A new formula that increases the rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program.

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We expect that federal, state and local governments in the U.S. will 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 drug candidates that we are developing.

Different pricing and reimbursement schemes exist in other countries. In the European Union, governments influence the price of pharmaceutical products through their pricing and reimbursement rules and control of national health care 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. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval, some of these countries may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for medicines, but monitor and control company profits. The downward pressure on health care costs in general, particularly prescription drugs, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. In addition, in some countries, cross-border imports from low-priced markets exert a commercial pressure on pricing within a country.

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 U.S. has increased and we expect 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.

Other Healthcare Laws and Compliance Requirements

If we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, we may be subject to various federal and state laws targeting fraud and abuse in the healthcare industry. For example, in the U.S., there are federal and state anti-kickback laws that prohibit the payment or receipt of kickbacks, bribes or other remuneration intended to induce the purchase or recommendation of healthcare products and services or reward past purchases or recommendations. Violations of these laws can lead to civil and criminal penalties, including fines, imprisonment and exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs.

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying remuneration, directly or indirectly, to induce either the referral of an individual, or the furnishing, recommending, or arranging for a good or service, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The reach of the Anti-Kickback Statute was broadened by the Healthcare Reform Law, which, among other things, amended the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the applicable criminal healthcare fraud statutes contained within 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b, effective March 23, 2010. Pursuant to the statutory amendment, a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. 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) or the civil monetary penalties statute. Many states have adopted laws similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, some of which apply to the referral of patients for healthcare items or services reimbursed by any source, not only the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The federal False Claims Act imposes liability on any person who, among other things, knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment by a federal healthcare program. The “qui tam” provisions of the False Claims Act allow a private individual to bring civil actions on behalf of the federal government alleging that the defendant has submitted a false claim to the federal government, and to share in any monetary recovery. In addition, various states have enacted false claims laws analogous to the False Claims Act. Many of these state laws apply where a claim is submitted to any third-party payer and not merely a federal healthcare program. When an entity is determined to have violated the False Claims Act, it may be required to pay up to three times the actual damages sustained by the government, plus civil penalties of $11,463 to $22,927 (each subject to adjustment for inflation) for each separate false claim.

Also, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) created several new federal crimes, including healthcare fraud, and false statements relating to healthcare matters. The health care fraud statute prohibits knowingly and willfully executing a scheme to defraud any health care benefit program, including private third-party payers. The false statements statute prohibits 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 health care benefits, items or services.

In addition, we may be subject to, or our marketing activities may be limited by HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act and its implementing regulations, which established uniform standards for certain “covered entities” (healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses) and their business associates governing the conduct of certain electronic healthcare transactions and protecting the security and privacy of protected health information.

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Antibody Clinical Development

We currently focus our research efforts primarily in the identification and isolation of human antibody drug candidates and further characterize these antibody candidates in in vitro and in vivo functional testing. Due to our limited financial resources, we intend to actively seek product development and commercialization partners from the biopharmaceutical industry to help us advance the clinical development of select product candidates.

Marketing and Sales

With the exception of our subsidiary, Scilex Holding, we currently do not have any sales capabilities. We intend to license to, or enter into strategic alliances with, larger companies in the biopharmaceutical businesses or use the services of contract sales organizations (“CROs”), which are equipped to, market and/or sell our products, if any, through their well-developed marketing and sales teams and distribution networks. We intend to license some or all of our worldwide patent rights to more than one third party to achieve the fullest development, marketing and distribution of any products we develop.

Manufacturing and Raw Materials

We currently manufacture the majority of our preclinical and clinical materials in-house, and use contract manufacturers for the manufacture of some of our product candidates. We may or may not manufacture the products we develop, if any. As of December 31, 2020, our ZTlido product is manufactured by ITOCHU CHEMICAL FRONTIER Corporation. Our internal manufacturing and contract manufacturers are subject to extensive governmental regulation. Regulatory authorities in our markets require that pharmaceutical products be manufactured, packaged and labeled in conformity with cGMPs. We have established a quality control and quality assurance program, which includes a set of standard operating procedures and specifications designed to ensure that our products are manufactured in accordance with cGMPs, and other applicable domestic and foreign regulations.

Employees

As of December 31, 2020, we had 502 employees and 29 consultants and advisors. A significant number of our management and our other employees and consultants have worked or consulted with pharmaceutical, biotechnology or medical product companies. While we have been successful in attracting skilled and experienced scientific personnel, there can be no assurance that we will be able to attract or retain the necessary qualified employees and/or consultants in the future.

None of our employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements and we consider relations with our employees to be good. We focus on identifying, recruiting, developing and retaining a team of highly talented and motivated employees. The principal purposes of our equity and cash incentive plans are to attract, retain and reward personnel through the granting of stock-based and cash-based compensation awards, as well providing our employees with the opportunity to participate in our employee stock purchase plan, in order to increase stockholder value and the success of our company by motivating such individuals to perform to the best of their abilities and achieve our objectives. The success of our business is fundamentally connected to the well-being, health and safety of our employees. In an effort to protect the health and safety of our employees, we took proactive action from the earliest signs of the COVID-19 outbreak, which included implementing social distancing policies at our facilities, facilitating remote working arrangements and imposing employee travel restrictions.

Corporate Information

On September 21, 2009, QuikByte Software, Inc., a Colorado corporation and shell company (“QuikByte”), consummated its acquisition of Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc., a Delaware corporation and private concern (“STI”), in a reverse merger (the “Merger”).

We were originally incorporated as San Diego Antibody Company in California in 2006 and were renamed “Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.” and reincorporated in Delaware in 2009, prior to the Merger. QuikByte was originally incorporated in Colorado in 1989. Following the Merger, on December 4, 2009, QuikByte reincorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware (the “Reincorporation”). Immediately following the Reincorporation, on December 4, 2009, we merged with and into QuikByte, the separate corporate existence of STI ceased and QuikByte continued as the surviving corporation (the “Roll-Up Merger”). Pursuant to the certificate of merger filed in connection with the Roll-Up Merger, QuikByte’s name was changed from “QuikByte Software, Inc.” to “Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.”

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Address

Our principal executive offices are located at 4955 Directors Place, San Diego, CA 92121, and our telephone number at that address is (858) 203-4100. Our website is www.sorrentotherapeutics.com. Any information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into, nor is it in any way part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Available Information

We file electronically with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and reports filed pursuant to Section 13(a) and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. We make available on our website at www.sorrentotherapeutics.com, free of charge, copies of these reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Copies of our annual report to stockholders will also be made available, free of charge, upon written request.

The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at http://www.sec.gov. The contents of these websites are not incorporated into this filing. Further, our references to the URLs for these websites are intended to be inactive textual references only.

 

 

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Item 1A.

Risk Factors.  

 

Risk Factor Summary 

Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. This summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, and other risks that we face, can be found below and should be carefully considered, together with other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission before making investment decisions regarding our common stock.

 

We are a clinical stage company subject to significant risks and uncertainties, including the risk that we or our partners may never develop, obtain regulatory approval or market any of our product candidates or generate product related revenues.

 

We have incurred significant losses since inception and anticipate that we will incur continued losses for the foreseeable future.

 

We will require substantial additional funding, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we fail to raise the necessary additional capital, we may be unable to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates or continue our development programs.

 

We are heavily dependent on the success of our technologies and product candidates, and we cannot give any assurance that our product candidates will receive regulatory approval, which is necessary before they can be commercialized.

 

The regulatory approval processes of the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA and comparable foreign authorities are lengthy, time consuming and inherently unpredictable, and if we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our business will be substantially harmed.

 

We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product, product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on products, product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

 

Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.

 

We rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully perform their contractual legal and regulatory duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates and our business could be substantially harmed.

 

We may not be able to manufacture our products or product candidates in commercial quantities, which would prevent us from commercializing our products and product candidates.

 

With respect to ZTlido and any of our product candidates for which we may receive regulatory approvals, we will be subject to ongoing obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense. Additionally, our product candidates, if approved, could be subject to labeling and other restrictions and market withdrawal and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our products.

 

Our failure to successfully discover, acquire, develop and market additional product candidates or approved products would impair our ability to grow.

 

Our commercial success depends upon us attaining significant market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for sale, among physicians, patients, healthcare payors and major operators of cancer and other clinics.

 

Reimbursement may be limited or unavailable in certain market segments for our product candidates, which could make it difficult for us to sell our products profitably.

 

Price controls may be imposed, which may adversely affect our future profitability.

 

Our collaborations depend upon the efforts of third parties to fund and manage the development of many of our potential product candidates, and failure of those third-party collaborators to assist or share in the costs of product development could materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

If we are unable to retain and recruit qualified scientists and advisors, or if any of our key executives, key employees or key consultants discontinues his or her employment or consulting relationship with us, it may delay our development efforts or otherwise harm our business.

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We will need to increase the size of our company and may not effectively manage our growth.

 

Drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future trial results.

 

There can be no assurance that the product candidates we are developing for the detection and treatment of COVID-19 will be granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. If no Emergency Use Authorization is granted or, once granted, it is terminated, we will be unable to sell our product candidates in the near future and will be required to pursue the drug approval process, which is lengthy and expensive.

 

Interim “top-line” and preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

 

We are involved, and may become involved in the future, in disputes and other legal or regulatory proceedings that, if adversely decided or settled, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We have acquired, and plan to continue to acquire, assets, businesses and technologies and may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of the acquisitions, and acquisitions can be costly and dilutive.

 

Any acquisitions we make could disrupt our business and seriously harm our financial condition.

 

Our long-term success depends on intellectual property protection; if our intellectual property rights are invalidated or circumvented, our business will be adversely affected.

 

If any of our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information is disclosed, the value of our trade secrets, know-how and other proprietary rights would be significantly impaired and our business and competitive position would suffer.

 

Claims that we infringe upon the rights of third parties may give rise to costly and lengthy litigation, and we could be prevented from selling products, forced to pay damages, and defend against litigation.

 

If we breach any of the agreements under which we license commercialization rights to our product candidates from third parties, we could lose license rights that are important to our business.

 

From time to time we may need to license patents, intellectual property and proprietary technologies from third parties, which may be difficult or expensive to obtain.

 

The market price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly, and investors in our common stock may lose all or a part of their investment.

 

Our strategic investments may result in losses.

Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Capital Requirements

We are a clinical stage company subject to significant risks and uncertainties, including the risk that we or our partners may never develop, obtain regulatory approval or market any of our product candidates or generate product related revenues.

We are primarily a clinical stage biotechnology company that began operating and commenced research and development activities in 2009. Pharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. There is no assurance that our libraries of fully-human mAbs or any of our other product candidates in development will be suitable for diagnostic or therapeutic use, or that we will be able to identify and isolate therapeutic product candidates, or develop, market and commercialize these candidates. We do not expect any of our product candidates in development, including, but not limited to, our fully-human mAbs, biosimilars/biobetters, fully human anti-PD-L1 and anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors derived from our proprietary G-MAB™ library platform, antibody drug conjugates (“ADCs”), bispecific antibodies (“BsAbs”), as well as Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells (“CAR-T”) and Dimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells (“DAR-T”) for adoptive cellular immunotherapy, resiniferatoxin (“RTX”), higher strength lidocaine topical system (SP-103) and non-opioid corticosteroid formulated as a viscous gel injection (SP-102) (“SEMDEXATM”) to be commercially available for a few years, if at all. Additionally, our COVID-19 related product candidates, including STI-1499 (neutralizing antibody; COVI-GUARDTM), STI-2020 (affinity matured neutralizing antibody; COVI-AMGTM), neutralizing antibody cocktail (COVI-SHIELDTM), STI-5656 (Abivertinib), STI-4398 (ACE2 receptor decoy protein; COVIDTRAPTM), STI-3333 (targeted virus vaccine; T-VIVA-19TM), STI-2030 (Salicyn-30), serological IgM/IgG antibody diagnostic test (COVI-TRACKTM), saliva-based antigen diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 (COVI-TRACETM) and lateral flow viral antigen diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 (COVI-STIXTM), are subject to uncertainties relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization, and further risks based on the constantly evolving situation affecting the United States and the international community. Even if we are able to commercialize our product candidates, there is no assurance that these candidates would generate revenues or that any revenues generated would be sufficient for us to become profitable or thereafter maintain profitability.

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We do not have many products that are approved for commercial sale and therefore do not expect to generate any revenues from product sales from most of our product candidates in the foreseeable future, if ever.

We have generated limited product related revenues to date, and, with the exception of ZTlido® (lidocaine topical system 1.8%) (“ZTlido”), do not expect to generate any such revenues for at least the next several years, if at all. To obtain revenues from sales of our product candidates, we must succeed, either alone or with third parties, in developing, obtaining regulatory approval for, manufacturing and marketing products with commercial potential. We may never succeed in these activities, and we may not generate sufficient revenues to continue our business operations or achieve profitability.

We have incurred significant losses since inception and anticipate that we will incur continued losses for the foreseeable future.

As of December 31, 2020 and 2019, we had an accumulated deficit of $958.3 million and $659.8 million, respectively. We continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations. We have incurred operating losses since our inception, expect to continue to incur significant operating losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase as we: (i) advance RTX, STI-6129 (anti-CD38 ADC), SP-103, SEMDEXATM and our other product candidates, including our COVID-19 related product candidates, STI-1499 (COVI-GUARDTM) and STI-5656 (Abivertinib), into further clinical trials and pursue other development, acquire, develop and manufacture clinical trial materials and increase other regulatory operating activities, (ii) conduct further studies for our preclinical COVID-19 related product candidates, including STI-2020 (COVI-AMGTM), neutralizing antibody cocktail (COVI-SHIELDTM), STI-4398 (COVIDTRAPTM) and STI-2030 (Salicyn-30), to advance to clinical trials and seek regulatory approval; (iii) incur incremental expenses associated with our efforts to further advance a number of potential product candidates into preclinical development activities, (iv) continue to identify and advance a number of fully human therapeutic antibody and ADC preclinical product candidates, (v) incur higher salary, lab supply and infrastructure costs incurred in connection with supporting all of our programs, (vi) invest in our joint ventures, collaborations or other third party agreements, (vii) incur expenses in conjunction with defending and enforcing our rights in various litigation matters, (viii) expand our corporate, development and manufacturing infrastructure, and (ix) support our subsidiaries, including Scilex Holding Company (“Scilex Holding”) and SmartPharm Therapeutics, Inc., in their clinical trial, development and commercialization efforts. As such, we are subject to all risks incidental to the development of new biopharmaceutical products and related companion diagnostics, and we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown factors that may adversely affect our business. Our prior losses, combined with expected future losses, have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital.

We will require substantial additional funding, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we fail to raise the necessary additional capital, we may be unable to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates or continue our development programs.

Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception. We expect to significantly increase our spending to advance the preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates and launch and commercialize any product candidates for which we receive regulatory approval, including building our own commercial organization to address certain markets. We will require additional capital for the further development and commercialization of our product candidates, as well as to fund our other operating expenses and capital expenditures.

As a result of our recurring losses from operations, recurring negative cash flows from operations and substantial cumulative losses, there is uncertainty regarding our ability to maintain liquidity sufficient to operate our business effectively, which raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. If we are unsuccessful in our efforts to raise outside financing, we may be required to significantly reduce or cease operations. The report of our independent registered public accounting firm on our audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020 included a “going concern” explanatory paragraph indicating that our recurring losses from operations, negative working capital, recurring negative cash flows from operations and substantial cumulative net losses raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.

We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of one or more of our product candidates. We may also seek collaborators for one or more of our current or future product candidates at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable or on terms that are less favorable than might otherwise be available. Any of these events could significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects.

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Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

 

the progress of the development of our fully-human mAbs, including biosimilars/biobetters, fully human anti-PD-L1 and anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors derived from our proprietary G-MAB™ library platform, ADCs, BsAbs, CAR-T and DAR-T for adoptive cellular immunotherapy, RTX, SP-103 and SEMDEXATM and our COVID-19 product candidates;

 

the number of product candidates we pursue;

 

the time and costs involved in obtaining regulatory approvals;

 

the costs involved in filing and prosecuting patent applications and enforcing or defending patent claims;

 

our plans to establish sales, marketing and/or manufacturing capabilities;

 

the effect of competing technological and market developments;

 

the terms and timing of any collaborative, licensing and other arrangements that we may establish;

 

general market conditions for offerings from biopharmaceutical companies;

 

our ability to establish, enforce and maintain selected strategic alliances and activities required for product commercialization;

 

our obligations under our debt arrangements;

 

the time and costs involved in defending and enforcing our rights in various litigation matters;

 

the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic; and

 

our revenues, if any, from successful development and commercialization of our product candidates, including ZTlido.

In order to carry out our business plan and implement our strategy, we anticipate that we will need to obtain additional financing from time to time and may choose to raise additional funds through strategic collaborations, licensing arrangements, joint ventures, public or private equity or debt financing, bank lines of credit, asset sales, government grants or other arrangements. We cannot be sure that any additional funding, if needed, will be available on terms favorable to us or at all. Furthermore, any additional equity or equity-related financing may be dilutive to our stockholders, and debt or equity financing, if available, may subject us to restrictive covenants and significant interest costs. If we obtain funding through a strategic collaboration or licensing arrangement, we may be required to relinquish our rights to certain of our product candidates or marketing territories.

In addition, as discussed in the risk factor under the heading “The terms of our outstanding debt place restrictions on our operating and financial flexibility. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, the terms of any new debt could further restrict our ability to operate our business” below, the Scilex Indenture includes negative covenants that place limitations on the following: the incurrence of debt, the payment of dividends by Scilex Pharma, the repurchase of shares and, under certain conditions, making certain other restricted payments, the prepayment, redemption or repurchase of subordinated debt, a merger, amalgamation or consolidation involving Scilex Pharma, engaging in certain transactions with affiliates; and the making of investments other than those permitted by the Scilex Indenture.

Our inability to raise capital when needed would harm our business, financial condition and results of operations, and could cause our stock price to decline or require that we wind down our operations altogether.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

We are heavily dependent on the success of our technologies and product candidates, and we cannot give any assurance that our product candidates will receive regulatory approval, which is necessary before they can be commercialized.

To date, we have invested a significant portion of our efforts and financial resources in the acquisition and development of our product candidates. As an early stage company, we have limited experience and have not yet demonstrated an ability to successfully overcome many of the risks and uncertainties frequently encountered by companies in new and rapidly evolving fields, particularly in the biopharmaceutical area. Our future success is substantially dependent on our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize such product candidates. Other than ZTlido, our product candidates are currently in preclinical development or in clinical trials. Our business depends entirely on the successful development and commercialization of our product candidates, which may never occur. We currently do not generate significant revenues from sales of any products, and we may not be able to develop or commercialize our product candidates.

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The successful development, and any commercialization, of our technologies and any product candidates would require us to successfully perform a variety of functions, including:

 

developing our technology platform;

 

seeking and obtaining intellectual property and/or proprietary rights to our technology and/or the technology of others;

 

identifying, developing, manufacturing and commercializing product candidates;

 

entering into successful licensing and other arrangements with product development partners;

 

participating in regulatory approval processes;

 

formulating and manufacturing products; and

 

conducting sales and marketing activities.

Our operations have been limited to organizing our company, acquiring, developing and securing our proprietary technology and identifying and obtaining early preclinical data or clinical data for various product candidates. These operations provide a limited basis for you to assess our ability to continue to develop our technology, identify product candidates, develop and commercialize any product candidates we can identify and enter into successful collaborative arrangements with other companies, as well as for you to assess the advisability of investing in our securities. Each of these requirements will require substantial time, effort and financial resources.

Each of our product candidates will require additional preclinical or clinical development, management of preclinical, clinical and manufacturing activities, regulatory approval in multiple jurisdictions, obtaining manufacturing supply, building of a commercial organization, and significant marketing efforts before we generate any revenues from product sales. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our product candidates before we receive regulatory approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”), the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (the “MHRA”), the European Medicines Agency (the “EMA”) or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, and we may never receive such regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. In addition, our product development programs contemplate the development of companion diagnostics by our third-party collaborators. Companion diagnostics are subject to regulation as medical devices and must themselves be approved for marketing by the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or certain other foreign regulatory agencies before we may commercialize our product candidates.

Delays in clinical testing could result in increased costs to us and delay our ability to generate revenue.

Although we are currently engaging in and planning for certain clinical trials relating to our COVID-19 product candidates, RTX, CAR-T and biosimilar/biobetter antibodies and other product candidates, there can be no assurance that the FDA will accept our proposed trial designs. We may experience delays in our clinical trials, and we do not know whether planned clinical trials will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. Clinical trials can be delayed for a variety of reasons, including delays related to:

 

obtaining regulatory approval to commence a trial;

 

reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective contract research organizations (“CROs”) and clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;

 

obtaining institutional review board (“IRB”) approval at each site;

 

recruiting suitable patients to participate in a trial;

 

clinical sites deviating from trial protocol or dropping out of a trial;

 

having patients complete a trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;

 

developing and validating companion diagnostics on a timely basis, if required;

 

adding new clinical trial sites; or

 

manufacturing sufficient quantities of product candidate for use in clinical trials.

Patient enrollment, a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials, is affected by many factors, including the size and nature of the patient population, the proximity of patients to clinical sites, the eligibility criteria for the trial, the design of the clinical trial,

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competing clinical trials and clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs that may be approved for the indications we are investigating, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we intend to rely on CROs and clinical trial sites to ensure the proper and timely conduct of our clinical trials and we intend to have agreements governing their committed activities, but we will have limited influence over their actual performance.

We could encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by the Data Monitoring Committees (also known as Data and Safety Monitoring Board or Data and Safety Monitoring Committee) for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities may impose such a suspension or termination due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.

If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of our product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenues. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates.

Competition for patients in conducting clinical trials may prevent or delay product development and strain our limited financial resources.

Many pharmaceutical companies are conducting clinical trials in patients with the disease indications that our product candidates target. As a result, we must compete with them for clinical sites, physicians and the limited number of patients who fulfill the stringent requirements for participation in clinical trials. Also, due to the confidential nature of clinical trials, we do not know how many of the eligible patients may be enrolled in competing studies and who are consequently not available to us for our clinical trials.

In addition, certain of our clinical trials have been affected by and may continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical site initiation and patient enrollment for our non-COVID-19 product candidates have been and may continue to be delayed due to prioritization of hospital resources toward the COVID-19 pandemic. Some patients have not been and others may not be able to comply with clinical trial protocols if quarantines impede patient movement or interrupt healthcare services. Similarly, any inability to recruit and retain patients and principal investigators and site staff who, as healthcare providers, may have heightened exposure to COVID-19, may adversely impact our clinical trial operations.

Our clinical trials may be delayed or terminated due to the inability to enroll enough patients. Patient enrollment depends on many factors, including the size of the patient population, the nature of the trial protocol, the proximity of patients to clinical sites, the eligibility criteria for the study and potential reduced enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The delay or inability to meet planned patient enrollment may result in increased costs and delays or termination of the trial, which could have a harmful effect on our ability to develop products.

The regulatory approval processes of the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA and comparable foreign authorities are lengthy, time consuming and inherently unpredictable, and if we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our business will be substantially harmed.

The time required to obtain approval from the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA and comparable foreign authorities is unpredictable but typically takes many years following the commencement of clinical trials and depends upon numerous factors, including the substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities. In addition, approval policies regulations, or the type and amount of clinical data necessary to gain approval may change during the course of a product candidate’s clinical development and may vary among jurisdictions. Other than ZTlido, we have not obtained regulatory approval for any product candidate and it is possible that none of our existing product candidates or any product candidates we may seek to develop in the future will ever obtain regulatory approval.

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We may fail to receive regulatory approval for our product candidates for many reasons, including the following:

 

the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;

 

we may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that a product candidate is safe and effective for its proposed indication;

 

the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required for approval by the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities;

 

the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;

 

the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates may not be sufficient to support the submission of a new drug application (“NDA”), a marketing authorization application (“MAA”) or other submission or to obtain regulatory approval in the U.S., the United Kingdom, the European Union or elsewhere;

 

the data obtained from studies in one jurisdiction, such as the United States, may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions, and certain jurisdictions may require data from studies conducted in their country in order to obtain regulatory approval;

 

the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may fail to approve the manufacturing processes or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract for clinical and commercial supplies;

 

the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may fail to approve the companion diagnostics we contemplate developing with partners; and

 

the approval policies or regulations of the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.

This lengthy approval process as well as the unpredictability of future clinical trial results may result in our failing to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates, which would significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.

In addition, even if we were to obtain approval, regulatory authorities may approve any of our product candidates for fewer or more limited indications than we request, may not approve the price we intend to charge for our products, may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials, or may approve a product candidate with a label that does not include the labeling claims necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of that product candidate. Any of the foregoing scenarios could materially harm the commercial prospects for our product candidates.

Other than an NDA submitted by Scilex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (“Scilex Pharma”) for Scilex Pharma’s lead product candidate, ZTlido, which was approved by the FDA in February 2018, and an MAA filed in Europe (which was subsequently withdrawn in 2019), we have not previously submitted a BLA or an NDA to the FDA, an MAA to the MHRA or the EMA or similar drug approval filings to comparable foreign authorities, for any product candidate, and we cannot be certain that any of our product candidates will be successful in clinical trials or receive regulatory approval. Further, our product candidates may not receive regulatory approval even if our clinical trials are successful. If we do not receive regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we may not be able to continue our operations. Even if we successfully obtain regulatory approvals to market one or more of our product candidates, our revenues will be dependent, in some instances, upon our collaborators’ ability to obtain regulatory approval of the companion diagnostics to be used with our product candidates, as well as the size of the markets in the territories for which we gain regulatory approval and have commercial rights. If the markets for patients that we are targeting for our product candidates are not as significant as we estimate, we may not generate significant revenues from sales of such products, if approved.

We plan to seek regulatory approval to commercialize our product candidates in the U.S., the United Kingdom, the European Union and in additional foreign countries. While the scope of regulatory approval is similar in other countries, to obtain separate regulatory approval in many other countries we must comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of such countries regarding safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials and commercial sales, pricing and distribution of our product candidates, and we cannot predict success in these jurisdictions. In addition, our failure to obtain regulatory approval in any country may delay or have negative effects on the process for regulatory approval in other countries. If we fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our products or product candidates will be harmed. Further, the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the European Union. We cannot predict what consequences the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union might have on the regulatory frameworks of the United Kingdom or the European Union, or on our future operations, if any, in these jurisdictions.

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Inadequate funding for the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA and comparable foreign authorities and government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.

The ability of the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA and comparable foreign authorities to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory and policy changes and the impact of crises that hinder its operations, such as COVID-19. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies on which our operations may rely, including those that fund research and development activities, is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.

Disruptions at the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA and comparable foreign authorities may also slow the time necessary for new drugs to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA and other government employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates that target ADCs or iTAbs is unproven, and we do not know whether we will be able to develop any products of commercial value.

ADCs and intracellular targeting antibodies (“iTAbs”) are emerging technologies and, consequently, it is conceivable that such technologies may ultimately fail to identify commercially viable products to treat human patients with cancer or other diseases. Due to the unproven nature of ADCs and iTAbs, significant further research and development activities will be required. We may incur substantial costs in connection with such research and development activities and there is no guarantee that these activities will lead to the identification of commercially viable products.

We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product, product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on products, product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

We are currently advancing multiple product candidates for a variety of indications. Simultaneously advancing so many product candidates creates a significant strain on our limited human and financial resources. As a result, we may not be able to provide sufficient resources to any single product candidate to permit the successful development and commercialization of such product candidate, causing material harm to our business. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products.

If, due to our limited resources and access to capital, we prioritize development of certain product candidates that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential or a greater likelihood of success. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. 

Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.

Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other comparable foreign authorities. Results of our trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of these or other side effects. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated, and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. The drug-related side effects could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

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Additionally, if we receive marketing approval for one or more of our product candidates, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

 

regulatory authorities may withdraw approvals of such products;

 

regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;

 

we may be required to create a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;

 

we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients; and

 

our reputation may suffer.

Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product candidate or for particular indications of a product candidate, if approved, and could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.

We rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully perform their contractual legal and regulatory duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates and our business could be substantially harmed.

We have relied upon and plan to continue to rely upon third-party CROs to monitor and manage data for our ongoing preclinical and clinical programs. We rely on these parties for execution of our preclinical and clinical trials, and control only certain aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal, regulatory and scientific standards, and our reliance on the CROs does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and our CROs are required to comply with current good clinical practices (“cGCP”), which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area, and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for all of our product candidates in clinical development.

Regulatory authorities enforce these cGCPs through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of our CROs fail to comply with applicable cGCPs, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, the MHRA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications or may not approve our marketing applications. 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 cGCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under current good manufacturing practices (“cGMP”) regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.

If any of our relationships with these third-party CROs terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or to do so on commercially reasonable terms. In addition, 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 on-going clinical, nonclinical and preclinical programs. If CROs do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our 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.

Switching or adding additional CROs involves additional cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar 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 fail to comply with manufacturing regulations, our financial results and financial condition will be adversely affected.

We currently manufacture some of our preclinical and clinical materials in-house. In addition, we may enter into collaboration and license agreements with certain collaborators, pursuant to which we may, among other things, agree to carry out manufacturing of our collaborators’ material and product candidates. However, we only recently began manufacturing such materials and do not have significant prior experience manufacturing preclinical or clinical materials or product candidates. Before we can begin commercial manufacture of our or any potential collaborators’ materials or product candidates, regulatory authorities must approve marketing

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applications that identify manufacturing facilities operated by us or our contract manufacturers that have passed regulatory inspection and manufacturing processes that are acceptable to the regulatory authorities. In addition, our pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are continuously subject to scheduled and unannounced inspection by the FDA and international regulatory authorities, before and after product approval, to monitor and ensure compliance with cGMP and other regulations. Additionally, we may use contract manufacturers for the manufacture of our product candidates from time to time based on capacity needs. Although we are not involved in the day-to-day operations of our contract manufacturers, we are ultimately responsible for ensuring that our products are manufactured in accordance with cGMP regulations.

Due to the complexity of the processes used to manufacture our product candidates and our potential collaborators’ product candidates, we may be unable to continue to pass or initially pass federal or international regulatory inspections in a cost-effective manner. For the same reason, any potential third-party manufacturer of our product candidates may be unable to comply with cGMP regulations in a cost-effective manner and may be unable to initially or continue to pass a federal or international regulatory inspection.

If we, or third-party manufacturers with whom we contract, are unable to comply with manufacturing regulations, we may be subject to delay of approval of our product candidates, warning or untitled letters, fines, unanticipated compliance expenses, recall or seizure of our products, total or partial suspension of production and/or enforcement actions, including injunctions, and criminal or civil prosecution. These possible sanctions would adversely affect our financial results and financial condition.

With specific regard to ZTlido and other drug products we do not manufacture in-house, but rather through a third-party manufacturer, if a third-party manufacturer upon which we rely fails to produce drug candidates that we require on a timely basis, or to comply with stringent regulations applicable to pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, we may face delays in the trials, regulatory submissions, required approvals or commercialization of our drug candidates. The manufacture of pharmaceutical products requires significant expertise and capital investment, including the development of advanced manufacturing techniques and process controls. Manufacturers of pharmaceutical products often encounter difficulties in production, which include difficulties with production costs and yields, quality control and assurance and shortages of qualified personnel, as well as compliance with strictly enforced federal, state and foreign regulations. The third-party manufacturers we contract with may not perform as agreed or may terminate their agreements with us. Any of these factors could cause us to delay or suspend any future clinical trials, regulatory submissions, required approvals or commercialization of one or more of our drug candidates, entail higher costs and result in our being unable to effectively commercialize products.

Material necessary to manufacture product candidates may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, which may delay the development and commercialization of product candidates.  

There are a limited number of suppliers for raw materials that we use to manufacture our products and product candidates and there may be a need to assess alternate suppliers to prevent a possible disruption of the manufacture of the materials necessary to produce our product candidates for clinical trials, and if approved, ultimately for commercial sale. We do not have any control over the process or timing of the acquisition of these raw materials by us. We typically do not have any agreements for the commercial production of these raw materials. Any significant delay in the supply of a product candidate, or the raw material components thereof, for an ongoing clinical trial due to the need to obtain or replace a third-party manufacturer could considerably delay completion of our clinical trials, product testing and potential regulatory approval of our product candidates. If we are unable to purchase these raw materials after regulatory approval has been obtained for our product candidates, the commercial launch of our product candidates would be delayed or there would be a shortage in supply, which would impair our ability to generate revenues from the sale of our product candidates.

We may not be able to manufacture our products or product candidates in commercial quantities, which would prevent us from commercializing our products and product candidates.

We are largely dependent on our third-party manufacturers to conduct process development and scale-up work necessary to support greater clinical development and commercialization requirements for our products and product candidates. Carrying out these activities in a timely manner, and on commercially reasonable terms, is critical to the successful development and commercialization of our products and product candidates. We expect our third-party manufacturers are capable of providing sufficient quantities of our products and product candidates to meet anticipated clinical and full-scale commercial demands; however, if third parties with whom we currently work are unable to meet our supply requirements, we will need to secure alternate suppliers or face potential delays or shortages. While we believe that there are other contract manufacturers with the technical capabilities to manufacture our products and product candidates, we cannot be certain that identifying and establishing relationships with such sources would not result in significant delay or material additional costs.

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The complexities and regulations related to our manufacturing and development services businesses subject us to potential risks.

Through certain subsidiaries, we offer development (e.g., conjugation) and manufacturing services that are highly complex, due in part to strict regulatory requirements. A failure of our quality control systems in our facilities could cause problems to arise in connection with facility operations for a variety of reasons, including equipment malfunction, contamination, failure to follow specific manufacturing instructions, protocols and standard operating procedures, problems with raw materials or environmental factors. Such problems could affect production of a single manufacturing run or a series of runs, requiring the destruction of products, or could halt manufacturing operations altogether. In addition, our failure to meet required quality standards may result in our failure to timely deliver products to our customers or collaborators, which in turn could damage our reputation for quality and service. Any such incident could, among other things, lead to increased costs, lost revenue, reimbursement to customers for lost drug substance, damage to and possibly termination of existing customer relationships, time and expense spent investigating the cause and, depending on the cause, similar losses with respect to other manufacturing runs. With respect to our commercial manufacturing, if problems are not discovered before the product is released to the market, we may be subject to regulatory actions, including product recalls, product seizures, injunctions to halt manufacture and distribution, restrictions on our operations, civil sanctions, including monetary sanctions, and criminal actions. In addition, such issues could subject us to litigation and/or liability for damages, the cost of which could be significant.

Regulatory agencies may periodically inspect our manufacturing facilities to ensure compliance with applicable legal, regulatory and local requirements, such as cGMP requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements may subject us to possible legal or regulatory actions, such as suspension of manufacturing, seizure of product or voluntary recall of a product.

We face potential business disruptions and related risks resulting from the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, was reported to have surfaced in Wuhan, China. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 outbreak has grown into a global pandemic that has impacted Asia, the United States, Europe and other countries throughout the world. Financial markets have been experiencing extreme fluctuations that may cause a contraction in available liquidity globally as important segments of the credit markets react to the development. The pandemic may lead to a decline in business and consumer confidence. The global outbreak of COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve. As a result, businesses have closed and limits have been placed on travel. The extent to which COVID-19 may impact our business, clinical trials and sales of ZTlido will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.

We are monitoring the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and if COVID-19 continues to spread globally, including in the United States, we may experience disruptions that could severely impact the development of our product candidates, including:

 

 

delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our clinical trials as patients may be reluctant, or unable, to visit clinical sites;

 

 

delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators, clinical site staff and potential closure of clinical facilities;

 

 

decreases in patients seeking treatment for chronic pain;

 

 

delays in receiving approval from local regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;

 

 

delays in clinical sites receiving the supplies and materials needed to conduct our clinical trials, including interruption in global shipping that may affect the transport of clinical trial materials;

 

 

changes in local regulations as part of a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which may require us to change the ways in which our clinical trials are conducted, which may result in unexpected costs, or to discontinue the clinical trials altogether;

 

 

diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

 

risk that participants enrolled in our clinical trials will acquire COVID-19 while the clinical trial is ongoing, which could impact the results of the clinical trial, including by increasing the number of observed adverse events;

 

 

delays in necessary interactions with local regulators, ethics committees and other important agencies and contractors due to limitations in employee resources or forced furlough of government employees; and

 

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interruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others.

 

Quarantines, shelter-in-place and similar government orders, or the perception that such orders, shutdowns or other restrictions on the conduct of business operations could occur, related to COVID-19 or other infectious diseases could impact personnel at third-party suppliers in the United States and other countries, or the availability or cost of materials, which would disrupt our supply chain. Any manufacturing supply interruption of materials could adversely affect our ability to conduct ongoing and future research and testing activities. For example, we obtain our commercial supply of ZTlido and our clinical supply of SP-103 exclusively from Oishi and Itochu in Japan. The COVID-19 pandemic may result in delays in the procurement and shipping of ZTlido, which may have an adverse impact on our operating results.

The spread of COVID-19, which has caused a broad impact globally, may materially affect us economically. While the potential economic impact brought by, and the duration of, COVID-19 may be difficult to assess or predict, a widespread pandemic could result in significant disruption of global financial markets, reducing our ability to access capital, which could in the future negatively affect our liquidity. In addition, a recession or market correction resulting from the spread of COVID-19 could materially affect our business and the value of our common stock.

In addition, the continued spread of COVID-19 globally could materially and adversely impact our operations, including without limitation, our sales and marketing efforts, sales of ZTlido, travel, employee health and availability, which may have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Management is actively monitoring the global situation on our financial condition, liquidity, operations, suppliers, industry and workforce. Given the daily evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak and the global responses to curb its spread, we are not able to estimate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on our results of operations, financial condition or liquidity for fiscal year 2021.

Failure to comply with existing and future regulatory requirements as a contract manufacturing organization could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Operations as a contract manufacturing organization (“CMO”) are highly regulated. As a CMO, we are required to comply with the regulatory requirements of various local, state, provincial, national and international regulatory bodies having jurisdiction in the countries or localities in which we may manufacture products or product candidates or in which our collaborators’ products or product candidates are distributed. In particular, we are subject to laws and regulations concerning development, testing, manufacturing processes, equipment and facilities, including compliance with cGMPs, import and export regulations, and product registration and listing, among other things. As a result, our facilities are subject to regulation by the FDA, as well as regulatory bodies of other jurisdictions such as the EMA, depending on the countries in which our collaborators develop the products or product candidates we manufacture on their behalf. As we expand our operations and geographic scope, we may be exposed to more complex and new regulatory and administrative requirements and legal risks, any of which may require expertise in which we have little or no experience. It is possible that compliance with new regulatory requirements could impose significant compliance costs on us. Such costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

These regulatory requirements impact many aspects of our operations, including manufacturing, developing, storage, distribution, import and export and record keeping related to collaborators’ products or product candidates. Noncompliance with any applicable regulatory requirements can result in government refusal to approve (i) facilities for testing or manufacturing product candidates or (ii) potential products for commercialization. The FDA and other regulatory agencies can delay, limit or deny approval for many reasons, including:

 

changes to the regulatory approval process, including new data requirements for products or product candidates in those jurisdictions, including the United States, in which our customers may be seeking approval;

 

that a collaborator’s product or product candidate may not be deemed to be safe or effective;

 

the ability of the regulatory agency to provide timely responses as a result of its resource constraints; and

 

that the manufacturing processes or facilities may not meet the applicable requirements.

In addition, if new legislation or regulations are enacted or existing legislation or regulations are amended or are interpreted or enforced differently, we may be required to obtain additional approvals or operate according to different manufacturing or operating standards. This may require a change in our development and manufacturing techniques or additional capital investments in our facilities. Any related costs may be significant. If we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements in the future, then we may be subject to warning letters and/or civil or criminal penalties and fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, restrictions on the import and export of products, debarment, exclusion, disgorgement of profits, operating

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restrictions and criminal prosecution and the loss of contracts and resulting revenue losses. Inspections by regulatory authorities that identify any deficiencies could result in remedial actions, production stoppages or facility closure, which would disrupt the manufacturing process and supply of product to our collaborators. In addition, such failure to comply could expose us to contractual and product liability claims, including claims by collaborators for reimbursement for lost or damaged active pharmaceutical ingredients or recall or other corrective actions, the costs of which could be significant.

In addition, certain product candidates we manufacture must undergo pre-clinical and clinical evaluations relating to product safety and efficacy before they are approved as commercial therapeutic products. The regulatory authorities having jurisdiction in the countries in which we or our collaborators intend to market their products may delay or put on hold clinical trials or delay approval of a product or determine that the product is not approvable. The FDA or other regulatory agencies can delay approval of a product candidate if our manufacturing facility, including any newly commissioned facility, is not able to demonstrate compliance with cGMPs, pass other aspects of pre-approval inspections or properly scale up to produce commercial supplies. The FDA and comparable government authorities having jurisdiction in the countries in which we or our collaborators may market approved products have the authority to withdraw product approval or suspend manufacture if there are significant problems with raw materials or supplies, quality control and assurance or the product we manufacture is adulterated or misbranded. If our manufacturing facilities and services are not in compliance with FDA and comparable government authorities, we may be unable to obtain or maintain the necessary approvals to continue manufacturing product candidates for our customers, which would materially adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

The consumers of any approved products we manufacture for our collaborators may significantly influence our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We will depend on, and have no control over, consumer demand for any approved products we manufacture for our collaborators. Consumer demand for our collaborators’ products could be adversely affected by, among other things, delays in health regulatory approval, the inability of our collaborators to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of their products, the loss of patent and other intellectual property rights protection, the emergence of competing or alternative products, including generic drugs, the degree to which private and government payment subsidies for a particular product offset the cost to consumers and changes in the marketing strategies for such products. If the products we manufacture for our collaborators do not gain market acceptance, our revenues and profitability may be adversely affected.

Continued changes to the healthcare industry, including ongoing healthcare reform, adverse changes in government or private funding of healthcare products and services, legislation or regulations governing the privacy of patient information or patient access to care, or the delivery, pricing or reimbursement of pharmaceuticals and healthcare services or mandated benefits, may cause healthcare industry participants to purchase fewer services from us or influence the price that others are willing to pay for our services. Changes in the healthcare industry’s pricing, selling, inventory, distribution or supply policies or practices could also significantly reduce our revenue and profitability.

If production volumes of key products that we manufacture for our collaborators decline, results of operations and financial condition may continue to be adversely affected.

If we do not successfully commercialize our products, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be materially and adversely affected.

With the exception of Scilex Holding (which commercially launched, through Scilex Pharma, ZTlido in late October 2018, using a contract sales organization to conduct its primary sales activities), we currently have no sales and marketing organization. If any of our product candidates are approved by the FDA, we intend to market that product through our own sales force. We will incur significant additional expenses and commit significant additional management resources to establish our sales force. We may not be able to establish these capabilities despite these additional expenditures. We will also have to compete with other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to recruit, hire and train sales and marketing personnel. If we elect to rely on third parties to sell our product candidates in the U.S., we may receive less revenue than if we sold our products directly. In addition, although we would intend to use due diligence in monitoring their activities, we may have little or no control over the sales efforts of those third parties. In the event we are unable to develop our own sales force or collaborate with a third party to sell our product candidates, we may not be able to commercialize our product candidates which would negatively impact our ability to generate revenue.

Scilex Holding’s commercialization efforts of ZTlido have been primarily focused in the United States. Commercialization of ZTlido and other future product candidates outside of the United States, to the extent pursued, is likely to require collaboration with one or more third parties.

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In addition to the risks discussed elsewhere in this section, Scilex Holding’s ability to successfully commercialize and generate revenues from ZTlido depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, Scilex Holding’s ability to:

 

develop and execute our sales and marketing strategies for Scilex Holding’s products;

 

achieve, maintain and grow market acceptance of, and demand for, Scilex Holding’s products;

 

obtain and maintain adequate coverage, reimbursement and pricing from managed care, government and other third-party payers;

 

maintain, manage or scale the necessary sales, marketing, manufacturing, managed markets, and other capabilities and infrastructure that are required to successfully integrate and commercialize our products;

 

obtain adequate supply of Scilex Holding’s products;

 

maintain and extend intellectual property protection for Scilex Holding’s products; and

 

comply with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

If Scilex Holding is unable to successfully achieve or perform these functions, Scilex Holding will not be able to maintain or increase its product revenues and our business, financial condition and results of operations will be materially and adversely affected.

We may need others to market and commercialize our product candidates in international markets.

In the future, if appropriate regulatory approvals are obtained, we may commercialize our product candidates in international markets. However, we have not decided how to commercialize our product candidates in those markets. We may decide to build our own sales force or sell our products through third parties. If we decide to sell our product candidates in international markets through a third party, we may not be able to enter into any marketing arrangements on favorable terms or at all. In addition, these arrangements could result in lower levels of income to us than if we marketed our product candidates entirely on our own. If we are unable to enter into a marketing arrangement for our product candidates in international markets, we may not be able to develop an effective international sales force to successfully commercialize those products in international markets. If we fail to enter into marketing arrangements for our products and are unable to develop an effective international sales force, our ability to generate revenue would be limited.

With respect to ZTlido and any of our product candidates for which we may receive regulatory approvals, we will be subject to ongoing obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense. Additionally, our product candidates, if approved, could be subject to labeling and other restrictions and market withdrawal and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our products.

Our FDA approval for ZTlido and any other regulatory approvals that we may receive for our product candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase IV clinical trials, and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves any of our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion and recordkeeping for the product will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMPs and cGCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. The future discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, withdrawal of the product from the market, or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;

 

fines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;

 

refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us, or suspension or revocation of product license approvals;

 

product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; and

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA’s policies may change, and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of

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new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained, which would adversely affect our business, prospects and ability to achieve or sustain profitability.

We will need to obtain FDA approval of any proposed product brand names, and any failure or delay associated with such approval may adversely impact our business.

A pharmaceutical product cannot be marketed in the U.S. or other countries until we have completed rigorous and extensive regulatory review processes, including approval of a brand name. Any brand names we intend to use for our product candidates will require approval from the FDA regardless of whether we have secured a formal trademark registration from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the “PTO”). The FDA typically conducts a review of proposed product brand names, including an evaluation of potential for confusion with other product names. The FDA may also object to a product brand name if it believes the name inappropriately implies medical claims. If the FDA objects to any of our proposed product brand names, we may be required to adopt an alternative brand name for our product candidates. If we adopt an alternative brand name, we would lose the benefit of our existing trademark applications for such product candidate and may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable product brand name that would qualify under applicable trademark laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA. We may be unable to build a successful brand identity for a new trademark in a timely manner or at all, which would limit our ability to commercialize our product candidates.

Our failure to successfully discover, acquire, develop and market additional product candidates or approved products would impair our ability to grow.

As part of our growth strategy, we intend to develop and market additional products and product candidates. We are pursuing various therapeutic opportunities through our product pipeline. We may spend several years completing our development of any particular current or future internal product candidate, and failure can occur at any stage. The product candidates to which we allocate our resources may not end up being successful. In addition, because our internal research capabilities are limited, we may be dependent upon pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic scientists and other researchers to sell or license products or technology to us. The success of this strategy depends partly upon our ability to identify, select, discover and acquire promising pharmaceutical product candidates and products. Failure of this strategy would impair our ability to grow.

The process of proposing, negotiating and implementing a license or acquisition of a product candidate or approved product is lengthy and complex. Other companies, including some with substantially greater financial, marketing and sales resources, may compete with us for the license or acquisition of product candidates and approved products. We have limited resources to identify and execute the acquisition or in-licensing of third-party products, businesses and technologies and integrate them into our current infrastructure. Moreover, we may devote resources to potential acquisitions or in-licensing opportunities that are never completed, or we may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of such efforts. We may not be able to acquire the rights to additional product candidates on terms that we find acceptable, or at all.

In addition, future acquisitions may entail numerous operational and financial risks, including:

 

disruption of our business and diversion of our management’s time and attention to develop acquired products or technologies;

 

incurrence of substantial debt, dilutive issuances of securities or depletion of cash to pay for acquisitions;

 

higher than expected acquisition and integration costs;

 

difficulty in combining the operations and personnel of any acquired businesses with our operations and personnel;

 

increased amortization expenses;

 

impairment of relationships with key suppliers or customers of any acquired businesses due to changes in management and ownership;

 

impairment of our ability to obtain intellectual property rights or rights to commercialize additional product candidates, or increased cost to obtain such rights;

 

inability to motivate key employees of any acquired businesses; and

 

assumption of known and unknown liabilities.

Further, any product candidate that we acquire may require additional development efforts prior to commercial sale, including extensive clinical testing and approval by the FDA and applicable foreign regulatory authorities. All product candidates are prone to

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risks of failure typical of pharmaceutical product development, including the possibility that a product candidate will not be shown to be sufficiently safe and effective for approval by regulatory authorities.

Our commercial success depends upon us attaining significant market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for sale, among physicians, patients, healthcare payors and major operators of cancer and other clinics.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, the product may not gain market acceptance among physicians, health care payors, patients and the medical community, which are critical to commercial success. Market acceptance of any product candidate for which we receive approval depends on a number of factors, including:

 

the efficacy and safety as demonstrated in clinical trials;

 

the timing of market introduction of such product candidate as well as competitive products;

 

the clinical indications for which the product candidate is approved;

 

acceptance by physicians, major operators of cancer clinics and patients of the product candidate as a safe and effective treatment;

 

the safety of such product candidate seen in a broader patient group, including its use outside the approved indications;

 

the availability, cost and potential advantages of alternative treatments, including less expensive generic drugs;

 

the availability of adequate reimbursement and pricing by third-party payors and government authorities;

 

the product labeling or product insert required by the FDA or regulatory authority in other countries;

 

the approval, availability, market acceptance and reimbursement for a companion diagnostic, if any;

 

the prevalence and severity of adverse side effects; and

 

the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts.

If any product candidate that we develop does not provide a treatment regimen that is as beneficial as, or is perceived as being as beneficial as, the current standard of care or otherwise does not provide patient benefit, that product candidate, if approved for commercial sale by the FDA or other regulatory authorities, likely will not achieve market acceptance. Our ability to effectively promote and sell any approved products will also depend on pricing and cost-effectiveness, including our ability to produce a product at a competitive price and our ability to obtain sufficient third-party coverage or reimbursement. If any product candidate is approved but does not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, patients and third-party payors, our ability to generate revenues from that product would be substantially reduced. In addition, our efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payors on the benefits of our product candidates may require significant resources, may be constrained by FDA rules and policies on product promotion, and may never be successful.

If we cannot compete successfully against other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, we may not be successful in developing and commercializing our technology and our business will suffer.

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by intense competition and rapid technological advances, both in the U.S. and internationally. In addition, the competition in the oncology and pain management markets, and other relevant markets, is intense.  Even if we are able to develop our product candidates, proprietary platform technology and/or additional antibody libraries, each will compete with a number of existing and future technologies and product candidates developed, manufactured and marketed by others. Specifically, we will compete against fully integrated pharmaceutical companies and smaller companies that are collaborating with larger pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, government agencies and other public and private research organizations. Many of these competitors have validated technologies with products already FDA-approved or in various stages of development. In addition, many of these competitors, either alone or together with their collaborative partners, operate larger research and development programs and have substantially greater financial resources than we do, as well as significantly greater experience in:

 

developing product candidates and technologies generally;

 

undertaking preclinical testing and clinical trials;

 

obtaining FDA and other regulatory approvals of product candidates;

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formulating and manufacturing product candidates; and

 

launching, marketing and selling product candidates.

Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations. Additional mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. As a result, these companies may obtain regulatory approval more rapidly than we are able and may be more effective in selling and marketing their products as well. Smaller or early-stage companies or generic or biosimilar pharmaceutical manufacturers may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. Competition may increase further as a result of advances in the commercial applicability of technologies and greater availability of capital for investment in these industries. Our competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis drug products that are more effective or less costly than any drug candidate that we are currently developing or that we may develop. If approved, our product candidates will face competition from commercially available drugs as well as drugs that are in the development pipelines of our competitors and later enter the market.

Established pharmaceutical companies may invest heavily to accelerate discovery and development of novel compounds or to in-license novel compounds that could make our product candidates less competitive. In addition, any new product that competes with an approved product must demonstrate compelling advantages in efficacy, convenience, tolerability and safety in order to overcome price competition and to be commercially successful. Accordingly, our competitors may succeed in obtaining patent protection, receiving FDA, MHRA, EMA or other regulatory approval or discovering, developing and commercializing medicines before we do, which would have a material adverse impact on our business. If our technologies fail to compete effectively against third party technologies, our business will be adversely impacted.

We expect that our ability to compete effectively will depend upon our ability to:

 

successfully and efficiently complete clinical trials and submit for and obtain all requisite regulatory approvals in a cost-effective manner;

 

obtain and maintain a proprietary position for our products and manufacturing processes and other related product technology;

 

attract and retain key personnel;

 

develop relationships with physicians prescribing these products; and

 

build an adequate sales and marketing infrastructure for our product candidates.

Because we will be competing against significantly larger companies with established track records, we will have to demonstrate that, based on experience, clinical data, side-effect profiles and other factors, our product candidates, if approved, are competitive with other products.

Reimbursement may be limited or unavailable in certain market segments for our product candidates, which could make it difficult for us to sell our products profitably.

There is significant uncertainty related to the third-party coverage and reimbursement of newly approved drugs. We intend to seek approval to market our product candidates in the U.S., Europe and other selected foreign jurisdictions. Market acceptance and sales of our product candidates in both domestic and international markets will depend significantly on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors for any of our product candidates and may be affected by existing and future health care reform measures. Government and other third-party payors are increasingly attempting to contain healthcare costs by limiting both coverage and the level of reimbursement for new drugs and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. These payors may conclude that our product candidates are less safe, less effective or less cost-effective than existing or future introduced products, and third-party payors may not approve our product candidates for coverage and reimbursement or may cease providing coverage and reimbursement for these product candidates.

Obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval for a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time consuming and costly process that could require us to provide to the payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our products. We may not be able to provide data sufficient to gain acceptance with respect to coverage and reimbursement. If reimbursement of our future products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability.

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In some foreign countries, particularly in the European Union, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product candidate. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct additional clinical trials that compare the cost-effectiveness of our product candidates to other available therapies. If reimbursement of our product candidates is unavailable or limited in scope or amount in a particular country, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability of our products in such country.

Price controls may be imposed, which may adversely affect our future profitability.

In some countries, including member states of the European Union (the “EU”), the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take a significant amount of time after receipt of marketing approval for a product. In addition, there can be considerable pressure by governments and other stakeholders on prices and reimbursement levels, including as part of cost containment measures. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various EU member states and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices, and in certain instances render commercialization in certain markets infeasible or disadvantageous from a financial perspective. In some countries, we or our collaborators may be required to conduct a clinical trial or other studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of our product and/or our product candidates to other available products in order to obtain or maintain reimbursement or pricing approval. Publication of discounts by third party payors or government authorities may lead to further pressure on the prices or reimbursement levels. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, the commercial launch of our product and/or product candidates could be delayed, possibly for lengthy periods of time, we or our collaborators may not launch at all in a particular country, we may not be able to recoup our investment in one or more product candidates, and there could be a material adverse effect on our business.

Recently, there has been considerable public and government scrutiny in the United States of pharmaceutical pricing and proposals to address the perceived high cost of pharmaceuticals. There have also been several recent state legislative efforts to address drug costs, which generally have focused on increasing transparency around drug costs or limiting drug prices or price increases. Adoption of new legislation at the federal or state level could affect demand for, or pricing of, our product candidates, if approved, and could diminish our ability to establish what we believe is a fair price for our products, ultimately diminishing our revenue for our products if they are approved.

Healthcare reform measures could hinder or prevent our product candidates’ commercial success.

In both the U.S. and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and we expect there will continue to be a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the health care system that could impact our ability to sell our products profitably. The U.S. government and other governments have shown significant interest in pursuing healthcare reform. In particular, the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 revised the payment methodology for many products under the Medicare program in the U.S. This has resulted in lower rates of reimbursement. In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (collectively, the “Healthcare Reform Law”), was enacted. The Healthcare Reform Law substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers. Such government-adopted reform measures may adversely impact the pricing of healthcare products and services in the U.S. or internationally and the amount of reimbursement available from governmental agencies or other third-party payors.

There have been, and likely will continue to be, legislative and regulatory proposals at the federal and state levels directed at broadening the availability of healthcare and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. For example, there have been public announcements by members of the U.S. Congress regarding their plans to repeal and replace the Healthcare Reform Law and Medicare, and the Biden administration has announced plans to amend and expand the scope of the Healthcare Reform Law. Although we cannot predict the ultimate content or timing of any healthcare reform legislation, potential changes resulting from any amendment, repeal, replacement or expansion of these programs, including any reduction in the future availability of healthcare insurance benefits, could adversely affect our business and future results of operations. The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare may adversely affect the demand for any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval, as well as our ability to set satisfactory prices for our products, to generate revenues, and to achieve and maintain profitability.

Failure to successfully validate, develop and obtain regulatory approval for companion diagnostics could harm our long-term drug development strategy.

As one of the key elements of our clinical development strategy, we seek to identify patients within a disease category or indication who may derive selective and meaningful benefit from the product candidates we are developing. In collaboration with partners, we plan to develop companion diagnostics to help us to more accurately identify patients within a particular category or indication, both during our clinical trials and in connection with the commercialization of certain of our product candidates.

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Companion diagnostics are subject to regulation by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities as medical devices and require separate regulatory approval prior to commercialization. We typically do not develop companion diagnostics internally and thus we are dependent on the sustained cooperation and effort of our third-party collaborators in developing and obtaining approval for these companion diagnostics. We and our collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing and obtaining approval for the companion diagnostics, including issues relating to selectivity/specificity, analytical validation, reproducibility or clinical validation. Any delay or failure by our collaborators to develop or obtain regulatory approval of the companion diagnostics could delay or prevent approval of our product candidates. In addition, our collaborators may encounter production difficulties that could constrain the supply of the companion diagnostics, and both they and we may have difficulties gaining acceptance of the use of the companion diagnostics in the clinical community. If such companion diagnostics fail to gain market acceptance, it would have an adverse effect on our ability to derive revenues from sales of our products. In addition, any diagnostic company with whom we contract may decide to discontinue selling or manufacturing the companion diagnostic that we anticipate using in connection with development and commercialization of our product candidates or our relationship with such diagnostic company may otherwise terminate. In such instances, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with another diagnostic company to obtain supplies of an alternative diagnostic test for use in connection with the development and commercialization of our product candidates or do so on commercially reasonable terms, which could adversely affect and/or delay the development or commercialization of our product candidates.

Our collaborations depend upon the efforts of third parties to fund and manage the development of many of our potential product candidates, and failure of those third-party collaborators to assist or share in the costs of product development could materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our strategy for the development and commercialization of our proprietary product candidates has included the formation of joint ventures and collaborative arrangements with third parties. Potential third parties include biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and other entities. Third-party collaborators may assist us in:

 

funding research, preclinical development, clinical trials and manufacturing;

 

seeking and obtaining regulatory approvals;

 

seeking and obtaining intellectual property and/or other proprietary rights to technology; and  

 

successfully commercializing any future product candidates.

Our collaborations limit our ability to control the efforts devoted to many of our product candidates in such arrangements and our earlier stage pipeline is dependent upon identifying new potential collaborators.  For example, our most recent joint ventures require us to conduct research and provide potential product candidates in addition to making capital contributions to continue the further development of those products. We generally do not have control over the management of the joint ventures and are minority holders in most of those ventures, which may result in limitations on our ability to successfully develop product candidates, obtain intellectual property and/or other proprietary rights and fund clinical trials through those joint ventures.  

In addition, if we are not able to establish further collaboration agreements, we may be required to undertake product development and commercialization at our own expense. Such an undertaking may limit the number of product candidates that we will be able to develop, significantly increase our capital requirements and place additional strain on our internal resources.

Our failure to enter into additional collaborations could materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, our dependence on licensing, collaboration and other agreements with third parties may subject us to a number of risks. These agreements may not be on terms that prove favorable to us and may require us to relinquish certain rights in our product candidates. To the extent we agree to work exclusively with one collaborator in a given area, our opportunities to collaborate with other entities could be curtailed. Lengthy negotiations with potential new collaborators may lead to delays in the research, development or commercialization of product candidates. The decision by our collaborators to pursue alternative technologies or the failure of our collaborators to develop or commercialize successfully any product candidate to which they have obtained rights from us could materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may seek to establish collaborations and, if we are not able to establish them on commercially reasonable terms, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.

From time to time we may engage in efforts to enter into licensing, distribution and/or collaboration agreements with one or more pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies to assist us with development and/or commercialization of our other product candidates. If we are successful in entering into such agreements, we may not be able to negotiate agreements with economic terms similar to those negotiated by other companies. We may not, for example, obtain significant upfront payments, substantial royalty

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rates or milestones. If we fail to enter into any such agreements in a timely manner or at all, our efforts to develop and/or commercialize our product candidates may be undermined. In addition, if we do not raise funds through any such agreements, we will need to rely on other financing mechanisms, such as sales of debt or equity securities, to fund our operations. Such financing mechanisms, if available, may not be sufficient or timely enough to advance our programs forward in a meaningful way in the short-term.

We may not be successful in entering into additional collaborations as a result of many factors, including the following:

 

competition in seeking appropriate collaborators;

 

a reduced number of potential collaborators due to recent business combinations in the pharmaceutical industry;

 

inability to negotiate collaborations on acceptable terms;

 

inability to negotiate collaborations on a timely basis;

 

a potential collaborator’s evaluation of our product or product candidates;

 

a potential collaborator’s resources and expertise; and

 

restrictions due to an existing collaboration agreement.

If we are unable to enter into collaborations, we may have to curtail the commercialization or the development of any product candidate on which we are seeking to collaborate, reduce or delay its development program or those for other 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 increase our expenditures to fund development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we do not have sufficient funds, we may not be able to develop or commercialize our product candidates.

Even if we enter into collaboration agreements and strategic partnerships or license our intellectual property, we may not be able to maintain them or they may be unsuccessful, which could delay our timelines or otherwise adversely affect our business.

We, as well as any collaborators or licensees of our technologies and services, will not be able to commercialize our product candidates if preclinical studies do not produce successful results or clinical trials do not demonstrate safety and efficacy in humans.

Preclinical and clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and have an uncertain outcome. Success in preclinical testing and early clinical trials does not ensure that later clinical trials will be successful, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. We, as well as any licensees and collaborators, may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, preclinical testing and the clinical trial process that could delay or prevent the commercialization of product candidates based on our technologies, including the following:

 

Preclinical or clinical trials may produce negative or inconclusive results, which may require additional preclinical testing, additional clinical trials or the abandonment of projects that we, our licensees or our collaborators expect to be promising. For example, promising animal data may be obtained about the anticipated efficacy of a product candidate and then human tests may not result in such an effect. In addition, unexpected safety concerns may be encountered that would require further testing even if the product candidate produced an otherwise favorable response in human subjects.

 

Initial clinical results may not be supported by further or more extensive clinical trials. For example, we or a licensee may obtain data that suggest a desirable response from a product candidate in a small human study, but when tests are conducted on larger numbers of people, the same extent of response may not occur. If the response generated by a product candidate is too low or occurs in too few treated individuals, then the product candidate will have no commercial value.

 

Enrollment in any of our or any of our licensee’s or collaborator’s clinical trials may be slower than projected, resulting in significant delays. The cost of conducting a clinical trial increases as the time required to enroll adequate numbers of human subjects to obtain meaningful results increases. Enrollment in a clinical trial can be a slower-than-anticipated process because of competition from other clinical trials, because the study is not of interest to qualified subjects, or because the stringency of requirements for enrollment limits the number of people who are eligible to participate in the clinical trial.

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We, our licensees or our collaborators might have to suspend or terminate clinical trials if the participating subjects are being exposed to unacceptable health risks. Animal tests do not always adequately predict potential safety risks to human subjects. The risk of any product candidate is unknown until it is tested in human subjects, and if subjects experience adverse events during the clinical trial, the trial may have to be suspended and modified or terminated entirely.

 

Regulators or institutional review boards may suspend or terminate clinical research for various reasons, including safety concerns or noncompliance with regulatory requirements.

 

Any regulatory approval ultimately obtained may be limited or subject to restrictions or post-approval commitments that render the product not commercially viable.

 

The effects of our technology-derived or technology-enhanced product candidates may not be the desired effects or may include undesirable side effects.

Significant clinical trial delays could allow our competitors to bring products to market before we, any of our licensees or our collaborators do and impair our ability to commercialize our technologies and product candidates based on our technologies. Poor clinical trial results or delays may make it impossible to license a product candidate or so reduce its attractiveness to prospective licensees that we will be unable to successfully develop and commercialize such a product candidate.

Because our development activities are expected to rely heavily on sensitive and personal information, an area which is highly regulated by privacy laws, we may not be able to generate, maintain or access essential patient samples or data to continue our research and development efforts in the future on reasonable terms and conditions, which may adversely affect our business.

Although we are not subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), as we are neither a Covered Entity nor Business Associate (as defined in HIPAA and the Health Information Technology and Clinical Health Act (the “HITECH Act”)), we may have access to very sensitive data regarding patients whose tissue samples are used in our studies. This data will contain information that is personal in nature. The maintenance of this data is subject to certain privacy-related laws, which impose upon us administrative and financial burdens, and litigation risks. In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws and federal and state consumer protection laws govern the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health-related and other personal information. For instance, the rules promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services under HIPAA create national standards to protect patients’ medical records and other personal information in the U.S. These rules require that healthcare providers and other covered entities obtain written authorizations from patients prior to disclosing protected health care information of the patient to companies. If the patient fails to execute an authorization or the authorization fails to contain all required provisions, then we will not be allowed access to the patient’s information and our research efforts can be substantially delayed. Furthermore, use of protected health information that is provided to us pursuant to a valid patient authorization is subject to the limits set forth in the authorization (i.e., for use in research and in submissions to regulatory authorities for product approvals). As such, we are required to implement policies, procedures and reasonable and appropriate security measures to protect individually identifiable health information we receive from covered entities, and to ensure such information is used only as authorized by the patient. Any violations of these rules by us could subject us to civil and criminal penalties and adverse publicity and could harm our ability to initiate and complete clinical trials required to support regulatory applications for our product candidates. In addition, HIPAA does not replace federal, state, or other laws that may grant individuals even greater privacy protections.

California recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), which creates new individual privacy rights for California consumers and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA requires covered companies to provide new disclosure to consumers about such companies’ data collection, use and sharing practices, provide such consumers new ways to opt-out of certain sales or transfers of personal information, and provide consumers with additional causes of action. The CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020, and beginning July 1, 2020, the California Attorney General may bring enforcement actions for violations. The CCPA, among other things, requires covered companies to provide disclosures to California consumers concerning the collection and sale of personal information, and will give such consumers the right to opt-out of certain sales of personal information. The CCPA may increase our company`s compliance costs and potential liability, and we cannot yet predict the impact of the CCPA on our business.

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International data protection laws, including Regulation 2016/679, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), may also apply to health-related and other personal information obtained outside of the United States. The GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR strengthened data protection requirements in the European Union, as well as potential fines for noncompliant companies of up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenue. The regulation imposes numerous new requirements for the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information, including more stringent requirements relating to consent and the information that must be shared with data subjects about how their personal information is used, the obligation to notify regulators and affected individuals of personal data breaches, extensive new internal privacy governance obligations and obligations to honor expanded rights of individuals in relation to their personal information, including the right to access, correct and delete their data. In addition, the GDPR includes restrictions on cross-border data transfers. The GDPR increased our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process where such processing is subject to the GDPR, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Further, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, often referred to as Brexit, has created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the United Kingdom. In particular, it is unclear how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated.

Failure to comply with data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions, which may involve civil and criminal penalties, private litigation and/or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.

We can provide no assurance that future legislation will not prevent us from generating or maintaining personal data or that patients will consent to the use of their personal information, either of which may prevent us from undertaking or publishing essential research. These burdens or risks may prove too great for us to reasonably bear and may adversely affect our ability to achieve profitability or maintain profitably in the future.

Our therapeutic product candidates for which we intend to seek approval as biological products may face competition sooner than expected.

With the enactment of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (“BPCIA”) as part of the Health Care Reform Law, an abbreviated pathway for the approval of biosimilar and interchangeable biological products was created. The new abbreviated regulatory pathway establishes legal authority for the FDA to review and approve biosimilar biologics, including the possible designation of a biosimilar as “interchangeable.” The FDA defines an interchangeable biosimilar as a product that, in terms of safety or diminished efficacy, presents no greater risk when switching between the biosimilar and its reference product than the risk of using the reference product alone. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be submitted to the FDA until four years, or approved by the FDA until 12 years, after the original brand product identified as the reference product was approved under a BLA. The new law is complex and is only beginning to be interpreted by the FDA. As a result, its ultimate impact, implementation and meaning are subject to uncertainty. While it is uncertain when any such processes may be fully adopted by the FDA, any such processes could have a material adverse effect on the future commercial prospects for our biological products.

Although we believe that if any of our product candidates were to be approved as biological products under a BLA, such approved products should qualify for the 12-year period of exclusivity, there is a risk that the U.S. Congress could amend the BPCIA to significantly shorten this exclusivity period, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated. Moreover, the extent to which a biosimilar, once approved, will be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biological products is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing. In addition, a competitor could decide to forego the biosimilar route and submit a full BLA after completing its own preclinical studies and clinical trials. In such cases, any exclusivity to which we may be eligible under the BPCIA would not prevent the competitor from marketing its product as soon as it is approved.

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The regulatory path forward for biosimilar/biobetter product candidates is not clear.

We have acquired and are assessing the regulatory and strategic path forward for our portfolio of late stage biosimilar/biobetter antibodies based on Erbitux®, Remicade®, Xolair® and Simulect®. While the enactment of the BPCIA created an abbreviated pathway for the approval of biosimilar and interchangeable biological products, there is still considerable uncertainty with respect to the FDA’s approval process. While applications based on biosimilarity may not be required to duplicate the entirety of preclinical and clinical testing used to establish the underlying safety and effectiveness of the reference product, the FDA may refuse to approve an application if there is insufficient information to show that the active ingredients are the same or to demonstrate that any impurities or differences in active ingredients do not affect the safety, purity or potency of the product. In addition, applications based on biosimilarity will not be approved unless the product is manufactured in facilities designed to assure and preserve the biological product’s safety, purity and potency. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the approval of biosimilar/biobetter products, as well as other risk factors identified in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, our portfolio of late stage biosimilar/biobetter antibodies may never result in commercially viable products.

We may be exposed to liability claims associated with the use of hazardous materials and chemicals.

Our research and development activities may involve the controlled use of hazardous materials and chemicals. Although we believe that our safety procedures for using, storing, handling and disposing of these materials comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations, we cannot eliminate the risk of accidental injury or contamination from these materials. In the event of such an accident, we could be held liable for any resulting damages and any liability could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We do not currently maintain hazardous materials insurance coverage. In addition, the federal, state and local laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of hazardous or radioactive materials and waste products may require us to incur substantial compliance costs that could materially harm our business.

If we are unable to retain and recruit qualified scientists and advisors, or if any of our key executives, key employees or key consultants discontinues his or her employment or consulting relationship with us, it may delay our development efforts or otherwise harm our business.

We may not be able to attract or retain qualified management and scientific and clinical personnel in the future due to the intense competition for qualified personnel among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other businesses, particularly in the San Diego, California area. Our industry has experienced a high rate of turnover of management personnel in recent years. If we are not able to attract, retain and motivate necessary personnel to accomplish our business objectives, we may experience constraints that will significantly impede the successful development of any product candidates, our ability to raise additional capital and our ability to implement our overall business strategy. In addition, our CMO operations will depend, in part, on our ability to attract and retain an appropriately skilled and sufficient workforce to operate our development and manufacturing facilities. The facilities are located in a growing biotechnology hub and competition for skilled workers will continue to increase as the industry undergoes further growth in the area.

We are highly dependent on key members of our management and scientific staff, especially Henry Ji, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior, mid-level and senior managers as well as junior, mid-level and senior scientific and medical personnel. The loss of any of our executive officers, key employees or key consultants and our inability to find suitable replacements could impede the achievement of our research and development objectives, and potentially harm our business, financial condition and prospects. Furthermore, recruiting and retaining qualified scientific personnel to perform research and development work in the future is critical to our success. We may be unable to attract and retain personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among biotechnology, biopharmaceutical and health care companies, universities and non-profit research institutions for experienced scientists. Certain of our current officers, directors, scientific advisors and/or consultants or certain of the officers, directors, scientific advisors and/or consultants hereafter appointed may from time to time serve as officers, directors, scientific advisors and/or consultants of other biopharmaceutical or biotechnology companies. We do not maintain “key man” insurance policies on any of our officers or employees. All of our employees are employed “at will” and, therefore, each employee may leave our employment at any time.

We may not be able to attract or retain qualified management and scientific personnel in the future due to the intense competition for a limited number of qualified personnel among biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other businesses. Many of the other pharmaceutical companies that we compete against for qualified personnel have greater financial and other resources, different risk profiles and a longer history in the industry than we do. They also may provide more diverse opportunities and better chances for career advancement. Some of these characteristics may be more appealing to high quality candidates than what we have to offer. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, the rate and success at which we can develop and commercialize product candidates will be limited.

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We plan to grant stock options or other forms of equity awards in the future as a method of attracting and retaining employees, motivating performance and aligning the interests of employees with those of our stockholders. If we are unable to implement and maintain equity compensation arrangements that provide sufficient incentives, we may be unable to retain our existing employees and attract additional qualified candidates. If we are unable to retain our existing employees, including qualified scientific personnel, and attract additional qualified candidates, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Our employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other misconduct. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with FDA regulations, provide accurate information to the FDA, comply with manufacturing standards we have established, comply with federal and state health-care fraud and abuse laws and regulations, comply with laws and regulations (including, but not limited to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1 (“FCPA”)) and internal policies restricting payments to government agencies and representatives, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. 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. We have adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, but 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 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.

We may be subject, directly or indirectly, to federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws, false claims laws and health information privacy and security laws. If we are unable to comply, or have not fully complied, with such laws, we could face substantial penalties.

If we obtain FDA approval for any of our product candidates, as we have with ZTlido through Scilex Pharma, and begin commercializing those products in the U.S., our operations may be directly, or indirectly through our customers, subject to various federal and state fraud and abuse laws, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the federal False Claims Act. These laws may impact, among other things, our proposed sales, marketing and education programs. In addition, we may be subject to patient privacy regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include:

 

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying remuneration, directly or indirectly, to induce, or in return for, the purchase or recommendation of an item or service reimbursable under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs;

 

federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment from Medicare, Medicaid, or other third-party payers that are false or fraudulent;

 

HIPAA, which created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program and making false statements relating to healthcare matters;

 

HIPAA, as amended by the HITECH Act, and its implementing regulations, which imposes certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information; and

 

state law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws which may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payer, including commercial insurers, and state laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.

If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines 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.

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If product liability lawsuits are brought against us, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.

We face an inherent risk of product liability as a result of the clinical testing of our product candidates and will face an even greater risk for the commercialization of any products, including ZTlido, which is marketed and sold through our subsidiary, Scilex Holding. For example, we may be sued if any product we develop allegedly causes injury or is found to be otherwise unsuitable during product testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability, and a breach of warranties. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates, if approved. Even successful defense would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

decreased demand for our product candidates or products that we may develop;

 

injury to our reputation;

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

 

initiation of investigations by regulators;

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, withdrawal of the product from the market or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;

 

costs to defend the related litigation;

 

a diversion of management’s time and our resources;

 

substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;

 

product recalls, withdrawals or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;

 

loss of revenues from product sales; and

 

the inability to commercialize our product candidates.

In addition, through our contract manufacturing operations, we may manufacture product candidates intended for use in humans. These activities could expose us to risk of liability for personal injury or death to persons using such product candidates or approved products. We seek to reduce our potential liability through measures such as contractual indemnification provisions with collaborators (the scope of which may vary by collaborator, and the performances of which are not secured) and insurance maintained by us and our collaborators. Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected if we are required to pay damages or incur defense costs in connection with a claim that is outside the scope of the indemnification agreements, if the indemnity, although applicable, is not performed in accordance with its terms or if our liabilities exceed the amount of applicable insurance or indemnity. In addition, we could be held liable for errors and omissions in connection with the services we perform.

Our inability to obtain and retain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of products we develop. We currently carry product liability insurance and errors and omissions insurance that we believe is appropriate for our company. Although we maintain product liability insurance, any claim that may be brought against us could result in a court judgment or settlement in an amount that is not covered, in whole or in part, by our insurance or that is in excess of the limits of our insurance coverage. Our insurance policies also have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have insufficient or no coverage. If we have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. In addition, insurance coverage is becoming increasingly expensive, and we may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost. We also may not be able to obtain additional insurance coverage that will be adequate to cover product liability risks that may arise. Consequently, a product liability claim may result in losses that could be material to our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption laws, as well as export control laws, customs laws, sanctions laws and other laws governing our operations. If we fail to comply with these laws, we could be subject to civil or criminal penalties, other remedial measures, and legal expenses, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our operations are subject to certain anti-corruption laws, including the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act and other anti-corruption laws that apply in countries where we do business. The FCPA and other anti-corruption laws generally prohibit us and our employees

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and intermediaries from bribing, being bribed or making other prohibited payments to government officials or other persons to obtain or retain business or gain some other business advantage. We and our commercial partners operate in a number of jurisdictions that pose a high risk of potential FCPA violations and we participate in collaborations and relationships with third parties whose actions could potentially subject us to liability under the FCPA or local anti-corruption laws. In addition, we cannot predict the nature, scope or effect of future regulatory requirements to which our international operations might be subject or the manner in which existing laws might be administered or interpreted.

We are also subject to other laws and regulations governing our international operations, including regulations administered in the U.S. and in the EU, including applicable import and export control regulations such as those regulations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention (“CITES”), economic sanctions on countries and persons, customs requirements and currency exchange regulations (collectively, “Trade Control Laws”).

There can be no assurance that we will be completely effective in ensuring our compliance with all applicable anticorruption laws, including the FCPA or other legal requirements, such as Trade Control Laws. Any investigation of potential violations of the FCPA, other anti-corruption laws or Trade Control Laws by U.S., EU or other authorities could have an adverse impact on our reputation, our business, results of operations and financial condition. Furthermore, should we be found not to be in compliance with the FCPA, other anti-corruption laws or Trade Control Laws, we may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other sanctions and remedial measures, as well as the accompanying legal expenses, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our reputation and liquidity, as well as on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Federal regulation and enforcement may adversely affect the implementation of cannabis laws, and such regulations may negatively impact our business operations, revenues and profits.

As previously disclosed, we have formed a Chinese joint venture with LifeTech Scientific Co., Ltd. to commercialize our proprietary water soluble cannabidiol (“CBD”) formulation technologies for consumer and pharmaceutical applications in Asia (excluding Japan). We have also formed a new business unit, Scintilla Health, Inc., to explore commercial opportunities of our water-soluble CBD formulation technologies for both consumer and pharmaceutical applications in North America, Europe and other parts of the world.

Currently, there are over 30 states in the United States, plus the District of Columbia, that have laws and/or regulations that recognize, in one form or another, medical benefits or other uses for CBD infused or cannabis related products. These states have also passed laws governing the use and sale of cannabis products and others are considering similar legislation. Nonetheless, at least some provisions of these state laws are in direct conflict with the United States Federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 811) (“CSA”), which places controlled substances, including cannabis, in a schedule. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, which is viewed as having a high potential for abuse, has no currently-accepted use for medical treatment in the U.S., and lacks acceptable safety for use under medical supervision. Under the CSA, the policies and regulations of the federal government and its agencies are that cannabis has no medical benefit and a range of activities including cultivation and the personal use of cannabis is prohibited.

Uncertainty remains the rule under the CSA. There is disagreement between the government and the courts regarding the precise scope of the CSA. Some courts have held that CBD is excluded from the CSA, which they believe, only covers the Tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) chemical. Others have held that CBD is covered by the CSA when it is derived from the cannabis plant. On December 20, 2018, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (the “2018 Farm Bill”) legalized the cultivation and production of hemp, a variation on the cannabis plant that contains CBD but less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive chemical of the cannabis plant), providing at least some certainty about sources of legal CBD. Our water-soluble CBD formulation technologies are expected to utilize hemp.

Unless and until Congress amends the CSA to clarify precisely what is covered by the CSA, there is a risk that federal authorities may enforce current federal law against us despite our efforts to source our products from legal sources, and we may be deemed to be producing and/or dispensing marijuana-based products in violation of federal law. There is no assurance as to the timing or scope of any such potential amendment to the CSA. Active enforcement of the current federal regulatory position on cannabis may thus directly or indirectly, and adversely, affect our business, operations, revenues and any profits. The risk of strict enforcement of the CSA in light of Congressional activity, judicial holdings and stated federal policy remains uncertain.

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has not historically devoted resources to prosecuting individuals whose conduct is limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana for use on private property and has instead relied on state and local law enforcement to address marijuana activity. In the event the DOJ reverses its stated policy and begins strict enforcement of the CSA in states that have laws legalizing medical marijuana and recreational marijuana in small amounts, there may be a direct and adverse impact to our business and our revenue and profits. Furthermore, H.R. 83, enacted by Congress on December 16, 2014, provides that none of the funds made available to the DOJ pursuant to the 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act may be used to

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prevent certain states from implementing their own laws that authorized the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA has been given the authority to regulate CBD when incorporated into a food, drug or cosmetic substance. Immediately following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA signaled its intent to use this power. On May 31, 2019, the FDA held public hearings to obtain scientific data and information about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD. Currently, the FDA has not issued any guidance, rules or regulations regarding the use of CBD in foods, drugs or cosmetics. Because our water-soluble CBD formulation technologies may be used to produce CBD for inclusion in food or beverages, any FDA rules and regulations limiting our ability to source, manufacture and sell CBD products, or limiting the consumer’s ability to purchase and use the products, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We will need to increase the size of our company and may not effectively manage our growth.

Our success will depend upon growing our business and our employee base. Over the next 12 months, we plan to add additional employees to assist us with research and development and our commercialization efforts. Our future growth, if any, may cause a significant strain on our management, and our operational, financial and other resources. Our ability to manage our growth effectively will require us to implement and improve our operational, financial and management systems and to expand, train, manage and motivate our employees. These demands may require the hiring of additional management personnel and the development of additional expertise by management. Any increase in resources devoted to research and product development without a corresponding increase in our operational, financial and management systems could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

A fast track product designation or other designation to facilitate product candidate development may not lead to faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and it does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.

A product sponsor may apply for fast track designation from the FDA if a product is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and preclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need for this condition (“Fast Track Designation”). The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant this designation. We have received Fast Track Designation for SEMDEXATM, which is in development for the treatment of lumbosacral radicular pain. Even though SEMDEXATM has received Fast Track Designation, we may not experience a faster process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. Fast Track Designation does not accelerate clinical trials, mean that regulatory requirements are less stringent or provide assurance of ultimate marketing approval by the FDA. Instead, Fast Track Designation provides opportunities for frequent interactions with FDA review staff, as well as eligibility for priority review, if relevant criteria are met, and rolling review. The FDA may rescind the fast track designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. The FDA may also withdraw any fast track designation at any time.

Drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future trial results.

Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is risky and uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy traits despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. It is not uncommon for companies in the pharmaceutical industry to suffer significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Our future clinical trial results may not be successful.

This drug candidate development risk is heightened by any changes in the planned clinical trials compared to the completed clinical trials. As product candidates are developed through preclinical to early and late stage clinical trials towards approval and commercialization, it is customary that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing and methods of administration, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize processes and results. While these types of changes are common and are intended to optimize the product candidates for late stage clinical trials, approval and commercialization, such changes do carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives.

Other than with respect to ZTlido, we have not completed a corporate-sponsored clinical trial. Phase I trials are ongoing for RTX for knee osteoarthritis, RTX for cancer-related pain and anti-CD38 CAR-T for multiple myeloma a Phase III trial is ongoing for SEMDEXATM for the treatment of lumbosacral radicular pain. Non-clinical studies are ongoing and a Phase II trial is planned to start

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in the first half of 2021 with higher strength SP-103. We are currently in a Phase II study of abivertinib for cytokine storm related to COVID-19 infection, a Phase I study of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome associated with COVID-19 infection and a Phase I study of COVI-GUARD in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Despite this, we may not have the necessary capabilities, including adequate staffing, to successfully manage the execution and completion of any clinical trials we initiate, including our planned clinical trials of RTX, clinical trials of SP-103, clinical trials of SEMDEXATM, clinical trials of CAR-T, including targeting CD38 using a CAR-T cell therapy, our biosimilar/biobetters antibodies, clinical trials of our COVID-19 related product candidates and other product candidates, in a way that leads to our obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates in a timely manner, or at all.

In the event we are able to conduct a pivotal clinical trial of a product candidate, the results of such trial may not be adequate to support marketing approval. Because our product candidates are intended for use in life-threatening diseases, in some cases we ultimately intend to seek marketing approval for each product candidate based on the results of a single pivotal clinical trial. As a result, these trials may receive enhanced scrutiny from the FDA. For any such pivotal trial, if the FDA disagrees with our choice of primary endpoint or the results for the primary endpoint are not robust or significant relative to control, are subject to confounding factors, or are not adequately supported by other study endpoints, including possibly overall survival or complete response rate, the FDA may refuse to approve a NDA, Biologics License Application or other application for marketing based on such pivotal trial. The FDA may require additional clinical trials as a condition for approving our product candidates.

There can be no assurance that the product candidates we are developing for the detection and treatment of COVID-19 will be granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. If no Emergency Use Authorization is granted or, once granted, it is terminated, we will be unable to sell our product candidates in the near future and will be required to pursue the drug approval process, which is lengthy and expensive.

On June 10, 2020, we announced the submission of an Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) to the FDA for our COVI-TRACK in vitro diagnostic test kit for the independent detection of IgG and IgM antibodies in sera of patients exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On December 22, 2020, we announced the submission of an EUA to the FDA for COVI-STIX, our rapid diagnostic test for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus nucleocapsid antigen in nasal samples of patients.

An EUA would allow us to market and sell COVI-TRACK or COVI-STIX without the need to pursue the lengthy and expensive drug approval process. The FDA may issue an EUA during a public health emergency if it determines that the potential benefits of a product outweigh the potential risks and if other regulatory criteria are met. If an EUA is granted for COVI-TRACK or COVI-STIX, we will rely on the FDA policies and guidance in connection with the marketing and sale of COVI-TRACK or COVI-STIX, respectively. If these policies and guidance change unexpectedly and/or materially or if we misinterpret them, potential sales of COVI-TRACK or COVI-STIX could be adversely impacted. In addition, the FDA may revoke an EUA where it is determined that the underlying health emergency no longer exists or warrants such authorization. If granted, we cannot predict how long an EUA for COVI-TRACK or COVI-STIX will remain in place. If an EUA for COVI-TRACK or COVI-STIX is granted but subsequently terminated, such termination, could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may also seek additional EUAs from the FDA for our other product candidates for the detection and/or treatment of COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If granted, the additional EUAs would allow us to market and sell additional product candidates without the need to pursue the lengthy and expensive drug approval process. There is no guarantee that we will be able to obtain any additional EUAs. Failure to obtain additional EUAs or the termination of such EUAs, if obtained, could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Interim “top-line” and preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

From time to time, we may publish interim “top-line” or preliminary data from our clinical trials, which is based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the data related to the particular study. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Preliminary or interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment and dosing continues and more patient data become available. Preliminary or interim data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, interim and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate or product and our company in general. Data disclosures must be carefully managed to conform to limitations on preapproval promotion and laws related to clinical trial registration and posting of results. In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or clinical trial is based on what is typically extensive information, and you or others may not agree with what we determine is the material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure, and any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular drug, product, product candidate or our business. If the top-line data that we report differ from actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, our product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Any disruption in our research and development facilities could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our principal executive offices, which house our research and development programs, are in San Diego, California. Our facilities may be affected by natural or man-made disasters. Earthquakes are of particular significance since our facilities are located in an earthquake-prone area. We are also vulnerable to damage from other types of disasters, including power loss, attacks from extremist organizations, fires, floods and similar events. If our facilities are affected by a natural or man-made disaster, we may be forced to curtail our operations and/or rely on third-parties to perform some or all of our research and development activities. Although we believe we possess adequate insurance for damage to our property and the disruption of our business from casualties, such insurance may not be sufficient to cover all of our potential losses and may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. In the future, we may choose to expand our operations in either our existing facilities or in new facilities. If we expand our worldwide manufacturing locations, there can be no assurance that this expansion will occur without implementation difficulties, or at all.

 

Effective February 6, 2021, the health officer of San Diego County, where our principal executive offices are located, issued an updated shelter-in-place order, ordering, among other things, that all individuals living in the County of San Diego to remain in their homes or at their place of residence for an indefinite period of time (subject to certain exceptions for essential businesses and to facilitate authorized necessary activities and reopened businesses) to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order is scheduled to continue until further notice from the health officer of San Diego County. In addition, in mid-March 2020, the Governor of California and the State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health ordered all individuals living in the State of California to stay at their place of residence for an indefinite period of time (subject to certain exceptions to facilitate authorized necessary activities, and subject to certain variances approved by the California Department of Public Health on a county-by-county basis) to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order exempts certain individuals needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as the State Public Health Officer may designate as critical to protect health and well-being of all Californians. In May 2020, the Governor of California issued an executive order that informed local health jurisdictions and industry sectors that they may gradually reopen under new modifications and guidance provided by the state of California. In August 2020, the state of California released revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on certain activities on generally a county-by-county basis. Under the executive orders, San Diego County, where our principal executive offices are located, continues to be subject to certain restrictions. These orders and others may be further modified, amended and adopted depending upon the COVID-19 transmission rates in our county and state, as well as other factors. If the operations in our principal executive offices or other facilities are deemed non-essential, we may not be able to operate for the duration of any shelter-in-place order, which could negatively impact our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our business and operations would suffer in the event of system failures.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our CROs and other contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, cybersecurity attacks or hacking, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may face increased cybersecurity risks due to our reliance, and the reliance of our CROs, contractors and consultants reliance, on internet technology and the number of our employees, and employees of our CROs, contractors and consultants, who are working remotely, which may create additional opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. While we have not experienced any such system failure, accident or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our drug development programs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or ongoing or planned clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach was to result in a loss of or damage to our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur material legal claims and liability, damage to our reputation, suffer loss or harm to our intellectual property rights and the further research, development and commercial

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efforts of our products and product candidates could be delayed. If we are held liable for a claim against which we are not insured or for damages exceeding the limits of our insurance coverage, whether arising out of cybersecurity matters, or from some other matter, that claim could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

Further, a cybersecurity attack, data breach or privacy violation that leads to disclosure or modification of, or prevents access to, patient information, including personally identifiable information or protected health information, could harm our reputation, compel us to comply with federal and/or state breach notification laws and foreign law equivalents, subject us to mandatory corrective action, require us to verify the correctness of database contents and otherwise subject us to liability under laws and regulations that protect personal data, resulting in increased costs or loss of revenue. Our ability to effectively manage and maintain our internal business information, and to ship products to customers and invoice them on a timely basis, depends significantly on our enterprise resource planning system and other information systems. Portions of our information technology systems may experience interruptions, delays or cessations of service or produce errors in connection with ongoing systems implementation work. Cybersecurity attacks in particular are evolving and include, but are not limited to, threats, malicious software, ransom ware, attempts to gain unauthorized access to data and other electronic security breaches that could lead to disruptions in systems, misappropriation of confidential or otherwise protected information and corruption of data. If we are unable to prevent such cybersecurity attacks, data security breaches or privacy violations or implement satisfactory remedial measures, our operations could be disrupted, and we may suffer loss of reputation, financial loss and other regulatory penalties because of lost or misappropriated information, including sensitive patient data. In addition, these breaches and other inappropriate access can be difficult to detect, and any delay in identifying them may lead to increased harm of the type described above.

The terms of our outstanding debt place restrictions on our operating and financial flexibility. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, the terms of any new debt could further restrict our ability to operate our business.

On September 7, 2018, Scilex Pharma issued and sold senior secured notes due 2026 in an aggregate principal amount of $224,000,000 (the “Scilex Notes”) for an aggregate purchase price of $140,000,000 (the “Scilex Offering”). In connection with the Scilex Offering, we also entered into an indenture, as amended (the “Scilex Indenture”), governing the Scilex Notes with U.S. Bank National Association, a national banking association, as trustee (the “Trustee”) and collateral agent, and Scilex Pharma. Pursuant to the Scilex Indenture, we agreed to irrevocably and unconditionally guarantee, on a senior unsecured basis, the punctual performance and payment when due of all obligations of Scilex Pharma under the Scilex Indenture.

The Scilex Indenture governing the Scilex Notes contains customary events of default with respect to the Scilex Notes (including a failure to make any payment of principal on the Scilex Notes when due and payable), and, upon certain events of default occurring and continuing, the Trustee by notice to Scilex Pharma, or the holders of at least 25% in principal amount of the outstanding Scilex Notes by notice to Scilex Pharma and the Trustee, may (subject to the provisions of the Scilex Indenture) declare 100% of the then-outstanding principal amount of the Scilex Notes to be due and payable. Upon such a declaration of acceleration, such principal will be due and payable immediately. In the case of certain events, including bankruptcy, insolvency or reorganization involving us or Scilex Pharma, the Scilex Notes will automatically become due and payable.

Pursuant to the Scilex Indenture, we and Scilex Pharma must also comply with certain covenants with respect to the commercialization of ZTlido, as well as customary additional affirmative covenants, such as furnishing financial statements to the holders of the Scilex Notes, minimum cash requirements and net sales reports, and negative covenants, including limitations on the following: the incurrence of debt, the payment of dividends by Scilex Pharma, the repurchase of shares and, under certain conditions, making certain other restricted payments, the prepayment, redemption or repurchase of subordinated debt, a merger, amalgamation or consolidation involving Scilex Pharma, engaging in certain transactions with affiliates; and the making of investments other than those permitted by the Scilex Indenture.

For purposes of the Scilex Indenture, an event of default includes, among other things, (i) a failure to pay any amounts when due under the Scilex Indenture, (ii) a breach or other failure to comply with the covenants (including financial, notice and reporting covenants) under the Scilex Indenture, (iii) a failure to make any payment on, or other event triggering an acceleration under, other material indebtedness of us, and (iv) the occurrence of certain insolvency or bankruptcy events (both voluntary and involuntary) involving us or certain of our subsidiaries.

If we raise any additional debt financing, the terms of such additional debt could further restrict our operating and financial flexibility.

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Our ability to utilize our net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards may be limited.

Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and the rules and regulations thereunder (“Section 382”) limit a corporation’s ability to utilize existing net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards once the corporation experiences an ownership change as defined in Section 382. Under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “TCJA”), as modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), U.S. federal net operating losses incurred in 2018 and in future years may be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of such U.S. federal net operating losses is limited to 80 percent of taxable income beginning in 2021. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the federal Tax Act or the CARES Act. The CARES Act also reinstated the net operating loss carryback provisions whereby net operating losses incurred in calendar tax years 2018, 2019 and 2020 may be carried back to offset taxable income of the five tax years preceding the year of the loss. We have undergone an ownership change for purposes of Section 382 in a prior year. For the year ended December 31, 2020, there was no impact of such limitations on our income tax provision. Since our last ownership change we have had equity offerings or acquisitions that have equity as a component of the purchase price, which increases our likelihood of experiencing a future ownership change under Section 382. Future equity offerings or acquisitions that have equity as a component of the purchase price could constitute an ownership change under Section 382. If and when any other ownership change occurs, utilization of our net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards may be limited by Section 382, which could potentially result in increased future tax liability to us.

Comprehensive tax reform legislation could adversely affect our business and financial condition.

Our effective income tax rate in the future could be adversely affected by a number of factors, including: changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, changes in tax laws, and the outcome of income tax audits in various jurisdictions. We regularly assess all of these matters to determine the adequacy of its tax provision, which is subject to significant discretion.

Our operations in China subject us to risks and uncertainties relating to the laws and regulations of China.

Certain of our operations are currently based in China. Under its current leadership, the government of China has been pursuing economic reform policies, including by encouraging foreign trade and investment.  However, there is no assurance that the Chinese government will continue to pursue such policies, that such policies will be successfully implemented, that such policies will not be significantly altered, or that such policies will be beneficial to our operations in China.  China’s system of laws can be unpredictable, especially with respect to foreign investment and foreign trade. The promulgation of new laws and regulations and changes to existing laws and regulations may adversely affect foreign investors and foreign entities with operations in China. For example, the U.S. government has called for substantial changes to foreign trade policy with China and has recently raised, and has proposed to further raise in the future, tariffs on several Chinese goods. China has retaliated with increased tariffs on U.S. goods, which we anticipate will increase our cost of doing business in China. Any further changes in U.S. trade policy could trigger retaliatory actions by affected countries, including China, resulting in trade wars and in increased costs for goods imported into the United States and our ability to sell goods and services in the affected countries. Such an outcome may reduce customer demand for our products and services, especially if parties required to pay those tariffs increase their prices, or if trading partners limit their trade with the United States. If these consequences are realized, this may materially and adversely affect our sales and our business.

Additionally, the biopharmaceutical industry in China is strictly regulated by the Chinese government.  Changes to Chinese regulations affecting biopharmaceutical companies are unpredictable and may have a material adverse effect on our Chinese operations and on our business and financial condition.

Our global operations are exposed to political and economic risks, commercial volatility and events beyond our control in the countries in which we operate.

In addition to challenges specific to the United States, our operations, including but not limited to our operations outside of the United States, are subject to a variety of political and economic risks, including risks arising from:

 

unexpected changes in international or domestic legal, regulatory or governmental requirements or regulations, including related to intellectual property or the biopharmaceutical industry;

 

unexpected increases in taxes or tariffs;

 

trade protection measures or import or export licensing requirements;

 

the inability to obtain necessary foreign regulatory or pricing approvals of products in a timely manner;

 

fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates;

 

difficulties in staffing and managing international operations;

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less favorable intellectual property or other applicable laws;

 

the effects of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union;

 

currency controls that restrict or prohibit the payment of funds or the repatriation of earnings to the United States;

 

increased costs of compliance with general business and tax regulations in these countries or regions;

 

divergent legal systems and regulatory frameworks; and

 

political and economic instability or corruption.

These risks and others may have a material adverse effect on our global operations and on our business and financial condition.

Uncertainty relating to the determination of LIBOR and the potential phasing out of LIBOR after 2021 may adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition, liquidity and net worth.

We routinely engage in transactions involving financial instruments, such as the purchase of loans, securities or derivatives indexed to the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and the sale of LIBOR-indexed securities. In July 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced its intention to stop persuading or compelling the group of major banks that sustain LIBOR to submit rate quotations after 2021. As a result, it is uncertain whether LIBOR will continue to be quoted after 2021.

Efforts are underway to identify and transition to a set of alternative reference rates. The transition may lead to disruption, including yield volatility on LIBOR-based securities. In addition, our use of an alternative reference rate may be subject to judicial challenges. If LIBOR ceases or changes in a manner that causes regulators or market participants to question its viability, financial instruments indexed to LIBOR could experience disparate outcomes based on their contractual terms, ability to amend those terms, market or product type, legal or regulatory jurisdiction, and a host of other factors. There can be no assurance that legislative or regulatory actions will dictate what happens if LIBOR ceases or is no longer viable. In addition, while the Alternative Reference Rates Committee was created to identify best practices for market participants regarding alternative interest rates, there can be no assurance that broadly adopted industry practices will develop. Divergent industry or market participant actions could result after LIBOR is no longer available or viable. It is uncertain what effect any divergent industry practices will have on the performance of financial instruments, including ones that we own or have issued. Additionally, if an alternative method or index to LIBOR is selected, there can be no assurance that the alternative method or index will yield the same or similar economic results over the lives of the financial instruments. These developments could have a material impact on our debt securities, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, net worth or results of operations.

We have significantly restructured our business and currently have a two segment reporting structure. Our two industry segments, designated as Sorrento Therapeutics and Scilex Pharma, have been in effect for a limited period of time and there are no assurances that we will be able to successfully operate as a restructured business.

We have traditionally focused on the discovery and development of innovative therapies focused on oncology and the treatment of chronic cancer pain as well as immunology and infectious diseases based on our platform technologies.

With our previous acquisition of a majority stake in Scilex Pharma, a developer of specialty pharmaceutical products for the treatment of chronic pain, and the subsequent contribution of such stake to our majority-owned subsidiary, Scilex Holding, in connection with Scilex Holding’s acquisition of Semnur Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Semnur”), a pharmaceutical company developing an injectable product for the treatment of lower back pain, Scilex Holding will focus on non-opioid pain management.

Our strategy is based on a number of factors and assumptions, some of which are not within our control, such as the actions of third parties. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully execute all or any elements of our strategy, or that our ability to successfully execute our strategy will be unaffected by external factors. If we are unsuccessful in growing our business as planned, our financial performance could be adversely affected.

We are involved, and may become involved in the future, in disputes and other legal or regulatory proceedings that, if adversely decided or settled, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are, and may in the future become, party to litigation, regulatory proceedings or other disputes. For example, on April 3, 2019, we filed two legal actions against, among others, Patrick Soon-Shiong and entities controlled by him, asserting claims for, among other things, fraud and breach of contract, arising out of Dr. Soon-Shiong’s purchase of the drug Cynviloq™ from our

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company in May 2015. The actions allege that Dr. Soon-Shiong and the other defendants, among other things, acquired the drug Cynviloq™ for the purpose of halting its progression to the market. As an additional example, on May 26, 2020, Wasa Medical Holdings filed a putative federal securities class action against us, our President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Henry Ji, Ph.D., and our SVP of Regulatory Affairs, Mark R. Brunswick, Ph.D., alleging that we, Dr. Ji and Dr. Brunswick made materially false and/or misleading statements to the investing public regarding STI-1499 and its ability to inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. A second putative federal securities class action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against the same defendants alleging the same claims and seeking the same relief. In general, claims made by or against us in disputes and other legal or regulatory proceedings can be expensive and time consuming to bring or defend against, requiring us to expend significant resources and divert the efforts and attention of our management and other personnel from our business operations. While we intend to pursue any claims made by us, or defend against any claims brought against us, vigorously, we cannot predict the outcomes of such claims. Any failure to prevail in any claims made by us or any adverse determination against us in these proceedings, or even the allegations contained in the claims, regardless of whether they are ultimately found to be without merit, may also result in settlements, injunctions or damages that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Acquisitions

We have acquired, and plan to continue to acquire, assets, businesses and technologies and may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of the acquisitions, and acquisitions can be costly and dilutive.

We have and plan to continue to expand our assets, business and intellectual property portfolio through the acquisition of new assets, businesses and technologies. 

For example, in November 2016, we acquired a majority of the outstanding capital stock of Scilex Pharma, which was contributed to our majority-owned subsidiary Scilex Holding in connection with the corporate reorganization of Scilex Holding and acquisition of Semnur by Scilex Holding in March 2019. These assets, together, constitute our Scilex segment. We also acquired Virttu Biologics Limited in 2017 and Sofusa® assets, a revolutionary drug delivery technology, in July 2018. We also acquired SmartPharm Therapeutics, Inc. in September 2020, and are in the process of integrating this company and its technology with ours. In addition, in October 2020, we announced our potential acquisition of ACEA Therapeutics, Inc.

The success of any acquisition depends on, among other things, our ability to combine our business with the acquired business in a manner that does not materially disrupt existing relationships and that allows us to achieve development and operational synergies. If we are unable to achieve these objectives, the anticipated benefits of the acquisition may not be realized fully or at all or may take longer to realize than expected. In particular, the acquisition may not be accretive to our stock value or development pipeline in the near or long term.

It is possible that the integration process could result in the loss of key employees; the disruption of our ongoing business or the ongoing business of the acquired companies; or inconsistencies in standards, controls, procedures or policies that could adversely affect our ability to maintain relationships with third parties and employees or to achieve the anticipated benefits of the acquisition. Integration efforts between us and the acquired company will also divert management’s attention from our core business and other opportunities that could have been beneficial to our stockholders. An inability to realize the full extent of, or any of, the anticipated benefits of the acquisition, as well as any delays encountered in the integration process, could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations, which may affect the value of the shares of our common stock after the completion of the acquisition. If we are unable to achieve these objectives, the anticipated benefits of the acquisition may not be realized fully or at all or may take longer to realize than expected. In particular, the acquisition may not be accretive to our stock value or development pipeline in the near or long term.

We expect to incur additional costs integrating the operations of any companies we acquire, higher development and regulatory costs, and personnel, which cannot be estimated accurately at this time. If the total costs of the integration of our companies and advancement of acquired product candidates and technologies exceed the anticipated benefits of the acquisition, our financial results could be adversely affected.

In addition, we may issue shares of our common stock or other equity-linked securities in connection with future acquisitions of businesses and technologies. Any such issuances of shares of our common stock could result in material dilution to our existing stockholders.

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We may be required to make milestone payments to the former stockholders of Semnur in connection with our development and commercialization of SEMDEXATM, which could adversely affect the overall profitability of SEMDEXATM, if approved.

Under the terms of the Agreement and Plan of Merger Scilex Holding entered into with Semnur, Sigma Merger Sub, Inc., the prior wholly-owned subsidiary of Scilex Holding, Fortis Advisors LLC, solely as representative of the holders of Semnur equity (the “Semnur Equityholders”), and us, for limited purposes, Scilex Holding is obligated to pay the Semnur Equityholders up to an aggregate of $280.0 million in contingent cash consideration based on the achievement of certain milestones. A $40.0 million payment will be due upon obtaining the first approval of an NDA by the FDA of any Semnur product, which includes SEMDEXATM. Additional payments of up to $240 million will be due upon the achievement of certain cumulative net sales of Semnur products

These milestone obligations could impose substantial additional costs on our Scilex operating segment, divert resources from other aspects of its business, and adversely affect the overall profitability of SEMDEXATM, if approved. We may need to obtain additional financing to satisfy these milestone payments, and cannot be sure that any additional funding, if needed, will be available on terms favorable to us, or at all.

If we acquire companies or technologies in the future, they could prove difficult to integrate, disrupt our business, dilute stockholder value, and adversely affect our operating results and the value of our common stock.

As part of our business strategy, we may continue to acquire, enter into joint ventures with, or make investments in complementary or synergistic companies, services, and technologies in the future. Acquisitions and investments involve numerous risks, including:

 

difficulties in identifying and acquiring products, technologies, proprietary rights or businesses that will help our business;

 

difficulties in integrating operations, technologies, services, and personnel;

 

diversion of financial and managerial resources from existing operations;

 

the risk of entering new development activities and markets in which we have little to no experience;

 

risks related to the assumption of known and unknown liabilities; and

 

risks related to our ability to raise sufficient capital to fund additional operating activities.

As a result, if we fail to properly evaluate acquisitions or investments, we may not achieve the anticipated benefits of any such acquisitions, we may incur costs in excess of what we anticipate, and management resources and attention may be diverted from other necessary or valuable activities.

Any acquisitions we make could disrupt our business and seriously harm our financial condition.

We have in the past made (and may, from time to time, consider) acquisitions of complementary companies, products or technologies. Acquisitions involve numerous risks, including difficulties in the assimilation of the acquired businesses, the diversion of our management’s attention from other business concerns and potential adverse effects on existing business relationships. In addition, any acquisitions could involve the incurrence of substantial additional indebtedness. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully integrate any acquisitions that we pursue or that such acquisitions will perform as planned or prove to be beneficial to our operations and cash flow. Any such failure could seriously harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

Our ability to protect our intellectual property rights will be critically important to the success of our business, and we may not be able to protect these rights in the U.S. or abroad.

Our success, competitive position and future revenues will depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection for our product candidates, methods, processes and other technologies, to prevent third parties from infringing on our proprietary rights, exclude others from using our technology and to operate without infringing upon the proprietary rights of third parties. We will be able to protect our proprietary rights from unauthorized use by third parties only to the extent that our proprietary rights are covered by valid and enforceable patents or are effectively maintained as trade secrets. We attempt to protect our proprietary position by maintaining trade secrets and by filing U.S. and foreign patent applications related to our proprietary technology, inventions and improvements that are important to the development of our business. The first of the antibody family patent applications was issued in 2014, and we continue to file additional patent applications for our product candidates and technology.

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We have commenced generating a patent portfolio to protect each product candidate in our pipeline. However, the patent position of biopharmaceutical companies involves complex legal and factual questions, and therefore we cannot predict with certainty whether any patent applications that we have filed or that we may file in the future will be approved, will cover our products or product candidates or that any resulting patents will be enforced. In addition, third parties may challenge, seek to invalidate, limit the scope of or circumvent any of our patents, once they are issued. Thus, any patents that we own or license from third parties or joint venture or development partners may not provide any protection against competitors. Any patent applications that we have filed or that we may file in the future, or those we may license from third parties or joint venture or development partners, may not result in patents being issued. Moreover, disputes between our licensing or joint development partners and us may arise over license scope, or ownership, assignment, inventorship and/or rights to use or commercialize patent or other proprietary rights, which may adversely impact our ability to obtain and protect our proprietary technology and products. Also, patent rights may not provide us with adequate proprietary protection or competitive advantages against competitors with similar technologies or products.

In addition, the laws of certain foreign countries do not protect our intellectual property rights to the same extent as do the laws of the U.S. If we fail to apply for intellectual property protection or if we cannot adequately protect our intellectual property rights in these foreign countries, our competitors may be able to compete more effectively against us, which could adversely affect our competitive position, as well as our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents and/or applications will be due to the PTO and various foreign patent offices at various points over the lifetime of our patents and/or applications. We have systems in place to remind us to pay these fees, and we rely on our outside counsel or service providers to pay these fees when due. Additionally, the PTO and various foreign patent offices require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us comply, and in many cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with rules applicable to the particular jurisdiction. However, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. If such an event were to occur, it could have a material adverse effect on our business. In addition, we are responsible for the payment of patent fees for patent rights that we have licensed from other parties. If any licensor of these patents does not itself elect to make these payments, and we fail to do so, we may be liable to the licensor for any costs and consequences of any resulting loss of patent rights.

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 patents, trademarks, copyrights 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 and divert the time and attention of our management and scientific personnel. Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe their patents, in addition to counterclaims asserting that our patents are invalid or unenforceable, or both. In any patent infringement proceeding, there is a risk that a court will decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, and that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue. There is also a risk that, even if the validity of such patents is upheld, the court will construe the patent’s claims narrowly or decide that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue on the grounds that our patent claims do not cover the invention. An adverse outcome in a litigation or proceeding involving our patents could limit our ability to assert our patents against those parties or other competitors, and may curtail or preclude our ability to exclude third parties from making and selling similar or competitive products. Any of these occurrences could adversely affect our competitive business position, business prospects and financial condition. Similarly, if we assert trademark infringement claims, a court may determine that the marks we have asserted are invalid or unenforceable, or that the party against whom we have asserted trademark infringement has superior rights to the marks in question. In this case, we could ultimately be forced to cease use of such trademarks.

Even if we establish infringement, the court may decide not to grant an injunction against further infringing activity and instead award only monetary damages, which may or may not be an adequate remedy. 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 litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of shares of our common stock. Moreover, there can be no assurance that we will have sufficient financial or other resources to file and pursue such infringement claims, which typically last for years before they are concluded. Even if we ultimately prevail in such claims, the monetary cost of such litigation and the diversion of the attention of our management and scientific personnel could outweigh any benefit we receive as a result of the proceedings.

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Our long-term success depends on intellectual property protection; if our intellectual property rights are invalidated or circumvented, our business will be adversely affected.

Our long-term success depends on our ability to continually discover, develop and commercialize innovative new pharmaceutical products. Without strong intellectual property protection, we would be unable to generate the returns necessary to support the enormous investments in research and development and capital as well as other expenditures required to bring new drugs to the market and for commercialization.

Intellectual property protection varies throughout the world and is subject to change over time. In the U.S., for small molecule drug products, such as ZTlido (which is held by our subsidiary, Scilex Holding), the Hatch-Waxman Act provides generic companies powerful incentives to seek to invalidate our pharmaceutical patents. As a result, we expect that our U.S. patents on major pharmaceutical products will be routinely challenged, and there can be no assurance that our patents will be upheld. We face generic manufacturer challenges to our patents outside the U.S. as well. In addition, competitors or other third parties may claim that our activities infringe patents or other intellectual property rights held by them. If successful, such claims could result in our being unable to market a product in a particular territory or being required to pay damages for past infringement or royalties on future sales.

If any of our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information is disclosed, the value of our trade secrets, know-how and other proprietary rights would be significantly impaired and our business and competitive position would suffer.

Our success also depends upon the skills, knowledge and experience of our scientific and technical personnel and our consultants and advisors, as well as our licensors. To help protect our proprietary know-how and our inventions for which patents may be unobtainable or difficult to obtain, or prior to seeking patent protection, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements. Unlike some of our competitors, in addition to certain manufacturing processes, we maintain our proprietary libraries for ourselves as trade secrets. To this end, we require all our employees, consultants, advisors and contractors to enter into agreements which prohibit the disclosure of confidential information and, where applicable, require disclosure and assignment to us of the ideas, developments, discoveries and inventions important to our business. These agreements may not provide adequate protection for our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information in the event of any unauthorized use or disclosure or the lawful development by others of such information. If any of our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information is disclosed, the value of our trade secrets, know-how and other proprietary rights would be significantly impaired and our business and competitive position would suffer. Moreover, our third-party licensing partners may retain rights in some of our proprietary or joint trade secrets, know-how, patented inventions or other proprietary information, including rights to sublicense and rights of publication, which may adversely impact our ability to obtain patents and protect trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information. In addition, the U.S. government may retain rights in some of our patents or other proprietary information.

Third party competitors may seek to challenge the validity of our patents, thereby rendering them unenforceable or we may seek to challenge third party competitor patents if such third parties seek to interpret or enforce a claim scope going well beyond the actual enabled invention.

In addition, many of the formulations used and processes developed by us in manufacturing any of our collaborators’ products are subject to trade secret protection, patents or other intellectual property protections owned or licensed by such collaborator. While we make significant efforts to protect our collaborators’ proprietary and confidential information, including requiring our employees to enter into agreements protecting such information, if any of our employees breaches the non-disclosure provisions in such agreements, or if our collaborators make claims that their proprietary information has been disclosed, our reputation may suffer damage and we may become subject to legal proceedings that could require us to incur significant expenses and divert our management’s time, attention and resources.

Claims that we infringe upon the rights of third parties may give rise to costly and lengthy litigation, and we could be prevented from selling products, forced to pay damages, and defend against litigation.

Third parties may assert patent or other intellectual property infringement claims against us or our strategic partners or licensees with respect to our technologies and product candidates or potential product candidates. If our products, methods, processes and other technologies infringe upon the proprietary rights of other parties, we could incur substantial costs and we may have to:

 

obtain licenses, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all, and may be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same intellectual property licensed to us;

 

redesign our products or processes to avoid infringement;

 

stop using the subject matter validly claimed in the patents held by others;

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pay damages; and

 

defend litigation or administrative proceedings which may be costly whether we win or lose, and which could result in a substantial diversion of our valuable management resources.

Even if we were to prevail, any litigation could be costly and time-consuming and would divert the attention of our management and key personnel from our business operations. Furthermore, as a result of a patent infringement suit brought against us or our strategic partners or licensees, we or our strategic partners or licensees may be forced to stop or delay developing, manufacturing or selling technologies, product candidates or potential products that are claimed to infringe a third party’s intellectual property unless that party grants us or our strategic partners’ or licensees’ rights to use its intellectual property. Ultimately, we may be unable to develop some of our technologies or potential products or may have to discontinue development of a product candidate or cease some of our business operations as a result of patent infringement claims, which could severely harm our business.

In addition, our collaborators’ products may be subject to claims of intellectual property infringement and such claims could materially affect our CMO business if their products cease to be manufactured and they have to discontinue the use of the infringing technology which we may provide. Any of the foregoing could affect our ability to compete or could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our position as a relatively small company may cause us to be at a significant disadvantage in defending our intellectual property rights and in defending against infringement claims by third parties.

Litigation relating to the ownership and use of intellectual property is expensive, and our position as a relatively small company in an industry dominated by very large companies may cause us to be at a significant disadvantage in defending our intellectual property rights and in defending against claims that our technology infringes or misappropriates third party intellectual property rights. However, we may seek to use various post-grant administrative proceedings, including new procedures created under the America Invents Act, to invalidate potentially overly-broad third party rights. Even if we can defend our position, the cost of doing so may adversely affect our ability to grow, generate revenue or become profitable. In the course of the ongoing litigation or any future additional litigation to which we may be subject, we may not be able to protect our intellectual property at a reasonable cost, or at all. The outcome of litigation is always uncertain, and in some cases could include judgments against us that require us to pay damages, enjoin us from certain activities or otherwise affect our legal, contractual or intellectual property rights, which could have a significant adverse effect on our business.

Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement may prevent or delay our drug discovery and development efforts.

Our commercial success depends in part on our avoiding infringement of the patents and proprietary rights of third parties.

There is a substantial amount of litigation involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including PTO administrative proceedings, such as inter partes reviews, and reexamination proceedings before the PTO or oppositions and revocations and other comparable proceedings in foreign jurisdictions. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are developing product candidates. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others.

Despite safe harbor provisions, third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. There may be third-party patents, of which we are currently unaware, with claims to materials, formulations, methods of doing research or library screening, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment related to the use or manufacture of our product candidates. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending patent published applications which may later result in issued patents that our product candidates may infringe. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents. If any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover the manufacturing process of any of our product candidates, any molecules formed during the manufacturing process or any final product itself, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize such product candidate unless we obtain a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire or they are finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. Similarly, if any third-party patent were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our formulations, processes for manufacture or methods of use, including combination therapy or patient selection methods, the holders of any such patent may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the applicable product candidate unless we obtain a license, limit our uses, or until such patent expires or is finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. In either case, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

Parties making claims against us may obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize one or more of our product candidates. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would

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involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, obtain one or more licenses from third parties, cease marketing our products or developing our product candidates, limit our uses, pay royalties or redesign our infringing product candidates, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. We cannot predict whether any such license would be available at all or whether it would be available on commercially reasonable terms. Furthermore, even in the absence of litigation, we may need to obtain licenses from third parties to advance our r