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Filed Pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4)
Registration No. 333-252166
PROSPECTUS
Dated February 4, 2021
9,935,896 American Depositary Shares
(Representing 9,935,896 Ordinary Shares)

Immunocore Holdings plc
(Incorporated in England and Wales)
We are offering 9,935,896 American Depositary Shares, or ADSs, in the United States, referred to herein as the U.S. offering. Each ADS represents the right to receive one ordinary share and may be evidenced by American Depositary Receipts, or ADRs.
This is our initial public offering and no public market currently exists for our ADSs or ordinary shares. The initial public offering price per ADS is $26.00. Our ADSs have been approved for listing on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “IMCR.”
We will have two classes of ordinary shares: the voting ordinary shares and the non-voting ordinary shares. For a description of the rights of the voting ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares, please see “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association” beginning on page 214 of this prospectus. Unless otherwise noted, all references in this prospectus to our “ordinary shares” refer to our voting ordinary shares. Neither our voting ordinary shares nor our non-voting ordinary shares are listed for trading on any securities exchange.
We are an “emerging growth company” as that term is used in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 and, as such, have elected to comply with certain reduced public company reporting requirements for this prospectus and future filings. See “Prospectus summary—Implications of being an emerging growth company” and “—Implications of being a foreign private issuer” for additional information.
Investing in our ADSs involves a high degree of risk. Before buying any ADSs, you should carefully read the discussion of material risks of investing in our ordinary shares or ADSs in “Risk Factors” beginning on page 12 of this prospectus.
 
PER ADS
TOTAL
Initial public offering price
$26.00
$258,333,296
Underwriting discounts and commissions(1)
(1.82)
(18,083,331)
Proceeds, before expenses, to us
24.18
240,249,965
(1)
See “Underwriting” for additional information regarding total underwriter compensation.
The underwriters may also exercise their option to purchase up to an additional 1,490,384 ADSs from us at the initial public offering price, less the underwriting commissions and commissions, for 30 days after the date of the final prospectus.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to purchase from us, concurrently with this offering in a private placement, $15.0 million of our ADSs, or 576,923 ADSs, at the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS. Each ADS represents one of our ordinary shares. The sale of ADSs in the concurrent private placement will not be registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and these ADSs will be subject to a 180-day lock-up agreement with the underwriters for this offering. The closing of this offering is not conditioned upon the closing of the concurrent private placement. The ADSs purchased in the concurrent private placement will not be subject to any underwriting discounts or commissions. See “Concurrent Private Placement.”
The underwriters expect to deliver the ADSs to purchasers on or about February 9, 2021.
Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any other regulatory body has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
Joint Book-Running Managers
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC
J.P. Morgan
Jefferies
The date of this prospectus is February 4, 2021.


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Neither we nor the underwriters have authorized anyone to provide you with information that is different from that contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectus we may authorize to be delivered or made available to you. Neither we nor the underwriters take any responsibility for, or provide any assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may give you. We and the underwriters are offering to sell ADSs and seeking offers to purchase ADSs only in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted. The information contained in this prospectus is accurate only as of the date on the front of this prospectus, regardless of the time of delivery of this prospectus or any sale of ADSs.
For investors outside the United States: Neither we nor any of the underwriters have taken any action to permit this offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. You are required to inform yourselves about and to observe any restrictions relating to this offering and the distribution of this prospectus.
We are incorporated under the laws of England and Wales and a majority of our outstanding securities are owned by non-U.S. residents. Under the rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, we are currently eligible for treatment as a “foreign private issuer.” As a foreign private issuer, we will not be required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as domestic registrants whose securities are registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act.
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ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS
Prior to the completion of this offering, we are undertaking a corporate reorganization, as described in the section titled “Corporate Reorganization,” pursuant to which Immunocore Holdings plc (then Immunocore Holdings Limited) has acquired all of the issued shares of Immunocore Limited in a share for share exchange, or the Share Exchange. On February 1, 2021, Immunocore Holdings Limited was re-registered as a public limited company with the name Immunocore Holdings plc.
Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, all references in this prospectus to the terms “Immunocore,” “the Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to (1) prior to the Share Exchange, Immunocore Limited and its subsidiaries, (2) after the Share Exchange and prior to the re-registration and change of name described above, Immunocore Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries and (3) after the Share Exchange, re-registration and change of name, Immunocore Holdings plc and its subsidiaries. See the section titled “Corporate Reorganization” for additional information.
This prospectus includes trademarks, tradenames and service marks, certain of which belong to us and others that are the property of other organizations. Solely for convenience, trademarks, tradenames and service marks referred to in this prospectus appear without the ®, ™ and SM symbols, but the absence of those symbols is not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert our rights or that the applicable owner will not assert its rights to these trademarks, tradenames and service marks to the fullest extent under applicable law. We do not intend our use or display of other parties’ trademarks, trade names or service marks to imply, and such use or display should not be construed to imply, a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, these other parties.
PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Our financial statements in this prospectus were prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB. None of our financial statements were prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
Our financial information is presented in pounds sterling. For the convenience of the reader, in this prospectus, unless otherwise indicated, translations from pounds sterling into U.S. dollars were made at the rate of £1.00 to $1.2921, which was the noon buying rate of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on September 30, 2020. Such U.S. dollar amounts are not necessarily indicative of the amounts of U.S. dollars that could actually have been purchased upon exchange of pounds sterling at the dates indicated or any other date.
All references in this prospectus to “$” mean U.S. dollars and all references to “£” and “GBP” mean pounds sterling.
We have made rounding adjustments to some of the figures included in this prospectus. Accordingly, numerical figures shown as totals in some tables may not be an arithmetic aggregation of the figures that preceded them.
We have historically conducted our business through Immunocore Limited, and therefore, our historical consolidated statements present the consolidated results of operations of Immunocore Limited. Following the completion of the transactions described in the section titled “Corporate Reorganization,” our consolidated financial statements will present the consolidated financial results of operations of Immunocore Holdings plc.
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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY
This summary highlights, and is qualified in its entirety by, the more detailed information contained elsewhere in this prospectus. This summary is not complete and does not contain all of the information you should consider in making your investment decision. Before investing in our ADSs, you should carefully read this entire prospectus, especially the sections titled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus. .
Overview
We are a late-stage biotechnology company pioneering the development of a novel class of TCR bispecific immunotherapies called ImmTAX – Immune mobilizing monoclonal TCRs Against X disease – designed to treat a broad range of diseases, including cancer, infectious and autoimmune. Leveraging our proprietary, flexible, off-the-shelf ImmTAX platform, we are developing a deep pipeline in multiple therapeutic areas, including five clinical stage programs in oncology and infectious disease, advanced pre-clinical programs in autoimmune disease and multiple earlier pre-clinical programs. To date, we have dosed over 600 cancer patients with our ImmTAX product candidates, which we believe is the largest clinical data set of any bispecific in a solid tumor and any TCR therapeutic. Our clinical programs are being conducted with patients with a broad range of cancers including lung, bladder, gastric, head and neck and ovarian, among others. Our most advanced oncology therapeutic candidate, tebentafusp, has demonstrated superior overall survival benefit as a monotherapy in a randomized Phase 3 clinical trial in previously untreated metastatic uveal melanoma, a cancer that has historically proven to be insensitive to other immunotherapies. This primary endpoint was achieved with a hazard ratio of 0.51 (95% CI: 0.36, 0.71; p< 0.0001) at the first pre-planned interim analysis. Based on these results, we are preparing to submit a Biologics License Application, or BLA, to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, for tebentafusp for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma in the third quarter of 2021.
Unlike antibody targeted immunotherapies that have a relatively small target pool, our approach relies on the power of T cell receptors, or TCRs, which are naturally occurring receptors found on the surface of T cells that have the ability to target nearly all of the human proteome. Natural TCRs give T cells the ability to scan for abnormalities in nearly any cell in the body that are presented as protein fragments, or antigens, by human leukocyte antigen, or HLA, on the cell surface. Our ImmTAX platform builds upon these natural TCRs to engineer soluble targeted and high-affinity TCRs. By engineering these TCRs, using our ImmTAX platform, we are developing off-the-shelf, bispecific therapeutics, which are able to precisely target a wide range of proteins uniquely expressed by unhealthy and abnormal cells that cannot be targeted by current antibody-based immunotherapies.
Our ImmTAX bispecific therapeutics couple the targeting power of these engineered TCRs on one end with the other end displaying pre-optimized effector functions, which have the ability to drive a desired immune response at the site of the disease. This combination is designed to provide us with significant flexibility as we are able to engineer and tailor our ImmTAX therapeutics to target proteins that are specific to the disease we are trying to treat and then modulate the corresponding immune response by either boosting or inhibiting the immune system.
From our strong foundation and expertise in TCR targeting development, we continue to push boundaries to improve the product candidates we can generate from our ImmTAX platform. Our mission is to pursue the development of innovative product candidates designed to benefit the greatest number of patients. For example, we recently developed a universally applicable HLA-E platform for universal patient access, which we have validated in pre-clinical proof-of-concept studies. Using this platform, we believe we may be able to develop product candidates which will allow all patients globally to benefit from a single therapeutic per target rather than requiring several classical HLA programs with their associated development costs. While still early in our development, we believe this advancement to our platform has the potential to further revolutionize the future of TCR-based therapies by expanding the therapeutic reach of our ImmTAX platform.
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Our Pipeline
We are currently leveraging our ImmTAX platform within three therapeutic areas: oncology, infectious disease and autoimmune disease. We have named each of these platforms according to their therapeutic area to distinguish the type of target recognized by the TCR targeting system and the selected effector function. We have five clinical stage assets, including one pivotal stage program, as well as numerous pre-clinical programs. While our most advanced clinical programs are focused on developing treatments for oncology, we believe our ImmTAX platform is versatile, and will also allow us to develop therapeutics with significant advantages in the treatment of infectious and autoimmune diseases. Our current pipeline is represented in the diagram below.

Our ImmTAC Platform (Oncology)
Within our ImmTAC (Immune mobilizing monoclonal TCRs Against Cancer) platform, we have four clinical stage programs and an additional five pre-clinical programs, focusing on the treatment of solid tumors with high unmet medical needs. Our ImmTAC product candidates are bispecific, soluble TCR molecules featuring an antigen-specific targeting module based on our high-affinity, highly specific TCR system and our proprietary cluster of differentiation 3, or CD3, effector module for T cell recruitment, engagement and activation.
Our ImmTAC programs include:
Tebentafusp, our ImmTAC molecule targeting an HLA-A*02:01 gp100 antigen, demonstrated monotherapy activity and recently achieved the primary endpoint of superior overall survival at the first pre-planned interim analysis of a randomized Phase 3 clinical trial in patients with previously untreated metastatic uveal melanoma. We anticipate submitting a BLA to the FDA in the third quarter of 2021 followed by a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, submission to the European Medicines Agency, or EMA.
IMC-C103C, our ImmTAC molecule targeting an HLA-A*02:01 MAGE-A4 antigen, is currently being evaluated in a first-in-human, Phase 1/2 dose escalation trial in patients with solid tumor cancers including non-small-cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, gastric, head and neck, ovarian and synovial sarcoma. We believe this trial will demonstrate clinical activity of IMC-C103C, and we anticipate reporting Phase 1 initial data from this trial in the second half of 2021. We are developing this program under a co-development collaboration with Genentech, Inc., or Genentech, under which we have an option to retain 50% of the economics.
IMC-F106C, our ImmTAC molecule targeting an optimal HLA-A*02:01 PRAME antigen identified with our MassSpec technology, is currently being evaluated in a first-in-human, Phase 1/2 dose escalation trial in patients with multiple solid tumor cancers including breast, endometrial, ovarian and small cell lung cancer, or SCLC. We believe this trial will demonstrate clinical activity of IMC-F106C, and we anticipate reporting Phase 1 initial data from this trial in mid-2022.
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GSK01, our ImmTAC molecule targeting an NY-ESO HLA-A*02:01 antigen, is currently being evaluated in the dose escalation phase of a Phase 1 clinical trial. When an optimal dosing regimen has been identified, a small expansion cohort of synovial sarcoma patients will be recruited to evaluate the clinical benefit of the therapeutic. This program is being developed under a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline Intellectual Property Development Ltd, or GSK, which has an option to acquire full commercialization and development rights to this product candidate at the end of the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial.
Our ImmTAV Platform (Infectious Diseases)
Using our ImmTAV (Immune mobilizing monoclonal TCRs Against Virus) platform, we have advanced our first program into the clinic, and we are working to advance a second program from pre-clinical into the clinic during the second half of 2021. Our ImmTAV product candidates are bispecific soluble TCR molecules featuring our ImmTAX TCR-based targeting system with high specificity for low-expression viral antigens, combined with the proprietary CD3 effector module for T cell engagement and activation that has been validated in our clinical oncology pipeline. We are seeking to develop therapeutics that can provide a functional cure to chronic viral disease and are focusing initially on hepatitis B virus, or HBV, and human immunosuppression virus, or HIV.
Our ImmTAV programs include:
IMC-I109V, our ImmTAV molecule targeting a conserved HBV envelope antigen, is our most advanced ImmTAV program and is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with chronic HBV who are non-cirrhotic, hepatitis B e-Antigen negative, and virally suppressed on chronic nucleot(s)ide analogue therapy. Our goal is to develop a functional cure for HBV and we anticipate commencing dosing in our Phase 1 single ascending dose, or SAD, trial in mid-2021. We are also developing a next-generation version of this molecule leveraging our research into universal HLA-E molecules which could benefit a much larger patient population as compared to classical-HLA antigens.
IMC-M113V, our ImmTAV molecule targeting an HIV gag antigen bispecific TCR molecule, is currently in pre-clinical development. Our HIV programs are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or the Gates Foundation, and we are required to make any successfully approved products available at reduced prices in certain developing countries. We retain full development and commercial right in non-developing countries.
Our ImmTAAI Platform (Autoimmune Diseases)
While our ImmTAC and ImmTAV platforms attempt to provide therapeutic benefit by driving an immune response against targeted cells, our ImmTAAI (Immune modulating monoclonal TCRs Against AutoImmune disease) platform leverages our ImmTAX platform to generate product candidates designed to provide precision targeted immunosuppression for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Our ImmTAAI product candidates are designed to target organs, tissues or immune cells and deliver an immune suppressive effector function. We have optimized two immune system modulating effector functions to provide local T cell inhibition, which we believe may limit any adverse effects originating from systemic immune suppression. We believe we can use our ImmTAAI platform to develop a portfolio of product candidates to treat autoimmune indications with a high unmet medical need, and provide significant benefit to patients.
Our Company History and Team
We were originally incorporated under the laws of England and Wales in December 2007 as a spin-out company of MediGene AG, with the goal of focusing on the development of soluble, off-the-shelf TCR bispecifics. Since then, we have made substantial progress in developing and expanding our novel platform technology into new therapeutic areas, advancing multiple programs into the clinic and dosing over 600 patients with our ImmTAX product candidates. Since our inception, we have raised an aggregate of $873.2 million (£675.8 million) through private placements of our ordinary and preferred shares, payments from our collaboration partners, and most recently, borrowings under our debt facility with Oxford Finance and the sale of our Series C preferred shares.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 291 employees, including 129 (44%) who hold a Ph.D. or M.D. degree. Of these employees, two-thirds of our team are primarily focused on research and development activities and
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possess broad and industry-leading expertise in immunology, TCR biology, protein engineering, bioinformatics and clinical development. We have assembled an experienced management team led by our Chief Executive Officer, Bahija Jallal, who previously served as president of MedImmune, LLC (now known as AstraZeneca plc); our Chief Financial Officer and Head of Strategy, Brian Di Donato, who started his career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and UBS Securities LLC before serving as chief financial officer of Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. where he oversaw its acquisition by Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and David Berman, our Head of Research and Development, who oversaw the clinical development of Yervoy, Empliciti and Imfinzi during his previous tenures at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and MedImmune/AstraZeneca, respectively.
Our Strategy
Our vision is to build a global immuno-therapy business with a portfolio of therapeutics that have the potential to beneficially impact the clinical outcomes of patients across a broad range of diseases, with a near-term focus on the treatment of cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. We are pioneering the field of TCR bispecifics by leveraging the power of TCRs to recognize nearly any cellular target with targeted precision and convert them into potent ImmTAX therapies that can either boost or inhibit the immune system to treat the targeted disease.
In order to execute our strategy, we are pursuing the following near-term goals:
Secure marketing approval for, and then commercialize, tebentafusp, our lead ImmTAC, for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma.
Advance our IMC-C103C program targeting MAGE-A4 for the treatment of solid tumors in collaboration with Genentech.
Advance our IMC-F106C program targeting PRAME for the treatment of solid tumors.
Advance our IMC-I109V program for the treatment of chronic HBV.
Continue to develop our novel universal ImmTAX platform to meaningfully broaden the eligible patient pool.
Continue to invest in our platform to discover and develop novel therapeutics.
Opportunistically pursue strategic partnerships to maximize the full potential of our pipeline and ImmTAX platform.
Risks Associated with Our Business
Our business is subject to a number of risks of which you should be aware before making an investment decision. You should carefully consider all of the information set forth in this prospectus and, in particular, should evaluate the specific factors set forth in the section titled “Risk Factors” before deciding whether to invest in our ADSs. Among these important risks are the following:
We have incurred significant losses in every year since our inception. We expect to continue to incur losses over the next several years and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
We will require substantial additional funding to achieve our business goals. If we are unable to obtain this funding when needed and on acceptable terms, we could be forced to delay, limit or terminate our product development efforts.
We are heavily dependent on the success of our ImmTAX platform to identify and develop product candidates. If we or our collaborators are unable to successfully develop and commercialize our platforms or experience significant delays in doing so, our business may be harmed.
We may be unable to successfully complete additional large-scale, pivotal clinical trials for any product candidates we develop after tebentafusp.
Our product candidates utilize a novel mechanism of action and involve novel targets which may result in greater research and development expenses, regulatory issues that could delay or prevent approval, or discovery of unknown or unanticipated adverse effects.
Clinical product development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome.
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The effects of health epidemics, including the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in regions where we, or the third parties on which we rely, have business operations could adversely impact our business, including our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, as well as the business or operations of our CROs or other third parties with whom we conduct business.
For a period of four weeks, our IMC-F106C program was put on partial clinical hold in 2020 by the FDA following the death of the second patient dosed in this trial, which was subsequently determined to be unrelated to study drug. The hold has since been lifted and the trial has been resumed.
We are subject to manufacturing risks that could substantially increase our costs and limit supply of our products.
We face substantial competition, which may result in others developing or commercializing drugs before or more successfully than us.
Our existing collaborations are important to our business, and future collaborations may also be important to us. If we are unable to maintain any of these collaborations, or if these collaborations are not successful, our business could be adversely affected.
If we are unable to adequately protect our proprietary technology or obtain, maintain, protect and enforce patent and other intellectual property protection for our technology and products or if the scope of the protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors and other third parties could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our technology and products may be impaired.
Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating their intellectual property or proprietary rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
The FDA regulatory pathways can be difficult to predict and whether, for example, further unanticipated clinical trials are required, will depend on the data obtained in our ongoing clinical trials.
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and experienced scientists and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
As a company based outside of the United States, we are subject to economic, political, regulatory and other risks associated with international operations.
We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting and may identify material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, which may impair our ability to produce timely and accurate financial statements or prevent fraud. If we are unable to establish and maintain effective internal controls, shareholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our ADSs.
Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company
As a company with less than $1.07 billion in revenue during our last fiscal year, we qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act. As an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of specified reduced reporting and other burdens that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies in the United States. These provisions include:
an exemption from compliance with any requirement that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board may adopt regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements;
reduced disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements;
an exemption from the non-binding advisory votes on executive compensation, including golden parachute arrangements; and
an exemption from the auditor attestation requirement in the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
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In addition, under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. As a result, we do not know if some investors will find our ADSs less attractive. The result may be a less active trading market for our ADSs, and the price of our ADSs may become more volatile. We may choose to take advantage of some or all these provisions for up to the last day of the fiscal year ending after the fifth anniversary of this offering or such earlier time that we are no longer an emerging growth company. We would cease to be an emerging growth company if we have more than $1.07 billion in total annual gross revenue, have more than $700 million in market value of our ADSs held by non-affiliates or issue more than $1.0 billion of non-convertible debt over a three-year period.
Implications of Being a Foreign Private Issuer
Our status as a foreign private issuer also exempts us from compliance with certain laws and regulations of the SEC and certain regulations of The Nasdaq Stock Market, or Nasdaq. Consequently, we are not subject to all of the disclosure requirements applicable to U.S. public companies. For example, we are exempt from certain rules under the Exchange Act, that regulate disclosure obligations and procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations applicable to a security registered under the Exchange Act. In addition, our executive officers and directors are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our securities. Moreover, we are not required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. public companies. Accordingly, there may be less publicly available information concerning us than there is for U.S. public companies.
In addition, foreign private issuers are not required to file their annual report on Form 20-F until 120 days after the end of each fiscal year, while U.S. domestic issuers that are accelerated filers are required to file their annual report on Form 10-K within 75 days after the end of each fiscal year. Foreign private issuers are also exempt from the Regulation Fair Disclosure, aimed at preventing issuers from making selective disclosures of material information.
We may take advantage of these exemptions until such time as we no longer qualify as a foreign private issuer. In order to maintain our current status as a foreign private issuer, either a majority of our outstanding voting securities must be directly or indirectly held of record by non-residents of the United States, or, if a majority of our outstanding voting securities are directly or indirectly held of record by residents of the United States, a majority of our executive officers or directors may not be United States citizens or residents, more than 50% of our assets cannot be located in the United States and our business must be administered principally outside the United States.
We have taken advantage of certain of these reduced reporting and other requirements in this prospectus. Accordingly, the information contained herein may be different from the information you receive from other public companies in which you hold equity securities.
Corporate Information
Immunocore Holdings Limited was incorporated as a private limited company under the laws of England and Wales on January 7, 2021 with company registration number 13119746 to become the holding company of Immunocore Limited. On February 1, 2021, Immunocore Holdings Limited was re-registered as a public limited company with the name Immunocore Holdings plc.
Immunocore Limited was incorporated under the laws of England and Wales in December 2007, with company registration number 06456207. Our registered office is located at 92 Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY, United Kingdom, and the telephone number of our registered office is +44 (0)1235 438600. Our principal executive offices in the United States are located at Six Tower Bridge, Suite 500, 181 Washington Street, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania 19428, and the telephone number of our U.S. office is +1 484 534 5261.
Our website address is www.immunocore.com. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into this prospectus, and you should not consider information on our website to be part of this prospectus. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Immunocore, LLC.
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Corporate Reorganization
We are undertaking a corporate reorganization pursuant to which Immunocore Holdings Limited, a new holding company we recently incorporated, became the direct holding company of Immunocore Limited. Pursuant to the terms of our corporate reorganization, the shareholders of Immunocore Limited exchanged each of the shares held by them in Immunocore Limited for 100 newly issued shares of Immunocore Holdings Limited of the same classes and, as a result, Immunocore Limited became a wholly owned subsidiary of Immunocore Holdings Limited. On February 1, 2021, Immunocore Holdings Limited was re-registered as a public limited company with the name Immunocore Holdings plc. In addition conditional on and effective immediately prior to the completion of this offering, all of the outstanding series A preferred shares, series B preferred shares and series C preferred shares with a nominal value of £0.0001 each in Immunocore Holdings plc will be re-designated as voting ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares with a nominal value of £0.0001 each. The G1 shares in Immunocore Holdings plc with a nominal value of £0.0001 each will be re-designated as deferred shares on a 1 for 1 basis and each G2 share in Immunocore Holdings plc with a nominal value of £0.0001 will be subdivided and re-designated into one ordinary share and three deferred shares with a nominal value of £0.000025 each before such ordinary shares and deferred shares are consolidated into ordinary shares and deferred shares, respectively, with a nominal value of £0.0001 each on a 4 to 1 basis. Finally, all ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares with a nominal value of £0.0001 each resulting from these steps will be consolidated into ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares with a nominal value of £0.002 each on a 20 to 1 basis. Please see the section titled “Corporate Reorganization” for additional information.
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THE OFFERING
ADSs offered by us
9,935,896 ADSs, each representing one ordinary share.
Underwriters’ option to purchase additional ADSs
We have granted the underwriters an option for a period of 30 days from the date of this prospectus to purchase up to an additional 1,490,384 ADSs from us.
Concurrent private placement
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or the Gates Foundation, has agreed to purchase from us, concurrently with this offering in a private placement, $15.0 million of our ADSs, or 576,923 ADSs, at the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS. We will receive the full proceeds from the sale and will not pay any underwriting discounts or commissions with respect to the ADSs that are sold in the private placement. The sale of these ADSs to the Gates Foundation will not be registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and these ADSs will be subject to a 180-day lock-up agreement with the underwriters for this offering. We refer to the private placement of these ADSs as the concurrent private placement. The closing of this offering is not conditioned upon the closing of the concurrent private placement.
Total ordinary shares to be outstanding immediately after this offering and the concurrent private placement
42,295,704 ordinary shares (or 43,786,088 ordinary shares if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase an additional 1,490,384 ADSs).
Total non-voting ordinary shares to be outstanding immediately after this offering and the concurrent private placement
831,627 non-voting ordinary shares.
American Depositary Shares
Each ADS represents one ordinary share, nominal value £0.002 per ordinary share. As a holder of ADSs, you will not be treated as one of our shareholders and you will not have shareholder rights. You will have the rights of an ADS holder or beneficial owner of ADSs (as applicable) as provided in the deposit agreement among us, the depositary and holders and beneficial owners of ADSs from time to time. To better understand the terms of our ADSs, see “Description of American Depositary Shares.” We also encourage you to read the deposit agreement, the form of which is filed as an exhibit to the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part.
Depositary
Citibank, N.A.
Use of proceeds
We estimate that the net proceeds to us from this offering, after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, to be approximately $235.8 million, or $271.9 million if the underwriters exercise in full their
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option to purchase additional 1,490,384 ADSs, based on the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS. We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, as follows:

to fund tebentafusp, our lead ImmTAC, for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma through the completion of our Phase 3 clinical trial as well as preparations for a commercial launch;

to advance the clinical development of IMC-C103C targeting MAGE A4 for the treatment of solid tumors;

to advance the clinical development of IMC-F106C targeting PRAME for the treatment of solid tumors;

to advance the clinical development of IMC-I109V targeting a functional cure for chronic HBV;

to continue to continue to advance our pre-clinical programs and invest in our ImmTAX platform to discover and develop novel therapeutic targets; and

for working capital and general corporate purposes.
See “Use of Proceeds” for a more complete description of the intended use of proceeds from this offering.
Voting rights
After the offering, we will have two classes of ordinary shares: the voting ordinary shares and the non-voting ordinary shares. For a description of the rights of the voting ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares, please see “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association.” Neither our voting ordinary shares nor our non-voting ordinary shares are listed for trading on any securities exchange.
Risk factors
See “Risk Factors” and the other information included in this prospectus for a discussion of factors you should carefully consider before deciding to invest in our ADSs.
Nasdaq Global Select Market symbol
“IMCR”
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The number of voting ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares, including ordinary shares represented by ADSs, that will be outstanding after this offering is based on 5,462,403 ordinary shares outstanding as of September 30, 2020 and gives effect to our corporate reoganization (including (i) the exchange by shareholders of Immunocore Limited for issued shares of Immunocore Holdings Limited (now Immunocore Holdings plc) of the same classes, on a 1 to 100 basis; and (ii) the consolidation of our issued ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares on a 20 to 1 basis) as well as the sale of 823,719 series C preferred shares which closed in December 2020, and excludes:
832,904 ordinary shares issuable upon the exercise of options outstanding under our existing equity incentive plans as of September 30, 2020, with a weighted-average exercise price of £63.23 per share (or $81.70 per share, based on the noon buying rate of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on September 30, 2020, which was £1.00 to $1.2921);
5,992,994 ordinary shares reserved for future issuance under our 2021 Equity Incentive Plan, or the 2021 EIP, which will become effective in connection with this offering, as well as any automatic annual increases in the number of ordinary shares reserved for future issuance under the 2021 EIP, as more fully described in the section titled “Management—Equity Incentive Plans;” and
4,510,566 ordinary shares underlying the grants to be issued prior to the closing of this offering to certain of our officers, directors and employees under our 2021 EIP, contingent and effective upon the execution and delivery of the underwriting agreement relating to this offering, with an exercise price that is equal to or greater than the price per ADS at which our ADSs are first sold to the public in this offering.
Except as otherwise noted, the information in this prospectus assumes:
the completion of the transactions described in the section titled “Corporate Reorganization” prior to the completion of this offering, including (i) the 20 to 1 consolidation of all our ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares prior to completion of this offering, (ii) the re-designation of G1 shares held by our U.K. employees and former employees as deferred shares; (iii) 216,200 ordinary shares underlying the grants to be issued prior to the closing of this offering under our 2021 EIP (to our current employees) and under standalone option agreements (to our former employees) to replace the G1 shares that will be re-designated as deferred shares, conditional on and effective immediately prior to closing of this offering, with an exercise price that is equal to or greater than the price per ADS at which our ADSs are first sold to the public in this offering; (iv) the re-designation of G2 shares held by our U.K. employees into one ordinary share and three deferred shares, conditional on and effective immediately prior to closing of this offering; and (v) 96,300 ordinary shares underlying the grants to be issued prior to the closing of this offering under our 2021 EIP to replace the G2 shares that will be re-designated as a mixture of deferred shares and ordinary shares, conditional on and effective immediately prior to closing of this offering, with an exercise price that is equal to the price per ADS at which our ADSs are first sold to the public in this offering;
the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS; and
no exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase up to 1,490,384 additional ADSs in this offering.
Following the reorganization into a single class of ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares, as described above, every 20 ordinary shares with a nominal value of £0.0001, and every 20 non-voting ordinary shares with a nominal value of £0.0001, will be consolidated into one ordinary share or non-voting ordinary share with a nominal value of £0.002, respectively, conditional on and immediately prior to closing of this offering.
Therefore, upon consummation of the corporate reorganization and prior to the completion of this offering, based on the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS, the current shareholders of Immunocore Holdings plc will hold an aggregate of approximately 31,782,885 ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares of Immunocore Holdings plc.
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SUMMARY CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA
The following tables present summary consolidated financial data as of the dates and for the periods indicated. Our audited annual consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with IFRS, as issued by the IASB. We derived the summary consolidated statements of loss and other comprehensive income for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2019 and summary consolidated statement of financial position data as of December 31, 2018 and 2019 from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. We derived the summary consolidated statements of loss and other comprehensive income for the nine months ended September 30, 2019 and 2020 and summary consolidated statement of financial position data as of September 30, 2020 from our unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. The unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial statements have been prepared in accordance with IAS 34, as issued by the IASB on the same basis as the annual consolidated financial statements, and in the opinion of management, reflect all adjustments, which include only normal recurring adjustments, necessary to present fairly our financial position and results of operations.
Our historical and interim results are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for the full year or any other period in the future. You should read the consolidated financial data set forth below in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the accompanying notes and the information in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” contained elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
For the nine month period ended
September 30,
For the year ended
December 31,
 
2020
2019
2019
2018
 
(pounds sterling, in thousands,
except for share and
per share data)
(pounds sterling, in thousands,
except for share and
per share data)
Consolidated statement of loss and other comprehensive income data:
 
 
 
 
Revenue
22,694
22,027
25,669
23,654
Other operating income
408
420
185
622
Operating expenses:
 
 
 
 
Research and development
(57,566)
(75,415)
(99,991)
(83,575)
Administrative expenses
(31,569)
(35,611)
(44,183)
(34,156)
Operating loss
(66,033)
(90,579)
(118,320)
(93,455)
Other income
4,979
Finance income
1,972
1,134
1,510
1,140
Finance costs
(2,272)
(6,532)
(9,379)
(842)
Non-operating (expense) / income
(300)
(5,398)
(7,869)
5,277
Loss before tax
(66,333)
(95,977)
(126,189)
(88,178)
Income tax credit
11,120
18,011
22,258
16,548
Loss for the period
(55,213)
(77,966)
(103,931)
(71,630)
Exchange differences on translation of foreign operations
338
82
(99)
72
Income tax effect relating to the components of other comprehensive income
3,634
Total comprehensive loss for the period, net of tax
(54,875)
(77,884)
(104,030)
(67,924)
 
Pro forma per share data:(1)
 
 
 
 
Basic and diluted loss per share(2)
(0.002)
(0.004)
(0.005)
(0.003)
Basic and diluted weighted average number of shares
27,306,935
21,579,880
22,297,935
21,558,890
 
As of September 30,
As of December 31,
 
2020
2019
2018
 
(pounds sterling, in
thousands)
(pounds sterling, in
thousands)
Consolidated statement of financial position data:
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents(3)
56,687
73,966
124,385
Working capital(4)
29,335
39,768
121,574
Total assets
130,839
185,649
195,777
Interest-bearing loans and borrowings(3)
19,157
18,878
Total liabilities(2)
115,291
170,878
139,195
Share capital
1
Total equity
15,548
14,771
56,582
(1)
The unaudited pro forma loss per share data gives effect to our corporate reorganization.
(2)
See Note 10 to our audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019 and year ended December 31, 2018 and Note 6 to our unaudited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus for a description of the method used to compute diluted net loss per share.
(3)
Excludes the borrowing of $50.0 million in November 2020 under a new debt facility with Oxford Finance Luxembourg S.A.R.L.
(4)
We define working capital as current assets less current liabilities.
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RISK FACTORS
Investing in our ADSs involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as the other information in this prospectus, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” before deciding whether to invest in our ADSs. The occurrence of any of the events or developments described below could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In such an event, the market price of our ADSs could decline and you may lose all or part of your investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may impair our business operations.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position
We have incurred significant losses in every year since our inception. We expect to continue to incur losses over the next several years and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
We are a late-stage clinical stage biotechnology company and have incurred net losses in each year since our inception. Our losses were £103.9 million, £71.6 million, £55.2 million and £78.0 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 and the nine months ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, respectively. We had an accumulated deficit of £331.0 million as of September 30, 2020. We have funded our operations to date primarily with proceeds from private placements of our ordinary and preferred shares, payments from our collaboration partners, and most recently, debt financing.
We have no products approved for commercial sale and therefore have never generated any revenue from product sales, and we do not expect to in the foreseeable future. Biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. Since inception, we have focused substantially all of our efforts and financial resources on developing our drug discovery platform and research and development of our product candidates. We have not obtained regulatory approvals for any of our product candidates and there is no assurance that we will obtain approvals in the future. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses over the next several years and for the foreseeable future.
These losses will adversely impact our shareholders’ equity and net assets and may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year. We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if, and as, we:
continue our ongoing and planned development of our five clinical stage programs, including tebentafusp, our lead oncology program, which is being evaluated in a Phase 3 pivotal trial in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma;
initiate pre-clinical studies and clinical trials for any additional product candidates that we may pursue in the future, including our earlier-stage programs;
seek regulatory approvals for tebentafusp and any future product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;
build a portfolio of product candidates through the discovery, development, or acquisition or in-license of drugs, product candidates or technologies;
establish a sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution capability to commercialize tebentafusp and any future product candidate for which we may obtain marketing approval;
maintain, protect, enforce and expand our intellectual property portfolio;
acquire or in-license other product candidates, intellectual property and technologies;
hire additional clinical, regulatory and scientific personnel;
add operational, financial and management information systems and personnel, including personnel to support our product development and planned future commercialization efforts; and
incur additional legal, accounting and other expenses associated with operating as a public company.
To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in developing and eventually commercializing products that generate significant revenue. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities,
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including completing our Phase 3 clinical trial of tebentafusp and any future product candidates that we may pursue, obtaining regulatory approval, procuring commercial-scale manufacturing, marketing and selling tebentafusp and any future products for which we may obtain regulatory approval, as well as discovering or acquiring and then developing additional product candidates. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we do, may never generate revenues that are significant enough to achieve profitability.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with drug development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. Our expenses could increase beyond our expectations if we are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, or other regulatory authorities to perform studies in addition to those we currently expect, or if there are any delays in the initiation and completion of our clinical trials or the development of tebentafusp or any future product candidates.
Even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would decrease the value of our ADSs and could impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our research and development efforts, expand our business or continue our operations. A decline in the value of our ADSs could also cause you to lose all or part of your investment.
We will require substantial additional funding to achieve our business goals. If we are unable to obtain this funding when needed and on acceptable terms, we could be forced to delay, limit or terminate our product development efforts.
Developing biopharmaceutical products is expensive and time-consuming, and we expect to require substantial additional capital to conduct research, pre-clinical testing and human studies, may establish pilot scale and commercial scale manufacturing processes and facilities, and establish and develop quality control, regulatory, marketing, sales and administrative capabilities to support our existing programs and pursue potential additional programs. We are also responsible for the payments to third parties of expenses that may include milestone payments, license maintenance fees and royalties, including in the case of certain of our agreements with academic institutions or other companies from whom intellectual property rights underlying their respective programs have been in-licensed or acquired. Because the outcome of any pre-clinical or clinical development and regulatory approval process is highly uncertain, we cannot reasonably estimate the actual amounts necessary to successfully complete the development, regulatory approval process and commercialization of any future product candidates we may identify.
As of September 30, 2020, we had working capital (defined as total current assets less total current liabilities) of £29.3 million ($37.9 million) and cash and cash equivalents of £56.7 million ($73.3 million). Subsequent to this date, we drew down $50 million (£38.7 million) pursuant to the first tranche of our debt facility that we entered into with Oxford Finance, and we closed the sale of our Series C preferred shares resulting in gross proceeds of $75.0 million. We estimate that the net proceeds from this offering will be approximately $235.8 million (or approximately $271.9 million if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional ADSs), after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We expect that the net proceeds from this offering and the concurrent private placement, together with our existing cash will be sufficient to fund our operations through at least the next 24 months. However, our operating plan may change as a result of many factors currently unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned, through public or private equity or debt financings or other sources, such as strategic collaborations or license and development agreements. Any additional fundraising efforts for us may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize product candidates that we may identify and pursue. Moreover, such financing may result in dilution to our shareholders, imposition of debt covenants and repayment obligations, or other restrictions that may affect our business. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans.
Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:
progress, timing, scope and costs of our clinical trials, including the ability to timely initiate clinical sites, enroll subjects and manufacture soluble bispecific TCR product candidates for our ongoing,
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planned and potential future clinical trials, including our Phase 3 clinical trial of tebentafusp in metastatic uveal melanoma, our Phase 1/2 clinical trial of IMC-C103C (MAGE-A4) in multiple solid tumors and our Phase 1/2 clinical trial of IMC-F106C (PRAME) in multiple solid tumors;
time and costs required to perform research and development to identify and characterize new product candidates from our research programs;
the time and cost necessary to pursue regulatory authorizations and approvals that may be required by regulatory authorities to execute clinical trials or commercialize our products;
our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates, if approved;
our ability to have clinical and commercial products successfully manufactured consistent with FDA, EMA and other authorities’ regulations;
amount of sales and other revenues from product candidates that we may commercialize, if any, including the selling prices for such potential products and the availability of adequate third-party coverage and reimbursement for patients;
sales and marketing costs associated with commercializing our products, if approved, including the cost and timing of building our marketing and sales capabilities;
cost of building, staffing and validating our manufacturing processes, which may include capital expenditure;
terms and timing of any revenue from our existing collaborations;
costs of operating as a public company;
time and cost necessary to respond to technological, regulatory, political and market developments;
costs of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing any patent claims and other intellectual property rights;
costs, associated with, and terms and timing of, any future any potential acquisitions, strategic collaborations, licensing agreements or other arrangements that we may establish; and
inability of clinical sites to enroll patients as healthcare capacities are required to cope with natural disasters, epidemics or other health system emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
A change in the outcome of any of these or other variables with respect to the development of any of our current and future product candidates could significantly change the costs and timing associated with the development and commercialization of that product candidate. Furthermore, our operating plans may change in the future, and we may need additional funds to meet operational needs and capital requirements associated with such operating plans.
Additional funds may not be available when we need them, on terms that are acceptable, or at all. If adequate funds are not available to us on a timely basis, we may be required to delay, limit or terminate one or more research or development programs or the commercialization of any product candidates or be unable to expand operations or otherwise capitalize on business opportunities, as desired, which could materially affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Our operating history may make it difficult for you to evaluate the success of our business as a commercial organization and to assess our future viability.
As an organization, we have not demonstrated an ability to successfully complete late-stage clinical trials, obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture our product candidates at commercial scale or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful commercialization, or obtain reimbursement in the countries of sale. We may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, and delays in achieving our business objectives and our transition to a commercial stage organization. Consequently, any predictions you make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history or if we had commercialized a product.
We will need to transition in near future from a company with a research and development focus to a company capable of supporting commercial activities. We may not be successful in such a transition. We expect
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our financial condition and operating results to continue to fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Accordingly, you should not rely upon the results of any quarterly or annual periods as indications of future operating performance.
Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our shareholders, including purchasers of ADSs in this offering, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.
Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenues, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of private and public equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances and licensing arrangements. We do not have any committed external source of funds. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of ADSs, ordinary shares or securities convertible or exchangeable into ADSs or ordinary shares, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of those securities may include liquidation or other preferences that materially adversely affect your rights as a shareholder. Debt financing in addition to our loan and security agreement with Oxford Finance Luxembourg S.A.R.L., or Oxford Finance, if available, would increase our fixed payment obligations and may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.
If we raise funds through additional collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our intellectual property and proprietary rights, future revenue streams, research programs or product candidates or to grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or future commercialization efforts or grant rights to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.
Risks Related to the Development of Our Product Candidates
We are heavily dependent on the success of our ImmTAX platform to identify and develop product candidates. If we or our collaborators are unable to successfully develop and commercialize our platforms or experience significant delays in doing so, our business may be harmed.
We are heavily dependent on the success our ImmTAX platform technology and the product candidates currently in our core programs. Our ImmTAC, ImmTAV and ImmTAAI platforms were developed from the foundation of our ImmTAX platform and are our primary platform technologies. Our commercial prospects will be heavily dependent on product candidates identified and developed using our ImmTAX platform. To date, we have invested substantially all of our efforts and financial resources to identify, acquire intellectual property for, and develop our ImmTAX platform technology and our programs, including conducting pre-clinical studies and early-stage clinical trials, and providing general and administrative support for these operations.
We may not be successful in our efforts to further develop our ImmTAX platform technology and current product candidates. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our product candidates before we receive regulatory approval from the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, and we may never receive such regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. Each of our product candidates will require significant additional clinical development, management of preclinical, clinical, and manufacturing activities, regulatory approval, adequate manufacturing supply, a commercial organization, and significant marketing efforts before we generate any revenue from product sales, if at all.
We may be unable to successfully complete additional large-scale, pivotal clinical trials for any product candidates we develop after tebentafusp.
We may be unable to successfully complete additional large-scale, pivotal clinical trials for any product candidates we develop after tebentafusp. In addition, we may be unable to obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture a commercial scale product, or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful commercialization. We have three programs, IMC-C103C, IMC-F106C, and GSK01, in Phase 1 clinical development and, in the case of IMC-I109V, we have received clearance to begin a Phase 1 clinical trial in Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom and submitted for Health Authority approvals to begin clinical development in Romania. We may not receive marketing approval by the FDA for tebentafusp. Furthermore, we cannot be sure that issues will not arise that require us to suspend or terminate our Phase 1 clinical trials. Guidance we have
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received from the FDA or other regulatory authorities on clinical trial design is subject to change. These regulatory authorities could change their position, including, on the acceptability of our trial designs or the clinical endpoints selected, which may require us to complete additional clinical trials or impose stricter approval conditions than we currently expect. Successful completion of our clinical trials is a prerequisite to submitting a Biologics License Application, or BLA, to the FDA and a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, to the EMA, for each product candidate and, consequently, the ultimate approval and commercial marketing of each product candidate. We do not know whether any of our future clinical trials will begin on time or ever be completed on schedule, if at all.
If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we currently contemplate, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates or other testing, if the results of these trials or tests are not positive or are only modestly positive or if there are safety concerns, we may:
be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates;
not obtain marketing approval at all;
obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;
be subject to post-marketing testing requirements; or
have the product removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.
Our product candidates utilize a novel mechanism of action and involve novel targets which may result in greater research and development expenses, regulatory issues that could delay or prevent approval, or discovery of unknown or unanticipated adverse effects.
Our product candidates utilize novel mechanisms of action and involve novel targets which may result in greater research and development expenses, regulatory issues that could delay or prevent approval, or discovery of unknown or unanticipated adverse effects. Our ImmTAX platform uses advanced computational models in tight integration with our structural biology, protein engineering, affinity maturation and binding efficacy capabilities to predict and design the compounds that will achieve the most desirable characteristics, including potency, selectivity, bioavailability, and drug-like properties. A disruption in any of these capabilities may have significant adverse effects in our abilities to expand our ImmTAX platform, and we cannot predict whether we will continue to have access to these capabilities in the future to support our ImmTAX platform. In addition, there can be no assurance that we will be able to rapidly identify, design and synthesize the necessary compounds or that these or other problems related to the development of this novel mechanism will not arise in the future, which may cause significant delays or we raise problems we may not be able to resolve.
Regulatory approval of novel product candidates such as ours can be more expensive, riskier and take longer than for other, more well-known or extensively studied pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical product candidates due to our and regulatory agencies’ lack of experience with them. The novelty of our mechanism of action may lengthen the regulatory review process, require us to conduct additional studies or clinical trials, increase our development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of our product candidates or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. The novel mechanism of action also means that fewer people are trained in or experienced with product candidates of this type, which may make it more difficult to find, hire and retain personnel for research, development and manufacturing positions. Because our soluble bispecific TCRs utilize a novel mechanism of action and involve novel targets, there is also an increased risk that we may discover previously unknown or unanticipated adverse effects during our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. Any such events could adversely impact our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
The incidence and prevalence for target patient populations for some of our product candidates have not been established with precision. If the market opportunities for our product candidates are smaller than we estimate or if any approval that we obtain is based on a narrower definition of the patient population, our revenue and ability to achieve profitability will be adversely affected, possibly materially.
We have completed a Phase 2 monotherapy trial and a Phase 3 pivotal trial of tebentafusp for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma patients who test positive for HLA-A*02:01. We estimate that there are approximately 1,000 metastatic uveal melanoma patients per annum in the United States and Western Europe who test positive for HLA-A*02:01 and might benefit from our tebentafusp monotherapy.
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We are evaluating the safety and tolerability of IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C in Phase 1 dose escalation trials in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors who express MAGE-A4 and PRAME and test positive for HLA-A*02:01. We estimate that, across all solid tumors, there are over 100,000 patients worldwide who test positive for HLA-A*02:01 and can potentially benefit from our IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C programs. There is no assurance, however, as to what percentage of this population might benefit from these monotherapies.
We will soon be evaluating the safety and tolerability of I109V/HBV in a Phase 1 dose escalation clinical trial in patients with chronic HBV who test positive for HLA-A*02:01. We estimate that there are approximately 16 to 24 million chronic HBV patients who test positive for HLA-A*02:01. There is no assurance however as to what percentage of this population might benefit from this monotherapy.
The total addressable market opportunity for our programs will ultimately depend upon, among other things, the diagnosis criteria included in the final label, if our product candidates are approved for sale for these indications, acceptance by the medical community and patient access, product pricing and reimbursement. The number of patients with cancers, solid tumors and chronic HBV and test positive for HLA-A*02:01 may turn out to be lower than expected, patients may not be otherwise amenable to treatment with our products, or new patients may become increasingly difficult to identify or gain access to, all of which would adversely affect our results of operations and our business. We may not be successful in our efforts to identify additional product candidates. Due to our limited resources and access to capital, we must prioritize development of certain product candidates, which may prove to be the wrong choice and may adversely affect our business.
Although we intend to explore other therapeutic opportunities, in addition to the product candidates that we are currently developing, we may fail to identify viable new product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons. If we fail to identify additional potential product candidates, our business could be materially harmed.
Research programs to pursue the development of our existing and planned product candidates for additional indications and to identify new product candidates and disease targets require substantial technical, financial and human resources whether or not they are ultimately successful. For example, we develop various protein models and make predictions as to how molecules might target antigens, with subsequent validation efforts in our labs and labs of our contract research organizations, or CROs. There can be no assurance that we will find potential additional targets using this approach, that any such targets will be tractable, or that such clinical validations will be successful. Our research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential indications and/or product candidates, yet fail to yield results for clinical development for a number of reasons, including:
the research methodology used may not be successful in identifying potential indications and/or product candidates;
potential product candidates may, after further study, be shown to have harmful adverse effects or other characteristics that indicate they are unlikely to be effective products; or
it may take greater human and financial resources than we will possess to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through internal research programs, thereby limiting our ability to develop, diversify and expand our product portfolio.
Because we have limited financial and human resources, we intend to initially focus on research programs and product candidates for a limited set of indications. As a result, we may forgo 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.
Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will ever be able to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through internal research programs, which could materially adversely affect our future growth and prospects. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential product candidates or other potential programs that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.
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The effects of health epidemics, including the recent COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in regions where we, or the third parties on which we rely, have business operations could adversely impact our business, including our pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, as well as the business or operations of our CROs or other third parties with whom we conduct business.
Our business could be adversely affected by health epidemics in regions where we have concentrations of clinical trial sites or other business operations, and could cause significant disruption in the operations of third-party manufacturers and CROs upon whom we rely. Since December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, has spread to multiple countries, including the United States, Canada and several European countries. Our company headquarters is located in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, we have U.S. offices in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania and Rockville, Maryland, and our CROs and CMOs are operating in Europe, United States and Asia. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, and the U.S. government imposed travel restrictions on travel between the United States, Europe and certain other countries. Further, the President of the United States declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency, invoking powers under the Stafford Act, the legislation that directs federal emergency disaster response.
In response to these public health directives and orders, we have implemented work-from-home policies to support the community efforts to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and protect employees, complying with guidance from federal, state/provincial or municipal government and health authorities. We implemented a number of measures to ensure employee safety and business continuity. Employees who can work from home have been doing so, while those needing to work in laboratory facilities are divided into shifts to reduce the number of people gathered together at one time. Business travel has been suspended, and online and teleconference technology is used to meet virtually rather than in person. We have taken measures to secure our research and development project activities, while work in laboratories and facilities has been organized to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The effects of the executive orders and our work-from-home policies may negatively impact productivity, disrupt our business and delay our clinical programs and timelines (for example, our timeline for tebentafusp), the magnitude of which will depend, in part, on the length and severity of the restrictions and other limitations on our ability to conduct our business in the ordinary course. These and similar, and perhaps more severe, disruptions in our operations could negatively impact our business, operating results and financial condition.
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 manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom, United States and other countries, or the availability or cost of materials, which would disrupt our supply chain.
To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a short-term delay of up to six months in progressing our early-stage pipeline programs and specifically, our Phase 1 clinical trial in HBV. The continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may also further negatively impact our clinical trials in the future, including potential delays and restrictions on our ability to recruit and retain patients, principal investigators and healthcare employees. The COVID-19 pandemic could also affect the operations of our CROs or CMOs, which may result in delays or disruptions in our clinical trials or in the supply of product candidates.
In addition, our planned clinical trials may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
delays or difficulties in enrolling and retaining patients in our clinical trials, including patients that may not be able or willing to comply with clinical trial protocols such as weekly dosing regimens if quarantines impede patient movement or interrupt healthcare services;
delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting and retaining clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;
increased rates of patients withdrawing from our clinical trials following enrollment as a result of risks of exposure to COVID-19, being forced to quarantine or being unable to visit clinical trial locations or otherwise comply with clinical trial protocols;
diversion or prioritization of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials and towards the COVID-19 pandemic, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials, and because, who, as healthcare providers, may have heightened exposure to COVID-19 and adversely impact our clinical trial operations;
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interruption of our clinical supply chain or key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal, state/provincial or municipal governments, employers and others; and
limitations in employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people.
For our clinical trials that we expect to conduct at sites outside the United States, particularly in countries which are experiencing heightened impact from the COVID-19 coronavirus, in addition to the risks listed above, we may also experience the following adverse impacts:
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;
interruption in global shipping that may affect the transport of clinical trial materials, such as investigational drug product and comparator drugs used in our clinical trials;
changes in federal, state/provincial or municipal regulations as part of a response to the COVID-19 coronavirus 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;
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
the refusal of the FDA to accept data from clinical trials in these affected geographies.
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 ordinary shares.
The global outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the COVID-19 coronavirus may impact our business and clinical trials 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 Kingdom, United States, and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United Kingdom, United States, and other countries to contain and treat the disease. The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or a similar epidemic is highly uncertain and subject to change. We may experience a material impact on our operations, and we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely.
Clinical product development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome.
It is impossible to predict when or if tebentafusp will receive marketing approval. Furthermore, it is impossible to predict when or if IMC-C103C, IMC-F106C, IMCI109V and GSK01 or any of our future product candidates will prove effective and safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete pre-clinical studies and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is uncertain as to outcome. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. The outcome of pre-clinical development testing and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. Moreover, pre-clinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in pre-clinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their product candidates. Our pre-clinical studies and future clinical trials may not be successful. From time to time, we may publish interim top-line or preliminary data from our clinical trials. Interim data from clinical trials are subject to the risk that one or more
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of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Preliminary or top-line 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 prospects.
We also expect to rely on outside vendors (for example, independent contractors and CROs) to conduct, supervise or monitor some or all aspects of clinical trials involving our products. We will have less control over the timing and other aspects of these clinical trials than if we conducted them entirely on our own. If we fail to commence or complete, or experience delays in, any of our planned clinical trials, our stock price and our ability to conduct our business as currently planned could be harmed.
We currently anticipate that we will have to rely on CMOs to manufacture our products for clinical trials. If they fail to commence or complete, or experiences delays in, manufacturing our products and product candidates, our planned clinical trials will be delayed, which will adversely affect our stock price and our ability to conduct our business as currently planned.
If we are not able to obtain, or if there are delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we will not be able to commercialize, or will be delayed in commercializing, our product candidates, and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.
Our product candidates and the activities associated with their development and commercialization, including their design, testing, manufacture, safety, efficacy, recordkeeping, labeling, storage, approval, advertising, promotion, sale, distribution, import and export are subject to comprehensive regulation by the FDA and other regulatory agencies in the United States and by comparable authorities in other countries. Before we can commercialize any of our product candidates, we must obtain marketing approval. Currently, all of our product candidates are in development, and we have not received approval to market any of our product candidates from regulatory authorities in any jurisdiction. It is possible that our product candidates, including any product candidates we may seek to develop in the future, will never obtain regulatory approval. We have only limited experience in filing and supporting the applications necessary to gain regulatory approvals and expect to rely on third-party CROs and/or regulatory consultants to assist us in this process. Securing regulatory approval requires the submission of extensive pre-clinical and clinical data and supporting information to the various regulatory authorities for each therapeutic indication to establish the product candidate’s safety and efficacy. Securing regulatory approval also requires the submission of information about the product manufacturing process to, and inspection of manufacturing facilities by, the relevant regulatory authority. Our product candidates may not be effective, may be only moderately effective or may prove to have undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude our obtaining marketing approval or prevent or limit commercial use. In addition, regulatory authorities may find fault with our manufacturing process or facilities or that of third-party contract manufacturers. We may also face greater than expected difficulty in manufacturing our product candidates.
The process of obtaining regulatory approvals, both in the United States and abroad, is expensive and often takes many years. If the FDA, EMA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority requires that we perform additional pre-clinical or clinical trials, approval, if obtained at all, may be delayed. The length of such a delay varies substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. Changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for each submitted application, may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. The FDA and comparable authorities in other countries have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that our data are insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies. Our product candidates could be delayed in receiving, or fail to receive, regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:
the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;
the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;
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we may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that a product candidate is safe and effective for its proposed indication or a related companion diagnostic is suitable to identify appropriate patient populations;
the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities for approval;
we may be unable to demonstrate that a product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;
the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from pre-clinical studies or clinical trials;
the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates may not be sufficient to support the submission a BLA or other submission or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;
the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may find deficiencies with or fail to approve the manufacturing processes or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract for clinical and commercial supplies; and
the approval policies or regulations of the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may significantly change such that our clinical data are insufficient for approval.
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, thereby narrowing the commercial potential of the product candidate. In addition, regulatory authorities 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.
If we experience delays in obtaining approval or if we fail to obtain approval of our product candidates, the commercial prospects for our product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate revenues will be materially impaired.
Positive results from early pre-clinical studies of our product candidates are not necessarily predictive of the results of later pre-clinical studies and any future clinical trials of our product candidates. If we cannot replicate the positive results from our earlier pre-clinical studies of our product candidates in our later pre-clinical studies and future clinical trials, we may be unable to successfully develop, obtain regulatory for and commercialize our product candidates.
Any positive results from our pre-clinical studies of our product candidates may not necessarily be predictive of the results from required later pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. Similarly, even if we are able to complete our planned pre-clinical studies or any future clinical trials of our product candidates according to our current development timeline, the positive results from such pre-clinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates may not be replicated in subsequent pre-clinical studies or clinical trial results. In addition, positive results in later stage clinical trials of one of our product candidates in an indication may not be predictive of the safety or efficacy of our other product candidates in other indications, even if they employ a similar mechanism of action.
Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials after achieving positive results in early-stage development and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. These setbacks have been caused by, among other things, pre-clinical and other nonclinical findings made while clinical trials were underway, or safety or efficacy observations made in pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, including previously unreported adverse events. Moreover, preclinical, nonclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses and many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in pre-clinical studies and clinical trials nonetheless failed to obtain FDA or EMA approval.
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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 planned clinical trials. 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 continues and more patient data become available. Preliminary or “top-line” 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. Differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects and may cause the trading price of our ADSs to fluctuate significantly.
We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates.
We may experience delays in completing our pre-clinical studies and initiating or completing clinical trials, and we may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, any future clinical trials that we could conduct that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval or commercialize our product candidates, including:
regulators or institutional review boards, or IRBs, or ethics committees may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;
we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with prospective trial sites and prospective CROs, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;
clinical trials of our product candidates may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional pre-clinical studies or clinical trials or we may decide to abandon product development programs;
the number of patients required for clinical trials of our product candidates may be larger than we anticipate, enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower than we anticipate or participants may drop out of these clinical trials or fail to return for post-treatment follow-up at a higher rate than we anticipate;
our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, or may deviate from the clinical trial protocol or drop out of the trial, which may require that we add new clinical trial sites or investigators;
we may elect to, or regulators or IRBs or ethics committees may require us or our investigators to, suspend or terminate clinical research for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
the cost of clinical trials of our product candidates may be greater than we anticipate;
the supply or quality of our product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient or inadequate; and
our product candidates may have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics, causing us or our investigators, regulators or IRBs or ethics committees to suspend or terminate the trials, or reports may arise from pre-clinical or clinical testing of other cancer therapies that raise safety or efficacy concerns about our product candidates.
We could encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs of the institutions at which such trials are being conducted, by the Data Safety Monitoring Board, or DSMB, for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities may impose such a suspension or termination or clinical hold 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, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a product, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate
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funding to continue the clinical trial. 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. Further, the FDA may disagree with our clinical trial design and our interpretation of data from clinical trials, or may change the requirements for approval even after it has reviewed and commented on the design for our clinical trials.
Our product development costs will also increase if we experience delays in testing or regulatory approvals. We do not know whether any of our future clinical trials will begin as planned, or whether any of our current or future clinical trials will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, if at all. Significant delays in pre-clinical studies or clinical trials, including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do and impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations. Any delays in our pre-clinical or future clinical development programs may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of patients in clinical trials, our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals could be delayed or prevented.
We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States. In particular, because we will be deploying our drug discovery platform across a broad target space, our ability to enroll eligible patients may be limited or may result in slower enrollment than we anticipate. In addition, some of our competitors have ongoing clinical trials for product candidates that treat the same indications as our product candidates, and patients who would otherwise be eligible for our clinical trials may instead enroll in clinical trials of our competitors’ product candidates. Furthermore, our ability to enroll patients may be significantly delayed by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and we do not know the extent and scope of such delays at this point.
In addition to the competitive trial environment, the eligibility criteria of our planned clinical trials will further limit the pool of available study participants as we will require that patients have specific characteristics that we can measure to assure their cancer is either severe enough or not too advanced to include them in a study. Additionally, the process of finding patients may prove costly. We also may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients to complete our clinical studies because of the perceived risks and benefits of the product candidates under study, the availability and efficacy of competing therapies and clinical trials, the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients, and the patient referral practices of physicians. If patients are unwilling to participate in our studies for any reason, the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of potential products may be delayed.
We may also engage third parties to develop companion diagnostics for use in our clinical trials, but such third parties may not be successful in developing such companion diagnostics, furthering the difficulty in identifying patients with the targeted genetic mutations for our clinical trials. Further, if we are required to develop companion diagnostics and are unable to include patients with the targeted genetic mutations, this could compromise our ability to seek participation in the FDA’s expedited review and development programs, including Breakthrough Therapy Designation and Fast Track Designation, or otherwise to seek to accelerate clinical development and regulatory timelines. Patient enrollment may be affected by other factors including:
the severity of the disease under investigation;
the eligibility criteria for the clinical trial in question;
the availability of an appropriate genomic screening test;
the perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;
the efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;
the patient referral practices of physicians;
the ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment;
the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients; and
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factors we may not be able to control, such as current or potential pandemics that may limit patients, principal investigators or staff or clinical site availability (e.g., outbreak of COVID-19).
Our planned clinical trials or those of our future collaborators may reveal significant adverse events not seen in our pre-clinical or nonclinical studies and may result in a safety profile that could inhibit regulatory approval or market acceptance of any of our product candidates.
Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of any products, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive pre-clinical studies and clinical trials that our product candidates are both safe and effective for use in each target indication. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. The results of pre-clinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. In addition, initial success in clinical trials may not be indicative of results obtained when such trials are completed. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials also may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through nonclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products and there can be no assurance that any of our current or future clinical trials will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development of any of our product candidates.
We may develop future product candidates, in combination with one or more cancer therapies. The uncertainty resulting from the use of our product candidates in combination with other cancer therapies may make it difficult to accurately predict side effects in future clinical trials.
As is the case with many treatments for cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases, it is likely that there may be side effects associated with the use of our product candidates. If significant adverse events or other side effects are observed in any of our current or future clinical trials, we may have difficulty recruiting patients to our clinical trials, patients may drop out of our trials, or we may be required to abandon the trials or our development efforts of one or more product candidates altogether. We, the FDA or other applicable regulatory authorities, or an IRB may suspend or terminate clinical trials of a product candidate at any time for various reasons, including a belief that subjects in such trials are being exposed to unacceptable health risks or adverse side effects. Some potential therapeutics developed in the biotechnology industry that initially showed therapeutic promise in early-stage trials have later been found to cause side effects that prevented their further development. Even if the side effects do not preclude the product from obtaining or maintaining marketing approval, undesirable side effects may inhibit market acceptance of the approved product due to its tolerability versus other therapies. Any of these developments could materially harm our business, financial condition and prospects.
For a period of four weeks, our IMC-F106C program was put on partial clinical hold in 2020 by the FDA following the death of the second patient dosed in this trial, which was subsequently determined to be unrelated to study drug. The hold has since been lifted and the trial has been resumed.
We are at risk of a clinical hold at any time based on the evaluation of the data and information submitted to the governing regulatory authorities. In 2020, we received notice from the FDA of a partial clinical hold on our IMC-F106C clinical trial after the second patient (with baseline elevated risk factors for pulmonary embolus) experienced a fatal adverse event of respiratory failure due to multiple pulmonary emboli 24 hours after receiving the first dose (0.3 mcg). In accordance with our own internal guidelines, we put our clinical trial on hold to investigate this unexplained death and informed the FDA. The FDA subsequently put our clinical trial on a partial clinical hold and allowed us the option to continue dosing the first patient. After autopsy, including expert review, and other investigations, the primary investigator concluded that the cause of death was respiratory failure and not related to study drug. We modified the trial protocol to add a lower dose cohort and additional screening and on-treatment precautions. The FDA has accepted our changes and removed the partial clinical hold enabling the trial to continue. However, if in the future we are delayed in addressing, or unable to address, any FDA concerns, we could be delayed, or prevented, from conducting our clinical trials.
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Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could halt their clinical development, prevent their regulatory approval, require expansion of the trial size, limit their commercial potential, or result in significant negative consequences.
Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities, including IRBs, 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, EMA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Further, clinical trials by their nature utilize a sample of the potential patient population. With a limited number of subjects and limited duration of exposure, rare and severe side effects of our product candidates may only be uncovered with a significantly larger number of patients exposed to the drug. Because of our planned dose escalation design for our clinical trials, undesirable side effects could also result in an expansion in the size of our clinical trials, increasing the expected costs and timeline of our clinical trials. Additionally, results of our clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects or unexpected characteristics, which may stem from our therapies specifically or may be due to an illness from which the clinical trial subject is suffering.
For example, our oncology clinical trials include cancer patients who are very sick and whose health is deteriorating, and we expect that additional clinical trials of our other product candidates will include similar patients with deteriorating health. In clinical trials conducted by other companies involving CAR T cells, TCR T or T cell redirecting bispecifics, the most prominent acute toxicities included symptoms thought to be associated with cytokine release syndrome, or CRS, such as fever, low blood pressure and kidney dysfunction. It is possible that some of these patients may experience similar adverse side effects as were observed in clinical trials conducted by other companies and academic institutions, and that additional patients may die during our clinical trials for various reasons, including as a result of receiving our product candidates, because the patient’s disease is too advanced, or because the patient experiences medical problems that may not be related to our product candidate. Even if the deaths are not related to our product candidate, the deaths could affect perceptions regarding the safety of our product candidate.
Patient deaths and severe side effects caused by our product candidates, or by products or product candidates of other companies that are thought to have similarities with our therapeutic candidates, could result in the delay, suspension, clinical hold or termination of clinical trials by us, the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities for a number of reasons. If we elect or are required to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial of any product candidates that we develop, the commercial prospects of such product candidates will be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates would be delayed or eliminated. Serious adverse events observed in clinical trials could hinder or prevent market acceptance of the product candidate at issue. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations significantly.
Our product candidates may have serious and potentially fatal cross-reactivity to other peptides or protein sequences within the body.
Our product candidates may recognize and bind to a peptide unrelated to the target antigen to which it is designed to bind. If this peptide is expressed within normal tissues, our product candidates may target and kill the normal tissue in a patient, leading to serious and potentially fatal adverse effects. Detection of any cross-reactivity may halt or delay any ongoing clinical trials for any TCR-based product candidate and prevent or delay regulatory approval. Unknown cross-reactivity of the TCR binding domain to related proteins could also occur. We have also developed a pre-clinical screening process to identify cross-reactivity of the TCR binders. Any cross-reactivity that impacts patient safety could materially impact our ability to advance our product candidates into clinical trials or to proceed to marketing approval and commercialization.
We intend to develop our IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C programs, and potentially future product candidates, in combination with other therapies, which exposes us to additional risks.
We intend to develop our IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C programs, and may develop future product candidates, for use in combination with one or more currently approved cancer therapies. Even if any product candidate we develop was to receive marketing approval or be commercialized for use in combination with other existing therapies, we would continue to bear the risks that the FDA or similar foreign regulatory authorities could revoke approval of the therapy used in combination with our product candidate or that safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues could arise with these existing therapies. Combination therapies are commonly
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used for the treatment of cancer, and we would be subject to similar risks if we develop any of our product candidates for use in combination with other drugs or for indications other than cancer. This could result in our own products being removed from the market or being less successful commercially.
We may also evaluate our IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C programs, or any other future product candidates, in combination with one or more other cancer, infectious disease or autoimmune disease therapies that have not yet been approved for marketing by the FDA or similar foreign regulatory authorities. We will not be able to market and sell our IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C programs, or any product candidate we develop in combination with any such unapproved cancer, infectious disease or autoimmune therapies, that do not ultimately obtain marketing approval.
If the FDA, EMA or similar foreign regulatory authorities do not approve these other drugs or revoke their approval of, or if safety, efficacy, manufacturing, or supply issues arise with, the drugs we choose to evaluate in combination with our or any product candidate we develop, we may be unable to obtain approval of or market our IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C programs, or any product candidate we develop.
If we do not achieve our projected development and commercialization goals in the timeframes we announce and expect, the commercialization of our product candidates or any future product candidates may be delayed, and our business will be harmed.
For planning purposes, we estimate the timing of achieving various scientific, clinical, regulatory, and other product development objectives. These milestones may include our expectations regarding the commencement or completion of scientific studies and clinical trials, regulatory submissions or commercialization objectives. From time to time, we may publicly announce the expected timing of some of these milestones, such as the completion of an ongoing clinical trial, the initiation of clinical trials, receipt of regulatory approval, or the commercial launch of a product. The achievement of many of these milestones may be outside of our control. All of these milestones are based on a variety of assumptions, which may cause the timing of achieving the milestones to vary considerably from our estimates, including:
our available capital resources or capital constraints we experience;
the rate of progress, costs, and results of our clinical trials and research and development activities, including the extent of scheduling conflicts with participating clinicians and collaborators;
our ability to identify and enroll patients who meet clinical trial eligibility criteria;
our receipt of approvals by the FDA, EMA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities, and the timing thereof;
other actions, decisions, or rules issued by regulators;
our ability to access sufficient, reliable, and affordable supplies of materials used in the manufacture of our product candidates;
our ability to manufacture and supply clinical trial materials to our clinical sites on a timely basis;
the efforts of our collaborators with respect to the commercialization of our approved products, if any; and
the securing of, costs related to, and timing issues associated with, commercial product manufacturing, as well as sales and marketing activities.
If we fail to achieve announced milestones in the timeframes we expect, the commercialization of our lead product candidate and any other current or future product candidates may be delayed, and our business, results of operations, financial condition, and prospects may be adversely affected.
Due to our limited resources and access to capital, we must, and have in the past decided to, prioritize development of certain product candidates over other potential product candidates. These decisions may prove to have been wrong and may adversely affect our ability to develop our own programs, our attractiveness as a commercial partner and may ultimately have an impact on our commercial success.
Because we have limited resources and access to capital to fund our operations, we must decide which product candidates to pursue and the amount of resources to allocate to each. Our decisions concerning the allocation of research, collaboration, management and financial resources toward particular proprietary molecules
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in our library, product candidates or therapeutic areas may not lead to the development of viable commercial products and may divert resources away from better opportunities. Similarly, our decisions to delay, terminate or collaborate with third parties in respect of certain product development programs may also prove not to be optimal and could cause us to miss valuable opportunities. If we make incorrect determinations regarding the market potential of our product candidates or misread trends in the biopharmaceutical industry, in particular for our lead product candidate, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We conduct clinical trials for our product candidates outside the United States, and the FDA and similar foreign regulatory authorities may not accept data from such trials.
We conduct clinical trials outside the United States including in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Asia and are likely to continue to do so in these or other foreign jurisdictions. The acceptance of trial data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States by the FDA may be subject to certain conditions. In cases where data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States are intended to serve as the sole basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will generally not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless (i) the data are applicable to the United States population and United States medical practice; (ii) the trials were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence and (iii) the data may be considered valid without the need for an on-site inspection by the FDA or, if the FDA considers such an inspection to be necessary, the FDA is able to validate the data through an on-site inspection or other appropriate means. Additionally, the FDA’s clinical trial requirements, including sufficient size of patient populations and statistical powering, must be met. Many foreign regulatory bodies have similar approval requirements. In addition, such foreign trials would be subject to the applicable local laws of the foreign jurisdictions where the trials are conducted. There can be no assurance that the FDA or any similar foreign regulatory authority will accept data from trials conducted outside of the United States or the applicable jurisdiction. If the FDA or any similar foreign regulatory authority does not accept such data, it would result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay aspects of our business plan, and which may result in our product candidates not receiving approval or clearance for commercialization in the applicable jurisdiction.
A variety of risks associated with conducting research and clinical trials in multiple countries and marketing our product candidates internationally could materially adversely affect our business.
Clinical trials are currently being conducted in multiple countries throughout the world, and we plan to globally develop our current and future product candidates. Accordingly, we expect that we will be subject to additional risks related to operating in foreign countries, including:
differing regulatory requirements in foreign countries;
unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers, price and exchange controls and other regulatory requirements;
differing standards for the conduct of clinical trials;
increased difficulties in managing the logistics and transportation of storing and shipping product candidates produced in the United States or elsewhere and shipping the product candidate to patients in other countries;
import and export requirements and restrictions;
economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in foreign economies and markets;
compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
foreign taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;
foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
difficulties staffing and managing foreign operations;
workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United Kingdom or the United States;
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differing payor reimbursement regimes, governmental payors or patient self-pay systems, and price controls;
potential liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, the U.K. Bribery Act 2010, or comparable foreign regulations;
challenges enforcing or protecting our contractual and intellectual property rights, especially in those foreign countries that do not respect and protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the United States or the United Kingdom;
the impacts Brexit may have with respect to the cross-border acknowledgment of clinical trial results and marketing authorizations as well as recruitment of scientific personnel;
production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad; and
business interruptions resulting from geo-political actions, including war and terrorism.
These and other risks associated with our international operations may materially adversely affect our ability to attain or maintain profitable operations.
Risks Related to the Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
We are subject to manufacturing risks that could substantially increase our costs and limit supply of our products.
Our product candidates are biologics and the process of manufacturing our products is complex, highly regulated and subject to multiple risks. We may encounter difficulties in production, particularly with respect to process development, quality control, upscaling or scaling-out of our manufacturing capabilities. If we or any of our third-party manufacturers encounter such difficulties, our ability to provide supply of our product candidates for clinical trials or our products for patients, if approved, could be delayed or stopped, or we may be unable to maintain a commercially viable cost structure.
Any failure to follow current Good Manufacturing Practice, or cGMP, or other regulatory requirements or any delay, interruption or other issues that arise in the manufacture, fill and finish, packaging, or storage of our product candidates as a result of a failure of our facilities or the facilities or operations of third parties to comply with regulatory requirements or pass any regulatory authority inspection could significantly impair our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates, including leading to significant delays in the availability of drug product for our clinical trials or the termination of or hold on a clinical trial, or the delay or prevention of a filing or approval of marketing applications for our product candidates.
Our TCR bispecific product candidates that have been produced and are stored for later use may degrade, become contaminated or suffer other quality defects, which may cause the affected product candidates to no longer be suitable for their intended use in clinical trials or other development activities. If the defective product candidates cannot be replaced in a timely fashion, we may incur significant delays in our development programs that could adversely affect the value of such product candidates.
Even to the extent we use and continue to use CMOs, we are ultimately responsible for the manufacture of our products and product candidates. A failure to comply with these requirements may result in regulatory enforcement actions against our manufacturers or us, including fines and civil and criminal penalties, which could result in imprisonment, suspension or restrictions of production, suspension, injunctions, delay or denial of product approval or supplements to approved products, clinical holds or termination of clinical trials, warning or untitled letters, regulatory authority communications warning the public about safety issues with the biologic, refusal to permit the import or export of the products, product seizure, detention, or recall, operating restrictions, suits under the civil False Claims Act, or FCA, corporate integrity agreements, consent decrees, or withdrawal of product approval. For example, our IMC-C103C program was placed on partial clinical hold in 2020 due to insufficient specifications on a drug release assay in the corresponding IND. The partial clinical hold was later lifted and the trial has resumed.
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Challenges we may face could delay completion of clinical trials, require bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates, impair commercialization efforts, increase our cost of goods, cause a lack of patient participation in clinical trials and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We have no internal sales, marketing or distribution capabilities currently and we may not be able to effectively market, sell and distribute tebentafusp, if approved or any of other product candidates.
Currently, we have no internal sales, marketing or distribution capabilities. If tebentafusp ultimately receives regulatory approval, we may not be able to effectively market and distribute the product candidate. We will have to invest significant amounts of financial and management resources to develop internal sales, distribution and marketing capabilities, some of which will be committed prior to any confirmation that tebentafusp will be approved, or engage third parties to provide these services. We have entered into an agreement with Syneos Health, Inc., or Syneos, to build our commercial infrastructure for the potential commercial launch of tebentafusp, including to potentially retain, train and deploy a direct sales force, but we have no experience operating or managing a third-party sales force. There can be no assurance that the capabilities of the Syneos sales organization will be more effective than an internally developed sales organization. In addition, Syneos can terminate our agreement under certain circumstances. If Syneos fails to hire, train, and retain qualified sales personnel, market our product successfully or on a cost effective basis or otherwise terminates our relationship, our ability to generate revenue will be limited and we will need to identify and retain an alternative organization, or develop our own sales and marketing capability. This could involve significant delays and costs, including the diversion of our management’s attention from other activities. We will also need to retain additional consultants or external service providers to assist us in sales, marketing and distribution functions, and may be unsuccessful in retaining such services on acceptable financial terms or at all.
For our other product candidates, there are risks involved with both establishing our own sales and marketing capabilities and entering into arrangements with third parties to perform these services. For example, recruiting and training a commercial organization is expensive and time consuming and could delay any product launch. If the commercial launch of a product candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. This may be costly and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.
Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our product candidates on our own include:
the inability to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;
the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians or persuade adequate numbers of physicians to prescribe any future product that we may develop;
the lack of complementary treatments to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines; and
unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.
If we enter into arrangements with third parties to perform sales, marketing and distribution services, our product revenue or the profitability to us from these revenue streams is likely to be lower than if we were to market and sell any product candidates that we develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to sell and market our product candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us. We likely will have little control over such third parties and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our product candidates effectively. If we do not establish sales and marketing capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third parties, we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates.
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Even if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.
Even if we obtain approvals from the FDA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory agencies and are able to initiate commercialization of our clinical stage product candidates or any other product candidates we develop, the product candidate may not achieve market acceptance among physicians, patients, hospitals, including pharmacy directors, and third-party payors and, ultimately, may not be commercially successful. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:
the clinical indications for which our product candidates are approved;
physicians, hospitals, cancer treatment centers, and patients considering our product candidates as a safe and effective treatment;
hospitals and cancer treatment centers establishing the infrastructure required for the administration of the product candidate;
the potential and perceived advantages of our product candidates over alternative treatments;
the prevalence and severity of any side effects;
product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities;
limitations or warnings contained in the labeling approved by the FDA or the EMA;
the timing of market introduction of our product candidates as well as competitive products;
the cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;
the amount of upfront costs or training required for physicians to administer our product candidates;
the pricing of our products and the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement by third-party payors and government authorities;
the willingness of patients to pay out-of-pocket in the absence of comprehensive coverage and adequate reimbursement by third-party payors and government authorities;
relative convenience and ease of administration, including as compared to alternative treatments and competitive therapies; and
the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts and distribution support.
Our efforts to educate physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community on the benefits of our products, if approved, may require significant resources and may never be successful. For example, our focus on median overall survival rates for tebentafusp treated patients instead of response evaluation criteria in solid tumor, or RECIST, which has traditionally been used as a standard measure of activity in clinical trials, may inhibit market acceptance. Such efforts may require more resources than are typically required due to the complexity and uniqueness of our product candidates. Because we expect sales of our product candidates, if approved, to generate substantially all of our product revenue for the foreseeable future, the failure of our product candidates to find market acceptance would harm our business and could require us to seek additional financing.
Even if our products achieve market acceptance, we may not be able to maintain that market acceptance over time if new products or technologies are introduced that are more favorably received than our products, are more cost effective or render our products obsolete.
We face substantial competition, which may result in others developing or commercializing drugs before or more successfully than us.
The biotechnology industry is characterized by intense competition and rapid innovation. Our competitors may be able to develop other compounds or drugs that are able to achieve similar or better results. Our potential competitors include major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and universities and other research institutions. Many of our competitors
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have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations and well-established sales forces. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly as they develop novel approaches to treating disease indications that our product candidates are also focused on treating. Established pharmaceutical companies may also invest heavily to accelerate discovery and development of novel therapeutics or to acquire or in-license novel therapeutics that could make the product candidates that we develop obsolete. Mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. 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, either alone or with collaborative partners, may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis drug or biologic products that are more effective, safer, more easily commercialized or less costly than our product candidates or may develop proprietary technologies or secure patent or other proprietary protection that we may need for the development of our technologies and products. We believe the key competitive factors that will affect the development and commercial success of our product candidates are efficacy, safety, tolerability, reliability, convenience of use, price and reimbursement.
We face competition from segments of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other related markets that pursue the development of therapeutics to address unmet needs in cancer, infectious and autoimmune diseases, including Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc, or Adaptimmune, Gritstone Oncology, Inc., Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH, Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation, or Adaptive, pure MHC, LLC, BioNTech SE, and Genentech, Inc., who are also seeking to identify HLA targets and develop product candidates; Adaptimmune, T-Knife GmbH, Adaptive, 3T Biosciences, Inc., MediGene AG, or MediGene, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., bluebird Bio, Inc., or bluebird bio, and AgenTus Therapeutics, Inc. who are also developing TCR-based approaches; and Takara Bio Inc., Tmunity Therapeutics, Inc., Kuur Therapeutics Limited, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, GlaxoSmithKline Intellectual Property Development Ltd, or GSK, Adaptimmune, bluebird bio, MediGene, TCR2 Therapeutics, and Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. who are developing novel autologous TCR-T therapeutics; Amgen, Inc., Genmab, Inc. and MorphoSys AG are developing TCR bispecific compounds or TCR mimetic antibodies.
We anticipate that we will continue to face intense and increasing competition as new treatments enter the market and advanced technologies become available. There can be no assurance that our competitors are not currently developing, or will not in the future develop, products that are equally or more effective or are more economically attractive than any of our current or future product candidates. Competing products may gain faster or greater market acceptance than our products, if any, and medical advances or rapid technological development by competitors may result in our product candidates becoming non-competitive or obsolete before we are able to recover our research and development and commercialization expenses. If we or our product candidates do not compete effectively, it may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Coverage and adequate reimbursement may not be available for our current or any future product candidates, which could make it difficult for us to sell profitably, if approved.
Market acceptance and sales of any product candidates that we commercialize, if approved, will depend in part on the extent to which reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from third-party payors, including government health administration authorities, managed care organizations and private health insurers. Third-party payors decide which therapies they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. Third-party payors in the United States often rely upon Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own coverage and reimbursement policies. However, decisions regarding the extent of coverage and amount of reimbursement to be provided for any product candidates that we develop will be made on a payor-by-payor basis. One payor’s determination to provide coverage for a drug does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage for the drug. Additionally, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a therapy does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price, examining the medical necessity and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products, therapies and services, in addition to questioning their safety and efficacy. We may incur significant costs to conduct expensive pharmaco-economic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of our product candidates, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA approvals. Our product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost-effective.
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Each payor determines whether or not it will provide coverage for a therapy, what amount it will pay the manufacturer for the therapy, and on what tier of its list of covered drugs, or formulary, it will be placed. The position on a payor’s formulary, generally determines the co-payment that a patient will need to make to obtain the therapy and can strongly influence the adoption of such therapy by patients and physicians. Patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers prescribing such services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Patients are unlikely to use our products, and providers are unlikely to prescribe our products, unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products and their administration. Therefore, coverage and adequate reimbursement is critical to new medical product acceptance.
A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any drug that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, what the level of reimbursement will be. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more product candidates for which we receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future. Inadequate coverage and reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any drug for which we obtain marketing approval. If coverage and adequate reimbursement are not available, or are available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our current and any future product candidates that we develop.
Additionally, we are developing a proprietary diagnostic test for use with certain of our product candidates. We will be required to obtain coverage and reimbursement for this test separate and apart from the coverage and reimbursement we seek for our product candidates, if approved. There is significant uncertainty regarding our ability to obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement for this proprietary diagnostic test for reasons similar to those applicable to our product candidates.
We face potential product liability, and, if successful claims are brought against us, we may incur substantial liability and costs. If the use of our product candidates harms patients, or is perceived to harm patients even when such harm is unrelated to our product candidates, our regulatory approvals could be revoked or otherwise negatively impacted and we could be subject to costly and damaging product liability claims.
The use of our product candidates in clinical trials and the sale of any products for which we obtain marketing approval exposes us to the risk of product liability claims. Product liability claims might be brought against us by consumers, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies or others selling or otherwise coming into contact with our products. There is a risk that our product candidates may induce adverse events. If we cannot successfully defend against product liability claims, we could incur substantial liability and costs. In addition, regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability claims may result in:
the impairment of our business reputation;
the withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
costs due to related litigation;
the distraction of management’s attention from our primary business;
substantial monetary awards to patients or other claimants;
the inability to commercialize our product candidates; and
decreased demand for our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale.
We believe our product liability insurance coverage is sufficient in light of our current commercial and clinical programs; however, we may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in sufficient amounts to protect us against losses due to liability. We intend to expand our insurance coverage each time we commercialize an additional product; however, we may be unable to obtain product liability insurance on commercially reasonable terms or in adequate amounts. On occasion, large judgments have been awarded in class action lawsuits based on drugs or medical treatments that had unanticipated adverse effects. A successful product liability claim or series of claims brought against us could adversely affect our results of operations and business.
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Patients with the diseases targeted by certain of our product candidates are often already in severe and advanced stages of disease and have both known and unknown significant pre-existing and potentially life-threatening health risks. During the course of treatment, patients may suffer adverse events, including death, for reasons that may be related to our product candidates. Such events could subject us to costly litigation, require us to pay substantial amounts of money to injured patients, delay, negatively impact or end our opportunity to receive or maintain regulatory approval to market our products, or require us to suspend or abandon our commercialization efforts. Even in a circumstance in which we do not believe that an adverse event is related to our products, the investigation into the circumstance may be time-consuming or inconclusive. These investigations may interrupt our sales efforts, delay our regulatory approval process in other countries, or impact and limit the type of regulatory approvals our product candidates receive or maintain. As a result of these factors, a product liability claim, even if successfully defended, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties
Our existing therapeutic collaborations are important to our business, and future collaborations may also be important to us. If we are unable to maintain any of these collaborations, or if these collaborations are not successful, our business could be adversely affected.
We have limited capabilities for drug development and do not yet have any capability for sales, marketing or distribution. We have entered into collaborations with other companies that we believe can provide such capabilities, including for example with Genentech, GSK or Eli Lilly and Company, or Lilly. These collaborations have also provided us with important funding for our development programs and technology platforms, and we expect to receive additional funding under these collaborations in the future. Our existing therapeutic collaborations, and any future collaborations we enter into, may pose a number of risks, including the following:
collaborators have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these collaborations;
collaborators may not perform their obligations as expected;
collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of any product candidates that achieve regulatory approval or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs based on clinical trial results, changes in the collaborators’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;
collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial program, stop a clinical trial or abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;
collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our products or product candidates if the collaborators believe that competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours; this may also happen if the collaborators’ development of competing products is substantially faster than our development timelines;
collaborators may not further develop product candidates developed by us or co-developed with us under the collaboration;
product candidates discovered in collaboration with us may be viewed by our collaborators as competitive with their own product candidates or products, which may cause collaborators to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of our product candidates;
a collaborator with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates that achieve regulatory approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such product or products;
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disagreements with collaborators, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development, might cause delays or termination of the research, development or commercialization of product candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to product candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;
collaborators have certain defined rights to change or expand the scope of development programs during the course of the collaboration. This may lead to additional research work for us that may be time-consuming and expensive. Such work may compete with our own development programs and may delay timelines to market or proof-of-concept for our product candidates. If development programs under the collaboration turn out to be more costly and time-consuming, such unanticipated costs and work could likewise compete with our internal development programs;
collaborators may not properly maintain, enforce or defend our intellectual property or proprietary information or may use them in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;
collaborators may infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate the intellectual property or proprietary rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability, and collaborators may also allege that we are liable for potential infringement, misappropriation or other violations of third-party intellectual property or proprietary rights during the research and development work for the collaboration;
certain collaborations may be terminated for the convenience of the collaborator and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates. For example, certain of our collaboration and license agreements may be terminated for convenience upon the completion of a specified notice period; and
collaborators may discontinue the development of product candidates within the collaboration, for example if they consider the results achieved so far or the product candidates not promising enough or if their development strategies change.
If our therapeutic collaborations do not result in the successful development and commercialization of products or if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under the collaboration. All of the risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described in this prospectus also apply to the activities of our program collaborators.
Additionally, subject to its contractual obligations to us, if one of our collaborators is involved in a business combination, the collaborator might deemphasize or terminate the development or commercialization of any product candidate licensed to it by us. If one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, it may find it more difficult to attract new collaborators.
For some of our product candidates, we may in the future determine to collaborate with additional pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for development and potential commercialization of therapeutic products. We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Our ability to reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. These factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of approval by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, the potential market for the subject product candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such product candidate to patients, the potential of competing products, and the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge and industry and market conditions generally. The collaborator may also consider alternative product candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to collaborate on and whether such a collaboration could be more attractive than the one with us for our product candidate.
Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that reduced the number of potential future collaborators. If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable collaborators on a
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timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay one or more of our other development programs, delay our potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to fund and undertake development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we fail to enter into collaborations and do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates or bring them to market or continue to develop our technology platforms and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
We may also be restricted under existing collaboration agreements from entering into future agreements on certain terms with potential collaborators. Subject to certain specified exceptions, each of our existing therapeutic collaborations contains an exclusivity restriction on our engaging in activities that are the subject of the collaboration with third parties for specified periods of time.
We rely on CROs and other third parties to conduct our Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 pivotal clinical trials and expect to rely on CROs and other third parties to conduct future clinical trials, as well as investigator-sponsored clinical trials of our product candidates. If these CROs and other third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, comply with regulatory requirements 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 rely and expect to continue to rely on CROs, medical institutions, clinical investigators, contract laboratories and other third parties to conduct or otherwise support clinical trials for our product candidates, including our Phase 2 and Phase 3 pivotal clinical trials of tebentafusp, our Phase 1 clinical trials of IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C, our imminent Phase1 clinical trial of IMC-I109V and GSK’s Phase 1 clinical trial of GSK01. We may also rely on academic and private non-academic institutions to conduct and sponsor clinical trials relating to our product candidates. We will not control the design or conduct of the investigator-sponsored trials, and it is possible that the FDA or non-U.S. regulatory authorities will not view these investigator-sponsored trials as providing adequate support for future clinical trials, whether controlled by us or third parties, for any one or more reasons, including elements of the design or execution of the trials or safety concerns or other trial results.
Such arrangements will likely provide us certain information rights with respect to the investigator-sponsored trials, including access to and the ability to use and reference the data, including for our own regulatory filings, resulting from the investigator-sponsored trials. However, we would not have control over the timing and reporting of the data from investigator-sponsored trials, nor would we own the data from the investigator-sponsored trials. If we are unable to confirm or replicate the results from the investigator-sponsored trials or if negative results are obtained, we would likely be further delayed or prevented from advancing further clinical development of our product candidates. Further, if investigators or institutions breach their obligations with respect to the clinical development of our product candidates, or if the data proves to be inadequate compared to the first-hand knowledge we might have gained had the investigator-sponsored trials been sponsored and conducted by us, then our ability to design and conduct any future clinical trials ourselves may be adversely affected.
We rely and expect to continue to rely heavily on CROs, medical institutions, clinical investigators, contract laboratories and other third parties for execution of clinical trials for our product candidates and control only certain aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards, and our reliance on CROs will not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. For any violations of laws and regulations during the conduct of our clinical trials, we could be subject to warning letters or enforcement action that may include civil penalties up to and including criminal prosecution.
We, our principal investigators and our CROs are required to comply with regulations, including Good Clinical Practices, or GCPs, for conducting, monitoring, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to ensure that the data and results are scientifically credible and accurate, and that the trial patients are adequately informed of the potential risks of participating in clinical trials and their rights are protected. These regulations are enforced by the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for any products in clinical development. The FDA enforces GCP regulations through periodic inspections of clinical trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we, our
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principal investigators or our CROs fail to comply with applicable GCPs, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that, upon inspection, the FDA will determine that any of our future clinical trials will comply with GCPs. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product candidates produced under current Good Manufacturing Practice, or cGMP, regulations. Our failure or the failure of our principal investigators or CROs to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process and could also subject us to enforcement action. We also are required to register ongoing clinical trials and post the results of completed clinical trials on a government-sponsored database, ClinicalTrials.gov, within certain timeframes. Failure to do so can result in fines, adverse publicity and civil and criminal sanctions.
Although we designed our Phase 2 and Phase 3 pivotal clinical trials of tebentafusp, our Phase 1 clinical trials of IMC-C103C and IMC-F106C, our imminent Phase 1 clinical trial of IMC-I109V and GSK’s Phase 1 clinical trial of GSK01 and intend to design the future clinical trials for our product candidates, we expect that CROs will conduct all of our clinical trials. As a result, many important aspects of our development programs, including their conduct and timing, are outside of our direct control. Our reliance on third parties to conduct future clinical trials also results in less direct control over the management of data developed through clinical trials than would be the case if we were relying entirely upon our own staff. Communicating with outside parties can also be challenging, potentially leading to mistakes as well as difficulties in coordinating activities. Outside parties may:
have staffing difficulties;
fail to comply with contractual obligations;
experience regulatory compliance issues;
undergo changes in priorities or become financially distressed; or
form relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors.
These factors may materially adversely affect the willingness or ability of third parties to conduct our clinical trials and may subject us to unexpected cost increases that are beyond our control. If the principal investigators or CROs do not perform clinical trials in a satisfactory manner, breach their obligations to us or fail to comply with regulatory requirements, the development, regulatory approval and commercialization of our product candidates may be delayed, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our product candidates, or our development program materially and irreversibly harmed. If we are unable to rely on clinical data collected by our principal investigators or CROs, we could be required to repeat, extend the duration of, or increase the size of any clinical trials we conduct and this could significantly delay commercialization and require significantly greater expenditures.
If any of our relationships with these third-party principal investigators or CROs terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs. If principal investigators or 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, any clinical trials such principal investigators or CROs are associated with 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, we believe that our financial results and the commercial prospects for our product candidates in the subject indication would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.
We contract with third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for pre-clinical development, clinical testing, and expect to continue to do so for commercialization. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or products or such quantities at an acceptable cost, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.
We do not currently own or operate, nor do we have any plans to establish in the future, any manufacturing facilities or personnel. We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for pre-clinical development and clinical testing, as well as for the commercial manufacture of our
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products if any of our product candidates receive marketing approval. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or products or such quantities at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.
The facilities used by our contract manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates must be inspected by the FDA pursuant to pre-approval inspections that will be conducted after we submit our marketing applications to the FDA. We do not control the manufacturing process of, and will be completely dependent on, our contract manufacturers for compliance with cGMPs in connection with the manufacture of our product candidates. If our contract manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or others, they will not be able to pass regulatory inspections and/or maintain regulatory compliance for their manufacturing facilities. In addition, we have no control over the ability of our contract manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority finds deficiencies with or does not approve these facilities for the manufacture of our product candidates or if it finds deficiencies or withdraws any such approval in the future, we may need to find alternative manufacturing facilities, which would significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for or market our product candidates, if approved. Further, our failure, or the failure of our third-party manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of product candidates or products, if approved, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect our business and supplies of our product candidates.
We may be unable to establish any agreements with third-party manufacturers or to do so on acceptable terms. Even if we are able to establish agreements with third-party manufacturers, reliance on third -party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:
reliance on the third party for regulatory compliance and quality assurance;
the possible breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third party;
the possible misappropriation or unauthorized disclosure of our proprietary information, including our trade secrets and know-how; and
the possible termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third party at a time that is costly or inconvenient for us.
Our product candidates and any products that we may develop may compete with other product candidates and approved products for access to manufacturing facilities. There are a limited number of manufacturers that operate under cGMP regulations and that might be capable of manufacturing for us.
Any performance failure on the part of our existing or future manufacturers could delay clinical development or marketing approval. If our current contract manufacturers cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such manufacturers. We may incur added costs and delays in identifying and qualifying any such replacement.
Our current and anticipated future dependence upon others for the manufacture of our product candidates or products may adversely affect our future profit margins and our ability to commercialize any products that receive marketing approval on a timely and competitive basis.
The third parties upon whom we rely for the supply of the active pharmaceutical ingredient used in our product candidates are our sole source of supply, and the loss of any of these suppliers could significantly harm our business.
The active pharmaceutical ingredients, or API, used in our product candidates are supplied to us from single-source suppliers. Our ability to successfully develop our product candidates, and to ultimately supply our commercial products in quantities sufficient to meet the market demand, depends in part on our ability to obtain the API for these products in accordance with regulatory requirements and in sufficient quantities for clinical testing and commercialization. We do not currently have arrangements in place for a redundant or second-source supply of any such API in the event any of our current suppliers of such API cease their operations for any
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reason. We are also unable to predict how changing global economic conditions or potential global health concerns such as the COVID-19 pandemic will affect our third-party suppliers and manufacturers. Any negative impact of such matters on our third-party suppliers and manufacturers may also have an adverse impact on our results of operations or financial condition.
For all of our product candidates, we intend to identify and qualify additional manufacturers to provide such API prior to submission of a BLA to the FDA and/or an MAA to the EMA. We are not certain, however, that our single-source suppliers will be able to meet our demand for their products, either because of the nature of our agreements with those suppliers, our limited experience with those suppliers or our relative importance as a customer to those suppliers. It may be difficult for us to assess their ability to timely meet our demand in the future based on past performance. While our suppliers have generally met our demand for their products on a timely basis in the past, they may subordinate our needs in the future to their other customers.
Establishing additional or replacement suppliers for the API used in our product candidates, if required, may not be accomplished quickly. If we are able to find a replacement supplier, such replacement supplier would need to be qualified and may require additional regulatory inspection or approval, which could result in further delay. While we seek to maintain adequate inventory of the API used in our product candidates, any interruption or delay in the supply of components or materials, or our inability to obtain such API from alternate sources at acceptable prices in a timely manner could impede, delay, limit or prevent our development efforts, which could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.
We may seek to establish additional collaborations, and, if we are not able to establish them on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.
Our product development programs and the potential commercialization of our product candidates will require substantial additional cash to fund expenses. For some of our product candidates, we may decide to collaborate with additional pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for the development and potential commercialization of those product candidates.
We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Whether we reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. Those factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of approval by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, the potential market for the subject product candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such product candidate to patients, the potential of competing products, the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge and industry and market conditions generally. The collaborator may also consider alternative product candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to collaborate on and whether such a collaboration could be more attractive than the one with us for our product candidate. The terms of any additional collaborations or other arrangements that we may establish may not be favorable to us.
We may also be restricted under collaboration agreements from entering into future agreements on certain terms with potential collaborators. Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators.
We may not be able to negotiate additional collaborations on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to do so, we may have to curtail the development of the product candidate for which we are seeking to collaborate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to 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 further develop our product candidates or bring them to market and generate product revenue.
In addition, any future collaborations that we enter into may not be successful. The success of our collaboration arrangements will depend heavily on the efforts and activities of our collaborators. Collaborators generally have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these
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collaborations. Disagreements between parties to a collaboration arrangement regarding clinical development and commercialization matters can lead to delays in the development process or commercializing the applicable product candidate and, in some cases, termination of the collaboration arrangement. These disagreements can be difficult to resolve if neither of the parties has final decision-making authority. Collaborations with pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies and other third parties often are terminated or allowed to expire by the other party. Any such termination or expiration would adversely affect us financially and could harm our business reputation.
Where we license technology from a third party, the prosecution, maintenance, enforcement and defense of the patent or other intellectual property or proprietary rights licensed from such third party may be controlled by the third party, which may impact the scope of patent or other protection.
Where we license patent rights, technology or other intellectual property or proprietary rights from a third party, control of such third-party rights may vest in the licensor, particularly where the license is non-exclusive or field-restricted. This may mean that we are not able to control or affect the scope of the claims of any relevant third-party patent or other intellectual property protection or have control over the preparation, filing, prosecution, maintenance, enforcement and defense of such patents and patent applications. Therefore, we cannot be certain that such patents and patent applications will be prepared, filed, prosecuted, maintained, enforced, and defended in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. If our licensors fail to prosecute, maintain, enforce, and defend such patents, or lose rights to those patents or patent applications, the rights we have licensed may be reduced or eliminated, and our right to develop and commercialize any of our products that are subject to such licensed rights could be adversely affected. Where a licensor brings an enforcement action with respect to licensed patents or other intellectual property, this could negatively impact our business or result in additional restrictions being imposed on the license we have and the scope of such license, or result in invalidation or limitation of the scope of the licensed patents or other intellectual property rights. In addition, should we wish to enforce the relevant patent or other intellectual property rights against a third person, we may be reliant on consent from the relevant licensor or the cooperation of the licensor. The licensor may refuse to bring such action and leave us unable to restrict competitor entry into the market. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
If we or our third-party suppliers use hazardous, non-hazardous, biological or other materials in a manner that causes injury or violates applicable law, we may be liable for damages.
Our research and development activities involve the controlled use of potentially hazardous substances, including chemical and biological materials, potentially infectious material and genetically modified cells. We and our suppliers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the United Kingdom and United States governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of such hazardous materials. Although we believe that we and our suppliers’ procedures for using, handling, storing and disposing of these materials comply with legally prescribed standards, and that we and our suppliers have all necessary permits, we and our suppliers cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from hazardous chemical or biological materials. As a result of any such contamination or injury, we may incur liability or local, city, state or federal authorities may curtail the use of these materials and interrupt our business operations. In the event of an accident, we could be held liable for damages or penalized with fines, and the liability could exceed our resources. We have insurance in place for liabilities arising from handling biological and hazardous substances, but it may not or may not fully cover all costs from such accidents. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations is expensive, and current or future environmental regulations may impair our research, development and production efforts, which could impact our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations.
Risks Related to Intellectual Property
If we are unable to adequately protect our proprietary technology or obtain, maintain, protect and enforce patent and other intellectual property protection for our technology and products or if the scope of the protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors and other third parties could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our technology and products may be impaired.
Our commercial success will depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain proprietary or intellectual property protection in the United States and other countries for our product candidates and our core technologies, including our novel target discovery technology, our proprietary compound library and other know-how. We seek
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to protect our proprietary and intellectual property position by, among other methods, filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our proprietary technology, inventions and improvements that are important to the development and implementation of our business. We also rely on trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our proprietary and intellectual property position.
The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. The degree of patent protection we require to successfully commercialize our product candidates may be unavailable or severely limited in some cases and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep any competitive advantage. We cannot provide any assurances that any of our current or future pending patent applications will issue or will mature into issued patents that include claims with a scope sufficient to protect tebentafusp, IMC-C103C, IMC-F106C, IMC-I109V, GSK’s GSK01 or any other current or future product candidates or technologies, in whole or in part, or effectively prevent others from commercializing competing product candidates and technologies. While we own issued patents relating to tebentafusp and pending patent applications relating to our other product candidates, including IMC-C103C, IMC-F106C, GSK’s GSK01 and IMC-I109V, we do not own or in-license any issued patents relating to such other product candidates, and we can provide no assurance that any of our current or future patent applications will result in issued patents or that any issued patents will provide us with any competitive advantage. In addition, the laws of foreign jurisdictions may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Furthermore, patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States and countries of the European Union, the natural expiration of a patent is generally twenty years after it is filed. Various extensions may be available; however, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our patent portfolio may not provide us with adequate and continuing patent protection sufficient to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to our product candidates, including generic versions of such products.
Furthermore, certain of our patents and technology were funded in part by investments from nonprofit third parties, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or the Gates Foundation. We are required to fulfill certain contractual obligations with respect to products created using such grant funding, including making certain products available at an affordable price in a list of clearly defined low and lower-middle income countries. For more information see “Business — Collaborations and License Agreements — Gates Collaboration.”
Other parties may have developed technologies that are related or competitive to our own, and such parties may have filed or may file patent applications, or may have received or may receive issued patents, claiming inventions that may overlap or conflict with those claimed in our own patent applications or issued patents, with respect to either the same methods or formulations or the same subject matter. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all. Therefore, we cannot know with certainty whether we were the first to make the inventions claimed in our pending patent applications or any patent application we may license, or that we were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. In addition, although we enter into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to confidential or patentable aspects of our research and development output, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, CROs, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors, and other third parties, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose such output before a patent application is filed, thereby jeopardizing our ability to seek patent protection. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights cannot be predicted with any certainty.
In addition, the patent prosecution process is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. Further, with respect to most of the pending patent applications covering our product candidates, prosecution has yet to commence. Patent prosecution is a lengthy process, during which the scope of the claims initially submitted for examination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, or its global equivalents, are often significantly narrowed by the time they issue, if they issue at all. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection.
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Moreover, in some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we may license from third parties. Therefore, these patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business.
Even if we acquire patent protection that we expect should enable us to maintain a competitive advantage, third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and our patents or any patent we may license may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. For example, we may be subject to a third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO challenging the priority of an invention claimed within one of our patents, which submissions may also be made prior to a patent’s issuance, precluding the granting of any of our pending patent applications. We may become involved in opposition, derivation, re-examination, revocation, inter partes review, post-grant review, interference or other proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others from whom we have obtained licenses to such rights.
Competitors or other third parties may claim that they invented the inventions claimed in our issued patents or patent applications prior to us, or may file patent applications before we do. Third parties may also claim that we are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating their patents or other intellectual property rights and that we therefore cannot practice our technology as claimed under our patents, if issued. Competitors and other third parties may also contest our patents, if issued, by showing the patent examiner that the invention was not original, was not novel or was obvious. In litigation, a competitor or other third party could claim that our patents, if issued, are not valid for a number of reasons. If a patent office or court agrees, we would lose our rights to those challenged patents, in whole or in part.
In addition, we may in the future be subject to claims by our former employees or consultants asserting an ownership right in our patents or patent applications, as a result of the work they performed on our behalf. Although we generally require all of our employees, consultants and advisors and any other third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information or technology to assign or grant similar rights to their inventions to us, we cannot be certain that we have executed such agreements with all parties who may have contributed to our intellectual property, nor can we be certain that our agreements with such parties will be upheld in the face of a potential challenge, or that they will not be breached, for which we may not have an adequate remedy.
An adverse determination in any such submission or proceeding may result in loss of exclusivity or freedom to operate or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, without payment to us, or could limit the duration of the patent protection covering our technology and product candidates. Such challenges may also result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize our product candidates without infringing third-party patent rights. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates. Such proceedings also may result in substantial cost and require significant time and attention from our scientists and management.
In addition, given the amount of time required for the development, testing, and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our intellectual property may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products or technology similar or identical to ours. Moreover, some of our patents and patent applications are, and may in the future be, co-owned with third parties. In-licensed patents and patent applications may also be co-owned with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third-party co-owners’ interest in such patents or patent applications, such co-owners may be able to license their interest to other parties, including our competitors, who could market competing products and technology. In addition, we may need the cooperation of any such co-owners of our patents in order to enforce such patents against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us.
Even if unchallenged, our patent portfolio may not provide us with any meaningful protection or prevent competitors from designing around our patent claims to circumvent our patents or any patents we may license by developing similar or alternative technologies or products in a non-infringing manner. For example, a third party
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may develop a competitive product that provides benefits similar to one or more of our product candidates but that has a different composition that falls outside the scope of our patent protection. If the patent protection provided by the patents and patent applications we hold or pursue with respect to our product candidates is not sufficiently broad to impede such competition, our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates could be negatively affected. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
Obtaining and maintaining patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.
The USPTO and various foreign patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. In addition, periodic maintenance and renewal fees on issued patents often must be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies over the lifetime of the patent. While an unintentional lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which non-compliance 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. Non-compliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents within prescribed time limits. If we or our licensors fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our product candidates and technologies, we may not be able to stop a competitor from marketing products that are the same as or similar to our product candidates, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position may be harmed.
In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we rely upon unpatented trade secret protection, unpatented know-how, proprietary information and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. With respect to the building of our ImmTAX platform, we consider trade secrets and know-how to be our primary intellectual property. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our collaborators, scientific advisors, employees, CROs and consultants, and invention assignment agreements with our consultants and employees. We may not be able to prevent the unauthorized disclosure or use of our technical know-how or other trade secrets by the parties to these agreements, however, despite the existence generally of confidentiality agreements and other contractual restrictions. Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures of trade secrets and other confidential information is difficult, and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to protect our proprietary technologies will be effective. If any of the collaborators, scientific advisors, employees, CROs and consultants who are parties to these agreements breaches or violates the terms of any of these agreements, we may not have adequate remedies for any such breach or violation, and we could lose our trade secret protection as a result. In addition, we cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets or proprietary technology and processes. Enforcing a claim that a third party illegally obtained and is using our trade secrets, like patent litigation, is expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts, especially outside the United States, are sometimes less willing to protect trade secrets. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. While we have confidence in these individuals, organizations and systems, agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach.
Our trade secrets could otherwise become known, obtained or independently discovered by our competitors or other third parties, who could purchase our products and product candidates and attempt to replicate some or all of the competitive advantages we derive from our development efforts, willfully infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate our intellectual property rights, design around our protected technology or develop their own competitive technologies that fall outside of our intellectual property rights. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third party, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate such information, from using that technology or information
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to compete with us. If our trade secrets are not adequately protected so as to protect our market against competitors’ products, our competitive position could be adversely affected, as could our business. Additionally, if the steps taken to maintain our trade secrets are deemed inadequate, we may have insufficient recourse against third parties for misappropriating our trade secrets. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating their intellectual property or proprietary rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
Our commercial success depends upon our ability and the ability of our collaborators to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing, misappropriating, or otherwise violating the intellectual property and proprietary rights of third parties. The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by extensive and frequent litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. We are subject to, and may in the future become party to or threatened with, adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates and technology, including interference, post-grant review, inter partes review and derivation proceedings before the USPTO and similar proceedings in foreign jurisdictions, such as oppositions before the European Patent Office, or EPO. Our competitors or other third parties may assert infringement claims against us, alleging that our products or technologies are covered by their patents. Given the vast number of patents in our field of technology, we cannot be certain that we do not infringe existing patents or that we will not infringe patents that may be granted in the future. Many companies have filed, and continue to file, patent applications related to soluble, bispecific TCRs. Some of these patent applications have already been allowed or issued, and others may issue in the future. Since these areas are competitive and of strong interest to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, there will likely be additional patent applications filed and additional patents granted in the future, as well as additional research and development programs expected in the future. Furthermore, because patent applications can take many years to issue and may be confidential for 18 months or more after filing, and because pending patent claims can be revised before issuance, there may be applications now pending which may later result in issued patents that may be infringed by the manufacture, use or sale of our product candidates, or the practice of our technology. If a patent holder believes our product or product candidate infringes on its patent, the patent holder may sue us even if we have received patent protection for our technology. Moreover, we may face patent infringement claims from non-practicing entities that have no relevant product revenue and against whom our own patent portfolio may thus have no deterrent effect.
Even if we believe that such claims are without merit, there is no assurance that a court or patent office would find in our favor on questions of infringement, validity, enforceability, or priority. A court of competent jurisdiction could hold that third-party patents are valid, enforceable, and infringed, which could materially and adversely affect our ability to commercialize any product candidates we may develop and any other product candidates or technologies covered by the asserted third-party patents. In order to successfully challenge the validity of a U.S. patent in federal court, we would need to overcome a presumption of validity. As this burden is a high one requiring us to present clear and convincing evidence as to the invalidity of any such U.S. patent claim, there is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction would invalidate the claims of any such U.S. patent. If we are found to infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate a third party’s intellectual property rights, we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing and marketing our product candidates and technology. We may also attempt to obtain a license even in the absence of an action or finding of infringement. In either case, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain such a license, it could be granted on non-exclusive terms, thereby providing our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us, and it could require us to make substantial licensing and royalty payments. Without such a license, we could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing and commercializing the infringing technology or product candidates. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed such third-party patent rights. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations, which could materially harm our business. If we lose a foreign lawsuit alleging our infringement, misappropriation of other violation of a competitor’s patents or other intellectual property or proprietary rights, we could be prevented from marketing our products in one or more foreign countries. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
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We may be subject to damages resulting from claims that we or our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets or other confidential information of our competitors or other third parties or are in breach of non-competition or non-solicitation agreements with our competitors or other third parties, or claims asserting ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.
We could in the future be subject to claims that we or our employees have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed alleged trade secrets or other proprietary information of former employers or competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees and consultants do not use the intellectual property, proprietary information, know-how or trade secrets of others in their work for us, we may in the future be subject to claims that we caused an employee to breach the terms of his or her non-competition or non-solicitation agreement, or that we or these individuals have, inadvertently or otherwise, used or disclosed the alleged trade secrets or other proprietary information of a former employer or competitor. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. Even if we are successful in defending against these claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and could be a distraction to management. If our defenses to these claims fail, in addition to requiring us to pay monetary damages, a court could prohibit us from using technologies or features that are essential to our product candidates, if such technologies or features are found to incorporate or be derived from the trade secrets or other proprietary information of the former employers. An inability to incorporate such technologies or features would have a material adverse effect on our business, and may prevent us from successfully commercializing our product candidates. In addition, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel as a result of such claims. Moreover, any such litigation or the threat thereof may adversely affect our ability to hire employees or contract with independent sales representatives. A loss of key personnel or their work product could hamper or prevent our ability to commercialize our product candidates.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. The assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents and other intellectual property rights, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.
Competitors and other third parties may infringe, misappropriate, challenge the validity of or otherwise violate our patents and other intellectual property rights. We may become involved in opposition, derivation, re-examination, revocation, inter partes review, post-grant review, interference or other proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others from whom we have obtained licenses to such rights. For example, four of our European patents relating to the non-core aspects of our ImmTAX platform technology are involved in opposition proceedings at the European Patent Office, challenging the validity of those patents. Opposition proceedings may involve issues including, but not limited to, priority, patentability of the claims involved, and certain procedural formalities. As a result of the opposition proceedings, the European Patent Office’s Opposition Division, or the Opposition Division, can revoke a patent, maintain the patent as granted, or maintain the patent in an amended form. Decisions made by the Opposition Division can be appealed to the European Patent Office’s Appeal Board. As of the date of this prospectus, there is an ongoing patent opposition proceeding at the European Patent Office involving our patent EP3112376, which is a defensive patent related to a TCR mimic antibody with N terminal immune effector. On January 27, 2021, the Opposition Division decided to revoke EP3112376 and, pending receipt of the Opposition Division's detailed reasons for the decision, we are considering filing an appeal; however, this patent is not material to our business as a whole and will have no material adverse effect on the development of any of our product candidates. Challenges to our patents, including in such opposition proceedings, may result in loss of patent rights, exclusivity, or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated, or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the scope and duration of the patent protection of our ImmTAX platform technology and product candidates. For more information see “Business — Legal Proceedings.”
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Additionally, our patents or the patents of our licensing or collaboration partners may in the future become, involved in inventorship or priority disputes, and our ability to commercialize our product candidates could be adversely affected if we do not obtain a license to any patents material to the development of our product candidates. We may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be nonexclusive, thereby giving our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us, and it could require us to make substantial licensing and royalty payments. If we are unable to obtain a necessary license to a third-party patent on commercially reasonable terms, we may be unable to commercialize our platform technology or product candidates or such commercialization efforts may be significantly delayed, which could in turn significantly harm our business.
To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we or our licensing or collaboration partners may be required to file infringement claims. A court may disagree with such allegations, however, and may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that the applicable patents or other intellectual property do not cover the third-party technology in question. Further, such third parties could counterclaim that we infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their intellectual property or that a patent or other intellectual property right asserted against them is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims challenging the validity, enforceability or scope of asserted patents are commonplace. In addition, third parties may initiate legal proceedings against us to assert such challenges to our intellectual property rights. The outcome of any such proceeding is generally unpredictable. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness or non-enablement. Patents may be unenforceable if someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO or made a misleading statement during prosecution. It is possible that prior art of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution exists, which could render any patents that may issue invalid. Moreover, it is also possible that prior art may exist that we are aware of but do not believe is relevant to our future patents, should they issue, but that could nevertheless be determined to render our patents invalid.
An adverse result in any litigation proceeding could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability of our patents covering one of our product candidates, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection covering such product candidate. Competing products may also be sold in other countries in which our patent coverage might not exist or be as strong. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
Intellectual property litigation and proceedings could cause us to spend substantial resources and distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities.
Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims, with or without merit, are unpredictable and generally expensive and time-consuming and are likely to divert significant resources from our core business, including distracting our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our ADSs. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities.
We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. Accordingly, despite our efforts, we may not be able to prevent third parties from infringing upon, misappropriating or otherwise violating, or from successfully challenging, our intellectual property rights. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace.
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We may not be able to effectively enforce our intellectual property and proprietary rights throughout the world.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on our product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive. The requirements for patentability may differ in certain jurisdictions, particularly in developing countries. Moreover, our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights may be adversely affected by unforeseen changes in foreign intellectual property laws. Additionally, the patent laws of some foreign jurisdictions do not afford intellectual property protection to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in certain foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of some countries, particularly developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property rights. This could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement, misappropriation or other violation of our patents and other intellectual property rights. For example, many foreign countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner must grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of such patent. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and, further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, if our ability to enforce our patents to stop infringing activities is inadequate. These products may compete with our product candidates, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.
Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions, whether or not successful, could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and resources from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, or our patent applications at risk of not issuing, and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property and proprietary rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license. Furthermore, while we intend to protect our intellectual property rights in the major markets for our product candidates, we cannot ensure that we will be able to initiate or maintain similar efforts in all jurisdictions in which we may wish to market our product candidates. Accordingly, our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights in such countries may be inadequate. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
If we do not obtain patent term extension and data exclusivity for any product candidates we may develop, our business may be materially harmed.
Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of any FDA marketing approval of any product candidates we may develop, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Action of 1984, or Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent extension term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval, only one patent may be extended and only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. However, we may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or term of any such extension is less than we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially harmed.
We may need to license certain intellectual property from third parties, and such licenses may not be available or may not be available on commercially reasonable terms.
A third party may hold intellectual property, including patent rights, that are important or necessary to the development of our product candidates. It may be necessary for us to use the patented or proprietary technology
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of third parties to commercialize our products, in which case we would be required to obtain a license from these third parties on commercially reasonable terms, or our business could be harmed, possibly materially. If we are not able to obtain a license, or not able to obtain a license on commercially reasonable terms, our business could be harmed, possibly materially. Even if we are able to obtain a license, it may be non-exclusive, which may allow our competitors or other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us.
The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and more established companies may pursue strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive or necessary. These companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, capital resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. In cases where we are unable to procure sufficient rights to third-party intellectual property rights, we might need to cease use of the compositions or methods covered by such third-party intellectual property rights and/or develop alternative approaches that do not infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate such intellectual property rights. This could entail additional costs and development delays, and the development of such alternatives may not be feasible. Any of the foregoing could prevent us from developing or commercializing one or more of our product candidates, or force us to modify such product candidates, or to cease some aspect of our business operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If we fail to comply with our obligations in the agreements under which we collaborate with or license intellectual property rights from third parties, or otherwise experience disruptions to our business relationships with our collaborators or licensors, we could lose rights that are important to our business.
Our current and any future collaboration and license agreements impose, or we expect will impose, various development, diligence, commercialization, payment, and other obligations on us. In spite of our efforts, a collaborator or licensor might conclude that we have materially breached our obligations under such agreement and seek to terminate the agreement, thereby removing or limiting our ability to develop and commercialize products and technology covered by these agreements. If these agreements are terminated, or if the underlying patent or other intellectual property rights licensed thereunder fail to provide the intended exclusivity, competitors or other third parties would have the freedom to seek regulatory approval of, and to market, products identical or similar to ours and we may be required to cease our development and commercialization of certain of our product candidates. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
Moreover, disputes may arise regarding intellectual property subject to a collaboration or licensing agreement, including:
the scope of rights granted under the agreement and other interpretation-related issues;
the extent to which our technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the counterparty that is not subject to the agreement;
the sublicensing of patent and other intellectual or proprietary rights under our collaborative development relationships;
our diligence obligations under the agreement and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;
the inventorship and ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our counterparty and us and our partners; and
the priority of invention of patented technology.
These agreements may be complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. Moreover, if
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disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
Changes to the patent law in the United States and other jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our product candidates.
As is the case with other biopharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biopharmaceutical industry involve both technological and legal complexity and is therefore costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. Recent patent reform legislation in the United States and other countries, including the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or Leahy-Smith Act, signed into law in 2011, could increase those uncertainties and costs.
The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and provide more efficient and cost-effective avenues for competitors to challenge the validity of patents. For example, the Leahy-Smith Act limits where a patentee may file a patent infringement suit and provides opportunities for third parties to challenge any issued patent with the USPTO. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in U.S. federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a patent claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. The Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the enforcement or defense of our or our collaboration or licensing partners’ issued patents.
In addition, the Leahy-Smith Act has transformed the U.S. patent system into a “first to file” system for deciding which party should be granted a patent when two or more patent applications are filed by different parties claiming the same invention. Under a “first-to-file” system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to a patent on the invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. This will require us to be cognizant of the time from invention to filing of a patent application and be diligent in filing patent applications, but circumstances could prevent us from promptly filing patent applications on our inventions. Therefore, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could make it more difficult to obtain patent protection for our inventions and increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. Additionally, there have been recent proposals for additional changes to the patent laws of the United States and other countries that, if adopted, could impact our ability to obtain patent protection for our proprietary technology or our ability to enforce rights in our proprietary technology. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. courts, the USPTO and the relevant law-making bodies in other countries, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce any existing patents and patents that we may obtain in the future.
Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations and may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. For example:
others may be able to make products that are similar to our product candidates or utilize similar technology but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or license now or in the future;
we or our licensors or collaborators might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own or license now or in the future;
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we or our licensors or collaborators might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our or their inventions;
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights or any intellectual property rights we may license;
it is possible that our present or future pending patent applications (whether owned or licensed) will not lead to issued patents;
it is possible that there are or will be prior public disclosures that could invalidate our or our licensors’ or collaboration partners’ patents;
issued patents that we hold rights to may fail to provide us with any competitive advantage, or may be held invalid or unenforceable, including as a result of legal challenges by our competitors or other third parties;
our competitors or other third parties might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights or in countries where research and development safe harbor laws exist, and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;
we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;
the ownership, validity or enforceability of our patents or patent applications may be challenged by third parties;
the patents or pending or future applications of others, if issued, may harm our business; and
we may choose not to file a patent in order to maintain certain trade secrets or know-how, and a third party may subsequently file a patent covering such intellectual property.
Should any of these events occur, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Issued patents covering our product candidates or technologies could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court or in administrative proceedings.
If we initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates or technologies, should such a patent issue, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness, written description or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld information material to patentability from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties also may raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post grant review, inter partes review and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). An adverse determination in any of the foregoing proceedings could result in the revocation or cancellation of, or amendment to, our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates or technology. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which the patent examiner and we or our licensing partners were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant or third party were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we could lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on one or more of our product candidates or technologies. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then this may impede our ability to build and sustain name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.
We may rely on trademarks and trade names to protect our business. If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, this may impede our ability to build and sustain name recognition in our markets of
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interest and our business may be adversely affected. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names, which we need to support name recognition among potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. At times, competitors may adopt trade names or trademarks similar to ours, thereby impeding our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to market confusion. In addition, there could be potential trade name or trademark oppositions or infringement claims brought by owners of other registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names that incorporate elements which are identical or similar to our trademarks or trade names. For example, our U.S. trademark application for IMMTAX is currently subject to an opposition filed by Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH, or Immatics, and we have brought counterclaims against three of Immatics's U.S. registered trademarks for IMMATICS. If we are unsuccessful in defending this opposition, we may be required to change our branding for our ImmTAX platform which could cause us to incur substantial costs and impede our ability to build and sustain name recognition for such platform. For more information on the opposition proceeding see “Business — Legal Proceedings.” Over the long term, if we are unable to successfully register our trademarks and trade names and establish name recognition based on effective use of our trademarks and trade names, then we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. Our efforts to enforce or protect our proprietary rights related to trademarks, trade secrets, domain names, copyrights or other intellectual property may be ineffective and could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and could adversely impact our financial condition or results of operations.
Risks Related to Government Regulation
The FDA regulatory pathways can be difficult to predict and whether, for example, further unanticipated clinical trials are required, will depend on the data obtained in our ongoing clinical trials.
The regulatory approval pathway and the amount of time it takes us to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates will depend on the data that are obtained in our ongoing clinical trials and any future clinical trials, including future registrational or pivotal clinical trials. We may attempt to seek approval on a per indication basis for our product candidates on the basis of a single pivotal trial or on the basis of data from one or more uncontrolled trials. While the FDA requires in most cases two adequate and well-controlled pivotal clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of a product candidate, a single trial with strong confirmatory evidence may be sufficient in instances where the trial is a large multicenter trial demonstrating internal consistency and a statistically very persuasive finding of a clinically meaningful effect on mortality, irreversible morbidity or prevention of a disease with a potentially serious outcome and if confirmation of the result in a second trial would be practically or ethically impossible. In rare cancer indications with very limited treatment options, a large and/or controlled trial is often not feasible and thus data from smaller and even uncontrolled trials may be sufficient for regulatory approval. Depending on the data we obtain, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may require additional clinical trials to be carried out or further patients to be treated prior to the granting of any regulatory approval for marketing of our product candidates. It is difficult for us to predict with such a novel technology exactly what will be required by the regulatory authorities in order to take our product candidates to market or the timeframes under which the relevant regulatory approvals can be obtained.
The process of obtaining marketing approvals, both in the United States and abroad, is expensive, may take many years if additional clinical trials are required, if approval is obtained at all, and can vary substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. For example, clinical trials may be required in pediatric populations before any marketing approval can be obtained, which can be time-consuming and costly. Changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for each submitted product application, may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. The FDA and foreign regulatory authorities also have substantial discretion in the drug and biologics approval processes. The number and types of pre-clinical programs and clinical trials that will be required for regulatory approval varies depending on the product candidate, the disease or condition that the product candidate is designed to address, and the regulations applicable to any particular product candidate. 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, and there may be varying interpretations of data obtained from pre-clinical programs or clinical trials, either of which may cause delays or limitations in the approval or the decision not to approve an application. In addition, approval of our product candidates could be delayed or refused for many reasons, including the following:
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the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our or our collaborators’ clinical trials;
we or our collaborators may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that our product candidates are safe, pure, potent and have a favorable risk/benefit profile for any of their proposed indications;
the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities for approval;
the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from pre-clinical programs or clinical trials;
data collected from clinical trials of product candidates may not be sufficient to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities to support the submission of a BLA or other comparable submission in foreign jurisdictions or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;
manufacturing processes or facilities or those of the third-party manufacturers we use may not be adequate to support approval of our product candidates; and
the approval policies or regulations of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.
It is possible that no product candidates will ever obtain the appropriate regulatory approvals necessary to be commercialized. Any delay in obtaining, or failure to obtain, required approvals would materially adversely affect our ability to generate revenue from the particular product candidate, which would result in significant harm to our business.
Even if we receive regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense. Additionally, our product candidates, if approved, could be subject to post-market study requirements, marketing and labeling restrictions, and even recall or market withdrawal if unanticipated safety issues are discovered following approval. In addition, we may be subject to penalties or other enforcement action if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements.
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, establishment registration and listing, as well as continued compliance with cGMPs and GCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may also 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 studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product. Later 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;
clinical trial holds;
fines, warning letters or other regulatory enforcement action;
refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us;
product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; and
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.
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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 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.
The FDA and other regulatory agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses.
If any of our product candidates are approved and we are found to have improperly promoted off-label uses of those products, we may become subject to significant liability. The FDA and other regulatory agencies strictly regulate the promotional claims that may be made about approved prescription drug products. In particular, while the FDA permits the dissemination of truthful and non-misleading information about an approved product, a manufacturer may not promote a product for uses that are not approved by the FDA. If we are found to have promoted such off-label uses, we may become subject to significant liability. Physicians, on the other hand, may prescribe products for off-label uses. Although the FDA and other regulatory agencies do not regulate a physician’s choice of drug treatment made in the physician’s independent medical judgment, they do restrict promotional communications from companies or their sales force with respect to off-label uses of products for which marketing clearance has not been issued. However, companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with a product’s FDA approved labeling. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion of regulated products for off-label uses and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees, corporate integrity agreements or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct must be changed or curtailed. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our product candidates, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.
We are subject to stringent and changing privacy laws, regulations and standards as well as contractual obligations related to data privacy and security. Our actual or perceived failure to comply with such obligations could harm our reputation, subject us to significant fines and liability, or otherwise adversely affect our business or prospects.
We are subject to data privacy and protection laws, regulations, policies and contractual obligations that apply to the collection, transmission, storage, processing and use of personal information or personal data, which among other things, impose certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of personal information. The legislative and regulatory landscape for privacy and data protection continues to evolve in jurisdictions worldwide, and there has been an increasing focus on privacy and data protection issues with the potential to affect our business. Failure to comply with laws, regulations and other obligations governing personal information could result in enforcement actions against us, including fines, imprisonment of company officials and public censure, processing penalties, claims for damages by affected individuals, damage to our reputation and loss of goodwill, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.
The regulatory framework for the collection, use, retention, safeguarding, disclosure, sharing, transfer and other processing of personal information worldwide is rapidly evolving and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Globally, virtually every jurisdiction in which we operate has established its own data security and privacy frameworks with which we must comply. For example, the collection, use, disclosure, transfer or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the United Kingdom and European Union, including personal health data, is subject to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679, or the GDPR, which took effect across all member states of the European Union, or EU, in May 2018. The GDPR is wide-ranging in scope and imposes numerous requirements on companies that process personal data, including requirements relating to processing health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, establishing a legal basis for processing, providing information to individuals regarding data processing activities, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data that requires the adoption of administrative, physical and technical safeguards, providing notification of data breaches to appropriate data protection authorities or data subjects, establishing means for data subjects to exercise rights in relation to their personal data and taking certain measures when engaging third-party
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processors. The GDPR increases our obligations with respect to clinical trials conducted in the EU by expanding the definition of personal data to include coded data and requiring changes to informed consent practices and more detailed notices for clinical trial subjects and investigators. In addition, the GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the European Economic Area, or EEA, including the United States and, as a result, increases the scrutiny for transfers of personal data from clinical trial sites located in the EU to the United States. The United Kingdom and Switzerland have adopted similar restrictions.
Although there are legal mechanisms to allow for the transfer of personal data from the EEA, Switzerland and United Kingdom to the United States, uncertainty remains about compliance with such data protection laws and such mechanisms may not be available or applicable with respect to the personal data processing activities necessary to research, develop and market any product candidates we develop. For example, legal challenges in the EU to the mechanisms that allow companies to transfer personal data from the EU to the United States could result in further limitations on the ability to transfer personal data across borders, particularly if governments are unable or unwilling to reach new or maintain existing agreements that support cross-border data transfers, such as the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks. Specifically, on July 16, 2020, in a case known as Schrems II, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or CJEU, invalidated the European Commission’s Decision 2016/1250 on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and raised questions about whether one of the primary alternatives to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, namely, the European Commission’s Standard Contractual Clauses, can lawfully be used for personal data transfers from the EU to the United States or most other countries. Use of the Standard Contractual Clauses must now be assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into account the legal regime applicable in the destination country, in particular regarding applicable surveillance laws and relevant rights of individuals with respect to the transferred data. In the context of any given transfer, where the legal regime applicable in the destination country may or does conflict with the intended operation of the Standard Contractual Clauses, the decision in Schrems II and subsequent draft guidance from the European Data Protection Board, or EDPB, would require the parties to that transfer to implement certain supplementary technical, organizational and/or contractual measures to rely on the Standard Contractual Clauses as a GDPR-compliant ‘‘transfer mechanism.’’ However, the aforementioned draft guidance from the EDPB on such supplementary technical, organizational and/or contractual measures appears to conclude that no combination of such measures could be sufficient to allow effective reliance on the Standard Contractual Clauses in the context of transfers of personal data ‘‘in the clear’’ to recipients in countries where the power granted to public authorities to access the transferred data goes beyond that which is ‘‘necessary and proportionate in a democratic society’’, which may, following the CJEU’s conclusions in Schrems II on relevant powers of United States public authorities and commentary in that draft EDPB guidance, include the United States in certain circumstances (e.g., where Section 702 of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applies). At present, there are few, if any, viable alternatives to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and the Standard Contractual Clauses. Inability to transfer personal data from the EU, Switzerland or United Kingdom to the United States may restrict our clinical trial activities in the EU and limit our ability to collaborate with service providers and other companies subject to European data protection laws.
The GDPR also permits data protection authorities to require destruction of improperly gathered or used personal information and/or impose substantial fines for violations of the GDPR, which can be up to four percent of global revenues or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater, and confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. In addition, the GDPR provides that EU member states may make their own further laws and regulations limiting the processing of personal data, including genetic, biometric or health data; as well as personal data related to criminal offences or convictions. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Data Protection Act 2018, or DPA 2018, complements the GDPR in this regard. This fact may lead to greater divergence in the laws that apply to the processing of such data types across the EEA and/or United Kingdom, compliance with which, as and where applicable, may increase our costs and could increase our overall compliance risk. Such member state specific regulations could also limit our ability to collect, use and share data in the context of our EEA and/or United Kingdom establishments (regardless of where any processing in question occurs), and/or could cause our compliance costs to increase, ultimately having an adverse impact on our business, and harming our business and financial condition.
Further, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, often referred to as Brexit, and ongoing developments in the United Kingdom have created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the United Kingdom. Following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on January 31, 2020, pursuant to the
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transitional arrangements agreed to between the United Kingdom and EU, the GDPR continued to have effect under United Kingdom law, and continued to do so until December 31, 2020 as if the United Kingdom remained a member state of the EU for such purposes. Following December 31, 2020, and the expiry of those transitional arrangements, the data protection obligations of the GDPR continue to apply to United Kingdom-related processing of personal data in substantially unvaried form and fashion under the so-called ‘‘UK GDPR’’ (i.e., the GDPR as it continues to form part of law in the United Kingdom by virtue of section 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, as amended (including by the various Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations)). However, going forward, there may be increasing scope for divergence in application, interpretation and enforcement of data protection laws as between the United Kingdom and EEA. Furthermore, the relationship between the United Kingdom and the EEA in relation to certain aspects of data protection law remains unclear. For example, it is still unclear whether the transfer of data from the EEA to the United Kingdom will in the future remain lawful under the GDPR. Under the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, or the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, it has been agreed that transfers of personal data to the United Kingdom from EU Member States will not be treated as “restricted transfers” to a non-EEA country for a period of up to four months from January 1, 2021 (with a potential two month extension), or the extended adequacy assessment period. This will also apply to transfers to the United Kingdom from EEA member state, assuming those member state accede to the relevant provision of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Although the current maximum duration of the extended adequacy assessment period is six months, it may end sooner, for example, in the event that the European Commission adopts an adequacy decision in respect of the United Kingdom, or the United Kingdom amends the UK GDPR and/or makes certain changes regarding data transfers under the UK GDPR/ DPA 2018 without the consent of the EU (unless those amendments or decisions are made simply to keep relevant United Kingdom laws aligned with the EU’s data protection regime). Unless the European Commission makes an ‘‘adequacy finding in respect of the United Kingdom prior to the expiry of the extended adequacy assessment” period, from that point onwards the United Kingdom will be an inadequate “third country” under the GDPR and transfers of data from the EEA to the United Kingdom will require a ‘‘transfer mechanism,’’ such as the European Commission’s Standard Contractual Clauses issued and approved from time to time. Additionally, the United Kingdom has transposed the GDPR into domestic law by way of the UK GDPR with effect from January 2021, which could expose us to two parallel regimes, each of which potentially authorizes similar fines and other potentially divergent enforcement actions for certain violations. In addition to such parallel United Kingdom and EU regimes, following the expiry of the post-Brexit transitional arrangements agreed between the United Kingdom and EU, the United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office is not able to be our ‘‘lead supervisory authority’’ in respect of any ‘‘cross border processing’’ for the purposes of the GDPR. Because we did not designate a lead supervisory authority in an EEA member state with effect from January 1, 2021, we are not able to benefit from the GDPR’s ‘‘one stop shop’’ mechanism. Among other things, this means that, in the event of a violation of the GDPR affecting data subjects across the United Kingdom and the EEA, we could be investigated, and ultimately fined by, the United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office and the supervisory authority in each and every EEA member state where data subjects have been affected by such violation. Other countries have also passed or are considering passing laws requiring local data residency and/or restricting the international transfer of data.
Privacy and data security requirements are also either in place or underway in the United States. There are a broad variety of data protection laws that may be applicable to our activities, and a range of enforcement agencies at both the state and federal levels that can review companies for privacy and data security concerns based on general consumer protection laws. The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general can all be aggressive in reviewing privacy and data security protections for consumers. New laws also are being considered or have been implemented at both the state and federal levels. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, or the CCPA, which became effective on January 1, 2020, requires companies that process information on California residents to make new disclosures to consumers about their data collection, use and sharing practices, provides such individuals with new data privacy rights (including the ability to opt out of certain disclosures of personal information), imposes new operational requirements for covered businesses, provides a private right of action for data breaches and creates a statutory damages framework. Many other states are considering similar legislation, and a broad range of legislative measures also have been introduced at the federal level. Although there are limited exemptions for clinical trial data under the CCPA, the CCPA and other similar laws could impact our business activities depending on how it is interpreted and exemplifies the vulnerability of our business to the evolving regulatory environment related to personal data.
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Additionally, regulations promulgated pursuant to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, as amended, establish privacy and security standards that limit the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health information, or protected health information, and require the implementation of administrative, physical and technological safeguards to protect the privacy of protected health information and ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic protected health information. These provisions may be applicable to our business or that of our collaborators, service providers, contractors or consultants. Determining whether protected health information has been handled in compliance with applicable privacy standards and our contractual obligations can be complex and may be subject to changing interpretation. If we are unable to properly protect the privacy and security of protected health information, we could be found to have violated these privacy and security laws and/or breached certain contracts with our business partners (including as a business associate). Further, if we fail to comply with applicable privacy laws, such as, to the extent applicable, HIPAA privacy and security standards, we could face significant civil and criminal penalties. In the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services’ and state attorney’s general enforcement activity can result in financial liability and reputational harm, and responses to such enforcement activity can consume significant internal resources. In addition, state attorneys general are authorized to bring civil actions seeking either injunctions or damages in response to violations that threaten the privacy of state residents. We cannot be sure how these regulations will be interpreted, enforced or applied to our operations. In addition to the risks associated with enforcement activities and potential contractual liabilities, our ongoing efforts to comply with evolving laws and regulations at the federal and state level may be costly and require ongoing modifications to our policies, procedures and systems.
Given the breadth and depth of changes in data protection obligations, preparing for and complying with the GDPR, CCPA and similar laws’ requirements are rigorous and time-intensive and require significant resources and a review of our technologies, systems and practices, as well as those of any third-party collaborators, service providers, contractors or consultants that process or transfer personal data. Changes involving the GDPR, CCPA or other laws or regulations associated with the enhanced protection of certain types of sensitive data, such as healthcare data or other personal information from our clinical trials, could require us to change our business practices and put in place additional compliance mechanisms, may interrupt or delay our development, regulatory and commercialization activities and increase our cost of doing business, and could expose us to government enforcement actions, regulatory investigations, private litigation and significant fines, penalties and remediation costs and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Additionally, any failure by our third-party collaborators, service providers, contractors or consultants to comply with applicable law, regulations or contractual obligations related to data privacy or security could result in proceedings against us by governmental entities or others, fines, reputational harm and other liabilities.
We may publish privacy policies and other documentation regarding our collection, processing, use and disclosure of personal information and/or other confidential information. Although we endeavor to comply with our published policies and other documentation, we may at times fail to do so or may be perceived to have failed to do so. Moreover, despite our efforts, we may not be successful in achieving compliance if our employees or vendors fail to comply with our published policies and documentation. Such failures can subject us to potential foreign, local, state and federal action if they are found to be deceptive, unfair, or misrepresentative of our actual practices. Moreover, subjects about whom we or our partners obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose the information. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights or failed to comply with data protection laws or applicable privacy notices 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.
It is possible that new and existing laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our practices and our efforts to comply with the evolving data protection rules may be unsuccessful. If so, this could result in government-imposed fines, or penalties or orders requiring that we change our practices, which could adversely affect our business. We must devote significant resources to understanding and complying with this changing landscape. Failure to comply with federal, state and foreign laws regarding privacy and security of personal information could expose us to government-imposed fines and penalties under such laws, penalties or orders requiring that we change our practices, claims for damages or other liabilities, regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, litigation and significant costs for remediation, reputational harm, diminished profits and earnings, additional reporting requirements and/or oversight, any of which could adversely affect our business, our results of operations or prospects. We also face a threat of consumer class actions related
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to these laws and the overall protection of personal data. Even if we are not determined to have violated these laws, government investigations into these issues typically require the expenditure of significant resources and generate negative publicity. Any of the foregoing could have a materially adverse effect on our reputation and our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.
We may also submit marketing applications in other countries. Regulatory authorities in jurisdictions outside of the United States have requirements for approval of product candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those jurisdictions. Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and/or receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion of the product candidate in those countries. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States, including additional nonclinical studies or clinical trials as clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In short, the foreign regulatory approval process involves all of the risks associated with FDA approval. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we may intend to charge for our products will also be subject to approval.
If we are unable to successfully validate, develop and obtain regulatory approval for companion diagnostic tests for our product candidates that require or would commercially benefit from such tests, or experience significant delays in doing so, we may not realize the full commercial potential of these product candidates.
In connection with the clinical development of our product candidates for certain indications, we may engage third parties to develop or obtain access to in vitro companion diagnostic tests to identify patient subsets within a disease category who may derive selective and meaningful benefit from our product candidates. Such companion diagnostics would be used during our clinical trials as well as in connection with the commercialization of our product candidates. To be successful, we or our collaborators will need to address a number of scientific, technical, regulatory and logistical challenges. The FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities regulate in vitro companion diagnostics as medical devices and, under that regulatory framework, will likely require the conduct of clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of any diagnostics we may develop, which we expect will require separate regulatory clearance or approval prior to commercialization.
We intend to rely on third parties for the design, development and manufacture of companion diagnostic tests for our therapeutic product candidates that may require such tests. If we enter into such collaborative agreements, we will be dependent on the sustained cooperation and effort of our future collaborators in developing and obtaining approval for these companion diagnostics. It may be necessary to resolve issues such as selectivity/specificity, analytical validation, reproducibility, or clinical validation of companion diagnostics during the development and regulatory approval processes. Moreover, even if data from pre-clinical studies and early clinical trials appear to support development of a companion diagnostic for a product candidate, data generated in later clinical trials may fail to support the analytical and clinical validation of the companion diagnostic. We and our future collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing, obtaining regulatory approval for, manufacturing and commercializing companion diagnostics similar to those we face with respect to our therapeutic candidates themselves, including issues with achieving regulatory clearance or approval, production of sufficient quantities at commercial scale and with appropriate quality standards, and in gaining market acceptance. If we are unable to successfully develop companion diagnostics for these therapeutic product candidates, or experience delays in doing so, the development of these therapeutic product candidates may be adversely affected, these therapeutic product candidates may not obtain marketing approval, and we may not
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realize the full commercial potential of any of these therapeutics that obtain marketing approval. As a result, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, a diagnostic company with whom we contract may decide to discontinue selling or manufacturing the companion diagnostic test that we anticipate using in connection with development and commercialization of our product candidates or our relationship with such diagnostic company may otherwise terminate. 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 therapeutic candidates.
We are subject to the U.K. Bribery Act 2010, or the Bribery Act, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, or the FCPA, and other anti-corruption laws, as well as export control laws, import and customs laws, trade and economic sanctions laws and other laws governing our operations. Violations of such laws and regulations could subject us to liability.
Our operations are subject to anti-corruption laws, including the Bribery Act, the FCPA, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. §201, the U.S. Travel Act, and other anti-corruption laws that apply in countries where we do business. The Bribery Act, the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws generally prohibit us and our employees and intermediaries from authorizing, promising, offering, or providing, directly or indirectly, improper or prohibited payments, or anything else of value, to government officials or other persons to obtain or retain business or gain some other business advantage. Under the Bribery Act, we may also be liable for failing to prevent a person associated with us from committing a bribery offense. In addition, the FCPA requires public companies to make and keep books and records that accurately and fairly reflect the transactions of the corporation and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls. We and our commercial partners operate in a number of jurisdictions that pose a high risk of potential Bribery Act or FCPA violations, and we participate in collaborations and relationships with third parties whose corrupt or illegal activities could potentially subject us to liability under the Bribery Act, FCPA or local anti-corruption laws, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities. 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 administered by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, and authorities in the European Union governing our international operations, including applicable export control regulations, economic sanctions and embargoes on certain countries and persons, anti-money laundering laws, import and customs requirements and currency exchange regulations, collectively referred to as the Trade Control laws.
As disclosed elsewhere in this prospectus, we conducted an internal investigation in the summer and fall of 2020 as a result of receiving a whistleblower complaint alleging employee misconduct and other improper activities related to a kickback scheme involving an employee and two third-party vendors between 2018 and 2020. Our audit committee led the investigation utilizing outside counsel, during which the named employee resigned. After the investigation, we terminated the one remaining open contract with the third party vendors and issued proceedings in October 2020 against the involved parties. The amount in question was estimated to be in the range of £1.1 million to £1.8 million, and we recovered our estimated losses of £1.8 million from the employee and third-party vendors in December 2020. As a result of this investigation, we identified a material weakness in our internal controls relating to our procurement processes and application of delegation of authority approval limits due to insufficient risk assessment procedures. We have taken and will continue to take steps to remediate the material weakness and to enhance our overall control environment and compliance program. However, we cannot assure you that these measures will be completely effective in ensuring our compliance with all applicable anti-corruption laws, including the Bribery Act, the FCPA or other legal requirements, including Trade Control laws, or prevent future material weaknesses or deficiencies. If we are not in compliance with the Bribery Act, the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws or Trade Control laws, we may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other sanctions and remedial measures, and legal expenses, which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. Likewise, any investigation of any potential violations of the Bribery Act, the FCPA, other anti-corruption laws or Trade Control laws by United Kingdom, United States or other authorities could also have an adverse impact on our reputation, our business, results of operations and financial condition.
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Our activities in the United States subject us to various laws relating to foreign investment and the export of certain technologies, and our failure to comply with these laws or adequately monitor the compliance of our third parties and others we do business with could subject us to substantial fines, penalties and even injunctions, the imposition of which on us could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
Because we have a U.S. subsidiary and substantial operations in the United States, we are subject to U.S. laws that regulate foreign investments in U.S. businesses and access by foreign persons to technology developed and produced in the United States. These laws include section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended by the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, and the regulations at 31 C.F.R. Parts 800 and 801, as amended, administered by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States; and the Export Control Reform Act of 2018, which is being implemented in part through U.S. Commerce Department rulemakings to impose new export control restrictions on “emerging and foundational technologies” yet to be fully identified. Application of these laws, including as they are implemented through regulations being developed, may negatively impact our business in various ways, including by restricting our access to capital and markets; limiting the collaborations we may pursue; regulating the export our products, services, and technology from the United States and abroad; increasing our costs and the time necessary to obtain required authorizations and to ensure compliance; and threatening monetary fines and other penalties if we do not.
If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties. Furthermore, environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have tended to become more stringent. We cannot predict the impact of such changes and cannot be certain of our future compliance. In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials or other work-related injuries, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions or liabilities, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may seek priority review designation for one or more of our other product candidates, but we might not receive such designation, and even if we do, such designation may not lead to a faster regulatory review or approval process.
If the FDA determines that a product candidate offers a treatment for a serious condition and, if approved, the product would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness, the FDA may designate the product candidate for priority review. A priority review designation means that the goal for the FDA to review an application is six months, rather than the standard review period of ten months. We may request priority review for our product candidates. The FDA has broad discretion with respect to whether or not to grant priority review status to a product candidate, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for such designation or status, the FDA may decide not to grant it. Moreover, a priority review designation does not necessarily result in an expedited regulatory review or approval process or necessarily confer any advantage with respect to approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. Receiving priority review from the FDA does not guarantee approval within the six-month review cycle or at all.
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We may seek Orphan Drug Designation for certain of our product candidates, and we may be unsuccessful or may be unable to maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug designation, including the potential for market exclusivity.
As part of our business strategy, we have obtained Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA for tebentafusp in uveal melanoma, and we may also seek Orphan Drug Designation for certain of our other product candidates in the future which could be unsuccessful. Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and the European Union, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a drug as an orphan drug if it is a drug intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals annually in the United States, or a patient population of 200,000 or more in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug will be recovered from sales in the United States. In the United States, Orphan Drug Designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers.
Similarly, in Europe, the European Commission, upon the recommendation of the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products, grants Orphan Drug Designation to promote the development of drugs that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting not more than 5 in 10,000 persons in the European Union and for which no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention, or treatment has been authorized (or the product would be a significant benefit to those affected). Additionally, designation is granted for drugs 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 European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the drug. In the European Union, Orphan Drug Designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers.
Generally, if a drug with an Orphan Drug Designation subsequently receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, the drug is entitled to a period of marketing exclusivity, which precludes the FDA or the EMA from approving another marketing application for the same drug and indication for that time period, except in limited circumstances. The applicable period is seven years in the United States and ten years in the European Union. The European Union exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if a drug no longer meets the criteria for Orphan Drug Designation or if the drug is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified.
Even when and if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a drug, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the drug from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve the same drug for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care. In addition, a designated orphan drug may not receive orphan drug exclusivity if it is approved for a use that is broader than the indication for which it received orphan designation. Moreover, orphan drug exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the drug to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition or if another drug with the same active moiety is determined to be safer, more effective, or represents a major contribution to patient care. Orphan Drug Designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process. While we may seek Orphan Drug Designation for our product candidates, we may never receive such designations. Even if we do receive such designations, there is no guarantee that we will enjoy the benefits of those designations.
A Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA, even if granted for any of our product candidates, may not lead to a faster development, regulatory review or approval process, and each designation does not increase the likelihood that any of our product candidates will receive marketing approval in the United States.
We may seek a breakthrough therapy designation for some of our future product candidates. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For drugs that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to
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identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens. Drugs designated as breakthrough therapies by the FDA may also be eligible for priority review and accelerated approval.
Designation as a breakthrough therapy is within the discretion of the FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe one of our product candidates meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of a breakthrough therapy designation for a product candidate may not result in a faster development process, review or approval compared to therapies considered for approval under conventional FDA procedures and does not assure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our product candidates qualify as breakthrough therapies, the FDA may later decide that such product candidates no longer meet the conditions for qualification or decide that the time period for FDA review or approval will not be shortened.
A Fast Track designation by the FDA, for tebentafusp or even if granted for any other future product candidate(s), may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
We have obtained Fast Track designation from the FDA for tebentafusp for uveal melanoma, and we may seek Fast Track designation for some of our other future product candidates. If a drug is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and the drug demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for this condition, the drug sponsor may apply for fast track designation. The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant this designation, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for this designation, we cannot assure you that the FDA would decide to grant it. Even though we have received Fast Track designation for tebentafusp for uveal melanoma, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. The FDA may withdraw Fast Track designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. Fast Track designation alone does not guarantee qualification for the FDA’s priority review procedures.
The FDA, the EMA and other regulatory authorities may implement additional regulations or restrictions, and legislative bodies may enact new policies, including unfavorable pricing restrictions, that may adversely affect the development and commercialization of our product candidates, and such changes can be difficult to predict.
The FDA, the EMA and regulatory authorities in other countries have each expressed interest in further regulating biotechnology products. Agencies at both the federal and state level in the United States, as well as the U.S. Congressional committees and other governments or governing agencies, have also expressed interest in further regulating the biotechnology industry. Such action may delay or prevent commercialization of some or all of our product candidates. Adverse developments in clinical trials of products conducted by others may cause the FDA or other oversight bodies to change the requirements for approval of any of our product candidates. These regulatory review agencies and committees and the new requirements or guidelines they promulgate may lengthen the regulatory review process, require us to perform additional studies or trials, increase our development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of our product candidates or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. As we advance our product candidates, we will be required to consult with these regulatory agencies and comply with applicable requirements and guidelines. If we fail to do so, we may be required to delay or discontinue development of such product candidates. These additional processes may result in a review and approval process that is longer than we otherwise would have expected. Delays as a result of an increased or lengthier regulatory approval process or further restrictions on the development of our product candidates can be costly and could negatively impact our ability to complete clinical trials and commercialize our current and future product candidates in a timely manner, if at all.
The U.S. and many foreign jurisdictions have enacted or proposed legislative and regulatory changes affecting the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our current or future product candidates or any future product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell a product for which we obtain marketing approval. Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements, (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling, (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be
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imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business. In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively the ACA, was passed, which substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacted the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The ACA, among other things, subjects biological products to potential competition by lower-cost biosimilars, addresses a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increases the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extends the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, establishes annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs, and creates a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% (increased pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, effective as of 2019) point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D.
There remain judicial and congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA as well as efforts by the current presidential administration to repeal or replace certain aspects of the ACA. While Congress has not passed repeal legislation to date, the TCJA, repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate.” On December 14, 2018, a federal district court in Texas ruled the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the TCJA, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. The current administration and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, have both stated that the ruling will have no immediate effect, and on December 18, 2019, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and remanded the case to the lower court to reconsider its earlier invalidation of the full ACA. On March 2, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States granted the petitions for writ of certiorari, and the case is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has yet ruled on the constitutionality of the ACA, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructs certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. Pending review, the ACA remains in effect, but it is unclear what effect this litigation, other efforts to repeal and replace the ACA and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will have on the status of the ACA. Litigation and legislation over the ACA are likely to continue, with unpredictable and uncertain results.
Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers up to 2% per fiscal year, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, and other COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.
There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. At the federal level, the current administration’s budget for fiscal year 2021 includes a $135 billion allowance to support legislative
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proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs. On March 10, 2020, the current administration sent “principles” for drug pricing to Congress, calling for legislation that would, among other things, cap Medicare Part D beneficiary out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses, provide an option to cap Medicare Part D beneficiary monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and place limits on pharmaceutical price increases. Additionally, the current administration previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out-of-pocket costs of product candidates paid by consumers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has solicited feedback on some of these measures and has implemented others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy, a type of prior authorization, for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020. This final rule codified CMS’s policy change that was effective January 1, 2019. More recently, on July 24, 2020 and September 13, 2020, President Trump announced several executive orders that are intended to lower the costs of prescription drug products and seek to implement several of the administration's proposals. As a result, the FDA also released a final rule on September 24, 2020 providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. The FDA also released a final rule, effective November 30, 2020, implementing a portion of the importation executive order providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. Further, on November 20, 2020, HHS finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. On November 20, 2020, CMS issued an interim final rule implementing President Trump's Most Favored Nation executive order, which would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered drugs to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries, effective January 1, 2021. However, on December 28, 2020, the United States District Court in Northern California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of the interim final rule. It is unclear whether the Biden administration will work to reverse these measures or pursue similar policy initiatives.
At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. In addition, regional healthcare authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other healthcare programs. These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing.
We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our current or future product candidates or additional pricing pressures. Further, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, on August 6, 2020, the current president issued another executive order that instructs the federal government to develop a list of “essential” medicines and then buy them and other medical supplies from U.S. manufacturers instead of from companies around the world, including China. The order is meant to reduce regulatory barriers to domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing and catalyze manufacturing technologies needed to keep drug prices low and the production of drug products in the United States.
Our revenue prospects could be affected by changes in healthcare spending and policy in the United States and abroad. We operate in a highly regulated industry and new laws, regulations or judicial decisions, or new interpretations of existing laws, regulations or decisions, related to healthcare availability, the method of delivery or payment for healthcare products and services could negatively impact our business, operations and financial condition.
There have been, and likely will continue to be, legislative and regulatory proposals at the foreign, federal and state levels directed at broadening the availability of healthcare and containing or lowering the cost of
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healthcare. We cannot predict the initiatives that may be adopted in the future, including repeal, replacement or significant revisions to the ACA, particularly in light of the recent U.S. presidential election. The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare and/or impose price controls may adversely affect:
the demand for our current or future product candidates, if we obtain regulatory approval;
our ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our products;
our ability to obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement for a product;
our ability to generate revenue and achieve or maintain profitability;
the level of taxes that we are required to pay; and
the availability of capital.
Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors, which may adversely affect our future profitability.
Our relationships with customers and third-party payors will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, exclusion from government healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.
Although we do not currently have any products on the market, once we begin commercializing our product candidates, we will be subject to additional healthcare statutory and regulatory requirements and enforcement by the federal government and the states and foreign governments in which we conduct our business. Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our future arrangements with third-party payors and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations, include the following:
the federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under federal and state healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;
the federal civil and criminal false claims and civil monetary penalties laws, including the federal False Claims Act, or FCA, imposes criminal and civil penalties, including through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items and services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false of fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;
the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, or knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services; similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;
the federal physician payment transparency requirements, sometimes referred to as the “Sunshine Act” under the Affordable Care Act, require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report to the Department of Health and Human Services information related to transfers of value made to
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physicians (currently defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests of such physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, anesthesiologist assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives during the previous year;
HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 and its implementing regulations, impose obligations on certain covered entity healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their business associates that perform certain services involving the use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information and their subcontractors that use, disclose or otherwise process individually identifiable health information, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information; and
analogous state laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers. Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government in addition to requiring drug manufacturers to report information related to payments to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures. Further, many state laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
Ensuring that our future business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations could involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations, including anticipated activities to be conducted by our sales team, were to be found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, integrity oversight and reporting obligations, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any of the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found not to be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs.
We may not be able to file applications to commence additional clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, the FDA or applicable competent authorities may not permit us to proceed.
We plan to submit investigational new drug applications, or INDs, for additional product candidates to the FDA in the future. We also plan to submit applications to start clinical trials of additional product candidates outside the U.S. to the national competent authorities (for example, a clinical trial authorization, or CTA, to Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, in the United Kingdom).
The filing of INDs to the FDA and the filing of applications outside the U.S. is dependent on additional data that have to be generated to support such regulatory filings. Hence, these filings may be delayed if the tests to generate those data show unexpected results or if technical issues arise in generating those data in the first place.
We cannot be sure that submission of an IND, IND amendment or CTA will result in the FDA or any other competent authority outside the U.S. allowing testing and clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate such clinical trials. The manufacturing and pre-clinical safety and efficacy testing requirements of both ImmTAC® and ImmTAAI® remain emerging and evolving fields. Accordingly, we expect chemistry, manufacturing and control related topics, including product specification, as well as pre-clinical safety testing, will be a focus of IND reviews, which may delay the allowance of INDs by the FDA or CTA approval by other competent authorities outside the U.S.
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If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological and radioactive materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
Changes in funding for the FDA, the SEC and other 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 functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA 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 payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of the FDA and other government agencies on which our operations may rely are subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.
Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies 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 and the SEC, 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.
Further, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations due to insufficient funding of the SEC and other government agencies or due to a government shutdown that affects the SEC.
Our failure to obtain regulatory approval in international jurisdictions would prevent us from marketing our lead product candidate or any other current or future product candidates outside the United States.
If we succeed in developing any products, we intend to market them in non-U.S. jurisdictions in addition to the United States or we may also apply for non-U.S. regulatory approval at the same time as we apply for U.S. regulatory approval. For example, we anticipate submitting a BLA for tebentafusp to the FDA in the third quarter of 2021 followed by an MAA submission to the EMA; however, the trial protocol provides for event driven interim analyses prior to trial completion, which could allow for an earlier BLA submission. In order to market and sell our products in other jurisdictions, we must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. We may not obtain non-U.S. regulatory approvals on a timely basis, if at all. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions. Approval by one regulatory authority outside the United States does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions or by the FDA. If we fail to obtain approval of any of our product candidates by regulatory authorities in another country we will be unable to commercialize our product in that country, and the commercial prospects of that product candidate and our business prospects could decline. The approval procedure varies among countries and can involve additional testing. The time required to obtain approval may differ substantially from that required to obtain FDA approval. The regulatory approval process outside the United States generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. In
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addition, in many countries outside the United States, we must secure product reimbursement approvals before regulatory authorities will approve the product for sale in that country. Obtaining non-U.S. regulatory approvals and compliance with non-U.S. regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. Further, clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries and regulatory approval in one country does not ensure approval in any other country, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. Also, regulatory approval for any of our product candidates may be withdrawn if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements, if problems occur after the product candidate reaches the market or for other reasons. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and fail to receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed and our business will be negatively affected.
Risks Relating to our Business Operations, Employee Matters and Managing Growth
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and experienced scientists and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
We are highly dependent on the research and development, clinical and business development expertise of Dr. Bahija Jallal, Chief Executive Officer, Brian Di Donato, Chief Financial Officer, Dr. David Berman, Head of Research and Development, as well as the other principal members of our management, scientific and clinical team. Although we have entered into employment letter agreements with our executive officers, each of them may terminate their employment with us at any time. We do not maintain “key person” insurance for any of our executives or other employees. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may be employed by employers other than us and may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will be limited.
Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, clinical, manufacturing and sales and marketing personnel will also be critical to our success. The loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees, including temporary loss due to illness, could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Furthermore, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize products. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. Failure to succeed in clinical trials may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified scientific personnel.
In particular, we have experienced competitive hiring environments in our three locations: Oxfordshire, England where we are headquartered, Pennsylvania and Maryland. We may also experience further competition as a result of Brexit. 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 with which we can discover and develop product candidates and our business will be limited.
We expect to expand our development and regulatory capabilities and potentially implement sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, and as a result, we may encounter difficulties in managing our growth, which could disrupt our operations.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 291 full-time employees. We expect to experience significant growth in the number of our employees and the scope of our operations, particularly as we function as a public company and in the areas of product development, regulatory affairs and, if any of our product candidates receives
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marketing approval, sales, marketing and distribution. To manage our anticipated future growth, we must continue to implement and improve our managerial, operational and financial systems, expand our facilities and continue to recruit and train additional qualified personnel. Due to our limited financial resources and the limited experience of our management team in managing a company with such anticipated growth, we may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. The expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert our management and business development resources. Any inability to manage growth could delay the execution of our business plans or disrupt our operations.
We may acquire additional businesses or products, form strategic alliances or create joint ventures with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our existing business. If we acquire businesses with promising markets or technologies, we may not be able to realize the benefit of acquiring such businesses if we are unable to successfully integrate them with our existing operations and company culture. We may encounter numerous difficulties in developing, manufacturing and marketing any new products resulting from a strategic alliance or acquisition that delay or prevent us from realizing their expected benefits or enhancing our business. We cannot assure you that, following any such acquisition, we will achieve the expected synergies to justify the transaction.
Our employees, principal investigators, CROs, partners, vendors and consultants may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.
We are exposed to the risk that our employees, principal investigators, CROs, partners, vendors and consultants may engage in fraudulent conduct or other illegal activity. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct or disclosure of unauthorized activities to us that violate the regulations of the FDA and other regulatory authorities, including those laws requiring the reporting of true, complete and accurate information to such authorities; healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the United States and abroad; or laws that require the reporting of financial information or data accurately. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, 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. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials or creating fraudulent data in our pre-clinical studies or clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation.
For example, in the summer and fall of 2020, we conducted an internal investigation as a result of receiving a whistleblower complaint alleging employee misconduct and other improper activities related to a kickback scheme involving an employee and two third-party vendors between 2018 and 2020. Our audit committee led the investigation utilizing outside counsel, during which the named employee resigned. After the investigation, we terminated the one remaining open contract with the third party vendors and issued proceedings in October 2020 against the involved parties. We recovered our estimated losses of £1.8 million from the employee and third-party vendors in December 2020. As a result of this investigation, we identified a material weakness relating to our procurement processes and application of delegation of authority approval limits due to insufficient risk assessment procedures. We determined that our internal controls did not operate effectively to prevent or timely detect unauthorized contracts and purchase orders. This resulted in the inability to prevent and timely detect these fraudulent activities.
We have adopted a code of conduct applicable to all of our employees to be effective upon completion of this offering, but it is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct by employees and other third parties, 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 comply with these laws or regulations. Additionally, we are subject to the risk that a person could allege such fraud or other misconduct, even if none occurred. 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, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, monetary fines, imprisonment, disgorgement, additional reporting obligations and oversight, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, contractual
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damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and curtailment of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.
Our indebtedness may limit our flexibility in operating our business and adversely affect our financial health and competitive position.
We have a $100.0 million loan and security agreement with Oxford Finance, or the Loan Agreement, that is secured by a lien covering substantially all of our assets, including intellectual property. As of November 6, 2020, the outstanding principal balance under the Loan Agreement was $50.0 million. An additional $25.0 million is available to us at our option following a BLA approval for tebentafusp so long as it occurs prior to June 30, 2022 and a further $25.0 million is available at our option and at the discretion of Oxford Finance. The Loan Agreement contains customary covenants and events of default applicable to us.
In addition, the agreement governing the Loan Agreement contains, and any agreements evidencing or governing other future indebtedness may contain, certain covenants that limit our ability to engage in certain transactions that may be in our long-term best interests. Subject to certain limited exceptions, these covenants limit our ability to, among other things:
convey, sell, lease, transfer, assign, dispose of or otherwise make cash payments consisting of all or any part of our business or property;
effect certain changes in our business, management, ownership or business locations;
merge or consolidate with, or acquire all or substantially all of the capital stock or assets of, any other company;
create, incur, assume or be liable for any additional indebtedness, or create, incur, allow or permit to exist any additional liens;
pay cash dividends on, make any other distributions in respect of, or redeem, retire or repurchase, any shares of our capital stock;
make certain investments; and
enter into transactions with our affiliates.
While we have not previously breached and are not currently in breach of these or any of the other covenants contained in our credit agreement, there can be no guarantee that we will not breach these covenants in the future. Our ability to comply with these covenants may be affected by events and factors beyond our control. In the event that we breach one or more covenants, our lender may choose to declare an event of default and require that we immediately repay all amounts outstanding, terminate any commitment to extend further credit and foreclose on the collateral granted to it to collateralize such indebtedness. The occurrence of any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Business disruptions could seriously harm our future revenue and financial condition and increase costs and expenses.
Our operations and those of our third-party suppliers and collaborators could be subject to earthquakes, power shortages, telecommunications failures, water shortages, floods, hurricanes or other extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics, labor disputes or other business interruptions. Although we have limited business interruption insurance policies in place, any interruption could come with high costs for us, as salaries and loan payments would usually continue. Moreover, any interruption could seriously harm our ability to timely proceed with any clinical programs or to supply product candidates for use in our clinical programs or during commercialization. For example, the current COVID-19 pandemic is causing an interruption in our clinical trial activities. Specifically, we had to reduce our business activities including those in the laboratory according to governmental orders in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom. Additionally, supply chains disruptions impact and may continue to impact our research activities. Clinical sites involved may not be able to enroll patients into our trials as they have to keep free or use capacities for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Any of the sites where we conduct clinical trials may announce that they will not enroll further patients into clinical trials until further notice. We currently do not know, how substantial the delay for the development of our product candidates will be. Even if the situation improves in the United States and/or Europe, the impact on supply chains and patient recruitment may last longer.
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Computer system failures, cyber-attacks or deficiencies in our or related parties’ cyber security could result in a material disruption of our product development programs, compromise sensitive information related to our business or trigger contractual and legal obligations, any of which could potentially expose us to liability or reputational harm or otherwise adversely affect our business and financial results.
We have implemented our security measures designed to protect the information (including but not limited to intellectual property, proprietary business information and personal information) in our possession, custody or control. Our internal computer systems and those of current and future third parties (such as vendors, CROs, collaborators or others) on which we rely may fail and are vulnerable to breakdown, breach, interruption or damage from computer viruses, computer hackers, malicious code, employee error or malfeasance, theft or misuse, denial-of-service attacks, sophisticated nation-state and nation-state-supported actors, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war, telecommunication and electrical failures or other compromise. Despite our security practices, there is a risk that we may be subject to phishing and other cyberattacks in the future. For example, in 2018 and 2019, we experienced two minor phishing attack incidents. The risk of a security breach or disruption, particularly through cyber-attacks or cyber intrusion, including by computer hackers, foreign governments and cyber terrorists, has generally increased as the number, intensity and sophistication of attempted attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased. We may not be able to anticipate all types of security threats, and we may not be able to implement preventive measures effective against all such security threats. The techniques used by cyber criminals change frequently, may not be recognized until launched, and can originate from a wide variety of sources, including outside groups such as external service providers, organized crime affiliates, terrorist organizations or hostile foreign governments or agencies. Our information technology and other internal infrastructure systems, including corporate firewalls, servers, leased lines and connection to the Internet, face the risk of systemic failure that could disrupt our operations. If such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Likewise, we rely on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates or any future product candidates and to conduct clinical trials, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate use, disclosure of or access to confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability, our competitive position could be harmed and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates or any future product candidates could be hindered or delayed. If we were to experience a significant cybersecurity breach of our information systems or data, the costs associated with the investigation, remediation and potential notification of the breach to counterparties, data subjects, regulators or others could be material. In addition, our remediation efforts may not be successful. Moreover, if the information technology systems of our vendors, CROs, collaborators or other contractors or consultants become subject to disruptions or security breaches, we may have insufficient recourse against such third parties and we may have to expend significant resources to mitigate the impact of such an event, and to develop and implement protections to prevent future events of this nature from occurring. If we do not allocate and effectively manage the resources necessary to build and sustain the proper technology and cybersecurity infrastructure, we could suffer significant business disruption, including transaction errors, supply chain or manufacturing interruptions, processing inefficiencies, data loss or the loss of or damage to intellectual property or other proprietary information. Furthermore, any such event that leads to unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of personal information, including personal information regarding clinical trial participants or employees, could harm our reputation, compel us to comply with federal and/or state breach notification laws and foreign law equivalents, cause us to breach our contractual obligations, subject us to mandatory corrective action, and otherwise subject us to liability under laws, regulations and contracts that protect the privacy and security of personal information, which could result in significant legal and financial exposure and reputational damages. As cyber threats continue to evolve, we may be required to incur significant additional expenses in order to enhance our protective measures or to remediate any information security vulnerability.
The financial exposure from the events referenced above could either not be insured against or not be fully covered through any insurance that we maintain. There can be no assurance that the limitations of liability in our contracts would be enforceable or adequate or would otherwise protect us from liabilities or damages as a result of the events referenced above.
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In addition, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, varying parts of our workforce are currently working remotely on a part or full time basis. This could increase our cyber security risk, create data accessibility concerns, and make us more susceptible to communication disruptions. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.
If we engage in future acquisitions or strategic partnerships, this may increase our capital requirements, dilute our shareholders, cause us to incur debt or assume contingent liabilities, and subject us to other risks.
We may evaluate various acquisitions and strategic partnerships, including licensing or acquiring complementary products, intellectual property rights, technologies, or businesses. Any potential acquisition or strategic partnership may entail numerous risks, including:
increased operating expenses and cash requirements;
the assumption of additional indebtedness or contingent liabilities;
assimilation of operations, intellectual property and products of an acquired company or product, including difficulties associated with integrating new personnel;
the diversion of our management’s attention from our existing product programs and initiatives in pursuing such a strategic merger or acquisition;
retention of key employees, the loss of key personnel, and uncertainties in our ability to maintain key business relationships;
risks and uncertainties associated with the other party to such a transaction, including the prospects of that party and their existing products or product candidates and regulatory approvals; and
our inability to generate revenue from acquired technology and/or products sufficient to meet our objectives in undertaking the acquisition or even to offset the associated acquisition and maintenance costs.
Depending on the size and nature of future strategic acquisitions, we may acquire assets or businesses that require us to raise additional capital or to operate or manage businesses in which we have limited experience. Making larger acquisitions that require us to raise additional capital to fund the acquisition will expose us to the risks associated with capital raising activities. Acquiring and thereafter operating larger new businesses will also increase our management, operating and reporting costs and burdens. In addition, if we undertake acquisitions, we may issue dilutive securities, assume or incur debt obligations, incur large one-time expenses and acquire intangible assets that could result in significant future amortization expense. Moreover, we may not be able to locate suitable acquisition opportunities and this inability could impair our ability to grow or obtain access to technology or products that may be important to the development of our business.
Our insurance policies are expensive and protect only from some business risks, which leaves us exposed to significant uninsured liabilities.
We do not carry insurance for all categories of risks that our business may encounter, and insurance coverage is becoming increasingly expensive. We do not know if we will be able to maintain existing insurance with adequate levels of coverage, and any liability insurance coverage we acquire in the future may not be sufficient to reimburse us for any expenses or losses we may suffer. If we obtain marketing approval for any product candidates that we or our collaborators may develop, we intend to acquire insurance coverage to include the sale of commercial products, but we may be unable to obtain such insurance on commercially reasonable terms or in adequate amounts. Required coverage limits for such insurances are difficult to predict and may not be sufficient. If potential losses exceed our insurance coverage, our financial condition would be adversely affected. In the event of contamination or injury, we could be held liable for damages or be penalized with fines in an amount exceeding our resources. Clinical trials or regulatory approvals for any of our product candidates could be suspended, which could adversely affect our results of operations and business, including by preventing or limiting the development and commercialization of any product candidates that we or our collaborators may develop. Additionally, operating as a public company will make it more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance. As a result, it may be more difficult to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve on our board of directors or the board committees.
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Our current operations are located in Oxfordshire, England, Pennsylvania and Maryland and we or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by natural disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.
Our current operations are located in Oxfordshire, England, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Any unplanned event, such as flood, fire, explosion, earthquake, extreme weather condition, medical epidemics, including any potential effects from the current global spread of COVID-19, power shortage, telecommunication failure or other natural or man-made accidents or incidents that result in us being unable to fully utilize our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, may have a material and adverse effect on our ability to operate our business, particularly on a daily basis, and have significant negative consequences on our financial and operating conditions. Loss of access to these facilities may result in increased costs, delays in the development of our product candidates or interruption of our business operations. Natural disasters or pandemics such as the COVID-19 outbreak could further disrupt our operations, and have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. For example, certain staff members presently work from home on a part or full time basis and it is possible that this could have a negative impact on the execution of our business plans and operations. If a natural disaster, power outage or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as our research facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible, for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place may prove inadequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. As part of our risk management policy, we maintain insurance coverage at levels that we believe are appropriate for our business. However, in the event of an accident or incident at these facilities, we cannot assure our investors that the amounts of insurance will be sufficient to satisfy any damages and losses. If our facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers are unable to operate because of an accident or incident or for any other reason, even for a short period of time, any or all of our research and development programs may be harmed. Any business interruption may have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to Our International Operations
As a company based outside of the United States, we are subject to economic, political, regulatory and other risks associated with international operations.
As a company based in the United Kingdom, our business is subject to risks associated with conducting business outside of the United States. Many of our suppliers and clinical trial relationships are located outside the United States. Accordingly, our future results could be harmed by a variety of factors, including:
economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular non-U.S. economies and markets;
differing and changing regulatory requirements for product approvals;
differing jurisdictions could present different issues for securing, maintaining or obtaining freedom to operate in such jurisdictions;
potentially reduced protection for intellectual property and proprietary rights;
difficulties in compliance with different, complex and changing laws, regulations and court systems of multiple jurisdictions and compliance with a wide variety of foreign laws, treaties and regulations;
changes in non-U.S. regulations and customs, tariffs and trade barriers;
changes in non-U.S. currency exchange rates of the pound sterling, U.S. dollar, euro and currency controls;
changes in a specific country’s or region’s political or economic environment, including the implications of the recent decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union;
trade protection measures, import or export licensing requirements or other restrictive actions by governments;
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differing reimbursement regimes and price controls in certain non-U.S. markets;
negative consequences from changes in tax laws;
compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad, including, for example, the variable tax treatment in different jurisdictions of options granted under our share option schemes or equity incentive plans;
workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;
litigation or administrative actions resulting from claims against us by current or former employees or consultants individually or as part of class actions, including claims of wrongful terminations, discrimination, misclassification or other violations of labor law or other alleged conduct;
difficulties associated with staffing and managing international operations, including differing labor relations;
production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad; and
business interruptions resulting from geo-political actions, including war and terrorism, or natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons, floods and fires.
The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union may adversely impact our ability to obtain regulatory approvals of our product candidates in the European Union and may require us to incur additional expenses in order to develop, manufacture and commercialize our product candidates in the European Union.
Our principal office space is located in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom formally exited the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit, on January 31, 2020. Under the terms of its departure, the United Kingdom entered a transition period, or the Transition Period, during which it continued to follow all European Union rules. The Transition Period ended on December 31, 2020. On December 30, 2020, the United Kingdom and European Union signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which includes an agreement on free trade between the two parties.
There is considerable uncertainty resulting from a lack of precedent and the complexity of the United Kingdom and EU’s intertwined legal regimes as to how Brexit (following the Transition Period) will impact the life sciences industry in Europe, including our company, including with respect to ongoing or future clinical trials. Since a significant proportion of the regulatory framework in the United Kingdom applicable to our business and our product candidates is derived from EU directives and regulations, the withdrawal could materially impact the regulatory regime with respect to the development, manufacture, importation, approval and commercialization of our product candidates in the United Kingdom or the European Union. The impact will largely depend on the model and means by which the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union is governed post-Brexit and the extent to which the United Kingdom chooses to diverge from the EU regulatory framework. For example, following the Transition Period, Great Britain will no longer be covered by the centralized procedures for obtaining EU-wide marketing authorizations and our products will therefore require a separate marketing authorization to allow us to market such products in Great Britain. It is unclear as to whether the relevant authorities in the EU and the United Kingdom are adequately prepared for the additional administrative burden caused by Brexit. Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, any marketing approvals, as a result of Brexit or otherwise, would prevent us from or delay us commercializing our product candidates in the United Kingdom and/or the EEA and restrict our ability to generate revenue and achieve and sustain profitability. In the short term, following the expiry of the Transition Period there is a risk of disrupted import and export processes due to a lack of administrative processing capacity by the respective United Kingdom and EU customs agencies that may delay time-sensitive shipments and may negatively impact our product supply chain. Further, under current plans, orphan designation in the United Kingdom (or Great Britain, depending on whether there is a prior centralized marketing authorization in the EEA) following Brexit is to be based on the prevalence of the condition in Great Britain as opposed to the current position where prevalence in the EU is the determinant. It is therefore possible that conditions that are currently designated as orphan conditions in the United Kingdom will no longer be and that conditions are not currently designated as orphan conditions in the European Union will be designated as such in the United Kingdom.
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If any of these outcomes occur, we may be forced to restrict or delay efforts to seek regulatory approval in the United Kingdom and/or EEA for our product candidates, which could significantly and materially harm our business. There is a degree of uncertainty regarding the overall impact that Brexit will have on (i) the marketing of pharmaceutical products, (ii) the process to obtain regulatory approval in the United Kingdom for product candidates or (iii) the award of exclusivities that are normally part of the EU legal framework (for instance Supplementary Protection Certificates, Pediatric Extensions or Orphan exclusivity).
Brexit may also result in a reduction of funding to the EMA once the United Kingdom no longer makes financial contributions to European institutions, such as the EMA. If funding to the EMA is so reduced, it could create delays in the EMA issuing regulatory approvals for our product candidates and, accordingly, have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.
In addition, we may be required to pay taxes or duties or be subjected to other hurdles in connection with the importation of our product candidates into the European Union, or we may incur expenses in establishing a manufacturing facility in the European Union in order to circumvent such hurdles. If any of these outcomes occur, we may be forced to restrict or delay efforts to seek regulatory approval in the United Kingdom or the European Union for our product candidates, or incur significant additional expenses to operate our business, which could significantly and materially harm or delay our ability to generate revenues or achieve profitability of our business.
As a result of Brexit, other European countries may seek to conduct referenda with respect to their continuing membership with the European Union. Given these possibilities and others we may not anticipate, as well as the absence of comparable precedent, it is unclear what financial, regulatory and legal implications the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union will have and how such withdrawal will affect us, and the full extent to which our business could be adversely affected.
Exchange rate fluctuations may materially affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Owing to the international scope of our operations, fluctuations in exchange rates, particularly between the pound sterling and the U.S. dollar, may adversely affect us. Although we are based in the United Kingdom, we source research and development, manufacturing, consulting and other services from the United States and the European Union. Further, potential future revenue may be derived from abroad, particularly from the United States. As a result, our business and the price of our ADSs may be affected by fluctuations in foreign exchange rates not only between the pound sterling and the U.S. dollar, but also the euro, which may have a significant impact on our results of operations and cash flows from period to period. Currently, we do not have any exchange rate hedging arrangements in place.
Risks Related to this Offering and Ownership of Our Securities
We do not know whether an active, liquid and orderly trading market will develop for our ADSs or what the market price of our ADSs will be. As a result, it may be difficult for you to sell your ADSs.
This offering constitutes the initial public offering of our ADSs, and no public market has previously existed for our ADSs or ordinary shares. Our ADSs have been approved for listing on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, or Nasdaq. Any delay in the commencement of trading of the ADSs on Nasdaq would impair the liquidity of the market for the ADSs and make it more difficult for holders to sell the ADSs.
Prior to this offering, there was no public trading market for our ordinary shares or ADSs. There can be no assurance that an active trading market for the ADSs will develop or be sustained after this offering is completed. You may not be able to sell your ADSs quickly or at the market price if trading in our ADSs is not active. The initial offering price will be determined by negotiations among the lead underwriters and us. Among the factors considered in determining the initial public offering price will be our future prospects and the prospects of our industry in general, our revenue, net income and certain other financial and operating information in recent periods, and the market prices of securities and certain financial and operating information of companies engaged in activities similar to ours. However, there can be no assurance that, following the completion of this offering, the ADSs will trade at a price equal to or greater than the public offering price.
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Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our existing shareholders, restrict our operations or cause us to relinquish valuable rights.
We may seek additional capital through a combination of public and private equity offerings, debt financings, strategic partnerships and alliances and licensing arrangements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity, convertible debt securities or other equity-based derivative securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as holder of ADSs. Any indebtedness we incur would result in increased fixed payment obligations and could involve restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. Any debt or additional equity financing that we raise may contain terms that are not favorable to us or our shareholders. Furthermore, the issuance of additional securities, whether equity or debt, by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our ADSs to decline and existing shareholders may not agree with our financing plans or the terms of such financings. If we raise additional funds through strategic partnerships, collaborations, and alliances and licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our intellectual property, technologies or our product candidates, or grant licenses on terms unfavorable to us.
The market price of our ADSs may be highly volatile, and you may not be able to resell your ADSs at or above the initial public offering price.
The market price of our ADSs following this offering is likely to be highly volatile. The stock market in general, and the market for biopharmaceutical companies in particular, has experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, you may not be able to sell your ADSs at or above the initial public offering price. The market price for our ADSs may be influenced by many factors, including:
adverse results or delays in pre-clinical studies or clinical trials;
reports of adverse events in products similar or perceived to be similar to those we are developing or clinical trials of such products;
an inability to obtain additional funding;
failure by us to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates;
failure by us to maintain our existing strategic collaborations or enter into new collaborations;
failure by us to identify additional product candidates for our pipeline;
failure by us or our licensors and strategic partners to prosecute, maintain, protect or enforce our intellectual property and proprietary rights;
disputes or other developments relating to intellectual and other proprietary rights, including litigation
matters and our ability to obtain patent and other intellectual property protection for our technologies;
changes in laws or regulations applicable to future products;
an inability to obtain adequate product supply for our product candidates or the inability to do so at acceptable prices;
adverse regulatory decisions;
the introduction of new products, services or technologies by our competitors;
failure by us to meet or exceed financial projections we may provide to the public;
failure by us to meet or exceed the financial projections of the investment community;
the perception of the pharmaceutical industry by the public, legislatures, regulators and the investment community;
changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems;
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announcements of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments by us, our strategic partner or our competitors;
additions or departures of key scientific or management personnel;
significant lawsuits, including patent or shareholder litigation;
changes in the market valuations of similar companies;
general economic, industry, political and market conditions, including, but not limited to, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;
sales of our ADSs or ordinary shares by us or our shareholders in the future; and
the trading volume of our ADSs.
In addition, companies trading in the stock market in general, and Nasdaq in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. In the past, securities class action litigation has often been brought against a company following a decline in the market price of its securities. This risk is especially relevant for us because biopharmaceutical companies have experienced significant securities price volatility in recent years. If we face such litigation, it could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could harm our business. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. Further, a decline in the financial markets and related factors beyond our control may cause the price of our ADSs to decline rapidly and unexpectedly. If the market price of our ADSs after the completion of this offering does not exceed the initial public offering price, you may not realize any return on your investment in us and may lose some or all of your investment.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our ADS price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our ADSs will likely depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. We do not have any control over these analysts. We do not currently have research coverage, and there can be no assurance that analysts will cover us, or provide favorable coverage. Securities or industry analysts may elect not to provide research coverage of our ADSs after this offering, and such lack of research coverage may negatively impact the market price of our ADSs. In the event we do have analyst coverage, if one or more analysts downgrade our ADSs or change their opinion of our ADSs, our ADS price would likely decline. In addition, if one or more analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause our ADS price or trading volume to decline.
Concentration of ownership of our ordinary shares (including ordinary shares represented by ADSs) among our existing executive officers, directors and principal shareholders may prevent new investors from influencing significant corporate decisions.
Upon completion of the offering, our executive officers, directors and current beneficial owners of five percent or more of our ordinary shares and their respective affiliates will, in aggregate, beneficially own approximately 38% of our outstanding ordinary shares, based on the number of ordinary shares outstanding as of December 31, 2020 after giving effect to the corporate reorganization and assuming the issuance of ordinary shares (including ordinary shares represented by ADSs) in the offering and the concurrent private placement. The voting power of this group may increase to the extent any shareholders holding non-voting ordinary shares convert their non-voting ordinary shares into ordinary shares.
As a result, depending on the level of attendance at our general meetings of shareholders, these persons, acting together, would be able to significantly influence all matters requiring approval by our shareholders, including the election, re-election and removal of directors, any merger, scheme of arrangement, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets, or other significant corporate transactions, and amendments to our articles of association.
In addition, these persons, acting together, may have the ability to control the management and affairs of our company. Accordingly, this concentration of ownership may harm the market price of our ADSs by:
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delaying, deferring, or preventing a change in control;
entrenching our management and/or the board of directors;
impeding a merger, scheme of arrangement, takeover, or other business combination involving us; or
discouraging a potential acquirer from making a takeover offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.
In addition, some of these persons or entities may have interests different than yours. For example, because many of these shareholders purchased their ordinary shares at prices substantially below the price at which ADSs are being sold in this offering and have held their ordinary shares for a longer period, they may be more interested in selling our company to an acquirer than other investors or they may want us to pursue strategies that deviate from the interests of other shareholders.
We may be required to repurchase for cash all, or to facilitate the purchase by a third party of all, the shares of our company held by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation if we default under the global access commitments agreement, which could have an adverse impact on us and limit our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.
We entered into a global access commitments agreement with our shareholder, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or the Gates Foundation, in September 2017, which was amended and restated in March 2020 and February 2021, pursuant to which we are required to take certain actions to support the Gates Foundation’s mission. In the event that we are in breach of certain provisions of the global access commitments agreement, following a cure period, we may be required to repurchase for cash all, or to facilitate the purchase by a third party of all, the securities of our company held by the Gates Foundation at certain terms that may not be favorable to us. This would also include the ADSs acquired in the concurrent private placement, if any. If this occurs, cash used for this purpose may, adversely affect our liquidity, cause us to reduce expenditures in other areas of our business, or curtail our growth plans. If we do not have sufficient cash on hand to purchase the securities, we could have to seek financing alternatives in order to meet our obligations, and there is no certainty that financing would be available on reasonable terms or at all. For the period that we are unable to repurchase the securities held by the Gates Foundation or arrange for a third party to purchase such securities, we would not likely be allowed to pay dividends, repurchase the securities of any other shareholder or otherwise make any other distribution to any of our shareholders in connection with their securities. Therefore, meeting this purchase obligation, if necessary, could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial results. For more information on the Gates Foundation’s withdrawal rights, see “Business - Our Collaborations and License Agreements - Gates Collaboration.”
Future sales, or the possibility of future sales, of a substantial number of our securities could adversely affect the price of the shares and dilute shareholders.
Sales of a substantial number of our ADSs in the public market could occur at any time, subject to certain restrictions described below. If our existing shareholders sell, or indicate an intent to sell, substantial amounts of our securities in the public market, the trading price of the ADSs could decline significantly and could decline below the public offering price in this offering. Upon completion of this offering and concurrent private placement, we will have 42,295,704 outstanding voting ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares (including ordinary shares represented by ADSs), based on the number of shares outstanding as of September 30, 2020 (or 43,786,088 ordinary shares if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional ADSs). Of these shares, only the 9,935,896 ADSs sold in the offering will be freely tradable, and the remaining 31,782,885 ordinary shares will be available for sale in the public market beginning 180 days after the date of this prospectus following the expiration of lock-up agreements entered into by our directors, executive officers and substantially all of our shareholders in connection with the offering. The representatives of the underwriters may agree to release our directors, executive officers or shareholders from their lock-up agreements at any time and without notice, which would allow for earlier sales of ordinary shares in the public market. See “Shares and American Depositary Shares Eligible for Future Sale.” After the lock-up agreements pertaining to this offering expire, these 31,782,885 additional ordinary shares will be eligible for sale in the public market, though shares that are held by directors and executive officers and other affiliates and will be subject to volume limitations under Rule 144 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, for sales in the United States. In addition, ordinary shares subject to outstanding options under our equity incentive plans and the
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ordinary shares reserved for future issuance under our equity incentive plans will become eligible for sale in the public market in the future, subject to certain legal and contractual limitations.
Sales of a substantial number of such ADSs or ordinary shares upon expiration of the lock-up agreements, the perception that such sales may occur, or early release of restrictions in the lock-up agreements, could cause the market price of our ADSs to fall or make it more difficult for purchasers of ADSs to sell their ADSs at a time and price that they deem appropriate.
Moreover, after this offering, holders of an aggregate of 30,951,258 ordinary shares will have rights, subject to conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other shareholders, as well as to cooperate in certain public offerings of such ordinary shares. In addition, we intend to register all ordinary shares that we may issue under our equity compensation plans. Once we register these ordinary shares, they can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to volume limitations applicable to affiliates and the lock-up agreements described in the “Shares and American Depositary Shares Eligible for Future Sale” section of this prospectus.
Holders of ADSs are not treated as holders of our ordinary shares.
By participating in this offering you will become a holder of ADSs with underlying ordinary shares in a company incorporated under English law. Holders of ADSs are not treated as holders of our ordinary shares, unless they withdraw the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs in accordance with the deposit agreement and applicable laws and regulations. The depositary is the holder of the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs. Holders of ADSs therefore do not have any rights as holders of our ordinary shares, other than the rights that they have pursuant to the deposit agreement. See “Description of American Depositary Shares.”
Holders of ADSs may be subject to limitations on the transfer of their ADSs and the withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares.
ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary think it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law, government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason, subject to the right of ADS holders to cancel their ADSs and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares. Temporary delays in the cancellation of your ADSs and withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares may arise because the depositary has closed its transfer books or we have closed our transfer books, the transfer of ordinary shares is blocked to permit voting at a shareholders’ meeting or we are paying a dividend on our ordinary shares. In addition, ADS holders may not be able to cancel their ADSs and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares when they owe money for fees, taxes and similar charges and when it is necessary to prohibit withdrawals in order to comply with any laws or governmental regulations that apply to ADSs or to the withdrawal of ordinary shares or other deposited securities. See “Description of American Depositary Shares.”
We are entitled to amend the deposit agreement and to change the rights of ADS holders under the terms of such agreement, or to terminate the deposit agreement, without the prior consent of the ADS holders.
We are entitled to amend the deposit agreement and to change the rights of the ADS holders under the terms of such agreement, without the prior consent of the ADS holders. We and the depositary may agree to amend the deposit agreement in any way we decide is necessary or advantageous to us or to the depositary. Amendments may reflect, among other things, operational changes in the ADS program, legal developments affecting ADSs or changes in the terms of our business relationship with the depositary. In the event that the terms of an amendment are materially disadvantageous to ADS holders, ADS holders will only receive 30 days’ advance notice of the amendment, and no prior consent of the ADS holders is required under the deposit agreement. Furthermore, we may decide to direct the depositary to terminate the ADS facility at any time for any reason. For example, terminations may occur when we decide to list our ordinary shares on a non-U.S. securities exchange and determine not to continue to sponsor an ADS facility or when we become the subject of a takeover or a going-private transaction. If the ADS facility will terminate, ADS holders will receive at least 30 days’ prior notice, but no prior consent is required from them. Under the circumstances that we decide to make an amendment to the deposit agreement that is disadvantageous to ADS holders or terminate the deposit agreement, the ADS holders may choose to sell their ADSs or surrender their ADSs and become direct holders of the underlying ordinary shares, but will have no right to any compensation whatsoever.
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ADSs holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable outcomes to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.
The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our ordinary shares provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, holders and beneficial owners of ADSs irrevocably waive the right to a jury trial of any claim they may have against us or the depositary arising out of or relating to the ADSs or the deposit agreement.
If this jury trial waiver provision is not permitted by applicable law, an action could proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. If we or the depositary opposed a jury trial demand based on the waiver, the court would determine whether the waiver was enforceable based on the facts and circumstances of that case in accordance with the applicable state and federal law. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver in connection with claims arising under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court. However, we believe that a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable, including under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement, by a federal or state court in the City of New York, which has non-exclusive jurisdiction over matters arising under the deposit agreement. In determining whether to enforce a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision, courts will generally consider whether a party knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived the right to a jury trial. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. It is advisable that you consult legal counsel regarding the jury waiver provision before entering into the deposit agreement.
If you or any other holders or beneficial owners of ADSs bring a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us and/or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us and/or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different outcomes than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action, depending on, among other things, the nature of the claims, the judge or justice hearing such claims, and the venue of the hearing.
No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs or by us or the depositary of compliance with any substantive provision of the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.
Moreover, as the jury trial waiver relates to claims arising out of or relating to the ADSs or the deposit agreement, we believe that, as a matter of construction of the clause, the waiver would likely to continue to apply to ADS holders who withdraw the ordinary shares from the ADS facility with respect to claims arising before the cancellation of the ADSs and the withdrawal of the ordinary shares, and the waiver would most likely not apply to ADS holders who subsequently withdraw the ordinary shares represented by ADSs from the ADS facility with respect to claims arising after the withdrawal. However, to our knowledge, there has been no case law on the applicability of the jury trial waiver to ADS holders who withdraw the ordinary shares represented by the ADSs from the ADS facility.
You will not have the same voting rights as the holders of our ordinary shares and may not receive voting materials in time to be able to exercise your right to vote.
Except as described in this prospectus and the deposit agreement, holders of the ADSs will not be able to exercise voting rights attaching to the ordinary shares represented by the ADSs. Under the terms of the deposit agreement, holders of the ADSs may instruct the depositary to vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs. Otherwise, holders of ADSs will not be able to exercise their right to vote unless they withdraw the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs to vote them in person or by proxy in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and our articles of association. Even so, ADS holders may not know about a meeting far enough in advance to withdraw those ordinary shares. If we ask for the instructions of holders of the ADSs, the depositary, upon timely notice from us, will notify ADS holders of the upcoming vote and arrange to deliver our voting materials to them. Upon our request, the depositary will mail to holders a shareholder meeting notice that contains, among other things, a statement as to the manner in which voting instructions may be given. We cannot guarantee that ADS holders will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that they can instruct the depositary to vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs. A shareholder is only entitled to participate in, and
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vote at, the meeting of shareholders, provided that it holds our ordinary shares as of the record date set for such meeting and otherwise complies with our articles of association. In addition, the depositary’s liability to ADS holders for failing to execute voting instructions or for the manner of executing voting instructions is limited by the deposit agreement. As a result, holders of ADSs may not be able to exercise their right to give voting instructions or to vote in person or by proxy and they may not have any recourse against the depositary or us if their ordinary shares are not voted as they have requested or if their shares cannot be voted.
You may not receive distributions on our ordinary shares represented by the ADSs or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to holders of ADSs.
The depositary for the ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of our ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, in accordance with the limitations set forth in the deposit agreement, it may be unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to holders of ADSs. We have no obligation to take any other action to permit distribution on the ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of the ADSs. This means that you may not receive the distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value from them if it is unlawful or impractical to make them available to you. These restrictions may have an adverse effect on the value of your ADSs.
Because we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our ADSs in the foreseeable future, capital appreciation, if any, will be your sole source of gains and you may never receive a return on your investment.
Under current English law, a company’s accumulated realized profits must exceed its accumulated realized losses (on a non-consolidated basis) before dividends can be declared and paid. Therefore, we must have distributable profits before declaring and paying a dividend. In addition, as a public limited company incorporated in England and Wales, we will only be able to make a distribution if the amount of our net assets is not less than the aggregate of our called-up share capital and undistributable reserves and if, and to the extent that, the distribution does not reduce the amount of those assets to less than that aggregate.
We have not paid dividends in the past on our ordinary shares. We intend to retain earnings, if any, for use in our business and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, on our ADSs will be your sole source of gains for the foreseeable future, and you will suffer a loss on your investment if you are unable to sell your ADSs at or above the initial public offering price. Investors seeking cash dividends should not purchase our ADSs in this offering.
If you purchase our ADSs in this offering, you will incur immediate and substantial dilution in the book value of your shares.
Investors purchasing ADSs in this offering will pay a price per ordinary share that substantially exceeds the pro forma book value per share of our tangible assets after subtracting our liabilities. As a result, investors purchasing ADSs in this offering will incur immediate dilution of $17.82 per ADS, based on the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, representing the difference between the assumed initial public offering price and our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of September 30, 2020 after giving effect to this offering. Further, investors purchasing ADSs in this offering will contribute approximately 43.9% of the total amount invested by shareholders since our inception, but will own only approximately 23.8% of the ordinary shares outstanding. Furthermore, if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares or our previously issued options to acquire ordinary shares at prices below the initial public offering price are exercised, you will experience further dilution. For additional information on the dilution that you will experience immediately after this offering, see the section titled “Dilution.”
We have broad discretion in the use of the net proceeds from this offering and may not use them effectively.
Our management will have broad discretion in the application of the net proceeds from this offering, including for any of the purposes described in the section titled “Use of Proceeds,” and you will not have the opportunity as part of your investment decision to assess whether the net proceeds are being used appropriately. Because of the number and variability of factors that will determine our use of the net proceeds from this
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offering, their ultimate use may vary substantially from their currently intended use. The failure by our management to apply these funds effectively could harm our business. Pending their use, we may invest the net proceeds from this offering in short-term, investment-grade, interest-bearing securities. These investments may not yield a favorable return to our shareholders.
Claims of U.S. civil liabilities may not be enforceable against us.
We are incorporated under English law and have our registered office in England. Certain members of our board of directors and senior management are non-residents of the United States, and all or a substantial portion of our assets and the assets of such persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may not be possible to serve process on such persons or us in the United States or to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts against them or us based on civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States.
The United States and the United Kingdom do not currently have a treaty providing for recognition and enforcement of judgments (other than arbitration awards) in civil and commercial matters. Consequently, a final judgment for payment given by a court in the United States, whether or not predicated solely upon U.S. securities laws, would not automatically be recognized or enforceable in the United Kingdom. In addition, uncertainty exists as to whether U.K. courts would entertain original actions brought in the United Kingdom against us or our directors or senior management predicated upon the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States. Any final and conclusive monetary judgment for a definite sum obtained against us in U.S. courts would be treated by the courts of the United Kingdom as a cause of action in itself and sued upon as a debt at common law so that no retrial of the issues would be necessary, provided that certain requirements are met. Whether these requirements are met in respect of a judgment based upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. securities laws, including whether the award of monetary damages under such laws would constitute a penalty, is an issue for the court making such decision. If an English court gives judgment for the sum payable under a U.S. judgment, the English judgment will be enforceable by methods generally available for this purpose. These methods generally permit the English court discretion to prescribe the manner of enforcement.
As a result, U.S. investors may not be able to enforce against us or our senior management, board of directors or certain experts named herein who are residents of the United Kingdom or countries other than the United States any judgments obtained in U.S. courts in civil and commercial matters, including judgments under the U.S. federal securities laws.
Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.
We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to you in the United States unless we register the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Also, under the deposit agreement, the depositary bank will not make rights available to you unless either both the rights and any related securities are registered under the Securities Act, or the distribution of them to ADS holders is exempted from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. Moreover, we may not be able to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act. If the depositary does not distribute the rights, it may, under the deposit agreement, either sell them, if possible, or allow them to lapse. Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in your holdings.
As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from a number of rules under the U.S. securities laws and are permitted to file less information with the SEC than U.S. public companies.
We are a “foreign private issuer,” as defined in the SEC rules and regulations and, consequently, we are not subject to all of the disclosure requirements applicable to companies organized within the United States. For example, we are exempt from certain rules under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, that regulate disclosure obligations and procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations applicable to a security registered under the Exchange Act. In addition, our officers and directors are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our securities. Moreover, we
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are not required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. public companies. Accordingly, there may be less publicly available information concerning our company than there is for U.S. public companies.
As a foreign private issuer, we will file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the close of each fiscal year ended December 31 and reports on Form 6-K relating to certain material events promptly after we publicly announce these events. However, because of the above exemptions for foreign private issuers, our shareholders will not be afforded the same protections or information generally available to investors holding shares in public companies organized in the United States.
While we are a foreign private issuer, we are not subject to certain Nasdaq corporate governance rules applicable to public companies organized in the United States.
We are entitled to rely on a provision in Nasdaq’s corporate governance rules that allows us to follow English corporate law with regard to certain aspects of corporate governance. This allows us to follow certain corporate governance practices that differ in significant respects from the corporate governance requirements applicable to domestic issuers listed on Nasdaq.
We are not subject to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5605(b)(2) because English law does not require that independent directors regularly have scheduled meetings at which only independent directors are present. Similarly, we have adopted a compensation committee, but English law does not require that we adopt a compensation committee or that such committee be fully independent. As a result, our practice varies from the requirements of Nasdaq Listing Rule 5605(d), which sets forth certain requirements as to the responsibilities, composition and independence of compensation committees. English law requires that we disclose information regarding compensation of our directors for services as a director of an undertaking that is our subsidiary undertaking and as a director of any other undertaking of which a director is appointed by virtue of our nomination (directly or indirectly) but not other third-party compensation of our directors or director nominees. As a result, our practice varies from the third-party compensation disclosure requirements of Nasdaq Listing Rule 5250(b)(3). In addition, while we have a compensation committee, English law does not require that we adopt a compensation committee or that such committee be fully independent. Additionally, we are not subject to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5605(e) because, under English law, director nominees are not required to be selected or recommended for selection by either a majority of the independent directors or a nominations committee comprised solely of independent directors.
Furthermore, English law does not have a regulatory regime for the solicitation of proxies applicable to us, thus our practice varies from the requirement of Nasdaq Listing Rule 5620(b), which sets forth certain requirements regarding the solicitation of proxies. In addition, we have opted out of shareholder approval requirements for the issuance of securities in connection with certain events such as the acquisition of stock or assets of another company, the establishment of or amendments to equity-based compensation plans for employees, a change of control of us and certain private placements. To this extent, our practice will vary from the requirements of Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635, which generally requires an issuer to obtain shareholder approval for the issuance of securities in connection with such events. In addition, while we have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics, English law does not require us to publicly disclose waivers from this code that have been approved by our board within four business days. We expect to report any such waivers in the subsequent Annual Report on Form 20-F. Moreover, we are not required to comply with Regulation FD, which restricts the selective disclosure of material information, although we have voluntarily adopted a corporate disclosure policy substantially similar to Regulation FD. These exemptions and leniencies will reduce the frequency and scope of information and protections to which you may otherwise have been eligible in relation to a U.S. domestic issuer.
As a result, our practice varies from the requirements for domestic issuers pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5610.
In accordance with our Nasdaq listing, our audit committee is required to comply with the provisions of Section 301 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and Rule 10A-3 of the Exchange Act, both of which are also applicable to Nasdaq listed U.S. companies. Because we are a foreign private issuer, however, our audit committee is not subject to additional requirements applicable to Nasdaq listed U.S.
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companies, including an affirmative determination that all members of the audit committee are “independent,” using more stringent criteria than those applicable to us as a foreign private issuer, subject to certain phase-in requirements permitted by Rule 10A-3 of the Exchange Act.
We are an “emerging growth company,” and the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make our ADSs less attractive to investors.
We are an emerging growth company and we will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier to occur of (1) the last day of 2026, (2) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenues of at least $1.07 billion, (3) the last day of the fiscal year in which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer,” under the rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, which means the market value of our equity securities that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30th, and (4) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period. For so long as we remain an EGC, we are permitted and intend to rely on exemptions from certain disclosure requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. These exemptions include:
not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404;
not being required to comply with any requirement that has or may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements;
being permitted to provide only two years of audited financial statements in this initial registration statement, in addition to any required unaudited interim financial statements, with correspondingly reduced “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” disclosure;
reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation; and
an exemption from the requirement to seek nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation or golden parachute arrangements.
We may choose to take advantage of some, but not all, of the available exemptions. We have taken advantage of reduced reporting burdens in this prospectus. In particular, we have not included all of the executive compensation information that would be required if we were not an EGC. We cannot predict whether investors will find our ADSs less attractive if we rely on certain or all of these exemptions. If some investors find our ADSs less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our ADSs and our ADS price may be more volatile.
In addition, the JOBS Act provides that an EGC may take advantage of an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. This allows an EGC to delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this extended transition period and, as a result, we will adopt new or revised accounting standards on the relevant dates on which adoption of such standards is required for other public companies.
Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we may still qualify as a “smaller reporting company” if the market value of our ordinary shares held by non-affiliates is below $250 million (or $700 million if our annual revenue is less than $100 million) as of June 30 in any given year, which would allow us to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements, including exemption from the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements.
We will incur increased costs as a result of operating as a company whose ADSs are publicly traded in the United States, and our management will be required to devote substantial time to new compliance initiatives.
As a company whose ADSs are publicly traded in the United States, and particularly after we are no longer an EGC, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and Nasdaq have
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imposed various requirements on publicly traded companies of effective disclosure and financial controls and corporate governance practices. Our management and other personnel will need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, we expect that these rules and regulations may make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance.
Pursuant to Section 404, we will be required to furnish a report by our management on our internal control over financial reporting, including an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. However, while we remain an EGC, we will not be required to include an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. To achieve compliance with Section 404 within the prescribed period, we will be engaged in a process to document and evaluate our internal control over financial reporting, which is both costly and challenging. In this regard, we will need to continue to dedicate internal resources, potentially engage outside consultants and adopt a detailed work plan to assess and document the adequacy of internal control over financial reporting, continue steps to improve control processes as appropriate, validate through testing that controls are functioning as documented and implement a continuous reporting and improvement process for internal control over financial reporting. Despite our efforts, there is a risk we will not be able to conclude within the prescribed timeframe that our internal control over financial reporting is effective as required by Section 404. This could result in an adverse reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of confidence in the reliability of our financial statements.
We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting and may identify material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, which may impair our ability to produce timely and accurate financial statements or prevent fraud. If we are unable to establish and maintain effective internal controls, shareholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our ADSs.
Although we are not yet subject to the certification or attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, in the course of auditing our financial statements for this offering, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed by, or under the supervision of, a company’s principal executive and principal financial officers, or persons performing similar functions, and effected by a company’s board of directors, management and other personnel to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements in accordance with IFRS. A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
In the summer and fall of 2020, we conducted an internal investigation as a result of receiving a whistleblower complaint alleging employee misconduct and other improper activities related to a kickback scheme involving an employee and two third-party vendors between 2018 and 2020. Our audit committee led the investigation utilizing outside counsel, during which the named employee resigned. After the investigation, we terminated the one remaining open contract with the third party vendors and issued proceedings in October 2020 against the involved parties. We recovered our estimated losses of £1.8 million from the employee and third-party vendors in December 2020. As a result of this investigation, we identified a material weakness relating to our procurement processes and application of delegation of authority approval limits due to insufficient risk assessment procedures. We determined that our internal controls did not operate effectively to prevent or timely detect unauthorized contracts and purchase orders. This resulted in the inability to prevent and timely detect these fraudulent activities.
We have taken and continue to take steps to remediate the aforementioned material weakness and to enhance our overall control environment, including adding personnel to drive and implement required additional procurement controls, implementing improvements in software relating to approvals of purchase orders and contracts, adding additional layers of review of contracts and journal entries and delegation of contract authority
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limits. The actions that we are taking are subject to ongoing executive management review, and will be subject to audit committee oversight. Although we intend to complete this remediation process as quickly as practicable, we cannot at this time estimate how long it will take, and our initiatives may not prove to be successful in remediating the material weakness.
As a public company, we will be subject to reporting obligations under U.S. securities laws, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Section 404(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404(a), will require that, beginning with our second annual report following our initial public offering, management assess and report annually on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and identify any material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. We expect our first Section 404(a) assessment will take place for our annual report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2021. If we fail to remediate the material weakness identified above, our management may conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is not effective. Although Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404(b), requires our independent registered public accounting firm to issue an annual report that addresses the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, we have opted to rely on the exemptions provided in the JOBS Act, and consequently will not be required to comply with SEC rules that implement Section 404(b) until such time as we are no longer an emerging growth company. An independent assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting could detect problems that our management’s assessment might not. Undetected material weaknesses in our internal controls over financial reporting could lead to financial statement restatements and require us to incur the expense of remediation. If we are unable to successfully remediate our identified material weakness, if we discover additional material weaknesses, or if we otherwise are unable to otherwise determine on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting, the accuracy and timing of our financial reporting may be adversely affected, we may be unable to maintain compliance with securities law requirements regarding timely filing of periodic reports in addition to applicable stock exchange listing requirements, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting, and the price of our ADSs may decline as a result. We also could become subject to investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Our disclosure controls and procedures may not prevent or detect allerrors or acts of fraud.
Upon completion of this offering, we will become subject to certain reporting requirements of the Exchange Act. Our disclosure controls and procedures are designed to reasonably assure that information required to be disclosed by us in reports we file or submit under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to management, recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the rules and forms of the SEC. We believe that any disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls and procedures, no matter how well conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty, and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistake. Additionally, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people or by an unauthorized override of the controls. Accordingly, because of the inherent limitations in our control system, misstatements or insufficient disclosures due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected.
If we are a controlled foreign corporation, there could be adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to certain U.S. holders.
If a U.S. holder is treated as owning, directly, indirectly or constructively, at least 10% of the value or voting power of our ordinary shares or ADSs, such U.S. holder may be treated as a “United States shareholder” with respect to each “controlled foreign corporation” in our group, if any. Because our group includes U.S. subsidiaries, our current non-U.S. subsidiaries and any future newly formed or acquired non-U.S. subsidiaries will be treated as controlled foreign corporations, regardless of whether we are treated as a controlled foreign corporation. A United States shareholder of a controlled foreign corporation may be required to annually report and include in its U.S. taxable income its pro rata share of “Subpart F income,” “global intangible low-taxed income” and investments in U.S. property by controlled foreign corporations, regardless of whether we make any distributions. An individual that is a United States shareholder with respect to a controlled foreign corporation generally would not be allowed certain tax deductions or foreign tax credits that would be allowed to a United States shareholder that is a U.S. corporation. Failure to comply with controlled foreign corporation reporting obligations may subject a United States shareholder to significant monetary penalties. We cannot provide any assurances that we will furnish to any United States shareholder information that may be necessary to comply
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with the reporting and tax paying obligations applicable under the controlled foreign corporation rules of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code. U.S. holders should consult their tax advisors regarding the potential application of these rules to their investment in our ordinary shares or ADSs.
If we are a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for any taxable year, there could be adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. investors.
Under the Code, we will be a PFIC, for any taxable year in which (1) 75% or more of our gross income consists of passive income or (2) 50% or more of the value of our assets (generally determined in the basis of a weighted quarterly average) consists of assets that produce, or are held for the production of, passive income (including cash). For purposes of these tests, passive income includes dividends, interest, gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and certain rents and royalties. Cash and cash-equivalents are passive assets for these purposes. In addition, for purposes of the above calculations, a non-U.S. corporation that directly or indirectly owns at least 25% by value of the shares of another corporation is treated as holding and receiving directly its proportionate share of assets and income of such corporation. If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. investor holds our shares, the U.S. investor may be subject to adverse tax consequences regardless of whether we continue to qualify as a PFIC, including ineligibility for any preferred tax rates on capital gains or on actual or deemed dividends, interest charges on certain taxes treated as deferred and additional reporting requirements.
Based on our analysis of our activities and current estimates (and not fully audited financials) of the composition of our income and assets, we believe that we were not a PFIC for our most recent taxable year. However, the determination of whether we are a PFIC is a fact-intensive determination made on an annual basis applying principles and methodologies that in some circumstances are unclear and subject to varying interpretation. As a result, there can be no assurance that we will not be treated as a PFIC for the current or any future taxable year. In addition, for our current and future taxable years, the total value of our assets (including goodwill) for PFIC testing purposes may be determined in part by reference to the market price of our ordinary shares or ADSs from time to time, which may fluctuate considerably. Accordingly, if our market capitalization declines while we hold a substantial amount of cash and cash-equivalents for any taxable year we may be a PFIC for that taxable year. Under the income test, our status as a PFIC depends on the composition of our income for the relevant taxable year which will depend on the transactions we enter into in the future and our corporate structure. The composition of our income and assets is also affected by how we spend the cash we raise in any offering, including this offering. We currently do not generate product revenues and therefore we may be a PFIC for any taxable year in which we do not generate sufficient amounts of active income to offset our passive financing income. Therefore, we cannot express an expectation regarding our PFIC status for the current or any future taxable year. Even if we determine that we are not a PFIC for a taxable year, there can be no assurance that the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, will agree with our conclusion and that the IRS would not successfully challenge our position. Accordingly, our U.S. counsel expresses no opinion with respect to our PFIC status for any prior, current or future taxable year.
For further discussion of the PFIC rules and the adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences in the event we are classified as a PFIC, as well as certain elections that may be available to U.S. investors, see the section of this prospectus titled “Material Income Tax Considerations — Material United States Federal Income Considerations for U.S. Holders.”
We may be unable to use net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards and certain built-in losses to reduce future tax payments or benefit from favorable U.K. tax legislation.
As a U.K. incorporated and tax resident entity, we are subject to U.K. corporate taxation. Due to the nature of our business, we have generated losses since inception and therefore have not paid any U.K. corporation tax. As of December 31, 2019, we had cumulative carryforward tax losses of £127.2 million. Subject to any relevant utilization criteria and restrictions (for example, the use of loss carryforwards in relation to U.K. profits incurred on or after April 1, 2017 will be limited each year to £5.0 million per group plus, broadly, an incremental 50% of U.K. taxable profits), we expect these to be eligible for carry forward against future operating profits.
As a company that carries out extensive research and development activities, we seek to benefit from the U.K. research and development tax relief programs, being the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises R&D tax relief program, or SME Program, and, to the extent that our projects are grant funded or relate to work
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subcontracted to the company by third parties, the Research and Development Expenditure Credit program, or RDEC Program. The tax reliefs we have obtained under these programs have generated a meaningful proportion of our cash flow, amounting to £13.5 million and £38.9 million in the accounting periods ending December 31, 2019 and September 30, 2020, respectively. Under the SME Program, we may be able to surrender the trading losses that arise from our qualifying research and development activities for a cash rebate of up to 33.35% of such qualifying research and development expenditures. The majority of our pipeline research, clinical trials management and manufacturing development activities are eligible for inclusion within these tax credit cash rebate claims. We may not be able to continue to claim payable research and development tax credits in the future if we cease to qualify as a SME, based on size criteria concerning employee headcount, turnover and gross assets. On October 29, 2018, the U.K. Government announced its intention to cap the amount of payable credit that a qualifying loss-making SME business can receive through R&D relief in any one year. Although the implementation of this measure has been delayed, the U.K. Government has stated that it remains committed to the reform and, subject to the outcome of further consultation, intends to introduce the cap on payable credit claims in excess of £20,000 with effect from April 2021 by reference to, broadly, three times the total PAYE and NICs liability of the company. If such cap comes into force, this could restrict the amount of payable credit that we claim.
We may benefit in the future from the United Kingdom’s “patent box” regime, which allows certain profits attributable to revenues from patented products (and other qualifying income) to be taxed at an effective rate of 10% by giving an additional tax deduction. We are the owner of several patent applications which, if issued, would cover our product candidates, and accordingly, future upfront fees, milestone fees, product revenues and royalties could be eligible for this deduction. When taken in combination with the enhanced relief available on our research and development expenditures, we expect a long-term rate of corporation tax lower than the statutory to apply to us. If, however, there are unexpected adverse changes to the U.K. research and development tax credit regime or the “patent box” regime, or for any reason we are unable to qualify for such advantageous tax legislation, or we are unable to use net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards and certain built-in losses to reduce future tax payments then our business, results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected. This may impact our ongoing requirement for investment and the timeframes within which additional investment is required.
Changes and uncertainties in the tax system in the countries in which we have operations, could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations, and reduce net returns to our shareholders.
We conduct business globally and file income tax returns in multiple jurisdictions. Our consolidated effective income tax rate, and the tax treatment of our ADSs and ordinary shares, could be materially adversely affected by several factors, including: changing tax laws, regulations and treaties, or the interpretation thereof; tax policy initiatives and reforms under consideration (such as those related to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s, or OECD, Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, or BEPS, Project, the European Commission’s state aid investigations and other initiatives); the practices of tax authorities in jurisdictions in which we operate; the resolution of issues arising from tax audits or examinations and any related interest or penalties. Such changes may include (but are not limited to) the taxation of operating income, investment income, dividends received or (in the specific context of withholding tax) dividends paid, or the stamp duty or stamp duty reserve tax treatment of our ADSs or ordinary shares.
We are unable to predict what tax reform may be proposed or enacted in the future or what effect such changes would have on our business, but such changes, to the extent they are brought into tax legislation, regulations, policies or practices in jurisdictions in which we operate, could increase the estimated tax liability that we have expensed to date and paid or accrued on our statement of financial position, and otherwise affect our financial position, future results of operations, cash flows in a particular period and overall or effective tax rates in the future in countries where we have operations, reduce post-tax returns to our shareholders and increase the complexity, burden and cost of tax compliance.
Tax authorities may disagree with our positions and conclusions regarding certain tax positions, or may apply existing rules in an unforeseen manner, resulting in unanticipated costs, taxes or non-realization of expected benefits.
A tax authority may disagree with tax positions that we have taken, which could result in increased tax liabilities. For example, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, or HMRC, the IRS or another tax authority could challenge our allocation of income by tax jurisdiction and the amounts paid between our affiliated companies
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pursuant to our intercompany arrangements and transfer pricing policies, including amounts paid with respect to our intellectual property development. Similarly, a tax authority could assert that we are subject to tax in a jurisdiction where we believe we have not established a taxable connection, often referred to as a “permanent establishment” under international tax treaties, and such an assertion, if successful, could increase our expected tax liability in one or more jurisdictions.
A tax authority may take the position that material income tax liabilities, interest and penalties are payable by us, for example where there has been a technical violation of contradictory laws and regulations that are relatively new and have not been subject to extensive review or interpretation, in which case we expect that we might contest such assessment. High-profile companies can be particularly vulnerable to aggressive application of unclear requirements. Many companies must negotiate their tax bills with tax inspectors who may demand higher taxes than applicable law appears to provide. Contesting such an assessment may be lengthy and costly and if we were unsuccessful in disputing the assessment, the implications could increase our anticipated effective tax rate, where applicable.
HMRC may decline to grant relief from stamp duty for which we currently intend to apply under section 77 of the Finance Act 1986 in respect of the share for share exchange effected pursuant to our corporate reorganization. See the section titled “Corporate Reorganization” elsewhere in this prospectus. If HMRC does decline to grant relief, stamp duty will arise at a rate of 0.5%, chargeable on the greater of the amount or value of the consideration given (being the value of the shares issued by the company to each shareholder of Immunocore Limited) and the market value of the shares in Immunocore Limited at the time of the share for share exchange. Stamp duty reserve tax will also be chargeable on the agreement to enter into the share for share exchange, although such liability would be canceled, or if already paid, repaid, if stamp duty is duly paid on the relevant instruments of transfer within a period of six years from the stamp duty reserve tax charge arising or if the relevant instruments of transfer are otherwise exempt from stamp duty.
Shareholder protections found in provisions under the U.K. City Code on Takeovers and Mergers, or the Takeover Code, will not apply if our place of management and control remains outside the United Kingdom.
On February 1, 2021, Immunocore Holdings Limited was re-registered as a public limited company with the name Immunocore Holdings plc. Depending on meeting the jurisdictional criteria, the Takeover Code can be applicable to public limited companies incorporated in England and Wales. We believe that, as of the date of this prospectus, our place of central management and control is not in the United Kingdom (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) for the purposes of the jurisdictional criteria of the Takeover Code. Accordingly, we believe that we are currently not subject to the Takeover Code and, as a result, our shareholders are not currently entitled to the benefit of certain takeover offer protections provided under the Takeover Code, including the rules regarding mandatory takeover bids.
In the event that this changes, or if the interpretation and application of the Takeover Code by the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers, or Takeover Panel, changes (including changes to the way in which the Takeover Panel assesses the application of the Takeover Code to English companies whose shares are listed outside of the United Kingdom), the Takeover Code may apply to us in the future.
The Takeover Code provides a framework within which takeovers of companies are regulated and conducted. The following is a brief summary of some of the most important rules of the Takeover Code:
In connection with a potential offer, if following an approach by or on behalf of a potential bidder, the company is “the subject of rumor or speculation” or there is an “untoward movement” in the company’s share price, there is a requirement for the potential bidder to make a public announcement about a potential offer for the company, or for the company to make a public announcement about its review of a potential offer.
When a person or group of persons acting in concert (a) acquires, whether by a series of transactions over a period of time or not, interests in shares carrying 30% or more of the voting rights of a company (which percentage is treated by the Takeover Code as the level at which effective control is obtained) or (b) acquires an interest in any other shares which increases the percentage of shares carrying voting rights in which they are interested when they are already interested in shares which carry not less than 30% of the voting rights but do not hold shares carrying more than 50% of such voting rights, they must make a cash offer to all other shareholders at the highest price paid by them or any person acting in concert with them in the 12 months before the offer was announced.
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When interests in shares carrying 10% or more of the voting rights of a class have been acquired by an offeror (i.e., a bidder) and any person acting in concert with it in the offer period (i.e., before the shares subject to the offer have been acquired) or within the previous 12 months, the offer must be in cash or be accompanied by a cash alternative for all shareholders of that class at the highest price paid by the offeror or any person acting in concert with them in that period. Further, if an offeror or any person acting in concert with them acquires any interest in shares during the offer period, the offer for the shares must be in cash or accompanied by a cash alternative at a price at least equal to the price paid for such shares during the offer period.
If after an announcement is made, the offeror or any person acting in concert with them acquires an interest in shares in an offeree company (i.e., a target) at a price higher than the value of the offer, the offer must be increased to not less than the highest price paid for the interest in shares so acquired.
The board of directors of the offeree company must appoint a competent independent adviser whose advice on the financial terms of the offer must be made known to all the shareholders, together with the opinion of the board of directors of the offeree company.
Special or favorable deals for selected shareholders are not permitted, except in certain circumstances where independent shareholder approval is given and the arrangements are regarded as fair and reasonable in the opinion of the financial adviser to the offeree.
All shareholders must be given the same information.
Each document published in connection with an offer by or on behalf of the offeror or offeree must state that the directors of the offeror or the offeree, as the case may be, accept responsibility for the information contained therein.
Profit forecasts, quantified financial benefits statements and asset valuations must be made to specified standards and must be reported on by professional advisers.
Misleading, inaccurate or unsubstantiated statements made in documents or to the media must be publicly corrected immediately.
Actions during the course of an offer by the offeree company, which might frustrate the offer are generally prohibited unless shareholders approve these plans. Frustrating actions would include, for example, lengthening the notice period for directors under their service contract or agreeing to sell off material parts of the target group.
Stringent and detailed requirements are laid down for the disclosure of dealings in relevant securities during an offer, including the prompt disclosure of positions and dealing in relevant securities by the parties to an offer and any person who is interested (directly or indirectly) in 1% or more of any class of relevant securities.
Employees of both the offeror and the offeree company and the trustees of the offeree company’s pension scheme must be informed about an offer. In addition, the offeree company’s employee representatives and pension scheme trustees have the right to have a separate opinion on the effects of the offer on employment appended to the offeree board of directors’ circular or published on a website.
The rights of our shareholders may differ from the rights typically offered to shareholders of a U.S. corporation.
We are incorporated under English law. The rights of holders of ordinary shares and, therefore, certain of the rights of holders of ADSs, are governed by English law, including the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act, or the Companies Act, and by our articles of association. These rights differ in certain respects from the rights of shareholders in typical U.S. corporations. See “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association — Differences in Corporate Law” in this prospectus for a description of the principal differences between the provisions of the Companies Act applicable to us and, for example, the Delaware General Corporation Law relating to shareholders’ rights and protections.
The principal differences include the following:
under our articles of association to be effective upon completion of this offering, any resolution put to the vote of a general meeting must be decided exclusively on a poll. Under English law, it would be
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possible for our articles of association to be amended such that each shareholder present at a meeting has only one vote unless demand is made for a vote on a poll, in which case each holder gets one vote per share owned. Under U.S. law, each shareholder typically is entitled to one vote per share at all meetings;
under English law, subject to certain exceptions and disapplications, each shareholder generally has preemptive rights to subscribe on a proportionate basis to any issuance of ordinary shares or rights to subscribe for, or to convert securities into, ordinary shares for cash. Under U.S. law, shareholders generally do not have preemptive rights unless specifically granted in the certificate of incorporation or otherwise;
under English law and our articles of association, certain matters require the approval of 75% of the shareholders who vote (in person or by proxy) on the relevant resolution (or on a poll of shareholders representing 75% of the ordinary shares voting (in person or by proxy)), including amendments to the articles of association. This may make it more difficult for us to complete corporate transactions deemed advisable by our board of directors. Under U.S. law, generally only majority shareholder approval is required to amend the certificate of incorporation or to approve other significant transactions;
in the United Kingdom, takeovers may be structured as takeover offers or as schemes of arrangement. Under English law, a bidder seeking to acquire us by means of a takeover offer would need to make an offer for all of our outstanding ordinary shares/ADSs. If acceptances are not received for 90% or more of the ordinary shares/ADSs under the offer, under English law, the bidder cannot complete a “squeeze out” to obtain 100% control of us. Accordingly, acceptances of 90% of our outstanding ordinary shares/ADSs will likely be a condition in any takeover offer to acquire us, not 50% as is more common in tender offers for corporations organized under Delaware law. By contrast, a scheme of arrangement, the successful completion of which would result in a bidder obtaining 100% control of us, requires the approval of a majority of shareholders voting at the meeting and representing 75% of the ordinary shares voting for approval;
under English law and our articles of association, shareholders and other persons whom we know or have reasonable cause to believe are, or have been, interested in our shares may be required to disclose information regarding their interests in our shares upon our request, and the failure to provide the required information could result in the loss or restriction of rights attaching to the shares, including prohibitions on certain transfers of the shares, withholding of dividends and loss of voting rights. Comparable provisions generally do not exist under U.S. law; and
the quorum requirement for a shareholders’ meeting is a minimum of two shareholders entitled to vote at the meeting and present in person or by proxy or, in the case of a shareholder which is a corporation, represented by a duly authorized representative. Under U.S. law, a majority of the shares eligible to vote must generally be present (in person or by proxy) at a shareholders’ meeting in order to constitute a quorum. The minimum number of shares required for a quorum can be reduced pursuant to a provision in a company’s certificate of incorporation or bylaws, but typically not below one-third of the shares entitled to vote at the meeting.
As an English public limited company, certain capital structure decisions will require shareholder approval, which may limit our flexibility to manage our capital structure.
On February 1, 2021, Immunocore Holdings Limited was re-registered as a public limited company with the name Immunocore Holdings plc. English law provides that a board of directors may only allot shares (or rights to subscribe for or convert any security into shares) with the prior authorization of shareholders, such authorization stating the aggregate nominal amount of shares that it covers and being valid for a maximum period of five years, each as specified in the articles of association or relevant shareholder resolution. We intend to obtain authority from our shareholders to allot additional shares for a period of five years from the date of our general meeting of shareholders to be held on or about February 3, 2021, which authorization will need to be renewed upon expiration (i.e., at least every five years) but may be sought more frequently for additional five-year terms (or any shorter period).
English law also generally provides shareholders with preemptive rights when new shares are issued for cash. However, it is possible for the articles of association, or for shareholders to pass a special resolution at a
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general meeting, being a resolution passed by at least 75% of the votes cast, to disapply preemptive rights. Such a disapplication of preemptive rights may be for a maximum period of up to five years from the date of adoption of the articles of association, if the disapplication is contained in the articles of association, or from the date of the shareholder special resolution, if the disapplication is by shareholder special resolution but not longer than the duration of the authority to allot shares to which the disapplication relates. In either case, this disapplication would need to be renewed by our shareholders upon its expiration (i.e., at least every five years). We intend to obtain authority from our shareholders to disapply preemptive rights for a period of five years from the date of our general meeting of shareholders to be held on or about February 3, 2021 which disapplication will need to be renewed upon expiration (i.e., at least every five years), but may be sought more frequently for additional five-year terms (or any shorter period).
English law also generally prohibits a public company from repurchasing its own shares without the prior approval of shareholders by ordinary resolution, being a resolution passed by a simple majority of votes cast, and other formalities. Such approval may be for a maximum period of up to five years. See “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association.”
Our articles of association to be effective in connection with this offering will provide that the courts of England and Wales will be the exclusive forum for the resolution of all shareholder complaints other than complaints asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act and the Exchange Act, and that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York will be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any shareholder complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act.
Our articles of association to be effective in connection with this offering will provide that the courts of England and Wales will be the exclusive forum for resolving all shareholder complaints (i.e., any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of us, any action or proceeding asserting a claim of breach of fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees, any action or proceeding asserting a claim arising out of any provision of the Companies Act or our articles of association or any action or proceeding asserting a claim or otherwise related to the affairs of our company) other than shareholder complaints asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, and that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York will be the exclusive forum for resolving any shareholder complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, including applicable claims arising out of this offering. In addition, our articles of association will provide that any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in our shares is deemed to have notice of and consented to these provisions.
This choice of forum provision may limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits. The enforceability of similar exclusive forum provisions (including exclusive federal forum provisions for actions, suits or proceedings asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act) in other companies’ organizational documents has been challenged in legal proceedings, and there is uncertainty as to whether courts would enforce the exclusive forum provisions in our articles of association. Additionally, our shareholders cannot waive compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder. If a court were to find either choice of forum provision contained in our articles of association to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This prospectus contains forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the words “may,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “objective,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue” and “ongoing,” or the negative of these terms, or other comparable terminology intended to identify statements about the future. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and opinions contained in this prospectus are based upon information available to us as of the date of this prospectus and, while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
the initiation, timing, progress and results of our current and future preclinical studies and clinical trials and related preparatory work and the period during which the results of the trials will become available, as well as our research and development programs;
our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements and needs for additional financing;
our expectations regarding timing of regulatory filings for, or our ability to obtain regulatory approval of, tebentafusp or any of our other product candidates;
our ability to identify and develop additional product candidates using our ImmTAX platform;
business disruptions affecting the initiation, patient enrollment, development and operation of our clinical trials, including a public health emergency, such as the ongoing the coronavirus 2019, or COVID-19, pandemic;
the potential benefits of our product candidates;
our expectations regarding the potential commercialization of, the potential market size and the rate and degree of market acceptance for any product candidates that we develop;
our business strategies and goals;
our plans to collaborate, or statements regarding our current collaborations;
our ability to find future partners and collaborators;
the performance of our third-party suppliers and manufacturers,
our expectations regarding our ability to obtain, maintain and enforce intellectual property protection for our product candidates and our ability to operate our business without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property rights of others;
the effects of competition with respect to tebentafusp or any of our other current or future product candidates, as well as innovations by current and future competitors in our industry;
our financial performance and our ability to effectively manage our anticipated growth;
our ability to identify, recruit and retain key personnel; and
our expectations regarding the uses of the proceeds from this offering and the sufficiency of such net proceeds together with our existing cash and cash equivalents to fund our operations and capital expenditures.
You should refer to the section titled “Risk Factors” for a discussion of important factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements. As a result of these factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this prospectus will prove to be accurate. Furthermore, if our forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and
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plans in any specified time frame, or at all. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law, applicable regulations or the rules of any stock exchange to which we are subject.
In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this prospectus, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.
You should read this prospectus and the documents that we reference in this prospectus and have filed as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this prospectus is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.
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INDUSTRY AND MARKET DATA
This prospectus contains estimates, projections and other information concerning our industry, our business, and the markets for our diagnostic products. Information that is based on estimates, forecasts, projections, market research or similar methodologies is inherently subject to uncertainties, and actual events or circumstances may differ materially from events and circumstances that are assumed in this information. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, business, market and other data from our own internal estimates and research as well as from reports, research surveys, studies and similar data prepared by market research firms and other third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data and similar sources. While we believe our internal company research as to such matters is reliable and the market definitions are appropriate, neither such research nor these definitions have been verified by any independent source.
In addition, assumptions and estimates of our and our industry’s future performance are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in the section titled “Risk factors.” These and other factors could cause our future performance to differ materially from our assumptions and estimates. See “Special note regarding forward-looking statements.”
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USE OF PROCEEDS
We estimate that the net proceeds from the sale of 9,935,896 ADSs in this offering will be approximately $235.8 million, after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, based on the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS. If the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional 1,490,384 ADSs, we estimate that the net proceeds to us from this offering will be approximately $271.9 million, after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to purchase from us, concurrently with this offering in a private placement, $15.0 million of our ADSs, or 576,923 ADSs, at a price equal to the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS. See “Concurrent Private Placement.”
We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash and cash equivalents, as follows:
approximately $100 million to fund tebentafusp, our lead ImmTAC, for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma through the completion of our Phase 3 clinical trial as well as preparations for a commercial launch;
approximately $20.0 million to advance the clinical development of IMC-C103C targeting MAGE A4 for the treatment of solid tumors;
approximately $20.0 million to advance the clinical development of IMC-F106C targeting PRAME for the treatment of solid tumors;
approximately $10.0 million to advance the clinical development of IMC-I109V targeting a functional cure for chronic HBV;
approximately $20.0 million to continue to advance our pre-clinical programs and invest in our ImmTAX platform to discover and develop novel therapeutics; and
the remainder for working capital and general corporate purposes.
This expected use of net proceeds from this offering represents our intentions based upon our current plans and business conditions, which could change in the future as our plans and business conditions evolve. We may also use a portion of the net proceeds to in-license, acquire or invest in additional businesses, technologies, products or assets. We cannot predict with certainty all of the particular uses for the net proceeds to be received upon the completion of this offering or the amounts that we will actually spend on the uses set forth above. As a result, our management will retain broad discretion over the allocation of the net proceeds from this offering. See “Risk Factors—We have broad discretion in the use of the net proceeds from this offering and may not use them effectively.”
Based on our planned use of the net proceeds from this offering and the concurrent private placement as well as our existing cash and cash equivalents, we estimate that such funds will be sufficient to fund our operations and capital expenditure requirements through at least the next 24 months. Based on our current operational plans and assumptions, we expect our cash and cash equivalents, together with the net proceeds from this offering and the concurrent private placement, will be sufficient to (1) complete our Phase 3 clinical trial and, if approved, fund the commercial launch of tebentafusp for the treatment of uveal melanoma, (2) complete our Phase 1 clinical trial for IMC-C103C, (3) complete our Phase 1 clinical trial for IMC-F106C and (4) complete our Phase 1 single ascending dose trial for IMC-I109V. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could use our available capital resources sooner than we currently expect. We expect that we will require additional funding to successfully commercialize tebentafusp and to complete the clinical development of any of our other current or future product candidates.
Pending our use of proceeds from this offering, we plan to invest these net proceeds in a variety of capital preservation instruments, including short term, interest bearing obligations and investment grade instruments.
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DIVIDEND POLICY
Since our incorporation, we have not declared or paid any dividends on our issued share capital. We intend to retain any earnings for use in our business and do not currently intend to pay dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs. The declaration and payment of any future dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon our results of operations, cash requirements, financial condition, contractual restrictions, any future debt agreements or applicable laws and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.
Under the laws of England and Wales, among other things, we may only pay dividends if we have sufficient distributable reserves (on a non-consolidated basis), which are our accumulated realized profits that have not been previously distributed or capitalized less our accumulated realized losses, so far as such losses have not been previously written off in a reduction or reorganization of capital.
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CORPORATE REORGANIZATION
Immunocore Holdings Limited was incorporated on January 7, 2021 as a private limited company under the laws of England and Wales with nominal assets and liabilities for the purpose of becoming the holding company of Immunocore Limited and consummating the corporate reorganization described herein. On February 1, 2021, Immunocore Holdings Limited was re-registered as a public limited company with the name Immunocore Holdings plc. Immunocore Limited was incorporated under the laws of England and Wales in December 2007. Immunocore Holdings plc is a holding company which will not conduct any operations prior to this offering other than activities incidental to its formation, the corporate reorganization and this offering.
The corporate reorganization will take place in several steps, all of which will be completed prior to the completion of this offering (apart from the steps described below under “Bonus issue and reduction of capital of Immunocore Holdings plc”). We refer to these steps, which are discussed below, as our “corporate reorganization.”
Exchange of shares of Immunocore Limited for shares of Immunocore Holdings Limited
On January 22, 2021, each holder of series A preferred shares, series B preferred shares, series C preferred shares, G1 shares, G2 shares and ordinary shares in Immunocore Limited sold and transferred their shares to Immunocore Holdings Limited (now Immunocore Holdings plc) in exchange for receiving 100 shares of the same class in Immunocore Holdings Limited. We refer to this as our “Share Exchange”. Following the Share Exchange, the holders of shares in Immunocore Limited now hold shares in Immunocore Holdings plc of the same class and in the same proportions as their holding in Immunocore Limited, except for that they each hold 100 times as many shares. Immunocore Limited became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Immunocore Holdings plc as a result of the Share Exchange.
Options over ordinary shares in Immunocore Limited have been exchanged for options for replacement options over ordinary shares in Immunocore Holdings plc.
Reorganization of share capital of Immunocore Limited
Following the Share Exchange, Immunocore Limited undertook a reorganization of its share capital to re-designate its series A preferred shares, series B preferred shares, series C preferred shares, G1 shares and G2 shares into a single class of ordinary shares.
Reduction of capital of Immunocore Limited
Subsequent to the Share Exchange, Immunocore Limited reduced its share capital by way of the cancellation of all amounts standing to the credit of Immunocore Limited's share premium account and the cancellation of 6,414,412 ordinary shares resulting from the reorganization of capital referred to above pursuant to Part 17 of the Companies Act in order to create distributable reserves.
Re-registration of Immunocore Holdings Limited as a public limited company
On February 1, 2021, Immunocore Holdings Limited was re-registered as a public limited company with the name Immunocore Holdings plc.
Certain special resolutions were passed by the shareholders of Immunocore Holdings Limited to approve the re-registration as a public limited company, the name change to Immunocore Holdings plc and adoption of new articles of association for Immunocore Holdings plc appropriate for a public company.
Reorganization of share capital of Immunocore Holdings plc
Conditional on and effective immediately prior to completion of this offering, all of the outstanding series A preferred shares, series B preferred shares and series C preferred shares will be re-designated as ordinary shares of Immunocore Holdings plc on a one for one basis. Pursuant to our current articles of association, certain of our holders of series C preferred shares have the right to require that some or all of the ordinary shares resulting from the re-designation of the series C preferred shares held by them be re-designated as a separate class of non-voting ordinary shares and a total of 831,627 ordinary shares will be so re-designated as non-voting ordinary shares. Further details of the rights and restrictions attaching to any such non-voting ordinary shares are set out
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in the section titled “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association”. All of the G1 shares will be re-designated as deferred shares of Immunocore Holdings plc. The G2 shares will be sub-divided and re-designated into one ordinary share and three deferred shares with a nominal value of £0.000025 each before such ordinary shares and deferred shares are consolidated into ordinary shares and deferred shares with a nominal value of £0.0001 each on a 4 to 1 basis.
Immediately following the re-designations referred to above, and conditional upon and effective immediately prior to the completion of this offering, every 20 ordinary shares of £0.0001 and every 20 non-voting ordinary shares of £0.0001 in Immunocore Holdings plc will be consolidated into one ordinary share and one non-voting ordinary share of £0.002. This will have the effect of a 20 to 1 reverse stock split on such ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares.
Certain further resolutions will be required to be passed by the shareholders of Immunocore Holdings plc prior to the completion of this offering, details of which are set out in the section titled “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association.”
Therefore, upon consummation of the corporate reorganization and immediately prior to the completion of this offering, the current shareholders of Immunocore Limited will hold an aggregate of 31,782,885 ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares of Immunocore Holdings plc.
Bonus issue and reduction of capital of Immunocore Holdings plc
Following the completion of this offering, Immunocore Holdings plc expects to capitalise the amount standing to the credit of its merger reserve and apply such sums in paying up in full new shares to the holders of its ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares, which we refer to as bonus issue shares. Following the issue of the bonus issue shares, it is expected that Immunocore Holdings plc will undertake a reduction of capital, to be approved by the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, to (i) cancel a number of ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares that is equal to the proportion that the bonus issue shares represent of the total number of ordinary shares and non-voting ordinary shares in issue immediately following the allotment and issue of the bonus issue shares (on a pro rata basis) and (ii) cancel the whole of the amount standing to the credit of its share premium account following closing of this offering.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CAPITALIZATION
The following table sets forth our cash and cash equivalents and capitalization as of September 30, 2020 on:
an actual basis;
a pro forma basis to give effect to (i) the issuance and sale of 823,719 Series C preferred shares for aggregate gross proceeds of $75.0 million in December 2020; (ii) the borrowing of $50.0 million in November 2020 under a new debt facility with Oxford Finance Luxembourg S.A.R.L., or Oxford Finance; and (iii) our corporate reorganization; and
a pro forma as adjusted basis to give further effect to (i) the sale of 9,935,896 ADSs in this offering at the initial public offering price of $26.00 per ADS, and after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us; and (ii) the issuance and sale by us in the concurrent private placement of $15.0 million of our ADSs, or 576,923 ADSs, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
You should read this information together with our audited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus and the information set forth under the sections titled “Selected Consolidated Financial Data,” “Use of Proceeds” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
 
As of September 30, 2020
 
Actual £
Actual $(1)
Pro Forma
Pro Forma
As Adjusted
 
(in thousands except share
and per share amounts)
Cash and cash equivalents
£56,687
$73,245
$198,245
$449,095
Interest-bearing loans and borrowings
 
 
50,000
50,000
Shareholders’ equity:
 
 
 
 
Series A preferred shares, nominal value £0.0001 per share, 1,699,576 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
Series B preferred shares, nominal value £0.0001 per share, 1,148,703 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
Series C preferred shares, nominal value £0.0001 per share, 823,719 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
G shares, nominal value £0.0001 per share, 62,750 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
Voting ordinary shares, 2,551,624 shares issued and outstanding, actual; 2,551,624 shares issued and outstanding, pro forma;    42,295,704 shares issued and outstanding, pro forma as adjusted
1
1
3
4
Non-voting ordinary shares, nominal value £0.0001 per share, 831,627 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
Additional paid-in capital
330,390
426,897
501,893
752,743
Other reserves
16,146
20,863
20,863
20,863
Accumulated deficit
(330,989)
(427,671)
(427,671)
(427,671)
Total shareholders’ equity
15,548
20,090
95,089
345,940
Total capitalization
£15,548
$20,090
$145,089
$395,940
(1)
Translated solely for convenience of the reader into U.S. dollars at the rate of £1.00 to $1.2921, which was the noon buying rate of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on September 30, 2020.
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