Form 20-F
Table of Contents

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 20-F

 

 

(Mark One)

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

 

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

OR

 

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

For the transition period from                      to                     

OR

 

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Date of event requiring this shell company report

Commission file number: 001-36815

 

 

Ascendis Pharma A/S

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter and translation of Registrant’s name into English)

 

 

The Kingdom of Denmark

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

Tuborg Boulevard 5

DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark

(Address of principal executive offices)

Jan Møller Mikkelsen

President and Chief Executive Officer

Tuborg Boulevard 5

DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark

Telephone: +45 70 22 22 44

Fax: +45 36 94 40 10

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

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

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares, each representing one

ordinary share, nominal value DKK 1 per share

  The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC
Ordinary shares, nominal value DKK 1 per share*   The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC*

 

* Not for trading, but only in connection with the registration of the American Depositary Shares.

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None

 

 

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report:

36,984,292 ordinary shares

(as of December 31, 2017)

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    ☒  Yes    ☐  No

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    ☐  Yes    ☒  No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    ☒  Yes    ☐  No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    ☒  Yes    ☐  No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer  ☐   Accelerated filer  ☒   Non-accelerated filer  ☐   Emerging growth company  ☒

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

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP  ☐   

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued

by the International Accounting Standards Board  ☒

   Other  ☐

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow:    ☐  Item 17    ☐  Item 18

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    ☐  Yes    ☒  No

 

 

 


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

         Page  

General

     1  

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

     1  
PART I  

Item 1

 

Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

     2  

Item 2

 

Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

     2  

Item 3

 

Key Information

     2  

Item 4

 

Information on the Company

     53  

Item 4A

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

     86  

Item 5

 

Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

     86  

Item 6

 

Directors, Senior Management and Employees

     101  

Item 7

 

Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

     111  

Item 8

 

Financial Information

     115  

Item 9

 

The Offer and Listing

     116  

Item 10

 

Additional Information

     117  

Item 11

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

     137  

Item 12

 

Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities

     137  
PART II  

Item 13

 

Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies

     138  

Item 14

 

Material Modification to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds

     138  

Item 15

 

Control and Procedures

     139  

Item 16A

 

Audit Committee Financial Expert

     140  

Item 16B

 

Code of Ethics

     140  

Item 16C

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

     140  

Item 16D

 

Exemptions From the Listing Standards for Audit Committees

     140  

Item 16E

 

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

     140  

Item 16F

 

Change in Registrants Certifying Accountant

     140  

Item 16G

 

Corporate Governance

     141  

Item 16H

 

Mine Safety Disclosure

     141  
PART III  

Item 17

 

Financial Statements

     141  

Item 18

 

Financial Statements

     141  

Item 19

 

Exhibits

     142  

 

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General

As used herein, references to “we”, “us”, the “company”, “Ascendis”, or “Ascendis Pharma”, or similar terms in this Annual Report on Form 20-F shall mean Ascendis Pharma A/S and, as the context requires, its subsidiaries.

Our consolidated financial statements are presented in euros except where otherwise indicated, and are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (“IASB”). All references in this annual report to “Dollars” and “$” are to US Dollars, and all references to “euro” or “€” are to European Union euro. Throughout this annual report, references to ADSs mean ADSs or ordinary shares represented by ADSs, as the case may be.

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This annual report contains forward-looking statements concerning our business, operations and financial performance and condition, as well as our plans, objectives and expectations for our business operations and financial performance and condition. Any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “assume,” “believe,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “due,” “estimate,” “expect,” “goal,” “intend,” “may,” “objective,” “plan,” “predict,” “potential,” “positioned,” “seek,” “should,” “target,” “will,” “would,” and other similar expressions that are predictions or indicate future events and future trends, or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

    our ongoing Phase 3 pediatric studies of TransCon Growth Hormone or GH, Phase 1 study of TransCon Parathyroid Hormone, or PTH, and our Phase 1 study of TransCon C-Type Natriuretic Peptide, or CNP;

 

    whether we will be able to achieve regulatory approval for and launch of three product candidates with a greater than one-billion dollar market potential between 2020 and 2024;

 

    our receipt of future milestone or royalty payments from our collaboration partners, and the expected timing of such payments;

 

    our expectations regarding the potential market size and the size of the patient populations for our product candidates, if approved for commercial use;

 

    our expectations regarding the potential advantages of our product candidates over existing therapies;

 

    our ability to enter into new collaborations;

 

    our expectations with regard to the ability to develop additional product candidates using our TransCon technology and file Investigational New Drug Applications, or INDs, or equivalents for such product candidates;

 

    our expectations with regard to the ability to seek expedited regulatory approval pathways for our product candidates, including the potential ability to rely on the parent drug’s clinical and safety data with regard to our product candidates;

 

    our expectations with regard to our current and future collaboration partners to pursue the development of our product candidates;

 

    our development plans with respect to our product candidates;

 

    our ability to develop, acquire and advance product candidates into, and successfully complete, clinical trials;

 

    the timing or likelihood of regulatory filings and approvals for our product candidates;

 

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    the commercialization of our product candidates, if approved;

 

    our commercialization, marketing and manufacturing capabilities of our product candidates and associated devices;

 

    the implementation of our business model and strategic plans for our business, product candidates and technology;

 

    the scope of protection we are able to establish and maintain for intellectual property rights covering our product candidates;

 

    estimates of our expenses, future revenue, capital requirements, our needs for additional financing and our ability to obtain additional capital;

 

    our expectations regarding the time during which we will be an emerging growth company under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012;

 

    our financial performance; and

 

    developments and projections relating to our competitors and our industry.

These forward-looking statements are based on senior management’s current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about our business and the industry in which we operate and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are in some cases beyond our control. As a result, any or all of our forward-looking statements in this annual report may turn out to be inaccurate. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those listed under the section of this annual report titled “Item 3.D—Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report. You are urged to consider these factors carefully in evaluating the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this annual report. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, even if new information becomes available in the future. Given these risks and uncertainties, you are cautioned not to rely on such forward-looking statements as predictions of future events.

You should read this annual report and the documents that we reference in this annual report and have filed as exhibits to this annual report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. You should also review the factors and risks we describe in the reports we will file or submit from time to time with the SEC after the date of this annual report. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

PART I

 

Item 1 Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

Not applicable.

 

Item 2 Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

Not applicable.

 

Item 3 Key Information

 

A. Selected Financial Data

The selected consolidated financial data as of December 31, 2017 and 2016 and for each of the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto set forth in Item 18 of this annual report. The selected consolidated financial data for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013 are derived from the audited consolidated financial statements not appearing in this annual report.

 

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The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with our “Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this annual report. Our financial statements are prepared in accordance with IFRS.

 

     Years Ended December 31,  

(EUR’000, except share and per

share data)

   2017     2016     2015     2014     2013  

Revenue

     1,530       4,606       8,118       13,983       20,408  

Research and development costs

     (99,589     (66,022     (40,528     (19,698     (12,713

General and administrative expenses

     (13,482     (11,504     (9,415     (6,274     (2,416
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating profit / (loss)

     (111,541     (72,920     (41,825     (11,989     5,279  

Finance income

     923       7,300       11,048       1,877       158  

Finance expenses

     (13,756     (3,112     (2,797     (228     (732
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Profit / (loss) before tax

     (124,374     (68,732     (33,574     (10,340     4,705  

Tax on profit / (loss) for the period

     477       227       652       682       (626
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net profit / (loss) for the period

     (123,897     (68,505     (32,922     (9,658     4,079  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other comprehensive income

          

Items that may be reclassified subsequently to profit or loss:

          

Exchange differences on translating foreign operations

     65       6       (14     (14     (6
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other comprehensive income / (loss) for the period, net of tax

     65       6       (14     (14     (6
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total comprehensive income / (loss) for the period, net of tax

     (123,832     (68,499     (32,936     (9,672     4,073  

Profit / (loss) for the period attributable to owners of the Company

     (123,897     (68,505     (32,922     (9,658     4,079  

Total comprehensive income / (loss) for the period attributable to owners of the Company

     (123,832     (68,499     (32,936     (9,672     4,073  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
     EUR       EUR       EUR       EUR       EUR  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share

     (3.68     (2.58     (1.39     (0.85     0.38  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Diluted earnings per share

     (3.68     (2.58     (1.39     (0.85     0.32  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average number of shares used for calculation (basic)

     33,626,305       26,564,414       23,766,783       11,406,929       10,801,948  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average number of shares used for calculation (diluted)

     33,626,305       26,564,414       23,766,783       11,406,929       12,825,908  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

The total number of ordinary shares outstanding as of December 31, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 was 36,984,292, 32,421,121, 25,128,242, 16,935,780 and 10,801,948, respectively. The registered share capital as of December 31, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 was DKK 36,984,292, DKK 32,421,121, DKK 25,128,242, DKK 4,233,945 and DKK 2,700,487, respectively.

Selected Consolidated Statement of Financial Position Data:

The following table sets forth selected consolidated statement of financial position data as of the dates indicated:

 

     As of December 31,  
(EUR‘000)    2017     2016     2015     2014     2013  

Cash and cash equivalents

     195,351       180,329       119,649       50,167       19,430  

Total assets

     210,979       190,071       131,774       58,671       26,700  

Total liabilities

     23,768       13,458       11,445       12,861       20,399  

Retained earnings/(accumulated deficit)

     (263,210     (139,313     (70,808     (37,886     (27,142

Total equity

     187,211       176,613       120,329       45,810       6,301  

 

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Selected Consolidated Cash Flow Statement Data:

The following table sets forth selected consolidated cash flow statement data for the periods indicated:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
(EUR’000)    2017     2016     2015     2014     2013  

Cash flows from/(used in) operating activities

     (95,099     (60,179     (43,466     (18,403     6,310  

Cash flows used in investing activities

     (941     (672     (1,039     (405     (1,195

Cash flows from /(used in) financing activities

     124,721       117,462       105,742       47,907       (220

Exchange Rate Information

Our business is primarily conducted in the European Union, and we maintain our books and records in euros. We have presented results of operations in euros. In this annual report, financial figures included in or extracted from our consolidated financial statements have been translated in accordance with the guidelines under IFRS. For convenience of the reader, this annual report also includes other translations from euros to U.S. dollars and U.S. dollars to euros. Unless specified as of a specific date, or otherwise indicated, translations from euros to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to euros were made at a rate of €0.834 to $1.00, the official exchange rate quoted by the European Central Bank at the close of business on December 31, 2017. As of March 23, 2018, the official exchange rate of euros to U.S. dollars was €0.810 to $1.00. Such U.S. dollar amounts are not necessarily indicative of the actual amounts of U.S. dollars which could have been actually purchased on exchange of euro on the dates indicated. The rates set forth below are provided solely for your convenience and may differ from the actual rates used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements and other financial data included in this annual report.

The following table presents information on the exchange rates between the euro and the U.S. dollar for the periods indicated:

 

     Period end      Average
for period
     Low      High  
     (€ per U.S. dollar)  

Year Ended December 31

           

2013

     0.726        0.723        0.724        0.783  

2014

     0.822        0.754        0.717        0.822  

2015

     0.913        0.904        0.824        0.948  

2016

     0.949        0.904        0.864        0.965  

2017

     0.834        0.887        0.829        0.963  

Month Ended

           

September 30, 2017

     0.847        0.840        0.829        0.852  

October 31, 2017

     0.859        0.850        0.844        0.862  

November 30, 2017

     0.844        0.853        0.837        0.865  

December 31, 2017

     0.834        0.845        0.834        0.852  

January 31, 2018

     0.803        0.821        0.803        0.838  

February 28, 2018

     0.819        0.809        0.800        0.816  

March 2018 (through March 23, 2018)

     0.810        0.812        0.805        0.822  

 

B. Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not applicable.

 

C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not applicable.

 

D. Risk Factors

Our business faces significant risks. You should carefully consider all of the information set forth in this annual report and in our other filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including the following risk factors which we face and which are faced by our industry. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks. This report also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our results could materially differ from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, as a result of certain factors including the risks described below and elsewhere in this report and our other SEC filings. See “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” above.

 

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Risks Related to Our Limited Operating History, Financial Condition and Capital Requirements

We have a limited operating history, no products approved for commercial sale and we may incur significant losses in the future, which makes it difficult to assess our future viability.

We are a biopharmaceutical company applying our innovative TransCon technology to build a leading, fully integrated rare disease company. Biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. To date, we have focused substantially all of our efforts on our research and development activities and, in particular, developing our lead product candidates, TransCon Growth Hormone, or TransCon GH, TransCon Parathyroid Hormone, or TransCon PTH, TransCon C-Type Natriuretic Peptide, or TransCon CNP, and our proprietary TransCon technology. We have only a limited operating history upon which our shareholders and ADS holders can evaluate our business and prospects. Our revenue has been primarily generated through collaboration agreements under which we have received up-front technology licensing fees, payments for the sale of certain intellectual property rights and payments we receive for services rendered to our collaboration partners and other biopharmaceutical companies. Revenue generated from existing or new collaborations may fluctuate significantly over time. Accordingly, going forward, we may incur significant losses from our operations. We had a net loss of €123.9 million during the year ended December 31, 2017 and a net loss of €68.5 million during the year ended December 31, 2016. Our total equity was €187.2 million as of December 31, 2017 compared to €176.6 million as of December 31, 2016. Neither the net loss nor net profit we have experienced in prior years are necessarily indicative of our future results.

None of our product candidates have been approved for commercial sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, or similar non-U.S. regulatory authorities, and we have not generated revenues from the sale of approved products. We expect that our annual operating expenses may increase over the next several years as we expand our research and development efforts and operate as a public company. Even if we receive milestone payments from our current or future collaboration partners, we may incur substantial operating losses for the foreseeable future as we execute our operating plan. Additionally, we cannot be certain that we will receive any potential milestones under our agreements with our collaboration partners. For a discussion of the risks associated with our preclinical and clinical development programs with, and potential for milestone and other payments from, our collaboration partners, see “—Risks Related to Our Business.”

Even if we receive milestone payments or royalty payments from our current or future collaboration partners, we may not be able to achieve or sustain profitability. For example, our receipt of milestone payments or up-front payments from our current and potential collaboration partners may not result in the recognition of revenue in the period received, as we may be required to defer the revenue recognition of such payments over time, and depending upon such requirements and the period of recognition, we may still incur losses even after the receipt of such payments. Therefore, we expect that we may incur significant losses in the future. Possible future losses would have an adverse effect on our shareholders’ equity. Further, the net losses or net income we incur may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year, such that a period-to-period comparison of our results of operations may not be a reliable indication of our future performance.

We have never generated any revenue from product sales.

We have no products approved for sale and have never generated any revenue from product sales. Our ability to generate revenue from product sales depends on our ability and the ability of our current and future collaboration partners to successfully complete the research and development of our product candidates and obtain the regulatory and marketing approvals necessary to commercialize one or more of our product candidates. We do not anticipate generating revenue from product sales or our royalty rights for the foreseeable future. Our ability to generate future revenue from product sales or pursuant to milestone payments or royalties from current and future collaboration partners depends heavily on many factors, including but not limited to:

 

    completing research and preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates;

 

    on our own, or together with our strategic collaboration partners, obtaining regulatory approvals for our product candidates;

 

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    negotiating favorable terms of and entering into collaboration, licensing or other arrangements;

 

    the ability of our collaboration partners to successfully commercialize and/or our ability to commercialize or co-promote our product candidates;

 

    developing a sustainable and scalable manufacturing process for any of our approved product candidates and establishing and maintaining supply and manufacturing relationships with third parties that can conduct the process and provide adequate, in amount and quality, products to support clinical development and the market demand for our product candidates, if approved;

 

    obtaining market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved, as viable treatment options;

 

    addressing any competing technological and market developments;

 

    identifying, assessing, acquiring, in-licensing and/or developing new product candidates;

 

    maintaining, protecting, and expanding our portfolio of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade secrets, and know-how, and our ability to develop, manufacture and commercialize our product candidates and products without infringing intellectual property rights of others; and

 

    attracting, hiring, and retaining qualified personnel.

In cases where we, or our current or future collaboration partners, are successful in obtaining regulatory approvals to market one or more of our product candidates, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which regulatory approval is granted, the accepted price for the product, the availability of competing products, the ability to get reimbursement for our products at any price and the extent of our royalty rights for that territory. If the number of patients suitable for our product candidates is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect or the reasonably accepted population for treatment is narrowed by competition, physician choice, treatment guidelines or third-party payor restrictions, we may not generate significant revenue from the sale of such products, even if approved. Our failure to generate revenue from product sales or pursuant to up-front or milestone payments and royalties from current and future collaboration partners would likely depress our market value and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, discover or develop other product candidates or continue our operations.

We may require substantial additional financing to achieve our goals, and a failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed on acceptable terms, or at all, could force us to delay, limit, scale back or cease our product development or any other or all operations.

Since our inception, most of our resources have been dedicated to our research and development activities and, in particular, developing our proprietary TransCon technology and our most advanced product candidates. We have funded our operations primarily through issuance of our preference shares, ordinary shares and convertible debt securities and payments to us under our collaboration agreements. For example, in February 2018, we received $242.5 million (€196.8 million) in net proceeds from a public offering of American Depositary Shares (representing our ordinary shares) after deducting the underwriting commission and estimated offering expenses. As of December 31, 2017, we had cash and cash equivalents of €195.4 million. We believe that we will continue to expend substantial resources for the foreseeable future, including costs associated with research and development, conducting preclinical studies, clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and, eventually, sales and marketing if any of our product candidates is approved. Because the outcome of any clinical trial and/or regulatory approval process is highly uncertain, we cannot reasonably estimate the actual amounts of additional financing necessary to successfully complete the development, regulatory approval process and commercialization or co-promotion of any of our product candidates.

Based on our current operating plan, we believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2017 will be sufficient to meet our projected cash requirements for at least the 12 months from the date of this annual report. 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. Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:

 

    our ability to establish and maintain strategic partnerships, licensing or other arrangements and the financial terms of such agreements;

 

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    the achievement of development, regulatory and commercial milestones resulting in the payment to us from our collaboration partners of contractual milestone payments and the timing of receipt of such payments, if any;

 

    the progress, timing, scope, results and costs of our preclinical studies and clinical trials and manufacturing activities for our product candidates that have not been licensed, including the ability to enroll patients in a timely manner for clinical trials;

 

    the time and cost necessary to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates that have not been licensed and the costs of post-marketing studies that could be required by regulatory authorities;

 

    our progress and the progress of our collaboration partners in the successful commercialization and co-promotion of our most advanced product candidates and our efforts to develop and commercialize our other existing product candidates;

 

    the manufacturing, selling and marketing costs associated with product candidates, including the cost and timing of building our sales and marketing capabilities;

 

    the timing, receipt, and amount of sales of, or royalties on, our future products, if any;

 

    the sales price and the availability of adequate third-party coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates;

 

    the cash requirements of any future acquisitions or discovery of product candidates;

 

    the number and scope of preclinical and discovery programs that we decide to pursue or initiate;

 

    the potential acquisition and in-licensing of other technologies, products or assets;

 

    the time and cost necessary to respond to technological and market developments, including further development of our TransCon technology; and

 

    the costs of filing, prosecuting, maintaining, defending and enforcing any patent claims and other intellectual property rights, including litigation costs and the outcome of such litigation, including costs of defending any claims of infringement brought by others in connection with the development, manufacture or commercialization of our product candidates.

Additional funds may not be available when we need them on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all. If adequate funds are not available to us on a timely basis, we may be required to delay, limit, scale back or cease our research and development activities, preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates for which we retain such responsibility and our establishment and maintenance of sales and marketing capabilities or other activities that may be necessary to commercialize our product candidates.

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our holders of shares or ADSs, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our product candidates on unfavorable terms to us.

We may seek additional capital through a variety of means, including through public or private equity, debt financings or other sources, including up-front payments and milestone payments from strategic collaborations. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt or equity securities, the ownership interest of our shareholders and ADS holders would be diluted, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect the rights of our shareholders and ADS holders. Such financing may result in dilution to holders of shares or ADSs, imposition of debt covenants and repayment obligations, or other restrictions that may affect our business. If we raise additional funds through up-front payments or milestone payments pursuant to strategic partnerships with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our product candidates, or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us. 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.

Risks Related to Our Business

We are substantially dependent on the success of our most advanced product candidates, which may not be successful in nonclinical studies or clinical trials, receive regulatory approval or be successfully commercialized.

 

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To date, we have invested a significant amount of our efforts and financial resources in the research and development of our current most advanced product candidates utilizing our proprietary TransCon technology. In particular, we initiated a pivotal Phase 3 trial for TransCon GH in pediatric growth hormone deficiency, or GHD, patients in August 2016, and in 2017, we initiated a long-term extension trial of TransCon GH and a switch trial of TransCon GH for those already taking daily growth hormone therapy. We submitted a regulatory filing in Australia in the second quarter of 2017 for a combined Phase 1 single and multiple ascending dose study of TransCon PTH for hypoparathyroidism in healthy subjects, which is ongoing. We also submitted a regulatory filing in Australia for TransCon CNP in the fourth quarter of 2017 to conduct a Phase 1 study in healthy subjects to establish the tolerable dose range. Our near-term prospects, including our ability to finance our operations through the receipt of milestone payments and potential up-front licensing payments and generate revenue from product sales, will depend heavily on our successful development and commercialization of our most advanced product candidates, if approved. The clinical and commercial success of our most advanced product candidates and our TransCon technology will depend on a number of factors, including the following:

 

    the outcome and successful execution of our ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials of TransCon GH, which will depend substantially upon the satisfactory performance of third-party contractors;

 

    the outcome and successful execution of our TransCon PTH and TransCon CNP studies;

 

    our ability and that of our collaboration partners to establish commercial-scale manufacturing processes for our most advanced product candidates and devices, which has not yet been demonstrated;

 

    whether our most advanced product candidates’ safety, tolerability and efficacy profiles will be satisfactory to the EMA, the FDA and similar regulatory authorities to warrant marketing approval;

 

    whether the EMA, the FDA or similar regulatory authorities require additional clinical trials prior to approval to market our most advanced product candidates;

 

    the prevalence and severity of adverse side effects of our most advanced product candidates;

 

    the timely receipt of necessary marketing approvals from the EMA, the FDA and similar regulatory authorities;

 

    our ability and that of our collaboration partners to successfully commercialize our most advanced product candidates, if approved for marketing and sale by the EMA, the FDA or similar regulatory authorities, including educating physicians and patients about the benefits, administration and use of such products;

 

    achieving and maintaining compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements;

 

    acceptance of our most advanced product candidates as safe and effective by patients and the medical community;

 

    the availability, perceived advantages, relative cost, relative safety and relative efficacy of alternative and competing treatments;

 

    obtaining and sustaining an adequate level of coverage and reimbursement for our most advanced product candidates by third-party payors;

 

    the effectiveness of our collaboration partners’ marketing, sales and distribution strategies and operations;

 

    our ability and that of our collaboration partners, or any third-party manufacturer we or our collaborators contract with, to manufacture supplies of our most advanced product candidates and to develop, validate and maintain commercially viable manufacturing processes that are compliant with current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, requirements;

 

    enforcing intellectual property rights in and to our most advanced product candidates;

 

    avoiding third-party interference, opposition, derivation or similar proceedings with respect to our patent rights, and avoiding other challenges to our patent rights and patent infringement claims; and

 

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    continued acceptable safety profiles of our most advanced product candidates following approval, if approved.

Many of these factors are beyond our control, including clinical development, the regulatory submission process, potential threats to our intellectual property rights and the manufacturing, marketing and sales efforts of our collaboration partners.

Additionally, as part of our clinical and regulatory approval plan for TransCon GH for pediatric GHD we are conducting a Phase 3 trial in a pediatric population with a primary endpoint of annualized height velocity measured at 12 months, the heiGHt Trial, and a separate safety study, the fliGHt (switch) Trial, which is designed to evaluate TransCon GH in subjects who are primarily treatment experienced with daily GH, although a subgroup of younger subjects may be treatment-naïve. Subjects completing either the heiGHt or fliGHt Trials may also enroll in an open-label extension study, the enliGHten Trial, which is designed to provide long-term safety data in approximately 300 patients to support the potential future regulatory filings for TransCon GH. If we have to, or choose to, conduct additional or different trials, this could increase the amount of time and expense required for regulatory approval of TransCon GH, if approved at all. In July 2015, we reported top-line six-month height velocity data from 53 patients treated in our Phase 2 TransCon GH clinical study in pediatric growth hormone deficient patients. If the six-month mean height velocities that we observed for TransCon GH in the Phase 2 pediatric study do not correlate to twelve month mean height velocities that we ultimately observe in the ongoing Phase 3 clinical study, TransCon GH may not achieve the required primary endpoint in the Phase 3 clinical trial, and therefore may not receive regulatory approval.

Accordingly, we cannot be certain that our most advanced product candidates will ever be approved or successfully commercialized, or that we will ever generate revenue from sales of such product candidates. If we and our collaboration partners are not successful in completing the development of, obtaining approval for, and commercializing our most advanced product candidates, or are significantly delayed in doing so, our business will be harmed.

Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and we may encounter substantial delays in our clinical studies. Furthermore, results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of results of future trials.

Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of our product candidates, we, or our current or future collaboration partners, must conduct extensive clinical studies to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the product candidates in humans. 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 preclinical and clinical studies of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. For example, the positive results generated to date in preclinical and clinical studies for TransCon GH do not ensure that the ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials, or other clinical trials, will demonstrate similar results. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier studies, and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. Even if our clinical trials are completed, the results may not be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates.

We may experience delays or setbacks in our ongoing Phase 3 trials for TransCon GH, our ongoing Phase 1 trial for TransCon PTH and our Phase 1 trial with TransCon CNP or other trials, and we do not know whether future clinical trials will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll an adequate number of patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. Clinical trials can be delayed or terminated for a variety of reasons, including delay or failure to:

 

    obtain regulatory approval to commence a trial, if applicable;

 

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

 

    obtain Ethics Committee, institutional review board, or IRB, approval at each site;

 

    import drug product for use in a trial;

 

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    recruit suitable patients to participate in a trial;

 

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

 

    ensure that clinical sites observe trial protocol or continue to participate in a trial;

 

    address any patient safety concerns that arise during the course of a trial;

 

    address any conflicts with new or existing laws or regulations;

 

    initiate or add a sufficient number of clinical trial sites; or

 

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

Patient enrollment is a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials and is affected by many factors, including the size and nature of the patient population, the proximity of patients to clinical sites, the eligibility criteria for the trial, the design of the clinical trial, competing clinical trials and clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the drug being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs or treatments that may be approved for the indications we are investigating.

We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, our collaboration partner for a product candidate, by the Ethics Committee or IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by an independent data safety monitoring board, or DSMB, for such trial or by European Economic Area, or EEA, Competent Authorities, the FDA or similar regulatory authorities. Such authorities, or we, may suspend or terminate a clinical trial 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 EEA Competent Authorities, the FDA or similar regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.

Further, we are conducting Phase 3 pediatric studies of TransCon GH across clinical sites located in North America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Oceania (Australia/New Zealand). Conducting clinical trials in foreign countries presents additional risks that may delay completion of clinical trials. These risks include the failure of physicians or enrolled patients in foreign countries to adhere to clinical protocol as a result of differences in healthcare services or cultural customs, managing additional administrative burdens associated with foreign regulatory schemes, as well as political and economic risks relevant to such foreign countries. In addition, the EMA or the FDA may determine that the clinical trial results obtained in foreign subjects do not represent the safety and efficacy of a product candidate when administered in EEA or U.S. patients, and are thus not supportive of an application for a marketing authorization in the EEA or of an NDA approval in the United States. As a result, the EMA or the FDA may not accept data from clinical trials conducted outside the EEA or the United States, respectively, and may require that we conduct additional clinical trials or obtain additional data before we can proceed with filing an NDA in the United States or a marketing authorization application in the EEA. The EMA or the FDA may even require conducting additional clinical trials in the EEA or the United States, respectively.

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

We depend on collaboration partners to develop and conduct clinical studies with, obtain regulatory approvals for, and manufacture, market and sell our collaboration product candidates, and if such collaboration partners fail to perform as expected, or are unable to obtain the required regulatory approvals for such product candidates, the potential for us to generate future revenue from such product candidates would be significantly reduced and our business would be significantly harmed.

 

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We rely on our collaboration partners to conduct clinical studies of our collaboration product candidates. We have existing collaborations with Sanofi and Genentech. Under these collaborations, we granted Sanofi and Genentech worldwide licenses to develop certain collaboration product candidates in the fields of diabetes (TransCon peptides) and ophthalmology (TransCon anti-VEGF), respectively. We may also enter into collaboration agreements with other parties in the future relating to our other product candidates. Under our existing collaboration agreements, our collaboration partners are responsible for completing all preclinical and clinical development and obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval for the applicable product candidates from the EMA, the FDA and similar regulatory authorities. Ultimately, if such product candidates are advanced through clinical trials and receive marketing approval from the EMA, the FDA or similar regulatory authorities, such collaboration partners will be responsible for commercialization of these collaboration products. The potential for us to obtain future development milestone payments and, ultimately, generate revenue from royalties on sales of such collaboration products depends entirely on successful development, regulatory approval, marketing and commercialization by our collaboration partners.

If our collaboration partners do not perform in the manner we expect or fulfill their responsibilities in a timely manner, or at all, if our agreements with them terminate or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised, the clinical development, regulatory approval and commercialization efforts related to our collaboration product candidates could be delayed or terminated and it could become necessary for us to assume the responsibility at our own expense for the clinical development of such product candidates. In that event, we would likely be required to limit the size and scope of efforts for the development and commercialization of such product candidate, to seek additional financing to fund further development, or to identify alternative strategic collaboration partners, and our potential to generate future revenue from royalties and milestone payments from such product candidate would be significantly reduced or delayed and our business would be harmed. For example, in September 2012, we entered into a collaboration agreement with United Therapeutics for the development and commercialization of TransCon treprostinil and United Therapeutics filed an IND for TransCon treprostinil that was accepted by the FDA in June 2014. In October 2014, we and United Therapeutics terminated the collaboration agreement, and United Therapeutics has transferred the IND for TransCon treprostinil to us. The IND for TransCon treprostinil has since been withdrawn.

Our existing collaborations and any future collaboration arrangements that we may enter into with third parties may not be scientifically or commercially successful. In addition to the risks inherent in the development of a drug product candidate, factors that may affect the success of our collaborations include the following:

 

    our collaboration partners have the unilateral ability to choose not to develop a collaboration product for one or more indications for which such product has been or is currently being evaluated, and our collaboration partners may choose to pursue an indication that is not in our strategic best interest or to forego an indication that they believe does not provide significant market potential even if clinical data is supportive of further development for such indication;

 

    our collaboration partners may choose not to develop and commercialize our collaboration products in certain relevant markets;

 

    our collaboration partners may take considerably more time advancing our product candidates through the clinical and regulatory process than we currently anticipate, which could materially delay the achievement of milestones and, consequently the receipt of milestone payments from our collaboration partners;

 

    our collaboration partners have substantial discretion under their respective agreements regarding how they structure their efforts and allocate resources to fulfill their obligations to diligently develop, manufacture, obtain regulatory approval for and commercialize our collaboration products;

 

    our collaboration partners control all aspects of commercialization efforts under their respective license agreements and may change the focus of their development and commercialization efforts or pursue higher-priority programs and, accordingly, reduce the efforts and resources allocated to their collaborations with us;

 

    our collaboration partners are solely responsible for obtaining and maintaining all regulatory approvals and may fail to develop a commercially viable formulation or manufacturing process for our product candidates, and may fail to manufacture or supply sufficient drug substance for commercial use, if approved, which could result in lost revenue;

 

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    our collaboration partners may not comply with all applicable regulatory requirements or may fail to report safety data in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements;

 

    if any of our agreements with our collaboration partners terminate, we will no longer have any rights to receive potential revenue under such agreement, in which case we would need to identify alternative means to continue the development, manufacture and commercialization of the affected product candidates, alone or with others;

 

    our collaboration partners have the discretion to sublicense their rights with respect to our collaboration technology in connection with collaboration product candidates to one or more third parties without our consent;

 

    our collaboration partners may be pursuing alternative technologies or developing alternative products, either on their own or in collaboration with others, that may be competitive with products on which they are collaborating with us or which could affect our collaboration partners’ commitment to the collaboration; and

 

    if our collaboration partners receive approval for any of the collaboration product candidates, reductions in marketing or sales efforts or a discontinuation of marketing or sales of our product candidates by our collaboration partners would reduce any royalties we could be entitled to receive, which are based on the sales of our product candidates by our collaboration partners.

In addition, the collaboration agreements provide our collaboration partners with rights to terminate such agreements and licenses under various conditions, which if exercised would adversely affect our product development efforts, make it difficult for us to attract new partners and adversely affect our reputation in the business and financial communities. Our collaboration partners have the right to terminate their respective collaboration agreements with us, upon advance written notice, in the event of our uncured material breach of the agreement and for convenience. In addition, Sanofi may terminate its agreement with us in the event we initiate non-infringement, invalidity or unenforceability proceedings with respect to Sanofi patents. Genentech may also terminate in the event of our bankruptcy or insolvency, or if we undergo a change of control in favor of a competitor of Genentech and that competitor does not segregate our company’s personnel and activities under the agreement.

In addition, certain provisions in our exclusive license agreement with Genentech may discourage certain takeover or acquisition attempts, including, as noted above, that in the event we undergo a change of control in favor of a competitor of Genentech and that competitor does not segregate our company’s personnel and activities under the license agreement, Genentech may terminate the license agreement.

The timing and amount of any milestone and royalty payments we may receive under our agreements with our collaboration partners will depend on, among other things, the efforts, allocation of resources, and successful development and commercialization of our product candidates by our collaboration partners. We cannot be certain that any of the development and regulatory milestones will be achieved or that we will receive any future milestone payments under these agreements. In addition, in certain circumstances we may believe that we have achieved a particular milestone and the applicable collaboration partner may disagree with our belief. In that case, receipt of that milestone payment may be delayed or may never be received, which may require us to adjust our operating plans.

We may form additional strategic collaborations in the future with respect to our proprietary programs, but we may not realize the benefits of such collaborations.

We may form strategic collaborations, create joint ventures or enter into licensing arrangements with third parties with respect to our independent programs that we believe will complement or augment our existing business. We have historically engaged, and intend to continue to engage, in partnering discussions with a range of biopharmaceutical companies and could enter into new collaborations at any time. We face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners, and the negotiation process to secure appropriate terms is time-consuming and complex. Any delays in identifying suitable development partners and entering into agreements to develop our product candidates could also delay the commercialization of our product candidates, which may reduce their competitiveness even if they reach the market. Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish such a strategic partnership for any future product candidates and programs on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all. This may be for a number of reasons, including that our product candidates and programs may be deemed to be at too early of a stage of development for collaborative effort, our research and development pipeline may be viewed as insufficient, and/or third parties may not view our product candidates and programs as having sufficient potential for commercialization, including the likelihood of an adequate safety and efficacy profile. Even if we are successful in entering into a strategic alliance or license arrangement, there is no guarantee that the collaboration will be successful, or that any future collaboration partner will commit sufficient resources to the development, regulatory approval, and commercialization of our product candidates, or that such alliances will result in us achieving revenues that justify such transactions.

 

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Our product candidates, other than TransCon GH, TransCon PTH and TransCon CNP, are in various stages of preclinical development and we may not be successful in our efforts to successfully develop these products or expand our pipeline of product candidates.

A key element of our strategy is to expand our pipeline of product candidates utilizing our proprietary TransCon technology, and to advance such product candidates through clinical development, either on our own or in conjunction with strategic collaboration partners. Our other product candidates, are in preclinical development and may require significant time and additional research and development before we can file IND or equivalent with regulatory authorities to begin clinical studies. Of the large number of drugs in development, only a small percentage of such drugs successfully complete the EMA or FDA regulatory approval process and are commercialized. Accordingly, even if we are able to continue to fund such development programs, our product candidates may not be advanced to clinical studies or be successfully developed or commercialized. In addition, our preclinical product candidates may not demonstrate the advantages we expect from application of our TransCon technology in preclinical studies. In such event, we may decide not to progress any such product candidates into clinical trials.

Research programs to identify product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources, whether or not any product candidates are ultimately identified. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in several development programs, we may not be able to develop product candidates that are safe and effective. Our research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential product candidates, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development or commercialization for many reasons, including the following:

 

    the research methodology used and our TransCon technology may not be successful in identifying potential product candidates;

 

    competitors may develop alternatives that render our product candidates obsolete or less attractive;

 

    product candidates we develop may nevertheless be covered by third parties’ intellectual property rights or other types of exclusivity and we may not be able to obtain a license from such third party or the license terms may not be acceptable to us;

 

    the market for a product candidate may change during our program or we may discover that such market was smaller than initially expected so that such a product may become financially unfeasible to continue to develop;

 

    a product candidate may be demonstrated to have harmful side effects or not to be effective, or otherwise not to meet other requirements for regulatory approval;

 

    a product candidate may not be capable of being produced in commercial quantities at an acceptable cost, or at all; and

 

    a product candidate may not be accepted as safe and effective by patients, the medical community or third-party payors, or reimbursable by third-party payors, if applicable.

Even if we are successful in continuing to expand our pipeline, through our own research and development efforts or by pursuing in-licensing or acquisition of product candidates, the potential product candidates that we identify or acquire may not be suitable for clinical development, including as a result of being shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize a product pipeline, we may not be able to generate revenue from product sales in future periods or achieve or sustain profitability.

 

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Interim and/or preliminary data from our clinical trials that we have announced, or that we may 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 or preliminary data from our clinical studies. For example, in January 2018, we announced initial data from the single ascending dose cohorts in our ongoing Phase 1 trial of TransCon PTH. Interim data for the trials we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and/or more patient data become available. Preliminary data would 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, any interim and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Material adverse changes in the final data could significantly harm our business prospects.

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

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we have focused on research programs and product candidates that utilize our proprietary TransCon technology. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate.

We rely on third parties to conduct our nonclinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may be unable to obtain regulatory approval for, or commercialize, our product candidates.

We do not have the ability to independently conduct clinical trials or nonclinical studies. We rely on medical institutions, clinical investigators, contract laboratories, collaboration partners and other third parties, such as CROs, to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates. The third parties with whom we contract for execution of our clinical trials play a significant role in the conduct of these trials and the subsequent collection and analysis of data. However, these third parties are not our employees, and except for contractual duties and obligations, we control only certain aspects of their activities and have limited ability to control the amount or timing of resources that they devote to our programs. Although we rely on these third parties to conduct our nonclinical studies and our clinical trials, we remain responsible for ensuring that each of our nonclinical studies and clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal, regulatory and scientific standards and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with current good laboratory practices, or GLPs, for nonclinical studies, and good clinical practices, or GCPs, for clinical studies. GLPs and GCPs are regulations and guidelines enforced by the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area, or EEA, the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for all of our products in nonclinical and clinical development, respectively. Regulatory authorities enforce GCPs through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of our third party contractors fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, including GCPs, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the EMA, the FDA, or similar regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot be certain that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with products produced under cGMP regulations. The failure of our contract manufacturers to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.

Even if our product candidates obtain regulatory approval, they may never achieve market acceptance or commercial success, which will depend, in part, upon the degree of acceptance among physicians, patients, patient advocacy groups, third-party payors and the medical community.

 

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Even if our product candidates obtain EMA, FDA or other regulatory approvals, and are ultimately commercialized, our product candidates may not achieve market acceptance among physicians, patients, third-party payors, patient advocacy groups and the medical community. The degree of market acceptance, if any, for our most advanced product candidates for which marketing approval is obtained will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

    the efficacy of the products as demonstrated in clinical trials;

 

    the prevalence and severity of any side effects and overall safety profile of the product;

 

    the convenience and features of the auto-injector used to administer the drug;

 

    the clinical indications for which the product is approved;

 

    acceptance by physicians, major operators of clinics and patients of the product as a safe and effective treatment and their willingness to pay for them;

 

    relative convenience and ease of administration of our products;

 

    the potential and perceived advantages of our product candidates over current treatment options or alternative treatments, including future alternative treatments;

 

    the availability of supply of our products and their ability to meet market demand;

 

    marketing and distribution support for our product candidates;

 

    the quality of our relationships with patient advocacy groups; and

 

    coverage and reimbursement policies of government and other third-party payors.

If our product candidates that obtain regulatory approval do not achieve significant market acceptance or commercial success, this could harm our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following regulatory approval, if any. If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval and subsequently causes undesirable side effects, the ability to market the product candidates could be compromised.

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

In addition, in the event that any of our product candidates receives regulatory approval and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by one of our products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could occur, including:

 

    regulatory authorities may withdraw their approval of the product or seize the product;

 

    we, or our collaboration partners, may be required to recall the product;

 

    additional restrictions may be imposed on the marketing of the particular product or the manufacturing processes for the product or any component thereof, including the imposition of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies plan that may require creation of a Medication Guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients, as well as elements to assure safe use of the product, such as a patient registry and training and certification of prescribers;

 

    we, or our collaboration partners, may be subject to fines, injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties;

 

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    regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, such as a “black box” warning or a contraindication;

 

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

 

    the product may become less competitive; and

 

    our reputation may suffer.

Any of the foregoing events could prevent us, or our collaboration partners, from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of a particular product candidate, if approved, and could result in the loss of significant revenue to us, which would harm our results of operations and business.

Competition in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries is intense and our competitors may discover, develop or commercialize products faster or more successfully than us. If we are unable to compete effectively our business, results of operations and prospects will suffer.

The markets in which we intend to compete are undergoing, and are expected to continue to undergo, rapid and significant technological changes. Some of our product candidates are for fields in which competitive products already exist and are established. We expect competition to intensify as technological advances are made or new drugs and biotechnology products are introduced. New developments by competitors may render our current or future product candidates and/or technologies non-competitive, obsolete or not economical. Our competitors’ products may be more efficacious or marketed and sold more effectively than any of our product candidates.

We are aware of several pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies that have commenced clinical studies of products or have successfully commercialized products addressing areas that we are targeting. For example, several companies are developing sustained release or long-acting products for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency, including Bioton S.A., Critical Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., Dong-A Pharmaceutical, GeneScience Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., Genexine Inc., JCR Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., Novo Nordisk A/S, and OPKO Health, Inc. (in collaboration with Pfizer Inc.). Shire plc owns the rights to Natpara, a treatment for hypoparathroidism. In addition, we are aware of several academic groups and companies working on making longer-acting agonists of the PTH receptor, or PTH1R. Other companies and groups are developing or commercializing therapies for hypoparathyroidism, including Shire, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Entera Bio, Extend Biosciences, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Eli Lilly and Company. Other companies are developing therapies for achondroplasia, including BioMarin and Therachon. BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is developing vosoritide for the treatment of achondroplasia, Therachon and BioClin Therapeutics, Inc. are developing compounds for achondroplasia. In addition to product-based competition, our TransCon technology faces technology-based competition as we believe other companies are developing or evaluating enhanced drug delivery and sustained release technologies. In particular, we believe Nektar Therapeutics, OPKO Health, Inc., ProLynx LLC and Serina Therapeutics, Inc. are developing technologies that use reversible linkers and that may be competitive with our TransCon technology.

It is also possible that our competitors will commercialize competing drugs or treatments before we or our collaboration partners can launch any products developed from our product candidates. We also anticipate that we will face increased competition in the future as new companies enter into our target markets.

Furthermore, to the extent we are developing TransCon product candidates that incorporate already approved drugs, we face competition from the pharmaceutical companies which are currently marketing such approved products. These pharmaceutical companies can generally be expected to seek to delay the introduction of competing products through a variety of means including:

 

    filing new formulation patent applications on drugs whose original patent protection is about to expire;

 

    filing an increasing number of patent applications that are more complex and costly to challenge;

 

    filing suits for alleged patent infringement that automatically delay FDA approval;

 

    developing patented controlled-release or other “next-generation” products, which may compete with TransCon product candidates;

 

    establishing exclusive contracts with third party payors; or

 

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    changing product claims and product labeling.

Any one of these strategies may increase the costs and risks associated with our efforts to introduce any of our product candidates and may delay or altogether prevent such introduction.

Many of our competitors have:

 

    significantly greater name recognition, financial, marketing, research, drug development and technical and human resources than we have at every stage of the discovery, development, manufacturing and commercialization process and additional mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors;

 

    more extensive experience in commercializing drugs, conducting preclinical testing, conducting clinical studies, obtaining regulatory approvals, challenging patents and in manufacturing and marketing pharmaceutical products;

 

    products that have been approved or are in late stages of development; and

 

    collaboration arrangements in our target markets with leading companies and research institutions.

If we successfully develop and obtain approval for our product candidates, we will face competition based on many different factors, including:

 

    the safety and effectiveness of our product candidates;

 

    the timing of and specific circumstances relating to regulatory approvals for these product candidates;

 

    the availability and cost of manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities;

 

    the effectiveness of our marketing and sales capabilities;

 

    the price of our product candidates;

 

    the availability and amount of third-party reimbursement for our product candidates; and

 

    the strength of our patent position.

In addition, academic institutions, government agencies, and other public and private organizations conducting research may seek patent protection with respect to potentially competitive products or technologies. These organizations may also establish exclusive collaborative or licensing relationships with our competitors.

Our competitors may develop or commercialize products with significant advantages in regard to any of these factors. Our competitors may therefore be more successful in commercializing their products than we are, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

For additional information regarding the competitive landscape for our product candidates, see “Item 4 B. Information on the Company – Business Overview – TransCon Product Candidates.”

Our proprietary TransCon technology is a new approach to extending the residence time and duration of action of a variety of drug products and may not result in any products of commercial value.

Our TransCon technology has been developed to improve the delivery of a variety of drug products. However, we cannot be certain that our TransCon technology will be deemed safe or efficacious, nor that any aspects of our TransCon technology will yield additional product candidates that could enter clinical development and, ultimately, be commercially valuable. Further, one of our two carrier systems, the TransCon hydrogel carrier system, has never been used in humans. As a result, our TransCon hydrogel carriers, when dosed in humans, may fail to perform as we expect. Failure of any of our product candidates to be successfully developed and approved may result in our TransCon technology being viewed as an ineffective approach to developing drug products which would harm our business and prospects.

 

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We apply our TransCon technology to both approved and unapproved parent drugs to extend the life of such drugs in the body, and to enhance the overall benefit of a given therapy. Even when applied to approved parent drugs, we have generated limited clinical data on our product candidates using our TransCon technology with respect to safety and efficacy for long-term treatment in humans. The long-term safety and efficacy of our TransCon technology and the extended life in the body of our product candidates utilizing TransCon technology compared to currently approved products is unknown, and it is possible that our product candidates may have an increased risk of unforeseen reactions following extended treatment relative to other currently approved products. If extended treatment with product candidates utilizing TransCon in our ongoing or future clinical trials results in any concerns about the safety or efficacy of our TransCon technology, we may be unable to successfully develop or commercialize our product candidates.

Product candidates created utilizing the TransCon prodrug technology are new chemical entities that employ novel technologies that have not yet been approved by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities. These regulatory authorities have limited experience in evaluating our technologies and product candidates.

Our TransCon prodrug technology allows for the creation of new molecular entities through the transient conjugation of parent drug molecules to our soluble and microparticle TransCon carrier molecules via our TransCon linkers. We and our collaboration partners are developing product candidates based on these novel technologies, and we intend to work closely with our collaboration partners to understand and deliver the requisite demonstration of safety and efficacy that the FDA, the EMA and other regulatory authorities may seek for the approval of product candidates that incorporate the TransCon technology. It is possible that the regulatory approval process may take significant time and resources and require deliverables from independent third parties not under our control. For some of our product candidates, the regulatory approval path and requirements may not be clear, which could add significant delay and expense. Delays or failure to obtain regulatory approval of any of the products that we or our collaboration partners develop using our novel technologies would adversely affect our business.

We have limited clinical data on product candidates utilizing the TransCon technology platform to indicate whether they are safe or effective for long-term use in humans.

Our product candidates transiently link a parent drug molecule to select TransCon carriers via our TransCon linkers. Once injected, we believe that our prodrugs predictably release the unmodified parent drug molecule over time, thus preserving the parent drug’s original mode of action, and, we believe, the parent drug’s original safety and efficacy profile. We believe that our TransCon carriers remain bound to our TransCon linkers and that they are cleared from the body predominantly by renal filtration and biliary transport with fecal excretion. We have limited clinical data on product candidates utilizing the TransCon technology to indicate whether they are safe or effective for long-term use in humans, including the safety of any degradation products that may result after the TransCon carrier and TransCon linker are cleaved from the parent drug molecule. As an example, our TransCon prodrugs utilize polyethylene glycol, or PEG, and hydrogels incorporating PEG-based polymers as TransCon carriers. Although the safety and efficacy of PEG and permanently PEGylated proteins has been demonstrated within their respective indications by the approval of drugs such as PegIntron®, PegaSys®, Neulasta®, Somavert®, Cimzia®, Krystexxa®, Adynovate® and Rebinyn® and we are not aware of any evidence for PEG-related safety issues with PEGylated proteins in the clinic, health authorities, including the EMA, have historically posed general questions relating to the distribution, elimination, and the potential for PEG accumulation to pharmaceutical companies involved in the development of PEGylated drug products. If treatment with any of our product candidates in our clinical trials results in concerns about their safety or efficacy, we and our collaboration partners may be unable to successfully develop or commercialize any or all of our TransCon technology based product candidates or enter into collaborations with respect to our product candidates.

We have limited clinical data on TransCon GH and TransCon PTH and no clinical data on our other product candidates, to indicate whether they are safe or effective for long-term use in humans.

We have generated clinical data on six months of dosing with TransCon GH, and limited clinical data on TransCon PTH and no clinical data on our other product candidates, including TransCon CNP, that utilize the TransCon technology to extend their duration of action. It is unknown whether long-term repeated administration of TransCon GH, TransCon PTH or TransCon CNP could result in issues that may adversely affect safety. If extended treatment with TransCon GH, TransCon PTH, TransCon CNP, or any of our other product candidates, in our clinical trials, results in any safety or efficacy concerns, we may be unable to successfully develop or commercialize our product candidates or enter into collaborations with respect to our product candidates.

 

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We lack direct sales and marketing capabilities, and are wholly dependent on collaboration partners for the commercialization of our product candidates. If we are unable to establish sales capabilities on our own or through third parties, we may not be able to commercialize any of our product candidates.

We have no direct sales, marketing or distribution capabilities. We have entered into collaboration agreements with third parties to market and sell product candidates in the fields of diabetes (unspecified TransCon Peptides) and ophthalmology (TransCon anti-VEGF). Currently, we have no sales, marketing or distribution agreements for TransCon GH, TransCon PTH, TransCon CNP, or our other product candidates. We may enter into arrangements with third parties to market and sell certain of our other product candidates. We may not be able to enter into such marketing and sales arrangements with others on acceptable terms, if at all. To the extent that we enter into marketing and sales arrangements with other companies, our revenues, if any, will depend on the terms of any such arrangements and the efforts of others. These efforts may turn out not to be sufficient.

We currently do not have our own sales organization. To commercialize any of our product candidates, we or our collaboration partners must build and/or maintain marketing, sales, distribution, managerial and other non-technical capabilities or make arrangements with third parties to perform these services, and we or our collaboration partners may not be successful in doing so. If one or more of our product candidates receives regulatory approval, we may establish a specialty sales organization with technical expertise and supporting distribution capabilities to co-promote and/or commercialize our product candidates, which will be expensive and time consuming. As a company, we have no prior experience in the marketing, sale and distribution of pharmaceutical products and there are significant risks involved in building and managing a sales organization, including our ability to hire, retain, and incentivize qualified individuals, generate sufficient sales leads, provide adequate training to sales and marketing personnel, comply with regulatory requirements applicable to the marketing and sale of drug products and effectively manage a geographically dispersed sales and marketing team. Any failure or delay in the development of our internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities with respect to a non-licensed product candidate would adversely impact the commercialization of such product candidate.

We may choose to work with third parties that have direct sales forces and established distribution systems, either to augment our own sales force and distribution systems or in lieu of our own sales force and distribution systems. If we are unable to enter into such arrangements on acceptable terms or at all, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates.

We rely on third parties to manufacture our preclinical and clinical drug supplies, and we intend to rely on third parties to produce commercial supplies of any approved product candidate and device.

We have limited personnel with experience in manufacturing, and we do not own facilities for manufacturing our products and product candidates for the potential pivotal clinical studies and/or commercial manufacturing of our products and product candidates. We depend on our collaboration partners and other third parties to manufacture and provide analytical services with respect to our most advanced product candidates and device.

In addition, if our product candidates are approved, to produce the quantities necessary to meet anticipated market demand, we and/or our collaboration partners will need to secure sufficient manufacturing capacity with third-party manufacturers. If we and/or our collaboration partners are unable to produce our product candidates in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements for the launch of the product or to meet future demand, our revenues and gross margins could be adversely affected. To be successful, our product candidates must be manufactured in commercial quantities in compliance with regulatory requirements and at acceptable costs. We and/or our collaboration partners will regularly need to secure access to facilities to manufacture some of our product candidates commercially. All of this will require additional funds and inspection and approval by the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EEA, the FDA and other regulatory authorities. If we and/or our collaboration partners are unable to establish and maintain a manufacturing capacity within our planned time and cost parameters, the development and sales of our products and product candidates as well as our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs could be adversely affected.

We and/or our collaboration partners may encounter problems with aspects of manufacturing our collaboration products and product candidates, including the following:

 

    production yields;

 

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    quality control and assurance;

 

    shortages of qualified personnel;

 

    compliance with FDA and EEA regulations;

 

    production costs; and

 

    development of advanced manufacturing techniques and process controls.

We evaluate our options for clinical study supplies and commercial production of our product candidates on a regular basis, which may include use of third-party manufacturers, or entering into a manufacturing joint venture relationship with a third party. We are aware of only a limited number of companies on a worldwide basis who operate manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates can be manufactured under cGMP regulations, a requirement for all pharmaceutical products. We cannot be certain that we or our collaboration partners will be able to contract with any of these companies on acceptable terms, if at all, all of which could harm our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

In addition, we or our collaboration partners, as well as any third-party manufacturer, will be required to register such manufacturing facilities with the FDA (and have a U.S. agent for the facility, if outside the United States), the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EEA, and other regulatory authorities. The facilities will be subject to inspections confirming compliance with the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EEAs, or other regulatory authority cGMPs requirements. We do not control the manufacturing process of our product candidates, and, other than with respect to our collaboration product candidates, we are dependent on our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with cGMPs regulations for manufacture of both active drug substances and finished drug products. If we or our collaboration partners or any third-party manufacturer fails to maintain regulatory compliance, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be harmed, and the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EEA, or other regulatory authorities can impose regulatory sanctions that range from a warning letter to withdrawal of approval to seeking product seizures, injunctions and, where appropriate, criminal prosecution.

Under our agreements with our collaboration partners, the manufacturing of our collaboration product candidates is completed by the applicable collaboration partner. We are entirely dependent on our collaboration partners for all aspects of the manufacturing and validation process, as well as providing all commercial supply of our collaboration product candidates. For additional information regarding the risks of our dependence on our collaboration partners, see the risk factors above “—We are substantially dependent on the success of our most advanced product candidates, which may not be successful in nonclinical studies or clinical trials, receive regulatory approval or be successfully commercialized” and “—We depend on collaboration partners to develop and conduct clinical studies with, obtain regulatory approvals for, and manufacture, market and sell our collaboration product candidates, and if such collaboration partners fail to perform as expected, or are unable to obtain the required regulatory approvals for such product candidates, the potential for us to generate future revenue from such product candidates would be significantly reduced and our business would be significantly harmed.”

If our contract manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or similar regulatory authorities, they will not be able to secure and/or maintain regulatory approval 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, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EEA, or a similar regulatory authority does not approve these facilities for the manufacture of our product candidates or if it 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.

We rely on our manufacturers to purchase from third-party suppliers the materials necessary to produce our product candidates for our clinical studies. Any significant delay or discontinuation in the supply of such materials would delay completion of our clinical studies and harm our business.

 

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There are a limited number of suppliers for raw materials that we use to manufacture our drugs, and there may be a need to identify alternate suppliers to prevent a possible disruption of the manufacture of the materials necessary to produce our product candidates for our clinical studies, and, if approved, ultimately for commercial sale. We do not have any control over the process or timing of the acquisition of these raw materials by our manufacturers. Although we generally do not begin a clinical study unless we believe we have on hand, or will be able to manufacture a sufficient supply of a product candidate to complete such study, any significant delay or discontinuity in the supply of a product candidate, or the raw material components thereof, for a clinical study due to the need to replace a third-party manufacturer could considerably delay completion of our clinical studies, product testing, and potential regulatory approval of our product candidates, which could harm our business and results of operations.

Any inability to obtain suppliers, including an inability to obtain, or delay in obtaining, approval of a supplier from the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EMA, the FDA or other regulatory authorities, would delay or prevent the clinical development and commercialization of our product candidates, and could impact our ability to meet supply obligations to collaboration partners for the development of, or future marketing and sale, of our product candidates.

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

Our business exposes us to potential product liability risks which are inherent in research and development, preclinical and clinical studies, manufacturing, marketing and use of our product candidates. For example, we may be sued if any product we develop allegedly causes injury or is found to be otherwise unsuitable during product testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability, and a breach of warranties. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts. Product liability claims may be expensive to defend and may result in judgments against us which are potentially punitive. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates. Even successful defense would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

    decreased demand for our product candidates;

 

    injury to our reputation;

 

    withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

 

    costs to defend the related litigation;

 

    a diversion of management’s time and our resources;

 

    substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;

 

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

 

    loss of revenue; and

 

    the inability to commercialize or co-promote our product candidates.

It is generally necessary for us to secure certain levels of insurance as a condition for the conduct of clinical studies. We believe that our product liability insurance for clinical studies is sufficient to cover claims. We currently maintain liability insurance with certain specified coverage limits. We cannot be certain that the insurance policies will be sufficient to cover all claims that may be made against us. Our inability to obtain and maintain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost and scope of coverage to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of any products we develop. We currently carry product liability insurance covering use in our clinical trials in the amount of $8 million in the aggregate. Any claim that may be brought against us could result in a court judgment or settlement in an amount that is not covered, in whole or in part, by our insurance or that is in excess of the limits of our insurance coverage. Our insurance policies also have various, limits, exclusions and deductibles, and given these various limits, exclusions and deductibles, we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We will have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. Moreover, in the future, we may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in sufficient amounts to protect us against losses. Product liability insurance is expensive, difficult to obtain and may not be available in the future on acceptable terms.

 

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We will need to significantly increase the size of our organization and we may have difficulties in managing our growth and expanding our operations successfully.

As of December 31, 2017, we had 137 full-time employees worldwide, with key facilities in Denmark, Germany, and the United States. As we and/or our collaboration partners advance our product candidates through the development and commercialization process, we will need to expand managerial, operational, financial and other resources to manage our operations, preclinical and clinical trials, research and development activities, regulatory filings, manufacturing and supply activities, and any marketing and commercialization activities or contract with other organizations to provide these capabilities for us. As operations expand, we expect that we will need to manage additional relationships with various collaboration partners, suppliers and other organizations. Our ability to manage our operations and growth requires us to continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures across a global organization. Such growth could place a strain on our administrative and operational infrastructure. We may not be able to make improvements to our management information and control systems in an efficient or timely manner and may discover deficiencies in existing systems and controls. Our management, personnel, systems and facilities currently in place may not be adequate to support this future growth. Our need to effectively execute our growth strategy requires that we either internally, together with our collaboration partners or through third party contractors, as applicable:

 

    expand our general and administrative functions;

 

    identify, recruit, retain, incentivize and integrate additional employees;

 

    manage our internal development efforts effectively while carrying out our contractual obligations to third parties;

 

    establish and build a marketing and commercial organization; and

 

    continue to improve our operational, legal, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.

If we are not able to attract, retain and motivate necessary personnel to accomplish our business objectives, we may experience constraints that will significantly impede the achievement of our development objectives, our ability to raise additional capital and our ability to implement our business strategy.

We incur significant costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management devotes substantial time to compliance initiatives. We may fail to comply with the rules that apply to public companies, including Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which could result in sanctions or other penalties that would harm our business.

We incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses as a public company, including costs resulting from public company reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and regulations regarding corporate governance practices. Our senior management and other personnel need to devote a substantial amount of time to ensure that we maintain compliance with all of these requirements. Moreover, the reporting requirements, rules and regulations increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time consuming and costly. Any changes we make to comply with these obligations may not be sufficient to allow us to satisfy our obligations as a public company on a timely basis, or at all. These reporting requirements, rules and regulations, coupled with the increase in potential litigation exposure associated with being a public company, could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or board committees or to serve as members of our senior management, or to obtain certain types of insurance, including directors’ and officers’ insurance, on acceptable terms.

 

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We are subject to Section 404 of The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Section 404, and the related rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, which generally require our senior management and independent registered public accounting firm to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. Beginning with the year ended December 31, 2015, Section 404 required an annual management assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. However, for so long as we remain an emerging growth company as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or JOBS Act, we intend to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including, but not limited to, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404. Once we are no longer an emerging growth company or, if prior to such date, we opt to no longer take advantage of the applicable exemption, we will be required to include an opinion from our independent registered public accounting firm on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our IPO, (2) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion, or (3) the last day of the fiscal year in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of the ADS and our ordinary shares 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 an aggregate of $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.

As we grow our business and enter into new activities, and as the reporting requirements increase, we may identify deficiencies and be unable to remediate them before we must provide the required reports. Furthermore, if we have a material weakness in our internal controls over financial reporting, as we did as of December 31, 2015, we may not detect errors on a timely basis and our consolidated financial statements may be materially misstated. We may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting, which could harm our operating results, cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information and cause the trading price of the ADSs to fall. In addition, as a public company we are required to file accurate and timely annual reports with the SEC under the Exchange Act. Any failure to report our financial results on an accurate and timely basis could result in sanctions, lawsuits, delisting of the ADSs from The NASDAQ Global Select Market or other adverse consequences that would harm our business.

Our operating results may vary significantly from period to period and these variations may be difficult to predict.

Our potential future revenues and operating results are expected to vary significantly from period to period due to a number of factors. Many of these factors are outside of our control. These factors include:

 

    the timing of regulatory approvals, if any, for our most advanced product candidates;

 

    the initiation of intellectual property litigation by third parties or by us;

 

    the amount and timing of operating costs and capital expenditures relating to the expansion of our business operations and facilities;

 

    the timing of the commencement, completion or termination of collaboration agreements;

 

    the timing and amount of payments to us under our collaboration agreements, if any;

 

    the introduction of new products and services by us, our collaboration partners or our competitors;

 

    delays in preclinical testing and clinical studies;

 

    changes in regulatory requirements for clinical studies;

 

    costs and expenses associated with preclinical testing and clinical studies; and

 

    payment of license fees for the right to use third-party proprietary rights.

Our revenues in any particular period may be lower than we anticipate and, if we are unable to reduce spending in that period, our operating results will be harmed.

We may engage in strategic transactions that could impact our liquidity, increase our expenses and present significant distractions to our management.

We may consider strategic transactions, such as acquisitions of companies, asset purchases, and in-licensing or out-licensing of products, product candidates or technologies. Additional potential transactions that we may consider include a variety of different business arrangements, including spin-offs, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, restructurings, divestitures, business combinations and investments. Any such transaction may require us to incur non-recurring or other charges, may increase our near- and long-term expenditures and may pose significant integration challenges or disrupt our senior management or business, which could adversely affect our operations and financial results. For example, these transactions may entail numerous operational and financial risks, including:

 

    up-front, milestone and royalty payments, equity investments and financial support of new research and development candidates including increase of personnel, all of which may be substantial;

 

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    exposure to unknown liabilities, including potential indemnification claims from a potential spin-off or out-license of certain of our intellectual property rights;

 

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

 

    incurrence of substantial debt or dilutive issuances of equity securities to pay for acquisitions;

 

    higher-than-expected acquisition and integration costs;

 

    lower-than-expected benefits, from out-licensing or selling our technology, intellectual property or any of our subsidiaries or, from in-licensing intellectual property or purchasing assets;

 

    write-downs of assets or goodwill or impairment charges;

 

    difficulty and cost in combining or separating the operations and personnel of any acquired or sold businesses with our existing operations and personnel;

 

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

 

    inability to retain key employees of any acquired businesses.

Accordingly, although we cannot be certain that we will undertake or successfully complete any transactions of the nature described above, any transactions that we do complete may be subject to the foregoing or other risks, and could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.

Exchange rate fluctuations or abandonment of the euro currency may harm our results of operations and financial condition.

Due to the international scope of our operations, fluctuations in exchange rates, particularly between the euro, the Danish krone and the U.S. dollar, may adversely affect us. Although we are based in Denmark, we source research and development, manufacturing, consulting and other services from several countries. In addition, our arrangements with our collaboration partners are denominated in euros and U.S. dollars. Further, potential future revenue may be derived from abroad, including from the United States. We currently attempt to limit our exposure to exchange rate risks by maintaining cash positions in the currencies in which we expect to incur the majority of our future expenses; however, for a variety of reasons we may be unable to maintain cash positions in the currencies in which we expect to incur the majority of our future expenses and we may fail to predict the currency of our future expenses, accurately or at all. As a result, our business and the price of the ADSs may be affected by fluctuations in foreign exchange rates between the euro and these other currencies, which may also have a significant impact on our reported results of operations and cash flows from period to period. We currently do not enter into foreign exchange contracts to cover our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, or any other form of exchange rate hedging arrangements. If we fail to manage foreign exchange risk adequately our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs may be adversely affected.

In addition, the possible abandonment of the euro by one or more members of the European Union could harm our business in the future. Despite measures taken by the European Union to provide funding to certain E.U. member states in financial difficulties and by a number of European countries to stabilize their economies and reduce their debt burdens, it is possible that the euro could be abandoned in the future as a currency by countries that have adopted its use. This could lead to the re-introduction of individual currencies in one or more E.U. member states. The effects on our business of a potential dissolution of the European Union, the exit of one or more E.U. member states from the European Union or the abandonment of the euro as a currency, are impossible to predict with certainty, and any such events could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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The results of the United Kingdom’s referendum on withdrawal from the European Union may have a negative effect on global economic conditions, financial markets and our business.

In June 2016, a majority of voters in the United Kingdom elected to withdraw from the European Union in a national referendum. The referendum was advisory, and the terms of any withdrawal are subject to a negotiation period that could last at least two years after the government of the United Kingdom formally initiates a withdrawal process. Nevertheless, the referendum has created significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, including with respect to the laws and regulations that will apply as the United Kingdom determines which European Union laws to replace or replicate in the event of a withdrawal. The referendum has also given rise to calls for the governments of other European Union member states to consider withdrawal. These developments, or the perception that any of them could occur, have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and may significantly reduce global market liquidity and restrict the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. Any of these factors could depress economic activity and restrict our access to capital, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and reduce the price of the ADSs.

Risks associated with our international operations, including seeking and obtaining approval to commercialize our product candidates in foreign jurisdictions, could harm our business.

We engage extensively in international operations, which include seeking marketing approval for certain of our product candidates in foreign jurisdictions. We expect that we are or will be subject to additional risks related to entering into these international business markets and relationships, including:

 

    different regulatory requirements for drug approvals in foreign countries;

 

    differing U.S. and non-U.S. drug import and export rules;

 

    reduced protection for intellectual property rights in foreign countries;

 

    unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers and regulatory requirements;

 

    different reimbursement systems, and different competitive drugs;

 

    economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular 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 revenues, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;

 

    workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;

 

    production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad;

 

    potential liability resulting from development work conducted by these distributors; and

 

    business interruptions resulting from geopolitical actions, including war and terrorism, or natural disasters.

The manufacture of our TransCon product candidates is dependent upon third party manufacturers that are based in other parts of the world, including Europe and Japan. This manufacturing process requires that the components used in our product candidates are transported long distances, through multiple countries, which increases the risk that issues in the global supply chain or other disruptions to the international marketplace could harm our business.

The parent drug, drug substance, drug product and other components of our product candidates are currently acquired from single-source suppliers. The loss of these suppliers, or their failure to supply could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

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Our growth hormone parent drug as well as our TransCon GH drug substance are supplied by Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies UK Limited, or Fujifilm, pursuant to our agreement with Fujifilm. TransCon GH drug product in vials is made by Rentschler Biopharma SE, or Rentschler, pursuant to our agreement with Rentschler. TransCon GH drug product in dual chamber cartridges will be supplied by Vetter Pharma Fertigung for use in our drug delivery device made by Medicom Innovation Partner A/S. The intermediates of our proprietary TransCon linkers are made by CARBOGEN AMCIS AG under an agreement with CARBOGEN AMCIS AG and accompanying purchase orders. For products that utilize soluble TransCon carriers, NOF Corporation (Japan), or NOF, supplies PEGs. Furthermore, NOF is responsible for coupling the TransCon linker used for TransCon GH to mPEG under manufacturing agreements and accompanying purchase orders. Our PTH as well as our TransCon PTH drug substance is supplied by Bachem, Switzerland, pursuant to our agreement with Bachem. TransCon PTH drug product in vials is made by Baccinex, SA, Switzerland in collaboration with Bachem. We expect Vetter Pharma Fertigung to manufacture TransCon PTH drug product in cartridges and assemble the cartridges with a drug delivery device made by Ypsomed AG. We do not currently have any other suppliers for the drug substance, drug product or other components of our product candidates for TransCon GH and TransCon PTH and, although we believe that there are alternate sources of supply that could satisfy our clinical and commercial requirements, we cannot provide assurance that identifying alternate sources and establishing relationships with such sources would not result in significant delays in the development of our product candidates. Additionally, we may not be able to enter into supply arrangements with alternative suppliers on commercially reasonable terms or at all. A delay in the development of our product candidates or having to enter into a new agreement with a different third party on less favorable terms than we have with our current suppliers could have a material adverse impact upon on our business.

We may not be successful in our efforts to identify additional product candidates based on our TransCon technology.

An important element of our strategy is to develop new products and product candidates based on our TransCon technology. Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. These research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential product candidates, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including that:

 

    the research methodology used may not be successful in identifying potential product candidates; or

 

    potential product candidates may, on further study, be shown to have inadequate efficacy, harmful side effects or other characteristics suggesting that they are unlikely to be effective or safe products, or that they may not be sufficiently differentiated or offer substantial improvement over the currently available treatment options or standard of care in a given therapeutic category.

If we are unable to develop suitable product candidates through internal research programs or otherwise, we will not be able to increase our revenues in future periods, which could harm our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

We are highly dependent on the services of our President and Chief Executive Officer, Jan Møller Mikkelsen, and our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Harald Rau, and if we are not able to retain these members of our senior management or recruit additional management, clinical and scientific personnel, our business will suffer.

Our success depends in part on our continued ability to attract, retain and motivate highly qualified personnel. We may not be able to attract or retain qualified management and scientific and clinical personnel in the future due to the intense competition for qualified personnel among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other businesses. Our industry has experienced a high rate of turnover of management personnel in recent years. If we are not able to attract, retain and motivate necessary personnel to accomplish our business objectives, we may experience constraints that will significantly impede the achievement of our development objectives, our ability to raise additional capital and our ability to implement our business strategy.

In particular, we are highly dependent upon Jan Møller Mikkelsen, our President and Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Harald Rau, our Chief Scientific Officer. The loss of services of either of these individuals could delay or prevent the successful development of our product pipeline, completion of our planned clinical trials or the commercialization of our product candidates.

 

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We may have difficulties in attracting and retaining key personnel, and if we fail to do so our business may suffer.

We are highly dependent on the principal members of our senior management and scientific staff, the loss of whose services could adversely affect the achievement of planned development objectives. Although we have not historically experienced unique difficulties attracting and retaining qualified employees, we could experience such problems in the future. For example, competition for qualified personnel in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals field is intense due to the limited number of individuals who possess the skills and experience required by our industry. This is particularly true in Heidelberg, Germany where we operate our research and development activities. As such, we could have difficulty attracting experienced personnel to our company and may be required to expend significant financial resources in our employee recruitment and retention efforts.

For us to further expand our product development plans, we will need to hire additional qualified scientific personnel to perform research and development. We will also need to hire personnel with expertise in clinical testing, government regulation and finance, and might need to hire personnel with expertise in manufacturing and marketing. We may not be able to attract and retain personnel on acceptable terms, given the competition for such personnel among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, universities and non-profit research institutions. Although we may be successful in attracting and retaining suitably qualified scientific personnel, there can be no assurance that we will be able to attract and retain such personnel on acceptable terms given the competition for experienced scientists from numerous pharmaceutical and chemical companies, specialized biotechnology firms, universities and other research institutions. Our failure to do so could adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

Our internal computer systems, or those of our CROs or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our product development programs and other critical business functions.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our CROs and other contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we have not experienced any such system failure, accident or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our programs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or ongoing clinical trials for any of our product candidates could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts, and the loss of research data could result in delays of our research and development efforts and it would be expensive to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach results in a loss of or damage to our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development of our product candidates could be delayed.

Risks Related to Government Regulatory and Legal Requirements

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

The research, testing, manufacturing, labeling, approval, selling, import, export, marketing and distribution of drug products are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA, E.U. legislative bodies and other regulatory authorities in the United States, the EEA and other jurisdictions, which regulations differ from country to country. Neither we nor any of our collaboration partners is permitted to market any drug product in the United States until we receive marketing approval from the FDA. Equally, neither we nor any of our collaboration partners is permitted to market any drug product in the EEA until we receive a marketing authorization from the EMA or EEA Member State Competent Authorities. We have not submitted an application or obtained marketing approval for any of our product candidates anywhere in the world. Obtaining regulatory approval of a new drug application, or NDA, or marketing authorization, can be a lengthy, expensive and uncertain process. In addition, failure to comply with FDA and other applicable U.S., EEA and foreign regulatory requirements may subject us to administrative or judicially imposed sanctions or other actions, including:

 

    warning letters;

 

    civil and criminal penalties;

 

    injunctions;

 

    withdrawal of regulatory approval of products;

 

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    product seizure or detention;

 

    product recalls;

 

    total or partial suspension of production; and

 

    refusal to approve pending NDAs, marketing authorization applications, or supplements to approved NDAs or extensions or variations to marketing authorizations.

Prior to obtaining approval to commercialize a drug candidate in the United States, the EEA or other regions, we or our collaboration partners must demonstrate with substantial evidence from well-controlled clinical trials, and to the satisfaction of the EMA, the FDA or other similar regulatory authorities, that such drug candidates are safe and effective for their intended uses. The number of nonclinical studies and clinical trials that will be required for FDA, or EMA approval varies depending on the drug candidate, the disease or condition that the drug candidate is designed to address, and the regulations applicable to any particular drug candidate. Results from nonclinical studies and clinical trials can be interpreted in different ways. Even if we believe the nonclinical or clinical data for our drug candidates are promising, such data may not be sufficient to support approval by the EMA, the FDA and other regulatory authorities. Administering drug candidates to humans may produce undesirable side effects, which could interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and result in the EMA, the FDA or other regulatory authorities denying approval of a drug candidate for any or all targeted indications.

The time required to obtain approval by the EMA, the FDA and comparable authorities is unpredictable, typically takes many years following the commencement of clinical studies, and depends upon numerous factors. The EMA, the FDA and comparable authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and we may encounter matters with the EMA, the FDA or such comparable authorities that requires us to expend additional time and resources and delay or prevent the approval of our product candidates. For example, the FDA or EMA may require us to conduct additional studies or trials for drug products either prior to or post-approval, such as additional drug-drug interaction studies or safety or efficacy studies or trials, or it may object to elements of our clinical development program such as the number of subjects in our current clinical trials from the United States or Europe. In addition, approval policies, regulations or the type and amount of clinical data necessary to gain approval may change during the course of a product candidate’s clinical development and may vary among jurisdictions, which may cause delays in the approval or result in a decision not to approve an application for regulatory approval. Despite the time and expense exerted, failure can occur at any stage. Applications for our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:

 

    the EMA, the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our, or our collaboration partners’, clinical studies;

 

    the population studied in the clinical program may not be sufficiently broad or representative to assure safety in the full population for which approval is sought;

 

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

 

    the data collected from clinical studies of our product candidates may not be sufficient to support the submission of a NDA, marketing authorization application, or other submission or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States, the EEA or elsewhere;

 

    we, or our collaboration partners, may be unable to demonstrate to the EMA, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that a product candidate’s risk-benefit ratio for its proposed indication is acceptable;

 

    the EMA, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may fail to approve the manufacturing processes, test procedures and specifications, or facilities of third-party manufacturers responsible for clinical and commercial supplies; and

 

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

 

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This lengthy approval process, as well as the unpredictability of the results of clinical studies, may result in our failure to obtain regulatory approval to market any of our product candidates, which would significantly harm our business, results of operations, and prospects. Additionally, if the EMA, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities require that we conduct additional clinical studies, place limitations on our label, delay approval to market our product candidates or limit the use of our products, our business and results of operations may be harmed.

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

We do not have and may never obtain the regulatory approvals we need to market our product candidates.

We have not yet received any regulatory approvals required for the commercial sale of TransCon GH, TransCon PTH, TransCon CNP, or any of our other product candidates in the United States, the EEA or in any other jurisdiction. Furthermore, we have yet to submit an NDA to the FDA, or a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, to the EMA, national regulatory authorities in Europe or to any international regulatory authorities for any of our product candidates. We have only limited experience in filing and pursuing applications necessary to obtain regulatory approval or licensure, and we cannot be certain that any of our product candidates will be approved or licensed for marketing. The process of applying for regulatory approval is expensive, often takes many years and can vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. If any or all of our product candidates are not approved, this could harm our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

If we are unable to file an MAA for approval to the EMA for our product candidates, or if we are required to generate additional data related to safety and efficacy, to obtain approval from the FDA for any of our product candidates, we may be unable to meet our anticipated development and commercialization timelines.

While we have an active IND with the FDA for TransCon GH, and we have completed substantive discussions with the FDA regarding the development of TransCon GH in pediatric growth hormone deficiency, and we believe we are satisfying the necessary criteria, there is no guarantee that FDA requirements will not change between now and the time of our filing in the United States. We have not yet filed an MAA with the EMA for any of our product candidates. Depending on the data that may be required by the EMA for approval, we may be required to conduct substantial new research and development activities beyond those in which we currently plan to engage to obtain approval of our product candidates. Such additional new research and development activities would be costly and time consuming.

We are developing an auto-injector and higher-strength version of TransCon GH to facilitate the administration of the product by end-users and additional time may be required to obtain regulatory approval for our auto-injector or higher-strength version.

We are developing an auto-injector with Medicom Innovation Partner A/S to facilitate the administration of TransCon GH by patients. In addition, we are developing a drug delivery device with Ypsomed to facilitate the administration of TransCon PTH by patients. We anticipate the EMA, the FDA and other similar regulatory authorities will require a separate approval of our auto-injector and TransCon PTH drug delivery device that is in addition to the approval we are seeking for the drug component of TransCon GH and TransCon PTH. Because of our auto-injector and TransCon PTH drug delivery device, the FDA’s review of TransCon GH and/or TransCon PTH may include the participation of both the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, which may complicate or prolong the review, and in the EEA the EMA’s review may require the involvement of an EU Notified Body. As a result, we may experience delays for our auto-injector and TransCon GH and/or our drug delivery device of TransCon PTH and TransCon PTH.

Safety issues with the parent drugs or other components of our product candidates, or with approved products of third parties that are similar to our product candidates, could give rise to delays in the regulatory approval process.

Our product development portfolio consists of prodrugs that are new molecular entities that incorporate existing parent drug molecules, many of which have been previously approved by the EMA, the FDA or other foreign regulatory authorities. Discovery of previously unknown problems with any of the parent drugs that we use in our TransCon product candidates may result in restrictions on its permissible uses, including withdrawal of the product from the market.

 

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Additionally, problems with approved parent drugs marketed by third parties that utilize the same therapeutic target as the parent drug we use in our TransCon product candidates could adversely affect the development of our product candidates.

Any failure or delay in commencing or completing clinical trials or obtaining regulatory approvals for our product candidates would delay commercialization of the product candidates and severely harm our business and financial condition.

We are subject to extensive and costly government regulation. If we fail to obtain or maintain governmental approvals, we will not be able to commercialize our product candidates and our business will suffer.

Pharmaceutical products, including product candidates employing our technology, are subject to extensive and rigorous government regulation. The FDA, the EMA and other regulatory authorities regulate the development, testing, manufacture, safety, efficacy, record-keeping, labeling, storage, approval, advertising, promotion, sale and distribution of pharmaceutical products. If products employing our technology are marketed in countries outside of the European Union and the United States, they will also be subject to extensive regulation by other governments. The regulatory review and approval or licensing process, including preclinical testing and clinical studies of each product candidate, is lengthy, expensive and uncertain. Securing marketing approval requires the submission of extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information to the FDA, EMA and/or EEA Competent Authorities for each indication to establish the candidate’s safety and efficacy. The approval process takes many years, requires substantial resources, involves post-marketing surveillance, and may involve ongoing post-marketing studies. While clinical studies are designed with scientific advice from regulatory authorities, such plans must often be put in place years in advance of application for marketing approval. At the time of such application, the clinical and regulatory environment may have changed significantly as a result of new scientific discoveries, competitor product evaluations, changes in medical health care policies, new technical standards and other factors beyond our control.

Regulators can refuse marketing approval, or can require us or our collaboration partners to repeat previous clinical studies or conduct further clinical studies. A pre-approval inspection of manufacturing facilities by regulatory authorities may need to be completed before marketing approval can be obtained, and such facilities will be subject to periodic inspections that could prevent or delay marketing approval, or require the expenditure of financial or other resources to address. If we or our collaboration partners do not succeed in obtaining regulatory approval, or succeed only after delays, this could have a material effect on our ability to generate revenues. Delays in obtaining regulatory approvals may:

 

    adversely affect the successful commercialization of any product that we or our collaboration partners develop;

 

    impose costly procedures on us or our collaboration partners;

 

    diminish any competitive advantages in the market place that we or our collaboration partners may attain; and

 

    adversely affect our receipt of revenues or royalties.

Material changes to an approved product, such as manufacturing changes or additional labeling claims, require further FDA and EMA and/or EEA Competent Authorities review and approval before marketing. Once obtained, any approvals may be withdrawn or revoked because of unforeseen safety, effectiveness or potency concerns or failure to comply with governmental regulations. Further, if we, our collaboration partners or our contract manufacturers fail to comply with applicable FDA, EMA, and/or EEA Competent Authorities regulatory requirements at any stage during the regulatory process, the FDA, EMA, and/or EEA Competent Authorities and other regulatory authorities may impose sanctions, including:

 

    delays;

 

    warning letters;

 

    fines;

 

    importation restrictions;

 

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    product recalls or seizures;

 

    injunctions;

 

    refusal of the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities to review pending market approval applications or supplements to approval applications;

 

    total or partial suspension of production;

 

    suspension or debarment from selling FDA-regulated products to the U.S. government for periods of time that vary depending on the cause of such suspension or debarment;

 

    civil penalties;

 

    withdrawal or revocation of previously approved marketing applications or licenses; and

 

    criminal prosecutions.

Even if we receive regulatory approval for a product candidate, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and review, which may result in significant additional expense. Additionally, any product candidates, if approved, could be subject to labeling and other restrictions and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our products.

The governmental regulation of the development of products and product candidates extends beyond clinical studies to approval required for their sale and monitoring of such products after sale. This regulation, approval and monitoring is the responsibility of numerous authorities in Denmark, the United States, the European Union and authorities in other territories. Following any regulatory approval of a product candidate, we, our collaboration partners and the manufacturers of our products will be subject to continuing regulatory obligations, including safety reporting requirements, regulatory oversight of product promotion and marketing, and cGMP requirements. Furthermore, 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 regulations cover all aspects of manufacturing, testing, quality control and record keeping of our products. If we or our collaboration partners or manufacturers fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, we may be subject to fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMPs and GCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. As such, we and our third party contract manufacturers will be subject to continual review and periodic inspections to assess compliance with regulatory requirements. Accordingly, we and others with whom we work must continue to expend time, money, and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production, and quality control. Regulatory authorities may also impose significant restrictions on a product’s indicated uses or marketing or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly post-marketing studies. Furthermore, any new legislation addressing drug safety issues could result in delays or increased costs to assure compliance.

In the United States, advertising and promotional materials must comply with FDA rules in addition to other potentially applicable U.S. laws. In particular, the promotional claims that we would be permitted to make for our products would be limited to those supported by the approved product labeling. The distribution of product samples to physicians must comply with the requirements of the Prescription Drug Marketing Act. Manufacturing facilities remain subject to FDA inspection and must continue to adhere to International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use and the FDA’s cGMP requirements. Application holders must obtain FDA approval for product and manufacturing changes, depending on the nature of the change. Sales, marketing, and scientific/educational grant programs must comply with the U.S. Anti-Kickback Statute, the False Claims Act, as amended, the privacy regulations promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, and similar state laws. Pricing and rebate programs must comply with the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program requirements of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, as amended, and the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, as amended. If products are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. All of these activities are also potentially subject to U.S. consumer protection and unfair competition laws.

 

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We will also be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems, if any, to the FDA, and to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for our products. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs are subject to a variety of legal and regulatory restrictions and must be consistent with the information in the product’s approved label. As such, we may not promote our products for indications or uses for which they do not have FDA approval.

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:

 

    warning letters, fines or holds on clinical trials;

 

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

 

    injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties;

 

    suspension or revocation of existing regulatory approvals;

 

    suspension of any of our future or ongoing clinical trials;

 

    refusal to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications submitted by us;

 

    restrictions on our or our contract manufacturers’ operations; or

 

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

Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response, and could generate negative publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates. If regulatory sanctions are applied or if regulatory approval is withdrawn, the value of our company and our operating results will be adversely affected.

In addition, 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.

Within the European Union, once a Marketing Authorization is obtained, numerous post-approval requirements also apply, and as in the United States, the off-label promotion of medicinal products is not permitted. The requirements are regulated by both E.U. regulations (such as reporting of adverse events) as well as national applicable regulations (related to prices and promotional material).

The regulatory requirements relating to the manufacturing, testing, marketing and sale of pharmaceutical products are subject to periodic change. This may impact our ability and the ability of our collaboration partners to conduct clinical studies in the European Union. Changes in the regulations governing us could increase costs and adversely affect our business.

Furthermore, companies developing pharmaceutical products are facing increased demands to publish clinical trial results. Any such publication by us may, in addition to the additional cost of the publication, lead to investors misinterpreting the published data due to its technical and scientific nature, which, in turn, may adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects and the value of our shares or ADSs.

Third-party payor coverage and reimbursement status of newly-approved products is uncertain. Failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates could limit our ability to market those products and decrease our ability to generate revenue.

 

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The availability and adequacy of coverage and reimbursement by governmental healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, private health insurers and other third-party payors are essential for most patients to be able to afford treatments such as ours, assuming approval. Our ability to achieve acceptable levels of coverage and reimbursement for drug treatments by governmental authorities, private health insurers and other organizations will have an effect on our ability to successfully commercialize, and attract additional collaboration partners to invest in the development of our product candidates. We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement in the United States, the European Union or elsewhere will be available for any product that we may develop, and any reimbursement that may become available may be decreased or eliminated in the future. Third-party payors increasingly are challenging prices charged for pharmaceutical products, medical devices and services, and many third-party payors may refuse to provide coverage and reimbursement for particular drugs when an equivalent generic drug is available. It is possible that a third-party payor may consider our product candidate and the generic parent drug as substitutable and only offer to reimburse patients for the generic drug. Even if we show improved efficacy or improved convenience of administration with our product candidate, pricing of the existing parent drug may limit the amount we will be able to charge for our product candidate. If reimbursement is not available or is available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates, and may not be able to obtain a satisfactory financial return on products that we may develop.

There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, third-party payors, including private and governmental payors, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs, play an important role in determining the extent to which new drugs, biologics and medical devices will be covered. The Medicare and Medicaid programs increasingly are used as models for how private payors and other governmental payors develop their coverage and reimbursement policies for drugs, biologics and medical devices. It is difficult to predict at this time what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates.

Outside the United States, international operations are generally subject to extensive governmental price controls and other market regulations, and we believe the increasing emphasis on cost-containment initiatives in Europe, Canada, and other countries has and will continue to put pressure on the pricing and usage of our product candidates, if approved, and on related parent drugs. In many countries, the prices of medical products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for medical products, but monitor and control company profits. Additional foreign price controls or other changes in pricing regulation could restrict the amount that we are able to charge for our product candidates. Accordingly, in markets outside the United States, the reimbursement for our products may be reduced compared with the United States and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable revenue and profits.

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for new products approved and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any of our product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations, and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs, medical devices and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products.

We and our collaboration partners and contract manufacturers are subject to significant regulation with respect to manufacturing our product candidates. The manufacturing facilities on which we rely may not continue to meet regulatory requirements or may not be able to meet supply demands.

We depend on third parties to manufacture products employing our technology. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or used in late-stage clinical studies must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP. These regulations govern manufacturing processes and procedures (including record keeping) and the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of investigational products and products approved for sale. All entities involved in the preparation of product candidates for clinical studies or commercial sale, including our existing contract manufacturers for our product candidates, are subject to extensive regulation. Manufacturing facilities are subject to pre-approval and ongoing periodic inspection by the FDA, EEA Competent Authorities and other corresponding governmental authorities, including unannounced inspections, and must be licensed before they can be used in commercial manufacturing of products employing our technology. After regulatory approvals or licensure are obtained, the subsequent discovery of previously unknown manufacturing, quality control or regulatory documentation problems or failure to maintain compliance with the regulatory requirements may result in restrictions on the marketing of a product, revocation of the license, withdrawal of the product from the market, seizures, injunctions, or criminal sanctions. Poor control of production processes can lead to the introduction of contaminants or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of our product candidates that may not be detectable in final product testing. We, our collaboration partners, or our contract manufacturers must supply all necessary documentation in support of an NDA, MAA or comparable regulatory filing on a timely basis and must adhere to cGMP regulations enforced by the FDA, EEA Competent Authorities and other regulatory authorities through their facilities inspection programs. Some of our contract manufacturers have never produced a commercially approved pharmaceutical product and therefore have not obtained the requisite regulatory authority approvals to do so. Although we oversee the contract manufacturers, we cannot control the manufacturing process of, and are completely dependent on, our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with the regulatory requirements. If these facilities do not pass a pre-approval plant inspection, regulatory approval of the products may not be granted or may be substantially delayed until any violations are corrected to the satisfaction of the regulatory authority, if ever. In addition, we have no control over the ability of our contract manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel.

 

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The regulatory authorities also may, at any time following approval of a product for sale, audit the manufacturing facilities of our collaboration partners and third-party contractors. If any such inspection or audit identifies a failure to comply with applicable regulations or if a violation of our product specifications or applicable regulations occurs independent of such an inspection or audit, we or the relevant regulatory authority may require remedial measures that may be costly and/or time consuming for us or a third party to implement, and that may include the temporary or permanent suspension of a clinical study or commercial sales or the temporary or permanent suspension of production or closure of a facility. Any such remedial measures imposed upon us or third parties with whom we contract could harm our business.

If we, our collaboration partners, or any of our third-party manufacturers fail to maintain regulatory compliance, the FDA or other applicable regulatory authority can impose regulatory sanctions including, among other things, refusal to approve a pending application for a new drug product, withdrawal of an approval, or suspension of production. As a result, our business, financial condition, and results of operations may be harmed.

Additionally, if supply from one approved manufacturer is interrupted, an alternative manufacturer would need to be qualified through an NDA, a supplemental NDA, a marketing authorization variation application or equivalent foreign regulatory filing, which could result in further delay. The regulatory authorities may also require additional studies if a new manufacturer is relied upon for commercial production. Switching manufacturers may involve substantial costs and is likely to result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.

These factors could cause us to incur higher costs and could cause the delay or termination of clinical studies, regulatory submissions, required approvals, or commercialization of our product candidates. Furthermore, if our suppliers fail to meet contractual requirements and we are unable to secure one or more replacement suppliers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost, our clinical studies may be delayed or we could lose potential revenue.

Our operations involve hazardous materials and we and third parties with whom we contract must comply with environmental laws and regulations, which can be expensive and restrict how we do business.

As a pharmaceutical company, we are subject to environmental and safety laws and regulations, including those governing the use of hazardous materials. The cost of compliance with health and safety regulations is substantial. Our business activities involve the controlled use of hazardous materials. Our research and development activities involve the controlled storage, use and disposal of hazardous materials, including the components of our product candidates and other hazardous compounds. We and manufacturers and suppliers with whom we may contract are subject to laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these hazardous materials. In some cases, these hazardous materials and various wastes resulting from their use are stored at our and our manufacturers’ facilities pending their use and disposal. We cannot eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials, which could cause an interruption of our commercialization efforts, research and development efforts and business operations, environmental damage resulting in costly clean-up and liabilities under applicable laws and regulations governing the use, storage, handling and disposal of these materials and specified waste products. We cannot guarantee that the safety procedures utilized by third-party manufacturers and suppliers with whom we may contract will comply with the standards prescribed by laws and regulations or will eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials. In such an event, we may be held liable for any resulting damages and such liability could exceed our resources and European, U.S. federal and state or other applicable authorities may curtail our use of certain materials and/or interrupt our business operations. 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. We do not currently carry biological or hazardous waste insurance coverage. In the event of an accident or environmental discharge, we may be held liable for any consequential damage and any resulting claims for damages, which may exceed our financial resources and may materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

 

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If we fail to comply or are found to have failed to comply with EEA, FDA and other regulations related to the promotion of our products for unapproved uses, we could be subject to criminal penalties, substantial fines or other sanctions and damage awards.

The regulations relating to the promotion of products for unapproved uses are complex and subject to substantial interpretation by the EEA Competent Authorities, the FDA and other regulatory authorities. If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, we and any collaboration partner will be restricted from marketing the product outside of its approved labeling, also referred to as off-label promotion. However, physicians may nevertheless prescribe an approved product to their patients in a manner that is inconsistent with the approved label, which is an off-label use. We intend to implement compliance and training programs designed to ensure that our sales and marketing practices comply with applicable regulations regarding off-label promotion. Notwithstanding these programs, the EEA Competent Authorities, the FDA or other government authorities may allege or find that our practices constitute prohibited promotion of our product candidates for unapproved uses. We also cannot be sure that our employees will comply with company policies and applicable regulations regarding the promotion of products for unapproved uses.

Over the past several years, a significant number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have been the target of inquiries and investigations by various U.S. federal and state regulatory, investigative, prosecutorial and administrative entities in connection with the promotion of products for unapproved uses and other sales practices, including the Department of Justice and various U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA, the Federal Trade Commission and various state Attorneys General offices. These investigations have alleged violations of various U.S. federal and state laws and regulations, including claims asserting antitrust violations, violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the False Claims Act, the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, anti-kickback laws, and other alleged violations in connection with the promotion of products for unapproved uses, pricing and Medicare and/or Medicaid reimbursement. Many of these investigations originate as “qui tam” actions under the False Claims Act. Under the False Claims Act, any individual can bring a claim on behalf of the government alleging that a person or entity has presented a false claim, or caused a false claim to be submitted, to the government for payment. The person bringing a qui tam suit is entitled to a share of any recovery or settlement. Qui tam suits, also commonly referred to as “whistleblower suits,” are often brought by current or former employees. In a qui tam suit, the government must decide whether to intervene and prosecute the case. If it declines, the individual may pursue the case alone.

If the FDA or any other governmental agency initiates an enforcement action against us or if we are the subject of a qui tam suit and it is determined that we violated prohibitions relating to the promotion of products for unapproved uses, we could be subject to substantial civil or criminal fines or damage awards and other sanctions such as consent decrees and corporate integrity agreements pursuant to which our activities would be subject to ongoing scrutiny and monitoring to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Any such fines, awards or other sanctions would have an adverse effect on our revenue, business, financial prospects and reputation.

If approved, our product candidates may cause or contribute to adverse medical events that we are required to report to regulatory authorities and if we fail to do so we could be subject to sanctions that would harm our business.

Some participants in clinical trials of our product candidates have reported adverse events. As with all clinical trials, serious or severe adverse events may occur which may compromise the program. The FDA, EEA, and foreign regulatory authority regulations require that we report certain information about adverse medical events if those products may have caused or contributed to those adverse events, both during their development and after commercialization, if approved. The timing of our obligation to report is triggered by the date we become aware of the adverse event as well as the nature of the event. We may fail to report adverse events we become aware of within the prescribed timeframe. We may also fail to appreciate that we have become aware of a reportable adverse event, especially if it is not reported to us as an adverse event or if it is an adverse event that is unexpected or removed in time from the use of our products. If we fail to comply with our reporting obligations, the FDA, EEA Competent Authorities, or a foreign regulatory authority could take action, including criminal prosecution, the imposition of civil monetary penalties, seizure of our products or delay in approval or clearance of future products.

 

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Our employees, independent contractors, principal investigators, CROs, consultants, vendors and collaboration partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.

We are exposed to the risk that our employees, independent contractors, principal investigators, CROs, consultants, vendors and collaboration partners may engage in fraudulent conduct or other illegal activity. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct or unauthorized activities that violate: (1) FDA regulations, including those laws that require the reporting of true, complete and accurate information to the FDA; (2) manufacturing standards; (3) U.S. federal and state fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations; or (4) laws that require the reporting of true and accurate financial information and data. Specifically, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. These activities also include the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter 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 be in compliance with such laws or regulations. Additionally, we are subject to the risk that a person or government 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, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other U.S. federal healthcare programs, individual imprisonment, contractual 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.

Failure to obtain regulatory approvals in non-U.S. jurisdictions would prevent us from marketing our products outside of the United States.

In the EEA, medicinal products can only be commercialized after obtaining a Marketing Authorization, or MA. There are two types of MA:

 

    The Community MA, which is issued by the European Commission through the centralized procedure, based on the opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the EMA, is valid throughout the entire territory of the EEA. The centralized procedure is mandatory for certain types of products, such as medicinal products derived from biotechnology processes, orphan medicinal products, and medicinal products containing a new active substance indicated for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and auto-immune and viral diseases. The centralized procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA, or for products that constitute a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation or which are in the interest of public health in the European Union.

 

    National MAs, which are issued by the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EEA and only cover their respective territory, are available for products not falling within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure. Where a product has already been authorized for marketing in a Member State of the EEA, this National MA can be recognized in other Member States through the mutual recognition procedure. If the product has not received a National MA in any Member State at the time of application, it can be approved simultaneously in various Member States through the decentralized procedure.

Under the above described procedures, before granting the MA, the EMA or the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the EEA make an assessment of the risk-benefit balance of the product on the basis of scientific criteria concerning its quality, safety and efficacy.

 

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In the EEA, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting not more than five in 10,000 persons in the E.U. Community 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 products intended for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in the European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the medicinal product. An E.U. orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and 10 years of market exclusivity is granted following medicinal product approval. This period may be reduced to six years if the orphan drug designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an application for marketing approval. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process. At this time, we do not have an Orphan Medicinal Product Designation for TransCon GH, or any of our other product candidates.

In the EEA, marketing authorization applications for new medicinal products not authorized have to include the results of studies conducted in the pediatric population, in compliance with a pediatric investigation plan, or PIP, agreed with the EMA’s Pediatric Committee, or PDCO. The PIP sets out the timing and measures proposed to generate data to support a pediatric indication of the drug for which marketing authorization is being sought. The PDCO can grant a deferral of the obligation to implement some or all of the measures of the PIP until there are sufficient data to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the product in adults. Further, the obligation to provide pediatric clinical trial data can be waived by the PDCO when these data is not needed or appropriate because the product is likely to be ineffective or unsafe in children, the disease or condition for which the product is intended occurs only in adult populations, or when the product does not represent a significant therapeutic benefit over existing treatments for pediatric patients. Once the marketing authorization is obtained in all Member States of the European Union and study results are included in the product information, even when negative, the product is eligible for six months’ supplementary protection certificate extension. For orphan-designated medicinal products, the 10-year period of market exclusivity is extended to 12 years. At this time, we have not agreed to a PIP with the PDCO for TransCon GH, or any of our other product candidates.

Outside the U.S. and the EEA, approval procedures vary among countries and can involve additional clinical testing, and the time required to obtain approval may differ from that required to obtain FDA or EEA approval. Clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries. Approval by the FDA, EMA, or EEA Competent Authorities does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries, and approval by one or more foreign regulatory authorities does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other foreign countries or by the FDA, EMA or EEA Competent Authorities. However, a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country may have a negative effect on the regulatory process in others. The foreign regulatory approval process may include all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval, EMA, or EEA Competent Authority. We may not be able to file for regulatory approvals or to do so on a timely basis, and even if we do file we may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our products in any market.

We may be subject to healthcare laws, regulation and enforcement; our failure to comply with these laws could harm our results of operations and financial conditions.

Although we do not currently have any products on the market, once we begin commercializing our products, we may be subject to additional healthcare, statutory and regulatory requirements and enforcement by the U.S. federal government and the states and foreign governments in which we conduct our business. The laws that may affect our ability to operate as a commercial organization include:

 

    the U.S. Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying remuneration, directly or indirectly, in exchange for or to induce 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 U.S. federal healthcare programs such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the false claims statutes;

 

    U.S. false claims laws which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment from Medicare, Medicaid, or other third-party payors that are false or fraudulent;

 

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    U.S. federal criminal laws that prohibit executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters. Similar to the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;

 

    the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which governs the conduct of certain electronic healthcare transactions and protects the security and privacy of protected health information;

 

    the U.S. federal physician sunshine requirements under the Affordable Care Act, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics, and medical supplies to report annually to the CMS information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians, other healthcare providers, and teaching hospitals, and ownership and investment interests held by physicians and other healthcare providers and their immediate family members;

 

    state law equivalents of each of the above U.S. federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws which may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers;

 

    state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the applicable compliance guidance promulgated by the U.S. federal government, or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources;

 

    state laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures and pricing information; and state laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways, thus complicating compliance efforts; and

 

    European and other foreign law equivalents of each of the laws, including reporting requirements detailing interactions with and payments to healthcare providers.

Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and safe harbors available, it is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. The risk of our being found in violation of these laws is increased by the fact that many of them have not been fully interpreted by the regulatory authorities or the courts, and their provisions are open to a variety of interpretations.

Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental laws and regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, the exclusion from participation in U.S. federal and state healthcare programs and imprisonment, any of which could adversely affect our ability to market our products and adversely impact our financial results.

Legislative or regulatory healthcare reforms in the United States may make it more difficult and costly for us to obtain regulatory clearance or approval of our product candidates in the United States and to produce, market and distribute our products in the United States after clearance or approval is obtained.

From time to time, legislation is drafted and introduced in U.S. Congress that could significantly change the statutory provisions governing the regulatory clearance or approval, manufacture, and marketing of regulated products or the reimbursement thereof. In addition, FDA regulations and guidance are often revised or reinterpreted by the FDA in ways that may significantly affect our business and our products. In addition, the new Trump administration has taken several executive actions, including the issuance of a number of Executive Orders, that could impose significant burdens on, or otherwise materially delay, the FDA’s ability to engage in routine oversight activities such as implementing statutes through rulemaking, issuance of guidance, and review and approval of marketing applications. It is difficult to predict how these requirements will be interpreted and implemented, and the extent to which they will impact the FDA’s ability to exercise its regulatory authority. If these executive actions impose restrictions on the FDA’s ability to engage in oversight and implementation activities in the normal course, our business may be negatively impacted. Any new regulations or revisions or reinterpretations of existing regulations may impose additional costs or lengthen review times of our product candidates. We cannot determine what effect changes in regulations, statutes, legal interpretation or policies, when and if promulgated, enacted or adopted may have on our business in the future. Such changes could, among other things, require:

 

    additional clinical trials to be conducted prior to obtaining approval;

 

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    changes to manufacturing methods;

 

    recall, replacement, or discontinuance of one or more of our products; and

 

    additional record keeping.

Each of these would likely entail substantial time and cost and could harm our business and our financial results. In addition, delays in receipt of or failure to receive regulatory clearances or approvals for any future products would harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, the trend toward managed healthcare in the United States and the changes in health insurance programs, as well as legislative proposals to reform healthcare or reduce government insurance programs, may result in lower prices for pharmaceutical products, including any product that may be offered by us. In addition, any future regulatory change regarding the healthcare industry or third-party coverage and reimbursement may affect demand for any products that we may develop and could harm our sales and profitability. For example, in the United States, the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010 with a goal of reducing the cost of healthcare and substantially changing the way healthcare is financed by both government and private insurers. The Affordable Care Act, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs and medical devices, and created a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% point- of-sale discounts, which, through subsequent legislative amendments, will be increased to 70%, starting in 2019, 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.

We expect that the current presidential administration and U.S. Congress will likely continue to seek to modify, repeal, or otherwise invalidate all, or certain provisions of, the Affordable Care Act. Since taking office, President Trump has continued to support the repeal of all or portions of the Affordable Care Act. Most recently, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, which, among other things, removes penalties for not complying with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to carry health insurance. There is still uncertainty with respect to the impact President Trump’s administration and the U.S. Congress may have, if any, and any changes will likely take time to unfold, and could have an impact on coverage and reimbursement for healthcare items and services covered by plans that were authorized by the Affordable Care Act. However, we cannot predict the ultimate content, timing or effect of any healthcare reform legislation or the impact of potential legislation on us.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, including aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and will stay in effect through 2027 unless additional Congressional action is taken, further reductions to Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, and an increased statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. Recently, there has also been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed bills designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for pharmaceutical products. Individual states in the United States have also become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical 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.

 

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We expect that additional U.S. local and national healthcare reform measures will be adopted within and outside the United States in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures. The continuing efforts of the U.S. government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare may adversely affect the demand for any drug products for which we may obtain regulatory approval, our ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our products, our ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement approval for a product, our ability to generate revenues and achieve or maintain profitability, and the level of taxes that we are required to pay.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If our intellectual property related to our product candidates is not adequate, we may not be able to compete effectively in our market.

Our success depends in part on our ability to:

 

    protect our trade secrets;

 

    apply for, obtain, maintain and enforce patents; and

 

    operate without infringing upon the proprietary rights of others.

We will be able to protect our proprietary technology from unauthorized use by third parties only to the extent that such proprietary rights are covered by valid and enforceable patents or are effectively maintained as trade secrets. Any non-confidential disclosure to or misappropriation by third parties of our confidential or proprietary information could enable competitors to quickly duplicate or surpass our technological achievements, thus eroding our competitive position in our market. Where we elect to pursue patent protection on our proprietary technology, we file, prosecute and maintain international, U.S., European and other national patent applications covering such technology.

As of December 31, 2017, seventeen patents have been issued to us in the United States. Thirteen of these patents are directed to our TransCon technology and three are directed to TransCon GH. In addition, as of December 31, 2017, we have approximately 86 issued patents in jurisdictions outside of the United States, at least 54 of which are directed to our TransCon technology, and 22 of which are directed to our product candidates. As of December 31, 2017, our TransCon GH is covered by six different patent families and an additional nine patent families covering the auto-injector device, our TransCon PTH is covered by five different patent families and our TransCon CNP is covered by ten different patent families. Most members of these families are applications in an early stage, so it is impossible to make any statements regarding whether or not they will be granted. We are not aware of any challenge to our issued patents, in the United States, Europe or in any other jurisdiction.

The patent application process, also known as patent prosecution, is expensive and time-consuming, and we and our current or future licensors and licensees may not be able to prepare, file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we or our current licensors, or any future licensors or licensees, will fail to identify patentable aspects of inventions made in the course of development and commercialization activities before it is too late to obtain patent protection on them. Therefore, these and any of our patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. It is possible that defects of form in the preparation or filing of our patents or patent applications may exist, or may arise in the future, for example with respect to proper priority claims, inventorship, etc., although we are unaware of any such defects. If we or our current licensors or licensees, or any future licensors or licensees, fail to establish, maintain or protect such patents and other intellectual property rights, such rights may be reduced or eliminated. If our current licensors or licensees, or any future licensors or licensees, are not fully cooperative or disagree with us as to the prosecution, maintenance or enforcement of any patent rights, such patent rights could be compromised. If there are material defects in the form or preparation of our patents or patent applications, such patents or applications may be invalid and unenforceable. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may harm our business.

 

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The strength of patents in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical field involves complex legal and scientific questions and can be highly uncertain. The patent applications that we own or license may fail to result in issued patents in the United States or in other countries. Even if patents do issue on such patent applications, third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. For example, U.S. patents can be challenged by any person before the new USPTO Patent Trial and Appeals Board at any time within the one-year period following that person’s receipt of an allegation of infringement of the patents. Patents granted by the European Patent Office may be similarly opposed by any person within nine months from the publication of the grant. Similar proceedings are available in other jurisdictions, and in the United States, Europe and other jurisdictions third parties can raise questions of validity with a patent office even before a patent has granted. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our intellectual property or prevent others from designing around our claims. For example, a third party may develop a competitive product that provides therapeutic 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 breadth or strength of protection provided by the patents and patent applications we hold or pursue with respect to our product candidates is successfully challenged, then our ability to commercialize such product candidates could be negatively affected, and we may face unexpected competition that could have harm our business. Further, if we encounter delays in our clinical trials, the period of time during which we or our collaboration partners could market our product candidates under patent protection would be reduced.

The degree of future protection of our proprietary rights is uncertain. Patent protection may be unavailable or severely limited in some cases and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep our competitive advantage. For example:

 

    we might not have been the first to invent or the first to file the inventions covered by each of our pending patent applications and issued patents;

 

    others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies;

 

    the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business;

 

    any patents we obtain or our in-licensed issued patents may not encompass commercially viable products, may not provide us with any competitive advantages or may be challenged by third parties;

 

    any patents we obtain or our in-licensed issued patents may not be valid or enforceable; or

 

    we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable.

If we or our current licensors or licensees, or any future licensors or licensees, fail to prosecute, maintain and enforce patent protection for our product candidates, our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates could be harmed and we might not be able to prevent competitors from making, using and selling competing products. This failure to properly protect the intellectual property rights relating to our product candidates could harm our business, financial condition and operating results. Moreover, our competitors may independently develop equivalent knowledge, methods and know-how.

Even where laws provide protection, costly and time-consuming litigation could be necessary to enforce and determine the scope of our proprietary rights, and the outcome of such litigation would be uncertain. If we or one of our collaboration partners were to initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering the product candidate, the defendant could counterclaim that our patent is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/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 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. The outcomes of proceedings involving assertions of invalidity and unenforceability are unpredictable. It is possible that prior art of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution exists, which would render our patents invalid. Moreover, it is also possible that prior art may exist that we are aware of, but that we do not believe are relevant to our current or future patents, that could nevertheless be determined to render our patents invalid. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability of our patents covering one of our product candidates, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on such product candidate. Such a loss of patent protection would harm our business. Moreover, our competitors could counterclaim in any suit to enforce our patents that we infringe their intellectual property. Furthermore, some of our competitors have substantially greater intellectual property portfolios, and resources, than we do.

 

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If we are unable to prevent disclosure of our trade secrets or other confidential information to third parties, our competitive position may be impaired.

In addition to patents, we rely on trade secrets and proprietary know-how. We seek protection, in part, through confidentiality and proprietary information clauses in agreements with our collaboration partners, employees, consultants, outside scientific collaboration partners and sponsored researchers and other advisors. Although we generally require all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information or technology to assign or grant similar rights to their inventions to us, and endeavor to execute confidentiality agreements with all such parties, we cannot be certain that we have executed such agreements with all parties who may have contributed to our intellectual property or who had access to our proprietary information, nor can we be certain that our agreements with such parties will not be breached. These agreements may not effectively prevent disclosure of confidential and proprietary information and may not provide an adequate remedy in the event of unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential and proprietary information. We cannot guarantee that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be publicly disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. The failure to obtain or maintain trade secret protection could adversely affect our competitive business position.

If we are sued for infringing intellectual property rights of third parties, it will be costly and time consuming, and an unfavorable outcome in that litigation could harm our business.

Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing, violating or misappropriating the patents and other proprietary rights of third parties. Our own technologies may infringe, violate or misappropriate the patents or other proprietary rights of third parties, or we may be subject to third-party claims of such infringement. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications owned by third parties exist in the fields in which we are developing our product candidates. For example, we are aware of several issued patents related to auto-injection devices that may be relevant to our auto-injection device under development with Medicom Innovation Partner A/S; however, we believe that these (i) will expire prior to our product launch, (ii) are invalid, and/or (iii) do not and will not cover our device. We cannot be certain that our product candidates will not infringe existing or future patents. 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 our TransCon technology. We may not be aware of patents that have already issued that a third party might assert are infringed by our product candidates. It is also possible that patents of which we are aware, but which we do not believe are relevant to our product candidates, could nevertheless be found to be infringed by our product candidates. Nevertheless, we are not aware of any valid issued patents that we believe would prevent us from marketing our product candidates, if approved. 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.

In addition, we and our collaboration partners may face costly and time-consuming intellectual property litigation with the NDA holders and Orange Book patentees of the products in respect of which we seek to obtain FDA approval. Companies that produce branded pharmaceutical products for which there are listed patents in the FDA’s Orange Book routinely bring patent infringement litigation against applicants seeking FDA approval to manufacture and market branded and/or generic forms of their products. Accordingly, we may face patent litigation as a result of our submission of NDA applications to the FDA or as a result of submitting an MAA with the EMA.

Intellectual property litigation involves many risks and uncertainties, and there is no assurance that we will prevail in any lawsuit brought against us. Third parties making claims against us for infringement, violation or misappropriation of their intellectual property rights may seek and obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize our product candidates. Further, if a patent infringement suit were brought against us, we could be forced to stop or delay research, development, manufacturing or sales of the product or product candidate that is the subject of the suit. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would cause us to incur substantial expenses and, would be a substantial diversion of resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of any such infringement, violation or misappropriation, we may need to obtain licenses from such third parties and we and our collaboration partners may be prevented from pursuing product development or commercialization and/or may be required to pay damages. We cannot be certain that any licenses required under such patents or proprietary rights would be made available to us, or that any offer to license would be made available to us on commercially reasonable terms. If we cannot obtain such licenses, we and our collaboration partners may be restricted or prevented from manufacturing and selling products employing our technology. These adverse results, if they occur, could adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects, and the value of our shares or ADSs.

 

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We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries have been characterized by extensive litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. The defense and prosecution of contractual or intellectual property lawsuits, USPTO interference or derivation proceedings, European Patent Office oppositions and related legal and administrative proceedings in the United States, Europe and other countries, involve complex legal and factual questions. As a result, such proceedings may be costly and time-consuming to pursue and their outcome is uncertain.

Litigation may be necessary to:

 

    protect and enforce our patents and any future patents issuing on our patent applications;

 

    enforce or clarify the terms of the licenses we have granted or may be granted in the future;

 

    protect and enforce trade secrets, know-how and other proprietary rights that we own or have licensed, or may license in the future; or

 

    determine the enforceability, scope and validity of the proprietary rights of third parties and defend against alleged patent infringement.

Competitors may infringe our intellectual property. As a result, we may be required to file infringement claims to stop third-party infringement or unauthorized use. This can be expensive, particularly for a company of our size, and time-consuming. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent of ours is not valid or is unenforceable, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patent claims do not cover its technology or that the factors necessary to grant an injunction against an infringer are not satisfied. An adverse determination of any litigation or other proceedings could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated, interpreted narrowly, or amended such that they do not cover our product candidates. Moreover, such adverse determinations could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing, or issuing with limited and potentially inadequate scope to cover our product candidates or to prevent others from marketing similar products.

Interference, derivation or other proceedings brought at the USPTO, may be necessary to determine the priority or patentability of inventions with respect to our patent applications or those of our licensors or potential collaboration partners. Litigation or USPTO proceedings brought by us may fail or may be invoked against us by third parties. Even if we are successful, domestic or foreign litigation or USPTO or foreign patent office proceedings may result in substantial costs and distraction to our management. We may not be able, alone or with our licensors or potential collaboration partners, to prevent misappropriation of our proprietary rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect such rights as fully as in the United States.

Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation or other proceedings, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation or other proceedings. In addition, during the course of this kind of litigation or proceedings, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments or public access to related documents. If investors perceive these results to be negative, the market price for the ADSs could be significantly harmed.

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 products.

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 involves 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 on September 16, 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. In addition, the Leahy-Smith Act has transformed the U.S. patent system into a “first to file” system. The first-to-file provisions, however, only became effective on March 16, 2013. Accordingly, it is not yet clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. However, 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 or our collaboration partners’ patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our or our collaboration partners’ issued patents, all of which could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

 

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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 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 our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.

Certain of our employees and patents are subject to German law.

As of December 31, 2017, 52 of our employees work in Germany and are subject to German employment law. Ideas, developments, discoveries and inventions made by such employees are generally subject to the provisions of the German Act on Employees’ Inventions, which regulates the ownership of, and compensation for, inventions made by employees. Under this act, we face the risk that we may be required to pay additional compensation for assigned patent rights and disputes can occur between us and our employees or ex-employees pertaining to alleged non-adherence to the provisions of this act that may be costly to defend and consume our management’s time and efforts whether we prevail or fail in such dispute. In addition, under the German Act on Employees’ Inventions, certain employees may have retained rights to patents they invented or co-invented before October 2009. Although substantially all of these employees have assigned their interest in these patents to us, to the extent permitted by law, there is a risk that the compensation we provided to them may be deemed to be insufficient and we may be required under German law to increase the compensation due to such employees for the use of the patents. In those cases where employees have not assigned their interests to us, we may need to pay compensation for the use of those patents. If we are required to pay additional compensation or face other disputes under the German Act on Employees’ Inventions, our results of operations could be adversely affected.

Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental 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 provisions to maintain patent applications and issued patents. Noncompliance with these requirements can result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Losing our patent rights could enable competitors to enter the market earlier than would otherwise have been the case.

We have not yet registered trademarks for a commercial trade name for any of our product candidates in the United States or elsewhere and failure to secure such registrations could adversely affect our business.

We use various trademark rights in our business, including, Ascendis, and our trade name TransCon. Ascendis is our only registered trademark in the United States. We may not be able to obtain trademark protection in other territories that we consider of significant importance to us. Furthermore, we have not yet registered trademarks for a commercial trade name for any of our product candidates in the United States or elsewhere. During trademark registration proceedings, our trademark applications may be rejected. Although we are given an opportunity to respond to those rejections, we may be unable to overcome such rejections. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many foreign jurisdictions, third parties can oppose pending trademark applications and seek to cancel registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings may be filed against our trademarks, and our trademarks may not survive such proceedings. In the event that our trademarks are successfully challenged, we could be forced to rebrand our products, which could result in loss of brand recognition and could require us to devote resources to advertising and marketing our products under new brands.

 

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As a result of the United Kingdom’s referendum on exiting the European Union our trademark is likely to require some form of re-registration in the UK. While this is assumed to be a purely administrative act, we may accidentally not perform all required steps in time which may lead to a lapse of our trademark in the UK.

Moreover, any name we propose to use with our product candidates in the United States must be approved by the FDA, regardless of whether we have registered it, or applied to register it, as a trademark. The FDA typically conducts a review of proposed product names, including an evaluation of potential for confusion with other product names. If the FDA objects to any of our proposed proprietary product names, we may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable substitute name that would qualify under applicable trademark laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA.

We may not be able to enforce our intellectual property 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 countries, 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, laws of some countries outside of the United States and Europe do not afford intellectual property protection to the same extent as the laws of the United States and Europe. Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in certain foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of some countries, including India, China and other 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 of our patents or the misappropriation of our other intellectual property rights. For example, many foreign countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner must grant licenses to third parties. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in certain countries outside the United States and many countries in Europe. 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 products, 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. Furthermore, while we intend to protect our intellectual property rights in major markets for our products, 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 products. Accordingly, our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights in such countries may be inadequate.

We may be subject to claims that we or our employees have misappropriated the intellectual property, including know-how or trade secrets, of a third party, or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.

Many of our employees, consultants and contractors were previously employed at or engaged by other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Some of these employees, consultants and contractors, executed proprietary rights, non-disclosure and non-competition agreements in connection with such previous employment. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants and contractors do not use the intellectual property, proprietary information, know-how or trade secrets of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or these employees, consultants and contractors have used or disclosed such intellectual property, including know-how, trade secrets or other proprietary information. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel, or access to consultants and contractors. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.

In addition, while we typically require our employees, consultants and contractors who may be involved in the development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact develops intellectual property that we regard as our own, which may result in claims by or against us related to the ownership of such intellectual property. If we fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights. Even if we are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to our senior management and scientific personnel.

 

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Risks Related to Our Ordinary Shares and ADSs

The price of our ADSs may be volatile, and ADS holders may not be able to resell our ADSs at or above the price they paid.

The trading price of our ADSs could be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. These factors include those discussed in this “Risk Factors” section of this annual report and others such as:

 

    results from, or any delays in, clinical trial programs relating to our product candidates, including clinical trials for TransCon GH, TransCon PTH and TransCon CNP;

 

    our ability to commercialize or obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, or delays in commercializing or obtaining regulatory approval;

 

    announcements of regulatory approval or a complete response letter to our product candidates, or specific label indications or patient populations for its use, or changes or delays in the regulatory review process;

 

    announcements relating to future collaborations or our existing collaborations, including decisions regarding the exercise by our collaboration partners of their options, if any, or any termination by them of their collaborations with us;

 

    timing and amount of payments to us under our collaborations, if any;

 

    announcements of therapeutic innovations or new products by us or our competitors;

 

    announcements regarding the parent drugs that we use in developing our product candidates;

 

    adverse actions taken by regulatory authorities with respect to our clinical trials, manufacturing supply chain or sales and marketing activities;

 

    changes or developments in laws or regulations applicable to our product candidates;

 

    any adverse changes to our relationship with any manufacturers or suppliers;

 

    the success of our testing and clinical trials;

 

    the success of our efforts to acquire or license or discover additional product candidates;

 

    any intellectual property infringement actions in which we may become involved;

 

    announcements concerning our competitors or the pharmaceutical industry in general;

 

    achievement of expected product sales and profitability;

 

    manufacture, supply or distribution shortages;

 

    actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results;

 

    EMA, FDA or other similar regulatory actions affecting us or our industry or other healthcare reform measures in the United States;

 

    changes in financial estimates or recommendations by securities analysts;

 

    trading volume of the ADSs;

 

    sales of our ordinary shares and/or ADSs by us, our senior management and board members, holders of the ADSs or our shareholders in the future;

 

    general economic and market conditions and overall fluctuations in the United States and international equity markets; and

 

    the loss of any of our key scientific or senior management personnel.

 

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In addition, the stock markets in general, and the markets for pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology stocks in particular, have experienced extreme volatility that may have been unrelated to the operating performance of the issuer. These broad market fluctuations may adversely affect the trading price or liquidity of our ADSs. In the past, when the market price of a stock has been volatile, holders of that stock have sometimes instituted securities class action litigation against the issuer. If any of the holders of shares or ADSs were to bring such a lawsuit against us, we could incur substantial costs defending the lawsuit and the attention of our senior management would be diverted from the operation of our business, which could seriously harm our financial position. Any adverse determination in litigation could also subject us to significant liabilities.

ADS holders do not directly hold our ordinary shares and do not have the rights of a holder of our ordinary shares.

ADS holders are not treated as our shareholders and do not have the rights of a holder of our ordinary shares. Danish law governs shareholder rights. Our depositary, Bank of New York Mellon, is the holder of the ordinary shares underlying our ADSs. The deposit agreement among us, the depositary, and all other persons directly and indirectly holding ADSs, sets out ADS holder rights as well as the rights and obligations of the depositary. In addition, our depositary charges certain fees to holders of our ADSs as set forth in “Item 12 D. Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities –American Depositary Shares.”

ADS holders may not be able to exercise their right to vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs.

Holders of ADSs may exercise voting rights with respect to the ordinary shares represented by the ADSs only in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement and not as a direct shareholder in the Company. The deposit agreement provides that, upon receipt of notice of any meeting of holders of our ordinary shares, the depositary will fix a record date for the determination of ADS holders who shall be entitled to give instructions for the exercise of voting rights. Upon timely receipt of notice from us, if we so request, the depositary shall distribute to the holders as of the record date (1) the notice of the meeting or solicitation of consent or proxy sent by us and (2) a statement as to the manner in which instructions may be given by the holders. However, we may not request the depositary to distribute this information which could effectively limit the ability of ADS holders to direct voting of the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs.

ADS holders may instruct the depositary of their ADSs to vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs. Otherwise, ADS holders are not able to exercise their right to vote, unless they withdraw the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs they hold. However, they may not know about the meeting far enough in advance to withdraw those ordinary shares. If we ask for instructions from ADS holders, the depositary, upon timely notice from us, will notify the ADS holders of the upcoming vote and arrange to deliver our voting materials to the ADS holders. We cannot guarantee that ADS holders will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that such holders can instruct the depositary to vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs or to withdraw the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs so that they can vote such shares directly. If the depositary does not receive timely voting instructions from an ADS holder, the depositary may give a proxy to a person designated by us to vote the ordinary shares underlying ADSs. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for the manner of carrying out voting instructions. This means that ADS holders may not be able to exercise any right to vote, and there may be nothing an ADS holder can do if the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs are not voted as they requested.

An ADS holder may be subject to limitations on the transfer of their ADSs and the withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares.

ADSs, which may be evidenced by American Depositary Receipts, or ADRs, 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 an ADS holders’ right to cancel their ADSs and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares. Temporary delays in the cancellation of 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, an ADS holder may not be able to cancel their ADS and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares when such holder owes money for fees, taxes and similar charges and when it is necessary to prohibit withdrawals to comply with any laws or governmental regulations that apply to ADSs or to the withdrawal of ordinary shares or other deposited securities.

 

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We have broad discretion to determine how to use the funds raised in our public offerings, and may use them in ways that may not enhance our operating results or the price of our ordinary shares and ADSs.

Our senior management has broad discretion over the use of proceeds from our public offerings, and we could spend the proceeds from those public offerings in ways the holders of shares or ADSs may not agree with or that do not yield a favorable return, if at all. We currently intend to use substantially all of the net proceeds from those public offerings to support the clinical development and regulatory approval of TransCon GH, to fund development of our other rare disease endocrinology programs, including TransCon PTH and TransCon CNP, to identify and progress development of new product candidates including in new therapeutic areas, to strengthen our TransCon technology and for working capital and general corporate purposes. However, our use of these proceeds may differ substantially from our current plans. If we do not invest or apply these proceeds in ways that improve our operating results, we may fail to achieve expected financial results, which could cause the price of the ADSs to decline.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or if they issue an adverse or misleading opinion regarding our ordinary shares or ADSs, the price of the ADSs and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for the ADSs may be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us or our business. If any of the analysts who cover us issue an adverse or misleading opinion regarding us, our business model, our intellectual property or our stock performance, or if our clinical trials and operating results fail to meet the expectations of analysts, the price of our ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the price of our ADSs or trading volume to decline.

If we issue shares or ADSs in future financings, shareholders or holders of ADSs may experience immediate dilution and, as a result, the price of our ADSs may decline.

We may from time to time issue additional shares or ADS at a discount from the trading price of our ADSs. As a result, our shareholders and holders of ADSs would experience immediate dilution upon the issuance of ADSs at such discount. In addition, as opportunities present themselves, we may enter into financing or similar arrangements in the future, including the issuance of debt securities, preference share, ADSs or ordinary shares. If we issue shares or securities convertible into shares of our share capital, our ordinary shareholders and holders of ADSs would experience additional dilution and, as a result, the price of our ADSs may decline.

Sales of a substantial number of our ordinary shares or ADSs in the public market could cause the price of the ADSs to fall.

If our existing shareholders or holders of ADSs sell, or indicate an intention to sell, substantial amounts of our ordinary shares or ADSs in the public market, the trading price of our ADSs could decline. Based upon the number of shares outstanding as of March 1, 2018, we have outstanding a total of 41,523,765 ordinary shares. Of those shares, approximately 7,199,532 were owned by current board members, members of our senior management and their respective affiliates, or may otherwise be subject to Rule 144 under the Securities Act. In addition, pursuant to a registration statement on Form F-3 filed in February 2016, 5,825,730 of our ordinary shares are registered for resale by certain selling shareholders, including shareholders that are affiliated with members of our board of directors.

As of December 31, 2017, there were 4,621,154 warrants outstanding. If these warrants are exercised an additional 4,621,154 ordinary shares or ADSs will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules and Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act. If these additional ordinary shares or ADSs are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of the ADSs could decline. Any sales of securities by these security holders could have a negative effect on the trading price of the ADSs.

 

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Our principal shareholders and senior management own a significant percentage of our shares and are able to exert significant control over matters subject to shareholder approval.

As of March 1, 2018 our senior management, board members, holders of 5% or more of our share capital and their respective affiliates beneficially own approximately 58.8% of our outstanding voting securities. As a result, these security holders have the ability either alone or voting together as a group to determine and/or significantly influence the outcome of matters submitted to our shareholders for approval, including the election and removal of board members, payment of dividends, amendments to our articles of association, including changes to our share capital or any mergers, demergers, liquidations and similar transactions. This may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our ordinary shares or ADSs that our shareholders or ADS holders may feel are in their best interest as a shareholder or holder of ADSs. In addition, this group of shareholders may have the ability to control our management and affairs. Such control and concentration of ownership may affect the market price of the ADSs and may discourage certain types of transactions, including those involving actual or potential change of control of us (whether through merger, consolidation, take-over or other business combination), which might otherwise have a positive effect on the market price of the ADSs.

The rights of our shareholders may be different from the rights of shareholders in companies governed by the laws of U.S. jurisdictions.

Our corporate affairs are governed by our articles of association and by the laws governing companies incorporated in Denmark, including the Danish Companies Act. The rights of shareholders and the responsibilities of members of our board of directors may be different from the rights and obligations of shareholders in companies governed by the laws of U.S. jurisdictions. In the performance of its duties, our board of directors is required by Danish law to consider the interests of our company, its shareholders and its creditors. It is possible that some of these parties will have interests that are different from, or in addition to, the interests of our shareholders or the holders of our ADS.

Claims of U.S. civil liabilities may not be enforceable against us.

We are incorporated under the laws of Denmark. Substantially all of our assets are located outside the United States. A significant portion of our board members and employees reside outside the United States. As a result, it may not be possible for investors to effect service of process within the United States upon such persons or to enforce against them or us in U.S. courts, including judgments predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. securities laws of the United States.

The United States and Denmark currently do not have a treaty providing for the reciprocal 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 Denmark. To obtain a judgment which is enforceable in Denmark, the party in whose favor a final and conclusive judgment of the U.S. court has been rendered will be required to file its claim with a court of competent jurisdiction in Denmark. Such party may submit to the Danish court the final judgment rendered by the U.S. court. If and to the extent that the Danish court finds that the jurisdiction of the U.S. court has been based on grounds which are internationally acceptable and that proper legal procedures have been observed, the Danish court should, in principle, give binding effect to the judgment of the U.S. court, unless such judgment contravenes principles of public policy of Denmark. Danish courts are likely to deny the recognition and enforcement of punitive damages or other awards. Moreover, a Danish court may reduce the amount of damages granted by a U.S. court and recognize damages only to the extent that they are necessary to compensate actual losses or damages. Enforcement and recognition of judgments of U.S. courts in Denmark are solely governed by the provisions of the Danish Civil Procedure Code.

Based on the lack of a treaty as described above, U.S. investors may not be able to enforce against us or members of our board of directors, our executive board, our senior management or certain experts named herein who are residents of Denmark 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.

We qualify as a foreign private issuer and, as a result, we will not be subject to U.S. proxy rules and will be subject to Exchange Act reporting obligations that, to some extent, are more lenient and less frequent than those of a U.S. domestic public company.

We report under the Exchange Act, as a non-U.S. company with foreign private issuer status. Because we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act and although we are subject to Danish laws and regulations with regard to such matters and intend to furnish quarterly financial information to the SEC, we are exempt from certain provisions of the Exchange Act that are applicable to U.S. domestic public companies, including (i) the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act; (ii) the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and (iii) the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q containing unaudited financial and other specified information, or current reports on Form 8-K, upon the occurrence of specified significant events. In addition, foreign private issuers are not required to file their annual report on Form 20-F until four months 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. As a result of the above, our shareholders and the holders of our ADS may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are not foreign private issuers.

 

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Our status as a “foreign private issuer” allows us to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, accounting principles, which are different than accounting principles under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP.

We have adopted and presented our consolidated financial statements in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board. IFRS is an internationally recognized body of accounting principles that are used by many companies outside of the United States to prepare their financial statements; and the SEC recently permitted foreign private issuers such as our company to prepare and file their financial statements in accordance with IFRS rather than U.S. GAAP. IFRS accounting principles are different from those of U.S. GAAP, and SEC rules do not require us to provide a reconciliation of IFRS accounting principles to those of U.S. GAAP. Investors who are not familiar with IFRS may misunderstand certain information presented in our consolidated financial statements. Accordingly, we suggest that readers of our consolidated financial statements familiarize themselves with the provisions of IFRS accounting principles to better understand the differences between these two sets of principles.

As a foreign private issuer and as permitted by the listing requirements of The NASDAQ Global Select Market, we rely on certain home country governance practices rather than the corporate governance requirements of The NASDAQ Global Select Market.

We qualify as a foreign private issuer. As a result, in accordance with the listing requirements of The NASDAQ Global Select Market, we rely on home country governance requirements and certain exemptions thereunder rather than relying on the corporate governance requirements of The NASDAQ Global Select Market. For instance, the Listing Rules for the NASDAQ Stock Market, or the NASDAQ Listing Rules, for domestic U.S. issuers require listed companies to have, among other things, a majority of their board members be independent, and to have independent director oversight of executive compensation, nomination of board members and corporate governance matters. As a foreign private issuer, however, while we intend to comply with these requirements, we are permitted to follow home country practice in lieu of the above requirements. Danish law does not require that a majority of our board consist of independent directors or the implementation of a remuneration committee or nominating and corporate governance committee, and our board may thus in the future not include, or include fewer, independent directors than would be required if we were subject to the NASDAQ Listing Rules, or they may decide that it is in our interest not to have a remuneration committee or nominating and corporate governance committee, or have such committees governed by practices that would not comply with NASDAQ Listing Rules. Since a majority of our board of directors may not consist of independent directors if we decide to rely on the foreign private issuer exemption to the NASDAQ Listing Rules, our board’s approach may, therefore, be different from that of a board with a majority of independent directors, and as a result, the management oversight of our company could, in the future, be more limited than if we were subject to the NASDAQ Listing Rules. We intend to follow home country practice with regard to, among other things, quorum requirements generally applicable to general meetings of shareholders.

Furthermore, Danish law does not have a regulatory regime for the solicitation of proxies and the solicitation of proxies is not a generally accepted business practice in Denmark, thus our practice varies from the requirement of NASDAQ Listing Rule 5620(b). In addition, our shareholders have authorized our board of directors to issue securities including in connection with certain events such as the acquisition of shares or assets of another company, the establishment of or amendments to equity-based compensation plans for employees, a change of control of us, rights issues at or below market price, certain private placements and issuance of convertible notes. To this extent, our practice varies from the requirements of NASDAQ Rule 5635, which generally requires an issuer to obtain shareholder approval for the issuance of securities in connection with such events. Accordingly, our shareholders and holders of our ADS may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to these NASDAQ requirements.

We may lose our foreign private issuer status, which would then require us to comply with the Exchange Act’s domestic reporting regime and cause us to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses.

 

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We qualify as a foreign private issuer and therefore we are not required to comply with all of the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act applicable to U.S. domestic issuers. We may no longer be a foreign private issuer as of June 30, 2018, which would require us to comply with all of the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act applicable to U.S. domestic issuers as of January 1, 2019. To maintain our current status as a foreign private issuer, either (a) a majority of our ordinary shares or ADSs must be either directly or indirectly owned of record by non-residents of the United States or (b)(i) a majority of our executive officers or directors may not be U.S. citizens or residents, (ii) more than 50% of our assets cannot be located in the United States and (iii) our business must not be administered principally inside the United States. If we lost this status, we would be required to comply with the Exchange Act reporting and other requirements applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, which are more detailed and extensive than the requirements for foreign private issuers. We may also be required to make changes in our corporate governance practices in accordance with various SEC and NASDAQ rules. The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws if we are required to comply with the reporting requirements applicable to a U.S. domestic issuer may be significantly higher than the cost we would incur as a foreign private issuer. As a result, we expect that a loss of foreign private issuer status would increase our legal and financial compliance costs and would make some activities highly time consuming and costly. We also expect that if we were required to comply with the rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, it would make it more difficult and expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain coverage. These rules and regulations could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified members of our board of directors.

We may be a “passive foreign investment company” for U.S. federal income tax purposes for our current taxable year and future taxable years, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. investors.

Under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the determination of passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, status is fact-specific, and generally cannot be made until the close of the taxable year in question. Although we do not believe we were a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes for our taxable year ended December 31, 2017, we may be a PFIC for our current taxable year and future taxable years. A non-U.S. corporation will be considered a PFIC for any taxable year if either (1) at least 75% of its gross income for such year is passive income or (2) at least 50% of the value of its assets (based on an average of the quarterly values of the assets during such year) is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income. A separate determination must be made each taxable year as to whether we are a PFIC (after the close of each such taxable year). If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10 E. Additional Information—Taxation—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences to U.S. Holders”) holds ordinary shares or ADSs, the U.S. Holder may be subject to adverse tax consequences, including (i) the treatment of all or a portion of any gain on disposition as ordinary income, (ii) the application of an interest charge with respect to such gain and certain dividends and (iii) compliance with certain reporting requirements. Each U.S. Holder is strongly urged to consult its tax advisor regarding these issues. See “Item 10 E. Additional Information—Taxation—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences to U.S. Holders.”

If a United States person is treated as owning at least 10% of our ordinary shares or ADSs, such holder may be subject to adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences.

If a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10 E. Additional Information—Taxation—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences to U.S. Holders”) 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). If our group includes one or more U.S. subsidiaries, certain of our non-U.S. subsidiaries could 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 report annually 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 these reporting obligations may subject you to significant monetary penalties and may prevent the statute of limitations from starting with respect to your U.S. federal income tax return for the year for which reporting was due. We cannot provide any assurances that we will assist investors in determining whether any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries are treated as a controlled foreign corporation or whether such investor is treated as a United States shareholder with respect to any of such controlled foreign corporations. Further, we cannot provide any assurances that we will furnish to any United States shareholders information that may be necessary to comply with the aforementioned reporting and tax payment obligations. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisors regarding the potential application of these rules to their investment in our ordinary shares or ADSs.

 

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We do not currently intend to pay dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs, and, consequently, our shareholders’ and ADS holders’ ability to achieve a return on their investment will depend on appreciation in the price of the ADSs or our ordinary shares.

We do not currently intend to pay any cash dividends on our ordinary shares for the foreseeable future. We currently intend to invest our future earnings, if any, to fund our growth. Therefore, our shareholders and ADS holders are not likely to receive any dividends on their investment for the foreseeable future. Because we do not intend to pay dividends, our shareholders’ and ADS holders’ ability to receive a return on their investment will depend on any future appreciation in the market value of our ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ordinary shares or ADSs will appreciate or even maintain the price at which our holders have acquired them.

Investors should be aware that the rights provided to our shareholders and holders of ADSs under Danish corporate law and our articles of association differ in certain respects from the rights that would typically be provided to a shareholder of a U.S. company under applicable U.S. federal and state laws.

Under Danish corporate law, except in certain limited circumstances (which require as a minimum that a proposal for inspection has been supported by a minimum of 25% of the shareholders voting and being present at a general meeting), our shareholders may not ask for an inspection of our corporate records, while under Delaware corporate law any shareholder, irrespective of the size of such shareholder’s shareholdings, may do so. Shareholders of a Danish limited liability company are also unable to initiate a derivative action, a remedy typically available to shareholders of U.S. companies, to enforce a right of our company, in case we fail to enforce such right ourselves, other than in certain cases of board member/management liability under limited circumstances. In addition, a majority of our shareholders may release a board member or manager from any claim of liability we may have, including if such board member or manager has acted in bad faith or has breached his/her duty of loyalty and only if a minority of at least 10% of the shareholders represented at the relevant general meeting have opposed the decision, may a shareholder bring a derivative action on behalf of our company. In contrast, most U.S. federal and state laws prohibit a company or its shareholders from releasing a board member from liability altogether if such board member has acted in bad faith or has breached such board member’s duty of loyalty to our company. Additionally, distribution of dividends from Danish companies to foreign companies and individuals can be eligible for non-refundable withholding tax, and not all receiving countries allow for deduction. Also, the rights as a creditor may not be as strong under Danish insolvency law, as under U.S. law or other insolvency law, and consequently creditors may recover less in the event our company is subject to insolvency compared to a similar case including a U.S. debtor. In addition, the use of the tax asset consisting of the accumulated tax deficit requires that we are able to generate positive taxable income and can be restricted by future amendments to Danish tax law. Finally, Danish corporate law may not provide appraisal rights in the case of a business combination equivalent to those generally afforded a shareholder of a U.S. company under applicable U.S. laws. As a result of these differences between Danish corporate law and our articles of association, on the one hand, and U.S. federal and state laws, on the other hand, in certain instances, shareholders and ADS holders could receive less protection as an equity holder of our company than they would as a shareholder of a U.S. company.

Holders of our ordinary shares or ADSs may not be able to exercise their pre-emptive subscription rights and may suffer dilution of their equityholding in the event of future issuances of our shares.

Under the Danish Companies Act, our shareholders benefit from a pre-emptive subscription right on the issuance of ordinary shares for cash consideration only and not in the event of issuance of shares against non-cash contribution or debt conversion. Even the shareholders’ pre-emptive subscription rights in the event of issuances of shares against cash payment may be disapplied by a resolution of the shareholders at a general meeting of our shareholders and/or the shares or ADSs may be issued on the basis of an authorization granted to the board of directors pursuant to which the board may disapply the shareholders’ pre-emptive subscription rights. Such shares or ADSs may be issued above, or at market value as well as by way of incorporation of available reserves (including premium). In addition, a shareholder may not be able to exercise the shareholder’s pre-emptive right on a timely basis or at all, unless the shareholder complies with the Danish Companies Act and applicable laws in the jurisdiction in which the shareholder is resident. Furthermore, the use of pre-emptive subscription rights in relation to future capital increases in our company can be restricted for U.S. residents according to U.S. securities law. As a result, the shareholding or holders of ADSs of such shareholders or ADS holders may be materially diluted in the event shares or ADSs are issued in the future. Shares or ADSs may be issued at a discount to market price in rights offerings provided that the resolution is approved by two-thirds of the votes cast and the share capital represented at the general meeting and in these cases a restriction on the ability to exercise pre-emptive rights may materially dilute the value of the ordinary shares or ADSs held by the shareholder or ADS holder in question. Rights issues may also be carried out by the board of directors according to valid authorizations in our articles of association.

 

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However, our ADS holders in the United States are not entitled to exercise or sell such pre-emptive subscription rights related to the ordinary shares, which they represent unless we register the pre-emptive subscription rights and the securities to which the pre-emptive subscription rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. In addition, the deposit agreement provides that the depositary will not make rights available to ADS holders unless the distribution to ADS holders or both the rights and any related securities are either registered under the Securities Act or exempted from registration under the Securities Act. Further, if we offer holders of our ordinary shares the option to receive dividends in either cash or shares, under the deposit agreement the depositary may require satisfactory assurances from us that extending the offer to holders of ADSs does not require registration of any securities under the Securities Act before making the option available to holders of ADSs. 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. Accordingly, ADS holders may be unable to participate in our rights offerings or to elect to receive dividends in shares and may experience dilution in their holdings. In addition, if the depositary is unable to sell rights that are not exercised or not distributed or if the sale is not lawful or reasonably practicable, it will allow the rights to lapse, in which case our shareholders and ADS holders will receive no value for these rights.

 

Item 4 Information on the Company

 

A. History and Development of the Company

We were organized under the laws of the Kingdom of Denmark in September 2006 as a private limited liability company (Anpartsselskab, or ApS) and then transformed into a public limited liability company (Aktieselskab, or A/S), effective December 17, 2007. In connection with this conversion, our legal name changed from Ascendis ApS to Ascendis Pharma A/S. We commenced operations in December 2007 in connection with the acquisition of the company that invented our TransCon technology, Complex Biosystems GmbH.

Our registered office and principal executive offices are located at Tuborg Boulevard 5, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark and our telephone number is +45 70 22 22 44. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Ascendis Pharma, Inc. Our website address is www.ascendispharma.com. The information on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of and should not be incorporated by reference into this this annual report or any other report we file or furnish to the SEC. We have included our website address as an inactive textual reference only. Our ADSs are traded on The NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol ASND.

For additional information relating to the development of our company, see “Item 4 B. Information on the Company – Business Overview.” For additional information relating to the Company’s capital expenditures, see “Item 5 A. Operating Results.”

 

B. Business Overview

Overview

We are a biopharmaceutical company applying our innovative TransCon technology to build a leading, fully integrated rare disease company. We are developing a pipeline of prodrug therapies with potential best-in-class profiles to address significant unmet medical needs. We have created a portfolio of potential best-in-class rare disease endocrinology product candidates to address unmet medical needs by utilizing our TransCon technology with clinically validated parent drugs.

 

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Our most advanced product candidate, TransCon Growth Hormone, or TransCon GH, is in development as a once-weekly therapy to treat growth hormone deficiency, or GHD, and other indications. In January 2018, we completed enrollment in the pivotal Phase 3 trial of TransCon GH, the global heiGHt Trial, in children with GHD. We anticipate top-line data from the ongoing heiGHt Trial in the first quarter of 2019. We believe that TransCon GH may offer a once-weekly therapy for pediatric GHD with comparable safety, efficacy and tolerability as currently approved daily recombinant human growth hormone, known as rhGH or GH. Clinical trials of TransCon GH have demonstrated a comparable efficacy, safety, tolerability and immunogenic profile to that of daily growth hormone. If approved, TransCon GH may reduce the burden of daily treatment by requiring significantly fewer injections, which may improve compliance and treatment outcomes.

We are also using our TransCon technology platform to develop TransCon PTH, which is designed as a once-daily long-acting injectable prodrug of parathyroid hormone, or PTH, as a potential treatment for hypoparathyroidism, or HP, a rare endocrine disorder of calcium and phosphate metabolism. We initiated a Phase 1 trial in healthy subjects in September 2017 and results from the ongoing study have reinforced findings from our preclinical research supporting the target product profile for this candidate. We believe our TransCon PTH may provide patients suffering from HP with a PTH replacement therapy that is designed to fully address all aspects of the disease more than standard of care or currently approved therapies.

We are also developing TransCon CNP for the treatment of achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. Currently, there are no medical therapies for achondroplasia approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. TransCon CNP utilizes our TransCon technology platform to deliver a C-type natriuretic peptide, or CNP, analogue for potential treatment of achondroplasia. CNP as a therapeutic approach is supported by extensive preclinical and clinical data. In December 2017, we initiated regulatory filings in Australia to support a Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy subjects.

In addition to our wholly owned candidates in rare endocrine disorders, we have developed a pipeline of sustained release prodrug product candidates through strategic collaborations. These include TransCon anti-VEGF in the field of ophthalmology, which is partnered with Genentech, and the TransCon peptide program for treatment of diabetes, which is partnered with Sanofi. We are eligible to receive up to an aggregate of €200 million in development and regulatory milestone payments for products currently being developed under our collaboration agreements, as well as sales-based milestone payments and royalties on future net sales of products.

We believe that the effectiveness of our TransCon technology is supported by data from our preclinical research and the ongoing clinical programs, including our TransCon GH and TransCon PTH programs, as well findings from our ongoing development of other product candidates, including our multi-product collaborations with Sanofi and Genentech. We have applied the TransCon technology in combination with parent drugs with clinical proof of concept using our algorithm for creating products with the potential to be best-in-class in endocrinology rare diseases, and we will continue to apply this algorthim for product selection in new therapeutic areas. We believe this approach may reduce the risks associated with traditional drug development.

Our TransCon technology enables us to create long-acting prodrug therapies with potentially significant advantages over existing marketed drug products. Our TransCon technology transiently links an unmodified parent drug to a TransCon carrier via our proprietary TransCon linkers. Our TransCon linkers predictably release an unmodified active parent drug at predetermined rates governed by physiological pH and temperature conditions, supporting administration frequencies from daily up to half-yearly. Depending upon the type of TransCon carrier we employ, we can design our TransCon prodrugs to act systemically or locally in areas that are difficult to treat with conventional therapies.

 

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TransCon Product Candidate Pipeline

 

LOGO

 

1  Based on market data and company estimates.

 

2  Includes all indications.

 

3  Based on treatment of ~25% of the U.S. patient population of ~80,000 patients.

When we apply our TransCon technology to already approved drug compounds, we may benefit from established clinical safety and efficacy data, which we believe reduces drug development risk.

We maintain an intellectual property portfolio comprising approximately 103 issued patents and approximately 203 patent applications as of December 31, 2017, with claims directed to composition of matter, process, formulation and/or methods-of-use for our product candidates, including a product-specific device and core TransCon technology. In addition, each of our collaboration partners has granted us rights that enable us to freely commercialize all improvements to the TransCon technology developed by our collaboration partners outside of the field identified in their respective collaboration agreements. We hold worldwide rights to our TransCon technology and have no third-party royalty or milestone payment obligations with respect to our TransCon technology or any of our product candidates. While our TransCon prodrugs may incorporate already approved parent drugs, each of our product candidates is a new molecular entity and is therefore eligible to be granted new intellectual property rights, including new composition of matter patents.

Our Strategy

Our goal is to leverage our TransCon technology to create a pipeline of proprietary products and form collaborations with market-leading biopharmaceutical companies to develop new products that incorporate our TransCon technology in therapeutic areas that are of strategic importance. Our approach to product innovation involves a focus on orphan drug indications that have an unmet medical need, have a clinically validated parent drug, are suitable to our TransCon Technology, have a clearly differentiated product, have a potential established development pathway and have a large potentially addressable market. We estimate that there are approximately 4,800 orphan drug designations and over 500 of those are for endocrine and metabolic disorders. We expect our current therapeutic focus on our rare disease endocrinology pipeline will provide important synergies, including expertise in endocrinology, a concentrated prescriber base, a patient-centric support system, reimbursement and payor knowledge and distribution networks. Key elements of our strategy to achieve this goal include:

 

  identifying areas which can be addressed by leveraging our TransCon technology to create a pipeline of product candidates with best-in-class therapeutic profiles that address unmet medical needs where we believe our product candidates can compete well in the market and which have significant market potential;

 

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  advancing our pipeline of three rare disease endocrinology product candidates, and seeking to obtain regulatory approval for and launch of three product candidates with a greater than one-billion dollar market potential between 2020 and 2024;

 

  continuing to establish strategic collaborations with market-leading biopharmaceutical companies; and

 

  strengthening our leadership position in the field of long-acting prodrug technology through investments in our technology, manufacturing capabilities and know-how.

TransCon Technology

Overview

Our TransCon technology is designed to solve the fundamental limitations of previous approaches applied to extend duration of a drug’s action in the body, and to enhance the overall benefit of a given therapeutic. Many drugs suffer from suboptimal pharmacokinetics, short residence time in the body, poor tolerability at the administration site and/or systemic side effects that result from initial drug concentrations that are too high. Frequent administration and poor tolerability negatively impact patient compliance, potentially leading to suboptimal treatment outcomes. To address these issues, several approaches are currently being applied to improve drug characteristics, such as prodrug and sustained release technologies.

Our TransCon technology establishes a new paradigm that combines the benefits of conventional prodrug and sustained release technologies, and is broadly applicable to proteins, peptides and small molecules. TransCon prodrugs predictably release unmodified active parent drugs and may offer advantages that include superior efficacy, safety, tolerability and compliance, including less frequent dosing and the ability to switch patients to subcutaneous injections from burdensome continuous infusions and less frequent dosing.

Our TransCon technology is differentiated in that it enables us to design long-acting prodrugs that predictably release an unmodified active parent drug. Our TransCon linkers predictably release an unmodified active parent drug at predetermined rates following first order kinetics, governed by physiological pH and temperature conditions. By optimizing the molecular structure of the linker, administration frequencies from daily up to half-yearly can be achieved. TransCon prodrugs may offer safety, efficacy and tolerability advantages over the original parent drug and as compared to other technologies used to extend drug residence time in the body. Depending upon the type of TransCon carrier we employ, we can design our TransCon prodrugs to act systemically or locally in areas that are difficult to treat with conventional therapies. In addition to retaining the original mode of action of the unmodified parent drug, we believe this predictable release may improve the likelihood of clinical development success.

Advantages of our TransCon Technology

We believe that our TransCon technology enables multiple therapeutic, drug development, regulatory and intellectual property benefits:

Efficacy

 

    Same mode of action as parent drug

 

    Predictable release of unmodified parent drug supporting daily to half-yearly administration

 

    Enables localized or systemic drug exposure

 

    Reduces dosing frequency to improve patient adherence and improve overall treatment outcomes

 

    Dosing and release tailored to desired pharmacokinetic profile and potentially optimize effects of parent drug

 

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Safety and Tolerability

 

    Same established safety as parent drug with potential enhancements or improvement due to application of TransCon technology

 

    Enables switch from continuous infusions to daily or less frequent subcutaneous injections

 

    Immunogenic potential, or the ability of a substance to provoke an immune response, comparable to parent drug

Development and Regulatory

 

    Higher development success rate when incorporating clinically validated parent drugs and potentially expedited development pathways due to leveraging existing knowledge regarding the parent drug

Intellectual Property

 

    New composition of matter patents

TransCon Technology Components

Our TransCon prodrug product candidates consist of three components: the TransCon carrier, the TransCon linker and a parent drug.

Our TransCon carriers can be selected from our soluble or hydrogel carrier platforms. These carriers inactivate and protect the parent drug through a shielding effect, which prevents rapid excretion and degradation of the parent drug. The parent drug is connected to the carrier via the TransCon linker, which is designed to release the drug at a predictable and predetermined rate, enabling release of unmodified active parent drug with up to half-yearly administration. The TransCon linker is designed to remain attached to the TransCon carrier after release of the parent drug. Our broad selection of TransCon linkers, in combination with our soluble and hydrogel carriers, provides us with a powerful and flexible technology that we leverage to design best-in-class therapeutics aimed at multi-billion dollar markets. The following illustration depicts how the TransCon technology transforms a parent drug into a prodrug:

 

LOGO

TransCon Linkers

Our TransCon linkers are reversible linkers that enable the transient conjugation of a broad range of therapeutics, including proteins, peptides and small molecules, to our TransCon carriers. We have a large library of TransCon linkers that are applicable to various types of parent drugs, and that can be tailored to achieve half-life extension enabling daily, weekly, monthly and half-yearly dosing, and customize the pharmacokinetic, or PK, profile for each individual product candidate to optimize therapeutic effect. TransCon linkers are self-cleaving through a process called intra-molecular assisted cleavage, which causes the linker to release the unmodified parent drug. We can tailor the release properties of the linker to a given therapeutic indication and parent drug by modifying the linker structures. We believe the self-cleaving process of our linker avoids many of the shortcomings of conventional prodrug technologies, which often depend on metabolic processes, such as enzymatic degradation, to convert the prodrug into the active drug. The rate of metabolic conversion of prodrugs in these types of processes may differ between patients, and even within different tissues in the same patient. As a result, conventional prodrugs do not offer predictable release of the parent drug. Our TransCon linkers predictably release an unmodified active parent drug at predetermined rates governed by physiological pH and temperature conditions, which are tightly regulated in the body. Consequently, we can design our prodrugs to release the unmodified parent drug at predictable rates.

 

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TransCon Carriers

Our TransCon technology incorporates two carrier platforms that can be used for providing localized or systemic drug exposure. These biocompatible carrier platforms include our TransCon soluble carriers and our proprietary TransCon hydrogel carriers, which is a self-eliminating hydrogel. Our carriers inactivate and protect the drug through a shielding effect, which prevents rapid excretion and degradation of the parent drug, and may enable benefits that include improved injection site tolerability, reduced systemic adverse effects and low immunogenicity.

 

    Our TransCon soluble carriers are used for providing systemic drug exposure and are based on soluble compounds such as polyethylene glycol, or PEG, or other natural or synthetic polymers. Prodrugs created using our soluble carriers are readily absorbed into the bloodstream after administration, thus minimizing exposure of the subcutaneous tissue to active drug, which we believe may improve injection site tolerability. Our most advanced product candidates, TransCon GH, TransCon PTH and TransCon CNP, utilize PEG as a carrier molecule. PEG is widely used to alter the pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic properties of marketed therapeutics.

 

    Our TransCon hydrogel carriers are being developed to provide either localized or systemic drug exposure. Our proprietary TransCon hydrogel is designed to be biocompatible and self-eliminating, and consists of microparticles that allow for highly efficient drug loading into the hydrogel via our TransCon linkers. The PEG-based TransCon hydrogel is pre-formed and subsequently loaded with the parent drug, which can prevent adverse modification of the drug during manufacturing of the hydrogel. This process is proprietary, and we believe our granted patents prevent our competitors from creating prodrugs based on preformed hydrogels. Our current TransCon hydrogels are PEG-based and we are developing hydrogels based on hyaluronic acid and other biopolymers. Our TransCon hydrogel is designed to self-eliminate to soluble, biocompatible molecules after the drug payload has been released. We and our collaboration partners are developing certain of the TransCon hydrogel carriers in both systemic and localized drug delivery applications.

Parent drug

Our TransCon technology is applicable across a broad range of therapeutic classes, and is currently used to create superior long-acting product candidates based on proteins, peptides and small molecules. By primarily focusing on biological targets that have been clinically validated, we can leverage available knowledge regarding a target’s activity. Based on this selective approach, we know what drug levels must be maintained in the body for optimal efficacy and safety, and we can design the release half-life and dosing frequency of our TransCon prodrugs to maintain these levels to achieve the desired pharmacological effect. We move a product candidate into development after it demonstrates a superior profile to such medicines or drugs in animal models that we believe correlate to human clinical experience. Furthermore, based on the established translational relationships between preclinical animal models and clinical efficacy, we believe experimental results generated in validated animal models are highly predictive of clinical results and reduce the development risk of our TransCon prodrugs. This strategy is designed to reduce risk and increase productivity.

This approach has enabled us to generate a pipeline of product candidates to address significant unmet medical needs and to become potential sources of significant revenue for our company. Because our TransCon technology releases an unmodified drug with established clinical safety and efficacy, we believe we may benefit from a higher development and regulatory success rate as compared to development of drug compounds without established clinical data.

 

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TransCon Product Candidates

TransCon Growth Hormone (GH)

Market Opportunity in GHD

GHD is a serious orphan disease that affects both children and adults. Children with GHD are characterized by short stature, metabolic abnormalities, cognitive deficiencies and poor quality of life. GHD in adults is associated with increased adiposity, or fat mass, as well as psychiatric-cognitive, cardiovascular, muscular, metabolic and skeletal abnormalities. The current standard of care for GHD is daily subcutaneous injections of GH. Daily therapy with GH has been shown to increase growth and improve metabolic effects, including reducing adiposity and improving cardiovascular health. These therapies have been shown to be safe, well-tolerated and essentially pain-free upon injection.

Patients treated with daily GH typically receive thousands of injections over the course of many years. Growth hormone deficient children who are fully in adherence with their daily treatment regimen may achieve a height in adulthood that is comparable to that of their family members and national norms. In therapy-compliant adults with GHD, daily subcutaneous injections of GH have resulted in improved body composition parameters, bone density, cardiovascular outcomes and quality of life.

Despite the demonstrated benefits of GH therapy, published studies have shown that the majority of patients on a daily GH regimen are not fully compliant with their daily dosing schedule, and therefore fail to achieve expected treatment outcomes. For example, in a study published in PLOS One, in 2011, 66% of the patients missed more than one injection on average per week, leading to significant reductions in the degree of growth in pediatric patients. Reducing injection frequency is associated with better compliance and may improve height velocity for patients experiencing poor compliance with daily injections.

As shown in the figure below, for patients missing two or more injections per week there was a clinically relevant reduction in their change in height velocity standard deviation score, or HVSDS, compared to high-compliance patients. A greater HVSDS indicates more rapid growth:

 

LOGO

Figure 1. Negative impact of poor compliance on growth response. Patients missing two or more injections per week have a statistically significant reduction in height velocity. A result is considered statistically significant when the p-value, representing the probability that random chance could explain the result, is lower than 0.05.

Since the introduction of GH in 1981, many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have developed and now market daily growth hormone products. All currently marketed GH products in the United States, Norditropin® (Novo Nordisk A/S), Humatrope® (Eli Lilly and Company), Nutropin AQ® (Genentech), Genotropin® (Pfizer Inc.), Saizen® (Merck Serono S.A.), Zomacton® (Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) and Omnitrope® (Sandoz GmbH), contain unmodified GH and are administered by daily subcutaneous injections. The global market for daily GH products is dominated by Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Sandoz, Merck KGaA and Roche, which together account for approximately 95% of global market share.

Primary indications for GH in children are GHD, idiopathic short stature, chronic kidney disease, Prader-Willi syndrome, small for gestational age and Turner syndrome. In adults, primary indications for GH include GHD and AIDS-induced weight loss. Pediatric indications comprise up to 90% of the total GH market, of which approximately half is for GHD.

 

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Global annual sales from currently marketed daily GH injections are estimated $3.5 billion in 2014. We believe a significant market opportunity exists for a long-acting version of GH with comparable efficacy, safety and tolerability as daily growth hormone products. We are developing TransCon GH as a once-weekly therapy with a target profile designed to have comparable efficacy, safety and tolerability to daily GH.

Competitive Landscape for Long-Acting Growth Hormone

Since the 1990s, the pharmaceutical industry has employed various approaches to develop long-acting growth hormone products to reduce the patient burden of daily injections and increase patient compliance with the dosing regimen. To date, regulatory authorities have approved only two long-acting growth hormone products, each of which utilize unmodified growth hormone as the active drug substance. Neither of these products has achieved commercial success, due to manufacturing, regulatory, efficacy, safety and/or tolerability reasons.

Approaches to developing a long-acting GH or GH analogs use technologies that generally fall into two categories: encapsulation and permanent GH modification:

 

    Two long-acting GH products using encapsulation technologies have received regulatory approval by FDA or EMA: Nutropin Depot®, formerly marketed by Genentech, and Somatropin Biopartners developed by LG Life Sciences and Biopartners GmbH. These products are associated with nodule formation, erythema, or redness of skin, itching, bruising, as well as pain during and after injection. In addition, high levels of antidrug antibodies have been observed following administration of these drugs to patients. We believe that the lack of market acceptance is a result of the various safety and tolerability issues that tend to arise with encapsulation technologies.

 

    Modification technologies prolong growth hormone activity in the body by creating analogs of growth hormone through permanent modification of the growth hormone molecule. This modification may alter the molecular size and interaction with the growth hormone receptor and/or change the natural association affinity to endogenous proteins, as well as the distribution in the body. These changes may alter and reduce the efficacy of these drugs compared to unmodified daily growth hormone and may also negatively impact the drug’s safety.

Previous attempts to develop a long-acting GH by utilizing permanent modification of growth hormone have failed due to regulatory, safety, efficacy and manufacturing hurdles.

There are currently no long-acting growth hormone treatment options available in the United States or Europe. GeneScience Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., Genexine Inc., JCR Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., Novo Nordisk A/S, and OPKO Health, Inc., are developing long-acting growth hormone analogs based on permanent modification of growth hormone.

In addition to the currently approved and marketed daily growth hormone therapies, there are a variety of experimental growth hormone therapies in different stages of clinical development by various companies, including Bioton S.A., Critical Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., Dong-A Pharmaceutical, and all of the global and regional pharmaceutical companies with existing growth hormone franchises.

Our Solution: TransCon GH

TransCon GH is a novel long-acting prodrug of GH that is designed to maintain the same mode of action as daily therapies. Clinical studies of TransCon GH have demonstrated an efficacy, safety, tolerability and immunogenic profile that is comparable to that of daily growth hormone. TransCon GH addresses the highest priority unmet medical need in growth hormone therapy by reducing the number of injections patients require, while leveraging the over 30 year history of safety and efficacy that has been established with unmodified daily GH products.

TransCon GH is essentially inactive when administered. Our technology is designed to restore full activity of the parent growth hormone when the unmodified growth hormone is released from the prodrug. The TransCon linker releases the unmodified growth hormone at a predictable release enabling weekly dosing. We have conducted biopotency assays and generated mass spectrometry profiles demonstrating that the bioactivity and structure of growth hormone released from TransCon GH is comparable to the growth hormone in marketed growth hormone products administered as daily injections. As such, we expect our once-weekly TransCon GH to have the same mode of action and distribution into key growth hormone-responsive tissues, such as brain, bone, muscle, liver and fat tissue, as the GH administered from daily injections and endogenous growth hormone. We use daily growth hormone as an active comparator in our clinical studies, allowing us to directly compare the activity of TransCon GH to daily growth hormone in an identical clinical setting.

 

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Clinical Development of TransCon GH for Pediatric GHD

Our TransCon GH product candidate is in Phase 3 development for pediatric GHD. In January 2018, we completed enrollment of the global Phase 3 TransCon GH heiGHt Trial in children with GHD. The heiGHt Trial is a randomized, open-label, active-controlled Phase 3 registration trial that has enrolled 161 children with GHD who have not previously been treated. Subjects receive either once-weekly TransCon GH (0.24 mg/kg/week) or daily injections of Genotropin® at 34 µg/kg/day (0.24 mg/kg/week) with a 2:1 randomization. The primary endpoint of the trial is annualized height velocity after 52 weeks of treatment. The primary statistical analysis will be a non-inferiority analysis comparing the two arms. Other key endpoints include annualized height velocity at earlier time points, change in height standard deviation scores over 52 weeks, change in serum insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) levels, change in IGF-1 standard deviation scores and IGFBP-3 standard deviation scores, and normalization of IGF-1 standard deviation scores. Top-line results are anticipated in the first quarter of 2019 and we expect efficacy and safety database lock for our regulatory filings with the FDA and European Medicines Agency to occur in the third quarter of 2019.

In October 2017, we initiated an additional Phase 3 trial, the fliGHt (switch) Trial, which is designed to evaluate TransCon GH in subjects who have been previously treated with daily GH. In this single arm open-label trial, subjects would switch from daily growth hormone therapy to weekly TransCon GH with a primary objective of determining the safety and tolerability of TransCon GH in subjects with pediatric GHD. At the request of the FDA to evaluate TransCon GH in children younger than three years, we may also enroll subjects younger than three years of age who may be treatment-naïve. We plan to enroll approximately 150 subjects and complete enrollment by the third quarter of 2018.

Subjects completing either the heiGHt or fliGHt Trials may also enroll in an open-label extension study, the enliGHten Trial, in which we expect the vast majority of subjects finishing the heiGHt and fliGHt Trials to enroll. The enliGHten Trial is designed to provide long-term safety data in approximately 300 subjects to support the potential future regulatory filings for TransCon GH. We initiated the enliGHten Trial in 2017 as the first subjects began to roll over from the heiGHt Trial.

Results from Phase 2 trial in pediatric subjects with GHD

We have previously conducted an active-controlled Phase 2 trial that demonstrated TransCon GH was comparable to daily GH in 53 treatment-naïve, pre-pubertal children with GHD. The Phase 2 trial was designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and efficacy of TransCon GH. This 6-month multi-center, randomized, open-label trial compared three dose levels of TransCon GH (0.14; 0.21; and 0.30 mg GH/kg/week), administered once per week, to Genotropin at 30 µg/kg/day (0.21 mg GH/kg/week), administered as a daily injection. The primary efficacy endpoint was annualized mean height velocity at six months.

Mean annualized height velocities among the three dosing levels administered weekly were 11.9 cm for the 0.14 mg/kg/week dose, 12.9 cm for the 0.21 mg/kg/week dose, and 13.9 cm for the 0.30 mg/kg/week dose, which were comparable to 11.6 cm for the active comparator, daily injections of Genotropin at a 0.21 mg/kg/week dose.

 

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LOGO

Figure 2. Annualized six-month height velocity (N=53) of three dose-levels of TransCon GH administered once per week (at doses of 0.14, 0.21 and 0.30 mg GH/kg/week), against an active control group comprising Genotropin® (0.21 mg GH/kg/week), administered as injections once per day (0.03 mg GH/kg/day) for seven days.

The Phase 2 pediatric trial profiled IGF-1 levels, the primary biomarker for GHD, during week 13. This profile demonstrated dose-proportionality in IGF-1 levels between the three TransCon GH doses. The normal range for IGF-1 in children varies with age, so IGF-1 levels are expressed as IGF-1 standard deviation scores, or IGF-1 SDS, which enables the comparison of IGF-1 responses for children across age ranges. The normal range is defined as IGF-1 SDS between -2 and +2 SDS. The mean IGF-1 response for all TransCon GH dose levels were maintained in the normal range. Transient point values of IGF-1 SDS > +2 were observed in a small number of subjects and only in the high-dose treatment arm. These results are consistent with published data evaluating the effects of comparable doses of daily GH on IGF-1. There were no reports of safety issues in connection with these transient elevations.

 

LOGO

Figure 3. IGF-1 profiles during Week 13 following weekly subcutaneous administration of TransCon GH (at doses of 0.14 mg, 0.21 mg and 0.30 mg GH/kg/week). Dose dependent IGF-1 response observed. Error bars +Standard Error of the Mean.

 

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The Phase 2 pediatric trial measured blood levels of GH released from TransCon GH and daily GH during week 13. Consistent with previous clinical studies of TransCon GH, this profile demonstrated a dose-proportional increase in unmodified growth hormone following administration of the three dose levels of TransCon GH, and, as illustrated in Figure 4, the maximum blood concentration of unmodified GH released from TransCon GH was comparable to the levels achieved by the corresponding amount of GH given as daily injections.

 

LOGO

Figure 4. GH profiles during Week 13 following weekly subcutaneous administration of TransCon GH (0.21 mg GH/kg/week) or daily subcutaneous administration of Genotropin (30 µg/kg/day). Error bars +Standard Error of the Mean

There were over 1,100 TransCon GH injections in our Phase 2 pediatric trial and the safety of TransCon GH was comparable to Genotropin. There was one reported case of an inguinal hernia, which was deemed unlikely to be related to the study drug, and there were no other reports of serious or unexpected adverse events. The adverse events observed were consistent with daily GH therapy and not different between cohorts. Injection site reactions were generally mild and transient and we observed no incidences of injection site nodule formation or lipoatrophy. TransCon GH showed low immunogenicity comparable to levels reported for daily GH therapies, with no neutralizing antibodies.

In addition, we are developing a state-of-the-art auto-injector for administration of TransCon GH that is designed to be easy-to-use in the pediatric population and leverages proven technologies. The device has a single low-volume injection for most patients of less than 0.6 mL, requires a small needle that is 31 gauge, four millimeters in length and comparable to needles used to administer daily GH. Furthermore the device provides for room temperature storage, includes an empty-all design, is expected to last for at least four years and will be enabled for Bluetooth connectivity. We have conducted human factor studies in over 100 subjects and incorporated the findings into our design of the auto-injector. We are also working on strategies that will enable the auto-injector to integrate with the digital healthcare system including connectivity features and an ability for automated data capture. We expect to introduce the auto-injector during our long-term extension trial for TransCon GH, the enliGHten Trial, and to make it available to patients in conjunction with a potential commercial launch.

Clinical Development of TransCon GH in Adults

We have previously conducted trials of TransCon GH in adults and intend to pursue development of TransCon GH in adult GHD. We have completed several Phase 1 trials in healthy subjects.

In September 2011, we reported data following the completion of a Phase 2 European, multi-center, multiple dose, open-label, active-controlled, study to examine the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in 37 adult male and female subjects with GHD.

 

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In this study, serum levels of free GH and TransCon GH increased proportionally with the administered dose. The maximum serum concentration of GH released from TransCon GH was comparable to the levels achieved by the corresponding amount of GH given as daily injections. The GH profiles during Week 4 following weekly subcutaneous administration of TransCon GH or daily subcutaneous administration of Omnitrope® (0.006 mg hGH/kg/day, equivalent to 0.04 mg hGH/kg/week) demonstrated good dose proportionality between TransCon GH dose groups, with peak serum concentrations of GH being comparable between dose matched TransCon GH and daily GH (0.04 mg GH/kg/week).

TransCon GH also elicited an IGF-1 response that was similar to the IGF-1 response of the same cumulative dose of GH administered as daily injections over a week. Importantly, the IGF-1 response at Week 1 and Week 4 were similar and without significant accumulation.

In addition to demonstrating similar maximum GH and resulting IGF-1 concentrations when administered at the same cumulative weekly dose, the exposure to GH and IGF-1 over one week, as judged by AUC, or Area-Under-the-Curve, was similar between TransCon GH and daily GH.

In this study, adverse events were comparable to the incidence and type generally expected when GH is administered to adults with GHD. Only mild and transient injection site reactions were observed across all treatment groups with no difference between treatment groups, including daily GH.

No treatment-emergent anti-GH antibody formation was observed during this multiple-dose study. Importantly, we did not observe any injection site lipoatrophy following repeated injections of TransCon GH. We believe the PK and pharmacodynamics, or PD, data gathered in our Phase 2 multi-dose study in adult subjects supports the desired once-weekly dosing regimen and confirms the favorable safety profile of TransCon GH previously observed in Phase 1 studies.

We are currently evaluating clinical development plans for TransCon GH in adult GHD and we intend to initiate a follow-up clinical trial in the future. We are also considering other potential indications for TransCon GH where a long-acting GH therapy may offer a best-in-class option for patients suffering with rare growth disorders.

We currently retain world-wide commercial rights to TransCon GH, and may consider forming strategic alliances, creating joint ventures or entering into licensing arrangements with third parties in key geographies where we believe a collaboration partner can aid in the development, regulatory approval and commercialization of TransCon GH.

TransCon PTH

Market Opportunity in Hypoparathyroidism

Hypoparathyroidism (HP) is a rare endocrine disorder characterized by deficient or absent parathyroid hormone (PTH) affecting approximately 80,000 patients in the United States. The most common cause in approximately 75% of cases is inadvertent removal or damage to the parathyroid tissue during neck surgery. Patients with HP cannot adequately regulate calcium and phosphate metabolism and suffer from low calcium and elevated phosphate levels in the blood. The condition results in a diverse range of physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms, including psychiatric disorders, depression, basal ganglia calcifications, lenticular and arterial calcifications. Sustained hypocalcemia manifests clinically as perioral numbness, paresthesias, “brain fog,” and carpopedal muscle spasms, in addition to the serious and potentially life-threatening laryngeal spasm, tetany, and seizures.

PTH controls serum calcium several mechanisms. PTH acts to release calcium from the skeleton and in the kidney to reabsorb calcium from the urine. In addition, PTH facilitates the conversion of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D-3 to the active form, which in turn acts on the intestines to increase calcium absorption. Through these primary pathways, calcium homeostasis is maintained.

Standard of care (SOC) today for HP patients primarily consists of oral calcium and active vitamin D supplementation. However, since PTH is not present at the kidney to facilitate calcium reabsorption from the urine, the goal of SOC is to maintain serum calcium (sCa) levels just below or within the lower part of the normal range (8.5-10.5 mg/dL, or 2.125-2.625 mmol/L), and thereby limit as much as possible the damage from excess urinary calcium. Nonetheless, SOC frequently leads to significant sCa fluctuations accompanied by symptomatic hyper- or hypocalcemia. In addition, SOC is associated with long-term complications such as worsened hypercalciuria and ectopic calcifications, the latter a consequence of an elevated calcium x phosphate product (CxP). SOC with calcium and active vitamin D have been shown to contribute to the risk of renal disease.

 

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HP also poses a high burden on the healthcare system despite current standard of care. For example, one survey of 374 patients showed that 72% experienced more than 10 symptoms in the preceding 12 months, with symptoms experienced for a mean of 13 ± 9 hours a day. Patients often experience decreased quality of life. Other studies showed that 79% of HP cases require hospitalizations and that patients with the disorder results have a four-fold increase in the risk of renal disease compared to healthy controls.

In 2015, Natpara, PTH(1-84), was approved for once-daily subcutaneous injection as an adjunct to vitamin D and calcium in patients with hypoparathyroidism. Natpara has not demonstrated an ability to reduce incidences of hypercalcemia, hypocalcemia or hypercalciuria relative to conventional therapy in treated patients. Teriparatide, PTH(1-34), approved since 2002 for the treatment of osteoporosis, has historically been used for treatment of hypoparathyroidism using multiple daily injections, despite not being approved for this indication. Clinical research conducted by the NIH of subjects receiving continuous exposure to PTH(1-34), administered by an infusion pump, has demonstrated simultaneous normalization of sCa and urinary calcium, as well as normalization of bone turnover.

Our Solution: TransCon PTH

TransCon PTH is designed as a novel long-acting injectable prodrug of parathyroid hormone, or PTH, dosed once-daily to achieve and maintain a steady concentration of PTH in the bloodstream within the normal range, at levels similar to those observed in healthy individuals. TransCon PTH is designed to restore physiologic levels of PTH 24 hours per day, thereby more fully addressing all aspects of the disease including normalizing serum and urinary calcium and serum phosphate levels. Pharmacokinetic data from the ongoing Phase 1 trial of TransCon PTH in healthy subjects demonstrated a half-life of approximately 60 hours, supporting an infusion-like profile with daily administration. This half-life is a substantial increase compared to PTH(1-34) and PTH(1-84), both of which after subcutaneous administration to humans have half-lives of only a few hours.

With once-daily dosing, we believe this substantial half-life extension of PTH could reflect more closely the physiological levels of PTH observed in healthy individuals, and maintain blood calcium levels and normalize urinary calcium excretion, an improvement over what is currently feasible with existing approved therapies. Pharmacokinetic data from multiple ascending dose (MAD) cohorts in our ongoing Phase 1 trial of TransCon PTH in healthy subjects demonstrated an infusion-like profile. By providing steady levels of PTH in the physiological range, we believe TransCon PTH can address the fundamental limitations of short acting PTH molecules, such as Natpara, or PTH(1-84), and Forteo, or PTH(1-34) and become a highly differentiated therapy for HP.

Development of TransCon PTH

We have conducted extensive preclinical research to evaluate the PK and PD effects of TransCon PTH and establish the appropriate TransCon prodrug release kinetics and dosing regimen to deliver an infusion-like profile in rat and monkeys. These studies enabled us to model the effects of TransCon PTH in healthy adults in order to guide our clinical program.

In September 2017, we initiated a Phase 1 randomized, single and multiple ascending dose trial to evaluate the safety tolerability, pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of TransCon PTH in healthy adults. Primary objectives of the trial include to assess the safety and tolerability of single and 10 multiple daily doses of TransCon PTH in healthy adults. Secondary objectives of this trial includes, evaluation of pharmacodynamics including serum calcium, down regulation of endogenous PTH(1-84), and bone markers; pharmacokinetics following single and multiple daily doses of TransCon PTH; assessment of whether TransCon PTH treatment effects urine calcium excretion; incidence of anti-PTH and anti-PEG antibodies.

Data from SAD cohorts of TransCon PTH led to sustained and dose-dependent elevations of serum calcium lasting more than 72 hours with low inter-subject variability. This dose-dependent response and low inter-subject variability suggests the ability to titrate and individualize dosing in patients. TransCon PTH also demonstrated the expected effects on renal calcium reabsorption based on fractional excretion and down regulation of endogenous PTH(1-84).

 

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The desired profile observed in the SAD cohorts was confirmed in the MAD cohorts. Following 10 repeated doses, free PTH demonstrated a flat, influsion-like profile with very low inter-patient variability .

 

LOGO

Figure 1: PK after 10 days of TransCon PTH 12 µg per day (n=8). TransCon PTH daily dosing for 10 days provided a flat infusion-like profile with a low PTH peak-to-trough ratio at day 10.

In addition, the TransCon PTH PK translated into a predictable sCa response, suggesting the ability to titrate patients with HP into the normal calcemic range, consistent with preclinical data.

 

LOGO

 

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Figure 2: Serum calcium over 10 days of TransCon PTH (n=8/group). TransCon PTH daily dosing for 10 days provided a dose-dependent increase of serum calcium.

TransCon PTH also demonstrated the expected effect on renal calcium reabsorption, and maintained a normal fractional excretion of calcium, even in the presence of hypercalcemia, predicting control of both serum and urine calcium.

 

LOGO

Figure 3: Control of urinary calcium with a single dose of TransCon PTH 100 µg (n=8). Despite serum calcium at 11 mg/dL, fractional calcium excretion remained normal and below the 6.5% range reported for healthy subjects clamped to serum Ca of 10.3 mg/dL2, reflecting potent renal calcium reabsorption.

We expect full data from the ongoing Phase 1 trial in the second quarter of 2018. If our Phase 1 trial of TransCon PTH is successful, based in part on the extensive clinical experience of PTH(1-34) and PTH(1-84), we expect to advance TransCon PTH directly into Phase 3 development in the first quarter of 2019, after consultations with the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.

TransCon CNP

Market Opportunity in Achondroplasia

Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism affecting approximately 250,000 patients worldwide. Achondroplasia results in severe skeletal complications and comorbidities, including spinal stenosis due to premature fusion of the foramen magnum, sleep apnea, and chronic ear infections. Patients often face multiple surgeries to alleviate its many complications. There are currently no FDA-approved pharmacological treatments for achondroplasia.

Achondroplasia is caused by an autosomal dominant activating mutation in fibroblast growth factor receptor 3, or FGFR3 that leads to an imbalance in the effects of the FGFR3 and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) signaling pathways. In achondroplasia, mutations in FGFR3 result in constitutive activation, suppressing the proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes resulting in improper cartilage to bone conversion in the growth plate.

 

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Preclinical and clinical data show that the CNP pathway stimulates growth and increased CNP helps to counteract the effects of the FGFR3 mutation downstream. Administration of CNP to patients with achondroplasia and in animal models of achondroplasia, has been found to stimulate growth. Clinical proof-of-principle was recently obtained for vosoritide, a once-daily formulation of CNP. In April 2016, BioMarin Pharmaceuticals announced that its Phase 2 trial has shown that daily injections of the CNP analogue, vosoritide, in children with achondroplasia increased height velocity by approximately 50% after 12 months of treatment. Together, these results indicate that treatment with systemic CNP is a promising therapeutic strategy for achondroplasia.

Our Solution: TransCon CNP

Endogenous CNP has an extremely short half-life of only approximately two minutes. Vosoritide, a CNP analogue, has been developed to provide better stability of CNP, and has a half-life of about 20 minutes. However, short-acting CNP analogues that result in high Cmax levels may cause adverse cardiovascular effects. As achondroplasia is caused by an FGFR3 mutation that chronically inhibits growth, we expect a more constant CNP exposure to correlate with better therapeutic outcomes.

TransCon CNP is designed to optimize CNP efficacy with a well-tolerated and convenient once-weekly dosage by maintaining sustained therapeutic CNP levels that are hemodynamically safe. TransCon CNP is designed to provide effective shielding of CNP from neutral endopeptidase degradation in subcutaneous tissue and the blood compartment, minimize binding of CNP to the NPR-C receptor to decrease clearance and reduce binding of CNP to the NPR-B receptor in the cardiovascular system to avoid hypotension.

Our preclinical development demonstrated that combining TransCon technology with CNP creates a prodrug that slowly releases unmodified CNP resulting in a half-life in primates of approximately 72 hours, representing a more than 1,000 fold longer half-life than native CNP. This is a substantial increase compared to both wild-type CNP and vosoritide, which have half-lives of approximately 2 and 20 minutes, respectively. We believe this will enable weekly administration of TransCon CNP, avoiding the high concentrations of CNP that may cause adverse cardiovascular effects, while maintaining efficacious CNP levels. The goal is to provide a safer and more efficacious therapy for achondroplasia than daily administration of short-acting CNP analogues.

Preclinical studies of TransCon CNP support this target product profile, and have demonstrated a dose-dependent effect on growth without adverse cardiovascular effects in therapeutic relevant doses. In addition, TransCon CNP has demonstrated the potential to address the more disabling co-morbidities such as spinal stenosis in a mouse model of achondroplasia. We believe TransCon CNP may provide enhanced efficacy with improved safety and convenience for not only achondroplasia, but also other FGFR-related rare diseases.

Development of TransCon CNP

We completed a preclinical juvenile primate study comparing weekly TransCon CNP to an approximately three times higher cumulative daily dose of a synthesized molecule with the same amino acid sequence as vosoritide. Based on data from this study, both TransCon CNP and the synthesized molecule with the same amino acid sequence as vosoritide demonstrated a trend of increased bone growth over vehicle-treated monkeys.

We are expanding our manufacturing capabilities to support continued development of TransCon CNP. In addition, we initiated regulatory filings for TransCon CNP in the fourth quarter of 2017 to support a Phase 1 trial in healthy subjects to establish a tolerable dose range. The Phase 1 trial is to be conducted in Australia in healthy subjects and is planned to initiate dosing in the second quarter of 2018, with data expected in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Strategic Collaborations

We also engage in multi-product strategic collaborations with market-leading biopharmaceutical companies to further monetize our TransCon technology platform beyond our internal, wholly-owned product candidates, particularly into therapeutics areas where we believe a partner may have more expertise, capability and capital. In addition, we may choose to pursue a collaboration to develop and market our internal, wholly-owned product candidates in geographic markets outside our core focus of the United States and Europe.

Outside rare endocrine disorders, we currently have multi-product collaborations with market-leading pharmaceutical companies who are applying our TransCon technology to build a pipeline of sustained release prodrug product candidates. These include collaborations with Genentech in the field of ophthalmology, and Sanofi in the field of diabetes.

 

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Sanofi: TransCon Peptides

Overview and Market Opportunities

Together with our collaboration partner, Sanofi, we are developing TransCon peptides for the treatment of diabetes, a major cause of morbidity and mortality across the world. The current standard of care for diabetes often includes daily injections. Compliance and adherence to such regimens are poor due to the burden of daily injections. According to the WHO, diabetes is a global epidemic with 347 million people worldwide having diabetes. The diabetes market is expected to increase due in part to increasing obesity rates.

Our Solution: TransCon Peptides

With our collaboration partner, Sanofi, we are researching and developing long-acting TransCon prodrugs for the treatment of diabetes. Our TransCon prodrugs are designed to enable safe and efficacious levels of unmodified drug and provide extended dosing profiles. Sanofi is currently evaluating the safety and efficacy of various TransCon prodrug candidates for the treatment of diabetes.

Strategic Collaboration with Sanofi

In December 2010, we entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Sanofi under which we assigned to Sanofi certain diabetes-related patent rights, and granted to Sanofi an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to research, develop, make and commercialize (1) products based on the TransCon technology and any combination of glucagon-like-peptide-1, or GLP-1, glucagon and insulin to treat any diseases in humans or animals, or (2) any other product developed by Sanofi incorporating our TransCon technology, other technology covered by the assigned patents or other improvements to our TransCon technology or the foregoing products, to treat diabetes in humans or animals. During the term of the agreement, we are prohibited from engaging in any research, development or commercialization activities related to certain specified products. In addition, we granted Sanofi a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize products other than those based on the TransCon technology and any combination of GLP-1, glucagon and insulin that are developed by Sanofi incorporating our TransCon technology, other technology covered by the assigned patents or other improvements to our TransCon technology or the foregoing products for the treatment of certain diabetes-related metabolic disorders and obesity in humans and animals, so long as, for any such products that are peptides, Sanofi first develops them for diabetes or obesity in humans and the first application for regulatory approval for such products is for diabetes or obesity in humans in a major country, and for any such products that are not peptides, Sanofi first develops such products for diabetes in humans and animals and the first application for marketing approval is for diabetes in humans in a major country. This license will become exclusive, on a peptide-by-peptide basis, for any licensed product containing a peptide that is non-proprietary to Sanofi and is designated by Sanofi if certain specified conditions are met. Under the agreement, Sanofi has granted us a non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to grant sublicenses) under Sanofi’s rights in any improvements generated in connection with the collaboration, to research, develop, make or commercialize products outside the scope of the collaboration and outside the field of diabetes.

In consideration for these licenses to the TransCon technology and as payment for the assignment of specific diabetes-related product patents, Sanofi provided an aggregate of €25 million in non-refundable, up-front payments to us. Sanofi also committed to fund our development activities for a fixed amount over the first three years of the collaboration, in accordance with an agreed upon development plan. For the first two products developed under the Sanofi collaboration, we are also eligible to receive up to an aggregate of €170 million upon Sanofi’s achievement of specified clinical development and regulatory approval milestones and up to an aggregate of €100 million upon Sanofi’s achievement of certain sales-related milestones.

The term of the agreement expires upon the expiration of the last to expire of the patents licensed or assigned to Sanofi under the agreement and we currently expect the last-to-expire licensed or assigned patent will expire in October 2030. We may terminate the agreement upon 30 days’ prior written notice if Sanofi fails to remit any undisputed sum it must pay to us. Each party may terminate the agreement upon 60 days’ prior written notice for the other party’s uncured material breach. Sanofi has the right to terminate the agreement in its entirety for convenience upon 90 days’ prior written notice. Either party may terminate the agreement by written notice to the other party if the other party institutes a lawsuit or proceeding alleging non-infringement, invalidity or unenforceability with respect to any patent licensed to such other party under the agreement. Upon any such termination by us or by Sanofi for convenience, all licenses granted to Sanofi would terminate and, if such termination is by Sanofi for convenience prior to IND approval of a product under the agreement, we may require Sanofi to assign back to us the assigned patent rights upon payment of a specified amount.

 

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Genentech: TransCon anti-VEGF

Overview and Market Opportunity

TransCon anti-VEGF is a novel compound designed to support up to half-yearly injection of anti-VEGF. Anti-VEGF, also known as anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, therapy currently requires periodic intravitreal injections, or injections into the back of the eye. Lucentis® is the first anti-VEGF indicated for neovascular wet age-related macular degeneration, macular edema following retinal vein occlusion and diabetic macular edema, and has been transformative in the treatment of these diseases. Prior to the introduction of Lucentis®, most patients experienced progressive and inevitable vision loss. Now patients routinely gain back significant vision and maintain those gains for several years. By working together with Genentech and combining the TransCon technology with anti-VEGF, we seek to continue to lead innovation in this therapeutic category by significantly reducing the injection frequency and associated patient burden.

There is high interest in developing longer acting therapies for intravitreal drug delivery to reduce the burdensome intravitreal injections required by the current standard of care. In this market, patient compliance remains a challenge and patients and physicians sometimes accept less than optimal dosing frequencies for certain individuals. A reliable and consistent method to achieve visual gains with up to half-yearly dosing represents a potential major breakthrough and could quickly become the new standard of care.

Limitations of Established Long-acting Intravitreal Technologies

Several types of drug-eluting ocular implants are approved in the United States, ranging from biodegradable inserts to non-biodegradable reservoirs. Non-biodegradable implants must be removed after a period of time requiring an additional invasive procedure. Biodegradable systems do not require removal, but are generally associated with erratic drug release and burst release.

Our Solution: TransCon anti-VEGF

Our approach provides a unique opportunity to reduce the frequency of intravitreal injections while enabling the predictable release of an active parent drug from our biodegradable carrier system. We believe our TransCon technology may enable intravitreal delivery of a variety of molecules, including small molecules, peptides and proteins. Our precise, predictable release of the unmodified drug within the vitreous chamber may maintain therapeutic levels of drug with up to half-yearly administration.

TransCon anti-VEGF is a novel prodrug designed to support up to half-yearly administration frequency, and to provide the same or improved efficacy compared to current intravitreal anti-VEGF injections. Genentech is currently evaluating the safety of various TransCon anti-VEGF prodrug candidates for intravitreal administration.

Strategic Collaboration with Genentech

In July 2013, we entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Genentech and Roche, referred to collectively as Genentech, under which we granted Genentech an exclusive, worldwide royalty-bearing license to make, use and commercialize products based on the TransCon technology and any therapeutic or prophylactic compound, other than GLP-1, glucagon and/or insulin, for the treatment and/or prevention of any disease, condition or disorder of the eye, other than diabetic retinopathy. We also granted to Genentech a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-bearing license to make, use and commercialize such products to treat diabetic retinopathy. Under the agreement, we are prohibited from conducting, or granting rights to third parties to conduct in connection with any generic version of licensed products, any research, development or commercialization of the licensed intellectual property and technology rights for use in treatment or prevention of any ophthalmic condition or disorder, or for diabetic retinopathy, subject to certain exceptions and conditions. In addition, during the term of the agreement, we are prohibited from developing or commercializing any licensed product that contains a compound that is either proprietary to Genentech and that is the subject of active research and development efforts or subject to payment obligations under the agreement, or for a specified time period, that is one of a group of compounds commercialized and designated by Genentech, in each case for uses other than the treatment or prevention of any ophthalmic condition or disorder, or diabetic retinopathy. Under the agreement, we own any inventions made by either party solely relating to our TransCon technology under the collaboration. Further, we received a non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to grant sublicenses) under Genentech’s rights in any process invention or joint invention generated in connection with the collaboration, to make, use or sell products (other than glucagon product, GLP-1 product and insulin product) outside the field of treatment and/or prevention of any disease, condition or disorder of the eye.

 

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In consideration for these licenses, Genentech paid us a non-refundable up-front technology license fee of $20 million (€15 million), and we are eligible to receive milestone payments upon Genentech’s achievement of specified development milestones and upon the achievement of the first commercial sale in certain specified markets. For each therapeutic or prophylactic compound containing (i) our TransCon technology licensed under this agreement and (ii) ranibizumab, the milestone payments shall not exceed $100 million (~€75 million), and for each such compound not containing ranibizumab, the milestone payments under this agreement shall not exceed $80 million (~€60 million). For products commercialized under this agreement, we are also eligible to receive tiered royalties on net sales, subject to customary reductions and offsets. For therapeutic or prophylactic compounds containing ranibizumab, these tiered royalties are at percentages in the mid-single digits but not exceeding the low-teen digits and, for other therapeutic or prophylactic compounds not containing ranibizumab, these tiered royalties are at percentages in the mid-single digit range. Genentech also provides funding for our research and development activities under an agreed-upon plan.

The term of the agreement expires on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis upon expiration of Genentech’s obligation to pay us royalties on the net sales of licensed products, which extends until the later of ten years after the first commercial sale of each licensed product in such country, or the expiration of certain patent rights covering such licensed product in such country. Each party may terminate the agreement upon 60 days’ prior written notice for the other party’s uncured material breach of this Agreement, upon 30 days’ prior written notice for the other party’s uncured material breach that has a serious adverse effect on the non-breaching party, and upon written notice to the other party upon bankruptcy or insolvency of the other party. Genentech has the right to terminate the agreement in its entirety for convenience upon 90 days’ prior written notice, or on a licensed product-by-licensed product basis, by giving 90 days’ written notice prior to the first commercial sale of the applicable licensed product and 180 days’ written notice thereafter. Genentech may also terminate in the event we undergo a change of control in favor of a competitor of Genentech if that competitor does not segregate our personnel and activities under the agreement. We may terminate the agreement upon written notice to Genentech if Genentech challenges in a court the validity, enforceability or scope of licensed patents, other than to defend itself in a legal proceeding involving such patent rights.

Competition

NOF Manufacturing and Supply Agreement

On December 21, 2017, we entered into a multi-year Manufacturing and Supply Agreement (the “NOF Agreement”) with NOF Corporation (“NOF”). Under the NOF Agreement, NOF has agreed to manufacture and supply the mPEG Linker (the “NOF Product”) for our TransCon GH product candidate. We have agreed to purchase certain quantities of NOF Product. We may purchase NOF Product from other manufacturers and are not obligated to purchase NOF Product from NOF, other than certain quantities that have been forecasted by us in accordance with a mandatory rolling forecast that we must deliver to NOF from time to time.

The NOF Agreement is effective as of December 21, 2017. The initial term of the NOF Agreement terminates on December 31, 2025 unless earlier terminated. The parties may extend the initial term of NOF Agreement pursuant to a written agreement until five years following the finalization of NOF’s capacity expansion. After the expiration of the initial term of the NOF Agreement, the NOF Agreement continues until it is terminated. The NOF Agreement may be terminated (i) by either party for the other party’s assignment of the NOF Agreement for the benefit of creditors, insolvency, bankruptcy, liquidation, dissolution, or the taking of any action by the other party under an act for relief from creditors, (ii) by either party for the other party’s uncured material breach, (iii) by us after the initial term of the NOF Agreement with one year written notice, or (iv) by mutual agreement of the parties. In addition, the NOF Agreement may be terminated by us in the event of a change of fifty percent or more of the direct or indirect ownership of NOF or manufacturing facilities relevant to the NOF Agreement, if such ownership goes to a third party materially involved in the treatment of growth related disorders in humans. The NOF Agreement may also be terminated by either party for a continuing event of force majeure.

The NOF Agreement contains, among other provisions customary representations and warranties by us and NOF, grants certain limited license rights related to either party’s intellectual property in connection with the manufacturing and supply of NOF Product, provides for certain indemnification rights in favor of both parties and customary confidentiality provisions.

The pharmaceutical industry is very competitive and subject to rapid and significant innovation. Our potential competitors include major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical and generic drug companies, universities, and other research institutions. Many of our competitors have greater resources, as well as larger research and development staff and more experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations. As a result, these companies may obtain regulatory approval more rapidly than we are able to and may be more effective in selling and marketing their products.

Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. Our competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing technologies and drug products that are superior to, or more effectively marketed than, the product candidates that we are currently developing or that we may develop, which could render our products obsolete and noncompetitive. For additional information regarding the companies that may be competitive with our product candidates currently in development see the descriptions of our current product candidates included above under the caption “TransCon Product Candidates.”

In addition, many of our competitors have greater experience than we do in conducting preclinical and clinical trials and obtaining FDA and other regulatory approvals. Accordingly, our competitors may succeed in obtaining FDA or other regulatory approvals for drug candidates more rapidly than we do. Companies that complete clinical trials, obtain required regulatory authority approvals and commence commercial sale of their drugs before their competitors may achieve a significant competitive advantage. Drugs resulting from our research and development efforts or from our joint efforts with collaboration partners therefore may not be commercially competitive with our competitors’ existing products or products under development.

 

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We are aware that other companies are developing or evaluating enhanced drug delivery and sustained release technologies, which may be competitive with our TransCon technology. In particular, we believe Nektar Therapeutics, OPKO Health, Inc., ProLynx LLC and Serina Therapeutics, Inc. are developing technology platforms in the areas of enhanced drug delivery and reversible linkers that may be competitive with our TransCon technology. We also expect that technological developments will occur at a rapid rate and that competition is likely to intensify as various enhanced delivery and sustained released technologies may achieve similar advantages.

For more information about our revenue and where we compete, see Note 4 to our audited consolidated financial statements included in Item 18 of this annual report.

Intellectual Property

We actively seek to protect the intellectual property and proprietary technology that we believe is important to our business, which includes seeking and maintaining patents covering our technology, i.e., TransCon linkers and carriers, specific lead candidate structures, broad product concepts, proprietary processes and any other inventions that are commercially and/or strategically important to the development of our business. We also rely on trade secrets that may be important to the development of our business and actively seek to protect the confidentiality of such trade secrets.

Our success will depend on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for commercially important technology, inventions and know-how related to our business, defend and enforce our patents, preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets and operate without infringing the valid and enforceable patents and proprietary rights of third parties. For more information, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property and Information Technology.”

As of December 31, 2017, we own a total of 57 patent families, of which 22 are currently in their priority year or international phase and we own several granted patents in the United States (17), Europe (5), Australia (20), Canada (7), China (7), Israel (6), New Zealand (3), Japan (10), Mexico (9), Singapore (3), Russia (3) and South Africa (9) and have approximately 203 pending national/regional applications in a total of 19 jurisdictions (excluding the member states of the European Patent Convention in which our European patents were validated).

So far none of our granted patents has been subject to opposition proceedings, appeals or similar actions aiming at revoking or restricting the scope of a granted patent.

The patent portfolios for the fields containing our most advanced product candidates as of December 31, 2017 are summarized below and the expected expiration dates included in the summary below do not give effect to patent term extensions that may be available.

TransCon GH

Our patent portfolio related to TransCon GH includes six patent families relating to different aspects of TransCon GH and an additional nine patent families covering various aspects of the auto-injector device for administration of TransCon GH. The first of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to the particular stoichiometry of TransCon GH and a related TransCon carrier. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in Europe and the United States and a patent application in Europe. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in October 2024.

The second of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to a TransCon linker used in TransCon GH. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Mexico and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, and Brazil. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in March 2025.

The third of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to a broad class of TransCon GH lead candidate structures. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada, China, Israel, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Africa and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico and Russia. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in April 2029.

The fourth of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to specific dry pharmaceutical compositions comprising TransCon GH. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in the United States, Australia, Israel, Mexico, Singapore and South Africa and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Canada, China and India. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in December 2030.

 

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The fifth of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to a broad class of TransCon GH lead candidate structures. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patent applications in the United States, Europe, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and South Africa. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in November 2035.

The sixth of these patent families is directed to a particular dosage regiment for long-acting growth hormone formulations. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patent applications in the United States and in Europe. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in November 2035.

TransCon PTH

Our patent portfolio related to TransCon PTH includes five patent families relating to different aspects of TransCon PTH. The first of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to the TransCon linker used in TransCon PTH. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included granted patents in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Africa and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. We expect any patents granted in this family to expire in January 2029.

The second of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to a broad class of TransCon PTH candidate structures. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family consists of an international patent application. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in February 2037.

The third and fourth of these patent families are method of treatment patent families directed to a particular dosage regimen. As of December 31, 2017, these patent families consist of an international patent application. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in September 2037.

The fifth of these patent families is a composition of matter family directed to PTH compounds exhibiting a beneficial pharmacokinetic profile. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family consists of an international patent application. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in September 2037.

TransCon CNP

Our patent portfolio related to TransCon CNP includes ten patent families relating to different aspects of TransCon CNP. The first of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to the particular stoichiometry of TransCon CNP and a related TransCon carrier. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in Europe and the United States and a patent application in Europe. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in October 2024.

The second of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to the TransCon linker used in TransCon CNP. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included granted patents in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Africa and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. We expect any patents granted in this family to expire in January 2029.

The third of these patent families is a composition of matter patent family directed to a broad class of TransCon CNP candidate structures. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patent applications in the United States, Europe, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and South Africa. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in January 2036.

The fourth to the ninth patent family are composition of matter patent families directed various CNP compounds having beneficial properties. As of December 31, 2017, these patent families consist of international patent applications. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in January 2037.

 

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The tenth patent family covers a combination therapy of TransCon CNP. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family consists of an international patent application. We expect any patents granted from this patent family to expire in September 2037.

Field of Diabetes

In the field of diabetes, our patent portfolio related to TransCon product candidates under development with our collaboration partner, Sanofi, includes four product-specific patent families previously sold to Sanofi and four technology-patent families owned by us and out-licensed to Sanofi. The first patent family owned by us is referred to as our AP006 patent family and this patent family is a composition of matter patent family broadly directed to one of our TransCon linkers. This patent family relates to our TransCon technologies and product candidates in the diabetes and ocular fields, among others. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Africa and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in January 2029.

The second patent family owned by us is referred to as our AP003 patent family and this patent family is a combination of a composition of matter and a process patent family directed to particular TransCon hydrogels. This patent family relates to our TransCon technologies and product candidates in the diabetes field. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included two patents granted in the United States and included patent applications in Europe and the United States. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in October 2024.

The third patent family is a composition of matter patent family also directed to a PEG-based hydrogel comprising certain backbone and crosslinker structures. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and South Africa, and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, India and Thailand. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in July 2030.

The fourth patent family owned by us is referred to as our AP019 patent family and this patent family is a process patent family directed to the sterilization of TransCon hydrogels. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents granted in the United States, Australia, China, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and South Africa, and included patent applications in Europe, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, India and Thailand. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in October 2030.

Field of Ophthalmology

Our patent portfolio related to our work in the ophthalmology field includes three patent families, one of which is our AP006 patent family which is described above and two product-related patent families, one of which is exclusively out-licensed to our collaboration partner, Genentech. Other than the AP006 patent family described above, our patent families related to our work in the ocular fields are described in this section below.

The first patent family is a composition of matter patent family directed to the general concept of using hydrogel prodrugs for the treatment of ocular diseases. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included granted patents in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Israel, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia and Singapore. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in October 2032.

The second patent family, which is exclusively out-licensed to Genentech, is a composition of matter patent family directed to a broad class of TransCon prodrugs of vascular endothelial growth factor neutralizing drugs. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included one granted patent in South Africa and included patent applications in Europe, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia and Singapore. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in October 2033.

 

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TransCon Technology

Our patent portfolio also includes patents and patent applications generally relating to our TransCon technology, including TransCon linkers, TransCon carriers and certain soluble conjugates. We own an aggregate of ten patent families relating to TransCon linkers, the material components of which are described above. We own an aggregate of seven patent families relating to TransCon carriers, the material components of which are described above. Finally, we own a composition of matter patent family that is directed to soluble conjugates in which one drug molecule is connected to one TransCon carrier molecule. As of December 31, 2017, this patent family included patents in Europe and the United States and patent applications in Europe. We expect any patents granted in this patent family to expire in October 2024.

Laws and Regulations Regarding Patent Terms

The term of individual patents depends upon the legal term of the patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries in which we file, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest date of filing a non-provisional patent application. In the United States, a patent term may be shortened if a patent is terminally disclaimed over another patent or if there are delays in patent prosecution by the patentee. A patent’s term may be lengthened by a patent term adjustment, which compensates a patentee for administrative delays by the USPTO in granting a patent. The patent term of a European patent is 20 years from its filing date, which, unlike in the United States, is not subject to patent term adjustments.

The term of a patent that covers an FDA-approved drug or biologic may also be eligible for patent term extension, which permits patent term restoration as compensation for the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Act, permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. The length of the patent term extension is related to the length of time the drug or biologic is under regulatory review. Patent extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended. Similar provisions are available in Europe and other jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug. In the future, if and when our products receive FDA approval, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on patents covering those products. We anticipate that some of our issued patents may be eligible for patent term extensions.

Manufacturing

As we do not maintain the capability to manufacture finished drug products, we utilize contract manufacturers to manufacture our proprietary drug candidates. We source starting materials for our manufacturing activities from one or more suppliers. For the starting materials necessary for our proprietary drug candidate development, we have agreements for the supply of such drug components with drug manufacturers or suppliers that we believe have sufficient capacity to meet our demands. However, from time to time, we source critical raw materials and services from one or a limited number of suppliers and there is a risk that if such supply or services were interrupted, it would materially harm our business. In addition, we typically order raw materials and services on a purchase order basis and do not enter into long-term dedicated capacity or minimum supply arrangements. We utilize the services of contract manufacturers to manufacture APIs required for later phases of clinical development and eventual commercialization for us under all applicable laws and regulations.

We have analytical and process development capabilities in our own facility. We generally perform drug candidate development, analytical and process development for our proprietary drug candidates internally, and manufacture the drugs necessary to conduct the non-GLP preclinical studies of our investigational product candidates. We occasionally outsource the production of research and development material. Occasionally our collaboration partners may conduct production of research and development material for products in their respective field. Each of our collaboration partners have granted us rights that enable us to freely commercialize all improvements to the TransCon prodrug technology and manufacturing process developed by our collaboration partners outside of the field identified in their respective collaboration agreements.

We do not have, and we do not currently plan to, acquire or develop the facilities or capabilities to manufacture bulk drug substance or filled drug product for use in human clinical trials. We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce the bulk drug substances required for our clinical trials and expect to continue to rely on third parties to manufacture and test clinical trial drug supplies for the foreseeable future.

 

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Our contract suppliers manufacture drug substance and product for clinical trial use in compliance with cGMP and applicable local regulations. cGMP regulations include requirements relating to organization of personnel; buildings and facilities; equipment; control of components and drug product containers and closures; production and process controls; packaging and labeling controls; holding and distribution; laboratory controls; records and reports; and returned or salvaged products. The manufacturing facilities for our products must be in compliance with cGMP requirements, and for device and device components, the Quality System Regulation, or QSR, requirements, before any product is approved. We ensure cGMP compliance of our suppliers through regular quality inspections performed by our Quality Assurance group. Our third-party manufacturers may also be subject to periodic inspections of facilities by the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area (EEA, comprising the 28 Member States of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), and other authorities, including reviews of procedures and operations used in the testing and manufacture of our products to assess our compliance with applicable regulations. Failure to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements subjects a manufacturer to possible legal or regulatory action, including warning letters, the seizure or recall of products, injunctions, consent decrees placing significant restrictions on or suspending manufacturing operations and civil and criminal penalties. These actions could have a material impact on the availability of our products. In addition, contract manufacturers often encounter difficulties involving production yields, quality control and quality assurance, as well as shortages of qualified personnel.

We also contract with additional third parties for the filling, labeling, packaging, testing, storage and distribution of our investigational drug products. We employ personnel with the significant scientific, technical, production, quality and project management experience required to oversee our network of third-party suppliers and to manage manufacturing, quality data and information for regulatory compliance purposes.

Government Regulation and Product Approval

Government authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level, and in other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, including any manufacturing changes, safety surveillance, efficacy, quality control, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, labeling, advertising, promotion, distribution, marketing, sale, import, export and the reporting of safety and other post-market information of pharmaceutical and medical device products such as those we are developing. Our product candidates must be approved by the FDA through the NDA process before they may be legally promoted in the United States and by the EMA, through the marketing authorization application, or MAA, process before they may be legally marketed in Europe. Our product candidates will be subject to similar requirements in other countries prior to marketing in those countries. The processes for obtaining regulatory approvals in the United States, the EEA and in foreign countries, along with subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations, require the expenditure of substantial time and resources.

U.S. Government Regulation

In the United States, we are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA, which regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or the FDCA, and its implementing regulations, and other federal, state, and local regulatory authorities. The FDCA and its implementing regulations set forth, among other things, requirements for the research, testing, development, manufacture, quality control, safety, effectiveness, approval, labeling, storage, record keeping, reporting, distribution, import, export, advertising and promotion of our products. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval, may subject an applicant to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, such as the FDA’s refusal to approve pending NDAs, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold, issuance of warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement or civil or criminal penalties.

The process required by the FDA before a drug may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:

 

    completion of preclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies in compliance with the FDA’s Good Laboratory Practice regulations;

 

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    submission to the FDA of an IND which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;

 

    approval by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, at each clinical site before each trial may be initiated;

 

    performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials in accordance with good clinical practice, or GCP, requirements to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed drug product for each indication;

 

    submission to the FDA of an NDA;

 

    satisfactory completion of an FDA advisory committee review, if applicable;

 

    satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities at which the product is produced to assess compliance with current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, requirements and to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the drug’s identity, strength, quality and purity; and

 

    FDA review and approval of the NDA.

We are developing an auto-injector with Medicom Innovation Partner A/S to facilitate the administration of TransCon GH by end-users. We anticipate the EMA, the FDA and other similar regulatory authorities will require a separate approval of our auto-injector that is in addition to the approval we are seeking for the drug component of TransCon GH. Typically, the FDA’s Office of Combination Products assigns a combination product to a specific Agency Center as the lead reviewer after an applicant submits a Request for a Designation. The FDA determines which Center will lead a product’s review based upon the product’s primary mode of action. Depending on the type of combination product, its approval, clearance or licensure may usually be obtained through the submission of a single marketing application. However, the FDA sometimes will require separate marketing applications for individual constituent parts of the combination product which may require additional time, effort, and information. Even when a single marketing application is required for a combination product, such as an NDA for the a combination pharmaceutical and device product, both the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health may participate in the review. An applicant will also need to discuss with the Agency how to apply certain premarket requirements and post-marketing regulatory requirements, including conduct of clinical trials, adverse event reporting and good manufacturing practices, to their combination product.

Preclinical Studies

Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluation of product chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as animal studies to assess potential safety and efficacy. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational drug product to humans. An IND sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data and any available clinical data or literature, among other things, to the FDA as part of an IND. Some preclinical testing may continue even after the IND is submitted. An IND automatically becomes effective and a clinical trial proposed in the IND may begin 30 days after the FDA receives the IND, unless during this 30-day waiting period, the FDA raises concerns or questions related to one or more proposed clinical trials and places the clinical trial on a clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. As a result, submission of an IND may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to commence.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational new drug to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with GCP requirements, which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent in writing for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. An IRB at each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial before it commences at that institution. Information about certain clinical trials must be submitted within specific timeframes to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, for public dissemination on their www.clinicaltrials.gov website.

 

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Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three or four sequential phases, which may overlap or be combined:

 

    Phase 1: The drug is initially introduced into healthy human subjects or patients with the target disease or condition and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion and, if possible, to gain an early indication of its effectiveness.

 

    Phase 2: The drug is administered to a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage.

 

    Phase 3: The drug is administered to an expanded patient population, generally at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites, in well-controlled clinical trials to generate enough data to statistically evaluate the efficacy and safety of the product for approval, to establish the overall risk-benefit profile of the product, and to provide adequate information for the labeling of the product.

 

    Phase 4: In some cases, the FDA may condition approval of an NDA for a product candidate on the sponsor’s agreement to conduct additional clinical trials after NDA approval. In other cases, a sponsor may voluntarily conduct additional clinical trials post approval to gain more information about the drug. Such post approval trials are typically referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials.

Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and more frequently if serious adverse events occur. Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, or at all. Furthermore, the FDA or the sponsor may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the drug has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.

Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional animal studies and must also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the product and finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and, among other things, the manufacturer must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.

Marketing Approval

Assuming successful completion of the required clinical testing, the results of the preclinical and clinical studies, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacture, controls and proposed labeling, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications. In most cases, the submission of an NDA is subject to a substantial application user fee. Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act guidelines that are currently in effect, the FDA has a goal of 10 months from the date of “filing” of a standard NDA for a new molecular entity to review and act on the submission. This review typically takes 12 months from the date the NDA is submitted to the FDA because the FDA has sixty days from receipt to make a “filing” decision, as described below.

In addition, under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003 as amended and reauthorized, certain NDAs or supplements to an NDA must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations, and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may, on its own initiative or at the request of the applicant, grant deferrals for submission of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults, or full or partial waivers from the pediatric data requirements.

The FDA also may require submission of a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, plan to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks. The REMS plan could include medication guides, physician communication plans, assessment plans, and/or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries, or other risk minimization tools.

 

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The FDA conducts a preliminary review of all NDAs within the first 60 days after submission, before accepting them for filing, to determine whether they are sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. The FDA may request additional information rather than accept an NDA for filing. In this event, the application must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application is also subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether the drug is safe and effective and whether the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packaged or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, quality and purity.

The FDA may refer an application for a novel drug to an advisory committee. An advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that reviews, evaluates and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

Before approving an NDA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving an NDA, the FDA may inspect one or more clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCP requirements.

The FDA generally accepts data from foreign clinical trials in support of an NDA if the trials were conducted under an IND. If a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the FDA nevertheless may accept the data in support of an NDA if the study was conducted in accordance with GCP requirements and the FDA is able to validate the data through an on-site inspection, if deemed necessary. Although the FDA generally requests that marketing applications be supported by some data from domestic clinical studies, the FDA may accept foreign data as the sole basis for marketing approval if (1) the foreign data are applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice, (2) the studies were performed by clinical investigators with recognized competence, and (3) the data may be considered valid without the need for an on-site inspection or, if the FDA considers the inspection to be necessary, the FDA is able to validate the data through an on-site inspection or other appropriate means.

The testing and approval process for an NDA requires substantial time, effort and financial resources, and each may take several years to complete. Data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing are not always conclusive and may be susceptible to varying interpretations, which could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. The FDA may not grant approval on a timely basis, or at all.

After evaluating the NDA and all related information, including the advisory committee recommendation, if any, and inspection reports regarding the manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites, the FDA may issue an approval letter, or, in some cases, a complete response letter. A complete response letter generally contains a statement of specific conditions that must be met to secure final approval of the NDA and may require additional clinical or preclinical testing in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. Even with submission of this additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. If and when those conditions have been met to the FDA’s satisfaction, the FDA will typically issue an approval letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications.

Even if the FDA approves a product, it may limit the approved indications for use of the product, require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a drug’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS, which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing studies or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes, and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.

 

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Post-Approval Requirements

Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA and other government authorities, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising and promotion and reporting of adverse experiences with the product. After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims are subject to prior FDA review and approval. There also are continuing, annual program fee requirements for any marketed products.

The FDA may impose a number of post-approval requirements as a condition of approval of an NDA. For example, the FDA may require post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization.

In addition, drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and state authorities, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and these state authorities for compliance with cGMP requirements. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP requirements and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon the sponsor and any third-party manufacturers that the sponsor may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance.

Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market.

Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in mandatory revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

 

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

 

    fines, warning letters or holds on post-approval clinical trials;

 

    refusal of the FDA to approve pending NDAs or supplements to approved NDAs, or suspension or revocation of product license approvals;

 

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

 

    injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of products that are placed on the market. Drugs may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. The FDA and other authorities actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability.

In addition, the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical products is subject to the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, or PDMA, which regulates the distribution of drugs and drug samples at the federal level, and sets minimum standards for the registration and regulation of drug distributors by the states. Both the PDMA and state laws limit the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical product samples and impose requirements to ensure accountability in distribution.

Pediatric Exclusivity

Pediatric exclusivity is a type of non-patent exclusivity in the United States and, if granted, provides for the attachment of an additional six months of marketing protection to the term of any existing regulatory exclusivity, including the five-year and three-year non-patent and orphan exclusivity. This six-month exclusivity may be granted if an NDA sponsor submits pediatric data that fairly respond to a written request from the FDA for such data. The data do not need to show the product to be effective in the pediatric population studied; rather, if the clinical study is deemed to fairly respond to the FDA’s request, the additional protection is granted. If reports of FDA-requested pediatric studies are submitted to and accepted by the FDA within the statutory time limits, whatever statutory or regulatory periods of exclusivity or patent protection cover the product are extended by six months. This is not a patent term extension, but it effectively extends the regulatory period during which the FDA cannot approve another application relying on the NDA sponsor’s data.

 

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Foreign Regulation

To market any product outside of the United States, we would need to comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries regarding safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of our products. For example, in the European Union, we must obtain authorization of a clinical trial application, or CTA, in each member state in which we intend to conduct a clinical trial. Even if we obtain FDA approval for a product, we would need to obtain the necessary approvals by the comparable regulatory authorities of foreign countries before we can commence clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries. The approval process varies from country to country and can involve additional product testing and additional administrative review periods. The time required to obtain approval in other countries might differ from and be longer than that required to obtain FDA approval. Regulatory approval in one country does not ensure regulatory approval in another, but a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country may negatively impact the regulatory process in others.

To obtain a marketing authorization of a drug in the European Union, we may submit MAAs either under the so-called centralized or national authorization procedures.

Centralized Procedure

The centralized procedure provides for the grant of a single marketing authorization from the European Commission following a favorable opinion by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or the CHMP, of the EMA that is valid in all European Union member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The centralized procedure is compulsory for medicines produced by specified biotechnological processes, products designated as orphan medicinal products, advanced therapy medicinal products (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products) and products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of specified diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders or autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, and viral diseases. The centralized procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA, or that represent a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation, or whose authorization would be in the interest of public health. Under the centralized procedure the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA by the EMA is 210 days, excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the CHMP. Accelerated assessment might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, particularly from the point of view of therapeutic innovation. The timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA under the accelerated assessment procedure is of 150 days, excluding clock stops.

National Authorization Procedures

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

 

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

 

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

 

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The EEA has a procedure, the so-called hybrid marketing authorization application process, for the approval of products that are similar to an already approved product (the reference product), but that do not qualify as generics. The legal basis for this process is established in Article 10(3) of Directive 2001/83/EC which provides that the hybrid application process is available for products that are similar to an already authorized product, but do not fall within the definition of a generic medicinal product, their bioequivalence to the reference product cannot be demonstrated through bioavailability studies, or their active substance(s), therapeutic indications, strength, pharmaceutical form or route of administration differ from that of the reference product. Marketing authorization applications for hybrid products can rely in part on the results of the preclinical tests and clinical trials of the reference product and in part on new data. A hybrid of a reference medicinal product authorized via the centralized procedure has automatic access to the centralized procedure.

In the European Union, new products authorized for marketing (i.e., reference products) qualify for eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity upon marketing authorization. The data exclusivity period prevents generic applicants from relying on the preclinical and clinical trial data contained in the dossier of the reference product when applying for a generic marketing authorization in the European Union during a period of eight years from the date on which the reference product was first authorized in the European Union. The market exclusivity period prevents a successful generic applicant from commercializing its product in the European Union until 10 years have elapsed from the initial authorization of the reference product in the European Union. The 10-year market exclusivity period can be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years of those 10 years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies.

In the EEA, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting not more than five in 10,000 persons in the E.U. Community 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 products intended for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in the European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the medicinal product. An E.U. orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and 10 years of market exclusivity is granted following medicinal product approval. This period may be reduced to six years if the orphan drug designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an application for marketing approval. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.

In the EEA, marketing authorization applications for new medicinal products not authorized have to include the results of studies conducted in the pediatric population, in compliance with a pediatric investigation plan, or PIP, agreed with the EMA’s Pediatric Committee, or the PDCO. The PIP sets out the timing and measures proposed to generate data to support a pediatric indication of the drug for which marketing authorization is being sought. The PDCO can grant a deferral of the obligation to implement some or all of the measures of the PIP until there are sufficient data to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the product in adults. Further, the obligation to provide pediatric clinical trial data can be waived by the PDCO when these data is not needed or appropriate because the product is likely to be ineffective or unsafe in children, the disease or condition for which the product is intended occurs only in adult populations, or when the product does not represent a significant therapeutic benefit over existing treatments for pediatric patients. Once the marketing authorization is obtained in all Member States of the European Union and study results are included in the product information, even when negative, the product is eligible for six months’ supplementary protection certificate extension. For orphan-designated medicinal products, the 10-year period of market exclusivity is extended to 12 years.

Other Healthcare Laws

In addition to FDA restrictions on marketing of pharmaceutical products, other U.S. federal and state healthcare regulatory laws restrict business practices in the biopharmaceutical industry, which include, but are not limited to, state and federal anti-kickback, false claims, data privacy and security, and physician payment and drug pricing transparency laws.

 

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The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, to induce or in return for purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging for or recommending the purchase, lease, or order of any item or service reimbursable, in whole or in part, under Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs. The term “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value. The Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchases, or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not meet the requirements of a statutory or regulatory exception or safe harbor. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all its facts and circumstances. Several courts have interpreted the statute’s intent requirement to mean that if any one purpose of an arrangement involving remuneration is to induce referrals of federal healthcare covered business, the statute has been violated.

Additionally, the intent standard under the Anti-Kickback Statute was amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively the Affordable Care Act, to a stricter standard such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation. In addition, the Affordable Care Act codified case law that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act. The majority of states also have anti-kickback laws, which establish similar prohibitions and in some cases may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers.

The federal civil False Claims Act prohibits any person or entity from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment to, or approval by, the federal government or knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim to the federal government. A claim includes “any request or demand” for money or property presented to the U.S. government. Several pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies have been prosecuted under these laws for allegedly providing free product to customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal programs for the product. Other companies have been prosecuted for causing false claims to be submitted because of the companies’ marketing of products for unapproved, and thus non-covered, uses. In addition, the civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person who is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent. Many states also have similar fraud and abuse statutes or regulations that apply to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payor.

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Like the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Affordable Care Act broadened the reach of certain criminal healthcare fraud statutes created under HIPAA by amending the intent requirement such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation.

In addition, there has been a recent trend of increased federal and state regulation of payments made to physicians and other healthcare providers. The Affordable Care Act imposed, among other things, new annual reporting requirements for covered manufacturers for certain payments and “transfers of value” provided to physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Failure to submit timely, accurately and completely the required information for all payments, transfers of value and ownership or investment interests may result in civil monetary penalties of up to an aggregate of $165,786 per year and up to an aggregate of $1,105,241 per year for “knowing failures.” Covered manufacturers must submit reports by the 90th day of each subsequent calendar year. In addition, certain states require implementation of commercial compliance programs and compliance with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government, impose restrictions on marketing practices, and/or tracking and reporting of marketing expenditures and pricing information as well as gifts, compensation and other remuneration or items of value provided to physicians and other healthcare professionals and entities.

 

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We may also be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, impose specified requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s security standards directly applicable to “business associates,” defined as independent contractors or agents of covered entities that create, receive or obtain protected health information in connection with providing a service on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also increased the civil and criminal penalties that may be imposed against covered entities, business associates and possibly other persons, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same requirements, thus complicating compliance efforts.

If our operations are found to be in violation of any of such laws or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including, without limitation, administrative, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs and individual imprisonment, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our financial results.

To the extent that any of our product candidates, once approved, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws and regulations, which may include, for instance, applicable post-marketing requirements, including safety surveillance, anti-fraud and abuse laws, and implementation of corporate compliance programs and reporting of payments or other transfers of value to healthcare professionals.

Coverage and Reimbursement

Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any drug or medical device products for which we obtain regulatory approval. In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products. Sales of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will therefore depend, in part, on the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government authorities, managed care providers, private health insurers and other organizations.

The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide coverage for a drug or medical device product typically is separate from the process for setting the price of such product or for establishing the reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific drug products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved drugs for a particular indication. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover our product candidates could reduce physician utilization of our products once approved and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug or medical device product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development. Additionally, coverage and reimbursement for new products can differ significantly from payor to payor. One third-party payor’s decision to cover a particular medical product or service does not ensure that other payors will also provide coverage for the medical product or service, or will provide coverage at an adequate reimbursement rate. As a result, the coverage determination process will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately and will be a time-consuming process.

The containment of healthcare costs has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments, and the prices of drugs have been a focus in this effort. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged for medical products and services, examining the medical necessity and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of drugs, medical devices and medical services, in addition to questioning safety and efficacy. If these third-party payors do not consider our products to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our products after FDA approval or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products at a profit.

 

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Healthcare Reform

A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and other third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medical products. For example, in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act was enacted, which, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans, imposed mandatory discounts for certain Medicare Part D beneficiaries, subjected drug manufacturers to new annual fees based on pharmaceutical companies’ share of sales to federal healthcare programs and imposed an annual excise tax of 2.3% on any entity that manufactures or imports medical devices, which was subsequently suspended until January 1, 2020.

On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 created measures for spending reductions by Congress. These measures include aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and will stay in effect through 2027 unless additional Congressional action is taken. On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. Recently there has also been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed bills designed to, among other things, reform government program reimbursement methodologies. Individual states in the United States have also become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical 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.

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 products once approved or additional pricing pressures.

 

C. Organizational Structure

Certain of our operations are conducted through our following wholly-owned subsidiaries: Ascendis Pharma GmbH (Germany), Ascendis Pharma, Inc. (Delaware, United States), Ascendis Pharma, Ophthalmology Division A/S (Denmark), Ascendis Pharma, Endocrinology Division A/S (Denmark), Ascendis Pharma Bone Diseases A/S (Denmark) and Ascendis Pharma Growth Disorders A/S (Denmark). These subsidiaries are also set forth in Exhibit 8.1 to this annual report.

 

D. Property, Plant and Equipment

Our headquarters are located at Tuborg Boulevard 5, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark, where we lease approximately 1,645 square meters of office space. The lease commenced on December 1, 2015 and can be terminated at the earliest on November 30, 2022. In addition, we have entered into a lease of approximately 7,339 square meters at Tuborg Boulevard 12, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark. This lease will commence on July 1, 2018 and can be terminated at the earliest on July 1, 2024 for 1,223 square meters and on July 1, 2026 for 6,116 square meters.

We maintain a research facility in Heidelberg, Germany, where we lease 1,547 square meters of office and laboratory space. The lease for our Heidelberg facility is renewed for 24 months periods, the next reneval per January 31, 2019.

In Palo Alto, California, we have leased 170 square meters of office space pursuant to a lease that expires on May 3, 2018, and 465 square meters of office space pursuant to a lease that expires on March 15, 2021, which may be extended for three years at our option, subject to certain conditions. In addition, we have entered into a new lease of 1,136 square meters of office space, commencing on May 1, 2018 and expiring on April 30, 2022.

 

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We believe that our existing facilities, including the new leases to commence in 2018, are adequate for our near-term needs. We believe that suitable additional or alternative space would be available if required in the future on commercially reasonable terms.

 

Item 4A Unresolved Staff Comments

Not applicable.

 

Item 5 Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with the “Selected Financial Data” section of this annual report and our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this annual report. In addition to historical information, this discussion contains forward-looking statements based on our current expectations that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth in the “Risk Factors” and “Forward-Looking Statements” sections and elsewhere in this annual report.

 

A. Operating Results

Overview

We are a biopharmaceutical company applying our innovative TransCon technology to build a leading, fully integrated rare disease company. We are developing a pipeline of prodrug therapies with potential best-in-class profiles to address significant unmet medical needs. We have created a portfolio of potential best-in-class rare disease endocrinology product candidates to address unmet medical needs by utilizing our TransCon technology with clinically validated parent drugs.

Our most advanced product candidate, TransCon Growth Hormone, or TransCon GH, is in development as a once-weekly therapy to treat growth hormone deficiency, or GHD, and other indications. In January 2018, we completed enrollment in the pivotal phase 3 trial of TransCon GH, the global heiGHt Trial, in children with GHD. We anticipate top-line data from the ongoing heiGHt Trial in the first quarter of 2019. We believe that TransCon GH may offer a once-weekly therapy for pediatric growth hormone deficiency with comparable safety, efficacy and tolerability as currently approved daily recombinant human growth hormone, known as rhGH or GH. Clinical trials of TransCon GH have demonstrated a comparable efficacy, safety, tolerability and immunogenic profile to that of daily growth hormone. If approved, TransCon GH may reduce the burden of daily treatment by requiring significantly fewer injections, which may improve compliance and treatment outcomes.

We are also using our TransCon technology platform to develop TransCon PTH, which is designed as a once-daily long-acting injectable prodrug of parathyroid hormone, or PTH, as a potential treatment for hypoparathyroidism, a rare endocrine disorder of calcium and phosphate metabolism. We initiated a Phase 1 trial in healthy subjects in September 2017 and results from the ongoing study have reinforced findings from our preclinical research supporting the target product profile for this candidate. We believe our TransCon PTH may provide patients suffering from hypoparathyroidism with a PTH replacement therapy that is designed to fully address all aspects of the disease more than standard of care or currently approved therapies.

We are also developing TransCon CNP, for the treatment of achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. Currently, there are no medical therapies for achondroplasia approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. TransCon CNP utilizes our TransCon technology platform to deliver a C-type natriuretic peptide, or CNP, analogue for potential treatment of achondroplasia. CNP as a therapeutic approach is supported by extensive preclinical and clinical data. In December 2017, we initiated regulatory filings in Australia to support a Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy subjects.

In addition to our wholly owned candidates in rare endocrine disorders, we have developed a pipeline of sustained release prodrug product candidates through strategic collaborations. These include TransCon anti-VEGF in the field of ophthalmology, which is partnered with Genentech, and the TransCon peptide program for treatment of diabetes, which is partnered with Sanofi. We are eligible to receive up to an aggregate of €200 million in development and regulatory milestone payments for products currently being developed under our collaboration agreements, as well as sales-based milestone payments and royalties on future net sales of products.

 

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We commenced operations in December 2007 in connection with the acquisition of the company that invented our TransCon technology, Complex Biosystems GmbH. Since we commenced operations in 2007, we have devoted substantially all of our efforts to developing our product candidates, including conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials and providing general and administrative support for these operations. We do not have any approved products and have never generated any revenue from product sales.

We had a net loss of €123.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2017 compared to a net loss of €68.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, and a net loss of €32.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. Our total equity was €187.2 million as of December 31, 2017 compared to €176.6 million as of December 31, 2016. We have not generated royalties or revenues from product sales, and do not expect to generate royalties or revenues from product sales prior to regulatory approval of any of our product candidates.

We believe that at some point in the future we will need substantial additional capital to support our operating activities and adequate funding may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.

We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially in the future as we:

 

    pursue clinical development, and commercialization of TransCon GH for the treatment of pediatric GHD and other potential indications;

 

    pursue clinical development of TransCon PTH for the treatment of hypoparathyroidism and clinical development of TransCon CNP for the treatment of achondroplasia and other FGFR-related rare diseases;

 

    identify and progress development of new product candidates including in new therapeutic areas;

 

    continue to invest in our TransCon technology, including our intellectual property, our lab, clinical and commercial scale manufacturing capabilities and our methods and know-how;

 

    hire additional personnel, particularly in our research and development, clinical supply and quality control groups;

 

    add operational, financial and management information systems and related finance and compliance personnel; and

 

    continue to operate as a public company.

Collaboration Agreements

Sanofi

In December 2010, we entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Sanofi under which we assigned to Sanofi certain diabetes-related patent rights, and granted to Sanofi an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to research, develop, make and commercialize (1) products based on the TransCon technology and any combination of glucagon-like-peptide-1, or GLP-1, glucagon and insulin to treat any diseases in humans or animals, or (2) any other product developed by Sanofi incorporating our TransCon technology, other technology covered by the assigned patents or other improvements to our TransCon technology or the foregoing products, to treat diabetes in humans or animals.

In consideration for these licenses to the TransCon technology and as payment for the assignment of specific diabetes-related product patents, Sanofi provided an aggregate of €25 million in non-refundable, up-front payments to us. Sanofi also committed to fund our development activities for a fixed amount over the first three years of the collaboration, in accordance with an agreed upon development plan. For the first two products developed under the Sanofi collaboration, we are also eligible to receive up to an aggregate of €170 million upon Sanofi’s achievement of specified clinical development and regulatory approval milestones and up to an aggregate of €100 million upon Sanofi’s achievement of certain sales-related milestones.

 

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Genentech

In July 2013, we entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Genentech, under which we granted Genentech an exclusive, worldwide royalty-bearing license to make, use and commercialize products based on the TransCon technology and any therapeutic or prophylactic compound, other than GLP-1, glucagon and/or insulin, for the treatment and/or prevention of any disease, condition or disorder of the eye, other than diabetic retinopathy. We also granted to Genentech a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-bearing license to make, use and commercialize such products to treat diabetic retinopathy.

In consideration for these licenses, Genentech paid us a non-refundable up-front technology license fee of $20.0 million (€15.0 million), and we are eligible to receive milestone payments upon Genentech’s achievement of specified development milestones and upon the achievement of the first commercial sale in certain specified markets. For each therapeutic or prophylactic compound containing (i) our TransCon technology licensed under this agreement and (ii) ranibizumab, the milestone payments shall not exceed $100 million (~€75 million), and for each such compound not containing ranibizumab, the milestone payments under this agreement shall not exceed $80 million (~€60 million). For products commercialized under this agreement, we are also eligible to receive tiered royalties on net sales, subject to customary reductions and offsets. For therapeutic or prophylactic compounds containing ranibizumab, these tiered royalties are at percentages in the mid-single digits but not exceeding the low-teen digits and, for other of therapeutic or prophylactic compounds not containing ranibizumab, these tiered royalties are at percentages in the mid-single digit range. Genentech also provides funding for our research and development activities under an agreed-upon plan.

Financial Operations Overview

Revenue

To date, we have only generated revenue from license fees, the assignment of certain intellectual property rights, research and development services rendered under collaboration agreements and feasibility studies performed for potential partners. We have not yet generated any revenue from commercial product sales. Our collaboration agreements comprise elements of up-front license fees, milestone payments based on development and sales and royalties based on product sales. In addition, our collaboration agreements contemplate our involvement in the ongoing research and development of our partnered product candidates, for which we are paid fees for the services we render.

In addition to the revenue that we have generated from our collaborations, we may also generate revenue for services performed on feasibility studies for potential partners to evaluate if our TransCon technology enables certain advantages for their product candidates of interest. Such feasibility studies may be structured as short-term agreements with fixed fees for the work that we perform.

The timing of our operating cash flows may vary significantly from the recognition of the related revenue. In general, income from up-front or initiation payments is deferred and recognized as revenue over the period of continued involvement. Other revenue, such as milestone payments or service fees, is recognized when earned; that is, when the milestone has been achieved or the services have been performed. Our revenue has varied substantially, and is expected to continue to vary, from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year, depending upon, among other things, the structure and timing of milestone events, the number of milestones achieved, the level of revenues earned for ongoing development efforts, any new collaboration arrangements we may enter into and the terms we are able to negotiate with our collaboration partners. We therefore believe that period-to-period comparisons should not be relied upon as indicative of our future revenues.

Research and Development Costs

Research and development costs represent costs incurred to conduct discovery and development of our proprietary product candidates as well as research and development of product candidates for our collaboration partners and costs related to services performed on feasibility studies for potential collaboration partners. We expense all research costs as they are incurred, with development costs being expensed to the extent they do not meet the criteria for capitalization. To date, we have not capitalized any of our development costs.

Our research and development costs consist primarily of manufacturing costs, preclinical and clinical study costs, personnel costs, the cost of premises, the cost of obtaining and maintaining our intellectual property portfolio, and the depreciation of assets used in research and development activities. Personnel costs consist of salaries, benefits and share-based payments.

 

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We incur various external expenses under our collaboration agreements for material and services consumed in the development of our partnered product candidates. Under our collaboration agreements, our collaboration partners reimburse us for these external expenses. We recognize these reimbursements as a reduction of research and development costs. External expenses that are not reimbursed are recognized as research and development costs in the period in which they are incurred.

Government grants are recognized when there is reasonable assurance that the conditions underlying the grant have been met and that the grant will be received. We did not receive any government grants in 2017, 2016 or 2015. Government grants to cover research and development costs incurred are recognized as a reduction of research and development costs proportionally over the periods during which the related research and development expenses are incurred.

We manage our research and development costs on a consolidated portfolio basis, and do not track or manage total research and development costs by product candidate or by development project. Our research and development costs comprise both direct costs and indirect costs. Direct costs comprise external costs and/or costs that are individually allocable to particular development projects, such as manufacturing costs, preclinical and clinical study costs and certain consultancy fees to the extent such fees are tracked on a product candidate-by-product candidate basis. External costs are tracked on a product candidate-by-product candidate basis only once a product has reached a more advanced stage of development. Indirect costs comprise internal costs and costs that are not attributable to a particular development project or product candidate or that apply to the research and development organization in general.

For the year ended December 31, 2017, we incurred direct and indirect research and development costs of €67.0 million and €32.6 million, respectively, compared to €41.6 million and €24.4 million, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2016 and €26.5 million and €14.0 million, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2015.

The division between direct and indirect research and development costs is not necessarily indicative of how we allocate resources to specific projects or the overall use of resources within our research and development organization. Certain research and development costs related to our partnered product candidates are incurred by or reimbursed by our collaboration partners, which has the effect of reducing or eliminating the research and development costs incurred by us for such product candidates. Furthermore, our collaboration partners typically carry the majority of the research and development costs for product candidates at amounts that are not known or made available to us. Therefore, our research and development costs will not reflect a complete picture of all financial resources devoted to our product candidates, nor will such historical costs necessarily reflect the stage of development for particular product candidates or development projects.

We expect our research and development costs to increase in the future as we continue development of our product candidates, conduct our development activities under our collaboration agreements with Sanofi and Genentech, and advance our discovery and research projects into preclinical development.

The successful development of our product candidates is highly uncertain. At this time we cannot reasonably estimate the nature, timing and estimated costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the development of, or the period, if any, in which material net cash inflows may commence from, any of our product candidates. This is due to numerous risks and uncertainties associated with developing drugs, including the uncertainty of:

 

    the scope, rate of progress and expense of our research and development activities;

 

    clinical trial and early-stage results;

 

    the terms and timing of regulatory approvals;

 

    the expense of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing patent claims and other intellectual property rights; and

 

    the ability to market, commercialize and achieve market acceptance for our product candidates.

 

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A change in the outcome of any of these variables with respect to the development of our product candidates could mean a significant change in the costs and timing associated with the development of such product candidate. For example, if the FDA or other regulatory authority were to require us to conduct preclinical and clinical studies beyond those which we currently anticipate will be required for the completion of clinical development or if we experience significant delays in enrollment in any clinical trials, we could be required to expend significant additional financial resources and time on the completion of the clinical development.

General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses consist primarily of personnel costs, facility costs, and other expenses for professional services, including legal, human resource, audit, tax and accounting services, and the depreciation of assets used in administrative activities. Personnel costs consist of salaries, benefits and share-based payments.

We expect our general and administrative expenses to increase in the future as we expand our operating activities and prepare for potential commercialization of our product candidates, increase our headcount, and support our operations as a public company, including increased expenses related to legal, accounting, regulatory and tax-related services associated with maintaining compliance with the rules and regulations applicable to companies listed on a securities exchange, and costs related to compliance and reporting obligations pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. In addition, we expect to incur increased expenses related to additional insurance, investor relations activities and other increases related to needs for additional administration and professional services associated with being a public company.

Finance Income and Finance Expenses

We do not hold any interest-bearing debt. As such, finance income and finance expenses consist primarily of realized and unrealized exchange rate gains and losses on cash, receivables and payables in foreign currencies. As we undertake transactions denominated in foreign currencies, we are exposed to exchange rate fluctuations. We manage our exchange rate exposure through maintaining positions in the various currencies used in the operations and managing payments from the most appropriate positions. We are primarily exposed to movements in U.S. Dollars, or USD, British Pounds, or GBP, and Danish Kroner, or DKK. We do not enter into derivative financial instruments to manage our exposure to exchange rate risks

Results of Operations

Comparison of the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (EUR’000)      (EUR’000)      (EUR’000)  

Revenue

     1,530        4,606        8,118  

Research and development costs

     (99,589      (66,022      (40,528

General and administrative expenses

     (13,482      (11,504      (9,415
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Operating profit / (loss)

     (111,541      (72,920      (41,825
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Finance income

     923        7,300        11,048  

Finance expenses

     (13,756      (3,112      (2,797
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Profit / (loss) before tax

     (124,374      (68,732      (33,574
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Tax on profit / (loss) for the year

     477        227        652  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net profit / (loss) for the year

     (123,897      (68,505      (32,922
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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Revenue

The following table summarizes our revenue for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (EUR’000)      (EUR’000)      (EUR’000)  

Revenue from the rendering of services

     1,530        1,628        3,192  

License income

     —          2,978        4,926  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total revenue

     1,530        4,606        8,118  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 was €1.5 million, a decrease of €3.1 million, or 67%, compared to €4.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. This change was due to a decrease of €3.0 million in license income, as the recognition of deferred income under our initial collaboration with Genentech had been completed by the end of 2016, and a decrease of €0.1 million in revenue from rendering of services under the same collaboration, due to fewer services rendered by us.

Revenue for the year ended December 31, 2016 was €4.6 million, a decrease of €3.5 million, or 43%, compared to €8.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. This change was primarily driven by a decrease of €2.7 million in revenue from our collaboration with Genentech, caused by an extension of the period over which the license income will be recognized and fewer services rendered by us. Revenue from our collaboration with Sanofi decreased by €0.5 million due to fewer services rendered by us and revenue from other collaborations decreased by €0.3 million compared to the same period in 2015.

As of December 31, 2017, we had no deferred income arising from collaboration agreements compared to €0.1 million and €3.1 million as of December 31, 2016 and 2015, respectively. This deferred income is recognized as revenue as we and our collaboration partners advance the projects that are subject to our collaborations.

Research and Development Costs

Research and development costs were €99.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, an increase of €33.6 million, or 51%, compared to €66.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. This change was primarily attributable to a €12.5 million increase in external development costs related to our ongoing pivotal global Phase 3 heiGHt study of TransCon hGH and related manufacturing costs for this product candidate, including development of the auto-injector to facilitate the administration of TransCon hGH by patients. External development costs to TransCon PTH and TransCon CNP increased by €7.4 million and €5.2 million, respectively, reflecting the continued development and progress with these two product candidates, including initiation of a Phase 1 study with TransCon PTH in September 2017. Other research and development costs increased by €8.5 million, primarily driven by an increase in personnel costs of €6.5 million and travel expenses of €0.7 million due to an increase in the number of employees in research and development functions, but also a €0.6 million increase in consultancy costs. General costs, such as rent and facility costs, IT costs and depreciation increased by €0.7 million. Research and development costs included non-cash share-based payment of €4.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, compared to €3.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.

Research and development costs were €66.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, an increase of €25.5 million, or 63%, compared to €40.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. This change was primarily attributable to an increase of €10.2 million in external costs associated with our TransCon hGH manufacturing and preparation of our Phase 3 heiGHt study, and continued development of the auto-injector we are developing to facilitate the administration of TransCon hGH by patients. External costs related to TransCon Treprostinil project decreased by €1.8 million following completion of our Phase 1 study in April 2015. External costs to TransCon PTH and TransCon CNP increased by €3.7 million and €3.1 million, respectively, reflecting the progress of development in these new projects, and costs to other projects decreased by €0.2 million. Personnel costs increased by €8.9 million and travel costs increased by €0.6 million, primarily due to an increase in the number of employees in research and development functions. General costs, such as rent and facility costs, insurances and consultancy services increased by €1.0 million. Research and development costs included non-cash share-based payment of €3.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, compared to €0.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2015.

 

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General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses were €13.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, an increase of €2.0 million, or 17%, compared to €11.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase is primarily due to an increase in personnel costs of €1.6 million, primarily related to non-cash share-based compensation and an increase in investor relations, travel and other costs. General and administrative expenses included non-cash share-based payment of €4.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, compared to €3.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.

General and administrative expenses were €11.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, an increase of €2.1 million, or 22%, compared to €9.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. Personnel costs increased by €3.3 million due to an increase in the number of employees in general and administrative functions, whereas consultancy costs decreased by €1.1 million. Our overhead expenses are allocated to general and administrative and research and development functions based on the proportion of general and administrative to research and development employees. General costs such as rent and facility costs, supplies and insurances decreased by €0.1 million. General and administrative expenses included non-cash share-based payment of €3.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, compared to €1.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2015.

Finance Income and Finance Expenses

Finance income was €0.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, a decrease of €6.4 million compared to €7.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. Finance expenses were €13.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, an increase of €10.7 million compared to €3.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The €17.0 million increase in net finance expenses was due to negative exchange rate fluctuations, primarily between the U.S. Dollar and Euro in 2017, whereas the U.S. Dollar strengthened against the Euro during the year ended December 31, 2016. The impact of exchange rate fluctuations is primarily related to our cash position in U.S. Dollar. We seek to minimize our exchange rate risk by maintaining cash positions in the currencies in which we expect to incur the majority of our future expenses and we make payments from those positions.

Finance income decreased by €3.7 million to 7.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2016 compared to €11.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. Finance expenses increased by €0.3 million to €3.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2016 compared to €2.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. On a net basis, net finance income was €4.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, a net decrease of €4.1 million compared to net finance income of €8.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. The decrease is due to significant positive exchange rate fluctuations primarily between the U.S. Dollar and Euro in the year ended December 31, 2015, whereas the net gain from exchange rate fluctuations in the year ended December 31, 2016 were more modest. During the year ended December 31, 2016, the U.S. Dollar strengthened against the Euro, and we recognized an unrealized exchange rate gain of €4.1 million, primarily on our cash position in U.S. Dollars. We seek to minimize our exchange rate risk by maintaining cash positions in the currencies in which we expect to incur the majority of our future expenses and we make payments from those positions.

We did not hold interest-bearing debt for any of the periods presented.

Tax on Profit / (Loss) for the Year

Tax for the year ended December 31, 2017 was a net tax credit of €0.5 million, compared to a net tax credit of €0.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. Under Danish tax legislation, tax losses may be partly refunded by the tax authorities to the extent such tax losses arise from research and development activities. For the year ended December 31, 2017, the jointly taxed Danish entities had a tax loss, and accordingly, were entitled to a tax refund of approximately €0.7 million. The tax for the year ended December 31, 2017 further comprised a tax provision of €0.3 million related to our subsidiary in Germany and a net tax credit of €0.1 million related to our subsidiary in the United States.

Tax for the year ended December 31, 2016 was a net tax credit of €0.2 million, compared to a net tax credit of €0.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. Under Danish tax legislation, tax losses may be partly refunded by the tax authorities to the extent such tax losses arise from research and development activities. For the year ended December 31, 2016, the jointly taxed Danish entities had a tax loss, and accordingly, were entitled to a tax refund of approximately €0.7 million. The tax for the year ended December 31, 2016 further comprised tax provisions of €0.4 million and €0.1 million related to our subsidiaries in Germany and in the United States, respectively.

 

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At December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, we had net deferred tax assets of €52.7 million, €27.5 million, and €14.1 million, respectively, which were not recognized in the consolidated statement of financial position due to uncertainties relating to the future utilization. The increase in the unrecognized deferred tax asset can primarily be attributed to an increase in tax losses carried forward. The deferred tax asset can be carried forward without timing limitations. For tax losses carried forward, certain limitations exist for amounts to be utilized each year.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

Our activities primarily expose us to the financial risks of changes in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates. We do not enter into derivative financial instruments to manage our exposure to such risks.

Foreign Currency Risk

We are exposed to foreign exchange risk arising from various currency exposures, primarily with respect to the U.S. Dollar, the British Pound and the Danish Krone. Our functional currency is the Euro, but we have received payments in U.S. Dollars under our collaborations. Further, the proceeds from our Series D financing in November 2014, our IPO in February 2015 and our follow-on offerings in October and November 2016 and in September and October 2017 were in U.S. dollars. We seek to minimize our exchange rate risk by maintaining cash positions in the currencies in which we expect to incur the majority of our future expenses and we make payments from those reserves. As required under IFRS, we perform an analysis and report on our foreign currency exposure on an annual basis. At December 31, 2017, the net carrying amount of our monetary assets and liabilities was €181.2 million, and we held $183.4 million denominated in U.S. Dollars, primarily related to the proceeds from the follow-on offering completed in October 2017.

A sensitivity analysis of our exposure to the U.S. Dollar based on outstanding foreign currency denominated monetary items as of December 31, 2017 shows that a strengthening of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro by 10% would increase net profit or loss and equity by €18.3 million. A 10% weakening of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro would decrease net profit or loss and equity by a similar amount.

A sensitivity analysis of our exposure to the U.S. Dollar based on outstanding foreign currency denominated monetary items as of December 31, 2016 shows that a strengthening of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro by 10% would increase net profit or loss and equity by €11.9 million. A 10% weakening of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro would decrease net profit or loss and equity by a similar amount.

A sensitivity analysis of our exposure to the U.S. Dollar based on outstanding foreign currency denominated monetary items as of December 31, 2015 shows that a strengthening of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro by 10% would increase net profit or loss and equity by €6.7 million. A 10% weakening of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro would decrease net profit or loss and equity by a similar amount.

Interest Rate Risk

As we have no interest-bearing debt to third parties, our exposure to interest rate risk primarily relates to the interest rates for our positions of cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. Our future interest income from interest-bearing bank deposits and short-term investments may fall short of expectations due to changes in interest rates. We do not consider the effects of interest rate fluctuations to be a material risk to our financial position. Accordingly, no interest sensitivity analysis has been presented.

We have adopted an investment policy with the primary purpose of preserving capital, fulfilling our liquidity needs and diversifying the risks associated with marketable securities. This investment policy establishes minimum ratings for institutions with which we hold cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, as well as rating and concentration limits for marketable securities that we may hold.

 

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Credit Risk

We consider all of our material counterparties to be creditworthy. Our trade receivables consist of a small number of large transactions with our collaboration partners and other biopharmaceutical companies. This may lead to significant concentration of credit risk, but we consider the credit risk for each of our collaboration partners, and other customers with whom we conduct business, to be low. We limit our credit risk on cash and cash equivalents by depositing our cash reserves with banks that maintain high credit ratings assigned by international credit-rating agencies.

Liquidity Risk

We manage our liquidity risk by maintaining adequate cash reserves and banking facilities, and by continuously monitoring our cash forecasts and actual cash flows, and by matching the maturity profiles of financial assets and liabilities. Based on our current operating plan, we believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2017 are sufficient to meet our projected cash requirements for at least the 12 months from the date of this annual report.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

Our consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB. A description of our accounting policies is provided in the Accounting Policies section of the audited consolidated financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 included elsewhere in this annual report. In the application of our accounting policies, we are required to make judgments, estimates and assumptions about the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. The estimates and associated assumptions are based on historical experience and other factors that are considered to be relevant. In some instances, we could have reasonably used different accounting estimates, and in other instances changes in the accounting estimates are reasonably likely to occur from period to period. Accordingly, actual results could differ significantly from the estimates we have made. To the extent that there are material differences between these estimates and actual results, our future financial statement presentation, financial conditions, results of operations and cash flows will be affected.

The estimates and underlying assumptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Revisions to accounting estimates are recognized in the period in which the estimate is revised if the revision affects only that period, or in the period of the revision and future periods if the revision or revisions affect both current and future periods.

Critical Accounting Policies

We are required to make critical judgments when applying certain of our accounting policies. The following critical judgments have the most significant effect on amounts recognized in our consolidated financial statements.

Revenue Recognition

International Accounting Standard, IAS 18, “Revenues” prescribes the criteria to be fulfilled for revenue recognition. Evaluating the criteria for revenue recognition with respect to our research and development and commercialization agreements requires management’s judgment to ensure that all criteria have been fulfilled prior to recognizing any amount of revenue.

We generate revenue from our collaboration partners for the research and development of certain products which utilize our TransCon technology. Payments between collaboration partners are accounted for and presented in the results of operations after considering the specific nature of the payment and the underlying activities to which the payments relate. Collaboration agreements which contain multiple activities are only separated into individual units of accounting if they constitute a separate earnings process. If multiple activities or rights are not separable, they are combined into a single unit of accounting.

Under our collaboration agreements, we have licensed certain rights to our TransCon technology in exchange for up-front payments and potential future milestone payments tied to development and regulatory milestones, plus sales-related milestone payments and tiered royalties. Furthermore, we perform certain development activities according to agreed development plans for which we receive separate remuneration based on an agreed full-time-equivalent rate and reimbursement of external costs.

 

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For each license and collaboration agreement, we determined that the rights transferred to our collaboration partners did not have standalone value as they were closely related to the agreed research and development activities and such rights were not sold separately by us or any other party, nor could any party receive full benefit for the delivered rights without the fulfillment of other ongoing obligations by us under the license and collaboration agreements. As a result, proceeds from up-front payments were deferred and recognized as revenue over the expected life of the joint development period. Although the collaboration agreements include payments for certain development and sales milestones, we did not recognize any such revenue during the periods presented as the criteria for recognition had not yet been met.

Cost reimbursements between the parties are recognized as incurred and included in research and development expenses.

Share-Based Payment

IFRS 2, “Share-Based Payment” requires an entity to reflect in its profit or loss and financial position the effects of share-based payment transactions, including expenses associated with transactions in which share options are granted to employees. We have granted warrants to our employees, consultants and board members under three different warrant programs, which are classified as equity-settled share-based payment arrangements under IFRS 2.

We recognize compensation costs related to these warrants based on the estimated fair value of the awards on the date of grant, net of estimated forfeitures. We estimate the grant date fair value, and the resulting share-based payment expense, using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model. The grant date fair value of the share-based awards is generally recognized on an accelerated basis over the requisite service period, i.e. each tranche of a warrant grant is treated separately for expense recognition purposes. Accordingly, each warrant grant is treated in up to 48 tranches, which are each recognized over the expected useful life of that particular tranche. Because our company’s warrants vest on a monthly basis over periods up to 48 months, a higher percentage of total expense is recognized in the initial years after the grant date. Share-based payment expense was €9.7 million, €7.3 million and €1.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.

The Black-Scholes option-pricing model requires the use of highly subjective assumptions which determine the fair value of share-based awards. These assumptions include:

 

    Expected Lifetime—The expected lifetime of each individual warrant tranche represents the period that share-based awards are expected to be outstanding. Warrants granted before November 2014 may be exercised during two exercise periods that run for 21 days from and including the day after the publication of (i) the annual report notification – or, if such notification is not published – the annual report and (ii) our interim report (six-month report). For one specific grant in 2014, warrants may be exercised in four annual exercise periods that run for 21 days following the day of publication of (i) our interim report (three-month report); (ii) the annual report notification – or if such notification is not published – the annual report; (iii) our interim report (six-month report); and (iv) our interim report (nine-month report). For warrants granted on or after December 18, 2015, there are four annual exercise periods; each exercise period begins two full trading days after the publication of the public release of our earnings data of a fiscal quarter and continues until the end of the second-to-last trading day in which quarter the relevant earnings release is published. For the outstanding warrants, we estimated the expected lifetime based on the weighted average of the time from grant date to date the warrants become exercisable and from grant date to expiry of the warrants, also considering the periods during which the warrants may be exercised.

 

    Expected Volatility—While we were a privately held company until February 2015, without any trading history for our ordinary shares, the expected volatility was estimated based on the average volatility for comparable publicly traded biopharmaceutical companies measured over a period equal to the expected lifetimes of the individual warrant tranches. When selecting comparable publicly traded biopharmaceutical companies on which we based our expected share price volatility, we selected companies with comparable characteristics to us, including enterprise value, risk profiles, position within the industry, and with historical share price information sufficient to measure volatility over the expected lifetime of the share-based awards. The historical volatility data was computed using the daily closing prices for the selected companies’ shares. We will continue to apply this process until a sufficient amount of historical information regarding the volatility of our own share price becomes available.

 

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    Risk-Free Interest Rate—The risk-free interest rate is based on the Danish government bond effective interest rate in effect at the time of grant with the same lifetime as the warrants.

 

    Expected Dividend—We have never paid dividends on our ordinary shares and have no plans to pay dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs. Therefore, we provided for no payment of dividends in the Black-Scholes option pricing model.

In addition to the Black-Scholes assumptions, we estimate our forfeiture rate based on an analysis of our actual forfeitures, and will continue to evaluate the adequacy of the forfeiture rate based on actual forfeiture experience, analysis of employee turnover behavior, and other factors. To date, consistent with our expectations, we have experienced minimal forfeitures. The impact from any forfeiture rate adjustment would be recognized in full in the period of adjustment, and if the actual number of future forfeitures differs from our estimates, we might be required to record adjustments to share-based compensation in future periods.

Prior to November 2014, the exercise price at which our warrants could be exercised into our ordinary shares was set on each grant date at the value per share established for preference shares for the corresponding most recent round of equity financing. In connection with preparation for our initial public offering, our board of directors performed a valuation of our ordinary shares on a retrospective basis. Given the absence of a public trading market for our ordinary shares, the board of directors exercised reasonable judgment and considered a number of objective and subjective factors to determine the best estimate of the fair value of our ordinary shares in prior periods, including the relevant stage of development; progress of our research and development efforts; the rights, preferences and privileges of our preference shares relative to those of our ordinary shares; equity market conditions affecting comparable public companies; and the lack of marketability of our ordinary shares. Additionally, the board considered retrospective valuations of our ordinary shares prepared by an unrelated third-party valuation firm in accordance with the guidance provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Practice Guide, Valuation of Privately-Held-Company Equity Securities Issued as Compensation. After considering all these factors, the board determined fair values of our ordinary shares at grant dates, which, at each date, were less than the exercise prices at which the warrants we granted could be exercised, as the exercise prices had been set at the value per share for preference shares.

In determining the fair value for our ordinary shares for periods up to December 31, 2012, we used the Option-Pricing Method, or OPM. For purposes of this method, we estimated the enterprise value based on the price of our most recent preference shares financing and consideration of incremental cash flows anticipated from milestone payments from our collaboration partners added after such financing. For periods subsequent to December 31, 2012, as there was less uncertainty regarding a potential exit event, we applied the hybrid method. Under the hybrid method, we estimated per-share values of our ordinary shares under different scenarios, using the Probability-Weighted Expected Return Method, or PWERM, for two of our exit scenarios, going public in twelve months and in eighteen months, and the OPM for the remaining scenario of continuing to operate as a private company. For purposes of PWERM, we applied the market approach to determine the enterprise value. The market approach estimates the fair value of a company through estimation of a future value to be realized in a future initial public offering based on recent comparable biopharmaceutical companies’ initial public offerings. Such value is discounted using an appropriate risk-adjusted discount factor based primarily on benchmark venture capital studies of discount rates for other companies in similar stages of development.

Under all methods, we allocated the enterprise value to our preference and ordinary shares and warrants based on rights and entitlements of these instruments. We then applied a discount for lack of marketability of our ordinary shares as our securities were not freely transferable, commensurate with the estimated timing and prospects of liquidity, and applied estimated probabilities of each contemplated scenario to determine the aggregate per-share value of our ordinary shares.

For valuations after the completion of our initial public offering, our board of directors determines the fair value of our ordinary shares based on the closing price of the ADSs as reported on the date of grant.

The intrinsic value of all outstanding warrants as of December 31, 2017 was €73.0 million based on the market price of our ADSs of $40.06.

 

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Internally Generated Intangible Assets

IAS 38, “Intangible Assets” prescribes that intangible assets arising from development projects must be recognized in the consolidated statement of financial position if the criteria for capitalization are met. That means (1) that the development project is clearly defined and identifiable; (2) that technological feasibility, adequate resources to complete and a market for the product or an internal use of the project can be documented; (3) that the expenditure attributable to the development project can be measured reliably; and (4) that our senior management has the intent to produce and market the product or use it internally.

Such an intangible asset shall be recognized if it can be documented that the future income from the development project will exceed the aggregate cost of development, production, sale and administration of the product.

We believe that future income from our development projects cannot be determined with sufficient certainty until the development activities have been completed and the necessary approvals have been obtained. Accordingly, we do not recognize internally generated intangible assets at this time.

Joint Arrangements / Collaboration Agreements

Collaboration agreements within the biopharmaceutical industry are often structured so that each party contributes its respective skills in the various phases of a development project. No joint control exists for such collaborations and the parties do not have any financial obligations on behalf of each other. Our current collaboration agreements are not considered to be joint arrangements as defined in IFRS 11, “Joint Arrangements.”

Key Sources of Estimation Uncertainty

The following are the key assumptions concerning the future, and other key sources of estimation uncertainty at the end of the reporting period, that have a significant risk of causing a material adjustment to the carrying amount of assets and liabilities within the next financial year.

Impairment of Goodwill

As required under IFRS, we perform an impairment test of goodwill on an annual basis, or more frequently to the extent indicators of impairment exist. For the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, the recoverable amount of goodwill has been determined based on fair value less cost to sell. We determined the fair value of goodwill based on the market price of our ADSs and the total outstanding number of shares. No indicators of impairment were identified as of December 31, 2017.

Recognition of Accruals for Manufacturing and Clinical Trial Activities

Payment terms for contractual work related to development, manufacturing and clinical trial activities do not necessarily reflect the stage of completion of the individual projects and activities. Determination of the stage of completion for ongoing activities includes estimation uncertainties as future efforts to complete the specific activity may be difficult to predict. We have reviewed all significant ongoing activities at the balance sheet date to determine the stage of completion compared to the invoices received and recognized accruals for any additional costs.

Useful Lives of Property, Plant and Equipment and Finite-Lived Intangible Assets

We review the estimated useful lives of property, plant and equipment and finite-lived intangible assets at the end of each reporting period.

 

B. Liquidity and Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2017, we had cash and cash equivalents totaling €195.4 million. We have funded our operations primarily through issuance of our preference shares, ordinary shares and convertible debt securities and payments to us under our collaboration agreements. Our expenditures are primarily related to research and development activities and general and administrative activities to support research and development. We do not have any debt to third parties.

 

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On February 2, 2015, we announced the closing of our initial public offering, with net proceeds of $111.5 million (or €101.4 million at such date) after deducting underwriting commissions and offering expenses. On October 24, 2016, we completed a follow-on public offering of ADSs, with net proceeds of $111.7 million (or €102.6 million), after deducting underwriters’ commissions and offering expenses. On November 2, 2016, we completed the partial exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional ADSs, with net proceeds of $15.4 million (or €14.0 million) after deducting underwriters’ commissions and offering expenses payable by us. On September 29, 2017, we completed a follow-on public offering of ADSs, with net proceeds of $126.2 million (or €106.9 million), after deducting underwriters’ commissions and offering expenses. On October 5, 2017, we completed the exercise in full of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional ADSs, with net proceeds of $19.0 million (or €16.2 million), after deducting underwriters’ commissions and offering expenses. On February 21, 2018, we completed a follow-on public offering of ADSs, with net proceeds of $210.8 million (or €171.2 million), after deducting underwriters’ commissions and estimated offering expenses. On February 22, 2018, we completed the exercise in full of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional ADSs, with net proceeds of $31.7 million (or €27.4 million) after deducting underwriters’ commissions and estimated offering expenses. Based on our current operating plan, we believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2017 together with the net proceeds raised from the follow-on offering in February 2018 will be sufficient to meet our projected cash requirements for at least 12 months from the date of this annual report. 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. Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:

 

    our ability to establish and maintain strategic partnerships, licensing or other arrangements and the financial terms of such agreements;

 

    the achievement of development, regulatory and commercial milestones resulting in the payment to us from our collaboration partners of contractual milestone payments and the timing of receipt of such payments, if any;

 

    the progress, timing, scope, results and costs of our preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates and manufacturing activities that have not been licensed, including the ability to enroll patients in a timely manner for clinical trials;

 

    the time and cost necessary to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates that have not been licensed and the costs of post-marketing studies that could be required by regulatory authorities;

 

    our progress and the progress of our collaboration partners in the successful commercialization and co-promotion of our most advanced product candidates and our efforts to develop and commercialize our other existing product candidates;

 

    the manufacturing, selling and marketing costs associated with product candidates, including the cost and timing of building our sales and marketing capabilities;

 

    the timing, receipt, and amount of sales of, or royalties on, our future products, if any;

 

    the sales price and the availability of adequate third-party coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates;

 

    the cash requirements of any future acquisitions or discovery of product candidates;

 

    the number and scope of preclinical and discovery programs that we decide to pursue or initiate;

 

    the potential acquisition and in-licensing of other technologies, products or assets;

 

    the time and cost necessary to respond to technological and market developments, including further development of our TransCon technology; and

 

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    the costs of filing, prosecuting, maintaining, defending and enforcing any patent claims and other intellectual property rights, including litigation costs and the outcome of such litigation, including costs of defending any claims of infringement brought by others in connection with the development, manufacture or commercialization of our product candidates.

Additional funds may not be available when we need them on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all. If adequate funds are not available to us on a timely basis, we may be required to delay, limit, scale back or cease our research and development activities, preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates for which we retain such responsibility and our establishment and maintenance of sales and marketing capabilities or other activities that may be necessary to commercialize our product candidates.

Since our inception, as of December 31, 2017, we have funded our operations through the sale of €445.7 million of our preference shares, ordinary shares and convertible debt securities, including our IPO, follow-on offering and exercise of warrants, and we have received aggregate gross proceeds of approximately €76.5 million from collaboration partners for up-front technology licensing fees, assignment of certain intellectual property rights and for services rendered under those agreements.

The following table summarizes our cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (EUR’000)      (EUR’000)      (EUR’000)  

Cash flows from/(used in) operating activities

     (95,099      (60,179      (43,466

Cash flows used in investing activities

     (941      (672      (1,039

Cash flows from/(used in) financing activities

     124,721        117,462        105,742  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net increase in cash and cash equivalents

     28,681        56,611        61,237  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Cash flows from/(used in) Operating Activities

Cash flows used in operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2017 was €95.1 million compared to €60.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The net loss for the year ended December 31, 2017 of €123.9 million was adjusted by non-cash charges of €0.7 million for depreciation and €9.7 million for share-based payments. Net finance expenses, primarily comprising exchange rate adjustments, of €12.8 million and net tax credits of €0.5 million, were reversed. The net change in working capital contributed positively to cash flow by €5.0 million, primarily comprising a €10.8 million increase in trade payables and other payables, partly offset by an increase in prepayments of €4.9 million. The changes in deposits, trade receivables, other receivables and deferred income contributed negatively to cash flow by a total of €0.9 million. We received income taxes of €0.2 million and net interest income of €0.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2017.

Cash flows used in operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2016 was €60.2 million compared to €43.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. The net loss for the year ended December 31, 2016 was €68.5 million, which was partly offset by non-cash charges of €0.7 million for depreciation and €7.3 million for share-based payment. Further, net finance income, primarily comprising exchange rate adjustments of €4.2 million and net tax income of €0.2 million, were reversed. The net change in working capital of €4.0 million primarily comprised a €4.7 million increase in trade payables and other payables reduced by a €3.0 million decrease in deferred income. Prepayments, trade receivables and deposits contributed positively to the cash flow by a total of €2.6 million, partly offset by an increase in other receivables of €0.3 million. We received income taxes of €0.6 million and net interest income of €0.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.

Cash flows used in operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2015 was €43.5 million compared to €18.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. The net loss for the year ended December 31, 2015 was €32.9 million, which was partially offset by non-cash charges of €0.6 million for depreciation and €1.7 million for share-based payment. Further, net finance income, primarily comprising exchange rate adjustments of €8.2 million and net tax income of €0.7 million, were reversed. The net change in working capital of €4.6 million primarily comprised a €4.8 million decrease in deferred income and a net increase in deposits, prepayments and receivables of €3.2 million, partly offset by an increase in trade payables and other payables of €3.4 million. We received income taxes of €0.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2015.

 

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Cash Flows used in Investing Activities

Cash flows used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2017 of €0.9 million was related to the acquisition of property, plant and equipment, primarily for use in the laboratories of our German facility.

Cash flows used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2016 of €0.7 million was related to the acquisition of property, plant and equipment, primarily for use in the laboratories of our German facility.

Cash flows used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2015 of €1.0 million was related to the acquisition of property, plant and equipment, primarily for use in the laboratories of our German facility and new office space in Denmark and in the United States.

Cash Flows from / (used in) Financing Activities

Cash flows from financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2017 of €124.7 million were related to our follow on offering completed in October 2017 in which we raised net proceeds of €123.1 million, and warrant exercises in March, August, September, November and December 2017 in which we received €1.6 million.

Cash flows from financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2016 of €117.5 million were related to our follow on offering completed in November 2016 in which we raised net proceeds of €116.6 million, and warrant exercises in April, May, September and December 2016 in which we received €0.9 million.

Cash flows from financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2015 of €105.7 million were related to our IPO completed in February 2015 in which we raised net proceeds of €101.4 million, and warrant exercises in May, June, August and September 2015 in which we received €4.3 million.

 

C. Research and Developments, Patents and Licenses, etc.

See “Item 4 B. Information on the Company—Business Overview” and “Item 5 A. Operating Results—Financial Operations Overview—Research and Development Costs.”

 

D. Trend Information

See “Item 5 A. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Operating Results.”

 

E. Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

We have not entered into any off-balance sheet arrangements or any holdings in variable interest entities.

 

F. Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations

The following table summarizes our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2017:

 

     Payments Due by Period  

Contractual Obligations:

   Less Than
1 Year
     1 to 3 Years      3 to 5 Years      More Than
5 Years
     Total  
     (EUR’000)  

Operating Lease Obligations(1)

     2,951        10,330        3,481        2,631        19,393  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total contractual obligations

     2,951        10,330        3,481        2,631        19,393  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Operating Lease Obligations primarily comprise leased offices in Denmark and the United States, and leased offices and laboratories in Germany.

 

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G. Safe harbor

See “Forward Looking Statements”.

 

Item 6 Directors, Senior Management and Employees

 

A. Directors and Senior Management

We have a two-tier governance structure consisting of a board of directors and an executive board. The two bodies are separate; however, Jan Møller Mikkelsen, our President and Chief Executive Officer, is represented on both our board of directors and our executive board. Our executive board is supported by the other members of our senior management. Below is a summary of relevant information concerning our board of directors, executive board and senior management.

Members of Our Board of Directors, Executive Board and Senior Management

Board of Directors

The following table sets forth information with respect to each of our current board members and their respective ages as of December 31, 2017. Our board of directors is divided into two classes for purposes of election. One class is elected at each annual meeting of shareholders to serve for a two-year term. Our board of directors currently consists of eight members. All board members are eligible for re-election once their term expires.

The business address of our board members is our registered office address at Tuborg Boulevard 5, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark.

 

Name of Board Member

   Age   

Position(s)

   Term
Expires

Michael Wolff Jensen, L.L.M.

   46   

Chairman and Senior Vice President, General Counsel

   2019

Lisa Bright

   50   

Board Member

   2019

Albert Cha, M.D., Ph.D.

   45   

Board Member

   2018

James I. Healy, M.D., Ph.D.

   52   

Board Member

   2019

Jan Møller Mikkelsen

   58   

President, Chief Executive Officer, Board Member and Executive Director

   2019

Martin Olin

   48   

Board Member

   2018

Jonathan T. Silverstein, J.D.

   50   

Board Member

   2018

Birgitte Volck, M.D., Ph.D.

   55   

Board Member

   2018

The following is a brief summary of the business experience of our non-employee board members.

Lisa Bright has served as a member of our board of directors since April 2017. Since July 2016, Ms. Bright has served as President International for Intercept Pharmaceuticals Europe Limited, a biopharmaceutical company. Prior to her appointment as President International, Ms. Bright held various senior leadership positions from November 2014 to July 2016 at Intercept Pharmaceuticals including Chief Commercial and Corporate Affairs Officer and Senior Vice President, Head of EUCA. During her tenure at Intercept, Ms Bright has overseen the development of the global launch of an orphan medicine in the United States and Europe, including building the commercial organisation in the United States and establishing legal affiliates and teams across Europe and Canada. From 2008 to November 2014, Ms. Bright held various leadership positions at Gilead Sciences Ltd., a biopharmaceutical company, including Vice President, Head of Government Affairs, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Australasia, Vice President and Head of HCV Launch Planning, Vice President and Head of Northern Europe and General Manager, UK and Ireland. Prior to Gilead Sciences, Ms. Bright served in various positions of increasing responsibility at GlaxoSmithKline plc from 1997 to 2006 including Vice President Commercial Planning and Operations and Vice President General Manager NZ and Vice President Head of Sales, UK and Ireland. Prior to that, Ms. Bright also worked at Sanofi from 1992 to 1996 and GlaxoSmithKline from 1989 to 1992. Ms. Bright received her B.Sc. in Pharmacology from University College London, United Kingdom.

 

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Albert Cha, M.D., Ph.D. has served as a member of our board of directors since November 2014. In 2000, Dr. Cha joined Vivo Capital, a healthcare investment firm, where he has served in various positions, most recently as a managing partner. Dr. Cha currently serves as a member of the board of directors of Menlo Therapeutics, Inc., Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd., KalVista Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and several privately held biotechnology and medical device companies. In addition, Dr. Cha has previously served as a member of the board of directors of Aclaris Therapeutics, a publicly traded dermatology company; AirXpanders, a publicly traded women’s health medical device company; BioForm Medical, Inc., a publicly traded medical aesthetics company; Carbylan Therapeutics, a publicly traded orthopedics company; and Sierra Oncology, Inc., a publicly traded oncology company. Dr. Cha holds a B.S. and an M.S. from Stanford University and an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles.

James I. Healy, M.D., Ph.D. has served as a member of our board of directors since November 2014. Dr. Healy has been a General Partner of Sofinnova Ventures, a venture capital firm, since June 2000. Prior to June 2000, Dr. Healy held various positions at Sanderling Ventures, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals (as successor to Miles Laboratories) and ISTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Healy is currently on the board of directors of Coherus BioSciences, Inc., Edge Therapeutics, Inc., natera, Inc., NuCana plc, ObsEva SA and several private companies. Previously, he served as a board member of Auris Medical Holding AG, Amarin Corporation, Hyperion Therapeutics, Inc., InterMune, Inc., Anthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Durata Therapeutics, Inc., CoTherix, Inc., Movetis NV and several private companies.In 2011, Dr. Healy won the IBF Risk Innovator Award and was named as one of the industry’s top leading Life Science investors in 2013 by Forbes Magazine. Dr. Healy holds an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Immunology from Stanford University School of Medicine and holds a B.A. in Molecular Biology and a B.A. in Scandinavian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Martin Olin has served as a member of our board of directors since June 2014. Since September 2016, Mr. Olin has served as a director and Chief Executive Officer of Symphogen A/S, a privately held biotechnology company, and from March 2012 to September 2016, Mr. Olin served as the Chief Financial Officer of Symphogen. Prior to his positions with Symphogen, Mr. Olin served as an Investment Director of SLS Invest ApS, a venture capital firm specializing in life sciences companies from January 2009 to March 2012. Prior to SLS Invest, Mr. Olin served as a Senior Partner of Scandinavian Life Science Venture, a life-science focused venture capital company later acquired by SLS Invest. Mr. Olin holds a B.Sc. in Business and Administration from Vestsjaellands Business School, an M.Sc. in Auditing and Business Administration from Copenhagen Business School and an Executive M.B.A. from Scandinavian International Management Institute.

Jonathan T. Silverstein, J.D. has served as a member of our board of directors since November 2014. Mr. Silverstein has been a member of OrbiMed Advisors LLC, an asset management firm solely focused in healthcare, since 1999. Prior to OrbiMed, Mr. Silverstein was a director of life sciences in the investment banking department at Sumitomo Bank, a financial services company. Since October 2017, Mr. Silverstein has served as a director of reSTORbio Inc., a biotechnology company. Mr. Silverstein currently serves as a member of the board of directors of a number of private companies. From 2008 to March 2018, Mr. Silverstein served as a director of Glaukos Corporation, a medical technology company. From 2013 to 2017, he has served as a director of Audentes Therapeutics, LLC, a biotechnology company. From 2012 to 2016, Mr. Silverstein was a director of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. From 2010 to July 2014, Mr. Silverstein was a director of Relypsa, Inc. From 2008 until 2011, Mr. Silverstein was a director of NxStage Medical, Inc. From 2006 until 2008, Mr. Silverstein was a director of Insulet, Inc. From 2004 until 2007, Mr. Silverstein was a director of Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Mr. Silverstein has a B.A. in economics from Denison University and a J.D. and M.B.A. from the University of San Diego.

Birgitte Volck, M.D, Ph.D., has served as a member of our board of directors since May 2016. Dr. Volck has served as head of Research and Development, Rare Diseases for GlaxoSmithKline plc since June 2016. From August 2012 to 2016, Dr. Volck served as the Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Development at Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB, a biopharmaceutical company. From 2007 to July 2012, Dr. Volck held various positions at Amgen Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, including Executive Development Director, Bone, Neuroscience & Inflammation. Prior to Amgen, from 2004 to 2007, Dr. Volck served as Nordic Medical Director and Project Director at Genzyme A/S, a biotechnology company. From 2001 to 2004, Dr. Volck served as Head of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at Pharmexa, a biotechnology company. Since May 2017, Dr. Volck has served as a director for Wilson Therapeutics AB, a biotechnology company. Dr. Volck received her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Copenhagen University, Denmark.

 

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Senior Management and Executive Board

The following table sets forth information with respect to each of the members of our senior management, their respective ages and their positions as of December 31, 2017. In addition to serving as members of our senior management, Mr. Mikkelsen and Mr. Smith currently serve as the members of our executive board. The business address of these members of our senior management is our registered office address at Tuborg Boulevard 5, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark.

 

Name

   Age   

Position(s)

Jan Møller Mikkelsen

   58   

President, Chief Executive Officer, Board Member and Executive Director

Flemming Steen Jensen

   56   

Senior Vice President, Product Supply

Michael Wolff Jensen, L.L.M.

   46   

Chairman and Senior Vice President, General Counsel

Jonathan Leff, M.D.

   60   

Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer

Grethe Rasmussen, Ph.D.

   55   

Senior Vice President, Product Development

Peter Rasmussen

   49   

Vice President, Finance and Principal Accounting Officer

Dr. Harald Rau

   47   

Senior Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer

Scott T. Smith

   44   

Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Lotte Sønderbjerg

   56   

Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer

Kennett Sprogøe, Ph.D.

   39   

Senior Vice President, Product Innovation

The following is a brief summary of the business experience of our senior management and executive board.

Jan Møller Mikkelsen founded Ascendis Pharma and has served as our President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of our board of directors since December 2007. From 2002 to 2006, Mr. Mikkelsen served as President and Chief Executive Officer of LifeCycle Pharma A/S, now traded under the name Veloxis Pharmaceuticals A/S, a publicly traded biotechnology company. From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Mikkelsen was President of the Pharmaceutical Division of Maxygen, Inc. Prior to that, Mr. Mikkelsen co-founded ProFound Pharma A/S, a biopharmaceutical company that was later acquired by Maxygen, Inc., and at ProFound, he served as Co-Chief Executive Officer from 1999 to 2000. From 1988 to 1999, Mr. Mikkelsen held various positions at Novo Nordisk A/S, a global healthcare company, including Vice President of Protein Discovery. Mr. Mikkelsen currently serves as a member of the advisory board of Inspirion Delivery Technologies, a specialty pharmaceutical company. Mr. Mikkelsen received a Cand. Scient. degree in Biochemistry from the University of Odense, Denmark, and pursued his post-doctoral research at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA.

Flemming Steen Jensen has served as our Senior Vice President, Product Supply since August 2015. Prior to this, Mr. Jensen served as Corporate Vice President for Global Pharma Consulting and Business Development and member of the management team at NNE Pharmaplan A/S, an engineering and consulting company (part of Novo Nordisk A/S), from October 2014 to July 2015. From 1999 to September 2014, Mr. Jensen served as Executive Vice President of Product Supply (Production, Supply Chain, Engineering and Maintenance, Business Improvements, Quality Assurance and Health, Safety and Environment) and member of the Board of Management of ALK-Abello A/S, a pharmaceutical company. From 1986 to 1999, Mr. Jensen held several management positions relating to Development, Manufacturing and Engineering within Novo Nordisk A/S, a pharmaceutical company. Mr. Jensen is also a member of various boards of directors and advisory boards of privately held companies in the life sciences industry. Mr. Jensen holds a M.Sc. in Pharmacy from the University of Copenhagen.

Michael Wolff Jensen, L.L.M. has served as Chairman of our board of directors since January 2008 and as our Senior Vice President, General Counsel since June 2013. In addition, Mr. Jensen served as our Acting Chief Financial Officer from May 2008 to June 2013. From October 2010 to June 2013, Mr. Jensen served as Senior Legal Advisor and Head of Partnerships (France) for the renewable business division of Dong Energy A/S, the Danish State-owned utility company. Prior to Ascendis Pharma, Mr. Jensen served as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Veloxis Pharmaceuticals A/S, a publicly traded biotechnology company, from 2003 to 2008. Prior to joining Veloxis, Mr. Jensen served as Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Genmab A/S, a publicly traded biotechnology company from 2000 to 2003. Mr. Jensen also currently serves as Chairman of the board of directors of two publicly traded biotechnology companies; XSpray Pharma AB and Eurocine Vaccines AB. Mr. Jensen was also elected as chairman of a Danish private sports manufacturing goods company in November 2016. Mr. Jensen received an L.L.M. degree from the University of Copenhagen.

 

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Jonathan Leff, M.D. has served as our Chief Medical Officer since February 2016. From March 2015 until joining Ascendis Pharma, Dr. Leff consulted with various clients in the field of clinical development. Prior to joining Ascendis Pharma, Dr. Leff served as the Executive Vice President, Research and Development for InterMune, Inc., a biotechnology company, from February 2012 to March 2015. Prior to InterMune, Dr. Leff served as Chief Medical Officer from February 2011 to February 2012 at KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company, and previously served as Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. from 2009 to 2010. Prior to joining Halozyme from 2007 to 2009, Dr. Leff was Vice President and Global Head of Inflammation Clinical Development at Roche. From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Leff held various positions at Amgen Inc., including Vice President, North American Medical Affairs. Dr. Leff received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Grethe Rasmussen, Ph.D. has served as our Senior Vice President, Product Development since April 2008. From 2000 to 2007, Dr. Rasmussen served as Vice President for Protein Science at Maxygen, Inc. and from 2007 she served as Managing Director for the Danish subsidiary of Maxygen. Prior to joining Maxygen from 1989 to 2000, Dr. Rasmussen held various positions at Novo Nordisk A/S, a global healthcare company, where she contributed to research and development of protein chemistry. Dr. Rasmussen received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Danish Technical University.

Peter Rasmussen has served as our Vice President, Finance and Principal Accounting Officer since March 2014 and served as our Principal Financial Officer from February 2016 to August 2016. Prior to joining Ascendis Pharma, Mr. Rasmussen worked as a financial consultant for Ascendis Pharma from October 2013 to March 2014. From June 2008 to August 2012, Mr. Rasmussen served as the Chief Financial Officer of AdvanDx, Inc., a privately held medical device company. From 2007 to 2008, prior to AdvanDx, Mr. Rasmussen served as Head of Finance at Veloxis Pharmaceuticals A/S. Mr. Rasmussen is a state-authorized public accountant in Denmark and received an M.Sc. in Business Economics and Auditing from Copenhagen Business School.

Dr. Harald Rau has served as our Senior Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer, managing the research group at Ascendis Pharma since December 2007. Prior to Ascendis Pharma, Dr. Rau served as the Chief Scientific Officer of Complex Biosystems GmbH, a biotechnology company Dr. Rau co-founded in 2002, which was acquired by Ascendis Pharma in December 2007. Prior to co-founding Complex Biosystems, Dr. Rau worked with Graffinity Pharmaceuticals AG, a biotechnology company, from 1998 to 2002, and served as its Director of Chemistry from 2000 to 2002. Dr. Rau obtained his doctorate from the University of Freiburg.

Scott T. Smith has served as our Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since August 2016. Previously, Mr. Smith served as Director of the Healthcare Investment Banking Group at Wedbush Securities, from 2012 to 2016, where he led the healthcare team, and, from 2009 to 2012, Mr. Smith served as a Managing Director at Wedbush. Prior to joining Wedbush, Mr. Smith served as a Director in the Global Healthcare Investment Banking Group at Merrill Lynch where he began his career in 1995. He has also worked in sales, marketing and strategy roles for various companies, including start-ups and a Fortune Global 500 company. Mr. Smith received his M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and his B.A. in Economics/Accounting-Physics from Claremont McKenna College.

Lotte Sønderbjerg has served as our Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer since December 2007. Mrs. Sønderbjerg is also Managing Director of Ascendis Pharma GmbH. Prior to joining Ascendis Pharma, Ms. Sønderbjerg served as Senior Director of Human Resources and as Finance Director at Veloxis Pharmaceuticals A/S from 2003 to 2007. Prior to joining Veloxis Pharmaceuticals A/S, Ms. Sønderbjerg served as Senior Director of Finance and Human Resources at Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company from 1996 to 2003. Prior to her career in biotech, Ms. Sønderbjerg was the Executive Secretary for the CEO and Board of Directors of Novo Nordisk A/S. Ms. Sønderbjerg received a Masters of Arts in International Business Communications from University of Aarhus.

Kennett Sprogøe, Ph.D. has held positions of increasing responsibility at Ascendis Pharma since December 2007, including serving as our Senior Vice President, Product Innovation since January 2016, our Vice President, Product Innovation from June 2014 to December 2015 and our Director, Portfolio Development from November 2012 to May 2014. Prior to joining Ascendis Pharma, Dr. Sprogøe conducted research at the University of Copenhagen, where he applied novel hyphenated screening technologies to expedite discovery of drug leads from natural sources. Dr. Sprogøe holds a Ph.D. in Natural Products Chemistry from the University of Copenhagen and a M.Sc. in Pharmacy from the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

 

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B. Compensation

Compensation of Members of Our Board of Directors and Senior Management

During 2017, Dr. Cha received board fees in the amount of €39,200 for his membership on our board and €9,406 for his tenure on the remuneration committee and the nominating and corporate governance committee, Dr. Healy received €35,280 for his membership on our board and €13,720 for his tenure on the nominating and corporate governance committee and the audit committee, Mr. Silverstein received €35,280 for his membership on our board and €7,062 for his tenure on the nominating and corporate governance committee and the audit committee, Dr. Tordjman received €7,840 for her membership on our board and €1,960 for her tenure on the remuneration committee and nominating and corporate governance committee, which reflected her partial year of service on our board, Mr. Olin received €35,280 for his membership on our board and €15,680 for his tenure on the audit committee and the remuneration committee, Ms. Volck received €35,280 for her membership on our board and €1,566 for her tenure on the nominating and corporate governance committee, and Ms. Bright received €22,874 for her membership on our board and €4,698 for her tenure on the audit committee and the remuneration committee, which reflected her partial year of service on our board. Neither Messrs. Michael Wolff Jensen nor Mikkelsen received any compensation in respect of their service on the board. Their compensation under our senior management compensation program is described below.

On June 13, 2017, Ms. Bright was granted 35,000 warrants with an exercise price per share of $22.76 (€20.2907) and an expiration date on June 13, 2027. On December 12, 2017, Dr. Cha, Dr. Healy, Mr. Silverstein, Mr. Olin, Dr. Volck and Ms. Bright were each granted 15,000 warrants, in each case with an exercise price per share of $37.18 (€31.5995) and an expiration date on December 12, 2027. The aggregate grant date fair value of the warrants granted to our board members in 2017 for their services as board members was €1,753,452.

The primary objective of our senior management’s compensation program is to attract, motivate, reward and retain the managerial talent needed to achieve our business objectives. In addition, the compensation program is intended to compensate all employees at competitive market rates, while recognizing extraordinary accomplishments. Compensation arrangements for our senior management have been designed to align a portion of their compensation with the achievement of our business objectives and growth strategy. Bonus payments for our senior management are determined with respect to a given year based on quantitative and qualitative goals set for our company as a whole, as well as on an individual basis. Once the results of the year are known, bonus payments are determined at the discretion of our board and, with respect to senior management reporting to the CEO, in light of recommendations made by the CEO.

The aggregate compensation paid to our senior management who were employed by our company during 2017, consisting of Messrs. Jan Møller Mikkelsen, Scott T. Smith, Michael Wolff Jensen, Peter Rasmussen, and Flemming Steen Jensen, Ms. Sønderbjerg and Drs. Sprogøe, Grethe Rasmussen, Leff and Rau, for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 was approximately €10.7 million. This amount consists of: (i) short-term employee benefits including salary and other in-kind benefits of approximately €3.2 million, (ii) bonuses of €1.7 million, (iii) share-based payments of approximately €5.7 million, and (iv) post-employment benefits of €0.1 million. Share-based payments reflect the 2017 expenses of warrants granted in or before 2017. During 2017, the board made the following warrant grants to members of our senior management who were employed by our company during 2017:

 

Name    Grant Date     

Shares Subject to

Awards Granted

     Award Exercise Price(s)      Award Expiration Date  

Jan Møller Mikkelsen

     December 12, 2017        200,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Scott T. Smith

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Michael Wolff Jensen

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Harald Rau

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Jonathan Leff

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Lotte Sønderbjerg

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Grethe Rasmussen

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Flemming Steen Jensen

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Kennett Sprogøe

     December 12, 2017        45,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

Peter Rasmussen

     December 12, 2017        10,000      $ 37.18 (€31.5995)        December 12, 2027  

 

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The total amount set aside or accrued by us to provide pension, retirement or similar benefits for the members of our board of directors and members of senior management for the year ended December 31, 2017 was €0.

Senior Management Agreements

We have entered into employment or service agreements with our senior management. The employment agreement with Mr. Mikkelsen contains a termination notice period of six months for a termination by Mr. Mikkelsen and 12 months for a termination by us. It also provides that during the 12-month period following a change of control (“change in control period”), we may only terminate Mr. Mikkelsen’s employment with 18 months’ notice. In addition, if during the change in control period, the position and responsibilities of Mr. Mikkelsen are changed (excluding insignificant changes), Mr. Mikkelsen will be entitled to regard his employment as having been terminated by us with 12 months’ notice.

The agreements with Messrs. Michael Wolff Jensen and Flemming Steen Jensen, Ms. Sønderbjerg and Dr. Grethe Rasmussen contain a termination notice period of three months for a termination by the employee and six months for a termination by us (except that in the case of Ms. Sønderbjerg and Dr. Grethe Rasmussen, the notice period may be no less than the notice required pursuant to the rules of the Danish Salaried Employees Act with the addition of two months). The agreement with Mr. Peter Rasmussen contains a termination notice period of one month for a termination by the employee and three months for a termination by us (except that the notice period may be no less than the notice required pursuant to the rules of the Danish Salaried Employees Act). The agreement with Dr. Rau contains a termination notice period of six months for a termination by the employee or by us (other than in the case of a termination for good cause which does not require notice). The agreement with Dr. Sprogøe contains a termination notice period of one month for a termination by the employee and six months for a termination by us. The agreements with certain of the foregoing senior management contain post-termination non-competition covenants that generally may last for a period of 12 months post-termination and entitle the executives to their base salary, or portion thereof, during the period.

The agreements with Mr. Smith and Dr. Leff provide that their employment is at-will and may be terminated by either the executive or us at any time; however, the agreements provide that in the event the executive is terminated by us without “cause” or he resigns for “good reason” (each, as defined in the agreements), he will be eligible to receive six months of continued base salary and continued healthcare coverage for up to six months following his termination. In addition, in the event of the executive’s termination due to disability, he will be eligible to receive continued base salary and healthcare coverage for 120 days following termination, and in the event of his death, we will pay his estate a lump sum amount equal to three months of his base salary.

Warrant Incentive Program

Our employees, consultants, advisors and board members are eligible to participate in our warrant incentive program. Warrants have been issued by the general meeting or by our board of directors pursuant to valid authorizations in our articles of association and the terms and conditions have, in accordance with the Danish Companies Act, been incorporated in our articles of association as in effect from time to time. Each warrant grants the holder the right to subscribe for one ordinary share against cash payment of the exercise price. The exercise price is determined by our board of directors and historically has not been less than the estimated fair value of our ordinary shares on the date of grant. Our board of directors is authorized to issue an additional 1,531,592 warrants in the period ending December 31, 2019; however, warrants cannot be issued to the extent that outstanding and non-exercised warrants issued under that authorization are equal to 20% or more of our Company’s registered share capital.

The grant of warrants to any participant is at the discretion of our board of directors and based on the recommendation of our management. The board of directors may determine the terms and conditions of the warrants issued, including exercise periods, subscription price and adjustments caused by changes to our company’s situation.

Subject to earlier vesting upon the occurrence of certain exit events, warrants granted under the program as in effect since December 18, 2015 generally vest 1/48th per month from the date of grant subject to continued service for employees, consultants and initial grants to board members and 1/24th per month from the date of grant subject to continued service for subsequent grants to board members. Warrants granted under the program as in effect between December 2012 and December 18, 2015 generally vest 1/48th per month from the date of grant subject to continued service (previously 1/36th per month for employees and 1/24th per month from the date of grant for board members). With respect to employees, in the event that a holder resigns due to our breach of employment terms or we terminate the employment relationship and the holder has not given us good reason to do so, the warrants will continue to vest post-termination in accordance with the same vesting schedule. Otherwise, warrants will cease vesting upon termination of service with respect to employees, board members and consultants.

 

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Vested warrants may be exercised during certain exercise periods each year. For 817,360 outstanding warrants, there are two annual exercise periods that continue for 21 days from and including the day after the publication of (i) the annual report notification—or if such notification is not published—the annual report and (ii) our interim report (six-month report). For these warrants, the last exercise period is 21 days from and including the day after the publication of our interim report for the first half of 2023. For 476,657 outstanding warrants granted in connection with our preference D financing, there are four annual exercise periods that continue for 21 days following the day of publication of (i) our interim report (three-month report); (ii) the annual report notification—or if such notification is not published—the annual report; (iii) our interim report (six-month report); and (iv) our interim report (nine-month report). For these warrants, the last exercise period is 21 days following the publication of our interim report (nine-month report) in 2023. For 3,327,137 outstanding warrants granted on or after December 18, 2015, there are four annual exercise periods; each exercise period begins two full trading days after the publication of the public release of our earnings data of a fiscal quarter and continues until the end of the second-to-last trading day in which quarter the relevant earnings release is published. The warrants granted on or after December 18, 2015 expire ten years after the grant date.

The table below sets forth information regarding outstanding warrants held by those members of our board of directors and senior management who assuming the exercise of warrants beneficially own 1% or more of our total outstanding ordinary shares as of March 1, 2018.

 

Name

   Grant Date      Awards
granted and
outstanding
     Awards
granted and
outstanding,
but unvested as
of March 1, 2018
     Award Exercise
Price(s)
    

Award

Expiration Date

Jan Møller Mikkelsen

     December 3, 2012        319,372        —        7.9962      21 days following our interim report (six-month report) in 2023
     November 26, 2014        191,624        35,930      6.4775      21 days following our interim report (nine-month report) in 2023
     December 18, 2015        220,000        100,834      15.6750      December 18, 2025
     December 14, 2016        180,000        127,500      19.4194      December 14, 2026
     December 12, 2017        200,000        191,667      31.5995      December 12, 2027

James I. Healy, M.D., Ph.D.

     December 18, 2015        35,000        16,042      15.6750      December 18, 2025
     December 14, 2016        15,000        6,250      19.4194      December 14, 2026
     December 12, 2017        15,000        13,750      31.5995      December 12, 2027

Jonathan T. Silverstein, J.D

     December 18, 2015        35,000        16,042      15.6750      December 18, 2025
     December 14, 2016        15,000        6,250      19.4194      December 14, 2026
     December 12, 2017        15,000        13,750      31.5995      December 12, 2027

Albert Cha, M.D., Ph.D.

     December 18, 2015        35,000        16,042      15.6750      December 18, 2025
     December 14, 2016        15,000        6,250      19.4194      December 14, 2026
     December 12, 2017        15,000        13,750      31.5995      December 12, 2027

Insurance and Indemnification

According to the Danish Companies Act, the general meeting is allowed to discharge our board members and members of our senior management from liability for any particular financial year based on a resolution relating to the financial statements. This discharge means that the general meeting will discharge such board members and members of our senior management from liability to our company; however, the general meeting cannot discharge any claims by individual shareholders or other third parties.

 

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Additionally, we have entered into agreements with our board members and members of our senior management, pursuant to which, subject to limited exceptions, we have agreed to indemnify such board members and members of our senior management from civil liability, including (i) any damages or fines payable by them as a result of an act or failure to act in the exercise of their duties currently or previously performed by them; (ii) any reasonable costs of conducting a defense against a claim; and (iii) any reasonable costs of appearing in other legal proceedings in which such individuals are involved as current or former board members or members of our senior management.

There is a risk that such agreement will be deemed void under Danish law, either because the agreement is deemed contrary to the rules on discharge of liability in the Danish Companies Act, as set forth above, because the agreement is deemed contrary to sections 19 and 23 of the Danish Act on Damages, which contain mandatory provisions on recourse claims between an employee (including members of our senior management) and the company, or because the agreement is deemed contrary to the general provisions of the Danish Contracts Act.

In addition to such indemnification, we provide our board members and senior management with directors’ and officers’ liability insurance.

Insofar as indemnification of liabilities arising under the Securities Act may be permitted to board members and senior management or persons controlling us pursuant to the foregoing provisions, we have been informed that, in the opinion of the SEC such indemnification is against public policy as expressed in the Securities Act and is therefore unenforceable.

 

C. Board Practices

Board of Directors

Our board of directors is responsible for our overall and strategic management and must ensure proper organization of our business. In addition, our board is obligated to ensure that (i) bookkeeping and financial reporting procedures are satisfactory; (ii) adequate risk management and internal control procedures have been established; (iii) our board of directors receives ongoing information as necessary about our financial position; (iv) our executive board performs its duties properly and as directed by our board of directors; and (v) the financial resources of our company are adequate at all times, and that our company has sufficient liquidity to meet its current and future liabilities as they become due.

In performing its duties, our board of directors is required to act in the interests of our company (including our shareholders) and our associated business as a whole. Our board of directors may generally make any decisions in furtherance of our objectives that are not reserved for either the executive board or the shareholders either by virtue of the articles of association or by operation of Danish law. Typical shareholder decisions that our board of directors cannot resolve alone are: changes to the articles of association, elections of board members, elections of auditors, decisions to scrutinize our company’s affairs, capital increases and decreases, payment of dividends, purchase of treasury shares, and decisions to merge, demerge or liquidate our company.

The general meeting of shareholders must elect no fewer than three and no more than 10 members to our board of directors. The board of directors is classified into two classes as nearly equal in number as possible with respect to the duration of the term in which they severally hold office. Such classes consist of one class of directors (“Class I”) who were elected at the annual general meeting held in 2017 for a term expiring at the annual general meeting to be held 2019; and a second class of directors (“Class II”) who were elected at the annual general meeting held in 2016 for a term expiring at the annual general meeting to be held in 2018. The shareholders shall increase or decrease the number of directors, to ensure that the two classes shall be as nearly equal in number as possible; provided, however, that no decrease shall have the effect of shortening the term of any other director. At each annual general meeting beginning in 2016, the successors of the class of directors whose term expires at that meeting shall be elected to hold office for a term expiring at the annual general meeting held in the second year following the year of their election.

 

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Board members may be dismissed at any time at a general meeting of shareholders. A resolution by the general meeting of shareholders to appoint or dismiss board members requires a simple majority of the votes cast and there is no requirement for a specific quorum.

Under Danish corporate law, employees of companies that have employed at least 35 employees for the preceding three years are entitled to elect members of their board of directors corresponding to one-half of the members of their board of directors elected by the general meeting of shareholders. Board members elected by the employees are elected for terms of four years, and they hold the same rights and obligations as any board member elected by the shareholders. We do not currently have employee representatives on our board of directors.

Our board of directors elects its chairman. Our board of directors forms a quorum when more than half of the members of our board of directors are represented. Resolutions of our board of directors are passed by simple majority. Each board member is entitled to cast one vote. For a complete description of these board governance matters, you should refer to our articles of association, which are incorporated by reference as an exhibit to this annual report.

Our board of directors may also adopt resolutions without a meeting, provided that such resolutions are adopted in writing and submitted to all members of our board of directors and provided that no board member objects to adopting resolutions without conducting a meeting.

As a foreign private issuer, our board of directors is not required to hold regularly scheduled meetings at which only independent board members are present and we intend to comply with home country practices, which do not require executive sessions, in lieu of complying with NASDAQ Rule 5605(b)(2).

Mr. Mikkelsen and Mr. Jensen are members of our senior management and members of our board of directors and these individuals have employment agreements that provide for benefits upon termination of employment in certain circumstances. For information about such agreements, see “Item 6 B. Compensation—Senior Management Agreements.”

Executive Board

Our executive board is in charge of the day-to-day management of our operations and is assisted in this respect by the other members of our senior management. The executive board must follow the guidelines and directions issued by the board of directors. Day-to-day management does not include decisions of an unusual nature or of major importance, having regard to the circumstance. Such decisions may only be made by the executive board if specifically authorized by the board of directors, unless it will cause considerable inconvenience to our company’s activities to wait for authorization by the board of directors. If so, the board of directors must be notified of the decision as soon as possible.

In accordance with the exemption available to foreign private issuers under NASDAQ rules, we do not follow the requirements of the NASDAQ rules with regard to the process of nominating board members, and instead, follow Danish law and practice, in accordance with which our board of directors (or a committee thereof) is authorized to recommend to our shareholders director nominees for election. Under the Danish Companies Act, nominations for directors also may be made upon the request of any shareholder.

Director Independence

Our board of directors has undertaken a review of the independence of the directors and considered whether any director has a material relationship with us that could compromise their ability to exercise independent judgment in carrying out the responsibilities of a director. As a result of this review, our board of directors determined that Lisa Bright, Albert Cha, M.D., Ph.D., James I. Healy, M.D., Ph.D., Martin Olin, Jonathan T. Silverstein, J.D., and Birgitte Volck, M.D., Ph.D. representing six of our eight directors, are “independent directors” as that term is defined under the applicable rules and regulations of the SEC and the listing requirements and rules of Nasdaq. In making such determination, our board of directors considered the relationships that each non-employee director has with us and all other facts and circumstances our board of directors deemed relevant in determining the director’s independence, including the number of ordinary shares beneficially owned by the director and his or her affiliated entities (if any).

 

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Committees of the Board of Directors

We have an audit committee, a remuneration committee and a nominating and corporate governance committee. We have adopted a charter for each of these committees. Under Danish corporate law, it is not possible to delegate the decision making authority of the entire board of directors to board committees.

Audit Committee

Our audit committee consists of Martin Olin (Chairman), Lisa Bright and James I. Healy, M.D., Ph.D. Each member satisfies the independence requirements of the NASDAQ listing standards, and Martin Olin qualifies as an “audit committee financial expert,” as defined in Item 16A of Form 20-F and as determined by our board of directors. Our audit committee oversees our accounting and financial reporting processes and the audits of our consolidated financial statements. Our Audit committee meets all of the relevant criteria for independence under NASDAQ rule 5615. As a foreign private issuer, we are not required to have a formal written audit committee charter that complies with NASDAQ Rule 5605(c)(1) and, although we have adopted an audit committee charter, we comply with home country practices in lieu of NASDAQ Rule 5605(c)(1). Our audit committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

    making recommendations to our board of directors regarding the appointment by the general meeting of shareholders of our independent auditors;

 

    overseeing the work of the independent auditors, including making recommendations to the board of directors and resolving disagreements between the executive board and the independent auditors relating to financial reporting;

 

    reviewing the independence and quality control procedures of the independent auditors;

 

    discussing material off-balance sheet transactions, arrangements and obligations with the executive board and the independent auditors;

 

    reviewing all proposed related-party transactions;

 

    discussing the annual audited consolidated and statutory financial statements with the executive board;

 

    annually reviewing and reassessing the adequacy of our audit committee charter;

 

    meeting separately with the independent auditors to discuss critical accounting policies, recommendations on internal controls, the auditor’s engagement letter and independence letter and other material written communications between the independent auditors and the executive board; and

 

    attending to such other matters as are specifically delegated to our audit committee by our board of directors from time to time.

Remuneration Committee

Our remuneration committee consists of Albert Cha, M.D., Ph.D. (Chairman), Lisa Bright, and Martin Olin. Each member satisfies the independence requirements of the NASDAQ listing standards. Our remuneration committee assists our board of directors in reviewing and approving or recommending our compensation structure, including all forms of compensation relating to our board of director and the executive board. As a foreign private issuer, we are not required to have a formal written remuneration committee charter that complies with NASDAQ Rule 5605(d)(1) and, although we have adopted a remuneration committee charter, we comply with home country practices in lieu of NASDAQ Rule 5605(d)(1). Our remuneration committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

    reviewing and making recommendations to our board of directors with respect to compensation of our executive board and members of our board of directors;

 

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    reviewing and approving the compensation, including equity compensation, change-of-control benefits and severance arrangements, of our chief executive officer, chief financial officer and such other members of our executive board as it deems appropriate;

 

    overseeing and making recommendations to our board of directors regarding the evaluation of our executive board;

 

    reviewing periodically and making recommendations to our board of directors with respect to any incentive compensation and equity plans, programs or similar arrangements; and

 

    attending to such other matters as are specifically delegated to our compensation committee by our board of directors from time to time.

Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee

Our nominating and corporate governance committee consists of James I. Healy, M.D., Ph.D. (Chairman), Albert Cha, M.D., Ph.D., and Birgitte Volck, M.D., Ph.D. Each member satisfies the independence requirements of the NASDAQ listing standards. Our nominating and corporate governance committee assists the board of directors in selecting individuals qualified to become our board members and in determining the composition of the board of directors and its committees. Our nominating and corporate governance committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

    recommending to our board of directors, persons to be nominated for election or re-election to our board of directors at any meeting of the shareholders;

 

    overseeing our board of director’s annual review of its own performance and the performance of its committees; and

 

    considering, preparing and recommending to our board of directors a set of corporate governance guidelines.

For information on current term of office and the period during which the members of our board of directors, executive board and our senior management have served in office see “—Directors and Senior Management.”

 

D. Employees

As of December 31, 2017, we employed 137 full-time employees, 48 of whom hold a Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent degrees. Of these full-time employees, 117 were engaged in research and development and 20 were engaged in general and administrative activities, including business and corporate development. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered under a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our employee relations to be good.

 

E. Share Ownership

See “Item 7 A. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions – Major Shareholders.” Our employees are eligible to own shares of the company through a warrant incentive plan. For information on the plan, see “Item 6 B. Compensation—Warrant Incentive Plan.”

 

Item 7 Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

 

A. Major Shareholders

The following table sets forth information relating to the beneficial ownership of our shares as of March 1, 2018, by:

 

    each person, or group of affiliated persons, known by us to beneficially own more than 5% of our outstanding ordinary shares;

 

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    each of our board members; and

 

    each member of our senior management, including members of our executive board.

The number of shares beneficially owned by each entity, person, member of our board of directors or senior management is determined in accordance with the rules of the SEC, and the information is not necessarily indicative of beneficial ownership for any other purpose. Under such rules, beneficial ownership includes any shares over which the individual has sole or shared voting power or investment power as well as any shares that the individual has the right to subscribe for within 60 days of March 1, 2018 through the exercise of any warrants or other rights. Except as otherwise indicated, and subject to applicable community property laws, the persons named in the table have sole voting and investment power with respect to all shares owned by that person.

The percentage of shares beneficially owned is computed on the basis of 41,523,765 ordinary shares outstanding as of March 1, 2018. Ordinary shares that a person has the right to subscribe for within 60 days of March 1, 2018 are deemed outstanding for purposes of computing the percentage ownership of the person holding such rights, but are not deemed outstanding for purposes of computing the percentage ownership of any other person. Additionally, a person is considered to have the right to subscribe for ordinary shares which are subject to outstanding warrants and vested within 60 days of March 1, 2018, although such warrants may only be exercised in prescribed exercise periods. Unless otherwise indicated below, the address for each beneficial owner listed is c/o Ascendis Pharma A/S, at Tuborg Boulevard 5, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark.

 

     Beneficial Ownership  

Name and Address of

Beneficial Owner

   Number of
Outstanding
Shares
Beneficially
Owned
     Number of
Warrants
Exercisable
Within 60 Days
     Number of
Shares
Beneficially
Owned
     Percentage
of Beneficial
Ownership
 

5% and Greater Shareholders

           

Entities affiliated with RA Capital Management,
LLC(1)

     5,580,690        —          5,580,690        13.4

OrbiMed Private Investments V, L.P.(2)

     4,374,391        —          4,374,391        10.5

Entities affiliated with FMR LLC(3)

     3,630,224        —          3,630,224        8.7

Baker Bros. Advisors LP(4)

     2,618,818        —          2,618,818        6.3

Sofinnova Venture Partners IX, L.P.(5)

     2,479,514        —          2,479,514        6.0

Entities affiliated with Vivo Capital(6)

     2,166,831        —          2,166,831        5.2

Entities affiliated with EcoR1 Capital, LLC(7)

     2,107,600        —          2,107,600        5.1

Board Members and Senior Management

           

Jan Møller Mikkelsen(8)

     638,740        688,049        1,326,789        3.1

Scott T. Smith(9)

     —          68,750      68,750       

Dr. Harald Rau(10)

     21,240        285,747        306,987       

Michael Wolff Jensen, L.L.M.(11)

     —          149,557        149,557       

Grethe Rasmussen, Ph.D.(12)

     —          124,544        124,544       

Lotte Sønderbjerg(13)

     —          112,877        112,877       

Peter Rasmussen(14)

     —          42,782        42,782       

Jonathan Leff, M.D.(15)

     —          81,250        81,250       

Flemming Steen Jensen(16)

     —          77,083        77,083       

Kennett Sprogøe, Ph.D.(17)

     —          75,301        75,301       

Lisa Bright(18)

     —          9,791        9,791       

Martin Olin(19)

     —          50,187        50,187       

James I. Healy, M.D., Ph.D.(20)

     2,479,514        32,916        2,512,430        6.0

Jonathan T. Silverstein, J.D.(21)

     —          32,916        32,916       

Albert Cha, M.D., Ph.D.(22)

     2,166,831        32,916        2,199,747        5.3

Birgitte Volck, M.D., Ph.D.(23)

     —          28,541        28,541       

 

* Indicates beneficial ownership of less than 1% of the total outstanding ordinary shares.

 

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(1) Consists of 5,580,690 ADSs beneficially owned by RA Capital Management, LLC (“Capital”), as reported by Amendment No. 5 to Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on February 14, 2018 by Capital and Peter Kolchinsky. Capital may be deemed a beneficial owner of the shares owned. Mr. Kolchinsky is the manager of Capital and may be deemed a beneficial owner of the shares beneficially owned by Capital. Capital and Mr. Kolchinsky have the shared power to vote and the shared power to dispose of 5,580,690 ordinary shares. Capital and Mr. Kolchinsky disclaim beneficial ownership of the shares described herein. The address of the Fund, Capital and Mr. Kolchinsky is c/o RA Capital Management, LLC, 20 Park Plaza, Suite 1200, Boston, MA 02116.
(2) Consists of (i) 2,717,315 ADSs and 1,480,976 ordinary shares held by OrbiMed Private Investment V, LP (“OPI V”), (ii) 176,100 ADSs held by OrbiMed Partners II, L.P. (“OrbiMed Partners”), and (iii) 193,900 ADSs held by OrbiMed Partners Master Fund Limited (“OrbiMed Master Fund”) as reported by Amendment No. 9 to Schedule 13D filed with the SEC on January 29, 2018. OrbiMed Capital GP V LLC (“GP V”) is the general partner of OPI V. OrbiMed Advisors LLC (“OrbiMed Advisors”) is the managing member of GP V, and is the sole general partner of OrbiMed Partners. OrbiMed Capital LLC (“OrbiMed Capital”) is the investment advisor to OrbiMed Master Fund. Samuel D. Isaly is the managing member of and owner of a controlling interest in OrbiMed Advisors and OrbiMed Capital. By virtue of such relationships, GP V, OrbiMed Partners, OrbiMed Master Fund, OrbiMed Advisors, OrbiMed Capital and Mr. Isaly may be deemed to have voting and investment power with respect to the shares held by OPI V, OrbiMed Partners and OrbiMed Master Fund, and as a result may be deemed to have beneficial ownership of such shares. Jonathan T. Silverstein, a member of OrbiMed Advisors and OrbiMed Capital, is a member of the Company’s board of directors. Each of GP V, OrbiMed Partners, OrbiMed Master Fund, OrbiMed Advisors, OrbiMed Capital, Mr. Isaly and Mr. Silverstein disclaims beneficial ownership of the shares held by OPI V, OrbiMed Partners and OrbiMed Master Fund, except to the extent of its or his pecuniary interest therein if any.
(3) Consists of an aggregate of 3,630,224 ordinary shares and ADSs beneficially owned, or that may be deemed to be beneficially owned, by FMR LLC, certain of its affiliates and other companies as reported on Amendment No. 2 to Schedule 13G/A filed on February 13, 2018 by FMR LLC. Abigail P. Johnson is a Director, the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer FMR LLC. Members of the Johnson family, including Abigail P. Johnson, are the predominant owners, directly or through trusts, of Series B voting common shares of FMR LLC, representing 49% of the voting power of FMR LLC. The Johnson family group and all other Series B shareholders have entered into a shareholders’ voting agreement under which all Series B voting common shares will be voted in accordance with the majority vote of Series B voting common shares. Accordingly, through their ownership of voting common shares and the execution of the shareholders’ voting agreement, members of the Johnson family may be deemed, under the Investment Company Act of 1940, to form a controlling group with respect to FMR LLC. Neither FMR LLC nor Abigail P. Johnson has the sole power to vote or direct the voting of the shares owned directly by the various investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act (“Fidelity Funds”) advised by Fidelity Management & Research Company (“FMR Co”), a wholly owned subsidiary of FMR LLC, which power resides with the Fidelity Funds’ Boards of Trustees. Fidelity Management & Research Company carries out the voting of the shares under written guidelines established by the Fidelity Funds’ Boards of Trustees. FMR LLC has its principal business office at 245 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210.
(4) Consists of (i) 2,345,326 ordinary shares and ADSs held by Baker Brothers Life Sciences, L.P. and (ii) 273,492 ordinary shares and ADSs held by 667, L.P. (together with Baker Brothers Life Sciences, L.P., the “Funds”) as reported on Schedule 13G filed on February 13, 2018 by Baker Bros. Advisors LP (the “Adviser”), Baker Bros. Advisors (GP) LLC (the “Adviser GP”), Felix J. Baker and Julian C. Baker (collectively, “Baker Bros.”). Pursuant to the management agreements, as amended, among the Adviser, the Funds and their respective general partners, the Funds’ respective general partners relinquished to the Adviser all discretion and authority with respect to the investment and voting power of the securities held by the Funds, and thus the Adviser has complete and unlimited discretion and authority with respect to the Funds’ investments and voting power over investments. The Adviser GP, Felix J. Baker and Julian C. Baker as principals of the Adviser GP, and the Adviser may be deemed to be beneficial owners of securities of the Issuer directly held by the Funds, and may be deemed to have the power to vote or direct the vote of and the power to dispose or direct the disposition of such securities. The address of Baker Bros. is c/o Baker Bros. Advisors LP, 860 Washington Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10014.
(5) Consists of 2,479,514 ordinary shares and ADSs held by Sofinnova Venture Partners IX, L.P. (“SVP IX”). Sofinnova Management IX, L.L.C. (“SM IX”), the general partner of SVP IX, may be deemed to have sole power to vote and sole power to dispose of shares directly owned by SVP IX. Dr. Michael F. Powell, Dr. James I. Healy, and Dr. Anand Mehra, the managing members of SM IX, may be deemed to have shared voting and investment power over the shares directly owned by SVP IX. Each of Drs. Powell, Healy and Mehra has disclaimed beneficial ownership over the shares held by SVP IX, except to the extent of his proportionate interest therein, if any. The address of SVP IX is c/o Sofinnova Ventures, Inc., 3000 Sand Hill Road, Bldg. 4, Suite 250, Menlo Park, California 94025.

 

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(6) Consists of (i) an aggregate of 1,760,739 ordinary shares and ADSs held by Vivo Ventures Fund VII, L.P. (“Vivo VII LP”), (ii) an aggregate of 38,373 ordinary shares and ADSs held by Vivo Ventures VII Affiliates Fund, L.P. (“Vivo VII Affiliates LP”), and (iii) an aggregate of 367,720 ordinary shares and ADSs held by Vivo Opportunity Fund, L.P. (“Vivo Opportunity LP”) as reported on Amendment No. 2 to Schedule 13D/A filed on March 2, 2018 by Vivo VII LP, Vivo VII Affiliates LP and Vivo Opportunity LP. Vivo Ventures VII, LLC is the general partner of each of Vivo VII LP and Vivo VII Affiliates LP and may be deemed to have shared power to vote and shared power to dispose of the shares directly owned by Vivo VII LP and Vivo VII Affiliates LP. Vivo Opportunity, LLC is the general partner of Vivo Opportunity Fund, L.P. and be deemed to have shared power to vote and shared power to dispose of shares of the Issuer directly owned by Vivo Opportunity Fund, L.P. The managing members of Vivo Ventures VII, LLC are Drs. Albert Cha, Edgar Engleman, Frank Kung, Chen Yu and Mr. Shan Fu and may be deemed to have shared voting and dispositive power over the shares listed herein. The managing members of Vivo Opportunity, LLC are Drs. Albert Cha, Frank Kung, Gaurav Aggarwal and Mrs. Shan Fu and Michael Chang and may be deemed to have shared voting and dispositive power over the shares listed herein. The address for each of Vivo VII LP, Vivo VII Affiliates LP and Vivo Opportunity LP is c/o Vivo Capital LLC, 505 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 207, Palo Alto, CA 94301.
(7) Consists of an aggregate of 2,107,600 ordinary shares and ADSs beneficially owned, or that may be deemed to be beneficially owned, by EcoR1 Capital, LLC, certain of its affiliates and other companies as reported on Schedule 13G filed on February 14, 2018 by EcoR1 Capital, LLC and Oleg Nodelman. Each of EcoR1 Capital, LLC and Oleg Nodelman disclaims beneficial ownership of the shares except to the extent of their pecuniary interest therein. The address of EcoR1 Capital, LLC and Oleg Nodelman is 409 Illinois Street, San Francisco, CA 94158.
(8) Consists of (i) 638,740 ordinary shares held by Mr. Mikkelsen and (ii) 688,049 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Mr. Mikkelsen.
(9) Consists of (i) 68,750 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2017 by Mr. Smith.
(10) Consists of (i) 21,240 ADSs and ordinary shares held by Dr. Rau and (ii) 285,747 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Dr. Rau.
(11) Consists of 149,557 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Mr. Jensen.
(12) Consists of 124,554 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Dr. Rasmussen.
(13) Consists of 112,877 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Ms. Sønderbjerg.
(14) Consists of 42,872 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March1, 2018 by Mr. Rasmussen.
(15) Consists of 81,250 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March1, 2018 by Dr. Leff.
(16) Consists of 77,083 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March1, 2018 by Mr. Jensen.
(17) Consists of 75,301 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Dr. Sprogøe.
(18) Consists of 9,791 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Ms. Bright.
(19) Consists of 50,187 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Mr. Olin.
(20) Consists of (i) 32,916 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Dr. Healy and (ii) securities beneficially owned by Sofinnova Venture Partners IX, L.P. as set forth in footnote 5. Dr. Healy disclaims beneficial ownership of the shares listed in footnote 5, except to the extent of his pecuniary interest therein.
(21) Consists of 32,916 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Mr. Silverstein.
(22) Consists of (i) 32,916 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Dr. Cha and (ii) securities beneficially owned by entities affiliated with Vivo Capital as set forth in footnote 6. Dr. Cha disclaims beneficial ownership of the shares beneficially owned by ViVo VII LP, except to the extent of his pecuniary interest therein.
(23) Consists of 28,541 ordinary shares that may be subscribed pursuant to the exercise of warrants within 60 days of March 1, 2018 by Dr. Volck.

 

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Record holders

As of March 1, 2018, assuming that all of our ordinary shares represented by ADSs are held by residents of the United States, approximately 99.9% of our outstanding ordinary shares were held in the United States by six holders of record and 0.1% of our outstanding ordinary shares were held outside of the United Stated by one holder of record. At such date, there were