ecor-20201231.htm
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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549


FORM 10-K




(Mark One)


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



For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

OR


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


FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM                      TO                     

Commission File Number 001-38538


electroCore, Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)


Delaware

 

20-3454976

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

200 Forge Way, Suite 205, Rockaway, NJ   

 

07866

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (973) 290-0097


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

 

 

 

Title of each class

Trading symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, Par Value $0.001 Per Share

ECOR

Nasdaq Global Select Stock Market

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

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. YES ☐ NO 

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

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files). YES  NO ☐ 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

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

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. 


Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). YES  NO 

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the shares of common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Stock Market on June 30, 2020 was $27,865,926.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of March 5, 2021 was 48,476,785.

Portions of the Registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement relating to the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which will be filed with the Securities Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the Registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Report.

 




​​

Table of Content

Page

PART I

Item 1. Business 1
Item 1A. Risk Factors. 23
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments 77
Item 2. Properties 77
Item 3. Legal Proceedings 77
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures 77



PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities 78
Item 6. Selected Financial Data 78
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations 79
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk 89
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data 89
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure 89
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures 90
Item 9B. Other Information 90



PART III

Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance 91
Item 11. Executive Compensation 91
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters 91
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence 91
Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services 91



PART IV

Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules 92
Item 16. Form 10-K Summary 92
​​

i


Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or Annual Report, contains forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, strategy and plans, and our expectations for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described under the heading “Risk Factors” contained in Item 1A of this Annual Report. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

Any forward-looking statements in this Annual Report reflect our current views with respect to future events or to our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. 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.

References to electroCore

In this Annual Report, unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise indicates, references to “ECOR,” “electroCore,” “the Company,” “we,” “us,” “our” and similar references refer to electroCore, Inc., a Delaware corporation

Risk Factor Summary
The following is a summary of certain important factors that may make an investment in our Company speculative or risky. You should carefully consider the full risk factor disclosure set forth in Item 1A of this Annual Report, in addition to the other information herein, including the section of this report titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and related notes.

The coronavirus pandemic could have a significant negative impact on our business, revenues, financial condition and results of operations.

We have a history of significant losses. If we do not achieve and sustain profitability, our financial condition could suffer. Our failure to become and remain profitable could negatively impact the results of our operations and your investment. 

We will be required to obtain additional funds in the future, and these funds may not be available on acceptable terms or at all, which could impair our ability to continue as a going concern.

We received an Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, in July 2020 to facilitate the study and clinical use of gammaCore Sapphire CV for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients. There can be no assurance as to the impact, if any, that the EUA and commercialization of gammaCore Sapphire CV will have on us, our business, operations or financial condition.
Commercializing our gammaCore Sapphire CV therapy for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients may require targeted investment in research and development and expansion of our sales and marketing capabilities.
If third-party payers do not provide adequate coverage and reimbursement for the use of gammaCore, we may be unable to generate significant revenues.
Regulatory requirements and changes to payers’ prescription benefit plans and medical pathway plans could adversely impact our business and financial results.
Third-party payers have been resistant to cover gammaCore through pharmacy benefit plans, which has hindered our commercialization strategy and required changes to our existing business that could delay and negatively impact our ability to generate revenue.
We must demonstrate to physicians and third-party payers the medical and economic benefits of our gammaCore therapy compared to those of our competitors or other available therapies and such comparisons may not be realizable.
Our operating results may vary significantly from quarter to quarter because of seasonality, bulk orders, shipments to distributors or otherwise.

Commercialization of our gammaCore Sapphire therapy for additional neurological conditions may require clinical trials that are very expensive, time-consuming, difficult to design and implement and involve uncertain outcomes. Furthermore, results of earlier preclinical studies and clinical trials may not be predictive of results of future preclinical studies, clinical trials or commercial success.

If we fail to develop and retain an effective sales and customer service function, our business could suffer.

We recently began commercializing our gammaCore therapy for the acute treatment of episodic cluster headache, or eCH, prevention of cluster headache, preventive and acute treatment of migraine in the United States for which market acceptance and commercial success is uncertain.





If our competitors are better able to develop and market cluster headache, or CH, and migraine treatments that are safer, more effective, less costly, easier to use or otherwise more attractive than our gammaCore therapy, our business and business prospects will be adversely impacted.

Many of our competitors are large, well-established companies with substantially greater resources than us and have a long history of competing in the migraine market.

Traditional products used to treat CH and migraine have been available for decades, while our gammaCore therapy has only been commercially available in Europe for several years, and for approximately three years in the United States, and, as a result, we have a limited track record compared to our competitors.

Our international operations subject us to certain operating and compliance risks, which could adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition.

We may not be able to establish or strengthen our brand.

We relied upon primary, secondary, and sole source third-party suppliers located in China and elsewhere for components and packaging of our gammaCore products, which suppliers have paused delivery at our request, thereby making us vulnerable to supply shortages, price fluctuations, and an inability to reactivate supply chains if necessary, all of which could harm our business.

We rely upon specialty pharmacies to distribute some of our products in the United States.

Our potential revenue in the United Kingdom is substantially dependent on government funding arrangements and changes in such governmental policy could cause material harm to our business.

Our business is subject to extensive governmental regulation that makes it expensive and time consuming for us to bring our gammaCore therapy to market in the United States and other countries and to expand the use of our gammaCore therapy to additional therapeutic indications.

We are currently subject to securities class action lawsuits against us, which could result in adverse outcomes.

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market could cause our stock price to fall.

Our principal stockholders and management own a significant percentage of our stock and will be able to exert significant control over matters subject to stockholder approval.

We do not currently intend to pay dividends on our common stock, and, consequently, your ability to achieve a return on your investment will depend on appreciation in the price of our common stock.

Our stock price may be volatile, and you may not be able to resell shares of our common stock at or above the price you paid. 


Trademarks and Tradenames

The electroCore logo, gammaCore and other trademarks of electroCore, Inc. appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of electroCore, Inc. All other trademarks, service marks and trade names in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners. We have omitted the ® and ™ designations, as applicable, for the trademarks used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


Market Data and Forecasts

Unless otherwise indicated, information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K concerning economic conditions, our industry, and our markets, including our general expectations and competitive position, market opportunity and market size, is based on a variety of sources, including information from independent industry analysts and publications, and/or our own estimates and research.

Our estimates are derived from industry and general publications, studies and surveys conducted by third parties, as well as data from our own internal research. These publications, studies and surveys generally indicate that their information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, although they do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and we have not independently verified industry data from such third-party sources. While we believe our internal research is reliable and that our internal estimates are reasonable, such research has not been verified by any independent source and our internal estimates are based on our good faith beliefs as of the respective dates of such estimates. We are responsible for all of the disclosure in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.





PART I

Item 1. Business

 

Business Overview

We are a commercial stage medical device company with a proprietary non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation, or nVNS, therapy. nVNS is a platform bioelectronic medical therapy that modulates neurotransmitters through its effects on both the peripheral and central nervous systems. 

Our gammaCore treatment is the first FDA-cleared, prescription-only nVNS therapy. Historically, vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, required an invasive surgical procedure to permanently implant a costly medical device. This limitation has generally prevented VNS from being used, other than by the most severe patients. Our lead product, gammaCore Sapphire, is a proprietary, simple-to-use handheld delivery system intended for multi-year use. Currently, it is largely prescribed on a timed basis in 31-day or 93-day increments, or with a predefined number of stimulations, in a Durable Medical Equipment, or DME, configuration and may be both rechargeable and reloadable. gammaCore permits patients to self-administer doses of nVNS on an as-needed basis for acute treatment, and at regular intervals for prevention therapy.

Non-invasive delivery of VNS by our gammaCore Sapphire is enabled by a proprietary high-frequency burst waveform that safely and comfortably passes through the skin and stimulates therapeutically relevant fibers in the vagus nerve. Multiple published studies suggest that VNS works through a number of mechanistic pathways including the modulation of neurotransmitters and has a measurable effect similar to several classes of commonly prescribed medications.

Over the past several years, we have sought regulatory approvals to market our novel product in the United States. As we have obtained additional regulatory approvals, we have implemented commercial strategies to target an expanded base of potential patients.

U.S. Regulatory Process

We are initially focused on neurology and our therapy, gammaCore, is cleared by the FDA for use by adults for the following four neurological indications: the acute treatment of pain associated with each of migraine headache and episodic cluster headache, or eCH, the preventive treatment of migraine headache and adjunctive use for the preventive treatment of cluster headache, or CH. In February 2021, gammaCore was cleared by the FDA for the acute and preventive treatment of migraine in adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age.

In July 2020, the FDA granted us an EUA authorizing the use of the Company's gammaCore Sapphire CV nVNS therapy at home or in a healthcare setting to acutely treat adult patients with known or suspected COVID-19 who are experiencing exacerbation of asthma-related dyspnea and reduced airflow, and for whom approved drug therapies are not tolerated or provided insufficient symptom relief.

We are also considering several additional indications for our nVNS technology which are being studied in a number of investigator-initiated trials, or IITs. These indications include secondary headache, COVID-19 respiratory symptoms, stroke, post-traumatic headache, mild traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid use disorders and post-operative ileus.

In April 2017, the FDA cleared gammaCore for the acute treatment of pain associated with eCH, and in November 2018, the FDA cleared gammaCore for adjunctive use for the prevention of  CH. CH is an extremely painful form of headache affecting approximately 400,000 people in the United States. Prior to gammaCore, injectable sumatriptan was the only FDA-approved, commercially available acute CH treatment, and there was no FDA-approved therapy for the prevention of CH.

The FDA cleared our gammaCore therapy for the acute treatment of pain associated with migraine in adults in January 2018, and for preventive treatment of migraine headache in adult patients in March 2020. Migraine is a debilitating primary headache condition that is estimated to affect approximately 12% of the global adult population and disproportionately affects women of child-bearing years. Migraine is estimated to affect 39 million patients in the United States and indirect annual costs associated with migraine in the United States are estimated at $19.3 billion.

The FDA clearances of our gammaCore therapy to treat headache were facilitated by the FDA’s creation of a new regulatory category: External Vagus Nerve Stimulator for Headache (21 CFR 882-5892). Based on this category’s description, we anticipate that some additional headache label expansions may be possible through the pathway under Section 510(k) of the Federal Drug and Cosmetic Act.


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In January 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, published a Level II Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System, or HCPCS, code K1020 "non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator" that was established as part of CMS' second biannual 2020 Coding Cycle for non-drug and non-biological items and services. The coding decision covers the Company’s gammaCore Sapphire D and is in response to the application submitted by the Company during CMS’ second biannual 2020 Coding Cycle for non-drug and non-biological items and services, and will go into effect on April 1, 2021. We believe the unique HCPSC code is an important step in potentially providing patients with easier access to gammaCore therapy.

UK and European Regulatory Process

In September 2011, we received a CE Certificate of Conformity for gammaCore for the treatment of primary headache from the British Standards Institution, a European Union notified body. This CE Certificate of Conformity allowed us to affix the CE Mark on gammaCore and to commercialize it in the European Economic Area and other countries that recognize the European CE Mark. In addition to the CE Certificate of Conformity for primary headache, between September 2011 and October 2013 we received CE Certificates of Conformity on gammaCore covering four other specific indications for use, including reactive airway disease and gastric motility disorders. In 2019, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE published a Medical Technology Guidance document recommending the use of gammaCore for CH within National Health Service, or NHS, England. On January 2021, NHS Scotland adopted the NICE recommendation and recommended gammaCore for use in treatment of CHI in NHS Scotland.

NHS England awarded gammaCore a place on the Innovation Technology Payment Program, or ITPP, for treatment of patients with refractory cluster headache, a reimbursement pathway that opened in April 2019. In October 2020, we announced that the ITPP was extended through March 2021. Effective April 1, 2021, gammaCore Sapphire will be included in a new long-term reimbursement policy, the MedTech Funding Mandate Policy 2021/22, or MTFM.

In January 2021, NHS Scotland adopted the NICE recommendation and recommended gammaCore for use in treatment of CH in NHS Scotland.


Background of VNS

The vagus nerve is the largest and most extensive cranial nerve, connecting the brainstem to nearly every organ in the chest and abdomen. Modulating the firing rate of the fibers within the vagus nerve can trigger the release of neurotransmitters, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems, affecting how the brain and peripheral organs function. In the central nervous system, VNS activates areas of the brainstem that release important biochemicals including norepinephrine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and gamma-Aminobutyric acid. The release of these substances, which have been the targets of numerous pharmaceutical agents, have been identified as therapeutic for the treatment of multiple conditions, including epilepsy, depression and headache.

Over the past three decades, the body of scientific evidence in support of VNS in multiple medical conditions has been growing. Prior to gammaCore, however, the cost and requirement for invasive surgery meant that VNS was only appropriate for the most refractory patients. With the FDA clearances of gammaCore, this safe and effective therapy can now be noninvasively self-administered, at a fraction of the cost of a surgical implant, exponentially expanding its accessibility for the potential treatment of multiple medical conditions.

Our Therapy Delivery Platform

Our gammaCore therapy is prescription-only, and patients self-administer discrete doses using a handheld unit. Our flagship model; gammaCore Sapphire is a portable, reusable, rechargeable and reloadable option for patients, with the prescription being written by a health care provider and dispensed from a specialty pharmacy, through the patient’s healthcare system, or our facility in Rockaway, NJ. After the initial prescription is filled, access to therapy can be refilled for certain of our gammaCore Sapphire products periodically through the input of a unique, prescription-only authorization code. This code is currently delivered in the form of an RFID card (similar to a credit card or hotel keycard), dispensed by mail from a specialty pharmacy distribution partner, or by the Company directly to certain patients. In the future, this refill may be dispensed directly using a Bluetooth-aware smartphone application. gammaCore is also available in a DME configuration shipped directly from our facility.

Currently, gammaCore is largely prescribed on a timed basis in 31-day or 93-day increments, with a predefined number of stimulations, or in the DME configuration, and may be both rechargable and reloadable. gammaCore permits patients to self-administer doses of nVNS on an as-needed basis for acute treatment, and at regular intervals for prevention therapy.

Our prior iteration of the gammaCore delivery device was not reloadable or rechargeable and was replaced by our introduction of the improved gammaCore Sapphire during the third quarter of 2018. We continue to offer the non-reloadable, disposable version of our gammaCore products in certain markets and to deploy it for use in clinical studies where a rechargeable version is not necessary.

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Competitive Strengths

We believe the competitive strengths of our company and our novel and proprietary self-administered nVNS therapy include:

Innovative bioelectronic medicine approach. Our gammaCore therapy uses a proprietary electrical signal to safely deliver VNS, which can cause targeted changes in neurotransmitter pharmacology, without systemic exposure to exogenous chemicals, in a manner that has been shown to have minimal side effects through clinical studies encompassing thousands of patients.


Our non-invasive therapy unlocks the long-held potential of VNS. VNS therapy can, for the first time, be delivered safely and comfortably through the skin using gammaCore. This eliminates the need for costly, invasive surgery that requires the implantation of an expensive medical device. VNS therapy is no longer reserved for the most refractory patients.


We have generated significant scientific data supporting the safety and efficacy of gammaCore which has led to FDA clearances for use in multiple indications. We believe our scientific data supporting the safety and efficacy of our therapy provides broader confidence in gammaCore and has resulted in its clearance in more indications than other neuromodulation therapies. gammaCore is the only therapy the FDA has cleared for prevention and treatment of migraine and cluster headache in adults, as well as for prevention and treatment of migraine in adolescents.


Commercial arrangements in the United States. We expect that a substantial portion of our 2021 sales of gammaCore will be made pursuant to our qualifying contract under the Federal Supply Schedule, or FSS, which was secured by us in December 2018, and open market sales to individual facilities within government channels. The FSS makes gammaCore available to patients managed within the Department of Veteran's Affairs or VA, Department of Defense or DoD, Bureau of Prisons, Indian Health Services and Public Health Services.


Commercial arrangements outside the United States. Our success in gaining regulatory approval and reimbursement in the UK is significant both in its potential for commercial penetration, but also its precedential value. NHS England awarded gammaCore a place on the ITPP for treatment of patients with refractory cluster headache, a reimbursement pathway that opened in April 2019. In October 2020, we announced that the ITPP was extended through March 2021. Effective April 1, 2021, gammaCore Sapphire will be included in a new long-term reimbursement policy. The new policy, the MTFM, supports the use of NICE-approved, clinically effective and cost-saving medical devices, diagnostics and digital technologies that will improve patient outcomes. In December 2019, NICE had published a Medical Technology Guidance document recommending the use of gammaCore for CH within the NHS. In January 2021, gammaCore was recommended for use in treatment of CH in NHS Scotland. This approval was an adoption of the NICE recommendation. Recently, we entered into distribution agreements in Eastern Europe, Canada and Australia.  


Unique Level II Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System code for non-invasive vagus nerve simulator. On January 15, 2021, CMS published its most recent Level II HCPCS decisions establishing a unique code for “non invasive vagus nerve stimulator”. The coding decision covers the Company’s gammaCore Sapphire D and is in response to the application submitted by the Company during CMS’ second biannual 2020 Coding Cycle for non-drug and non-biological items and services, which application focused on the clinical and economic advantages of gammaCore therapy. All final coding decisions for the second biannual 2020 Coding Cycle for non-drug and non-biological items and services will go into effect on April 1, 2021. We have initiated discussions with Medicare Administrative Contractors and commercial insurance providers to establish reimbursement rates for gammaCore Sapphire D.


Broad intellectual property protection. Among our key issued patents, we have coverage on using our high-frequency burst electrical signal for treating certain medical conditions until 2031, the low-pass filtering of that signal to ensure safe and comfortable transmission through the skin until 2031, the non-invasive treatment of headache conditions until 2029, and the remote network-enabled communication for the delivery of neuromodulation therapy for a broad range of medical conditions until 2033.


Highly experienced management team. Our management team includes a diverse group of executives with significant experience in senior positions in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. Our team’s experience in clinical development, regulatory affairs, reimbursement sales and marketing, and capital markets allow us to pursue our strategy and growth plans.


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Our Strategy

Our goal is to be a leader in non-invasive neuromodulation medicine by using our proprietary nVNS platform therapy to deliver better patient outcomes.

In 2019 and 2020, we implemented significant adjustments to the deployment of personnel and resources across our organization. We reduced the size of our organization, including our field sales force and clinical operations in order to reduce expenses. We are currently focusing our resources on channels that are currently generating revenue or may potentially generate revenue in the near-term, including the following:

 

Our qualifying contract on the FSS, which we secured in December 2019, and open market sales to individual VA facilities. According to a presentation at the 2020 annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, approximately 400,000 patients saw a VA healthcare provider for headache in 2018 and VA's National Director of the Headache Center of Excellence program has stated that the VA has approximately 29,000 cluster headache sufferers. The VA and DoD have become our primary source of U.S. revenue and, accordingly, we have redeployed substantially all of our sales function to generating sales from this channel. 





In the United Kingdom, where NHS England has provided a reimbursement pathway since April 2019 by awarding gammaCore a place on the ITPP, for use in patients with refractory cluster headache. In October 2020, we announced that the ITPP was extended through March 2021. Effective April 1, 2021 gammaCore Sapphire will be included in a new long-term reimbursement policy, the MTFM, which supports commissioners and providers in the use of selected NICE-approved, clinically effective and cost-saving medical devices, diagnostics and digital technologies that will improve patient outcomes. In December 2019, NICE published a Medical Technology Guidance document recommending the use of gammaCore for CH within the NHS, and in January 2021, NHS Scotland adopted the NICE recommendation and recommended gammaCore for use in treatment of CH in NHS Scotland.


 

 

In the United States we continue to make measured investments in our commercial channel, most notably through large insurers and pharmacy benefit managers for the purpose of expanding the population of gammaCore covered lives. To further support our commercial efforts, we are working towards leveraging the unique HCPCS code K1020 "non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator" that was established as part of CMS' second biannual 2020 Coding Cycle for non-drug and non-biological items and services, and which we believe could streamline reimbursement for both government and commercial payers. We are also exploring certain cash pay business models for headache patients.  





Known or suspected COVID-19 patients with asthma exacerbations under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization. The therapy is available by prescription through the VA or DoD, from Premier Specialty Pharmacy, and telehealth consults are available at www.getgammacore.com. While the gammaCore Sapphire CV has not generated significant revenue, it leverages one of the earliest areas of research for us - reactive airway disease, or RAD.




Distribution partners to commercialize our gammaCore therapy in territories outside of the United States and United Kingdom. In December 2020, electroCore announced that it entered into an exclusive agreement with Pro Medical Baltic, or PMB, whereby PMB will be the exclusive distributor of gammaCore to patients suffering from primary headache disorders in Eastern Europe, including Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. PMB is a leading distributor of medical technology in the region and has extensive experience in neuromodulation products. In January 2021, we announced that we had entered into an agreement with RSK Medical Inc, whereby RSK Medical will serve as the exclusive distributor of the gammaCore Sapphire nVNS in Canada, supplying therapy to patients suffering with primary headache disorders. In March 2021, we announced that we had entered into an exclusive agreement with Medistar2 PTY Limited, or Medistar, whereby Medistar will be the exclusive distributor of gammaCore to patients suffering from primary headache disorders in Australia. The Company continues to evaluate opportunities for international distribution of nVNS technology and expects to announce additional international distribution agreements in the future.  
Recent Clinical Evidence in Support of New Indications
In July 2020, Cephalalgia, the official journal of the International Headache Society (IHS) published “Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation for primary headache: a clinical update.”

The paper is a narrative review of recent scientific and clinical research into non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) for headache, including findings from mechanistic studies and their possible relationships to the clinical effects of nVNS. The review concludes that scientific and clinical studies support the emergence of nVNS as an effective, safe, well-tolerated, and practical treatment for primary headache disorders and supports the consideration of nVNS as: (1) a first-line treatment for both the acute and preventive treatment of cluster headache; (2) an effective option for acute treatment of migraine; and (3) a highly relevant, practical option for migraine preventive therapy.


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The paper is available via open access at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0333102420941864


In December 2020, the company reported positive topline results from the PREMIUM II study assessing gammaCore for the prevention of migraine.  

We are also considering the potential for several additional indications for our nVNS technology. These additional indications are being studied in a number of investigator-initiated trails. These indications include the potential utility of nVNS in certain COVID-19 symptoms, secondary headache, stroke, mild traumatic brain injury, or mTBI, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, post-operative ileus, and opioid use disorders. Several recent developments in potential additional indications include:

 

In August 2020, a paper entitled “Non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation decreases brain activity during trauma scripts” was published in the journal Brain Stimulation. The paper reported on a double-blind sham-controlled study of nineteen participants who had experienced trauma but did not have the diagnosis of PTSD and highlighted the ability of nVNS to decrease the fear associated with emotional stress.

 

 

In September 2020, the VA agreed to sponsor a quadruple blind, randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial of nVNS in mTBI and PTSD. As outlined in the study protocol, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in a large number of veterans with both mTBI and PTSD, making these conditions important concerns of the VA.

 

 

In December 2020, gammaCore was selected for evaluation in a randomized controlled study for the treatment of opioid use disorders run at Emory University in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology and the City University of New York and supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The use of nVNS during the opioid withdrawal period represents a potential new innovation versus current treatments that rely on medication and counseling, widely acknowledged to have limitations during the withdrawal period.





In February 2021, we announced the achievement of full enrollment for the TR-VENUS study of nVNS for the acute treatment of stroke. TR-VENUS is a double blind, randomized, sham-controlled, multi-center clinical trial, conducted at nine major medical centers across Turkey, supported by the Turkish Neurological Society and partially funded through an unrestricted research grant from electroCore.

 

 

In February 2021, a peer reviewed paper, entitled “Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation to reduce ileus after major colorectal surgery: Early development study” was published in the journal Colorectal Disease.  The paper reports on the results of a parallel group, randomized controlled trial conducted at St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, England. The study was funded by the Bowel Research UK supported by the National Institute for Health Research Surgical MedTech Co-operative. The study demonstrated the safety and practicality of treating ileus with nVNS, which could represent an important new way to improve outcomes for patients undergoing major colorectal surgery.

  

 

In February 2021, the completion of patient enrollment in SAVIOR-1, a prospective, randomized, controlled study evaluating vagus nerve stimulation in patients who exhibit respiratory symptoms due to COVID-19 was achieved. This study is being conducted at the Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia, Spain. The SAVIOR-1 study enrolled 110 patients over 18 years of age with respiratory failure secondary to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study is designed to evaluate the incidence of relevant clinical events in patients with active SARS-CoV-2 infection. Study subjects were randomized to either the study group receiving gammaCore Sapphire nVNS together with conventional treatment, or the control group receiving conventional treatment alone. The study is also evaluating the safety of gammaCore Sapphire in patients hospitalized for COVID-19, in addition to the blood levels of proinflammatory cytokines in these patients. Preliminary results will be reported once available and full results will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal later this year.

 

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Migraine

The clearance by FDA on April 14, 2017 of our de novo submission resulted in a new Class II regulatory category: External Vagus Nerve Stimulator for Headache (21 CFR 882-5892). The establishment of this product category has permitted us to apply for label expansions through the 510(k) regulatory pathway utilizing our own product as the predicate.

In January 2018, gammaCore was cleared by the FDA, through a 510(k) review, for commercial sale in the United States as an acute treatment for pain associated with migraine in adults.

Our FDA clearance for the acute treatment of migraine in adults is principally supported by our pivotal trial, PRESTO. The primary endpoint of PRESTO was pain-freedom at 120 minutes. While this trial did not reach statistical significance with respect to its primary endpoint at two hours, statistical significance was achieved for pain freedom at 30 minutes (12.7%; p=0.01), and maintained at 60 minutes (21.0%; p=0.02), and under a repeated-measures analysis, through the full 120-minute period (30.4%; p=0.01).

In March 2020, gammaCore was cleared by the FDA, through a 510(k) review, for commercial sale in the United States as a preventive treatment of migraine headache in adults.

Our FDA clearance for preventive treatment of migraine in adults is principally supported by our PREMIUM I and Event studies. The PREMIUM I study was a prospective, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled, multicenter study in patients with episodic migraine conducted at 22 European sites from June 2015-November 2017. It consisted of a 4-week run-in period of no study treatment, which was followed by a 12-week double blind phase of randomly assigned preventive treatment with a sham device and a 24-week open-label phase which all participants received nVNS therapy. Post hoc analysis of the modified intent-to treat population showed significant difference between groups in favor of the study’s primary endpoint, mean reduction in the number of migraine days per month (therapeutic gain, 0.74; P=0.043), as well as for headache days per month (therapeutic gain, 0.86; P=0.045) and a reduction in acute medication days per month (therapeutic gain, 0.80; P=0.039).

In February 2021, gammaCore was cleared by the FDA, through a 510(k) review, for the acute and preventive treatment of migraine in adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age. The label expansion was based on previously reported randomized controlled trials and studies of gammaCore for the acute and preventive treatment of migraine and was supported by a small study (n=9) in adolescents where 46.8% of all treated attacks were successfully aborted without the use of any acute rescue medication.

Migraine Market Factors and Competition

Migraine Prevalence and Market Size. In the United States, 39 million patients are affected by migraine, with more than 28 million being adult women. Migraine attacks can be extremely disabling and more than 90% of migraine sufferers are unable to work or function normally while experiencing migraine. According to a recent analysis, the annual economic burden of migraine in the United States is approximately $78 billion. Further, it is estimated that the annual total direct and indirect costs of all migraine-related health services are between $8,500 and $9,500 for an individual patient with chronic migraine. In the United States and EU, research has found that the age of first diagnosis of migraine peaks in the early-to-mid teens and the disease continues to persist throughout adulthood for many of these sufferers, demonstrating that it is often a disorder of long duration.

Most migraine patients manage their conditions with over-the -counter therapies. An estimated five million migraine patients in the United States require the care of a headache specialist. Among these specialists, many of whom also treat CH, are the approximately 1,100 physicians who are board-certified in the treatment of headache, many of whom practice in over 120 tertiary care centers in the United States. The triptan drug class is the current standard of care for the acute treatment of migraine. According to the U.S. Pharmacist, a leading pharmacy publication, more than 60% of patients have reported dissatisfaction with, or have contraindications to, the current standard of care, such as triptan medications. 

Current Treatments for Prevention of Migraine and Their Limitations. Among the current treatments for prevention of migraine are blood pressure-lowering medications such as beta blockers and channel blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs. BOTOX marketed by Allergan plc, is specifically approved for the prevention of chronic, but not episodic, migraine.

There are currently several antibodies to calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor, or CGRP, and its receptor, approved by FDA for the prevention of migraine including products sold by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Eli Lilly and Company, Amgen Inc., which is in a co-marketing partnership with Novartis International AG and H. Lundbeck A/S.

Medications for the prevention of migraine may have such side effects as dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, and depression. 


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There are a number of neuromodulation devices that have been marketed for the prevention of migraine, including Cefaly and Nerivio, or any other neuromodulation devices that may be marketed for use in treating pain associated with primary headache. Cefaly was recently granted over the counter, or OTC, clearance allowing it to be sold without a prescription. In addition, Cefaly and Nerivio recently received clearance for use in adolescents. The impact of these clearances on the competitive landscape is uncertain.

Current Acute Migraine Treatments and Their Limitations. Triptan medications, or Triptans, are a family of tryptamine-based drugs first sold in the 1990s, which account for approximately 80% of the acute prescriptions written annually for migraine. Triptans are sold in oral, nasal, and subcutaneous formulations. Through their binding to specific serotonin receptor subgroups, Triptans cause constriction of blood vessels in the outer covering of the brain, or the meninges. This vasoconstrictive activity may also affect blood vessels in other areas of the body, including the heart, which accounts for important risks associated with their use, and labeling limitations on the frequency of their use.

The FDA has approved two oral small molecule CGRP receptor antagonists for the acute treatment of migraine with or without aura in adults. These products are marketed by Allergan and Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Inc. The FDA has also approved Eli Lilly’s lasmiditan for acute treatment of migraine in adults.

There are a number of neuromodulation devices that have been marketed for the treatment of migraine, including Cefaly, Nerivio, or any other neuromodulation devices that may be marketed for use in treating pain associated with primary headache. Cefaly has been granted OTC clearance allowing it to be sold without a prescription and the impact of this clearance on the competitive landscape remains to be seen. Other less commonly prescribed acute migraine treatments include ergotamines and analgesics, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, acetaminophen and antiemetics. Dihydroergotamine, or DHE, is a grain fungus derivative that, like triptans, is a potent vasoconstrictor. DHE has been used for more than 50 years for the treatment of migraine, but modern physicians rarely prescribe it because of its significant side effects. More specifically, ergotamines and triptans are both vasoconstrictors with labels citing the risk of their use in migraine sufferers with risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Opioids are often dispensed for migraine attacks in emergency departments; however, in the treatment guidelines referenced by the National Institutes of Health, their use is not recommended for the acute treatment of migraine. Opioid use for migraine is associated with increased disability and health care utilization. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized the growing issue of opioid misuse, abuse and addiction and officially classified prescription opioid abuse as an epidemic.

Cluster Headache

As mentioned above, in April 2017, FDA granted our de novo submission, clearing our gammaCore for commercial sale in the United States for the acute treatment of pain associated with eCH in adults. In December 2018, we were successful in receiving FDA clearance for gammaCore Sapphire as a prevention for CH, the first product in the United States or Europe to receive regulatory approval for this indication.


CH is a condition in which patients experience extremely painful headache attacks that have been described by patients and physicians as some of the most painful known. CH predominantly affects males in their prime earning ages of 20 to 50, and the attacks of pain occur in bouts, known as cluster periods, during which attacks are experienced at a frequency ranging from every other day to as often as eight times per day. Individual attacks typically last from 15 minutes to as long as three hours. Among CH patients, 85% to 90% experience eCH, with their cluster periods, or bouts, lasting from two to 12 weeks, followed by a remission period, often cycling into bouts twice per year. Chronic CH, or cCH, patients experience no periods of remission or remission periods of less than three months in a 12-month period. There is only one other FDA-approved commercially available pharmaceutical option for acute CH treatment, and gammaCore is the only FDA-cleared option for the prevention of all forms of CH.

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Our first FDA clearance, received following the grant of our de novo submission, was for the acute treatment of eCH in adults, and is supported by two pivotal trials: our ACT 1 trial and our ACT 2 trial. The primary endpoints of these trials were pain reduction and pain-freedom within 15 minutes of the onset of the attack, respectively. While neither trial reached statistical significance compared to a sham device with respect to its primary endpoint in the combined eCH and cCH populations, both trials reached statistical significance (ACT 1; 34.2%; ACT 2; 47.5%; p<0.01 in each trial) on the primary endpoint in the eCH cohort.

Our FDA clearance for the prevention of CH in adults is principally supported by our pivotal trial, PREVA. The primary endpoint of PREVA was the reduction in number of CH attacks experienced per week during a test period (weeks 3 and 4 after initiating 3x daily treatments with gammaCore), as compared with the number of attacks per week during a baseline comparison period prior to initiation of gammaCore therapy. This trial met its primary endpoint with statistical significance compared to a sham device for the reduction in the number of cluster attacks (-5.9 vs. -2.1; p<0.001).

Cluster Headache Market Factors-United States

Prevalence and market size. The estimated prevalence of CH in the United States ranges from 0.1% to 0.2% of the total population, with consensus around 400,000 patients. eCH patients average approximately four months per year in bouts. 

Economic Burden. According to a February 2020 published study in The American Journal of Managed Care, the overall average medical costs for eCH patients over a three-year period exceeded $22,500, compared with $10,140 among non-headache sufferers. Similarly, the overall average pharmacy costs per eCH patient during this period were $8,200, which was nearly double that of the non-headache sufferers. Participants in surveys of sufferers indicate that CH is associated with a large socioeconomic burden. For example, research found that nearly 20% of patients with CH reported loss of employment and approximately 8% are unemployed or receiving disability services due to the disorder.

Other Therapies for the Treatment and Prevention of Cluster Headache. Other than gammaCore, there is only one FDA-approved commercially available therapy for acute treatment for CH, injectable sumatriptan (Imitrex). The side effect profile and cost of Imitrex, however, typically limits patient access to only six to 10 doses per month, which usually enables patients to treat only a small fraction of their attacks each month. Even at this limited access level, the monthly cost of Imitrex for CH patients and their insurance providers averages more than $700. Imitrex use is also limited by the requirement for patients to subcutaneously self-inject, which may be particularly difficult to do while experiencing a CH attack. The most frequently used acute treatments for CH attacks are subcutaneous sumatriptan and high flow rate inhaled oxygen. Alternative treatments include intranasal triptans and intravenous dihydroergotamine, or DHE. Only subcutaneous sumatriptan and intravenous DHE are approved in the United States for the acute treatment of CH, and Galcanezumab, a calcitonin gene-related peptide that is produced by Eli Lilly and Company was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of eCH. Approval and commercialization of additional therapies may be forthcoming.

Additional medications that are used by patients off-label include verapamil, lithium, and valproate.

Cluster Headache Market Factors -United Kingdom

Prevalence and market size. The estimated prevalence of CH in the United Kingdom ranges from 0.1% to 0.2% of the total population, with approximately 66,000 affected patients. We estimate that the total addressable market for the treatment of CH in the United Kingdom in 2021 will be approximately £100 million.

 

Economic Burden. According to the MTFM published by NHS England and NHS Improvement in January 2021, the overall cost for treating CH patients in England over the next five years will be approximately £218.7 million. Participants in surveys of sufferers indicate that CH is associated with a large socioeconomic burden. For example, research found that nearly 20% of patients with CH reported loss of employment and approximately 8% are unemployed or receiving disability payments due to the disorder.


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Other Therapies for the Treatment of Cluster HeadacheThe goal of available treatments is total attack cessation, or suppression of headache until the next episode. Therapies are prescribed in an attempt to prevent CH attacks (prophylaxis) and to manage pain at the time of a headache (acute / abortive treatment); the latter is rarely sufficient to achieve adequate control alone.

Standard prophylactic treatments for CH, such as nerve blocks, high dose verapamil and some anticonvulsants are used outside of their licensed indication and with limited evidence to support their prescription. Lithium may also be tried but is a difficult therapy to initiate and monitor. Verapamil requires careful cardiac monitoring during dose escalation, and dihydroergotamine requires infusion in an in-patient setting. Nerve blocks are performed in the neurology clinic or on the hospital ward.

Acute treatments are given by a variety of routes. Sumatriptan is given by subcutaneous or intranasal injection and high flow oxygen can be given via inhalation during acute attacks. In practice, single or multiple nerve blocks, pharmacological therapies and high flow oxygen may be used adjunctively to try and manage CH.

Primary Headache Market-Potential Future Market Factors

While we believe that our proprietary gammaCore therapy provides us with competitive advantages, there is fierce competition, particularly in the migraine market, from many different sources, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other healthcare companies. In addition, academic institutions, governmental agencies and public and private research institutions are actively conducting research in overlapping fields of interest. Our gammaCore therapy competes and will compete with numerous existing therapies and therapies that may become available in the future.

We believe the key competitive factors affecting the potential success of our therapy are its safety, efficacy, convenience, price, the availability of generic drugs and the availability of coverage and reimbursement from government and certain other third-party payers. There can be no assurance, however, given the competitive landscape in the markets in which gammaCore competes, that demand for our products may not be constrained, or face significant pricing pressure, or that the scope of coverage and reimbursement from third-party payers will expand or not be curtailed.

Many of the companies we are competing with now, or with which we may compete in the future, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals, sales and marketing and obtaining third-party payer coverage for approved drugs than we do. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies and healthcare related institutions. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.

The completion of our competitors’ clinical trials with respect to their headache products could negatively impact the perception of us or our gammaCore therapy. The perception by physicians, payers or patients that a competitor’s product is superior to our gammaCore therapy or offers comparable benefits at a lower cost or lower incidence of undesirable side effects as compared against our gammaCore therapy, could have a material adverse effect on us.

Given the size of the existing and potential primary headache markets in the United States and abroad, we expect that as we continue to seek to expand our commercial efforts, our current and future competitors will grow in number and take aggressive actions to grow, enhance and protect their market positions to our potential detriment.

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 and products, proprietary processes and any other inventions that are commercially or strategically important to the development of our business. We also rely upon trademarks to build and maintain the integrity of our brand, and we seek to protect the confidentiality of trade secrets that may be important to the development of our business. For more information, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Intellectual Property.”


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Emergency Use Authorization

In April 2020, we announced that we had submitted an EUA application to the FDA to facilitate the study and clinical use of our gammaCore Sapphire nVNS therapy for respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19.

In July 2020, the FDA granted the Company an EUA authorizing the use the Company’s  gammaCore Sapphire CV nVNS therapy at home or in a healthcare setting to acutely treat adult patients with known or suspected COVID-19 who are experiencing exacerbation of asthma-related dyspnea and reduced airflow, and for whom approved drug therapies are not tolerated or provide insufficient symptom relief.

The EUA is supported by the Secretary of Health and Human Service’s declaration that circumstances exist to justify the emergency use of medical devices during the COVID-19 pandemic. This device has not undergone the same type of review as an FDA-approved or cleared device. The FDA may issue an EUA when certain criteria are met, which includes that there are no adequate, approved, or available alternatives to the candidate product. In addition, the FDA decision is based on the totality of scientific evidence available showing that it is reasonable to believe that the device meets certain criteria for safety, performance, and labeling, and that it may be effective in treating patients with COVID-19.

The EUA for the gammaCore Sapphire CV device is in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic justifying emergency use of these devices, unless terminated or revoked (after which the products may no longer be used). An FDA approved or cleared device should be used instead of the gammaCore Sapphire CV under EUA, when applicable and available.

In the second quarter of 2020, two IITs of gammaCore Sapphire CV were launched to study patients with a confirmed diagnosis of, or presumed to be, COVID-19, one in Valencia, Spain (referred to as “SAVIOR-1”) and the other in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (referred to as “SAVIOR-2”). The studies will measure the safety and efficacy of gammaCore Sapphire CV plus standard of care alone in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across a broad range of clinical and laboratory endpoints.  Enrollment has been completed for SAVIOR-1 and continues for SAVIOR-2. We expect to report data from these trials in 2021.

In September 2020, we entered into an agreement with UpScript, LLC pursuant to which UpScript serves as the exclusive online telehealth provider for gammaCore Sapphire CV.

Manufacturing

We are the FDA-registered manufacturer of our gammaCore Sapphire and related products. We rely upon third-party contract manufacturers and suppliers, located both within and outside the United States, for substantially all of the components of our gammaCore products, including the handheld stimulator assembly, charging case, RFID cards and conductive gel.

At our facility in Rockaway, New Jersey, we inspect inbound component parts to ensure they meet our design and manufacturing specifications. This quality process involves physical inspection and electrical performance testing. After successful completion of this inspection, each gammaCore is configured to deliver our prescribed therapy, and a final test is performed on the unit to ensure it meets our performance specifications. At the time of configuration, most units are programmed with a unique set of proprietary activation codes that will correspond to codes that are programmed onto RFID cards by our specialty pharmacies and delivered to the patient to activate and refill their therapy. The unit is then packaged, along with appropriate labeling, instructions for use, an initial RFID card, and conductive gel, and shipped into our distribution network, or direct-to-end user.

The relocation of development and prototype shops, as well as manufacturing and related operations, including device assembly, inspection/testing, packaging, storage, and shipping to our facility in Rockaway, New Jersey was completed in March 2020 with an on-site audit of the facility by our EU Notified Body.

In order to protect against risk of supply chain disruption, we have qualified an approved secondary contract manufacturer. Additionally, we retain the internal expertise and capabilities to perform all assembly aspects of our commercial product. These measures include purchasing a sufficient advanced supply of key components to reasonably assure that no component shortages will interrupt our ability to manufacture and deliver our products to patients on a timely basis.

As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately $5.7 million of inventory. Our inventory significantly exceeds current demand for the gammaCore therapy, which creates a risk of an adverse financial impact from inventory obsolescence.

The generation of our proprietary therapeutic signal does not require custom electronic components. Therefore, we believe long-term manufacturing, supply and quality agreements with electronic component suppliers are not necessary, as all the electronic components used in our products are either high-volume, non-custom commodity components, or are readily available from multiple vendors. The majority of these components have multiple sources, and the few with single sources have been purchased with sufficient reserves to permit continued production while simple product design modifications can be made.

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Patents and Patent Applications

As of February 1, 2021, we held more than 170 patents and patent applications, including more than 100 issued U.S. patents, more than 30 U.S. patent applications, and more than 40 international patents and applications. All of our current issued patents are projected to expire between 2026 and 2033.

More specifically, our current therapy embodies a number of critical proprietary innovations, including a patented high-frequency burst signal that is capable of passing comfortably through the capacitance of the skin. In addition, our therapy utilizes a patented low pass filtration that substantially eliminates high frequency harmonics that would otherwise activate pain receptors in the skin. The combined result is a mild sensation that activates the target fibers in the cervical vagus nerve.

The term of individual patents depends on the legal term for patents in the countries in which they are granted. In most countries, including the United States, the patent term is generally 20 years from the earliest claimed filing date of a non-provisional patent application in the applicable country. We cannot assure you that patents will be issued from any of our pending applications or that, if patents are issued, they will be of sufficient scope or strength to provide meaningful protection for our technology. Notwithstanding the scope of the patent protection available to us, a competitor could develop treatment methods or devices that are not covered by our patents. Furthermore, numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and patent applications owned by third parties exist in the fields in which we are developing products. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be applications unknown to us, which applications may later result in issued patents that our existing or future products or proprietary technologies may be alleged to infringe.

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 and products, proprietary processes and any other inventions that are commercially or strategically important to the development of our business. We also rely upon trademarks to build and maintain the integrity of our brand, and we seek to protect the confidentiality of trade secrets that may be important to the development of our business. For more information, please see "Risk Factors-Risks Related to Intellectual Property."

There has been substantial litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights in the medical device industry. In the future, we may need to engage in litigation to enforce our issued patents, to protect our trade secrets or know-how, to defend against claims of infringement of the rights of others or to determine the scope and validity of the proprietary rights of others. Litigation could be costly and could divert our attention from other functions and responsibilities. Adverse determinations in litigation could subject us to significant liabilities to third parties, could require us to seek licenses from third parties and could prevent us from manufacturing, selling or using our gammaCore products, any of which could severely harm our business.

Copyrights, Trademarks and Trade Secrets

The software programs associated with gammaCore and our proprietary ecosystem are protected by U.S. copyright law.

As of February 1, 2021, our trademark portfolio consisted of five US trademark registrations, including electroCore, gammaCore and gammaCore Sapphire, three international trademark registrations, and five pending international trademark applications.  

We also rely upon trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation, and may pursue licensing opportunities in the future, to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our proprietary rights through a variety of methods, including confidentiality agreements and proprietary information agreements with suppliers, employees, consultants and others who may have access to proprietary information, under which they are bound to assign to us inventions made during the term of their employment or term of service.

Government Regulation

United States

Our products and operations are subject to extensive and rigorous regulation by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FFDCA, and its implementing regulations, guidance documentation, and standards. Our gammaCore products are regulated by the FDA as medical devices. The FDA regulates the design, development, research, testing, manufacturing, safety, labeling, storage, recordkeeping, promotion, distribution, sale and advertising of medical devices in the United States to ensure that medical products distributed domestically are safe and effective for their intended uses. The FDA also regulates the export of medical devices manufactured in the United States to international markets. Any violations of these laws and regulations could result in a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if there is a change in law, regulation or judicial interpretation, we may be required to change our business practices, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.


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Under the FFDCA, medical devices are classified into one of three classes—Class I, Class II or Class III—depending on the degree of risk associated with each medical device and the extent of control needed to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Class I devices are those for which safety and effectiveness can be assured by adherence to FDA’s “general controls” for medical devices, which include compliance with the applicable portions of the FDA’s Quality System Regulation, or QSR, facility registration and product listing, reporting of adverse medical events, and appropriate, truthful and non-misleading labeling, advertising, and promotional materials. Some Class I devices also require premarket clearance by the FDA through the 510(k) premarket notification process described below.

Class II devices are subject to FDA’s general controls, and any other “special controls” deemed necessary by FDA to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the device, such as performance standards, product-specific guidance documents, special labeling requirements, patient registries or post-market surveillance. Premarket review and clearance by the FDA for Class II devices is accomplished through the 510(k) premarket notification procedure, though certain Class II devices are exempt from this premarket review process. When a 510(k) is required, the manufacturer must submit to the FDA a premarket notification submission demonstrating that the device is “substantially equivalent” to a legally marketed device, which in some cases may require submission of clinical data. Unless a specific exemption applies, 510(k) premarket notification submissions are subject to user fees. If the FDA determines that the device, or its intended use, is not substantially equivalent to a legally marketed device, the FDA will place the device, or the particular use of the device, into Class III, and the device sponsor must then fulfill much more rigorous premarketing requirements.

Class III devices, consisting of devices deemed by the FDA to pose the greatest risk, such as life-sustaining, life-supporting or implantable devices, or devices deemed not substantially equivalent to a predicate device. The safety and effectiveness of Class III devices cannot be assured solely by general or special controls. Submission and FDA approval of a premarket approval, or PMA, application is required before marketing of a Class III device can proceed. As with 510(k) submissions, unless subject to an exemption, PMA submissions are subject to user fees. The PMA process is much more demanding than the 510(k) premarket notification process. A PMA application, which is intended to demonstrate that the device is safe and effective, must be supported by extensive data, typically including data from preclinical studies and human clinical trials.


510(k) Clearance

To obtain 510(k) clearance for a medical device, an applicant must submit to the FDA a premarket notification demonstrating that the proposed device is “substantially equivalent” to a legally marketed device, known as a “predicate device.” A legally marketed predicate device may include a device that was legally marketed prior to May 28, 1976 for which a PMA is not required (known as a “pre-amendments device” based on the date of enactment of the Medical Device Amendments of 1976), a device that has been reclassified from Class III to Class II or Class I, or a device that was found substantially equivalent through the 510(k) process. A device is substantially equivalent if, with respect to the predicate device, it has the same intended use and has either (i) the same technological characteristics, or (ii) different technological characteristics, but the information provided in the 510(k) submission demonstrates that the device does not raise new questions of safety and effectiveness and is at least as safe and effective as the predicate device. A showing of substantial equivalence sometimes, but not always, requires clinical data.

Before the FDA will accept a 510(k) submission for substantive review, the FDA will first assess whether the submission satisfies a minimum threshold of acceptability. If the FDA determines that the 510(k) submission is incomplete, the FDA will issue a “Refuse to Accept” letter which generally outlines the information the FDA believes is necessary to permit a substantive review and to reach a determination regarding substantial equivalence. An applicant must submit the requested information before the FDA will proceed with additional review of the submission. Once the 510(k) submission is accepted for review, by regulation, the FDA has 90 days to review and issue a determination. As a practical matter, clearance often takes longer. The FDA may require additional information, including clinical data, to make a determination regarding substantial equivalence.


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If the FDA agrees that the device is substantially equivalent to a predicate device currently on the market, it will grant 510(k) clearance to commercially market the device. If the FDA determines that the device is “not substantially equivalent” to a previously cleared device, the device is automatically designated as a Class III device. The device sponsor must then fulfill more rigorous PMA requirements, or can request a risk-based classification determination for the device in accordance with the “de novo” process, which is a route to market for novel medical devices that are low to moderate risk and are not substantially equivalent to a predicate device.

After a device receives 510(k) marketing clearance, any modification that could significantly affect its safety or effectiveness, or that would constitute a major change or modification in its intended use, will require a new 510(k) marketing clearance or, depending on the modification, PMA approval. The determination as to whether or not a modification could significantly affect the device’s safety or effectiveness is initially left to the manufacturer using available FDA guidance. Many minor modifications today are accomplished by a “letter to file” in which the manufacture documents the rationale for the change and why a new 510(k) is not required. However, the FDA may review such letters to file to evaluate the regulatory status of the modified product at any time and may require the manufacturer to cease marketing and recall the modified device until 510(k) clearance or PMA approval is obtained. The manufacturer may also be subject to significant regulatory fines or penalties.

PMA Approval

A PMA must be submitted to the FDA for any device that is classified in Class III or otherwise cannot be cleared through the 510(k) process (although the FDA has discretion to continue to allow certain pre-amendment Class III devices to use the 510(k) process). PMA applications must be supported by, among other things, valid scientific evidence demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of the device, which typically requires extensive data, including technical, preclinical, clinical and manufacturing data. The PMA must also contain a full description of the device and its components, a full description of the methods, facilities, and controls used for manufacturing, and proposed labeling. Following receipt of a PMA application, once the FDA determines that the application is sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review, the FDA will formally accept the application for review. The FDA, by statute and by regulation, has 180-days to review an “accepted” PMA application, although the review of an application more often occurs over a significantly longer period of time, and can take up to several years. During the review period, the FDA will typically request additional information or clarification of the information already provided. Also, an advisory panel of experts from outside the FDA may be convened to review and evaluate the application and provide recommendations to the FDA as to the approvability of the device. The FDA may or may not accept the panel’s recommendation. In addition, the FDA will generally conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities to ensure compliance with the QSR.

If the FDA evaluations of both the PMA application and the manufacturing facilities are favorable, the FDA will either issue an approval letter or an approvable letter, which usually contains a number of conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the PMA. If the FDA’s evaluation of the PMA or manufacturing facilities is not favorable, the FDA will deny approval of the PMA or issue a not approvable letter. A not approvable letter will outline the deficiencies in the application and, where practical, will identify what is necessary to make the PMA approvable. The FDA may also determine that additional clinical trials are necessary, in which case the PMA approval may be delayed for several months or years while the trials are conducted. Once granted, PMA approval may be withdrawn by the FDA if compliance with post-approval requirements, conditions of approval or other regulatory standards is not maintained, or problems are identified following initial marketing.

In approving a PMA, the FDA may also require some form of post-market surveillance when necessary to protect the public health or to provide additional safety and effectiveness data for the device. In such cases, the manufacturer might be required to follow certain patient groups for a number of years and makes periodic reports to the FDA on the clinical status of those patients.

New PMAs or PMA supplements are required for modifications that affect the safety or effectiveness of a PMA-approved device, including, for example, certain types of modifications to the device’s indication for use, manufacturing process, labeling and design. PMA supplements often require submission of the same type of information as a PMA, except that the supplement is limited to information needed to support any changes from the device covered by the original PMA and may not require as extensive clinical data or the convening of an advisory panel.


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EUA Approval

The Commissioner of the FDA, under delegated authority from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or DHHS, may, under certain circumstances, issue an EUA that would permit the use of an unapproved drug product or unapproved use of an approved drug product. Before an EUA may be issued, the Secretary must declare an emergency based on one of the following grounds:

 

 

a determination by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security that there is a domestic emergency, or a significant potential for a domestic emergency, involving a heightened risk of attack with a specified biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents;

  

 

a determination by the Secretary of the DoD that there is a military emergency, or a significant potential for a military emergency, involving a heightened risk to U.S. military forces of attack with a specified biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents; or

 

 

a determination by the Secretary of the DHHS that a public health emergency that effects, or has the significant potential to effect, national security and that involves a specified biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents, or a specified disease or condition that may be attributable to such agent or agent.


In order to be the subject of an EUA, the FDA Commissioner must conclude that, based on the totality of scientific evidence available, it is reasonable to believe that the product may be effective in diagnosing, treating or preventing a disease attributable to the agents described above, that the product’s potential benefits outweigh its potential risks and that there is no adequate approved alternative to the product.

 

Although an EUA cannot be issued until after an emergency has been declared by the Secretary of DHHS, the FDA strongly encourages an entity with a possible candidate product, particularly one at an advanced stage of development, to contact the FDA center responsible for the candidate product before a determination of actual or potential emergency. Such an entity may submit a request for consideration that includes data to demonstrate that, based on the totality of scientific evidence available, it is reasonable to believe that the product may be effective in diagnosing, treating, or preventing the serious or life-threatening disease or condition. This is called a pre-EUA submission and its purpose is to allow FDA review considering that during an emergency, the time available for the submission and review of an EUA request may be severely limited.


De Novo Classification

Medical device types that the FDA has not previously classified as Class I, II or III are automatically classified into Class III regardless of the level of risk they pose. The Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 established a new route to market for low to moderate risk medical devices that are automatically placed into Class III due to the absence of a predicate device, called the “Request for Evaluation of Automatic Class III Designation,” or the de novo classification procedure. This procedure allows a manufacturer whose novel device is automatically classified into Class III to request down-classification of its medical device into Class I or Class II on the basis that the device presents low or moderate risk, rather than requiring the submission and approval of a PMA application. Prior to the enactment of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, or the FDASIA, a medical device could only be eligible for de novo classification if the manufacturer first submitted a 510(k) premarket notification and received a determination from the FDA that the device was not substantially equivalent. FDASIA streamlined the de novo classification pathway by permitting manufacturers to request de novo classification directly without first submitting a 510(k) premarket notification to the FDA and receiving a not substantially equivalent determination. Under FDASIA, the FDA is required to classify the device within 120 days following receipt of the de novo submission. If the manufacturer seeks reclassification into Class II, the manufacturer must include a draft proposal for special controls that are necessary to provide a reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the medical device. In addition, the FDA may reject the reclassification petition if it identifies a legally marketed predicate device that would be appropriate for a 510(k) or determines that the device is not low to moderate risk or that general controls would be inadequate to control the risks and special controls cannot be developed.


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In March 2014 we filed a pre-submission package with the FDA requesting a meeting to discuss the viability of using the de novo pathway to gain authorization to commercialize our gammaCore product for an initial indication in CH. In June 2014, FDA met with us and confirmed that the de novo pathway would be appropriate for our submission. In October 2014 we filed our initial de novo submission with FDA. As is customary for many applications for commercial approval (Class II or Class III), FDA in a letter to us in May 2015 denied our initial application stating that our initial filing did not yet support a de novo clearance based on the information in the initial filing. In June 2015 we participated in an in-person meeting with FDA representatives to discuss the issues raised by the FDA in its May 2015 denial letter. In October 2015, based on our June 2015 meeting with FDA, we resubmitted our de novo submission with two proposed indications: (i) acute treatment of eCH; and (ii) prophylactic treatment of cCH. In February 2016, we received a letter from FDA indicating that our de novo submission, with some further requested re-analysis, included sufficient data to support de novo classification and clearance of gammaCore for at least one indication. We performed and submitted to the FDA the requested re-analysis in March 2016 and, following additional correspondence and meetings with FDA, in April 2017, FDA approved our de novo classification request and cleared our gammaCore therapy in the United States for the acute treatment of pain associated with eCH in adults.

Based on this approval, of our de novo classification request, gammaCore has been down classified to Class II under a new Class II device regulatory category for non-invasive cervical vagus nerve stimulators for the treatment of headache. The establishment of this category created a 510(k) regulatory pathway for the potential expansion of the gammaCore label to include acute treatment and/or prevention of pain associated with migraine and cCH, as well as acute treatment and/or prevention of other primary and secondary headaches. In January 2018, the FDA cleared gammaCore for acute treatment of pain associated with migraine headaches in adult patients, and on March 26, 2020 the FDA cleared our gammaCore therapy for prevention of migraine in adult patients. In February 2021, gammaCore received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for the acute and preventive treatment of migraine in adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age.

Additionally, we may consider utilizing the de novo classification process to obtain marketing authorization for our product candidates under development outside the headache field.

 

Clinical Studies

When FDA clearance or approval of a Class I, Class II or Class III device requires human clinical trials, and if the device presents a “significant risk” to human health, the device sponsor is required to file an IDE, or Investigational Device Exemption, application with the FDA and obtain IDE approval prior to commencing the human clinical trial. If the device is considered a “non-significant risk,” IDE submission to FDA is not required. Instead, only approval from the Institutional Review Board, or IRB, overseeing the investigation at each clinical trial site is required. Human clinical studies are generally required in connection with approval of Class III devices and may be required for Class I and II devices. The FDA or the IRB at each institution at which a clinical trial is being performed may suspend a clinical trial at any time for various reasons, including a belief that the subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Even if a trial is completed, the results of clinical testing may not adequately demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the device or may otherwise not be sufficient to obtain FDA clearance or approval to market the product in the United States.


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Continuing Regulation

After a device is placed on the market, numerous regulatory requirements apply. These include:

 

 

Product listing and establishment registration, which helps facilitate FDA inspections and other regulatory action;

 

 

QSR, which requires manufacturers, including third-party manufacturers, to follow stringent design, testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance procedures during all aspects of the design and manufacturing process;

 

 

labeling regulations and FDA prohibitions against the promotion of products for uncleared or unapproved “off-label” uses;

 

 

clearance of product modifications that could significantly affect safety or efficacy or that would constitute a major change in intended use of one of our cleared devices;

 

 

approval of product modifications that affect the safety or effectiveness of one of our approved devices;

 

 

medical device reporting regulations, which require that manufacturers comply with FDA requirements to report if their device may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury, or has malfunctioned in a way that would likely cause or contribute to a death or serious injury if the malfunction of the device or a similar device were to recur;

 

 

post-approval restrictions or conditions, including post-approval study commitments;

 

 

post-market surveillance regulations, which apply when necessary to protect the public health or to provide additional safety and effectiveness data for the device;

 

 

the FDA’s recall authority, whereby it can ask, or under certain conditions order, device manufacturers to recall from the market a product that is in violation of governing laws and regulations;

 

 

regulations pertaining to voluntary recalls; and

 

 

notices of corrections or removals.

Advertising and promotion of medical devices, in addition to being regulated by the FDA, are also regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and by state regulatory and enforcement authorities. Recently, promotional activities for FDA-regulated products of other companies have been the subject of enforcement action brought under healthcare reimbursement laws and consumer protection statutes. In addition, under the federal Lanham Act and similar state laws, competitors and others can initiate litigation relating to advertising claims. If the FDA determines that our promotional materials or training constitutes promotion of an unapproved or uncleared use, it could request that we modify our training or promotional materials or subject us to regulatory or enforcement actions. It is also possible that other federal, state or foreign enforcement authorities might take action if they consider our promotional or training materials to constitute promotion of an unapproved or uncleared use, which could result in significant fines or penalties under other statutory authorities, such as laws prohibiting false claims for reimbursement. In that event, our reputation could be damaged, and adoption of the products would be impaired.

Furthermore, our products could be subject to voluntary recall if we or the FDA determine, for any reason, that our products pose a risk of injury or are otherwise defective. Moreover, the FDA can order a mandatory recall if there is a reasonable probability that our gammaCore therapy would cause serious adverse health consequences or death.


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 The FDA has broad post-market and regulatory enforcement powers. We are subject to unannounced inspections by the FDA to determine our compliance with the QSR and other regulations, and these inspections may include the manufacturing facilities of some of our subcontractors. Failure by us or by our suppliers to comply with applicable regulatory requirements can result in enforcement action by the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which may result in sanctions including, but not limited to:


 

untitled letters, warning letters, fines, injunctions, consent decrees and civil penalties;

 

 

unanticipated expenditures to address or defend such actions

 

 

customer notifications for repair, replacement, refunds;

 

 

recall, detention or seizure of our products;

 

 

operating restrictions or partial suspension or total shutdown of production;

 

 

refusing or delaying our requests for 510(k) clearance or PMA approval of new products or modified products;

 

 

operating restrictions;

 

 

withdrawing 510(k) clearances or PMA approvals that have already been granted;

 

 

refusal to grant export approval for our products; 

 

 

criminal prosecution; or





reputational damage

To date, our facility has not been inspected by the FDA.

Our international sales are subject to regulatory requirements in the countries in which our products are sold. The regulatory review process varies from country to country and may in some cases require the submission of clinical data.

We received CE Certificate of Conformity in the European Economic Area (which is composed of all the EU member states and the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), or EEA, for our gammaCore therapy to treat, primary headache, including migraine, CH, and hemicrania continua, as well as medication overuse headache in adults. The CE Certificate of Conformity was extended to additional indications, including for the treatment or prevention of symptoms of reactive airway disease, which includes asthma, bronchoconstriction, exercise induced bronchospasm, and COPD in adults.

In the EEA, gammaCore must currently comply with the essential requirements laid down in Annex I to Directive 93/42/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the member states relating to medical devices or the EU Medical Devices Directive. Compliance with these requirements is a prerequisite to be able to affix the CE mark to gammaCore, without which they cannot be marketed or sold in the EEA. To demonstrate compliance with the essential requirements and obtain the right to affix the CE Mark medical devices manufacturers must undergo a conformity assessment procedure, which varies according to the type of medical device and its classification. Except for low-risk medical devices (Class I with no measuring function and which are not sterile), where the manufacturer can issue an EC Declaration of Conformity based on a self-assessment of the conformity of its products with the Essential Requirements, a conformity assessment procedure requires the intervention of a notified body, which is an organization designated by a competent authority of an EEA country to conduct conformity assessments. Depending on the relevant conformity assessment procedure, the notified body would audit and examine the technical documentation and the quality system for the manufacture, design and final inspection of the medical devices. The notified body issues a CE Certificate of Conformity following successful completion of a conformity assessment procedure conducted in relation to the medical device and its manufacturer and their conformity with the essential requirements. This Certificate entitles the manufacturer to affix the CE mark to its medical devices after having prepared and signed a related EC Declaration of Conformity. 


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As a general rule, demonstration of conformity of medical devices and their manufacturers with the Essential Requirements must be based, among other things, on the evaluation of clinical data supporting the safety and performance of the products during normal conditions of use. Specifically, a manufacturer must demonstrate that the device achieves its intended performance during normal conditions of use and that the known and foreseeable risks, and any adverse events, are minimized and acceptable when weighed against the benefits of its intended performance, and that any claims made about the performance and safety of the device (e.g., product labeling and instructions for use) are supported by suitable evidence. This assessment must be based on clinical data, which can be obtained from (1) clinical studies conducted on the devices being assessed, (2) scientific literature from similar devices whose equivalence with the assessed device can be demonstrated or (3) both clinical studies and scientific literature. gammaCore is a Class IIa medical device in the EU. The conduct of clinical studies in the EEA is governed by detailed regulatory obligations. These may include the requirement of prior authorization by the competent authorities of the country in which the study takes place and the requirement to obtain a positive opinion from a competent ethics committee. This process can be expensive and time-consuming.

Moreover, in May 2017, the EU Medical Devices Regulation 2017/745, or MDR was adopted. The MDR repeals and replaces the EU Medical Devices Directive. Unlike directives, which must be implemented into the national laws of the EEA member states, the regulations would be directly applicable, i.e., without the need for adoption of EEA Member State laws implementing them, in all EEA member states and are intended to eliminate current differences in the regulation of medical devices among EEA member states. The MDR, among other things, is intended to establish a uniform, transparent, predictable and sustainable regulatory framework across the EEA for medical devices and ensure a high level of safety and health while supporting innovation. The MDR will be applicable on May 26, 2021. Once applicable, the new regulations will among other things:

 

 

strengthen the rules on placing devices on the market and reinforce surveillance once they are available;

 

 

establish explicit provisions on manufacturers’ responsibilities for the follow-up of the quality, performance and safety of devices placed on the market;

 

 

improve the traceability of medical devices throughout the supply chain to the end-user or patient through a unique identification number;

 

 

set up a central database to provide patients, healthcare professionals and the public with comprehensive information on products available in the EU;

 

 

strengthened rules for the assessment of certain high-risk devices which may have to undergo an additional check by experts before they are placed on the market.

It was necessary for notified bodies to be accredited by the EU Member States’ accreditation bodies to conduct assessment procedures for medical devices in accordance with the Regulation. We have the necessary certificates for the MDR. 

On March 29, 2017 the United Kingdom formally notified the EU of its intention to withdraw from the Union pursuant to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, commonly referred to as Brexit. The United Kingdom and EU have agreed on the terms of the exit deal, which included a transitional period following the United Kingdom’s exit which occurred on January 31, 2020. The transitional period ended on December 31, 2020. The effects of Brexit will be determined by the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement which was agreed on December 24, 2020 and ratified by the UK Parliament on December 30, 2020 and was “provisionally” applied by the EU from December 31, 2020. Following Brexit, EU law and the EU Court of Justice no longer have supremacy over British laws or its Supreme Court. The United Kingdom's European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 retains relevant EU law as domestic law, which can be amended or repealed. The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU could lead to legal uncertainty and potentially divergent national laws and regulations in the EU and the United Kingdom. Given the lack of comparable precedent, it is unclear what Brexit’s financial, regulatory, and legal implications will be and how it will affect us. However, potentially changing regulatory schemes and tariffs engendered by Brexit may add additional complexity, cost and delays to the operations of electroCore UK Ltd., and in marketing or selling our products in the United Kingdom. Our revenue and profit, supply and demand for our products, and customer retention and acquisition in both the long term and short term could be adversely affected. CE Certificates of Conformity issued by a notified body accredited in the EU may no longer be recognized in the United Kingdom. Similarly, notified bodies accredited in the United Kingdom will no longer be able to issue CE Certificates of Conformity. Obtaining new CE Certificates of Conformity or certification for the United Kingdom may have a significant impact on our activities. Finally, Brexit may also disrupt the way that the United Kingdom interprets obligations under CE Certificates of Conformity.


Other Regulations

We are also subject to healthcare fraud and abuse regulation in the jurisdictions in which we will conduct our business. These laws include, without limitation, applicable anti-kickback, false claims, transparency and patient privacy and security laws and regulations.


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Anti-Kickback Statute: The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, persons or entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or paying any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, in exchange for or to induce either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, lease, order or recommendation of, any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under federal healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The federal Anti-Kickback Statute is broad and prohibits many arrangements and practices that are lawful in businesses outside of the healthcare industry. The term “remuneration” includes kickbacks, bribes, or rebates and also has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value, including for example, gifts, discounts, the furnishing of supplies or equipment, credit arrangements, payments of cash, waivers of payments, ownership interests, relieving a referral source of a financial or administrative burden and providing anything at less than its fair market value. In addition, longstanding OIG guidance makes clear that the opportunity for a referring physician to earn a profit, including through an investment in an entity for which he or she generates business, could constitute illegal remuneration under the Anti-Kickback Statute. The Anti-Kickback Statute is violated if even one purpose of the remuneration is to induce such referrals.

There are a number of narrow statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting certain defined business arrangements from prosecution under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. These statutory exceptions and safe harbors protect an entity from prosecution under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute if the entity meets every requirement of a specific exception or safe harbor. The failure of a transaction or arrangement to fit precisely within one or more applicable statutory exceptions or safe harbors does not necessarily mean that it is illegal or that prosecution will be pursued. However, conduct and business arrangements that do not fully satisfy all requirements of an applicable safe harbor may result in increased scrutiny by government enforcement authorities and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all of its facts and circumstances. Further, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act which is discussed below. Penalties for violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute include, but are not limited to, significant civil monetary penalties for each violation, criminal fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, exclusion from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, and the possible curtailment or restructuring of operations.

Physician Self-Referral Law: In the event that third-party payers require us to be a DME supplier or we sell our products directly to providers who are DME suppliers that submit claims to such payers, we may be subject to the federal Stark physician self-referral law, or Stark Law, which prohibits a physician from making a referral for certain designated health services covered by the Medicare program or Medicaid program, including DME, if the physician or an immediate family member has a financial relationship with the entity providing the designated health services, and prohibits that entity from billing or presenting a claim for the designated health services furnished pursuant to the prohibited referral, unless an exception applies. Sanctions for violating the Stark Law include denial of payment, significant per claim civil monetary penalties, and exclusion from the federal health care programs. Failure to refund amounts received as a result of a prohibited referral on a timely basis may constitute a false or fraudulent claim and may result in civil penalties and additional penalties under the FCA. The statute also provides for financial penalties for a circumvention scheme. Various states also have corollary laws to the Stark Law, including laws that require physicians to disclose any financial interest they may have with a healthcare provider to their patients when referring patients to that provider. Both the scope and exceptions for such laws vary from state to state.

Federal Civil False Claims Act: The federal civil False Claims Act prohibits, among other things, persons or entities from knowingly presenting or causing to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for, or the knowing use of false statements to obtain, payment of federal funds. In addition, private individuals have the ability to bring actions under the civil False Claims Act in the name of the government and themselves and to share in any monetary recover. Such suits, known as qui tam actions, have increased significantly in the healthcare industry in recent years. Manufacturers can be held liable under these laws if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims by, for example, providing inaccurate billing or coding information to customers or promoting a product off-label. Penalties for a federal civil False Claims Act violation include significant per claim or statement mandatory civil penalties, plus treble damages, and the potential for exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs.

Civil Monetary Penalties. The Civil Monetary Penalty Act of 1981 imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal healthcare 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, or offering or transferring remuneration to a federal healthcare beneficiary that a person knows or should know is likely to influence the beneficiary’s decision to order or receive items or services reimbursable by the government from a particular provider or supplier.

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Federal Healthcare Fraud Laws. Other federal healthcare fraud-related laws also provide criminal liability for violations. The criminal healthcare fraud statute (18 U.S.C. § 1347) enacted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payers. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the HIPAA fraud statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have a committed a violation. Federal criminal false statement laws at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 and 1035, among other sections, prohibit, among other things, 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, or in any matter within the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996: HIPAA and its implementing regulations established uniform standards for certain covered entities, which are healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses, as well as their business associates, governing the conduct of specified electronic healthcare transactions and protecting the security and privacy of protected health information. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH has four tiers of civil monetary penalties and state attorneys have general authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. The Department of Justice also may impose criminal penalties. Additionally, certain states have adopted comparable privacy and security laws and regulations, some of which may be more stringent than HIPAA and HITECH, and numerous federal and state laws, including state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws, and federal and state consumer protection laws, including for example, Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, as amended, and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), govern the collection, use, and disclosure and protection of certain health-related and other personal information.

The Federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act: The federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with certain exceptions, to report annually to the CMS, information related to “payments or other transfers of value” made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, and to report annually to CMS certain ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. The government may impose significant civil monetary penalties, for all payments, transfers of value or ownership or investment interests that are not timely, accurately, and completely reported in an annual submission. Beginning in 2022, applicable manufacturers also will be required to report information regarding payments and transfers of value provided to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists and certified nurse-midwives.

Analogous State Laws: The majority of states also have statutes or regulations similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and federal civil False Claims Act, which apply to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payer. Certain states also require device and drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures, require device and drug companies to comply with the 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 specified recipients.

Data Protection Legislation: We are subject to laws and regulations in non-US countries covering data privacy and the protection of health-related and other personal information. The EU, EU member states and other jurisdictions have adopted data protection laws and regulations, which impose significant compliance obligations. The EU General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, became applicable on May 25, 2018 and is directly applicable in each EU member state and may result in a more uniform application of data privacy laws across the EU. The GDPR imposes strict requirements and onerous accountability obligations on companies that process personal data, especially if they process sensitive personal data (such as data concerning health), including significant fines for non-compliance with the GDPR. Implementation of the GDPR has influenced other jurisdictions to either amend or propose legislation to amend their existing data privacy and cybersecurity laws to resemble the requirements of GDPR. For example, on June 27, 2019, California adopted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2019, or CCPA. The CCPA has been characterized as the first “GDPR-like” institutes a comprehensive consumer privacy framework. The CCPA became effective January 1, 2020. Like the GDPR, the CCPA imposes strict requirements and obligations on companies that collect, use, and share personal information. Fines and penalties for non-compliance can be substantial. Unlike the GDPR, the CCPA gives California residents a private right of action where California resident’s nonencrypted and nonredacted personal information is subject to a date breach as a result of a business’s failure to implement reasonable security procedures. In November 2020, California voters passed Proposition 24, also known as the California Privacy Rights Act, which amends and expands the CCPA, effective January 1, 2023.

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The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, prohibits any US individual or business from paying, offering, or authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the foreign entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with accounting provisions requiring such companies to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the corporation, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.

Healthcare Reform

The United States and some foreign jurisdictions are considering or have enacted a number of legislative and regulatory proposals to change the healthcare system in ways that could affect our ability to sell our products profitably. Among policy makers and payers in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality or expanding access. Current and future legislative proposals to further reform healthcare or reduce healthcare costs may limit coverage of or lower reimbursement for our products. The cost containment measures that payers and providers are instituting and the effect of any healthcare reform initiative implemented in the future could impact our revenue from the sale of our products.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the United States, for example, has changed healthcare financing and delivery by both governmental and private insurers substantially, and affected medical device manufacturers significantly. The Affordable Care Act, among other things, provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research, and implemented payment system reforms including a national pilot program on payment bundling to encourage hospitals, physicians and other providers to improve the coordination, quality and efficiency of certain healthcare services through bundled payment models. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act has expanded eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs and created a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research. Certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act have been subject to judicial challenges as well as efforts to repeal or replace them or to alter their interpretation and implementation. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted on December 22, 2017, which, among other things, eliminated the shared responsibility payment for individuals who fail to maintain minimal essential coverage under section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, commonly referred to as the individual mandate, as of January 1, 2019. Additional legislative changes to and regulatory changes under the Affordable Care Act remain possible, but the nature and extent of such additional changes are uncertain at this time.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. For example, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to recommend to Congress proposals for spending reductions. The Joint Select Committee did not achieve a targeted deficit reduction, which triggered the legislation’s automatic reductions. In concert with the subsequent legislation, this has resulted in aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of, on average, 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2029 unless additional Congressional action is taken. Additionally, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

We expect additional state and federal healthcare reform measures to 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 or additional pricing pressure.

Federal Contracting Regulations

Our qualifying contract on the FSS and open market sales to individual VA facilities necessitates compliance with applicable federal procurement laws and regulations, including commercial price disclosures, commercial-to-federal price indexing, and various federal programs. We are subject to contractual remedies as well as potential administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions for non-compliance.


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Employees

As of March 1, 2021, we employed 45 full-time employees. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered by a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.

We believe our success depends on our ability to attract, develop and retain key personnel. The skills, experience and industry knowledge of key employees significantly benefit our operations and performance. Our board of directors and management oversee various employee initiatives.

Employee health and safety in the workplace is one of our core values. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored for us the importance of keeping our employees safe and healthy. In response to the pandemic, the Company has taken actions aligned with best practices so our employees can continue to safely and effectively perform their work.


Company History

electroCore, Inc. was founded in 2005 as a limited liability company. electroCore, headquartered in New Jersey, has two wholly owned subsidiaries: electroCore Germany GmbH, and electroCore UK Ltd. The Company has ceased its operations in Germany, although sales to Germany are still supported by electroCore UK Ltd. In addition, an affiliate, electroCore (Aust) Pty Limited, or electroCore Australia, is subject to electroCore’s control on a basis other than voting interests and is a variable interest entity, or VIE, for which electroCore is the primary beneficiary. This VIE has been inactive since May 2017.

Our Internet website address is www.electrocore.com. The content reflected on our website is not incorporated by reference herein unless expressly noted.


Available Information

Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K and proxy statements, and all amendments thereto, are available free of charge on our Internet website. These reports are posted on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports are electronically filed with the SEC. The public may read and copy any materials that we file with the SEC electronically through the SEC website (www.sec.gov). The information contained on the SEC’s website is not incorporated by reference into this Form 10-K and should not be considered to be part of this Form 10-K. Within the Investors section of our website, we provide information concerning corporate governance, including our Corporate Governance Guidelines, board committee charters, Code of Conduct and other information. The content reflected on any website reflected in this Form 10-K is not incorporated by reference herein unless expressly noted.


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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

RISK FACTORS

 

 

You should carefully consider the following risk factors, in addition to the other information in this report on Form 10-K, including the section of this report titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and related notes. If any of the events described in the following risk factors and the risks described elsewhere in this report on Form 10-K occurs, our business, operating results and financial condition could be seriously harmed. This report on Form 10-K also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of factors that are described below and elsewhere in this report. 

Risks Related to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic could have a significant negative impact on our business, revenues, financial condition and results of operations. 

The persistence of the coronavirus pandemic has severely depressed the level of economic activity around the world. Many businesses and governments have taken preventative or protective actions, including restrictions on travel and business operations, and advising or requiring individuals to limit or forego their time outside of their homes. Temporary closures of many businesses have been ordered and numerous other businesses have temporarily closed voluntarily. Further, individuals' ability to travel has been curtailed through mandated travel restrictions, voluntary or mandated closures of travel-related businesses, as well as quarantines, shelter-in-place/stay-at-home and social distancing orders. 

This coronavirus pandemic has also impacted, and may continue to impact, our headquarters, manufacturing, and warehousing and distribution facilities, as well as those of our third-party vendors, including through the effects of facility closures, employee furloughs, reductions in operating hours, staggered shifts and other social distancing efforts, labor shortages, decreased productivity and unavailability of materials or components. For example, we have limited access to our New Jersey office as a result of state-imposed restrictions. The coronavirus pandemic may also impact our ability to sell our product, ship our product on a timely basis and may increase our costs.

The spread of coronavirus has also caused us to modify our business practices (including social distancing practices, requiring non-essential production related team members to work remotely where possible, restricting business travel, cancelling certain events, and limiting visitor access to our facilities), and we may take further actions as may be required by government authorities or that we determine are necessary or advisable. Work-from-home and other measures introduce additional operational risks, including cybersecurity risks, and have affected the way we conduct our business, which could have an adverse effect on our operations. There is no certainty that such measures will be sufficient to mitigate the risks posed by the virus, and illness and workforce disruptions could lead to unavailability of key personnel and harm our ability to perform critical functions. In addition, work-from-home and related business practice modifications present significant challenges to maintaining our corporate culture, including employee engagement and productivity, both during the immediate pandemic crisis and as we make additional adjustments in the eventual transition from it. Implementing new business practices in order to protect employees, vendors and other parties with whom we interact may result in increased costs. Furthermore, even if we follow what we believe to be best practices, there can be no assurance that our measures will prevent the transmission of COVID-19 between employees. Any incidents of actual or perceived transmission may expose us to liability claims, adversely impact employee productivity and morale, and result in negative publicity and reputational harm.

Additionally, our sales and marketing efforts are, and may from time to time be, adversely affected by protocols for screening and restricting outside visitors and vendors that have been adopted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, commercial prescribers and other third parties. Officially imposed quarantines and self-quarantines could also interfere with patients’ ability to see a health care provider and obtain our gammaCore therapy.

The degree to which coronavirus impacts our results will continue to depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including, without limitation, the timing, extent, trajectory and duration of the pandemic, the development, rollout and availability of effective treatments and vaccines, the imposition of protective public safety measures, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume, if at all. These uncertainties may result in delays or modifications to our plans, initiatives and results.

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For the reasons set forth above and other reasons that may come to light due to the coronavirus outbreak and any associated protective or preventative measures, we are unable to reasonably estimate coronavirus’ impact to our business, revenues, financial condition and results of operations. We are similarly unable to predict the degree to which the pandemic impacts our customers, suppliers, vendors, capital markets, and other partners, and their financial conditions, but a material effect on these parties could also adversely affect us.

The impact of coronavirus could also exacerbate other risks discussed below, which could in turn have a material adverse effect on us. Developments related to coronavirus have been rapidly changing, and additional impacts and risks may arise that we are not aware of or able to appropriately respond to currently.

Our ability to market gammaCore Sapphire CV under the EUA may be adversely affected to the extent that (i) the coronavirus pandemic subsides, regardless of whether or not the EUA is terminated, revoked or expires, and (ii) other treatments or vaccines for coronavirus are developed and made available. Furthermore, there are a number of preventative vaccines in development with two having received an Emergency Use Authorization approval and others potentially nearing regulatory approval. Additionally, the United States and other countries around the world have recently begun to approve and commence distributing COVID-19 vaccines in their jurisdictions. The broad distribution of COVID-19 vaccines may reduce demand for gammaCore Sapphire CV treatment as it may no longer be considered medically necessary.

More generally, in the future, our business, financial results, and financial condition may be negatively impacted by the effects of other disease outbreaks, epidemics, pandemics, or similar widespread public health concerns.

 

Risk Related to our Financial Position, Operating Results and Need for Additional Capital

We have a history of significant losses. If we do not achieve and sustain profitability and positive cash flow from operations, our financial condition could suffer. Our failure to become and remain profitable could negatively impact the results of our operations and your investment.

We have experienced significant net losses, and we expect to continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future as we operate our sales and marketing infrastructure, increase market acceptance of our gammaCore therapy, fund our research and development activities, and obtain regulatory clearance or approval for other products or indications in the United States and internationally. We have never been profitable and have incurred net losses in each year since our inception.

We incurred net losses of $23.5 million and $45.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, our accumulated deficit was $107.0 million. Our prior losses, combined with expected future losses, have had and will continue to have, for the foreseeable future, an adverse effect on our stockholders’ deficit and working capital.

To become and remain profitable, we must successfully commercialize our gammaCore therapy and continue to identify promising new areas of treatment with significant market potential. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, which may include obtaining adequate coverage and reimbursement from payers, marketing and selling any current and future product candidates for which we may obtain marketing clearance, approval or authorization, developing commercial scale manufacturing processes, completing future clinical trials of gammaCore for additional therapeutic indications, obtaining additional marketing clearance, approval or authorization from regulatory authorities, manufacturing, and satisfying any post-marketing requirements. We face a variety of challenges and risks that we will need to address and manage as we pursue our strategy, including our ability to achieve adequate payer coverage, develop and retain an effective sales force, achieve market acceptance of gammaCore among physicians, patients and third-party payers, and expand the use of gammaCore to additional therapeutic indications. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with our commercialization efforts, as well as research and clinical development activities, we are unable to predict the timing or amount of increased expenses, or when, if ever, we will be able to achieve or maintain profitability. We expect to continue to incur substantial net losses and negative cash flows from operations as we commercialize gammaCore. We intend to continue to make targeted investments in building our U.S. and UK commercial infrastructure.

Even if we are able to increase sales of gammaCore, increase adoption of gammaCore therapy among physicians, payers, and patients and achieve desired payer coverage levels, we may not achieve profitability and even if we do, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability in subsequent periods. If we fail to become profitable or are unable to sustain profitability, then we may be unable to continue our operations at planned levels and be forced to further reduce or terminate our operations. As of December 31, 2020, we had cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities of $22.6 million. There can be no assurance that we will have sufficient cash flow and liquidity to fund our planned activities, which could force us to significantly reduce or curtail our activities and ultimately, potentially cease operations. Our failure to become and remain profitable would decrease the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our research and development efforts, expand our business or continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company also could cause you to lose all or part of your investment.


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We will be required to obtain additional funds in the future, and these funds may not be available on acceptable terms or at all, which could impair our ability to continue as a going concern.

Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception, and we anticipate this continuing for at least the next 12 months as we continue seeking to invest in our business. We believe that our growth will depend, in part, on our ability to fund our commercial efforts for our gammaCore therapy, and to opportunistically pursue research and development activities for additional indications for our gammaCore therapy. Our existing resources are unlikely to allow us to conduct all of the activities that we believe could be beneficial for our future growth. As a result, we may need to seek additional funds in the future or curtail or forgo some or all of such activities. If we seek to and are unable to raise funds on favorable terms, or at all, we may not be able to support our commercialization efforts or increase our research and development activities and the growth of our business may be negatively impacted. As a result, we may be unable to compete effectively. Although we expect that our existing capital resources and cash flow, will enable us to fund the operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements of our current operating plan for 12 months, this estimate is based on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could exhaust or significantly diminish our available capital resources sooner than we expect. Changes, including those relating to the payer and competitive landscape, our commercialization strategy, our development activities and regulatory matters, may occur beyond our control that would cause us to consume our available capital more quickly. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

 


the outcome, timing of, and costs involved with negotiating, obtaining, maintaining and enhancing payer coverage; 




the outcome, timing of, and costs involved with our plan to potentially expand our direct-to-consumer cash-pay business channel;



 

the outcome, timing of, and costs involved in, making gammaCore Sapphire CV available pursuant to the EUA to facilitate its study and clinical use for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients;

 

 

the scope and timing of our investment in our U.S. and UK commercial infrastructure and sales force;

 

 

the costs of commercialization activities including sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution;

 

 

the costs incurred in defending against pending securities class-action litigations and other potential litigation, as well as the costs of any potential judgements or settlements;

 

 

the degree and rate of payer, physician, patient and market acceptance of our gammaCore therapy;

 

 

the outcome, timing of, and costs involved in, seeking and obtaining clearances or approvals from the FDA and other regulatory authorities, including the potential for the FDA and other regulatory authorities to require that we perform more studies, clinical trials or tests on our gammaCore therapy than we currently expect;

 

 

the research and development activities we may undertake in order to expand our headache indications and enhancements to our gammaCore therapy;

 

 

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

 

 

the need for us and third parties, including payers and service providers, to potentially need to implement new or revised policies, infrastructure and internal systems;

 

 

our ability to hire additional personnel to support our operations, including as a public company; and

 

 

the emergence and acceptance of competing therapies or other adverse market developments.


To finance our activities, we may seek funds through borrowings or through additional rounds of financing, including public equity or debt offerings and collaborative arrangements with corporate partners. We may be unable to raise funds on favorable terms, if at all. We do not currently have any agreements or understandings with respect to any potential financing. Our stock price, market capitalization trading volume, and other macro-economic factors may affect our ability to raise funds and the terms on which we will be able to raise funds. Our failure to obtain additional necessary financing could impair our ability to conduct our operations, and any such failure to raise capital as and when needed could have a negative impact on our financial condition and on our ability to (i) pursue our business plans and strategies and (ii) maintain our listing on the Nasdaq Stock Market.


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In addition, our auditors’ report for our 2020 financial statements contains a statement concerning our ability to continue as a “going concern.” Our lack of sufficient liquidity could make it more difficult for us to secure additional financing terms acceptable to us, if at all, and may materially and adversely affect the terms of any financing that we may obtain and our stock price generally. Our continuation as a “going concern” is dependent upon, among other things, our ability to increase revenue, reduce operating expenses and obtain additional funding through the sale of equity and or debt securities, debt financing, a strategic transaction or otherwise. However, there are significant risks and uncertainties as to our ability to achieve these goals or obtain required funding on commercially reasonable terms or at all, including as a result of the adverse impact on our business from the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these risks and uncertainties, we may need to reduce our activities significantly more than our current operating plan and cash flow projections assume in order to fund operations for at least the next 12 months. There can be no assurance that we will have sufficient cash flow and liquidity to fund our planned activities, which could force us to significantly reduce or curtail our activities and ultimately, potentially cease operations.


The sale of additional equity or convertible debt securities could result in additional dilution to our stockholders. If we borrow additional funds or issue debt securities, lenders or security holders could have rights superior to holders of our common stock and such indebtedness could contain covenants that will restrict our operations. We might have to obtain funds through arrangements with collaborative partners or others that may require us to relinquish rights to our technologies, therapeutic candidates, or products that we otherwise would not relinquish. If we do not obtain additional resources, our ability to capitalize on business opportunities will be limited, we may be unable to compete effectively, and the growth of our business will be harmed.


Our reported financial results may be adversely affected by new accounting pronouncements or changes in existing accounting standards and practices.


Generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or GAAP, are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or the AICPA, the SEC and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles.


Such changes to our accounting and GAAP reporting may significantly affect our results of operations to the extent that actual results differ significantly from estimated and previous quarter results or vary materially from quarter to quarter. While the adoption of the new standards will not change the cash flows, we receive from our contracts with customers, the changes to our reporting practices and the potential fluctuations in our reported results could cause a decline and/or fluctuation in the price of our common stock.

 

Risks Related to Our Business and the Development of Our gammaCore Therapy

We received an EUA from the FDA in July 2020 to facilitate the study and clinical use of gammaCore Sapphire CV for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients. However, there can be no assurance as to the impact, if any, that the EUA and commercialization of gammaCore Sapphire CV will have on us, our business, operations or financial condition.

On April 2, 2020, we announced the submission of an EUA application to the FDA to facilitate the study and clinical use of gammaCore Sapphire CV for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients. On July 13, 2020, we announced that the FDA had granted the EUA.

Unless earlier terminated or revoked by the FDA, the EUA is expected to remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic justifying emergency use. The termination, revocation or expiration of the EUA could have a material adverse effect on the sales of gammaCore and the results of our operations and financial condition. In addition, if the EUA terminates, is revoked or expires, we will be obligated to seek return of the devices from physicians and patients, which could be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, we may have to incur targeted marketing and other expenditures to achieve sales of the gammaCore Sapphire CV. 

We have no experience with commercializing a respiratory product in the United States. We did not recognize material revenue from sales of our gammaCore Sapphire CV during the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. We may be unable to successfully commercialize or gain market acceptance of gammaCore Sapphire CV and may not be able to obtain adequate coverage and reimbursement for gammaCore Sapphire CV from third-party payers.  

As a result of these and other significant challenges and uncertainties, there can be no assurance as to what impact, if any, the EUA will have on us, our business, operations or financial condition.

Commercializing our gammaCore Sapphire CV therapy for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients may require targeted investment in research and development and expansion of our sales and marketing capabilities.

We may need to make targeted investments in research and development and expansion of our sales and marketing, distribution, and telehealth capabilities in order to commercialize gammaCore Sapphire CV therapy for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients. If we are unsuccessful in our commercialization efforts and do not achieve the sales levels that we expect, we may be unable to recover these investments in research and development, sales and marketing, distribution and telehealth efforts, and our business and financial condition could be materially adversely affected.

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Our plans to potentially expand our direct-to-consumer cash-pay business channel may not be able to generate significant revenues.

We currently have a small direct-to-consumer cash-pay business channel, which we are planning to potentially expand in the near future. This may require significant investment in and expansion of our sales and marketing capabilities and development of a telehealth platform. If we are unsuccessful in executing our commercialization efforts in this business channel and do not achieve the sales levels that we expect, we may be unable to recover these investments. Additionally, there is a risk that expanding our direct-to-consumer cash-pay business channel could depress pricing with third-party payers and, therefore, have an adverse impact on our results of operations.

If third-party payers do not provide adequate coverage and reimbursement for the use of gammaCore, we may be unable to generate significant revenues.

Our success in marketing and commercializing gammaCore depends and will depend in large part on whether U.S. and international government health administrative authorities, private health insurers and other payer organizations provide adequate coverage and reimbursement for the cost of our products. Many third-party payers do not currently cover VNS for any indications other than epilepsy because they have determined all other VNS modalities to be investigational or experimental. If physicians or insurers do not find our clinical data compelling or wish to wait for additional studies, they may choose not to use or provide coverage and reimbursement for gammaCore. We cannot provide assurance that data we or others may generate in the future will be consistent with that observed in our existing clinical studies, or that our current or future published clinical evidence will be sufficient to obtain adequate coverage and reimbursement for our products. Moreover, if we cannot obtain adequate coverage for and reimbursement of the cost of our products, we cannot provide assurance that patients will be willing to incur the full cost of our gammaCore therapy.

In the United States, we expect to derive nearly all of our sales from prescriptions of gammaCore written by physicians. Access to adequate coverage and reimbursement by third-party payers for our gammaCore therapy is essential to the acceptance of our products by customers and patients, because without such coverage and reimbursement, customers and patients will have to be willing to bear the entire cost of our therapy.

Third-party payers, whether foreign or domestic, or governmental or commercial, are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs. In addition, in the United States, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for our gammaCore therapy exists among third-party payers. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for our gammaCore therapy can differ significantly from payer to payer. In addition, payers continually review new technologies for possible coverage and can, without notice, deny coverage for these new products and procedures. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our gammaCore therapy to each payer separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained or maintained if obtained.

Reimbursement systems in international markets vary significantly by country and by region within some countries, and reimbursement approvals must be obtained on a country-by-country basis. In many international markets, a product must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that country. Further, many international markets have government-managed healthcare systems that control reimbursement for new devices and procedures. In most markets, there are private insurance systems as well as government-managed systems. If sufficient and timely coverage and reimbursement is not available for our current or future products, in either the United States or internationally, the demand for our products and our revenues will be adversely affected.


Regulatory requirements and changes to payers’ prescription benefit plans and medical pathway plans could adversely impact our business and financial results. 

While we have ongoing discussions with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, our products are not currently covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Applicable Medicare Part D regulations and federal and state laws will impose additional requirements on us upon execution of our commercialization strategy. Our commercialization strategy, including our planned reimbursement approach with respect to our gammaCore therapy, is likely to subject us to additional audit oversight requirements, and if material contractual or regulatory non-compliance were to be identified, applicable sanctions and/or monetary penalties may be imposed, which could have an adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

In time, changes in payer prescription benefit plans or medical pathway plans could have the effect of rendering existing pharmacy benefit plans or medical pathway plans less valuable to beneficiaries and reduce the total market for our gammaCore therapy. In addition, some payers could decide to discontinue providing full or partial coverage to their members for our gammaCore therapy, which could have an adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.


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Our commercialization strategy may expose us to increased billing, cash application and credit risks.

Our commercialization strategy may involve funding for our gammaCore therapy through medical benefit coverage, the majority of which is provided by private insurers, as well as reimbursement by government agencies. Such claims are generally for very high-priced medicines, and collection of payments from insurance companies, patients and other payers generally takes substantially longer than for those claims administered through a pharmacy benefit manager. Because of the high cost of these claims, complex billing requirements and the nature of the medical benefit coverage determination process, these accounts receivable are characterized by higher risk in collecting the full amounts due and applying the associated payments. In addition, possible sales in our EUA business channel to hospitals, which may involve higher credit risks than sales to other payers.

Revenues from the sale of our gammaCore therapy depend on the continued availability of reimbursement by government and private insurance plans. The government’s Medicare regulations are complex and, as a result, the billing and collection process is time-consuming and typically involves the submission of claims to multiple payers whose payment of claims may be contingent upon the payment of another payer. Because of the coordination with multiple payers and the complexity in determining reimbursable amounts, these accounts receivable have higher risk in collecting the full amounts due and applying the associated payments.

Our gammaCore therapy commercialization strategy may require premium payments from members for the ongoing benefit, as well as amounts due from insurers and government-sponsored or national health insurance programs. As a result of the demographics of the consumers covered under these programs and the complexity of the calculations, as well as the potential magnitude and timing of settlement for amounts due from insurers and government-sponsored or national health insurance programs, these accounts receivable may be subject to billing and realization risk. Additionally, we may be subject to increased credit risk associated with state and local government agencies experiencing increased fiscal challenges. As a result of these aforementioned risks, our commercialization strategy, even if successful, may involve recordation of bad debt expenses potentially impacting our results of operations and liquidity.

 

Third-party payers have been resistant to cover gammaCore through pharmacy benefit plans, which has hindered our commercialization strategy and required changes to our existing business that could delay and negatively impact our ability to generate revenue.

In the United States our initial strategy to obtain reimbursement for gammaCore under payers’ pharmacy benefit has not achieved adequate coverage and reimbursement. To obtain coverage and reimbursement from Medicare and any other third-party payer that will not cover gammaCore under a pharmacy benefit, we are seeking coverage and reimbursement as a medical device or item of durable medical equipment. While this would provide coverage for the therapy under a patient’s medical insurance, patients may be unwilling to pay out of pocket for deductibles and co-pays for the therapy. Any determination by commercial payers to provide coverage for gammaCore through the medical benefit pathway and not through pharmacy benefit pathway will further delay or pose more risks to our commercial plan for gammaCore therapy since additional medical device codes required and we may incur additional direct and indirect expenses in assisting patients with their co-pay or other costs emergent from the determination by payers to not cover gammaCore under the pharmacy benefit pathway. Coverage by commercial payers through the medical benefit pathway or other decisions by commercial payers that have the effect of making patients personally responsible for the costs of, or costs associated with, our gammaCore therapy could adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition.

 

These potential changes may entail numerous risks, including increased operating expenses, requirements to comply with healthcare regulatory laws, the loss of or delay in obtaining revenue, and uncertainty in our ability to successfully implement the modifications. The failure to obtain recognition by third-party payers under the pharmacy benefit model has required us to modify our commercialization strategy, our distribution model, our pricing, and our operations, any of which could have a material adverse effect on the sales of gammaCore and the results of our operations and financial condition.


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We must demonstrate to physicians and third-party payers the medical and economic benefits of our gammaCore therapy compared to those of our competitors or other available therapies and such comparisons may not be realizable. 

Physicians play a significant role in determining the course of a patient’s treatment and, as a result, the type of product that will be used to treat a patient. As a result, our success depends, in large part, on effectively marketing our gammaCore therapy to physicians. We have received several 510(k) clearances from the FDA for gammaCore therapy, however, such clearances do not necessitate adoption by physicians. In order for our gammaCore therapy to gain widespread adoption, we must successfully demonstrate to physicians the medical and economic benefits of our gammaCore therapy compared to competitors’ products, including (i) BOTOX marketed by Allergan plc, (ii) CGRP receptor agonists marketed by Amgen Inc. (with a co-marketing arrangement with Novartis International AG), Allergan plc, Eli Lilly and Company, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Inc., (iii) lasmiditan, marketed by Eli Lilly, (iv) Vycpti, an intravenous preventive treatment for migraine marketed by H. Lundbeck A/S, and (v) neuromodulation devices that have been marketed for the acute treatment and/or prevention of migraine, including the Cefaly and Nerivio devices. We also may face challenges because noninvasive VNS, or nVNS, is relatively new as compared to existing traditional treatments for cluster and migraine headaches. Furthermore, the competitive landscape for COVID-19 therapies is crowded and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Various other companies, many with greater resources, are developing or commercializing treatments that potentially compete with gammaCore Sapphire CV. This competition could have a material adverse effect on potential acceptance, use, pricing and sales of gammaCore Sapphire CV.

Acceptance of our gammaCore therapy depends on educating physicians as to the distinctive characteristics, perceived benefits, safety, ease of use and cost-effectiveness of our gammaCore therapy as compared to our competitors’ products and communicating to physicians the proper use of our gammaCore therapy. If we are not successful in convincing physicians of the merits of our gammaCore therapy or educating them on the benefits of our gammaCore therapy, they may not prescribe our gammaCore therapy and we may be unable to increase our sales, sustain our growth or achieve profitability. In addition, we believe support of our products by physicians is essential for market acceptance and adoption. If we do not receive support from physicians or long-term data does not show the benefits of using our gammaCore therapy, physicians may not use it. In such circumstances, our results of operations would be materially adversely affected.

Stimulating therapeutically relevant fibers in the vagus nerve by a proprietary high-frequency burst waveform that passes through the skin cells represents a novel approach to treating pain, and we must overcome significant challenges in order to successfully develop, commercialize and manufacture our product.

We have concentrated our development and commercialization efforts on products based on a platform of stimulating therapeutically relevant fibers in the vagus nerve by a proprietary high-frequency burst waveform that passes through the skin. We believe that our product platform represents a novel approach to treating pain. However, to date, the FDA has cleared only our product for commercialization based on this platform. The processes and requirements imposed by the FDA or other applicable health authorities may cause delays and additional costs in obtaining approvals for marketing authorization for our products. Because our platform is novel, regulatory agencies, as well as insurance and other coverage providers and payers, may lack experience in evaluating product candidates like gammaCore and gammaCore Sapphire. This inexperience may lengthen the regulatory review process, increase our development costs and delay or prevent reimbursement and commercialization of our platform products. Additionally, advancing this novel platform creates significant challenges for us, including:

 

 

training a sufficient number of medical personnel on how to properly administer our product;

 

 

enrolling sufficient numbers of patients in future clinical trials;

 

 

manufacturing our products on a large scale and in a cost-effective manner;

 

 

submitting applications for and obtaining regulatory approval, as the FDA and other regulatory authorities have limited experience with commercial development of our product platform for treating pain; and

 

 

establishing sales and marketing capabilities, as well as developing a manufacturing process and distribution network to support the commercialization of any approved products.

We must be able to overcome these challenges in order to successfully develop, commercialize and manufacture our product candidates.

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Our operating results may vary significantly from quarter to quarter because of seasonality, bulk orders, shipments to distributors or otherwise.

Our quarterly revenue and results of operations may fluctuate from quarter to quarter due to, among others, the following reasons:

 

 

physician and payer acceptance of our gammaCore therapy;

 

 

the timing of when individual payer coverage becomes available;

 

 

the timing, expense and results of research and development activities, future clinical trials and regulatory clearance or approvals;

 

 

fluctuations in our expenses associated with expanding our commercial operations and operating as a public company;

 

 

the introduction of new products, therapies and technologies by competitors;

 

 

the productivity of our field sales function;

 

 

supplier, manufacturing or quality problems with our products;

 

 

the timing of stocking orders from our distributors;

 

 

changes in our pricing policies or in the pricing policies of our competitors or suppliers;

 

 

adverse developments in coverage amounts, benefit pathway, or government and third-party payers’ reimbursement policies; and

 

 

the timing of customer budget cycles.


Our results may also fluctuate on a seasonal basis due to the seasonality of cluster and migraine headache attacks, which could affect the comparability of our results between periods. These seasonal variations are difficult to predict accurately, may vary across different markets, and at times may be entirely unpredictable, which introduces additional risk into our business as we may rely upon forecasts of customer demand to build inventory in advance of anticipated sales. In addition, we believe our limited history commercializing our gammaCore therapy has, in part, made our seasonal patterns more difficult to discern, making it more difficult to predict future seasonal patterns.

We derive a material portion of our revenue from a limited number of customers, and the loss of one or more of these customers could adversely impact our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

Our customer base is concentrated. During the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, revenue from VA/DoD facilities pursuant to our qualifying contract under the Federal Supply Schedule and open market sales represented 58% and 34% of our total revenue, respectively. In 2020, five specific VA/DoD facilities represented approximately 50% of our revenue from this channel, and two of those facilities each accounted for more than 10% individually. If we were to lose one or more of our significant customers, our revenue may significantly decline. The loss of one or more of our significant customers could adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

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Finally, any potential revenue from the EUA may fluctuate or be adversely impacted if and to the extent that (i) the coronavirus pandemic worsens, (ii) the coronavirus pandemic subsides, regardless of whether or not the EUA is terminated, revoked or expires, and (iii) other treatments or vaccines for coronavirus continue to be developed and made available. Additionally, the United States and other countries around the world have recently begun to approve and commence distributing COVID-19 vaccines in their jurisdictions. The broad distribution of COVID-19 vaccines may reduce demand for gammaCore Sapphire CV treatment as it may no longer be considered medically necessary. Any of these developments and potential related contingencies could adversely impact our business and results of operations and affect the comparability of our results between periods and introduce additional risk into our business as we may rely upon forecasts to build inventory in advance of anticipated sales.

Because of these and other factors, it is likely that in some future period our operating results will not meet investor expectations or those of public market analysts.

Any unanticipated change in revenues or operating results is likely to cause our stock price to fluctuate. New information may cause investors and analysts to revalue our business, which could cause a decline in our stock price. 

Failure to protect our information technology infrastructure against cyber-based attacks, network security breaches, service interruptions, or data corruption could significantly disrupt our operations and adversely affect our business and operating results.

We rely on information technology and telephone networks and systems, including the internet, to process and transmit sensitive electronic information and to manage or support a variety of business processes and activities, including sales, billing, customer service, marketing, procurement and supply chain, manufacturing, and distribution. We also rely on information technology systems to support our proprietary data warehouse, which, among other things, maintains patient product serial numbers and allows for prescription refills at specialty pharmacies through RFID cards. In addition, we use enterprise information technology systems to record, process, and summarize financial information and results of operations for internal reporting purposes and to comply with regulatory, financial reporting, legal, and tax requirements. Our information technology systems, some of which are managed by third parties, and the information technology systems of third parties may be susceptible to damage, disruptions, or shutdowns due to computer viruses, attacks by computer hackers, failures during the process of upgrading or replacing software, databases or components thereof, power outages, hardware failures, telecommunication failures, user errors, or catastrophic events. Despite the precautionary measures we and third parties have taken to prevent breakdowns in information technology and telephone systems, if these systems are breached or suffer severe damage, disruption, or shutdown and we are unable to effectively resolve the issues in a timely manner, our business and operating results may suffer, and we may be subject to related lawsuits.

We may engage in future acquisitions that increase our capital requirements, dilute our stockholders, cause us to incur debt or assume contingent liabilities and subject us to other risks.

We may evaluate various strategic transactions, including licensing or acquiring complementary therapies, products, technologies or businesses. Any potential acquisitions may entail numerous risks, including increased operating expenses and cash requirements, assimilation of operations and products, retention of key employees, diversion of our management’s attention and uncertainties in our ability to maintain key business relationships of the acquired entities. In addition, if we undertake acquisitions, we may issue dilutive securities, assume or incur debt obligations, incur large one-time expenses and acquire intangible assets that could result in significant future amortization expense. Moreover, we may not be able to locate suitable acquisition opportunities and this inability could impair our ability to grow or obtain access to technology or products that may be important to the development of our business.

If serious adverse events or other undesirable side effects are identified during the use of our gammaCore therapy in clinical trials or IITs (collectively and unless the context requires otherwise, “clinical trials”), it may adversely affect our development of such product candidates.

Undesirable side effects caused by our gammaCore therapy could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt nonclinical studies and future clinical trials, or could make it more difficult for us to enroll patients in clinical trials and could, if injuries occur, result in product liability litigation. If serious adverse events or other undesirable side effects or unexpected characteristics of our gammaCore therapy are observed in investigator-sponsored trials, further clinical development of such product candidate may be delayed or we may not be able to continue development of such product candidate at all, and the occurrence of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business. Undesirable side effects caused by our gammaCore therapy could also result in the delay or denial of regulatory clearance or approval by the FDA or other regulatory authorities or in more restrictive labels than we desire.


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Commercialization of our gammaCore Sapphire therapy for additional neurological conditions may require clinical trials, which are very expensive, time-consuming and difficult to design and implement and involve uncertain outcomes. Furthermore, results of earlier preclinical studies and clinical trials may not be predictive of results of future preclinical studies, clinical trials or commercial success.

The risk of failure for our gammaCore therapy in additional treatment areas is high. It is difficult if not impossible to predict when or if any of our product candidates will receive regulatory clearance or approval in additional areas of indication. To obtain the requisite regulatory clearance or approvals to market and sell our gammaCore therapy in additional indications, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that it is safe and effective in humans for use in each additional target indication. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and the outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process.

In addition, the results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the results of later-stage preclinical studies or clinical trials. The results generated to date in preclinical studies or clinical trials for our gammaCore therapy in cluster and migraine headaches do not ensure that later preclinical studies or clinical trials will demonstrate similar results in other therapeutic indications, and it should be noted that we did not achieve the primary endpoints in our pivotal trials for cluster and migraine headaches. There can be no assurance that the FDA and other regulatory authorities will be satisfied by data from clinical trials for other treatment indications, even where we believe such data to be compelling. Our gammaCore therapy may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy traits in additional areas of indication in future clinical trials despite having progressed through preclinical and earlier stage clinical trials. Many companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries have suffered significant setbacks in later-stage clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials, and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing clearance or approval of their products.

 

In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety or efficacy results between different clinical trials of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in clinical trial procedures set forth in protocols, differences in the size and type of the patient populations, adherence to the dosing regimen and other clinical trial protocols, and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. If we fail to produce positive results in our planned preclinical studies or clinical trials of any of our product candidates, the development timeline and regulatory clearance and commercialization prospects for our product candidates, and, correspondingly, our business and financial prospects, would be materially adversely affected.

Any clinical trial we conduct in the United States may subject us to additional costs and detriments compared to a foreign clinical trial, which may negatively impact our financial condition and our business.

Conducting any clinical trial within the United States may subject us to additional costs and drawbacks, which may negatively impact our financial condition and our business. The costs of a foreign clinical trial, or FCT, may be significantly lower than costs of an equivalent trial in the United States, as the materials and location costs of an FCT may be lower than a trial within the United States. Electing to run a clinical trial within the United States may impose significant added financial costs compared to a FCT. Among other factors, the faster recruitment of patients overseas and completion of trials in a FCT may represent considerable cost savings that we would forego in conducting clinical trials within the United States. These and other costs from conducting any clinical trial for our gammaCore therapy instead of a FCT may negatively impact our financial condition and our business. In addition, a FCT may offer other non-financial benefits such as a larger potential population of qualified patients to participate in clinical trials compared against the potential enrollee population in the United States, where clinical trials may compete for a limited number of the same potential patients. These and other foregone benefits of a FCT may negatively impact our financial condition and our business.

If we are unable to enroll patients in future clinical trials, our research and development efforts could be adversely affected.

Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in future clinical trials for our gammaCore therapy in additional areas of indications is critical to our success. Successful and timely completion of future clinical trials will require that we enroll a sufficient number of patients who remain in the study until its conclusion. If we are unable to enroll a sufficient number of patients in our future clinical trials, our timelines for recruiting patients, conducting clinical trials and obtaining regulatory clearance or approval of our gammaCore therapy in additional areas of indication may be delayed. These delays could result in increased costs, delays in advancing our product development, delays in testing the effectiveness of our technology or termination of clinical trials altogether.

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We cannot predict how successful we will be at enrolling patients in future clinical trials. Patient enrollment is affected by other factors including:


 

the eligibility criteria for the trial in question; 

 

 

the perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate in the trial;

 

 

clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs that may be approved for the indications we are investigating or drugs that may be used off-label for these indications;

 

 

the size of the patient population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints;

 

 

competition for patients for competitive product candidates undergoing clinical trials;

 

 

the efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;

 

 

the design of the trial;

 

 

the patient referral practices of physicians;

 

 

our ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;

 

 

the ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment;

 

 

the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the trials before completion;

 

 

the ability to obtain and maintain patient consents;

 

 

the number of patients with the indication being studied and the difficult of diagnosing the relevant condition or disease; and

 

 

the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients.

In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials that are in the same therapeutic areas as we are targeting, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. With respect to any trials of our gammaCore Sapphire CV, it is difficult to predict when such trials will achieve full enrollment, if at all, as the number of patients hospitalized with a confirmed diagnosis of, or presumed to be, COVID-19 is relatively unpredictable and susceptible to high fluctuations across countries and regions.

Delays in the completion of any clinical trial of our gammaCore therapy will increase our costs, slow down our expansion into additional treatment indications and approval process, and delay or potentially jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate future revenue. In addition, many of the factors that may lead to a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory clearance or approval of our gammaCore therapy in additional treatment indications.

 

Clinical trials may be delayed, suspended or terminated for many reasons, which will increase our expenses and delay the time it takes to develop and expand our gammaCore therapy in additional treatment indications.

We may experience delays in our ongoing or future preclinical studies or clinical trials, and we do not know whether future preclinical studies or 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. The commencement and completion of clinical trials may be delayed, suspended or terminated as a result of many factors, including:

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the FDA or other regulators disagreeing as to the design, protocol or implementation of clinical trials;

 

 

the delay or refusal of regulators or institutional review boards, or IRBs, to authorize us to commence a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;

 

 

changes in regulatory requirements, policies and guidelines;

 

 

delays or failure to reach agreement on acceptable terms with prospective clinical 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;

 

 

delays in patient enrollment, due to COVID-19 or other factors, and variability in the number and types of patients available for clinical trials;

 

 

the inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients in trials, particularly in orphan indications, to observe statistically significant treatment effects in the trial;

 

 

having clinical sites deviate from the trial protocol or dropping out of a trial;

 

 

negative or inconclusive results from ongoing preclinical studies or clinical trials, which may require us to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials or to abandon projects that we expect to be promising;

 

 

safety or tolerability concerns that could cause us to suspend or terminate a trial if we find that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;

 

 

reports from preclinical or clinical testing of other similar therapies that raise safety or efficacy concerns;

 

 

regulators or IRBs requiring that we or our investigators suspend or terminate clinical research for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or safety concerns, among others;

 

 

lower than anticipated retention rates of patients and volunteers in clinical trials;

 

 

our CROs or clinical trial sites failing to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, deviating from the protocol or dropping out of a trial;

 

 

delays relating to adding new clinical trial sites;

 

 

difficulty in maintaining contact with patients after treatment, resulting in incomplete data;

 

 

delays in establishing the appropriate dosage levels;

 

 

the quality of the product candidate falling below acceptable standards;

 

 

the inability to manufacture sufficient quantities of our gammaCore therapy to commence or complete clinical trials; and

 

 

exceeding budgeted costs due to difficulty in accurately predicting costs associated with clinical trials.

In particular, in connection with the comprehensive redeployment plan and cost reduction implemented in June 2019, we have closed certain clinical trials in indications that are more exploratory in nature.

We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended, terminated, or paused by us, as we have done with our PREMIUM II trial, by the IRBs or ethics committees of the institutions at which such trials are being conducted, by the data safety monitoring board for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities 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, including the FDA’s current Good Clinical Practice, or GCP, regulations, or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA 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.

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In addition, we may encounter delays if the FDA, or other regulators, conclude that our financial relationships with investigators results in a perceived or actual conflict of interest that may have affected the interpretation of a study, the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site or the utility of the clinical trial itself. Principal investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and receive cash compensation and/or stock options in connection with such services. If these relationships and any related compensation to or ownership interest by the clinical investigator carrying out the study result in perceived or actual conflicts of interest, or if the FDA or other regulators conclude that the financial relationship may have affected interpretation of the study, the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site may be questioned and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized, which could result in the delay or rejection by the FDA. Any such delay or rejection could prevent us from commercializing any of our products currently in development.

 

If we experience delays in the commencement or completion of any clinical trial of our product candidates, or if any of our future clinical trials are terminated, the commercial prospects of our gammaCore therapy may be harmed, and our ability to generate revenue from sales may be delayed or materially diminished.

We do not know whether any of our future preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. Any delays in completing clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence sales and generate associated revenue. 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, suspension or revocation of expanded regulatory clearance or approval of our product candidates. Significant preclinical study or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do and impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates.

 

Even if our products are approved or cleared in the United States and obtained a CE Certificate of Conformity in the EEA, comparable regulatory authorities of additional foreign countries must also approve the manufacturing and marketing of our products in those countries. Approval and clearance procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States or the EEA, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

Our cost-control efforts might not assure profitability and may affect morale and make it difficult to retain employees or attract new ones.

We have previously implemented reductions in force affecting a large portion of our workforce, redeployed resources across our organization and taken other measures to reduce our operating expenses. These efforts do not assure profitability. Furthermore, no assurance can be given as to the need to implement additional cost reductions in the future. Cost savings may also be offset by future hiring or other costs incurred in pursuing strategic objectives. Reductions in force, strategic redeployment and other cost-cutting measures could adversely affect morale in our organization and our reputation as an employer, which could lead to the loss of valued employees and could make it more difficult for us to hire new employees in the future, and the reduction of our headcount could adversely affect our operations and make it more difficult for us to pursue new opportunities and initiatives in the future.

If we fail to properly manage our anticipated growth, our business could suffer.

We have a relatively short history of operating as a commercial company. We intend to seek to continue to grow our existing headache business and our COVID-19 business pursuant to the EUA, and may experience periods of rapid growth and expansion, which could place a significant additional strain on our limited personnel, information technology systems and other resources. In particular, maintaining our sales force in the United States requires significant management, financial and other supporting resources. Any failure by us to manage our growth effectively could have an adverse effect on our ability to achieve our commercialization and development goals.


In the future, we may experience difficulties with manufacturing, quality control, component supply, inventory, distribution and shortages of qualified personnel, among other problems. These problems could result in delays in availability of our gammaCore therapy and increases in expenses. Any such delay or increased expense could adversely affect our ability to generate our revenue.

Future growth will also impose significant added responsibilities on management, including the need to identify, recruit, train and integrate additional employees. In addition, rapid and significant growth will place a strain on our administrative and operational infrastructure.

In order to manage our operations and growth we will need to continue to improve our operational and management controls, reporting and information technology systems and financial internal control procedures. If we are unable to manage our growth effectively, it may be difficult for us to execute our business strategy and our operating results and business could suffer.


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If we fail to develop and retain an effective sales force, our business could suffer.

We have significantly reduced our sales force as part of our cost control efforts. In order to continue to market and sell our gammaCore therapy, we may in the future need to substantially expand our direct sales force. There is significant competition for such personnel. Once hired, the training process is lengthy because it requires significant education for new territory business managers to achieve the level of clinical competency with our products expected by physicians. Upon completion of the training, our territory business managers typically require lead time in the field to grow their network of accounts and achieve the productivity levels we expect them to reach in any individual territory or VA or DoD facility. Furthermore, the use of our products often requires or benefits from direct support from us. If we are unable to attract, motivate, develop and retain a sufficient number of qualified sales personnel, and if our territory business managers do not achieve the productivity levels, we expect them to reach, our revenue will not grow at the rate we expect and our financial performance will suffer. Also, to the extent we hire personnel from our competitors, we may have to wait until applicable non-competition provisions have expired before deploying such personnel in restricted territories or incur costs to relocate personnel outside of such territories, and we have been in the past, and may be subject to future allegations that these new hires have been improperly solicited, or that they have divulged to us proprietary or other confidential information of their former employers. Any of these risks may adversely affect our business.

On July 10, 2020, we were granted an EUA from the FDA for use of our gammaCore Sapphire CV for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

We have no history of commercializing respiratory products within the United States or selling our gammaCore therapy pursuant to an Emergency Use Authorization. We have limited experience engaging in commercial activities and limited established relationships with physicians, hospitals and payers as well as third-party suppliers on whom we depend for the manufacture of our product components. We may be unable to commercialize gammaCore Sapphire CV for the acute treatment of asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients for a number of reasons, including:

 

 

lack of strong relationships with customers, including physicians, hospitals and third-party suppliers;

 

 

changes to safety labeling for use of gammaCore Sapphire CV pursuant to the EUA

 

 

limitations in our ability to demonstrate differentiation and advantages of our product compared to competing products and the relative safety, efficacy and ease of use of our product;

 

 

the limited size of our sales force and the learning curve required to gain experience selling our product;

 

 

the inability to obtain sufficient supply of the product components for our gammaCore therapy from our primary and secondary manufacturers and suppliers;

 

 

insufficient financial or other resources to support our commercialization efforts necessary to reach profitability; and

 

 

the introduction and market acceptance of new, more effective or less expensive competing products and technologies.

 

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We have only a limited history commercializing our gammaCore therapy for the acute treatment of eCH, prevention of cluster headache, preventive and acute treatment of migraine in the United States for which market acceptance and commercial success is uncertain.

As a small company with a limited history of selling our gammaCore therapy, we have limited experience engaging in commercial activities and limited established relationships with physicians, hospitals and payers as well as third-party suppliers on whom we depend for the manufacture of our product components. We may be unable to gain broader market acceptance in the countries in which we have already begun to commercialize our gammaCore therapy, or, if approved by the FDA for additional indications, unable to successfully commercialize it in the United States for a number of reasons, including:

 

 

established competitors with strong relationships with customers, including physicians, hospitals, military treatment facilities and third-party suppliers;

 

 

limitations in our ability to demonstrate differentiation and advantages of our product compared to competing products and the relative safety, efficacy and ease of use of our product;

 

 

the limited size of our sales force and the learning curve required to gain experience selling our product;

 

 

the inability to obtain sufficient supply of the product components for our gammaCore therapy from our primary and secondary manufacturers and suppliers;

 

 

insufficient financial or other resources to support our commercialization efforts necessary to reach profitability; and

 

 

the introduction and market acceptance of new, more effective or less expensive competing products and technologies.


If our competitors are better able to develop and market CH and migraine treatments that are safer, more effective, less costly, easier to use or otherwise more attractive than our gammaCore therapy, our business and business prospects will be adversely impacted.

 

The pharmaceutical and medical device industries are highly competitive and subject to rapid innovation and change. Our success depends, in part, upon our ability to establish a competitive position in the cluster and migraine markets by securing broad market acceptance of our gammaCore therapy. We believe that the primary competitive factors in the cluster and migraine markets are demonstrated clinical effectiveness, product safety, reliability and durability, ease of use, product support and service, minimal side effects and sales force experience and relationships. We face significant competition in the United States and internationally, which we believe will intensify over time. Many of the companies developing or marketing competing products enjoy several advantages over us, including:

 

 

more experienced and larger sales forces;

 

 

greater name recognition;

 

 

more established sales and marketing programs and distribution networks;

 

 

earlier regulatory clearance or approval;

 

 

long established relationships with physicians and hospitals;

 

 

significant patent portfolios, including issued US and foreign patents and pending patent applications, as well as the resources to enforce patents against us or any of our third-party suppliers and distributors;

 

 

the ability to acquire and integrate our competitors and/or their technology;

 

 

demonstrated ability to develop product enhancements and new product offerings;

 

 

established history of product reliability, safety and durability;

 

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the ability to offer rebates or bundle multiple product offerings to offer greater discounts or incentives;

 

 

greater financial and human resources for product development, sales, and marketing; and


 

greater experience in and resources for conducting research and development, clinical studies, manufacturing, preparing regulatory submissions, obtaining regulatory clearance or approval for products and marketing approved products.


Our competitors may develop and patent processes or products earlier than us, obtain patents that may apply to us at any time, obtain regulatory clearance or approvals for competing products or processes more rapidly than us or develop more effective or less expensive products or technologies that render our technology or products obsolete or less competitive. We also face fierce competition in recruiting and retaining qualified sales, scientific, and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and enrolling patients in clinical studies. If our competitors are more successful than us in these matters, our business may be harmed.

Many of our competitors are large, well-established companies with substantially greater resources than us and have a long history of competing in the migraine markets. Furthermore, the competitive landscape for COVID-19 therapies is crowded and continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

Many of our current and potential competitors are publicly traded, or are divisions of publicly traded, major pharmaceutical and medical device companies that have substantially greater financial, technical, sales and marketing resources than we do. We will face steep competition from Allergan plc, Amgen Inc., H. Lundbeck A/S, Novartis International AG, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and Eli Lilly and Company, among other established and potential competitors that may be better capitalized and have a history of commercializing products around the world. Also, several neuromodulation devices are approved for the treatment and/or prevention of migraine, including Cefaly, Nerivo or any other neuromodulation devices that may be marketed for use in treating pain associated with primary headache. Cefaly has been granted an OTC clearance allowing it to be sold without a prescription, and the impact of this clearance on the competitive landscape remains to be seen. Given the size of the existing and potential market in the United States, we expect that as we continue our commercial efforts in the United States our current and future competitors will take aggressive action to protect their current market position. 

We will face significant competition in establishing our market share in the United States and may encounter unforeseen obstacles and competitive challenges in the United States. In addition, some physicians have a long-standing practice of using the headache products of our larger, more established competitors. Physicians who use our competitors’ products for the treatment of migraine headache may be reluctant to try new products from a source with which they are less familiar. If these physicians do not try and subsequently adopt our product, then our financial performance will be adversely affected.

In the United Kingdom, Fremanezumab has been recommended for use in the National Health Service by the National Institute Health and Care Excellence for the treatment of migraine. Although our current business in the United Kingdom is almost entirely for the prevention and treatment of cluster headache, this recommendation may limit our ability to penetrate the migraine market in the United Kingdom.

Further, a number of our competitors are currently conducting, or we anticipate will be conducting, clinical trials to demonstrate the results of their headache products. The results of these trials may be equivalent to, or potentially better than, the results of our clinical trials, which could have a material adverse effect on us. The completion of our competitors’ clinical trials with respect to their headache products could negatively impact the perception of us or our gammaCore therapy. In addition, perception by physicians, payers or patients that a competitor’s product is superior to our gammaCore therapy or offers comparable benefits at a lower cost or lower incidence of undesirable side effects as compared against our gammaCore therapy, among other perception-driven outcomes in the market following competitors’ completion of their clinical trials, could have a material adverse effect on us.

Finally, the competitive landscape for COVID-19 therapies is crowded and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Various other companies, many with greater resources, are developing or commercializing treatments that potentially compete with gammaCore Sapphire CV. This competition could have a material adverse effect on potential acceptance, use, pricing and sales of gammaCore Sapphire CV.


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Traditional products used to treat CH and migraine have been available for decades, while our gammaCore therapy has only been commercially available in Europe for several years, and for approximately three years in the United States, and, as a result, we have a limited track record compared to our competitors.

Traditional products used to treat CH and migraine have been commercially available for decades, while we only began commercializing our gammaCore therapy in Europe to treat CH and migraine several years ago, and within the past four years in the United States. Because we have a limited commercial track record compared to our competitors and our gammaCore therapy generally has been utilized by patients for less time than other headache therapies, physicians and patients may be slower to adopt or recommend our gammaCore therapy. Further, while we believe our international commercial experience and our clinical trials support the safety and effectiveness of our gammaCore therapy for the acute treatment of eCH, prevention of CH and migraine headache, future studies or patient experience over a longer period of time may indicate that treatment with gammaCore is less attractive than treatment with competitive products or that our gammaCore therapy causes unexpected or serious complications or other unforeseen negative effects. Such results would likely slow the adoption of our gammaCore therapy and significantly reduce our sales, which would harm our business and adversely affect our results of operations. Furthermore, if patients with traditional or other headache products were to experience unexpected or serious complications or other unforeseen effects, the market for our gammaCore therapy may be adversely affected, even if such effects are not directly attributable to our gammaCore therapy.

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

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus our research programs and product candidates on specific conditions. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or other diseases or conditions that may 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 conditions may not yield any commercially viable products.

Our international operations subject us to certain operating and compliance risks, which could adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition.

Sales of gammaCore outside the United States represent a substantial and growing portion of our net sales. In 2012, we began selling gammaCore in the EU through distributors. We sell gammaCore directly in seven countries in the EU, in the United Kingdom through distributors and agents located in Doncaster, UK, and in five countries in Eastern Europe through a distributor located in Lithuania, as well as through distributors in Canada and Australia. The sale and shipment of gammaCore across international borders, as well as the purchase of components from international sources, subjects us to U.S. and foreign governmental trade, import and export, and customs regulations and laws.

Compliance with these regulations and laws is costly and exposes us to penalties for non-compliance. Other laws and regulations that can significantly impact us include various anti-bribery laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as well as export controls laws. Any failure to comply with applicable legal and regulatory obligations could impact us in a variety of ways that include, but are not limited to, significant criminal, civil and administrative penalties, including imprisonment of individuals, fines and penalties, denial of export privileges, seizure of shipments, restrictions on certain business activities and exclusion or debarment from government contracting.

 

The administration of President Biden may support potential trade proposals (including import tariffs and other tariffs on China), modifications to international trade policy, and other changes that may affect U.S. trade relations with other countries. We source a significant amount of the components used in gammaCore from Chinese sources so any tariffs or other trade restrictions impacting the import of these components from China could have a material adverse impact on us.

 

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many countries to restrict certain manufacturing activities and has severely disrupted the movement of certain goods. As a result, our distributors, agents, and suppliers may not have the materials, capacity, or capability to operate as our business ordinarily requires.

 

Additionally, our international operations expose us and our distributors to risks inherent in operating in foreign jurisdictions. These risks include:

 

 

difficulties in enforcing our intellectual property rights and in defending against third-party threats and intellectual property enforcement actions against us, our distributors or any of our third-party suppliers;

 

 

reduced or varied protection for intellectual property rights in some countries;

 

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pricing pressure that we may experience internationally;

 

 

a shortage of high-quality salespeople and distributors;

 

 

third-party reimbursement policies that may require some of the patients who receive our products to directly absorb medical costs or that may necessitate the reduction of the selling prices of gammaCore;

 

 

competitive disadvantage to competition with established business and customer relationships;

 

 

foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations;

 

 

the imposition of additional U.S. and foreign governmental controls or regulations;

 

 

economic instability;

 

 

changes in duties and tariffs, license obligations and other non-tariff barriers to trade;

 

 

the imposition of restrictions on the activities of foreign agents, representatives and distributors;

 

 

scrutiny of foreign tax authorities which could result in significant fines, penalties and additional taxes being imposed on us;

 

 

laws and business practices favoring local companies;

 

 

longer payment cycles;

 

 

difficulties in maintaining consistency with our internal guidelines;

 

 

difficulties in enforcing agreements and collecting receivables through certain foreign legal systems;

 

 

the imposition of costly and lengthy new export licensing requirements;

 

 

the imposition of U.S. or international sanctions against a country, company, person or entity with whom we do business that would restrict or prohibit continued business with the sanctioned country, company, person or entity;

 

 

the imposition of new trade restrictions.; and





disruptions caused by Brexit

 

If we experience any of these risks, our sales in non-U.S. jurisdictions may be harmed and our results of operations would suffer.


Our loan pursuant to the Paycheck Protection Program, or the PPP, could be audited by U.S. regulatory authorities. An adverse finding thereunder could require us to return the full amount of the loan, and potentially subject us to fines and penalties.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic affected, among other things, our access to prescribing physicians and potential prescribing physicians and their access to headache patients, on March 23, 2020 we suspended our earlier full-year revenue guidance until we could better understand the trajectory of our business, as well as announcing a reduction in our activities, and adjusting our cash runway expectations in response to the potential adverse impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to our earlier expectations, we believe that our results for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020 reflect a negative impact from, among other things, the global pandemic. Moreover, our expectations for 2021 have also been adversely affected by both the uncertainty and potential negative impact of the global pandemic, which we believe may also have had an adverse effect on our access to debt and equity capital markets. Depending upon the duration and severity of the pandemic, the continuing effect on our results and outlook over the long term remains somewhat uncertain. In addition, the report of our auditors covering our consolidated financial statements at December 31, 2020 contained an explanatory paragraph stating that our recurring losses from operations and net capital deficiency raised substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a “going concern”. It was in this context that we believed we had a good faith basis that the economic uncertainty and negative impact on us and the economy as a whole due to the COVID-19 pandemic made an application for a loan pursuant to the PPP, under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, necessary for the support of our ongoing operations in the current economic environment.

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On May 4, 2020, we entered into a PPP loan with Citibank, N.A. in an aggregate principal amount of approximately $1.4 million. The lack of clarity regarding loan eligibility under the Paycheck Protection Program has resulted in significant media coverage and controversy with respect to public companies applying for and receiving loans. On April 23, 2020, the Small Business Administration, or SBA, issued new guidance that questioned whether a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets would qualify to participate in the PPP. Subsequently, on April 28, 2020 the Secretary of the Treasury and SBA announced that the government will review all PPP loans above $2 million in principal for which the borrower applies for forgiveness. On May 13, 2020, the SBA issued further guidance relating to the required necessity certification which provides a limited safe harbor for companies that received PPP loans having less than $2 million in principal to the effect that they will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith. Nonetheless, should we be audited or reviewed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a result of filing an application for forgiveness or otherwise, such audit or review could result in the diversion of management’s time and attention and legal and reputational costs. If we were to be audited and receive an adverse finding in such audit, we could be required to return the full amount of the PPP loan and pay interest at a higher rate than 1.000% per annum, which could reduce our liquidity, and potentially subject us to fines and penalties. Official guidance and interpretations of the requirements of the program have been limited and have been changing over time. Despite our good-faith belief that we properly satisfied all eligibility requirements for the PPP loan and the recently published, limited safe-harbor, there has been increasing scrutiny of public companies that received loans, and there can be no assurance that we will not become subject to regulatory or other scrutiny by the SBA, the Department of the Treasury or any other regulatory, administrative, legislative or governmental authority, including a request or requirement for repayment of some or all of the loan, or otherwise incur adverse publicity and damage to our reputation.

Under the terms of the CARES Act, PPP loan recipients can be granted forgiveness for all or a portion of the loan, with such forgiveness to be determined, subject to limitations, based on the use of the loan proceeds for payment of qualifying expenses and the Company maintaining its payroll levels over certain required thresholds. Although we intend to apply for forgiveness of the PPP loan, no assurance can be provided that we will obtain such forgiveness in whole or in part. 

Our results may be impacted by changes in foreign currency exchange rates.

We have international operations and, as a result, an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to foreign currencies could require us to reduce our selling price or risk making our products less competitive in international markets, or our costs could increase. Also, if our international sales increase, we may enter into a greater number of transactions denominated in non-U.S. dollars, which could expose us to increased foreign currency risks, including currency fluctuations and exchange rate risks. We do not currently engage in any hedging transactions. If we are unable to address these risks and challenges effectively, our international operations may not be successful, and our business could be harmed.

 

We may not be able to establish or strengthen our brand.

We believe that establishing and strengthening the electroCore and gammaCore brands is critical to achieving widespread acceptance of our gammaCore therapy to treat eCH, prevent CH, prevent and treat migraine, and treat acute asthma exacerbations in known or suspected COVID-19 patients, particularly because of the highly competitive nature of the market for headache therapies. Promoting and positioning our brand will depend largely on the success of our marketing efforts and our ability to provide physicians and patients with a reliable product. Given the established nature of our competitors, and our lack of commercialization in the United States, it is likely that our future marketing efforts will require us to incur significant additional expenses. These brand promotion activities may not yield increased sales and, even if they do, any sales increases may not offset the expenses we incur to promote our brand. If we fail to successfully promote and maintain our brand, or if we incur substantial expenses in an unsuccessful attempt to promote and maintain our brand, our gammaCore therapy may not be accepted by physicians, which would adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We may face product liability claims that could result in costly litigation and significant liabilities.

Manufacturing and marketing of gammaCore, and clinical testing of our gammaCore therapy may expose us to individual product liability claims, class action lawsuits or actions, and other individual or mass tort claims. Although we have, and intend to maintain, liability insurance, the insurers may deny our claims, coverage limits of our insurance policies may not be adequate and one or more successful claims brought against us may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. These risks are heightened in the event any product recalls take place as a result of any product design defect or defect in product warnings or labeling. Product liability claims could negatively affect our reputation, our continued product sales and our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory clearance or approval for our products.


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Our operating results and profitability may be adversely affected by increases in reserves for product returns, doubtful accounts receivable and inventory.

Our net sales and profitability are affected by changes in reserves to account for product returns, doubtful account receivable and inventory. Significant management judgment must be used, and estimates must be made in connection with establishing these reserves, and any increase thereto could adversely affect our reported financial results by reducing our net revenues and/or profitability for the reporting period.

If the financial condition of our customers were able to deteriorate resulting in an impairment of their ability to make payments or if third-party payers were to deny claims, additional provisions for doubtful accounts may be required.

We permit the return of damaged or defective products and accept limited amounts of product returns in certain instances. While such returns are expected to be nominal and within management’s expectations and the provisions established, future return rates may increase more than anticipated. We have established a reserve in our financial statements for product returns and we will continue to analyze our returns to determine the adequacy of the reserve. Any significant increase in damaged or defective products or expected returns could have a material adverse effect on our operating results for the period or periods in which such returns materialize.

Additionally, damaged or defective products could (i) adversely affect our reputation and our end customers’ willingness to buy products from us, (ii) adversely affect market acceptance or perception of our products, (iii) increase our service costs, (iv) cause us to lose significant end-customers, and (v) subject us to liability for damages and divert our resources from other tasks, any of which could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

If we fail to retain our key executives or recruit and hire new employees, our operations and financial results may be adversely affected while we attract other highly qualified personnel.

Our future success depends, in part, on our ability to continue to retain our executive officers and other key employees and recruit and hire new employees. All of our executive officers and other employees are at-will employees, and therefore may terminate employment with us at any time with no advance notice. The replacement of any of our key personnel likely would involve significant time and costs, may significantly delay or prevent the achievement of our business objectives and may harm our business. In particular, our potential revenue in the United Kingdom is dependent on a small number of certain key UK personnel.

In addition, many of our employees have unvested equity awards in a substantial amount of stock or stock options that have lost significant value since they were granted. Our employees may be more likely to leave us if the shares they own or the shares underlying unvested options have significantly depreciated in value relative to the original purchase prices of the shares or the exercise prices of the options, or if the exercise prices of the options that they hold are significantly above the market price of our common stock. Further, our employees’ ability to exercise those options and sell their stock in a public market may result in a higher than normal turnover rate. In addition, our financial condition may preclude us from giving additional cash compensation to mitigate this risk.

Our future success also depends on our ability to retain executive officers and other key employees and attract new key employees. Many executive officers and employees in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries are subject to strict non-compete or confidentiality agreements with their employers, which may include our main competitors. In addition, some of our existing and future employees are or may be subject to confidentiality agreements with previous employers. Our competitors may allege breaches of and seek to enforce such non-compete agreements or initiate litigation based on such confidentiality agreements. Such litigation, whether or not meritorious, may impede our ability to attract or use executive officers and other key employees who have been employed by our competitors and may result in intellectual property claims against us. It is likely that we will experience similar aggressive lawsuit tactics by our competitors as they seek to protect their market position, particularly as we prepare to expand in new or existing markets.

Our future success depends on our leadership development and succession planning.

Effective succession planning is important to our long-term success. Failure to ensure effective transfer of knowledge and smooth transitions involving key employees and senior executives could hinder our strategic planning and execution. Our ability to execute our business strategies, ensure a cohesive management team, and attract and retain key executives may be adversely affected by the uncertainty that could be associated with the needing to transition to a new senior leadership.


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Our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial collaborators, principal investigators, CROs and vendors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements.

We are exposed to the risk that our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial collaborators, principal investigators, CROs and vendors may engage in fraudulent conduct or other illegal activity. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless or negligent conduct or unauthorized activities that violates (1) the laws and regulations of the FDA and other similar regulatory authorities, including those laws requiring the reporting of true, complete and accurate information to such authorities, (2) manufacturing standards, (3) federal and state data privacy, security, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, such as the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union, and (4) laws that require the true, complete and accurate reporting of financial information or data. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Misconduct by these parties could also involve the improper use of individually identifiable information, including information obtained in the course of clinical trials, creating fraudulent data in our preclinical studies or clinical trials or illegal misappropriation of product candidates, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation.

Although we have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics, 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, including damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, contractual damages, reputational harm and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.

The increasing use of social media could give rise to liability.

Social media, including Facebook and Twitter, is increasingly being used to communicate about our clinical development programs and the conditions our gammaCore therapy is being developed to treat, and we are engaging in what we believe is appropriate social media usage in connection with our commercialization efforts for indications for which our therapy has been approved, and we intend to do the same for any future indications or products, if approved. Social media practices in the biopharmaceutical industry continue to evolve and regulations and regulatory guidance relating to such use are evolving and not always clear. This evolution creates uncertainty and risk of noncompliance with regulations applicable to our business, resulting in potential regulatory actions against us, along with the potential for litigation related to off-label marketing or other prohibited activities. For example, for our clinical-stage candidates, patients may use social media channels to comment on their experience in an ongoing blinded clinical study or to report an alleged adverse event. When such disclosures occur, there is a risk that study enrollment may be adversely impacted, we fail to monitor and comply with applicable adverse event reporting obligations or that we may not be able to defend our business or the public’s legitimate interests in the face of the political and market pressures generated by social media due to restrictions on what we may say about our investigational products. There is also a risk of inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information or negative or inaccurate posts or comments about us on any online platform, including a blog on the Internet, or a post on a website, that can be distributed rapidly and could negatively harm our reputation. In addition, our employees may knowingly or inadvertently make use of social media in ways that may not comply with our company policies or other legal or contractual requirements, which may give rise to liability, lead to the loss of trade secrets or other intellectual property, or result in public exposure of personal information of our employees, clinical trial participants, customers, and others. If any of these events were to occur or we otherwise fail to comply with applicable regulations, we could incur liability, face regulatory actions or incur other harm to our business.

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Risk Related to our Dependence on Third Parties

We have relied upon primary, secondary, and sole source third-party suppliers located in China and elsewhere for components and packaging of our gammaCore products, which suppliers have paused delivery at our request, thereby making us vulnerable to supply shortages, price fluctuations, and an inability to reactivate supply chains if necessary, all of which could harm our business.

A number of the critical components used in gammaCore are supplied to us from either a primary, or secondary manufacturer, and multiple suppliers of high-demand consumer electronic components, and in certain cases sole-source, suppliers. Our manufacturers and suppliers may encounter problems during manufacturing for a variety of reasons, including, for example, disruptions caused by COVID-19, failure to follow specific protocols and procedures, failure to comply with applicable legal and regulatory requirements, equipment malfunction and environmental factors, failure to properly conduct their own business affairs, and infringement of third-party intellectual property rights, any of which could delay or impede their ability to meet our requirements. Our ability to supply gammaCore commercially depends, in part, on our ability to obtain a supply of these components that has been manufactured in accordance with regulatory requirements and in sufficient quantities for commercialization and clinical testing. We have not entered into manufacturing, supply or quality agreements with suppliers of consumer electronic components, some of which supply components critical to our products. Although we believe that long-term agreements with these suppliers are not necessary as all the components in our products are either high-volume, non-custom commodity components or are readily available from multiple vendors, there can be no assurance that our multiple-source or sole-source suppliers will be able to meet our demand for their products and services, either because of the informal nature of our arrangements with those suppliers, or our limited experience with those suppliers, due to our relative importance as a customer to those suppliers, or due to supply chain disruptions that may arise such as those relating to the recent COVID-19, or Coronavirus pandemic or similar events. It may be difficult for us to assess their ability to timely meet our demand in the future based on past performance. While our suppliers have generally met our demand for their products on a timely basis in the past, they may subordinate our needs in the future to their other customers. 

Establishing additional or replacement suppliers for the components or processes used in gammaCore, if required, may not be accomplished quickly. If we are able to find a replacement supplier, such replacement supplier would need to be qualified and may require additional regulatory authority approval, which could result in further delay. While we seek to maintain adequate inventory of the single-source or sole-source components and materials used in our products, any interruption or delay in the supply of components or materials, or our inability to obtain components or materials from alternate sources at acceptable prices in a timely manner, could impair our ability to meet the demand of our customers and cause them to cancel orders.

If our third-party suppliers fail to deliver the required commercial quantities of materials, or the level of services we require, on a timely basis and at commercially reasonable prices, and we are unable to find one or more replacement suppliers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost in substantially equivalent volumes and quality and on a timely basis, the continued commercialization of gammaCore would be impeded, delayed, limited or prevented, which could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.


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In Europe, we rely in part on a single third-party distributor to effectively distribute a majority of our products.

We depend in part on a single third-party distributor for the warehousing, programming and shipment of our products in certain territories in Europe. We depend on this distributor’s efforts, yet we are unable to control its efforts completely. This distributor typically performs the same services for a variety of other non-competing products that may limit the resources it dedicates to our gammaCore therapy. If our distributor fails to effectively distribute gammaCore in full compliance with applicable laws, our operating results and business may suffer. Recruiting and retaining qualified third-party distributors and training them in our technology and product offerings requires significant time and resources. To develop and expand our distribution, we must continue to scale and improve our processes and procedures that support our distributors.

Further, if our relationship with a successful distributor terminates, we may be unable to replace that distributor without disruption to our business. If we fail to maintain positive relationships with our distributor, fail to develop new relationships with other distributors, including in new markets, fail to manage, train or incentivize our existing distributor effectively, or fail to strike agreements with attractive terms, or if our distributor is not successful in its businesses, our revenue may decrease and our operating results, reputation and business may be harmed.

We rely upon specialty pharmacies to distribute some of our products in the United States.

We depend on specialty pharmacies to distribute our products but are unable to control their performance. These specialty pharmacies may distribute a variety of other specialty pharmaceutical products that may limit the resources dedicated to the distribution of our products. In addition, we are unable to ensure that these specialty pharmacies will comply with all applicable laws related to the distribution of our products. If they fail to distribute our products in compliance with applicable laws, our operating results and business may suffer. Recruiting, training, and retaining specialty pharmacies in the distribution of our proprietary product offerings requires significant time and resources.

In addition, we previously used a third-party distributor and its affiliate to provide pharmaceutical patient hub services, including patient support and training. This hub was electronically integrated with our proprietary data warehouse system and web portal. Our agreement with this third-party distributor expired in the second quarter of 2020 and we have transitioned to using specialty pharmacies for select services. This may inhibit our ability to gather data directly into our proprietary data warehouse system and web portal, which may result in disruptions in service for patients that are prescribed our therapy and cause them to seek alternative therapy. Specialty pharmacies also may not pay us on time or at all due to disputes, financial issues or bankruptcy events. Any such payment issues may materially affect our operating results until we are able to resolve the issues or find a sufficient replacement.

We offer health care provider consults for gammaCore Sapphire CV in the United States and rely upon a third-party telehealth platform provider to do so. In the future, we may need to engage other telehealth platform providers for sales of our other products.


UpScript LLC, or UpScript, is our exclusive online telehealth provider for gammaCore Sapphire CV and its performance is not fully within our control. We are unable to ensure that UpScript will comply with applicable laws, and its failure to do so could have an adverse effect on our operating results and business. Additionally, recruiting, training and retaining telehealth platform providers requires significant time and resources. We may need to establish additional relationships with telehealth platform providers for the sales of our other products, but there can be no assurance that we will be able to do so at all or on terms favorable to us.


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Our status as a federal contractor subjects us to a wide variety of regulatory compliance, pricing, and contract-based requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements could adversely impact our ability to obtain future federal contracts, which could negatively impact us and our business.

We expect that a majority of our 2021 U.S. sales of gammaCore will be made pursuant to our qualifying contract on the FSS and open market sales to individual VA facilities. Our status as a contractor on FSS means that we are obligated to comply with a variety of federal procurement laws, regulations, and contract terms that require commercial price disclosures, commercial-to-federal price indexing, and compliance with various federal programs. Furthermore, as a federal contractor, we are also subject to contractual remedies and potential administrative, civil, and criminal damages and penalties for noncompliance with contract terms, overbilling, or misconduct. The cost of maintaining compliance with these requirements could adversely impact us and our business and complying with these requirements could divert managerial and financial resources. Additionally, failure to comply could result in us being excluded from the opportunity to renew existing federal contracts or to bid on federal future contracts for a period of time lasting up to several years. Any of these contingencies could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our potential revenue in the United Kingdom is substantially dependent on government funding arrangements and changes in such government policy could cause material harm to our business. 

In the United Kingdom, an award from the NHS called the Innovation Technology Payment Program, or ITP, offers the potential for us to generate revenue from the treatment of CH. This award, which has been extended until March 2021, is the primary commercial channel from which our United Kingdom revenue is derived and is supported by a December 2019 recommendation for the use of gammaCore in CH from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE, as well as an adaptation of the NICE recommendation for NHS Scotland by Health Improvement Scotland. The cost of compliance with applicable UK laws and regulations could negatively harm us and our business. Additionally, the government funding arrangements provided by the NHS and NICE could be withdrawn if we do not comply with the terms and conditions of such arrangements, or if the programs are not extended or curtailed. Finally, NHS England has announced the launch of a new funding mechanism known as the MedTech Funding Mandate, or MTFM, in April 2021. Transition from the ITP to the MTFM could result in disruptions to our business in the United Kingdom. Any of these contingencies could have an adverse effect on our potential UK revenue.

We rely on third parties to conduct and support clinical trials and investigator - initiated trials, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily, including failing to meet deadlines for the completion of such trials.

We do not independently conduct clinical trials for our product candidates. We rely on third parties, such as CROs, clinical data management organizations, medical institutions and clinical investigators, to perform this function. Currently, we have a number of ongoing IITs, including IITs for nVNS stimulation in COVID-19 patients in Spain and the United States. We frequently review both proposals for new trials and the performance of ongoing trials, and our reviews may result in changes to our future obligations. Our reliance on third parties for clinical development activities reduces our control over these activities but does not relieve us of our responsibilities. Furthermore, some of the sites for our investigator-initiated trials are outside the United States. The performance of these sites may be adversely affected by various issues, including less advanced medical infrastructure, lack of familiarity with conducting clinical trials in accordance with U.S. standards, insufficient training of personnel, communication difficulties or change in local regulations. We remain responsible for ensuring that clinical trials are conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the study. Moreover, the FDA requires us to comply with GCP for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of patients in clinical trials are protected. Furthermore, these third parties may also have relationships with other entities, including our competitors. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated protocols, we will not be able to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, regulatory clearance or approval for our product candidates and will not be able to, or may be delayed in our efforts to, successfully commercialize our products.

Additionally, patient enrollment is affected by many factors beyond our control and the control of the third parties upon whom we rely to conduct IITs. As a result, we cannot predict how successful our IITs will be at enrolling patients. In particular, enrollment in our IITs for nVNS stimulation in COVID-19 patients in the United States have been slower than expected. 

We also may rely on other third parties to store and distribute supplies for clinical trials. Any performance failure on the part of our existing or future distributors could delay clinical development or regulatory clearance or approval of our product candidates or commercialization of our products, producing additional losses and depriving us of potential product revenues.

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If we do not successfully enter into future collaborations for the development, regulatory clearance and commercialization of our gammaCore therapy in international markets our business may be harmed.

We may choose to enter into collaboration agreements with third parties with respect to development, regulatory clearance and commercialization of our gammaCore therapy in international markets. We will have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our collaborators dedicate to the development, regulatory clearance, or commercialization of our gammaCore therapy. Our ability to generate revenues from these arrangements will depend in part on our collaborators’ abilities to successfully perform the functions assigned to them in these arrangements.

 

Despite carefully written collaboration agreements, collaborations involving our gammaCore therapy, are subject to numerous risks, which may include the following:

 

 

collaborators have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to a collaboration;

 

 

collaborators may not pursue development, regulatory clearance and commercialization of our product candidates or may elect not to continue or renew development, regulatory clearance, or commercialization programs based on clinical trial results, changes in their strategic focus due to the acquisition of competitive products, availability of funding or other external factors, such as a business combination that diverts resources or creates competing priorities;

 

 

collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial, stop a clinical trial, abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;

 

 

collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our products or product candidates;

 

 

a collaborator with marketing and distribution rights to one or more products may not commit sufficient resources to their marketing and distribution;

 

 

collaborators may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our intellectual property or proprietary information in a way that gives rise to actual or threatened litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential liability;

 

 

disputes may arise between us and a collaborator that cause the delay or termination of the research, development or commercialization of our product candidates or that result in costly litigation or arbitration that diverts management attention and resources;

 

 

collaborations may be terminated and, if terminated, may result in a need for additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates; and

 

 

collaborators may own or co-own intellectual property covering our products that result from our collaborating with them, and in such cases, we would not have the exclusive right to commercialize such intellectual property.


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Any termination or disruption of any future collaboration could result in delayed development of product candidates, increased cost to develop product candidates or termination of development of a product candidate.

If we are not able to establish or maintain collaborations, we may have to alter some of our future development, regulatory clearance and commercialization plans.

Our product development programs, regulatory clearance and the potential commercialization of our gammaCore therapy will require substantial additional capital to fund expenses. For some of our product candidates, we may decide to collaborate with pharmaceutical and medical device companies for the future development, regulatory clearance and potential commercialization of those product candidates. Furthermore, we may find that our programs require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, and the growth of our business may depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights.

 

We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators, and a number of more established companies may also be pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, financial resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. Whether we reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend upon, among other things, our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. Those factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of clearance or approval by the FDA, compliance with the Essential Requirements of the EU Medical Devices Directive and from May 26, 2020, the General Safety and Performance Requirements of the EU Medical Devices Regulation or similar foreign regulations, the potential market for the subject product candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such product candidate to patients, competing products, the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge, and industry and market conditions generally. The collaborator may also consider alternative product candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to collaborate on and whether such a collaboration could be more attractive than the one with us for our product candidate. We may also be restricted under existing license agreements from entering into agreements on certain terms with potential collaborators. Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators. We may not be able to negotiate collaborations on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all. Even if we are able to obtain a license to intellectual property of interest, we may not be able to secure exclusive rights, in which case others could use the same rights and compete with us. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to curtail the development of such product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to increase our expenditures to fund development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we do not have sufficient funds, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates or bring them to market and generate product revenue.


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We, or third-party manufacturers on whom we rely, may be unable to successfully sustain and to further scale-up manufacturing of our gammaCore therapy or its component parts in sufficient quality and quantity, which would delay or prevent us from developing and commercializing any approved products.

In order to conduct clinical trials of our gammaCore therapy and continue to commercialize approved products, we, or our manufacturers, will need to manufacture products in large quantities. We, or our manufacturers, may be unable to successfully sustain, or increase manufacturing capacity in a timely or cost-effective manner, or at all. In addition, quality issues may arise during further scale-up activities. If we, or any of our manufacturers, are unable to successfully sustain, or further scale-up manufacturing in sufficient quality and quantity, the development, testing, and clinical trials of our gammaCore therapy may be delayed or infeasible, and regulatory clearance, approval or commercial launch of any resulting product may be delayed or not obtained, which could significantly harm our business. If we are unable to obtain or maintain third-party manufacturing for commercial supply of our product candidates, or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to develop and commercialize our gammaCore therapy successfully.

We are required to maintain high levels of inventory with our third-party manufacturers, due to lead times with single-source consumer electronic components vendors, which could consume a significant amount of our resources, reduce our cash flows and lead to inventory impairment charges.

Our gammaCore therapy consists of a substantial number of individual components. In order to market and sell effectively, we often must maintain high levels of inventory of the product and its components.

The manufacturing process requires lengthy lead times during which electronic components of our gammaCore therapy may become obsolete, and we may over- or under-estimate the amount needed of a given component, in which case we may expend extra resources or be constrained in the amount of end product that we can produce. As compared to direct manufacturers, our dependence on third-party manufacturers exposes us to greater lead times increasing our risk of adverse financial impact of inventory obsolescence comparatively. In addition, as of December 31, 2020 we had approximately $5.7 million of inventory. Our inventory significantly exceeds current demand for the gammaCore therapy, which also could result in an increased risk of adverse financial impact from inventory obsolescence.

Risks Related to Intellectual Property

We may in the future become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our intellectual property, which could be expensive and time consuming, and ultimately unsuccessful, and could result in the diversion of significant resources, thereby hindering our ability to effectively commercialize our existing or future products. If we are unable to obtain, maintain, protect, and enforce our intellectual property, our business will be negatively affected.

The markets in which we compete and expect to compete are subject to rapid technological change and frequent litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights. It is possible that our patents or licenses may not withstand challenges made by others or protect our rights adequately.

Our success depends in large part on our ability to secure effective patent protection for our products and processes in the United States and internationally. We have filed and intend to continue to file patent applications for various aspects of our technology and trademark applications to protect our brand and business, and copyright applications to protect our software. We seek to obtain and maintain patents and other intellectual property rights to restrict the ability of others to market products or services that misappropriate our technology and work product and/or infringe our intellectual property to compete with our products and services.

However, we face the risks that:


 

We may fail to secure necessary patents, potentially permitting competitors to market competing products and services and make, use or sell products or offer services that are substantially the same as ours without incurring the sizeable development costs that we have incurred, which would adversely affect our ability to compete.

 

 

Patents may not issue from currently pending or future patent applications.

 

 

Our already-granted patents and any future patents may not survive legal challenges to their scope, validity or enforceability, or provide significant protection for us, and they may be challenged in a post grant review or inter partes review proceeding, re-examined or invalidated, and/or may be found to be unenforceable or not cover competing processes, products or services.

 

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Even if our patents are determined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, foreign patent office, or a court to be valid and enforceable, they may not be drafted or interpreted sufficiently broadly to prevent others from marketing products and services similar to ours or designing around our patents. For example, third parties may be able to develop therapies, or make systems or devices, that are similar to ours but that are not covered by the claims of our patents. Third parties may assert that we or our licensors were not the first to make the inventions covered by our issued patents or pending patent applications. The claims of our issued patents or patent applications when issued may not cover our commercial technology or the future products and services that we develop. We may not have freedom to operate unimpeded by the patent rights of others. Third parties may have dominating, blocking or other patents relevant to our technology of which we are not aware. In addition, because patent applications in the United States and many foreign jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after the filing of certain priority documents (or, in some cases, are not published until they issue as patents) and because publications in the scientific literature often lag behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain that others have not filed patent applications for our technology or our contemplated technology. Any such patent applications may have priority over our patent applications or issued patents, which could further require us to obtain rights from third parties to issued patents or pending patent applications covering such technologies to allow us to commercialize our technology. If another party has filed a U.S. patent application on inventions similar to ours, depending on when the timing of the filing date falls under certain patent laws, we may have to participate in a priority contest (such as an interference proceeding) declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention in the United States. There may be prior public disclosures of which we are not aware that could invalidate our patents or a portion of the claims of our patents. Further, we may not develop additional proprietary technologies and, even if we do, they may not be patentable. 





Patent law can be highly uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions for which important principles remain unresolved. In the United States and in many foreign jurisdictions, policies regarding the breadth of claims allowed in patents can be inconsistent. The U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have made, and will likely continue to make, changes in how the patent laws of the United States are interpreted. Similarly, foreign courts have made, and will likely continue to make, changes in how the patent laws in their respective jurisdictions are interpreted. We cannot predict future changes in the interpretation of patent laws or changes to patent laws that might be enacted into law by U.S. and foreign legislative bodies. Those changes may materially affect our patents or patent applications, our ability to obtain patents, or the patents and patent applications of our licensors. Future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain because legal means afford only limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep our competitive advantage, which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. 

 

 

Monitoring unauthorized uses of our intellectual property is difficult and costly. From time to time, we seek to analyze our competitors’ therapies, products and services, and may in the future seek to enforce our patents or other proprietary rights against potential infringement. However, the steps we have taken to protect our proprietary rights may not be adequate to prevent misappropriation of our intellectual property. We may not be able to detect unauthorized use of, or take appropriate steps to enforce, our intellectual property rights. Our competitors may also independently develop similar technology. Any inability to meaningfully protect our intellectual property could result in competitors offering products that incorporate our product features, which could reduce demand for our gammaCore therapy. In addition, we may need to defend our patents from third-party challenges, including interferences, derivation proceedings, re-examination proceedings, post-grant review, inter partes review, third-party submissions, oppositions, nullity actions, or other patent proceedings. We may need to initiate infringement claims or litigation. Adverse proceedings such as litigation can be expensive, time consuming and may divert the efforts of our technical and managerial personnel, which could in turn harm our business, whether or not we receive a determination favorable to us. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that the patent we seek to enforce is invalid or unenforceable or may refuse to enjoin the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that the patent in question does not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation could place one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly. Some of our competitors may be able to devote significantly more resources to intellectual property litigation, and may have patent portfolios, including significantly broader patent portfolios, to assert against us, if we assert our rights against them. Further, because of the substantial discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be disclosed or otherwise compromised during litigation.




 

We may not be able to accurately estimate or control our future operating expenses in relation to obtaining, enforcing and/or defending intellectual property, which could lead to cash shortfalls. Our operating expenses may fluctuate significantly in the future as a result of the costs of preparing, filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing patent claims and other patent related costs, including litigation costs and the results of such litigation.

 

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We may also be forced to enter into cross-license agreements with competitors in order to manufacture, use, sell, offer for sale, import and/or export products or services that are covered by our competitors’ intellectual property rights. If we need to use our intellectual property to enter such cross-license agreements, it may compromise the value of our intellectual property due to the fact that our competitors may be able to manufacture, use, sell, offer for sale, import and/or export our patented technology.

We rely on a variety of intellectual property rights, and if we are unable to maintain or protect our intellectual property, our business and results of operations will be harmed.

Our commercial success will depend, in part, on our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our products, processes, and related technologies in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, successfully defend our intellectual property rights against third-party challenges and successfully enforce our intellectual property rights to prevent third-party infringement. While we rely primarily upon a combination of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secret protection, as well as nondisclosure, confidentiality and other contractual agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our brands, products and other proprietary technologies, protection derived from patents is relatively limited.

The process of obtaining patent protection is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. We may choose not to seek patent protection for certain innovations or products and may choose not to pursue patent protection in certain jurisdictions, and under the laws of certain jurisdictions, patents or other intellectual property rights may be unavailable or limited in scope and, in any event, any patent protection we obtain may be limited. As a result, some of our products are not, and in the future may not be, protected by patents. We generally apply for patents in those countries where we intend to make, have made, use, offer for sale, or sell products and where we assess the risk of infringement to justify the cost of seeking patent protection. However, we do not seek protection in all countries where we sell products, and we may not accurately predict all the countries where patent protection would ultimately be desirable. If we fail to timely file a patent application in any such country or major market, we may be precluded from doing so at a later date. 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 in which we have patent protection that may not be sufficient to terminate infringing activities.

 

Furthermore, we cannot guarantee that any patents will be issued from any pending or future owned or licensed patent applications, or that any current or future patents will provide us with any meaningful protection or competitive advantage. Even if issued, existing or future patents may be challenged, including with respect to ownership, narrowed, invalidated, held unenforceable or circumvented, any of which could limit our ability to prevent competitors and other third parties from developing and marketing similar products or limit the length of terms of patent protection we may have for our products and technologies. Other companies may also design around technologies we have patented, licensed or developed. In addition, the issuance of a patent does not give us the right to practice the patented invention. Third parties may have blocking patents that could prevent us from marketing our products or practicing our own patented technology.

The patent positions of pharmaceutical and medical device companies can be highly uncertain and involve complex legal, scientific and factual questions for which important legal principles remain unresolved. The standards that the USPTO and its foreign counterparts use to grant patents are not always applied predictably or uniformly. Changes in either the patent laws, implementing regulations or the interpretation of patent laws may diminish the value of our rights. The legal systems of certain countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, and many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending such rights in foreign jurisdictions.

Because patent applications in the United States, Europe and many other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all, and because publications of discoveries in scientific literature lag behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain that we were the first to conceive or reduce to practice the inventions claimed in our issued patents or pending patent applications, or that we were the first to file for protection of the inventions set forth in our patents or pending patent applications. We can give no assurance that all of the potentially relevant art relating to our patents and patent applications has been found; overlooked prior art could be used by a third party to challenge the validity, enforceability and scope of our patents or prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. As a result, we may not be able to obtain or maintain protection for certain inventions. Therefore, the validity, enforceability and scope of our patents in the United States, Europe and in other countries cannot be predicted with certainty and, as a result, any patents that we own, or license may not provide sufficient protection against our competitors.


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Third parties may challenge any existing patent or future patent we own or license through adversarial proceedings in the issuing offices or in court proceedings, including as a response to any assertion of our patents against them. In any of these proceedings, a court or agency with jurisdiction may find our patents invalid and/or unenforceable, or even if valid and enforceable, insufficient to provide protection against competing products and services sufficient to achieve our business objectives. We may be subject to a third-party pre-issuance submission of prior art to the USPTO, or reexamination by the USPTO if a third party asserts a substantial question of patentability against any claim of a U.S. patent we own or license. The adoption of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, in September 2011 established additional opportunities for third parties to invalidate U.S. patent claims, including inter partes review and post-grant review proceedings. Outside of the United States, patents we own, or license may become subject to patent opposition or similar proceedings, which may result in loss of scope of some claims or the entire patent. In addition, such proceedings are very complex and expensive, and may divert our management’s attention from our core business. If any of our patents are challenged, invalidated, circumvented by third parties or otherwise limited or expire prior to the commercialization of our products, and if we do not own or have exclusive rights to other enforceable patents protecting our products or other technologies, competitors and other third parties could market products and use processes that are substantially similar to, or superior to, ours and our business would suffer.

The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain because legal means afford only limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep a competitive advantage. For example:


 

others may be able to develop products that are similar to, or better than, ours in a way that is not covered by the claims of our patents;

 

 

we might not have been the first to conceive or reduce to practice the inventions covered by our patents or pending patent applications;

 

 

we might not have been the first to file patent applications for our inventions;

 

 

any patents that we obtain may not provide us with any competitive advantages or may ultimately be found invalid or unenforceable; or

 

 

we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable.

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

Competitors may infringe our patents. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file one or more lawsuit and assert infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable or may refuse to enjoin the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. The standards that courts use to interpret patents are not always applied predictably or uniformly and can change, particularly as new technologies develop. As a result, we cannot predict with certainty how much protection, if any, will be given to our patents if we attempt to enforce them and they are challenged in court. Further, even if we prevail against an infringer in U.S. district court, there is always the risk that the infringer will file an appeal and the district court judgment will be overturned at the appeals court and/or that an adverse decision will be issued by the appeals court relating to the validity or enforceability of our patents. An adverse result in any litigation proceeding could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted in a manner insufficient to achieve our business objectives.

Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties.

The pharmaceutical and medical device industries are subject to rapid technological change and substantial litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights. Our competitors in both the United States and abroad, many of which have substantially greater resources and have made substantial investments in patent portfolios and competing technologies, may have applied for or obtained or may in the future apply for or obtain, patents that will prevent, limit or otherwise interfere with our ability to make, use and sell our products and services. Numerous third-party patents exist in the fields relating to our products and services, and it is difficult for industry participants, including us, to identify all third-party patent rights relevant to our products, services and technologies. Moreover, because some patent applications are maintained as confidential for a certain period of time, we cannot be certain that third parties have not filed patent applications that cover our products, services and technologies.

Patents could be issued to third parties that we may ultimately be found to infringe. Third parties may have or obtain valid and enforceable patents or proprietary rights that could block us from developing products using our technology. Our failure to obtain or maintain a license to any technology that we require may materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, we would be exposed to a threat of litigation.


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From time to time, we may be party to, or threatened with, litigation or other proceedings with third parties, including non-practicing entities, who allege that our products, components of our products, services, and/or proprietary technologies infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their intellectual property rights. The types of situations in which we may become a party to such litigation or proceedings include:


 

we or our collaborators may initiate litigation or other proceedings against third parties seeking to invalidate the patents held by those third parties or to obtain a judgment that our products or processes do not infringe those third parties’ patents;

 

 

we or our collaborators may participate at substantial cost in International Trade Commission proceedings to abate importation of products that would compete unfairly with our products;

 

 

if our competitors file patent applications that claim technology also claimed by us or our licensors, we or our licensors may be required to participate in interference, derivation or opposition proceedings to determine the priority of invention, which could jeopardize our patent rights and potentially provide a third party with a dominant patent position;

 

 

if third parties initiate litigation claiming that our processes or products infringe their patent or other intellectual property rights, we and our collaborators will need to defend against such proceedings;

 

 

if third parties initiate litigation or other proceedings seeking to invalidate patents owned by or licensed to us or to obtain a declaratory judgment that their products, services, or technologies do not infringe our patents or patents licensed to us, we will need to defend against such proceedings;

 

 

we may be subject to ownership disputes relating to intellectual property, including disputes arising from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our products; and

 

 

if a license to necessary technology is terminated, the licensor may initiate litigation claiming that our processes or products infringe or misappropriate its patent or other intellectual property rights and/or that we breached our obligations under the license agreement, and we and our collaborators would need to defend against such proceedings.


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These lawsuits and proceedings, regardless of merit, are time-consuming and expensive to initiate, maintain, defend or settle, and could divert the time and attention of managerial and technical personnel, which could materially adversely affect our business. Any such claim could also force use to do one or more of the following:

 

incur substantial monetary liability for infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the product, service, or technology at issue infringes or violates the third party’s rights, and if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay treble damages and the third party’s attorneys’ fees;

 

 

pay substantial damages to our customers or end users to discontinue use or replace infringing technology with non-infringing technology;

 

 

stop manufacturing, offering for sale, selling, using, importing, exporting or licensing the product or technology incorporating the allegedly infringing technology or stop incorporating the allegedly infringing technology into such product, service, or technology;

 

 

obtain from the owner of the infringed intellectual property right a license, which may require us to pay substantial upfront fees or royalties to sell or use the relevant technology and which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all;

 

 

redesign our products, services, and technology so they do not infringe or violate the third party’s intellectual property rights, which may not be possible or may require substantial monetary expenditures and time;

 

 

enter into cross-licenses with our competitors, which could weaken our overall intellectual property position;

 

 

lose the opportunity to license our technology to others or to collect royalty payments based upon successful protection and assertion of our intellectual property against others;

 

 

find alternative suppliers for non-infringing products and technologies, which could be costly and create significant delay; or

 

 

relinquish rights associated with one or more of our patent claims, if our claims are held invalid or otherwise unenforceable.

Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, intellectual property litigation, regardless of its outcome, may cause negative publicity, adversely impact prospective customers, cause product shipment delays, or prohibit us from manufacturing, marketing or otherwise commercializing our products, services and technology. Any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise additional funds or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation, financial condition or cash flows.

 

In addition, we may indemnify our customers and distributors against claims relating to the infringement of intellectual property rights of third parties related to our products. Third parties may assert infringement claims against our customers or distributors. These claims may require us to initiate or defend protracted and costly litigation on behalf of our customers or distributors, regardless of the merits of these claims. If any of these claims succeed, we may be forced to pay damages on behalf of our customers, suppliers or distributors, or may be required to obtain licenses for the products or services they use. If we cannot obtain all necessary licenses on commercially reasonable terms, our customers may be forced to stop using our products or services.


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Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, which could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. The occurrence of any of these events may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation, financial condition or cash flows.

If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position may be harmed.

In addition to patent, copyright, and trademark protection, we also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our trade secrets, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to them, such as our consultants and vendors, or our former or current employees. We also enter into confidentiality and invention and patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. Despite these efforts, however, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our trade secrets and other unpatented or unregistered proprietary information, and once disclosed, we are likely to lose trade secret protection. Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures of our intellectual property is difficult, and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property will be effective. In addition, we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for any such breaches. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to enforce trade secret protection.

Further, our competitors may independently develop knowledge, methods and know-how similar, equivalent, or superior to our proprietary technology. Competitors could purchase our products and attempt to reverse engineer and replicate some or all of the competitive advantages we derive from our development efforts, willfully infringe our intellectual property rights, design around our protected technology, or develop their own competitive technologies that fall outside of our intellectual property rights. In addition, our key employees, consultants, suppliers or other individuals with access to our proprietary technology and know-how may incorporate that technology and know-how into projects and inventions developed independently or with third parties. As a result, disputes may arise regarding the ownership of the proprietary rights to such technology or know-how, and any such dispute may not be resolved in our favor. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate it, from using that technology or information to compete with us and our competitive position could be adversely affected. If our intellectual property is not adequately protected so as to protect our market against competitors’ products and processes, our competitive position could be adversely affected, as could our business.

Changes in patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our existing and future products and processes.

As is the case with other pharmaceutical and medical device companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries involves both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time-consuming, and inherently uncertain. In addition, patent reform legislation may pass in the future that could lead to additional uncertainties and increased costs surrounding the prosecution, enforcement and defense of our patents and pending patent applications. US Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have made, and will likely continue to make, changes in how the patent laws of the United States are interpreted. Similarly, foreign courts have made, and will likely continue to make, changes in how the patent laws in their respective jurisdictions are interpreted. We cannot predict future changes in the interpretation of patent laws or changes to patent laws that might be enacted into law by United States and foreign legislative bodies. Those changes may materially affect our patents or patent applications and our ability to obtain additional patent protection in the future.


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Obtaining and maintaining 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 governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment, and other similar provisions during the patent application process. In addition, periodic maintenance fees on issued patents often must be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies over the lifetime of the patent. While an unintentional lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Non-compliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. If we fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our products or procedures, we may not be able to stop a competitor from marketing products that are the same as or similar to our own, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.

Our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented, declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights in these trademarks and trade names, which we need in order to build name recognition with potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. In addition, third parties have used trademarks similar and identical to our trademarks in foreign jurisdictions and have filed or may in the future file for registration of such trademarks. If they succeed in registering or developing common law rights in such trademarks, and if we are not successful in challenging such third-party rights, we may not be able to use these trademarks to market our products in those countries. In any case, if we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, then we may not be able to compete effectively, and our business may be adversely affected.

If we cannot show access and copying, then our copyrights may not provide protection for our software and our business may be adversely affected.

Copyrights protect works of authorship such as software, but proving infringement requires a showing of access to the work and copying of the work. Because software is not readily available or accessible, it may be difficult to determine and prove that a third party had access to our software and/or that they copied our software. Because our software may be accessible by obtaining or accessing our product offerings and technology, third parties may be able to download or reproduce our software and reverse engineer our software programs. Software programs can be rewritten in ways that significantly modify it from the original program, which may make it difficult to prove the copying prong of a copyright infringement showing. If we are unable to establish the two prongs of a copyright infringement analysis, then our copyrights may provide limited or no protection for our software. Copyright infringement suits are expensive and any damages we seek may be inadequate to compensate us for the costs of litigation and for damage to our business resulting from the copyright infringement.

We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on our products in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive. The requirements for patentability may differ in certain countries, particularly developing countries, and the breadth of patent claims allowed can be inconsistent. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries may not protect our intellectual property rights to the same extent as laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and, further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories in which we have patent protection that may not be sufficient to terminate infringing activities.


We do not have patent rights in certain foreign countries in which a market for our products may exist. Moreover, in foreign jurisdictions where we do have patent rights, proceedings to enforce such rights could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, and our patent applications at risk of not issuing. Additionally, such proceedings could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Thus, we may not be able to stop a competitor from marketing and selling in foreign countries products and services that are the same as or similar to our products and services, and our competitive position in the international market would be harmed.


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We may not identify relevant third-party patents or may incorrectly interpret the relevance, scope or expiration of a third-party patent which might adversely affect our ability to develop and market our products.

We cannot guarantee that any of our or our licensors’ patent searches or analyses, including the identification of relevant patents, the scope of patent claims or the expiration of relevant patents, are complete or thorough, nor can we be certain that we have identified each and every third-party patent and pending application in the United States and abroad that is relevant to or necessary for the commercialization of our products in any jurisdiction. For example, U.S. patent applications filed before November 29, 2000 and certain U.S. patent applications filed after that date that will not be filed outside the United States remain confidential until patents issue. Patent applications in the United States and elsewhere are published approximately 18 months after the earliest filing for which priority is claimed, with such earliest filing date being commonly referred to as the priority date. Therefore, patent applications covering our products could have been filed by others without our knowledge. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our product candidates or the use of our products. The scope of a patent claim is determined by an interpretation of the law, the written disclosure in a patent and the patent’s prosecution history. Our interpretation of the relevance or the scope of a patent or a pending application may be incorrect, which may negatively impact our ability to market our products. We may incorrectly determine that our products are not covered by a third-party patent or may incorrectly predict whether a third party’s pending patent application will issue with claims of relevant scope. Our determination of the expiration date of any patent in the United States or abroad that we consider relevant may be incorrect, which may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our products and services. Our failure to identify and correctly interpret relevant patents may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our products and services.

If we fail to identify and correctly interpret relevant patents, we may be subject to infringement claims. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to successfully settle or otherwise resolve such infringement claims. If we fail in any such dispute, in addition to being forced to pay damages, we may be temporarily or permanently prohibited from commercializing any of our products that are held to be infringing. We might, if possible, also be forced to redesign products or services so that we no longer infringe the third-party intellectual property rights. Any of these events, even if we were ultimately to prevail, could require us to divert substantial financial and management resources that we would otherwise be able to devote to our business.

Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our products for an adequate amount of time.

Patents have a limited lifespan, and the protection patents afford is limited. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest U.S. non-provisional filing date. Even if patents covering our products are obtained, once the patent life has expired for patents covering a product, we may be open to competition from competitive products and services. As a result, our patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing product candidates similar or identical to ours.

Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our business.

Once granted, patents may remain open to invalidity challenges including opposition, interference, re-examination, post-grant review, inter partes review, nullification or derivation action in court or before patent offices or similar proceedings for a given period after allowance or grant, during which time third parties can raise objections against such grant. In the course of such proceedings, which may continue for a protracted period of time, the patent owner may be compelled to limit the scope of the allowed or granted claims thus attacked or may lose the allowed or granted claims altogether.

In addition, the degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because even granted intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, provide a barrier to entry against our competitors or potential competitors or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. Moreover, if a third party has intellectual property rights that cover the practice of our technology, we may not be able to fully exercise or extract value from our intellectual property rights. The following examples are illustrative: 


 

others may be able to develop and/or practice technology that is similar to our technology or aspects of our technology, but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or control, assuming such patents have issued or do issue;

 

 

we or our licensors or any future strategic partners might not have been the first to conceive or reduce to practice the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own or have exclusively licensed;

 

 

we or our licensors or any future strategic partners might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions;


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others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;

 

 

it is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents;

 

 

issued patents that we own or have exclusively licensed may not provide us with any competitive advantage, or may be held invalid or unenforceable, as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;

 

 

our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;

 

 

third parties performing manufacturing or testing for the use of our products or technologies could use the intellectual property of others without obtaining a proper license;

 

 

parties may assert an ownership interest in our intellectual property and, if successful, such disputes may preclude us from exercising exclusive rights over that intellectual property;

 

 

we may not develop or in-license additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;

 

 

we may not be able to obtain and maintain necessary licenses on commercially reasonable terms, or at all; and

 

 

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

Should any of these events occur, they could significantly harm our business and results of operations.

 

We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of their former employers or other third parties.

We do and may employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other pharmaceutical or medical device companies, including our licensors, competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants and independent contractors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, and we are not currently subject to any claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties, we may in the future be subject to such claims. 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. Such intellectual property rights could be awarded to a third party, and we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to commercialize our technology or products. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees and could result in customers seeking other sources for the technology, or in ceasing from doing business with us.

Our intellectual property agreements with third parties may be subject to disagreements over contract interpretation, which could narrow the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology.

Certain provisions in our intellectual property agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could affect the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology or affect financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. Our assignment agreements may not be self-executing or may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property.

We may not be successful in obtaining necessary intellectual property rights to future products through acquisitions and in-licenses.

Although we intend to develop products and technology through our own internal research, we may also seek to acquire or in-license technologies to grow our product offerings and technology portfolio. However, we may be unable to acquire or in-license intellectual property rights relating to, or necessary for, any such products or technology from third parties on commercially reasonable terms or at all. In that event, we may be unable to develop or commercialize such products or technology. We may also be unable to identify products or technology that we believe are an appropriate strategic fit for our company and protect intellectual property relating to, or necessary for, such products and technology.

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The in-licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights for product candidates is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing strategies to in-license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights for products that we may consider attractive or necessary. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. Furthermore, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to additional technologies or products, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects for growth could suffer.

In addition, we expect that competition for the in-licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights for products and technologies that are attractive to us may increase in the future, which may mean fewer suitable opportunities for us as well as higher acquisition or licensing costs. We may be unable to in-license or acquire the third-party intellectual property rights for products or technology on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment.

Our platform utilizes open source software, and any failure to comply with the terms of one or more of these open source licenses could negatively affect our business.

Our platform utilizes software governed by open source licenses. The terms of various open source licenses have not been interpreted by United States courts, and there is a risk that such licenses could be construed in a manner that imposes unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to market our platform. By the terms of certain open source licenses, if we combine certain proprietary software with open source software in a specified manner, we could be required to release the source code of our proprietary software and make it available under open source licenses. In the event that portions of our platform are determined to be subject to an open source license, we could be required to publicly release the affected portions of our source code, or to re-engineer all or a portion of our technologies or otherwise be limited in licensing activities, each of which could reduce or eliminate the value of our technologies. In addition to risks related to license requirements, the use of open source software can lead to greater risks than use of third-party commercial software, as open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or controls on the origin of the software. Many of the risks associated with the use of open source software cannot be eliminated and could negatively affect our business.

 

Cyber-security incidents, including data security breaches or computer viruses, could harm our business by disrupting our delivery of services, damaging our reputation or exposing us to liability.

We receive, process, store, and transmit, often electronically, data of our customers and others which may be confidential. Unauthorized access to our computer systems or stored data could result in the theft or improper disclosure of confidential information, the deletion or modification of records, or could cause interruptions in our operations. These cyber-security risks increase when we transmit information from one location to another, including transmissions over the Internet or other electronic networks. Despite implemented security measures, our facilities, systems, and procedures, and those of our third-party service providers, may be vulnerable to security breaches, acts of vandalism, software viruses, misplaced or lost data, programming and/or human errors, or other similar events which may disrupt our delivery of services or expose the confidential information of our customers and others. Any security breach involving the misappropriation, loss or other unauthorized disclosure or use of confidential information of our customers or others, whether by us or a third party, could: (i) subject us to civil and criminal penalties; (ii) have a negative impact on our reputation; or (iii) expose us to liability to our customers, third parties or government authorities. Any of these developments could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. 

Risks Related to Regulation of our Industry

Our business is subject to extensive governmental regulation that makes it expensive and time consuming for us to bring our gammaCore therapy to market in the United States and to expand the use of our gammaCore therapy to additional therapeutic indications.

Our gammaCore therapy must comply with regulatory requirements imposed by the FDA in the United States and by similar agencies in foreign jurisdictions. These requirements involve lengthy and detailed laboratory and clinical testing procedures, sampling activities, extensive agency review processes, and other costly and time-consuming procedures. It often takes several years to satisfy these requirements, depending on the complexity and novelty of the product. We also are subject to numerous additional licensing and regulatory requirements relating to safe working conditions, manufacturing practices, environmental protection, fire hazard control, and disposal of hazardous or potentially hazardous substances. Some of the most important requirements we must comply with include:

 

 

the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the FDA’s implementing regulations (Title 21 CFR);

 

 

CE mark requirements of the European Union, or EU, and UKCA mark requirements of the United Kingdom;

 

 

Medical Device Quality Management System Requirements (ISO 13485:2016);


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Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements; and

 

 

New Jersey Department of Health Services requirements.

Government regulation may impede our ability to conduct clinical trials and to manufacture and sell our existing therapy and any future products. Government regulation also could delay our marketing of new products for a considerable period of time and impose costly procedures on our activities. The FDA and other regulatory agencies may not clear or approve our gammaCore therapy in additional therapeutic areas that we may pursue, on a timely basis, if at all. Any delay in obtaining, or failure to obtain, such clearances or approvals could negatively impact our marketing of our gammaCore therapy and impede our ability to bring future products to market. 

While 510(k) clearance from the FDA has been received to expand the label for gammaCore therapy for several indications our gammaCore therapy will remain subject to strict regulatory controls on manufacturing, marketing and use. We may be forced to modify or recall a product after release in response to regulatory action or unanticipated difficulties encountered in general use. Any such action could have a material effect on the reputation of our gammaCore therapy and on our business and financial position.

Further, regulations may change, and any additional regulation could limit or restrict our ability to use any of our technologies, which could harm our business. We could also be subject to new international, federal, state or local regulations that could affect our research and development programs and harm our business in unforeseen ways. If this happens, we may have to incur significant costs to comply with such laws and regulations, which will harm our results of operations.

 

Our future success depends on our ability to develop, receive regulatory clearance or approval for, and introduce new products or product enhancements that will be accepted by the market in a timely manner.

It is important to our business that we build a pipeline of product offerings for treatment of our target indications. As such