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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

Form 10-K 

 

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021

OR

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

For the transition period from            to           .

Commission file number: 001-36740 

 

FIBROGEN, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter) 

 

 

Delaware

 

77-0357827

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

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

409 Illinois Street

San Francisco, CA

 

94158

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(zip code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:

(415) 978-1200 

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

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.01 par value

FGEN

The Nasdaq Global Select 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 Section 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, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

  

Smaller reporting company

 

Emerging growth company

 

  

 

 

 

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

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.         

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes      No  

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant, computed by reference to the closing price as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, June 30, 2021, was approximately $1,446.8 million. Shares of Common Stock held by each executive officer and director and stockholders known by the registrant to own 10% or more of the outstanding stock based on public filings and other information known to the registrant have been excluded since such persons may be deemed affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.

The number of shares of common stock outstanding as of January 31, 2022 was 93,001,968.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 (the “Annual Report”) incorporate information by reference from the definitive proxy statement for the registrant’s 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A not later than after 120 days after the end of the fiscal year covered by this Annual Report.

 

 

 


 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary Risk Factor

 

3

 

 

China Operations and Related Risks

 

5

Item 1.

 

Business

  

6

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

  

40

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

  

81

Item 2.

 

Properties

  

81

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

  

81

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

  

81

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

82

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

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

  

82

Item 6.

 

Reserved

  

83

Item 7.

 

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

  

84

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Market Risk

  

107

Item 8.

 

Consolidated Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

  

108

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

  

165

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

  

165

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

  

166

Item 9C.

 

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

  

166

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

167

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

  

167

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

  

167

Item 12.

 

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

  

167

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

  

167

Item 14.

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

  

167

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

168

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

  

168

Item 16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

174

 

 

Signatures

  

175

 

1


 

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 (“Annual Report”) and the information incorporated herein by reference, particularly in the sections captioned “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business,” contains forward-looking statements, which involve substantial risks and uncertainties. In this Annual Report, all statements other than statements of historical or present facts contained in this Annual Report, including statements regarding our future financial condition, business strategy and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “believe,” “will,” “may,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “contemplate,” “intend,” “target,” “project,” “should,” “plan,” “expect,” “predict,” “could,” “potentially” or the negative of these terms or other similar terms or expressions that concern our expectations, strategy, plans or intentions. Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places throughout this Annual Report and include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs, projections, outlook, analyses or current expectations concerning, among other things, our ongoing and planned preclinical development and clinical trials, the timing of and our ability to make regulatory filings and obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for roxadustat, pamrevlumab and our other product candidates, our intellectual property position, the potential safety, efficacy, reimbursement, convenience clinical and pharmaco-economic benefits of our product candidates, the potential markets for any of our product candidates, our ability to develop commercial functions, our ability to operate in the People’s Republic of China (“China”), expectations regarding clinical trial data, our results of operations, cash needs, spending of the proceeds from our initial public offering, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth and strategies, the industry in which we operate and the trends that may affect the industry or us. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs.

These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions described in the section of this Annual Report captioned “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report. A summary of these risk factors can be found in the following section, however, please refer to the full risk factors in Item 1A “Risk Factors.” These risks are not exhaustive. Other sections of this Annual Report may include additional factors that could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in, or implied by, any forward-looking statements.

You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We cannot assure you that the events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. The forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report are based on circumstances as of the date on which the statements are made. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date of this Annual Report or to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations.

This Annual Report also contains market data, research, industry forecasts and other similar information obtained from or based on industry reports and publications, including information concerning our industry, our business, and the potential markets for our product candidates, including data regarding the estimated size and patient populations of those and related markets, their projected growth rates and the incidence of certain medical conditions, as well as physician and patient practices within the related markets. Such data and information involve a number of assumptions and limitations, and you are cautioned not to give undue weight to such estimates.

You should read this Annual Report with the understanding that our actual future results, levels of activity, performance and achievements may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.


2


 

 

PART I

SUMMARY RISK FACTOR

The success of FibroGen will depend on a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control and involve risks, including but not limited to the following:

Risks Related to the Development and Commercialization of Our Product Candidates

We are substantially dependent on the success of our lead product, roxadustat, and our second compound in development, pamrevlumab.

As a company, we have limited commercialization experience, and the time and resources to develop such experience are significant. If we fail to achieve and sustain commercial success for roxadustat with our collaboration partners, our business would be harmed.

Drug development and obtaining marketing authorization is a very difficult endeavor and we may ultimately be unable to obtain regulatory approval for our various product candidates in one or more jurisdictions and in one or more indications.

The complete response letter we received from the FDA for roxadustat has decreased the likelihood of approval and successful commercialization of roxadustat in the U.S. and potentially other markets. This will decrease and/or delay expected revenue, and may increase the possibility that our Collaboration Agreement with AstraZeneca could be amended or terminated.

Preclinical, Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trial results may not be indicative of the results that may be obtained in larger clinical trials.

We do not know whether our ongoing or planned clinical trials of roxadustat or pamrevlumab will need to be redesigned based on interim results or if we will be able to achieve sufficient patient enrollment or complete planned clinical trials on schedule.

Our product candidates may cause or have attributed to them undesirable side effects or have other properties that delay or prevent their regulatory approval or limit their commercial potential.

Clinical trials of our product candidates may not uncover all possible adverse effects that patients may experience.

If our manufacturers or we cannot properly manufacture the appropriate volume of product, we may experience delays in development, regulatory approval, launch or successful commercialization.

Regulatory authorities will do their own benefit risk analysis and may reach a different conclusion than we or our partners have, and these regulatory authorities may base their approval decision on different analyses, data, and statistical methods than ours.

Even if we are able to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, the label we obtain may limit the indicated uses for which our product candidates may be marketed.

We face substantial competition in the discovery, development and commercialization of product candidates.

Our product candidates may not achieve adequate market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payors, and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.

No or limited reimbursement or insurance coverage of our approved products, if any, by third-party payors may render our products less attractive to patients and healthcare providers.

Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties

If our collaborations were terminated or if Astellas or AstraZeneca were to prioritize other initiatives over their collaborations with us, our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates would suffer.

If our preclinical and clinical trial contractors do not properly perform their agreed upon obligations, we may not be able to obtain or may be delayed in receiving regulatory approvals for our product candidates.

We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct many aspects of our product manufacturing and distribution, and these third parties may terminate these agreements or not perform satisfactorily.

We may experience delays or technical problems associated with technology transfer, scale-up, or validation of our biologics manufacturing.

Certain components of our products are acquired from single-source suppliers or without long-term supply agreements. The loss of these suppliers, or their failure to supply, would materially and adversely affect our business.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If our efforts to protect our proprietary technologies are not adequate, we may not be able to compete effectively in our market.

Intellectual property disputes may be costly, time consuming, and may negatively affect our competitive position.

Our reliance on third parties and agreements with collaboration partners requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor may discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.

The cost of maintaining our patent protection is high and requires continuous review and diligence. We may not be able to effectively maintain our intellectual property position throughout the major markets of the world.

The laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights to the same extent as do the laws of the U.S., and we may encounter significant problems in securing and defending our intellectual property rights outside the U.S.

Intellectual property rights do not address all potential threats to any competitive advantage we may have.

The existence of counterfeit pharmaceutical products in pharmaceutical markets may compromise our brand and reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business, operations and prospects.

3


 

Risks Related to Government Regulation

The regulatory approval process is highly uncertain and we may not obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates.

Our current and future relationships with customers, physicians, and third-party payors are subject to healthcare fraud and abuse laws, false claims laws, transparency laws, privacy and security laws, and other regulations. If we are unable to comply with such laws, we could face substantial penalties.

We are subject to laws and regulations governing corruption, which will require us to maintain costly compliance programs.

We identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2020, which have been remediated. If we otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal control, it may result in material misstatements in our financial statements.

The impact of U.S. healthcare reform may adversely affect our business model.

Roxadustat is considered a Class 2 substance on the 2019 World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List that could limit sales and increase security and distribution costs for our partners and us.

Our employees may engage in misconduct or improper activities, which could result in significant liability or harm our reputation.

If we fail to comply with environmental, health or safety laws and regulations, we could incur fines, penalties or other costs.

Risks Related to Our International Operations

We have established operations in China and are seeking approval to commercialize our product candidates outside of the U.S., and a number of risks associated with international operations could materially and adversely affect our business.

The pharmaceutical industry in China is highly regulated and such regulations are subject to change.

The China-operations portion of our audit is conducted by an independent registered public accounting firm that is not subject to inspection by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which may negatively impact investor sentiment towards FibroGen or our China operations, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

Changes in U.S. and China relations, as well as with other countries, and/or regulations may adversely impact our business.

We have limited experience distributing drugs in China.

We use our own manufacturing facilities in China to produce roxadustat API and drug product for the market in China. There are risks inherent to operating commercial manufacturing facilities, and with these being our single source suppliers, we may not be able to continually meet market demand.

As a company, we have limited experience in pharmacovigilance, medical affairs, and management of the third-party distribution logistics, and cannot assure you we will be able to meet regulatory requirements or operate in these capacities successfully.

Our collaboration partner in China, AstraZeneca, and we may experience difficulties in successfully growing and sustaining sales of roxadustat in China.

The retail prices of any product candidates that we develop may be subject to pricing control in China and elsewhere.

FibroGen Beijing would be subject to restrictions on paying dividends or making other payments to us, which may restrict our ability to satisfy our liquidity requirements.

Any capital contributions from us to FibroGen Beijing must be approved by the Ministry of Commerce in China, and failure to obtain such approval may materially and adversely affect the liquidity position of FibroGen Beijing.

We may be subject to currency exchange rate fluctuations and currency exchange restrictions with respect to our operations in China, which could adversely affect our financial performance.

Because FibroGen Beijing’s funds are held in banks that do not provide insurance, the failure of any bank in which FibroGen Beijing deposits its funds could adversely affect our business.

We may be subject to tax inefficiencies associated with our offshore corporate structure.

Our foreign operations, particularly those in China, are subject to significant risks involving the protection of intellectual property.

Uncertainties with respect to the China legal system and regulations could have a material adverse effect on us.

Changes in China’s economic, governmental, or social conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We may be subject to additional Chinese requirements, approvals or permissions in the future.

If the Chinese government determines that our corporate structure does not comply with Chinese regulations, or if Chinese regulations change or are interpreted differently in the future, the value of our common stock may decline.

Our operations in China subject us to various Chinese labor and social insurance laws, and our failure to comply with such laws may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to COVID-19

Our business could continue to be adversely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.

Risks Related to the Operation of Our Business

Please see Part I – Item 1A. Risk Factors for additional risk factors related to the operation of our Business.  

There are also a variety of Risks Related to Our Common Stock

Please see Part I – Item 1A. Risk Factors for additional risk factors related to our Common Stock.

4


 

 

CHINA OPERATIONS AND RELATED RISKS

We are incorporated in the state of Delaware. We operate within the Chinese market through FibroGen (China) Medical Technology Development Co., Ltd. (“FibroGen Beijing”), a wholly-owned subsidiary established in Beijing. FibroGen Beijing consists of development and commercialization operations as well as a drug product manufacturing facility. FibroGen Beijing holds the regulatory licenses issued by the Chinese regulatory authorities in respect of roxadustat.  FibroGen Beijing has two branch offices located in Shanghai and Cangzhou, China. The branch office in Cangzhou operates a drug substance manufacturing facility. FibroGen Beijing also owns 51.1% of Beijing Falikang Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (“Falikang”), a joint venture established by FibroGen and operated in conjunction with AstraZeneca Investment (China) Co., Ltd. (“AZ China”) for the purpose of distributing our sole drug product approved for sale in China, roxadustat. Falikang conducts distribution activities for roxadustat within China while AZ China, AstraZeneca AB (PUBL) (“AstraZeneca”) and AstraZeneca (Wuxi) Trading Co., Ltd. provide sales and marketing services in support of roxadustat. Thus, stockholders of FibroGen, Inc. have an ownership interest in the joint venture, Falikang, through the FibroGen, Inc. equity ownership in our subsidiaries, including FibroGen Beijing.

For a full discussion of our business in China, please see the section below titled “ROXADUSTAT FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANEMIA IN CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE IN CHINA” as well as the section titled “ROXADUSTAT FOR THE TREATMENT OF CHEMOTHERAPY-INDUCED ANEMIA AND ANEMIA ASSOCIATED WITH MYELODYSPLASTIC SYNDROMES.” We summarize certain risks associated with our operations in China in this section, however, please refer also to the section of this Annual Report captioned “Item 1A. Risk Factors” for additional risks related to our international operations.  

To operate our business in China, each of our Chinese subsidiaries (and our joint venture with AstraZeneca, Falikang) is required to and does obtain a business license from the local counterpart of the State Administration for Market Regulation. Such business licenses list the business activities we are authorized to carry out and we would be noncompliant if we act outside of the scope of business activities set forth under the relevant business license. Due to China’s regulatory framework in general and for the pharmaceutical industry specifically, we are required to apply for and maintain many approvals or permits specific to many of our business activities, including but not limited to manufacturing, distribution, environmental protection, workplace safety and cybersecurity, from both national and local government agencies. For certain of our clinical trials conducted in China, we need to obtain, through the clinical sites, permits from the Human Genetic Resource Administrative Commission to collect samples that include human genetic resources, such as blood samples. We may also be required to obtain certain approvals from Chinese authorities before transferring certain scientific data abroad or to foreign parties or entities established or actually controlled by them. If we are unable to obtain the necessary approvals or permissions in order to operate our business in China, or if we inadvertently conclude that such approvals or permissions are not required, or if we are subject to additional requirements, approvals, or permissions, it could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, our ability to raise capital and the market price of our common stock.

Due to our operations in China and the United States (“U.S.”), any unfavorable government policies on cross-border relations and/or international trade (including increased scrutiny on companies with significant China-based operations, capital controls or tariffs) may affect the competitive position of our drug products, the hiring of personnel, the demand for our drug products, the import or export of products and product components, our ability to raise capital, the market price of our common stock, or prevent us from selling our drug products in certain countries. While we do not operate in an industry that is currently subject to foreign ownership limitations in China, China could decide to limit foreign ownership in our industry, in which case there could be a risk that we would be unable to do business in China as we are currently structured.

Cash flows from Falikang and cash flows into FibroGen Beijing are currently intended to remain onshore in China. Our long-term plans for distributing cash flows from FibroGen Beijing may involve any number of scenarios including keeping the money onshore to fund future expansion of our China operations and paying down certain debt obligations. To date, no such debt repayments have occurred, nor have there been any other payments or distributions from FibroGen Beijing to entities or investors outside of China. Our capital contributions to FibroGen Beijing and the liquidity position of FibroGen Beijing depend on many factors, including those set forth under Part I, Item 1A “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report.

Our independent registered public accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, is headquartered in the U.S. and was not identified in the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”) report dated December 16, 2021 as a firm that the PCAOB was unable to inspect. Therefore, the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act does not apply to us.

5


 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

OVERVIEW

We are a leading biopharmaceutical company discovering, developing and commercializing a pipeline of first-in-class therapeutics. We apply our pioneering expertise in hypoxia-inducible factor (“HIF”) biology, 2-oxoglutarate enzymology, and connective tissue growth factor (“CTGF”) biology to advance innovative medicines for the treatment of anemia, fibrotic disease, and cancer.

We have a pipeline of late-stage clinical programs as well as pre-clinical drug candidates at various stages of development that include both small molecules and biologics. We have leveraged our internally developed 2-oxoglutarate and CTGF biology expertise as well as in-licensing of additional programs, such as antibodies targeting Gal-9 and CCR8, to further enhance our late-stage preclinical pipeline. Our goal is to build a diversified pipeline with novel drugs that will address unmet patient needs in oncology, immunology, and fibrosis.

The following is an overview of our clinical and commercial programs, followed by a more extensive description of each of our drug candidates and the diseases in which we are studying them.

Roxadustat for the Treatment of Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease

Roxadustat is our most advanced product, an oral small molecule inhibitor of HIF prolyl hydroxylase (“HIF-PH”) activity that acts by stimulating the body’s natural pathway of erythropoiesis, or red blood cell production.

Astellas Pharma Inc. (“Astellas”) and FibroGen are collaborating on the development and commercialization of roxadustat for the potential treatment of anemia in territories including Japan, Europe, Turkey, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East, and South Africa. FibroGen and AstraZeneca are collaborating on the development and commercialization of roxadustat for the potential treatment of anemia in the U.S., China, other markets in the Americas, Australia/New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.

We and our collaboration partner, AstraZeneca, continue to expand the commercialization of roxadustat (tradename: 爱瑞卓®) in China where it is approved for the treatment of anemia caused by chronic kidney disease (“CKD”) in non-dialysis and dialysis patients. Roxadustat was included on the renewed 2021 National Reimbursement Drug List (“NRDL”) released by China’s National Healthcare Security Administration with a meaningful price reduction. We expect annual net sales growth in China for 2022, driven by an acceleration of volume growth that is largely offset by the impact of the reduced NRDL price. As of the fourth quarter 2021, roxadustat was the top CKD anemia brand in China with a 36% value share within the segment of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (“ESAs”) and HIF-PH inhibitors (roxadustat is the only HIF-PH inhibitor on the market in China).

In August 2021, EVRENZO® (roxadustat) was approved for the treatment of adult patients with symptomatic anemia associated with CKD in the European Union and Great Britain. Astellas has launched EVRENZO in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, and the Nordic countries.

In Japan, our partner Astellas continues to commercialize EVRENZO for the treatment of anemia associated with CKD in both non-dialysis and dialysis patients.

In August 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a complete response letter (“CRL”) regarding roxadustat’s New Drug Application (“NDA”) for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients, stating that it could not be approved in its present form. We and our partner, AstraZeneca, met with the FDA and discussed the design of an additional trial in CKD anemia. We continue to discuss the possible development options in the U.S. with AstraZeneca and the FDA.

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Roxadustat for the Treatment of Anemia in Myelodysplastic Syndromes

We continue to enroll MATTERHORN, our Phase 2/3 placebo controlled, double-blind clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of roxadustat for treatment of anemia in myelodysplastic syndromes (“MDS”) in the U.S. and Europe. This 160-patient trial is studying roxadustat in transfusion-dependent, lower-risk MDS patients, in which subjects are randomized 3:2 to receive roxadustat or placebo three-times-weekly. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patients who achieve transfusion independence by 28 weeks with secondary endpoints and safety evaluated at 52 weeks. We expect topline data from this study between the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023.

In China, we are enrolling the double-blind, placebo-controlled portion of our Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of roxadustat in non-transfusion dependent, lower-risk MDS patients with anemia. One hundred thirty-five subjects will be randomized 2:1 to receive roxadustat or placebo three-times weekly for 26 weeks. The primary endpoint for this study is the percentage of patients achieving a hemoglobin response.

Roxadustat for the Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Anemia

We announced positive topline results from WHITNEY, our Phase 2 clinical trial of roxadustat in the U.S. in chemotherapy-induced anemia (“CIA”). It is a single-arm open label study investigating the efficacy and safety of roxadustat for the treatment of anemia in 92 patients receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy for non-myeloid malignancies, with a treatment duration of 16 weeks. The primary efficacy endpoint of maximum change in hemoglobin within 16 weeks from baseline without red blood cell transfusion was met. We expect to release additional data from this study at an upcoming medical meeting.

We plan to begin a randomized, active controlled Phase 3 clinical trial in China of roxadustat in CIA for non-myeloid malignancies. The study will enroll approximately 146 subjects and the primary efficacy endpoint is the mean change in hemoglobin level from baseline to the level averaged over Weeks 9-13.

Monoclonal Antibody Targeting Connective Tissue Growth Factor (CTGF)

Pamrevlumab is our first-in-class antibody developed to inhibit the activity of CTGF, a common factor in fibrotic and fibro-proliferative disorders characterized by persistent and excessive scarring that can lead to organ dysfunction and failure.

In the second quarter of 2021, the FDA granted both Rare Pediatric Disease designation and Fast Track designation for pamrevlumab for the treatment of patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (“DMD”). In addition, the FDA has previously granted Orphan Drug Designation to pamrevlumab for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (“IPF”), locally advanced unresectable pancreatic cancer (“LAPC”), and DMD. Pamrevlumab has also received Fast Track designation from the FDA for the treatment of both IPF and LAPC.

Pamrevlumab for the Treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

We continue to enroll patients in our two Phase 3 trials of pamrevlumab in IPF patients – ZEPHYRUS-1 and ZEPHYRUS-2, each targeting approximately 340 patients. We expect topline data from ZEPHYRUS-1 in mid-2023.

Similar in design to PRAISE, our completed Phase 2 trial in 101 IPF patients, both of these Phase 3 studies are randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with a primary efficacy endpoint (for the U.S.) of change from baseline in forced vital capacity (“FVC”). For Europe, these trials have a primary efficacy endpoint of disease progression (defined by a decline in FVC percent predicted of greater than or equal to 10% or death). Secondary endpoints will include clinical outcomes of disease progression, acute IPF exacerbations, patient reported outcomes, and quantitative changes in lung fibrosis volume from baseline.

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Pamrevlumab for the Treatment of Locally Advanced Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer

We completed enrollment of LAPIS, our double-blind placebo controlled Phase 3 clinical program for pamrevlumab as a neoadjuvant therapy for LAPC. We enrolled 284 patients, randomized at a 1:1 ratio to receive either pamrevlumab or placebo, in each case in combination with chemotherapy (either FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel). We currently expect topline overall survival data, the primary endpoint, in the first half of 2024. An interim analysis of event-free survival will be conducted in the second quarter of 2022.

Pamrevlumab for the Treatment of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

In June 2021 the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's (PanCAN) Precision PromiseSM adaptive trial platform included pamrevlumab, with standard of care chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer (gemcitabine and Abraxane®), in its study for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. The combination therapy is offered to patients as either a first- or second-line treatment option (the first experimental treatment arm to be offered as a first-line treatment in PanCAN’s innovative Precision Promise trial). The objective of Precision Promise is to expedite the study and approval of promising therapies for pancreatic cancer by bringing multiple stakeholders together, including academic, industry and regulatory entities.

Pamrevlumab for the Treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Non-Ambulatory Patients

We completed enrollment of LELANTOS -1, our Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating pamrevlumab in combination with systemic corticosteroids as a treatment for DMD. LELANTOS-1 is a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 99 non-ambulatory DMD patients. Patients are randomized at a 1:1 ratio to pamrevlumab or placebo for a treatment period of 52 weeks. The primary endpoint will assess change in upper limb strength from baseline to Week 52 and additional endpoints will include pulmonary, cardiac, performance, and fibrosis assessments. We expect topline data from this study in the first half of 2023.

Ambulatory Patients

We continue to enroll our double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 clinical trial, LELANTOS-2, evaluating pamrevlumab in combination with systemic corticosteroids in approximately 70 ambulatory DMD patients. Patients aged 6-12 will be randomized at a 1:1 ratio to pamrevlumab or placebo for a treatment period of 52 weeks. The primary efficacy endpoint will assess ambulatory function, measured by the change in North Star Ambulatory Assessment from baseline to Week 52.

ROXADUSTAT FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANEMIA IN CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE

In collaboration with our partners AstraZeneca and Astellas, we have completed 16 Phase 3 studies worldwide in over 11,000 patients to support our regulatory filings in the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan.

Roxadustat Mechanism of Action

Roxadustat is an orally administered reversible inhibitor of HIF-PH. Inhibition of prolyl hydroxylase stabilizes HIF, which then forms a complex that initiates transcription of a number of genes involved in the erythropoietic process. This in turn stimulates a coordinated response that includes the increase of plasma endogenous erythropoietin (“EPO”) levels and reduction of hepcidin, a key regulator of iron homeostasis, ultimately resulting in increased oxygen delivery to tissues.

In anemia of CKD, roxadustat temporarily inhibits HIF-PH, stimulating a coordinated erythropoietic response.

Patients taking roxadustat typically have a transient increase in circulating endogenous EPO levels at peak concentration within or near the physiologic range naturally experienced by humans adapting to hypoxic conditions such as at high altitude, following blood donation, or impaired lung function, such as pulmonary edema.

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By contrast, ESAs act only to stimulate erythroid maturation without a corresponding increase in iron availability, and are typically dosed at well above the natural physiologic range of EPO. The sudden demand for iron stimulated by ESA-induced erythropoiesis can lead to functional or absolute iron deficiency. We believe these high doses of ESAs are a main cause of the significant safety issues that have been attributed to this class of drugs. In addition, the lack of a coordinated increase in iron availability with ESAs may explain the hyporesponsiveness of patients with inflammation to this class of drugs. It also explains why patients taking ESAs need more IV iron supplementation and red blood cell transfusions than patients taking roxadustat do. Not only are IV iron and blood transfusions more costly than oral iron, but both are also associated with increased risk of hospitalization and death.

The differentiated mechanism of action of roxadustat, which involves induction of the body’s own natural pathways to achieve a more complete erythropoiesis, has the potential to provide a safe and effective treatment for anemia, including in the presence of inflammation, which normally limits iron availability.

Background of Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD is a progressive disease characterized by gradual loss of kidney function that may eventually lead to kidney failure or end-stage renal disease requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. CKD affects 12% to 14% of the global adult population. CKD is more prevalent in developed countries but is also growing rapidly in emerging markets such as China.  

Anemia is a complication of CKD and can be a serious medical condition in which patients have insufficient red blood cells and low levels of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body. Anemia becomes increasingly common as kidney function declines and is associated with increased risk of hospitalization, cardiovascular complications and death, and frequently causes significant fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and considerable reduction of quality of life.

There are approximately 39 million1 CKD patients in the U.S., an estimated 6 million of whom have anemia2.

When ESAs were introduced in 1989, they dramatically reduced the need for blood transfusions in CKD patients, which was a material development since transfusions reduce the patient’s opportunity for a kidney transplant and increase the risk of infections and complications such as heart failure and allergic reactions. However, multiple randomized clinical trials with ESAs suggested safety risks of ESA therapies, and as a result, the anemia guidelines and approved labels have changed to more restrictive use of ESAs.

In the dialysis-dependent population, most patients start receiving ESAs when the patient is transitioning to dialysis care. As of the end of 2018, there were over 550,000 CKD patients on dialysis in the U.S., a large majority of whom required anemia therapy.

There were approximately 127,000 incident dialysis patients in 2018. Despite the higher risk of blood transfusions, cardiovascular events, and hospitalization in patients with anemia, only 14.6% of patients in 2018 were treated with ESAs prior to initiating dialysis notwithstanding a mean hemoglobin level of 9.3 g/dL at the time of dialysis initiation. These treatment figures at the time of dialysis initiation demonstrate how undertreated CKD anemia is currently in non-dialysis patients.

Regulatory Pathway in the United States  

In August 2021, the U.S. FDA issued a CRL regarding roxadustat’s NDA for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients, stating that it could not be approved in its present form.

We and our partner, AstraZeneca, met with the FDA and discussed the design of an additional trial in CKD anemia. We continue to discuss the possible development options in the U.S. with AstraZeneca and the FDA.

 

1 

Bikbov B et al. “Global regional and national burden of chronic kidney disease 1990-2017 - a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.” The Lancet, 395 (2020): 709-33. Web. 13 Feb. 2020.

2 

Based on 15.4% of CKD patients having anemia, (where anemia is defined as hemoglobin levels of ≤ 12 g/dL in women and ≤ 13 g/dL in men.

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ROXADUSTAT FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANEMIA IN CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE IN CHINA

In August 2019, roxadustat (China tradename: 爱瑞卓®) received marketing authorization in China for the treatment of anemia caused by CKD in non-dialysis-dependent patients. Treatment for anemia caused by CKD in dialysis-dependent patients was approved in December 2018.

In July 2019, results from our two China Phase 3 clinical trials were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.3 4

Since the launch of roxadustat in 2020, and its inclusion on the NRDL, the anemia of CKD market has expanded significantly. Roxadustat has captured a majority of this growth, with the ESA category also demonstrating growth since the launch of roxadustat.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, roxadustat was the top CKD anemia brand in China with a 36% value share within the segment of ESAs and HIF-PH inhibitors. Roxadustat remains the only HIF-PH inhibitor currently on the market in China and we have seen broad adoption across the three segments of hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and non-dialysis.

We believe there are two critical market access factors for commercialization success in China: hospital listings and reimbursement.

China is mostly a single-payor market with near universal healthcare provided by the government. Over 95% of the population receives healthcare coverage under one government-funded medical reimbursement plan or another, each with different levels of reimbursement. Roxadustat was first included in the 2019 National Reimbursement Drug List (“NRDL”) released by China’s National Healthcare Security Administration, for the treatment of anemia in CKD. The inclusion on the 2019 NRDL was a significant contributor to roxadustat adoption and revenue growth over the last 24 months. Roxadustat was subsequently included on the 2021 NRDL (for the period of January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2023) with a meaningful reduction in price.

We believe that the new NRDL price will translate into lower out-of-pocket costs and increased affordability for our patients. We expect annual net sales growth in China for 2022, driven by an acceleration of volume growth that is largely offset by the impact of the reduced NRDL price.  

We have enjoyed rapid hospital listing in China, and as of the end of 2021, roxadustat was listed in hospitals that represent approximately 80% of the addressable CKD anemia market. Given that approximately 90% of the market in China is hospital-based, and listing in hospital formularies is a pre-requisite to physicians being able to prescribe roxadustat, listings have been another important growth driver for us.

We believe a number of practice guidelines published in China by various medical societies and government entities will elevate awareness about the importance of treatment of anemia in chronic kidney disease, in particular, the importance of early initiation and treating to target. Among them:

 

In 2021, the Chinese Nephrologist Association published treatment guidelines for anemia associated with chronic kidney disease, and recommended that patients be treated to a target hemoglobin level above or equal to 11g/dL, but not above 13g/dL. This is the first guideline in the world that included roxadustat as a therapy, in addition to oral iron, intravenous iron, and ESAs.

 

The National Health Commission announced revised Blood Purification Standard Operating Procedures for 2021, which also recommended that patients be treated to a target hemoglobin level above or equal to 11g/dL, but not above 13g/dL.

 

3 

N. Chen, et al. “Roxadustat Treatment for Anemia in Patients Undergoing Long-Term Dialysis” N Engl J Med 381 (2019): 1011-22. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1901713

4 

N. Chen, et al. “Roxadustat for Anemia in Patients with Kidney Disease Not Receiving Dialysis” N Engl J Med 381 (2019): 1001-1010. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1813599

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ROXADUSTAT FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANEMIA IN CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE IN JAPAN

In Japan, our partner Astellas continues the commercial launch of EVRENZO® (roxadustat), targeting healthcare providers that care for approximately 330,000 dialysis patients across Japan. EVRENZO is now approved for the treatment of anemia associated with CKD in both non-dialysis and dialysis patients. The supplemental NDA for the use of roxadustat in patients with anemia of CKD not on dialysis was approved in November 2020 by the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency. EVRENZO is one of five HIF-PH inhibitors currently on the market in Japan.

ROXADUSTAT FOR THE TREATMENT OF CHEMOTHERAPY-INDUCED ANEMIA AND ANEMIA ASSOCIATED WITH MYELODYSPLASTIC SYNDROMES

Based on roxadustat’s mechanism of action and safety and efficacy profile to date, we believe it has the potential to treat anemia associated with many other conditions, including CIA and MDS.

Background of Chemotherapy-Induced Anemia

As blood cell production in bone marrow is highly prolific, it is particularly vulnerable to the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy used to treat cancer patients. Many chemotherapy agents directly impair hematopoiesis in bone marrow, including disruption of red blood cell production. The nephrotoxic effects of some cytotoxic agents, such as platinum-containing agents, can also result in decreased production of erythropoietin by the kidneys, further contributing to reduced red blood cell production. Radiation therapy has also been associated with hematologic toxicity.  

Approximately 40% of total solid tumor cancer patients, or approximately 6.8 million people, undergo chemotherapy each year globally, including 1.7 million in the U.S. and 3.2 million in China. Between 60% and 80% of these patients develop anemia. The incidence and severity of CIA depend on a variety of factors, including the tumor type or the level of toxicity of the therapy, and further increases with each successive chemotherapy round. We believe the addressable population is approximately 600,000 in the U.S. and 500,000 in China.

ESAs have been recommended for patients experiencing CIA with the desirable goals of improvement in anemia-related symptoms and the avoidance of blood transfusion, which increases risk of infections and the risk of complications such as heart failure and allergic reactions. However, not all CIA patients respond to ESA therapy, which may be due to the etiology of their CIA or inflammatory comorbidity. ESA use also has associated toxicities, including increased thrombotic events, possible decreased survival and accelerated tumor progression, as published from randomized clinical trials and meta-analyses, that led to label restrictions and boxed warnings for ESAs in cancer populations in 2007, followed by the ESA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”) program.

Market Opportunity for Roxadustat in Chemotherapy-Induced Anemia

ESA sales for CIA dropped significantly in the U.S. since the reported safety risks of ESA use in cancer patients in 2006, from estimated $2.5 billion in 2006 to less than $0.5 billion in 2019. During the same period, the prevalence of diagnosed CIA remained at similar levels, and is expected to grow slightly.

We believe that if our clinical program shows an acceptable safety and efficacy profile, roxadustat would have the potential to address anemia in this population of patients undergoing chemotherapy.

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Clinical Development of Roxadustat in Chemotherapy-Induced Anemia

We announced positive topline results from WHITNEY, our Phase 2 clinical trial of roxadustat in the U.S. in CIA. It is a single-arm open label study investigating the efficacy and safety of roxadustat for the treatment of anemia in 92 patients receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy treatment for non-myeloid malignancies, with a treatment duration of 16 weeks. The primary efficacy endpoint of maximum change in hemoglobin within 16 weeks from baseline without red blood cell transfusion was met. We expect to release additional data from this study at an upcoming medical meeting.

We plan to begin a randomized, active controlled Phase 3 clinical trial in China of roxadustat in CIA for non-myeloid malignancies. The study will enroll approximately 146 subjects and the primary efficacy endpoint is the mean change in hemoglobin level from baseline to the level averaged over Weeks 9-13.

Background of Anemia in Myelodysplastic Syndromes

MDS are a diverse group of bone marrow disorders characterized by ineffective production of healthy blood cells and premature destruction of blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to anemia. In most MDS patients, the cause of the disease is unknown.

The prevalence of MDS in the U.S. is estimated to be between 60,000 and 170,000, and continues to rise as more therapies become available and patients are living longer with MDS. Annual incidence rates are estimated to be 4.9/100,000 adults in the U.S., and 1.51/100,000 adults in China.

Anemia is the most common clinical presentation in MDS, seen in approximately 80% of MDS patients, and producing symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, dizziness, and cognitive impairment.

Limitations of the Current Standard of Care for Anemia in Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Stem cell transplant is the only potentially curative therapy for MDS, but it is not feasible in most patients due to their advanced age and frailty. The high rate of severe anemia leaves recurring red blood cell transfusions as the mainstay of care in MDS patients. Transfusion can result in direct organ damage through transfusional iron overload. Transfusion dependent MDS patients suffer higher rates of cardiac events, infections and transformation to acute leukemia, and a decreased overall survival rate when compared with non-transfused patients with MDS, and decreased survival compared to an age-matched elderly population. Patients receiving red blood cell transfusions may require an iron chelator in order to address toxic elements of iron overload such as lipid peroxidation and cell membrane, protein, DNA, and organ damage.  

Lower-risk MDS patients represent approximately 77% of the total diagnosed MDS population. Most national and international guidelines recommend use of ESAs for anemia only in lower-risk MDS patients presenting with symptomatic anemia with serum EPO levels at or below 500 mU/mL.  

Even among the eligible subpopulation, the effectiveness of ESAs in treating anemia in MDS remains limited, with the best clinical study results showing 40% to 60% erythroid response rates, in studies where significantly high doses of ESAs were used, enrolled patients had low serum EPO levels, and in lower-risk categories. New strategies to broaden the eligible population, improve anemia and maintain adequate iron balance, as well as avoidance of transfusions, are highly desired in managing patients with MDS.  

Reblozyl® (luspatercept) was approved by the FDA in April 2020 for the treatment of anemia in adults with MDS with ring sideroblasts or myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis who need regular red blood cell transfusions and have not responded well to or cannot receive an ESA. It is the first and only erythroid maturation agent approved in the U.S., Europe, and Canada and is part of a global collaboration between Acceleron Pharma, Inc. and Bristol Myers Squibb. In addition, Geron Corporation is enrolling a Phase 3 clinical trial of imetelstat in lower risk MDS.

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Market Opportunity for Roxadustat in Myelodysplastic Syndromes

We believe there is a significant need for a safer, more effective, and more convenient option to address anemia in patients with lower-risk MDS. Roxadustat, our orally administered small molecule HIF-PH inhibitor, stimulates the body’s natural mechanism of red blood cell production and iron hemostasis based on cellular-level oxygen-sensing and iron-regulation mechanisms. Unlike ESAs which are limited to providing exogenous EPO, roxadustat activates a coordinated erythropoietic response in the body that includes the stimulation of red blood cell progenitors, an increase in the body’s production of endogenous EPO, and an increase in iron availability for hemoglobin synthesis, which we believe is important in a broad range of MDS patients. Moreover, in anemia of CKD, roxadustat has demonstrated the ability in clinical trials to increase and maintain hemoglobin levels in the presence of inflammation as measured by CRP, where ESAs have shown limited effect. We believe that roxadustat has the potential to replicate this result in MDS anemia patients, where it is not uncommon for patients to present with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

Clinical Development of Roxadustat in Myelodysplastic Syndromes

We continue to enroll MATTERHORN, our Phase 2/3 placebo controlled, double-blind clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of roxadustat for treatment of anemia in MDS in the U.S. and Europe. This 160-patient trial is studying roxadustat in transfusion-dependent, lower-risk MDS patients, in which subjects are randomized 3:2 to receive roxadustat or placebo three-times-weekly. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patients who achieve transfusion independence by 28 weeks with secondary endpoints and safety evaluated at 52 weeks. We expect topline data from this study between the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023.

In China, we are enrolling the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled portion of our Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of roxadustat in non-transfusion dependent, lower-risk MDS patients with anemia. One hundred thirty-five subjects will be randomized 2:1 to receive roxadustat or placebo three-times weekly for 26 weeks. The primary endpoint for this study is the percentage of patients achieving a hemoglobin response.

PAMREVLUMAB FOR THE TREATMENT OF FIBROSIS AND CANCER

Our deep research and discovery expertise in fibrosis indicate that CTGF is a critical common element in the progression of serious diseases associated with fibrosis.

From our library of human monoclonal antibodies that bind to different parts of the CTGF protein and block various aspects of CTGF biological activity, we selected pamrevlumab, for which we have exclusive worldwide rights. In preclinical studies we demonstrated that pamrevlumab disrupts the fibrosis-promoting activity of CTGF, and based on those data believe that it can inhibit the central role of CTGF in causing diseases associated with fibrosis. Our data to date indicate that pamrevlumab is a promising and highly differentiated product candidate with broad potential to treat a number of fibrotic diseases and cancers.

We are currently conducting Phase 3 studies in IPF, LAPC, metastatic pancreatic cancer, and DMD. In the U.S., the FDA has granted Orphan Drug Designation to pamrevlumab for the treatment of IPF, LAPC, and DMD. In addition, the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) has granted Orphan Medicinal Product Designation to pamrevlumab for the treatment of DMD. Pamrevlumab has also received Fast Track designation from the FDA for the treatment of both IPF and LAPC.

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Overview of Fibrosis

Fibrosis is an aberrant response of the body to tissue injury that may be caused by trauma, inflammation, infection, cell injury, or cancer. The normal response to injury involves the activation of cells that produce collagen and other components of the extracellular matrix (“ECM”) that are part of the healing process. This healing process helps to fill in tissue voids created by the injury or damage, segregate infections or cancer, and provide strength to the recovering tissue. Under normal circumstances, where the cause of the tissue injury is limited, the scarring process is self-limited and the scar resolves to approximate normal tissue architecture. However, in certain disease states, this process is prolonged and excessive and results in progressive tissue scarring, or fibrosis, which can cause organ dysfunction and failure as well as, in the case of certain cancers, promote cancer progression.

Excess CTGF levels are associated with fibrosis. CTGF increases the abundance of myofibroblasts, a cell type that drives wound healing, and stimulates them to deposit ECM proteins such as collagen at the site of tissue injury. In the case of normal healing of a limited tissue injury, myofibroblasts eventually die by programmed cell death, or apoptosis, and the fibrous scarring process recedes.

Multiple biological agents and pathways have been implicated in the fibrotic process, many of which converge on CTGF, a central mediator of fibrosis. In the case of cancer, the sustained tumor-associated fibrotic tissue promotes tumor cell survival and metastasis. CTGF is a secreted glycoprotein produced by fibroblasts, endothelium, mesangial cells and other cell types, including cancers, and is induced by a variety of regulatory modulators, including TGF-ß and VEGF. CTGF expression has been demonstrated to be up-regulated in fibrotic tissues. Thus, we  focused on targeting CTGF to block or inhibit its activity to mitigate, stop or reverse tissue fibrosis. In addition, since CTGF is implicated in nearly all forms of fibrosis, we believe pamrevlumab has the potential to provide clinical benefit in a wide range of clinical indications that are characterized by fibrosis.

Until recently, it was believed that fibrosis was an irreversible process. It is now generally understood that the process is dynamic and potentially amenable to reversal. Based on studies in animal models of fibrosis of the liver, kidney, muscle and cardiovascular system, it has been shown that fibrosis can be reversed. It has also been demonstrated in humans that fibrosis caused by hepatitis virus can be reversed (Chang et al. Hepatology (2010)). Additionally, we generated data in human and animal studies suggesting that lung fibrosis progression can be slowed, arrested, or possibly reversed in some instances upon treatment with pamrevlumab.

Clinical Development of Pamrevlumab — Overview

We have performed clinical trials of pamrevlumab in IPF, pancreatic cancer, DMD, liver fibrosis, and diabetic kidney disease. In clinical studies involving pamrevlumab to date, including more than 800 patients who were treated with pamrevlumab (about half of patients dosed for more than six months), pamrevlumab has been well-tolerated across the range of doses studied, and there have been no dose-limiting toxicities seen thus far.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Understanding IPF and Current Therapies

IPF is a form of progressive pulmonary fibrosis, or abnormal scarring, which destroys the structure and function of the lungs. As tissue scarring progresses in the lungs, transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream is increasingly impaired. Average life expectancy at the time of confirmed diagnosis of IPF is estimated to be between three to five years, with approximately two-thirds of patients dying within five years of diagnosis. Thus, the survival rates are comparable to some of the most deadly cancers. The cause of IPF is unknown but is believed to be related to injury to the alveolar epithelial cells, inflammation and fibrosis.

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Patients with IPF experience debilitating symptoms, including shortness of breath and difficulty performing routine functions, such as walking and talking. Other symptoms include chronic dry, hacking cough, fatigue, weakness, discomfort in the chest, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Over the last decade, refinements in diagnosis criteria and enhancements in high-resolution computed tomography imaging technology (“quantitative HRCT”) have enabled more reliable diagnosis of IPF without the need for a lung biopsy.

The U.S. prevalence and incidence of IPF are estimated to be 44,000 to 135,000 cases, and 21,000 new cases per year, respectively, based on Raghu et al. (Am J Respir Crit Care Med (2006)) and on data from the United Nations Population Division. We believe that with the availability of technology to enable more accurate diagnoses, the number of individuals diagnosed per year with IPF will continue to increase.

There are currently two anti-fibrotic therapies approved to treat IPF in Europe and the U.S., pirfenidone and nintedanib. The approvals and subsequent launches of Esbriet® (pirfenidone) and Ofev® (nintedanib) have clearly shown the commercial potential in IPF. Hoffmann-La Roche (“Roche”) reported worldwide sales of approximately $1.28 billion for 2020 and $1.12 billion for 2021 for Esbriet (pirfenidone). Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG (“Boehringer Ingelheim”) reported total sales of approximately $1.7 billion for Ofev (nintedanib) in 2019 and approximately $2.35 billion in 2020.

Phase 3 Clinical Development – Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials of Pamrevlumab in IPF

We continue to enroll patients in our two Phase 3 trials of pamrevlumab in IPF patients, ZEPHYRUS-1 and ZEPHYRUS-2, each targeting approximately 340 patients.

Similar to PRAISE, our completed Phase 2 trial in 101 IPF patients, both of these Phase 3 studies are double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with a primary efficacy endpoint (for the U.S.) of change from baseline in FVC. We expect topline data from ZEPHYRUS-1 in mid-2023.

The primary efficacy endpoint for Europe for each study is disease progression (defined by a decline in FVC percent predicted of greater than or equal to 10% or death). Secondary endpoints will include clinical outcomes of disease progression, acute IPF exacerbation, patient reported outcomes, and quantitative changes in lung fibrosis volume from baseline.

We are near completion of enrollment for ZEPHYRUS-1. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly affected enrollment in ZEPHYRUS-2, which we are primarily enrolling in Europe. In addition to efforts we are making in ensuring patient safety, we are also working to expand enrollment through a number of methods, including enrolling patients in China.

PRAISE – Study 067 – Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase 2 Trial of Pamrevlumab in IPF

Positive results from PRAISE, our randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical trial (Study 067), were published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine (September 2019). PRAISE was designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of pamrevlumab in patients with mild-to-moderate IPF (baseline FVC percentage predicted of 55%), as well as topline results from two sub-studies that were added to evaluate the safety of combining pamrevlumab with approved IPF therapies.

In the double-blind, placebo-controlled 48-week portion of this study, 103 patients were randomized (1:1) to receive either 30mg/kg of pamrevlumab or placebo intravenously every three weeks. Lung function assessments were conducted at baseline and at Weeks 12, 24, 36 and 48. Quantitative HRCT assessments were performed at baseline and at Weeks 24 and 48.

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Pamrevlumab met the primary efficacy endpoint of change of FVC percent predicted, a measure of a patient’s lung volume as a percentage of what would be expected for such patient’s age, race, sex and height. The average decline (least squares mean) in FVC percent predicted from baseline to Week 48 was 2.9 in the pamrevlumab arm (n=50) as compared to an average decline of 7.2 in the placebo arm (n=51), a statistically significant difference of 4.33 (p=0.033).

FVC Change by Visit

Pamrevlumab-treated patients had an average decrease (least squares mean) in FVC of 129 ml at Week 48 compared to an average decrease of 308 ml in patients receiving placebo, a statistically significant difference of 178 ml (p=0.0249, using a linear slope analysis in the intent-to-treat population). This represents a 57.9% relative difference. In addition, the pamrevlumab-treated arm had a lower proportion of patients (10%) who experienced disease progression (defined by a decline in FVC percent predicted of greater than or equal to 10% or death), than did the placebo arm (31.4%) at Week 48 (p=0.0103).

Proportion of Patients with Decline in Percentage of Predicted FVC of 10% or Greater, or Death, by Visit

In this study, we measured change in quantitative lung fibrosis (“QLF”) from baseline to Week 24 and Week 48 using quantitative HRCT. The pamrevlumab arm achieved a statistically significant reduction in the rate of progression of lung fibrosis compared to placebo using HRCT to measure QLF. The change in QLF volume from baseline to Week 24 for pamrevlumab-treated patients was 24.8 ml vs. 86.4 ml for placebo, with a treatment difference of -61.6 ml (p=0.009). The change in QLF volume from baseline to 48 weeks was 75.4 ml in pamrevlumab-treated patients vs. 151.5 ml in patients on placebo, with a treatment difference of -76.2 ml (p=0.038).

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Change from Baseline in Volume of Quantitative Lung Fibrosis (mL) in the Intention-to-Treat Population

As in our previous open label Phase 2 study, a correlation between FVC percent predicted and QLF was confirmed at both Week 24 and 48 in this study.

We are not aware of any other IPF therapies that have shown a statistically significant effect on lung fibrosis as measured by quantitative HRCT analysis.

The treatment effects of pamrevlumab were demonstrated not only on change in FVC, a measure of pulmonary function and IPF disease progression, and change in fibrosis using quantitative HRCT, but pamrevlumab-treated patients also showed a trend of clinically meaningful improvement in a measure of health-related quality of life using the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire vs. a reduction in quality of life seen in placebo patients over the 48 weeks of treatment. The St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire quality of life measurement has been validated in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the subgroup of patients that were evaluated by the UCSD Shortness of Breath Questionnaire, pamrevlumab-treated patients had a significant attenuation of their worsening dyspnea in comparison to placebo patients.

Pamrevlumab was well-tolerated in the placebo-controlled study. The treatment-emergent adverse events were comparable between the pamrevlumab and placebo arms and the adverse events in the pamrevlumab arm were consistent with the known safety profile of pamrevlumab. In this study, as compared with the placebo group, fewer pamrevlumab patients were hospitalized, following an IPF-related or respiratory treatment-emergent adverse event, or died for any reason.

The double-blind, active-controlled combination sub-studies were designed to assess the safety of combining pamrevlumab with standard of care medication in IPF patients. Study subjects were on stable doses of pirfenidone or nintedanib for at least three months and were randomized 2:1 to receive 30 mg/kg of pamrevlumab or placebo every three weeks for 24 weeks. Thirty-six patients were enrolled in the pirfenidone sub-study and 21 patients were enrolled in the nintedanib sub-study. Pamrevlumab appeared to be well-tolerated when given in combination with either pirfenidone or nintedanib.

Study 049 – Open-Label Phase 2 Trial of Pamrevlumab in IPF

Our completed open-label extension of Study 049, a Phase 2 open-label, dose-escalation study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of pamrevlumab in 89 patients with IPF, was consistent with the results from our randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical trial PRAISE. We presented data from our open-label Phase 2 IPF extension study (049) at the International Colloquium on Lung and Airway Fibrosis in November 2016, reporting that no safety issues were observed during prolonged treatment with pamrevlumab.

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Pancreatic Cancer

Understanding Pancreatic Cancer and the Limitations of Current Therapies

Certain solid malignant tumors have a prominent fibrosis component consisting mostly of ECM that contributes to metastasis and progressive disease. ECM is the connective tissue framework of an organ or tissue.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, or pancreatic cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. According to the European Commission’s European Cancer Information System, there were 100,005 new cases of pancreatic cancer and 95,373 deaths from pancreatic cancer in Europe projected for 2018. The National Cancer Center of Japan estimated that there were 36,239 new cases of pancreatic cancer in 2014, an increase from 24,442 cases in 2004. In its report of December 2017, Decision Resources Group estimated that the major market sales (U.S., Europe and Japan) of pancreatic cancer drugs would grow from $1.3 billion in 2016 to approximately $3.7 billion in 2026. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, there were an estimated 57,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the U.S. in 2019. Fifty percent of new cases are metastatic. Another 15-20% have localized resectable tumors. The remaining 30-35% have localized but unresectable tumors.

For those with non-resectable tumors, median survival is eight to 12 months post-diagnosis, and about 8% achieve five years of survival; similar to metastatic cases. For those with resectable tumors, 50% survive 17 to 27 months post-diagnosis and ~20% achieve five-year survival.

Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and typically not diagnosed until it is largely incurable. Most patients are diagnosed after the age of 45, and according to the American Cancer Society, 94% of patients die within five years from diagnosis. The majority of patients are treated with chemotherapy, but pancreatic cancer is highly resistant to chemotherapy. Approximately 15% to 20% of patients are treated with surgery; however, even for those with successful surgical resection, the median survival is approximately two years, with a five-year survival rate of 15% to 20% (Neesse et al. Gut (2011)). Radiation treatment may be used for locally advanced diseases, but it is not curative.

The duration of effect of approved anti-cancer agents to treat pancreatic cancer is limited. Gemcitabine demonstrated improvement in median overall survival from approximately four to six months, and erlotinib in combination with gemcitabine demonstrated an additional ten days of survival. Nab-paclitaxel in combination with gemcitabine was approved by the FDA in 2013 for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, having demonstrated median survival of 8.5 months. The combination of folinic acid, 5-fluorouracil, irinotecan and oxaliplatin (FOLFIRINOX) was reported to increase survival to 11.1 months from 6.8 months with gemcitabine. These drugs illustrate that progress in treatment for pancreatic cancer has been modest, and there remains a need for substantial improvement in patient survival and quality of life.

The approved chemotherapeutic treatments for pancreatic cancer target the cancer cells themselves. Tumors are composed of cancer cells and associated non-cancer tissue, or stroma, of which ECM is a major component. In certain cancers such as pancreatic cancer, both the stroma and tumor cells produce CTGF which in turn promotes the proliferation and survival of stromal and tumor cells. CTGF also induces ECM deposition that provides advantageous conditions for tumor cell adherence and proliferation, promotes blood vessel formation, or angiogenesis, and promotes metastasis, or tumor cell migration, to other parts of the body.

Pancreatic cancers are generally resistant to powerful chemotherapeutic agents, and there is now growing interest in the use of an anti-fibrotic agent to diminish the supportive role of stroma in tumor cell growth and metastasis. The anti-tumor effects observed with pamrevlumab in preclinical models indicate that it has the potential to inhibit tumor expansion through effects on tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis as well as reduce metastasis.

Phase 3 Clinical Development – Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Pamrevlumab in Locally Advanced Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer

We completed enrollment of LAPIS, our double-blind placebo controlled Phase 3 clinical program for pamrevlumab as a neoadjuvant therapy for LAPC. Two-hundred eighty-four patients were randomized at a 1:1 ratio to receive either pamrevlumab or placebo, in each case in combination with chemotherapy (either FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel). We currently expect topline overall survival data, the primary endpoint, in the first half of 2024. An interim analysis of event-free survival will be conducted in the second quarter of 2022.

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Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

In June 2021, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's (PanCAN) Precision PromiseSM adaptive trial platform included pamrevlumab, with standard of care chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer (gemcitabine and Abraxane®), in its study for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. The combination therapy is offered to patients as either a first- or second-line treatment option, marking the first experimental treatment arm to be offered as a first-line treatment in PanCAN’s innovative Precision Promise trial. The objective of Precision Promise is to expedite the study and approval of promising therapies for pancreatic cancer by bringing multiple stakeholders together, including academic, industry and regulatory entities.

Study 069 – Randomized, Open-Label, Active-Controlled Phase 1/2 Trial of Pamrevlumab in Locally Advanced Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer

We continue to follow patients in our ongoing open-label, randomized (2:1) Phase 1/2 trial (FGC004C-3019-069) of pamrevlumab combined with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel chemotherapy vs. the chemotherapy regimen alone in patients with inoperable LAPC that has not been previously treated. We enrolled 37 patients in this study and completed the six-month treatment period and surgical assessment at the end of 2017. The overall goal of the trial is to determine whether the pamrevlumab combination can convert inoperable pancreatic cancer to operable, or resectable, cancer. Tumor removal is the only chance for cure of pancreatic cancer, but only approximately 15% to 20% of patients are eligible for surgery.

We reported updated results from this ongoing study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in June 2018. A higher proportion (70.8%) of pamrevlumab-treated patients whose tumors were previously considered unresectable became eligible for surgical exploration than patients who received chemotherapy alone (15.4%), based on pre-specified eligibility criteria at the end of 6 months of treatment. Furthermore, a higher proportion of pamrevlumab-treated patients (33.3%) achieved surgical resection than those who received chemotherapy alone (7.7%).  

In addition, this data showed improved overall survival among patients whose tumors were resected vs. not resected (NE vs. 18.56 months, p-value=0.0141) and a trend toward improved overall survival in patients eligible for surgery vs. patients who were not (27.73 vs. 18.40 months, p-value=0.0766). All of the patients on study at the time of the results reported in June 2018 continue to remain on study. No increase in serious adverse events was observed in the pamrevlumab arm and no delay in wound healing was observed post-surgery.

Patients with LAPC have a median survival of less than 12 months, only slightly better than patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer, whereas patients with resectable pancreatic cancer have a much better prognosis with median survival of approximately 23 months and some patients being cured. If pamrevlumab in combination with chemotherapy continues to demonstrate an enhanced rate of conversion from unresectable cancer to resectable cancer, it may support the possibility that pamrevlumab could provide a substantial survival benefit for LAPC patients.

Completed Clinical Trials of Pamrevlumab in Pancreatic Cancer

We completed an open-label Phase 1/2 (FGCL-MC3019-028) dose finding trial of pamrevlumab combined with gemcitabine plus erlotinib in patients with previously untreated locally advanced (Stage 3) or metastatic (Stage 4) pancreatic cancer. These study results were published in the Journal of Cancer Clinical Trials (Picozzi et al., J Cancer Clin Trials 2017, 2:123). Treatment continued until progression of the cancer or the patient withdrew for other reasons. Patients were then followed until death.

Seventy-five patients were enrolled in this study with 66 (88%) having Stage 4 metastatic cancer. The study demonstrated a dose-related increase in survival. At the lowest doses, no patients survived for even one year while at the highest doses up to 31% of patients survived one year.

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A post-hoc analysis found that there was a significant relationship between survival and trough levels of plasma pamrevlumab measured immediately before the second dose (Cmin), as illustrated below. Cmin greater than or equal to 150 µg/mL was associated with significantly improved progression-free survival (p=0.01) and overall survival (p=0.03) vs. those patients with Cmin less than 150 µg/mL. For patients with Cmin >150 µg/mL median survival was 9.0 months compared to median survival of 4.4 months for patients with Cmin <150 µg/mL. Similarly, 34.2% of patients with Cmin >150 µg/mL survived for longer than one year compared to 10.8% for patients with Cmin <150 µg/mL. These data suggest that sufficient blockade of CTGF requires pamrevlumab threshold blood levels of approximately 150 µg/mL in order to improve survival in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Increased Pancreatic Cancer Survival Associated with Increased Plasma Levels of Pamrevlumab

 

 

In the study, the majority of adverse events were mild to moderate, and were consistent with those observed for erlotinib plus gemcitabine treatment without pamrevlumab. There were 99 treatment-emergent serious adverse events, six of which were assessed as possibly related to the investigational drug by the principal investigator, and 93 as not related to study treatment. After investigation, it was our determination that there is no causal relationship between pamrevlumab and the treatment-emergent serious adverse events deemed possibly related by the principal investigator. We did not identify any evolving dose-dependent pattern, and higher doses of pamrevlumab were not associated with higher numbers of serious adverse events or greater severity of the serious adverse events observed.

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Pamrevlumab for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Understanding DMD and the Limitations of Current Therapies

In the U.S., approximately one in every 5,000 boys have DMD, and approximately 20,000 children are diagnosed with DMD globally each year. There are currently no approved disease-modifying treatments. Despite taking steroids to mitigate progressive muscle loss, a majority of children with DMD are non-ambulatory by adolescence and median survival is age 25.

DMD is an inherited disorder of one of the dystrophin genes resulting in absence of the dystrophin protein and abnormal muscle structure and function, leading to progressively diminished mobility as well as pulmonary function and cardiac function, which result in early death. Constant myofiber breakdown results in persistent activation of myofibroblasts and altered production of ECM resulting in extensive fibrosis in skeletal muscles of DMD patients. Desguerre et al. (2009) showed that muscle fibrosis was the only myo-pathologic parameter that significantly correlated with poor motor outcome as assessed by quadriceps muscle strength, manual muscle testing of upper and lower limbs, and age at ambulation loss. Numerous pre-clinical studies including those in the mdx model of DMD suggest that CTGF contributes to the process by which muscle is replaced by fibrosis and fat and that CTGF may also impair muscle cell differentiation during muscle repair after injury.

Phase 3 Clinical Development – LELANTOS-1 in Non-Ambulatory Patients

We completed enrollment of Phase 3 clinical trial, LELANTOS-1, evaluating pamrevlumab as a treatment for DMD. LELANTOS-1 is a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 99 non-ambulatory DMD patients. Patients will be randomized at a 1:1 ratio to pamrevlumab or placebo for a treatment period of 52 weeks. The primary endpoint will assess change in upper limb strength and additional endpoints will include pulmonary, cardiac, performance, and fibrosis assessments. We expect topline data from this study in the first half of 2023.

Phase 3 Clinical Development – LELANTOS-2 in Ambulatory Patients

We continue to enroll our double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 clinical trial, LELANTOS-2, evaluating pamrevlumab in combination with systemic corticosteroids in approximately 70 ambulatory DMD patients. Patients aged 6-12 will be randomized at a 1:1 ratio to pamrevlumab or placebo for a treatment period of 52 weeks. The primary efficacy endpoint will assess ambulatory function, measured by the change in North Star Ambulatory Assessment from baseline to Week 52.

Phase 2 Open-Label Trial of Pamrevlumab in DMD

In June 2019 at the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy meeting, we reported topline results from this 21-patient open-label single-arm trial in non-ambulatory DMD patients. This one-year administrative analysis compared our Phase 2 data to previously published natural disease history studies of DMD patients. While we cannot make direct comparisons between our trial and previously published data due to, among other things, differences in subject numbers, baseline characteristics, inclusion/exclusion criteria, treatment protocols, and analysis methods, we are encouraged by the data obtained so far. Pamrevlumab was well tolerated in this study.   

In pulmonary function tests, the results from our study indicate a potential reduction in the 1-year decline in FVC percent predicted from baseline for pamrevlumab-treated patients when compared to FVC data of DMD patients (whether such patients were taking steroids or not) published in 2019 by Ricotti. In the 2019 Ricotti study, the DMD patients were treated with steroids only. Similarly, all of the patients in our Phase 2 pamrevlumab trial were on steroids. In addition, pamrevlumab showed less decline in both percent predicted forced expiratory volume as compared to previously published study results of Meier in 2016, and in percent predicted peak expiratory flow rate, compared to what was observed in the study by Ricotti in 2019.

Our data showed an increase in cardiac function, measured by mean change of left ventricular ejection fraction (“LVEF”), of 0.29% from baseline for pamrevlumab-treated patients. Whereas, data published in 2018 by McDonald of DMD patients only on steroids showed a mean LVEF decline of 0.82% from baseline in one year.

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In muscle function tests, the majority of the results of this Phase 2 study showed the mean change from baseline in pamrevlumab-treated patients were more favorable than previously published data. Our results showed a positive increase in grip-strength score in both dominant and non-dominant hands at one year of treatment with pamrevlumab, while earlier results from a 2015 study by Seferian showed a decline at one year as expected. In the performance of the upper limb (“PUL”) test specifically developed for DMD patients, pamrevlumab-treated patients had a mean change from baseline of -1.53. In the 2019 study by Ricotti of DMD patients taking either nothing or only steroids, the annual mean change in the PUL test was -4.13. Furthermore, in our study a strong correlation between change in biceps brachii T2-mapping and change in PUL score was observed, demonstrating stabilization and even possible improvement in the muscle fibrosis burden.  

Commercialization Strategy for Pamrevlumab

To date, we have retained exclusive worldwide rights for pamrevlumab. We commenced brand development activities for pamrevlumab and will be advancing these efforts in preparation for potential launches in IPF, LAPC and DMD, consistent with the approaches of companies with a product in late-stage clinical development.

Research at FibroGen

Our research programs at FibroGen are grounded in our three areas of expertise: HIF biology, 2-oxoglutarate enzymology, and CTGF biology. More recently, we added two immuno-oncology programs via a partnership with HiFiBiO Therapeutics (“HiFiBiO”) and are actively working to further expand the preclinical pipeline in our therapeutic focus areas of oncology, immunology, and fibrosis.

We have applied our expertise in the field of HIF-PH inhibition to develop an understanding of other areas of HIF biology with important therapeutic implications. This consistent progression of discovery has led to findings relating to HIF-mediated effects associated with inflammatory pathways, various aspects of iron metabolism, insulin sensitivity and glucose and fat metabolism, neurological disease, and ischemic injury. There are at least three different HIF-PH enzymes that are known to regulate the stability of HIF — these enzymes are commonly referred to in the scientific literature as PHD1, PHD2 and PHD3. Studies of genetically modified mice, in which the individual HIF-PH enzymes have been deleted, have revealed that PHD2 plays the major role in regulation of erythropoiesis by HIF. In contrast, PHD1 and PHD3 appear to play less important roles in HIF-mediated erythropoiesis, but instead have been implicated in other important biological pathways. We believe that both pan-PHD and PHD-selective inhibitors could have important therapeutic applications beyond anemia.  

The HIF-PH enzymes that are the targets of roxadustat belong to a broader family of enzymes known as 2-oxoglutarate (“2OG”)-dependent oxygenases. In humans, this family comprises more than 60 members that play important roles in a diverse range of biological processes including collagen biosynthesis, oxygen sensing, epigenetic regulation, nucleic acid modification/repair, and lipid metabolism. The first members of this enzyme family to be characterized were the collagen prolyl hydroxylases, which play a critical role in the biosynthesis of collagen and as a result, are potential targets for the treatment of fibrotic disease. Other members of the 2OG-dependent oxygenase family with relevance to human disease include the Jumonji domain-containing histone demethylases, which are emerging cancer targets.

The fact that all members of the 2OG-dependent oxygenase enzyme family use 2OG as a co-substrate makes them viable targets for small molecule inhibitors that compete with 2OG. FibroGen has been a leader in inhibition of enzymes belonging to this family, and our internal medicinal chemistry efforts generated a library of novel compounds designed to target the 2OG-dependent oxygenase family.

We are also applying our deep knowledge of CTGF to investigate the development of new drug candidates that interfere with the role of this protein in disease. Specifically, we are exploring targeted engagement of the different domains of CTGF, evaluating the biologic effects of disrupting its various reported binding interactions with the goal of broadening therapeutic applications for CTGF antagonists.

More recently we in-licensed two preclinical immuno-oncology assets. The first is an antibody that inhibits Galectin-9, a secreted protein implicated in suppression of anti-tumor immune response in multiple solid tumors, and shown to drive leukemic stem cell renewal in acute myeloid leukemia. The other is an antibody targeting the CCR8 protein designed to deplete immune suppressive T regulatory cells from the tumor microenvironment. Multiple preclinical studies demonstrated that depletion of T regulatory cells in solid tumors results in enhanced immune response and reduction in tumor size, particularly when combined with immune checkpoint inhibition. Projected Investigational New Drug Application (“IND”) filings for both programs are in 2023.

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COLLABORATIONS

Collaboration Partnerships for Roxadustat

Our revenue to date has been generated primarily from our collaboration agreements with Astellas and AstraZeneca for the development and commercialization of roxadustat. In addition, we started roxadustat commercial sales in China in the third quarter of 2019. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, 76% of our revenue was related to our collaboration agreements, and 20% of our revenue was from roxadustat commercial sales in China. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, 59% of our revenue was related to our collaboration agreements, and 41% of our revenue was from roxadustat commercial sales in China. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, substantially all of our revenue was related to our collaboration agreements.

Astellas

We have two agreements with Astellas for the development and commercialization of roxadustat, one for Japan, and one for Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East and South Africa. Under these agreements, we provided Astellas the right to develop and commercialize roxadustat for anemia in these territories.

We share responsibility with Astellas for clinical development activities required for U.S. and Europe regulatory approval of roxadustat, and equally share those development costs under the agreed development plan for such activities. Astellas will be responsible for clinical development activities and all associated costs required for regulatory approval in all other countries in the Astellas territories. Astellas will hold and have responsibility for regulatory filings in its territories. We are responsible, either directly or through our contract manufacturers, for the manufacture and supply of all quantities of roxadustat to be used in development and commercialization under the agreements, other than roxadustat drug product for Japan. Astellas is responsible for roxadustat commercialization activities in the Astellas territories.

AstraZeneca

We also have two agreements with AstraZeneca for the development and commercialization of roxadustat for anemia, one for China (the “China Agreement”), and one for the U.S. and all other countries not previously licensed to Astellas (the “U.S./RoW Agreement”). Under these agreements, we provided AstraZeneca the right to develop and commercialize roxadustat for anemia in these territories. We share responsibility with AstraZeneca for clinical development activities required for U.S. regulatory approval of roxadustat, and FibroGen will transfer the U.S. NDA to AstraZeneca upon approval. AstraZeneca will hold the equivalent regulatory filings in the other licensed countries.

Under the China Agreement, which is conducted through FibroGen China Anemia Holdings, Ltd., FibroGen Beijing, and FibroGen International (Hong Kong) Limited (collectively, “FibroGen China”), the commercial collaboration was structured as a 50/50 profit share, which was amended by the China Amendment in the third quarter of 2020, as discussed and defined below.

In 2020, we entered into Master Supply Agreement under the U.S./RoW Agreement with AstraZeneca to define general forecast, order, supply and payment terms for AstraZeneca to purchase roxadustat bulk drug product from FibroGen in support of commercial supplies.

In July 2020, FibroGen China and AstraZeneca entered into an amendment, effective July 1, 2020, to the China Agreement, relating to the development and commercialization of roxadustat in China (the “China Amendment”).

Under the China Amendment, in September 2020, FibroGen Beijing and AstraZeneca completed the establishment of a jointly owned entity, Falikang, which performs roxadustat distribution, as well as conduct sales and marketing through AstraZeneca.

FibroGen Beijing manufactures and supplies commercial product to Falikang based on an agreed upon transfer price, which includes a gross transfer price, net of a calculated profit share. Revenue is recognized upon the transfer of control of commercial products to Falikang in an amount that reflects the allocation of transaction price of the China manufacturing and supply obligation to the performance obligation satisfied during the reporting period.

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Additional Information Related to Collaboration Agreements

Additional information related to our collaboration agreements is set forth in Item 7 of this Annual Report, and Note 3, Collaboration Agreements, License Agreement and Revenues, to our consolidated financial statements under Item 8 of this Annual Report. Information about collaboration partners that accounted for more than 10% of our total revenue or accounts receivable for the last three fiscal years is set forth in Note 14, Segment and Geographic Information, to our consolidated financial statements under Item 8 of this Annual Report.

HiFiBiO

In June 2021, FibroGen entered into an exclusive license and option agreement with HiFiBiO (the “HiFiBiO Agreement”), pursuant to which we exclusively licensed all product candidates in HiFiBiO’s Galectin-9 program. Pursuant to our option, as of December 2021, we have also exclusively licensed all product candidates in HiFiBiO’s CCR8 program. We have declined to exercise our option to HiFiBiO’s CXCR5 program, however, we are pursuing a replacement option program as specified under the HiFiBiO Agreement. Under the terms of the HiFiBiO Agreement, we have paid a $25.0 million upfront payment to HiFiBiO during the year ended December 31, 2021, and recorded a $35.0 million upfront payment in accrued liabilities as of December 31, 2021, which was paid during the first quarter of 2022. In addition, HiFiBiO may receive up to a total of an additional $1.1 billion in future option, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments across all three potential programs. HiFiBiO will also be eligible to receive royalties based upon worldwide net sales.

Licensing Activities

Exclusive License with Eluminex  

In July 2021, we exclusively licensed to Eluminex Biosciences (Suzhou) Limited (“Eluminex”) global rights to our investigational biosynthetic cornea derived from recombinant human collagen type III.

Under the terms of the agreement with Eluminex (the “Eluminex Agreement”), Eluminex will make an $8.0 million upfront payment to FibroGen. In addition, FibroGen may receive up to a total of $64.0 million in future manufacturing, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments for the biosynthetic cornea program, as well as $36.0 million in commercial milestones for the first recombinant collagen III product that is not the biosynthetic cornea. FibroGen will be eligible to receive mid single-digit to low double-digit royalties based upon worldwide net sales of cornea products, and low single-digit to mid single-digit royalties based on worldwide net sales of other recombinant human collagen type III products that are not cornea products. Additional information related to the Eluminex license revenue is set forth in Note 3, Collaboration Agreements, License Agreement and Revenues, to our consolidated financial statements under Item 8 of this Annual Report.

COMPETITION

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are highly competitive, particularly in some of the indications we are developing drug candidates, including anemia in CKD, IPF, pancreatic cancer, and DMD. We face competition from multiple other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, many of which have significantly greater financial, technical and human resources and experience in product development, manufacturing and marketing. These potential advantages of our competitors are particularly a risk in IPF, pancreatic cancer, and DMD, where we do not currently have a development or commercialization partner.

We expect any products that we develop and commercialize to compete based on, among other things, efficacy, safety, convenience of administration and delivery, price, the level of generic competition, and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.

When any of our product candidates are approved, they will compete with currently marketed products, and product candidates that may be approved for marketing in the future, for treatment of the indications described below.

In addition, we will likely face competition from other companies developing treatments of other anemia indications that we may also seek to pursue in the future or that may be sold in indications we are pursuing but for which they are not yet approved. We may face competition for patient recruitment, enrollment for clinical trials, and potentially in commercial sales. There may also be new therapies for renal-related diseases that could limit the market or level of reimbursement available for roxadustat.

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Roxadustat

Approved Medicines

Drugs that will compete with roxadustat are expected to include ESAs, particularly in those patient segments where ESAs are used. Currently available ESAs include epoetin alfa (EPOGEN®, marketed by Amgen Inc. in the U.S., Procrit® and Erypo®/Eprex®, marketed by Johnson & Johnson, Inc., and Espo® marketed by Kyowa Hakko Kirin in Japan and China), darbepoetin (Amgen/Kyowa Hakko Kirin’s Aranesp® and NESP®) and Mircera® marketed by Roche outside the U.S. and by Vifor Pharma, a Roche licensee, in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as biosimilar versions of these currently marketed ESA products. ESAs have been used in the treatment of anemia in CKD for more than 30 years, serving a significant majority of dialysis patients. While non-dialysis CKD anemia patients who are not under the care of nephrologists, including those with diabetes and hypertension, do not typically receive ESAs and are often left untreated, some non-dialysis patients under nephrology or hematology care may be receiving ESA therapy. It may be difficult to encourage healthcare providers and patients to switch to roxadustat from products with which they have become familiar.

Biosimilars

The first biosimilar ESA, Pfizer’s Retacrit® (epoetin zeta), entered the U.S. market in November 2018. Market penetration of Retacrit and the potential addition of other biosimilar ESAs currently under development may alter the competitive and pricing landscape of anemia therapy in CKD patients on dialysis under the end-stage renal disease bundle. The patents for Amgen’s EPOGEN® (epoetin alfa) expired in 2004 in Europe, and the final material patents in the U.S. expired in May 2015. Several biosimilar versions of currently marketed ESAs are available for sale in Europe, China and other territories. In the U.S., a few ESA biosimilars are currently under development. Sandoz, a division of Novartis, markets Binocrit® (epoetin alfa) in Europe and may file a biosimilar Biologics License Application (“BLA”) in the U.S.

Product Candidates in Development

We may also face competition from potential new anemia therapies currently on the market or in clinical development, including in those patient segments not adequately addressed by ESAs. Companies that are currently developing HIF-PH inhibitors for anemia in CKD indications include GlaxoSmithKline plc (“GSK”), Bayer Corporation (“Bayer”), Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. (“Akebia”), Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Akebia’s partner in the U.S. and Europe, Japan Tobacco, and Zydus Cadila (India) (“Zydus”). In March 2021, Akebia submitted an NDA to the FDA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in patients on dialysis and not on dialysis with a Prescription Drug User Fee Act target action date of March 29, 2022. In October 2021, Otsuka Pharmaceutical submitted an initial marketing authorization application to the EMA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia associated with CKD in adults.

In July 2021, GSK announced positive topline results from five Phase 3 studies of daprodustat for non-dialysis and dialysis patients with anemia due to CKD. GSK has stated that they expect to file an NDA in the U.S. and a Marketing Authorization Application in the European Union in the first half of 2022.

Japan

In Japan, roxadustat faces the following competitive drugs being sold for the treatment of anemia of CKD patients on and not on dialysis: vadadustat by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceutical Corporation, Akebia’s collaboration partner, daprodustat by GSK and its partner Kyowa Hakko Kirin, molidustat by Bayer, and enarodustat by Japan Tobacco (to be sold by Torii Pharmaceuticals Ltd).

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China

In China, ESA is considered the standard of care for treatment of anemia of CKD, and locally manufactured epoetin alfa is offered by 15 local manufacturers including the market leader EPIAO that is marketed by 3SBio Inc. We may face potential competition from other HIF-PH inhibitors. Companies active in the U.S. such as Akebia, Bayer, and GSK have been authorized by the National Medical Products Administration (“NMPA”) to conduct trials in China to support their ex-China regulatory filings. A number of domestic companies, including Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., Ltd., Guandong Sunshine Health Investment Co., Ltd., 3SBio Inc., and Hangzhou Andao Pharmaceutical Co. have been permitted by the NMPA to conduct clinical trials in their locally developed HIF-PH inhibitor investigational compounds for the treatment of anemia in CKD. Domestic companies are also in-licensing global compounds to be developed as domestic drugs, including China Medical System which in-licensed desidustat, a compound that is currently in Phase 3 trials in India, from Zydus for greater China in January 2020. In January 2021, China Medical System Holdings Ltd. was granted approval by the Chinese NMPA to begin trials for desidustat in patients with anemia of CKD, including dialysis and non-dialysis patients. Shenzhen Salubris Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a domestic company in China, has in-licensed enarodustat from Japan Tobacco and received NMPA approval in the third quarter of 2020 to initiate Phase 3 studies. We will also face competition from generics who could enter the market after expiry of our patents in China, and two potential market players have already started bioequivalence studies, including Chia Tai-Tiangqing Pharmaceutical Holdings and CSPA Pharmaceutical Group.

CIA and MDS

In July 2020, Zydus received approval from the FDA to begin a Phase 1 study of desidustat for the treatment of CIA, which could potentially be competitive with roxadustat within this indication.  

Reblozyl® (luspatercept) was approved by the FDA in April 2020 for the treatment of anemia in adults with MDS with ring sideroblasts or myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis who need regular red blood cell transfusions and have not responded well to or cannot receive an ESA. It is the first and only erythroid maturation agent approved in the U.S., Europe, and Canada and is part of a global collaboration between Acceleron Pharma, Inc. and Bristol Myers Squibb. In addition, Geron Corporation is enrolling a Phase 3 clinical trial of imetelstat in lower risk MDS.

Large Dialysis Organizations

The majority of the current CKD anemia market focuses on dialysis patients, who visit dialysis centers on a regular basis, typically three times a week, and anemia therapies are administered as part of the visit. Two of the largest operators of dialysis clinics in the U.S., DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. (“DaVita”), and Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA (“Fresenius”), collectively provide dialysis care to more than 80% of U.S. dialysis patients, and therefore have historically executed long-term contracts including rebate terms with Amgen. Successful penetration in this market will likely require our partner AstraZeneca to enter into a definitive agreement with Fresenius, DaVita, or other dialysis organizations, on favorable pricing terms and on a timely basis.

Pamrevlumab

We are currently in Phase 3 development of pamrevlumab in IPF, LAPC, metastatic pancreatic cancer, and DMD. Most of our competitors have significantly more resources and expertise in development, commercialization and manufacturing, particularly due to the fact that we have not yet established a partnership for pamrevlumab. For example, both Roche and Boehringer Ingelheim, which market products for the treatment of IPF in the U.S., have successfully developed and commercialized drugs in various indications and have built sales organizations that we do not currently have; both have more resources and more established relationships when competing with us for patient recruitment and enrollment for clinical trials or, if we are approved, in the market.

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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

If approved and launched commercially to treat IPF, pamrevlumab is expected to compete with Roche’s Esbriet® (pirfenidone), and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev® (nintedanib). We believe that if pamrevlumab can be shown to safely stabilize or reverse lung fibrosis, and thus stabilize or improve lung function in IPF patients, it can compete with pirfenidone and nintedanib for market share in IPF. However, it may be difficult to encourage treatment providers and patients to switch to pamrevlumab from an oral product with which they are already familiar to a product delivered via in-office infusion. Furthermore, pirfenidone and nintedanib may be produced as generics in the near future. We may also face competition from potential new IPF therapies in recruitment and enrollment in our clinical trials and potentially in commercialization.

Pamrevlumab is a monoclonal antibody that may be more expensive and less convenient than oral small molecules such as nintedanib and pirfenidone. Other potential competitive product candidates in various stages of development for IPF include Kadmon Holdings, Inc.’s KD025, Galecto’s GB0139, Liminal BioSciences’ PBI-4050, and Roche/Promedior, Inc.’s PRM-151. Roche is enrolling patients in a Phase 3 trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of PRM-151, a recombinant human pentraxin-2 (rhPTX-2), compared to placebo in patients with IPF. United Therapeutics Corporation is enrolling patients in its Phase 3 trial of treprostinil in IPF.

Pancreatic Cancer

We are developing pamrevlumab to be used in combination with chemotherapy (either FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel) in pancreatic cancer. If approved, we would face competition from Celgene’s Abraxane® (nab-paclitaxel), gemcitabine, and FOLFIRINOX, a combination chemotherapy regimen of folic acid, 5-fluouracil, oxaliplatin and irinotecan. Gemcitabine and/or nab-paclitaxel are the current standard of care in the first-line treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer. In 2015, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc. (“Merrimack”) received FDA approval for the use of ONIVYDE (irinotecan liposome injection, now licensed to Ipsen) for the treatment of patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas after disease progression following gemcitabine-based therapy, and the combination therapy with Abraxane and gemcitabine became the first-line standard of care in these patients. As treatments for pancreatic cancer have shown limited success to date, combination therapies are expected, but the incremental cost may slow a new product adoption in the market, at least until the generic versions of Abraxane becomes available. In addition, we may also face competition from other agents seeking approval in combination with gemcitibine and nab-paclitaxel such as Rafael Pharma’s defactinib/CPI-613 and Merrimack’s istiratumab.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

If approved and launched commercially to treat DMD, pamrevlumab is expected to face competition from drugs that have been approved in major markets such as the U.S., European Union, and Japan.

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc.’s (“Sarepta”) Exondys 51TM (eteplirsen) is approved in the U.S. to treat patients who have a mutation of the dystrophin gene amenable to exon 51 skipping, representing approximately 13% of patients with DMD. In Europe, Sarepta received a negative opinion for its marketing application for eteplirsen from the EMA in September 2018. Sarepta’s Vyondys 53TM (golodirsen) is approved in the U.S. for patients with a confirmed genetic mutation that is amenable to exon 53 skipping, which accounts for approximately 8% of the DMD population. Sarepta’s Amondys 45™ (casimersen) is approved in the U.S. for patients with a confirmed genetic mutation that is amenable to exon 45 skipping, which accounts for approximately 8% of the DMD population.

PTC Therapeutics’ product Translarna TM received a conditional approval in Europe in 2014, which was renewed in November 2016 with a request for a new randomized placebo-controlled 18-month study by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the EMA; however, the FDA informed the sponsor in a CRL in October 2017, as well as in its response to PTC Therapeutics’ appeal, that the FDA is unable to approve the application in its current form. An additional Phase 3 study is currently ongoing. While Translarna TM targets a different set of DMD patients from those targeted by Sarepta’s Exondys 51®, it is also limited to a subset of patients who carry a specific mutation. Conversely, pamrevlumab is intended to treat DMD patients without limitation to type of mutation.

Pamrevlumab may also face competition from other drugs currently in clinical development in patient recruiting and enrollment in clinical trials, and, if approved, in commercialization. Examples of those compounds currently under clinical development are the drug candidates from Pfizer, Pliant, Galecto, and Sarepta.  

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MANUFACTURE AND SUPPLY

We have historically and in the future plan to continue to enter into contractual arrangements with qualified third-party manufacturers to manufacture and package our products and product candidates. We believe that this manufacturing strategy enables us to more efficiently direct financial resources to the research, development and commercialization of product candidates rather than diverting resources to establishing a significant internal manufacturing infrastructure, unless there is additional strategic value for establishing manufacturing capabilities, such as in China. As our product candidates proceed through development, we explore or enter into longer term commercial supply agreements with key suppliers and manufacturers in order to meet the ongoing and planned clinical and commercial supply needs for ourselves and our partners. Our timing of entry into these agreements is based on the current development and commercialization plans.

Roxadustat

Roxadustat is a small-molecule drug manufactured from generally available commercial starting materials and chemical technologies and multi-purpose equipment available from many third party contract manufacturers. We have entered into commercial supply arrangements with Shanghai SynTheAll Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“WuXi STA”) and Catalent Pharma Solutions, LLC (“Catalent”) as our primary manufacturers of roxadustat drug substance (also known as active pharmaceutical ingredient or “API”) and roxadustat drug product, respectively. WuXi STA is located in China and currently supplies our API globally except for China, for which it manufactures an intermediate to be further manufactured by FibroGen Beijing. WuXi STA has passed inspections by several regulatory agencies, including the FDA and NMPA, and is Current Good Manufacturing Practice (“cGMP”) compliant. Catalent is located in the U.S. and supplies our drug product tablets globally except for Japan, where they are manufactured by Astellas, and China, where they are manufactured by FibroGen Beijing. Catalent has passed several regulatory inspections, including by the FDA, and manufactures commercial products for other clients.

In China, our Beijing facility received the Good Manufacturing Practice license for API and drug product. We are manufacturing drug product at our FibroGen Beijing manufacturing facility for commercial supply, but we are not currently manufacturing API at this facility. We are manufacturing API at our Cangzhou manufacturing facility, which has been fully qualified and licensed. We may also qualify a third party manufacturer to produce commercial API under the Marketing Authorization Holder System program.

Irix Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

In July 2002, we and IRIX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“IRIX”), a third party manufacturer, entered into a Letter of Agreement for IRIX Pharmaceuticals Single Source Manufacturing Agreement (the “Letter of Agreement”), in connection with a contract manufacturing arrangement for clinical supplies of HIF-PH inhibitors, including roxadustat. The Letter of Agreement contained a service agreement that included terms and schedule for the delivery of clinical materials and also included a term sheet for a single source agreement for the cGMP manufacture of HIF-PH inhibitors, including roxadustat. Specifically, pursuant to the Letter of Agreement, we and IRIX agreed to negotiate a single source manufacturing agreement that included a first right to negotiate a manufacturing contract for HIF-PH inhibitors, including roxadustat, provided that IRIX is able to match any third party bids within 5%, and the exclusive right to manufacture extends for five years after approval of an NDA. Any agreement would provide that no minimum amounts would be specified until appropriate by forecast, that we and our commercialization partner would have the rights to contract with independent third parties that exceed IRIX’s internal capabilities or in the event that we or our commercialization partner determines for reasons of continuity and security that such a need exists, provided that IRIX would supply a majority of the product if it is able to meet the requirements and the schedule required by us and our partner. Subsequent to the Letter of Agreement, IRIX and we have entered into several additional service agreements. IRIX has requested in writing that we honor the Letter of Agreement with respect to the single source manufacturing agreement. To date, we have offered to IRIX opportunities to bid for the manufacture of HIF-PH inhibitors, including roxadustat. In 2015, Patheon Pharmaceuticals Inc., a business unit of DPx Holdings B.V., acquired IRIX, and in 2017, ThermoFisher Scientific Inc. acquired Patheon Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Pamrevlumab

We have entered into a clinical and commercial supply agreement for the manufacture of pamrevlumab with Samsung Biologics Co., Ltd., which has passed several regulatory inspections, including by the FDA, and manufactures commercial products for other clients. We are transitioning our manufacturing of pamrevlumab from Boehringer Ingelheim to Samsung Biologics Co., Ltd.

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GOVERNMENT REGULATION

Our business activities and operations, including the clinical testing, manufacturing, labeling, storage, distribution, record keeping, advertising, promotion, import, export and marketing of our product candidates, among other things, are subject to extensive regulation by governmental authorities in the U.S., China, and other countries. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations, including in Europe and China, requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Compliance with environmental laws, rules, and regulations has not had, and is not expected to have, a material effect on our capital expenditures, results of operations, or competitive position, and we do not currently anticipate material capital expenditures for environmental control facilities.

Failure to comply with the applicable requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval may subject an applicant and/or sponsor to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, including refusal by the applicable regulatory authority to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold, issuance of warning letters and other types of letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement of profits, or civil or criminal investigations and penalties brought by FDA and the Department of Justice, or other governmental entities.

U.S. Product Approval Process

In the U.S., the FDA regulates drugs and biological products, or biologics, under the Public Health Service Act, as well as the FDCA, which is the primary law for regulation of drug products. Both drugs and biologics are subject to the regulations and guidance implementing these laws.

The results of the preclinical studies, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, are submitted to the FDA as part of the IND, which includes a protocol detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial. The IND will become effective automatically 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA raises concerns or questions about the conduct of the trials as outlined in the IND prior to that time. In this case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before clinical trials can proceed.

Further, the protocol for each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an independent institutional review board, either centrally or individually at each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted.

The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials, together with detailed information on the manufacture, composition and quality of the product candidate, are submitted to the FDA in the form of an NDA (for a drug) or BLA (for a biologic), requesting approval to market the product. The application must be accompanied by a significant user fee payment. The FDA has substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or decide that the data is insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies.

Review of Application

Once the NDA or BLA submission has been accepted for filing, which occurs, if at all, 60 days after submission, the FDA informs the applicant of the specific date by which the FDA intends to complete its review. The FDA reviews NDAs and BLAs to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product is safe and effective for its intended use, and whether the product is being manufactured in accordance with cGMPs to assure and preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity. Before approving an NDA or BLA, the FDA may inspect the facilities at which the product is manufactured and will not approve the product unless the manufacturing facility complies with cGMPs and will also inspect clinical trial sites for integrity of data supporting safety and efficacy. During the approval process, the FDA also will determine whether a REMS, is necessary to assure the safe use of the product. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the application must submit a proposed REMS; the FDA will not approve the application without an approved REMS, if required. The FDA may also convene an advisory committee of external experts to provide input on certain review issues relating to risk, benefit and interpretation of clinical trial data. The FDA may require post-marketing testing and surveillance to monitor safety or efficacy of a product. FDA will issue either an approval of the NDA or BLA or a CRL detailing the deficiencies and information required in order for reconsideration of the application.

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Post-Approval Requirements

Even after approval, drugs and biologics manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to continuous regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product distribution, advertising and promotion and reporting of adverse experiences with the product. After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims are subject to prior FDA review and approval.

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

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

Federal and State Fraud and Abuse and Data Privacy and Security and Transparency Laws and Regulations

In addition to FDA restrictions on marketing of pharmaceutical products, federal and state healthcare laws restrict certain business practices in the biopharmaceutical industry. These laws include, but are not limited to, anti-kickback, false claims, data privacy and security, and transparency statutes and regulations.

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration, directly or indirectly, to induce, or in return for, purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any good, facility, item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs. Although there are a number of statutory exemptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting certain common activities from prosecution, the exemptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all of its facts and circumstances. Further, the intent standard under the Anti-Kickback Statute was amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively “PPACA”), to a stricter intent standard such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or the specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. In addition, PPACA codified case law that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the civil False Claims Act (discussed below).

The federal false claims laws and federal civil monetary penalties statute prohibit, among other things, any person or entity from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval to the federal government or knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim to the federal government. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services.

In addition, we may be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and its implementing regulations, imposes certain requirements on covered entities, business associates and their covered subcontractors relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. In addition, state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.

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Additionally, the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act within the PPACA, and its implementing regulations, require that certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report information related to certain payments or other transfers of value made or distributed to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors), other healthcare professionals (such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners), and teaching hospitals, or to entities or individuals at the request of, or designated on behalf of, the physicians and teaching hospitals and to report annually certain ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members.

Also, many states have similar healthcare statutes or regulations that apply to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payor. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the health regulatory laws described above or any other laws that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including potentially significant criminal, civil and/or administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, exclusion of products from reimbursement under government programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens, diminished profits and future earnings and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. To the extent that any of our products will be sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws and regulations, which may include, for instance, applicable post-marketing requirements, including safety surveillance, anti-fraud and abuse laws and implementation of corporate compliance programs and reporting of payments or transfers of value to healthcare professionals.

Pharmaceutical Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement

In both domestic and foreign markets, our sales of any approved products will depend in part on the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government health administrative authorities, managed care providers, private health insurers and other organizations. Patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products. Sales of our products will therefore depend substantially, both domestically and abroad, on the extent to which the costs of our products will be paid by third-party payors. These third-party payors are increasingly focused on containing healthcare costs by challenging the price and examining the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services. In addition, significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of newly approved healthcare product candidates.

Because each third-party payor individually approves coverage and reimbursement levels, obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement is a time-consuming, costly and sometimes unpredictable process. We may be required to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of any product to each third-party payor separately with no assurance that approval would be obtained, and we may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of our products. This process could delay the market acceptance of any product and could have a negative effect on our future revenues and operating results. We cannot be certain that our products and our product candidates will be considered cost-effective. If we are unable to obtain coverage of, and adequate reimbursement and payment levels for, our product candidates from third-party payors, physicians may limit how much or under what circumstances they will prescribe or administer them and patients may decline to purchase them. This in turn could affect our ability to successfully commercialize our products and impact our profitability, results of operations, financial condition and future success.

In addition, in many foreign countries, particularly the countries of the European Union and China, the pricing of prescription drugs is subject to government control. In some non-U.S. jurisdictions, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing vary widely from country to country. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of a company placing the medicinal product on the market. We may face competition for our product candidates from lower-priced products in foreign countries that have placed price controls on pharmaceutical products. In addition, there may be importation of foreign products that compete with our own products, which could negatively impact our profitability.

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Healthcare Reform

In the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and we expect there will continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the healthcare system that could affect our future results of operations as we begin to directly commercialize our products. In particular, there have been and continue to be a number of initiatives at the U.S. federal and state level that seek to reduce healthcare costs.

For example, in March 2010, PPACA was signed into law. Among other cost containment measures, PPACA established: an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports certain branded prescription drugs and biologic agents; revised the methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers to the state and federal government for covered outpatient drugs under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated; increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program; and extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations. There have been executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the PPACA. For example, on June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge on procedural grounds that argued the PPACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the individual mandate was repealed by Congress. Thus, the PPACA will remain in effect in its current form. It is possible that the PPACA will be subject to judicial or Congressional challenges in the future. It is unclear how any such challenges and other litigation, and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the PPACA and our business.

Further, in the U.S. there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Presidential executive orders, Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under government payor programs, and review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs. For example, in July 2021, the Biden administration released an executive order, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” with multiple provisions aimed at prescription drugs. In response to Biden’s executive order, on September 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a Comprehensive Plan for Addressing High Drug Prices that outlines principles for drug pricing reform and sets out a variety of potential legislative policies that Congress could pursue as well as potential administrative actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to advance these principles. No legislation or administrative actions have been finalized to implement these principles. It is unclear whether these or similar policy initiatives will be implemented in the future. Congress is also considering additional health reform measures.

Some states have implemented, and other states are considering, price controls or patient access constraints under the Medicaid program, and some states are considering price-control regimes that would apply to broader segments of their populations that are not Medicaid-eligible. Further, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the volatility in the current economic and market dynamics, we are unable to predict the impact of any unforeseen or unknown legislative, regulatory, payor or policy actions, which may include cost containment and healthcare reform measures. Such policy actions could have a material adverse impact on our profitability.

Approval Process and Other Regulation in China

The pharmaceutical industry in China is highly regulated. The primary regulatory authority is the NMPA, including its provincial and local branches. As a developer, manufacturer and supplier of drugs, we are subject to regulation and oversight by the NMPA and its provincial and local branches. The Drug Administration Law of China provides the basic legal framework for the administration of the production and sale of pharmaceuticals in China and covers the manufacturing, distributing, packaging, pricing and advertising of pharmaceutical products. Its implementing regulations set forth detailed rules with respect to the administration of pharmaceuticals in China. In addition, we are, and we will be, subject to other Chinese laws and regulations that are applicable to business operators, manufacturers and distributors in general.

Pharmaceutical Clinical Development

A new drug must be approved by the NMPA before it can be manufactured and marketed for sale. To obtain NMPA approval, the applicant must conduct clinical trials, which must be approved by the NMPA and are subject to the NMPA’s supervision and inspection. There are four phases of clinical trials. Application for registration of new drugs requires completion of Phase 1, 2 and 3 of clinical trials, similar to the U.S. In addition, the NMPA may require the conduct of Phase 4 studies as a condition to approval.

Phase 4 studies are post-marketing studies to assess the therapeutic effectiveness of and adverse reactions to the new drug, including an evaluation of the benefits and risks, when used among the general population or specific groups, with findings used to inform adjustments to dosage, among other things.

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NDA and Approval to Market

China requires approval of the NDA as well as the manufacturing facility before a drug can be marketed in China. Approval and oversight are performed at national and provincial levels of the NMPA, involve multiple agencies and consist of various stages of approval.

Under the applicable drug registration regulations, drug registration applications are divided into three different types, namely Domestic NDA, Domestic Generic Drug Application, and Imported Drug Application. Drugs fall into one of three categories, namely chemical medicine, biological product or traditional Chinese or natural medicine.

Foreign Regulation Outside of China

In order to market any product outside of the U.S., we would need to comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries and jurisdictions regarding quality, safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, manufacturing, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of our products. Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we would need to obtain the necessary approvals by the comparable foreign regulatory authorities before we can commence clinical trials or marketing of the product in foreign countries and jurisdictions. Although many of the issues discussed above with respect to the U.S. apply similarly in the context of other countries we are seeking approval in, including Europe and China, the approval process varies between countries and jurisdictions and can involve different amounts of product testing and additional administrative review periods. For example, in Europe and in China, a sponsor must submit a clinical trial application, much like an IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. A clinical trial application must be submitted to each national health authority and an independent ethics committee.

For other countries outside of the European Union, such as China and the countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing, and reimbursement vary from country to country. The time required to obtain approval in other countries and jurisdictions might differ from or be longer than that required to obtain FDA approval. Regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction does not ensure regulatory approval in another, but a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction may negatively impact the regulatory approval process in other countries.

Regulatory Exclusivity for Approved Products

U.S. Patent Term Restoration

Depending upon the timing, duration, and specifics of the FDA approval of our product candidates, some of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent restoration term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. The patent term restoration period is generally one-half the time between the effective date of an initial IND and the submission date of an NDA or BLA, plus the time between the submission date of the NDA or BLA and the approval of that product candidate application. Patent term restoration cannot, however, extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. In addition, only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves applications for any patent term extension or restoration. In the future, we expect to apply for restoration of patent term for patents relating to each of our product candidates in order to add patent life beyond the current expiration date of such patents, depending on the length of the clinical trials and other factors involved in the filing of the relevant NDA or BLA.

Market exclusivity provisions under the U.S. federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act can also delay the submission or the approval of certain applications of companies seeking to reference another company’s NDA or BLA. The Hatch-Waxman Act provides a 5-year period of exclusivity to any approved NDA for a product containing a New Chemical Entity (“NCE”) never previously approved by FDA either alone or in combination with another active moiety. No application or abbreviated NDA directed to the same NCE may be submitted during the 5-year exclusivity period, except that such applications may be submitted after four years if they contain a certification of patent invalidity or non-infringement of the patents listed with the FDA by the innovator NDA.

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Biologic Price Competition and Innovation Act

The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (“BPCIA”), established an abbreviated pathway for the approval of biosimilar and interchangeable biological products. The abbreviated regulatory approval pathway establishes legal authority for the FDA to review and approve biosimilar biologics, including the possible designation of a biosimilar as “interchangeable” based on similarity to an existing branded product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be approved by the FDA until 12 years after the original branded product was approved under a BLA. However, an application may be submitted after four years if it contains a certification of patent invalidity or non-infringement to one of the patents listed with the FDA by the innovator BLA holder. The BPCIA is complex and is only beginning to be interpreted and implemented by the FDA. As a result, its ultimate impact, implementation, and interpretation are subject to uncertainty.

Orphan Drug Act

Pamrevlumab has received orphan drug designation in IPF, LAPC, and DMD in the U.S. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a drug or biological product intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., or if it affects more than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making a drug product available in the U.S. for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product. Orphan product designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. After the FDA grants orphan product designation, the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan product designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process.

If a product that has orphan designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug or biological product for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity. The designation of such drugs also entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. Competitors, however, may receive approval of different products for the indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity or obtain approval for the same product but for a different indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity. Orphan product exclusivity also could block the approval of one of our products for seven years if a competitor obtains approval of the same drug or biological product as defined by the FDA or if our drug candidate is determined to be contained within the competitor’s product for the same indication or disease. If a drug product designated as an orphan product receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what is designated, it may not be entitled to orphan product exclusivity in any indication.

The EMA has granted Orphan Medicinal Product Designation to pamrevlumab for the treatment of DMD. Orphan Medicinal Product Designation status in Europe has similar but not identical benefits in that jurisdiction.

Products receiving orphan designation in Europe can receive ten years of market exclusivity, during which time no similar medicinal product for the same indication may be placed on the market. The ten-year market exclusivity may be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation; for example, if the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Additionally, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if the second applicant can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior; the initial applicant consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or the initial applicant cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product. An orphan product can also obtain an additional two years of market exclusivity in Europe for pediatric studies. No extension to any supplementary protection certificate can be granted on the basis of pediatric studies for orphan indications.

Foreign Country Data Exclusivity

Europe also provides opportunities for additional market exclusivity. For example, in Europe, upon receiving marketing authorization, a NCE generally receives eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity. If granted, data exclusivity prevents regulatory authorities in Europe from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic application. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic marketing authorization can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic product can be marketed until the expiration of the market exclusivity.

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In China, there is also an opportunity for data exclusivity for a period of six years for data included in an NDA applicable to a NCE. According to the Implementing Regulations of the China Drug Administration Law, the Chinese government protects undisclosed data from drug studies and prevents the approval of an application made by another company that uses the undisclosed data for the approved drug. In practice, the NMPA has not established an effective mechanism to enforce data exclusivity. The NMPA issued a draft regulation on regulatory data protection on April 25, 2018 for public comments but this draft regulation has yet to be finalized and implemented.

In addition, if an approved drug manufactured in China qualifies as an innovative drug or an improved new drug before December 1, 2019, such drugs will be eligible for a monitoring surveillance period for up to five years. During this post-marketing observation period, the NMPA will not accept marketing authorization applications filed by another company for the same product. Nor will the NMPA approve marketing authorization applications filed by another company to produce, change dosage form of or import the drug while the innovative or improved new drug is under observation for the purpose of protecting public health. The approved manufacturer is required to provide an annual report to the regulatory department of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the central government where it is located.

Each of the data exclusivity period and the observation period runs from the date of approval for production of the NCE or innovative or improved new drug, as the case may be.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Our success depends in part upon our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection for our product candidates including compositions-of-matter, dosages, and formulations, manufacturing methods, and novel applications, uses and technological innovations related to our product candidates and core technologies. We also rely on trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation to further develop and maintain our competitive position.

Our policy is to seek to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, filing U.S. and foreign patent applications related to our proprietary technologies, inventions and any improvements that we consider important to the development and implementation of our business and strategy. Our ability to maintain and solidify our proprietary position for our products and technologies will depend, in part, on our success in obtaining and enforcing valid patent claims. Additionally, we may benefit from a variety of regulatory frameworks in the U.S., Europe, China, and other territories that provide periods of non-patent-based exclusivity for qualifying drug products. Refer to “Government Regulation — Regulatory Exclusivity for Approved Products.”

We cannot ensure that patents will be granted with respect to any of our pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications that may be filed by us in the future, nor can we ensure that any of our existing or subsequently granted patents will be useful in protecting our drug candidates, technological innovations, and processes. Additionally, any existing or subsequently granted patents may be challenged, invalidated, circumvented or infringed. We cannot guarantee that our intellectual property rights or proprietary position will be sufficient to permit us to take advantage of current market trends or otherwise to provide or protect competitive advantages. Furthermore, our competitors may be able to independently develop and commercialize similar products, or may be able to duplicate our technologies, business model, or strategy, without infringing our patents or otherwise using our intellectual property.

Our extensive worldwide patent portfolio includes multiple granted and pending patent applications relating to roxadustat and pamrevlumab. Currently granted patents relating to composition-of-matter for roxadustat and for pamrevlumab are expected, for each product candidate, to expire in 2024 or 2025, in each case exclusive of any patent term extension that may be available. U.S. and foreign patents relating to crystalline forms of roxadustat are expected to expire in 2033, exclusive of any extension. Additional patents and patent applications relating to manufacturing processes, formulations, and various therapeutic uses, including treatment of specific indications and improvement of clinical parameters, provide further protection for product candidates.

The protection afforded by any particular patent depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, scope of coverage encompassed by the granted claims, availability of extensions of patent term, availability of legal remedies in the particular territory in which the patent is granted, and validity and enforceability of the patent. Changes in either patent laws or in the interpretation of patent laws in the U.S. and other countries could diminish our ability to protect our inventions and to enforce our intellectual property rights. Accordingly, we cannot predict with certainty the enforceability of any granted patent claims or of any claims that may be granted from our patent applications.

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The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by extensive litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. Our ability to maintain and solidify our proprietary position for our products and core technologies will depend on our success in obtaining effective claims and enforcing those claims once granted. We have been in the past and are currently involved in various legal proceedings with respect to our patents and patent applications and may be involved in such proceedings in the future. Additionally, we may claim that a third party infringes our intellectual property, or a third party may claim that we infringe its intellectual property. Such legal proceedings may be associated with significant expenses, damages, attorneys’ fees, costs of proceedings, and experts’ fees, and management and employees may be required to spend significant time in connection with these actions.

Because of the extensive time required for clinical development and regulatory review of a product candidate we may develop, it is possible that any patent related to our product candidates may expire before any of our product candidates can be commercialized, or may remain in force for only a short period of time following commercialization, thereby reducing the advantage afforded by any such patent.

The patent positions for our most advanced programs are summarized below.

Roxadustat Patent Portfolio

Our roxadustat patent portfolio includes multiple granted U.S. patents offering protection for roxadustat, including protection for composition-of-matter, for pharmaceutical compositions, and for methods for treating anemia. Exclusive of any patent term extension, the last of the granted U.S. patents relating to the composition-of-matter of roxadustat is due to expire in 2025, and granted foreign patents are due to expire in 2024. U.S. and foreign patents relating to crystalline forms of roxadustat are due to expire in 2033, and U.S. and foreign patents relating to photostable formulations of roxadustat are due to expire in 2034.

In 2020, oppositions were filed against our European Patent No. 2872488 (the “`488 Patent”), which claims a crystalline form of roxadustat, and our European Patent No. 3003284 (the “`284 Patent”), which claims photostable formulations of roxadustat. Final resolution of the opposition proceedings will take time and we cannot be assured that these patents will survive these proceedings as originally granted or at all.

If roxadustat is approved in the U.S. prior to expiration of the U.S. composition of matter protection, a full five-year patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman act will be available, which extension would expire in 2030. Refer to “Government Regulation — Regulatory Exclusivity for Approved Products — U.S. Patent Term Restoration.”

We also hold various U.S. and foreign granted patents and pending patent applications directed to roxadustat manufacturing processes, formulations, and methods for use.

Roxadustat China Patent Portfolio

Our roxadustat China patent portfolio includes granted patents covering composition-of-matter, pharmaceutical compositions, methods of use, and manufacturing processes, as well as medicaments for treating anemia and other conditions. Patents relating to roxadustat composition-of-matter and crystalline forms are due to expire in 2024 and 2033, respectively.

HIF Anemia-Related Technologies Patent Portfolio

We also have an extensive worldwide patent portfolio providing broad protection for proprietary technologies relating to the treatment of anemia and associated conditions. This portfolio currently contains granted patents and pending patent applications providing exclusivity for use of compounds falling within various and overlapping classes of HIF-PH inhibitors to achieve various therapeutic effects.

Various legal challenges have been initiated against this portfolio in several territories, including in Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan. Regardless of the final outcome of any such actions, the potential narrowing or revocation of any of these patents does not affect our exclusivity for roxadustat or our freedom-to-operate with respect to use of roxadustat for the treatment of anemia in these or in other territories. A settlement has been reached in the litigation in Canada, resulting in the discontinuance of the action and leaving FibroGen’s Canadian patents valid and enforceable.

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In April 2020, in response to an invalidation action brought against certain of our United Kingdom patents by Akebia, the United Kingdom court handed down a decision invalidating certain FibroGen United Kingdom patents. In August 2021, the United Kingdom Court of Appeal handed down a decision favorable to FibroGen, declaring several of the patents valid. Akebia has applied to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal ruling.

Pamrevlumab Patent Portfolio

Our pamrevlumab patent portfolio includes U.S. patents providing composition-of-matter protection for pamrevlumab and related antibodies, and for methods of using such in the treatment of fibroproliferative disorders, including IPF, liver fibrosis, and pancreatic cancer. Exclusive of any patent term extension, the last of the U.S. patents relating to pamrevlumab composition-of-matter is due to expire in 2025. Corresponding foreign patents are due to expire, exclusive of any patent term extension, in 2024.

We believe that, if pamrevlumab is approved in the U.S. prior to expiration of the composition-of-matter patent, a full five-year patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman act will be available, extending the term of that patent to 2030.

We also hold additional granted U.S. and foreign patents and pending patent applications directed to the use of pamrevlumab to treat IPF, DMD, pancreatic cancer, liver fibrosis, and other disorders.

Trade Secrets and Know-How

In addition to patents, we rely upon proprietary trade secrets and know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our proprietary information, in part, using confidentiality and other terms in agreements with our commercial partners, collaboration partners, consultants and employees. Such agreements are designed to protect our proprietary information, and may also grant us ownership of technologies that are developed through a relationship with a third party, such as through invention assignment provisions. Agreements may expire and we could lose the benefit of confidentiality, or our agreements may be breached and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors.

To the extent that our commercial partners, collaboration partners, employees and consultants use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions.

In-Licenses

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (Medarex, Inc.)

Effective July 9, 1998 and as amended on June 30, 2001 and January 28, 2002, we entered into a research and commercialization agreement with Medarex, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary GenPharm International, Inc. (now, collectively, part of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (“Medarex”)) to develop fully human monoclonal antibodies for potential anti-fibrotic therapies. Under the agreement, Medarex was responsible for using its proprietary immunizable transgenic mice (“HuMAb-Mouse technology”) during a specified research period (the “Research Period”), to produce fully human antibodies against our proprietary antigen targets, including CTGF, for our exclusive use.

The agreement granted us an option to obtain an exclusive worldwide, royalty-bearing, commercial license to develop antibodies derived from Medarex’s HuMAb-Mouse technology, for use in the development and commercialization of diagnostic and therapeutic products. In December 2002, we exercised that option with respect to twelve antibodies inclusive of the antibody from which pamrevlumab is derived. We granted back to Medarex an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license, with the right to sublicense, to certain inventions created during the parties’ research collaboration, with such license limited to use by Medarex outside the scope of our licensed antibodies.

As a result of the exercise of our option to obtain the commercial license, Medarex is precluded from:

 

(i) knowingly using any technology involving immunizable transgenic mice containing unrearranged human immunoglobulin genes with any of our antigen targets that were the subject of the agreement,

 

(ii)granting to a third party a commercial license that covers such antigen targets or those antibodies derived by Medarex during the Research Period, and

(iii) using any antibodies derived by Medarex during the Research Period, except as permitted under the agreement for our benefit or to prosecute patent applications in accordance with the agreement.

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Medarex retained ownership of the patent rights relating to certain mice, mice materials, antibodies and hybridoma cell lines used by Medarex in connection with its activities under the agreement, and Medarex also owns certain claims in patents covering inventions that arise during the Research Period, which claims are directed to (i) compositions of matter (e.g., an antibody) except formulations of antibodies for therapeutic or diagnostic use, or (ii) methods of production. We own the patent rights to any inventions that arise during the Research Period that relate to antigens, as well as claims in patents covering inventions directed to (a) methods of use of an antibody, or (b) formulations of antibodies for therapeutic or diagnostic use. Upon exercise of our option to obtain the commercial license, we obtained the sole right but not obligation to control prosecution of patents relating solely to the licensed antibodies or products. Medarex has back-up patent prosecution rights in the event we decline to further prosecute or maintain such patents.

In addition to research support payments by us to Medarex during the Research Period, and an upfront commercial license fee in the form of 181,819 shares of FibroGen Series D Convertible Preferred Stock paid upon exercise of our option, we committed development-related milestone payments of up to $11 million per therapeutic product containing a licensed antibody, and we have paid a $1 million development-related milestone, in the form of 133,333 shares of FibroGen Series G Convertible Preferred Stock, and a cash payment of $2 million, for pamrevlumab to date. At our election, the remaining milestone payments may be paid in common stock of FibroGen, Inc., or cash.

With respect to our sales and sales by our affiliates, the agreement also requires us to pay Medarex low single-digit royalties for licensed therapeutic products and low double-digit royalties plus certain capped sales-based bonus royalties for licensed diagnostic products. With respect to sales of licensed products by a sublicensee, we may elect to pay the foregoing royalties based on our sublicensee’s sales, or a percentage (in the high-teens) of all payments received by us from such sublicensee. We are also required to reimburse Medarex any pass-through royalties, if any, payable under Medarex’s upstream license agreements with Medical Research Council and DNX. Royalties payable by us under the agreement are on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis and subject to reductions in specified circumstances, and royalties are payable for a period until either expiration of patents covering the applicable licensed product or a specified number of years following the first commercial sale of such product in the applicable country.

Unless earlier terminated, the agreement will continue in effect for as long as there are royalty payment obligations by us or our sublicensees. Either party may terminate the agreement for certain material breaches by the other party, or for bankruptcy, insolvency or similar circumstances. In addition, we may also terminate the agreement for convenience upon written notice.

HUMAN RESOURCES

We had a total of 566 employees at FibroGen as of January 31, 2022. None of our U.S. employees are represented by a labor union. The employees of FibroGen Beijing are represented by a labor union under the China Labor Union Law. None of our employees have entered into a collective agreement with us.

We are highly committed to building a diverse, committed, and impassioned team to deliver innovative therapies to patients facing serious unmet medical needs. In 2020, we developed and approved a new Corporate Vision Statement and Values through the participation and input of many staff across the organization. One of these core values is “Respect for People” which includes a strong commitment to build a culture of inclusiveness and equality and foster a culture of individual growth and an environment of continued learning.

In 2020, we conducted a company-wide employee engagement survey. We had an overall participation rate by employees of 86% with over 90% of respondents reporting that they felt engaged around our core values of excellence, respect for people, integrity, and empowerment. Both of these scores significantly exceed normative industry participation and engagement benchmarks.

The biotechnology industry is an extremely competitive labor market and recruiting and retaining employees is critical to the continued success of our business. We focus on recruiting, retaining, and developing employees from a diverse range of backgrounds to conduct our research, development, commercialization, and administrative activities.

We consistently review and evaluate our people practices to ensure we are an employer of choice, to attract, develop and retain a diverse, engaged, talented and connected workforce. Our offerings include competitive, innovative and equitable pay practices, comprehensive health and wellness benefits, retirement and life insurance offerings, and flexible work arrangements. In addition to our inclusive leadership, management fundamentals, and resilience programs, we offer coaching and promotion opportunities, as well as access to an on-demand global learning management system.

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In 2020, we deployed a state-of-art, human capital management system that will allow us to significantly expand our capabilities to develop and assess our employees. This system will also allow us to build comprehensive development and succession plans at all levels in the organization to ensure that we have a strong pipeline of highly trained employees. We also invested in health and safety measures for our employees who must work in the offices and labs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. On our Board of Directors: five of our twelve members (42%) are women and/or from minority racial and ethnic groups. As of January 31, 2022, women represented 55% of our global workforce and 32% of our global leadership (VP and above), up from 27% the year before. As of January 31, 2022, 23% of our U.S. leadership (VP and above), were from minority racial and ethnic groups, up from 16% the year before.

In addition to furthering our investments in our human resources, we plan on continuing our efforts in 2022 in critical environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) areas. In 2021, we performed an ESG assessment of our operations and determined which members of management and which committees of our board of directors had responsibility for oversight and management of our ESG goals and efforts.

FACILITIES

Our corporate and research and development operations are located in San Francisco, California, where we lease approximately 234,000 square feet of office and laboratory space with approximately 30,000 square feet subleased. The lease for our San Francisco headquarters was originally scheduled to expire in 2023, and in June 2021, we amended the lease to extend it through 2028. We also lease approximately 67,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space in Beijing, China, and multiple office spaces in Beijing and Shanghai, China. Our leases in China expire in 2026. We have constructed a commercial manufacturing facility of approximately 5,500 square meters in Cangzhou, China, on approximately 33,000 square meters of land. Our right to use such land expires in 2068. We believe our facilities are adequate for our current needs and that suitable additional or substitute space would be available if needed.

AVAILABLE INFORMATION

Our internet website address is www.fibrogen.com. In addition to the information about us and our subsidiaries contained in this Annual Report, information about us can be found on our website. The information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report.

Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, are available free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Additionally the Securities and Exchange Commission maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information. The address of the SEC’s website is www.sec.gov.

CORPORATE INFORMATION

Our headquarters are located at 409 Illinois Street, San Francisco, California 94158 and our telephone number is (415) 978-1200. Our website address is www.FibroGen.com.

Our subsidiaries consist of the following: 1) FibroGen Europe Oy, a majority owned entity incorporated in Finland in 1996; 2) Skin Sciences, Inc., a majority owned entity incorporated in the State of Delaware in 1995; 3) FibroGen International (Cayman) Limited, a majority owned entity incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 2011; 4) FibroGen China Anemia Holdings Ltd., a majority owned entity incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 2012; 5) FibroGen International (Hong Kong) Limited, a majority owned entity incorporated in Hong Kong in 2011; 6) FibroGen INTL LLC, a majority owned entity incorporated in the State of Delaware in 2021; 7) FibroGen (China) Medical Technology Development Co., Ltd., a majority owned entity incorporated in China in 2011; and 8) Beijing Falikang Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., an unconsolidated variable interest entity incorporated in China in 2020.

“FibroGen,” the FibroGen logo and other trademarks or service marks of FibroGen, Inc. appearing in this Annual Report are the property of FibroGen, Inc. This Annual Report contains additional trade names, trademarks and service marks of others, which are the property of their respective owners. We do not intend our use of display of other companies’ trade names, trademarks or service marks to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, these other companies.

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks described below in addition to the other information included or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 (“Annual Report”), including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” before deciding whether to invest in our common stock. The occurrence of any of the events or developments described below could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In such an event, the market price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment. Although we have discussed all known material risks, the risks described below are not the only ones that we may face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations.

Risks Related to the Development and Commercialization of Our Product Candidates

We are substantially dependent on the success of our lead product, roxadustat, and our second compound in development, pamrevlumab.

To date, we have invested a substantial portion of our efforts and financial resources in the research and development of roxadustat and pamrevlumab.

While we have received approval of our marketing authorization applications for roxadustat in the European Union, Great Britain, the People’s Republic of China (“China”), Japan, South Korea, and Chile for chronic kidney disease (“CKD”) anemia for patients on dialysis and not on dialysis, we received a complete response letter (“CRL”) in the United States (“U.S.”) from the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). Our near-term prospects depend in part on our continued development of roxadustat in the U.S. and maintaining our collaboration with AstraZeneca AB (“AstraZeneca”). We are currently in discussions with AstraZeneca to determine a development path forward for CKD anemia and chemotherapy-induced anemia. We also continue to develop roxadustat for the treatment of anemia in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (“MDS”).

Our near-term success also depends in large part on our other lead product candidate, pamrevlumab, which is currently in clinical development for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (“IPF”), locally advanced unresectable pancreatic cancer (“LAPC”), metastatic pancreatic cancer, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (“DMD”). Pamrevlumab requires substantial further development and investment and we do not have a collaboration partner for support of this compound. In addition, pamrevlumab is a monoclonal antibody, which may require greater financial resources than for our small molecule, roxadustat.

As a company, we have limited commercialization experience, and the time and resources to develop such experience are significant. If we fail to achieve and sustain commercial success for roxadustat with our collaboration partners, our business would be harmed.

We do not have a sales infrastructure and we have limited experience in the sales, marketing or distribution of pharmaceutical products in any country. To achieve commercial success for any product for which we obtain marketing approval, we will need to establish sales and marketing capabilities or make and maintain our existing arrangements with third parties to perform these services at a level sufficient to support our commercialization efforts.

To the extent that we would undertake sales and marketing of any of our products directly, there are risks involved with establishing our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities. Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our products on our own include:

our inability to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;

the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians or persuade adequate numbers of physicians to prescribe any future products;

our inability to effectively manage geographically dispersed commercial teams;

the lack of complementary products to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines; and

unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent commercial organization.

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With respect to roxadustat, we are dependent on the commercialization capabilities of our collaboration partners, AstraZeneca and Astellas Pharma Inc. (“Astellas”). If either such partner were to terminate its agreement with us, we would have to commercialize on our own or with another third party. We will have limited control over the commercialization efforts of such third parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our products, if any, effectively. If they are not successful in commercializing our product candidates, our business and financial condition would suffer.

Commercializing roxadustat requires us to establish commercialization systems, including but not limited to, medical affairs, pharmacovigilance, supply-chain, and distribution capabilities to perform our portion of the collaborative efforts. These efforts require resources and time.

If we, along with Astellas and AstraZeneca, are not successful in our marketing, pricing and reimbursement strategies, facilitating adoption by dialysis organizations or health care professionals, recruiting sales and marketing personnel or in building a sales and marketing infrastructure, or if the market perception of roxadustat’s safety and efficacy profile is negative, we will have difficulty commercializing roxadustat, which would adversely affect our business and financial condition.

Drug development and obtaining marketing authorization is a very difficult endeavor and we may ultimately be unable to obtain regulatory approval for our various product candidates in one or more jurisdictions and in one or more indications.

The development, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of our products and product candidates are and will continue to be subject to extensive and rigorous review and regulation by numerous government authorities in the U.S. and in other countries where we intend to develop and, if approved, market any product candidates. Before obtaining regulatory approval for the commercial sale of any product candidate, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical trials and clinical trials that the product candidate is safe and effective for use in each indication for which approval is sought. The regulatory review and approval process is expensive and requires substantial resources and time, and in general, very few product candidates that enter development ultimately receive regulatory approval. In addition, our collaboration partners for roxadustat have final control over development decisions in their respective territories and they may make decisions with respect to development or regulatory authorities that delay or limit the potential approval of roxadustat, or increase the cost of development or commercialization. Accordingly, we may be unable to successfully develop or commercialize any of our other product candidates in one or more indications and jurisdictions.

Moreover, for any clinical trial to support a New Drug Application (“NDA”)/Biologics License Application submission for approval, the FDA and foreign regulatory authorities require compliance with regulations and standards (including good clinical practices (“GCP”) requirements for designing, conducting, monitoring, recording, analyzing, and reporting the results of clinical trials) to ensure that (1) the data and results from trials are credible and accurate; and (2) that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of trial participants are protected. Although we rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials, we as the sponsor remain responsible for ensuring that each of these clinical trials is conducted in accordance with its general investigational plan and protocol under legal and regulatory requirements, including GCP. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of our clinical research organizations (“CROs”), trial sites, principal investigators or other third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable. Accordingly, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may require us to exclude the use of patient data from these unreliable clinical trials, or perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. The FDA or other regulatory authorities may even reject our application for approval, or refuse to accept our future applications.

Regulatory authorities may take actions or impose requirements that delay, limit or deny approval of our product candidates for many reasons, including, among others:

our failure to adequately demonstrate to the satisfaction of regulatory authorities or an independent advisory committee that our product candidate is safe and effective in a particular indication, or that such product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;

our failure of clinical trials to meet the level of statistical significance required for approval;

the determination by regulatory authorities that additional clinical trials are necessary to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a product candidate,

disagreement over the design or implementation of our clinical trials;

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our product candidates may exhibit an unacceptable safety signal at any stage of development;

the CROs or investigators that conduct clinical trials on our behalf may take actions outside of our control that do not comply with GCP, clinical trial protocols, or their agreement with us, or otherwise materially adversely impact our clinical trials;

disagreement over whether to accept results from clinical trial sites in a country where the standard of care is potentially different from that in the U.S.;

we or third-party contractors manufacturing our product candidates may not maintain current good manufacturing practices (“cGMP”), successfully pass inspection or meet other applicable manufacturing regulatory requirements;

regulatory authorities may not agree with our interpretation of the data from our preclinical trials and clinical trials; or

collaboration partners may not perform or complete their clinical programs in a timely manner, or at all.

Any of these factors, many of which are beyond our control, could jeopardize our or our collaboration partners’ abilities to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates in one or more indications.

The FDA or other regulatory authorities may require more information (including additional preclinical or clinical data to support approval), which may delay or prevent approval or cause us to abandon the development program altogether.

 

Even if we believe our clinical trials are successful, regulatory authorities may not agree that our completed clinical trials provide adequate data on safety or efficacy. Approval by one regulatory authority does not ensure approval by any other regulatory authority. For example, while we have received approval of our marketing authorization applications for roxadustat in the European Union, Great Britain, China, Japan, South Korea, and Chile for CKD anemia for patients on dialysis and not on dialysis, we received a CRL in the U.S. from the FDA regarding roxadustat’s NDA for the treatment of anemia due to CKD, stating that it could not be approved in its present form. In addition, a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country may have a negative effect on the regulatory process in others.

 

Even if we do obtain regulatory approval, our product candidates may be approved for fewer or more limited indications than we request, approval may be contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials, or approval may require labeling that does not include the labeling claims necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of that product candidate. In addition, if our product candidates produce undesirable side effects or safety issues, the FDA may require the establishment of Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (or other regulatory authorities may require the establishment of a similar strategy), that may restrict distribution of our approved products, if any, and impose burdensome implementation requirements on us.

Any of the foregoing scenarios could materially harm the commercial prospects for our product candidates.

The CRL we received from the FDA for roxadustat has decreased the likelihood of approval and successful commercialization of roxadustat in the U.S. and potentially other markets. This will decrease and/or delay expected revenue, and may increase the possibility that our Collaboration Agreement with AstraZeneca could be amended or terminated.

In August 2021, the FDA issued a CRL regarding roxadustat’s NDA for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients, stating that it could not be approved in its present form. We are discussing the overall development and commercialization plan for roxadustat with our partner AstraZeneca and how the CRL and recent FDA feedback may affect those plans in the U.S. The CRL has decreased the likelihood of approval and successful commercialization of roxadustat in the U.S. and therefore will decrease and/or delay expected revenue. It is also possible that the CRL could negatively impact development or commercialization beyond CKD anemia within the U.S. and in CKD anemia and other indications outside the U.S. There is also an increased possibility that our U.S./RoW Collaboration Agreement with AstraZeneca could be amended or terminated. Any of these risks could have a material impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

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Preclinical, Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trial results may not be indicative of the results that may be obtained in larger clinical trials.

Clinical development is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. Success in preclinical and early clinical trials, which are often highly variable and use small sample sizes, may not be predictive of similar results in humans or in larger, controlled clinical trials, and successful results from clinical trials in one indication may not be replicated in other indications.

Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials after achieving positive results in early-stage development, and we may face similar setbacks.

We do not know whether our ongoing or planned clinical trials of roxadustat or pamrevlumab will need to be redesigned based on interim results or if we will be able to achieve sufficient patient enrollment or complete planned clinical trials on schedule.

Clinical trials can be delayed or terminated for a variety of reasons, including:

delay or failure to address any physician or patient safety concerns that arise during the course of the trial;

delay or failure to obtain required regulatory or institutional review board approval or guidance;

delay or failure to reach timely agreement on acceptable terms with prospective CROs and clinical trial sites;

delay or failure to recruit, enroll and retain patients through the completion of the trial;

patient recruitment, enrollment, or retention, or clinical site initiation or retention problems associated with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 and the resulting Coronavirus Disease (“COVID-19”) pandemic;

patient recruitment, enrollment, or retention, clinical site initiation, or retention problems associated with civil unrest or military conflicts around the world, specifically the conflict in Ukraine which could affect our clinical trials enrolling in Ukraine (currently only ZEPHYRUS-2), or other sites or trials if the conflict spreads or has effects on countries outside of Ukraine;

delay or failure to maintain clinical sites in compliance with clinical trial protocols;

delay or failure to initiate or add a sufficient number of clinical trial sites; and

delay or failure to manufacture sufficient quantities of product candidate for use in clinical trials.

In particular, identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of our clinical trials depends on the rate at which we can recruit and enroll patients in testing our product candidates. Patients may be unwilling to participate in clinical trials of our product candidates for a variety of reasons, some of which may be beyond our control, including:

severity of the disease under investigation;

availability of alternative treatments;

size and nature of the patient population;

eligibility criteria for and design of the study in question;

perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;

ability to enroll patients in clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic (particularly for IPF);

ongoing clinical trials of competitive agents;

physicians’ and patients’ perceptions of the potential advantages of our product candidates being studied in relation to available therapies or other products under development;

our CRO’s and our trial sites’ efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;

patient referral practices of physicians; and

ability to monitor patients and collect patient data adequately during and after treatment.

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If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate on-going or planned clinical trials.

In addition, we could encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the relevant institutional review boards at the sites at which such trials are being conducted, or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. A suspension or termination of clinical trials may result from any number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, changes in laws or regulations, or a principal investigator’s determination that a serious adverse event could be related to our product candidates. Any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase the costs of the trial, delay the product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence marketing and generate revenues. Any of these occurrences may materially and adversely harm our business, operations, and prospects.

Our product candidates may cause or have attributed to them undesirable side effects or have other properties that delay or prevent their regulatory approval or limit their commercial potential.

Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates or that may be identified as related to our product candidates by physician investigators conducting our clinical trials or even competing products in development that utilize a similar mechanism of action or act through a similar biological disease pathway could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other regulatory authorities and potential product liability claims. If we determine that there is a likely causal relationship between a serious adverse event and our product candidate, and such safety event is material or significant enough, it may result in:

our clinical trial development plan becoming longer and more expensive;

terminating some of our clinical trials for the product candidates or specific indications affected;

regulatory authorities increasing the data and information required to approve our product candidates and imposing other requirements; and

our collaboration partners terminating our existing agreements.

The occurrence of any or all of these events may cause the development of our product candidates to be delayed or terminated, which could materially and adversely affect our business and prospects. Refer to “Business — Overview” in this Annual Report for a discussion of the adverse events and serious adverse events that have emerged in clinical trials of roxadustat and pamrevlumab.

Clinical trials of our product candidates may not uncover all possible adverse effects that patients may experience.

Clinical trials are conducted in representative samples of the potential patient population, which may have significant variability. Clinical trials are by design based on a limited number of subjects and of limited duration for exposure to the product used to determine whether, on a potentially statistically significant basis, the planned safety and efficacy of any product candidate can be achieved. As with the results of any statistical sampling, we cannot be sure that all side effects of our product candidates may be uncovered, and it may be the case that only with a significantly larger number of patients exposed to the product candidate for a longer duration, that a more complete safety profile is identified. Further, even larger clinical trials may not identify rare serious adverse effects or the duration of such studies may not be sufficient to identify when those events may occur. There have been other products, including erythropoiesis stimulating agents (“ESAs”), for which safety concerns have been uncovered following approval by regulatory authorities. Such safety concerns have led to labeling changes or withdrawal of ESAs products from the market. While our most advanced product candidate is chemically unique from ESAs, it or any of our product candidates may be subject to known or unknown risks. Patients treated with our products, if approved, may experience adverse reactions and it is possible that the FDA or other regulatory authorities may ask for additional safety data as a condition of, or in connection with, our efforts to obtain approval of our product candidates. If safety problems occur or are identified after our product candidates reach the market, we may, or regulatory authorities may require us to amend the labeling of our products, recall our products or even withdraw approval for our products.

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If our manufacturers or we cannot properly manufacture the appropriate volume of product, we may experience delays in development, regulatory approval, launch or successful commercialization.

Completion of our clinical trials and commercialization of our products require access to, or development of, facilities to manufacture and manage our product candidates at sufficient yields, quality and at commercial scale. Although we have entered into commercial supply agreements for roxadustat and pamrevlumab, we will need to enter into additional commercial supply agreements, including for backup or second source third-party manufacturers. We may not be able to enter into these agreements with satisfactory terms or on a timely manner. In addition, we may experience delays or technical problems associated with technology transfer of manufacturing processes to any new suppliers.

We have limited experience manufacturing or managing third parties in manufacturing any of our product candidates in the volumes that are expected to be necessary to support large-scale clinical trials and sales. In addition, we have limited experience forecasting supply requirements or coordinating supply chain (including export management) for launch or commercialization, which is a complex process involving our third-party manufacturers and logistics providers, and for roxadustat, our collaboration partners. We may not be able to accurately forecast supplies for commercial launch or do so in a timely manner and our efforts to establish these manufacturing and supply chain management capabilities may not meet our requirements as to quantities, scale-up, yield, cost, potency or quality in compliance with cGMP, particularly if the marketing authorization or market uptake is more rapid than anticipated or we have an unanticipated surge in demand.

We have a limited amount of roxadustat and pamrevlumab in storage, limited capacity reserved at our third-party manufacturers, and, even if we have or are able to put sufficient supply agreements in place for our development and commercialization plan, there are long lead times required to manufacture and scale-up the manufacture of additional supply, as required for both late-stage clinical trials, post-approval trials, and commercial supply. In addition, if we are not able to obtain regulatory approval of roxadustat in the U.S. in CKD anemia, we may have excess supply manufactured in anticipation of commercialization. Such roxadustat excess supply could be wasted, for example, if it expires prior to being used in other clinical trials or prior to being used in other territories where such roxadustat formulation is approved. If we are unable to forecast, order or manufacture sufficient quantities of roxadustat or pamrevlumab on a timely basis, it may delay our development, launch or commercialization in some or all indications we are currently pursuing. Insufficient supply could be a particular risk if we were to obtain regulatory approval of pamrevlumab in all indications being studied (IPF, LAPC, metastatic pancreatic cancer, and DMD). Any delay or interruption in the supply of our product candidates or products could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.

Our commercial drug product and the product we use for clinical trials must be produced under applicable cGMP regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations by us or our third-party manufacturers may require us to recall commercial product or repeat clinical trials, which would impact sales revenue and/or delay the regulatory approval process.

We may add or change manufacturers for our products. We, our partners, or regulatory authorities may also request or make changes to our manufacturing processes or to our product or packaging specifications, including in order to accommodate changes in regulations, manufacturing equipment or to account for different processes at new or second source suppliers. If any such changes are made with respect to roxadustat or pamrevlumab we may need to demonstrate comparability to the products and processes already approved or in approval by various regulatory authorities, including potentially through the conduct of additional clinical trials. Even if we do demonstrate comparability, a regulatory agency could challenge that result which could delay our development or commercialization progress. Any such changes could also lead to product having an earlier expiration date, shorter shelf life, or failing to meet specifications. Any of these occurrences may materially impact our operations and potential profitability.

We, and even an experienced third-party manufacturer, may encounter difficulties in production. Difficulties may include:

costs and challenges associated with scale-up and attaining sufficient manufacturing yields, in particular for biologic products such as pamrevlumab, which is a monoclonal antibody;

contracting with additional suppliers and validation/qualification of additional facilities to meet growing demand;

supply chain issues, including coordination of multiple contractors in our supply chain and securing necessary licenses (such as export licenses);

the timely availability and shelf life requirements of raw materials and supplies, including delays in availability due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

limited stability and product shelf life;

equipment maintenance issues or failure;

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quality control and quality assurance issues;

shortages of qualified personnel and capital required to manufacture large quantities of product;

compliance with regulatory requirements that vary in each country where a product might be sold;

capacity or forecasting limitations and scheduling availability in contracted facilities;

natural disasters, such as pandemics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, floods, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and droughts, or accidents such as fire, that affect facilities, possibly limit or postpone production, and increase costs; and

failure to obtain license to proprietary starting materials.

Regulatory authorities will do their own benefit risk analysis and may reach a different conclusion than we or our partners have, and these regulatory authorities may base their approval decision on different analyses, data, and statistical methods than ours.

Even if we believe we have achieved positive clinical results, such as superiority or non-inferiority, in certain endpoints, populations or sub-populations, or using certain statistical methods of analysis, the FDA and European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) will each conduct their own benefit-risk analysis and may reach different conclusions, using different statistical methods, different endpoints or definitions thereof, or different patient populations or sub-populations. Furthermore, while we may seek regulatory advice or agreement in key commercial markets prior to and after application for marketing authorization, regulatory authorities may change their approvability criteria based on the data, their internal analyses and external factors, including discussions with expert advisors. For example, while we have received approval of our marketing authorization applications for roxadustat in the European Union, Great Britain, China, Japan, South Korea, and Chile for CKD anemia for patients on dialysis and not on dialysis, we received a CRL in the U.S. from the FDA. Regulatory authorities may approve one of our product candidates for fewer or more limited indications than we request or may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-approval clinical trials. While we have and will present to regulatory authorities certain pre-specified and post hoc (not pre-specified) sub-populations, sub-group, and sensitivity analyses (for example, incident dialysis), multiple secondary endpoints, and multiple sets of stratification factors and analytical methods (such as long-term follow up analyses), including adjusted and censored data, regulatory authorities may reject these analyses, methods, or even parts of our trial design or certain data from our studies, the rationale for our pre-specified non-inferiority margins or other portions of our statistical analysis plans. In addition, even if we are able to provide positive data with respect to certain analyses, regulatory authorities may not include such claims on any approved labeling. The failure to obtain regulatory approval, or any label, population or other approval limitations in any jurisdiction, may significantly limit or delay our ability to generate revenues, and any failure to obtain such approval for all of the indications and labeling claims we deem desirable could reduce our potential revenue.

Even if we are able to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, the label we obtain may limit the indicated uses for which our product candidates may be marketed.

With respect to roxadustat, regulatory approvals obtained, could limit the approved indicated uses for which roxadustat may be marketed. For example, our label approved in Japan, includes the following warning: “Serious thromboembolism such as cerebral infarction, myocardial infarction, and pulmonary embolism may occur, possibly resulting in death, during treatment with roxadustat.” Additionally, in the U.S., ESAs have been subject to significant safety warnings, including the boxed warnings on their labels. The safety concerns relating to ESAs may result in labeling for roxadustat containing similar warnings. Any label for roxadustat may contain other warnings or limit the market opportunity or approved indications for roxadustat. These warnings could include warnings against exceeding specified hemoglobin targets and other warnings that derive from the safety issues associated with ESAs, even if our Phase 3 clinical trials do not themselves raise safety concerns.

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We face substantial competition in the discovery, development and commercialization of product candidates.

The development and commercialization of new pharmaceutical products is highly competitive. Our future success depends on our ability and/or the ability of our collaboration partners to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage with respect to the development and commercialization of our product candidates. Our objective is to discover, develop and commercialize new products with superior efficacy, convenience, tolerability, and safety. We expect that in many cases, the products that we commercialize will compete with existing, market-leading products of companies that have large, established commercial organizations.

Where roxadustat is approved and launched commercially, competing drugs are expected to include ESAs, particularly in those patient segments where ESAs are used. Currently available ESAs include epoetin alfa (EPOGEN®, marketed by Amgen Inc. in the U.S., Procrit® and Erypo®/Eprex®, marketed by Johnson & Johnson Inc., and Espo® marketed by Kyowa Hakko Kirin in Japan and China), darbepoetin (Amgen/Kyowa Hakko Kirin’s Aranesp® and NESP®) and Mircera® marketed by Hoffmann-La Roche (“Roche”) outside of the U.S. and by Vifor Pharma, a Roche licensee, in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as biosimilar versions of these currently marketed ESA products. ESAs have been used in the treatment of anemia in CKD for more than 30 years, serving a significant majority of dialysis CKD patients. While non-dialysis CKD patients who are not under the care of nephrologists, including those with diabetes and hypertension, do not typically receive ESAs and are often left untreated, some non-dialysis patients under nephrology or hematology care may be receiving ESA therapy. It may be difficult to encourage healthcare providers and patients to switch to roxadustat from products with which they have become familiar.

We may also face competition from potential new anemia therapies currently on the market or in clinical development, including in those patient segments not adequately addressed by ESAs. Companies that are currently developing hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase (“HIF-PH”) inhibitors for anemia in CKD indications include: GlaxoSmithKline plc (“GSK”), Bayer Corporation (“Bayer”), Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. (“Akebia”), Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Akebia’s partner in the U.S. and Europe, Japan Tobacco, and Zydus Cadila (India) (“Zydus”). In March 2021, Akebia submitted an NDA to the FDA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in patients on dialysis and not on dialysis with a Prescription Drug User Fee Act target action date of March 29, 2022. In October 2021, Otsuka Pharmaceutical submitted an initial marketing authorization application to the EMA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia associated with CKD in adults.

In July 2021, GSK announced positive topline results from five Phase 3 studies of daprodustat for non-dialysis and dialysis patients with anemia due to CKD. GSK has stated that they expect to file an NDA in the U.S. and a Marketing Authorization Application in the European Union in the first half of 2022.

In Japan, roxadustat faces the following competitive drugs being sold by the following companies for the treatment of anemia of CKD patients on and not on dialysis: vadadustat by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceutical Corporation, Akebia’s collaboration partner, daprodustat by GSK and its partner Kyowa Hakko Kirin, molidustat by Bayer, and enarodustat by Japan Tobacco (to be sold by Torii Pharmaceuticals Ltd).

In July 2020, Zydus received approval from the FDA to begin a Phase 1 study of desidustat for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced anemia, which could potentially be competitive with roxadustat within this indication.

Reblozyl® (luspatercept) was approved by the FDA in April 2020 for the treatment of anemia in adults with MDS with ring sideroblasts or myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis who need regular red blood cell transfusions and have not responded well to or cannot receive an ESA. It is the first and only erythroid maturation agent approved in the U.S., Europe, and Canada and is part of a global collaboration between Acceleron Pharma, Inc. and Bristol Myers Squibb.

In addition, we will likely face competition from other companies developing biologic therapies for the treatment of other anemia indications that we may also seek to pursue in the future. We may face competition for patient recruitment, enrollment for clinical trials, and potentially in commercial sales. There may also be new therapies for renal-related diseases that could limit the market or level of reimbursement available for roxadustat.

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In China, ESA is considered the standard of care for treatment of anemia of CKD, and locally manufactured epoetin alfa is offered by 15 local manufacturers including the market leader EPIAO that is marketed by 3SBio Inc. We may face potential competition from other HIF-PH inhibitors. Companies active in the US such as Akebia, Bayer, and GSK have been authorized by the National Medical Products Administration (“NMPA”) to conduct trials in China to support its ex-China regulatory filings. A number of domestic companies, including Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., Ltd., Guandong Sunshine Health Investment Co., Ltd., 3SBio Inc., and Hangzhou Andao Pharmaceutical Co. have been permitted by the NMPA to conduct clinical trials in their locally developed HIF-PH inhibitor investigational compounds for the treatment of anemia in CKD. Domestic companies are also in-licensing global compounds to be developed as domestic drugs, including China Medical System which in-licensed desidustat, a compound that is currently in Phase 3 trials in India, from Zydus for greater China in January 2020. In January 2021, China Medical System Holdings Ltd. was granted approval by the Chinese NMPA to begin trials for desidustat in patients with anemia of CKD, including dialysis and non-dialysis patients. Shenzhen Salubris Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a domestic company in China, has in-licensed enarodustat from Japan Tobacco and received NMPA approval in the third quarter of 2020 to initiate Phase 3 studies. We will also face competition from generics who could enter the market after expiry of our patents in China, and two potential market players have already started bioequivalence studies, including Chia Tai-Tiangqing Pharmaceutical Holdings and CSPA Pharmaceutical Group.

The first biosimilar ESA, Pfizer’s Retacrit® (epoetin zeta), entered the U.S. market in November 2018. Market penetration of Retacrit and the potential addition of other biosimilar ESAs currently under development may alter the competitive and pricing landscape of anemia therapy in CKD patients on dialysis under the end-stage renal disease bundle. The patents for Amgen’s EPOGEN® (epoetin alfa) expired in 2004 in Europe, and the final material patents in the U.S. expired in May 2015. Several biosimilar versions of currently marketed ESAs are available for sale in Europe, China and other territories. In the U.S., a few ESA biosimilars are currently under development. Sandoz, a division of Novartis, markets Binocrit® (epoetin alfa) in Europe and may file a biosimilar Biologics License Application in the U.S.

The majority of the current CKD anemia market focuses on dialysis patients, who visit dialysis centers on a regular basis, typically three times a week, and anemia therapies are administered as part of the visit. Two of the largest operators of dialysis clinics in the U.S., DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. (“DaVita”), and Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA (“Fresenius”), collectively provide dialysis care to more than 80% of U.S. dialysis patients, and therefore have historically executed long-term contracts including rebate terms with Amgen. Successful penetration in this market will likely require our partner AstraZeneca to enter into a definitive agreement with Fresenius, DaVita, or other dialysis organizations, on favorable pricing terms and on a timely basis.

If approved and launched commercially to treat IPF, pamrevlumab is expected to compete with Roche’s Esbriet® (pirfenidone), and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG’s Ofev® (nintedanib). We believe that if pamrevlumab can be shown to safely stabilize or reverse lung fibrosis, and thus stabilize or improve lung function in IPF patients, it can compete with pirfenidone and nintedanib for market share in IPF. However, it may be difficult to encourage treatment providers and patients to switch to pamrevlumab from an oral product with which they are already familiar to a product delivered via in-office infusion. Furthermore, pirfenidone and nintedanib may be produced as generics in the near future. We may also face competition from potential new IPF therapies in recruitment and enrollment in our clinical trials and potentially in commercialization.

Pamrevlumab is a monoclonal antibody that may be more expensive and less convenient than oral small molecules such as nintedanib and pirfenidone. Other potential competitive product candidates in various stages of development for IPF include Kadmon Holdings, Inc.’s KD025, Galecto’s GB0139, Liminal BioSciences’ PBI-4050, and Roche/Promedior, Inc.’s PRM-151. Roche is enrolling patients in a Phase 3 trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of PRM-151, a recombinant human pentraxin-2 (rhPTX-2), compared to placebo in patients with IPF. United Therapeutics Corporation is enrolling patients in its Phase 3 trial of treprostinil in IPF.

If pamrevlumab is approved and launched commercially to treat LAPC or metastatic pancreatic cancer, pamrevlumab may face competition from products currently used for pancreatic cancer. These include FOLFIRINOX, a combination chemotherapy regimen of folic acid, 5-fluouracil, oxaliplatin and irinotecan, and agents seeking approval in combination with gemcitibine and nab-paclitaxel from companies such as Rafael Pharma’s defactinib/CPI-613 and Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s istiratumab. Gemcitabine and/or nab-paclitaxel are the current standard of care in the first-line treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

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If approved and launched commercially to treat DMD, pamrevlumab is expected to face competition from drugs that have been approved in major markets such as the U.S., European Union, and Japan. On September 19, 2016, the FDA approved Sarepta Therapeutics Inc.’s (“Sarepta”) Exondys 51TM (eteplirsen). Exondys 51 is approved to treat patients who have a mutation of the dystrophin gene amenable to exon 51 skipping, representing approximately 13% of patients with DMD. In Europe, Sarepta received a negative opinion for its marketing application for eteplirsen from the EMA in September 2018. Sarepta’s Vyondys 53TM (golodirsen) was approved by the FDA in December 2019 for patients with a confirmed genetic mutation that is amenable to exon 53 skipping, which accounts for approximately 8% of the DMD population. Sarepta’s Amondys 45™ (casimersen) was approved by the FDA in February 2021 for patients with a confirmed genetic mutation that is amenable to exon 45 skipping, which accounts for approximately 8% of the DMD population.

PTC Therapeutics’ product TranslarnaTM received a conditional approval in Europe in 2014, which was renewed in November 2016 with a request for a new randomized placebo-controlled 18-month study by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the EMA; however, the FDA informed the sponsor in a CRL in October 2017, as well as in its response to PTC Therapeutics’ appeal, that the FDA is unable to approve the application in its current form. An additional Phase 3 study is currently ongoing. While Translarna TM targets a different set of DMD patients from those targeted by Sarepta’s Exondys 51®, it is also limited to a subset of patients who carry a specific mutation. Conversely, pamrevlumab is intended to treat DMD patients without limitation to type of mutation.

Pamrevlumab may also face competition from other drugs currently in clinical development in patient recruiting and enrollment in clinical trials, and, if approved, in commercialization. Examples of those compounds currently under clinical development are the drug candidates from Pfizer, Pliant, Galecto, and Sarepta. Pfizer initiated a Phase 3 study with PF-06939926, its AAV9 mini-dystrophin gene therapy for DMD in February 2020.

The success of any or all of these potential competitive products may negatively impact the development and potential for success of pamrevlumab. In addition, any competitive products that are on the market or in development may compete with pamrevlumab for patient recruitment and enrollment for clinical trials or may force us to change our clinical trial design, including, in order to compare pamrevlumab against another drug, which may be the new standard of care.

Moreover, many of our competitors have significantly greater resources than we do. Large pharmaceutical companies, in particular, have extensive experience in clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals, recruiting patients, manufacturing pharmaceutical products, and commercialization. In the potential anemia market for roxadustat, for example, large and established companies such as Amgen and Roche, among others, compete aggressively to maintain their market shares. In particular, the currently marketed ESA products are supported by large pharmaceutical companies that have greater experience and expertise in commercialization in the anemia market, including in securing reimbursement, government contracts and relationships with key opinion leaders; conducting testing and clinical trials; obtaining and maintaining regulatory approvals and distribution relationships to market products; and marketing approved products. These companies also have significantly greater scale, research and marketing capabilities than we do and may also have products that have been approved or are in later stages of development and have collaboration agreements in our target markets with leading dialysis companies and research institutions. If our collaboration partners and we are not able to compete effectively against existing and potential competitors, our business and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

Our product candidates may not achieve adequate market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payors, and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.

Even if our product candidates receive regulatory approval, they may not gain adequate market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payors, and others in the medical community. Demonstrating safety and efficacy of our product candidates and obtaining regulatory approvals will not guarantee future revenue. The degree of market acceptance of any of our approved product candidates will depend on several factors, including:

the efficacy of the product candidate as demonstrated in clinical trials;

the safety profile and perceptions of safety of our product candidates relative to competitive products;

acceptance of the product candidate as a safe and effective treatment by healthcare providers and patients;

the clinical indications for which the product candidate is approved;

the potential and perceived advantages of the product candidate over alternative treatments, including any similar generic treatments;

the inclusion or exclusion of the product candidate from treatment guidelines established by various physician groups and the viewpoints of influential physicians with respect to the product candidate;

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the cost of the product candidate relative to alternative treatments;

adequate pricing and reimbursement by third parties and government authorities as described below;

the relative convenience and ease of administration;

the frequency and severity of adverse events;

the effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts; and

any unfavorable publicity relating to the product candidate.

In addition, see the risk factor titled “Our product candidates may cause or have attributed to them undesirable side effects or have other properties that delay or prevent their regulatory approval or limit their commercial potential” above. If any product candidate is approved but does not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by such parties, we may not generate or derive sufficient revenue from that product candidate and may not become or remain profitable.

No or limited reimbursement or insurance coverage of our approved products, if any, by third-party payors may render our products less attractive to patients and healthcare providers.

Market acceptance and sales of any approved products will depend significantly on reimbursement or coverage of our products by government or third-party payors and may be affected by existing and future healthcare reform measures or prices of related products for which the government or third-party reimbursement applies. Coverage and reimbursement by the government or a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including the payor’s determination that use of a product is:

a covered benefit under applicable health plan;

safe, effective and medically necessary;

appropriate for the specific patient;

cost-effective; and

neither experimental nor investigational.

Obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval for a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time consuming and costly process that could require us to provide supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our products to the payor, which we may not be able to provide. Furthermore, the reimbursement policies of governments and third-party payors may significantly change in a manner that renders our clinical data insufficient for adequate reimbursement or otherwise limits the successful marketing of our products. Even if we obtain coverage for our product candidates, the pricing may be subject to re-negotiations or third-party payors may not establish adequate reimbursement amounts, which may reduce the demand for, or the price of, our products. For example, our current National Reimbursement Drug List reimbursement pricing for China is effective for a standard two-year period (between January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023), after which time we will have to renegotiate a new price for roxadustat.

Reference pricing is used by various Europe member states and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. In some countries, our partner or we may be required to conduct a clinical trial or other studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of our product candidates to other available products in order to obtain or maintain reimbursement or pricing approval. Publication of discounts by third-party payors or authorities may lead to further pressure on the prices or reimbursement levels within the country of publication and other countries. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unacceptable levels, our partner or we may elect not to commercialize our products in such countries, and our business and financial condition could be adversely affected.

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Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties

If our collaborations were terminated or if Astellas or AstraZeneca were to prioritize other initiatives over their collaborations with us, our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates would suffer.

We have entered into collaboration agreements with respect to the development and commercialization of our lead product candidate, roxadustat, with Astellas and AstraZeneca. These agreements provide for reimbursement of our development costs by our collaboration partners and also provide for commercialization of roxadustat throughout the major territories of the world.

Our agreements with Astellas and AstraZeneca provide each of them with the right to terminate their respective agreements with us, upon the occurrence of negative clinical results, delays in the development and commercialization of our product candidates or adverse regulatory requirements or guidance. In addition, each of those agreements provides our respective partners the right to terminate any of those agreements upon written notice for convenience. The termination of any of our collaboration agreements would require us to fund and perform the further development and commercialization of roxadustat in the affected territory, or pursue another collaboration, which we may be unable to do, either of which could have an adverse effect on our business and operations. Moreover, if Astellas or AstraZeneca, or any successor entity, were to determine that their collaborations with us are no longer a strategic priority, or if either of them or a successor were to reduce their level of commitment to their collaborations with us, our ability to develop and commercialize roxadustat could suffer. As a result of the CRL we received for roxadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients in the U.S., we are currently in discussions with AstraZeneca to determine a potential path forward for the development of roxadustat in the U.S., and there is an increased possibility that our Collaboration Agreement with AstraZeneca could be amended or terminated. We and our partner, AstraZeneca, met with the FDA and discussed the design of an additional trial in CKD anemia. We continue to discuss the possible development options in the U.S. with AstraZeneca and the FDA. In addition, our collaborations are exclusive and preclude us from entering into additional collaboration agreements with other parties in the area or field of exclusivity.

If we do not establish and maintain strategic collaborations related to our product candidates, we will bear all of the risk and costs related to the development and commercialization of any such product candidate, and we may need to seek additional financing, hire additional employees and otherwise develop expertise at significant cost. This in turn may negatively affect the development of our other product candidates as we direct resources to our most advanced product candidates.

Our collaboration partners also have certain rights to control decisions regarding the development and commercialization of our product candidates with respect to which they are providing funding. If we have a disagreement over strategy and activities with our collaboration partners, our plans for obtaining regulatory approval may be revised and negatively affect the anticipated timing and potential for success of our product candidates. Even if a product under a collaboration agreement receives regulatory approval, we will remain substantially dependent on the commercialization strategy and efforts of our collaboration partners, and our collaboration partners have limited or no experience in commercialization of an anemia drug. If our collaboration partners are unsuccessful in their commercialization efforts, our results will be negatively affected.

With respect to our collaboration agreements for roxadustat, there are additional complexities in that our collaboration partners, Astellas and AstraZeneca, and we must reach consensus on certain portions of our development programs and regulatory activities. In addition, there are aspects of commercial operations that require cooperation among the collaboration partners, including safety data reporting. Multi-party decision-making is complex and involves significant time and effort, and there can be no assurance that the parties will cooperate or reach consensus, or that one or both of our partners will not ask to proceed independently in some or all of their respective territories or functional areas of responsibility in which the applicable collaboration partner would otherwise be obligated to cooperate with us. Any disputes or lack of cooperation with us by either Astellas or AstraZeneca, or both, may negatively impact the timing or success of our regulatory approval applications.

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We may conduct proprietary research programs in specific disease areas that are not covered by our collaboration agreements. Our pursuit of such opportunities could, however, result in conflicts with our collaboration partners in the event that any of our collaboration partners takes the position that our internal activities overlap with those areas that are exclusive to our collaboration agreements. Moreover, disagreements with our collaboration partners could develop over rights to our intellectual property, including the enforcement of those rights. In addition, our collaboration agreements may have provisions that give rise to disputes regarding the rights and obligations of the parties. Any conflict with our collaboration partners could lead to the termination of our collaboration agreements, delay collaborative activities, reduce our ability to renew agreements or obtain future collaboration agreements or result in litigation or arbitration and would negatively impact our relationship with existing collaboration partners, and could impact our commercial results.

Certain of our collaboration partners could also become our competitors in the future. If our collaboration partners develop competing products, fail to obtain necessary regulatory approvals, terminate their agreements with us prematurely or fail to devote sufficient resources to the development and commercialization of our product candidates, the development and commercialization of our product candidates and products could be delayed.

If our preclinical and clinical trial contractors do not properly perform their agreed upon obligations, we may not be able to obtain or may be delayed in receiving regulatory approvals for our product candidates.

We rely heavily on university, hospital, dialysis centers and other institutions and third parties, including the principal investigators and their staff, to carry out our clinical trials in accordance with our clinical protocols and designs. We also rely on a number of third-party CROs to assist in undertaking, managing, monitoring and executing our ongoing clinical trials, including those for roxadustat. We expect to continue to rely on CROs, clinical data management organizations, medical institutions and clinical investigators to conduct our development efforts in the future, including our continued development of roxadustat. We compete with many other companies for the resources of these third parties, and large pharmaceutical companies often have significantly more extensive agreements and relationships with such third-party providers, and such third-party providers may prioritize the requirements of such large pharmaceutical companies over ours. The third parties on whom we rely may terminate their engagements with us at any time, which may cause delay in the development and commercialization of our product candidates. If any such third party terminates its engagement with us or fails to perform as agreed, we may be required to enter into alternative arrangements, which would result in significant cost and delay to our product development program. Moreover, our agreements with such third parties generally do not provide assurances regarding employee turnover and availability, which may cause interruptions in the research on our product candidates by such third parties.

Moreover, while our reliance on these third parties for certain development and management activities will reduce our control over these activities, it will not relieve us of our responsibilities. For example, the FDA and foreign regulatory authorities require compliance with regulations and standards, including GCP requirements for designing, conducting, monitoring, recording, analyzing and reporting the results of clinical trials to ensure that the data and results from trials are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of trial participants are protected. Although we rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials, we, as the sponsor, remain responsible for ensuring that each of these clinical trials is conducted in accordance with its general investigational plan and protocol under legal and regulatory requirements, including GCP. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites.

If any of our CROs, trial sites, principal investigators or other third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, other regulations, trial protocol or other requirements under their agreements with us, the quality or accuracy of the data they obtain may be compromised or unreliable, and the trials of our product candidates may not meet regulatory requirements. If trials do not meet regulatory requirements or if these third parties need to be replaced, the development of our product candidates may be delayed, suspended or terminated, regulatory authorities may require us to exclude the use of patient data from our approval applications or perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. Regulatory authorities may even reject our application for approval or refuse to accept our future applications for an extended period of time. We cannot assure that upon inspection by a regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with GCP requirements or that our results may be used in support of our regulatory submissions. If any of these events occur, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates on a timely basis, at a reasonable cost, or at all.

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We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct many aspects of our product manufacturing and distribution, and these third parties may terminate these agreements or not perform satisfactorily.

We do not have operating manufacturing facilities at this time other than our roxadustat manufacturing facilities in China, and our current commercial manufacturing plants in China are not expected to satisfy the requirements necessary to support development and commercialization outside of China. Other than in and for China specifically, we do not expect to independently manufacture our products. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to scale-up, manufacture and supply roxadustat and our other product candidates outside of China. We rely on third parties for distribution, including our collaboration partners and their vendors, except in China where we have established a jointly owned entity with AstraZeneca to manage most of the distribution in China. Risks arising from our reliance on third-party manufacturers include:

reduced control and additional burdens of oversight as a result of using third-party manufacturers and distributors for all aspects of manufacturing activities, including regulatory compliance and quality control and quality assurance;

termination of manufacturing agreements, termination fees associated with such termination, or nonrenewal of manufacturing agreements with third parties may negatively impact our planned development and commercialization activities;

the possible misappropriation of our proprietary technology, including our trade secrets and know-how; and

disruptions to the operations of our third-party manufacturers, distributors or suppliers unrelated to our product, including the merger, acquisition, or bankruptcy of a manufacturer or supplier or a catastrophic event, including disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting our manufacturers, distributors or suppliers.

Any of these events could lead to development delays or failure to obtain regulatory approval or affect our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates. Some of these events could be the basis for action by the FDA or another regulatory authority, including injunction, recall, seizure or total or partial suspension of production.

The facilities used by our contract manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates must pass inspections by the FDA and other regulatory authorities. Although, except for China, we do not control the manufacturing operations of, and expect to remain completely dependent on, our contract manufacturers for manufacture of drug substance and finished drug product, we are ultimately responsible for ensuring that our product candidates are manufactured in compliance with cGMP requirements. If our contract manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our or our collaboration partners’ specifications, or the regulatory requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, we may not be able to secure and/or maintain regulatory approval for our product candidates and our development or commercialization plans may be delayed. In addition, we have limited control over the ability of our contract manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. In addition, although our longer-term agreements are expected to provide for requirements to meet our quantity and quality requirements to manufacture our products candidates for clinical studies and commercial sale, we will have minimal direct control over the ability of our contract manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel and we expect to rely on our audit rights to ensure that those qualifications are maintained to meet our requirements. If our contract manufacturers’ facilities do not pass inspection by regulatory authorities, or if regulatory authorities do not approve these facilities for the manufacture of our products, or withdraw any such approval in the future, we would need to identify and qualify alternative manufacturing facilities, which would significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for or market our products, if approved. Moreover, any failure of our third-party manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us or adverse regulatory consequences, including clinical holds, warnings or untitled letters, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of product candidates or products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which would be expected to significantly and adversely affect supplies of our products to us and our collaboration partners.

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We have a letter agreement with IRIX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“IRIX”), a third-party manufacturer that we have used in the past, pursuant to which we agreed to negotiate a single source manufacturing agreement that included a right of first negotiation for the cGMP manufacture of HIF-PH inhibitors, including roxadustat, provided that IRIX is able to match any third-party bids within 5%. The exclusive right to manufacture extends for five years after approval of an NDA for those compounds, and any agreement would provide that no minimum amounts would be specified until appropriate by forecast and that we and a commercialization partner would have the rights to contract with independent third parties that exceed IRIX’s internal manufacturing capabilities or in the event that we or our commercialization partner determines for reasons of continuity of supply and security that such a need exists, provided that IRIX would supply no less than 65% of the product if it is able to provide this level of supply. Subsequent to the letter agreement, IRIX and we have entered into several additional service agreements. IRIX has requested in writing that we honor the letter agreement with respect to the single source manufacturing agreement, and if we were to enter into any such exclusive manufacturing agreement, there can be no assurance that IRIX will not assert a claim for right to manufacture roxadustat or that IRIX could manufacture roxadustat successfully and in accordance with applicable regulations for a commercial product and the specifications of our collaboration partners. In 2015, Patheon Pharmaceuticals Inc., a business unit of DPx Holdings B.V., acquired IRIX, and in 2017, ThermoFisher Scientific Inc. acquired Patheon Pharmaceuticals Inc.

If any third-party manufacturer terminates its engagement with us or fails to perform as agreed, we may be required to find replacement manufacturers, which would result in significant cost and delay to our development programs. Although we believe that there are several potential alternative manufacturers who could manufacture our product candidates, we may incur significant delays and added costs in identifying, qualifying and contracting with any such third party or potential second source manufacturer. In any event, with any third-party manufacturer we expect to enter into technical transfer agreements and share our know-how with the third-party manufacturer, which can be time-consuming and may result in delays. These delays could result in a suspension or delay of marketing roxadustat.

We may experience delays or technical problems associated with technology transfer, scale-up, or validation of our biologics manufacturing.

We have entered into an initial commercial supply agreement for the manufacture of pamrevlumab with Samsung Biologics Co., Ltd. (“Samsung”) and are transitioning our manufacturing of pamrevlumab from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG to Samsung. However, we may experience delays or technical problems associated with:

technology transfer of the manufacturing process to Samsung;

scale-up and production of cGMP batches;

analytical method validation and transfer to Samsung;

process validation, including process characterization and process performance qualification batches; and

set up and execution of appropriate stability studies.

We have made certain manufacturing commitments to Samsung, and there is a contractual risk we will not require the quantities of pamrevlumab we have committed to, particularly if we cease some of our pamrevlumab clinical trials. In addition, our product candidates and any products that we may develop may compete with other product candidates and products for access and prioritization to manufacture. Certain third-party manufacturers may be contractually prohibited from manufacturing our product due to non-compete agreements with our competitors or a commitment to grant another party priority relative to our products. There are a limited number of third-party manufacturers that operate under cGMP and that might be capable of manufacturing to meet our requirements. Due to the limited number of third-party manufacturers with the contractual freedom, expertise, required regulatory approvals and facilities to manufacture our products on a commercial scale, identifying and qualifying a replacement third-party manufacturer would be expensive and time-consuming and may cause delay or interruptions in the production of our product candidates or products, which in turn may delay, prevent or impair our development and commercialization efforts.

We also carry the risk that if all three indications are successful, the commercial demand may exceed planned production supply at Samsung. In this event, it may be necessary to find third party manufacturers who have the capacity and capability to produce the required quantities of pamrevlumab. This may be subject to availability of such manufacturers since there are only a limited number of suppliers who have the larger scale bioreactors that are needed for commercial pamrevlumab supply. If we need to find a supplier in China, there may be additional delays in importing custom raw materials and supplements into China.

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Certain components of our products are acquired from single-source suppliers or without long-term supply agreements. The loss of these suppliers, or their failure to supply, would materially and adversely affect our business.

We do not have an alternative supplier of certain components of our product candidates. We may be unable to enter into long-term commercial supply arrangements for some of our products, or do so on commercially reasonable terms, which could have a material adverse impact upon our business. In addition, we currently rely on our contract manufacturers to purchase from third-party suppliers some of the materials necessary to produce our product candidates. We do not have direct control over the acquisition of those materials by our contract manufacturers.

The logistics of our supply chain, which include shipment of materials and intermediates from countries such as China and India add additional time and risk (including risk of loss) to the manufacture of our product candidates. While we have in the past maintained sufficient inventory of materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients (“API”), and drug product to meet our and our collaboration partners’ needs to date, the lead-time and regulatory approvals required to source from and into countries outside of the U.S. increase the risk of delay and potential shortages of supply.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If our efforts to protect our proprietary technologies are not adequate, we may not be able to compete effectively in our market.

We rely upon a combination of patents, trade secret protection, and contractual arrangements to protect the intellectual property related to our technologies. We will only be able to protect our products and proprietary information and technology to the extent that our patents, trade secrets, contractual position, and governmental regulations and laws allow us to do so. Any unauthorized use or disclosure of proprietary information or technology could compromise our competitive position. Moreover, we are, have been, and may in the future be involved in legal proceedings involving our intellectual property and initiated by third parties, which proceedings can be associated with significant costs and commitment of management time and attention.

We have in the past been involved in, and may in the future be involved in initiating legal or administrative proceedings involving the product candidates and intellectual property of our competitors. These proceedings can result in significant costs and commitment of management time and attention, and there can be no assurance that our efforts would be successful in preventing or limiting the ability of our competitors to market competing products.

Composition-of-matter patents are generally considered the strongest form of intellectual property protection for pharmaceutical products, as such, patents provide protection not limited to any one method of use. Method-of-use patents protect the use of a product for the specified method(s), and do not prevent a competitor from making and marketing a product that is identical to our product for an indication that is outside the scope of the patented method. We rely on a combination of these and other types of patents to protect our product candidates, and there can be no assurance that our intellectual property will create and sustain the competitive position of our product candidates.

Biotechnology and pharmaceutical product patents involve highly complex legal and scientific questions and can be uncertain. Any patent applications that we own or license may fail to result in issued patents. Even if patents do successfully issue from our applications, third parties may challenge their validity or enforceability, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated, or held unenforceable. Even if our patents and patent applications are not challenged by third parties, those patents and patent applications may not prevent others from designing around our claims and may not otherwise adequately protect our product candidates. If the breadth or strength of protection provided by the patents and patent applications we hold with respect to our product candidates is threatened, competitors with significantly greater resources could threaten our ability to commercialize our product candidates. Discoveries are generally published in the scientific literature well after their actual development, and patent applications in the U.S. and other countries are typically not published until 18 months after their filing, and in some cases are never published. Therefore, we cannot be certain that our licensors or we were the first to make the inventions claimed in our owned and licensed patents or patent applications, or that our licensors or we were the first to file for patent protection covering such inventions. Subject to meeting other requirements for patentability, for U.S. patent applications filed prior to March 16, 2013, the first to invent the claimed invention is entitled to receive patent protection for that invention while, outside the U.S., the first to file a patent application encompassing the invention is entitled to patent protection for the invention. The U.S. moved to a “first to file” system under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, effective March 16, 2013. This system also includes procedures for challenging issued patents and pending patent applications, which creates additional uncertainty. We have, are, and may again become involved in opposition or interference proceedings challenging our patents and patent applications or the patents and patent applications of others, and the outcome of any such proceedings are highly uncertain. An unfavorable outcome in any such proceedings could reduce the scope of or invalidate our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology and compete directly with us, or result in our inability to manufacture, develop or commercialize our product candidates without infringing the patent rights of others.

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In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we seek to rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect proprietary know-how, information, or technology that is not covered by our patents. Although our agreements require all of our employees to acknowledge ownership by us of inventions conceived as a result of employment from the point of conception and, to the extent necessary, perfect such ownership by assignment, and we require all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any third parties who have access to our trade secrets, proprietary know-how and other confidential information and technology to enter into appropriate confidentiality agreements, we cannot be certain that our trade secrets, proprietary know-how and other confidential information and technology will not be subject to unauthorized disclosure, use, or misappropriation or that our competitors will not otherwise gain access to or independently develop substantially equivalent trade secrets, proprietary know-how and other information and technology. Furthermore, the laws of some foreign countries, in particular, China, where we have operations, do not protect proprietary rights to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the U.S. As a result, we may encounter significant problems in protecting and defending our intellectual property globally. If we are unable to prevent unauthorized disclosure of our intellectual property related to our product candidates and technology to third parties, we may not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, which could materially and adversely affect our business and operations.

Intellectual property disputes may be costly, time consuming, and may negatively affect our competitive position.

Our commercial success may depend on our avoiding infringement of the patents and other proprietary rights of third parties as well as on enforcing our patents and other proprietary rights against third parties. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology intellectual property disputes are characterized by complex, lengthy and expensive litigation over patents and other intellectual property rights. We have initiated and may again initiate or become party to or be threatened with future litigation or other proceedings regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates and competing products.

As our product candidates progress toward commercialization, our collaboration partners or we may be subject to patent infringement claims from third parties. We attempt to ensure that our product candidates do not infringe third-party patents and other proprietary rights. However, the patent landscape in competitive product areas is highly complex, and there may be patents of third parties of which we are unaware that may result in claims of infringement. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that our product candidates do not infringe proprietary rights of third parties, and parties making claims against us may seek and obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could potentially block further efforts to develop and commercialize our product candidates including roxadustat or pamrevlumab. Any litigation involving defense against claims of infringement, regardless of the merit of such claims, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of management time.

We may consider administrative proceedings and other means for challenging third-party patents and patent applications. An unfavorable outcome in any such challenge could require us to cease using the related technology and to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing third party, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all, in which case our business could be harmed.

We intend, if necessary, to vigorously enforce our intellectual property in order to protect the proprietary position of our product candidates, including roxadustat and pamrevlumab. In addition, our collaboration partners who have been granted licenses to our patents may also have rights related to enforcement of those patents. Active efforts to enforce our patents by us or by our partners may include litigation, administrative proceedings, or both, depending on the potential benefits that might be available from those actions and the costs associated with undertaking those efforts against third parties. We carefully review and monitor publicly available information regarding products that may be competitive with our product candidates and assert our intellectual property rights where appropriate.

Third parties have challenged and may again challenge our patents and patent applications. For example, various challenges against our HIF anemia-related technologies patent portfolio are ongoing in several territories including the U.S., Europe, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Regardless of final outcome, the potential narrowing or revocation of any of the HIF anemia-related technology patents does not affect our exclusivity for roxadustat or our freedom-to-operate with respect to use of roxadustat for the treatment of anemia in these or other territories.

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Oppositions were filed against our European Patent No. 2872488 (the “`488 Patent”), which claims a crystalline form of roxadustat, and against our European Patent No. 3003284 (the “`284 Patent”), which claims photostable formulations of roxadustat. In its Written Decision of November 2021, the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office found that the claims of the ‘488 patent did not meet the grounds for novelty. FibroGen has appealed this decision. Final resolution of the opposition proceedings will take time, and we cannot be assured that the `488 Patent or `284 Patents will ultimately survive such proceedings as originally granted or at all.

Furthermore, there is a risk that any public announcements concerning the status or outcomes of intellectual property litigation or administrative proceedings may adversely affect the price of our stock. If securities analysts or our investors interpret such status or outcomes as negative or otherwise creating uncertainty, our common stock price may be adversely affected.

Our reliance on third parties and agreements with collaboration partners requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor may discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.

Our reliance on third-party contractors to develop and manufacture our product candidates is based upon agreements that limit the rights of the third parties to use or disclose our confidential information, including our trade secrets and know-how. Despite the contractual provisions, the need to share trade secrets and other confidential information increases the risk that such trade secrets and information are disclosed or used, even if unintentionally, in violation of these agreements. In the highly competitive markets in which our product candidates are expected to compete, protecting our trade secrets, including our strategies for addressing competing products, is imperative, and any unauthorized use or disclosure could impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.

In addition, our collaboration partners are larger, more complex organizations than ours, and the risk of inadvertent disclosure of our proprietary information may be increased despite their internal procedures and contractual obligations that we have in place with them. Despite our efforts to protect our trade secrets and other confidential information, a competitor’s discovery of such trade secrets and information could impair our competitive position and have an adverse impact on our business.

The cost of maintaining our patent protection is high and requires continuous review and diligence. We may not be able to effectively maintain our intellectual property position throughout the major markets of the world.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and foreign patent authorities require maintenance fees and payments as well as continued compliance with a number of procedural and documentary requirements. Noncompliance may result in abandonment or lapse of the subject patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Non-compliance may result in reduced royalty payments for lack of patent coverage in a particular jurisdiction from our collaboration partners or may result in competition, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We have made, and will continue to make, certain strategic decisions in balancing costs and the potential protection afforded by the patent laws of certain countries. As a result, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries throughout the world, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the U.S. or other countries. Third parties may use our technologies in territories in which we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and, further, may infringe our patents in territories which provide inadequate enforcement mechanisms, even if we have patent protection. Such third-party products may compete with our product candidates, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.

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The laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights to the same extent as do the laws of the U.S., and we may encounter significant problems in securing and defending our intellectual property rights outside the U.S.

Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in certain countries. The legal systems of certain countries do not always favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets, and other intellectual property rights, particularly those relating to pharmaceutical and biotechnology products, which could make it difficult for us to stop infringement of our patents, misappropriation of our trade secrets, or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights. In China, our intended establishment of significant operations will depend in substantial part on our ability to effectively enforce our intellectual property rights in that country. Proceedings to enforce our intellectual property rights in foreign countries could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, and could put our patents in these territories at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, or our patent applications at risk of not being granted, and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in all legal or other proceedings that we may initiate and, if we were to prevail, the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.

Intellectual property rights do not address all potential threats to any competitive advantage we may have.

The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and intellectual property rights may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. The following examples are illustrative:

Others may be able to make compounds that are the same as or similar to our current or future product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or have exclusively licensed.

We or any of our licensors or strategic partners might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patent or pending patent application that we own or have exclusively licensed.

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

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

The prosecution of our pending patent applications may not result in granted patents.

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