Risks related to product development and regulatory approval
We operate adequate standard operating procedures to secure the integrity and protection of our research and development activities and results, and the optimum allocation of our R&D budgets. The progress of the most important research and development programs is continuously monitored by our Executive Committee; they are discussed with the Board of Directors at least once per quarter, and the members of our Board of Directors with expertise in clinical and scientific matters occasionally attend meetings with our scientific staff to discuss and assess such programs. Nevertheless, due to our limited resources and access to capital, we must and have in the past and during financial year 2022 decided to prioritize development of certain product candidates; these decisions may prove to have been wrong and may adversely affect our business.
We are heavily dependent on the success of filgotinib. We are also dependent on the success of our other product candidates, such as GLPG3667, GLPG5101, GLPG5201 and GLPG5301. During 2022, we shifted from novel target-based discovery to patient-focused medical need research and development with a focus on our key therapeutic areas of immunology and oncology. Filgotinib is approved for use in RA and UC in the European Union, Great Britain and Japan. In addition, we are heavily investing in our early-stage product candidate pipeline, including our SIK early-stage compounds, and these drug candidates must undergo rigorous preclinical and clinical testing, the results of which are uncertain and could substantially delay or prevent the drug candidates from reaching the market. Through the acquisitions of CellPoint and AboundBio, we gained access to innovative, scalable, decentralized and automated point-of-care cell therapy supply model as well as a fully human antibody-based therapeutics platform. We are heavily investing in building our therapeutic area of oncology, whereby cell therapies are novel, complex, and difficult to manufacture and require rigorous preclinical and clinical testing, the results of which are uncertain.
We cannot give any assurance that any product candidate will successfully complete clinical trials or receive regulatory approval, which is necessary before it can be commercialized.
Our business and future success is substantially dependent on our ability to develop successfully, obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize our product filgotinib and our other product candidates. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our product candidates before we receive regulatory approval from the FDA, the EMA, the MHRA, the MHLW or any other comparable regulatory authority, and we may never receive such regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. We cannot give any assurances that our clinical trials for filgotinib or our other product candidates, including our CD19 CAR-T product candidates, will be completed in a timely manner, or at all. If filgotinib or any other product candidate is not approved and commercialized in certain jurisdictions, we will not be able to generate any product revenues for that product candidate.
The regulatory approval processes of the FDA, the EMA, the MHRA, the MHLW and other comparable regulatory authorities are lengthy, time consuming and inherently unpredictable, and if we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our business, including its financial condition, will be substantially harmed.
Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Results of earlier studies and trials as well as data from any interim analysis of ongoing clinical trials may not be predictive of future trial results, and failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of our product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates will be delayed. If filgotinib or any of our product candidates are found to be unsafe or have a lack of efficacy, we will not be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval for it and our business would be materially harmed.
The rates at which we complete our scientific studies and clinical trials depend on many factors, including, but not limited to, patient enrollment. Patient enrollment is a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials and is affected by many factors including competing clinical trials, clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the drug being studied in relation to other available therapies and the relatively limited number of patients. Any of these occurrences may harm our clinical trials and by extension, our business, financial condition and prospects.
Our product candidates may cause undesirable or unacceptable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.
Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA, the EMA, the MHRA, the MHLW or other comparable regulatory authorities. The drug-related side effects could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly and may adversely impact the viability of our other product candidates or preclinical programs.
In animal toxicology studies in the preclinical phase, filgotinib at an exposure dose above the approved dose in humans induced adverse effects on semen parameters. As a result, filgotinib may have a labeling statement warning for male patients. Adjacent to the filgotinib Phase 3 programs, we and Gilead were conducting dedicated male semen analysis studies in CD and UC patients (MANTA) and in RA, PsA, and AS, patients (MANTA-RAy). In March 2021, we reported on the primary endpoint with the MANTA and MANTA-RAY studies. Following submission of a type II variation application to the EMA and assessment of the data by the CHMP, a positive opinion has been issued in October 2022 by the CHMP to update the European label of filgotinib whereby the language in the section of the Special Warnings and Precautions about the potential effect of filgotinib on sperm production and male fertility was removed from the Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC). Such labeling statement warnings or changes of such labeling statement warnings may harm the commercialization of our product candidates and our business.
Even now when filgotinib has received regulatory approval or marketing authorization in previously mentioned jurisdictions, other regulatory authorities may impose dosing restrictions that differ from the approved dosing regimen in other jurisdictions.
Box warnings, labeling restrictions, dose limitations and similar restrictions on use could have a material adverse effect on our ability to commercialize filgotinib in those jurisdictions where such restrictions apply.
In February 2022, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) announced that its Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) initiated an article 20 specific pharmacovigilance procedure to investigate whether certain serious risks associated with the JAK inhibitors Xeljanz (tofacitinib) and Olumiant (baricitinib) are associated with all JAK inhibitors authorized in the EU for the treatment of inflammatory disorders, including filgotinib. In November 2022, the EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, CHMP, adopted the recommendation of the PRAC to add measures to minimize risk of serious side effects with JAK inhibitors used for chronic inflammatory disorders, followed by the approval of the European Commission on 10 March 2023. If such safety review(s) result(s) in amendments to the marketing authorization for filgotinib, or other additional requirements that the EMA may put in place with respect to the development of JAK inhibitors generally, or other future actions by the EMA and other comparable regulatory authorities, then such delays or (perceived) adverse developments or results may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
If we lose orphan product exclusivity or are not able to obtain or maintain such status for future product candidates for which we seek this status, or if our competitors are able to obtain orphan product exclusivity before we do, we may not be able to obtain approval for our competing products for a significant period of time. Even if we are able to obtain orphan designation, we may not be the first to obtain marketing approval for such indication due to the uncertainties associated with developing pharmaceutical products. Orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process.
We must establish and maintain a pharmacovigilance system, including a qualified person responsible for oversight, submit safety reports to the regulators and comply with the good pharmacovigilance practice guidelines adopted by the relevant regulatory authorities. Failure to comply with these guidelines may harm our clinical trials or regulatory process and by extension, our business.
If the FDA, EMA, or any other comparable regulatory authority approves any of our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, and recordkeeping for the product will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements, which currently is applicable for filgotinib. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration requirements and continued compliance with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs, and good clinical practices, or GCPs, for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. Failure to comply with the aforementioned practices may harm our clinical trials or regulatory process and by extension, our business, financial condition and prospects.