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DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrant’s definitive proxy statement relating to its 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the “2022 Proxy Statement”) are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The 2022 Proxy Statement will be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which this Annual Report relates.
Table of Contents
Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (this Annual Report) contains forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are contained principally in the sections entitled “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business.” These statements relate to future events or to our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
In some cases, you can identify these statements by terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expects,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “will,” “would” or the negative of those terms, and similar expressions that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes. These forward-looking statements reflect our management’s beliefs and views with respect to future events and are based on estimates and assumptions as of the date of this Annual Report and are subject to risks and uncertainties. In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all
potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements. We discuss many of the risks associated with the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report in greater detail under the heading “Risk Factors.” Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, 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 any forward-looking statements we may make. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. You should carefully read this Annual Report and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report and have filed as exhibits to this Annual Report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report by these cautionary statements. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements publicly, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Summary of Risk Factors
Below is a summary of material factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. Importantly, this summary does not address all of the risks and uncertainties that we face. Additional discussion of the risks and uncertainties summarized in this risk factor summary, as well as other risks and uncertainties that we face, can be found under “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report. The below summary is qualified in its entirety by that more complete discussion of such risks and uncertainties. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described under “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report as part of your evaluation of an investment in our common stock.
Item 1. Business.
All references to “Talis Biomedical,” “Talis,” “the Company,” “we,” “our,” and “us” in this Annual Report refer to Talis Biomedical Corporation.
Talis aims to transform diagnostic testing by developing and commercializing innovative products that are designed to enable accurate, reliable, low cost and rapid molecular testing for infectious diseases and other conditions at the point of care. While timely diagnosis of infectious diseases is critically important to enable effective treatment, testing is primarily performed in centralized laboratories, which require samples to be shipped for processing, delaying the return of results by days. Point-of-care testing solves this problem by delivering the timely information necessary for clinical care. We are developing the Talis One system, a sample-to-answer, cloud-enabled molecular diagnostic platform that, once manufacturing scale-up has been validated, could be deployed to a variety of diagnostic settings in the United States and around the world to diagnose infectious disease in the moment of need, at the point of care. The Talis One system comprises a compact instrument, single-use test cartridges and software that is planned to support a central cloud database, which work together and are designed to provide central laboratory levels of accuracy and be operated by an untrained user.
We were formed as a limited liability company under the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act in March 23, 2010 under the name SlipChip LLC. In June 2013, SlipChip LLC merged with and into SlipChip Corporation, a Delaware corporation, with each member of SlipChip LLC exchanging their respective membership interest for shares of common stock of SlipChip Corporation. In February 2018, we changed our corporate name to Talis Biomedical Corporation. Our principal executive offices are located at 230 Constitution Drive, Menlo Park, California 94025, and our telephone number is (650) 433-3000. Our corporate website address is http://talisbio.com.
This Annual Report contains references to our trademarks, including Talis and Talis One, and to trademarks belonging to other entities. Solely for convenience, trademarks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report, including logos, artwork and other visual displays, may appear without the ® or TM symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names or trademarks to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.
We are developing Talis One assay kits for respiratory infections, and infections related to women’s health and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In the third quarter of 2021, we submitted a request for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for our Talis One system in non-laboratory settings. On November 5, 2021, we received an EUA from the FDA for the emergency use of the Talis One system for our COVID-19 test, which we refer to as the Talis One COVID-19 Test System. This assay platform provides for the automated detection of nucleic acid from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in nasal swab samples from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider. By submitting for the equivalent of a CLIA-waived authorization, the Talis One COVID-19 Test System may be used in either laboratory or non-laboratory settings. Under the terms of the EUA, we were required to submit data from a post-market study to the FDA by March 5, 2022, although we have been granted an extension to provide this data to the FDA four months after the commercial launch of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System. We currently expect that the future commercial launch will be pursuant to such EUA. At present, we can produce the Talis One instrument and cartridges but not at a scale to support our commercial launch. We are currently validating the performance of our manufacturing equipment and procedures and plan to broadly market our Talis One COVID-19 Test System after the phased launch.
We are also developing influenza A and influenza B tests to be included as part of a respiratory panel with our COVID-19 assay (Respiratory Panel), as well as exploring adding a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) test. Due to recent changes in FDA EUA guidance, we now plan to pursue clearance for the Respiratory Panel under Section 510(k) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). In addition, we plan to initiate a clinical trial to support clearance of a pre-market notification under Section 510(k) of the FDCA for our Talis One system with a
test cartridge for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Trichomonas vaginalis (CT/NG/TV). If approved, this panel may be marketed as a complete panel or as separate individual analytes depending on market needs, reimbursement or other factors. To support our anticipated commercial launch of our Talis One COVID-19 Test System, we have invested in automated cartridge manufacturing lines, the first of which began to come on-line in the first quarter of 2021 and that we are continuing to validate to ensure that they meet our performance criteria.
In addition to our Respiratory Panel, if the CT/NG/TV assay is cleared or otherwise authorized for marketing, this would be our first commercial offering in the women’s health category. We are planning to develop additional tests for infections related to women’s health, including a panel for STIs and other infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), urinary tract infections (UTI) and herpes simplex virus (HSV).
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of point-of-care platforms in both traditional and non-traditional care settings, and we believe the Talis One system is well positioned to meet this growing demand. While a variety of technologies are commercially available, we believe that few, if any, sufficiently meet the needs of healthcare providers in order to drive broad adoption of, and transition to, point-of-care testing for a broad range of infectious diseases. For example, antigen detection technologies, which detect proteins from the pathogen, are rapid and relatively low cost, but they have higher limits of detection. Molecular technologies that detect nucleic acids are generally considered highly accurate for infectious disease testing. However, we believe that some currently available point-of-care molecular technologies have sacrificed accuracy to increase speed. Lower accuracy limits a test’s utility, particularly in the case of testing for dangerous infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, for which an incorrect test result can have severe consequences. We believe that the ideal point-of-care technology for diagnosing infectious diseases would not only be highly accurate and rapid, but would also be easy to use, low cost, cloud-compatible and enable multiplexing to detect multiple pathogens at the same time.
We are developing the Talis One system to address limitations of existing point-of-care diagnostic testing technologies for infectious diseases. Our system combines robust sample preparation with highly optimized and rapid isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology to enable rapid detection of infectious pathogens in a variety of unpurified patient sample types. We designed the Talis One system to have the following capabilities which we believe will create a competitive advantage over other commercially available point-of-care technologies:
We intend to commercialize the Talis One system in the United States through an enterprise account management team and direct sales force. If we increase adoption in the marketplace, we anticipate that this will establish a sales channel through which we can drive future sales of our test menu. Over time, we intend to explore commercialization strategies outside of the United States.
Our Business Strategy
Our strategy is to improve medical care through the transformation of diagnostic testing by enabling customers in distributed diagnostic locations to deploy accurate, reliable, low cost and rapid molecular testing for infectious diseases and other conditions. To achieve this, we intend to:
Pursue commercialization of our COVID-19 Test System in the United States
Increase our low-cost manufacturing capacity for our Talis One instrument and COVID-19 test cartridges
Complete development of and, if marketing authorizations are obtained, commercialize other tests for other respiratory infections, infections related to women’s health and sexually transmitted infections in the United States
Pursue marketing clearance and, if received, commercialize our products and expand our operations in selected geographies globally
Continue to invest in capabilities to drive sustainable growth
Infectious disease remains among the top health problems facing populations around the world. While infectious disease is an enduring concern for public health, beginning in 2020, the world has been challenged, and continued to be challenged, by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
While the current pandemic presents a large and acute need for testing for COVID-19, the mortality rate for all infectious disease in the United States ranged between 42 and 63 deaths per 100,000 population, accounting for 5.4% of overall mortality for the period of 1980-2014.
The drawbacks of centralized laboratory testing
The need to send samples to a central location for testing introduces delays in treatment or incentivizes prescribing treatment in the absence of a definitive diagnosis. The turnaround time for centralized lab tests is typically one to five days and can often be longer. Therefore, physicians are faced with one of two choices: either wait days for test results before initiating treatment and risk that an infected patient may continue to spread the infection and suffer increasingly negative health effects from delayed treatment or treat empirically while the patient is in front of them. Smaller hospital and clinic laboratories, many in rural settings, may not have the testing volume to justify investing
in high throughput molecular diagnostic instruments, requiring smaller hospitals to send out molecular testing to reference laboratories and wait for the results.
We believe that immediate access to high-quality diagnostic test results will improve medical treatment of disease and avoid inappropriate prescription of antibiotics, which can amplify the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In a 2016 study of 1,103 emergency room patients at St. John Hospital & Medical Center in Detroit, 440 patients who had a suspected chlamydia or gonorrhea infection were treated with antibiotics even though the vast majority, 323 patients (74%), ultimately tested negative for the infection. Similarly, in some cases, test result delays lead to patients who do not return after the initial visit, resulting in the health care provider losing these patients to follow-up and unnecessarily exposing additional individuals to detectable and treatable infections. This is particularly problematic in pediatric care and for urgent care and community care clinics.
Limitations of current point-of-care diagnostic technologies
There are a broad range of point-of-care technologies available for use in physician offices for a variety of applications, ranging from glucose strips for diabetes to lateral flow immunoassays for detecting high pathogen load infections, such as Strep A or influenza. Molecular testing is less common in point-of-care settings, despite being highly accurate. We believe that this is due to a lack of available point-of-care molecular technologies that sufficiently balance speed, accuracy and cost to meet customer needs and drive broad adoption.
We believe that most molecular diagnostic solutions currently being marketed for use at the point-of-care each have one or more of the following limitations:
The Talis One system
We are developing the Talis One system to address the limitations of existing point-of-care diagnostic testing technologies for infectious diseases. Our system combines robust sample preparation with highly-optimized and rapid isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology to enable rapid detection of infectious pathogens in a variety of unpurified patient sample types. The Talis One system is an integrated system that includes a compact instrument, single-use test cartridges and software, including a central cloud database.
Talis One cartridge
At the core of our system is the Talis One cartridge, a versatile shelf-stable and single-use test cartridge designed to fully integrate proprietary highly-optimized nucleic acid isothermal amplification assays with sample preparation. The cartridge is designed to handle a wide range of sample types, including nasal swab, vaginal swab, saliva, urine, whole blood, plasma, serum and sputum, to be compatible with lysis by bead-beating in order to process a wide range of pathogens, including viral, bacterial and hard-to-lyse fungal pathogens. The cartridge design incorporates a patented rotary valve that integrates sample purification and is easily adaptable to alternate fluidic layouts to accommodate alternate testing methods that may require pre-treatment of specimens, pre-amplification and/or multiple purification steps to facilitate expansion of the testing menu. The cartridge also incorporates a reagent plug technology licensed from a contract manufacturing partner, which is designed to enable implementation of new tests on the same cartridge backbone simply by inserting plugs with different target assay reagents. The reagent plugs in our cartridges are optically clear, permitting the instrument to visualize and detect fluorescent signals from the amplification assay. Patented assay wells employ a fluidic design and include a mechanism to heat-seal the cartridge for amplicon containment designed to prevent contamination of the work surfaces.
The cartridge, with modifications, is designed to support up to 14-well multiplexing, which we believe will enable development of expanded panels and syndromic applications. The specific cartridge that we developed for the COVID-19 and CT/NG/TV tests provides 5-fold multiplexing, which we believe is sufficient to meet our anticipated product plans.
Talis One instrument
The Talis One instrument is designed to enable sample-to-answer capabilities without user intervention. We designed the instrument to be low cost, portable and easy to use. We believe the modular design, which is divided into major subsystems for performing cartridge handling, sample preparation, amplification and detection, will facilitate automated assembly and low-cost manufacturing. The compact size, approximately 7 x 10 x 14 inches, is designed to enable portability and use in various front-line locations. The instrument incorporates a touchpad interface for easily communicating instructions, information and results to the user. An integrated camera that reads and enables registration of a label on the cartridge, facilitates sample custody by linking an image of the cartridge label with test results. The instruments are designed for multi-instrument deployments to satisfy different testing volume requirements and can be stacked three instruments by three instruments without disturbing the cellular connection to the cloud.
Talis One software and IT
The Talis One system incorporates software and information technology (IT) capabilities. The instrument is designed to communicate test results to a central cloud database that can be remotely and securely accessed to obtain key data required to collect, screen, collate, report, and monitor disease infection and pandemic spread on a micro and macro level. The cellular and ethernet connectivity built into each Talis One instrument is also designed to enable Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)-compliant transmission, storage, and review. Such centralized storage could permit (i) creation of a public health interface granting access to select information to governmental entities and/or (ii) automatic transmission of “reportable infections” to public health authorities. The cloud-based data could serve to help institutions better manage clinical practice and also to improve infection control. With substantially increased adoption over time, the data may offer a mapping of infection patterns that public health and research institutions can use to address care on a larger scale. Additionally, for organizations that may desire multiple instrument placements, such as in multiple exam rooms, multiple departments or distributed testing sites, authorized administrators may be able to monitor, in real-time, the status of any instrument in the organization, as well as manage users, passwords, and certain security features. The continuous connectivity of the Talis One instruments is also designed to enable us to provide automated updates including security patches, instrument configurations, and firmware and software updates, the latter of which could be deployed to enable the instrument to recognize and run newly released tests.
Talis One workflow
The Talis One system is capable of being integrated into the clinical workflow as follows: (1) label cartridge with patient information, (2) dispense sample into loading port and close lid, (3) insert cartridge into instrument, and (4)
follow on-instrument instructions to initiate testing, results will automatically display after less than 30 minutes. The workflow may vary for alternate sample types.
The Talis One workflow follows a few simple steps from sample preparation to results. The system is designed to return results in less than 30 minutes and requires two minutes or less of hands-on time for the operator. After the sample is collected and the cartridge is introduced into the instrument, the instrument confirms the operability of the cartridge, runs the assay and communicates the test result to the instrument display. We believe the ease of use, compact size and speed could enable near-patient diagnosis in a broad range of settings.
Talis One assay kits
We are a development stage company and, to date, we have not generated revenue from the sales of our own product. As described below, we are developing Talis One assay kits for respiratory infections, infections related to women’s health and STIs. Our first test to be marketed will be the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, which focuses on detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We are also developing additional tests for the detection of other respiratory infections, such as the Respiratory Panel. We also intend to submit for a 510(k) clearance to commercialize our Talis One system with a test for CT/NG/TV. For other tests that are not eligible for an EUA, we intend to complete the requirements for and submit a 510(k) pre-market notification to the FDA (if available to us; otherwise we would plan to submit another form of marketing authorization under the FDA’s standard medical device authorities). We chose our assay development roadmap to address the most common clinically relevant tests that require high sensitivity and specificity and for which timely results provide significant clinical benefit. In addition to the CT/NG/TV test, our women’s and sexual health roadmap includes plans to develop and seek marketing authorization for (1) an STI panel including CT, NG, TV, and Mycoplasma genitalium; (2) an assay for HSV; (3) a multitarget panel assay for UTI; (4) a multitarget panel assay for BV; and (5) a single target assay for Group B streptococcus.
The Talis One COVID-19 Test System
The Talis One COVID-19 Test System is our first product that we developed for respiratory infections. The test cartridge for COVID-19 diagnosis contains a NAAT designed for optimal sensitivity and specificity to provide highly accurate results. The assay on the Talis One cartridge is an isothermal NAAT targeting two physically separated locations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome to increase sensitivity and inclusivity. The inclusion of two distinct targets reduces the likelihood that natural mutations in the virus would cause a false negative result when using the Talis One COVID-19 Test System. In the third quarter of 2021, we submitted a request for EUA to the FDA for our Talis One system in non-laboratory setting, and on November 5, 2021, we received an EUA from the FDA for the emergency use of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System. We are currently pursuing authorization to affix a CE Mark from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System and plan to complete this self-certification process under the European In-Vitro Diagnostic Directive by May 2022.
If we successfully commercialize the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, we plan to incorporate the Influenza A, Influenza B, and potentially the RSV tests with the COVID-19 test in an upper respiratory panel on a single cartridge. We plan to seek marketing authorizations for such multi-panel tests through a 510(k) clearance process.
Infections related to women’s health and sexually transmitted infections
We are also developing our Talis One system to be used for infections related to women’s health and STIs. We intend to complete clinical development of our Talis One system for CT/NG/TV and submit a 510(k) pre-market notification to the FDA after the successful completion of our clinical trials. We further intend to explore authorization to affix a CE Mark from the EMA approximately six months after 510(k) clearance, if obtained. If cleared or otherwise authorized for marketing, this would be our first commercial offering in our women’s health menu. We are planning to develop additional tests for infections related to women’s health, including a panel for STIs and other infections, such as BV, UTI and HSV.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends annual CT/NG screening of all sexually active women age 25 and younger and for women over age 25 with risk factors. In addition to promoting our test
menu to our existing customers, we will engage in a focused commercialization effort directed towards obstetricians and gynecologists, where we estimate that a substantial majority of CT/NG testing occurs. Traditionally, testing is carried out by centralized laboratories, and we believe that there is a significant opportunity to move these tests to the point-of-care at the office of the obstetrician and gynecologist or in urgent care clinics or primary care facilities. We believe testing at the point-of-care could (a) improve decision making and enable the provider to use this information to treat the patient in the same visit and (b) improve the patient experience and empower providers and patients to adhere to screening guidelines and improve outcomes. We also believe that care providers may be able to create profit opportunities by bringing testing in-house to the point-of-care. We believe the tests that we are developing for our Talis One system have established reimbursement codes, enabling healthcare providers to submit for reimbursement.
We are developing new algorithms and a bioinformatics pipeline to design rapid isothermal assays that are based on isothermal amplification chemistries. On the Talis One system, we have observed limits of detection of bacterial pathogens as low as one IFU/mL in a variety of unpurified patient sample types, including nasal swab, vaginal swab, saliva and urine. We have also demonstrated, in a research setting, rapid detection of similarly low concentrations for a variety of bacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral pathogens.
As part of our menu expansion outside of COVID-19 testing, we are developing relevant in vitro diagnostic tests for a variety of respiratory infections, and infections related to women’s health and STIs. We estimate that the total potential annualized addressable global market opportunity for molecular testing of infectious diseases is over $5.4 billion for 2022 and is expected to grow to over $7.1 billion by 2026.
We intend to commercialize the Talis One system through an enterprise sales team and a direct sales force focused initially on placing systems with potential customers that place high value on accuracy and our broader test menu in development. Target customer segments include (but are not limited to): (1) traditional medical establishments, including physician offices, urgent care chains, hospitals, and public health clinics and (2) additional segments, including schools, workplaces, prisons, and elder care facilities.
We intend to offer our Talis One system to customers via direct purchase of the instrument or through a reagent rental program. Under these options we expect to generate revenue in the form of instrument sales or rentals, test cartridge sales, instrument warranty payments, and test collection device revenue.
We designed our system for the institutional healthcare provider category, particularly those that serve populations who are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. We believe that this market category could be a significant driver of our growth both near and longer-term due to the many types and significant number of potential institutional healthcare providers. Institutional healthcare providers typically represent sizeable patient populations, allowing a relatively large number of patients to be targeted with a limited number of account managers. Although institutional healthcare providers may require a sales cycle lasting several weeks or months, fixed-price arrangements from certain of these customers may provide us with a steady and predictable revenue stream.
While institutional healthcare providers are an important selling focus initially, we believe establishment of a direct sales force will enhance our growth, increase the number of institutional referrals, and expand the footprint of our brand within the U.S. market.
In 2021, we expanded the size of our sales force based on the anticipated timing for the commercial launch of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System and other product opportunities that we may pursue in the future. In late December 2021, we entered into an agreement to act as an authorized distributor for third party COVID-19 antigen tests (Antigen Tests). In January 2022, we began purchasing and distributing the Antigen Tests to customers, including sub-distributors, hospitals, physician's offices, urgent care clinics, and public health clinics. This opportunity has allowed us to generate revenue while leveraging our sales force, commercial infrastructure, and operations team. We are not subject to any minimum purchasing requirements or long-term commitments. We will continue to pursue other such product opportunities that can generate revenue and provide relevant experience to our different business units, while maintaining focus on delivering on our core business product, the Talis One system.
In March 2022, we optimized the size of our sales force based on our current anticipated timing for the commercial launch of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System.
The in vitro diagnostics industry is characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary intellectual property. Due to the significant interest and growth in diagnostics, we expect ongoing intense competition primarily from centralized laboratories and diagnostic companies offering both point-of-care and at-home solutions. We believe key competitive factors include the accuracy, utility, turnaround time and economics of our products, and commercial execution. We also believe our ability to succeed in the future depends on the timing of obtaining regulatory clearances and approvals, as well as the timing of our ability to deliver instruments and consumables into the marketplace in significant volumes. We have encountered manufacturing challenges that have contributed to significant delays in our ability to produce the Talis One system at scale which has then delayed the commercialization of the Talis One system.
Our competitors include those offering molecular, antibody and antigen tests. Competitors in the reference lab category include Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (commonly referred to as LabCorp) and Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, along with many hospital laboratories. Our competitors in the point-of-care and/or at-home category, for molecular and/or antigen tests that have received an EUA for their COVID-19 tests, include Abbott Laboratories, Binx Health, Inc., BioFire Diagnostics, LLC, Cepheid (a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation), Cue Health Inc., Lucira Health, Inc., Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc., Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., Visby Medical, Inc., ON/GO, Quidel, and OraSure.
Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their collaboration partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, regulatory clearance approval and compliance, and sales and distribution than we do. Smaller or early-stage companies developing tests may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies or customer networks. If our competitors (a) develop and commercialize diagnostic products or services that are more accurate, more convenient to use or more cost-effective than our products or services and/or (b) obtain FDA or other regulatory clearance or approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain clearance or approval or other marketing authorizations for ours, our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated, especially if our competitors establish a strong market position before we are able to enter a particular market.
National Institutes of Health - Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx)
In July 2020, we were awarded a $25.4 million contract from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Phase 2 of its RADx initiative (NIH Contract), of which $8.9 million had been received as of December 31, 2021, for the validation, approval, and scale-up of capacity for manufacturing of the Talis One instrument and test cartridges. Due to delays in meeting certain milestones, we received several extensions to the NIH Contract that concomitantly extended the time to perform the remaining milestones and reduced the potential milestone payments. The NIH Contract expired on January 30, 2022, and we did not achieve the final two milestones.
Our products are manufactured by several third parties, including a single contract manufacturer that provisions the parts and assembles our instrument. The instrument assembly is largely manual with some automation in testing. We have various suppliers that provide molded parts and reagents that are assembled by two contract manufacturers for the cartridge. We have made significant investments to scale up cartridge manufacturing including high cavity count molding capability and automation of significant portions of the cartridge assembly process. Due to the complexity of the manufacturing process, we have experienced significant delays in bringing the automated manufacturing lines online. We are focused on developing more internal expertise in manufacturing our cartridges and are developing internal pilot manufacturing lines. Our operations consist of demand forecast planning, raw material procurement, and quality oversight. The operations team is responsible for ensuring adherence to our Quality Management System to meet or exceed applicable standards to support manufacturing, testing and distribution of our products.
Supply chain management
We utilize multiple vendors for our supply chain. Currently, many of the materials, enzymes and reagents used in our systems and cartridges are from single source suppliers. However, we are evaluating redundancy vendors for reagents and other materials, where possible. To further mitigate risk, we are implementing multi-month, multi-lot safety stock strategy to promote an uninterrupted supply of critical or scarce reagents and other materials. Initially, we plan to source many of the test cartridge materials and provide them to our contract manufacturers. Over time, we plan to transfer acquisition of these materials to our contract manufacturing partners. We have engaged a third-party logistics company to manage the movement of materials between suppliers and for finished goods warehousing, as well as to manage the receipt and shipment to customers of the Antigen Tests.
Supply Agreement with thinXXS Microtechnology AG (thinXXS)
In May 2020, we entered into a supply agreement with thinXXS (thinXXS Agreement), a wholly-owned subsidiary of IDEX Corporation (NYSE:IEX), for the purchase of certain materials, including single-use cartridges for use with the Talis One system and components and subassemblies of such single-use cartridges. Pursuant to the thinXXS Agreement, we are required to submit an annual forecast of expected purchase volumes with portions of such annual forecast constituting a binding commitment based on certain percentages set forth in the thinXXS Agreement. We are also required to submit non-binding rolling forecasts to thinXXS. The prices we pay were initially fixed upon execution of the thinXXS Agreement and may not be increased until a specified date. Following such specified date, the purchase prices will be negotiated by the parties. Additionally, subject to certain criteria, thinXXS has the right to be our exclusive supplier of the cartridges, up to a specified annual volume.
The initial term of the thinXXS Agreement is 10 years, after which the thinXXS Agreement will remain in effect unless we provide two years’ prior written notice of non-renewal. The thinXXS Agreement can also be terminated (i) after May 2027, by us for convenience, upon two years’ prior written notice, (ii) subject to certain conditions, by either party upon 90 days’ prior written notice of an uncured material breach of the thinXXS Agreement, and (iii) by either party upon bankruptcy or insolvency of the other party. The parties agreed to amend the thinXXS Agreement and a 2021 purchase order issued under the thinXXS Agreement, in late December 2021, which, among other things, reduced our outstanding payment obligations.
Our intellectual property strategy is focused on protecting our core technologies, including target-specific amplification reagents, integrated cartridges and components thereof, and related instrumentation and software applications through patents and other intellectual property rights. In addition, we protect our ongoing research and development into the detection of infectious diseases through patents and other intellectual property rights in the United States and foreign jurisdictions, such as Japan, China, the United Kingdom and the European Union (through shared registration or examination agencies such as the European Patent Office or European Intellectual Property Office).
As of February 1, 2022, we solely own 14 issued U.S. patents, 20 pending U.S. patent applications, 14 issued foreign patents, 84 pending foreign patent applications, and two pending PCT international patent applications. We co-own three issued U.S. patents, two pending U.S. patent applications, one issued foreign patent, and 14 pending foreign patent applications with Caltech. We exclusively in-license 10 issued U.S. patents, two pending U.S. patent applications, 20 issued foreign patents and two pending foreign patent applications from the University of Chicago and/or Caltech. We believe that the technology we have in-licensed from the University of Chicago and Caltech, respectively, has no impact on our competitive position in our industry. Our patent portfolio generally includes patents and patent applications relating to microfluidic systems, our rapid isothermal amplification method, integrated cartridges and instrument for the Talis One system, as well as components thereof and methods of operating the same. In addition to patents and applications related generally to the Talis One system, our portfolio includes patents and applications drawn to assay reagents for specific targets, including SARS-CoV-2 (the causative pathogen for COVID-19), CT, and NG. Issued U.S. patents in our portfolio of company-owned and in-licensed patents and patent applications (if issued) are expected to expire between 2030 and 2040.
Our trademark portfolio is designed to protect the brands of our current and future products and includes U.S. trademark applications for registration for our company name, Talis, and the product name Talis One.
We also rely on trade secrets, including know-how, unpatented technology and other proprietary information, to strengthen our competitive position. We have determined that certain technologies, such as aspects of our amplification chemistry, some bioinformatics, data processing and analysis techniques, and manufacturing processes are better kept as trade secrets, rather than pursuing patent protection. To prevent disclosure of trade secrets to others, it is our policy to enter into nondisclosure, invention assignment and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to trade secrets, such as our employees, collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, consultants, advisors and other third parties. These agreements also provide that all inventions resulting from work performed for us or relating to our business and conceived or completed during the period of employment or assignment, as applicable, are our exclusive property. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary information by third parties.
In addition to Company-owned intellectual property, we may also in-license third party intellectual property for use in our products through both exclusive and non-exclusive licensing agreements. Although we have been able to obtain licenses on commercially reasonable terms, there is no guarantee that we may obtain such licenses in the future on reasonable terms or at all.
Government regulation and product approval
Our products under development and our operations are subject to significant government regulation.
Regulation in the United States
In the United States, our products are regulated as medical devices by the FDA and other federal, state, and local regulatory authorities. Numerous laws and regulations govern the processes by which medical devices are brought to market and marketed, including the FDCA and the FDA’s implementing regulations, among others. The FDA regulates the preclinical and clinical testing, approval, manufacture, labeling, distribution, and promotion of medical devices. The FDA enforces these requirements by inspection and market surveillance. Failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements may result in enforcement action by the FDA, which may include fines, injunctions, civil penalties, recall or seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, refusing our request for 510(k) clearance or pre-market authorization (PMA) of new product versions, revocation of 510(k) clearance or PMAs previously granted, and criminal prosecution and penalties.
The FDA classifies all medical devices into one of three classes—Class I, Class II or Class III—depending on the degree of risk associated with each medical device and the extent of manufacturer and regulatory control needed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. Class I and Class II devices are subject to the FDA’s General Controls, and special controls as deemed necessary by the FDA to ensure the safety and effectiveness of Class II devices, including performance standards, post-market surveillance, clinical investigations, patient registries and additional conditions set forth in FDA guidance documents. While most Class I devices are exempt from the 510(k) pre-market notification requirement, manufacturers of most Class II devices are required to submit to the FDA a pre-market notification under Section 510(k) of the FDCA requesting permission to commercially distribute the device. The FDA’s permission to commercially distribute a device subject to a 510(k) pre-market notification is generally known as a 510(k) clearance. Devices deemed by the FDA to pose the greatest risks are placed in Class III, requiring approval of a PMA application. At this time, we have no Class III devices in the pipeline nor plans to add Class III's.
In addition, EUAs and other forms of approval or clearance may be limited for use with tests by authorized laboratories certified under CLIA to perform moderate and high-complexity tests. In order for a test to be used at the point-of-care, the FDA must grant the test waived status under CLIA, which would permit any laboratory with a Certificate of Waiver to perform the test.
The U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may declare public health emergencies that have a significant potential to affect national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens. On February 4, 2020, the novel coronavirus was declared a public health emergency, and it was declared that circumstances existed justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. These EUAs will terminate upon declaration that the public health emergency
circumstances have ceased, or the product provided pursuant to EUA has otherwise achieved commercial authorization for the emergency indication for use, such as through 510(k) clearance, de novo process, or PMA approval.
In order to be the subject of an EUA, the FDA Commissioner (under authority delegated by the Secretary of the HHS) must conclude that, based on the totality of scientific evidence available, it is reasonable to believe that the product may be effective in diagnosing, treating, or preventing a disease attributable to the agents described above, that its known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks, and that there is no adequate, approved and available alternative. The FDA may revise or revoke an EUA to protect the public health.
510(k) clearance process
To obtain 510(k) clearance, we must submit a pre-market notification to the FDA demonstrating that the proposed device is substantially equivalent to a previously-cleared 510(k) device, a pre-amendment device that was in commercial distribution before May 28, 1976 for which the FDA has not yet called for the submission of a 510(k) or PMA applications, or is a device that has been reclassified from Class III to either Class II or I. In rare cases, Class III devices may be cleared through the 510(k) process. The FDA’s 510(k) clearance process usually takes from three to twelve months from the date the application is submitted and filed with the FDA but may take significantly longer. Although many 510(k) pre-market notifications are cleared without clinical data, in some cases, the FDA requires significant clinical data to support substantial equivalence. In reviewing a pre-market notification submission, the FDA may request additional information, including clinical data, which may significantly prolong the review process. If the FDA agrees that the device is substantially equivalent to a predicate device currently on the market, it will grant 510(k) clearance to commercially market the device. If the FDA determines that the device is not "substantially equivalent" to a previously cleared device, the device is automatically designated as a Class III device. The device sponsor must then fulfill more rigorous PMA requirements, or can request a risk-based classification determination for the device in accordance with the de novo classification process, which is a route to market for novel medical devices that are low to moderate risk and are not substantially equivalent to a predicate device. Once a de novo application is reviewed and approved, it results in the device having a Class II status and future devices from the company or a competitor may use the company’s de novo-classified device as a 510(k) predicate.
After a device receives 510(k) clearance, any subsequent modification of the device that could significantly affect its safety or effectiveness, or that would constitute a major change in its intended use, will require a new 510(k) clearance or could require a PMA. The FDA requires each manufacturer to make this determination initially, but the FDA may review any such decision and may disagree with a manufacturer’s determination. If the FDA disagrees with a manufacturer’s determination, the FDA may require the manufacturer to cease marketing and/or recall the modified device until 510(k) clearance or approval of a PMA is obtained. Under these circumstances, the FDA may also subject a manufacturer to significant regulatory fines or other penalties.
Over the last several years, the FDA has proposed reforms to its 510(k) clearance process, and such proposals could include increased requirements for clinical data and a longer review period, or could make it more difficult for manufacturers to utilize the 510(k) clearance process for their products. For example, in November 2018, FDA officials announced forthcoming steps that the FDA intends to take to modernize the pre-market notification pathway under Section 510(k) of the FDCA. Among other things, the FDA announced that it planned to develop proposals to drive manufacturers utilizing the 510(k) pathway toward the use of newer predicates. These proposals included plans to potentially sunset certain older devices that were used as predicates under the 510(k) clearance pathway, and to potentially publish a list of devices that have been cleared on the basis of demonstrated substantial equivalence to predicate devices that are more than 10 years old. The FDA also announced that it intends to finalize guidance to establish a pre-market review pathway for “manufacturers of certain well-understood device types” as an alternative to the 510(k) clearance pathway and that such pre-market review pathway would allow manufacturers to rely on objective safety and performance criteria recognized by the FDA to demonstrate substantial equivalence, obviating the need for manufacturers to compare the safety and performance of their medical devices to specific predicate devices in the clearance process.
In May 2019, the FDA solicited public feedback on its plans to develop proposals to drive manufacturers utilizing the 510(k) pathway toward the use of newer predicates, including whether the FDA should publish a list of devices that have been cleared on the basis of demonstrated substantial equivalence to predicate devices that are more than 10 years old. These proposals have not yet been finalized or adopted, and the FDA may work with Congress to
implement such proposals through legislation. More recently, in September 2019, the FDA finalized the aforementioned guidance to describe an optional “safety and performance based” pre-market review pathway for manufacturers of “certain, well-understood device types” to demonstrate substantial equivalence under the 510(k) clearance pathway, by demonstrating that such device meets objective safety and performance criteria established by the FDA, obviating the need for manufacturers to compare the safety and performance of their medical devices to specific predicate devices in the clearance process.
Pervasive and continuing FDA regulation
After a medical device is placed on the market, numerous FDA regulatory requirements apply, including, but not limited to the following:
The FDA enforces these requirements by inspection and market surveillance. Failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements may result in enforcement action by the FDA, which may include one or more of the following sanctions:
Sales of medical devices outside the United States are subject to foreign government regulations and international standards compliance, which vary substantially from country to country. In order to market our products in other countries, we must obtain regulatory approvals and comply with extensive safety and quality regulations in other countries. The time required to obtain approval by a foreign country may be longer or shorter than that required for FDA clearance or approval, and the requirements may differ significantly.
Other healthcare laws
Our current and future business activities are subject to healthcare regulation and enforcement by the federal government and the states and foreign governments in which we conduct our business. These laws include, without limitation, state and federal anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, physician sunshine transparency, and healthy information privacy and security laws and regulations.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) prohibits, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly and willfully offering, soliciting, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce either the referral of an individual, for an item or service or the purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging for or recommending the purchase, lease or order of any good, facility, item or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under federal healthcare programs such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The term remuneration has been interpreted broadly to include anything of value. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchases or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the AKS. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all its facts and circumstances. Several courts have interpreted the statute’s intent requirement to mean that if any one purpose of an arrangement involving remuneration is to induce referrals of federal healthcare covered business, the AKS has been violated. In addition, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
The federal civil and criminal false claims laws, such as the civil False Claims Act (FCA), prohibit individuals or entities from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, false, fictitious or fraudulent claims for payment or approval by the federal government, and knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim, or knowingly making a false statement to improperly avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government. Additionally, the FCA authorizes actions to be brought on behalf of the federal government by a private party having knowledge of the alleged fraud. Because the complaint is initially filed under seal, the action may be pending for some time before the defendant is even aware of the action. If the government intervenes and is ultimately successful in obtaining redress in the matter, or if the plaintiff succeeds in obtaining redress without the government’s involvement, then the plaintiff will receive a percentage of the recovery. The federal government is using the FCA, and the accompanying threat of significant liability, in its investigation and prosecution of life sciences companies throughout the country, for example, in connection with the promotion of products for unapproved uses and other sales and marketing practices. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the civil FCA. The government has obtained multi-million and multi-billion dollar settlements under the FCA in addition to individual criminal convictions under applicable criminal statutes. Given the significant size of actual and potential settlements, it is
expected that the government will continue to devote substantial resources to investigating healthcare providers’ and manufacturers’ compliance with applicable fraud and abuse laws.
The civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent.
The majority of states also have anti-kickback laws which establish similar prohibitions and, in some cases, may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers. HIPAA created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit, among other actions, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Like the AKS, a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
Moreover, the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with specific exceptions, to report annually to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors), certain other healthcare professionals (such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners), and teaching hospitals, and applicable manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations to report annually to CMS ownership and investment interests held by such physicians and their immediate family members. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act includes in its reporting requirements a broad range of transfers of value including, but not limited to, consulting fees, speaker honoraria, charitable contributions, research payments and grants. Failure to report could subject companies to significant financial penalties. Tracking and reporting the required payments and transfers of value may result in considerable expense and additional resources. Several states currently have similar laws and more states may enact similar legislation, some of which may be broader in scope. For example, certain states require the implementation of compliance programs, compliance with industry ethics codes, implementation of gift bans and spending limits, and/or reporting of gifts, compensation and other remuneration to healthcare professionals.
The shifting commercial compliance environment and the need to build and maintain robust and expandable systems to comply with different compliance and/or reporting requirements in multiple jurisdictions increase the possibility that a healthcare company may violate one or more of the requirements. If our future operations are found to be in violation of any of such laws or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including, without limitation, administrative, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, additional reporting and oversight requirements, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs and imprisonment.
Coverage and reimbursement
Sales of our products will depend in large part on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors, including government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, private insurance plans and managed care programs. These third-party payors are increasingly limiting coverage and reducing reimbursement for medical products and services. In addition, the U.S. government, state legislatures and foreign governments have continued implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls and restrictions on coverage and reimbursement. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit our net revenue and results.
Hospitals, clinical laboratories and other healthcare provider customers that may purchase our product candidates, if approved, generally bill various third-party payors to cover all or a portion of the costs and fees associated with diagnostic tests, including the cost of the purchase of our product candidates. If our product candidates are cleared or approved by the FDA as point-of-care tests and deemed CLIA-waived following market authorization, we expect that the majority of our diagnostic tests will be performed in physician offices and other point-of-care settings and billed using existing Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Our healthcare provider customers may not purchase our tests unless third-party payors cover and provide adequate reimbursement for a substantial portion of the price of the tests. If we are not able to obtain coverage and an acceptable level of reimbursement for our tests from third-party payors, there would typically be a greater co-insurance or co-payment requirement from the patient for whom the test is ordered or the patient may be forced to pay the entire cost of the test out-of-pocket, which could dissuade practitioners from ordering our tests and, if ordered, could result in a delay in or decreased likelihood of
collecting payment, whether from patients or from third-party payors. Our customers’ access to adequate coverage and reimbursement for our products and/or product candidates by government and private insurance plans is central to the acceptance of our products. We may be unable to sell our products on a profitable basis if third-party payors deny coverage or reduce their current levels of payment, or if our costs of production increase faster than increases in reimbursement levels.
The potential end-users of our Talis One system and diagnostic tests include large elder care chains where vulnerable residents have unmet needs for millions of high sensitivity assays per year; urgent care chains that serve on the front lines of COVID-19 diagnosis, needing millions of rapid tests to triage symptomatic patients; and traditional medical establishments including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, cancer treatment and dialysis centers, independent practice associations, accountable care organizations, and public health clinics that need rapid and high-quality testing to best serve their patients.
Hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers who purchase diagnostic products in the United States generally rely on third-party payors, such as private health insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid, to reimburse all or part of the cost of the product. Therefore, our market success is highly dependent upon government and commercial third-party payors providing coverage and adequate reimbursement for our test. While we believe our COVID-19 test will qualify for coverage that is currently available for other COVID-19 tests on the market, coverage criteria and reimbursement rates for diagnostic tests are subject to adjustment by payors, and current reimbursement rates could be reduced, or coverage criteria restricted in the future, which could adversely affect the market for our tests.
There has been federal and state legislation and other reform initiatives regarding the coverage and reimbursement for COVID-19 diagnostic testing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) generally requires group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance to cover FDA approved COVID-19 tests and associated diagnostic costs with no cost-sharing, as long as the test is deemed medically appropriate and furnished on or after March 18, 2020 and during the applicable public health emergency period. The FFCRA also permits states to cover testing for the uninsured through Medicaid with federal financing. Additionally, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act expanded the FFCRA to include a broader range of diagnostic tests and services as well as requiring plans and issuers to cover out-of-network COVID-19 test claims at up to the cash price that the provider has posted on a public website.
CMS announced plans in March 2020 to cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing under the Medicare program and identified the amount at which it would reimburse for such tests, which has been adjusted numerous times. For example, Medicare adjusted its payment methodology effective January 1, 2021, such that it will pay $100 per test only to those laboratories that complete high throughput COVID-19 diagnostic tests within two calendar days of the specimen being collected and will only pay $75 per test to laboratories that take longer than two days to complete such test. This change is indicative of the evolving nature of the coverage and reimbursement of COVID-19 tests. In addition, there has been federal and state legislation and other reform initiatives regarding the coverage and reimbursement for COVID-19 diagnostic testing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak which continue to evolve. For example, effective January 15, 2022, private health insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover eight free over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests authorized, cleared, or approved by the FDA per covered individual per month.
In the ordinary course of our business, we may process personal data and, accordingly, we are, or may become, subject to numerous data privacy and security obligations, including federal, state, local, and foreign laws, regulations, guidance, and industry standards related to data privacy, security, and protection. Such obligations may include, without limitation, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (EU GDPR), the EU GDPR as it forms part of United Kingdom (UK) law by virtue of section 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (UK GDPR), and the ePrivacy Directive. In addition, several states within the United States have enacted or proposed data privacy laws. For example, Virginia passed the Consumer Data Protection Act, and Colorado passed the Colorado Privacy Act.
The CCPA, EU GDPR, and UK GDPR are examples of the increasingly stringent and evolving regulatory frameworks related to personal data processing may increase our compliance obligations and exposure for any noncompliance. For example, the CCPA imposes obligations on covered businesses to provide specific disclosures
related to a business’s collecting, using, and disclosing personal data and to respond to certain requests from California residents related to their personal data (for example, requests to know of the business’s personal data processing activities, to delete the individual’s personal data, and to opt out of certain personal data disclosures). Also, the CCPA provides for civil penalties and a private right of action for data breaches which may include an award of statutory damages. In addition, it is anticipated that the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA), effective January 1, 2023, will expand the CCPA. The CPRA will, among other things, give California residents the ability to limit use of certain sensitive personal data, establish restrictions on personal data retention, expand the types of data breaches that are subject to the CCPA’s private right of action, and establish a new California Privacy Protection Agency to implement and enforce the new law. U.S. federal and state consumer protection laws may require us to publish statements that accurately and fairly describe how we handle personal data and choices individuals may have about the way we handle their personal data.
European data privacy and security laws (including the EU GDPR and UK GDPR) impose significant and complex compliance obligations on entities that are subject to those laws. For example, the EU GDPR applies to any company established in the European Economic Area (EEA) and to companies established outside the EEA that process personal data in connection with the offering of goods or services to data subjects in the EEA or the monitoring of the behavior of data subjects in the EEA. These obligations may include limiting personal data processing to only what is necessary for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes; requiring a legal basis for personal data processing; requiring the appointment of a data protection officer in certain circumstances; increasing transparency obligations to data subjects; requiring data protection impact assessments in certain circumstances; limiting the collection and retention of personal data; increasing rights for data subjects; formalizing a heightened and codified standard of data subject consents; requiring the implementation and maintenance of technical and organizational safeguards for personal data; mandating notice of certain personal data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority(ies) and affected individuals; and mandating the appointment of representatives in the UK and/or the EU in certain circumstances.
See the section titled “Risk Factors – Risks related to regulatory matters” for additional information about the laws and regulations to which we are or may become subject and about the risks to our business associated with such laws and regulations.
Human capital resources
As of December 31, 2021, we had a total of 262 employees, 242 of whom were full-time employees. Our employees are located in Menlo Park, California, Chicago, Illinois and other locations inside and outside the United States. None of our employees are represented by any collective bargaining agreements. We believe that we maintain good relations with our employees. Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, retaining, incentivizing and integrating our existing and additional employees. The principal purposes of our equity incentive plans are to attract, retain and motivate selected employees, consultants and directors through the granting of stock-based compensation awards and cash-based performance bonus awards.
Our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to reports filed pursuant to Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (Exchange Act), are filed with the SEC. Such reports and other information filed by us with the SEC are available free of charge on our website at http://investors.talisbio.com when such reports are available on the SEC’s website. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov. The information contained on the websites referenced in this Annual Report on Form 10-K is not incorporated by reference into this filing. Further, our references to website URLs are intended to be inactive textual references only.
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
Careful consideration should be given to the following risk factors, together with the other information contained in this Annual Report, including our financial statements and the related notes. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In these circumstances, the market price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment. This Annual Report also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including the risks described below. See “Special note regarding forward-looking statements.”
Risks related to our business and strategy
We rely on a significant number of third party manufacturers and suppliers for our instrument and cartridges, which reliance has created and may continue to create delays due to the complexity of our manufacturing lines and supply chain, as well as exposure to manufacturing and supply limitations or interruptions and quality and quantity issues.
We do not have any commercial-scale manufacturing facilities. We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the manufacture of the Talis One system and our tests, as well as for commercial supply. The manufacturing of our Talis One instrument and cartridge is a complex process that involves over 500 raw materials, intermediates and subassemblies. The complexity of the instrument and cartridge designs and number of parts involved has presented manufacturing challenges for us and our third party manufacturers. In addition, our reliance on these third party manufacturers exposes us to significant risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our products at an acceptable cost or quality, which has and could continue to delay, prevent or impair our clinical trials and commercialization efforts. While we do not have any commercial-scale manufacturing facilities, we have invested in the development of multiple automated assembly lines for production of the test cartridges. These automated lines are required to meet the projected volume commercial needs for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System once validation of performance is complete. However, the lines are not complete and have and could continue to incur substantial delays, costs and have not performed as anticipated, and any additional failure of the lines to perform as anticipated could require us to make significant capital expenditures to make adjustments. In addition, delays that may occur with one supplier have had and could continue to have a ripple affect with other suppliers. Such ripple effects have and could continue to increase costs or obligate Talis to purchase materials before they are required for commercial purposes which have and could continue to increase costs, increase risk of scrap or damage relationships with our suppliers. For example, we have encountered manufacturing challenges that have contributed to significant delays in our ability to produce the Talis One system at scale which has delayed the commercialization of the Talis One system. Such delays and any future delays or required expenditures have and could continue to prevent us from launching our Talis One COVID-19 Test System, which will adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. The effects of any such delays would also be exacerbated if the demand for COVID-19 tests declines prior to our assembly lines becoming fully operational at scale.
As we have not yet completed the validation of our high-volume assembly lines, it may be difficult to predict the cost of manufacturing our cartridges at scale. We are undertaking a number of initiatives designed to reduce the cost of manufacturing our instruments and diagnostic tests, including reducing the costs of supplies. However, there is no guarantee that we will be able to achieve planned cost reductions from such initiatives. For example, yield from the automated lines may be low resulting in many components to be scrapped or quality of final products may not meet our requirements, which may increase scrap and therefore, our costs. There have been unforeseen occurrences that have increased our costs for supplies used in manufacturing our cartridges and instruments, and there could be other unforeseen occurrences, such as increased prices of the components of our diagnostic tests, changes to labor costs or less favorable terms with third-party suppliers or contract manufacturing partners, including as a result of increased shipping costs caused by the substantial increase in fuel prices. As a result, even if our automated lines perform as anticipated, we may be unable to manufacture our products in a profitable manner.
Almost all the materials, enzymes and reagents used in or with our instrument and cartridges are obtained from single source suppliers, which exposes us to significant supplier risk. In addition, we may purchase supplies through purchase orders and may not have long-term supply agreements with, or guaranteed commitments from, many of our suppliers, including single source suppliers. A loss of sufficient supply of such components could require us to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology and obtain additional marketing authorizations. While we are evaluating redundancy vendors for reagents and other materials there can be no assurance that we will successfully contract for such materials. To further mitigate risk, we are implementing
multi-month, multi-lot safety stock strategy to promote an uninterrupted supply of critical or scarce reagents and other materials and, when we can, we negotiate for termination provisions and purchase rights with our third-party manufacturers to allow enough time for us to find replacement suppliers, if necessary. However, mitigating this risk by keeping a safety stock level of inventory, requires careful management and may result in losses associated with expired inventory or inventory that is otherwise unsuitable for use in our products or for commercial sale.
Our third-party manufacturers may experience manufacturing difficulties due to resource constraints or as a result of labor disputes, unstable political environments, health pandemics or epidemics or rising costs of labor, materials and transportation. For example, due to the health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and labor shortages, some of the suppliers of materials and components for our instrument and cartridges are facing extreme demand for their services. If we are unable to procure sufficient supplies for our instruments and cartridges, at the level of quality we need, and at a commercially reasonable cost, we may be unable to manufacture our products in sufficient quantities and such event would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have engaged a third-party logistics company to manage the movement of materials between suppliers and for finished goods warehousing. However, if any of our suppliers fails to perform adequately or fulfill our needs at a commercially reasonable cost, we may be required to incur significant costs and devote significant efforts to find new suppliers and may face delays in processing samples or developing and commercializing our products. For example, a sole supplier supplies us with the enzymes used in our test cartridges. While we acquire these proprietary enzymes from the supplier on customary terms, if we had to replace our enzymes, we may also need to acquire alternate enzymes, and optimize our tests with new enzymes, buffers and amplification conditions. This would most likely result in significant delays in delivering our products to the market and require new applications for marketing authorizations. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic may cause shortages of key supplies, such as pipettes and nasal swabs, that are necessary components of our products. The ability to provision such key supplies may be outside our control and may limit the use of our products and the purchase of our tests.
If our third-party suppliers fail to deliver the required commercial quantities of materials on a timely basis and at commercially reasonable prices, and we are unable to find one or more replacement suppliers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost in substantially equivalent volumes and quality on a timely basis, the continued commercialization of our instrument and diagnostic tests, the supply of our instrument and diagnostic tests to customers and the development of any future diagnostic tests will be delayed, limited or prevented, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Furthermore, all entities involved in the manufacture of our products, are subject to extensive regulation. We do not control the manufacturing process of, and are completely dependent on, our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with these regulations. In the event that any of our manufacturers fails to comply with such requirements or to perform its obligations to us in relation to quality, timing or otherwise, or if our supply of components or other materials becomes limited or interrupted for other reasons, we may be forced to manufacture the materials ourselves, for which we currently do not have the capabilities or resources, or enter into an agreement with another third party, which we may not be able to do so on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. Further, we may be unable to use the product produced by that manufacturer, or if the manufacturer has manufactured product for our commercial sale, we could be subject to a recall of such product. Any replacement of our manufacturers could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number of qualified replacements. In some cases, the technical skills or technology required to manufacture our products may be unique or proprietary to the original manufacturer and we may have difficulty transferring such skills or technology to another third party and a feasible alternative may not exist. These factors would increase our reliance on such manufacturer or require us to obtain a license from such manufacturers in order to have another third-party manufacture our products.
The process of changing manufacturers is time consuming, may involve substantial costs and is likely to result in delays or interruptions in the development of products and/or the commercialization of products. If we desire to or are required to change manufacturers for any reason, we will be required to verify that the new manufacturer maintains facilities and procedures that comply with quality standards and with all applicable regulations and guidelines. The delays associated with the verification of a new manufacturer could negatively affect our ability to develop or deliver products in a timely or affordable manner.
Our, or a third party’s, failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements, to do so on commercially reasonable terms and to comply with applicable regulations could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:
If the EUA for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System is revoked or the emergency declaration is terminated, we will be unable to sell this product in the near future and will be required to pursue 510(k) clearance or other marketing authorization, which will likely be a lengthy and expensive process.
On November 5, 2021 we received an EUA from the FDA for our Talis One COVID-19 Test System. In support of the EUA, we were required to submit data from a post-market study to the FDA by March 5, 2022, although we have been granted an extension to provide the data four months after the commercial launch of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, among other requirements. We currently expect that the future commercial launch will be pursuant to such EUA. At present, we can produce the Talis One instrument and cartridges but not at a scale to support our commercial launch. We are currently validating the performance of our manufacturing equipment and procedures and plan to broadly market our Talis One COVID-19 Test System after the phased launch.
We will rely on the FDA policies and guidance in connection with the marketing and sale of our Talis One system for its intended use in detecting SARS-CoV-2. If these policies and guidance change unexpectedly and/or materially or if we misinterpret them, potential sales of our products could be adversely impacted. In addition, the FDA may revoke an EUA where it is determined that the underlying health emergency no longer exists or warrants such authorization, or if we fail to comply with the conditions of such EUA, including our failure to successfully complete, and submit data from our post-market study by the extension date granted by the FDA or any other post-authorization requirements.
It is uncertain whether the widespread availability of approved and effective vaccinations could expedite or influence any such decision making with respect to the underlying health emergency. The FDA may also revoke an EUA when the circumstances justifying its issuance no longer exist, such as when an alternative is authorized for marketing through the standard procedures, such as through a 510(k) clearance. The FDA has stated that, given the magnitude of the COVID-19 health crisis and the testing capacity challenges in the United States, it has no current intention of terminating EUAs for COVID-19 diagnostic tests based solely on a test receiving 510(k) clearance. However, the FDA may change this position at any time and without notice. We cannot predict how long an EUA for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System will remain in place. FDA policies regarding diagnostic tests, therapies and other products used to diagnose, treat or mitigate COVID-19 remain in flux, and on December 22, 2021, the FDA issued two draft guidance documents for the transition plans for medical devices commercialized pursuant to EUA during the current public health emergency for the review and comment process. Changes to FDA regulations or requirements could require changes to our authorized test, necessitate additional measures, or make it impractical or impossible for us to market our test. The revocation of an EUA could necessitate that we pursue the lengthy and expensive 510(k) clearance process, which is now available since a COVID-19 assay has received de novo 510(k) classification. Indeed, the FDA has recommended that manufacturers of tests subject to an EUA pursue pre-market submissions such as a 510(k), de novo classification, or PMA, as applicable, during the declared public health emergency so that their devices can remain on the market after the emergency terminates. As a result, any such revocation could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We initially considered seeking an additional EUA from the FDA for our respiratory panel targeting the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and Influenza A and B. However, the FDA released additional guidance on November 22, 2021 setting forth additional requirements for EUA applicants, namely that the applicant must either qualify as an experienced developer, or if not a qualified developer, the applicant must have a sponsor. We do not qualify as an experienced developer, nor do we currently have any sponsors for the combination test, therefore, it is unlikely that we will be able to obtain any additional EUAs. Further, we cannot predict when any such EUA would terminate in connection with a determination by the FDA regarding the end of the SARS-CoV-2 public health emergency. After the emergency declaration is terminated or an EUA is earlier revoked, we will be required to have 510(k) clearance in order for us to continue marketing and distributing our products. Failure to obtain additional EUAs or the revocation of any EUAs, if obtained, could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be unable to validate our manufacturing for the Talis One instrument and cartridges at scale, which may impact our ability to start and/or complete our post-authorization clinical evaluation study required by the EUA for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, as well as impact our ability to support our research and development pipeline.
In order to commercialize our products, we will need to manufacture the Talis One instrument and cartridges in large quantities. We have experienced delays in manufacturing our products, and we, or our manufacturing partners, may be unable to successfully increase the manufacturing capacity for any of our products in a timely or cost-effective manner, or at all. If we are unable to manufacture our products at scale, this will impact our ability to start, as well as complete, the post-authorization clinical evaluation study required by the EUA for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System. Failure to timely complete this clinical study would likely result in the withdrawal of the EUA which event would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, quality issues may arise during scale-up activities. If we, or our manufacturing partners, are unable to successfully scale-up the manufacture of our products in sufficient quality and quantity, the development, testing and clinical trials of our other products may be delayed or become infeasible, and marketing approval or commercial launch of any resulting product may be delayed or not obtained, which could significantly harm our business. We have experienced delays related to the manufacture of the instrument and cartridges due to the complexity of the process. This has subsequently delayed our progress in developing future products by reducing access to material and requiring us to divert significant internal resources to focus on stabilizing the manufacturing process with our manufacturing partners. Also, due to the insufficient supply of instruments and cartridges, we have not been able to commence formal reliability studies to determine product reliability when produced at scale.
If we change the design of the Talis One instrument and/or cartridge to improve manufacturability at scale, we may need to obtain new FDA authorization for our Talis One COVID-19 Test System.
As a result of the manufacturing issues that we have encountered with the Talis One instrument and cartridge, we may consider making design changes that could improve the manufacturability at scale, and overall reliability and consistency of the instrument and cartridge. However, if we were to update the design of the instrument and cartridges, we may be required to obtain new FDA approval for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, and could no longer rely on the EUA and would need to obtain 510(k) clearance for the updated products. While there would likely be long term benefits in enhancing and improving the Talis One instrument and cartridge design, there could be a material negative impact to our business if we are no longer able to market the Talis One COVID-19 Test System until we have obtained 510(k) clearance for the updated products. We would also incur additional design and engineering expense for the updated design work, as well as for the clinical trials required for the 501(k) submission.
The EUA for our Talis One COVID-19 Test System may be revoked or may terminate at the conclusion of the public health emergency, and we may not be able to obtain marketing authorization for additional assays, which would adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have focused our efforts on the development of the Talis One system for FDA clearance or other marketing authorization as a point-of-care testing platform for infectious diseases. A significant portion of our commercial strategy depends upon the initial commercialization of our Talis One COVID-19 Test System pursuant to an EUA, and on receiving subsequent marketing authorizations with inclusion in clinical guidelines to strengthen our position in establishing coverage and reimbursement of our products with both public and private payors. If the EUA we have received is withdrawn or terminates at the conclusion of the public health emergency, we will be required to pursue marketing authorization through the FDA’s standard pre-market review pathways, in this case a traditional 510(k) clearance. We cannot guarantee that we would be able to satisfy the requirements for marketing authorization under that pathway. If we do not receive such marketing authorizations in a timely manner, or at all, or we are not successful in receiving such guideline inclusion, we may not be able to commercialize our products successfully or at all. Additionally, third-party payors may be unwilling to provide sufficient coverage and reimbursement for our products necessary for hospitals and other healthcare providers to adopt our solutions as part of their treatment strategy. In addition, any future marketing authorization of the Talis One system for our CT/NG/TV and other women’s health assays will require pursuing a 510(k) clearance, or another available approval path.
Moreover, development of the data necessary to obtain marketing authorization of a diagnostic test is time-consuming and carries with it the risk of not yielding the desired results. The performance achieved in initial studies may not be repeated in later studies that may be required to obtain marketing authorizations. In addition, limited
results from earlier-stage verification studies may not predict results from studies conducted to obtain marketing authorization. Unfavorable results from ongoing preclinical and clinical studies could result in delays, modifications or abandonment of ongoing analytical or future clinical studies, or abandonment of a product development program, or may delay, limit or prevent regulatory approvals or clearances or commercialization of our products, any of which may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, results that would be sufficient for regulatory approval may not demonstrate strong performance characteristics, limiting the market demand for the system, which would adversely affect our business. See “—Risks related to regulatory matters.”
We have no or limited experience in developing, marketing and commercializing diagnostic platforms and tests, and we are continuing to evaluate the sales model for the Talis One system, which may make it difficult to evaluate the success of our business and to assess our future viability.
To date, we have no experience with the entire commercialization process for the Talis One system. We have gained experience with the initial stages of the process, including demand generation, evaluations, and quoting, and we have recent commercialization experience selling and distributing the Antigen Tests. As a result, we have limited experience forecasting future financial performance for our products, including any third-party products that we may offer, such as the Antigen Tests, and our actual results may fall below our financial guidance or other projections, or the expectations of analysts or investors, which could cause the price of our common stock to decline. In addition, we are continuing to evaluate the appropriate acquisition model for our Talis One system and cannot predict the proportion of customers that would procure the Talis One instrument through capital purchase versus our planned equipment leasing model. Our results of operations could fluctuate with high variability depending on the changes in the proportion of our customers who directly purchase as compared to renting the equipment which will make it challenging to predict our operating results, particularly during the early stages of our commercial launch.
We expect to initially market and sell the Talis One COVID-19 Test System in the United States pursuant to our EUA. A substantial portion of our revenue will depend upon such sales, which we expect will continue to be the case until such time as we obtain marketing authorization for subsequent tests, or if we are able to successfully pursue other product opportunities, such as selling third party products like the Antigen Tests. As a result, our future success will depend in large part on our ability to effectively launch the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, subsequently introduce enhanced or new tests for the Talis One system and find other opportunities that could augment our business without materially diverting resources from our focus on the Talis One system. Any future commercialization of the Talis One system for other assays will require pursuing additional EUAs, 510(k) clearance or another available approval path. The launch of new products is inherently uncertain and requires the completion of commercialization activities that are complex, costly, time-intensive and uncertain, and require us to accurately anticipate patients’, providers’ and, if applicable, payors’ attitudes and needs, the future competitive landscape, and emerging technology and industry trends. This process is conducted in various stages, and each stage presents the risk that we will not achieve our goals on a timely basis, or at all.
Our commercial success depends, in part, on the acceptance of our diagnostic tests and services as being safe and relatively simple for medical personnel to learn and use, clinically flexible, operationally versatile and, with respect to providers and payers, cost effective. We cannot predict how quickly, if at all, payers, providers, clinics and patients will accept future diagnostic tests and services or, if accepted, how frequently they will be used. These constituents must believe that our diagnostic tests offer benefits over other available alternatives. The degree of market acceptance of our current and future diagnostic tests and services depends on a number of factors, including:
With respect to the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, our commercial success could also depend on the vaccination rates in the US and effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines against all variants of interest, as this could decrease the demand for COVID-19 tests. There can be no assurance that demand for our COVID-19 testing will continue to exist in the future due to successful containment efforts, the successful vaccination of a majority of Americans, the development of safe and effective therapeutics, the impact of new variants, or due to other events. Commercial success of our Respiratory Panel will depend on receiving FDA authorization pursuant to the more onerous 510(k) pathway for market authorization, which could further delay bringing our respiratory product to market. A delay in receiving authorization could allow competitors who have already obtained authorization for combined COVID-flu tests to gain significant market share prior to our entry into the market. Additionally, even if our diagnostic tests achieve widespread market acceptance, they may not maintain that market acceptance over time if competing diagnostic tests or technologies, which are more cost effective or are received more favorably, are introduced. Failure to achieve or maintain market acceptance and/or market share would limit our ability to generate revenue and would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may experience research and development, regulatory, marketing and other difficulties that could delay or prevent our introduction of enhanced or new products and result in increased costs and the diversion of management’s attention and resources from other business matters. For example, any molecular diagnostic tests that we may develop or further enhance may not prove to be clinically effective, or may not meet our desired target product profile or be offered at acceptable cost and with the sensitivity, specificity and other test performance metrics necessary to address the relevant clinical need or commercial opportunity; our molecular diagnostic test performance in commercial settings may be inconsistent with our validation or other clinical data; we may not be successful in achieving market awareness and demand, whether through our own sales and marketing operations or entering into collaborative arrangements; the collaborative arrangements we enter into may not be successful or we may not be able to maintain those that are successful; healthcare providers may not use any tests that we may enhance or develop; or we may otherwise have to abandon a product or service in which we have invested substantial resources.
An important factor in our ability to commercialize our products is collecting data that supports the value proposition of our products, and in particular that our tests are just as accurate and reliable as central lab testing. The data collected from any studies we complete may not be favorable or consistent with our existing data or may not be statistically significant or compelling to the medical community or to third-party payors seeking such data for purposes of determining coverage for our products. Any of the foregoing could have a negative impact on our ability to commercialize our future products, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have commenced selling the Antigen Tests and are investigating other third party product opportunities to generate revenue which could divert focus from commercializing our own product, the Talis One system.
In January 2022, we began purchasing the Antigen Tests from a third party and distributing them to customers, as an authorized distributor. We purchase the Antigen Tests in advance and resell them to customers, including sub-distributors, hospitals, physician’s offices, urgent care clinics, and public health clinics. While we have been able to sell the Antigen Tests at a profitable rate, there were initially significant resource demands on different business teams, including finance, legal, operations, commercial infrastructure, and sales, that allowed us to move forward with this opportunity. We are exploring additional partnerships that could allow us to distribute over-the-counter rapid antigen tests for COVID-19, as well as for antigen tests for infections other than COVID-19. If we continue to pursue other third-party product opportunities to generate revenue, there could be required financial outlays, as well as demands on our personnel, that could potentially divert resources away from the Talis One system. There could
be future opportunities that lead to unexpected or unplanned demands on our financial and human capital resources that on their own could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, while also materially impacting our commercialization efforts for the Talis One system.
We may be subject to an order from federal or state governments, including pursuant to the DPA, to distribute the Talis One COVID-19 Test System directly to the government or as directed by the government, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (DPA) is a federal statute that confers upon the President of the United States a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense. “National defense” can include emergency and disaster response and, since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the sitting President of the United States has used this authority numerous times to address the public health crisis. Through the DPA, the executive branch has struck agreements with multiple companies to accelerate COVID-19 countermeasures, like N95 protective masks, testing swabs, and vaccine development, and, in September 2020, used the DPA to acquire point-of-care diagnostic testing instruments from two of our potential competitors for placement in nursing homes. The government applied the DPA to our RADx contract but allowed that rating to expire upon the original expiration date of the RADx contract on July 30, 2021, before we received the EUA. The government may similarly apply the DPA, or another law or program, to our other existing contracts or a new contract to acquire our testing instruments or to direct us to distribute our products in a particular manner, and we may be likewise required to prioritize distribution to certain government agencies or other recipients, or to allocate inventory, supplies or facilities for government or government-directed use. The DPA provides that orders pursuant to the statute must “meet regularly established terms of sale or payment” and further provides that no person “shall be held liable for damages or penalties for any act or failure to act resulting directly or indirectly from compliance with a rule, regulation, or order” under the DPA. However, compliance with the DPA could potentially cause business disruption, interfere with our commercial sales and marketing efforts, and depending on the demand, could even prevent or delay our ability to sell our products commercially, or may have other implications that significantly affect our commercialization and development efforts and general ability to conduct our business operations as planned. For example, government directed use of our products under such a program may result in our instruments not being placed in settings where they will be used often for additional tests following the COVID-19 crisis which would adversely affect our long-term commercial plan that is based on the addition of multiple tests for use with the Talis One system. In addition, such government requirements may adversely affect our regular operations and financial results, result in differential treatment of customers and/or adversely affect our reputation and customer relationships. It is also possible that any change in the current administration could impact the manner in which the government uses the DPA and its other authorities and result in additional or different risk to us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has and could continue to materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact worldwide economic and commercial activity and financial markets, as well as increasing demand for certain components that we use in our Talis One system. Certain manufacturers of multiple components of our Talis One system may be unable to provide such components to us, or are unable to provide such components on reasonable timelines, without a requirement from the government to do so pursuant to the DPA. Our RADx contract was previously modified to incorporate a priority rating of DO pursuant to the DPA. This allowed us to place the same priority rating on orders for industrial resources that we need to fulfill our rated order with our suppliers. While our contract with RADx, which was originally set to expire July 30, 2021, was amended to extend the performance period to January 30, 2022, the DPA rating was not extended and expired. COVID-19 has also resulted in significant business and operational disruptions, including business closures, supply chain disruptions, travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and limitations on the availability of workforces. COVID-19 precautions may directly or indirectly impact the timeline for some of our planned clinical trials for our non-COVID-19 related products in development, and we are continuing to assess the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our current and future business and operations, including our expenses and clinical trials, as well as on our industry and the healthcare system. Although local jurisdictions have subsequently lifted stay-at-home orders and moved to the opening of businesses, worker shortages, vaccine and testing requirements, new variants of COVID-19 and other health and safety recommendations have impacted the ability of businesses to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity and employment. While the overall economy has improved, disruptions to supply chains continue and significant inflation has been seen in the market. The extent to which COVID-19 negatively impacts our business and operations will depend on how quickly and to what extent economic conditions improve and
normal business and operating conditions resume, and whether the supply of components will remain sufficient to satisfy market demand and any impact on its pricing. If the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue for a prolonged period or result in sustained economic stress, higher inflation levels or recession, many of the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section could be exacerbated, such as those relating to our reliance on a limited number of suppliers, our need to raise additional capital to fund our existing operations and our ability to procure sufficient supplies for our instruments and cartridges, at the level of quality we need, and at a commercially reasonable cost.
If our products do not perform as expected, including due to errors, defects or reliability issues, our reputation and market acceptance of our products could be harmed, and our operating results, reputation and business will suffer.
Our success depends on physician and customer confidence that we can provide reliable and highly accurate diagnostic tests and enable better patient care. We believe that physicians and other healthcare providers are likely to be particularly sensitive to defects, errors or reliability issues in our products, including if our products fail to accurately diagnose infections with high accuracy from patient samples, and there can be no guarantee that our products will meet their expectations. There is no guarantee that the accuracy and reproducibility we have demonstrated to date will continue as our product deliveries increase and our product portfolio expands.
Our products use a number of complex and sophisticated biochemical and bioinformatics processes, many of which are highly sensitive to external factors. For example, the Talis One system, comprised of a compact instrument, universal single-use assay cartridges and software, including a central cloud database, may contain undetected errors or defects when first introduced or as new versions are released. Our diagnostic tests may contain errors or defects or be subject to reliability issues, and while we have made efforts to test them extensively, we cannot assure that our current diagnostic tests, or those developed in the future, will not have performance problems. An operational, technological or other failure in one of these complex processes or fluctuations in external variables may result in sensitivity or specificity rates that are lower than we anticipate or result in longer than expected turnaround times or they may cause our products to malfunction. Due to the complexity of our instrument and cartridge, it may be difficult or impossible to identify the reason for such performance. Performance issues would increase our costs in the near-term and accordingly adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, failure to maintain high-quality customer support, or a market perception that we do not maintain high-quality customer support, could adversely affect our reputation and our ability to sell our Talis One system. We may also be subject to warranty claims or breach of contract for damages related to errors, defects or reliability issues in our products.
Further, our products are designed to be used at the customer’s location by untrained personnel. We cannot provide assurance that our customers will always use our products in the manner in which we intend. Any intentional or unintentional misuse of our products by our customers could lead to substantial civil and criminal monetary and non-monetary penalties and could cause us to incur significant legal and investigatory fees.
If our products do not perform, or are perceived to not have performed, as expected or favorably in comparison to competitive products, our operating results, reputation, and business will suffer, and we may also be subject to legal claims arising from product limitations, errors, or inaccuracies.
Additionally, many of the pathogens for which we are developing tests, including SARS-CoV-2, are known to mutate over time. Such mutations may negatively affect the accuracy of our tests or even make our tests obsolete if our tests are unable to detect future variants. The failure of our products to perform as expected could significantly impair our operating results and our reputation, including if we become subject to legal claims arising from any defects or errors in our products or test results.
Operational, technical and other difficulties adversely affecting test performance may harm our reputation, impact the commercial attractiveness of our products, increase our costs or divert our resources, including management’s time and attention, from other projects and priorities. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our products may be subject to recalls in the future. A recall of products, either voluntarily or at the direction of the FDA or another governmental authority, or the discovery of serious safety issues with our products, could have a significant adverse impact on us.
The FDA has the authority to require the recall of commercialized products that are subject to FDA regulation. Manufacturers may, also, under their own initiative, recall a product or service if any deficiency is found. For reportable corrections and removals, companies are required to make additional periodic submissions to the FDA
after initiating the recall, and often engage with the FDA on their recall strategy prior to initiating the recall. A government-mandated or voluntary recall by us or a distributor could occur as a result of an unacceptable health risk, component failures, malfunctions, manufacturing errors, design or labeling defects, or other deficiencies and issues. Recalls of any of our commercialized products would divert managerial and financial resources and adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and reputation. A recall of Talis One instruments could be required for any number of problems. Given the number of components, determining the cause of the malfunction may be particularly challenging and costly. In addition, any recall of Talis One instruments would decrease the market for our authorized tests given the decreased availability of such instruments. We may also be subject to liability claims, be required to bear other costs or take other actions that may negatively impact our future sales and our ability to generate profits. Companies are also required to maintain certain records of corrections and removals, even if these do not require reporting to the FDA. We may initiate voluntary recalls involving our commercialized products. The FDA or other agency could take enforcement action for failing to report the recalls when they were conducted. In addition, if we are required to make changes to our products to redress the deficiencies leading to the recall, we may be required to seek marketing authorization for the modified device prior to commercializing it. Any recall announcement by us or a governmental authority, or any changes that we make to our products as a result of such recall, could harm our reputation with customers and negatively affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
If we initiate a recall, including a correction or removal, for one of our commercialized products, issue a safety alert, or undertake a field action or recall to reduce a health risk, this could lead to increased scrutiny by the FDA, other governmental and regulatory enforcement bodies, and our customers regarding the quality and safety of our products, and to negative publicity, including FDA alerts, press releases, or administrative or judicial actions. Furthermore, the submission of these reports could be used against us by competitors and cause customers to delay purchase decisions or cancel orders, which would harm our reputation.
We may be unable to manage our growth effectively, which could make it difficult to execute our business strategy.
We anticipate continued growth in our business operations both inside and outside the United States. Any future growth could create strain on our organizational, administrative, and operational infrastructure, including quality control, customer service, and sales force management. Our ability to manage our growth properly will require us to continue to improve our operational, financial, and managerial controls, as well as our reporting systems and procedures.
The COVID-19 pandemic and current shortage of available testing, at the point-of-care, means there is currently significant demand for accurate point-of-care COVID-19 tests. We anticipate that our need to grow our business will increase if we are able to successfully commercialize our products, which will require that we incorporate new equipment, implement new technology systems, automate equipment processes, hire new personnel with different qualifications, and procure additional manufacturing capabilities to allow us to further develop and manufacture new and existing tests. In addition, following the initial commercial launch, if our volume grows and our test menu expands, if authorized, we expect that we will need to continue to implement customer service, billing, and general process improvements and expand our internal quality assurance program to support increased demand. Customer service could prove to be particularly important given the lack of experience our potential customers will have with our products. While we are currently undertaking the construction of new facilities and improvements to our facilities as part of our rapid growth, such construction may be delayed for reasons that are outside of our control and once completed, we may experience operational delays transitioning to the new facilities. As a result of the foregoing, there is no assurance that any necessary increases in scale, expansion of personnel, equipment, facilities software and computing capacities, or process enhancements will be successfully implemented.
Further, the challenges of addressing the demand for COVID-19 tests due to the pandemic is exacerbated by the fact that we are a pre-commercial company with respect to our own products. We do not have processes, procedures, or models in place to forecast, predict or manage demand for our products or for ancillary functions such as customer service, technological support, and billing. This inexperience could expose us to several risks. For example, it could make it more likely that we mismanage inventory or distribution, resulting in expired or otherwise unused products or components of our products. In addition, we do not currently have any experience in selling our instrument or test cartridges, to date. Furthermore, in the event that demand for our products were to exceed our initial ability to supply our products, we may initially prioritize the wrong customers, the wrong type of customer, or the wrong geographic areas, any of which will have a negative impact on our potential revenue.
In addition, if we experience a significant increase in demand, additional supplies of raw materials or additional manufacturing capacity may not be available when required on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all, or suppliers may not be able to allocate sufficient capacity in order to meet our increased requirements, which will adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Due to our limited financial resources, we may not be able to manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel in an effective manner. Failure to manage this growth could result in higher costs, declining quality, deteriorating customer service, and slower responses to competitive challenges. A failure in any one of these areas could make it difficult for us to meet market expectations for our products and could damage our reputation, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The diagnostic testing industry is subject to rapid change, which could make our current or future products obsolete.
Our industry is characterized by rapid changes, including technological and scientific breakthroughs, frequent new product introductions and enhancements and evolving industry standards, all of which could make our current products and the other products we are developing obsolete. Concerns about obsolescence could make it particularly difficult to successfully deploy our Talis One system to a sufficiently broad customer base to enable us to profitably sell our authorized tests in the future. Our future success will depend on our ability to keep pace with the evolving needs of customers on a timely and cost-effective basis and to pursue new market opportunities that develop as a result of scientific and technological advances. We must continuously enhance our Talis One system and develop new tests to keep pace with evolving standards of care. If we do not update our products to reflect new scientific knowledge our products could become obsolete and sales of our current products and any new products we develop could decline or fail to grow as expected.
Although we have now established sales and marketing and customer support capabilities, we may not be successful in commercializing our current or future products, if and when they are approved, and we may not be able to generate any revenue.
We have implemented a sales and marketing infrastructure for the first time, but have limited experience in the sales, marketing, customer support or distribution of medical devices. To achieve commercial success for any product for which we retain sales and marketing responsibilities, we must effectively execute in the areas of sales, marketing, customer support, technical support, and fulfillment.
We have made significant investments in establishing our sales, service and support personnel and infrastructure, however, we have not utilized such personnel or infrastructure to commercialize the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, as planned, but to support the Antigen Test initiative. In addition, in March 2022, we implemented a reduction in force of approximately 25% (as further described below) which has impacted our sales, service and support personnel. There is a risk that our inability to manufacture or sell our own products soon enough and at sufficient volume, together with the uncertainty of when we will be able to do so, could limit our ability to maintain our commercial organization and personnel at adequate levels. In addition, we may find it challenging to effectively scale up our commercial organization and personnel when needed to facilitate our commercialization efforts.
Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our current or future products on our own include:
We may not successfully implement our strategy to provide customers access to our system through alternative non-direct capital sales channels, including our planned equipment leasing program or other sales and marketing practices.
Our ability to execute our growth strategy depends upon our ability to drive adoption of the Talis One system. In addition to direct capital sales of our instrument, we intend to implement methods for customers to access to our system through alternatives such as the rental of our instrument or a promotional instrument placement instead of purchase. Our ability to execute on these programs is unproven. We cannot assure that our rental program will gain market acceptance which will cause us to be dependent on capital equipment sales and may hinder or delay adoption of our system.
If our current or future products are not competitive in their intended markets, we may be unable to increase or sustain our revenues or achieve profitability.
Our industry is characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. Due to the significant interest and growth in diagnostics, we expect ongoing intense competition.
We anticipate facing competition primarily from centralized laboratories and diagnostic companies offering both point-of-care and at-home solutions. Competitors include those offering molecular, antibody and antigen tests. Competitors in the reference lab category include Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (commonly referred to as LabCorp) and Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, along with many hospital laboratories. Our competitors in the point-of-care and/or at-home category, for molecular and/or antigen tests that have received an EUA for their COVID-19 tests, include Abbott Laboratories, Binx Health, Inc., BioFire Diagnostics, LLC, Cepheid (a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation), Cue Health Inc., Lucira Health, Inc., Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc., Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., Visby Medical, Inc., ON/GO, Quidel, and OraSure. In addition, BioFire Diagnostics, LLC has received FDA marketing authorization under the de novo review pathway for its Respiratory Panel 2.1. There are also smaller or earlier-stage companies developing tests that may also prove to be significant competitors, in the COVID-19 market or in the women’s health and/or sexual health markets. Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their collaboration partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, regulatory clearance approval and compliance, and sales and distribution than we do. Mergers and acquisitions involving diagnostics companies may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies or customer networks. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize diagnostic products or services that are more accurate, more convenient to use or more cost-effective than our products or services. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory clearance or approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain clearance or approval or other marketing authorizations for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter a particular market.
Further, some of our competitors’ products are sold at prices that are lower than our anticipated pricing, which could cause sales of our products to decline or force us to reduce our prices, which would harm our revenues, operating income or market share. If we are unable to compete successfully, we may be unable to increase or sustain our revenue or achieve profitability.
To remain competitive, we must continually research and develop improvements to our products. However, we may not be able to develop and commercialize improvements to our products in a timely manner. Our competitors may develop and commercialize competing or alternative products and improvements faster than we are able to do so, which would negatively affect our ability to increase or sustain our revenue or achieve profitability.
We have estimated the sizes of the markets for our current and future products, and these markets may be smaller than we estimate.
Our estimates of the annual addressable markets for our COVID-19 test and the additional tests under development are based on a number of internal and third-party estimates as well as the assumed rates at which such products will be reimbursed, or the assumed prices at which we can sell our products for markets that have not been established. While we believe our assumptions and the data underlying our estimates are reasonable, these assumptions and estimates may not be correct and the conditions supporting our assumptions or estimates may change at any time,
including as a result of factors outside our control, thereby reducing the predictive accuracy of these underlying factors. Specifically, with respect to the market for our COVID-19 test, the market and competitive landscape are continuously changing. Any number of factors that are outside of our control could make our estimates invalid.
There can be no assurance that demand for our COVID-19 testing will continue to exist in the future due to successful containment efforts, the successful vaccination of a majority of Americans, the development of safe and effective therapeutics, SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic, or due to other events. If the actual number of patients who would benefit from our products, the price at which we can sell future products or the annual addressable market for our products is smaller than we have estimated, it may impair our sales growth and have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Unfavorable local and global economic conditions could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Our results of operations could be adversely affected by general conditions in both the local and global economy and financial markets, particularly as the United States and other countries balance concerns around debt, inflation, growth and budget allocations in their policy initiatives. There can be no assurance that global economic conditions and financial markets will not worsen and that we will not experience any adverse effects that may be material to our cash flows, results of operations, financial position or our ability to access capital, such as the adverse effects resulting from a prolonged shutdown in government operations both in the United States and internationally. Our business is also affected by local economic environments, including inflation, recession, financial liquidity and currency volatility or devaluation. Political changes, including war or other conflicts, some of which may be disruptive, could interfere with our supply chain, our customers and all of our activities in a particular location. A severe or prolonged global economic downturn could result in a variety of risks to our business, including our ability to raise additional capital when needed on acceptable terms, if at all. A weak or declining economy could also strain our manufacturers and suppliers, possibly resulting in supply disruption. In addition, geopolitical, economic and military conditions around the world may directly affect our business. Any hostilities involving any of the countries in which we or our third-party suppliers operate, including terrorist activities, political instability or violence in the region or the interruption or curtailment of trade or transport between such country and its trading partners could adversely affect our business and results of operations. Any of the foregoing could harm our business and we cannot anticipate all of the ways in which the current economic climate and financial market conditions could adversely impact our business.
We are highly dependent on our senior management team and key personnel, and if we are unable to recruit, train and retain key personnel, we may not achieve our goals.
Our future success depends on our ability to recruit, develop, retain and motivate key personnel. We have had changes in our management and executive leadership team, including appointing a new chief executive officer, which could lead to disruption of our business or distraction of our employees as we adapt to such management changes. The loss of members of our senior management, research and development, science and engineering, manufacturing and sales and marketing teams could result in delays in product development and harm our business.
We do not maintain fixed-term employment contracts or key man life insurance with any of our employees. Competition for qualified personnel is intense. The life sciences industry has been challenged by shortages of qualified technical personnel, especially those with experience in infectious disease and/or in vitro diagnostics, resulting in increased competition for new hires and increased employee turnover. Our growth depends, in particular, on attracting, retaining and motivating highly skilled sales personnel with the necessary clinical background and ability to understand our systems at a scientific and technical level. Because of the complex and technical nature of our products and the dynamic market in which we compete, any failure to attract, develop, retain and motivate qualified personnel could materially harm our operating results and growth prospects.
If we fail to achieve the expected financial and operational benefits of our recent reduction in force, our business and financial results may be harmed.
In March 2022, we implemented a reduction in force, of approximately 25%, designed to reduce our operating expenses, preserve cash and align our remaining resources to focus on, among other things, developing internal manufacturing expertise to support the commercial launch of the Talis One system. We anticipate that we will incur approximately $1.0 million of expenses related to the reduction in force, substantially all of which will consist of
one-time charges related to the staff reduction, including cash expenditures and other costs. Substantially all of the committed actions under the reduction in force will take place by the end of March 2022. The estimates of the expenses we expect to incur, including any estimates of annualized savings going forward, are subject to a number of assumptions, risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ from our estimates. We may also incur additional costs not currently contemplated due to events that may occur as a result of, or that are associated with, the reduction in force.
If we were sued for product liability or professional liability, we could face substantial liabilities that exceed our resources.
The marketing, sale, and use of our products could lead to the filing of product liability claims were someone to allege that our products identified inaccurate or incomplete information regarding their infections, or otherwise failed to perform as designed. We may also be subject to liability for errors in, a misunderstanding of, or inappropriate reliance upon the information we provide in the ordinary course of our business activities. A product liability or professional liability claim could result in substantial damages and be costly and time-consuming for us to defend.
We maintain product liability and professional liability insurance, but this insurance may not fully protect us from the financial impact of defending against product liability or professional liability claims. Any product liability or professional liability claim brought against us, with or without merit, could increase our insurance rates or prevent us from securing insurance coverage in the future. Additionally, any product liability lawsuit could damage our reputation, which could impact our results of operations.
We depend on our information technology and telecommunications systems, and those of our third-party service providers, contractors and consultants, and any failure of these systems could harm our business.
We depend on our information technology and telecommunications systems and those of our third-party service providers, contractors and consultants for significant elements of our operations. We have installed and are expanding a number of enterprise software systems that affect a broad range of business processes and functional areas, including, for example, systems handling human resources, financial controls and reporting, contract management, and other infrastructure operations. These information technology and telecommunications systems support a variety of functions. In addition, our third-party service providers depend upon technology and telecommunications systems provided by outside vendors.
Despite the implementation of preventative and detective security controls, such information technology and telecommunications systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from a variety of sources, including telecommunications or network failures or interruptions, system malfunction, natural disasters, malicious human acts, terrorism and war. Failures or significant downtime of our information technology or telecommunications systems, or those used by our third-party service providers, contractors or consultants could prevent us from conducting our comprehensive genomic analyses, preparing and providing reports and data to clinicians, handling customer inquiries, conducting research and development activities, and managing the administrative aspects of our business.
If the information technology systems of our third-party service providers and other contractors and consultants become subject to disruptions, we may have insufficient recourse against such third parties and we may have to expend significant resources to mitigate the impact of such an event, and to develop and implement protections to help prevent future events of this nature from occurring. Any disruption or loss of information technology or telecommunications systems on which critical aspects of our operations depend could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If our information technology systems or data, or those of third parties upon which we rely, are or were compromised, we could experience adverse consequences resulting from such compromise, including but not limited to regulatory investigations or actions; litigation; fines and penalties; disruptions of our business operations; reputational harm; loss of revenue or profits; loss of customers or sales; and other adverse consequences.
In the ordinary course of our business, we and our third-party service providers will collect, store, use, transmit, disclose, or otherwise process proprietary, confidential, and sensitive data, including personal data (which includes health-related data and legally protected health information (PHI)), intellectual property, and trade secrets). In addition, we will offer online customer-facing portals accessible through public web portals. It is critical that we
process sensitive data in a secure manner to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of such confidential information. We manage and maintain our applications and data utilizing a combination of on-site systems, managed data center systems, and cloud-based data center systems. These applications and related data encompass a wide variety of business-critical information including research and development information, commercial information, and business and financial information. We rely upon third parties service providers and technologies to operate critical business systems to process confidential information and personal data in a variety of contexts, including, without limitation, third-party providers of cloud-based infrastructure, encryption and authentication technology, employee email and other functions. Our ability to monitor these third parties’ cybersecurity practices is limited, and these third parties may not have adequate information security measures in place. We may share or receive sensitive data with or from third parties.
Cyberattacks, malicious internet-based activity, and online and offline fraud are prevalent and continue to increase. These threats are becoming increasingly difficult to detect. These threats come from a variety of sources. In addition to traditional computer “hackers,” threat actors, personnel (such as through theft or misuse), sophisticated nation-states, and nation-state-supported actors now engage in attacks.
We and the third parties upon which we rely may be subject to a variety of evolving threats, including but not limited to social-engineering attacks (including through phishing attacks), malicious code (such as viruses and worms), malware (including as a result of advanced persistent threat intrusions), denial-of-service attacks (such as credential stuffing), personnel misconduct or error, ransomware attacks, supply-chain attacks, software bugs, server malfunctions, software or hardware failures, loss of data or other information technology assets, adware, telecommunications failures, earthquakes, fires, floods, and other similar threats. Ransomware attacks, including those perpetrated by organized criminal threat actors, nation-states, and nation-state-supported actors, are becoming increasingly prevalent and severe and can lead to significant interruptions in our operations, loss of data and income, reputational harm, and diversion of funds. Extortion payments may alleviate the negative impact of a ransomware attack, but we may be unwilling or unable to make such payments due to, for example, applicable laws or regulations prohibiting such payments. Similarly, supply-chain attacks have increased in frequency and severity, and we cannot guarantee that third parties and infrastructure in our supply chain or our third-party partners’ supply chains have not been compromised or that they do not contain exploitable defects or bugs that could result in a breach of or disruption to our information technology systems or the third-party information technology systems that support us and our services. The COVID-19 pandemic and our remote workforce poses increased risks to our information technology systems and data, as more of our personnel work from home, utilizing network connections outside our premises. Future business transactions (such as acquisitions or integrations) could expose us to additional cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities, as our systems could be negatively affected by vulnerabilities present in acquired or integrated entities’ systems and technologies.
Any of the previously identified or similar threats could cause a security incident or other interruption. A security incident or other interruption could result in unauthorized, unlawful, or accidental acquisition, modification, destruction, loss, alteration, encryption, disclosure of, or access to data or could disrupt our ability (and that of third parties upon whom we rely) to provide our services. If such an event were to occur, it could result in a material disruption of our product development programs and our business operations. These threats pose a risk to the security of our systems, the confidentiality and the availability and integrity of our data, and these risks apply both to us, and to third parties on whose systems we rely for the conduct of our business.
We may expend significant resources or modify our business activities (including our clinical trial activities) in an effort to protect against security incidents. Certain data privacy and security obligations may require us to implement and maintain specific security measures, industry-standard or reasonable security measures to protect our information technology systems and data. While we have implemented security measures designed to protect against security incidents, there can be no assurance that these measures will be effective. We have previously been, and may in the future become, the target of cyber-attacks by third parties seeking unauthorized access to our or our customers’ data or to disrupt our operations or ability to provide our services. For example, we have been subject to phishing incidents, and we may experience additional incidents in the future.
We may be unable to detect vulnerabilities in our information technology systems because such threats and techniques change frequently, are often sophisticated in nature, and may not be detected until after a security incident has occurred. Despite our efforts to identify and remediate vulnerabilities, if any, in our information technology systems, our efforts may not be successful. Further, we may experience delays in developing and deploying remedial measures designed to address any such identified vulnerabilities.
Applicable data privacy and security obligations may require us to notify relevant stakeholders of security incidents. Such disclosures are costly, and the disclosures or the failure to comply with such requirements could lead to adverse consequences. If we (or a third party upon whom we rely) experience a security incident or are perceived to have experienced a security incident, we may experience adverse consequences. These consequences may include: government enforcement actions (for example, investigations, fines, penalties, audits, and inspections); additional reporting requirements and/or oversight; restrictions on processing data (including personal data); litigation (including class claims); indemnification obligations; negative publicity; reputational harm; monetary expenditures; interruptions in our operations (including availability of data); financial loss; and other similar harms. Security incidents and attendant consequences may cause delays in the development of our product candidates, cause customers to stop using our products or services, deter new customers from using our products or services, and negatively impact our ability to grow and operate our business.
Our contracts may not contain limitations of liability, and even where they do, there can be no assurance that limitations of liability in our contracts are sufficient to protect us from liabilities, damages, or claims related to our data privacy and security obligations. We cannot be sure that our insurance coverage will be adequate or sufficient of protect us from or to mitigate liabilities arising out of our privacy and security practices, that such coverage will continue to be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, or that such coverage will pay future claims. Our risks are likely to increase as we continue to expand our business, grow our customer base, and process, store, and transmit increasingly large amounts of proprietary and sensitive data.
We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by power outages, earthquakes, fires, health pandemics or other natural disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.
Our facilities are located in areas, which have experienced severe earthquakes and fires and are at risk for rolling or prolonged power outages. If these earthquakes, fires, other natural disasters, power outages health pandemics or epidemics, terrorism and similar unforeseen events beyond our control, including for example the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our facilities, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time and/or could result in the loss of commercial inventory or inventory and supplies required for our clinical trials. We do not have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan in place and may incur substantial expenses as a result of the absence or limited nature of our internal or third party service provider disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which, particularly when taken together with our lack of earthquake insurance, could have a material adverse effect on our business. Furthermore, integral parties in our supply chain are operating from single sites, increasing their vulnerability to natural disasters or other sudden, unforeseen and severe adverse events. If such an event were to affect our supply chain, it could have a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our clinical trials, our development plans and business.
International expansion of our business exposes us to business, regulatory, political, operational, financial and economic risks associated with doing business outside the United States.
Because we intend to market our products outside the United States, if cleared, authorized or approved, our business will be subject to risks associated with doing business outside the United States, including an increase in our expenses and diversion of our management’s attention from the development of future products. Accordingly, our business and financial results in the future could be adversely affected due to a variety of factors, including:
Any of these factors could significantly harm our future international expansion and operations and, consequently, our revenue and results of operations.
We may never obtain authorization to market our tests in any foreign country for any of our products and, even if we do, we may never be able to commercialize them in any other jurisdiction, which would limit our ability to realize their full market potential.
In order to eventually market any of our products in any particular foreign jurisdiction, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis regarding quality, safety, performance and efficacy. In addition, clinical trials or clinical investigations conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries, and regulatory clearance, authorization or approval in one country does not guarantee regulatory clearance, authorization or approval in any other country. For example, the performance characteristics of our products may need to be validated separately in specific ethnic and genetic populations. Marketing authorization processes vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods.
Seeking foreign regulatory clearance, authorization or approval could result in difficulties and costs for us and our collaborators and require additional preclinical studies, clinical trials or clinical investigations which could be costly and time-consuming. Regulatory requirements and ethical approval obligations can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in those countries. The foreign regulatory clearance, authorization or approval process involves all of the risks and uncertainties associated with FDA clearance, authorization or approval. We have no experience in obtaining regulatory clearance, authorization or approval in international markets. If we or our collaborators fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required regulatory clearances, authorizations or approvals in international markets, or if those approvals are delayed, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our products will be unrealized.
We may not have adequate insurance coverage.
We may not have adequate insurance coverage. The successful assertion of one or more large claims against us that exceeds our available insurance coverage, or results in changes to our insurance policies (including premium increases or the imposition of large deductible or co-insurance requirements), could have an adverse effect on our business. In addition, we cannot be sure that our existing insurance coverage and coverage for errors and omissions will continue to be available on acceptable terms or that our insurers will not deny coverage as to any future claim.
Performance issues, service interruptions or price increases by our shipping carriers and warehousing providers could adversely affect our business and harm our reputation and ability to provide our services on a timely basis.
Expedited, reliable shipping and delivery services and secure warehousing are essential to our operations. We rely heavily on providers of transport services for reliable and secure point-to-point transport of our diagnostic tests to our customers and for tracking of these shipments, and from time to time require warehousing for our diagnostic tests, sample collection kits and supplies. Should a carrier encounter delivery performance issues such as loss, damage or destruction of any systems, it would be costly to replace such systems in a timely manner and such occurrences may damage our reputation and lead to decreased demand for our diagnostic tests and increased cost and expense to our business. In addition, we are currently experiencing higher costs for transportation and warehousing and significant inflation that could adversely affect our operating margins and results of operations, if these costs continue to rise. Similarly, strikes, severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest and disturbances or other service interruptions affecting delivery or warehousing services we use would adversely affect our ability to process orders for our diagnostic tests on a timely basis.
We have entered into licenses, collaborations and strategic alliances, and may enter into additional arrangements like these in the future, and we may not realize the anticipated benefits of such arrangements.
The development and potential commercialization of products will require substantial additional capital to fund expenses. We may form or seek further strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations, or enter into additional licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our development and commercialization efforts with respect to any products that we may develop and commercialize, including in territories outside the United States. These transactions can entail numerous operational and financial risks, including exposure to unknown liabilities, disruption of our business and diversion of our management’s time and attention in order to manage a collaboration or develop acquired technologies, incurrence of substantial debt or dilutive issuances of equity securities to pay transaction consideration or costs, higher than expected collaboration, acquisition or integration costs, write-downs of assets or goodwill or impairment charges, increased amortization expenses, difficulty and cost in facilitating the collaboration or combining the operations and personnel of any acquired business, impairment of relationships with key suppliers, manufacturers or customers of any acquired business due to changes in management and ownership and the inability to retain key employees of any acquired business. As a result, if we enter into acquisition or in-license agreements or strategic partnerships, we may not be able to realize the benefit of such transactions if we are unable to successfully integrate them with our existing operations and company culture, or if there are materially adverse impacts on our or the counterparty’s operations resulting from COVID-19, which could delay our timelines or otherwise adversely affect our business. We also cannot be certain that, following a strategic transaction or license, we will achieve the revenue or specific net income that justifies such transaction or such other benefits that led us to enter into the arrangement.
Additionally, we sometimes collaborate with academic institutions. Typically, these institutions provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such option, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified timeframe or under terms that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to other parties, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property or to maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of such program and our business and financial condition could suffer.
Further, rights to certain of the components and technology incorporated into our products are, and in the future, may be held by others, such as one of our suppliers, thinXXS. We may be unable to in-license any rights to components, methods of use, processes or other third party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, which would harm our business. Even if we are able to obtain a license, it may be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In that event, or if we lose access to components or technologies controlled by others, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology. Any such redevelopment or any delays in entering into new collaborations or strategic partnership agreements related to our technologies could delay the development and commercialization of our products in certain geographies, which could harm our business prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.
We may acquire other businesses, which could require significant management attention, disrupt our business, dilute stockholder value and adversely affect our results of operations.
We may in the future make additional acquisitions or investments in complementary companies, diagnostic tests or technologies that we believe fit within our business model and can address the needs of our customers and potential customers. In the future, we may not be able to acquire and integrate other companies, diagnostic tests or technologies in a successful manner. We may not be able to find suitable acquisition candidates, and we may not be able to complete such acquisitions on favorable terms, if at all. In addition, the pursuit of potential acquisitions may divert the attention of management and cause us to incur additional expenses in identifying, investigating and pursuing suitable acquisitions, whether or not they are consummated. If we do complete acquisitions, we may not ultimately strengthen our competitive position or achieve our goals, including increases in revenue, and any acquisitions we complete could be viewed negatively by our customers, investors and industry analysts.
Future acquisitions may reduce our cash available for operations and other uses and could result in amortization expense related to identifiable assets acquired. We may have to pay cash, incur debt or issue equity securities to pay for any such acquisition, each of which could adversely affect our financial condition or the value of our common stock. The sale or issuance of equity to finance any such acquisitions would result in dilution to our stockholders. The incurrence of indebtedness to finance any such acquisition would result in fixed obligations and could also include covenants or other restrictions that could impede our ability to manage our operations. In addition, our future results of operations may be adversely affected by the dilutive effect of an acquisition, performance earn-outs or contingent bonuses associated with an acquisition. Furthermore, acquisitions may require large, onetime charges and can result in increased debt or contingent liabilities, adverse tax consequences, additional stock-based compensation expenses and the recording and subsequent amortization of amounts related to certain purchased intangible assets, any of which items could negatively affect our future results of operations. We may also incur goodwill impairment charges in the future if we do not realize the expected value of any such acquisitions.
Also, the anticipated benefit of any strategic alliance, joint venture or acquisition may not materialize. Additionally, future acquisitions or dispositions could result in potentially dilutive issuances of our equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities or amortization expenses or write-offs of goodwill, any of which could harm our financial condition. We cannot predict the number, timing or size of future joint ventures or acquisitions, or the effect that any such transactions might have on our operating results.
Risks related to regulatory matters
We intend to seek to market our products for point-of-care clinical diagnostic use and will be required to obtain marketing authorizations before they can be marketed. Any such regulatory process would be expensive, time-consuming and uncertain both in timing and in outcome. If we fail to obtain or maintain necessary marketing authorizations, or if such authorizations for future products are delayed or not issued, it will negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
While we are focused initially on the development of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, our strategy is to expand our product line to encompass products that are intended to be used as point-of-care diagnostics for a variety of infectious diseases. Such products will be subject to regulation by the FDA as medical devices, including requirements for regulatory clearance or approval of such products before they can be marketed. Accordingly, we will be required to obtain marketing authorization in order to sell our future products in a manner consistent with FDA laws and regulations. Such processes are expensive, time-consuming and uncertain; our efforts may never result in any marketing authorization; and failure by us to obtain or comply with such marketing authorizations could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or operating results.
The FDA or other regulators can delay, limit, or deny clearance, approval, or other form of marketing authorization of a device for many reasons, including:
The regulations to which we are subject are complex and have tended to become more stringent over time. Regulatory changes could result in restrictions on our ability to carry on or expand our operations, higher than anticipated costs or lower than anticipated sales. The FDA enforces these regulatory requirements through, among other means, periodic unannounced inspections. We do not know whether we will be found compliant in connection with any future regulatory inspections. Moreover, the FDA and state authorities have broad enforcement powers. Our failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements could result in enforcement action by any such agency, which may include any of the following sanctions:
If any of these events were to occur, it would negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, a CLIA-waived designation by the FDA is required for our products to be used at the point-of-care, and outside of the clinical laboratory setting. Laboratory tests regulated under CLIA are categorized by the FDA as waived, moderate complexity or high complexity based on set criteria. Tests that are waived by regulation, or cleared, approved, or otherwise authorized by the FDA for home use or a point-of-care test, are deemed waived following marketing authorization. Otherwise, a manufacturer of a test categorized as moderate complexity may request categorization of the test as waived through a CLIA Waiver by Application submission to the FDA. The manufacturer must provide evidence to the FDA that a test meets the CLIA statutory criteria for waiver, including, among other things, that the test employs methodologies that are so simple and accurate as to render the likelihood of erroneous results by the user negligible. When a test is categorized as waived, it may be performed by laboratories with a Certificate of Waiver, which is issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for the oversight of clinical laboratories, which includes issuing waiver certificates. If we fail to obtain, or experience significant delays in obtaining, a waiver approval by the FDA for our tests, our tests will only be able to be performed by CLIA certified and state licensed laboratories, which may limit our commercial success and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or operations.
Our commercial success could be compromised if our customers do not receive coverage and adequate reimbursement for our products.
The potential end-users of our Talis COVID-19 Test One system and diagnostic tests include urgent care chains that serve on the front lines of COVID-19 diagnosis, needing millions of rapid tests to triage symptomatic patients; and traditional medical establishments including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, independent practice
associations, accountable care organizations, and public health clinics that need rapid and high-quality testing to best serve their patients. If these end-users do not receive adequate reimbursement for the cost of our products from their patients’ healthcare insurers or payors, the use of our products could be negatively impacted. Furthermore, the net sales of our products could also be adversely affected by changes in reimbursement policies of government or private healthcare payors.
Due to the overall escalating cost of medical products and services, especially in light of the COVID-19 outbreak and its straining of healthcare systems across the globe, there is increased pressure on the healthcare industry, both foreign and domestic, to reduce the cost of products and services. Given the efforts to control and reduce healthcare costs in the United States, available levels of reimbursement may change for our products. Third-party reimbursement and coverage may not be available or adequate in either the United States or international markets, current reimbursement amounts may be decreased in the future and future legislation, and regulation or reimbursement policies of third-party payors, may reduce the demand for our products or our ability to sell our products on a profitable basis.
In the United States, we expect that our customers will use standard industry billing codes, known as CPT codes, to bill for our tests. If these codes were to change, there is a risk of an error being made in the claim adjudication process. Such errors can occur with claims submission, third-party transmission or in the processing of the claim by the payer. Claim adjudication errors may result in a delay in payment processing or a reduction in the amount of the payment received, either of which may materially impact the demand for our testing products. If we introduce new testing products, we may need to apply for new codes to describe our tests, which may not be approved or if approved, may not have adequate reimbursement rates, any of which could result in reduced demand for our tests or additional pricing pressures.
Hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers who purchase diagnostic products in the United States generally rely on third-party payors, such as private health insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid, to reimburse all or part of the cost of the product. Therefore, our market success is highly dependent upon government and commercial third-party payors providing coverage and adequate reimbursement for our test. While we believe our COVID-19 test will qualify for coverage that is currently available for other COVID-19 tests on the market, coverage criteria and reimbursement rates for diagnostic tests are subject to adjustment by payors, and current reimbursement rates could be reduced, or coverage criteria restricted in the future, which could adversely affect the market for our tests. In particular, the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement may be impacted at the duration of the public health emergency period. In addition, the availability of other forms of testing in the future, such as at-home COVID-19 tests, could impact the reimbursement rate and market acceptance for our COVID-19 test.
There has been federal and state legislation and other reform initiatives regarding the coverage and reimbursement for COVID-19 diagnostic testing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) generally requires group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance to cover FDA approved COVID-19 tests and associated diagnostic costs with no cost-sharing, as long as the test is deemed medically appropriate and furnished on or after March 18, 2020 and during the applicable public health emergency period. The FFCRA also permits states to cover testing for the uninsured through Medicaid with federal financing. Additionally, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) expanded the FFCRA to include a broader range of diagnostic tests and services as well as requiring plans and issuers to cover out-of-network COVID-19 test claims at up to the cash price that the provider has posted on a public website.
CMS announced plans in March 2020 to cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing under the Medicare program and identified the amount at which it would reimburse for such tests, which has been adjusted numerous times. For example, Medicare adjusted its payment methodology effective January 1, 2021, such that it will pay $100 per test only to those laboratories that complete high throughput COVID-19 diagnostic tests within two calendar days of the specimen being collected and will only pay $75 per test to laboratories that take longer than two days to complete such test. Further, effective January 15, 2022, private health insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover eight free over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests authorized, cleared, or approved by the FDA per covered individual per month. These changes are indicative of the evolving nature of the coverage and reimbursement of COVID-19 tests.
We also cannot predict whether future healthcare initiatives will be implemented at the federal or state level or in countries outside of the United States in which we may do business in the future, or the effect any future legislation or regulation will have on us. Although we cannot predict the full effect of recent legislative changes, such changes
individually or in the aggregate may result in decreased profits to us and/or lower reimbursement by payers for our tests, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, the coverage and reimbursement market is ever changing and we are not in control of how our competitors’ coverage and pricing strategies are established. Some of our competitors have widespread brand recognition and substantially greater financial and technical resources and development, production and marketing capabilities than we do. Others may develop lower-priced, less complex tests that payors and physicians could view as functionally equivalent to our products, which could force us to lower the list price of our tests and impact our operating margins and our ability to achieve and maintain profitability. In addition, technological innovations that result in the creation of enhanced diagnostic tools that are more effective than ours may enable other hospitals, physicians or medical providers to provide specialized diagnostic tests similar to ours in a more patient-friendly, efficient or cost-effective manner than is currently possible. If we cannot compete successfully against current or future competitors, we may be unable to increase or create market acceptance and sales of our products, which could prevent us from increasing or sustaining our revenue or achieving or sustaining profitability.
Modifications to our marketed products may require new EUAs, 510(k) clearances, PMA approvals, or other marketing authorizations, or may require us to cease marketing or recall the modified products until clearances, approvals, or other marketing authorizations are obtained.
Modifications to any products for which we receive clearance, approval, or other marketing authorization may require new regulatory approvals, clearances, or marketing authorizations, including 510(k) clearances or PMA approvals, or in the case of our COVID-19 test, new EUAs, or require us to recall or cease marketing the modified systems until these clearances, approvals, or other marketing authorizations are obtained. The FDA requires device manufacturers to initially make and document a determination of whether or not a modification requires a new approval, supplement or clearance. For a product subject to 510(k) clearance, a manufacturer may determine that a modification could not significantly affect safety or efficacy and does not represent a major change in its intended use, so that no new 510(k) clearance is necessary. However, the FDA can review a manufacturer’s decision and may disagree. The FDA may also on its own initiative determine that a new clearance, approval, or marketing authorization is required. If the FDA disagrees and requires new clearances, approvals, or other marketing authorizations for the modifications, we may be required to recall and to stop marketing the modified products, which could require us to seek new marketing authorizations and harm our operating results. In these circumstances, we may be subject to significant enforcement actions. Moreover, even if we seek new clearances, approvals, or other marketing authorizations for our modifications, we may not obtain clearance, approval, or other marketing authorizations in a timely manner, if at all. Obtaining clearances and approvals can be a time consuming process, and delays in obtaining required future clearances or approvals would adversely affect our ability to introduce new or enhanced products in a timely manner, which in turn would harm our future growth.
Clinical trials are required to support our Talis One COVID-19 Test System and may be necessary to support future product submissions to the FDA. The clinical trials that may be required for our products are expensive and time-consuming, their outcome is uncertain, and if our clinical trials do not meet the stated endpoints in their evaluations, or if we experience significant delays in any of these tests or trials, our ability to commercialize our products and our financial position will be impaired.
Clinical development is a long, expensive and uncertain process with several clinical trials involved, any of which is subject to significant delays. Due to known or unknown circumstances beyond our control, it may take us several years to complete our testing, and failure can occur at any stage of testing. Delays associated with products for which we are directly conducting preclinical or clinical trials may cause us to incur additional operating expenses.
Moreover, the results of early clinical trials are not necessarily predictive of future results, and any product we advance into clinical trials may not have favorable results in later clinical trials. The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials of our products conducted to date and ongoing or future studies and trials of our current, planned or future products may not be predictive of the results of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. Our interpretation of data and results from our clinical trials do not ensure that we will achieve similar results in future clinical trials. In addition, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to various interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their products performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and earlier clinical trials have nonetheless failed to replicate results in later clinical trials. Products in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy despite having progressed through nonclinical studies and earlier clinical trials. Failure can occur at any stage of clinical testing. Our clinical
studies may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical and non-clinical testing in addition to those we have planned. The terms of the EUA for the Talis One COVID-19 Test System require that we conduct a post-authorization clinical evaluation study to demonstrate that our product meets its intended use and performance claims, which we must submit to the FDA four months after commercial launch of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System.
The commencement and rate of completion of clinical trials may be delayed by many factors, including, for example:
In addition, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the likelihood that we encounter such difficulties or delays in initiating, enrolling, conducting or completing our planned and ongoing clinical trials. Clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with the laws and regulations of the FDA and other applicable regulatory authorities’ legal requirements, regulations or guidelines, and are subject to oversight by these governmental agencies and IRBs at the medical institutions where the clinical trials are conducted. Conducting successful clinical studies will require the enrollment of large numbers of patients, and suitable patients may be difficult to identify and recruit. Patient enrollment in clinical trials and completion of patient participation and follow-up depends on many factors, including the size of the patient population, the nature of the trial protocol, the attractiveness of, or the discomforts and risks associated with, the treatments received by enrolled subjects, the availability of appropriate clinical trial investigators, support staff, and proximity of patients to clinical sites and ability to comply with the eligibility and exclusion criteria for participation in the clinical trial and patient compliance. For example, patients may be discouraged from enrolling in our clinical trials if the trial protocol requires them to undergo extensive post-treatment procedures or follow-up to assess the safety and effectiveness of our products or if they determine that the treatments received under the trial protocols are not attractive or involve unacceptable risks or discomforts.
We depend on our collaborators and on medical institutions and CROs to conduct our clinical trials in compliance with good clinical practice (GCP) requirements. To the extent our collaborators or the CROs fail to enroll participants for our clinical trials, fail to conduct the study to GCP standards or are delayed for a significant time in the execution of trials, including achieving full enrollment, we may be affected by increased costs, program delays or both. In addition, clinical trials that are conducted in countries outside the United States may subject us to further delays and expenses as a result of increased shipment costs, additional regulatory requirements and the engagement of non-U.S. CROs, as well as expose us to risks associated with clinical investigators who are unknown to the FDA, and different standards of diagnosis, screening and medical care.
Development of sufficient and appropriate clinical protocols to demonstrate safety and efficacy are required and we may not adequately develop such protocols to support clearance and approval. Further, the FDA may require us to submit data on a greater number of patients than we originally anticipated and/or for a longer follow-up period or change the data collection requirements or data analysis applicable to our clinical trials. Delays in patient enrollment or failure of patients to continue to participate in a clinical trial may cause an increase in costs and delays in the approval and attempted commercialization of our products or result in the failure of the clinical trial. In addition, despite considerable time and expense invested in our clinical trials, the FDA may not consider our data adequate to demonstrate safety and efficacy. Such increased costs and delays or failures could adversely affect our business, operating results and prospects.
Even if we receive marketing authorization for a planned product, we and our suppliers will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense and subject us to penalties if we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements.
Any product for which we obtain clearance, approval, or other marketing authorization, and the manufacturing processes, post-market surveillance, post-approval clinical data and promotional activities for such product, will be subject to continued regulatory review, oversight, requirements, and periodic inspections by the FDA and other domestic and foreign regulatory bodies. In particular, unless exempt, we and our suppliers are required to comply with the FDA’s QSR and other regulations enforced outside the United States which cover the manufacture of our products and the methods and documentation of the design, testing, production, control, quality assurance, labeling, packaging, storage and shipping of medical devices. Regulatory bodies, such as the FDA, enforce the QSR and other regulations through periodic inspections. The failure by us or one of our suppliers to comply with applicable statutes and regulations administered by the FDA and other regulatory bodies, or the failure to timely and adequately respond to any adverse inspectional observations or product safety issues, could result in, among other things, any of the following enforcement actions:
If any of these actions were to occur it would harm our reputation and cause our product sales and profitability to suffer and may prevent us from generating revenue. Furthermore, our key component suppliers may not currently be or may not continue to be in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements which could result in our failure to produce our products on a timely basis and in the required quantities, if at all.
In addition, we are required to conduct costly post-market testing and surveillance to monitor the safety or effectiveness of our products, and we must comply with medical device reporting requirements, including the reporting of adverse events and malfunctions related to our products. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our products, including unanticipated adverse events or adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, manufacturing problems, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements such as the QSR, may result in changes to labeling, restrictions on such products or manufacturing processes, withdrawal of the products from the market, voluntary or mandatory recalls, a requirement to repair, replace or refund the cost of any medical device we manufacture or distribute, fines, suspension of regulatory approvals, product seizures, injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties which would adversely affect our business, operating results and prospects.
Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response, and could generate negative publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize and generate revenue from our products. If regulatory sanctions are applied or if regulatory clearance or approval is withdrawn, it would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our products may cause or contribute to adverse medical events or be subject to failures or malfunctions that we are required to report to the FDA, and if we fail to do so, we would be subject to sanctions that could harm our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations. The discovery of serious safety issues with our products, or a recall of our products either voluntarily or at the direction of the FDA or another governmental authority, could have a negative impact on us.
We are subject to the FDA’s medical device reporting regulations and similar foreign regulations, which require us to report to the FDA when we receive or become aware of information that reasonably suggests that one or more of our products may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury or malfunctioned in a way that, if the malfunction were to recur, it could cause or contribute to a death or serious injury. The timing of our obligation to report is triggered by the date we become aware of the adverse event as well as the nature of the event. We may fail to report adverse events of which we become aware within the prescribed timeframe. We may also fail to recognize that we have become aware of a reportable adverse event, especially if it is not reported to us as an adverse event or if it is an adverse event that is unexpected or removed in time from the use of the product. If we fail to comply with our reporting obligations, the FDA could take action, including warning letters, untitled letters, administrative actions, criminal prosecution, imposition of civil monetary penalties, revocation of our device clearance or approval, seizure of our products or delay in clearance or approval of future products.
The FDA and foreign regulatory bodies have the authority to require the recall of commercialized products in the event of material deficiencies or defects in design or manufacture of a product or in the event that a product poses an unacceptable risk to health. The FDA’s authority to require a recall must be based on a finding that there is reasonable probability that the device could cause serious injury or death. We may also choose to voluntarily recall a product if any material deficiency is found. A government-mandated or voluntary recall by us could occur as a result of an unacceptable risk to health, component failures, malfunctions, manufacturing defects, labeling or design deficiencies, packaging defects or other deficiencies or failures to comply with applicable regulations. Product defects or other errors may occur in the future.
Depending on the corrective action we take to redress a product’s deficiencies or defects, the FDA may require, or we may decide, that we will need to obtain new clearances or approvals for the device before we may market or distribute the corrected device. Seeking such clearances or approvals may delay our ability to replace the recalled devices in a timely manner. Moreover, if we do not adequately address problems associated with our devices, we may face additional regulatory enforcement action, including FDA warning letters, product seizure, injunctions, administrative penalties or civil or criminal fines.
Companies are required to maintain certain records of recalls and corrections, even if they are not reportable to the FDA. We may initiate voluntary withdrawals or corrections for our products in the future that we determine do not require notification of the FDA. If the FDA disagrees with our determinations, it could require us to report those actions as recalls and we may be subject to enforcement action. A future recall announcement could harm our reputation with customers, potentially lead to product liability claims against us and negatively affect our sales. Any corrective action, whether voluntary or involuntary, as well as defending ourselves in a lawsuit, will require the dedication of our time and capital, distract management from operating our business and may harm our reputation and financial results.
Changes in funding or disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified products from being developed, approved or commercialized in a timely manner, or at all, or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes, and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result.
Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new product applications to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, in recent years, including for 35 days beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, including the FDA, had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. Separately, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020 the FDA announced its intention to postpone most inspections of foreign and domestic manufacturing facilities. Subsequently, on July 10, 2020 the FDA announced its intention to resume certain on-site inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities subject to a risk-based prioritization system. The FDA intends to use this risk-based assessment system to identify the categories of regulatory activity that can occur within a given geographic area, ranging from mission critical inspections to remote interactive evaluations to resumption of all regulatory activities. Regulatory authorities outside the United States may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA or other regulatory authorities to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We expect to rely on third parties in conducting future clinical studies of diagnostic products that may be required by the FDA or other regulatory authorities, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily.
We do not have the ability to independently conduct clinical trials that may be required to obtain FDA and other regulatory clearance or approval for future diagnostic products. Accordingly, we expect that we would rely on third parties, such as, laboratories, clinical investigators, CROs, consultants, and collaborators to conduct such studies if needed. Our reliance on these third parties for clinical and other development activities would reduce our control over these activities but will not relieve us of our responsibilities. We will remain responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical studies is conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the study. Moreover, the FDA requires us to comply with standards, commonly referred to as GCPs, for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical studies to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity, and confidentiality of patients in clinical studies are protected. Furthermore, these third parties may also have relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors. To the extent our collaborators or the CROs fail to enroll participants for our clinical trials, fail to conduct the study to current GCP standards or are delayed for a significant time in the execution of trials, including achieving full enrollment,
including on account of the outbreak of infectious disease, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or otherwise, we may be affected by increased costs, program delays or both, any resulting data may be unreliable or unusable for regulatory purposes, and we may be subject to enforcement action.
If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or regulatory obligations or meet expected deadlines, if the third parties need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the data they obtain is compromised, our preclinical development activities or clinical trials may be extended, delayed, suspended or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for, or successfully commercialize, our products on a timely basis, if at all, and our business, operating results and prospects may be adversely affected.
We are subject to stringent and changing obligations related to data privacy and security. Our actual or perceived failure to comply with such obligations could lead to regulatory investigations or actions; litigation; fines and penalties; disruptions of our business operations; reputational harm; loss of revenue or profits; loss of customers or sales; and other adverse business consequences.
We process personal data and other sensitive data (including health data we collect about trial participants in connection with clinical trials); proprietary and confidential business data; trade secrets; intellectual property; and sensitive third-party data. Our data processing activities subject us to numerous data privacy and security obligations, such as various laws, regulations, guidance, industry standards, external and internal privacy and security policies, contracts, and other obligations that govern the processing of personal data by us and on our behalf.
Data privacy and information security have become significant issues in the United States, countries in Europe, and in other countries in which we operate. The legal and regulatory framework for privacy and security issues is rapidly evolving, and is expected to increase our compliance costs and exposure to liability. In the United States, federal, state, and local governments have enacted numerous data privacy and security laws, including data breach notification laws, personal data privacy laws, and consumer protection laws. These privacy laws include, without limitation, the following laws and regulations: Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), imposes specific requirements relating to the privacy, security, and transmission of individually identifiable health information. The CCPA imposes obligations on businesses to which it applies that include, but are not limited to, providing specific disclosures in privacy notices and affording California residents certain rights related to their personal data. The CCPA allows for statutory fines for noncompliance (up to $7,500 per violation). In addition, it is anticipated that the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA), effective January 1, 2023, will expand the CCPA. For example, the CPRA establishes a new California Privacy Protection Agency to implement and enforce the CPRA, which could increase the risk of an enforcement action. Other states, like Colorado and Virginia, have enacted data privacy laws which differ from the CPRA and become effective in 2023. In addition, data privacy and security laws have been proposed at the federal, state, and local levels in recent years, which could further complicate compliance efforts. If we are or become subject to these laws and/or new or amended data privacy laws, the risk of enforcement actions against us could increase because we may be subject to obligations under applicable regulatory frameworks and the number of individuals or entities that could initiate actions against us may increase (including individuals via a private right of action), in addition to further complicating our compliance efforts. In addition, privacy advocates and industry groups have proposed, and may propose in the future, standards with which we are legally or contractually bound to comply.
Outside the United States, an increasing number of laws, regulations, and industry standards apply to data privacy and security. For example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) and the equivalent law in the United Kingdom (UK GDPR) impose strict requirements for processing the personal data of individuals, including sensitive data that we may process such as health data. For example, under the EU GDPR, government regulators may impose temporary or definitive bans on data processing, as well as fines of up to 20 million euros or 4% of annual global revenue, whichever is greater. Similar processing penalties and fines exist under the UK GDPR and the uncertainty of data protection laws in the UK following Brexit has increased the complexity of our compliance efforts. Further, individuals may initiate litigation related to our processing of their personal data.
Certain jurisdictions have enacted data localization laws and cross-border personal data transfer laws. For example, absent appropriate safeguards or other circumstances, the EU GDPR generally restricts the transfer of personal data
to countries such as the United States that do not provide an adequate level of personal data protection. The European Commission released a set of “Standard Contractual Clauses” that are designed to be a valid mechanism by which entities can transfer personal data out of the European Economic Area (EEA) to jurisdictions that the European Commission has not found to provide an adequate level of protection. Currently, these Standard Contractual Clauses are a valid mechanism to transfer personal data outside of the EEA. The Standard Contractual Clauses, however, require parties that rely upon that legal mechanism to comply with additional obligations, such as conducting transfer impact assessments to determine whether additional security measures are necessary to protect the at-issue personal data. Moreover, due to potential legal challenges, there exists some uncertainty regarding whether the Standard Contractual Clauses will remain a valid mechanism for transfers of personal data out of the EEA. In addition, laws in Switzerland and the UK similarly restrict transfers of personal data outside of those jurisdictions to countries such as the United States that do not provide an adequate level of personal data protection. Any of these or other similar restrictions and obligations could increase the cost and complexity of doing business in foreign jurisdictions. If we cannot implement valid compliance mechanisms for cross-border personal data transfers, we may face increased exposure to regulatory actions, substantial fines, and injunctions against processing or transferring personal data from Europe or elsewhere. The inability to import personal data to the United States could significantly and negatively impact our business operations, including by limiting our ability to conduct clinical trial activities in Europe, the United Kingdom and elsewhere; limiting our ability to collaborate with third parties, such as contract research organizations as well as other service providers, that are subject to European and other data privacy and security laws; or requiring us to increase our personal data processing capabilities and infrastructure in Europe and/or elsewhere at significant expense.
Our obligations related to data privacy and security are quickly changing in an increasingly stringent fashion, creating some uncertainty as to the effective future legal framework. Additionally, these obligations may be subject to differing applications and interpretations, which may be inconsistent or in conflict among jurisdictions. Preparing for and complying with these obligations requires us to devote significant resources (including, without limitation, financial and time-related resources). These obligations may necessitate changes to our services, information technologies, systems, and practices and to those of any third parties that process personal data on our behalf. In addition, these obligations may require us to change our business model.
Although we endeavor to comply with all applicable data privacy and security obligations, we may at times fail (or be perceived to have failed) to do so. Despite our efforts, our personnel or third parties upon whom we rely may fail to comply with such obligations, which could negatively impact our business operations and compliance posture. For example, any failure by a third-party processor to comply with applicable law, regulations, or contractual obligations could result in adverse effects, including inability to operate our business and proceedings against us by governmental entities or others. Moreover, clinical trial subjects about whom we or our potential collaborators obtain information, as well as the third-party providers (such as contract research organizations) who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose the information.
If we fail, or are perceived to have failed, to address or comply with data privacy and security obligations, we could face significant consequences. These consequences may include, but are not limited to, government enforcement actions (e.g., investigations, fines, penalties, audits, inspections, and similar); litigation (including class-related claims); additional reporting requirements and/or oversight; bans on processing personal data; and orders to destroy or not use personal data. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business, or financial condition, including but not limited to: loss of customers; interruptions or stoppages in our business operations (including our clinical trials); inability to process personal data or to operate in certain jurisdictions; limited ability to develop or commercialize our product candidates; expenditure of time and resources to defend any claim or inquiry; adverse publicity; or revision or restructuring of our operations.
All of our employees, principal investigators, consultants, and commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, principal investigators, consultants, and commercial partners. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional failures to comply with the regulations of the FDA and non-United States regulatory authorities, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, report financial information or data accurately, or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing, and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing, and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and
promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs, and other business arrangements. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical studies, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and our code of conduct and the other precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses, or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could result in the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions, which could have a significant impact on our business. Whether or not we are successful in defending against such actions or investigations, we could incur substantial costs, including legal fees, and divert the attention of management in defending ourselves against any of these actions or investigations.
We may be subject to federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations and could face substantial penalties if we are unable to fully comply with such laws.
We and our collaborators and strategic partners may be subject to broadly applicable healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we develop, market, sell, and distribute our products. These health care laws and regulations include, for example:
Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors available, it is possible that some of our business activities, including our planned reagent rental program or other sales and marketing practices, could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. Any action brought against us for violation of these laws or regulations, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws and regulations, we may be subject to any applicable penalty associated with the violation, including, among others, significant administrative, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, integrity oversight and reporting obligations, and exclusion from participation in government funded healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Additionally, we could be required to refund payments received by us, and we could be required to curtail or cease our operations. Any of the foregoing consequences could significantly harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations. In addition, if any of the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found not to be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative sanctions, including exclusion from government funded healthcare programs.
Legislative or regulatory reforms may make it more difficult and costly for us to obtain marketing authorization for any future products and to manufacture, market and distribute our products after marketing authorization is obtained.
From time to time, legislation is drafted and introduced in Congress that could significantly change the statutory provisions governing the marketing authorization, manufacture and marketing of regulated products or the reimbursement thereof. In addition, the FDA may change its policies, adopt additional regulations or revise existing regulations, or take other actions, which may prevent or delay marketing authorization of our future products under development or impact our ability to modify any then-marketed products on a timely basis. Any new regulations or revisions or reinterpretations of existing laws and regulations may impose additional costs or lengthen review times of planned or future products. It is impossible to predict whether legislative changes will be enacted or FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations changed, and what the impact of such changes, if any, may be.
For example, over the last several years, the FDA has proposed reforms to its 510(k) clearance process, and such proposals could include increased requirements for clinical data and a longer review period, or could make it more difficult for manufacturers to utilize the 510(k) clearance process for their products. For example, in November 2018, FDA officials announced forthcoming steps that the FDA intends to take to modernize the pre-market notification pathway under Section 510(k) of the FDCA. Among other things, the FDA announced that it planned to develop proposals to drive manufacturers utilizing the 510(k) pathway toward the use of newer predicates. These proposals included plans to potentially sunset certain older devices that were used as predicates under the 510(k) clearance pathway, and to potentially publish a list of devices that have been cleared on the basis of demonstrated substantial equivalence to predicate devices that are more than 10 years old. The FDA also announced that it intended to finalize guidance to establish a pre-market review pathway for “manufacturers of certain well-understood device types” as an alternative to the 510(k) clearance pathway and that such pre-market review pathway would allow manufacturers to rely on objective safety and performance criteria recognized by the FDA to demonstrate substantial equivalence, obviating the need for manufacturers to compare the safety and performance of their medical devices to specific predicate devices in the clearance process.
In May 2019, the FDA solicited public feedback on its plans to develop proposals to drive manufacturers utilizing the 510(k) pathway toward the use of newer predicates, including whether the FDA should publish a list of devices that have been cleared on the basis of demonstrated substantial equivalence to predicate devices that are more than 10 years old. The FDA requested public feedback on whether it should consider certain actions that might require new authority, such as whether to sunset certain older devices that were used as predicates under the 510(k) clearance pathway. These proposals have not yet been finalized or adopted, and the FDA may work with Congress to implement such proposals through legislation. Accordingly, it is unclear the extent to which any proposals, if adopted, could impose additional regulatory requirements on us that could delay our ability to obtain new 510(k) clearances, increase the costs of compliance, or restrict our ability to maintain our current clearances, or otherwise create competition that may negatively affect our business.
More recently, in September 2019, the FDA finalized the aforementioned guidance to describe an optional “safety and performance based” pre-market review pathway for manufacturers of “certain, well-understood device types” to demonstrate substantial equivalence under the 510(k) clearance pathway, by demonstrating that such device meets objective safety and performance criteria established by the FDA, obviating the need for manufacturers to compare
the safety and performance of their medical devices to specific predicate devices in the clearance process. The FDA intends to maintain a list device types appropriate for the “safety and performance based pathway” and develop product-specific guidance documents that identify the performance criteria for each such device type, as well as the testing methods recommended in the guidance, where feasible. The FDA may establish performance criteria for classes of devices for which we or our competitors seek or currently have received clearance, and it is unclear the extent to which such performance standards, if established, could impact our ability to obtain new 510(k) clearances or otherwise create competition that may negatively affect our business.
In addition, FDA regulations and guidance are often revised or reinterpreted by the FDA in ways that may significantly affect our business and our products. Any new statutes, regulations or revisions or reinterpretations of existing regulations may impose additional costs or lengthen review times of any future products or make it more difficult to obtain clearance or approval for, manufacture, market or distribute our products. We cannot determine what effect changes in regulations, statutes, legal interpretation or policies, when and if promulgated, enacted or adopted may have on our business in the future. Such changes could, among other things, require: additional testing prior to obtaining clearance or approval; changes to manufacturing methods; recall, replacement or discontinuance of our products; or additional record keeping.
The FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be promulgated that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory clearance or approval of our products. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad.
Any change in the laws or regulations that govern the clearance and approval, or other marketing authorization, relating to our current, planned and future products could make it more difficult and costly to obtain marketing authorization for new products or to produce, market and distribute existing products. Significant delays in or the failure to receive marketing authorization for any new products would have an adverse effect on our ability to expand our business. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing authorization that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.
The misuse or off-label use of our Talis One COVID-19 Test System may harm our reputation in the marketplace, result in false test results that lead to product liability suits or result in costly investigations, fines or sanctions by regulatory bodies if we are deemed to have engaged in the promotion of these uses, any of which could be costly to our business.
The EUA for our Talis One COVID-19 Test System is for the in vitro qualitative detection of RNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in nasal swab specimens from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by a healthcare provider. We are not permitted to market our Talis One COVID-19 Test System for use in screening of asymptomatic populations, for use in pooling samples for testing, or for use with different specimen samples (other than nasal swab specimens). Such uses would be considered “off-label.” We have trained and will train our marketing and direct sales force to not promote the Talis One COVID-19 Test System for uses outside of the FDA-authorized indications for use. We cannot, however, prevent a physician from using our products off-label, when in the physician’s independent professional medical judgment, he or she deems it appropriate. There may be increased risk of inaccurate results if physicians attempt to use our tests off-label. Furthermore, such off-label uses could harm our reputation in the marketplace among physicians and patients.
If the FDA or any foreign regulatory body determines that our promotional materials or training constitute promotion of an off-label use, it could request that we modify our training or promotional materials or subject us to regulatory or enforcement actions, including the issuance or imposition of an untitled letter, which is used for violators that do not necessitate a warning letter, injunction, seizure, civil fine or criminal penalties, or withdrawal of any EUA or other marketing authorization we obtain. It is also possible that other federal, state or foreign enforcement authorities might take action under other regulatory authority if they consider our business activities to constitute promotion of an off-label use, which could result in significant penalties, including, but not limited to, criminal, civil and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs and the curtailment of our operations.
A significant portion of the funding for the development of our Talis One system came from U.S. federal government grants, and if the cognizant federal agencies were to eliminate, reduce or delay funding from our agreements, this
could have a significant, negative impact on our revenues and cash flows, and we may be forced to suspend or terminate our development programs or obtain alternative sources of funding.
We have received grant funding from the U.S. federal government, including through a grant from the NIH, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a sub-award from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) program, a sub-award from the NIH RADx program, and an NIH RADx grant. We anticipate that a portion of the funding for the development of our technologies will come from these agreements, which provide for grant funds ultimately from the government. In addition, activities covered under the awards may ultimately cost more than is covered by the grants and sub-awards or require a longer performance periods to complete than are remaining on our agreements; if we are unable to secure additional funding or allow for additional time for completion, we would have to incur additional costs to complete the activities or terminate the activities before completion. Moreover, the continuation of our agreements depends in large part on our ability to meet development milestones previously agreed to and on our compliance with certain operating procedures and protocols. These agreements may be suspended or terminated should we fail to achieve key milestones or fail to comply with the operating procedures and processes approved by the government and its audit agencies. There can be no assurance that we will be able to achieve these milestones or continue to comply with these procedures and protocols. For example, although we extended the time to perform certain milestones under the NIH Contract, we also had to reduce the potential milestone payments, and we were unable to satisfy all of the remaining milestones before the NIH Contract expired. In addition, changes in government budgets and agendas may result in a decreased and deprioritized emphasis on supporting the development of our programs. While the NIH has provided funding for and has indicated a potential for future funding for many activities associated with combating COVID-19, the availability and focus for any NIH funding will likely be finite and may require us to compete with other technologies, both similar and disparate. If our agreements are terminated or suspended, if there is any reduction or delay in funding under our agreements, or if the government or higher-tier grantees determine not to exercise some or all of the options provided for under the agreements, our revenues and cash flows would be significantly and negatively impacted and we may be forced to seek alternative sources of funding, which may not be available on non-dilutive terms, terms favorable to us or at all. If alternative sources of funding are not available, we may be forced to suspend or terminate certain of our related development activities. Furthermore, should we be unable to deploy personnel or derive a benefit from fixed study costs or generate data from clinical sites and studies reimbursed through the agreements, our cash flows would be negatively impacted or we may have to initiate furloughs and layoffs which would likely prove disruptive to our management and operations. This in turn would impair our ability to recommence and complete studies if and when the COVID-19 crisis subsides and we are able to restart many suspended or delayed activities.
Unfavorable provisions in government contracts, including in our grant and sub-award agreements, may harm our business, financial condition and operating results.
U.S. government contracts and grants typically contain unfavorable provisions and are subject to audit and modification by the government at its sole discretion, which will subject us to additional risks. For example, under our grant and sub-award agreements, the U.S. government and higher-tier grantees, in certain circumstances, have the power to unilaterally:
Generally, government contracts and grants, including our grant and sub-award agreements, contain provisions permitting unilateral termination or modification, in whole or in part. Termination-for-convenience provisions generally enable us to recover only our costs incurred or committed, plus a portion of the agreed fee (if a fee has been negotiated) and settlement expenses on the work completed prior to termination. Except for the amount of services received by the government, termination-for-default provisions do not permit recovery of fees and may subject us to damages, including reprocurement expenses. In addition, in the event of termination or upon expiration of our agreements, the U.S. government or higher-tier grantees may dispute wind-down and termination costs and may question prior expenses under the agreements and deny payment of those expenses. Should we choose to challenge those denials, such a challenge could subject us to substantial additional expenses that we may or may not recover. Further, if our agreements are terminated for convenience, or if we default by failing to perform in accordance with the schedule and terms, a significant negative impact on our cash flows and operations could result.
In addition, government contracts and grants normally contain additional requirements that may increase our costs of doing business and expose us to liability for failure to comply with these terms and conditions. These requirements include, for example:
If we fail to maintain compliance with these requirements, we may be subject to potential liability and to the termination of our agreements.
Furthermore, we have entered into and will continue to enter into agreements and subcontracts with third parties, including suppliers, consultants and other third-party contractors, in order to satisfy our contractual obligations under our agreements. Negotiating and entering into such arrangements can be time-consuming and we may not be able to reach agreement with such third parties. Any such agreement must also be compliant with the terms of our grant and sub-award agreements. Any delay or inability to enter into such arrangements or entering into such arrangements in a manner that is non-compliant with the terms, may result in violations of our agreements.
In addition, under the agreements, the government and higher-tier grantees will regularly review our development efforts and clinical activities. Under certain circumstances, they may advise us to delay certain activities and invest additional time and resources before proceeding. If we follow such advice, overall program delays and costs associated with additional resources for which we had not planned may result. Also, the costs associated with following such advice may or may not be reimbursed under our agreement. Finally, we may decide not to follow the advice provided and instead pursue activities that we believe are in the best interests of our programs and our business, even if those would not be reimbursed under our agreement.
As a result of the unfavorable provisions in our agreements, we must undertake significant compliance activities. The diversion of resources from our development and commercial programs to these compliance activities, as well as the exercise by the U.S. government or higher-tier grantees of any rights under these provisions, could materially harm our business.
Laws and regulations affecting government contracts and grants, including our grants and sub-award agreements, make it more costly and difficult for us to successfully conduct our business. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations could result in significant civil and criminal penalties and adversely affect our business.
We must comply with numerous laws, regulations, and agency-specific policies and procedures relating to the administration and performance of our grant and sub-award agreements. Among the most significant are:
In addition, as a U.S. government contractor, we are required to comply with applicable laws, regulations and standards relating to our accounting practices, including unique accounting requirements regarding allowable and unallowable costs, and are subject to periodic audits and reviews. As part of any such audit or review, the U.S. government may review the adequacy of, and our compliance with, our internal control systems and policies, including those relating to our purchasing, property, estimating, compensation and management information systems. Based on the results of its audits, the U.S. government may adjust our agreement-related costs and fees, including allocated indirect costs. This adjustment could impact the amount of revenues reported on a historic basis and could impact our cash flows under the contract prospectively. In addition, in the event the U.S. government determines that certain costs and fees were unallowable or determines that the allocated indirect cost rate was higher than the actual indirect cost rate, it would be entitled to recoup any overpayment from us as a result. In addition, if an audit or review uncovers any improper or illegal activity, we may be subject to civil and criminal penalties and administrative sanctions, including termination of our agreements, forfeiture of profits, suspension of payments, fines and suspension or prohibition from doing business with the U.S. government. We could also suffer serious harm to our reputation if allegations of impropriety were made against us, which could cause our stock price to decline. Further, as a U.S. government contractor, we are subject to an increased risk of investigations, criminal prosecution, civil fraud, whistleblower lawsuits and other legal actions and liabilities as compared to private sector commercial companies. In addition, the qui tam provisions of the civil FCA authorize a private person to file civil actions on behalf of the federal and state governments and retain a share of any recovery, which can include treble damages and civil penalties.
If we or our third party manufacturing partners fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
We and our suppliers and manufacturers are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations, and the manufacturer of our products, involve the production and use of hazardous and flammable materials and waste, including chemicals and biological and radioactive materials. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
Our manufacturers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the U.S. governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of medical and hazardous materials. Although we believe that our manufacturers’ procedures for using, handling, storing and disposing of these materials comply with legally prescribed standards, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from medical or hazardous materials. As a result of any such contamination or injury, we may incur liability or local, city, state or federal authorities may curtail the use of these materials and interrupt our business operations. In the event of an accident, we could be held liable for damages or penalized with fines, and the liability could exceed our resources. We do not have any insurance for liabilities arising from medical or hazardous materials. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations is expensive, and current or future environmental regulations may impair our research, development and production efforts, which could harm our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations.
Healthcare policy changes may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The ACA, enacted in March 2010, made a number of substantial changes in the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers. Among other ways in which the ACA may significantly impact our business, the ACA includes: provisions regarding coordination and promotion of research on comparative clinical effectiveness of different technologies and procedures; initiatives to revise Medicare payment methodologies; and initiatives to promote quality indicators in payment methodologies.
There have been executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. For example, the legislation enacted on December 22, 2017, informally known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) repealed the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA, on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year, which is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate.” Additionally, on June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge on procedural grounds that argued the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress. Thus, the ACA will remain in effect in its current form. Further, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that initiated a special enrollment period for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace, which began on February 15, 2021 and remained open through August 15, 2021. The executive order also instructed certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. It is possible that the ACA will be subject to judicial or Congressional challenges in the future. It is unclear how the any such challenges and the healthcare reform measure of the Biden administration will impact the ACA or our business.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. For example, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers and suppliers of 2% per fiscal year, starting in 2013, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2031, with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022, unless additional congressional action is taken. Under current legislation, the actual reduction in Medicare payments will vary from 1% in 2022 to up to 3% in the final fiscal year of this sequester. Furthermore, on January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.
In addition, there has been numerous governmental reform activity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is possible that additional governmental action is taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which may impact our business.
We cannot predict whether future healthcare initiatives will be implemented at the federal or state level, or how any future legislation or regulation may affect us. The expansion of government’s role in the U.S. healthcare industry as a result of the ACA’s implementation, and changes to the reimbursement amounts paid by Medicare and other payors for our tests and our planned future tests, may reduce our profits, if any, and have a materially adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We cannot predict the impact changes to these laws or the implementation of, or changes to, any other laws applicable to us in the future may have on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
We have incurred substantial losses during our history and do not expect to become profitable in the near future, and we may never achieve profitability. Unused U.S. federal net operating losses (NOLs) for taxable years beginning before January 1, 2018, may be carried forward to offset future taxable income, if any, until such unused NOLs expire. Under the TCJA, as modified by the CARES Act, U.S. federal NOLs incurred in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, can be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of such U.S. federal NOLs in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020, is limited to 80% of taxable income. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the TCJA or the CARES Act.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $30.9 million of U.S. federal NOLs that were generated in 2017 and prior periods that will expire at various dates through 2033, and $181.2 million of U.S. federal NOLs that can be carried forward indefinitely under current law. As of December 31, 2021, we also had aggregate U.S. federal research and development (R&D) credits of approximately $74.7 million. Our NOL carryforwards and R&D credits are subject to review and possible adjustment by the U.S. and state tax authorities.
In addition, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (Code), and corresponding provisions of state law, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” which is generally defined as a greater than 50 percentage point change (by value) in its equity ownership over a three-year period, the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change NOL carryforwards, R&D credits and certain other tax attributes to offset its post-change income or taxes may be limited. This could limit the amount of NOLs, R&D credit carryforwards or other applicable tax attributes that we can utilize annually to offset future taxable income or tax liabilities. Subsequent ownership changes and changes to the U.S. tax rules in respect of the utilization of NOLs, R&D credits and other applicable tax attributes carried forward may further affect the limitation in future years. In addition, at the state level, there may be periods during which the use of NOLs is suspended or otherwise limited, which could accelerate or permanently increase state taxes owed. For example, California recently imposed limits on the usability of California state NOL carryforwards to offset taxable income in tax years beginning after 2019 and before 2023. As a result, we may be unable to use all or a material portion of our NOL carryforwards and other tax attributes, which could adversely affect our future cash flows.
Changes in tax laws or regulations that are applied adversely to us or our customers may have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, financial condition or results of operations.
New income, sales, use or other tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be enacted at any time, which could adversely affect our business operations and financial performance. Further, existing tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be interpreted, changed, modified or applied adversely to us. For example, the TCJA enacted many significant changes to the U.S. tax laws, and the CARES Act modified certain provisions of the TCJA. Future guidance from the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities with respect to the TCJA may affect us, and certain aspects of the TCJA could be repealed or modified in future legislation. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the TCJA or any other federal tax legislation. Changes in corporate tax rates, the realization of net deferred tax assets relating to our operations, the taxation of foreign earnings, and the deductibility of expenses could have a material impact on the value of our deferred tax assets, could result in significant one-time charges, and could increase our future U.S. tax expense.
Risks related to our intellectual property
We may be, in the future, subject to claims against us alleging that we are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property rights of third parties, the outcome of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Our commercial success depends in part upon our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our products and use our technology without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the patents, trademarks or other intellectual property or proprietary rights of third parties. We cannot assure you that technologies we may develop will not infringe existing or future patents owned by third parties. Litigation relating to infringement, misappropriation or other violations of intellectual property rights in biotechnology industry is common, unpredictable and generally expensive and time consuming, including patent infringement lawsuits, trade secret lawsuits, interferences, oppositions, and inter-partes review, post-grant review and reexamination proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and corresponding international patent offices. The
various markets in which we plan to operate are subject to frequent and extensive litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. In addition, many companies in intellectual property-dependent industries, including the biotechnology industry, have employed intellectual property litigation as a means to gain an advantage over their competitors. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace.
In the future, we may also be subject to third-party claims and adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding infringement, misappropriation or other violation by us of patent, trademark or other intellectual property rights of third parties. We cannot provide any assurances that third-party patents do not exist which might be enforced against our products, resulting in either an injunction prohibiting our sales, or, with respect to our sales, an obligation on our part to pay royalties and/or other forms of compensation to third parties. If any such claim or proceeding is brought against us, our collaborators or our third-party service providers, our development, manufacturing, marketing, sales and other commercialization activities could be similarly adversely affected. Even if we believe third-party intellectual property claims are without merit, there is no assurance that a court would find in our favor on questions of infringement, validity, enforceability, or priority. A court of competent jurisdiction could hold that third party patents asserted against us are valid, enforceable, and infringed, which could materially and adversely affect our ability to develop, manufacture, market, sell and commercialize any of our products. To successfully challenge the validity of any such U.S. patent in federal court, we would need to overcome a presumption of validity. As this burden is a high one requiring us to present clear and convincing evidence as to the invalidity of any such U.S. patent claim, there is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction would invalidate the claims of any such U.S. patent. If we are found to infringe any third party’s patents or other intellectual property rights, and we are unsuccessful in demonstrating that such patents or other intellectual property are invalid or unenforceable, we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing, manufacturing, marketing, selling and commercializing our products. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all, and if we are unable to obtain a necessary license to a third-party patent on commercially reasonable terms, our ability to commercialize our products may be impaired or delayed, which could in turn significantly harm our business. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, which would give our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us, and it could require us to make substantial licensing, royalty and other payments. We also could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing, manufacturing, marketing, selling and commercializing the infringing product or technology. In addition, we could be found liable for significant monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent or other intellectual property right. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
There may be third-party patents of which we are currently unaware with claims to compositions, formulations, methods of manufacture, or methods of use or treatment that cover our products. It is also possible that patents owned by third parties of which we are aware, but which we do not believe are relevant to the technologies we may develop, could be found to be infringed by our technology. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending patent applications that may later result in issued patents that our products may infringe. In addition, third parties, our competitors in both the United States and abroad, many of which have substantially greater resources and have made substantial investments in patent portfolios and competing technologies, may obtain patents in the future that may prevent, limit or otherwise interfere with our ability to make, use and sell our products, and may claim that use of our technologies or the manufacture, use, or sale of our products infringes upon these patents.
Some claimants may have substantially greater resources than we do and may be able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation to a greater degree and for longer periods of time than we could. In addition, patent holding companies that focus solely on extracting royalties and settlements by enforcing patent rights may target us. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by the patents and patent applications we own or in-license is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future technology. In addition, intellectual property litigation, regardless of its outcome, may cause negative publicity, adversely impact prospective customers, cause product shipment delays or prohibit us from manufacturing, marketing, selling or otherwise commercializing our products and technology. We may receive, and expect to receive, communications from various industry participants alleging our infringement of their patents, trade secrets or other intellectual property rights and/or offering licenses to such intellectual property.
Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions, or other interim proceedings or developments, and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing, or commercialization activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Uncertainties resulting from patent and other intellectual property litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace, our ability to raise additional funds, and could otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
We may be, in the future, involved in lawsuits to defend or enforce our patents and proprietary rights. Such disputes could result in substantial costs or loss of productivity, delay or prevent the development and commercialization of our technology, products, prohibit our use of proprietary technology or sale of products, or put our patents and other proprietary rights at risk.
Competitors and other third parties may infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate our patents and intellectual property rights or the patents and intellectual property rights of our licensors. The enforcement of such claims can be expensive and time consuming and divert the time and attention of our management and scientific personnel. Our pending patent applications cannot be enforced against third parties practicing the technology claimed in such applications unless and until a patent issues from such applications. In an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent owned or in-licensed by us is invalid or unenforceable, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our owned and in-licensed patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation proceeding could put one or more of our owned or in-licensed patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly.
If we were to initiate legal proceedings against any other third party to enforce a patent covering our technology, the defendant could assert that our patent is invalid or unenforceable. If we or one of our licensing partners initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering our technologies, the defendant could counterclaim we infringe their patents or that the patent covering our technology is invalid or unenforceable, or both. In patent litigation in the United States and Europe, defendants alleging invalidity or unenforceability are common. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, for example, lack of novelty, obviousness, lack of written description or non-enablement. Third parties might allege unenforceability of our patents because during prosecution of the patent an individual connected with such prosecution withheld relevant information, or made a misleading statement. There is a risk that a court will decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, and that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue. Third parties may also raise challenges to the validity of our patent claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post-grant review, inter-partes review, interference proceedings, derivation proceedings, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in the revocation of, cancellation of, or amendment to our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our technology or products and that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue. The outcome of proceedings involving assertions of invalidity and unenforceability, including during patent litigation, is unpredictable. With respect to the validity of patents, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution, but that an adverse third party may identify and submit in support of such assertions of invalidity. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our technology. There is also a risk that, even if the validity of such patents is upheld, the court will construe the patent’s claims narrowly or decide that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue on the grounds that our patent claims do not cover the invention, or decide that the other party’s use of our patented technology falls under the safe harbor to patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(e)(1). Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse effect on our business. Our patents and other intellectual property rights also will not protect our technology if competitors design around our protected technology without infringing our
patents or other intellectual property rights. Interference or derivation proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions with respect to, or the correct inventorship of, our patents or patent applications or those of our licensors.
Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities, and the court may decide not to grant an injunction against further infringing activity and instead award only monetary damages, which may or may not be an adequate remedy. In addition, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions, or other interim proceedings or developments, and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing, or commercialization activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Uncertainties resulting from patent and other intellectual property litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace, our ability to raise additional funds, and could otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. Similarly, if we assert trademark infringement claims, a court may determine that the marks we have asserted are invalid or unenforceable, or that the party against whom we have asserted trademark infringement has superior rights to the marks in question. In this case, we could ultimately be forced to cease use of such trademarks.
If we are not able to obtain, maintain, defend or enforce patent and other intellectual property protection for products, or if the scope of the patent and other intellectual property protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, which could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
Our success depends in part on our ability to obtain, maintain, defend and enforce patents and other forms of intellectual property rights, including in-licenses of intellectual property rights of others, for our products, as well as our ability to preserve our trade secrets, to prevent third parties from infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating our intellectual property and proprietary rights. Our ability to protect our products from unauthorized use by third parties depends on the extent to which valid and enforceable patents cover them or they are effectively protected as trade secrets. While we have a number of issued patents in the United States and foreign countries, several aspects of our patent portfolio are in much earlier stages of prosecution in the United States and foreign countries. Moreover, we do not own or license any issued patents related to certain aspects of our products and technology, including certain structures and components used in our instruments and established molecular biology techniques. For information regarding our patent portfolio, please see the section titled “Business—Intellectual Property." The patent position of biotechnology companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions, and has been the subject of much litigation in recent years. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability, and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. There can be no assurance that our patent rights will not be invalidated or held to be unenforceable, will adequately protect our technology, products or provide any competitive advantage, or that any of our pending or future patent applications will issue as valid and enforceable patents. Our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection for our products is uncertain due to a number of factors, including that:
Even if we have or obtain patents covering our products or methods, we may still be barred from making, using and selling such products or methods because of the patent rights of others. Others may have filed, and in the future may file, patent applications covering compositions, products or methods that are similar or identical to ours, which could materially affect our ability to successfully develop our technology or to successfully commercialize any approved products alone or with collaborators. Patent applications in the U.S. and elsewhere are generally published approximately 18 months after the earliest filing for which priority is claimed, with such earliest filing date being commonly referred to as the priority date. Therefore, patent applications covering our methods and products could have been filed by others without our knowledge. Additionally, pending claims in patent applications which have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our platform technologies or related products. These patent applications may have priority over patent applications filed by us.
The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and our owned and licensed patents may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. We may be subject to third party pre-issuance submissions of prior art to the USPTO, or become involved in opposition, derivation, revocation, reexamination, post-grant and inter-partes review, or interference proceedings challenging our patent rights. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our products and technology and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party patent rights. Moreover, we, or our licensors, may have to participate in interference proceedings declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention or in post-grant challenge proceedings, such as oppositions in a foreign patent office, that challenge priority of invention or other features of patentability. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or freedom to operate or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or
held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical products and technology, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our products and technology. Such proceedings also may result in substantial cost and require significant time from our employees and management, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us.
Furthermore, we cannot guarantee that any patents will be issued from any of our pending or future patent applications. The standards applied by the USPTO and foreign patent offices in granting patents are not always applied uniformly or predictably. For example, there is no uniform worldwide policy regarding patentable subject matter or the scope of claims allowable in diagnostic patents. As such, we do not know the degree of future protection that we will have on our proprietary products and technology. Thus, even if our patent applications issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with meaningful protection, prevent competitors from competing with us or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage. While we will endeavor to protect our technology with intellectual property rights such as patents, as appropriate, the process of obtaining patents is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes unpredictable.
In addition, third parties may be able to develop technology that is similar to, or better than, ours in a way that is not covered by the claims of our patents, or may have blocking patents that could prevent us from marketing our products or practicing our own patented technology. Moreover, patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are paid timely, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years after it is filed and the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. In addition, although upon issuance in the United States a patent’s life can be increased based on certain delays caused by the USPTO, this increase can be reduced or eliminated based on certain delays caused by the patent applicant during patent prosecution. Without patent protection for current or future methods and related products, we may face competing technology. Given the amount of time required for the development and testing, and regulatory review where necessary, patents protecting such technology might expire before or shortly after such technology is commercialized. As a result, our patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing technology similar or identical to that we or our collaborators may develop.
Moreover, certain of our patents and patent applications are, and others may in the future be, co-owned with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third party co-owners’ interest in such patents or patent applications, such co-owners may be able to use or license their rights to other third parties, including our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. In addition, we may need the cooperation of any such co-owners of our patents in order to enforce such patents against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
We depend on intellectual property licensed from third parties and we are currently party to several in-license agreements under which we acquired rights to use, develop, manufacture and/or commercialize certain of our system components. If we breach our obligations under these agreements or if any of these agreements is terminated, or otherwise experience disruptions to our business relationships with our licensors, we may be required to pay damages, lose our rights to such intellectual property and technology, or both, which would harm our business.
We are dependent on patents, know-how, and proprietary technology, both our own and licensed from others. We are a party to a number of intellectual property license agreements that are important to our business and expect to enter into additional license agreements in the future. For example, we have licensed technology related to frangible seals and reagent plugs in our Talis One cartridges, under an agreement with thinXXS. Our existing license agreements impose (under certain circumstances), and we expect that future license agreements will impose, various diligence, milestone payment, royalty and other obligations on us. If we fail to comply with our obligations under these agreements, including due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business operations or our use of the intellectual property licensed to us in an unauthorized manner, or we are subject to a bankruptcy, we may be required to pay damages and the licensor may have the right to terminate the license. Any termination of these licenses could result in the loss of significant rights and could harm our ability to develop, manufacture and/or commercialize our platform or product candidates.
In addition, the agreements under which we license intellectual property or technology to or from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to
the relevant intellectual property or technology or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates. Our business also would suffer if any current or future licensors fail to abide by the terms of the license, if the licensors fail to enforce licensed patents against infringing third parties, if the licensed patents or other rights are found to be invalid or unenforceable, or if we are unable to enter into necessary licenses on acceptable terms. Moreover, our licensors may own or control intellectual property that has not been licensed to us and, as a result, we may be subject to claims, regardless of their merit, that we are infringing or otherwise violating the licensor’s rights.
In addition, while we cannot currently determine the amount of the royalty obligations we would be required to pay on sales of future products, if any, the amounts may be significant. The amount of our future royalty obligations will depend on the technology and intellectual property we use in products that we successfully develop and commercialize, if any. Therefore, even if we successfully develop and commercialize products, we may be unable to achieve or maintain profitability.
The growth of our business may depend, in part, on our ability to acquire or in-license additional proprietary rights, including to advance the development or commercialization of our products. In that event, we may be required to expend considerable time and resources to license such technology. From time to time, in order to avoid infringing third-party patents, we may be required to license technology from additional third parties to further develop or commercialize our products. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any relevant third-party intellectual property rights, including any such intellectual property rights required to manufacture, use or sell our products, that we identify as necessary or important to our business operations. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all, and as a result we may be unable to develop or commercialize the affected product candidates, and we may have to abandon development of the relevant products, which would harm our business. We may need to cease use of the compositions or methods covered by such third-party intellectual property rights, and may need to seek to develop alternative approaches that do not infringe on such intellectual property rights which may entail additional costs and development delays, even if we were able to develop such alternatives, which may not be feasible. Even if we are able to obtain a license under such intellectual property rights, any such license may be non-exclusive, which may allow our competitors’ access to the same technologies licensed to us.
The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive practice, and companies that may be more established, or have greater resources than we do, may also be pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider necessary or attractive in order to commercialize our products. More established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their larger size and cash resources or greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully complete such negotiations and ultimately acquire the rights to the intellectual property surrounding the additional products that we may seek to acquire.
Disputes may also arise between us and our licensors regarding intellectual property subject to a license agreement. If disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product. We are generally also subject to all of the same risks with respect to protection of intellectual property that we license as we are for intellectual property that we own, which are described below. If we or our licensors fail to adequately protect this intellectual property, our ability to commercialize our products could suffer.
We depend, in part, on our licensors to file, prosecute, maintain, defend, and enforce patents and patent applications that are material to our business.
Patents relating to certain components of our Talis One cartridge are controlled by a third party. Such third party has rights to file, prosecute, maintain, and defend the patents we have licensed from such licensor. If our licensors or any future licensees having rights to file, prosecute, maintain, and defend patent rights that are critical to our products fail to conduct these activities, including due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our licensors’ business operations, our ability to develop and commercialize our products may be adversely affected and we may not be able to prevent competitors from making, using, or selling competing products. We cannot be certain that such activities by our licensors have been or will be conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations or will result in
valid and enforceable patents or other intellectual property rights. Pursuant to the terms of the license agreements with some of our licensors, the licensors may have the right to control enforcement of our licensed patents or defense of any claims asserting the invalidity of these patents and, even if we are permitted to pursue such enforcement or defense, we cannot ensure the cooperation of our licensors. We cannot be certain that our licensors will allocate sufficient resources or prioritize their or our enforcement of such patents or defense of such claims to protect our interests in the licensed patents. Even if we are not a party to these legal actions, an adverse outcome could harm our business because it might prevent us from continuing to license intellectual property that we may need in our business. In addition, even when we have the right to control patent prosecution of licensed patents and patent applications, enforcement of licensed patents, or defense of claims asserting the invalidity of those patents, we may still be adversely affected or prejudiced by actions or inactions of our licensors and their counsel that took place prior to or after our assuming control. In the event we breach any of our obligations related to such prosecution, we may incur significant liability to our licensing partners.
We may not identify relevant third-party patents or may incorrectly interpret the relevance, scope or expiration of a third-party patent, which might adversely affect our ability to develop and market our products.
We cannot guarantee that any of our patent searches or analyses, including the identification of relevant patents, the scope of patent claims or the expiration of relevant patents, are complete or thorough, nor can we be certain that we have identified each and every third-party patent and pending application in the United States and abroad that is relevant to or necessary for the commercialization of our product candidates in any jurisdiction. The scope of a patent claim is determined by an interpretation of the law, the written disclosure in a patent and the patent’s prosecution history. Our interpretation of the relevance or the scope of a patent or a pending application may be incorrect, which may negatively impact our ability to market our products. We may incorrectly determine that our products are not covered by a third-party patent or may incorrectly predict whether a third-party’s pending application will issue with claims of relevant scope. Our determination of the expiration date of any patent in the United States or abroad that we consider relevant may be incorrect, which may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our product candidates. Our failure to identify and correctly interpret relevant patents may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our products.
One aspect of the determination of patentability of our inventions depends on the scope and content of the “prior art,” information that was or is deemed available to a person of skill in the relevant art prior to the priority date of the claimed invention. For example, we have identified certain third party patents that may be asserted against us with respect to our technology. These patents may expire prior to commercial launch of our products. We believe that the relevant claims of these third party patents are likely invalid or unenforceable, and we may choose to challenge those patents, though the outcome of any challenge that we may initiate in the future is uncertain. We may also decide in the future to seek a license to those third party patents, but we might not be able to do so on reasonable terms. There may be prior art of which we are not aware that may affect the patentability of our patent claims or, if issued, affect the validity or enforceability of a patent claim. Further, we may not be aware of all third-party intellectual property rights potentially relating to our product candidates or their intended uses, and as a result the impact of such third-party intellectual property rights upon the patentability of our own patents and patent applications, as well as the impact of such third-party intellectual property upon our freedom to operate, is highly uncertain. Because patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for typically a period of 18 months after filing, or may not be published at all, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our product candidates. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Furthermore, for U.S. applications in which all claims are entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, an interference proceeding can be provoked by a third party or instituted by the USPTO to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications. For U.S. applications containing a claim not entitled to priority before March 16, 2013, there is a greater level of uncertainty in the patent law in view of the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which brought into effect significant changes to the U.S. patent laws, including new procedures for challenging pending patent applications and issued patents.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment, and other requirements imposed by government patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.
Obtaining and maintaining a patent portfolio entails significant expense, including periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents and patent applications. These expenditures can be at numerous stages of prosecuting patent applications and over the lifetime of maintaining and enforcing issued patents. We may or may not choose to pursue or maintain protection for particular intellectual property in our portfolio. If we choose to forgo patent protection or to allow a patent application or patent to lapse purposefully or inadvertently, our competitive position could suffer. Furthermore, we employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us comply with the various procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions we are subject to and, in many cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. There are situations, however, in which failure to make certain payments or noncompliance with certain requirements in the patent process can result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.
Legal action that may be required to enforce our patent rights can be expensive and may involve the diversion of significant management time. There can be no assurance that we will have sufficient financial or other resources to file and pursue infringement claims, which typically last for years before they are concluded. In addition, these legal actions could be unsuccessful and result in the invalidation of our patents, a finding that they are unenforceable or a requirement that we enter into a licensing agreement with or pay monies to a third party for use of technology covered by our patents. We may or may not choose to pursue litigation or other actions against those that have infringed on our patents, or have used them without authorization, due to the associated expense and time commitment of monitoring these activities. If we fail to successfully protect or enforce our intellectual property rights, our competitive position could suffer, which could harm our results of operations.
Some of our intellectual property has been discovered through government funded programs and thus may be subject to federal regulations such as “march-in” rights, certain reporting requirements and a preference for U.S.-based companies, and compliance with such regulations may limit our exclusive rights and our ability to contract with non-U.S. manufacturers.
Our intellectual property rights may be subject to a reservation of rights by one or more third parties. For example, certain intellectual property rights related to structures, such as the rotor or assay chambers, within Talis One test cartridges, including the Talis One COVID-19 Test System cartridge were generated, at least in part, through the use of U.S. government funding and are therefore subject to certain federal regulations. As a result, the U.S. government may have certain rights to intellectual property embodied in the cartridges of our current or future products pursuant to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 (Bayh-Dole Act). These U.S. government rights include a non-exclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable worldwide license to use inventions for any governmental purpose. In addition, the U.S. government has what are referred to as “march-in” rights to, under certain limited circumstances, require the licensor to grant exclusive, partially exclusive or non-exclusive licenses to any of these inventions to a third party if it determines that (1) adequate steps have not been taken to commercialize the invention and achieve practical application of the government-funded technology, (2) government action is necessary to meet public health or safety needs, (3) government action is necessary to meet requirements for public use under federal regulations or (4) we fail to meet requirements of federal regulations. The U.S. government also has the right to take title to these inventions if we or our licensors fail to disclose the invention to the government or fail to file an application to register the intellectual property within specified time limits. These rights may permit the government to disclose our confidential information to third parties. In addition, our rights in such inventions may be subject to certain requirements to manufacture products embodying such inventions in the United States. Intellectual property generated under a government funded program is also subject to certain reporting requirements, compliance with which may require us to expend substantial resources. To the extent any of our future owned or licensed intellectual property is also generated through the use of U.S. government funding, the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act may similarly apply. Any exercise by the government of such rights could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Changes in U.S. patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States could increase the uncertainties and costs, and may diminish our ability to protect our inventions, obtain, maintain, and enforce our
intellectual property rights and, more generally, could affect the value of our intellectual property or narrow the scope of our owned and licensed patents. There are numerous recent changes to the patent laws and proposed changes to the rules of the USPTO which may have a significant impact on our ability to protect our technology and enforce our intellectual property rights. For example, the AIA, enacted in September 2011, resulted in significant changes to the U.S. patent system. An important change introduced by the AIA is that, as of March 16, 2013, the United States transitioned from a “first-to-invent” to a “first-to-file” system for deciding which party should be granted a patent when two or more patent applications are filed by different parties claiming the same invention. Under a “first-to-file” system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to a patent on the invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. A third party that files a patent application in the USPTO after that date but before us could therefore be awarded a patent covering an invention of ours even if we made the invention before it was made by the third party. Circumstances could prevent us from promptly filing patent applications on our inventions.
Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing or until issuance, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to either (1) file any patent application related to our product candidates and other proprietary technologies we may develop or (2) invent any of the inventions claimed in our or our licensor’s patents or patent applications. Even where we have a valid and enforceable patent, we may not be able to exclude others from practicing the claimed invention where the other party can show that they used the invention in commerce before our filing date or the other party benefits from a compulsory license.
The AIA provided opportunities for third parties to challenge any issued patent in the USPTO. Those provisions apply to all of our U.S. patents, regardless of when issued. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in U.S. federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. These provisions could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our or our licensors’ patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our or our licensors’ issued patents.
Depending on decisions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing U.S. patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future. For example, in the 2013 case Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain claims to naturally-occurring substances are not patentable. Although we do not believe that any of the patents owned or licensed by us will be found invalid based on this decision, we cannot predict how future decisions by Congress, the federal courts or the USPTO may impact the value of our patents. In addition, the European patent system is relatively stringent in the type of amendments that are allowed during prosecution, but the complexity and uncertainty of European patent laws has also increased in recent years. Complying with these laws and regulations could limit our ability to obtain new patents in the future that may be important for our business.
In addition, changes in, or different interpretations of, patent laws in the United States and other countries may permit others to use our discoveries or to develop and commercialize our technology without providing any compensation to us, or may limit the scope of patent protection that we are able to obtain. The laws of some countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as U.S. laws, and those countries may lack adequate rules and procedures for defending our intellectual property rights.
If the patent applications we hold or have in-licensed with respect to our current and future technology fail to issue, if the validity, breadth or strength of protection of our patent rights is threatened, or if such patent rights fail to provide meaningful exclusivity for our methods and related products that we or our collaborators may develop, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us, encourage competitors to develop competing technology and threaten our or our collaborators’ ability to commercialize future products or services. Any such outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We will not seek to protect our intellectual property rights in all jurisdictions throughout the world, and we may not be able to adequately enforce our intellectual property rights even in the jurisdictions where we seek protection.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents in all countries and jurisdictions throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States could be less
extensive than those in the United States, assuming that rights are obtained in the United States. In-licensing patents covering our technology in all countries throughout the world may similarly be prohibitively expensive, if such opportunities are available at all. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States, even in jurisdictions where we do pursue patent protection. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, even in jurisdictions where we do pursue patent protection, or from selling or importing our technology in and into the United States or other jurisdictions.
We generally apply for patents in those countries where we intend to make, have made, use, offer for sale or sell products and where we assess the risk of infringement to justify the cost of seeking patent protection. However, we may not seek protection in all countries where we will commercialize our products and we may not accurately predict all the countries where patent protection would ultimately be desirable. If we fail to timely file a patent application in any such country or major market, we may be precluded from doing so at a later date. Competitors may use our technology in jurisdictions where we do not pursue and obtain patent protection to develop their own assays and products and may export otherwise infringing assays and products to territories where we have patent protection, but where our ability to enforce our patent rights is not as strong as in the United States. These assays and products may compete with technologies that we or our collaborators may develop, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent such competition.
The laws of some other countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. For example, European patent law restricts the patentability of methods of treatment of the human body more than U.S. law does. Patent protection must ultimately be sought on a country-by-country basis, which is an expensive and time-consuming process with uncertain outcomes. Accordingly, we may choose not to seek patent protection in certain countries, and we will not have the benefit of patent protection in such countries. In addition, the legal systems of some countries, particularly developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, especially those relating to biopharmaceuticals or biotechnologies. As a result, many companies have encountered significant difficulties in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in certain jurisdictions outside the United States. Such issues may make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents, if obtained, or the misappropriation of our other intellectual property rights. For example, many other countries, including countries in the EU, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner must grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against third parties, including government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, patents may provide limited or no benefit. In those countries, we and our licensors may have limited remedies if patents are infringed or if we or our licensors are compelled to grant a license to a third party, which could materially diminish the value of those patents and could limit our potential revenue opportunities. Accordingly, our and our licensors’ efforts to enforce intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we own or license. Similarly, if our trade secrets are disclosed in a foreign jurisdiction, competitors worldwide could have access to our proprietary information and we may be without satisfactory recourse. Such disclosure could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Furthermore, proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, subject our patents to the risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, subject our patent applications to the risk of not issuing or provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded to us, if any, may not be commercially meaningful, while the damages and other remedies we may be ordered to pay such third parties may be significant. 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. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
In addition to seeking patent protection for certain aspects of our technology, we also consider trade secrets, including confidential and unpatented know-how, important to the maintenance of our competitive position. We protect trade secrets and confidential and unpatented know-how, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to such knowledge, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants that obligate them to maintain confidentiality and assign their inventions to us.
We cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets or proprietary technology and processes or that the assignment agreements that have been entered into are self-executing. Despite these efforts, any of these parties may breach the agreements, intentionally or inadvertently, and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, or claim ownership in intellectual property that we believe is owned by us. Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures of our intellectual property is difficult, and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property will be effective. In addition, we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts in the U.S. and certain foreign jurisdictions are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets.
Moreover, our competitors or other third parties may independently develop knowledge, methods and know-how equivalent to our trade secrets or seek to reverse engineer our technology for which we do not have patent protection. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third parties, we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position would be harmed.
We are also subject both in the U.S. and outside the U.S. to various regulatory schemes regarding requests for the information we provide to regulatory authorities, which may include, in whole or in part, trade secrets or confidential commercial information. While we are likely to be notified in advance of any disclosure of such information and would likely object to such disclosure, there can be no assurance that our challenge to the request would be successful. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants, or advisors have wrongfully used or disclosed trade secrets or other confidential information of their current or former employers or claims asserting inventorship or ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.
Many of our employees, consultants, and advisors are currently or were previously employed at universities or other healthcare, biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants, and advisors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or these individuals have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such individual’s current or former employer. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.
We may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators, or other third parties have an interest in our patents or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. The failure to name the proper inventors on a patent application can result in the patents issuing thereon being unenforceable. Inventorship disputes may arise from conflicting views regarding the contributions of different individuals named as inventors, the effects of foreign laws where foreign nationals are involved in the development of the subject matter of the patent, conflicting obligations of third parties involved in developing our product candidates or as a result of questions regarding co-ownership of potential joint inventions. For example, we may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates. Alternatively, or additionally, we may enter into agreements to clarify the scope of our rights in such intellectual property. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, valuable intellectual property. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. The assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the
assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Such claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.
Our trademarks or trade names may be challenged, opposed, infringed, circumvented, invalidated, cancelled, declared generic, determined to be not entitled to registration, or determined to be infringing on other marks. During trademark registration proceedings, we may receive rejections of our applications by the USPTO or in other foreign jurisdictions. Although we would be given an opportunity to respond to those rejections, we may be unable to overcome such rejections. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many foreign jurisdictions, third parties are given an opportunity to oppose pending trademark applications and to seek to cancel registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings may be filed against our trademarks, and our trademarks may not survive such proceedings. For example, our application to register the trademark TALIS in the United States was the subject of an opposition before the USPTO through which Talis Clinical, LLC alleged that our application for registration of the trademark TALIS should not be registered because it is likely to be confused with the prior unregistered trademark TALIS used in connection with medical software and related goods and services. On September 8, 2021, Talis Clinical, LLC’s opposition was sustained by the USPTO. On November 10, 2021, we filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio seeking review of the USPTO’s decision in the opposition proceeding. In the event the USPTO’s decision in the opposition is upheld by the district court, or if we enter into a settlement agreement with Talis Clinical, LLC, we could lose rights to this trademark. Any trademark litigation could be expensive. In addition, we could be found liable for significant monetary damages, including treble damages, disgorgement of profits and attorneys’ fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed a trademark. We may not be able to protect our exclusive right to these trademarks and trade names or may be forced to stop using these names, which we need for name recognition by potential collaborators or customers in our markets of interest. If we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. We may license our trademarks and trade names to third parties, such as distributors. Though these license agreements may provide guidelines for how our trademarks and trade names may be used, a breach of these agreements or misuse of our trademarks and tradenames by our licensees may jeopardize our rights in or diminish the goodwill associated with our trademarks and trade names.
Our use of “open source” software could subject our proprietary software to general release, adversely affect our ability to sell our products, and subject us to possible litigation.
A portion of our products incorporate so-called “open source” software and we may incorporate open source software into other products or technologies in the future. Such open source software is generally licensed by its authors or other third parties under open source licenses. Some open source licenses contain requirements that we disclose source code for modifications we make to the open source software and that we license such modifications to third parties at no cost. In some circumstances, distribution of our software in connection with open source software could require that we disclose and license some or all of our proprietary code in that software as well as distribute our products that use particular open source software at no cost to the user. We monitor our use of open source software in an effort to avoid uses in a manner that would require us to disclose or grant licenses under our proprietary source code, however, there can be no assurance that such efforts will be successful. Open source license terms are often ambiguous and such use could inadvertently occur. There is little legal precedent governing the interpretation of many of the terms of certain of these licenses, and the potential impact of these terms on our business may result in unanticipated obligations regarding our products and technologies. Companies that incorporate open source software into their products have, in the past, faced claims seeking enforcement of open source license provisions and claims asserting ownership of open source software incorporated into their product. If an author or other third party that distributes such open source software were to allege that we had not complied with the conditions of an open source license, we could incur significant legal costs defending ourselves against such allegations. In the event such claims were successful, we could be subject to significant damages or be enjoined from the distribution of our products. In addition, if we combine our proprietary software with open source software in certain ways, under some open source licenses we could be required to release the source code of our proprietary
software, which could substantially help our competitors develop products that are similar to or better than ours and otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business.
Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations and may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. For example:
Should any of these events occur, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
Risks related to our financial condition and capital requirements
We have incurred significant losses since our inception and we anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future, which could harm our future business prospects.
We have historically incurred substantial net losses, including net losses of $192.0 million and $91.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively. As of December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of
$364.9 million. We expect our losses to continue as we continue to devote a substantial portion of our resources to efforts to the commercial launch of the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, and thereafter to increase the adoption of our products, improve these products, scale our manufacturing capabilities and research, develop and commercialize new products. We are exposed to foreign exchange risk in our operations, specifically around our supplier purchase commitments in foreign currencies. The impact of foreign exchange fluctuations on our contracts with third party vendors, which are denominated in a currency other than the U.S. dollar, could adversely impact our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.
We have devoted a substantial portion of our resources to the development and commercialization of the Talis One system, a molecular diagnostic platform, including clinical and regulatory initiatives to obtain regulatory clearance. These losses have had, and will continue to have, an adverse effect on our working capital, total assets, and stockholders’ equity. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with our research, development and commercialization efforts, we are unable to predict when we will become profitable, and we may never become profitable. Even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our inability to achieve and then maintain profitability would negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
We may need to raise additional capital to fund our existing operations, further develop our diagnostic platform, commercialize new products, and expand our operations.
We may seek to sell common or preferred equity or convertible debt securities, enter into another credit facility or another form of third-party funding, or seek other debt financing. We may also need to raise capital sooner or in larger amounts than currently anticipated for numerous reasons, including because of lower demand for our COVID-19 test or as a result of failure to obtain regulatory approvals for our other test panels, or other risks described in this Annual Report. In addition, we intend to pursue a reagent rental model where the customer does not purchase our Talis One instrument, which will require substantial additional working capital.
We may also consider raising additional capital in the future to expand our business, to pursue strategic investments, to take advantage of financing opportunities, or for other reasons, including to:
The various ways we could raise additional capital carry potential risks. If we raise funds by issuing equity securities, our stockholders’ ownership interests will be diluted. Any equity securities we issue could also provide for rights, preferences, or privileges senior to those of holders of our common stock. If we raise funds by issuing
debt securities, those debt securities would have rights, preferences, and privileges senior to those of holders of our common stock. If we raise funds through borrowings pursuant to a credit agreement, the incurrence of such indebtedness would result in increased fixed payment obligations and could involve restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt and acquire or license intellectual property rights, and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. If we raise funds through collaborations and alliances and licensing arrangements, we might be required to relinquish significant rights to our platform or technologies or to grant licenses on terms that are unfavorable to us.
Additional equity or debt financing might not be available on reasonable terms, if at all. If we cannot secure additional funding when needed, we may have to delay, reduce the scope of, or eliminate one or more research and development programs or sales and marketing initiatives. In addition, we may have to work with a partner on one or more of our development programs, which could lower the economic value of those programs to us.
Lastly, if we are unable to obtain the requisite amount of financing needed to fund our planned operations, it could have a material adverse effect on our business and ability to continue operating as a going concern.
Risks related to ownership of our common stock
The market price of our common stock has been and may continue to be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance and you could lose all or part of your investment.
The market price of our common stock may be highly volatile and may fluctuate or decline substantially as a result of a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control, including, but not limited to:
These and other factors may cause the market price and demand for our common stock to fluctuate substantially, which may limit or prevent investors from readily selling their shares of common stock and may otherwise
negatively affect the liquidity of our common stock. In recent years, stock markets in general, and the market for life science technology companies in particular (including companies in the genomics, biotechnology, diagnostics and related sectors), have experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to changes in the operating performance of the companies whose stock is experiencing those price and volume fluctuations. From February 12, 2021 through March 10, 2022, the closing price of our common stock has ranged between $1.74 and $27.80 per share. Broad market and industry factors may seriously affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance.
Following periods of such volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been brought against that company. Because of the potential volatility of our stock price, we may become the target of securities litigation in the future. Securities litigation could result in substantial costs and divert management’s attention and resources from our business.
Future sales of our common stock in the public market could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities.
There were 8,590,411 shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of options outstanding and 407,720 shares of common stock issuable upon vesting of restricted stock units as of December 31, 2021. We registered all of the shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of such outstanding options or other equity incentives we may grant in the future, for public resale under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (Securities Act). The shares of common stock will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent such options are exercised, subject to compliance with applicable securities laws.
Further, based on shares outstanding as of December 31, 2021, holders of approximately 37,489,210 shares, or 66.6% of our capital stock, will have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering the sale of their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other stockholders.
The issuance of shares in connection with any subsequent issuance could depress the market price of our common stock. We are unable to predict the effect that such issuances and/or sales may have on the prevailing market price of our common stock.
We are an emerging growth company and the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an emerging growth company, as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, as amended (JOBS Act). For so long as we remain an emerging growth company, we are permitted by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and plan to rely on exemptions from certain disclosure requirements that are applicable to other SEC-registered public companies that are not emerging growth companies.
These exemptions include not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, as amended (Sarbanes-Oxley Act), not being required to comply with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. As a result, the information we provide stockholders will be different from the information that is available with respect to other public companies. We cannot predict whether investors will find our common stock less attractive if we rely on these exemptions.
In addition, as an emerging growth company the JOBS Act allows us to delay adoption of new or revised accounting pronouncements applicable to public companies until such pronouncements are made applicable to private companies, unless we later irrevocably elect not to avail ourselves of this exemption. We have elected to use this extended transition period under the JOBS Act; however, we may choose to early adopt new or revised accounting pronouncements, if permitted under such pronouncements.
Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we may still qualify as a “smaller reporting company” which may allow us to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
We do not expect to pay any dividends for the foreseeable future. Investors may never obtain a return on their investment.
You should not rely on an investment in our common stock to provide dividend income. We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock, and we do not anticipate that we will pay any dividends to holders of our common stock in the foreseeable future. Instead, we plan to retain all available funds and future earnings to fund the development and expansion of our business. In addition, any future credit facility or financing we obtain may contain, terms prohibiting or limiting the amount of dividends that may be declared or paid on our common stock. Accordingly, investors must rely on sales of their common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any return on their investment. As a result, investors seeking cash dividends should not purchase our common stock.
If securities analysts do not publish research or reports about our business or if they publish negative evaluations of our common stock, the price of our common stock could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will rely in part on the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us or our business. We do not currently have and may never obtain research coverage by industry or securities analysts. If no or few analysts commence coverage of us, the trading price of our common stock could decrease. Even if we do obtain analyst coverage, if one or more of the analysts covering our business downgrade their evaluations of our common stock, the price of our common stock could decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover our common stock, we could lose visibility in the market for our common stock, which in turn could cause the price of our common stock to decline.
We will incur increased costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management will be required to devote substantial time to compliance with our public company responsibilities and corporate governance practices.
As a public company, we will incur significant legal, accounting, and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company, which we expect to further increase after we are no longer an emerging growth company. The Sarbanes–Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of the Nasdaq Stock Market (Nasdaq), and other applicable securities rules and regulations impose various requirements on public companies. Our management and other personnel devote a substantial amount of time to compliance with these requirements. Moreover, these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time- consuming and costly. We cannot predict or estimate the amount of additional costs we will incur as a public company or the specific timing of such costs.
We have broad discretion in the use of the net proceeds from our initial public offering and may not use them effectively.
We have broad discretion in the application of the net proceeds to us from our initial public offering, including for any of the purposes described in the section titled “Use of proceeds,” in our prospectus filed with the SEC on February 12, 2021, and you will not have the opportunity as part of your investment decision to assess whether the net proceeds are being used appropriately. Because of the number and variability of factors that will determine our use of the net proceeds from our initial public offering, our ultimate use may vary substantially from our currently intended use. Investors will need to rely upon the judgment of our management with respect to the use of proceeds. Pending use, we may invest the net proceeds from our initial public offering in short-term, investment-grade, interest-bearing securities, such as money market accounts, certificates of deposit, commercial paper, and guaranteed obligations of the United States government that may not generate a high yield for our stockholders. If we do not use the net proceeds that we received from our initial public offering effectively, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be harmed, and the market price of our common stock could decline.
Our principal stockholder owns a very significant percentage of our stock and will be able to exert significant control over matters subject to stockholder approval.
As of March 10, 2022, our executive officers, directors and five percent or greater stockholders and their respective affiliates, beneficially own, in the aggregate, approximately 76% of our outstanding voting stock. Further, 66.2% of our outstanding voting stock is owned by entities affiliated with Baker Bros. Advisors LP (Baker Bros.). In addition, the holders of our Series 1 convertible preferred stock, which, subject to certain limitations, is a voting common stock equivalent, may elect to convert shares of Series 1 convertible preferred stock into shares of Series 2 convertible preferred stock, which is a non-voting common stock equivalent. These shares of Series 2 convertible preferred stock are then convertible into shares of our common stock, subject to certain beneficial ownership limitations.
We also have a nominating agreement with Baker Bros. that provides that, for so long as it continues to own a certain number of shares of our common stock, we have the obligation to support the nomination of, and to cause our board of directors to include in the slate of nominees recommended to our stockholders for election, one or two individuals designated by Baker Bros. As a result, Baker Bros. is able to exercise considerable influence over matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors, amendments of our organizational documents and approval of any merger, sale of substantially all our assets or other significant corporate transactions for the foreseeable future. This concentration of ownership may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our common stock that you or other stockholders may feel are in your or their best interest as one of our stockholders.
As a result of being a public company, we are obligated to develop and maintain proper and effective internal controls over financial reporting, and any failure to maintain the adequacy of these internal controls may adversely affect investor confidence in our company and, as a result, the value of our common stock.
We are required, pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act to furnish a report by management on, among other things, the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2021, which is the year covered by this Annual Report, and any future annual reports. These assessments must include disclosure of any material weaknesses identified by our management in our internal control over financial reporting. A material weakness is a deficiency or combination of deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our annual and interim financial statements will not be detected or prevented on a timely basis. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting in our first annual report required to be filed with the SEC following the date we are no longer an emerging growth company if we are not a non-accelerated filer at such time. We continue the costly and challenging process, starting last year, of compiling the information systems, processes and internal controls documentation necessary to perform the evaluation needed to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, but we may not be able to complete our evaluation, testing and any required remediation in a timely fashion once initiated. Our compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act requires that we incur substantial accounting expenses and expend significant management efforts. We currently do not have an internal audit group, and we will need to continue to hire accounting and financial staff with appropriate public company experience and technical accounting knowledge and compile the system and process documentation necessary to perform the evaluation needed to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act.
If we are unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm determines we have a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal control over financial reporting, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, the market price of our common stock could decline, and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Failure to remedy any material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or to implement or maintain other effective control systems required of public companies, could also restrict our future access to the capital markets.
Implementation of our new enterprise resource planning system may adversely impact and could negatively affect our business.
We rely extensively on information systems and technology to manage our business and support timely and accurate financial reporting. We have implemented a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to provide better information and to support our commercial scale-up.
The new ERP system was deployed for use throughout our company during the period ended September 30, 2021. Implementing a new ERP system is costly and requires significant focus of our financial resources.
Transferring existing business processes and records to a new ERP system involves risks, including loss of information, disruption to our normal operations, changes in accounting procedures and internal control over financial reporting, as well as problems achieving accuracy in the conversion of electronic data. Failure to properly or adequately address any difficulties with the new system could result in increased costs, the diversion of management and employees’ attention and resources and could materially adversely affect our operating results, internal controls over financial reporting and ability to manage our business effectively. While the ERP system is intended to further improve and enhance our management and financial reporting capability, implementation of a new critical information system creates risks including possible disruptions that could lead to a failure to make required filings under the federal securities laws on a timely and accurate basis.
We identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, and if we are unable to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, and the market price of our common stock may be materially adversely affected.
In connection with the audit of our financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2020, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, related to a lack of effective review of the estimated vendor progress related to the level of completion associated with our manufacturing scale-up project, which resulted in material adjustments to prepaid research and development expenses. During fiscal year 2021, we began implementing the internal control procedures which addressed a previously identified material weakness relating to a lack of effective review of the estimated vendor progress related to the level of completion associated with our manufacturing scale-up project, which resulted in material adjustments to prepaid research and development expenses. During the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021, we successfully completed the testing necessary to conclude that the material weakness has been remediated. Although we were able to remediate our material weakness before the report required in this Annual Report by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, in a future assessment, we may identify deficiencies and be unable to remediate them before we must provide the required reports.
Furthermore, if in the future, we have a material weakness in our internal controls over financial reporting, we may not detect errors on a timely basis and our financial statements may be materially misstated. We or our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting, which could harm our operating results, cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information and cause the trading price of our stock to fall. In addition, as a public company we will be required to file accurate and timely quarterly and annual reports with the SEC under the Exchange Act. Any failure to report our financial results on an accurate and timely basis could result in sanctions, lawsuits, delisting of our shares from The Nasdaq Global Market or other adverse consequences that would materially harm our business. In addition, we could become subject to investigations by the stock exchange on which our securities are listed, the SEC, and other regulatory authorities, and become subject to litigation from investors and stockholders, which could harm our reputation and our financial condition, or divert financial and management resources from our core business.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation designates the state courts in the State of Delaware or, if no state court located within the State of Delaware has jurisdiction, the federal court for the District of Delaware, as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could discourage lawsuits against us or our directors, officers, or employees.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if the Court of Chancery does not have jurisdiction, any state court located within the State of Delaware, or if all such state courts lack jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware) will be the sole and exclusive forum for the following types of actions or proceedings under Delaware statutory or common law: (1) any derivative action
or proceeding brought on our behalf; (2) any action asserting a breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any current or former director, officer or other employee, to us or our stockholders; (3) any action or proceeding asserting a claim against us or any of our current or former directors, officers or other employees, arising out of or pursuant to any provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, or our amended and restated bylaws; (4) any action or proceeding to interpret, apply, enforce or determine the validity of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws; (5) any action or proceeding as to which the Delaware General Corporation Law confers jurisdiction to the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; and (6) any action asserting a claim against us, or any of our directors, officers or other employees, that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in all cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and subject to the court’s having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants. The amended and restated certificate of incorporation states that these choice of forum provisions will not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Securities Act, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. This amended and restated certificate of incorporation will further provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States of America will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act.
These choice of forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees and may discourage these types of lawsuits. Furthermore, if a court were to find the choice of forum provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions.
Delaware law and provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make a merger, tender offer or proxy contest difficult, thereby depressing the trading price of our common stock.
Provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may delay or discourage transactions involving an actual or potential change in our control or change in our management, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares or transactions that our stockholders might otherwise deem to be in their best interests. Therefore, these provisions could adversely affect the price of our common stock. Among other things, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws:
The amendment of any of these provisions, with the exception of the ability of our board of directors to issue shares of preferred stock and designate any rights, preferences and privileges thereto, would require approval by the holders of at least 66 2/3% of our then-outstanding voting capital stock.
In addition, as a Delaware corporation, we are subject to Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. These provisions may prohibit large stockholders, in particular those owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock, from merging or combining with us for a certain period of time. A Delaware corporation may opt out of this provision by express provision in its original certificate of incorporation or by amendment to its certificate of incorporation or bylaws approved by its stockholders. However, we have not opted out of this provision.
These and other provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and Delaware law could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by our then-current board of directors, including delay or impede a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving our company. The existence of these provisions could negatively affect the price of our common stock and limit opportunities for you to realize value in a corporate transaction.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
Item 2. Properties.
Our corporate headquarters are currently located in Menlo Park, California, where we occupy approximately 24,000 square feet of office and laboratory space under a lease that ends in June 2022, with an option to renew for an additional month through July 2022. In January 2021, we entered into a lease agreement that expires in May 2032 for approximately 41,000 square feet of office and laboratory space in Redwood City, California, with expected occupancy to commence in the third quarter of 2022. In January 2021, we also entered into a lease that expires in February 2033 for approximately 26,400 square feet of laboratory space in Chicago, Illinois, which commenced in the second quarter of 2021. We believe our existing facilities meet our current needs. We will need additional space in the future as we continue to build our development, commercial and support teams. We believe we can find suitable additional space in the future on commercially reasonable terms.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
From time to time, we may become involved in legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of our business. Regardless of outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us due to defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources, negative publicity, reputational harm and other factors, and there can be no assurances that favorable outcomes will be obtained.
Our application to register the trademark TALIS in the United States was the subject of an opposition before the USPTO through which Talis Clinical, LLC alleged that our application for registration of the trademark TALIS should not be registered because it is likely to be confused with the prior unregistered trademark TALIS used in connection with medical software and related goods and services. On September 8, 2021, Talis Clinical, LLC’s opposition was sustained by the USPTO. On November 10, 2021, we filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio seeking review of the USPTO’s decision in the opposition proceeding.
On or about January 7, 2022, John Modrak filed a class action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against us, certain of our officers and directors, and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, BofA Securities, Inc., Piper Sandler & Co., and BTIG, LLC, underwriters of our February 2021 initial public offering (“IPO”), captioned as Modrak v. Talis Biomedical Corp., et al., No. 3:22-cv-00105, purportedly on behalf of shareholders who purchased shares of our stock that were registered in our IPO. On February 18, 2022, Karen Mitcham filed a substantively identical lawsuit in the same court captioned as Mitcham v. Talis Biomedical Corp., et al., No. 3:22-cv-01039-JD, against us, and the same officers and directors as the Modrak lawsuit. The complaints allege that our registration statement and prospectus issued in connection with our IPO was false and misleading and
omitted to state material adverse facts related to the comparator assay used in our primary study, our EUA application for our Talis One COVID-19 Test System, and associated regulatory approval and commercialization. The complaints seek unspecified damages under Section 11 and Section 15 of the Securities Act of 1933, and reasonable attorneys’ and expert witnesses’ fees and other costs. We dispute these claims and intend to defend these matters vigorously. These claims remain at an early stage, and the extent and outcome of these claims cannot be predicted at this time.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Our common stock has been publicly traded on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “TLIS” since our initial public offering on February 12, 2021. Prior to that time, there was no public market for our common stock.
As of March 10, 2022, we had approximately 63 holders of record of our common stock and one holder of record of our Series 1 convertible preferred stock.
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our common stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings for use in the operation of our business and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements, general business conditions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.
Recent sales of unregistered securities
Use of Proceeds from our Initial Public Offering of Common Stock
In February 2021, our Registration Statement on Form S-1 (File No: 333-252360) was declared effective by the SEC.
We received approximately $233 million in net proceeds from our initial public offering. Through December 31, 2021, we used approximately $156 million of the net proceeds from the offering primarily to fund our ongoing research and development activities, manufacturing scale-up project and pre-launch inventory.
There has been no material change in the planned use of proceeds from our initial public offering from that described in the related prospectus filed February 12, 2021 with the SEC pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Pending such uses, we plan to continue investing the unused proceeds from this offering in short- and intermediate-term, interest-bearing obligations, investment-grade instruments, certificates of deposit or direct or guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government.
Item 6. [Reserved]
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read together with our audited financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report. Some of the information contained in this discussion and analysis or set forth elsewhere in this Annual Report, including information with respect to our plans and strategy for our business and related financing, includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. As a result of many factors, including those factors set forth in the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report, our actual results could differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in the following discussion and analysis. You should carefully read the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report to gain an understanding of the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements. Please also see the section entitled “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) is designed to provide material information relevant to an assessment of our financial condition and results of operations, including an evaluation of the amounts and certainty of cash flows from operations and from outside sources. This section is designed to focus on material events and uncertainties known to management that are reasonably likely to cause reported financial information not to be necessarily indicative of future operating results or of future financial condition. This includes descriptions and amounts of matters that have had a material impact on reported operations, as well as matters that are reasonably likely based on management’s assessment to have a material impact on future operations.
Our primary focus is to transform diagnostic testing through innovative molecular diagnostic products that enable customers to deploy accurate, reliable, low cost and rapid molecular testing at the point-of-care for infectious diseases and other conditions.
We are developing the Talis One system which leverages expertise across chemistry, biology, engineering and software to create a fully integrated, cloud-enabled and portable molecular diagnostic solution that customers can rapidly deploy when and where needed. The Talis One system incorporates core proprietary technologies into a compact, easy-to-use instrument, that employs single use test cartridges and software, including a central cloud database, which are designed to work together to provide levels of testing accuracy equivalent to a central laboratory. We intend to commercialize the Talis One system as an integrated solution comprising single use consumables, an instrument and software. Our commercial strategy will focus on building and expanding an installed base of Talis One systems to generate revenue from the purchase of such products. Our first commercial test will be the Talis One COVID-19 Test System, which is a rapid point-of-care molecular diagnostic to detect SARS-CoV-2 directly from a patient sample in less than 30 minutes. We are developing assays for the detection of other respiratory infections that could be included as a panel test with the Talis One COVID-19 Test System as well as tests for infections related to women’s health and STIs. In December 2021, we entered into an agreement to act as an authorized distributor for third party COVID-19 antigen tests (Antigen Tests). In January 2022, in order to generate revenue to support our operations and sales forces, we began purchasing and distributing these Antigen Tests as an authorized distributor. We plan to continue to utilize this strategy to both generate revenue for as long as we can provision the tests and sell them for a profit and to help develop our customer base for Talis One.
Our products will require marketing authorization from the FDA prior to commercialization. On November 5, 2021, we received an EUA from the FDA for the emergency use of the Talis One system for our COVID-19 test, which we refer to as the Talis One COVID-19 Test System. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we obtained marketing authorization for our Talis One COVID-19 Test System under an EUA rather than initially pursuing 510(k) clearance or other forms of marketing authorization under the FDA’s standard medical device authorities.
We have invested in automated cartridge manufacturing lines, the first of which began to come on-line in the first quarter of 2021. We are currently validating the performance of those automated cartridge manufacturing lines. These manufacturing lines are located at our contract manufacturers' sites and are operating by our contract manufacturing partners. We have also received components to build 5,000 Talis One instruments from our instrument contract manufacturer.
We outsource essentially all of our manufacturing. Design work, prototyping and pilot manufacturing are performed in-house before outsourcing to third party contract manufacturers. Our outsourced production strategy is intended to
drive rapid scalability. Certain of our suppliers of components and materials are single source suppliers. To support our anticipated commercial launch, we have invested in automated cartridge manufacturing production lines for our Talis One cartridges. Those assets deemed to have an alternative future use have been capitalized as property and equipment while those assets determine to not have an alternative future use have been expensed.
Since our inception in 2013, we have devoted substantially all our efforts to research and development activities, manufacturing capabilities, raising capital, building our intellectual property portfolio and providing selling, general and administrative support for these operations. We have principally financed our operations through the issuance and sale of shares of our convertible preferred stock to outside investors in private equity financings as well as the issuance of convertible promissory notes and receipts from government grants. Prior to our initial public offering, we received $351.5 million from investors in our preferred stock financings and the sale of convertible promissory notes that converted in such financings. Additionally, on February 17, 2021, the Company raised $232.5 million (after deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and offering expenses) through an initial public offering to finance operations going forward.
We have incurred recurring losses since our inception, including net losses of $192.0 million and $91.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively. As of December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $364.9 million. We expect to continue to generate operating losses and negative operating cash flows for the foreseeable future if and as we:
In addition, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution. As a result, we will need substantial additional funding to support our operating activities. Until such time as we can generate significant revenue from product sales, if ever, we expect to finance our operating activities through a combination of equity offerings, debt and grant revenue. Adequate funding may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.
If we are unable to obtain funding, we will be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate some or all of our research and development programs, product portfolio expansion or commercialization efforts, which could adversely affect our business prospects, or we may be unable to continue operations. Although we continue to pursue these plans, there is no assurance that we will be successful in obtaining sufficient funding on terms acceptable to us to fund continuing operations, if at all.
As of December 31, 2021, we had unrestricted cash and cash equivalents of $232.5 million. We expect that our cash and cash equivalents of $232.5 million as of December 31, 2021 will be sufficient to fund our operations through at least the next 12 months. Our objective is to preserve our current cash reserves to fund operations through the end of 2024. This target could change as we gain more clarity on the timing and trajectory of the Talis One system launch. We may need substantial additional funding to support our continuing operations and pursue our long-term business plan. We may seek additional funding through the issuance of our common stock, other equity or debt financings, or
collaborations or partnerships with other companies. The amount and timing of our futur