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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _to_

Commission File Number 001-36352
AKEBIA THERAPEUTICS, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware 20-8756903
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 (I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
 245 First Street, Cambridge, MA
 02142
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (617871-2098
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per shareAKBAThe Nasdaq Global Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes   No     
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.    Yes   No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes   No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated Filer
Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
  Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price of the registrant’s Common Stock on The Nasdaq Global Market on June 30, 2021, was $632,302,577.
The number of shares of registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of February 23, 2022 was 181,231,071.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
The registrant intends to file a definitive proxy statement pursuant to Regulation 14A in connection with its 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders within 120 days after the end of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2021. Portions of the proxy statement are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.



TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
    Page No.
   
  
  
  
  
  
  
   
  
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NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements that are being made pursuant to the provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 with the intention of obtaining the benefits of the “safe harbor” provisions of that Act. All statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements may be accompanied by words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “build,” “can,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “should,” “designed,” “estimate,” “project,” “expect,” “forecast,” “future,” “goal,” “intend,” “likely,” “may,” “plan,” “possible,” “potential,” “predict,” “strategy,” “seek,” “target,” “will,” “would,” and other words and terms of similar meaning, but the absence of these words does not necessarily mean that a statement is not forward-looking. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
the potential therapeutic benefits, safety profile, and effectiveness of vadadustat; 
the potential for vadadustat to become the new oral standard of care for treatment of adult patients with anemia due to chronic kidney disease;
that delivering value broadly to the kidney community, as well as others who may benefit from our medicines, will result in delivering value for shareholders;
the timing of or likelihood of regulatory filings and approvals, including with respect to labeling or other restrictions, the potential approval of vadadustat and our outlook related thereto, and potential indications for vadadustat;
the timing, investment and associated activities involved in continued commercialization of Auryxia® (ferric citrate), its growth opportunities and our ability to execute thereon;
the potential indications, demand and market opportunity, potential and acceptance of Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved, including the size of eligible patient populations; 
the potential therapeutic applications of the hypoxia inducible factor pathway;
our pipeline and portfolio, including its potential, and our related research and development activities;
our competitive position, including estimates, developments and projections relating to our competitors and their products and product candidates, and our industry; 
our expectations, projections and estimates regarding our capital requirements, need for additional capital, financing our future cash needs, costs, expenses, revenues, capital resources, cash flows, financial performance, profitability, tax obligations, liquidity, growth, contractual obligations, the period of time our cash resources and collaboration funding will fund our current operating plan, our internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures, and remediation of the material weakness we have identified in our internal control over financial reporting relating to our inventory process or any future deficiencies or material weaknesses in our internal controls and procedures; 
the direct or indirect impacts of the coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic on our business, operations and the markets and communities in which we and our partners, collaborators, vendors, and customers operate;
our manufacturing, supply and quality matters and any recalls, write-downs, impairments or other related consequences or potential consequences;
estimates, beliefs and judgments related to the valuation of intangible assets, goodwill, contingent consideration, debt and other assets and liabilities, including our impairment analysis and our methodology and assumptions regarding fair value measurements;
the timing of the availability and disclosure of clinical trial data and results;
our and our collaborators’ strategy, plans and expectations with respect to the development, manufacturing, supply, commercialization, launch, marketing and sale of Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved, and the associated timing thereof; 
the designs of our studies, and the type of information and data expected from our studies and the expected benefits thereof;
our ability to maintain any marketing authorizations we currently hold or will obtain, including our marketing authorizations for Auryxia and our ability to complete post-marketing requirements with respect thereto;
our ability to negotiate, secure and maintain adequate pricing, coverage and reimbursement terms and processes on a timely basis, or at all, with third-party payors for Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved;
the targeted timing of enrollment of our clinical trials; 
the timing of initiation of our clinical trials and plans to conduct preclinical studies and clinical trials in the future; 
2


the timing and amounts of payments from or to our collaborators and licensees, and the anticipated arrangements and benefits under our collaboration and license agreements, including with respect to milestones and royalties; 
our intellectual property position, including obtaining and maintaining patents, and the timing, outcome and impact of administrative, regulatory, legal and other proceedings relating to our patents and other proprietary and intellectual property rights, patent infringement suits that we have filed or may file, or other actions that we may take against companies, and the timing and resolution thereof;
expected ongoing reliance on third parties, including with respect to the development, manufacturing, supply and commercialization of Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved;
accounting standards and estimates, their impact, and their expected timing of completion;
estimated periods of performance of key contracts;
our facilities, lease commitments, and future availability of facilities;
cybersecurity;
insurance coverage;
remediation of our material weakness;
management of personnel, including our management team, and our employees, including employee compensation, employee relations, and our ability to attract, train and retain high quality employees;
the implementation of our business model, current operating plan, and strategic plans for our business, product candidates and technology, and business development opportunities including potential collaborations, alliances, mergers, acquisitions or licensing of assets; and
the timing, outcome and impact of current and any future legal proceedings.
Any or all of these forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may turn out to be inaccurate. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including those that are discussed below under the heading "Risk Factor Summary," and the risk factors detailed further in Part I, Item 1A. "Risk Factors" included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our Securities and Exchange Commission reports filed after this report, that could cause our actual results, financial condition, performance or achievements to be materially different from those indicated in these forward-looking statements. Given these risks and uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason. Unless otherwise stated, our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures or investments we may make.
This Annual Report on Form 10-K also contains estimates and other information concerning our industry and the markets for certain diseases, including data regarding the estimated size of those markets, and the incidence and prevalence of certain medical conditions. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, market and other data from reports, research surveys, studies and similar data prepared by market research firms and other third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data and similar sources.
In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise requires, references to “Akebia,” “we,” “us,” “our,” “the Company,” and similar references refer to Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. and, where appropriate, its subsidiaries, including Keryx.
AURYXIA®, AKEBIA Therapeutics®, VafseoTM and their associated logos are trademarks of Akebia and/or its affiliates. All other trademarks, trade names and service marks appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners. All website addresses given in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are for information only and are not intended to be an active link or to incorporate any website information into this document.

3


RISK FACTORS SUMMARY

Investing in our common stock involves numerous risks, including the risks summarized below and described in further detail in “Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, any one of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. These risks include, but are not limited to, the risks noted below.
Our business is substantially dependent on the commercial success of Auryxia® (ferric citrate) and the regulatory approval and commercial success of vadadustat. If we do not obtain regulatory approval for vadadustat in the United States on a timely basis, or at all, or if we are unable to successfully commercialize current and future indications of Auryxia or vadadustat on a timely basis, or at all, our business, financial condition and future profitability will be materially harmed.
We have incurred significant losses since our inception, and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses and cannot guarantee when, if ever, we will become profitable or attain positive cash flows.
We will require substantial additional financing to achieve our goals. A failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed, or on acceptable terms, could force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or commercialization efforts.
Our independent registered public accounting firm has included an explanatory paragraph relating to our ability to continue as a going concern in its report on our audited financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our existing stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our product and product candidates on unfavorable terms to us.
We may not be successful in our efforts to identify, acquire, in-license, discover, develop and commercialize additional products or product candidates or our decisions to prioritize the development of certain product candidates over others may not be successful, which could impair our ability to grow.
We may engage in strategic transactions to acquire assets, businesses, or rights to products, product candidates or technologies or form collaborations or make investments in other companies or technologies that could harm our operating results, dilute our stockholders’ ownership, increase our debt, or cause us to incur significant expense.
Our business has been and may continue to be, directly or indirectly, adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our obligations in connection with the loan agreement with Pharmakon and requirements and restrictions in the loan agreement could adversely affect our financial condition and restrict our operations.
Our Royalty Interest Acquisition Agreement with HealthCare Royalty Partners IV, L.P. contains various covenants and other provisions, which, if violated, could materially adversely affect our financial condition.
If we are unable to maintain or expand sales and marketing capabilities or enter into additional agreements with third parties, we may not be successful in commercializing Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, or any other product candidates that may be approved.
Our, or our partners', failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage, pricing and reimbursement for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, or any other future approved products could have a material adverse effect on our or our collaboration partners’ ability to sell such approved products profitably and otherwise have a material adverse impact on our business.
We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before, or more successfully than, we do.
The commercialization of Riona and VafseoTM in Japan and our current and potential future efforts with respect to the development and commercialization of our products and product candidates outside of the United States subject us to a variety of risks associated with international operations, which could materially adversely affect our business.
Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and we will incur additional costs in connection with, and may experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of vadadustat and any other product candidates.
We may find it difficult to enroll patients in our clinical trials, which could delay or prevent clinical trials of Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired.
Conducting clinical trials outside of the United States makes us subject to additional risks and complexities and we may not complete such trials successfully, in a timely manner, or at all, which could affect our ability to obtain regulatory approvals.
Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that may delay or prevent marketing approval or limit their commercial potential.
We may not be able to obtain marketing approval for, or successfully commercialize, vadadustat or any other product candidate, or we may experience significant delays in doing so, any of which would materially harm our business.
Products approved for marketing are subject to extensive post-marketing regulatory requirements and could be subject to post-marketing restrictions or withdrawal from the market, and we may be subject to penalties, including withdrawal of marketing approval, if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our products, or product candidates, when and if any of them is approved.
4


We are subject to a complex regulatory scheme that requires significant resources to ensure compliance and our failure to comply with applicable laws could subject us to government scrutiny or enforcement, potentially resulting in costly investigations, fines, penalties or sanctions, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens and diminished profits and future earnings.
We will incur significant liability if it is determined that we are promoting any “off-label” use of Auryxia or any other product we may develop, in-license or acquire or if it is determined that any of our activities violates the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.
Legislative and regulatory healthcare reform may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may obtain for any products that are approved in the United States or foreign jurisdictions.
We depend on collaborations with third parties for the development and commercialization of Auryxia, Riona, Vafseo and vadadustat and if these collaborations are not successful or if our collaborators terminate their agreements with us, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of Auryxia, Riona, Vafseo and vadadustat, and our business could be materially harmed.
We may seek to establish additional collaborations and, if we are not able to establish them on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.
We rely on third parties to conduct all aspects of our product manufacturing and the loss of these manufacturers, their failure to supply us on a timely basis, or at all, or their failure to successfully carry out their contractual duties or comply with regulatory requirements, current good manufacturing practices requirements, or guidance could cause delays in or disruptions to our supply chain and substantially harm our business.
We rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and certain of our preclinical studies. If they do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, comply with regulatory requirements or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain or maintain marketing approval for Auryxia, vadadustat or any of our product candidates, and our business could be substantially harmed.
If the licensor of certain intellectual property relating to Auryxia terminates, modifies or threatens to terminate existing contracts or relationships with us, our business may be materially harmed.
If we are unable to adequately protect our intellectual property, third parties may be able to use our intellectual property, which could adversely affect our ability to compete in the market.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
The intellectual property that we own or have licensed and related non-patent exclusivity relating to our current and future product candidates is, and may be, limited which could adversely affect our ability to compete in the market and adversely affect the value of Auryxia.
The market entry of one or more generic competitors or any third party’s attempt to challenge our intellectual property rights will likely limit Auryxia sales and have an adverse impact on our business and results of operation.
Litigation, including third party claims of intellectual property infringement, may be costly and time consuming and may delay or harm our drug discovery, development and commercialization efforts.
We are currently involved in a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity lawsuit, opposition and invalidation proceedings, and may in the future be involved in additional lawsuits or administrative proceedings to challenge the patents of our competitors or to protect or enforce our patents, which could be expensive, time consuming, and unsuccessful.
If we fail to attract, retain and motivate senior management and qualified personnel, we may be unable to successfully develop, obtain and/or maintain marketing approval of and commercialize vadadustat or commercialize Auryxia.
We may encounter difficulties in managing our growth, including with respect to our employee base, and expanding our operations successfully.
We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting relating to our inventory process. If we are not able to remediate this material weakness, or if we experience additional material weaknesses or other deficiencies in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting which would harm our business and the trading price of our common stock.
Our stock price has been and may continue to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses for holders or future purchasers of our common stock and lawsuits against us and our officers and directors.
5


PART I
 
Item 1. Business
Overview
We are a biopharmaceutical company with the purpose of bettering the life of each person impacted by kidney disease. Since our initial public offering in 2014, we have built a business focused on developing and commercializing innovative therapeutics that we believe serves as a foundation for future growth. We have established ourselves as a leader in the kidney community, and we remain committed to helping patients and others where we believe our current and potential future products have the ability to deliver value. We believe that delivering value broadly to the kidney community, as well as others who may benefit from our medicines, will result in delivering value for shareholders. Our current portfolio includes a late-stage product candidate and a commercial product:

Vadadustat is an investigational oral hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase, or HIF-PH, inhibitor designed to mimic the physiologic effect of altitude on oxygen availability. At higher altitudes, the body responds to lower oxygen availability with stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor, or HIF, which stimulates erythropoietin, or EPO, production and leads to red blood cell, or RBC, production and improved oxygen delivery to tissues. The significance of the HIF pathway was recognized by the 2019 Nobel Prize and the 2016 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, which honored the three physician-scientists who discovered the HIF pathway and elucidated this primary oxygen sensing mechanism that is essential for survival. We believe that, based on the HIF-PH inhibitor mechanism of action and the results of our Phase 3 clinical trials, vadadustat has the potential to become the new oral standard of care for the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, or CKD.
We completed the global Phase 3 clinical development program for vadadustat in September 2020 to support regulatory filings in the United States, Europe and other countries, which included two separate programs, INNO2VATE and PRO2TECT. INNO2VATE evaluated vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients on dialysis, or DD-CKD, and PRO2TECT evaluated vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients not on dialysis, or NDD-CKD.
In May of 2020, we announced positive top-line results from our Phase 3 INNO2VATE program that showed vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa, an injectable erythropoiesis-stimulating agent, or ESA, with respect to hematological efficacy (change in hemoglobin concentration) and cardiovascular safety (assessed in a time to the first occurrence of a major adverse cardiovascular event, or MACE, analysis, which is the composite of all-cause mortality, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or a nonfatal stroke) in treating anemia due to CKD in DD-CKD adult patients. In addition to meeting the primary endpoints of the INNO2VATE program, vadadustat met the key secondary hematological efficacy endpoint in each of the two studies in the program and also met the program's key secondary safety endpoints. The results of the INNO2VATE program were presented at American Society of Nephrology, or ASN, in October of 2020 and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April of 2021.

In September of 2020, we announced top-line results from our Phase 3 PRO2TECT program that showed vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa with respect to hematological efficacy in treating anemia due to CKD in NDD-CKD adult patients. While the PRO2TECT data showed that vadadustat achieved both the primary and key secondary hematological efficacy endpoints, it did not meet the program's primary cardiovascular safety (MACE) endpoint. These cardiovascular outcomes contrast with those reported within the INNO2VATE program, which evaluated vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in DD-CKD adult patients. The results of the PRO2TECT program were presented at ASN in October of 2020 and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April of 2021.

We submitted a New Drug Application, or NDA, to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, for vadadustat in March of 2021 for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients. Our NDA submission was accepted for filing by the FDA in May of 2021 and the FDA has indicated that they are not currently planning to hold an Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the NDA for vadadustat. The FDA also assigned the application standard review and a Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, target action date of March 29, 2022. Our collaboration partner, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., or Otsuka, submitted a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients to the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, in October 2021. As vadadustat did not meet the PRO2TECT program's primary safety endpoint, we are remaining cautious in our outlook for potential approval of vadadustat in NDD-CKD adult patients in the United States and Europe.
6


In June of 2020, we announced the first regulatory approval of vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients in Japan. Our collaboration partner in Japan, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, or MTPC, commenced commercial sales of vadadustat in Japan under the trade name, VafseoTM, in August 2020. In addition, MTPC filed a new drug application for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients in Taiwan in January of 2022.

In addition to anemia due to CKD, we believe that vadadustat has the potential to treat other serious or life-threatening conditions, including preventing and lessening the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, a complication of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or COVID-19, infection. More specifically, in July of 2020, we announced an investigator-sponsored clinical study by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, or UTHealth, in Houston, Texas, evaluating the use of vadadustat as a potential therapy to prevent and lessen the severity of ARDS adult patients who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. With the support of its data monitoring committee, UTHealth decided to expand the study beyond the initial 400 patients, an enrollment target they have now surpassed. Within this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients will be dosed with vadadustat or a placebo starting within 24 hours of hospital admission and continuing for up to 14 days. This study is being conducted under an Investigational New Drug application, or IND, with UTHealth as the study sponsor and is currently enrolling patients. In January of 2021, UTHealth announced that it had been awarded $5.1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, or DOD, to expand this clinical trial at its facilities.
Auryxia® (ferric citrate) is approved and marketed in the United States for two indications: (1) the control of serum phosphorus levels in adult patients with DD-CKD, or the Hyperphosphatemia Indication, and (2) the treatment of iron deficiency anemia, or IDA, in adult patients with NDD-CKD, or the IDA Indication. Ferric citrate is also approved and marketed in Japan as an oral treatment for the improvement of hyperphosphatemia in patients with CKD, including DD-CKD and NDD-CKD, and for the treatment of patients with IDA, under the trade name Riona (ferric citrate hydrate). Since 2018, Auryxia product revenue has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 14% due to market share gains and improved net price per pill, while total prescriptions for phosphate binders in the United States have declined 8%. We believe this growth is due to the benefits of the product perceived by the prescribing nephrologists as communicated by our nephrology-focused commercial and medical organizations.

If we obtain FDA approval of vadadustat, we plan to commercialize vadadustat in the United States with our well-established, nephrology-focused commercial organization, while also leveraging our collaboration with Otsuka and its U.S. nephrology commercial organization. In addition, in February 2022, we entered into a Second Amended and Restated License Agreement, or the Vifor Second Amended Agreement with Vifor (International) Ltd., or Vifor Pharma, which amended and restated the Amended and Restated License Agreement, dated April 8, 2019, or the Vifor First Amended Agreement. Pursuant to the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, we granted Vifor Pharma an exclusive license to sell vadadustat to Fresenius Medical Care North America and its affiliates, including Fresenius Kidney Care Group LLC, to certain third-party dialysis organizations approved by us, to independent dialysis organizations that are members of group purchase organizations, and to certain non-retail specialty pharmacies in the United States, or the Territory. We refer to Fresenius Medical Care North America and its affiliates, these organizations and specialty pharmacies collectively as the “Supply Group". We currently retain rights to commercialize vadadustat for use in the non-dialysis dependent CKD market and to sell to dialysis organizations outside of the Supply Group. During the term of the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, Vifor Pharma is not permitted to sell any HIF product that competes with vadadustat in the Territory to the Supply Group.
We market Auryxia in the United States with our well-established, nephrology-focused commercial organization. Our Japanese sublicensee, Japan Tobacco, Inc., or JT, and its subsidiary, Torii Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., or Torii, commercialize Riona in Japan.
In addition, we continue to explore additional development opportunities to expand our pipeline and portfolio of novel therapeutics through both internal research and external innovation. Our development pipeline includes several earlier stage opportunities, including praliciguat, an investigational oral soluble guanylate cyclase, or sGC, stimulator, that we licensed from Cyclerion Therapeutics, Inc., or Cyclerion, in June 2021. Praliciguat is in development for the treatment of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which is highly complementary to our strategy to identify and develop novel therapeutics for people impacted by kidney diseases.
Further, our internal innovation efforts include several preclinical opportunities, both in the HIF pathway, leveraging our learnings from the research and development of vadadustat, as well as new areas of focus we are currently exploring.
Strategy
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Our mission and our culture are centered around the goal of improving the lives of people impacted by kidney disease through the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative therapeutics. Our strategy is to execute on the following initiatives, which we believe will create significant market opportunities for us:
 
Prepare for the potential commercialization of vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in the United States. We believe vadadustat has the potential to address limitations of injectable ESAs, and become the new oral standard of care for the treatment of anemia due to CKD, if approved. We submitted an NDA to the FDA for vadadustat in March of 2021, which was accepted by the FDA in May of 2021. The FDA assigned the application standard review and a PDUFA target action date of March 29, 2022. We believe we are well positioned to commercialize vadadustat in the United States with our nephrology-focused commercial team, our partnership with Otsuka, and the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, if vadadustat receives FDA approval.
Support vadadustat adoption and growth outside of the United States. We plan to continue to support MTPC’s commercialization and growth of Vafseo in Japan. In addition, Otsuka submitted a MAA for vadadustat to the EMA in October 2021, and MTPC filed a new drug application for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients in Taiwan in January 2022. We also plan to support MTPC's and Otsuka’s commercialization efforts for vadadustat in Japan and Europe and certain other markets for which MTPC and Otsuka have commercialization rights, subject to the applicable regulatory approvals. We retain full commercial rights to vadadustat in Latin America, allowing us maximum flexibility in the region.
Maximize the value of Auryxia, and leverage the product as a commercial foundation for vadadustat, in CKD. We aim to continue to use our nephrology-focused commercial organization to increase awareness, demand for and adoption of Auryxia for its approved indications with key stakeholders including nephrologists, third-party payors, dialysis organizations, patients and their families. In addition to bringing meaningful clinical benefits to patients, Auryxia provides strategic value to Akebia by allowing us to leverage our existing nephrology-focused commercial footprint and deepen key customer and prescriber relationships that we believe will be important for the future commercialization of vadadustat, if approved, and other potential future renal products.
Advance vadadustat clinical development for additional therapeutic indications. In addition to our CKD program and the ARDS study, we plan to identify and initiate development planning for other programs where vadadustat may have therapeutic benefits.
Continue to expand our pipeline and portfolio of novel therapeutics. We aim to continue to add to our pipeline and portfolio of novel therapeutics through internal research, discovery and development, and through external innovation and strategic transactions, such as in-licenses, collaborations and acquisitions. In June 2021, we entered into the Cyclerion Agreement with Cyclerion, pursuant to which Cyclerion granted us an exclusive global license under certain intellectual property rights to research, develop and commercialize praliciguat, an investigational oral sGC stimulator, which is highly complementary to our strategy to identify and develop novel therapeutics for people impacted by kidney disease. We plan to continue to develop praliciguat and explore similar opportunities that align with our strategic vision in the future. In addition, given our expertise in research and development, we believe there may be opportunities to leverage these assets and establish mutually beneficial relationships with other companies that are looking to enter the renal market or attempting to develop renal therapeutics.

Our management team has extensive experience in developing and commercializing drugs for the treatment of renal and metabolic disorders, a deep understanding of the renal space and biological pathways involved in kidney disease including HIF biology and iron metabolism, and broad business development expertise. We believe we are well positioned to execute on our strategy.
Background on Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is an area of major unmet need globally, driving massive healthcare costs and with a generally poor prognosis: eventually many patients will progress to a stage where they are dependent on dialysis, with high morbidity and a significant increase in mortality rate.
Kidney disease can be caused by a number of distinct and concomitant factors, including cardiometabolic disorders (primarily diabetes and hypertension), genetic diseases, autoimmune disorders, and aging. Given the prevalence and growth rates of these various underlying conditions, kidney disease prevalence is expected to continue to increase globally. In the United States, CKD significantly impacts the U.S. healthcare system, potentially affecting about 37 million patients and costing Medicare nearly $120 billion annually for treating Medicare beneficiaries with CKD of end-stage renal disease or end-stage kidney disease, or ESRD or ESKD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Department of Health and
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Human Services has recognized this national pandemic and partnered with ASN to found the KidneyX Innovation Accelerator, a public-private partnership to improve the lives of the 850 million people worldwide currently affected by kidney diseases by accelerating innovation in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases.

Most of the conditions covered by the term “kidney disease” may lead to renal failure and dependence on dialysis or kidney transplant for survival. Dependence on dialysis is associated with a significant increase in mortality and hospitalizations, and a significant reduction in quality of life for patients. There is a clear need to improve the clinical and quality of life outcomes for people living with kidney disease. We are driven by our purpose, to provide or contribute to better alternatives that improve the lives of people impacted by kidney disease.
CKD is a condition in which the kidneys are progressively damaged to the point that they cannot properly filter the blood circulating in the body. This damage causes waste products to build up in the patient’s blood leading to other health problems, including anemia, cardiovascular disease and bone disease. As illustrated in the table below, CKD patients are categorized in one of five stages based on the degree of their loss of kidney function as measured by the glomerular filtration rate, or GFR, and the level of protein in the urine, referred to as albuminuria.
 
Stages and Prevalence of CKD in the United States
 
StageDescriptionGFR (mL/min/1.73m2) aU.S. Prevalence Rates b, cEstimated Number of U.S.
Patients (millions) d, e
1Kidney damage with normal or increased GFR≥904.6%11.2
2Kidney damage with mildly decreased GFR60-893.0%7.3
3Moderately decreased GFR30-596.7%16.4
4Severely decreased GFR15-290.4%1.0
5Kidney failure (includes non dialysis, dialysis and transplant)<15 (or dialysis)0.3% (calculated)0.7
 
Sources:
a.GFR categories defined in the August 2012 Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes Clinical Practice Guideline for Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease, p. vii.
b.U.S. Prevalence Rates for Stages 1-4 based on averages of data from 2011-2012, 2013-2014, and 2015-2016, CDC CKD Surveillance System, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
c.U.S. Prevalence Rate for Stage 5 is based on a calculation using estimated number of U.S. patients with ESRD from 2018 U.S. Renal Data System Annual Report, February 21, 2019, as set forth in this table, and U.S. population data for people 20 years and older from www.census.gov.
d.Estimated Number of U.S. Patients for Stages 1-4 based on the 2018 U.S. Prevalence rates, as set forth in this table, as applied by Akebia to U.S. population data for people 20 years and older from www.census.gov.
e.Estimated Number of U.S. End-Stage Renal Disease Patients from 2018 U.S. Renal Data System Annual Report, February 21, 2019.
The prevalence and incidence of CKD is increasing in all segments of the United States population. Risk factors for the development of CKD include concomitant diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, lifestyle factors such as tobacco use and inactivity, family history, aging and prenatal factors such as maternal diabetes mellitus, low birth weight and small-for-gestational-age status.
The progression of CKD towards renal failure is complicated by multiple conditions which further deteriorate kidney function and the general health of patients if left untreated. Typically the prevalence of these conditions increases as CKD progresses. For instance, anemia is characterized by low hemoglobin levels and is typically associated with a worsening quality of life, increased hospitalizations and increased mortality. The prevalence of anemia increases with the severity of CKD from an estimated 20% in patients with Stage 3 NDD-CKD to an estimated 95% in patients with Stage 5 DD-CKD.
Anemia, or low hemoglobin/red blood count, in patients with CKD most commonly arises from two etiologies:
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1.Anemia due to CKD: results from inadequate levels of EPO, a protein hormone synthesized by specialized cells in the kidney that stimulates RBC production in the bone marrow. As renal function declines, the body progressively loses the ability to produce endogenous EPO; and
2.IDA: results from low levels of iron due to abnormal iron absorption and utilization in patients with CKD.
The global Phase 3 clinical development program for vadadustat evaluated the efficacy and safety of vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients. We submitted an NDA to the FDA, for vadadustat in March of 2021 for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients.
IDA in adult patients with NDD-CKD is an FDA-approved indication for Auryxia. Hyperphosphatemia in DD-CKD patients is also an FDA-approved indication for Auryxia. Hyperphosphatemia is another condition associated with CKD that is characterized by elevated serum phosphorus levels and is also typically associated with a worsening of health including increased cardiovascular risk and mortality.
Vadadustat
Market Opportunity for Vadadustat
Anemia due to Chronic Kidney Disease
Anemia is common in patients with CKD, and its prevalence increases with disease progression. Anemia due to CKD results from inadequate EPO levels, which negatively affect RBC production. Left untreated, anemia accelerates overall deterioration of patient health with increased morbidity and mortality. Based on third party prevalence data and company estimates, potentially 37 million people in the United States have CKD and approximately 5.7 million of these individuals suffer from anemia. The current standard of care for anemia due to CKD is treatment by injectable recombinant human ESAs, such as Epogen® (epoetin alfa), Aranesp® (darbepoetin alfa) and Mircera® (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta), or blood transfusion. Based on publicly available information on ESA sales and market data compiled by a third-party vendor, global sales of injectable ESAs for all uses were estimated to be approximately $6.1 billion in 2018. The vast majority of these sales are believed to have been for the treatment of anemia due to CKD.
When administered to a patient, injectable ESAs provide supraphysiological levels of exogenous EPO to stimulate production of RBCs. While injectable ESAs can be effective in raising hemoglobin levels, they have the potential to cause significant side effects, and need to be injected subcutaneously or intravenously. In particular, injectable ESAs may lead to thrombosis, stroke, myocardial infarction and death. Also, several randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that higher hemoglobin targets
(≥13.0 g/dL) with ESA use are associated with increased cardiovascular risk, leading to changes in regulatory and clinical practice guidance. While these safety concerns, which became evident starting in 2006, have led to a significant reduction in the use of injectable ESAs, and an increase in the use of injectable iron, injectable ESAs remain the current standard of care for both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD patients with anemia.
DD-CKD Market
We believe there is a significant opportunity for vadadustat to address limitations of injectable ESAs and become the new oral standard of care for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in DD-CKD adult patients, if approved. In addition to clinical data from our Phase 3 INNO2VATE program that showed vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa with respect to hematological efficacy (change in hemoglobin concentration) and cardiovascular safety (MACE) in DD-CKD adult patients, we believe the potential opportunity for vadadustat within the DD-CKD market is supported by a number of factors including vadadustat's convenient oral dosing and unique U.S. dialysis market dynamics.

According to the U.S. Renal Data System, or USRDS, 2020 Annual Data Report, there were approximately 556,000 patients in the United States on dialysis in 2018, of which 88% were on in-center hemodialysis and the remainder on home dialysis, which includes both peritoneal dialysis and home hemodialysis. Injectable ESAs are administered by dialysis center staff to approximately 90% of in-center hemodialysis patients and 75% of home dialysis patients. Although the significant majority of dialysis patients are cared for in-center, recently, several factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, changing patient preferences, government initiatives, and reimbursement changes are supporting a shift toward home dialysis. We believe as an oral therapeutic, vadadustat has potential to be a convenient treatment alternative to injectable ESAs not only for in-center dialysis patients, but also for the growing number of home dialysis patients and patients transitioning to home dialysis.

Given the concentration of dialysis clinics in large networks, with DaVita, Inc., or DaVita, and Fresenius Kidney Care Group accounting for a vast majority of the dialysis population in the United States, treatment is usually driven by medical protocols that are implemented across the entire network of clinics. These protocols are informed by very large data sets and when
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updated, result in rapid change applicable to large segments of the patient population. This is particularly true of medications covered under the End Stage Renal Disease, or ESRD, Prospective Payment System, or PPS, in Medicare, or the ESRD Bundle, a payment structure with a flat base rate per dialysis session adjusted for individual patient and facility characteristics. Dialysis-related drugs are included in the ESRD Bundle if they fall into functional categories such as anemia management and bone and mineral metabolism, except that oral-only drugs are exempted from inclusion until 2025. In a final ESRD PPS rule published in November 2018, CMS confirmed that it will expand the Transitional Drug Add-on Payment Adjustment, or TDAPA, to all new dialysis drugs approved by the FDA after January 1, 2020. The TDAPA will provide separate payment for new drugs for two years based on the drug’s Average Sales Price, or ASP, that will be in addition to the base rate in order to facilitate the adoption of innovative therapies. Although there are several details that need further clarification, and the precise timing of when we could receive codes to allow for reimbursement under TDAPA is not known, the codes are assigned on a quarterly basis, and the rule provides support for our assumption that new anemia treatments, including those in the HIF-PH inhibitor class, will be included in the ESRD Bundle and will be eligible for separate payment initially under TDAPA.
NDD-CKD Market
Data from the USRDS 2015 Annual Data Report indicate that the collective injectable ESA treatment rate in NDD-CKD patients in the United States decreased by approximately half from 2009 to 2013 as a result of the safety concerns associated with ESAs. Today, a high proportion of NDD-CKD patients with anemia are either not treated or inadequately treated despite having low hemoglobin levels. In contrast to treatment with ESAs, we believe vadadustat, if approved for use in NDD-CKD patients, has the potential to expand the number of NDD-CKD patients receiving treatment by offering an alternative oral treatment for anemia due to CKD.
Results from our Phase 3 PRO2TECT program showed vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa with respect to hematological efficacy in treating anemia due to CKD in NDD-CKD adult patients, meeting both the primary and key secondary hematological efficacy endpoints. However, it did not meet the program's primary cardiovascular safety (MACE) endpoint. We are pursuing regulatory approval for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in NDD-CKD adult patients; however, as PRO2TECT did not meet the program's primary safety endpoint, we remain cautious in our outlook for potential approval of vadadustat as a treatment for anemia due to CKD in NDD-CKD adult patients.
Vadadustat Has the Potential to Become the New Oral Standard of Care
We believe vadadustat has the potential to become the new oral standard of care for the treatment of anemia due to CKD, if approved. Below is a summary of certain of the key clinical findings; further details are included in the discussion below.
Vadadustat stimulated endogenous EPO production. In two Phase 1 studies in normal healthy volunteers and one Phase 2 study in CKD patients, vadadustat increased serum EPO levels in a dose-dependent manner. Pre-dose EPO levels returned to baseline levels prior to subsequent daily dose. In these studies, vadadustat stimulated endogenous EPO production while avoiding supraphysiologic EPO levels.
Vadadustat significantly increased and maintained hemoglobin levels. Our global Phase 3 program and Phase 2 studies in CKD patients with anemia demonstrated that vadadustat significantly increased and/or maintained hemoglobin levels.
Vadadustat was dosed orally once daily and three times weekly. Our Phase 2 studies showed that vadadustat can be orally dosed once daily in NDD-CKD patients with up to 20 weeks of dosing. This study also showed the potential for three-times weekly dosing of vadadustat in DD-CKD patients. We are conducting additional larger studies of vadadustat evaluating three-times weekly dosing and a modified approach to once-daily dosing.
Based on this and other data, we believe vadadustat has the potential to be a treatment for anemia due to CKD and become the new oral standard of care by:
stimulating erythropoiesis and avoiding supraphysiologic EPO levels;
increasing hemoglobin in a predictable and controlled manner;
minimizing hemoglobin excursions; and
providing convenient oral dosing.
Vadadustat Clinical Development Program
Below is a summary of the clinical development work undertaken for vadadustat.
Vadadustat Global Phase 3 Clinical Program in Anemia Due To CKD
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We conducted a global Phase 3 clinical development program for vadadustat, which included two programs, INNO2VATE and PRO2TECT. INNO2VATE evaluated vadadustat in adult DD-CKD patients with anemia due to CKD in two studies, and PRO2TECT evaluated vadadustat in adult NDD-CKD patients with anemia due to CKD in two studies. Combined, we enrolled approximately 7,500 patients in these studies and evaluated once daily oral dosing of vadadustat against an injectable ESA active comparator, darbepoetin alfa.

Both the INNO2VATE and PRO2TECT Phase 3 programs were global, multicenter, open-label, sponsor-blind, active-controlled non-inferiority programs. In both programs, patients were randomized 1:1 to receive either oral vadadustat or injectable darbepoetin alfa. The primary efficacy endpoint for each study in the INNO2VATE and PRO2TECT programs was the mean change in hemoglobin between baseline and the primary evaluation period. Non-inferiority, or NI, for the primary efficacy endpoint was achieved if the lower bound of the 95% confidence interval for the between-group difference of the mean hemoglobin change did not fall below the pre-specified NI margin. Both the INNO2VATE and PRO2TECT programs included the primary safety endpoint of the assessment of MACE, with a comparison of vadadustat to darbepoetin alfa. MACE is defined as the composite endpoint of all-cause mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, or non-fatal stroke. The primary safety analysis for each program was based on the combined MACE events from the two studies in each of INNO2VATE and PRO2TECT. NI for the primary safety analysis was achieved if the upper bound of the 95% confidence interval for the hazard ratio of vadadustat to darbepoetin alfa did not exceed the pre-specified NI margin. We prospectively defined and agreed to non-inferiority margins with the United States and European regulatory authorities and agreed with the United States regulatory authorities on the key components of our statistical analysis plan.
Top-line Results from Global Phase 3 INNO2VATE Program within DD-CKD Adult Patients
The two INNO2VATE studies (Correction/Conversion and Conversion), which collectively enrolled 3,923 patients, evaluated the efficacy and safety of vadadustat versus darbepoetin alfa for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in DD-CKD adult patients.

Vadadustat achieved the primary and key secondary efficacy endpoint in each of the two INNO2VATE studies, demonstrating non-inferiority to darbepoetin alfa as measured by a mean change in hemoglobin, or Hb, between baseline and the primary evaluation period (weeks 24 to 36) and secondary evaluation period (weeks 40 to 52). Vadadustat also achieved the primary safety endpoint of the INNO2VATE program, defined as non-inferiority of vadadustat versus darbepoetin alfa in time to first occurrence of MACE across both INNO2VATE studies.

Primary and Key Secondary Efficacy Endpoint Results
Vadadustat achieved each of the INNO2VATE studies’ primary efficacy endpoints of mean change in Hb between baseline and the primary evaluation period compared to darbepoetin alfa, in DD-CKD adult patients, demonstrating non-inferiority to darbepoetin alfa based on using a non-inferiority margin of -0.75 g/dL.

In INNO2VATE’s Correction/Conversion study of incident dialysis patients (n=369):
Primary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa. The least square mean difference in Hb was -0.31 g/dL (95% CI: -0.53, -0.10), achieving the pre-specified non-inferiority criterion of -0.75 g/dL. The mean (SD) Hb level at week 24 to week 36 was 10.36 (1.13) g/dL for vadadustat-treated patients compared to 10.61 (0.94) g/dL for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.
Key Secondary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat sustained the target Hb efficacy response at weeks 40 to 52 achieving non-inferiority compared to darbepoetin alfa. The least square mean difference in Hb was -0.07 g/dL (95% CI: -0.34, 0.19). The mean (SD) Hb level at week 40 to week 52 was 10.51 (1.19) g/dL for vadadustat treated-patients compared to 10.55 (1.14) g/dL for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.

In INNO2VATE’s Conversion study of prevalent dialysis patients (n=3,554):
Primary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa. The least square mean difference in Hb was -0.17 g/dL (95% CI: -0.23, -0.10), achieving the pre-specified non-inferiority criterion of -0.75 g/dL. The mean (SD) Hb level at week 24 to week 36 was 10.36 (1.01) g/dL for vadadustat-treated patients compared to 10.53 (0.96) g/dL for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.
Key Secondary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat sustained efficacy in the Conversion study demonstrating non-inferiority to darbepoetin with a least square mean difference in Hb of -0.18 g/dL (95% CI: -0.25, -0.12). The mean (SD) Hb level at week 40 to week 52 was 10.40 (1.04) g/dL in the vadadustat-treated patients compared to 10.58 (0.98) g/dL for darbepoetin treated patients.

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Primary Safety Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events (MACE) Endpoint Result
Vadadustat achieved the INNO2VATE program’s primary safety endpoint of non-inferiority for MACE. In the primary analysis of time to first MACE event, vadadustat demonstrated non-inferiority to darbepoetin alfa using a non-inferiority margin of 1.25 based on discussion with the FDA and a non-inferiority margin of 1.3 based on discussion with the EMA.  

The INNO2VATE program (Correction/Conversion and Conversion studies) of dialysis patients (n=3,902):
Vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa. The upper bound of the 95% confidence interval (CI) of the Hazard Ratio (HR) was below the pre-specified non-inferiority margin of 1.25 for primary MACE analysis (HR 0.96, 95% CI: 0.83, 1.11.).

The incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the Correction/Conversion study in vadadustat treated patients was 83.8% and 85.5 % in darbepoetin alfa treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa treated patients were hypertension (16.2%/ 12.9%) and diarrhea (10.1%/ 9.7%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were lower in vadadustat treated patients at 49.7% compared to 56.5% for darbepoetin alfa treated patients. The incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the Conversion study in the vadadustat treated patients was 88.3%, and 89.3% in darbepoetin alfa treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa treated patients were diarrhea (13.0%/ 10.1%), pneumonia (11.0%/ 9.7%), hypertension (10.6%/ 13.8%), and hyperkalemia (9.0%/ 10.8%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were slightly lower for vadadustat treated patients at 55.0% and 58.3% for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. Patients with DD-CKD experienced an increased risk of thromboembolic events compared to darbepoetin alfa with a time to first event HR of 1.20 (95% CI 0.96 - 1.50) driven by thrombosis of vascular access.

INNO2VATE results on key secondary safety endpoints showed that vadadustat also demonstrated non-inferiority to darbepoetin alfa in analyses of expanded MACE, cardiovascular MACE, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality.

Top-line Results from Global Phase 3 PRO2TECT Program within NDD-CKD Adult Patients
The two PRO2TECT studies (Correction and Conversion), which collectively enrolled 3,476 patients, evaluated the efficacy and safety of vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in NDD-CKD adult patients.

Vadadustat achieved the primary and key secondary efficacy endpoint in each of the two PRO2TECT studies, demonstrating non-inferiority to darbepoetin alfa as measured by a mean change in Hb between baseline and the primary evaluation period (weeks 24 to 36) and secondary evaluation period (weeks 40 to 52). Vadadustat did not meet the primary safety endpoint of the PRO2TECT program, defined as non-inferiority of vadadustat versus darbepoetin alfa in time to first occurrence of MACE, across both PRO2TECT studies.

Primary and Key Secondary Efficacy Endpoint Results
Vadadustat achieved each of the PRO2TECT studies' primary efficacy endpoints of mean change in Hb between baseline and the primary evaluation period compared to darbepoetin alfa, in adult patients on dialysis, demonstrating non-inferiority to darbepoetin alfa using an NI margin of -0.75 g/dL.

In PRO2TECT's Correction study (n=1,751):
Primary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa. The least square mean difference in Hb was 0.05 g/dL (95% CI: -0.04, 0.15), achieving the pre-specified NI criterion of -0.75 g/dL. The mean (SD) Hb level at week 24 to week 36 was 10.39 (0.99) g/dL for vadadustat-treated patients compared to 10.35 (1.03) g/dL for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.
Key Secondary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat sustained the target Hb efficacy response at weeks 40 to 52 achieving non-inferiority compared to darbepoetin alfa. The least square mean difference in Hb was 0.04 g/dL (95% CI: -0.06, 0.14). The mean (SD) Hb level at week 40 to week 52 was 10.48 (1.05) g/dL for vadadustat-treated patients compared to 10.45 (1.01) g/dL for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.

In PRO2TECT's Conversion study (n=1,725):
Primary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa. The least square mean difference in Hb was -0.01 g/dL (95% CI: -0.09, 0.07), achieving the pre-specified NI criterion of -0.75 g/dL. The mean (SD) Hb level at week 24 to week 36 was 10.77 (0.98) g/dL for vadadustat-treated patients compared to 10.77 (0.99) g/dL for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.
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Key Secondary Efficacy Endpoint Result: Vadadustat sustained efficacy in the Conversion study demonstrating non-inferiority to darbepoetin with a least square mean difference in Hb of 0.00 g/dL (95% CI: -0.10, 0.09). The mean (SD) Hb level at week 40 to week 52 was 10.80 (1.04) g/dL in the vadadustat-treated patients compared to 10.79 (1.05) g/dL for darbepoetin alpha-treated patients.

Primary Safety Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events (MACE) Endpoint Result
The PRO2TECT program (Correction and Conversion studies) (n=3,471):
Primary Safety MACE Endpoint Result: Vadadustat did not meet the PRO2TECT program's primary safety endpoint of non-inferiority for MACE. The upper bound of the 95% confidence interval of the Hazard Ratio (HR) was above the pre-specified NI margin of 1.25 for primary MACE analysis (HR 1.17, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.36).

Analysis of MACE events conducted by Akebia in the PRO2TECT program revealed that the greater number of MACE events observed among vadadustat patients as compared to the active comparator was primarily related to an excess of non-cardiovascular death and death-of-unknown-cause in regions outside of the United States where significant differences in treatment patterns for NDD-CKD patients were observed.

The PRO2TECT analysis plan was prospectively designed to analyze the effect of regional differences, most notably, well-known differences in Hb treatment targets. Within PRO2TECT, U.S. patients were treated to a target Hb range of 10 to 11 g/dL and non-U.S. patients were treated to a target Hb range of 10 to 12 g/dL. In October of 2020, we presented a pre-specified regional analysis that showed vadadustat was not associated with a clinically meaningful increase in cardiovascular risk compared to darbepoetin alfa in U.S. patients treated to a target Hb range of 10 to 11 g/dL, in an analysis of MACE (HR 1.06, 95% CI: 0.87, 1.29).

In March 2021, based on these analyses and the totality of the data from our Phase 3 program, we submitted an NDA to the FDA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients. However, as vadadustat did not meet the PRO2TECT program's primary safety endpoint, we remain cautious in our outlook for potential approval of vadadustat in adult NDD-CKD patients.

The incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the Correction study in the vadadustat-treated patients was 90.9%, and 91.6% in darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa-treated patients were end-stage renal disease (34.7%/ 35.2%), hypertension (17.7%/ 22.1.%), hyperkalemia (12.3.%/ 15.6%), urinary tract infection (12.9%/ 12.0%), diarrhea (13.9%/ 10.0%), peripheral oedema (12.5%/ 10.5%), fall (9.6%/ 10%) and nausea (10%/ 8.2%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were 65.3% for vadadustat-treated patients and 64.5% for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. The incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the Conversion study in vadadustat treated patients was 89.1% and 87.7% in darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa-treated patients were end-stage renal disease (27.5%/ 28.4%), hypertension (14.4%/ 14.8%), urinary tract infection (12.2%/ 14.5%), diarrhea (13.8.%/ 8.8.%), peripheral oedema (9.9%/ 10.1%) and pneumonia (10.0%/ 9.7%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were 58.5% for vadadustat-treated patients and 56.6% for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.
We are also conducting additional studies of vadadustat evaluating a modified approach to once-daily and three-times weekly dosing, including assessment of a vadadustat starting dose based on an individual’s pre-conversion ESA dose prior to study entry and higher titration doses of vadadustat (up to 1200 mg). We believe data from these and other studies could support registration of the modified approach to once daily dosing and three times weekly dosing, and further strengthen our potential commercial position if vadadustat is approved for marketing.
Hepatic Safety Profile of Vadadustat in Clinical Studies
Following the completion of our global Phase 3 clinical program for vadadustat, there was a review of hepatic safety across the vadadustat clinical program, which includes 8 completed Phase 2 and 3 studies in NDD-CKD patients, 10 completed Phase 1, 2, and 3 studies, and one ongoing Phase 3b study in patients with DD-CKD, and 18 completed studies in healthy subjects (17 Phase 1 and one Phase 3). This review included a blinded assessment of all hepatic events in the studies by a panel of hepatic experts and analysis by an independent hepatic expert and our team. Hepatocellular injury attributed to vadadustat was reported in less than 1% of patients; there was one case of severe hepatocellular injury with jaundice. All events were asymptomatic and resolved after discontinuation of vadadustat.
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Commercialization
We are supporting MTPC's commercialization of vadadustat in Japan, preparing for a potential commercial launch of vadadustat in the United States and supporting potential commercial launches of vadadustat in certain other markets. Our ability to launch vadadustat in the United States is dependent on the successful review of the NDA, and approval by the FDA. 
If we obtain FDA approval of vadadustat, we plan to commercialize vadadustat in the United States with our well-established, nephrology-focused commercial organization, while leveraging our collaboration with Otsuka and its U.S. nephrology commercial organization. We granted Otsuka exclusive rights to commercialize vadadustat in Europe, China and certain other markets, subject to marketing approvals. Otsuka submitted a MAA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients to the EMA in October 2021. We granted MTPC exclusive rights to commercialize vadadustat in Japan, where MTPC commenced commercial sales of vadadustat under the trade name, VafseoTM, in August 2020, and in certain other countries in Asia, subject to marketing approvals. In addition, MTPC filed a new drug application for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients in Taiwan.

In addition, in February 2022, we entered into the Vifor Second Amended Agreement with Vifor Pharma, which amended and restated the Vifor First Amended Agreement. Pursuant to the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, we granted Vifor Pharma an exclusive license to sell vadadustat to the Supply Group in the Territory. We currently retain rights to commercialize vadadustat for use in the non-dialysis dependent CKD market and to sell to dialysis organizations outside of the Supply Group. During the term of the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, Vifor Pharma is not permitted to sell any HIF product that competes with vadadustat in the Territory to the Supply Group. For more information about our license, collaboration and strategic agreements relating to vadadustat, see Part I, Item 1. Business – License, Collaboration and Other Strategic Agreements – Vadadustat.

In February 2020, the Company entered into a letter agreement, or the Letter Agreement, with Vifor Pharma relating to Vifor Pharma’s agreement with a third party to purchase a Priority Review Voucher, or the PRV, issued by the FDA, or the PRV Purchase. A PRV entitles the holder to priority review of an NDA, or a Biologics License Application for a new drug, which reduces the target FDA review time to six months after official acceptance of the submission, and could lead to expedited approval. Pursuant to the Letter Agreement, we paid Vifor Pharma $10.0 million in connection with the closing of the PRV Purchase. In March of 2021, we submitted an NDA for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients. Our NDA submission did not include a PRV. In August 2021, we entered into an amendment to the Letter Agreement with Vifor Pharma whereby the parties agreed that Vifor Pharma would sell the PRV to a third party, and we and Vifor Pharma will share the proceeds from the sale based on certain terms. In the fourth quarter of 2021, Vifor Pharma sold the PRV to a third party, and Vifor Pharma paid us $8.6 million in proceeds from the sale. These proceeds were subsequently paid to Otsuka as reimbursement for their contribution to the purchase of the PRV, as required under a separate Letter Agreement executed with Otsuka.
Our Commercial Product: Auryxia
Auryxia (ferric citrate) is a non-calcium, non-chewable, orally-administered tablet that was approved for marketing by the FDA in September 2014 as a phosphate binder for the Hyperphosphatemia Indication and was commercially launched in the United States shortly thereafter. In November 2017, Auryxia received marketing approval from the FDA for a second indication, the IDA Indication, and was commercially launched for this indication in the United States shortly thereafter.
In January 2014, our Japanese sublicensee, JT, received approval from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to market ferric citrate hydrate in Japan under the trade name Riona as an oral treatment for the improvement of hyperphosphatemia in patients with CKD, including DD-CKD and NDD-CKD, and was commercially launched in Japan shortly thereafter. In July 2019, JT, and its subsidiary, Torii, reported positive top-line results from a pivotal Phase 3 comparative study evaluating Riona for the treatment of IDA in adult patients in Japan. In May 2020, JT and Torii filed an application for approval of IDA as an additional indication for Riona in Japan, which was approved in March 2021.
In September 2015, we received approval to market ferric citrate in the European Union under the tradename Fexeric. Pursuant to the sunset clause under EU law, the European Commission’s approval of Fexeric in the EU was contingent on, among other things, our commencing marketing of Fexeric within three years. Although we successfully negotiated an extension to December 23, 2019, we did not commence marketing Fexeric by such date and therefore the Fexeric approval in the EU has ceased to be valid.
We have licensed and sublicensed certain intellectual property rights covering Auryxia from Panion & BF Biotech, Inc., or Panion. For more information regarding our intellectual property rights to Auryxia and our license agreement with Panion see Part I, Item 1. Business – Intellectual Property – Auryxia and Part I, Item 1. Business - License, Collaboration and Other Strategic Agreements – License Agreement with Panion & BF Biotech, Inc. We received Paragraph IV certification notice letters regarding Abbreviated New Drug Applications, or ANDAs, submitted to the FDA requesting approval for generic versions of Auryxia tablets (210 mg iron per tablet), with the first received on October 31, 2018. We filed certain complaints for
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patent infringement relating to such ANDAs, and have entered into settlement and license agreements with each of the ANDA filers. See Part I, Item 3. Legal Proceedings for further information relating to the ANDAs, lawsuits and settlements.
Market Opportunity
Hyperphosphatemia
Hyperphosphatemia is a metabolic disorder characterized by elevated serum phosphorus levels. Phosphorus is a vital element required for most cellular processes and, in individuals with normal kidney function, excess dietary phosphorus is removed by the kidneys and excreted in urine. In adults with functioning kidneys, normal serum phosphorus levels are 2.5 to 4.5 mg/dL. In adults with DD-CKD, elevated phosphorus levels, or hyperphosphatemia, can be associated with adverse effects, including increased risk for cardiovascular disease, bone disease and death.
Phosphate binders are the only interventions marketed for the treatment of hyperphosphatemia. According to the USRDS 2020 Annual Data Report, there were approximately 556,000 adult patients in the United States with DD-CKD in 2018, of which approximately 80% were treated with a phosphate binder. Phosphate binders need to be taken with meals and snacks, and it is not uncommon for DD-CKD patients to be prescribed as many as 12 or more phosphate binder pills per day, among other medications. Patients taking phosphate binders also experience gastrointestinal tolerability issues. As a result of the pill burden and tolerability issues associated phosphate binders, prescribed phosphate binders are often intolerable for many patients, leading to lack of treatment adherence and compliance.
In addition, in 2018 approximately 42% of patients treated with a phosphate binder were treated solely with a calcium-based binder, which can lead to side effects such as increased cardiovascular risk, hypercalcemia and gastrointestinal-related adverse events. Due to the risks associated with calcium-based binders, in 2017 Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes, or KDIGO, recommended that clinicians limit the use of calcium-based binders.
Sevelamer and lanthanum-based phosphate binders are other alternatives. Lanthanum is a rare earth element and is minimally absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Lower level tissue deposition, particularly in bone and liver, has been observed in animals, however, the long-term, potentially harmful, effects due to the accumulation of lanthanum in these tissues have not been clearly determined.
Aluminum-type phosphate binders were widely used in the past. However, the systemic absorption of aluminum from these agents and the potential toxicity associated with their use no longer make this type of binder a viable long-term treatment option.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Anemia is a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is contained within RBCs and carries oxygen to other parts of the body. If there are too few RBCs or if hemoglobin levels are low, the cells in the body will not get enough oxygen. IDA is a common form of anemia that is caused by patients not having enough iron to manufacture healthy RBCs. Although anyone can develop IDA, IDA is particularly common in patients with NDD-CKD. IDA is associated with fatigue, lethargy, decrease quality of life, cardiovascular complications, hospitalizations and increased mortality.
We estimate that there are more than 500,000 adult patients in the United States with NDD-CKD diagnosed with IDA. Currently, there are two forms of iron therapy used to treat IDA: oral iron supplements and iron delivered via intravenous infusion, or IV iron. Oral iron is currently the first-line iron replacement therapy for most physicians; however, oral iron supplements are poorly absorbed by many patients, which may adversely impact their effectiveness, and are associated with certain side effects, such as constipation, diarrhea and cramping, that may adversely affect patient compliance. IV iron is viewed as an effective treatment; however, like other intravenous medicines, it is logistically difficult to administer in an office setting, where NDD-CKD patients are more often treated.
Commercialization
We market Auryxia in the United States through our well-established, nephrology-focused sales force and commercial organization.
Auryxia, as an oral drug, is covered by Medicare only under Part D. We have gained access for Auryxia in the United States in both Medicare Part D and commercial channels. Auryxia is currently covered for the Hyperphosphatemia Indication in nine of the ten largest Medicare Part D plans, which provide coverage for approximately 35.8 million people, and the ten largest
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commercial plans and pharmacy benefit managers in the United States, which provide coverage for approximately 131.0 million people. In September 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, decided that Auryxia would no longer be covered by Medicare for the IDA Indication. While this decision does not impact CMS coverage of the Hyperphosphatemia Indication, it requires all Auryxia prescriptions for Medicare patients to undergo a prior authorization to ensure their use in the Hyperphosphatemia Indication. On October 15, 2019, we filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against CMS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services challenging CMS’s decision that Auryxia would no longer be covered by Medicare for the IDA Indication and imposing a prior authorization requirement for Auryxia in the Hyperphosphatemia Indication, or the CMS Decision. On October 22, 2021, the parties agreed to dismiss the litigation. See Part I, Item 3. Legal Proceedings for further information. While we believe that the vast majority of the Medicare prescriptions written for Auryxia today are for the Hyperphosphatemia Indication and therefore will continue to be covered by Medicare with prior authorization, the CMS Decision has had and will continue to have an adverse impact on the sales of Auryxia for the Hyperphosphatemia Indication and the IDA Indication.
JT, and its subsidiary, Torii, market Riona in Japan. We receive tiered double-digit royalties from JT and Torii based on their sales in Japan.
Manufacturing and Supply
Overview
We neither own nor operate, and currently have no plans to own or operate, any manufacturing or distribution facilities. We currently rely on third-party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to produce all of our preclinical and clinical material and commercial supply and third-party distributors to distribute Auryxia. We expect to continue to rely on either existing or alternative distributors and CMOs to distribute our products and supply our ongoing and planned preclinical studies and clinical trials and for commercial production. Our CMOs have other clients and may have other priorities that could affect their ability to perform the work satisfactorily and/or on a timely basis. Both of these occurrences would be beyond our control.
We have established relationships with several CMOs under which the CMOs manufacture preclinical, clinical and commercial supply of vadadustat drug substance and drug product, and clinical and commercial supply of Auryxia drug substance and drug product. All clinical and commercial supplies are manufactured under current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMPs, which is a regulatory standard for the production of pharmaceuticals that will be used in humans.
Vadadustat
We currently have redundant supply arrangements in place for the preclinical, clinical and commercial supply of vadadustat. We have entered into supply agreements with Esteve Química, S.A. and STA Pharmaceutical Hong Kong Limited, or STA, for the manufacture of vadadustat drug substance for commercial use and Patheon Inc. and STA for the manufacture of vadadustat drug product for commercial use. We plan to mitigate potential commercial supply risks for vadadustat, if any, through inventory management and additional redundant manufacturing arrangements for both drug substance and drug product and changes may occur following the launch of vadadustat, if approved.
Vadadustat is a small molecule. The synthesis of vadadustat is reliable and reproducible from starting materials available from multiple sources at commercially relevant scale using no unusual manufacturing equipment. Vadadustat can be formulated into compressed tablets using proprietary processes. As with any supply program, obtaining raw materials and finished drug product of the required quality and quantity cannot be guaranteed, and we cannot ensure that we will be successful in this endeavor.
Auryxia
We have established CMO relationships for the supply of Auryxia to help ensure that we will have sufficient material for ongoing commercial sales and clinical trials. The drug substance for Auryxia is supplied by Siegfried Evionnaz SA (two approved sites) and BioVectra Inc. (one approved site), pursuant to supply agreements with pricing structured on a per-kilogram basis. Consistent with our previously disclosed plans to lower the cost of goods sold for Auryxia, BioVectra and Keryx entered into an Amended and Restated Product Manufacture and Supply and Facility Construction Agreement on September 4, 2020. Auryxia drug product is supplied by Patheon Manufacturing Services LLC (Thermo Fisher) (three approved sites) pursuant to a Master Manufacturing Service Agreement with per-bottle pricing structured on a tiered basis, with the price reduced as the product volume increases. These agreements require that we satisfy certain minimum purchase requirements, but we are not obligated to use them as our sole suppliers. For more information about our manufacturing agreements for Auryxia, see Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis and Note 16 to our consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
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The active pharmaceutical ingredient of Auryxia, ferric citrate, is a small molecule. The synthesis of ferric citrate is reliable and reproducible from starting materials available from multiple sources at commercially relevant scale. Ferric citrate can be formulated into compressed tablets using proprietary manufacturing processes. As with any supply program, obtaining raw materials and finished drug product of the required quality and quantity cannot be guaranteed, and we cannot ensure that we will be successful in this endeavor.
We utilize third parties for the commercial distribution of Auryxia, including wholesale distributors and certain specialty pharmacy providers. We have also engaged Cardinal Health as the exclusive third-party logistics distribution agent for commercial sales of Auryxia.
License, Collaboration and Other Strategic Agreements
Vadadustat
U.S. Collaboration with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
On December 18, 2016, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Otsuka, or the Otsuka U.S. Agreement, pursuant to which we agreed to co-exclusively collaborate with Otsuka with respect to the development and commercialization of vadadustat in the United States, subject to the approval of vadadustat by the FDA. We are responsible for leading the development of vadadustat, for which we submitted an NDA to the FDA in March of 2021. We will co-commercialize vadadustat in the United States with Otsuka, subject to the approval of vadadustat by the FDA. We control and retain final decision-making authority with respect to certain matters, including U.S. pricing strategy and manufacturing.
Under the terms of the Otsuka U.S. Agreement, Otsuka paid us an upfront payment of $125.0 million and we expect Otsuka to provide additional funding of $393.9 million or more, depending on the actual costs incurred, toward the vadadustat global Phase 3 development program. This amount includes the Additional Funding (as defined below). Due to the costs incurred in completing the activities under the current global development plan exceeding a certain threshold in the second quarter of 2019, we elected to require Otsuka to increase the aggregate percentage of current global development costs it funds under the Otsuka U.S. Agreement and the Otsuka International Agreement, as defined below, from 52.5% to 80%, or the Otsuka Funding Option. The additional funding expected to result from having exercised the Otsuka Funding Option, or the Additional Funding, is fully creditable against future payments due to us under the arrangement, provided that future payments due to us may not be reduced by more than 50% in any calendar year and any remaining creditable amount above 50% in any calendar year will be applied to subsequent future payments until fully credited. We are eligible to receive from Otsuka up to $65.0 million in regulatory milestones and up to $575.0 million in specified commercial milestones.
The Otsuka U.S. Agreement establishes a profit share for the commercialization of vadadustat in the United States. The parties will equally share all net sales of vadadustat in the United States, if approved, and generally each party will bear half of all costs in the United States, including medical affairs, commercialization and manufacturing costs.
Under the Otsuka U.S. Agreement, we and Otsuka will jointly conduct all medical affairs and commercialization activities pursuant to plans agreed to by the parties. We will remain responsible for manufacturing vadadustat. Additionally, the parties agreed not to promote, market or sell any competing product in the territory covered by the agreement.
Unless earlier terminated, the Otsuka U.S. Agreement will expire in the United States on a product-by-product basis on the date that one or more generic versions of vadadustat first achieves 90% market penetration. Either party may terminate the Otsuka U.S. Agreement in its entirety upon an uncured breach or insolvency on the part of the other party. Otsuka may terminate the Otsuka U.S. Agreement in its entirety upon 12 months’ prior written notice at any time after the release of the first top-line data from the global Phase 3 development program for vadadustat, which release occurred in the second quarter of 2020.
International Collaboration with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
On April 25, 2017, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Otsuka, or the Otsuka International Agreement, pursuant to which we granted Otsuka an exclusive license for the development and commercialization of vadadustat in certain territory outside the United States. The territory covered by the Otsuka International Agreement includes the European Union, Russia, China, Australia, Canada, the Middle East and certain other countries, or the Otsuka International Territory, but excludes Latin America and previously licensed jurisdictions. Under the Otsuka International Agreement, Otsuka is responsible for certain development activities and commercializing vadadustat in the Otsuka International Territory, while we led the global Phase 3 development program of vadadustat, and Otsuka submitted a MAA with the EMA in October 2021. Otsuka will fund a significant percentage of the costs of such global development program regardless of the total actual costs ultimately incurred. Additionally, the parties agreed not to promote, market or sell any competing product in the territory covered by the agreement.
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Under the terms of the Otsuka International Agreement, we expect Otsuka to pay us at least $317.7 million, comprised of $73.0 million that was paid upon execution of the Otsuka International Agreement and $244.8 million or more, depending on actual costs incurred, of development funding. In addition, we are eligible to receive from Otsuka up to $17.0 million in regulatory milestones for the licensed HIF product if we achieve the associated event within 12 to 24 months of the first HIF product approval and up to $525.0 million in commercial milestones. Otsuka also agreed to make tiered, escalating royalty payments ranging from low double digits up to thirty percent of net sales of vadadustat within the Otsuka International Territory. In limited circumstances, upper tier royalties may be subject to reduction if the supply price charged by us to Otsuka for vadadustat exceeds certain agreed upon thresholds, and royalty payments may also be reduced if a generic product is launched, on a country-by-country basis. Otsuka may elect to conduct additional studies of vadadustat in the European Union, subject to our right to delay such studies based on our objectives outside the Otsuka International Territory. Otsuka will pay a percentage of the costs of any such studies, and we will pay its portion of the costs in the form of a credit against future amounts due to us under the Otsuka International Agreement.
Unless earlier terminated, the Otsuka International Agreement will expire upon the expiration of the royalty term in the last country in the Otsuka International Territory. Either party may terminate the Otsuka International Agreement in its entirety upon an uncured material breach or insolvency on the part of the other party. Otsuka may terminate the Otsuka International Agreement in its entirety or for a specific region in the Otsuka International Territory upon 12 months’ prior written notice at any time after the release of the first top-line data from the global Phase 3 development program for vadadustat, which release occurred in the second quarter of 2020.
Collaboration with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation
On December 11, 2015, we entered into a collaboration agreement with MTPC, or the MTPC Agreement, providing MTPC with exclusive development and commercialization rights to vadadustat in Japan and certain other Asian countries, or the MTPC Territory. In addition, we will supply vadadustat to MTPC for both clinical and commercial use in the MTPC Territory, subject to MTPC’s option to manufacture commercial drug product in the MTPC Territory. On July 15, 2020, we entered into a supply agreement with MTPC for the commercial supply of vadadustat for use in Japan and certain other Asian countries, as contemplated by the MTPC Agreement.

We and MTPC agreed that, instead of including Japanese patients in our global Phase 3 program for vadadustat, MTPC would be the sponsor of a Phase 3 program for vadadustat in Japan. MTPC reported top-line data for the two Phase 3 pivotal trials and data from the two supportive Phase 3 studies in March 2019 and 52-week data for the two Phase 3 pivotal trials in November 2019. In June 2020, vadadustat was approved in Japan for the treatment of anemia due to CKD by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. In August 2020, MTPC launched vadadustat commercially in Japan under the trade name, VafseoTM, as a treatment of anemia due to CKD for adult patients on dialysis and not on dialysis. In January 2022, MTPC filed a new drug application for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult patients in Taiwan.

Unless earlier terminated, the MTPC Agreement will continue in effect on a country-by-country basis until the later of the following: expiration of the last-to-expire patent covering vadadustat in such country in the MTPC Territory; expiration of marketing or regulatory exclusivity in such country in the MTPC Territory; or ten years after the first commercial sale of vadadustat in such country in the MTPC Territory. MTPC may terminate the MTPC Agreement upon twelve months’ notice at any time after the second anniversary of the effective date of the MTPC Agreement. Either party may terminate the MTPC Agreement upon the material breach of the other party that is not cured within a specified time period or upon the insolvency of the other party.

Under the terms of the MTPC Agreement, MTPC will make payments to us of up to approximately $225.0 million in the aggregate based on the achievement of certain development, regulatory and sales milestones, as well as tiered royalty payments ranging from 13% to 20% on annual net sales of vadadustat in the MTPC Territory, subject to reduction upon launch of a generic product on a country-by-country basis. MTPC was responsible for the costs of the Phase 3 program for vadadustat in Japan and other studies required in Japan and made no funding payments for our global Phase 3 program. Additionally, the development costs of approximately $20.5 million for our Phase 2 studies in Japan were reimbursed to us by MTPC. In February 2021, we entered into a royalty interest acquisition agreement with HealthCare Royalty Partners IV, L.P., or HCR, whereby we sold our right to receive royalties and sales milestones for vadadustat in Japan and certain other Asian countries in the MTPC territory under the MTPC Agreement. For more information on our royalty interest acquisition agreement with HCR, see Note 5 to our consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Vifor Pharma License Agreement

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On February 18, 2022, we entered into the Vifor Second Amended Agreement with Vifor Pharma, which amended and restated the Vifor First Amended Agreement. Pursuant to the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, we granted Vifor Pharma an exclusive license to sell vadadustat to the Supply Group in the Territory. We currently retain rights to commercialize vadadustat for use in the non-dialysis dependent CKD market and to sell to dialysis organizations outside of the Supply Group. During the term of the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, Vifor Pharma is not permitted to sell any HIF product that competes with vadadustat in the Territory to the Supply Group.

Like the Vifor First Amended Agreement, the Vifor Second Amended Agreement is structured as a profit share arrangement between us and Vifor Pharma in which we will receive approximately 66% of the profit, net of certain pre-specified costs. Under the Vifor First Amended Agreement, Vifor Pharma will make an upfront payment to us of $25 million in lieu of the previously disclosed milestone payment of $25 million that Vifor Pharma was to pay to us following approval of vadadustat by the FDA. In addition, Vifor Pharma made an equity investment in us, as further described below. We currently retain rights to commercialize vadadustat for use in the non-dialysis dependent CKD market and to sell to dialysis organizations outside of the Supply Group. As under the Vifor First Amended Agreement, during the term of the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, Vifor Pharma is not permitted to sell any HIF product that competes with vadadustat in the Territory to the Supply Group.

As under the Vifor First Amended Agreement, the Vifor Second Amended Agreement provides that Akebia and Vifor Pharma will enter into a commercial supply agreement for vadadustat pursuant to which we will supply all of Vifor Pharma’s requirements for vadadustat in the Territory. Under the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, Vifor Pharma will contribute $40 million to a working capital facility established to partially fund our costs of purchasing vadadustat from our contract manufacturers, which amount of funding will fluctuate, and which funding we will repay to Vifor Pharma over time.

Unless earlier terminated, the Vifor Second Amended Agreement will expire upon the later of the expiration of all patents that claim or cover vadadustat or the expiration of marketing or regulatory exclusivity for vadadustat in the Territory. Vifor Pharma may terminate the Vifor Second Amended Agreement in its entirety upon 30 months’ prior written notice after the first anniversary of the receipt of regulatory approval, if approved, from the FDA for vadadustat for dialysis-dependent CKD patients. We may terminate the Vifor Second Amended Agreement in its entirety for convenience, following the earlier of a certain period of time elapsing or following certain specified regulatory events, and upon six months’ prior written notice. If we so terminate for convenience, subject to a specified exception, we will pay a termination fee to Vifor Pharma. In addition, either party may, subject to a cure period, terminate the Vifor Second Amended Agreement in the event of the other party’s uncured material breach or bankruptcy. We may also terminate the Vifor Second Amended Agreement upon the occurrence of certain other events. The Vifor Second Amended Agreement also continues to include a standstill provision and customary representations and warranties.

Also in connection with entering into the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, on February 18, 2022, we and Vifor Pharma entered into an Investment Agreement, or the Investment Agreement, pursuant to which we sold an aggregate of 4,000,000 shares of our common stock to Vifor Pharma for a total of $20.0 million dollars. For more information on the Vifor Second Amended Agreement and Investment Agreement with Vifor Pharma, see Note 18 to our consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Janssen Pharmaceutica NV Research and License Agreement
On February 9, 2017, we entered into a Research and License Agreement, the Janssen Agreement, with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, or Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, pursuant to which Janssen granted us an exclusive license under certain intellectual property rights to develop and commercialize worldwide certain HIF prolyl hydroxylase targeted compounds.
Under the terms of the Janssen Agreement, Janssen granted us a license for a three-year research term to conduct research on the HIF compound portfolio, which research term is now expired. During the research term, we could designate one or more compounds as candidates for development and commercialization. Once a compound was designated for development and commercialization, we were to be solely responsible for the development and commercialization of the compound worldwide at our own cost and expense.
Under the terms of the Janssen Agreement, we paid an upfront payment of $1.0 million in cash to Janssen and issued a warrant to purchase 509,611 shares of our common stock, which expired on February 9, 2022. In addition, Janssen could be eligible to receive up to an aggregate of $16.5 million from us in specified development milestone payments on a product-by-product basis. Janssen will also be eligible to receive up to $215.0 million from us in specified commercial milestones as well as tiered, escalating royalties ranging from a low to mid-single digit percentage of net sales, on a product-by-product basis, and subject to reduction upon expiration of patent rights or the launch of a generic product in the territory.
Unless earlier terminated, the Janssen Agreement will expire on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis upon the expiration of the last royalty term, which ends upon the longer of the expiration of the patents licensed under the Janssen
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Agreement, the expiration of regulatory exclusivity for such product, or 10 years from first commercial sale of such product. We may terminate the Janssen Agreement in its entirety or only with respect to a particular licensed compound or product upon 180 days’ prior written notice to Janssen. The parties also have customary termination rights, subject to a cure period, in the event of the other party’s material breach of the Janssen Agreement or in the event of certain additional circumstances.
As discussed above, we issued a Common Stock Purchase Warrant, or the Warrant, to Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., or JJDC, an affiliate of Janssen, for 509,611 shares of our common stock at an exercise price of $9.81 per share. The Warrant was issued without registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. The Warrant was exercisable by JJDC, in whole or in part, at any time prior to February 9, 2022. We recorded the fair value of the Warrant in the amount of $3.4 million to additional paid-in capital and research and development expense in March 2017.
Cyclerion Therapeutics License Agreement

On June 4, 2021, we entered into the Cyclerion Agreement with Cyclerion, pursuant to which Cyclerion granted us an exclusive global license under certain intellectual property rights to research, develop and commercialize praliciguat, an investigational oral sGC stimulator.

Under the terms of the Cyclerion Agreement, we made an upfront payment of $3.0 million in cash to Cyclerion, which was paid during the second quarter of 2021. In addition, Cyclerion is eligible to receive up to an aggregate of $222.0 million from us in specified development and regulatory milestone payments on a product-by-product basis. Cyclerion will also be eligible to receive specified commercial milestones as well as tiered royalties ranging from a mid-single-digit to mid-teen percentage of net sales, on a product-by-product basis, and subject to reduction upon expiration of patent rights or the launch of a generic product in the territory. We recorded the upfront payment in the amount of $3.0 million to research and development expense in June 2021.

Unless earlier terminated, the Cyclerion Agreement will expire on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis upon the expiration of the last royalty term, which ends upon the longest of (i) the expiration of the patents licensed under the Cyclerion Agreement, (ii) the expiration of regulatory exclusivity for such product, and (iii) 10 years from first commercial sale of such product. We may terminate the Cyclerion Agreement in its entirety or only with respect to a particular licensed compound or product upon 180 days' prior written notice to Cyclerion. We and Cyclerion also have customary termination rights, subject to a cure period, in the event of the other party’s material breach of the Cyclerion Agreement or in the event of certain additional circumstances.
Auryxia
License Agreement with Panion & BF Biotech, Inc.
Prior to the Merger, Keryx entered into a license agreement, or the Panion License Agreement, which was amended from time to time, with Panion & BF Biotech, Inc., or Panion, under which Keryx in-licensed the exclusive worldwide rights, excluding certain Asian-Pacific countries, or the Licensor Territory, for the development and commercialization of ferric citrate.
On April 17, 2019, we and Panion entered into a second amended and restated license agreement, or the Panion Amended License Agreement, which amends and restates in full the Panion License Agreement. The Panion Amended License Agreement provides Keryx with an exclusive license under Panion-owned know-how and patents covering the rights to sublicense, develop, make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and export ferric citrate worldwide, excluding the Licensor Territory. The Panion Amended License Agreement also provides Panion with an exclusive license under Keryx-owned patents covering the rights to sublicense (with our written consent), develop, make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and export ferric citrate in certain countries in the Licensor Territory. Consistent with the Panion License Agreement, under the Panion Amended License Agreement, Panion is eligible to receive from us or any sublicensee royalty payments based on a mid-single digit percentage of sales of ferric citrate in our licensed territories. We are eligible to receive from Panion or any sublicensee royalty payments based on a mid-single digit percentage of net sales of ferric citrate in Panion’s licensed territories.
The Panion Amended License Agreement terminates upon the expiration of each of our and Panion’s obligations to pay royalties thereunder. In addition, we may terminate the Panion Amended License Agreement (i) in its entirety or (ii) with respect to one or more countries in our licensed territory, in either case upon 90 days’ notice. We and Panion also each have the right to terminate the Panion Amended License Agreement upon the occurrence of a material breach of the Panion Amended License Agreement by the other party, subject to certain cure provisions, or certain insolvency events. The Panion Amended License Agreement also provides that, on a country-by-country basis, during the term and until the second anniversary of the expiration of our or Panion’s obligation, as applicable, to pay royalties in a country in which such party has ferric citrate for sale on the date of such expiration, neither the other party nor its affiliates will, directly or indirectly, sell, distribute or otherwise commercialize or supply or cause to supply ferric citrate to a third party for sale or distribution in such country. In addition, the
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Panion Amended License Agreement provides that each of us and Panion has the right, but not the obligation, to conduct litigation against any infringer of certain patent rights under the Panion Amended License Agreement in certain territories.
During the year-ended December 31, 2021, Panion earned $11.8 million in royalty payments relating to the sales of Auryxia in the United States and JT and Torii net sales of Riona in Japan, as we are required to pay a mid-single digit percent of JT and Torii’s net sales of Riona in Japan to Panion under the terms of the Panion Amended License Agreement.
Sublicense Agreement with Japan Tobacco Inc. and Torii Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
In September 2007, Keryx entered into a Sublicense Agreement with JT and Torii, under which JT and Torii obtained the exclusive sublicense rights for the development and commercialization of ferric citrate in Japan. Effective June 8, 2009, Keryx entered into an Amended and Restated Sublicense Agreement, which was amended in June 2013, or the Revised Agreement, with JT and Torii.
In January 2014, JT and Torii received manufacturing and marketing approval of ferric citrate from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Ferric citrate hydrate, which launched in May 2014 and is being marketed in Japan by Torii under the brand name Riona, is indicated as an oral treatment for the improvement of hyperphosphatemia in patients with CKD, including NDD-CKD and DD-CKD. In July 2019, JT and Torii, reported positive top-line results from a pivotal Phase 3 comparative study evaluating Riona for the treatment of IDA in adult patients in Japan, which was approved in March 2021. In May 2020, JT and Torii filed an application for approval of IDA as an additional indication for Riona in Japan. Under the terms of the Revised Agreement with JT and Torii, we are eligible to receive royalty payments based on a tiered low double-digit percentage of net sales of Riona in Japan inclusive of amounts that we must pay to Panion on JT and Torii’s net sales of Riona under the Panion Amended License Agreement, subject to certain reductions upon expiration or termination of the Panion Amended License Agreement, and may also receive up to an additional $55.0 million upon the achievement of certain annual net sales milestones. We recorded $5.8 million in license revenue related to royalties earned on net sales of Riona in Japan during the twelve months ended December 31, 2021.
The sublicense under the Revised Agreement terminates upon the expiration of all underlying patent rights. Also, JT and Torii may terminate the Revised Agreement with or without cause upon at least six months prior written notice to us. Additionally, either party may terminate the Revised Agreement for cause upon 60 days’ prior written notice after the breach of any uncured material provision of the Revised Agreement, or after certain insolvency events.
Intellectual Property
The proprietary nature of, and protection for, our products, product candidates and our discovery programs, processes and know-how are important to our business. Our policy is to seek to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, filing patent applications related to our proprietary technology, inventions and improvements that are important to the development and implementation of our business. We also rely on know-how, continuing technological innovation and potential in-licensing opportunities to develop and maintain our proprietary position. Additionally, we may benefit from a variety of statutory frameworks in the United States, Europe and other countries that provide periods of non-patent-based exclusivity for qualifying molecules. See “—Regulatory Matters.”  
Our commercial success will depend in part on obtaining and maintaining patent protection of our current products as well as current and future product candidates, methods of their use and the methods used to develop and manufacture them, as well as successfully defending these patents against third-party challenges. Our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our products depends on the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents that cover these activities. We cannot be sure that patents will be granted with respect to any of our pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications filed by us in the future, nor can we be sure that any of our existing patents or any patents that may be granted to us in the future will be commercially useful in protecting our product candidates, discovery programs and processes. Even once patents successfully issue, third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability, inventorship, or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held not infringed or unenforceable. For this and more comprehensive risks related to our intellectual property, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property.”
Individual patents extend for varying periods of time depending on the date of filing of the patent application or the date of patent issuance and the legal term of patents in the countries in which they are obtained. Generally, patents issued from applications filed in the United States are effective for 20 years from the earliest filing date of a United States non-provisional application or an international application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In addition, in certain instances, a patent term can be extended to recapture a portion of the term effectively lost as a result of the FDA regulatory review period,
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however, the restoration period cannot be longer than five years and the total patent term including the restoration period must not exceed 14 years following FDA approval. The duration of foreign patents varies in accordance with provisions of applicable local law, but typically is also 20 years from the earliest international filing date. Patent term recapture for loss of term as a result of the regulatory review period is available in some foreign jurisdictions. In the United States, a patent’s term may also be lengthened by patent term adjustment, which compensates a patentee for administrative delays by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, in granting a patent, or may be shortened if a patent is terminally disclaimed over an earlier‑filed patent.
Changes in either the patent laws or interpretations of patent laws in the United States and other countries can diminish our ability to protect our inventions and enforce our intellectual property rights. Accordingly, we cannot predict the breadth or enforceability of claims that may be granted in our patents or in third-party patents. The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by extensive litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. Our ability to maintain and solidify our proprietary position for our drugs and technology will depend on our success in obtaining effective claims and enforcing those claims once granted. We do not know whether any of the patent applications that we may file or license from third parties will result in the issuance of any patents. The issued patents that we own or license or may receive or acquire in the future may be challenged, invalidated or circumvented, and the rights granted under any issued patents may not provide us with sufficient protection or competitive advantages against competitors with similar technology. Furthermore, our competitors may be able to independently develop and commercialize similar drugs or duplicate our technology, business model or strategy without infringing our patents. Because of the extensive time required for clinical development and regulatory review of a drug we may develop, it is possible that, before any of our drugs can be commercialized, any related patent may expire or remain in force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby reducing any advantage of any such patent. The patent positions for vadadustat and Auryxia are summarized below.
Vadadustat Patent Portfolio
We hold 12 issued patents covering the composition of matter, polymorph, method of treating anemia, pharmaceutical compositions of vadadustat, and processes for manufacturing vadadustat in the United States and additional patents issued or pending in many other major jurisdictions worldwide, including Europe, Japan, China, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Israel and India. The expected expiration dates for these patents are between 2027 and 2034 plus any extensions or adjustments of term available under national law.
We also hold patents and patent applications directed to starting materials and intermediates in the processes for manufacturing vadadustat, dosing regimens, formulations, and various other aspects relating to the treatment of anemia using vadadustat that are expected to expire between 2032 and 2042 exclusive of possible patent term extensions or adjustments.
We have ongoing opposition and invalidity proceedings relating to vadadustat. See Part II, Item 3. Legal Proceedings for further information relating to these matters.
Auryxia Patent Portfolio
Pursuant to Keryx’s license with Panion, we have the exclusive rights under a series of patents and patent applications to commercialize Auryxia worldwide, excluding certain Asian-Pacific countries. These patents and patent applications include claims directed to compositions of matter, pharmaceutical compositions, methods of treatment, as well as methods for the manufacture of Auryxia.
Keryx’s patent rights include 15 issued U.S. patents listed in the Orange Book covering the composition of matter, method of treating hyperphosphatemia, and pharmaceutical compositions of Auryxia. The expected expiration dates for these patents are between 2022 and 2030 plus any additional patent term extensions that may be available.  
Pursuant to the sublicense with our Japanese partner, Japan Tobacco Inc., or JT, and its subsidiary, Torii Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., or Torii, we have exclusively sublicensed certain Japanese patent rights to JT and Torii. These sublicensed rights include several Japanese patents and pending patent applications with composition of matter claims and methods of use claims covering Riona, the trade name under which JT and Torii market ferric citrate in Japan. The expected expiration dates for these patents and pending patent applications are between 2022 and 2027. To date, to our knowledge, no contested proceedings or third-party claims have been lodged against any of these Japanese patents.
We received Paragraph IV certification notice letters regarding ANDAs submitted to the FDA requesting approval for generic versions of Auryxia tablets (210 mg ferric iron per tablet), filed certain complaints for patent infringement relating to such
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ANDAs, and have entered into settlement and license agreements with each of the ANDA filers. See Part II, Item 3. Legal Proceedings for further information relating to these matters.
Other Intellectual Property Rights
We depend upon trademarks, trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological advances to develop and maintain our competitive position. To maintain the confidentiality of trade secrets and proprietary information, we require our employees, scientific advisors, consultants and collaborators, upon commencement of a relationship with us, to execute confidentiality agreements and, in the case of parties other than our research and development collaborators, to agree to assign their inventions to us. These agreements are designed to protect our proprietary information and to grant us ownership of technologies that are developed in connection with their relationship with us. These agreements may not, however, provide protection for our trade secrets in the event of unauthorized disclosure of such information.
In addition to patent protection, we may utilize orphan drug regulations, pediatric exclusivity or other provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, as amended, or FDCA, such as new chemical entity exclusivity or new formulation exclusivity, to provide market exclusivity for a drug candidate. In the United States, the FDA has the authority to grant additional data protection for approved drugs where the sponsor conducts specified testing in pediatric or adolescent populations. If granted, this pediatric exclusivity may provide an additional six months which are added to the term of data protection as well as to the term of a relevant patent, to the extent these protections have not already expired. We may also seek to utilize market exclusivities in other territories. We cannot assure you that our drug products or any drug candidates we may acquire or in-license, will obtain such orphan drug designation, pediatric exclusivity, new chemical entity exclusivity or any other market exclusivity in the United States, European Union or any other territory, or that we will be the first to receive the respective regulatory approval for such drugs so as to be eligible for any market exclusivity protection.
Know-How
In addition to patents, we rely upon unpatented know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our proprietary information, in part, using confidentiality agreements with our collaborators, employees and consultants and invention assignment provisions in the confidentiality agreements with our employees. These agreements are designed to protect our proprietary information and, in the case of the invention assignment provisions, to grant us ownership of technologies that are developed by our employees. These agreements may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach.
To the extent that our commercial partners, collaborators, employees and consultants use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions.
The Hatch-Waxman Act
Orange Book Listing
In seeking approval for a drug through an NDA, applicants are required to list with the FDA each patent whose claims cover the applicant’s product. Upon approval of a drug, each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, commonly known as the Orange Book. Drugs listed in the Orange Book can, in turn, be cited by potential generic competitors in support of approval of an ANDA. An ANDA provides for marketing of a drug product that has the same active ingredients in the same strengths and dosage form as the listed drug and has been shown through bioequivalence testing to be therapeutically equivalent to the listed drug. Other than the requirement for bioequivalence testing, ANDA applicants are usually not required to conduct, or submit results of, nonclinical or clinical tests to prove the safety or effectiveness of their drug product. Drugs approved in this way are commonly referred to as “generic equivalents” to the listed drug and can often be substituted by pharmacists under prescriptions written for the original listed drug.
The ANDA applicant is required to make certain certifications to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the approved product in the FDA’s Orange Book. Specifically, the applicant must certify that: (i) the required patent information has not been filed; (ii) the listed patent has expired; (iii) the listed patent has not expired but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (iv) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product. The ANDA applicant may also elect to submit a Section viii statement, certifying that its proposed ANDA label does not contain or carve out any language regarding the patented method-of-use, rather than certify to a listed method-of-use patent.
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If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents, the ANDA will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired. A certification that the new product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents, or that such patents are invalid, is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA and patent holders once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA until the earlier of 30 months from receiving the Paragraph IV certification, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit, or a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA applicant. Also, the ANDA will not be approved until any applicable non-patent exclusivity listed in the Orange Book for the referenced product has expired.
Exclusivity
Upon NDA approval of a new chemical entity, or NCE, which is a drug that contains an active moiety that has not been approved by the FDA in any other NDA, that drug receives five years of marketing exclusivity during which time the FDA cannot accept any ANDA seeking approval of a generic version of that drug. Certain changes to a drug, such as the addition of a new indication to the package insert, are associated with a three-year period of exclusivity during which the FDA cannot approve an ANDA for a generic drug that includes such changes.
An ANDA may be submitted one year before NCE exclusivity expires if a Paragraph IV certification is filed. If there is no listed patent in the Orange Book, there may not be a Paragraph IV certification, and, thus, no ANDA may be filed before the expiration of the exclusivity period.
Patent Term Extension
After NDA approval, owners of relevant drug patents or their agents may apply for up to a five-year patent extension for delays caused by FDA regulatory review. The allowable patent term extension is calculated as half of the drug’s testing phase which is the time between IND submission and NDA submission, and all of the review phase, which is the time between NDA submission and approval, up to a maximum of five years. The time can be shortened if the FDA determines that the applicant did not pursue approval with due diligence. The total patent term after the extension may not exceed 14 years from the date of approval by virtue of the patent term extension.
We have filed applications under the patent term extension provisions of 35 U.S.C. § 156 for U.S. Patent Nos. 8,299,298, 8,093,423, 7,767,851, 5,753,706, and 8,338,642 each of which covers Auryxia for delays caused by FDA regulatory review. If granted, we can utilize the patent term extension on one of these patents, however, we cannot assure you that we can obtain any extension of the term of these patents. Upon expiration of these patents, competitors who obtain the requisite regulatory approval may potentially offer products with the same composition and/or method of use as our product, so long as the competitors do not infringe any other patents that we may own or license.
For patents that might expire before a determination regarding patent term extension, the patent owner or its agent may request an interim patent term extension. An interim patent extension increases the patent term by one year and may be renewed up to four times. For each interim patent extension granted, the post-approval patent extension is reduced by one year. The director of the USPTO must determine that approval of the drug covered by the patent for which a patent extension is being sought is likely. We previously filed for and received interim patent term extension in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 156(e)(2) for U.S. Patent No. 5,753,706 until February 3, 2022.
In addition, certain jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including Japan, have provisions that provide for patent term extension. In October 2014, following the regulatory approval of Riona in Japan, the Japan Patent office granted the patent term extensions filed by our sublicensee, JT, for Japanese Patents Nos. 4964585 and 4173553. As a result of the extension of patent term, Japanese Patents Nos. 4964585 and 4173553 will expire in November 2025 and November 2022, respectively.  
In the future, if and when our product candidates, including vadadustat, receive approval by the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on issued patents covering those drugs, depending upon the length of the clinical trials for each product candidate and other factors. There can be no assurance that any of our pending patent applications will issue or that we will benefit from any patent term extension or favorable adjustment to the term of any of our patents.
Competition
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The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are highly competitive. Our competitors include pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies, as well as universities and public and private research institutions. In addition, companies that are active in different but related fields represent substantial competition for us. Many of our competitors have significantly greater capital resources, larger research and development staffs and facilities and greater experience in drug development, regulation, manufacturing and marketing than we do. These organizations also compete with us to recruit qualified personnel, attract partners for joint ventures or other collaborations, and license technologies that are competitive with ours. To compete successfully in this industry, we must identify novel and unique drugs or methods of treatment and then complete the development of those drugs as treatments in advance of our competitors.
Vadadustat
Drugs that may compete with vadadustat, if approved, include Epogen® (epoetin alfa) and Aranesp® (darbepoetin alfa), both commercialized by Amgen, Procrit® (epoetin alfa) and Eprex® (epoetin alfa), commercialized by Johnson & Johnson in the United States and Europe, respectively, and Mircera® (methoxy PEG-epoetin beta), commercialized by Vifor Pharma in the United States and Roche Holding Ltd. outside of the United States.

We and our partners may also face competition from potential new anemia therapies. There are several other HIF-PH inhibitor product candidates in various stages of development for anemia indications that may be in direct competition with vadadustat if and when they are approved and launched commercially. These candidates are being developed by companies such as FibroGen Inc., or FibroGen, together with its collaboration partners, Astellas Pharma Inc. and AstraZeneca PLC, Japan Tobacco International, or JT, GlaxoSmithKline plc, or GSK, and Bayer HealthCare AG, or Bayer.

Furthermore, certain companies are developing potential new therapies for renal-related diseases that could potentially reduce injectable ESA utilization and thus limit the market potential for vadadustat if they are approved and launched commercially. Other new therapies are in development for the treatment of conditions inclusive of renal anemia that may impact the market for anemia-targeted treatment.

In addition, in the United States, FibroGen filed an NDA for its product candidate, roxadustat, with the FDA, but the FDA issued a complete response letter indicating the FDA will not approve the NDA in its present form. In Europe however, roxadustat is approved for the treatment of anemia in patients with CKD.

In Japan, Vafseo, which is approved for patients with CKD, including both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD, competes with roxadustat, daprodustat and enarodustat. Roxadustat is approved for the treatment of anemia due to CKD, including DD-CKD and NDD-CKD patients. In addition, daprodustat, GSK’s product candidate, and enarodustat, JT’s product candidate, are approved in Japan for the treatment of anemia due to CKD. In addition, Bayer HealthCare AG has submitted a new drug application for its product candidate for the treatment of renal anemia in Japan. In China, FibroGen launched roxadustat for the treatment of anemia of DD-CKD and for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in NDD-CKD patients.

A biosimilar is a biologic product that is approved based on demonstrating that it is highly similar to an existing, FDA-approved branded biologic product. The patents for the existing, branded biologic product must expire in a given market before biosimilars may enter that market without risk of being sued for patent infringement. In addition, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be approved by the FDA until 12 years after the existing, branded product was approved under a Biologics License Application, or BLA. The patents for epoetin alfa, an injectable ESA, expired in 2004 in the EU, and the remaining patents expired between 2012 and 2016 in the United States. Because injectable ESAs are biologic products, the introduction of biosimilars into the injectable ESA market in the United States will constitute additional competition for vadadustat if we are able to obtain approval for and commercially launch vadadustat. In the United States, Pfizer’s biosimilar version of injectable ESAs, Retacrit® (epoetin alfa-epbx), was approved by the FDA in May 2018 and launched in November 2018 and several biosimilar versions of injectable ESAs are available for sale in the EU.

Furthermore, vadadustat’s commercial opportunities, if approved, may be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and market products that are less expensive, more effective, safer or offer greater patient convenience than vadadustat.
Auryxia
Hyperphosphatemia Competition
Auryxia is competing in the hyperphosphatemia market in the United States with other FDA-approved phosphate binders such as Renagel® (sevelamer hydrochloride) and Renvela® (sevelamer carbonate), both marketed by Sanofi, PhosLo® and Phoslyra® (calcium acetate), marketed by Fresenius Medical Care North America, Fosrenol® (lanthanum carbonate), marketed
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by Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc, and Velphoro® (sucroferric oxyhydroxide), marketed by Fresenius Medical Care North America, as well as over-the-counter calcium carbonate products such as TUMS® and metal-based options such as aluminum, lanthanum and magnesium. Most of the phosphate binders listed above are now also available in generic forms. In addition, other agents are in development, including OPKO Health Inc.’s Alpharen™ Tablets (fermagate tablets) or could otherwise enter the market, including Ardelyx, Inc.’s tenapanor (which is approved in the U.S. for the treatment of adults with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, but for which the FDA issued a complete response letter with respect to the control of serum phosphorus in adult patients with CKD on dialysis), that may impact the market for Auryxia.
Iron Deficiency Anemia Competition
Auryxia is competing in the IDA market in the United States with over-the-counter oral iron, ferrous sulfate, other prescription oral iron formulations, including ferrous gluconate, ferrous fumerate, and polysaccharide iron complex, and intravenous iron formulations, including Feraheme® (ferumoxytol injection), Venofer® (iron sucrose injection), Ferrlicit® (sodium ferric gluconate complex in sucrose injection), Injectafer® (ferric carboxymaltose injection), and Triferic® (ferric pyrophosphate citrate). In addition, other new therapies for the treatment of IDA may impact the market for Auryxia, such as Shield Therapeutic’ plc's Feraccru® (ferric maltol), which is available in Europe for the treatment of IDA, and Accrufer® (ferric maltol), which was launched in the United States for the treatment of IDA in July 2021.

Furthermore, Auryxia’s commercial opportunities may be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and market products that are less expensive, more effective, safer or offer greater patient convenience than Auryxia. Other companies have product candidates in various stages of preclinical or clinical development to treat diseases and complications of the diseases for which we are marketing Auryxia. In addition, we entered into settlement agreements with each of our ANDA filers pursuant to which we granted licenses to market a generic version of Auryxia in the United States beginning in March 2025 (subject to FDA approval), or earlier under certain circumstances customary for settlement agreements of this nature, which may impact our business and results of operation.
Government Regulation and Product Approvals
Government authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level, and in other countries and jurisdictions, including the European Union, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, approval, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, labeling, advertising, promotion, distribution, marketing, sales, pricing, reimbursement, post-approval monitoring and reporting, and import and export of pharmaceutical products. The processes for obtaining regulatory approvals in the United States and in foreign countries and jurisdictions, along with subsequent compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and other regulatory requirements, require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.
Review and Approval of Drug Products in the United States
In the United States, the FDA approves and regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and implementing regulations. The failure to comply with applicable requirements under the FDCA and other applicable laws at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval may subject an applicant and/or sponsor to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, including refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold, issuance of warning letters and other types of letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement of profits, or civil or criminal investigations and penalties brought by the FDA and the Department of Justice or other governmental entities.
Our product candidates must be approved by the FDA for therapeutic indications before we or our partners are able to market them in the United States. An applicant seeking approval to market and distribute a new drug product in the United States must typically undertake the following:
completion of preclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies in compliance with the FDA’s good laboratory practice, or GLP, regulations and consistent with International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use, or ICH, requirements;
design of a clinical protocol and submission to the FDA of an IND, which must be reviewed and active by the FDA before human clinical trials may begin;
approval by an independent local or central institutional review board, or IRB, representing each clinical site before each clinical trial may be initiated;
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performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials in accordance with good clinical practices, or GCP, to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed product candidate for each indication;
preparation and submission to the FDA of an NDA requesting marketing for one or more proposed indications;
review of the product candidate by an FDA advisory committee, where appropriate or if applicable;
satisfactory completion of one or more FDA inspections of the manufacturing facility or facilities at which the product candidate, or components thereof, are produced to assess compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP, requirements and to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the product candidate’s identity, strength, quality and purity;
satisfactory completion of FDA audits of clinical trial sites and records to assure compliance with GCPs and good practices, or GxPs, the integrity of the clinical data and that adequate controls and oversight are in place regarding manufacturing, clinical trials, pharmacovigilance, safety, data management, vendor oversight, collection and reporting of serious adverse events and other activities;
payment of user fees and securing FDA approval of an NDA; and
compliance with any post-approval requirements and/or commitments, including the potential requirement to implement a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, and potentially post-market requirement, or PMR, and post-market commitment, or PMC, studies.
Preclinical Studies
Before an applicant begins testing a product candidate with potential therapeutic value in humans, the product candidate enters the preclinical testing stage. Preclinical tests include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, formulation and stability, as well as other studies to evaluate, among other things, the toxicity of the product candidate. The conduct of the preclinical tests and formulation of the compounds for testing must comply with federal regulations and requirements, including GLP regulations and standards and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Act, if applicable. The results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. Some long-term preclinical testing, such as animal tests of reproductive adverse events and carcinogenicity, and long-term toxicity studies, may continue after the IND is submitted.
The IND and IRB Processes
Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product to human patients under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with GCP requirements, which include, among other things, the requirement that all research patients provide their voluntary informed consent in writing before their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under written study protocols detailing, among other things, the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the objectives of the study, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND.
An IND is an exemption from the FDCA that allows an unapproved drug to be shipped through interstate commerce for use in an investigational clinical trial and a request for FDA authorization to administer an investigational drug to humans. Such authorization must be obtained prior to interstate shipment and administration of any new drug that is not the subject of an approved NDA. The results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data or literature and plans for clinical trials, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. The FDA requires a 30-day waiting period after the submission of each IND before clinical trials may begin. This waiting period is designed to allow the FDA to review the IND to determine whether human research patients will be exposed to unreasonable health risks. At any time during this 30-day period, or thereafter, the FDA may raise concerns or questions about the conduct of the trials as outlined in the IND and impose a clinical hold or partial clinical hold or require that the sponsor amend the clinical protocol to include additional safety measurements. In this case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before clinical trials can begin (or resume if the clinical trial had been ongoing at the time a clinical hold was imposed).
In addition to the foregoing requirements related to the IND submission, an IRB representing each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial before it commences at that institution, and the IRB must conduct a continuing review and reapprove the trial at least annually. The IRB must review and approve, among other things, the trial protocol and informed consent information to be provided to study patients. An IRB must operate in compliance with FDA regulations. An IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution, or an institution it represents, if
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the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the product candidate has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.
A sponsor may choose, but is not required, to conduct a foreign clinical study under an IND. When a foreign clinical study is conducted under an IND, all IND requirements must be met unless waived by the FDA. When a foreign clinical study is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor must ensure that the study complies with certain regulatory requirements of the FDA in order to use the study as support for an IND or application for marketing approval. Specifically, the studies must be conducted in accordance with GCP, including undergoing review and receiving approval by an independent ethics committee, or IEC, and seeking and receiving informed consent from subjects. GCP requirements encompass both ethical and data integrity standards for clinical trials. The FDA’s regulations are intended to help ensure the protection of human subjects enrolled in non-IND foreign clinical trials, as well as the quality and integrity of the resulting data.

Reporting Clinical Trial Results

Under the Public Health Service Act, or PHSA, sponsors of clinical trials of certain FDA-regulated products, including prescription drugs and biologics, are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information on a public registry (clinicaltrials.gov) maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, or NIH. In particular, information related to the product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration of the clinical trial. Although sponsors are also obligated to disclose the results of their clinical trials after completion, disclosure of the results can be delayed in some cases for up to two years after the date of completion of the trial. The NIH’s Final Rule on registration and reporting requirements for clinical trials became effective in 2017, and both NIH and the FDA have recently signaled the government’s willingness to begin enforcing those requirements against non-compliant clinical trial sponsors.

Specifically, the PHSA grants the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, the authority to issue a notice of noncompliance to a responsible party for failure to submit clinical trial information as required. The responsible party, however, is allowed 30 days to correct the noncompliance and submit the required information. The failure to submit clinical trial information to clinicaltrials.gov, as required, is also a prohibited act under the FDCA with violations subject to potential civil monetary penalties of up to $10,000 for each day the violation continues. In addition to civil monetary penalties, violations may also result in other regulatory action, such as injunction and/or criminal prosecution or disqualification from federal grants. Although the FDA has historically not enforced these reporting requirements due to HHS’s long delay in issuing final implementing regulations, those regulations have now been issued and the FDA did issue its first Notice of Noncompliance to a manufacturer in April 2021.
Expanded Access to an Investigational Drug for Treatment Use
Expanded access, sometimes called “compassionate use,” is the use of investigational new drug products outside of clinical trials to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases or conditions when there are no comparable or satisfactory alternative treatment options. The rules and regulations related to expanded access are intended to improve access to investigational drugs for patients who may benefit from investigational therapies. FDA regulations allow access to investigational drugs under an IND by the company or the treating physician for treatment purposes on a case-by-case basis for: individual patients (single-patient IND applications for treatment in emergency settings and non-emergency settings); intermediate-size patient populations; and larger populations for use of the drug under a treatment protocol or Treatment IND Application.

There is no obligation for a sponsor to make its investigational products available for expanded access; however, as required by amendments to the FDCA included in the 21st Century Cures Act, or the Cures Act, passed in 2016, if a sponsor has a policy regarding how it responds to expanded access requests with respect to product candidates in development to treat serious diseases or conditions, it must make that policy publicly available. Sponsors are required to make such policies publicly available upon the earlier of initiation of a Phase 2 or Phase 3 study for a covered investigational product; or 15 days after the investigational product receives designation from the FDA as a breakthrough therapy, fast track product, or regenerative medicine advanced therapy.

On May 30, 2018, the Right to Try Act was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase I clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no obligation for a
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drug manufacturer to make its product candidates available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act, but the manufacturer must develop an internal policy and respond to patient requests according to that policy.
Human Clinical Trials in Support of an NDA
Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product to human patients under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with GCP requirements, which include, among other things, the requirement that all research patients provide their informed consent in writing before their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under written study protocols detailing, among other things, the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the objectives of the study, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated.
Human clinical trials are typically conducted in four sequential phases, which may overlap or be combined:
Phase 1. The product candidate is initially introduced into a small number of healthy human patients or, in certain indications such as cancer, patients with the target disease or condition (e.g., cancer) and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion and, if possible, to gain an early indication of its effectiveness and to determine optimal dosage.
Phase 2. The product candidate is administered to a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product candidate for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage.
Phase 3. These clinical trials are commonly referred to as “pivotal” studies, which denote a study that presents the data that the FDA or other relevant regulatory agency will use to determine whether or not to approve a product candidate. The product candidate is administered to an expanded patient population, generally at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites, in well-controlled clinical trials to generate enough data to statistically evaluate the efficacy and safety of the product candidate for approval, identify adverse effects, establish the overall risk-benefit profile of the product candidate and to provide adequate information for the labeling of the product candidate.
Phase 4. Post-approval studies may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These studies are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication.

A clinical trial may combine the elements of more than one phase and the FDA often requires more than one Phase 3 trial to support marketing approval of a product candidate. A company’s designation of a clinical trial as being of a particular phase is not necessarily indicative that the study will be sufficient to satisfy the FDA requirements of that phase because this determination cannot be made until the protocol and data have been submitted to and reviewed by the FDA. Moreover, as noted above, a pivotal trial is a clinical trial that is believed to satisfy FDA requirements for the evaluation of a product candidate’s safety and efficacy such that it can be used, alone or with other pivotal or non-pivotal trials, to support regulatory approval. Generally, pivotal trials are Phase 3 trials, but they may be Phase 2 trials if the design provides a well-controlled and reliable assessment of clinical benefit, particularly in an area of unmet medical need.

Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials conducted under the IND must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and, more frequently, if serious adverse events occur. In addition, IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA for any of the following: serious and unexpected suspected adverse reactions; findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk in humans exposed to the drug; and any clinically important increase in the case of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. The FDA, IRB or the sponsor or the data monitoring committee may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. The FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP and the integrity of the clinical data submitted.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA issued guidance on March 18, 2020, and has updated it periodically since that time to address the conduct of clinical trials during the pandemic. The guidance sets out a number of considerations for sponsors of clinical trials impacted by the pandemic, including the requirement to include in the clinical study report (or as a separate document) contingency measures implemented to manage the study, and any disruption of the study as a result of COVID-19; a list of all study participants affected by COVID-19-related study disruptions by a unique subject identifier and by investigational site, and a description of how the individual’s participation was altered; and analyses and corresponding discussions that address the impact of implemented contingency measures (e.g., participant discontinuation from investigational product and/or study, alternative procedures used to collect critical safety and/or efficacy data) on the safety and efficacy results reported for the study, among other things. The FDA has indicated that it will continue to provide any necessary guidance to sponsors, clinical investigators, and research institutions as the public health emergency evolves.
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Pediatric Studies

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, applications and certain types of supplements to applications must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations, and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The sponsor must submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within 60 days of an end-of-phase 2 meeting or as may be agreed between the sponsor and the FDA. Those plans must contain an outline of the proposed pediatric study or studies the applicant plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The sponsor and the FDA must reach agreement on a final plan. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon initial PSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from nonclinical trials, early phase clinical trials, and/or other clinical development programs.

For investigational products intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, the FDA must, upon the request of an applicant, meet to discuss preparation of the initial pediatric study plan or to discuss deferral or waiver of pediatric assessments. In addition, the FDA will meet early in the development process to discuss pediatric study plans with sponsors, and the FDA must meet with sponsors by no later than the end-of-phase 1 meeting for serious or life-threatening diseases and by no later than ninety days after the FDA’s receipt of the study plan.

The FDA may, on its own initiative or at the request of the applicant, grant deferrals for submission of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults, or full or partial waivers from the pediatric data requirements. A deferral may be granted for several reasons, including a finding that the product or therapeutic candidate is ready for approval for use in adults before pediatric trials are complete or that additional safety or effectiveness data needs to be collected before the pediatric trials begin. Unless otherwise required by regulation, the pediatric data requirements do not apply to products with orphan designation, although FDA has recently taken steps to limit what it considers abuse of this statutory exemption in PREA by announcing that it does not intend to grant any additional orphan drug designations for rare pediatric subpopulations of what is otherwise a common disease. The FDA also maintains a list of diseases that are exempt from PREA requirements due to low prevalence of disease in the pediatric population.

Acceptance and Review of an NDA

Assuming successful completion of required clinical testing and other requirements, the results of the preclinical studies and clinical trials, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacture, controls and proposed labeling, among other things are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product candidate for one or more indications. The fee required for the submission and review of an application under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, is substantial (for example, for fiscal year 2022 this application fee is approximately $3.1 million), and the sponsor of an approved application is also subject to an annual program fee, currently more than $369,000 per eligible prescription product. These fees are typically adjusted annually, and exemptions and waivers may be available under certain circumstances, such as where a waiver is necessary to protect the public health, where the fee would present a significant barrier to innovation, or where the applicant is a small business submitting its first human therapeutic application for review.

The FDA conducts a preliminary review of all applications within 60 days of receipt and must inform the sponsor at that time or before whether an application is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. This is known as the filing decision. In the event that FDA determines that an application does not satisfy this standard, it will issue a Refuse to File determination to the applicant. The FDA may request additional information rather than accept an NDA for filing. In this event, the application must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application is also subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review. The FDA has agreed to certain performance goals in the review process of NDAs. Most such applications are meant to be reviewed within ten months from the date of filing, and most applications for “priority review” products are meant to be reviewed within six months of filing. A product that has been designated as a breakthrough therapy may also be eligible for review within six months if supported by clinical data at the time of submission of the NDA. The review process may be extended by the FDA for three additional months to consider new information or clarification provided by the applicant to address an outstanding deficiency identified by the FDA following the original submission.
Before approving an NDA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is or will be manufactured. These pre-approval inspections may cover all facilities associated with an NDA submission, including drug component
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manufacturing such as active pharmaceutical ingredients, finished drug product manufacturing, control testing laboratories, as well as packaging and labeling facilities. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving an NDA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP. The applicant of the NDA may also have their records, processes, procedures, training, and other aspects reviewed during an inspection. The FDA must implement a protocol to expedite review of responses to inspection reports pertaining to certain drug applications, including applications for drugs in a shortage or drugs for which approval is dependent on remediation of conditions identified in the inspection report.
In addition, as a condition of approval, the FDA may require an applicant to develop a REMS. REMS use risk minimization strategies beyond the professional labeling to ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh the potential risks.
Finally, the FDA may refer an application for a novel drug to an advisory committee or explain why such referral was not made. Typically, an advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that reviews, evaluates and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.
Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, Priority Review
The FDA is authorized to designate certain products for expedited review if they are intended to address an unmet medical need in the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition. These programs are referred to as fast track designation, breakthrough therapy designation, priority review designation.
Specifically, the FDA may designate a product for fast track review if it is intended, whether alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and it demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. The fast track designation may be withdrawn by the FDA if the FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process.
Second, in 2012, Congress enacted the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Improvement Act. This law established a new regulatory scheme allowing for expedited review of products designated as “breakthrough therapies.” A product may be designated as a breakthrough therapy if it is intended, either alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The FDA may take certain actions with respect to breakthrough therapies, including holding meetings with the sponsor throughout the development process; providing timely advice to the product sponsor regarding development and approval; involving more senior staff in the review process; assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the review team; and taking other steps to design the clinical trials in an efficient manner.  
Third, the FDA may designate a product for priority review if it is a drug that treats a serious condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness. The FDA determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether the proposed drug represents a significant improvement when compared with other available therapies. A priority designation is intended to direct overall attention and resources to the evaluation of such applications, and to shorten the FDA’s review clock goal for taking action on a marketing application from ten months to six months.
Priority Review Vouchers
A PRV is a voucher that the FDA issues to a sponsor of a rare pediatric disease or tropical disease product application at the time of the marketing application approval. Vouchers are transferable to other sponsors that may apply it to their NDAs or BLAs. A PRV entitles the holder to designate a single human drug application submitted under Section 505(b)(1) of the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or Section 351 of the Public Health Service Act as qualifying for a priority review. An FDA priority review may expedite the review process of a marketing application reducing the review time from ten months after formal acceptance of the file to six months after formal acceptance of the file. Applying the PRV to a marketing application does not ensure the FDA’s approval of the marketing application and all requirements supporting the safety and efficacy of the product must be met. Our NDA submission for vadadustat did not include a PRV.
The FDA’s Decision on an NDA
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The FDA reviews an application to determine, among other things, whether the product is safe and whether it is effective for its intended use(s), with the latter determination being made on the basis of substantial evidence. The term “substantial evidence” is defined under the FDCA as “evidence consisting of adequate and well-controlled investigations, including clinical investigations, by experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the effectiveness of the product involved, on the basis of which it could fairly and responsibly be concluded by such experts that the product will have the effect it purports or is represented to have under the conditions of use prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the labeling or proposed labeling thereof.”

The FDA has interpreted this evidentiary standard to require at least two adequate and well-controlled clinical investigations to establish effectiveness of a new product. Under certain circumstances, however, FDA has indicated that a single trial with certain characteristics and additional information may satisfy this standard. This approach was subsequently endorsed by Congress in 1998 with legislation providing, in pertinent part, that “If [FDA] determines, based on relevant science, that data from one adequate and well-controlled clinical investigation and confirmatory evidence (obtained prior to or after such investigation) are sufficient to establish effectiveness, FDA may consider such data and evidence to constitute substantial evidence.” This modification to the law recognized the potential for FDA to find that one adequate and well controlled clinical investigation with confirmatory evidence, including supportive data outside of a controlled trial, is sufficient to establish effectiveness. In December 2019, FDA issued draft guidance further explaining the studies that are needed to establish substantial evidence of effectiveness. It has not yet finalized that guidance.

After evaluating the application and all related information, including the advisory committee recommendations, if any, and inspection reports of manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites, the FDA will issue either a Complete Response Letter, or CRL, or an approval letter. To reach this determination, the FDA must determine that the drug is effective and that its expected benefits outweigh its potential risks to patients. This “benefit-risk” assessment is informed by the extensive body of evidence about the product’s safety and efficacy in the NDA or BLA. This assessment is also informed by other factors, including: the severity of the underlying condition and how well patients’ medical needs are addressed by currently available therapies; uncertainty about how the premarket clinical trial evidence will extrapolate to real-world use of the product in the post-market setting; and whether risk management tools are necessary to manage specific risks. In connection with this assessment, the FDA review team will assemble all individual reviews and other documents into an “action package,” which becomes the record for FDA review. The review team then issues a recommendation, and a senior FDA official makes a decision.
A CRL indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete, and the application will not be approved in its present form. A CRL generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing or information in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. The CRL may require additional clinical or other data, additional pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial(s) and/or other significant and time- consuming requirements related to clinical trials, preclinical studies or manufacturing. If a CRL is issued, the applicant will have one year to respond to the deficiencies identified by the FDA, at which time the FDA can deem the application withdrawn or, in its discretion, grant the applicant an additional six month extension to respond. The FDA has committed to reviewing resubmissions in response to an issued CRL in either two or six months depending on the type of information included. Even with the submission of this additional information, however, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. The FDA has taken the position that a CRL is not final agency action making the determination subject to judicial review.

An approval letter, on the other hand, authorizes commercial marketing of the product with specific prescribing information for specific indications. That is, the approval will be limited to the conditions of use (e.g., patient population, indication) described in the FDA-approved labeling. Further, depending on the specific risk(s) to be addressed, the FDA may require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval trials, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a product’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing trials or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.

Under the Ensuring Innovation Act, which was signed into law in April 2021, the FDA must publish action packages summarizing its decisions to approve new drugs and biologics within 30 days of approval of such products. To date, CRLs are not publicly available documents.
Post-Approval Requirements and Commitments
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If a product receives regulatory approval, the approval may be significantly limited to specific diseases and dosages or the indications for use may otherwise be limited, which could restrict the commercial value of the product. Further, the FDA may require that certain contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling. In addition, conditions of NDA approval may include sponsor agreement to PMR or PMC studies, which are designed to further assess drug safety and effectiveness and may require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the safety of approved products that have been commercialized. These may include additional studies, registries, data collection, analyses, and/or information.
Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising and promotion and reporting of adverse experiences with the product. After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims, are subject to prior FDA review and approval. There also are continuing, annual user fee requirements for any marketed products and the establishments at which such products are manufactured, as well as new application fees for supplemental applications with clinical data.
In addition, drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and these state agencies for compliance with cGMP requirements. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon the sponsor and any third-party manufacturers that the sponsor may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance.
Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:
restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, suspension of the approval, or complete withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;
fines, warning letters or holds on post-approval clinical trials;
refusal of the FDA to approve pending NDAs or supplements to approved NDAs, or suspension or revocation of product license approvals;
product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; or
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates the marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of prescription drug products placed on the market. This regulation includes, among other things, standards and regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising, communications regarding unapproved uses, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and promotional activities involving the Internet and social media. Promotional claims about a product candidate’s safety or effectiveness are prohibited before the product candidate is approved. After approval, a drug product generally may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the FDA or in a manner that is inconsistent with the product’s prescribing information. In September 2021, the FDA published final regulations which describe the types of evidence that the agency will consider in determining the intended use of a drug product.
In the United States, healthcare professionals are generally permitted to prescribe drugs for such uses not described in the drug’s labeling, known as off-label uses, because the FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine. However, FDA regulations impose rigorous restrictions on manufacturers’ communications, prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses. It may be permissible, under very specific conditions, for a manufacturer to engage in nonpromotional, truthful and non-misleading communication regarding off-label information, such as distributing scientific or medical journal information. In addition, companies may also promote information that it consistent with the prescribing information and have the ability to proactively speak to formulary committee members of payors regarding data for an unapproved drug or unapproved uses of an approved drug under some relatively recent guidance from the FDA.  
However, if a company is found to have promoted off-label uses, it may become subject to adverse public relations and administrative and judicial enforcement by the FDA, the Department of Justice, or the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as state authorities. This could subject a company to a range of penalties that could have a significant commercial impact, including civil and criminal fines and agreements that materially restrict the
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manner in which a company promotes or distributes drug products. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion and has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed.
In addition, the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical products is subject to a variety of federal and state laws, the most recent of which is still in the process of being phased into the U.S. supply chain and regulatory framework. The Prescription Drug Marketing Act, or PDMA, was the first federal law to set minimum standards for the registration and regulation of drug distributors by the states and to regulate the distribution of drug samples. Today, both the PDMA and state laws limit the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical product samples and impose requirements to ensure accountability in distribution. Congress more recently enacted the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, or DSCSA, which made significant amendments to the FDCA, including by replacing certain provisions from the PDMA pertaining to wholesale distribution of prescription drugs with a more comprehensive statutory scheme. The DSCSA now requires uniform national standards for wholesale distribution and, for the first time, for third-party logistics providers; it also provides for preemption of certain state laws in the areas of licensure and prescription drug traceability.

Section 505(b)(2) NDAs

NDAs for most new drug products are based on two full clinical trials which must contain substantial evidence of the safety and efficacy of the proposed new product for the proposed use. These applications are submitted under Section 505(b)(1) of the FDCA. The FDA is, however, authorized to approve an alternative type of NDA under Section 505(b)(2) of the FDCA. This type of application allows the applicant to rely, in part, on the FDA’s previous findings of safety and efficacy for a similar product, or published literature. Specifically, Section 505(b)(2) applies to NDAs for a drug for which the investigations made to show whether or not the drug is safe for use and effective in use and relied upon by the applicant for approval of the application “were not conducted by or for the applicant and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference or use from the person by or for whom the investigations were conducted.”

Section 505(b)(2) authorizes the FDA to approve an NDA based on safety and effectiveness data that were not developed by the applicant. NDAs filed under Section 505(b)(2) may provide an alternate and potentially more expeditious pathway to FDA approval for new or improved formulations or new uses of previously approved products. If the 505(b)(2) applicant can establish that reliance on the FDA’s previous approval is scientifically appropriate, the applicant may eliminate the need to conduct certain preclinical studies or clinical trials of the new product. The FDA may also require companies to perform additional studies or measurements to support the change from the approved product. The FDA may then approve the new drug candidate for all or some of the label indications for which the referenced product has been approved, as well as for any new indication sought by the Section 505(b)(2) applicant. Products approved under Section 505(b)(2) are often referred to as follow-on products.
Abbreviated New Drug Applications for Generic Drugs
In 1984, with passage of the Hatch-Waxman Amendments to the FDCA, Congress established an abbreviated regulatory scheme authorizing the FDA to approve generic drugs that are shown to contain the same active ingredients as, and to be bioequivalent to, drugs previously approved by the FDA pursuant to NDAs. To obtain approval of a generic drug, an applicant must submit an abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA, to the agency. An ANDA is a comprehensive submission that contains, among other things, data and information pertaining to the active pharmaceutical ingredient, bioequivalence, drug product formulation, specifications and stability of the generic drug, as well as analytical methods, manufacturing process validation data and quality control procedures. ANDAs are “abbreviated” because they generally do not include preclinical and clinical data to demonstrate safety and effectiveness. Instead, in support of such applications, a generic manufacturer may rely on the preclinical and clinical testing previously conducted for a drug product previously approved under an NDA, known as the reference-listed drug, or RLD.
Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, the FDA may not approve an ANDA or 505(b)(2) application until any applicable period of non-patent exclusivity for the RLD has expired. The FDCA provides a period of five years of non-patent data exclusivity for a new drug containing a NCE. For the purposes of this provision, the FDA has consistently taken the position that an NCE is a drug that contains no active moiety that has previously been approved by the FDA in any other NDA. This interpretation was confirmed with enactment of the Ensuring Innovation Act in April 2021. An active moiety is the molecule or ion responsible for the physiological or pharmacological action of the drug substance. In cases where such NCE exclusivity has been granted, a generic or follow-on drug application may not be filed with the FDA until the expiration of five years unless the submission is accompanied by a Paragraph IV certification, in which case the applicant may submit its application four years following the original product approval.
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The FDCA also provides for a period of three years of exclusivity if the NDA includes reports of one or more new clinical investigations, other than bioavailability or bioequivalence studies, that were conducted by or for the applicant and are essential to the approval of the application. This three-year exclusivity period often protects changes to a previously approved drug product, such as a new dosage form, route of administration, combination or indication. Three-year exclusivity would be available for a drug product that contains a previously approved active moiety, provided the statutory requirement for a new clinical investigation is satisfied. Unlike five-year NCE exclusivity, an award of three-year exclusivity does not block the FDA from accepting ANDAs or 505(b)(2) applications seeking approval for generic versions of the drug as of the date of approval of the original drug product. The FDA typically makes decisions about awards of data exclusivity shortly before a product is approved.
The FDA must establish a priority review track for certain generic drugs, requiring the FDA to review a drug application within eight months for a drug that has three or fewer approved drugs listed in the Orange Book and is no longer protected by any patent or regulatory exclusivities, or is on the FDA’s drug shortage list. The new legislation also authorizes FDA to expedite review of ‘‘competitor generic therapies’’ or drugs with inadequate generic competition, including holding meetings with or providing advice to the drug sponsor prior to submission of the application.
Hatch-Waxman Patent Certification and the 30-Month Stay
As part of the submission of an NDA or certain supplemental applications, NDA sponsors are required to list with the FDA each patent with claims that cover the applicant’s product or an approved method of using the product. Upon approval of a new drug, each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the Orange Book. The FDA’s regulations governing patent listings were largely codified into law with enactment of the Orange Book Modernization Act in January 2021. When an ANDA applicant files its application with the FDA, the applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the reference product in the Orange Book. Specifically, the ANDA applicant must certify that: (i) the required patent information has not been filed; (ii) the listed patent has expired; (iii) the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (iv) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product. Moreover, to the extent that the Section 505(b)(2) NDA applicant is relying on studies conducted for an already approved product, the applicant also is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the NDA-approved product in the Orange Book to the same extent that an ANDA applicant would.

If the generic drug or follow-on drug applicant does not challenge the innovator’s listed patents, FDA will not approve the ANDA or 505(b)(2) application until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired. A certification that the new generic product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents or that such patents are invalid or unenforceable is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA owner and patent holders once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA owner and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days after the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA until the earliest of 30 months after the receipt of the Paragraph IV notice, expiration of the patent or a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA application.
Pediatric Studies and Exclusivity
Pediatric exclusivity is another type of non-patent marketing exclusivity in the United States and, if granted, provides for the attachment of an additional six months of marketing protection to the term of any existing patent or regulatory exclusivity, including the non-patent and orphan exclusivity. This six-month exclusivity may be granted if an NDA sponsor submits pediatric data that fairly respond to a written request from the FDA for such data. The data do not need to show the product is effective in the pediatric population studied, rather, if the clinical trial is deemed to fairly respond to the FDA’s request, the additional protection is granted. If reports of requested pediatric studies are submitted to and accepted by the FDA within the statutory time limits, whatever statutory or regulatory periods of exclusivity or patent protection cover the product are extended by six months. This is not a patent term extension, but it effectively extends the regulatory period during which the FDA cannot approve another application. With regard to patents, the six-month pediatric exclusivity period will not attach to any patents for which an ANDA or 505(b)(2) applicant submitted a paragraph IV patent certification, unless the NDA sponsor or patent owner first obtains a court determination that the patent is valid and infringed by the proposed product.
Patent Term Restoration and Extension
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A patent claiming a new drug product may be eligible for a limited patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act, which permits a patent restoration of up to five years for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review. The restoration period granted is typically one-half the time between the effective date of an IND and the submission date of an NDA, plus the time between the submission date of an NDA and the ultimate approval date. Patent term restoration cannot be used to extend the remaining term of a patent past a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. Only one patent applicable to an approved drug product is eligible for the extension, and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent in question. A patent that covers multiple drugs for which approval is sought can only be extended in connection with one of the approvals. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration in consultation with the FDA.

Federal and State Data Privacy Laws

There are multiple privacy and data security laws that may impact our business activities, in the United States and in other countries where we conduct trials or where we may do business in the future. These laws are evolving and may increase both our obligations and our regulatory risks in the future. In the health care industry generally, under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HIPAA, the HHS has issued regulations to protect the privacy and security of protected health information, or PHI, used or disclosed by covered entities including certain healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses. HIPAA also regulates standardization of data content, codes and formats used in healthcare transactions and standardization of identifiers for health plans and providers. HIPAA also imposes certain obligations on the business associates of covered entities that obtain protected health information in providing services to or on behalf of covered entities. While we are not a covered entity and thus HIPAA does not directly apply to us, we could be subject to penalties, including criminal penalties, if we knowingly obtain or further disclose PHI from a covered entity, such as a health care provider or clinical research site, and therefore we must ensure the proper authorizations are in place before we, or our vendors or business partners, obtain access to any PHI. In addition to federal privacy regulations, there are a number of state laws governing confidentiality and security of health information that may be applicable to our business. In addition to possible federal civil and criminal penalties for HIPAA violations, state attorneys general are authorized to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce HIPAA and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, state attorneys general (along with private plaintiffs) have brought civil actions seeking injunctions and damages resulting from alleged violations of HIPAA’s privacy and security rules. State attorneys general also have authority to enforce state privacy and security laws. New laws and regulations governing privacy and security may be adopted in the future as well.

At the state level, California recently enacted legislation that has been dubbed the first “GDPR-like” law in the United States. Known as the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, it creates new individual privacy rights for consumers (as that word is broadly defined in the law) and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020 and requires covered companies to provide new disclosures to California consumers, provide such consumers rights as it relates to their personal information, and allow for a new cause of action for data breaches. Additionally, effective starting on January 1, 2023, the California Privacy Rights Act, or CPRA, will significantly modify the CCPA, including by expanding consumers’ rights, particularly with respect to certain sensitive personal information and creating new principles, such as data minimization, purpose limitation, and storage limitation. The CPRA also creates a new state agency that will be vested with authority to implement and enforce the CCPA and the CPRA. The CCPA and CPRA could impact our business activities depending on how it is interpreted and exemplifies the vulnerability of our business to not only cyber threats but also the evolving regulatory environment related to personal data and individually identifiable health information. These provisions may apply to some of our business activities. In addition, other states already have passed state privacy laws. Other states will be considering these laws in the future. These laws may impact our business activities, including our identification of research subjects, relationships with business partners and ultimately the marketing and distribution of our products, if and once approved.

Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors available under such laws, it is possible that some of our current or future business activities, including certain clinical research, sales and marketing practices and the provision of certain items and services to our customers, could be subject to challenge under one or more of such privacy and data security laws. The heightening compliance environment and the need to build and maintain robust and secure systems to comply with different privacy compliance and/or reporting requirements in multiple jurisdictions could increase the possibility that a healthcare company may fail to comply fully with one or more of these requirements. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the privacy or data security laws or regulations described above that are applicable to us, or any other laws that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including potentially significant criminal, civil and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional reporting requirements and/or oversight if we become subject to a consent decree or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any
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of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. To the extent that any product candidates we may develop, once approved, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws.
Review and Approval of Drug Products Outside the United States
In order to market any product outside of the United States, a company must also comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries and jurisdictions regarding quality, safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of drug products. Whether or not it obtains FDA approval for a product, the company would need to obtain the necessary approvals by the comparable foreign regulatory authorities before it can commence clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries or jurisdictions. The approval process ultimately varies between countries and jurisdictions and can involve additional product testing and additional administrative review periods. The time required to obtain approval in other countries and jurisdictions might differ from and be longer than that required to obtain FDA approval. Regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction does not ensure regulatory approval in another, but a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction may negatively impact the regulatory process in others.
Clinical Trial Approval in the European Union
Requirements for the conduct of clinical trials in the European Union including GCP are set forth in the Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC, or the Clinical Trials Directive, and the GCP Directive 2005/28/EC, or the GCP Directive. Pursuant to the Clinical Trials Directive and the GCP Directive, as amended, a system for the approval of clinical trials in the European Union has been implemented through national legislation of the EU member states. Under this system, approval must be obtained from the competent national authority of each EU member state in which a study is planned to be conducted. To this end, a clinical trial application, or CTA, is submitted to the local competent authority in each country, or Member State, where the clinical trial is being conducted, which must be supported by an investigational medicinal product dossier, or IMPD, and further supporting information prescribed by Clinical Trials Directive and the GCP Directive and other applicable guidance documents. These documents may be amended and/or updated by the European Commission at any time. Furthermore, a clinical trial may only be started after a competent ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion on the clinical trial application in that country.

In April 2014, the new Clinical Trials Regulation, (EU) No 536/2014, or the Clinical Trials Regulation, was adopted. The Clinical Trials Regulation aims to simplify and streamline the approval of clinical trials in the EU. The main characteristics of the regulation include: a streamlined application procedure via a single entry point, the “EU portal”; a single set of documents to be prepared and submitted for the application as well as simplified reporting procedures for clinical trial sponsors; and a harmonized procedure for the assessment of applications for clinical trials, which is divided in two parts. Part I is assessed by the competent authorities of all EU Member States in which an application for authorization of a clinical trial has been submitted (Member States concerned). Part II is assessed separately by each Member State concerned. Strict deadlines have been established for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The role of the relevant ethics committees in the assessment procedure will continue to be governed by the national law of the concerned EU Member State. However, overall related timelines will be defined by the Clinical Trials Regulation.

The new Clinical Trials Regulation is scheduled to come into application on January 31, 2022, following confirmation of full functionality of the Clinical Trials Information System through an independent audit by the European Commission in mid-2020. The Clinical Trials Regulation will come into application in all the EU Member States, repealing the current Clinical Trials Directive. The conduct of all clinical trials performed in the EU will continue to be bound by currently applicable provisions until the new Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable at the end of January 2022. According to the transitional provisions, if a clinical trial continues for more than three years from the day on which the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable, the Clinical Trials Regulation will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial.

Parties conducting certain clinical trials must, as in the United States, post clinical trial information in the European Union at the EudraCT website: https://eudract.ema.europa.eu.
PRIME Designation in the European Union
In March 2016, the EMA launched an initiative, the PRIority MEdicines, or PRIME, scheme, to facilitate development of product candidates in indications, often rare, for which few or no therapies currently exist. The PRIME scheme is intended to encourage drug development in areas of unmet medical need and provides accelerated assessment of products representing substantial innovation reviewed under the centralized procedure. Products from small- and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs,
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may qualify for earlier entry into the PRIME scheme than larger companies. Many benefits accrue to sponsors of product candidates with PRIME designation, including but not limited to, early and proactive regulatory dialogue with the EMA, frequent discussions on clinical trial designs and other development program elements, and accelerated marketing authorization application assessment once a dossier has been submitted. Importantly, a dedicated agency contact and rapporteur from the Committee for Human Medicinal Products, or CHMP, or Committee for Advanced Therapies are appointed early in the PRIME scheme, facilitating increased understanding of the product at the EMA’s committee level. A kick-off meeting initiates these relationships and includes a team of multidisciplinary experts at the EMA to provide guidance on the overall development and regulatory strategies.

Pediatric Studies

Prior to obtaining a marketing authorization in the EU, applicants have to demonstrate compliance with all measures included in an EMA-approved Pediatric Investigation Plan, or PIP, covering all subsets of the pediatric population, unless the EMA has granted a product-specific waiver, a class waiver or a deferral for one or more of the measures included in the PIP. The respective requirements for all marketing authorization procedures are set forth in Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006, which is referred to as the Pediatric Regulation. This requirement also applies when a company wants to add a new indication, pharmaceutical form or route of administration for a medicine that is already authorized. The Pediatric Committee of the EMA, or PDCO, may grant deferrals for some medicines, allowing a company to delay development of the medicine in children until there is enough information to demonstrate its effectiveness and safety in adults. The PDCO may also grant waivers when development of a medicine in children is not needed or is not appropriate because (a) the product is likely to be ineffective or unsafe in part or all of the pediatric population; (b) the disease or condition occurs only in adult population; or (c) the product does not represent a significant therapeutic benefit over existing treatments for pediatric population. Before a marketing authorization application can be filed, or an existing marketing authorization can be amended, the EMA determines that companies actually comply with the agreed studies and measures listed in each relevant PIP.
Marketing Authorization
To obtain marketing approval of a product under EU regulatory systems, an applicant must submit a marketing authorization application, or MAA, either under a centralized or decentralized procedure. The centralized procedure provides for the grant of a single marketing authorization by the European Commission that is valid for all EU member states. The centralized procedure is compulsory for specific products, including for medicines produced by certain biotechnological processes, products designated as orphan medicinal products, advanced therapy products and products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases. For products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of other diseases and products that are highly innovative or for which a centralized process is in the interest of patients, the centralized procedure may be optional.
Under the centralized procedure, the CHMP established at the EMA is responsible for conducting the initial assessment of a product. The CHMP is also responsible for several post-authorization and maintenance activities, such as the assessment of modifications or extensions to an existing marketing authorization. Under the centralized procedure in the European Union, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA is 210 days, excluding clock stops, when additional information or written or oral explanation is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions of the CHMP. Accelerated evaluation might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is of major interest from the point of view of public health and in particular from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation. In this circumstance, the EMA ensures that the opinion of the CHMP is given within 150 days.
The decentralized procedure is available to applicants who wish to market a product in various EU member states where such product has not received marketing approval in any EU member state before. The decentralized procedure provides for approval by one or more other, or concerned, member states of an assessment of an application performed by one member state designated by the applicant, known as the reference member state. Under this procedure, an applicant submits an application based on identical dossiers and related materials, including a draft summary of product characteristics, and draft labeling and package leaflet, to the reference member state and concerned member states. The reference member state prepares a draft assessment report and drafts of the related materials within 210 days after receipt of a valid application. Within 90 days of receiving the reference member state’s assessment report and related materials, each concerned member state must decide whether to approve the assessment report and related materials.
If a member state cannot approve the assessment report and related materials on the grounds of potential serious risk to public health, the disputed points are subject to a dispute resolution mechanism and may eventually be referred to the European Commission, whose decision is binding on all member states.
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A marketing authorization may be granted only to an applicant established in the European Union. Once the marketing authorization is obtained in all member states of the European Union and study results are included in the product information, even when negative, the product is eligible for six months’ supplementary protection certificate extension. For orphan-designated medicinal products, the 10-year period of market exclusivity is extended to 12 years.
Conditional Approval

In particular circumstances, E.U. legislation (Article 14–a Regulation (EC) No 726/2004 (as amended by Regulation (EU) 2019/5 and Regulation (EC) No 507/2006 on Conditional Marketing Authorizations for Medicinal Products for Human Use) enables applicants to obtain a conditional marketing authorization prior to obtaining the comprehensive clinical data required for an application for a full marketing authorization. Such conditional approvals may be granted for product candidates (including medicines designated as orphan medicinal products) if (1) the product candidate is intended for the treatment, prevention or medical diagnosis of seriously debilitating or life-threatening diseases; (2) the product candidate is intended to meet unmet medical needs of patients; (3) a marketing authorization may be granted prior to submission of comprehensive clinical data provided that the benefit of the immediate availability on the market of the medicinal product concerned outweighs the risk inherent in the fact that additional data are still required; (4) the risk-benefit balance of the product candidate is positive, and (5) it is likely that the applicant will be in a position to provide the required comprehensive clinical trial data. A conditional marketing authorization may contain specific obligations to be fulfilled by the marketing authorization holder, including obligations with respect to the completion of ongoing or new studies and with respect to the collection of pharmacovigilance data. Conditional marketing authorizations are valid for one year, and may be renewed annually, if the risk-benefit balance remains positive, and after an assessment of the need for additional or modified conditions or specific obligations. The timelines for the centralized procedure described above also apply with respect to the review by the CHMP of applications for a conditional marketing authorization.

Periods of Authorization and Renewals in the European Union
A marketing authorization is valid for five years, in principle, and it may be renewed after five years on the basis of a reevaluation of the risk-benefit balance by the EMA or by the competent authority of the relevant EU member state. To that end, the marketing authorization holder must provide the EMA or the relevant competent authority of the EU member state with a consolidated version of the file in respect of quality, safety and efficacy, including all variations introduced since the marketing authorization was granted, at least six months before the marketing authorization ceases to be valid. Once renewed, the marketing authorization is valid for an unlimited period, unless the European Commission or the relevant competent authority of the EU member state decides, on justified grounds relating to pharmacovigilance, to proceed with one additional five-year renewal period. Any marketing authorization that is not followed by the marketing of the medicinal product on the EU market (in the case of the centralized procedure) or on the market of the EU member state which delivered the marketing authorization within three years after authorization ceases to be valid.
Regulatory Data Exclusivity in the European Union
In the European Union, innovative medicinal products authorized in the European Union on the basis of a full marketing authorization application (as opposed to an application for marketing authorization that relies on data available in the marketing authorization dossier for another, previously approved, medicinal product) are entitled to eight years of data exclusivity. During this period, applicants for authorization of generics of these innovative products cannot rely on data contained in the marketing authorization dossier submitted for the innovative medicinal product. Innovative medicinal products are also entitled to a total of ten years’ market exclusivity. During this ten-year period no generic of this medicinal product can be placed on the EU market. The overall ten-year period will be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to authorization, is held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies. Even if a compound is considered to be a NCE so that the innovator gains the prescribed period of data exclusivity, another company may market another version of the product if such company obtained marketing authorization based on an MAA with a complete independent data package of pharmaceutical tests, preclinical tests and clinical trials.
Pediatric Exclusivity
If an applicant obtains a marketing authorization in all EU Member States, or a marketing authorization granted in the centralized procedure by the European Commission, and the study results for the pediatric population are included in the product information, even when negative, the medicine is then eligible for an additional six-month period of qualifying patent
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protection through extension of the term of the Supplementary Protection Certificate, or SPC, or alternatively a one year extension of the regulatory market exclusivity from ten to eleven years, as selected by the marketing authorization holder.
Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom
The U.K.'s withdrawal from the EU took place on January 31, 2020. The EU and the U.K. reached an agreement on their new partnership in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, or the Agreement, which was applied provisionally beginning on January 1, 2021 and which entered into force on May 1, 2021. The Agreement focuses primarily on free trade by ensuring no tariffs or quotas on trade in goods, including healthcare products such as medicinal products. Thereafter, the EU and the U.K. will form two separate markets governed by two distinct regulatory and legal regimes. As such, the Agreement seeks to minimize barriers to trade in goods while accepting that border checks will become inevitable as a consequence that the U.K. is no longer part of the single market. As of January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or the MHRA, became responsible for supervising medicines and medical devices in Great Britain, comprising England, Scotland and Wales under domestic law whereas Northern Ireland continues to be subject to EU rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol. The MHRA will rely on the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1916) (as amended), or the HMR, as the basis for regulating medicines. The HMR has incorporated into the domestic law, the body of EU law instruments governing medicinal products that pre-existed prior to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.
General Data Protection Regulation
Many countries outside of the United States maintain rigorous laws governing the privacy and security of personal information. The collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data, including personal health data, regarding individuals who are located in the European Economic Area, or EEA, and the processing of personal data that takes place in the EEA, is subject to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is wide-ranging in scope and imposes numerous requirements on companies that process personal data, and it imposes heightened requirements on companies that process health and other sensitive data, such as requiring in many situations that a company obtain the consent of the individuals to whom the sensitive personal data relate before processing such data. Examples of obligations imposed by the GDPR on companies processing personal data that fall within the scope of the GDPR include providing information to individuals regarding data processing activities, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data, appointing a data protection officer, providing notification of data breaches and taking certain measures when engaging third-party processors.

The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EEA, including the United States, and permits data protection authorities to impose large penalties for violations of the GDPR, including potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues, whichever is greater. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. Compliance with the GDPR is a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase the cost of doing business or require companies to change their business practices to ensure full compliance.

There are ongoing concerns about the ability of companies to transfer personal data from the EU to other countries. In July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or the CJEU, invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework, one of the mechanisms used to legitimize the transfer of personal data from the EEA to the United States. The CJEU decision also drew into question the long-term viability of an alternative means of data transfer, the standard contractual clauses, for transfers of personal data from the EEA to the United States. This CJEU decision may lead to increased scrutiny on data transfers from the EU to the U.S. generally and increase our costs of compliance with data privacy legislation as well as our costs of negotiating appropriate privacy and security agreements with our vendors and business partners.

As with other issues related to Brexit, there are open questions about how personal data will be protected in the U.K. and whether personal information can transfer from the EU to the U.K. Following the withdrawal of the U.K. from the EU, the U.K. Data Protection Act 2018 applies to the processing of personal data that takes place in the U.K. and includes parallel obligations to those set forth by GDPR. While the Data Protection Act 2018 in the U.K. that “implements” and complements the GDPR has achieved Royal Assent on May 23, 2018 and is now effective in the U.K., it is still unclear whether transfer of data from the EEA to the U.K. will remain lawful under GDPR. The U.K. government has already determined that it considers all European Union and EEA member states to be adequate for the purposes of data protection, ensuring that data flows from the U.K. to the European Union/EEA remain unaffected. In addition, a recent decision from the European Commission appears to deem the U.K. as being “essentially adequate” for purposes of data transfer from the EU to the U.K., although this decision may be re-evaluated in the future.

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Beyond GDPR, there are privacy and data security laws in a growing number of countries around the world. While many loosely follow GDPR as a model, other laws contain different or conflicting provisions. These laws will impact our ability to conduct our business activities, including both our clinical trials and any eventual sale and distribution of commercial products.
Pharmaceutical Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement
In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of products approved by the FDA and other government authorities. Thus, even if a product candidate is approved, sales of the product will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payors, including government health programs in the United States such as Medicare and Medicaid, commercial health insurers and managed care organizations, provide coverage, and establish adequate reimbursement levels for, the product. The process for determining whether a payor will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication. In addition, third-party payors may impose prior authorization or step edit requirements requiring patients to have tried other therapies prior to our products for coverage. Payors may also decline to include our products or product candidates on their formulary, which means that unless healthcare providers seek a medical exception for coverage, the payors will not pay for the product.
In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, a company may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable marketing approvals. Nonetheless, product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover a product candidate could reduce physician utilization once the product is approved and have a material adverse effect on sales, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, a payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a drug product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product, and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payor to payor.
Dialysis-related drugs are included in the ESRD Bundle if they fall into functional categories such as anemia management and bone and mineral metabolism, except that oral-only drugs are exempted from inclusion until 2025. In a final ESRD PPS rule published in November 2018, CMS confirmed that it will expand the TDAPA to all new dialysis drugs approved by the FDA after January 1, 2020. The TDAPA provides separate payment for new drugs for two years based on the drug’s Average Sales Price, or ASP, that will be in addition to the base rate in order to facilitate the adoption of innovative therapies. Although there are several details that need further clarification, including precise timing related to receiving codes to allow for reimbursement under TDAPA, which codes are assigned on a quarterly basis, the rule provides support for our assumption that new anemia treatments, including those in the HIF-PH inhibitor class, will be included in the ESRD Bundle and will be eligible for separate payment initially under TDAPA.
The containment of healthcare costs also has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments and the prices of drugs have been a focus in this effort. Governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit a company’s revenue generated from the sale of any approved products. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which a company or its collaborators receive marketing approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.
Outside the United States, ensuring adequate coverage and payment for a product also involves challenges. Pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control in many countries. Pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can extend well beyond the receipt of regulatory marketing approval for a product and may require a clinical trial that compares the cost effectiveness of a product to other available therapies. The conduct of such a clinical trial could be expensive and result in delays in commercialization.
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In the European Union, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular drug candidate to currently available therapies or so-called health technology assessments, in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. EU member states may approve a specific price for a product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Recently, many countries in the European Union have increased the amount of discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the European Union. The downward pressure on health care costs in general, particularly prescription drugs, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various EU member states, and parallel trade, i.e., arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any products, if approved in those countries.
Dialysis Organizations Protocols

Dialysis organizations have their own formularies that list primary or preferred therapeutic options based on contracting status with drug manufacturers. While a prescriber may make their own independent decision to prescribe what they determine most appropriate for a given patient, any non-formulary therapeutic options are only available through an exception process based on clinical need. Similar to how payor coverage may affect the sales of a product, formulary status within dialysis organizations may affect what products are prescribed within that specific organization. Therefore, if a product is not on a formulary, the prescribers within that organization may be less likely to prescribe that product or may have a difficult time prescribing that product, resulting in less sales. Further, one dialysis organization’s determination to add a product to their formulary does not assure that other dialysis organizations will also add the product to theirs. There is always a risk a dialysis organization will not contract with a drug manufacturer for a specific product, resulting in that product not being on that organization’s formulary. Additionally, dialysis organizations typically assess a product’s efficacy before adding it to their formulary. Their process for assessing a product may differ among organizations and the timing of such assessment could delay adding such treatment to formulary, further affecting product sales.
Healthcare Law and Regulation
Healthcare providers and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of drug products that are granted marketing approval. Arrangements with providers, consultants, third-party payors and customers are subject to broadly applicable fraud and abuse, anti-kickback, false claims laws, reporting of payments to physicians, teaching hospitals and other healthcare providers, patient privacy laws and regulations, and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain business and/or financial arrangements. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations include the following:
the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, paying, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid;
the federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the civil False Claims Act, and civil monetary penalties laws, which prohibit individuals or entities from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false, fictitious or fraudulent or knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government
HIPAA, which created additional federal criminal laws that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters;
HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and their respective implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published in January 2013, which
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impose obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;
the federal false statements statute, which prohibits knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services;
the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, which prohibits companies and their intermediaries from making, or offering or promising to make improper payments to non-U.S. officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or otherwise seeking favorable treatment;
the federal transparency requirements, known as the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act (renamed the Open Payments Act), under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care Education Reconciliation Act, or ACA, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies to report annually to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, within the United States Department of Health and Human Services, information related to payments and other transfers of value made by that entity to physicians, other healthcare providers and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians, other healthcare providers and their immediate family members;
the PDMA and its implementation regulations, as well as the DSCA, which regulate the distribution and tracing of prescription drugs and prescription drug samples at the federal level, and set minimum standards for the regulation of drug distributors by the states; and
analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to healthcare items or services that are reimbursed by third-party payors, including private insurers, and state gift ban and disclosure law requirements that differ from the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act in terms of the nature and type of transfers of value that are reportable and the types of covered recipients.

Violations of these laws are punishable by criminal and/or civil sanctions, including, in some instances, exclusion from participation in federal and state health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Ensuring compliance is time consuming and costly. Similar healthcare laws and regulations exist in the EU and other jurisdictions, including reporting requirements detailing interactions with and payments to healthcare providers and laws governing the privacy and security of personal information.

Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines, such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Code on Interactions with Health Care Professionals, known as the PhRMA Code. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
Healthcare Reform
A primary trend in the United States healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. There have been a number of federal and state proposals during the last few years regarding the pricing of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, limiting coverage and reimbursement for drugs and other medical products, government control and other changes to the healthcare system in the United States.
By way of example, the United States and state governments continue to propose and pass legislation designed to reduce the cost of healthcare.
In March 2010, the United States Congress enacted the ACA, which, among other things, includes changes to the coverage and payment for products under government health care programs. Among the provisions of the ACA of importance to our potential drug candidates are:
an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports specified branded prescription drugs and biologic agents, apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government healthcare programs, although this fee would not apply to sales of certain products approved exclusively for orphan indications;
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expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to certain individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability;
expanded manufacturers’ rebate liability under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program by increasing the minimum rebate for both branded and generic drugs and revising the definition of “average manufacturer price,” or AMP, for calculating and reporting Medicaid drug rebates on outpatient prescription drug prices and extending rebate liability to prescriptions for individuals enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans;
addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected;
expanded the types of entities eligible for the 340B drug discount program;
established the Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program by requiring manufacturers to provide a 50% point-of-sale-discount off the negotiated price of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period as a condition for the manufacturers’ outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D;
a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research;
the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, which has authority to recommend certain changes to the Medicare program to reduce expenditures by the program that could result in reduced payments for prescription drugs. However, the IPAB implementation has not been clearly defined. The ACA provided that under certain circumstances, IPAB recommendations will become law unless Congress enacts legislation that will achieve the same or greater Medicare cost savings; and
established the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within CMS, to test innovative payment and service delivery models to lower Medicare and Medicaid spending, potentially including prescription drug spending. Funding has been allocated to support the mission of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation from 2011 to 2019.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. These changes included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and will remain in effect through 203. Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, and subsequent legislation, these Medicare sequester reductions have been suspended through the end of March 2022. From April 2022 through June 2022 a 1% sequester cut will be in effect, with the full 2% cut resuming thereafter.

Since enactment of the ACA, there have been, and continue to be, numerous legal challenges and Congressional actions to repeal and replace provisions of the law. For example, with enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or the Tax Act, which was signed by the prior administration on December 22, 2017, Congress repealed the “individual mandate.” The repeal of this provision, which requires most Americans to carry a minimal level of health insurance, became effective in 2019. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled that the individual mandate portion of the ACA is an essential and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore because the mandate was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. The U.S. Supreme Court heard this case on November 10, 2020 and, on June 17, 2021, dismissed this action after finding that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the ACA. Litigation and legislation over the ACA are likely to continue, with unpredictable and uncertain results.

The prior administration also took executive actions to undermine or delay implementation of the ACA, including directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the ACA to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the ACA that would impose a fiscal or regulatory burden on states, individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. On January 28, 2021, however, President Biden rescinded those orders and issued a new executive order that directs federal agencies to reconsider rules and other policies that limit access to healthcare, and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access. Under this order, federal agencies are directed to re-examine: policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19; demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the ACA that may reduce coverage or undermine the programs, including work requirements; policies that undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace
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or other markets for health insurance; policies that make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and under the ACA; and policies that reduce affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents.

Pharmaceutical Prices

The prices of prescription pharmaceuticals have also been the subject of considerable discussion in the United States. There have been several recent U.S. congressional inquiries, as well as proposed and enacted state and federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to pharmaceutical pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reduce the costs of pharmaceuticals under Medicare and Medicaid. In 2020, the prior administration issued several executive orders intended to lower the costs of prescription products and certain provisions in these orders have been incorporated into regulations. These regulations include an interim final rule implementing a most favored nation model for prices that would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered pharmaceuticals to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries, effective January 1, 2021. That rule, however, has been subject to a nationwide preliminary injunction and, on December 29, 2021, CMS issued a final rule to rescind it. With issuance of this rule, CMS stated that it will explore all options to incorporate value into payments for Medicare Part B pharmaceuticals and improve beneficiaries' access to evidence-based care.

In addition, in October 2020, HHS and the FDA published a final rule allowing states and other entities to develop a Section 804 Importation Program, or SIP, to import certain prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. The final rule is currently the subject of ongoing litigation, but at least six states (Vermont, Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Mexico, and New Hampshire) have passed laws allowing for the importation of drugs from Canada with the intent of developing SIPs for review and approval by the FDA. Further, on November 20, 2020, HHS finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The implementation of the rule has been delayed by the Biden administration from January 1, 2022 to January 1, 2023 in response to ongoing litigation. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a new safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers, the implementation of which have also been delayed by the Biden administration until January 1, 2023.

On July 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14063, which focuses on, among other things, the price of pharmaceuticals. The Order directs the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, to create a plan within 45 days to combat “excessive pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals and enhance domestic pharmaceutical supply chains, to reduce the prices paid by the federal government for such pharmaceuticals, and to address the recurrent problem of price gouging.” On September 9, 2021, HHS released its plan to reduce pharmaceutical prices. The key features of that plan are to: (a) make pharmaceutical prices more affordable and equitable for all consumers and throughout the health care system by supporting pharmaceutical price negotiations with manufacturers; (b) improve and promote competition throughout the prescription pharmaceutical industry by supporting market changes that strengthen supply chains, promote biosimilars and generic drugs, and increase transparency; and (c) foster scientific innovation to promote better healthcare and improve health by supporting public and private research and making sure that market incentives promote discovery of valuable and accessible new treatments.

At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. A number of states, for example, require drug manufacturers and other entities in the drug supply chain, including health carriers, pharmacy benefit managers, wholesale distributors, to disclose information about pricing of pharmaceuticals. In addition, regional healthcare organizations and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription pharmaceutical and other healthcare programs. These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing. We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.

Laws Relating to Foreign Trade
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We are subject to various federal and foreign laws that govern our international business practices. These laws include the FCPA, which prohibits U.S. companies and their representatives from paying, offering to pay, promising, or authorizing the payment of anything of value to any foreign government official, government staff member, political party, or political candidate for the purposes of obtaining or retaining business, or to otherwise obtain favorable treatment or influence a person working in an official capacity. In many countries, the health care professionals we regularly interact with may meet the FCPA’s definition of a foreign government official. Additionally, interactions with or on the part of our partners, collaborators, contract research organizations, vendors or other agents may also implicate the FCPA. The FCPA also requires public companies to make and keep books and records that accurately
and fairly reflect their transactions and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls. Compliance with the FCPA is expensive and difficult, particularly in countries in which corruption is a recognized problem. In addition, the FCPA presents unique challenges in the pharmaceutical industry because, in many countries, hospitals are operated by the government, and doctors and other hospital employees are considered foreign officials. Certain payments made by pharmaceutical companies to hospitals in connection with clinical trials and other work have been deemed to be improper payments to government officials and have led to FCPA enforcement actions.
Our international operations could also be subject to compliance with national laws of other countries, such as the United Kingdom Bribery Act. of 2010, or U.K. Bribery Act. The U.K. Bribery Act applies to any company “carrying on business” in the U.K., irrespective of where the offending conduct occurs. The U.K. Bribery Act applies to bribery activities both in the public and private sector and prohibits the provision of an “advantage” intended to induce or reward “improper performance” of the recipient’s function. The failure by a company to prevent third parties from providing a bribe on its behalf could also constitute an offense. Penalties under the U.K. Bribery Act include potentially unlimited fines for companies and criminal sanctions for corporate officers under certain circumstances.
There are local antibribery and anticorruption laws in countries where we are conducting clinical trials, such as Brazil and Russia, and many of these also carry the risk of significant financial or criminal penalties. Our clinical trial operations could also result in enforcement actions by U.S., U.K., or other governmental authorities. There are also trade laws within the United States and in other regions that regulate the sale, purchase, import, export, reexport, transfer and shipment of goods, currency, products, materials, services and technology. Violations of these laws can lead to serious consequences, including substantial fines.
Other Regulations
We are also subject to numerous federal, state and local laws relating to such matters as safe working conditions, manufacturing practices, environmental protection, fire hazard control, and disposal of hazardous or potentially hazardous substances. We may incur significant costs to comply with such laws and regulations now or in the future.
Employees and Human Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2021, we had 426 employees, all of whom were full-time. None of our employees are represented by any collective bargaining unit. We believe that we maintain good relations with our employees.
Retention, growth, training and development of our employees are integral to our success. We offer competitive compensation (including base salary, incentive bonus, and long-term equity awards tied to the value of our stock price) as well as benefits packages designed to attract, motivate and reward talented individuals who possess the skills necessary to support our business objectives, assist in the achievement of our strategic goals and create value for our stockholders. Our compensation program is designed to differentiate us from our talent competition and incentivize achievement of corporate goals, individual performance and demonstrate our corporate values. In addition, we provide development and leadership opportunities to our employees to cultivate talent throughout the Company.

We are committed to our employees’ health, safety and well-being. In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we adjusted our workplace policies to allow employees to work from home and in 2021 we remodeled our work paradigm to one that is flexible and designed to accommodate a range of work profiles from office based, to hybrid to fully remote, to field-based, allowing us to maximize productivity and performance. Further, in October 2021, to comply with federal, state and local mandates and guidelines, and in an effort to keep our employees safe, we announced a requirement that all of our employees be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022, subject to medical and religious exemptions. Recognizing the pandemic has had an impact on well-being as well as the availability of support services, we recently launched Modern Health, a platform focused on services to support employees’ and their dependents in areas such as mental, physical, financial, social and professional health, making it easier for them to get personalized care faster.

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We are also committed to diversity, equality and inclusion, and this is reflected in Akebia’s leadership. Two members of our Board of Directors, Cynthia Smith and LeAnne M. Zumwalt, are women, and women comprise approximately 45% of our senior management team. In addition, in November 2021, we appointed Ron Frieson to our Board of Directors.

With the goal of ensuring every employee is included, supported, and treated equitably, we developed a team (IDEA – Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Alliance) to support and guide Akebia as a diverse, inclusive, and culturally intelligent workplace. Over the past year this team has worked to identify areas for growth and education in order to develop processes, systems and actions that will enable us to continue to build an inclusive workplace and a diverse workforce. We also provide access to LinkedIn Learning, an online learning platform that recommends expert-led courses for relevant skill development for all of our employees.

In addition, we support kidney patient communities where we live and work. In the United States, we have a patient services program, Akebia Cares, designed to provide one-on-one support to help communicate individual benefits and available resources for patients today facing financial obstacles that keep them from accessing important medications. We also work closely with multiple kidney patient advocacy organizations, including the National Kidney Foundation, the American Kidney Fund, the Renal Support Network and Dialysis Patient Citizens. We believe our involvement with these organizations shows our commitment to our purpose of bettering the life of each person impacted by kidney disease.
Available Information
Our principal executive offices are located at 245 First Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142. Our telephone number is (617) 871-2098. Our website address is www.akebia.com. The information on our website or that may be accessed by links on our website is not incorporated by reference into this Form 10-K. We make available, free of charge and through our website, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to any such reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

We face a variety of risks and uncertainties in our business. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial may also become important factors that affect our business. If any of the following risks occurs, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

Risks Related to our Financial Position, Need for Additional Capital and Growth Strategy

Our business is substantially dependent on the commercial success of Auryxia® (ferric citrate) and the regulatory approval and commercial success of vadadustat. If we do not obtain regulatory approval for vadadustat in the United States on a timely basis, or at all, or if we are unable to successfully commercialize current and future indications of Auryxia or vadadustat on a timely basis, or at all, our business, financial condition and future profitability will be materially harmed.

Our business and our ability to generate product revenue depend almost entirely on our, and our collaborators’, ability to successfully commercialize Auryxia, obtain regulatory approval of vadadustat by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and successfully commercialize vadadustat, if approved, and the level of market adoption for, and the continued use of, our products and product candidates, if approved. If we are not successful in obtaining regulatory approval for vadadustat, or commercializing any approved product, including achieving and maintaining an adequate level of market adoption, our profitability and our future business prospects will be adversely impacted.

Vadadustat is an investigational drug and is not approved by the FDA or any regulatory authority with the exception of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. We submitted a New Drug Application, or NDA, to the FDA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, or CKD, in adult dialysis-dependent and non-dialysis dependent patients in March 2021 and the FDA assigned the application standard review and a Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, target action date of March 29, 2022. There is no guarantee that vadadustat will receive regulatory approval from the FDA by the PDUFA date, whether vadadustat will be approved at all and, if approved, whether the scope of approval will include the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients. We will not be able to market or commercialize vadadustat in the United States unless and until it is approved. In the event that vadadustat does not receive regulatory approval on a timely basis, or at all, our financial condition would be materially harmed.

In addition, the success of Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any current or future product candidates, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, and our ability to generate product revenue and achieve profitability, depends on several factors, including:

the timing and scope of marketing approvals for vadadustat and any other product candidate, if approved, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
maintaining marketing approvals for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
obtaining adequate or favorable pricing and reimbursement from private and governmental payors for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
obtaining and maintaining market acceptance of Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
the size of any market in which Auryxia, vadadustat and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, receives approval and obtaining adequate market share in those markets;
actual or perceived advantages or disadvantages of our products or product candidates as compared to alternative treatments, including their respective safety, tolerability and efficacy profiles, the potential convenience and ease of administration and cost;
maintaining an acceptable safety and tolerability profile of our approved products, including the frequency and severity of any side effects;
the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe these therapies, based, in part, on their perception of our clinical trial data and/or the actual or perceived safety, tolerability and efficacy profile;
establishing and maintaining supply and manufacturing relationships with third parties that can provide adequate supplies of products that are compliant with good manufacturing practices, or GMPs, to support the clinical development and the market demand for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product and product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
current and future restrictions or limitations on our approved or future indications and patient populations or other adverse regulatory actions or in the event that the FDA requires Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, or REMS, or risk management plans that use restrictive risk minimization strategies;
the effectiveness of our sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution strategies and operations;
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competing effectively with any products for the same or similar indications as our products;
maintaining, protecting and expanding our portfolio of intellectual property rights, including patents and trade secrets; and
the impact of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, pandemic on the above factors, including the limitation of our sales professionals to meet in person with healthcare professionals as the result of travel restrictions or limitations on access for non-patients.

Market acceptance is critical to our ability to generate significant product revenue. Any product may achieve only limited market acceptance or none at all. If any of our approved products is not accepted by the market to the extent that we expect or market acceptance decreases, we may not be able to generate significant product revenue and our business would be materially harmed. Market acceptance of any approved product depends on a number of other factors, including:

the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement by and the availability of discounts, rebates and price concessions from third party payors, pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, and governmental authorities;
the safety and efficacy of the product, as demonstrated in clinical trials and in the post-marketing setting;
the prevalence and complications of the disease treated by the product;
the clinical indications for which the product is approved and the product label approved by regulatory authorities, including any warnings or limitations that may be required on the label as a consequence of potential safety risks associated with the product;
the countries in which marketing approvals are obtained;
the claims we and our collaborators are able to make regarding the safety and efficacy of the product;
the success of our physician and patient communications and education programs;
acceptance by physicians and patients of the product as a safe and effective treatment and the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe new therapies;
the cost, safety and efficacy of the product in relation to alternative treatments;
the timing of receipt of marketing approvals and product launch relative to competing products and potential generic entrants;
relative convenience and ease of administration;
the frequency and severity of adverse side effects;
favorable or adverse publicity about our products or favorable or adverse publicity about competing products;
the effectiveness of our and our collaborators’ sales, marketing and distribution efforts; and
the restrictions on the use of the product together with other medications, if any.

We have incurred significant losses since our inception, and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses and cannot guarantee when, if ever, we will become profitable or attain positive cash flows.

Investment in pharmaceutical product development and commercialization is highly speculative because it requires upfront capital expenditures and there is significant risk that a product candidate will fail to gain marketing approval or that an approved product will not be commercially viable. Since our inception, we have devoted most of our resources to research and development, including our preclinical and clinical development activities and, following the merger, or the Merger, whereby Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., or Keryx, became a wholly owned subsidiary of ours, commercialization. We have financed our operations primarily through sales of equity securities, our strategic collaborations and, following the Merger, product revenues, a royalty monetization transaction and debt. Prior to the Merger, we had no products approved for commercial sale and had not generated any revenue from the sale of products. We are not currently profitable and have incurred net losses each year since our inception, including net losses of $282.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2021. As of December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $1.5 billion. We cannot guarantee when, if ever, we will become profitable.

We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses for the foreseeable future. The amount of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of our future expenditures, and our financial position will depend, in part, on product revenue, collaboration revenue, and our ability to obtain additional funding. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses if and as we:

conduct and enroll patients in any clinical trials, including post-marketing studies or any other clinical trials for Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
continue our commercialization activities for Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved, and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
seek marketing approvals for vadadustat and any other product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
maintain marketing approvals for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
have Auryxia, vadadustat and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, manufactured for clinical trials and for commercial sale;
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conduct discovery and development activities for additional product candidates or platforms that may lead to the discovery of additional product candidates;
engage in transactions, including strategic, merger, collaboration, acquisition and licensing transactions, pursuant to which we would market and develop commercial products, or develop and commercialize other product candidates and technologies;
make royalty, milestone or other payments under our license agreements and any future license agreements;
maintain, protect and expand our intellectual property portfolio;
attract, hire and retain qualified personnel;
continue to create additional infrastructure and expend additional resources to support our operations as a fully integrated, publicly traded biopharmaceutical company; and
experience any delays or encounter issues with any of the above.

We have and will continue to expend significant resources in our legal proceedings, as described under Part I, Item 3. Legal Proceedings, or any other legal proceedings brought by or against us in the future.

Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical product development and commercialization, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses. The net losses we incur may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year, such that a period-to-period comparison of our results of operations may not be a good indication of our future performance. In any particular quarter, the progress of our clinical development and our operating results could be below the expectations of securities analysts or investors, which could cause our stock price to decline.

Even if we succeed in receiving marketing approval for, and are able to commercialize vadadustat in the United States and other regions, we will continue to incur substantial expenditures relating to continued commercialization and post-marketing requirements for Auryxia, vadadustat and any other products, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, as well as costs relating to the research and development of any other product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired. Our prior losses and expected future losses have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital.

Our expenses could increase beyond expectations if we are required by the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or the EMA, or other regulatory authorities, or if we otherwise believe it is necessary, to change our manufacturing processes or assays, to amend or replace our study protocols, to conduct any additional clinical trials, whether in order to obtain approval or as a post-approval study, to perform studies in addition to, different from or larger than those currently planned, if there are any delays in completing our clinical trials or if there are delays in or issues with obtaining marketing approval for vadadustat in the United States, the European Union, or EU, or other jurisdictions. In addition, our ability to generate revenue would be negatively affected if the size of our addressable patient population is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we sought or the patient population for treatment is narrowed by competition, physician choice, coverage or reimbursement, or payor or treatment guidelines. Even though we generate product revenue from Auryxia and royalties from Riona and VafseoTM, in Japan and may generate revenue and royalties from the sale of any products that may be approved in the future, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, we may never generate revenue and royalties that are significant enough for us to become and remain profitable, and we will need to obtain additional funding to continue operations.

We will require substantial additional financing to achieve our goals. A failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed, or on acceptable terms, could force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or commercialization efforts.

As of December 31, 2021, our cash and cash equivalents and available for sale securities were $149.8 million. We expect to continue to expend substantial amounts of cash for the foreseeable future as we continue to commercialize Auryxia and seek regulatory approval for and commercialize vadadustat, if approved, and develop and commercialize any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired. These expenditures will include costs associated with research and development, manufacturing, potentially obtaining marketing approvals and marketing products approved for sale. In addition, other unanticipated costs may arise. Because the outcome of our current and anticipated clinical trials is highly uncertain, we cannot reasonably estimate the actual amount of funding necessary to successfully complete clinical development for any current or future product candidates, including vadadustat if additional clinical trials are required in order to obtain marketing approval, or to complete post-marketing studies for Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved. Our future capital requirements depend on many factors, including:

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the scope, progress, results and costs of conducting clinical trials or any post-marketing requirements or any other clinical trials for Auryxia, vadadustat and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
the cost and timing of commercialization activities, including product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution costs, for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
the results of our meetings with the FDA, the EMA and other regulatory authorities and any consequential effects, including on timing of and ability to obtain and maintain marketing approval, study design, study size and resulting operating costs;
difficulties or delays in enrolling patients in our clinical trials;
the outcome of our efforts to obtain marketing approval for vadadustat in the United States, Europe and in other jurisdictions and any other product candidates, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, including any additional clinical trials or post-approval commitments imposed by regulatory authorities;
the timing of, and the costs involved in obtaining, marketing approvals for vadadustat and any other product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, including to fund the preparation, filing and prosecution of regulatory submissions;
the costs of maintaining marketing approvals for Auryxia or any other product, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired;
the cost of securing and validating commercial manufacturing for any of our product candidates, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, and maintaining our manufacturing arrangements for Auryxia and vadadustat or any other product, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, or securing and validating additional arrangements;
the costs involved in preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications and maintaining, defending and enforcing our intellectual property rights, including litigation costs, and the outcome of such litigation;
the costs involved in any legal proceedings to which we are a party;
our ability to attract, hire and retain qualified personnel;
any ongoing costs related to the creation of additional infrastructure and expansion of additional resources to support our operations as a fully integrated, publicly traded biopharmaceutical company; and
the extent to which we engage in transactions, including strategic, merger, collaboration, acquisition and licensing transactions, pursuant to which we would develop and market commercial products, or develop other product candidates and technologies.

Furthermore, we expect to continue to incur costs associated with operating as a fully integrated, publicly traded biopharmaceutical company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or any future commercialization efforts.

We expect our cash resources to fund our current operating plan through at least the next twelve months from the filing of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We have based these estimates on assumptions that may prove to be wrong due to a variety of factors, including due to the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and we could use our available capital resources sooner than we currently expect. However, the potential timely regulatory approval of vadadustat and the receipt of associated regulatory milestones is an important source of funding of our cash runway, which are outside of our control. We expect to finance future cash needs through product revenue, public or private equity or debt transactions, payments from our collaborators (including associated regulatory approval milestones), royalty transactions, strategic transactions, or a combination of these approaches. In any event, we will require additional funding to fund our operating plan beyond the next twelve months, including to pursue development and commercial activities related to Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved, or any additional products and product candidates, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired. If we are unable to obtain sufficient funding, we could be required to delay our development efforts, limit activities and reduce costs, which could adversely affect our business prospects. There can be no assurance, that the current operating plan will be achieved in the time frame anticipated by us, or that its cash resources will fund our operating plan for the period anticipated by us or that additional funding will be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.

Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management’s attention away from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize Auryxia, vadadustat and any other products or product candidates, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired. Also, additional funds may not be available to us in sufficient amounts or on acceptable terms or at all. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts when needed or on terms acceptable to us, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development and/or commercialization of Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other products or product candidates, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired. Any of these events could significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects.
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Our independent registered public accounting firm has included an explanatory paragraph relating to our ability to continue as a going concern in its report on our audited financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

We believe that our cash resources will be sufficient to fund our current operating plan through at least the next twelve months from the filing of our 2021 Annual Report on Form 10-K. However, there are conditions or events, considered in the aggregate, that raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern within twelve months after the date the financial statements are issued and certain elements of our operating plan are outside of our control, including the potential regulatory approval of vadadustat and the receipt of associated regulatory milestones, that cannot be considered probable. Therefore, the report from our independent registered public accounting firm for the year ended December 31, 2021 includes an explanatory paragraph stating that our losses from operations and required additional funding to finance our operations raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern for a period of one year after the date the financial statements are issued. See Note 1 to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information on our assessment.

If we are unable to obtain sufficient funding, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations will be materially and adversely affected and we may be unable to continue as a going concern. If we are unable to continue as a going concern, we may have to liquidate our assets and may receive less than the value at which those assets are carried on our audited financial statements, and it is likely that investors will lose all or a part of their investment. If we seek additional financing to fund our business activities in the future and there remains substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern, investors or other financing sources may be unwilling to provide additional funding to us on commercially reasonable terms or at all. There can be no assurance that the current operating plan will be achieved in the time frame anticipated by us, or that our cash resources will fund our operating plan for the period anticipated by the Company or that additional funding will be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.

Pursuant to covenants in the Loan Agreement, as amended by the First Amendment and Waiver, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarters ending June 30, 2022 and September 30, 2022 and our Annual Report on Form 10-K thereafter, must not be subject to any qualification as to going concern. If we do not satisfy the covenant as to going concern in any of these filings, we will be in default under the Loan Agreement. If an event of default occurs and is continuing under the Loan Agreement, the Collateral Agent is entitled to take enforcement action, including acceleration of amounts due under the Loan Agreement, which we may not have the available cash resources to repay at such time. If we are required to repay amounts due under the Loan Agreement earlier than anticipated, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our existing stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our product and product candidates on unfavorable terms to us.

We expect to finance our cash needs through product revenues, public or private equity or debt transactions, payments from our collaborators, royalty transactions, strategic transactions, or a combination of these approaches. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, the ownership interests of our common stockholders will be diluted, our fixed payment obligations may increase, any such securities may have rights senior to those of our common stock, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences and anti-dilution protections that adversely affect the rights of our common stockholders. Additional debt financing, if available, may involve agreements that would restrict our operations and potentially impair our competitiveness, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, make capital expenditures, declare dividends, acquire, sell or license intellectual property rights, and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. If we raise additional funds through royalty transactions, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our portfolio and future revenue streams, and enter into agreements that would restrict our operations and strategic flexibility. If we raise additional funds through strategic transactions with third parties, we may have to do so at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable. In connection with any such strategic transactions, we may be required to relinquish valuable rights to our product and product candidates, future revenue streams or research programs or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds when needed, we may not be able to pursue planned development and commercialization activities and we may need to grant rights to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.

We may not be successful in our efforts to identify, acquire, in-license, discover, develop and commercialize additional products or product candidates or our decisions to prioritize the development of certain product candidates over others may not be successful, which could impair our ability to grow.

Although we continue to focus a substantial amount of our efforts on the commercialization of Auryxia and seeking regulatory approval for, and potential commercialization of, vadadustat, a key element of our long-term growth strategy is to develop additional product candidates and acquire, in-license, develop and/or market additional products and product candidates.

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Research programs to identify product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources, regardless of whether product candidates are ultimately identified. Our research and development programs may initially show promise, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development or commercialization for many reasons, including the following:

the research methodology used may not be successful in identifying potential indications and/or product candidates;
we may not be able or willing to assemble sufficient resources to acquire or discover additional product candidates;
a product candidate may be shown to have harmful side effects, a lack of efficacy or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be drugs that will receive marketing approval and/or achieve market acceptance ;
product candidates we develop may nevertheless be covered by third party patents or other exclusive rights;
the market for a product candidate may change during our program so that the continued development of that product candidate is no longer commercially reasonable;
a product candidate may not be capable of being produced in commercial quantities at an acceptable cost, or at all; or
a product candidate may not be accepted as safe and effective by patients, the medical community, or third party payors, if applicable.

If any of these events occur, we may be forced to abandon our research and development efforts for one or more of our programs, or we may not be able to identify, discover, develop or commercialize additional product candidates, which may have a material adverse effect on our business.

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus on products, research programs and product candidates for specific indications. As a result, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications, or outlicense rights to product candidates, that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products.

Because our internal research capabilities are limited, we may be dependent upon other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic scientists, and other researchers to sell or license product candidates, products or technology to us. The success of this strategy depends partly upon our ability to identify, select, and acquire promising product candidates and products. The process of identifying, selecting, negotiating and implementing a license or acquisition of a product candidate or an approved product is lengthy and complex. Other companies, including some with substantially greater financial, marketing and sales resources, may compete with us for the license or acquisition of a product candidate or an approved product. We have limited resources to identify and execute the acquisition or in-licensing of third party products, businesses, and technologies and integrate them into our current infrastructure.

Moreover, we may devote resources to potential acquisitions or in-licensing opportunities that are never completed, or we may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of such efforts. Any product candidate that we acquire may require additional development efforts prior to commercial sale, including extensive clinical testing and approval by the FDA, the EMA, the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, or PMDA, or other regulatory authorities, or post-approval testing or other requirements if approved. All product candidates are prone to risks of failure typical of pharmaceutical product development, including the possibility that a product candidate will not be shown to be sufficiently safe and effective for approval by regulatory authorities. In addition, we cannot provide assurance that any of our products will be manufactured profitably, achieve market acceptance or not require substantial post-marketing clinical trials.

Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will ever be able to identify, acquire, in-license or develop suitable additional products or product candidates, which could materially adversely affect our future growth and prospects. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential products, product candidates or other programs that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.

We may engage in strategic transactions to acquire assets, businesses, or rights to products, product candidates or technologies or form collaborations or make investments in other companies or technologies that could harm our operating results, dilute our stockholders’ ownership, increase our debt, or cause us to incur significant expense.

As part of our business strategy, we may engage in additional strategic transactions to expand and diversify our portfolio, including through the acquisition or in-license of assets, businesses, or rights to products, product candidates or technologies or through strategic alliances or collaborations, similar to the Merger and our existing collaboration and license arrangements. We may not identify suitable strategic transactions, or complete such transactions in a timely manner, on favorable terms, on a cost-effective basis, or at all. Moreover, we may devote resources to potential opportunities that are never completed or we may incorrectly judge the value or worth of such opportunities. Even if we successfully execute a strategic transaction, we may not be able to realize the anticipated benefits of such transaction and may experience losses related to our investments in such transactions. Integration of an acquired company or assets into our existing business may not be successful and may disrupt
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ongoing operations, require the hiring of additional personnel and the implementation and integration of additional internal systems and infrastructure, and require management resources that would otherwise focus on developing our existing business. Even if we are able to achieve the long-term benefits of a strategic transaction, our expenses and short-term costs may increase materially and adversely affect our liquidity. Any of the foregoing could have a detrimental effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. For example, on June 4, 2021, we entered into a License Agreement, the Cyclerion Agreement, with Cyclerion Therapeutics Inc., or Cyclerion, pursuant to which Cyclerion granted us an exclusive global license under certain intellectual property rights to research, develop and commercialize praliciguat, an investigational oral soluble guanylate cyclase, or sGC, stimulator. If we are unsuccessful in developing praliciguat or if any of the assumptions that we made in valuing the transaction, including the costs of development, were incorrect, we may not recognize the anticipated benefits of the transaction and our business could be harmed.

In addition, future transactions may entail numerous operational, financial and legal risks, including:

incurring substantial debt, dilutive issuances of securities or depletion of cash to pay for acquisitions;
exposure to known and unknown liabilities, including contingent liabilities, possible intellectual property infringement claims, violations of laws, tax liabilities and commercial disputes;
higher than expected acquisition and integration costs;
difficulty in integrating operations, processes, systems and personnel of any acquired business;
increased amortization expenses or, in the case of a write-down of the value of acquired assets, impairment losses, such as the Auryxia intangible asset impairment in the second quarter of 2020 and corresponding adjustments to the estimated useful life of the developed product rights for Auryxia;
impairment of relationships with key suppliers or customers of any acquired business due to changes in management and ownership;
inability to retain personnel, customers, distributors, vendors and other business partners integral to an in-licensed or acquired product, product candidate or technology;
potential failure of the due diligence processes to identify significant problems, liabilities or other shortcomings or challenges;
entry into indications or markets in which we have no or limited development or commercial experience and where competitors in such markets have stronger market positions; and
other challenges associated with managing an increasingly diversified business.

If we are unable to successfully manage any transaction in which we may engage, our ability to develop new products and continue to expand and diversify our portfolio may be limited.

Our business has been and may continue to be, directly or indirectly, adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented a substantial public health and economic challenge around the world and continues to affect our employees, patients, healthcare providers with whom we interact, customers, collaboration partners, contract research organizations, or CROs, our contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, vendors, communities and business operations. The full extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will directly or indirectly impact our business, results of operations and financial condition continues to depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be accurately predicted, including new information that may emerge concerning COVID-19, any resurgences or variants of COVID-19, the actions taken to contain it or treat its impact and the economic impact on local, regional, national and international markets where the healthcare providers with whom we interact, our partners, our CROs, our CMOs, and our other vendors operate.

We believe our revenue growth was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 primarily as the CKD patient populations that we serve continue to experience both high hospitalization and mortality rates due to COVID-19. While we are unable to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on future revenues and revenue growth, COVID-19 continues to adversely and disproportionately impact CKD patients; therefore, we expect COVID-19 to continue to have a negative impact on our revenue growth for the foreseeable future.

The majority of our office-based employees began working from home in March 2020 and continue to primarily work from home. While most of our office-based operations can be performed remotely, there is no guarantee that we will continue to be as effective while working remotely because our team is dispersed, which has limited valuable in person employee team interactions, and employees may become sick themselves and be unable to work. Further, our increased reliance on remote access to our information systems increases our exposure to potential cybersecurity breaches.

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Moreover, our future success and profitability substantially depends on the management skills of our executives and certain other key employees. The unanticipated loss or unavailability of key employees due to the pandemic could harm our ability to operate our business or execute our business strategy and we may not be successful in finding and integrating suitable successors in the event of key employee loss or unavailability. For example, as of January 1, 2022, we have required all of our employees be fully vaccinated, subject to limited medical and religions exemptions in accordance with applicable laws. At this time, it is not possible to predict with certainty the exact impact that our vaccine requirement will continue to have on us or on our workforce. The vaccine requirement has resulted, and may continue to result, in employee distraction and could result in litigation and difficulty securing future labor need. This could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and cash flows.

In addition, several healthcare facilities have previously restricted access for non-patients, including the members of our sales force. For example, DaVita, Inc., or DaVita, and Fresenius Medical Care, or Fresenius, which account for a vast majority of the dialysis population in the United States, have previously restricted access to their clinics. As a result, we continue to engage with some healthcare providers and other customers virtually, where possible. The restrictions on our customer-facing employees’ in-person interactions with healthcare providers has, and could continue to, negatively impact our access to healthcare providers and, ultimately, our sales, including with respect to vadadustat, if approved. Recently, such precautionary measures have been relaxed at certain healthcare facilities and, as a result, members of our sales force have resumed in person interactions with certain customers. Nevertheless, some restrictions remain, and more restrictions may be put in place again due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, including those involving new variants of COVID-19, which may be more contagious and more severe than prior strains of the virus. Given this uncertain environment and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on CKD patients, we are actively monitoring the demand for Auryxia and will be for vadadustat, if approved including the potential for further declines or changes in prescription trends and customer orders, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

In addition, the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic or the response efforts to the pandemic, including, among others, competition for labor and resources and increases in labor, sourcing, manufacturing and shipping costs, may cause disruptions to, closures of or other impacts on our CMOs and other vendors in our supply chain on which we rely for the supply of our products and product candidates. At this time, our CMOs continue to operate at or near normal levels. However, it is possible that the COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts may have an impact in the future on our contract manufacturers’ ability to manufacture and deliver Auryxia and vadadustat (if approved in the United States and which is currently marketed under the trade name VafseoTM by MTPC in Japan), which may result in increased costs and delays, or disruptions to the manufacturing and supply of our products. These impacts could have a negative effect on our inventory reserves, which could result in an increase in inventory write-offs due to expiry.

The pandemic has resulted in closures of and may continue to impact clinical trial sites on which we rely and will rely on in the future for the completion of certain clinical trials. COVID-19 pandemic precautions have caused moderate delays in enrolling new clinical trials and may cause delays in enrolling future clinical trials. Further, the pandemic has impacted and is likely to continue to impact the business of the FDA, the EMA and other government authorities, which potentially could result in delays in meetings, reviews, inspections and approvals relating to our product and product candidates. Any decision by the FDA, EMA or other governmental authorities to delay meeting with us or our collaboration partners or delay scheduling inspections in light of COVID-19 could have a material adverse effect on clinical trials of our product candidates or on our efforts to obtain marketing approvals for vadadustat, which could increase our operating expenses and have a material adverse effect on our financial results, including the timing and amount of future regulatory milestones we could receive from our collaboration partners.

If we or any of the third parties with whom we engage, including our collaboration partners, were to experience further shutdowns, delays or other business disruptions, our ability to conduct our business in the manner and on the timelines presently planned could be materially and negatively impacted, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and our financial results.

The COVID-19 pandemic may continue to significantly impact economies and financial markets worldwide, which could result in adverse effects on our business and operations, impact our ability to raise additional funds and impact the volatility of our stock price and trading in our stock. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained or mitigated, we may continue to experience adverse impacts to our business as a result of any economic recession or depression that has occurred or may occur in the future.

The global impact of COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. In particular, areas we are monitoring include possible COVID-related changes in our commercial revenue payor mix, overall product sales, and reserves and allowances, as well as negative trends that could potentially have a further significant impact on product demand and, ultimately, product revenue, or could cause goodwill, intangible assets, and other assets to be impaired. This uncertain pandemic environment has presented new risks to our business. While we are working to mitigate the impacts on
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our business, we are mindful that many of these risks and the impact to the larger healthcare market are outside of our control. The extent to which COVID-19 impacts our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and the magnitude of which cannot be predicted, including new information that may emerge concerning the severity of COVID-19 and the actions to contain COVID-19, and the effectiveness of vaccines against virus variants.

Risks Related to our Financial Arrangements

Our obligations in connection with the loan agreement with Pharmakon and requirements and restrictions in the loan agreement could adversely affect our financial condition and restrict our operations.

In November 2019, we entered into a loan agreement with funds managed by Pharmakon Advisors LP, or Pharmakon, pursuant to which senior secured term loans in an aggregate principal amount of $100.0 million, or the Term Loans, were made available to us in two tranches. The first tranche of $80.0 million closed on November 25, 2019, and the second tranche of $20.0 million closed on December 10, 2020. We entered into a First Amendment and Waiver to the Loan Agreement with Pharmakon in February 2022. See Note 11 to our audited condensed consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information regarding our obligations under the loan agreement, as amended, or the Loan Agreement.

The Loan Agreement contains affirmative and negative covenants applicable to us and our subsidiaries, including maintaining, on an annual basis, a minimum liquidity threshold, which started in 2021, and on a quarterly basis, a minimum net sales threshold for Auryxia, which started in the fourth quarter of 2020. In addition, the Loan Agreement contains covenants that our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarters ending June 30, 2022 and September 30, 2022 and our future Annual Reports on Form 10-K, must not be subject to any qualification as to going concern. Failure to maintain compliance with these or other covenants would result in an event of default under the Loan Agreement, which could result in enforcement action, including acceleration of amounts due under the Loan Agreement. Additionally, the liabilities under the Loan Agreement will be accelerated, subject to certain exceptions, if we are required to repay to Vifor (International) Ltd., or Vifor Pharma, all or a part of the working capital facility established in connection with the Second Amended and Restated Vifor License Agreement that we entered into with Vifor Pharma, in February 2022, or the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, as a result of certain terminations of the Vifor Second Amended Agreement or otherwise.

In the event there is an acceleration of our and certain of our subsidiaries’ liabilities under the Loan Agreement as a result of an event of default or otherwise, we may not have sufficient funds or may be unable to arrange for additional financing to repay the liabilities or to make any accelerated payments, and Pharmakon could seek to enforce security interests in the collateral securing the Loan Agreement and our guarantee of the Term Loans, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The Loan Agreement permits voluntary prepayment at any time in whole or in part, subject to prepayment premiums and make-whole premiums prior to certain dates. Upon a change of control, mandatory prepayment provisions require us to prepay the principal amount outstanding, the applicable prepayment premium and make-whole premium and accrued and unpaid interest. In addition, our obligations in connection with the Loan Agreement could have additional significant adverse consequences, including, among other things:

restricting our activities, including limitations on transferring certain of our assets, engaging in certain transactions, terminating certain agreements, including the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, incurring certain additional indebtedness, creating certain liens, paying dividends or making certain other distributions and investments;
limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and our industry;
placing us at a possible competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who have a smaller amount of debt or competitors with comparable debt at more favorable interest rates; and
limiting our ability to borrow additional amounts for working capital, capital expenditures, research and development efforts, acquisitions, debt service requirements, execution of our business strategy and other purposes.
Any of these factors could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our Royalty Interest Acquisition Agreement with HealthCare Royalty Partners IV, L.P. contains various covenants and other provisions, which, if violated, could materially adversely affect our financial condition.

On February 25, 2021, we entered into a royalty interest acquisition agreement, or the Royalty Agreement, with HealthCare Royalty Partners IV, L.P., or HCR, pursuant to which we sold to HCR our right to the to receive royalties and sales milestones for vadadustat, collectively the Royalty Interest Payments, in each case, payable to us under our Collaboration Agreement dated December 11, 2015, or the MTPC Agreement, with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, or MTPC, subject to an annual maximum “cap” of $13.0 million, or the Annual Cap, and an aggregate maximum “cap” of $150.0 million, or the Aggregate Cap. Under the Royalty Agreement, we are required to comply with various covenants, including obligations to take certain actions, such as actions with respect to the Royalty Interest Payments, the MTPC Agreement, our agreement with MTPC for the commercial supply of vadadustat drug product, and our intellectual property. In addition, the Royalty Agreement includes customary events of default upon the occurrence of enumerated events, including failure to perform certain covenants and the
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occurrence of insolvency events. In the event we violate certain covenants and other provisions, we may not receive sales milestones from HCR even if the applicable sales thresholds are met. Upon the occurrence of an event of default, HCR would have the ability to exercise all available remedies in law and equity, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

Risks Related to Commercialization

If we are unable to maintain or expand sales and marketing capabilities or enter into additional agreements with third parties, we may not be successful in commercializing Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, or any other product candidates that may be approved.

In order to market any approved product, we intend to continue to invest in sales and marketing, which will require substantial effort and significant management and financial resources. We have built a commercial infrastructure and sales force in the United States for Auryxia, our first commercial product, and while we believe that we can leverage this commercial foundation for vadadustat, if approved, if we are unable to do so successfully this would materially harm our business. Training a sales force to successfully sell and market a new commercial product is expensive and time-consuming and could delay any commercial launch of such product candidate. We may underestimate the size of the sales force required for a successful product launch and we may need to expand our sales force earlier and at a higher cost than we anticipated. If the commercial launch of vadadustat is delayed or does not occur for any reason, including if we do not receive marketing approval in the timeframe we expect, or at all, we may have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred commercialization expenses.

We devote significant effort, in particular, to recruiting individuals with experience in the sales and marketing of pharmaceutical products. Competition for personnel with these skills is significant and retaining qualified personnel with experience in our industry is difficult. Further, the continuing or recurring restrictions placed on recruiting, training and retention by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may further exacerbate these conditions and interfere with our ability to find and retain qualified personnel. As a result, we may not be able to retain our existing employees or hire new employees quickly enough to meet our needs. At the same time, we may face high turnover, requiring us to expend time and resources to source, train and integrate new employees.

There are risks involved with maintaining our own sales and marketing capabilities, including the following:
potential inability to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;
potential inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians, including because of restrictions due to COVID-19;
potential lack of complementary products to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines; and
costs and expenses associated with maintaining our own sales and marketing organization.

If we are unable to maintain our own sales and marketing capabilities, we will not be successful in commercializing Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product candidate that may be approved.

Furthermore, if we are unable to maintain our arrangements with third parties with respect to sales and marketing, if we are unsuccessful in entering into additional arrangements with third parties to sell and market our products or we are unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us, or if such third parties are unable to carry out their obligations under such arrangements, it will be difficult to successfully commercialize our product and product candidates, including vadadustat, if approved. For example, if in connection with the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, we experience difficulties with Vifor Pharma, or if Vifor Pharma experiences difficulties with other parties to whom it expects to sell vadadustat, if approved, our ability to commercialize vadadustat will be severely hindered and our business operations will be materially harmed.

Our, or our partners', failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage, pricing and reimbursement for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, or any other future approved products, could have a material adverse effect on our or our collaboration partners’ ability to sell such approved products profitably and otherwise have a material adverse impact on our business.

Market acceptance and sales of any approved products, including Auryxia and, if approved, vadadustat, depends significantly on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third party payors and may be affected by existing and future healthcare reform measures. Governmental authorities, third party payors, and PBMs decide which drugs they will cover, as well as establish formularies or implement other mechanisms to manage utilization of products and determine reimbursement levels. We cannot be sure that coverage or adequate reimbursement will be available for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, or any of our potential future products. Even if we obtain coverage for an approved product, third party payors may not establish adequate reimbursement amounts, which may reduce the demand for our product and prompt us to have to reduce pricing for the product. If reimbursement is not available or is limited, we may not be able to commercialize certain of our products.
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Coverage and reimbursement by a governmental authority, third-party payor or PBM may depend upon a number of factors, including the determination that use of a product is:

a covered benefit under the health plan;
safe, effective and medically necessary;
appropriate for the specific patient; and
cost effective.

Obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval for a product from a governmental authority, PBM or a third-party payor is a time consuming and costly process that could require us to provide supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our products to the payor. In the United States, there are multiple governmental authorities, PBMs and third-party payors with varying coverage and reimbursement levels for pharmaceutical products, and the timing of commencement of reimbursement by a governmental payor is dependent on the assignment of codes via the Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System, which codes are assigned on a quarterly basis. Within Medicare, for oral drugs dispensed by pharmacies and also administered in facilities, coverage and reimbursement may vary depending on the setting. CMS, local Medicare administrative contractors, Medicare Part D plans and/or PBMs operating on behalf of Medicare Part D plans, may have some responsibility for determining the medical necessity of such drugs, and therefore coverage, for different patients. Different reimbursement methodologies may apply, and CMS may have some discretion in interpreting their application in certain settings.

As an oral drug, Auryxia is covered by Medicare only under Part D. However, in September 2018, CMS decided that Auryxia would no longer be covered by Medicare for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia, or IDA, in adult patients with NDD-CKD, or the IDA Indication, or the CMS Decision. While this decision does not impact CMS coverage of the control of serum phosphorus levels in adult patients with DD-CKD, or the Hyperphosphatemia Indication, it requires Part D plan sponsors to impose prior authorization or other steps to ensure that Auryxia is used only for the Hyperphosphatemia Indication. While we believe that the vast majority of the Medicare prescriptions written for Auryxia today are for the Hyperphosphatemia Indication and therefore will continue to be covered by Medicare with prior authorization, the CMS Decision has had and will continue to have an adverse impact on the sales and future growth of Auryxia for the Hyperphosphatemia Indication and the IDA Indication. For example, in the second quarter of 2020, we reduced our short-term and long-term Auryxia revenue forecast, primarily driven by the compounding impact of the CMS Decision. As a result, we recorded an impairment charge of $115.5 million to the Auryxia intangible asset associated with the developed product rights for Auryxia during the three months ended June 30, 2020.

Medicaid reimbursement of drugs varies by state. Private third-party payor reimbursement policies also vary and may or may not be consistent with Medicare reimbursement methodologies. Manufacturers of outpatient prescription drugs may be required to provide discounts or rebates under government healthcare programs or to certain third-party payors in order to obtain coverage of such products.

Additionally, we may be required to enter into contracts with third party payors and/or PBMs offering rebates or discounts on our products in order to obtain favorable formulary status and we may not be able to agree upon commercially reasonable terms with such third party payors or PBMs, or provide data sufficient to obtain favorable coverage and reimbursement for many reasons, including that we may be at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines. In addition, third party payors, PBMs and other entities that purchase our products may impose restrictions on our ability to raise prices for our products over time without incurring additional costs. Four distributors, Fresenius Medical Care Rx, McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc. and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, in the aggregate, accounted for a significant percentage of our gross accounts receivable as of December 31, 2021. If we are not able to maintain our arrangements with these key distributors on favorable terms, on a timely basis or at all, or if there is any adverse change in one or more of these distributors’ business practices or financial condition, it would adversely impact the market opportunity for Auryxia, our product revenues and operating results.

Furthermore, vadadustat was approved in Japan for the treatment of adult patients with anemia due to CKD and is being marketed by MTPC in Japan under the trade name VafseoTM. Pricing and reimbursement strategy is a key component of MTPC’s commercialization plans for Vafseo in Japan. If coverage and reimbursement terms change, MTPC may not be able to, or may decide not to, continue commercialization of Vafseo in Japan.

Although we currently believe it is likely that vadadustat, if approved, will be reimbursed using the Transitional Drug Add-on Payment Adjustment, or TDAPA, followed by reimbursement via the bundled reimbursement model, if vadadustat is neither reimbursed under the TDAPA nor the bundled reimbursement model, then patients would access vadadustat through contracts we negotiate with third party payors for reimbursement of vadadustat, which would be subject to the risks and uncertainties described above. Additionally, applying for and obtaining reimbursement under the TDAPA is expected to take several months following approval, which will affect adoption, uptake and product revenue for vadadustat during that time, and if there are
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updates to the TDAPA rule that decrease the basis for reimbursement or eligibility criteria during the transition period or if the TDAPA is eliminated, then our profitability may be adversely affected. For example, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, or MedPAC, an independent legislative branch advisory body to Congress on issues related to the Medicare program, has recommended that TDAPA not be provided to newly approved drug products considered to fall within “functional categories” for which costs are already accounted for in the bundled reimbursement model, such as for anemia management drugs.

Further, if vadadustat is approved in the United States and included in the fixed reimbursement model for a bundle of dialysis services, or the bundle, we would be required to enter into contracts to supply vadadustat to specific dialysis providers, instead of through distributors, which we believe could be challenging. The dialysis market is unique and is dominated by two providers: DaVita and Fresenius, which account for a vast majority of the dialysis population in the United States. Under the Vifor Second Amended Agreement, we granted Vifor Pharma an exclusive license to sell vadadustat to Fresenius Medical Care North America and its affiliates, including Fresenius Kidney Care Group LLC, to certain third-party dialysis organizations approved by us, to independent dialysis organizations that are members of group purchase organizations, and to certain non-retail specialty pharmacies in the United States, or the Territory. We refer to Fresenius Medical Care North America and its affiliates, these organizations and specialty pharmacies collectively as the “Supply Group". See Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information regarding the Vifor Second Amended Agreement. If vadadustat is approved and we are not able to maintain the Vifor Second Amended Agreement or enter into a supply agreement with DaVita or other dialysis clinics, our business may be materially harmed.

Similar to how payor coverage may affect the sales of a product, formulary status within dialysis organizations may affect what products are prescribed within that specific organization. Therefore, if a product is not on a formulary, the prescribers within that organization may be less likely to prescribe that product or may have a difficult time prescribing that product, resulting in less sales. Further, one dialysis organization’s determination to add a product to their formulary does not assure that other dialysis organizations will also add the product to theirs. There is always a risk a dialysis organization will not contract with a drug manufacturer for a specific product, resulting in that product not being on that organization’s formulary. If any dialysis organization does not add vadadustat, if approved, to the formulary, our business may be materially harmed.

In addition, we may be unable to sell Auryxia or vadadustat, if approved, to dialysis providers on a profitable basis if CMS significantly reduces the level of reimbursement for dialysis services and providers choose to use alternative therapies or look to re-negotiate their contracts with us. Our profitability may also be affected if our costs of production increase faster than increases in reimbursement levels. Adequate coverage and reimbursement of our products by government and private insurance plans are central to patient and provider acceptance of any products for which we receive marketing approval.

Further, in many countries outside the United States, a drug must be approved for reimbursement before it can be marketed or sold in that country. In some cases, the prices that we intend to charge for our products are also subject to approval. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by reimbursement authorities outside the United States, and approval by one reimbursement authority outside the United States does not ensure approval by any other reimbursement authorities. However, the failure to obtain reimbursement in one jurisdiction may negatively impact our ability to obtain reimbursement in another jurisdiction. We may not be able to obtain such reimbursement approvals on a timely basis, if at all, and favorable pricing in certain countries depends on a number of factors, some of which are outside of our control.

We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before, or more successfully than, we do.

The development and commercialization of new drugs is highly competitive and subject to rapid and significant technological change. Our future success depends on our ability to demonstrate and maintain a competitive advantage with respect to the development and commercialization of Auryxia, vadadustat and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired. Our objective is to continue to commercialize Auryxia and develop and commercialize new products with superior efficacy, convenience, tolerability and/or safety. In many cases, any approved products that we commercialize will compete with existing, market-leading products.

Auryxia is competing in the hyperphosphatemia market in the United States with other FDA-approved phosphate binders such as Renagel® (sevelamer hydrochloride) and Renvela® (sevelamer carbonate), both marketed by Sanofi, PhosLo® and Phoslyra® (calcium acetate), marketed by Fresenius Medical Care North America, Fosrenol® (lanthanum carbonate), marketed by Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc, and Velphoro® (sucroferric oxyhydroxide), marketed by Fresenius Medical Care North America, as well as over-the-counter calcium carbonate products such as TUMS® and metal-based options such as aluminum, lanthanum and magnesium. Most of the phosphate binders listed above are now also available in generic forms. In addition, other agents are in development, including OPKO Health Inc.’s Alpharen™ Tablets (fermagate tablets) or could otherwise enter the market, including Ardelyx, Inc.’s tenapanor (which is approved in the United States for the treatment of adults with irritable
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bowel syndrome with constipation, but for which the FDA issued a complete response letter for with respect to the control of serum phosphorus in adult patients with CKD on dialysis), that may impact the market for Auryxia.

Auryxia is competing in the IDA market in the United States with over-the-counter oral iron, ferrous sulfate, other prescription oral iron formulations, including ferrous gluconate, ferrous fumerate, and polysaccharide iron complex, and intravenous iron formulations, including Feraheme® (ferumoxytol injection), Venofer® (iron sucrose injection), Ferrlicit® (sodium ferric gluconate complex in sucrose injection), Injectafer® (ferric carboxymaltose injection), and Triferic® (ferric pyrophosphate citrate). In addition, other new therapies for the treatment of IDA may impact the market for Auryxia, such as Shield Therapeutics' plc's Feraccru® (ferric maltol), which is available in Europe for the treatment of IDA and Accrufer® (ferric maltol), which was launched in the United States for the treatment of IDA in July 2021.

Furthermore, Auryxia’s commercial opportunities may be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and market products that are less expensive, more effective, safer or offer greater patient convenience than Auryxia. Other companies have product candidates in various stages of preclinical or clinical development to treat diseases and complications of the diseases for which we are marketing Auryxia. In addition, we entered into settlement agreements with each of our ANDA filers pursuant to which we granted licenses to market a generic version of Auryxia in the United States beginning in March 2025 (subject to FDA approval), or earlier under certain circumstances customary for settlement agreements of this nature, which may impact our business and results of operation.

Drugs that may compete with vadadustat include Epogen® (epoetin alfa) and Aranesp® (darbepoetin alfa), both commercialized by Amgen, Procrit® (epoetin alfa) and Eprex® (epoetin alfa), commercialized by Johnson & Johnson in the United States and Europe, respectively, and Mircera® (methoxy PEG-epoetin beta), commercialized by Vifor Pharma in the United States and Roche Holding Ltd. outside of the United States.

We and our partners may also face competition from potential new anemia therapies. There are several other HIF-PH inhibitor product candidates in various stages of development for anemia indications that may be in direct competition with vadadustat if and when they are approved and launched commercially. These candidates are being developed by companies such as FibroGen Inc., or FibroGen, together with its collaboration partners, Astellas Pharma Inc. and AstraZeneca PLC, Japan Tobacco International, or JT, GlaxoSmithKline plc, or GSK, and Bayer HealthCare AG, or Bayer.

Furthermore, certain companies are developing potential new therapies for renal-related diseases that could potentially reduce injectable erythropoiesis stimulating agent, or ESA, utilization and thus limit the market potential for vadadustat if they are approved and launched commercially. Other new therapies are in development for the treatment of conditions inclusive of renal anemia that may impact the market for anemia-targeted treatment.

In addition, in the United States, FibroGen filed an NDA for its product candidate, roxadustat, with the FDA, but the FDA issued a complete response letter indicating the FDA will not approve the NDA in its present form and requested that an additional clinical trial for roxadustat be conducted prior to resubmission of the NDA or additional response to the FDA's complete response letter. In Europe however, roxadustat is approved for the treatment of anemia in patients with CKD.

In Japan, Vafseo, which is approved for both the DD and NDD indications, competes with roxadustat, daprodustat and enarodustat. Roxadustat is approved for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in patients on dialysis, or DD-CKD, and patients not on dialysis, or NDD-CKD. In addition, daprodustat, GSK’s product candidate, and enarodustat, JT’s product candidate, are approved in Japan for the treatment of anemia due to CKD. In addition. Bayer HealthCare AG has submitted an NDA for its product candidate for the treatment of renal anemia in Japan. In China, roxadustat has launched for the treatment of anemia of DD-CKD and for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in NDD-CKD patients.

A biosimilar is a biologic product that is approved based on demonstrating that it is highly similar to an existing, FDA-approved branded biologic product. The patents for the existing, branded biologic product must expire in a given market before biosimilars may enter that market without risk of being sued for patent infringement. In addition, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be approved by the FDA until 12 years after the existing, branded product was approved under a Biologics License Application, or BLA. The patents for epoetin alfa, an injectable ESA, expired in 2004 in the EU, and the remaining patents expired between 2012 and 2016 in the United States. Because injectable ESAs are biologic products, the introduction of biosimilars into the injectable ESA market in the United States will constitute additional competition for vadadustat if we are able to obtain approval for and commercially launch vadadustat. In the United States, Pfizer’s biosimilar version of injectable ESAs, Retacrit® (epoetin alfa-epbx), was approved by the FDA in May 2018 and launched in November 2018 and several biosimilar versions of injectable ESAs are available for sale in the EU.

Many of our potential competitors have significantly greater financial, manufacturing, marketing, drug development, technical and human resources than we do. Large pharmaceutical companies, in particular, have extensive experience in clinical testing, obtaining marketing approvals, recruiting patients and manufacturing pharmaceutical products. Large and established
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companies such as Amgen and Roche, among others, compete in the market for drug products to treat kidney disease. In particular, these companies have greater experience and expertise in conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials, obtaining marketing approvals, manufacturing such products on a broad scale and marketing approved products. These companies also have significantly greater research and marketing capabilities than we do and may also have products that have been approved or are in late stages of development, and have collaborative arrangements in our target markets with leading companies and research institutions. Established pharmaceutical companies may also invest heavily to accelerate discovery and development of novel compounds or to in-license novel compounds that could make the product candidates that we are developing obsolete. Smaller and other early stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors. As a result of all of these factors, our competitors may succeed in obtaining patent protection and/or marketing approval, or discovering, developing and commercializing competitive products, before, or more effectively than, we do. If we are not able to compete effectively against potential competitors, our business will not grow and our financial condition and operations will suffer.

The commercialization of Riona and VafseoTM in Japan and our current and potential future efforts with respect to the development and commercialization of our products and product candidates outside of the United States subject us to a variety of risks associated with international operations, which could materially adversely affect our business.

Our Japanese sublicensee, JT, and its subsidiary, Torii Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., or Torii, commercialize Riona, the trade name for ferric citrate hydrate in Japan, as an oral treatment for the improvement of hyperphosphatemia in patients with CKD, including DD-CKD and NDD-CKD, and for the treatment of adult patients with IDA in Japan. We also granted Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., or Otsuka, exclusive rights to commercialize vadadustat in Europe, China and certain other markets, subject to marketing approvals. In Japan and certain other countries in Asia, we granted MTPC exclusive rights to commercialize vadadustat, which has been approved and is being marketed by MTPC in Japan under the trade name VafseoTM. In addition, we have conducted and in the future plan to conduct clinical trials outside of the United States for Auryxia, vadadustat and any other product or product candidate that may be in-licensed or acquired. As a result of these and other activities, we are or may become subject to additional risks in developing and commercializing Auryxia and vadadustat outside the United States, including, among others:

political, regulatory, compliance and economic developments, weakness or instability that could restrict our ability to manufacture, market and sell our products;
changes in international medical reimbursement policies and programs;
changes in healthcare policies of foreign jurisdictions;
trade protection measures, including import or export licensing requirements and tariffs and our compliance therewith;
our ability to develop or manage relationships with qualified local distributors and trading companies;
diminished protection of intellectual property in some countries outside of the United States;
differing labor regulations and business practices;
compliance with laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, the UK Bribery Act or similar local regulation, the EU General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and tax, employment, immigration and labor laws;
economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular foreign economies and markets;
foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenues, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad, including as a result of COVID-19; and
business interruptions resulting from geopolitical actions, including war and terrorism, global pandemics, or natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons, floods and fires.

In addition, we receive revenues from royalty payments converted to U.S. dollars based on net sales of Riona and VafseoTM in Japanese yen. The exchange rates between the Japanese yen on the one hand, and the U.S. dollar, on the other hand, have changed substantially in recent years and may fluctuate substantially in the future. Our results of operations could be adversely affected over time by certain movements in exchange rates, particularly if the Japanese yen depreciates against the U.S. dollar.

Any of these factors may, individually or as a group, have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. As and if we continue to expand our commercialization efforts, we may encounter new risks.

Risks Related to Product Development

Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and we will incur additional costs in connection with, and may experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of vadadustat and any other product candidates.
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The risk of failure in drug development is high. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical development and conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. Preclinical studies and clinical trials are expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take several years to complete, and their outcomes are inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the process. For example, we are currently conducting a clinical trial to evaluate three times per week oral dosing of vadadustat for dialysis dependent patients with anemia due to chronic kidney disease. If we experience delays in the conduct of this clinical trial or the results are not positive, it could affect the market potential of vadadustat, if approved. Further, the results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials, interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results, and results of Phase 3 clinical trials for one indication may not be predictive of results of Phase 3 clinical trials for another indication. For example, while we announced positive top-line results from INNO2VATE and vadadustat achieved the primary and key secondary efficacy endpoint in each of the two PRO2TECT studies, the PRO2TECT program did not meet the primary major adverse cardiovascular event, or MACE, safety endpoint. Many companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials after achieving positive results in early stage development, and we may face similar setbacks. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their product candidates. It is impossible to predict when or if any of our product candidates, including vadadustat, will prove effective or safe in humans or will receive marketing approval or on what terms

We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, preclinical development or clinical trials that could delay, prevent or make more challenging our ability to receive or maintain marketing approval or commercialize our product candidates. We may be required to complete additional clinical trials for Auryxia, vadadustat and any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, in order to obtain or maintain required regulatory approvals. Our preclinical studies and clinical trials may take longer to complete than currently anticipated, or may be delayed, suspended, required to be repeated, prematurely terminated or may not successfully demonstrate safety and/or efficacy needed to obtain or maintain regulatory approval for a variety of other reasons, such as:

the costs may be greater than we anticipate;
the number of patients required for clinical trials may be larger than we anticipate;
enrollment in our clinical trials may be slower than we anticipate, or participants may drop out of these clinical trials at a higher rate than we anticipate;
our third party contractors, such as our CROs, may fail to comply with regulatory requirements, perform effectively, or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, or we may fail to communicate effectively or provide the appropriate level of oversight of such third party contractors;
the supply or quality of our starting materials, drug substance and drug product necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient or inadequate;
regulators, independent data monitoring committees, or IDMCs, institutional review boards, or IRBs, safety committees, or ethics committees, may require that we suspend or terminate our clinical trials for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using our product candidate, or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
clinical trials of our product candidates may produce negative or inconclusive results or results that may be interpreted in a manner different than we interpret them, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials, repeat a clinical trial or abandon product development programs;
lack of adequate funding to continue a clinical trial, including unforeseen costs due to enrollment delays, requirements to conduct additional clinical trials or repeat a clinical trial and increased expenses associated with the services of our CROs and other third parties;
we may fail to initiate, delay of or failure to complete a clinical trial as a result of an Investigational New Drug application, or IND, being placed on clinical hold by the FDA, the EMA, the PMDA, or other regulatory authorities, or for other reasons, such as failure to recruit or enroll suitable patients or patients' failure to return for post-treatment follow up;
we may determine to change or expand a clinical trial, including after it has begun;
clinical trial sites and investigators deviating from the clinical protocol, failing to conduct the trial in accordance with regulatory requirements, or dropping out of a trial, or failure by us or our CROs to communicate effectively or provide the appropriate level of oversight of such clinical sites and investigators;
there may be an inability, delay, or failure in identifying and maintaining a sufficient number of clinical trial sites, many of which may already be engaged in other clinical programs;
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there may be a delay or failure in reaching agreement with the FDA, the EMA, the PMDA or other regulatory authorities on a clinical trial design upon which we are able to execute;
there may be a delay or failure in obtaining authorization to commence a clinical trial or inability to comply with conditions imposed by a regulatory authority regarding the scope or design of a clinical trial;
there may be delays in reaching, or failure to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with prospective clinical trial sites and prospective CROs, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and clinical trial sites;
the FDA, the EMA, the PMDA or other regulatory authorities may require us to submit additional data or impose further requirements before permitting us to initiate a clinical trial or during an ongoing clinical trial;
the FDA, the EMA, the PMDA or other regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design and our interpretation of data from clinical trials, or may change the requirements for approval even after it has reviewed and commented on the design for our clinical trials;
third parties with which we work may fail to comply with good practice quality guidelines and regulations, or GXP, including good laboratory practice, good clinical practice, or GCP, and current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP; or
there may be changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions.

We may be unable to successfully obtain approval of vadadustat or other product candidates, or to successfully complete clinical trials of Auryxia, vadadustat and other product candidates if the results of those trials and studies are not positive or are only modestly positive, or if there are concerns with the profile due to efficacy or safety. For example, the PRO2TECT program did not meet the primary MACE safety endpoint, and we are remaining cautious in our outlook for potential approval of vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult non-dialysis dependent patients. If any of the foregoing occurs, the following may occur:

regulators may require that we conduct additional clinical trials, repeat clinical trials or conduct other studies beyond those that we currently contemplate;
we may be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for vadadustat or other product candidates;
we may not obtain marketing approval for vadadustat or other product candidates at all;
we may obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;
we may obtain approval with labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings that would reduce the potential market for any approved product or inhibit our ability to successfully commercialize any approved product;
a REMS or FDA-imposed risk management plan that use risk minimization strategies to ensure that the benefits of certain prescription drugs outweigh their risks, may be required;
we may be subject to additional post-marketing restrictions and/or requirements; or
the product may be removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in closures of and may continue to impact clinical trial sites on which we rely and will rely for the completion of certain clinical trials and may delay enrollment of certain planned and ongoing clinical trials. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA issued guidance on March 18, 2020, and has thereafter updated it, to address and facilitate the conduct of clinical trials during the pandemic. The guidance sets out a number of considerations for sponsors of clinical trials impacted by the pandemic, including the requirement to include in the clinical study report (or as a separate document) contingency measures implemented to manage the study, and any disruption of the study as a result of the pandemic.

Our product development costs may also increase if we experience development delays or delays in receiving the requisite marketing approvals. Our preclinical studies or clinical trials may need to be restructured or may not be completed on schedule, or at all. Significant preclinical or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize vadadustat or any other product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do. This could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations.

We may find it difficult to enroll patients in our clinical trials, which could delay or prevent clinical trials of Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired.

Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials is critical to our success. The timing of our clinical trials depends, in part, on the speed at which we can recruit patients to participate in our clinical trials. Patients may be unwilling to participate in our clinical trials because of concerns about adverse events observed with the product candidate under study, the current standard of care, competitor products and/or other investigational agents, in each case for the same indications and/or similar patient populations. In addition, in the case of clinical trials of any product candidate, patients currently receiving
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treatment with the current standard of care or a competitor product may be reluctant to participate in a clinical trial with an investigational drug. Furthermore, COVID-19 resulted in closures of, and may continue to impact, clinical trial sites on which we rely for the conduct of certain clinical trials and COVID-19 pandemic precautions have caused moderate delays in enrolling new clinical trials and may cause delays in enrolling other new clinical trials. Finally, competition for clinical study sites may limit our access to patients appropriate for our clinical trials. As a result, the timeline for recruiting patients and conducting studies may be delayed. These delays could result in increased costs, delays in advancing our development of any product or product candidate, or termination of the clinical trial altogether.

We may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient enrollment is affected by many factors, including:

severity of the disease under investigation;
design of the study protocol;
size and nature of the patient population;
eligibility criteria for, and design of, the study in question;
perceived risks and benefits of the product or product candidate under study, including as a result of adverse effects observed in similar or competing therapies;
proximity and availability of clinical study sites for prospective patients;
availability of competing therapies and clinical trials and clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the product or product candidate being studied in relation to available therapies or other product candidates in development;
efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;
clinical trial sites and investigators failing to perform effectively; and
patient referral practices of physicians.

We may not be able to initiate or complete clinical trials in a timely manner, or at all, if we cannot enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in the clinical trials required by regulatory agencies. If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, any of which may delay approval, or result in failure to obtain approval, of our product candidates, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

Conducting clinical trials outside of the United States makes us subject to additional risks and complexities and we may not complete such trials successfully, in a timely manner, or at all, which could affect our ability to obtain regulatory approvals.

Our ability to successfully initiate, enroll and complete a clinical study in any country outside of the United States is subject to numerous additional risks unique to conducting business in jurisdictions outside the United States, including:

difficulty in establishing or managing relationships with qualified CROs, physicians and clinical trial sites;
difficulty in complying with different local standards for the conduct of clinical trials;
difficulty in complying with various and complex import laws and regulations when shipping drug to certain countries; and
the potential burden of complying with a variety of laws, medical standards and regulatory requirements, including the regulation of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products and treatments.

Data obtained from studies conducted in the United States may not be accepted by the EMA, the PMDA and other regulatory authorities outside of the United States. Also, certain jurisdictions require data from studies conducted in their country in order to obtain approval in that country.

If we or our collaboration partners have difficulty conducting our clinical trials in jurisdictions outside the United States as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, any of which could have an adverse effect on our business.

Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that may delay or prevent marketing approval or limit their commercial potential.

Undesirable effects caused by, or other undesirable properties of, Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, or competing commercial products or product candidates in development that utilize a common mechanism of action could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials, could result in a more restrictive label or the delay, denial or withdrawal of marketing approval by the FDA or
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other regulatory authorities, and could lead to potential product liability claims. Results of our clinical trials could reveal a high frequency of undesirable effects or unexpected characteristics.

If we or others identify undesirable effects caused by, or other undesirable properties of, Auryxia, vadadustat, or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, or if known undesirable effects are more frequent or severe than in the past, or if any of the foregoing are perceived to have occurred, either before or after receipt of marketing approval, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

our clinical trials may be put on hold;
patient recruitment could be slowed, and enrolled patients may not want to complete the clinical trial;
regulatory authorities may require warnings on the label, such as the warning on Auryxia’s label regarding iron overload;
REMS or FDA-imposed risk management plans that use restrictive risk minimization strategies may be required;
we may decide to, or be required to, send drug warnings or safety alerts to physicians, pharmacists and hospitals (or the FDA or other regulatory authorities may choose to issue such alerts), or we may decide to conduct a product recall or be requested to do so by the FDA or other regulatory authority;
reformulation of the product, additional non-clinical or clinical trials, restrictive changes in labeling or changes to or re-approvals of manufacturing facilities may be required;
we may be precluded from pursuing additional development opportunities to enhance the clinical profile of a product within its indicated populations, or studying the product or product candidate in additional indications and populations or in new formulations; and
we could be investigated by the government or sued and held liable for harm caused to patients, including in class action lawsuits; and
our reputation may suffer.

Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining, whether on a restricted basis or at all, marketing approval and, ultimately, market acceptance or penetration of Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired. In addition, any of these events could substantially increase our costs, and could significantly impact our ability to successfully commercialize Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product and product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, and generate product revenue.

The patient populations treated with Auryxia and potential patient populations for vadadustat, if approved, have CKD, a serious disease that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and stroke and, in its most severe form, results in, kidney failure and the need for dialysis or kidney transplant. Many patients with CKD are elderly with comorbidities making them susceptible to significant health risks. Therefore, the likelihood of these patients having adverse events, including serious adverse events is high.

With respect to the global INNO2VATE Phase 3 program, the incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the Correction and Conversion study in vadadustat treated patients was 83.8% and 85.5% in darbepoetin alfa treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa treated patients were hypertension (16.2%/ 12.9%) and diarrhea (10.1%/ 9.7%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were lower in vadadustat treated patients at 49.7% compared to 56.5% for darbepoetin alfa treated patients. The incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the prevalent dialysis patient study (Conversion) in the vadadustat treated patients was 88.3%, and 89.3% in darbepoetin alfa treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa treated patients were diarrhea (13.0%/ 10.1%), pneumonia (11.0%/ 9.7%), hypertension (10.6%/ 13.8%), and hyperkalemia (9.0%/ 10.8%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were slightly lower for vadadustat treated patients at 55.0% and 58.3% for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. Patients with DD-CKD experienced an increased risk of thromboembolic events compared to darbepoetin alfa with a time to first event HR of 1.20 (95% CI 0.96 - 1.50) driven by thrombosis of vascular access.

With respect to the global PRO2TECT Phase 3 program, the incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the erythropoiesis stimulating agent, or ESA,-untreated patients study (Correction) in the vadadustat-treated patients was 90.9%, and 91.6% in darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa-treated patients were end-stage renal disease (34.7%/ 35.2%), hypertension (17.7%/ 22.1.%), hyperkalemia (12.3.%/ 15.6%), urinary tract infection (12.9%/ 12.0%), diarrhea (13.9%/ 10.0%), peripheral oedema (12.5%/ 10.5%), fall (9.6%/ 10%) and nausea (10%/ 8.2%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were 65.3% for vadadustat-treated patients and 64.5% for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. The incidence of treatment emergent adverse events during the ESA-treated patients study (Conversion) in vadadustat treated patients was 89.1% and 87.7% in darbepoetin alfa-treated patients. During the study, the most common treatment emergent adverse events reported in vadadustat/darbepoetin alfa-treated patients were end-stage renal disease (27.5%/ 28.4%), hypertension (14.4%/ 14.8%), urinary tract infection (12.2%/ 14.5%),
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diarrhea (13.8.%/ 8.8.%), peripheral oedema (9.9%/ 10.1%) and pneumonia (10.0%/ 9.7%). Serious treatment emergent adverse events were 58.5% for vadadustat-treated patients and 56.6% for darbepoetin alfa-treated patients.

For example, following the completion of our global Phase 3 clinical program for vadadustat, there was a review of hepatic safety across the vadadustat clinical program, which includes 8 completed Phase 2 and 3 studies in NDD-CKD patients, 10 completed Phase 1, 2, and 3 studies, and two ongoing Phase 3b studies in DD-CKD patients, and 18 completed studies in healthy subjects (17 Phase 1 and one Phase 3). This review included a blinded assessment of all hepatic events in the studies by a panel of hepatic experts and analysis by an independent hepatic expert and our team. While hepatocellular injury attributed to vadadustat was reported in less than 1% of patients, there was one case of severe hepatocellular injury with jaundice, and we cannot guarantee that similar events will not happen in the future.

Serious adverse events considered related to vadadustat and any other product candidates could have material adverse consequences on the development and potential approval of such product candidates and our business as a whole. Our understanding of adverse events in prior clinical trials of our product candidates may change as we gather more information, the FDA may not agree with our assessment of adverse events and additional unexpected adverse events may be observed in future clinical trials or in the market.

Any of the above safety data or other occurrences could delay or prevent us from achieving or maintaining marketing approval, harm or prevent sales of Auryxia or, if approved, vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, increase our expenses and impair or prevent our ability to successfully commercialize Auryxia, vadadustat or any other products or product candidates.

In addition, any post-marketing clinical trials conducted, if successful, may expand the patient populations treated with Auryxia, vadadustat or any other product we acquire or for which we receive marketing approval, within or outside of their current indications or patient populations, which could result in the identification of previously unknown undesirable effects, increased frequency or severity of known undesirable effects, or result in the identification of unexpected safety signals. In addition, as Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other products are commercialized, they will be used in significantly larger patient populations, in less rigorously controlled environments and, in some cases, by less experienced and less expert treating practitioners, than in clinical trials, which could result in increased or more serious adverse effects being reported. As a result, regulatory authorities, healthcare practitioners, third party payors or patients may perceive or conclude that the use of Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, or any other products are associated with serious adverse effects, undermining our commercialization efforts.

Risks Related to Regulatory Approval

We may not be able to obtain marketing approval for, or successfully commercialize, vadadustat or any other product candidate, or we may experience significant delays in doing so, any of which would materially harm our business.

Clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing of any product or product candidate are subject to extensive and rigorous review and regulation by numerous governmental authorities in the United States and other jurisdictions. Before obtaining marketing approval for the commercial sale of any product candidate, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical testing and clinical trials that the product candidate is safe and effective for use in each target indication. This process can take many years and marketing approval may never be achieved. Of the large number of drugs in development in the United States and in other jurisdictions, only a small percentage successfully complete the FDA’s and other jurisdictions’ marketing approval processes and are commercialized. Accordingly, even if we are able to obtain the requisite capital to continue to fund our development and commercialization efforts, we may be unable to successfully obtain regulatory approval for, or commercialize vadadustat or any other product or product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired.

We and Otsuka, our collaboration partner, are not permitted to market vadadustat in the United States until we receive approval from the FDA, in the EU until we receive approval from the EMA, or in any other jurisdiction until the requisite approval from regulatory authorities in such jurisdiction is received. As a condition to receiving marketing approval for vadadustat, we may be required by the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials. We submitted an NDA to the FDA for vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult dialysis-dependent and non-dialysis dependent patients in March 2021. Our NDA submission was accepted for filing by the FDA in May 2021. The FDA assigned the application standard review and a PDUFA date of March 29, 2022. The FDA has indicated that it is not currently planning to hold an Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the application for vadadustat. Vadadustat may not receive marketing approval at all and, if approved, the scope of approval may not include the treatment of anemia due to CKD in both DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients. We remain cautious in our outlook for potential approval of vadadustat for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in adult non-dialysis dependent patients as vadadustat did not meet the primary safety endpoint of the PRO2TECT program.

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Further, vadadustat and any other product candidate may not receive marketing approval in the United States or the EU even if it is approved in other countries. For example, although vadadustat is approved in Japan for the treatment of anemia due to CKD in DD-CKD and NDD-CKD adult patients, such approval does not guarantee approval in the United States by the FDA or in the EU by the EMA for this indication or at all.

Obtaining marketing approval in the United States and other jurisdictions for any product candidate depends upon numerous factors, many of which are subject to the substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities, including that regulatory agencies may not complete their review processes in a timely manner and, following completion of the review process, may not grant marketing approval or such marketing approval may be limited. Furthermore, approval of a drug does not ensure successful commercialization. For example, on September 23, 2015, the European Commission, or EC, approved Fexeric for the control of hyperphosphatemia in adult patients with CKD. Pursuant to the sunset clause under EU law, the EC’s approval of Fexeric in the EU was contingent on, among other things, our commencing marketing of Fexeric within three years; although we successfully negotiated an extension to December 23, 2019, we did not commence marketing Fexeric by such date and therefore the Fexeric approval in the EU has ceased to be valid.

We could face heightened risks with respect to seeking marketing approval in the United Kingdom, or UK, as a result of the recent withdrawal of the UK from the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit. Pursuant to the formal withdrawal arrangements agreed between the UK and the EU, the UK withdrew from the EU, effective December 31, 2020. On December 24, 2020, the UK and the EU entered into a Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The agreement sets out certain procedures for approval and recognition of medical products in each jurisdiction. Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, any marketing approvals, as a result of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement would prevent us from commercializing vadadustat or any other product candidate, including those that may be in-licensed or acquired, in the UK and/or the EU and restrict our ability to generate revenue and achieve and sustain profitability. If any of these outcomes occur, we may be forced to restrict or delay efforts to seek regulatory approval in the UK and/or the EU for vadadustat or any other product candidate, which could significantly and materially harm our business. As of January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, or the MHRA, became responsible for supervising medicines and medical devices in Great Britain, comprising England, Scotland and Wales under domestic law, whereas Northern Ireland will continue to be subject to European Union rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol. The MHRA will rely on the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1916) (as amended) as the basis for regulating medicines.

In addition, the safety concerns associated with the current standard of care for the indications for which we are seeking marketing approval for vadadustat may affect the FDA’s, the EMA’s or other regulatory authorities’ review of the safety results of vadadustat. Additionally, these regulatory authorities may not agree with our assessment of adverse events. Further, the policies or regulations, or the type and amount of clinical data necessary to gain approval, may change during the course of a product candidate’s clinical development and may vary among jurisdictions. It is possible that vadadustat will never obtain marketing approval in certain jurisdictions or for some or all of the indications for which we seek approval. The FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities may delay, limit or deny approval of vadadustat for many reasons including, among others:

we may not be able to demonstrate that vadadustat is safe and effective in treating adult patients with anemia due to CKD to the satisfaction of the FDA;
the results of our clinical trials may only be modestly positive, or there may be concerns with the profile due to efficacy or safety;
the results of our clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical or clinical significance required by the FDA for review and/or marketing approval;
the FDA may disagree with our interpretation of data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials;
the FDA may disagree with the number, design, size, conduct or implementation of our clinical trials;
the FDA may not approve the formulation, labeling or specifications we request for vadadustat;
the FDA may approve vadadustat or any other product candidate for use only in a small patient population or for fewer or more limited indications than we request;
the FDA may require that we conduct additional clinical trials or repeat one or more clinical trials;
the FDA may require development of a REMS as a condition of approval or post-approval;
the FDA may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials;
the FDA's onsite inspections may be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
we, or our CROs or other vendors, may fail to comply with GXP or fail to pass any regulatory inspections or audits;
we or our third party manufacturers may fail to perform in accordance with the FDA’s cGMP requirements and guidance;
the FDA may disagree with inclusion of data obtained from certain regions outside the United States to support the NDA for potential reasons such as differences in clinical practice from United States standards;
the FDA could deem that our financial relationships with certain principal investigators constitute a conflict of interest, such that the data from those principal investigators may not be used to support our applications;
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although the FDA has indicated that they are not currently planning to hold an Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the NDA for vadadustat, the FDA may ask an Advisory Committee to review portions of the NDA, the FDA may have difficulty scheduling an Advisory Committee meeting in a timely manner or, if convened, an FDA Advisory Committee could recommend non-approval, conditions of approval or restrictions on approval, and the FDA may ultimately agree with the recommendations;
the FDA’s review process and decision-making regarding vadadustat and any other product candidate may be impacted by the results of our and our competitors’ clinical trials and safety concerns of marketed products used to treat the same indications as the indications for which vadadustat and any other product candidate are being developed;
the FDA may not approve the manufacturing processes or facilities of third party manufacturers with whom we contract; or
the policies or regulations of the FDA may significantly change in a manner that renders our clinical data insufficient for approval, or requires us to amend or submit new clinical protocols.

In addition, similar reasons may cause the EMA or other regulatory authorities to delay, limit or deny approval of vadadustat outside of the United States.

If we experience delays in obtaining approval, or if we fail to obtain approval of vadadustat for some or all of the indications for which we have sought approval, the commercial prospects for vadadustat may be harmed and our ability to generate revenues will be materially impaired, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Products approved for marketing are subject to extensive post-marketing regulatory requirements and could be subject to post-marketing restrictions or withdrawal from the market, and we may be subject to penalties, including withdrawal of marketing approval, if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our products, or product candidates, when and if any of them is approved.

Marketing approvals may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or other conditions of approval, or contain requirements or commitments for potentially costly post-marketing studies and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product, including REMS, or registries or observational studies. For example, in connection with the FDA approvals of Auryxia, we initially committed to the FDA to conduct certain post-approval pediatric studies of Auryxia under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003, or PREA. With regard to the Hyperphosphatemia Indication for Auryxia, we committed to completing the post-approval pediatric study and submitting a final report to the FDA by December 31, 2019. With regard to our IDA Indication, we initially committed to completing the post-approval pediatric study and submitting a final report to the FDA by January 2023.With regard to the Hyperphosphatemia Indication, we did not complete and submit the post-marketing requirement pediatric clinical study report by December 31, 2019, and we received a notification of noncompliance with PREA. Our request to extend this deadline was denied, and the study is considered delayed. With regard to the IDA Indication, we did not meet a milestone relating to the post-approval pediatric study of Auryxia in a timely manner and received a notification from the FDA. Subsequently, the FDA agreed to extend the pediatric clinical study timelines for the IDA Indication. We subsequently communicated to the FDA that we would be delaying the start of the clinical trial to produce smaller size tablets. In response, the FDA issued a clinical hold until we manufacture the smaller tablets and provide the FDA with relevant information regarding the smaller sized product for review. If we are unable to complete these studies successfully, we will need to inform the FDA, have further discussions and, if the FDA finds that we failed to comply with pediatric study requirements, it could initiate proceedings to seize or enjoin the sale of Auryxia, which would have a material adverse impact on our ability to commercialize Auryxia and our ability to generate revenues from Auryxia.

In addition, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion and recordkeeping for Auryxia, vadadustat, if approved, and any other product for which we receive regulatory approval will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements and guidance. These requirements and guidance include manufacturing processes and procedures (including record keeping), the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of the product, submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, as well as continued compliance with cGMPs and GCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. If we, our CMOs or other third parties we engage fail to adhere to such regulatory requirements and guidance, we could suffer significant consequences, including product seizures or recalls, loss of product approval, fines and sanctions, reputational damage, loss of customer confidence, shipment delays, inventory shortages, inventory write-offs and other product-related charges and increased manufacturing costs, and our development or commercialization efforts may be materially harmed.

Moreover, the FDA and other regulatory authorities closely regulate the post-approval marketing and promotion of drugs to ensure drugs are marketed only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling. The FDA and other regulatory authorities impose stringent restrictions on companies’ communications regarding use of their products, and if we promote any approved product beyond its approved indications or inconsistent with the approved label, we may be subject to enforcement actions or prosecution arising from such activities. Violations of the U.S. Federal Food, Drug,
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and Cosmetic Act, or the FDCA, relating to the promotion of prescription drugs may lead to investigations alleging violations of federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse and other laws, as well as state consumer protection laws, insurance fraud laws, third party payor actions, shareholder actions and other lawsuits.

Post-approval discovery of previously unknown problems with an approved product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency or relating to manufacturing operations or processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:

restrictions on the marketing, distribution, use or manufacturing of the product;
withdrawal of the product from the market, or product recalls;
restrictions on the labeling or marketing of a product;
fines, restitution or disgorgement of profits or revenues;
warning or untitled letters or clinical holds;
refusal by the FDA or other regulatory authorities to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us, or suspension or revocation of product approvals;
product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products;
REMS; and
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

For example, we previously had three limited, voluntary recalls of Auryxia. These and any other recalls or any supply, quality or manufacturing issues in the future could result in significant negative consequences, including reputational harm, loss of customer confidence, and a negative impact on our financials, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations, and may impact our ability to supply Auryxia, VafseoTM, in Japan or vadadustat for commercial and clinical use.

Non-compliance with the FDA, the EMA, the PMDA and other regulatory authorities’ requirements regarding safety monitoring or pharmacovigilance can also result in significant financial penalties.

The FDA’s policies and those of other regulatory authorities may change, and additional government regulations may be enacted. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulations that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or in other jurisdictions. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability, which would materially adversely affect our business.

Risks Related to Governmental Regulation and Compliance

We are subject to a complex regulatory scheme that requires significant resources to ensure compliance and our failure to comply with applicable laws could subject us to government scrutiny or enforcement, potentially resulting in costly investigations, fines, penalties or sanctions, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens and diminished profits and future earnings.

In general, a variety of laws apply to us or may otherwise restrict our activities, including, but not limited to, the following:

laws and regulations governing the conduct of preclinical studies and clinical trials in the United States and other countries in which we are conducting such studies;
anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws, including the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act and various other anti-corruption laws in countries outside of the United States;
data privacy laws existing in the United States, the EU and other countries in which we operate, including the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, the GDPR, and state privacy and data protection laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, as well as state consumer protection laws;
federal and state laws requiring the submission of accurate product prices and notifications of price increases;
federal and state securities laws;
environmental, health and safety laws and regulations; and
international trade laws, which are laws that regulate the sale, purchase, import, export, re-export, transfer and shipment of goods, products, materials, services and technology.

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In addition, our relationships with healthcare providers, physicians and third party payors expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse laws that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute Auryxia and vadadustat, if approved, and any other products for which we may obtain marketing approval. As such, these arrangements are subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, transparency, health information privacy and security, and other healthcare laws and regulations at federal, state and international levels. These restrictions include, but are not limited to, the following:

the FDCA which among other things, strictly regulates drug product marketing and promotion and prohibits manufacturers from marketing such products for off-label use;
federal laws that require pharmaceutical manufacturers to report certain calculated product prices to the government or provide certain discounts or rebates to government authorities or private entities, often as a condition of reimbursement under government healthcare programs, and laws requiring notification of price increases;
the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation or arranging of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid;
the federal False Claims Act, which imposes criminal and civil penalties, including through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, against individuals or entities for, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, false or fraudulent claims for payment by a federal healthcare program or making a false statement or record material to payment of a false claim or avoiding, decreasing or concealing an obligation to pay money to the federal government, with potential liability including mandatory treble damages and significant per-claim penalties, and violations of the FDCA, the federal government pricing laws, and the federal Anti-Kickback Statute trigger liability under the federal False Claims Act;
HIPAA, which imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters;
HIPAA, as amended by the HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, also imposes obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;
the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act (renamed the Open Payments Act) requires applicable manufacturers of covered drugs to report payments and other transfers of value to physicians, other healthcare providers and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and other healthcare providers and their immediate family members;
analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws and gift ban and transparency statutes, which may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by state Medicaid or other programs, or non-governmental third party payors, including private insurers, and which are not preempted by federal laws and often differ from state to state, thus complicating compliance efforts; and
U.S. state laws restricting interactions with healthcare providers and other members of the healthcare community or requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to implement certain compliance standards, which vary from state to state.

Because of the breadth of these U.S. laws, and their non-U.S. equivalents, and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and safe harbors available, it is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. In addition, recent healthcare reforms have strengthened these laws. For example, the Health Care Reform Act, among other things, amended the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. A person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate the law. The Health Care Reform Act also amended the False Claims Act, such that violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute are now deemed violations of the False Claims Act.

Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines, such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Code on Interactions with Health Care Professionals, known as the PhRMA Code. Additionally, some state and local laws require the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives in the jurisdiction. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA.

Efforts to ensure that our business complies with applicable healthcare laws and regulations involves substantial costs and requires us to expend significant resources. One of the potential areas for governmental scrutiny involves federal and state requirements for pharmaceutical manufacturers to submit accurate price reports to the government. Because our processes for calculating applicable government prices and the judgments involved in making these calculations involve subjective decisions and complex methodologies, these calculations are subject to risk of errors and differing interpretations. In addition, they are subject to review and challenge by the applicable governmental agencies, or potential qui tam complaints, and it is possible that such reviews could result in changes, recalculations, or defense costs that may have adverse legal or financial consequences. It
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is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion of products from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could materially adversely affect our business and would result in increased costs and diversion of management attention and could negatively impact the development, regulatory approval and commercialization of Auryxia or vadadustat, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, if any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from participation in government funded healthcare programs.

We will incur significant liability if it is determined that we are promoting any “off-label” use of Auryxia or any other product we may develop, in-license or acquire or if it is determined that any of our activities violates the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

Physicians are permitted to prescribe drug products for uses that differ from those approved by the FDA or other applicable regulatory agencies. Although the FDA and other regulatory agencies do not regulate a physician’s choice of treatments, the FDA and other regulatory agencies do restrict manufacturer communications regarding unapproved uses of an approved drug. Companies are not permitted to promote drugs for unapproved uses or in a manner that is inconsistent with the FDA-approved labeling. There are also restrictions about making comparative or superiority claims based on safety or efficacy that are not supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, we may not promote Auryxia in the United States for use in any indications other than the Hyperphosphatemia Indication and the IDA Indication, and all promotional claims must be consistent with the FDA-approved labeling for Auryxia.

Promoting a drug off-label is a violation of the FDCA and can give rise to liability under the federal False Claims Act, as well as under additional federal and state laws and insurance statutes. The FDA, the Department of Justice and other regulatory and enforcement authorities enforce laws and regulations prohibiting promotion of off-label uses and the promotion of products for which marketing approval has not been obtained, as well as the false advertising or misleading promotion of drugs. In September 2021, the FDA published final regulations which describe the types of evidence that the agency will consider in determining the intended use of a drug product. In addition, laws and regulations govern the distribution and tracing of prescription drugs and prescription drug samples, including the Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1976 and the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, which regulate the distribution and tracing of prescription drugs and prescription drug samples at the federal level and set minimum standards for the regulation of drug distributors by the states. A company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses or to have otherwise engaged in false or misleading promotion or improper distribution of drugs will be subject to significant liability, potentially including civil and administrative remedies as well as criminal sanctions. It may also be subject to exclusion and debarment from federal healthcare reimbursement programs.

Notwithstanding the regulatory restrictions on off-label promotion, the FDA and other regulatory authorities allow companies to engage in truthful, non-misleading, and non-promotional scientific communications concerning their products in certain circumstances. In addition, under some relatively recent guidance from the FDA, companies may also promote information that is consistent with the prescribing information and proactively speak to formulary committee members of payors regarding data for an unapproved drug or unapproved uses of an approved drug. We intend to engage in these discussions and communicate with healthcare providers, payors and other constituencies in compliance with all applicable laws, regulatory guidance and industry best practices. Although we believe we have put in place a robust compliance program and processes designed to ensure that all such activities are performed in a legal and compliant manner, Auryxia is our first commercial product in the United States, so our implementation of our compliance program in connection with commercialization activities is still relatively new.

In addition, if a company’s activities are determined to have violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, this can also give rise to liability under the federal False Claims Act and such violations can result in significant fines, criminal and civil remedies, and exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid. There is increased government focus on relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians, pharmacies (especially specialty pharmacies), and other sources of referrals. Common industry activities, such as speaker programs, insurance assistance and support, relationships with foundations providing copayment assistance, and relationships with patient organizations and patients are receiving increased governmental attention. If any of our relationships or activities is determined to violate applicable federal and state anti-kickback laws, false claims laws, or other laws or regulations, the company and/or company executives, employees, and other representatives could be subject to significant fines and criminal sanctions, imprisonment, and potential exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid.

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Disruptions in the FDA and other government agencies caused by global health concerns or funding shortages could prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner, 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 global health concerns, government budget and funding levels, staffing shortages, 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 FDA have fluctuated in recent years as a result of certain of these factors. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may increase the time necessary for new drugs to be reviewed or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 10, 2020, the FDA announced its intention to postpone most inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities, and on March 18, 2020, the FDA temporarily postponed routine surveillance inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities. In 2020 and 2021, a number of companies announced receipt of complete response letters due to the FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. 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. This risk-based assessment system identifies the categories of regulatory activity that can occur within a given geographic area, ranging from critical inspections to resumption of all regulatory activities. In May 2021, the FDA issued a new report “Resiliency Roadmap for FDA Inspectional Oversight” which included its detailed plan to move towards a more consistent state of operations; best-case, base-case and worst-case scenarios are identified, as well as the drivers that determine these scenarios and the impact these will have on inspection activities. However, the FDA may not be able to continue its current pace and review timelines could be extended, including where a pre-approval inspection or an inspection of clinical sites is required and due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, the FDA is unable to complete such required inspections during the review period. Regulatory authorities outside the United States may also impose 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.

Compliance with privacy and data security requirements could result in additional costs and liabilities to us or inhibit our a