We are subject to various environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing air emissions, water and wastewater discharges, noise emissions, the use, management and disposal of hazardous, radioactive and biological materials and wastes and the cleanup of contaminated sites. We believe that our business, operations and facilities are being operated in compliance in all material respects with applicable environmental and health and safety laws and regulations. Based on information currently available to us, we do not expect environmental costs and contingencies to have a material adverse effect on us. The operation of our facilities, however, entails risks in these areas. Significant expenditures could be required in the future if we are required to comply with new or more stringent environmental or health and safety laws, regulations or requirements. See “Business — Government Regulation and Funding — Israel Ministry of Environment — Toxin Permit.”
Government Regulation and Funding
We operate in a highly controlled regulatory environment. Stringent regulations establish requirements relating to analytical, toxicological and clinical standards and protocols in respect of the testing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Regulations also cover research, development, manufacturing and reporting procedures, both pre- and post-approval. In many markets, especially in Europe, marketing and pricing strategies are subject to national legislation or administrative practices that include requirements to demonstrate not only the quality, safety and efficacy of a new product, but also its cost-effectiveness relating to other treatment options. Failure to comply with regulations can result in stringent sanctions, including product recalls, withdrawal of approvals, seizure of products and criminal prosecution.
Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of our therapeutic candidates, we or our licensees must demonstrate through preclinical studies and clinical trials that our therapeutic candidates are safe and effective. Historically, the results from preclinical studies and early clinical trials often have not accurately predicted results of later clinical trials. In addition, a number of pharmaceutical products have shown promising results in early clinical trials but subsequently failed to establish sufficient safety and efficacy results to obtain necessary regulatory approvals. We have incurred and will continue to incur substantial expense for, and devote a significant amount of time to, preclinical studies and clinical trials. Many factors can delay the commencement and rate of completion of clinical trials, including the inability to recruit patients at the expected rate, the inability to follow patients adequately after treatment, the failure to manufacture sufficient quantities of materials used for clinical trials, and the emergence of unforeseen safety issues and governmental and regulatory delays. If a therapeutic candidate fails to demonstrate safety and efficacy in clinical trials, this failure may delay development of other therapeutic candidates and hinder our ability to conduct related preclinical studies and clinical trials. Additionally, as a result of these failures, we may also be unable to find additional licensees or obtain additional financing.
Governmental authorities in all major markets require that a new pharmaceutical product or medical device be approved or exempted from approval before it is marketed, and have established high standards for technical appraisal, which can result in an expensive and lengthy approval process. The time to obtain approval varies by country. In the past, it generally took from six months to four years from the application date, depending upon the quality of the results produced, the degree of control exercised by the regulatory authority, the efficiency of the review procedure and the nature of the product. Some products are never approved. In recent years, there has been a trend towards shorter regulatory review times in the United States as well as certain European countries, despite increased regulation and higher quality, safety and efficacy standards.
Historically, different requirements by different countries’ regulatory authorities have influenced the submission of applications. However, a trend toward harmonization of drug and medical device approval standards, starting in individual territories in Europe and then in the EU as a whole, in Japan, and in the United States under the aegis of what is now known as the International Council on Harmonisation, or ICH (created as the International Conference on Harmonisation in 1990), is gradually narrowing these differences. In many cases, compliance with ICH standards can help avoid duplication of non-clinical and clinical trials and enable companies to use the same basis for submissions to each of the respective regulatory authorities. The adoption of the Common Technical Document format by the ICH has greatly facilitated use of a single regulatory submission for seeking approval in the ICH regions and certain other countries such as Canada and Australia.
Summaries of the United States, EU and Israeli regulatory processes follow below.