significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. Moreover, achieving and sustaining compliance with applicable federal and state privacy, security and fraud laws may prove costly.
Our business involves the use of hazardous materials and we and our third-party manufacturers must comply with environmental laws and regulations, which can be expensive and restrict how we do business.
Our third-party manufacturers’ activities involve the controlled storage, use and disposal of hazardous materials owned by us, including the components of our product and other hazardous compounds. We and our manufacturers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these hazardous materials. Although we believe that the safety procedures utilized by our third-party manufacturers for handling and disposing of these materials comply with the standards prescribed by these laws and regulations, we cannot eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of an accident, state or federal authorities may curtail the use of these materials and interrupt our business operations. We do not currently maintain hazardous materials insurance coverage. If we are subject to any liability as a result of our third-party manufacturers’ activities involving hazardous materials, our business and financial condition may be adversely affected.
Our business and operations would suffer in the event of system failures.
Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our CROs and other contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we have not experienced any such system failure, accident or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our drug development programs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or ongoing clinical trials for, could result in delays in our regulatory efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of or damage to our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development of our product could be delayed.
Risks Related to Intellectual Property
Our market opportunity for Contrave may be limited by the relatively small number of issued U.S. patents and foreign patents that we own or in-license. In addition, although we have additional U.S. and international patent applications pending which seek further protection of our product, these applications may not issue on a timely basis or at all.
Contrave is currently protected by U.S. patent number 7,375,111, which we refer to as the Weber/Cowley composition patent, and U.S. patent number 7,462,626, which we refer to as the Weber/Cowley methods patent. Provided maintenance fees are paid, the Weber/Cowley composition patent is expected to expire in March 2025, and the Weber/Cowley methods patent is expected to expire in July 2024. Collectively, we refer to the Weber/Cowley composition patent and the Weber/Cowley methods patent as the Weber/Cowley patents. We own the Weber/Cowley patents, but they are subject to our license agreement with Oregon Health & Science University, or OHSU. The Weber/Cowley patents cover the current composition of Contrave and methods of administering it to treat obesity. We and/or our licensors have filed a number of international counterparts to the Weber/Cowley patents in foreign countries. A European counterpart application to the Weber/Cowley patent has issued in the European Patent Office, or EPO, as EP1617832B1, and provides protection for Contrave in the various EPO countries in which the patent has been registered. Several international counterparts to the Weber/Cowley patents have also issued in other foreign jurisdictions. However, we cannot provide assurance that other pending international counterparts will issue on a timely basis or at all. There is also no assurance that the currently pending claims in those foreign countries will not be rejected, that any such rejections and any future rejections will ultimately be overcome, nor that any claims that may issue will be sufficiently broad to protect Contrave in those foreign countries. Furthermore, we cannot be certain that the scope of any issued foreign patent will be consistent with the currently pending claims, as there is a significant likelihood that the scope of the currently pending claims will be modified. If a competitor is willing to challenge the scope or validity of the Weber/Cowley patents, the competitor could file an NDA seeking approval for three years after the date we obtained approval from the FDA of the NDA for Contrave. For example, in April 2015, we and Takeda received notification of a Paragraph IV certification for certain patents for Contrave which are listed in the FDA’s Orange Book. The certification resulted from the filing by Actavis of an ANDA challenging such patents for Contrave. In June 2015, we and Takeda filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against Actavis on the basis that Actavis’ proposed generic products infringe certain patents for Contrave. In accordance with the Hatch-Waxman Act, as a result of having filed a lawsuit within 45 days of the Paragraph IV certification notice, FDA approval of the ANDA will be stayed until the earlier of (i) 30 months from Takeda’s receipt of the notice or (ii) a District Court decision finding that the identified patents are invalid, unenforceable or not infringed. In July 2015, Actavis filed an answer, affirmative defenses and counterclaim to our complaint, and in August 2015, we and Takeda filed an answer to Actavis’ counterclaims. Moreover, in July 2015, the court ordered a stipulation between us, Takeda and Actavis in which we and Takeda agreed to dismiss all defendants except Actavis without prejudice, and Actavis agreed that the related Actavis entities will be bound to judgments and orders of the court against Actavis and will be subject to discovery as if they were parties. In September 2015, the