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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, 2020
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: 001-38984
CASTLE BIOSCIENCES, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware77-0701774
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
820 S. Friendswood Drive, Suite 201, Friendswood, Texas
77546
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Zip Code)
(866) 788-9007
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

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, $0.001 par value per shareCSTLThe Nasdaq Global Market

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 Section 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 filer¨Accelerated 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 the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No ☒
The aggregate market value of voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2020 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter) was $518.9 million based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock on June 30, 2020, as reported by the Nasdaq Global Market.
As of March 5, 2021, there were 24,978,424 shares of common stock, $0.001 par value per share, issued and outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, subsequent to the date hereof pursuant to Regulation 14A in connection with the registrant’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We intend to file such proxy statement with the SEC not later than 120 days after the conclusion of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.  


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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are contained principally in the sections entitled “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business.” These statements relate to future events or to our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
estimates of our addressable market, future revenue, expenses, capital requirements and our needs for additional financing;
expectations with respect to reimbursement for our products, including third-party payor reimbursement and coverage decisions;
anticipated cost, timing and success of our products in development, and our plans to research, develop and commercialize new tests;
the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;
our ability to obtain funding for our operations, including funding necessary to complete the expansion of our operations and development of our product candidates;
the implementation of our business model and strategic plans for our products, technologies and businesses;
our ability to manage and grow our business by expanding our sales to existing customers or introducing our products to new customers;
our ability to develop and maintain sales and marketing capabilities;
regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;
the performance of our third-party suppliers;
the success of competing diagnostic products that are or become available;
our ability to attract and retain key personnel;
our expectations regarding the period during which we qualify as an emerging growth company under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, as amended, or the JOBS Act, enacted in April 2012; and
our expectations regarding our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our products and our ability to operate our business without infringing on the intellectual property rights of others.
In some cases, you can identify these statements by terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expects,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “should,” “will,” “would” or the negative of those terms, and similar expressions that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes. These forward-looking statements reflect our management’s beliefs and views with respect to future events and are based on estimates and assumptions as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and are subject to risks and uncertainties. In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements. We discuss many of the risks associated with the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K in greater detail under the heading “Risk Factors.” Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

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RISK FACTORS SUMMARY
We face many risks and uncertainties, as more fully described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K under the heading “Risk Factors.” Some of these risks and uncertainties are summarized below. The summary below does not contain all of the information that may be important to you, and you should read this summary together with the more detailed discussion of these risks and uncertainties contained in “Risk Factors.”
Risk Related to our Financial Condition
We rely upon a small number of third-party payors for a significant portion of our revenue.
Our method of recognizing revenue may not reflect our underlying business.
We have incurred significant losses since inception, and we may never achieve profitability.
We are an early, commercial-stage company and have a limited operating history, which may make it difficult to evaluate our current business and predict our future performance.
Our financial results could fluctuate in the future, causing the market price of our stock to decline substantially.
If our internal control over financial reporting is ineffective, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or file our periodic reports in a timely manner.
We may need to raise additional capital to commercialize new products, to expand operations or to fund existing operations.
Risks Related to our Business
We have been, and may continue to be, adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused decreased test report volume.
Our revenue heavily relies upon the sale of a single product and our current or future products may not achieve or maintain significant commercial market acceptance.
Billing for our products is complex and we require substantial time and resources to collect payment.
We rely on third parties for tumor sample collection, preparation and delivery.
A depletion or loss of our tumor sample database could significantly harm our business.
If our primary clinical laboratory facility becomes damaged or inoperable or we are required to vacate our existing facility, our ability to conduct our laboratory analysis and pursue our research and development efforts may be jeopardized.
Our current or future products may not achieve or maintain significant commercial market acceptance.
New product development is lengthy and complex and our revenues could be limited if we are unable to increase and support adoption of our products by healthcare providers.
We may experience limits on our revenue if we are unable to increase and support adoption of our products by both physicians and other healthcare providers.
We rely on limited or sole suppliers for some of the reagents, equipment, chips and other materials used by our products, and we may not be able to find replacements or transition to alternative suppliers.
The sizes of the markets for our current and future products have not been established with precision and may be smaller than we estimate.
The diagnostic testing industry is subject to rapid change, which could make our current or future products obsolete.
Risks Related to Reimbursement and Government Regulation
We currently have limited reimbursement coverage for our lead product, DecisionDx-Melanoma, and if third-party payors, including government and commercial payors, do not provide sufficient coverage of, or adequate reimbursement for, our products, our commercial success, including revenue, will be negatively affected.
We conduct business in a heavily regulated industry and failure to comply with regulatory requirements, including those established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, or changes in enforcement discretion for laboratory developed tests could harm our business.
Data from our clinical studies may change materially, which could harm our business.
Changes in health care policy or healthcare statutes and regulations or our ability to comply with applicable requirements could cause a material adverse effect to our business and operations.

Risks Related to Intellectual Property

If we are unable to obtain and maintain sufficient intellectual property protection for our technology, our ability to successfully commercialize our products may be impaired.
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Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties.
We rely on information technology systems that we license from third parties and other royalty-bearing license agreements.
Risks Related to Employee Matters and Managing Growth and Other Risks Related to Our Business
We are highly dependent on the services of our key personnel, including our President and Chief Executive Officer.
Our employees and any current or potential commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.
We may engage in strategic transactions, such as the acquisition of businesses, assets, products or technologies, which could be disruptive to our existing operations, divert the attention of our management team and adversely impact our liquidity, cash flows, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business may be negatively impacted by cyber security threats, natural disasters and public health crises.
Product or professional liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and could limit our commercialization of our products.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock.
The stock price of our common stock may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance, and you may lose all or part of your investment.
We have broad discretion in the use of working capital and may not use it effectively or in ways that increase our share price.
The concentration of our stock ownership will likely limit your ability to influence corporate matters, including the ability to influence the outcome of director elections and other matters requiring stockholder approval.
Delaware law and provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make a merger, tender offer or proxy contest difficult, thereby depressing the trading price of our common stock.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for certain disputes between us and our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.
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PART I

Item 1. Business.
As used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless the context indicates or otherwise requires, “Castle Biosciences,” “the Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Castle Biosciences, Inc., a Delaware Corporation.
Overview
We are a commercial-stage dermatological cancer company focused on providing physicians and their patients with personalized, clinically actionable genomic information to make more accurate treatment decisions. We believe that the traditional approach to developing a treatment plan for certain cancers using clinical and pathology factors alone is inadequate and can be improved by incorporating personalized genomic information. Our non-invasive products utilize proprietary algorithms to provide an assessment of a patient’s specific risk of metastasis or recurrence of their cancer, allowing physicians to identify patients who are likely to benefit from an escalation of care as well as those who may avoid unnecessary medical and surgical interventions. Our lead product, DecisionDx®-Melanoma, is a proprietary multi-gene expression profile, or GEP, test that predicts the risk of metastasis or recurrence for patients diagnosed with invasive cutaneous melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. This test has two current clinically actionable uses. The first use immediately following diagnosis predicts a patient’s likelihood of having a sentinel lymph node negative biopsy result so that physicians and patients can discuss the risk and benefit of undergoing sentinel lymph node biopsy, or SLNB, surgery. The second use is to inform the appropriate treatment plan, regardless of the decision to undergo or avoid the SLNB surgery. We estimate more than 130,000 patients are diagnosed with invasive cutaneous melanoma each year in the United States. We launched DecisionDx-Melanoma in May 2013.
On August 31, 2020, we commercially launched our cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, proprietary GEP test, DecisionDx®‑SCC, and on November 2, 2020, we commercially launched our proprietary GEP test for suspicious pigmented lesions, DecisionDx® DiffDx™-Melanoma. These two indications are areas of high clinical need in dermatological cancer and, together, represent an addressable population of approximately 500,000 patients in the United States.
We also market DecisionDx®-UM, which is a proprietary GEP test that predicts the risk of metastasis for patients with uveal melanoma, a rare eye cancer. We launched DecisionDx-UM in January 2010.
Based on the substantial clinical evidence that we have developed, we have received Medicare coverage for DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM, representing approximately 50% of the addressable patient population for both of these tests.
We have processed over 70,000 clinical samples since our inception. Our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $62.6 million, compared to $51.9 million for 2019 and $22.8 million for 2018.
Information on our test report volumes by year is presented below:
Years Ended December 31,
2020201920182017
DecisionDx-Melanoma
16,23215,52912,0329,300
DecisionDx‑SCC
485
DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma73
Total Proprietary Dermatologic GEP Tests
16,79015,52912,0329,300
DecisionDx-UM
1,3951,5261,4131,314
Total18,18517,05513,44510,614
Our Competitive Advantages
We are focused on providing actionable genomic information to physicians and their patients. We believe our key competitive advantages are due in part to the following factors:
Development of our products required our machine learning expertise, artificial intelligence and our proprietary algorithms, which are complex and difficult to replicate. We develop our products using our machine-learning expertise and artificial intelligence to analyze clinical specimens with associated long-term outcomes data to identify genomic patterns in tumor biology that we believe will accurately predict the risk of metastasis and recurrence. We then validate these genomic patterns, by refining and locking down algorithms to enable additional studies to validate the accuracy of our tests and subsequently document the clinically actionable changes made by physicians when they incorporate our test results into their treatment plan decisions.
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We have demonstrated the ability to provide clinically actionable information despite the complex genomics of skin cancer. In the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer, there is significant current interest in DNA driver mutations as being a predictor of the behavior of cancers. We believe that while the behavior of some cancers may be elucidated by DNA analysis and the response to certain targeted therapies, the majority of skin cancer behavior will best be understood at the gene expression level. Specifically, while DNA mutations of a specific gene are important for tumor behavior, the impact of other genes, epigenetic changes to the gene and the non-tumor environment which cannot be discerned by the mutation that a gene carries are critical to the understanding of tumor behavior. We believe that focusing on the expression of the gene or how the gene behaves will be more accurate than the mutation of the gene itself.
Our growing repository of tumor samples and associated data, some including long-term outcomes, positions us well for improvement of current products and accelerated development of new ones. The development and validation of accurate tests is a complex process that requires access to tumor tissue specimens and long-term outcomes data. Such material and associated data is not readily available for skin cancer, which creates a barrier to rapid test development and validation. However, over the last decade we have accrued a sample bank comprised of approximately 60,000 samples, including 6,000 well-annotated samples that we have used in our clinical studies to date. We have been able to use this sample bank to expand the clinical use of our products, evaluate improvements in new and existing proprietary genomic algorithm approaches and develop new products. In addition to these historical uses, we are exploring other opportunities involving the use of these data.
We have generated, and will continue to generate, robust clinical validity and utility data supporting the use of our products. For example, DecisionDx-Melanoma has been studied in more than 5,700 patient samples, including 28 published studies since 2015. We also are making significant investments in further clinical studies to continue to support DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-UM, DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma. This growing set of data is significant in educating physicians and patients about the value of our products and supporting reimbursement of our products by third-party payors.
We have established relationships with physicians that allow us to optimize our interactions, increase adoption of our current products and identify areas of unmet clinical need to efficiently launch additional products. We have published rigorous clinical data, which allows our sales and medical affairs representatives to have substantive, in depth dialogues with physicians. Through these established relationships, we have been able to integrate our products into physicians’ workflows and identify further educational programs, which we believe fosters adoption of our products. We can also leverage these relationships to identify areas of significant unmet medical need and efficiently launch additional dermatologic products.
We have experience in navigating the reimbursement landscape. In the molecular diagnostics industry securing reimbursement for new tests is a long, complex and uncertain process. We have developed significant expertise to assist in securing reimbursement for our products.
Our Strategy
We intend to build upon our position as a leading provider of genomic information for dermatological cancers. To realize this objective, we plan to:
Expand adoption of our currently marketed products and educate physicians and their patients on the need for our products to make a more informed treatment plan decision. We believe that cancer treatment plans will be most effective if decisions are personalized for each patient based on the biology of their specific tumor, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. We will continue to educate physicians and their patients on the diagnostic discordance that leads to over- and under-treatment.
Continue to generate evidence supporting the clinical utility and validity of our products. We have conducted extensive clinical utility and validity studies to support the adoption of, and reimbursement for, our products. In order to maintain our competitive advantage and increase sales of our products, we will continue to generate additional clinical data to support the use of our products.
Execute planned expansion of our commercial channel. We plan to increase sales of our products by adding new physicians to our customer base as well as increasing orders by physicians already using our products. We increased the number of sales and medical affairs representatives in the first quarter of 2019 with a second expansion occurring in December 2019. Further, we expanded our sales organization headcount in the third quarter of 2020 in preparation for the commercial launch of our DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma test. We are planning additional expansion in the first half of 2021. We will continue to evaluate the needs of our customers and may make additional commercial investments to better support the educational needs of our customers with our currently marketed products as well as support the launch of additional products.
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Expand coverage and reimbursement for our products. We plan to further increase dialogue with third-party payors to highlight our clinical utility and patient outcomes data. We believe these data will validate the benefit of our products for patients and will persuade more third-party payors to provide coverage and reimbursement. Additionally, we will continue to emphasize our ability to reduce overall cost to the healthcare system by appropriately classifying high-risk patients and removing the need for unnecessary invasive products and procedures for low-risk patients.
Utilize our development expertise and commercial channel insight to provide additional solutions. We are continuing to develop products that address the challenges facing physicians. We have initiated work on a number of pipeline tests which branch out upstream, downstream and parallel to our currently marketed tests. Although we are still in the early stages of development, we believe we could launch three to five new tests by the end of 2025, utilizing our existing sales channels, potentially adding approximately $3.6 billion to our current U.S. total addressable market, or TAM. We expect to provide additional details on these pipeline products before the end of 2021.
Dermatologic Cancer Market Overview
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. There are six types of pre-cancers and skin cancers that result in a total annual incidence of 5.5 million patients. The three most common forms of skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas, SCC and cutaneous melanoma. SCC, the second most common form of skin cancer, is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer. Melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, originates in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. We do not, at this time, have an active focus on basal cell carcinomas.
Pre-cancers include suspicious pigmented lesions, which are unusual-looking lesions that may be melanoma, and actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis.
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1.U.S. TAM = Total addressable market based on estimated patient population assuming average reimbursement rate among all payors.
2.Annual U.S. incidence for Stage I, II or III melanoma estimated at 130,000; Annual U.S. incidence for squamous cell carcinoma estimated at 1,000,000 with addressable market limited to carcinomas with one or more high risk features; Annual U.S. incidence for suspicious pigmented lesion biopsies estimated at 2,000,000 with addressable market limited to the 15% with an indeterminant biopsy.
3.Clinicians who ordered DecisionDx-Melanoma in last twelve months (as of 12/31/2020)
4.Pathologists who provided clinical specimens for DecisionDx-Melanoma in last twelve months (as of 12/31/2020)
    MCR = Medicare. MCRA = Medicare Advantage; current customer estimates based on last twelve months.
Cutaneous Melanoma
Melanoma tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Approximately half of all melanomas are diagnosed prior to expanding into the dermis and are classified as in situ or non-invasive melanomas and DecisionDx-Melanoma is not used in this population. Worldwide statistics suggest that there were nearly 300,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed worldwide with the U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results, or SEER, database estimating that approximately 96,000 invasive cutaneous melanomas are diagnosed in the United States annually. However, multiple publications show that diagnosis of melanoma is underreported by between 30% and 72%. Using the mean of the underreporting of these four studies, we estimate the annual incidence to be 130,000, representing an estimated U.S. TAM of $540 million. According to these publications, underreporting reflects the fact that the majority of diagnoses are made by community-based dermatologists and dermatopathologists rather than institutional-based specialists who more typically have tumor registry support. Based on currently available data, we estimate the targetable clinician base is between 11,000 and 15,000.
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Additionally, the incidence of melanoma has steadily increased annually over the last several decades, with an estimated growth in the United States of more than 50% during the past ten years.
After a diagnosis of invasive cutaneous melanoma, healthcare providers have traditionally used clinical and pathology factors from the initial biopsy to estimate the patient’s risk of metastasis. This estimation process, or staging, is used to determine nearly all treatment decisions. Invasive melanoma is staged as Stage I through Stage IV. Tumors characterized as Stage I have invaded the dermis but are thin, with less than or equal to 2.0 mm invasion into the dermis if not ulcerated or less than or equal to 1.0 mm invasion into the dermis if ulcerated. Stage I tumors have the lowest population risk of metastasis and death from melanoma. Stage II tumors, though localized, are thicker than 2.0 mm if not ulcerated or greater than 1.0 mm if ulcerated. Stage III tumors have evidence of regional metastasis, such as palpable metastasis at the regional lymph node basin, in-transit or satellite disease, or melanoma cell(s) in the SLN but without evidence of distant metastatic spread. Stage IV tumors are those in which distant metastasis, such as to the lung or brain, has been detected.
All patients who are diagnosed with an invasive cutaneous melanoma will undergo a wide local excision procedure with the surgical margins determined by the depth of the tumor. The invasive SLNB surgery is recommended to be considered for patients with melanomas greater than or equal to 0.8 mm thick or thinner melanomas in the presence of an adverse pathologic feature such as the presence of ulceration, high mitotic rate, and transected base. It is believed that tumors with these anatomic based features have a likelihood of an SLN-positive biopsy result 5% or more of the time. If the SLNB surgery is performed, then the wide local excision is performed at that time. As noted in the prior paragraph, an SLN-positive biopsy result, meaning that at least one melanoma cell was seen in the SLN tissue, leads to re-staging the patient as Stage III. Guideline committees do not recommend an SLNB if the likelihood of a positive SLN result is <5%. They recommend discussion and considering an SLNB if the likelihood of a positive SLN falls between 5% and 10% and recommend discussing and offering an SLNB if the likelihood is >10%. Guideline committees have selected the 5% threshold due to a reported regional false negative rate of the SLNB surgery at 5% (meaning that 5% of the time, or more, the guideline committees expect a patient with an SLN-negative biopsy result will subsequently develop lymph node metastasis). However, the published literature documents a median regional false negative rate of 18% and an 11% surgical complication rate.
Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer. Approximately one million patients are diagnosed with SCC each year in the United States. Worldwide data on SCC is inconsistently reported but the incidence outside the United States is estimated to be greater than two million diagnoses annually.
Historically, SCC has been classified as one of the “non-melanoma skin cancers” with a clinical focus on curative primary surgery. However, high risk SCC is now recognized as a significant cause of morbidity and mortality and due to the rate of increased incidence, more patients are now estimated to die annually from SCC in the United States (approximately 15,000 patients) than from cutaneous melanoma. Similar to melanoma, treatment plan decisions are based upon a patient’s estimated risk of recurrence or metastasis. However, unlike melanoma, the estimates are based upon small patient cohorts and our research shows that most clinicians rely upon individual clinical and pathologic features rather than a staging “group” for guiding treatment plan decisions. Our DecisionDx-SCC test, which we launched on August 31, 2020, is for use in the estimated 200,000 patients who present with one or more high risk features, representing an estimated U.S. TAM of $820 million.
Suspicious Pigmented Lesions
Suspicious pigmented lesions are unusual-looking lesions that may be melanoma. There are approximately two million skin biopsies performed specifically for the diagnosis of melanoma in the United States. Approximately 15% of these biopsies are classified as indeterminate, in which case a pathologist cannot make a definitive diagnosis as to whether the biopsy is benign or malignant. We estimate the U.S. TAM at $600 million for our DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma test, which we launched on November 2, 2020.
Uveal Melanoma Market Overview
The incidence of uveal melanoma has remained relatively constant over time with approximately 1,600 to 1,700 patients diagnosed per year in the United States, representing an estimated U.S. TAM of $7.0 million. Uveal melanomas arise from the three tissues comprising the uveal tract and vary by location with approximately 90% occurring in choroid, 5% in the ciliary body and 5% in the iris. Uveal melanoma may also be referred to as ocular melanoma.
Significant Limitations of Current Clinical and Pathology Staging Systems for Skin Cancer
The skin cancer disease market has significant unmet clinical needs, as clinical and pathology staging systems have traditionally applied a population-wide approach to estimate an individual patient’s risk of metastasis and have not incorporated the genomics of a patient’s tumor biology. This is unlike the diagnostic process applied to other solid tumors, such as breast and prostate cancer, where the broader use of genomics to understand tumor biology has led to individualized patient treatment
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plans. Not incorporating tumor biology leads to a discordance between the estimated and actual risk of metastasis, which results in over- and under-treatment as well as increased healthcare costs.
Cutaneous Melanoma
The clinical and pathology staging system for invasive cutaneous melanoma is based upon the anatomic findings of the melanoma; that is what the pathologist can see under the microscope from an initial tumor biopsy and what the physician can feel or see during a clinical exam or upon imaging. While this staging system provides population-based risk of metastasis estimates it does not evaluate nor incorporate the biology of the patient’s primary tumor.
Importantly, while it was formerly believed that the SLNB surgery improved melanoma specific survival, the landmark, prospective, randomized multi-center study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, the MSLT-I study, showed that death from melanoma was the same in patients who were randomized to the SLNB surgery or observation, indicating that the SLNB surgery is prognostic, and not therapeutic, as it relates to the risk of death from melanoma. On average, 12% of patients undergoing the SLNB surgery will have an SLN-positive biopsy result and 88% will not. The invasive SLNB surgery carries significant healthcare burden. For instance, the overall complication rate of SLNB was shown to be 11.3% in a systematic review of 21 articles representing 9,047 patients. A separate review reported that the regional false negative rate of the SLNB surgery ranged from 5% to 21%, with a median rate of 18%. Regional false negative rate is defined as the rate that metastasis to the regional lymph node in patients with a negative SLNB surgical result.
Both the complication and false negative rates are above the recommended 5% and 10% thresholds proposed by guideline committees. Further, the SLNB surgery requires the use of general anesthesia and nearly half of the surgeries are performed in an in-patient setting, leading to an average reimbursed cost of $20,000 to $24,000. Finally, the 88% SLN-negative rate carries significant patient and healthcare system implications. This means that 88% of the time, patients undergoing an SLNB will have no change in their treatment plan and no change in their staging but are still exposed to the complications from the surgery, including general anesthesia risks, cost and a median false negative rate of 18%. Thus, while it is true that patients who are SLN positive, or re-staged to Stage III, have a higher population-based rate of metastasis and death from melanoma, the SLNB surgery does not improve melanoma-specific survival, carries risk of complications, a high false negative rate and significant costs.
In addition to the significant clinical issues involved in only using the traditional clinical and pathology factors to determine SLNB eligibility, a discordance exists between an individual’s stage and their risk of metastasis or death from melanoma. Based on data from SEER and the American Joint Committee on Cancer, or AJCC, of the patients diagnosed with Stage I, II or III cutaneous melanoma, 80% of melanomas are classified as the lowest risk, Stage I, and 12% are classified as next lowest risk, Stage II. However, these data show that patients with melanomas that are initially diagnosed as Stage I or II represent 60% of all deaths in patients initially diagnosed as Stage I, II or III. Furthermore, while patients with Stage III melanoma are at a higher population risk of metastasis and death from melanoma, the five-year melanoma-specific survival rate for these patients is 77%. The limitations of the current staging system not only result in unnecessary SLNB surgeries for certain low-risk patients, but we believe also leads to overtreatment with adjuvant immune-oncology and targeted therapies for certain patients with Stage III melanoma.
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In summary, the risk of metastasis determines the treatment plans in newly diagnosed patients, including the recommendation for the SLNB surgery, decisions around the initiation of advanced imaging for active surveillance, frequency and specialty for clinical follow-up, initiation of adjuvant therapy and discussion of clinical trial enrollment opportunities. The top portion of the graphic below summarizes decision points that DecisionDx-Melanoma impact. The lower portion summarizes the limitations of solely relying upon risk of metastasis based upon clinical and pathology features alone as it relates to SLNB surgery and the subsequent treatment plan decisions.
https://cdn.kscope.io/35ef6c0a6992e3118091a9555c957db4-cstl-20201231_g2.jpg
https://cdn.kscope.io/35ef6c0a6992e3118091a9555c957db4-cstl-20201231_g3.jpghttps://cdn.kscope.io/35ef6c0a6992e3118091a9555c957db4-cstl-20201231_g4.jpg
Source: AJCC v7 J Clin Oncol 2009; SEER data release 2017; Morton et al. N Engl J Med 2014; Whiteman et al. J Invest Dermatol 2015; Shaikh et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 2016; Poklepovic and Carvajal. Oncology 2018; Sondak and Zager. Ann Surg Oncol 2010. Moody et al. Euro Jrnl Surg Onc 2017.
Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Identifying high risk SCC presents challenges for physicians. Unlike in cutaneous melanoma, where longitudinal databases were developed in an attempt to align population-based risk of metastasis with clinical and pathology factors, the same level of effort has not been given to SCC. There have been as many as three SCC staging systems in the United States, each with widely divergent classifications for high- and low-risk patients. For example, a 2014 study compared the AJCC version 7 and National Comprehensive Cancer Network, or NCCN, systems to assess concordance between the AJCC and NCCN systems. The AJCC system classified 82% as low risk while the NCCN system classified 13% as low risk. As such, this level of discordance results in the risk assessment staging systems minimally impacting treatment plans, with patients frequently being over- and under-treated.
Today, in addition to NCCN high-risk criteria, there are two principal staging systems for SCC: the AJCC version 8 (which is limited to head and neck SCC) and the Brigham Women’s Hospital, or BWH, version. All three systems rely upon a combination of clinical or pathology factors to stage or classify risk of metastasis. In general, NCCN identifies the majority of patients who do go on to metastasize, but it suffers from the lowest PPV of the three systems. Our initial clinical validation study of 321 patients was focused on patients with one or more high-risk features. Within this study, NCCN demonstrated a sensitivity of 96% while PPV was 7% and NPV was 90.5%. The low PPV means that 93 out of 100 NCCN high risk SCC’s did not actually metastasize. AJCC and BWH demonstrated a sensitivity of 38.5% and 25%, respectively, PPV of 33% and 35%,
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respectively and NPV of 88% and 86%, respectively. If one relies just upon NCCN, the low PPV means that developing an adjuvant treatment plan that includes radiation, or chemotherapy or complete lymph surgical dissection, or a combination of these, for a high-risk patient may be appropriate for the one out of fourteen high-risk patients who will metastasize but not for the remaining thirteen patients who would not have metastasized. For AJCC and BWH, the PPV does improve but it also means that two out of three patients would be recommended for an adjuvant treatment plan who will not benefit. These accuracy metrics have created significant discordance in the approach to managing patients with high-risk features, from one end of the spectrum being intervention for all high-risk patients to “watch and wait” for all high-risk patients. The end result is an unacceptable clinical discordance in the approach to treatment plans and significant over- and under-treatment for a diagnosis that leads to the most skin cancer deaths in the United States.
Suspicious Pigmented Lesions
A pigmented lesion biopsy that is difficult to diagnose may lead to an indeterminate diagnosis, in which case the treating physician generally leans towards making a conservative decision and assumes that the lesion is melanoma. A definitive diagnosis of invasive cutaneous melanoma results in a treatment plan that involves wider margins for the definitive wide local excision surgery, consideration of the SLNB surgery and post-diagnosis management plans, including frequent, high intensity surveillance using advanced imaging, frequent clinical visits and encouragement to enroll in clinical studies. If the indeterminate lesion was benign, then the recommendation in the majority of cases would be no additional intervention. Thus, the tendency of physicians to treat an indeterminate diagnosis as melanoma leads to significant over-treatment decisions, complications and increased healthcare costs.
Uveal Melanoma
Approximately 97% of patients with uveal melanoma have no evidence of metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis and the success rate for definitive treatment of the primary tumor surpasses 90%. However, within three years, approximately 30% of all patients will experience metastases. Prior to commercial availability of DecisionDx-UM, other clinical staging and molecular diagnostic tests existed for uveal melanoma, but the lack of prospective studies, coupled with low accuracy, resulted in these tests primarily being used for research purposes rather than for clinical management of patients in the United States. As a result, nearly all U.S. centers grouped patients into a single, high-risk treatment plan that included frequent, high intensity surveillance using advanced imaging, frequent clinical visits and encouragement to enroll in clinical studies.
Our Solution
We use the gene expression profile of an individual patient’s tumor biology to inform specific prognosis of metastasis or recurrence and aid the decision-making process of the treating physician and their patient to help optimize health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Due to the biological complexity of skin cancer, developing accurate products takes scientific diligence, stringent clinical protocols, machine learning expertise, proprietary algorithms and significant investments of time and capital. In addition, the underlying tissue samples and associated outcomes data required to develop and validate these products are difficult to obtain. Once successfully developed and validated, commercial success requires the generation of ongoing evidence such as clinical use documentation to support appropriate physician adoption, reimbursement success and guideline inclusion.
We currently market three proprietary dermatologic products: DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma. We also market DecisionDx-UM, a proprietary GEP test designed to identify the risk of metastasis in patients diagnosed with uveal melanoma. Multiple studies for our products have been published since completion of the initial clinical validation studies and have confirmed the accuracy of our products. Also, multiple clinical impact studies have demonstrated a significant impact on physician decisions to alter their treatment plan when the results of our test are considered in concert with the traditional clinical and pathology factors. DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM are currently reimbursed by Medicare under positive coverage policies. In addition, we have received widespread positive private payor coverage and positive guideline inclusion for DecisionDx-UM, our first melanoma test. Since our inception, we have processed more than 70,000 clinical patient samples.
Our products are designed to provide the following benefits:
Clinically Actionable Information for Physicians. We provide physicians and their patients with a report that contains clinically actionable information to inform the treatment plan for each individual patient. Our reports are updated as new clinical data is generated that may enable additional clinical decisions to be made. Based on four studies that we have conducted on clinical actionability of our DecisionDx-Melanoma test, utilizing the results of our test reports, physicians changed a patient’s treatment in approximately 50% of cases, indicating physician confidence in the evidence underlying our reports.
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Informed Patient Care. The clinical evidence shows that our products are accurate predictors of a patient’s specific risk of metastasis or recurrence of their cancer based upon the gene expression profile of their tumor, independent of available clinical and pathology factors. Physicians use this information to identify patients who are likely to benefit from an escalation of care as well as those who may avoid unnecessary treatments, such as medical and surgical interventions.
Reduced Healthcare Costs for Payors. We believe our products have the potential to reduce overall healthcare costs by enabling physicians and their patients to avoid unnecessary medical and surgical interventions, including the SLNB surgery. As an example, without DecisionDx-Melanoma, 88% of patients who receive the SLNB surgery, which has an average in-patient reimbursed cost of $20,000 to $24,000, are found to be SLN-negative and remain classified as low risk. If all patients eligible for the SLNB surgery were tested and their test results were acted upon, we estimate the potential savings to the U.S. healthcare system could be up to $250 million, after considering the cost of DecisionDx-Melanoma.
Our Products
We currently market three proprietary dermatologic products, DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma. We also market DecisionDx-UM, a proprietary GEP test designed to identify the risk of metastasis in patients diagnosed with uveal melanoma. Together, we believe these four commercial products support an estimated total addressable market of $2.0 billion in the United States. We have received positive local coverage determinations, or LCDs, providing Medicare coverage for DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM. These LCDs facilitate reimbursement from Medicare, which represents approximately 50% of the addressable patient population. We also have third-party payor coverage for over 100 million lives for DecisionDx-UM and over 21 million lives for DecisionDx-Melanoma.
DecisionDx-Melanoma
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Overview
We developed and market DecisionDx-Melanoma to healthcare providers for use with patients diagnosed with invasive cutaneous melanoma. Without the use of DecisionDx-Melanoma, these patients are classified in low- and high-risk categories based on population-wide clinical and pathology features, which impact a physician’s treatment plan recommendations, including whether or not to offer the invasive SLNB surgery, frequency and use of clinical imaging and follow-up frequency, adjuvant therapy and clinical trial enrollment. Unfortunately, these clinical and pathology features do not incorporate the genomics of an individual patient’s tumor biology, which often leads to a misclassification of a patient’s risk of metastasis or recurrence.
To address this need for a more accurate predictor of metastatic risk, we discovered, developed and completed validation for DecisionDx-Melanoma. This product is designed to help physicians identify high-risk patients with Stage I and II melanomas based on biological information, or expression, from 31 genes within their tumor tissue. DecisionDx-Melanoma does not change a physician’s standard diagnostic workflow for suspicious pigmented lesions, which includes performing the initial biopsy procedure and placing the biopsied tissue in formalin. The dermatopathologist then embeds the specimen in a paraffin block, cuts sections that are stained for viewing under a microscope and makes a diagnosis of invasive melanoma. We then extract and purify RNA from sections of the remaining specimen to run our test. We report test results in two classes and two subclasses. Class 1A represents the lowest risk group, Class 1B/2A represents an increased risk group and Class 2B represents the highest risk group.
In March 2021, we announced that DecisionDx-Melanoma now utilizes an Integrated Test Result, or ITR, designed to provide more precise risk prediction in patients with Stage I, II or III melanoma. The ITR is calculated by an independently validated algorithm (i31-GEP), designed to provide a more precise and personalized prediction of SLN positivity in order to guide discussions and recommendations, within current risk-based guidelines, for the SLNB surgical procedure. i31-GEP is an artificial intelligence-based neural network algorithm (independently validated in a cohort of 1,674 prospective, consecutively tested patients with T1-T4 cutaneous melanoma) that integrates the DecisionDx-Melanoma test result with the patient’s traditional clinicopathologic features. We expect to launch an app based on i31-GEP and the ITR later in 2021.
Clinical Validation
We have published 13 clinical validation studies of DecisionDx-Melanoma, which we believe is the largest clinical validation program of the metastatic risk of cutaneous melanoma ever conducted. Based on our published data, we have shown that
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DecisionDx-Melanoma is an accurate independent predictor of the risk of metastasis or recurrence, showing an aggregate melanoma-specific five-year survival rate of 99% for patients who receive the Class 1A test result.
Our first study, published in January 2015, analyzed 104 patients with Stage I, II and III melanoma from an independent cohort with long term outcomes data. This study reported a five-year disease-free survival rate of 98% for patients with Stage I and II melanoma who received a Class 1 test result. In addition, the study also reported that only 2% of patients with a Class 1 test result were SLN-positive.
Our January 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reviewed data on 690 patients with Stage I, II and III melanoma from all three previously published long-term archival publications, and enabled analysis of clinically important subgroups. Overall, the study reported a five-year melanoma specific survival rate of 99% for patients with Stage I, II or III melanoma who received a Class 1A test result.
Our long-term outcomes study data shows that we can provide a more specific individual risk of metastasis and death from melanoma that is distinct from the AJCC stage approach that limits prediction to clinical and pathology factors. The only endpoint reported by the AJCC is death from melanoma. For patients diagnosed with Stage I melanoma, DecisionDx-Melanoma predominantly identifies patients with a risk of death from melanoma that is similar to a patient with Stage IIIA melanoma, with the remaining group having a 99.6% likelihood of being alive from melanoma at five years. For patients with an intermediate risk Stage II melanoma, DecisionDx-Melanoma can distinguish between patients who have a very low risk of death from melanoma (>99% likelihood of being alive at 5-years) from those who have a higher risk of death from melanoma that is similar to a patient with Stage IIIA/IIIB melanoma. For patients with a Stage III melanoma, DecisionDx-Melanoma can identify patients who have a likelihood of death from melanoma similar to a patient with Stage IIA melanoma, with the remainder having a risk similar to a patient with Stage IIIC melanoma.
The ability of DecisionDx-Melanoma to improve the risk of recurrence or risk of death from melanoma accuracy of these patient populations is clinically significant as NCCN guidelines recommend that the duration and frequency of follow-up and intensity of cross-sectional imaging be based on a patient’s individual conditional probability of recurrence. The NCCN guideline cut-point for these decisions is between Stage I-IIA versus Stage IIB-III. For example, the chart below demonstrates that a patient with a Stage I melanoma but a DecisionDx-Melanoma Class 2B test result has a melanoma specific survival rate of 89.5%, which is a higher risk than if the patient had a Stage IIIA melanoma. Today, patients with a Stage III melanoma are recommended to have an increased follow-up schedule, undergo routine cross-sectional imaging, consider initiation of adjuvant therapy, such as an anti-PD1 inhibitor, and consider enrollment in a clinical trial. None of these options would be considered in a patient with a Stage I melanoma in the absence of a DecisionDx-Melanoma test result.
The first prospective, multi-center study of 322 patients with Stage I, II and III melanoma was published in August 2017. This interim analysis reported a recurrence free survival rate of 97% and overall survival rate of 99% for patients with Stage I, II and III melanoma who received a Class 1 test result.
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The most recent, independent, prospective, multi-center study of 86 patients with Stage IB and II melanoma was published in February 2019 in the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. This study reported a recurrence
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free survival rate of 100% for patients with Stage IB and II melanoma who received a DecisionDx-Melanoma Class 1 test result.
An independent, prospective, single-center study of 159 patients with Stage I, II and III melanoma was published in March 2019 in Cancer Medicine. Of patients who recurred, the median time to recurrence was 13 months. Of patients who did not recur, the median follow-up time was 45 months. This study reported that the DecisionDx-Melanoma test was an independent predictor of recurrence (p=0.0001) and the most significant predictor of recurrence with a hazard ratio of 9.2 compared to hazard ratio of 3.5 for SLNB status and 1.2 for Breslow thickness. The DecisionDx-Melanoma test was also an independent predictor for distant metastasis and the most significant with a hazard ratio of 19.0 compared to 3.75 for SLNB status (Breslow thickness was not statistically independent). NPV for Class 1 for distant metastasis-free survival was 99%.
When evaluating DecisionDx-Melanoma, one of the most important criteria is whether the test adds new information that is independent of the traditional clinical and pathology factors. The formal statistical method used to evaluate independence is the Cox multivariate analysis. Outputs of the Cox multivariate analysis include statistical significance, measured by p-value, as well as the power of the result, measured by Hazard Ratio, or HR. A p-value of less than 0.05 indicates statistical significance and thus independence. If statistical significance is reached, then the HR indicates the power of the result, with a higher HR indicating greater outcome prediction. For example, an HR of nine means that patients with a high-risk test result are nine times more likely to experience metastasis or death than a low-risk test result. The table below shows the Cox multivariate analysis of the disease-free survival, melanoma-specific survival and recurrence free survival from the four performance studies noted above.
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The American Academy of Dermatology and other organizations use the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy, or SORT, system to evaluate prognostic tests such as DecisionDx-Melanoma. The SORT system ranks evidence of clinical validity as levels 1, 2 or 3, and assigns a strength of recommendation as levels A, B or C. A SORT level 1A is the highest level and 3C is the lowest. For SORT ranking, “a systematic review or meta-analysis of good quality studies” or “a prospective study with good follow-up” represents a level 1 for good quality evidence of clinical validity. For SORT strength of recommendation, “consistent, good quality evidence” represents a level A recommendation. A systematic review and meta-analysis was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2020 in an article titled “Molecular risk prediction in cutaneous melanoma: a meta-analysis of the 31-gene expression profile prognostic test in 1,479 patients.” This meta-analysis reviewed multiple peer-reviewed published clinical validation studies of DecisionDx-Melanoma, including prospective studies. The meta-analysis and the prospective studies satisfied the level 1 ranking of good quality studies and the consistency of DecisionDx-Melanoma data across these studies satisfied the level A strength of recommendation. Thus, the authors concluded that DecisionDx-Melanoma achieved a 1A level of evidence of clinical validity and strength of recommendation under the
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SORT system. Furthermore, as shown below, the multi-variate analysis for recurrence-free survival found DecisionDx-Melanoma to be the strongest predictor of risk of recurrence compared to the evaluable clinical and pathology factors.
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In addition, we conducted a prospective, multi-center study of 1,421 patients, which was published in Future Oncology in January 2019 which focused on the performance of DecisionDx-Melanoma to predict metastasis to the SLN. This study found that patients with a Class 1A test result with melanomas less than or equal to 2.0 mm thick, which represents 86% of all melanomas, have a 95% probability for an SLN-negative biopsy result. Analyzing this data by age shows that patients 65 years of age or older have a 98% NPV, those between 64 and 55 years of age have a 95% NPV and patients under 55 years of age have a 92% NPV. For physicians and patients evaluating whether to use DecisionDx-Melanoma to guide decision-making on the SLNB surgery, the impact on melanoma specific survival is an important consideration if the SLN status is not known. To address this, we analyzed the long-term outcome data from our Gastman 2019 publication and showed that patients of all ages with a melanoma less than or equal to 2.0 mm thick and a Class 1A test result have a five-year melanoma specific survival rate of 99.6%, while similar patients 55 years or older had a melanoma specific survival rate of 99.3%. This study showed that use of DecisionDx-Melanoma for patients with melanomas of less than or equal to 2.0 mm thick could potentially result in 74% fewer SLNB surgeries.
Clinical Utility
We completed and published four consecutive studies between September 2016 and March 2018 documenting how DecisionDx-Melanoma impacts treatment plan decisions. Based on the results of our DecisionDx-Melanoma test reports, physicians changed their treatment plan recommendations approximately 50% of the time. This change in the management of patient treatment plan recommendations compares favorably to leading molecular diagnostic tests as well as to the SLNB surgery, which only changes clinical decision-making approximately 12% of the time.
StudyDesign# of Patients% Change in Management
Berger et al. CMRO 2016Prospectively tested cohort, multi-center. Retrospective pre test / post test management.15653%
Dillon et al. SKIN J Cutan Med 2018Prospective, multi-center: pre test / post test management.24749%
Farberg et al. J Drugs Derm 2017169 physician impact study: patient vignettes with pre test / post test management.n/a47-50%
Schuitevoerder et al. J Drugs Derm 2018Prospectively tested cohort, single center. Retrospective pre test / post test management; and modeling of prospective cohort.9152%
Building on our clinical utility evidence, in October 2020, the publication in Future Oncology of a retrospective study, titled “Integrating the melanoma 31-gene expression profile test to surgical oncology practice within national guideline and staging recommendations,” shows that DecisionDx-Melanoma impacted management decisions for patients diagnosed with AJCC 7th edition stage I – III melanoma. Study authors developed a recommended melanoma patient care algorithm that incorporates DecisionDx-Melanoma to help inform frequency and duration of follow-up visits, blood work and surveillance imaging in line with predicted metastatic risk. Patients’ DecisionDx-Melanoma test result was found to have an impact on the number and duration of follow-up and surveillance visits, and patients assessed as having a high risk of metastasis (designated by a DecisionDx-Melanoma Class 2 test result) received more intensive management than patients assessed as having a low risk
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(designated by a DecisionDx-Melanoma Class 1 test result). Clinicians using the test were shown to adjust patient management in a risk-appropriate direction, within recommendations of national guidelines.
These studies illustrate how physicians use DecisionDx-Melanoma to inform the treatment pathway for patients who have been diagnosed with invasive cutaneous melanoma. Our DecisionDx-Melanoma test informs two initial treatment decisions: (1) to determine whether to offer and recommend the SLNB surgery to patients with melanomas less than or equal to 2.0 mm thick, and (2) following this decision, to guide the appropriate post-SLNB surgery treatment plan for their patients, including decision-making regarding advanced imaging, frequency of clinical visits, referral to medical oncology, adjuvant therapy, clinical trial enrollment, and watchful waiting.
Health Economics
We believe that the use of DecisionDx-Melanoma can reduce the number of SLNB surgeries, which has an average in-person reimbursed cost of between $20,000 and $24,000, thereby reducing overall cost of patient treatment for invasive cutaneous melanoma. If all patients eligible for the SLNB surgery were tested and their test results were acted upon, we estimate the potential savings to the U.S. healthcare system could be up to $250 million, after considering the cost of DecisionDx-Melanoma.
In addition, DecisionDx-Melanoma can be used to make more informed decisions on advanced imaging, frequency of clinical visits, referral to medical oncology, adjuvant therapy initiation and clinical trial enrollment. In some cases, the DecisionDx-Melanoma test result may guide an appropriate reduction in these decisions based upon a low risk of metastasis and in others it will guide an appropriate increase with the end result being improved use of healthcare resources.
The American Medical Association’s, or the AMA’s, Current Procedural Terminology Editorial Panel accepted Castle’s application for a Category I Multianalyte Assays with Algorithmic Analyses, or MAAA, Current Procedural Terminology, or CPT, code for its DecisionDx-Melanoma test. The CPT Editorial Panel is an independent group of expert volunteers representing various sectors of the health care industry. Its role is to ensure that code changes undergo evidence-based review and meet specific criteria. The code became effective on January 1, 2021. With this acceptance, two of our proprietary MAAA tests, DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM, have met the criteria required for a Category I MAAA CPT code.
DecisionDx-SCC
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The current treatment pathway for patients identified as having high-risk SCC suffers from a low PPV for risk of metastasis or recurrence. As a result, many patients categorized as high risk received adjuvant therapy and other unnecessary medical and surgical interventions even though they would not have gone on to metastasize. Conversely, there are also many patients categorized as high risk who are placed in “watchful waiting” who could benefit from adjuvant therapy.

To address this clinical need in SCC, we developed DecisionDx-SCC, a proprietary 40-gene expression profile test that uses an individual patient’s tumor biology to predict individual risk of squamous cell carcinoma metastasis for patients with one or more risk factors. The test result, in which patients are stratified into a Class 1, 2A or 2B risk category, predicts individual metastatic risk to inform risk-appropriate management. The test is designed to provide a better PPV while maintaining similar NPV. We commercially launched DecisionDx-SCC on August 31, 2020. Four peer-reviewed publications have demonstrated that DecisionDx-SCC is an independent predictor of metastatic risk and that integrating DecisionDx-SCC with current prognostic methods can add positive predictive value to clinician decisions regarding staging and management.

In 2020, development and validation data was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in an article titled “Validation of a 40-Gene Expression Profile Test to Predict Metastatic Risk in Localized High-Risk Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma.” The study findings indicate that DecisionDx-SCC demonstrated strong independent prognostic value in multivariate analysis compared to the BWH and AJCC v8 staging systems. We have ongoing multi-center studies involving more than 75 U.S. centers.
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DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma
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Of the two million suspicious pigmented lesions biopsied annually in the U.S., we estimate that approximately 300,000 of those cannot confidently be classified as either benign or malignant through traditional histopathology methods. A biopsy of a pigmented lesion may lead to an indeterminate diagnosis, in which case the treating physician generally leans towards making a conservative decision and assumes that the lesion is melanoma.
To address this clinical need, we developed DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma, a proprietary GEP test designed to be used as an adjunct to histopathology when the distinction between a benign lesion and melanoma is uncertain. We commercially launched this product on November 2, 2020. DiffDx-Melanoma classifies these lesions as benign (gene expression profile suggestive of benign neoplasm); intermediate-risk (gene express profile cannot exclude malignancy); or malignant (gene expression profile suggestive of melanoma). Interpreted in the context of other clinical, laboratory and histopathologic information, DiffDx-Melanoma is designed to add diagnostic clarity and confidence for dermatopathologists while helping dermatologists deliver more informed patient management plans. Validation of this test included a variety of benign and malignant lesions.
In 2020, two studies were published in SKIN: The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine. The development and validation study, “Development and Validation of a Diagnostic 35-Gene Expression Profile Test for Ambiguous or Difficult-To-Diagnose Suspicious Pigmented Skin Lesions,” showed that the DiffDx-Melanoma test had a technical success rate of 97%, meaning that a test result was successfully generated, and achieved accuracy metrics that could alleviate uncertainty in difficult-to-diagnose lesions leading to decreased unnecessary procedures while appropriately identifying at-risk patients. The clinical utility study, “A 35-Gene Expression Profile Test for Use in Suspicious Pigmented Lesions Impacts Clinical Management Decisions of Dermatopathologists and Dermatologists,” concluded that the diagnosis of challenging melanocytic neoplasms and subsequent clinical management decisions were influenced by DiffDx-Melanoma results in alignment with the test result. The utility of the test may provide the opportunity for clinicians to deliver more informed patient management plans.
DecisionDx-UM
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Overview
At the time of diagnosis nearly all patients with uveal melanoma have no evidence of metastasis yet approximately 30% of uveal melanoma goes on to metastasize within three years and nearly 50% of uveal melanoma goes on to metastasize, overall. Traditional clinical staging and molecular diagnostic tests exist for uveal melanoma, but the lack of prospective studies of these tests, coupled with low accuracy, has resulted in these tests primarily being used for research purposes rather than for clinical management of patients in the United States. As a result, nearly all U.S. centers group patients into a single, high-risk treatment plan that included frequent, high intensity surveillance using advanced imaging, frequent clinical visits and encouragement to enroll in clinical studies.
DecisionDx-UM is a proprietary GEP test that helps healthcare providers predict the risk of metastasis in patients with uveal melanoma. We licensed the intellectual property for DecisionDx-UM from The Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, or WUSTL, completed analytical validation and began marketing DecisionDx-UM in late 2009 for use in patients diagnosed with uveal melanoma without evidence of metastatic disease. DecisionDx-UM identifies which patients are at low risk for progression of their disease so that their physicians can appropriately de-escalate the level of care provided. DecisionDx-UM is delivered to approximately 1,500 patients annually, representing approximately 92% of the patients diagnosed in the United States.
Sixteen peer-reviewed publications supporting the clinical validity and utility of DecisionDx-UM have been conducted.
The Kaplan-Meier plot from the initial prospective, multi-center Collaborative Ocular Oncology Group, or COOG, study found a 97% NPV for risk of metastasis. This study also compared DecisionDx-UM to the traditional clinical and pathology factors as well as chromosome 3 status, which is an alternative molecular test to predict the risk of metastasis in uveal melanoma. As is shown in the Cox multivariate analysis, the only statistically significant factor in predicting a likelihood of metastasis was DecisionDx-UM.
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The data from the COOG study, as well as the consistency shown from the additional clinical validity studies, has supported wide-spread adoption of DecisionDx-UM with more than 90% of the ocular oncology institutions in the United States ordering this test.
DecisionDx-UM has been used to guide treatment plan decisions regarding the intensity of a patient’s surveillance and management plan as well as clinical trial enrollment.
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The current NCCN Guidelines for Uveal Melanoma (last updated January 2021) incorporate DecisionDx-UM as the first risk of distant metastasis predictor to guide systemic imaging.
Development Engine and Pipeline
We identify areas of significant unmet medical needs in the treatment of dermatologic diseases and leverage our expertise in genomics, data analytics and artificial intelligence to develop clinically actionable products. We focus first on previously unanswered medical questions, which we often identify as the result of the in-depth conversations our sales and medical affairs representatives have with physicians. We leverage our deep understanding of dermatologic diseases and clinical treatment pathways to identify areas of unmet medical need where better information can improve, and potentially transform, patient outcomes. Next, our team of scientists and laboratory technologists use the latest genomic methods to discover RNA-based gene expression profiles that are likely to impact treatment pathway decisions. Our bioinformatics team works collaboratively with our scientists to build proprietary algorithms based on machine-learning techniques to predict the risk of metastasis or recurrence based on the genomics of each individual patient’s tumor biology.
Once we have generated a product candidate that we believe will address an unmet medical need, we work to validate the product candidate through extensive testing of patient tissue samples combined with clinical outcomes data. We use both our extensive data bank of patient tumor samples and clinical outcomes data to run development and validation studies and conduct clinical studies to collect new samples in additional diseases. We publish our data regularly to drive adoption, reimbursement and guideline inclusion.
We have significant expertise in developing proprietary algorithms, conducting clinical studies and using the necessary instrumentation required for efficiently developing our pipeline products. We have initiated work on a number of pipeline tests which branch out upstream, downstream and parallel to our currently marketed tests. Although we are still in the early stages of development, we believe we could launch three to five new tests by the end of 2025, utilizing our existing sales channels,
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potentially adding approximately $3.6 billion to our current U.S. TAM. We expect to provide additional details on these pipeline products before the end of 2021.
Our Commercial Channel
Sales and Marketing
Our sales and marketing efforts are currently focused on the United States skin cancer market. We employ a direct sales and marketing strategy to educate dermatologists, surgeons and other physicians on the clinical and economic benefits of our products. Our sales approach is highly technical, and our team is trained to articulate the scientific and clinical evidence behind our products and how they influence the clinical care pathway and ultimately improve patient outcomes. Our sales force is focused on educating and informing the entire patient care team, which consists of treating clinicians, nurses, laboratory and pathology personnel, and finance administrators, on the appropriate use and value of our tests.
In December 2018, our customer-facing commercial and medical affairs group was staffed in the low 20s. We successfully executed two expansions (in the first quarter of 2019 and in December 2019) bringing the total to the low 50s. Our customer-facing team is focused on leading high clinical impact discussions with the treating clinician’s areas of interest, including clinical utility, patient outcomes, and supporting evidence. We saw significant promotion responsiveness in 2019.
We increased our outside sales territories from 14 to 23 in the first quarter of 2019 and also added supporting inside sales associates, medical affairs and marketing staff. We believed that this increase in customer-facing personnel would increase the adoption of our products as we would be able to educate more physicians on the clinical benefits of our products. We did see the promotion responsiveness that we anticipated and conducted a second expansion in December 2019 that brought our outside sales territories to 32. In the third quarter of 2020, we expanded our commercial team to create a dedicated sales force of ten territories to support the launch of our DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma test to dermatopathologists, while our existing sales team remains focused on DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-SCC. We ultimately believe that our DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma test will be ordered by both dermatopathologists and dermatologists. Thus, it is our intention, to fold this new dedicated team into the existing sales team as well as further expand in the first half of 2021 bringing us to approximately 60 outside sales territories. However, we will also continue to evaluate our mix of outside sales territories, inside sales support, marketing and medical affairs in the context of our dermatologic tests and adjust our investments based upon these evaluations.
DecisionDx-UM addresses a small cancer market, and patients are managed by a small group of ocular oncology surgeons, generally ophthalmology or retina trained specialists. We serve these patients and their physicians by providing highly technical interactions that focus on optimizing the appropriate use of our proprietary and ancillary products.
Medical Affairs
We also deploy an experienced medical affairs group to assist education of treating physicians and key opinion leaders, to identify and engage sites for our sponsored clinical studies and to evaluate collaborative study opportunities. Our medical affairs strategy complements our sales and marketing and clinical research operations efforts.
Reimbursement
The primary source of revenue for our products is reimbursement from third-party payors, which includes government payors, such as Medicare, and commercial payors, such as insurance companies. Achieving broad coverage and reimbursement of our current products by third-party payors and continued Medicare coverage are key components of our financial success. De novo coverage by government and third-party payors for our pipeline tests will be important over time.
Government Payors
Medicare coverage is limited to items and services that are within the scope of a Medicare benefit category and that are reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury. LCDs are made through an evidence-based process by Medicare Administrative Contractors, or MACs, with opportunities for public participation.
Palmetto GBA MolDX, or Palmetto, the MAC responsible for administering MolDX, the program that assesses molecular diagnostic technologies, issued a final LCD for DecisionDx-Melanoma, which became effective on December 3, 2018. Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC, or Noridian, the MAC responsible for administering claims for laboratory services performed in Arizona, adopted the same coverage policy as Palmetto on that date, and subsequently issued a final LCD on February 10, 2019. This LCD provided for coverage for patients who are eligible for the SLNB surgery with cutaneous melanoma tumors of 2.0 mm in thickness or less, and patients with clinically negative SLN basins who are being considered for the SLNB surgery to determine eligibility for adjuvant therapy. Melanomas less than or equal to 2.0 mm thick represent 86% of all melanomas. The median age at diagnosis is 63 years old, therefore the Medicare eligible population represents close to 50% of the addressable market.
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Palmetto issued a final expanded LCD for DecisionDx-Melanoma, effective November 22, 2020. With this expanded LCD and the accompanying billing and coding articles, we estimate that a significant majority of the DecisionDx-Melanoma tests performed for Medicare patients will meet the coverage criteria. Noridian has adopted the same coverage policy as Palmetto and also issued an expanded final LCD for DecisionDx-Melanoma effective December 6, 2020.
Separately, Palmetto issued a final LCD for DecisionDx-UM, which became effective in July 2017, and Noridian issued a similar LCD that became effective in September 2017. The Noridian LCD provides for coverage to determine metastatic risk in connection with the management of a patient’s newly diagnosed uveal melanoma and to guide surveillance and referral to medical oncology for those patients. Similar to cutaneous melanoma the median age at diagnosis for uveal melanoma is estimated at 58-62 years old, therefore the Medicare eligible population represents close to 45% of the addressable market.
On May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-UM meets the criteria for “existing advanced diagnostic laboratory test” status, also referred to as “existing ADLT” status. Accordingly, in 2021 the DecisionDx-UM Medicare rate will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. Note that our rate for 2020 was set by Noridian, our local MAC, but our rate for 2021 for DecisionDx-UM will be $7,776 based on the median private payor rate. Also, on May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-Melanoma meets the criteria for “new ADLT” status. Accordingly, from July 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020, the Medicare reimbursement rate was equal to the initial list price of $7,193. From April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021, CMS notified us that the rate will also be $7,193, which was calculated based upon the median private payor rate for DecisionDx-Melanoma from July 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019. Beginning in 2022, the rate for both DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. For example, the rate for 2022 will be set using median private payor rate data from January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
In the second quarter of 2020, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx-SCC to Palmetto and Noridian. In early 2021, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma. We expect that draft LCDs for each of these tests will be posted in 2021. However, there is no assurance that the timing of any draft LCD or final LCD will match our expectations or our historical experience with LCDs for our other tests.
Commercial Third-Party Payors
We are actively engaged in efforts to achieve broad coverage and reimbursement for our products, followed by contracting with commercial payors. Achieving positive coverage reduces the need for appeals and reduces failures to collect from the patient’s commercial payor. Even with positive coverage decisions, we still experience delays in time to payment. Achieving in-network contracts with third-party payors can shorten the time required to receive payments. Implementing our strategy includes our managed care and medical affairs teams educating third-party payors regarding our strong clinical utility and outcomes data, which we believe validates the value of our products and will persuade more third-party payors to provide value-based reimbursement.
We have broad positive policy coverage for our DecisionDx-UM test, we have executed contracts with certain commercial payors and anticipate further increases in contracting. We also have positive policy recommendations from many third-party technical assessment review groups.
We began, following the Medicare LCD, engaging commercial third-party payors for positive coverage for DecisionDx-Melanoma and have seen some positive coverage policies. With the continued evidence development, we anticipate additional positive coverage policies occurring.
Dependence on Third-Party Payors
We receive a substantial portion of our revenue from a small number of third-party payors, primarily Medicare, BlueCross BlueShield affiliates and Medicare Advantage plans. Our revenue from patients covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, and BlueCross BlueShield plans, as a percentage of total revenue, was 58%, 29% and 6%, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2020. BlueCross BlueShield plans and Medicare Advantage plans represent an aggregation of multiple payors making independent reimbursement decisions; however, these plans often base reimbursement decisions on common guidelines which can influence multiple plans simultaneously.
Competition
We are focused on providing high value diagnostic and prognostic solutions for dermatological cancers. We believe, today, that there is limited existing competition for our products that provide evidence-based genomic solutions to physicians and their patients.
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We believe the principal competitive factors in our target markets include:
Proprietary, disciplined approach to genomic analysis including the use of proprietary deep learning, machine learning, artificial intelligence and other techniques to identify and optimize gene selection and algorithmic approaches to answer the clinically important questions with accurate tests. This involves the ability to design and efficiently conduct the right clinical studies at the right time;
Research and development investments to document the quality, quantity, consistency and strength of the clinical validity data, the impact our products have on clinical use, and demonstration of net health outcome improvement that reduce health system costs;
Maintaining a strong reputation with the treating physician by providing consistent, transparent, clinically relevant information that will improve the appropriate management of their patients;
Ease of use in accessing our products, reimbursement support for the physician and their patient and laboratory reports that clearly communicate the clinically relevant data points;
Demonstrated ability to work with, and secure coverage and reimbursement from, governmental and commercial payors;
Ability to efficiently commercialize pipeline products to the same customer base as our current products.
We believe we compete favorably on the factors described above.
Today, our principal competition for DecisionDx-Melanoma is existing traditional clinical and pathology staging criteria. While some clinical and pathology criteria have changed over time, this approach has been the standard of care in the United States for many years, and physicians may be unwilling to accept the validity of the published data and adopt our test until it has become incorporated into national guidelines. In addition, we may, in the near future, face competition from a limited number of companies who are working in this disease space, such as Neracare and SkylineDx.
We are unaware of late-stage work being performed to develop and validate a product that would compete with DecisionDx-SCC. We believe that the current primary competitor for DecisionDx-SCC is existing traditional clinical and pathology staging criteria.
We are aware of competitors that likely compete with our DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma, such as Myriad Genetics. We expect our product to compete favorably with these competitors.
DecisionDx-UM competes with a subsidiary of LabCorp and several academic laboratories all of which have had tests available for several years. To date, our data has demonstrated that DecisionDx-UM is clinically and statistically superior to these products.
Laboratory Operations
The Laboratory Developed Tests, or LDTs, that we commercialize are conducted in our CAP accredited, CLIA-certified primary facility in Phoenix, Arizona, which we moved into in April 2016. In 2020, we doubled our footprint to approximately 23,500 square feet by adding a new laboratory facility in close proximity to our primary facility to support our growth and provide certain operational redundancy. In 2021, we further expanded this facility to include approximately 3,600 additional square feet. We perform all laboratory procedures involved in our tests from receiving a requisition form to issuance of the final test result in these facilities. Our prior capacity plan analysis indicated that we could process up to 60,000 proprietary GEP test orders annually, with a single shift. We performed more than 18,000 proprietary GEP tests in 2020. We are able to provide our proprietary DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-SCC, DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM products for patients in all fifty states including those that require specific, additional, out-of-state lab licenses or qualifications such as New York, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Rhode Island. Upon receipt, orders and samples are processed through an automated laboratory information management system which, in addition to tracking sample chain of custody, initiates and tracks accessioning, sample eligibility, technical data generation, algorithmic analysis and results reporting. The majority of samples are received as paraffin embedded sections from a formalin fixed tissue specimen.
Our laboratory facilities house all functions related to quality control and assurance, licensing, accreditation and regulatory compliance. Our quality management program ensures the quality of our laboratory services and products through continuous monitoring of a broad range of key performance indicators including technical, customer service and cybersecurity metrics. Through this program, we promote a philosophy of continuous improvement based upon adherence to validated standards. Our Phoenix facilities also house our clinical research operations and local information technology support.
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Raw Materials and Suppliers
We procure reagents, equipment, chips/cards and other materials used to perform our tests from sole suppliers such as ThermoFisher Scientific, Inc., and Qiagen, Inc. Some of these items are unique to these suppliers and vendors. While we have developed alternate sourcing strategies for these materials and vendors and while we have experienced no business interruption due to an inability to source these materials, we cannot be certain whether these strategies will be effective or whether alternative sources will be available when we need them. If these suppliers can no longer provide us with the materials we need to perform our test services, they do not meet our quality specifications, or we cannot obtain acceptable substitute materials, our business would be negatively affected.
License Agreement with The Washington University
In November 2009, we entered into a license agreement, or the License Agreement, with WUSTL to license certain patent rights and technical information from WUSTL for the development of melanoma products, or the Products, and services, or the Services. The rights licensed under this agreement are used in DecisionDx-UM only.
Under the License Agreement, we obtain an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-bearing license to certain patent rights owned by WUSTL, or the Patent Rights, and a non-exclusive, worldwide license to certain technical information and research property owned by WUSTL, with the right to grant sublicenses under certain conditions, to develop the Products and Services. WUSTL retains the right to use the Patent Rights for research purposes.
The Patent Rights that we license pursuant to the License Agreement have been generated through the use of U.S. government funding and are therefore subject to certain federal regulations. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Intellectual Property—Our in-licensed intellectual property has been discovered through government funded programs and thus may be subject to federal regulations such as “march-in” rights, certain reporting requirements and a preference for U.S.-based companies, and compliance with such regulations may limit our exclusive rights, and limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. manufacturers.”
Under the License Agreement, we are required to use best efforts to carry out the activities under an agreed-upon development plan, or the Development Plan, and meet any and all milestones set forth in the Development Plan. We are required to make milestone payments to WUSTL upon successful completion of development and commercialization milestones as set forth in the Development Plan. For each Product or Service that receives FDA approval, premarket approval or premarket notification, we are obligated to make a milestone payment to WUSTL in the mid-four digits. For the issuance of the first U.S. patent and the first foreign patent, we are obligated to make aggregate milestone payments to WUSTL in the low-five digits.
Under the License Agreement, we were obligated to pay WUSTL an initial license issue fee in the low-five digits. We are also obligated to make royalty payments to WUSTL equal to (i) a percentage in the mid-single digits of our and any of our affiliates’ or sub-licensees’ net sales of Products and (ii) a percentage in the low-single digits of our and any of our affiliates’ or sub-licensees’ revenue from Services. We are also obligated to make royalty payments to WUSTL in the low-to-mid single digit percentage of net sales, with minimum royalty payments to WUSTL every six-month period following the first commercial sale.
The term of the License Agreement will continue for ten years following the last-to-expire valid claim relating to the Patent Rights, unless terminated earlier. WUSTL may terminate the License Agreement upon written notice in the event of (i) our material breach if such breach remains uncured for 90 days, (ii) the exercise of certain rights by us with respect to the Patent Rights and/or the licensed technical information outside the scope of the License Agreement, or (iii) for certain insolvency-related events. We may terminate the License Agreement without cause upon written notice to WUSTL and payment of any amount due to WUSTL under the License Agreement.
Intellectual Property
Our core technology for our products is related to methods and devices for analysis of genetic expression. Using this technology, we are able to provide a more accurate prediction of a patient’s metastatic risk as compared to other methods. We have secured and continue to pursue intellectual property rights globally, including through patent protection covering analysis of metastasis in cutaneous melanoma, as well as treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. We also rely on trademarks, trade secrets, know-how, continuing technological innovation and potential in-licensing opportunities to develop and maintain our proprietary position. For more information, please see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Intellectual Property.”
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Patents and Patent Applications
We have developed a global patent portfolio that as of December 31, 2020, is comprised as follows:
Number of Applications and Patents
Commercial FocusUnited StatesInternationalTotal
Owned Patent Families
Methods for predicting risk of metastasis in cutaneous melanoma16 18 
Methods of diagnosing and treating patients with pigmented skin lesions— 
Methods of diagnosing and treating patients with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
Method of predicting risk for recurrence for soft tissue sarcoma— 
Licensed Portfolio from WUSTL
Method for predicting risk of metastasis— 
Compositions and methods for detecting cancer metastasis
Total11 25 36 

Included in the table above are five issued U.S. patents and 13 issued international patents. This global patent portfolio has filing dates ranging from 2009 to 2020, and therefore are projected to expire between 2029 and 2040, subject to any patent term extension or patent term adjustment that might be available in a particular jurisdiction. The owned and licensed families contain issued patents and pending applications that relate to devices, systems, and methods for macromolecular analysis, and reflect our active and ongoing research programs.
Individual patents extend for varying periods 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 for regularly filed applications in the United States are granted a term of 20 years from the earliest effective non-provisional filing date. In addition, in certain instances, a patent term can be extended to recapture a period due to delay by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, in issuing the patent as well as a portion of the term effectively lost as a result of the FDA regulatory review period. However, as to the FDA component, 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 effective non-provisional filing date. However, the actual protection afforded by a patent varies on a product-by-product basis, from country to country, and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of regulatory-related extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular country and the validity and enforceability of the patent.
Trademarks and Trade Secrets
As of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, our U.S. trademark portfolio contained eight trademark registrations.
We rely upon trade secrets, know-how, continuing technological innovation and potential in-licensing opportunities to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our intellectual property and proprietary technology, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements and intellectual property assignment agreements with our employees, consultants, corporate partners and, as applicable, our advisors. These agreements are designed to protect our proprietary information and, in the case of the invention assignment agreements, to grant us ownership of technologies that are developed through a relationship with an employee or a third party. These agreements may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. We additionally seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets, such as our proprietary algorithms, by maintaining the physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. While we have confidence in these individuals, organizations and systems, agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors. 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.
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Government Regulation and Product Approval
Regulations
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA)
As a clinical reference laboratory, we are required to hold certain federal, state and local licenses, certifications and permits to conduct our business. Under CLIA, we are required to hold a certificate applicable to the type of laboratory tests we perform and to comply with standards applicable to our operations, including test processes, personnel, facilities administration, equipment maintenance, recordkeeping, quality systems and proficiency testing. We must maintain CLIA compliance and certification to be eligible to bill for diagnostic services provided to Medicare beneficiaries.
To renew our CLIA certificate, we are subject to survey and inspection every two years to assess compliance with program standards. Because we are a College of American Pathologists, or CAP, accredited laboratory, CMS does not perform this survey and inspection and relies on our CAP survey and inspection. We may also be subject to additional unannounced inspections. The regulatory and compliance standards applicable to the testing we perform may change over time, and any such changes could have a material effect on our business.
Penalties for non-compliance with CLIA requirements include suspension, limitation or revocation of the laboratory’s CLIA certificate, as well as directed plan of correction, state on-site monitoring, civil money penalties, civil injunctive suit or criminal penalties.
State Laboratory Licensing
In addition to federal certification requirements of laboratories under CLIA, CLIA provides that states may adopt laboratory regulations and licensure requirements that are more stringent than those under federal law. Such laws, among other things, establish standards for the day-to-day operation of a clinical reference laboratory, including the training and skills required of personnel and quality control. We currently provide laboratory services in all 50 states and maintain out-of-state laboratory licenses in New York, California, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Multiple states require the licensure of out-of-state laboratories that accept specimens from those states. Because we receive specimens from New York, our clinical reference laboratory is required to be licensed by New York, under New York laws and regulations. New York law also mandates proficiency testing for laboratories licensed under New York state law, regardless of whether such laboratories are located in New York. If a laboratory is out of compliance with New York statutory or regulatory standards, the New York State Department of Health, or NYSDOH, may suspend, limit, revoke or annul the laboratory’s New York license, censure the holder of the license, or assess civil money penalties. We have received formal approval from NYSDOH to offer our proprietary DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-UM and DecisionDx-PRAME products in New York. Additionally, we have been granted conditional permission by NYSDOH to offer our DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma tests in New York while our applications are under review. If we were to be found out of compliance with New York laboratory requirements, we could be subject to such sanctions, which could harm our business.
Federal Oversight of Laboratory Developed Tests
The laws and regulations governing the marketing of diagnostic products are evolving, extremely complex, and in many instances, there are no significant regulatory or judicial interpretations of these laws and regulations. Clinical laboratory tests are regulated under CLIA, as administered by CMS, as well as by applicable state laws. In addition, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, defines a medical device to include any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including a component part, or accessory, intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, in man or other animals. Our in vitro testing products are considered by the FDA to be subject to regulation as medical devices. Among other things, pursuant to the FDCA and its implementing regulations, the FDA regulates the research, testing, manufacturing, safety, labeling, storage, recordkeeping, pre-market clearance or approval, marketing and promotion, and sales and distribution of medical devices in the United States to ensure that medical products distributed domestically are safe and effective for their intended uses. In addition, the FDA regulates the export of medical devices manufactured in the United States to international markets.
Although the FDA has statutory authority to assure that medical devices are safe and effective for their intended uses, the FDA has generally exercised its enforcement discretion and not enforced applicable regulations with respect to in vitro diagnostics that are designed, manufactured, and used within a single laboratory for use only in that laboratory. These tests are referred to as LDTs. As a result, we believe our diagnostic services are currently subject to the FDA’s enforcement discretion and are not subject to the FDA’s oversight. However, reagents, instruments, software or components provided by third parties and used to perform LDTs may be subject to regulation.
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In recent years, FDA has stated its intention to modify its enforcement discretion policy with respect to LDTs. For example, on July 31, 2014, the FDA notified Congress of its intent to modify, in a risk-based manner, its policy of enforcement discretion with respect to LDTs. On October 3, 2014, the FDA issued two draft guidance documents entitled “Framework for Regulatory Oversight of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs),” or the Framework Guidance, and “FDA Notification and Medical Device Reporting for Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs),” or the Reporting Guidance. The Framework Guidance states that FDA intends to modify its policy of enforcement discretion with respect to LDTs in a risk-based manner consistent with the classification of medical devices generally in Classes I through III. The Reporting Guidance would further enable FDA to collect information regarding the LDTs currently being offered for clinical use through a notification process, as well as to enforce its regulations for reporting safety issues and collecting information on any known or suspected adverse events related to the use of an LDT.
Although the FDA halted finalization of the guidance in November 2016 to allow for further public discussion on an appropriate oversight approach to LDTs and to give congressional authorizing committees the opportunity to develop a legislative solution, the FDA could ultimately modify its current approach to LDTs in a way that would subject our products marketed as LDTs to the enforcement of regulatory requirements.
Medical Device Regulatory Framework
Although we currently market our proprietary testing products as LDTs, which are currently subject to enforcement discretion, we could be subject to more onerous FDA compliance obligations in the future. Specifically, if the FDA begins to actively regulate LDTs, then, unless an exemption applies, each new or significantly modified medical device we seek to commercially distribute in the United States will require either a premarket notification to the FDA requesting permission for commercial distribution under Section 510(k) of the FDCA, also referred to as a 510(k) clearance, or approval from the FDA of a premarket approval, or PMA, application. Both the 510(k) clearance and PMA processes can be resource intensive, expensive, and lengthy, and require payment of significant user fees.
Device Classification
Under the FDCA, medical devices are classified into one of three classes-Class I, Class II or Class III depending on the degree of risk associated with each medical device and the extent of control needed to provide reasonable assurances with respect to safety and effectiveness.
Class I includes devices with the lowest risk to the patient and are those for which safety and effectiveness can be reasonably assured by adherence to a set of FDA regulations, referred to as the General Controls for Medical Devices, which require compliance with the applicable portions of the FDA’s Quality System Regulation, facility registration and product listing, reporting of adverse events and malfunctions, and appropriate, truthful and non-misleading labeling and promotional materials. Some Class I devices also require premarket clearance by the FDA through the 510(k) premarket notification process described below. Most Class I products are exempt from the premarket notification requirements.
Class II devices are those that are subject to the General Controls, and Special Controls as deemed necessary by the FDA to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the device. These Special Controls can include performance standards, patient registries, FDA guidance documents and post-market surveillance. Most Class II devices are subject to premarket review and clearance by the FDA. Premarket review and clearance by the FDA for Class II devices is accomplished through the 510(k) premarket notification process.
Class III devices include devices deemed by the FDA to pose the greatest risk such as life-supporting or life-sustaining devices, or implantable devices, in addition to those deemed novel and not substantially equivalent following the 510(k) process. The safety and effectiveness of Class III devices cannot be reasonably assured solely by the General Controls and Special Controls described above. Therefore, these devices are subject to the PMA application process, which is generally more costly and time-consuming than the 510(k) process. Through the PMA application process, the applicant must submit data and information demonstrating reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device for its intended use to the FDA’s satisfaction. Accordingly, a PMA typically includes, but is not limited to, extensive technical information regarding device design and development, pre-clinical and clinical trial data, manufacturing information, labeling and financial disclosure information for the clinical investigators in device studies. The PMA application must provide valid scientific evidence that demonstrates to the FDA’s satisfaction a reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device for its intended use.
The Investigational Device Process
In the United States, absent certain limited exceptions, human clinical trials intended to support medical device clearance or approval require an investigational device exemption, or IDE, application. Some types of studies deemed to present “non-significant risk” are deemed to have an approved IDE once certain requirements are addressed and Institutional Review Board, or IRB, approval is obtained. If the device presents a “significant risk” to human health, as defined by the FDA, the sponsor must submit an IDE application to the FDA and obtain IDE approval prior to commencing the human clinical trials. The IDE
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application must be supported by appropriate data, such as animal and laboratory testing results, showing that it is safe to test the device in humans and that the testing protocol is scientifically sound. Generally, clinical trials for a significant risk device may begin once the IDE application is approved by the FDA and the study protocol and informed consent are approved by appropriate IRBs at the clinical trial sites. Submission of an IDE will note necessarily result in the ability to commence clinical trials, and although the FDA’s approval of an IDE allows clinical testing to go forward for a specified number of subjects, it does not bind the FDA to accept the results of the trial as sufficient to prove the product’s safety and efficacy, even if the trial meets its intended success criteria.
All clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with the FDA’s IDE regulations that govern investigational device labeling, prohibit promotion and specify an array of recordkeeping, reporting and monitoring responsibilities of study sponsors and study investigators. Clinical trials must further comply with the FDA’s good clinical practice regulations for IRB approval and for informed consent and other human subject protections. Required records and reports are subject to inspection by the FDA. The results of clinical testing may be unfavorable, or, even if the intended safety and efficacy success criteria are achieved, may not be considered sufficient for the FDA to grant marketing approval or clearance of a product. The commencement or completion of any clinical trial may be delayed or halted, or be inadequate to support approval of a PMA application, for numerous reasons.
The 510(k) Clearance Process
Under the 510(k) clearance process, the manufacturer must submit to the FDA a premarket notification, demonstrating that the device is “substantially equivalent” to a legally marketed predicate device. A predicate device is a legally marketed device that is not subject to a PMA, i.e., a device that was legally marketed prior to May 28, 1976 (pre-amendments device) and for which a PMA is not required, a device that has been reclassified from Class III to Class II or I, or a device that was previously found substantially equivalent through the 510(k) process. To be “substantially equivalent,” the proposed device must have the same intended use as the predicate device, and either have the same technological characteristics as the predicate device or have different technological characteristics and not raise different questions of safety or effectiveness than the predicate device. Clinical data is sometimes required to support substantial equivalence.
After a 510(k) premarket notification is submitted, the FDA determines whether to accept it for substantive review. If it lacks necessary information for substantive review, the FDA will refuse to accept the 510(k) notification. If it is accepted for filing, the FDA begins a substantive review. By statute, the FDA is required to complete its review of a 510(k) notification within 90 days of receiving the 510(k) notification. As a practical matter, clearance often takes longer, and clearance is never assured. Although many 510(k) premarket notifications are cleared without clinical data, the FDA may require further information, including clinical data, to make a determination regarding substantial equivalence, which may significantly prolong the review process. If the FDA agrees that the device is substantially equivalent, it will grant clearance to commercially market the device.
If the FDA determines that the device is not “substantially equivalent” to a predicate device, or if the device is automatically classified into Class III, the device sponsor must then fulfill the much more rigorous premarketing requirements of the PMA approval process, or seek reclassification of the device through the de novo process. The de novo classification process is an alternate pathway to classify medical devices that are automatically classified into Class III, but which are low to moderate risk. A manufacturer can submit a petition for direct de novo review if the manufacturer is unable to identify an appropriate predicate device and the new device or new use of the device presents a moderate or low risk. De novo classification may also be available after receipt of a “not substantially equivalent” letter following submission of a 510(k) to FDA.
After a device receives 510(k) clearance, any modification that could significantly affect its safety or effectiveness, or that would constitute a new or major change in its intended use, will require a new 510(k) clearance or, depending on the modification, could require a PMA application. The FDA requires each manufacturer to determine whether the proposed change requires a new submission in the first instance, but the FDA can review any such decision and disagree with a manufacturer’s determination. Many minor modifications are accomplished by a letter-to-file in which the manufacture documents the change in an internal letter-to-file. The letter-to-file is in lieu of submitting a new 510(k) to obtain clearance for such change. The FDA can always review these letters to file in an inspection. If the FDA disagrees with a manufacturer’s determination regarding whether a new premarket submission is required for the modification of an existing 510(k)-cleared device, the FDA can require the manufacturer to cease marketing and/or recall the modified device until 510(k) clearance or approval of a PMA application is obtained. In addition, in these circumstances, the FDA can impose significant regulatory fines or penalties for failure to submit the requisite application(s).
The PMA Approval Process
Following receipt of a PMA application, the FDA conducts an administrative review to determine whether the application is sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review. If it is not, the agency will refuse to file the PMA. If it is, the FDA will accept the application for filing and begin the review. The FDA has 180 days to review a filed PMA application, although the review of an application more often occurs over a significantly longer period of time. During this review period, the FDA may
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request additional information or clarification of information already provided, and the FDA may issue a major deficiency letter to the applicant, requesting the applicant’s response to deficiencies communicated by the FDA.
Before approving or denying a PMA, an FDA advisory committee may review the PMA at a public meeting and provide the FDA with the committee’s recommendation on whether the FDA should approve the submission, approve it with specific conditions, or not approve it. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.
Prior to approval of a PMA, the FDA may conduct inspections of the clinical trial data and clinical trial sites, as well as inspections of the manufacturing facility and processes. Overall, the FDA review of a PMA application generally takes between one and three years but may take significantly longer. The FDA can delay, limit or deny approval of a PMA application for many reasons, including:
the device may not be shown safe or effective to the FDA’s satisfaction;
the data from pre-clinical studies and/or clinical trials may be found unreliable or insufficient to support approval;
the manufacturing process or facilities may not meet applicable requirements; and
changes in FDA approval policies or adoption of new regulations may require additional data.
If the FDA evaluation of a PMA is favorable, the FDA will issue either an approval letter, or an approvable letter, the latter of which usually contains a number of conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the PMA. When and if those conditions have been fulfilled to the satisfaction of the FDA, the agency will issue a PMA approval letter authorizing commercial marketing of the device, subject to the conditions of approval and the limitations established in the approval letter. If the FDA’s evaluation of a PMA application or manufacturing facilities is not favorable, the FDA will deny approval of the PMA or issue a not approvable letter. The FDA also may determine that additional tests or clinical trials are necessary, in which case the PMA approval may be delayed for several months or years while the trials are conducted and data is submitted in an amendment to the PMA, or the PMA is withdrawn and resubmitted when the data are available. The PMA process can be expensive, uncertain and lengthy and a number of devices for which the FDA approval has been sought by other companies have never been approved by the FDA for marketing.
New PMA applications or PMA supplements are required for modification to the manufacturing process, equipment or facility, quality control procedures, sterilization, packaging, expiration date, labeling, device specifications, ingredients, materials or design of a device that has been approved through the PMA process. PMA supplements often require submission of the same type of information as an initial PMA application, except that the supplement is limited to information needed to support any changes from the device covered by the approved PMA application and may or may not require as extensive technical or clinical data or the convening of an advisory panel, depending on the nature of the proposed change.
In approving a PMA application, as a condition of approval, the FDA may also require some form of post-approval study or post-market surveillance, whereby the applicant conducts a follow-up study or follows certain patient groups for a number of years and makes periodic reports to the FDA on the clinical status of those patients when necessary to protect the public health or to provide additional or longer term safety and effectiveness data for the device. The FDA may also approve a PMA application with other post-approval conditions intended to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the device, such as, among other things, restrictions on labeling, promotion, sale, distribution and use. New PMA applications or PMA supplements may also be required for modifications to any approved diagnostic tests, including modifications to our manufacturing processes, device labeling and device design, based on the findings of post-approval studies.
Federal and State Physician Self-Referral Prohibitions
We are subject to the federal physician self-referral prohibitions, commonly known as the Stark Law, and to comparable state laws. Together these restrictions generally prohibit us from billing a patient or any governmental or private payer for certain designated health services, including clinical laboratory services, when the physician ordering the service, or any member of such physician’s immediate family, has a financial interest, such as an ownership or investment interest in or compensation arrangement with us, unless the arrangement meets an exception to the prohibition.
Sanctions for a Stark Law violation include the following:
denial of payment for the services provided in violation of the prohibition;
refunds of amounts collected by an entity in violation of the Stark Law;
a civil penalty for each bill or claim for a service arising out of the prohibited referral;
the imposition of up to three times the amounts for each item or service wrongfully claimed;
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possible exclusion from federal healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid; and
a civil penalty for each arrangement or scheme that the parties know (or should know) has the principal purpose of circumventing the Stark Law’s prohibition.
These prohibitions apply regardless of any intent by the parties to induce or reward referrals or the reasons for the financial relationship and the referral. In addition, knowing violations of the Stark Law may also serve as the basis for liability under the federal False Claims Act, or the FCA, which can result in additional civil and criminal penalties.
Federal and State Anti-Kickback Laws
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute, or the AKS, makes it a felony for a person or entity, including a clinical laboratory, to knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit or receive any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, in order to induce business that is reimbursable under any federal health care program. A violation of the AKS may result in imprisonment for up to ten years and fines for each violation and administrative civil money penalties, including an additional amount of up to three times the amount of the remuneration paid. Convictions under the AKS result in mandatory exclusion from federal health care programs for a minimum of five years. In addition, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has the authority to impose civil assessments and fines and to exclude health care providers and others engaged in prohibited activities from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs. In addition, the government may assert that a claim that includes items or services resulting from a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim under the FCA, which is discussed in greater detail below. Additionally, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
Although the AKS applies only to items and services reimbursable under any federal health care program, a number of states have passed statutes substantially similar to the AKS that apply to all payors. Penalties of such state laws include imprisonment and significant monetary fines.
Federal and state law enforcement authorities scrutinize arrangements between health care providers and potential referral sources to ensure that the arrangements are not designed as a mechanism to induce patient care referrals or induce the purchase or prescribing of particular products or services. Generally, courts have taken a broad interpretation of the scope of the AKS, holding that the statute may be violated if merely one purpose of a payment arrangement is to induce referrals or purchases.
In addition to statutory exceptions to the AKS, regulations provide for a number of safe harbors. If an arrangement meets the provisions of a safe harbor, it is deemed not to violate the AKS. An arrangement must fully comply with each element of an applicable safe harbor in order to qualify for protection.
Failure to meet the requirements of the safe harbor, however, does not render an arrangement illegal. Rather, the government may evaluate such arrangements on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all facts and circumstances.
Other Federal and State Health Care Laws
In addition to the requirements discussed above, several other health care fraud and abuse laws could have an effect on our business. For example, provisions of the Social Security Act permit Medicare and Medicaid to exclude an entity that charges the federal health care programs substantially in excess of its usual charges for its services. The terms “usual charge” and “substantially in excess” are subject to varying interpretations.
The FCA prohibits, among other things, a person from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval and from, making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim in order to secure payment or retaining an overpayment by the federal government. In addition to actions initiated by the government itself, the statute authorizes actions to be brought on behalf of the federal government by a private party having knowledge of the alleged fraud. Because the complaint is initially filed under seal, the action may be pending for some time before the defendant is even aware of the action. If the government intervenes and is ultimately successful in obtaining redress in the matter or if the plaintiff succeeds in obtaining redress without the government’s involvement, then the plaintiff will receive a percentage of the recovery. Finally, the Social Security Act includes its own provisions that prohibit the filing of false claims or submitting false statements in order to obtain payment. Several states have enacted comparable false claims laws which may be broader in scope and apply regardless of payor.
The civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent. A person who offers or provides to a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary any remuneration, including waivers of co-payments and deductible amounts (or any part thereof), that the person knows or should know is likely to influence the beneficiary’s selection of a particular provider, practitioner or supplier of Medicare or Medicaid payable items or services may be liable under the civil monetary penalties statute. Moreover, in certain cases, providers who routinely waive copayments and deductibles for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, for
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example, in connection with patient assistance programs, can also be held liable under the AKS and FCA. One of the statutory exceptions to the prohibition is non-routine, unadvertised waivers of copayments or deductible amounts based on individualized determinations of financial need or exhaustion of reasonable collection efforts. The Office of Inspector General of HHS, or the OIG, emphasizes, however, that this exception should only be used occasionally to address special financial needs of a particular patient. Although this prohibition applies only to federal healthcare program beneficiaries, applicable state laws related to, among other things, unlawful schemes to defraud, excessive fees for services, tortious interference with patient contracts and statutory or common law fraud, may also be implicated for similar practices offered to patients covered by commercial payor.
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit, among other actions, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Like the AKS, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, enacted as part of the ACA, as amended among other things, also imposed annual reporting requirements on manufacturers of certain devices, drugs and biologics for certain payments and transfers of value by them and in some cases their distributors to physicians and teaching hospitals, and certain other healthcare professionals beginning January 1, 2022 for payments and transfers of value provided during the previous year; as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Any failure to comply with these reporting requirements could result in significant fines and penalties. Because we manufacture our own LDTs solely for use by or within our own laboratory, we believe that we are exempt from these reporting requirements. We cannot assure you, however, that the government will agree with our determination, and a determination that we have violated these laws and regulations, or a public announcement that we are being investigated for possible violations, could adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations or financial condition.
State equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws, that may impose similar or more prohibitive restrictions, and may apply to items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers.
If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the fraud and abuse laws described above or any other laws that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including potentially significant criminal, civil and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, integrity oversight and reporting obligations, diminished profits and future earnings, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.
International Regulations
Many countries in which we may offer any of our testing products in the future have anti-kickback regulations prohibiting providers from offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration, directly or indirectly, in order to induce business that is reimbursable under any national health care program. In situations involving physicians employed by state-funded institutions or national health care agencies, violation of the local anti-kickback law may also constitute a violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.
The FCPA prohibits any U.S. individual, business entity or employee of a U.S. business entity to offer or provide, directly or through a third party, including any potential distributors we may rely on in certain markets, anything of value to a foreign government official with corrupt intent to influence an award or continuation of business or to gain an unfair advantage, whether or not such conduct violates local laws. In addition, it is illegal for a company that reports to the SEC to have false or inaccurate books or records or to fail to maintain a system of internal accounting controls. We will also be required to maintain accurate information and control over sales and distributors’ activities that may fall within the purview of the FCPA, its books and records provisions and its anti-bribery provisions.
The standard of intent and knowledge in the Anti-Bribery cases is minimal-intent and knowledge are usually inferred from that fact that bribery took place. The accounting provisions do not require intent. Violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions for corporations and other business entities are subject to a fine of up to $2 million and officers, directors, stockholders, employees, and agents are subject to a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to five years. Other countries, including the United Kingdom and other OECD Anti-Bribery Convention members, have similar anti-corruption regulations, such as the United Kingdom Anti-Bribery Act.
When marketing our testing products outside of the United States, we may be subject to foreign regulatory requirements governing human clinical testing, prohibitions on the import of tissue necessary for us to perform our testing products or restrictions on the export of tissue imposed by countries outside of the United States or the import of tissue into the United
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States, and marketing approval. These requirements vary by jurisdiction, differ from those in the United States and may in some cases require us to perform additional pre-clinical or clinical testing. In many countries outside of the United States, coverage, pricing and reimbursement approvals are also required.
Privacy and Security Laws
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
Under HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, HHS has issued regulations to protect the privacy and provide for the security of protected health information, or PHI, used or disclosed by certain entities including health care providers, such as us. HIPAA also regulates standardization of data content, codes and formats used in certain health care transactions and standardization of identifiers for health plans and providers. Penalties for violations of HIPAA and HITECH laws and regulations include significant civil and criminal penalties.
Three standards have been promulgated under HIPAA’s and HITECH’s regulations: the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, which restrict the use and disclosure of certain individually identifiable health information, the Standards for Electronic Transactions, which establish standards for common healthcare transactions, such as claims information, plan eligibility, payment information and the use of electronic signatures, and the Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information, which require covered entities and business associates to implement and maintain certain security measures to safeguard certain electronic health information, including the adoption of administrative, physical and technical safeguards to protect such information.
The HIPAA privacy regulations cover the use and disclosure of PHI by covered entities and business associates, which are defined to include subcontractors that create, receive, maintain, or transmit PHI on behalf of a covered entity, as well as their covered subcontractors. They also set forth certain rights that an individual has with respect to his or her PHI maintained by a covered entity, including the right to access or amend certain records containing PHI, or to request restrictions on the use or disclosure of PHI. The HIPAA security regulations establish requirements for safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI that is electronically transmitted or electronically stored. HITECH, among other things, established certain health information security breach notification requirements. A covered entity must notify any individual whose PHI is breached according to the specifications set forth in the breach notification rule. The HIPAA privacy and security regulations establish a uniform federal “floor” and do not preempt state laws that are more stringent or provide individuals with greater rights with respect to the privacy or security of, and access to, their records containing PHI or insofar as such state laws apply to personal information that is broader in scope than PHI.
Individuals (or their personal representatives, as applicable) have the right to access test reports directly from laboratories and to direct that copies of those reports be transmitted to persons or entities designated by the individual.
HIPAA authorizes state attorneys general to file suit on behalf of their residents for violations. Courts are able to award damages, costs and attorneys’ fees related to violations of HIPAA in such cases. While HIPAA does not create a private right of action allowing individuals to file suit against us in civil court for violations of HIPAA, its standards have been used as the basis for duty of care cases in state civil suits such as those for negligence or recklessness in the misuse or breach of PHI. In addition, HIPAA mandates that the Secretary of HHS conduct periodic compliance audits of HIPAA covered entities, such as us, and their business associates for compliance with the HIPAA privacy and security standards. It also tasks HHS with establishing a methodology whereby harmed individuals who were the victims of breaches of unsecured PHI may receive a percentage of the civil monetary penalty paid by the violator.
As a covered entity with downstream vendors and subcontractors and, in certain instances, as a business associate of other covered entities with whom we have entered into a business associate agreement, we have certain obligations under HIPAA regarding the use and disclosure of any PHI that may be provided to us. HIPAA and HITECH impose civil and criminal penalties against covered entities and business associates for noncompliance with privacy and security requirements. Further, various states, such as California and Massachusetts, have implemented similar privacy laws and regulations that impose restrictive requirements regulating the use and disclosure of health information and other personally identifiable information, or PII.
Numerous other federal, state and foreign laws, including consumer protection laws and regulations, govern the collection, dissemination, use, access to, confidentiality and security of patient health information. We intend to continue to comprehensively protect all personal information and to comply with all applicable laws regarding the protection of such information.
Reimbursement for Clinical Laboratory Services
We generate revenue on our products from several sources, including third-party payors, laboratory services intermediaries, and self-paying individuals. Depending on the billing arrangement and applicable law, we must bill various third-party payors, such as insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, and patients, all of which have different billing requirements. Compliance with
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applicable laws and regulations as well as internal compliance policies and procedures adds further complexity to the billing process. CMS establishes new procedures and continuously evaluates and implements changes to the reimbursement process for billing the Medicare program.
To receive reimbursement from third-party payors, we bill our tests using a variety of CPT codes, as defined by the AMA. For those genetic tests we conduct that do not have a dedicated CPT code, test may be billed under a miscellaneous code for an unlisted molecular pathology procedure. Because these miscellaneous codes do not describe a specific service, the third-party payor claim may need to be examined to determine the service that was provided, whether the service was appropriate and medically necessary and whether payment should be rendered. This process can require a letter of medical necessity from the ordering physician and it can result in a delay in processing the claim, a lower reimbursement amount, or denial of the claim.
With the evolution of genetic testing, we have seen individual third-party payors’ medical coverage policies around the CPT codes we bill and their associated payment rates change over time, resulting in changes to our reimbursement revenues. We believe all of our products provide significant clinical value and reduction in downstream healthcare spend, as evidenced in research studies and clinical publications, which we believe will continue to support and drive third-party payor reimbursement.
Under Medicare, payment for products like ours is generally made under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule, or CLFS, with payment amounts assigned to specific procedure billing codes. In April 2014, Congress passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, or PAMA, which included substantial changes to the way in which clinical laboratory services will be paid under Medicare. Under PAMA, certain laboratories were required to report to CMS private payor payment rates and volumes for their tests. CMS uses this data to calculate a weighted median payment rate for each test, which will be used to establish revised Medicare CLFS reimbursement rates for the test. Laboratories that fail to report the required payment information may be subject to substantial civil penalties. We bill Medicare for our products, and therefore we are subject to reporting requirements under PAMA.
On May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-UM meets the criteria for “existing ADLT” status. Accordingly, in 2021 the DecisionDx-UM Medicare rate will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. Note that our rate for 2020 was set by Noridian, our local MAC, but our rate for 2021 for DecisionDx-UM will be $7,776 based on the median private payor rate. Also, on May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-Melanoma meets the criteria for “new ADLT” status. Accordingly, from July 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020, the Medicare reimbursement rate was equal to the initial list price of $7,193. From April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021, CMS notified us that the rate will also be $7,193, which was calculated based upon the median private payor rate for DecisionDx-Melanoma from July 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019. Beginning in 2022, the rate for both DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. For example, the rate for 2022 will be set using median private payor rate data from January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
In the second quarter of 2020, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx-SCC to Palmetto and Noridian. In early 2021, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma. We expect that draft LCDs for each of these tests will be posted in 2021. However, there is no assurance that the timing of any draft LCD or final LCD will match our expectations or our historical experience with LCDs for our other tests.
PAMA also authorizes the adoption of new, temporary billing codes and/or unique test identifiers for FDA-cleared or approved tests as well as ADLTs. The AMA’s CPT Editorial Panel has approved a proposal to create a new section of billing codes to facilitate implementation of this section of PAMA. These proprietary laboratory analyses codes may be requested by a clinical laboratory or manufacturer to specifically identify their test. If approved, the codes are issued by the AMA on a quarterly basis. Our DecisionDx-UM test was granted a Category I MAAA CPT code and was effective January 1, 2020. Our DecisionDx-Melanoma test was granted a Category I MAAA CPT code and was effective January 1, 2021.
Healthcare Reform
In March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively the ACA, became law. The ACA contains a number of provisions that are expected to impact our business and operations, some of which in ways we cannot currently predict, including those governing enrollment in state and federal healthcare programs, reimbursement changes and fraud and abuse, which impact existing state and federal health care programs and will result in the development of new programs Among other things, the ACA required each medical device manufacturer to pay a sales tax equal to 2.3% of the price for which such manufacturer sells its medical devices, and began to apply to sales of taxable medical devices after December 31, 2012, but was suspended in 2016. Further, the 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the medical device tax and “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminates the health insurer tax. The ACA also contains a number of other provisions, including provisions governing enrollment in federal and state healthcare programs, reimbursement matters and fraud and abuse, which we expect will impact our industry and our operations in ways that we cannot currently predict.
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Since 2016, there have been efforts to repeal all or part of the ACA, and the previous administration and the U.S. Congress have taken action to roll back certain provisions of the ACA. It is unknown what actions, if any, the current administration and the U.S. Congress may take regarding the ACA.
Additionally, on December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the tax penalty on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year, commonly referred to as the “individual mandate.” Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. The United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing this case, but it is unclear when a decision will be made. It is also unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other such litigation and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the ACA.
Human Capital Resources
Overview
As of December 31, 2020, we had 201 employees, of whom 199 were full-time employees. During the year ended December 31, 2020, our employee count grew by 66 persons, or 48.9%. We face competition for experienced, qualified personnel in our industry, particularly for highly skilled scientists, laboratory technicians and salespeople.
The tables below provide information on the distribution of our employees by functional area and by location as of December 31, 2020:
Number of Employees
Laboratory Testing Operations37
Research & Development40
Sales & Marketing74
Administrative & General50
Total as of December 31, 2020201

Number of Employees
Friendswood, Texas52
Phoenix, Arizona61
Home-based throughout the U.S.88
Total as of December 31, 2020201

Our employees are not represented by labor unions or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.
Diversity and Inclusion
We recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in recruiting, developing and retaining the best available talent. We are committed to further understanding and building upon our existing diversity and inclusion strengths and are in the process of identifying opportunities and developing related initiatives.
As of December 31, 2020, our employees were 62.7% female and 37.3% male. Our overall employee population as of December 31, 2020 was 79.1% White, 9.5% Hispanic or Latino, 5.0% Asian, 1.5% Black or African-American and 4.9% two or more races (not Hispanic or Latino) and other. In executive positions, which we define as Executive Director or Regional Business Director level and above, our employee population as of December 31, 2020 was 86.4% White, 4.6% American Indian or Alaska Native, 4.6% Hispanic or Latino and 4.4% two or more races (not Hispanic or Latino). Females represented 31.8% of employees in executive positions. We are continuing to further assess and understand additional measures of diversity.
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Compensation, Benefits and Professional Development
We are committed to offering competitive benefits and compensation packages to our employees. In addition to competitive base pay, we offer the following benefits, among others, to our full-time employees:
a defined contribution 401(k) plan with employer matching contributions;
an annual bonus opportunity;
equity compensation, including stock options, restricted stock units and an employee stock purchase plan;
medical, dental and vision plans;
paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave policies;
paid holidays and paid time off; and
an employee assistance program.
We survey all new hires 90 days after the start of their employment to solicit feedback on employee engagement. We provide performance reviews at least once per year, with pay raises commensurate with market and performance indicators.
We prioritize and encourage internal growth and professional development of our employees. To encourage employee development, we offer a professional development reimbursement program to eligible employees who attend job-related professional development activities.
Corporate and Other Information
We were incorporated in Delaware in September 2007. Our principal executive offices are located at 820 S. Friendswood Drive, Suite 201, Friendswood, Texas 77456 and our telephone number is (866) 788-9007. Our corporate website address is www.CastleBiosciences.com. Information contained on or accessible through our website is not considered part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or our other filings with the SEC. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to such reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, are available free of charge on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains references to our trademarks and to trademarks belonging to other entities. Solely for convenience, trademarks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including logos, artwork and other visual displays, may appear without the ® or TM symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names or trademarks to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.
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Item 1A. Risk Factors.
You should consider carefully the risks described below, as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K, before deciding whether to purchase, hold or sell shares of our common stock. The occurrence of any of the following risks could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and/or growth prospects or cause our actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements we have made in this report and those we may make from time to time. You should consider all of the factors described as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” when evaluating our business. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In these circumstances, the market price of our common stock could decline and you may lose all or part of your investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may impair our business operations.
Risks Related to Our Financial Condition
Our reliance upon a small number of third-party payors for a significant portion of our revenue may materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
We receive a substantial portion of our revenue from a small number of third-party payors, primarily Medicare. Our revenue for our test reports provided for patients covered by Medicare as a percentage of total revenue, was 58% for the year ended December 31, 2020 and 49% for the year ended December 31, 2019. If our largest current payors were to significantly reduce, or cease to pay, the amount they reimburse for our products, or if they do not reach favorable coverage and reimbursement decisions for our products, or attempt to recover amounts they had already paid, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and cause significant fluctuations in our results of operations.
Due to how we recognize revenue, our quarterly revenues may not reflect our underlying business.
We have concluded that our contracts include variable consideration because the amounts paid by Medicare or commercial health insurance carriers may be paid at less than our standard rates or not paid at all, with such differences considered implicit price concessions. Variable consideration attributable to these price concessions is measured at the expected value using the ‘‘most likely amount’’ method under Accounting Standards Codification Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, or ASC 606. The amounts are determined by historical average collection rates by test type and payor category taking into consideration the range of possible outcomes, the predictive value of our past experiences, the time period of when uncertainties expect to be resolved and the amount of consideration that is susceptible to factors outside of our influence, such as the judgment and actions of third parties. Such variable consideration is included in the transaction price only to the extent it is probable that a significant reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the uncertainties with respect to the amount are resolved. Variable consideration may be constrained and excluded from the transaction price in situations where there is no contractually agreed upon reimbursement coverage or in the absence of a predictable pattern and history of collectability with a payor. Variable consideration for Medicare claims that are not covered by an LCD, including those claims subject to approval by an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ, at an appeal hearing, is deemed to be fully constrained due to factors outside our influence (i.e., judgment or actions of third parties) and the uncertainty of the amount to be received is not expected to be resolved for a long period of time. Variable consideration is evaluated each reporting period and adjustments are recorded as increases or decreases in revenues. As a result of the timing and amount of adjustments for variable consideration, our operating results and comparisons of such results on a period-to-period basis may be difficult to understand and may not be meaningful. In addition, these fluctuations in revenue may make it difficult for us, for research analysts and for investors to accurately forecast our revenue and operating results. If our revenue or operating results fall below expectations, the price of our common stock would likely decline.
We have incurred significant losses since inception, and we may never achieve profitability.
Since our inception, we have had a history of net losses. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we had a net loss of $10.3 million and an accumulated deficit of approximately $62.5 million. We cannot predict if we will achieve profitability in the near future or at all. We expect to incur losses in the future as we plan to invest significant additional funds toward the expansion of our commercial organization, the conduct of clinical utility and validity studies to support adoption of our products and the development or acquisition of additional products. We also expect significant increases in our stock-based compensation expense in future periods, reflecting higher stock option valuations as a public company and additional awards outstanding due to increased headcount. Additionally, our performance could be affected by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. As a public company, we expect to continue to incur significant additional legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. These increased expenses will make it harder for us to achieve future profitability. We may also incur significant losses in the future for a number of reasons, many of which are beyond our control, including the other risks described in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K, adoption of our products, coverage of and reimbursement rates for our products
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from third-party payors, and future research and development activities. Our failure to achieve profitability in the future could cause the market price of our common stock to decline and make it more difficult or costly for us to raise additional capital.
We are an early, commercial-stage company and have a limited operating history, which may make it difficult to evaluate our current business and predict our future performance.
We are an early commercial-stage company and have a limited operating history. Our limited operating history may make it difficult to evaluate our current business and this makes predictions about our future success or viability subject to significant uncertainty. In particular, we intend to use a portion of our working capital to increase our headcount, including through the expansion of our sales and marketing and research and development teams, which will increase our operating costs in a manner not historically reflected in our financial statements. In combination with our other anticipated increased operating expenses in connection with the ongoing demands of a public company, these anticipated changes in our operating expenses may make it difficult to evaluate our current business, assess our future performance relative to prior performance and accurately predict our future performance.
We will continue to encounter risks and difficulties frequently experienced by early commercial-stage companies, including those associated with increasing the size of our organization and the prioritization of our commercial, research and business development activities. If we do not address these risks successfully, our business could suffer.
Changes in financial accounting standards or practices may cause adverse, unexpected financial reporting fluctuations and affect our reported operating results.
Accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the SEC, and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles. A change in accounting standards or practices can have a significant effect on our reported results and may even affect our reporting of transactions completed before the change is effective. New accounting pronouncements and varying interpretations of accounting pronouncements have occurred and may occur in the future. For example, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, accounting standard setters may issue additional guidance or interpretations of existing guidance to address the financial reporting and accounting issues that have arisen or that may arise from the pandemic. Changes to existing rules or the questioning of current practices may adversely affect our reported financial results or the way we conduct our business.
Our quarterly and annual operating results and cash flows may fluctuate in the future, which could cause the market price of our stock to decline substantially.
Numerous factors, many of which are outside our control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, may cause or contribute to significant fluctuations in our quarterly and annual operating results. These fluctuations may make financial planning and forecasting uncertain. In addition, these fluctuations may result in unanticipated decreases in our available cash, which could negatively affect our business and prospects. In addition, one or more of such factors may cause our revenue or operating expenses in one period to be disproportionately higher or lower relative to the others. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may be difficult to understand and may not be meaningful. You should not rely on our past results as indicative of our future performance.
In addition, a significant portion of our operating expense is relatively fixed in nature, and planned expenditures are based in part on expectations regarding future revenue. Accordingly, unexpected revenue shortfalls could decrease our gross margins and cause significant changes in our operating results from quarter to quarter. If this occurs, the trading price of our stock could fall substantially.
This variability and unpredictability caused by factors such as those described above could also result in our failing to meet the expectations of industry or financial analysts or investors for any period. If our revenue or operating results fall below the expectations of analysts or investors or below any guidance we may provide, or if the guidance we provide is below the expectations of analysts or investors, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. Such a stock price decline could occur even when we have met any previously publicly stated guidance we may provide.
We previously identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If our internal control over financial reporting is not effective, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or file our periodic reports in a timely manner, which may cause adverse effects on our business and may cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information and may lead to a decline in our stock price.
Effective internal control over financial reporting is necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports in a timely manner. A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. In connection with the audits of our financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, we concluded that there were material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. However, in
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connection with audit of our financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019, we concluded these material weaknesses had been remediated.
These prior material weaknesses related to a lack of (i) appropriately designed and implemented controls over the review and approval of manual journal entries and the related supporting journal entry calculations, (ii) personnel with appropriate knowledge, experience and training commensurate with accounting and reporting requirements and (iii) appropriately designed and implemented controls to evaluate variable consideration and the related constraint in accordance with ASC 606, and resulted in certain material corrections to the financial statements.
To remediate these weaknesses, during 2019 we hired a full-time director of SEC reporting and technical accounting and another full-time accounting resource, both certified public accountants with active licenses, to augment our accounting staff and to provide more resources for complex accounting matters and financial reporting. We also commenced development of a new information technology tool designed to improve the efficiency of our processes with respect to revenue recognition under ASC 606 and hired personnel to support our revenue accounting and related activities under ASC 606. Further, we engaged a third party to assist us with formalizing our internal control documentation and implementation of enhancements to our internal control over financial reporting.
During 2020, we added additional full-time accounting personnel, including an additional certified public accountant with an active license, to further support the demands placed upon us as a public company, including the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Sarbanes-Oxley. We expect to continue expending significant time and resources related to our internal control over financial reporting, including by further expanding our finance and accounting staff, but there can be no assurance our efforts will be effective.
If we fail to adequately staff our accounting and finance function, or fail to maintain adequate internal control over financial reporting, any new or recurring material weaknesses could prevent our management from concluding our internal control over financial reporting is effective. If we identify any future significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, the accuracy and timing of our financial reporting may be adversely affected, our ability to prevent material misstatements in our financial statements could be impaired, a material misstatement in our financial statements could occur and we may be unable to maintain compliance with securities law requirements regarding timely filing of periodic reports, which could cause our business to suffer and our stock price to decline.
We may need to raise additional capital to fund our existing operations, commercialize new products or expand our operations.
We believe our existing cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash generated from sales of our products will be sufficient to fund our operations for the foreseeable future. If our available cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash generated from sales of our products are insufficient to satisfy our liquidity requirements including because of lower demand for our products, lower than currently expected rates of reimbursement from third-party payors or other risks described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we may finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances and marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements. We do not currently have any committed external source of funds. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations, even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans.
We may consider raising additional capital in the future to expand our business, to pursue strategic investments, to take advantage of financing opportunities or for other reasons, including to:
increase our sales and marketing efforts for DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-SCC, DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM and address competitive developments;
fund ongoing evidence development for our existing products as well as additional pipeline programs;
expand our laboratory testing facility and related testing capacity;
expand our technologies into other types of skin cancer management and detection products;
acquire, license or invest in technologies;
acquire or invest in complementary businesses or assets; and
finance capital expenditures and general and administrative expenses.
Our present and future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including:
our ability to achieve revenue growth;
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our rate of progress in establishing payor coverage and reimbursement arrangements with third-party payors;
our rate of progress in, and cost of the sales, marketing, coverage and reimbursement activities associated with, establishing adoption of DecisionDx-Melanoma, among our other products;
the cost of expanding our laboratory operations and offerings, including our sales, marketing, coverage and reimbursement efforts;
our rate of progress in, and cost of research and development activities associated with, diagnostic products in research and early development;
the potential cost of, and delays in, the development of new products as a result of changes in regulatory oversight applicable to our products;
the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
the effect of competing technological and market developments.
To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a common stockholder. Debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making acquisitions or capital expenditures or declaring dividends.
If we raise additional funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or products, or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us.
In addition, the COVID-19 crisis continues to rapidly evolve and has already resulted in a significant disruption of global financial markets. Our ability to raise additional capital may be adversely impacted by potential worsening global economic conditions and the recent disruptions to, and volatility in, the credit and financial markets in the U.S. and worldwide resulting from the crisis. If the disruption persists and deepens, we could experience an inability to access additional capital. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings or other arrangements when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our commercialization, research and development efforts or grant rights to third parties to market and/or develop products that we would otherwise prefer to market and develop ourselves.
Risks Related to Our Business
The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted and could continue to adversely impact our business, including the demand for our test reports, as well as the business or operations of physicians and other healthcare providers who order our test reports and the third-party payors responsible for reimbursement for our tests, customers and other third parties with whom we conduct business.
Public health crises such as pandemics or similar outbreaks have adversely impacted and could continue to adversely impact our business. In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, surfaced in Wuhan, China. Since then, COVID-19 has spread to multiple countries, including the United States. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, or similar pandemics, and federal, state and local government responses to pandemics, we have and/or may in the future experience disruptions that could adversely impact our business, including, but not limited to:
decreased test report volume due to a decline in orders of DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM tests as patient visits for routine examinations and biopsies are being delayed and/or canceled;
disruption of our sales and commercialization activities due to limitations on our ability to communicate with physicians as a result of travel restrictions and hindered means of communicating with physicians;
delays or disruptions by third parties in the collection, preparation or delivery of the tumor samples that we test;
delays or difficulties in delivering test reports, interruptions in research and development and other limitations of key business activities due to members of our workforce becoming ill and/or stay-at-home or other similar orders imposed by or that may be imposed by state and local governments, including at our Phoenix, Arizona and Friendswood, Texas locations;
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delayed reimbursement from third party payors, disruption in our supply channel and other adverse impacts on our business resulting from the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our suppliers, service providers and other third parties on whom we rely; and
delayed or postponed interactions with regulators and other important agencies and contractors, due to limitations in employee resources, travel restrictions or forced furlough of government employees.
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we began experiencing declines in orders and test report volume. For example, in the second quarter of 2020, test reports delivered for our lead product, DecisionDx-Melanoma, decreased 18.5% compared to the second quarter of 2019. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our growth in DecisionDx-Melanoma test report volume was 4.5%, compared to year-over-year growth of 29.1% for the year ended December 31, 2019. We believe the adverse impacts to our test report volume growth are linked to delays and/or cancellations in patient visits, resulting in reduced diagnostic biopsies and thus reduced diagnoses of cutaneous melanoma in response to COVID-19.
Our future results will be dependent upon the extent and duration of the COVID-19 crisis as well as the impact of ongoing state and local government restrictions, which are beyond our control, and which may be eased and/or reinstated from time to time depending on the circumstances, potentially impacting the flow of future patient visits and diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma. Even with the easing of state and local restrictions, patient visits may be impacted by continued apprehension regarding possible exposure to the virus. As conditions are continuously evolving, we are unable to predict how our future test report volume will be impacted or the extent to which our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, or other future public health crises. Accordingly, the test report data presented above and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K is not necessarily indicative of our results of operations that can be expected in future periods.
Under legislation enacted (or that may be enacted) by the United States federal government to respond to COVID-19, we have received and may receive in the future, cash payments or other forms of assistance allocated to healthcare and other companies. The eligibility requirements for any such payments or other assistance may be subject to restrictive terms and conditions, which may be ambiguous or subject to further modification, interpretation and guidance issued by government agencies on an ongoing basis. In the event we fail to comply with any of the terms or conditions associated with a payment we receive or if the terms and conditions or related interpretations change, we may be required to return it. The receipt of government payments or other assistance during the COVID-19 crisis has generated negative publicity for some companies and may continue to generate negative publicity for companies in the future. If we receive any negative publicity as a result of receiving or accepting a government payment or other assistance, it could harm our reputation, trigger a review or audit by applicable government agencies and/or adversely impact our stock price.
The COVID-19 crisis continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which COVID-19 will impact our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the duration of the crisis, resurgences of the virus, the availability and effectiveness of vaccinations or therapeutic treatments, the use of telemedicine, travel restrictions, stay-at-home or other similar orders and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the virus. Any of these factors, individually or in combination, could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows. In addition, the current and potential adverse impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects, may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks and uncertainties described elsewhere in this “Risk Factors” section.
Our revenue currently depends primarily on sales of DecisionDx-Melanoma, and we will need to generate sufficient revenue from this and other products to grow our business.
Most of our revenue in 2020 and 2019 was derived from the sale of our lead product, DecisionDx-Melanoma. While we also derive revenue from DecisionDx-UM and expect to derive revenue from DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma, we expect that the majority of our revenue for the foreseeable future will be derived from sales of DecisionDx-Melanoma. Further, we believe that our long-term commercial success will depend on our ability to develop and market additional products. Our ability to derive revenue from DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-UM, DecisionDx-SCC, DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma and any future products that we commercialize is uncertain and depends on favorable coverage and reimbursement policies from government payors, like Medicare, and from private payors, like insurance companies. Without positive coverage policies, our products may not be reimbursed and we may not be able to recognize revenue. If we are unable to increase sales and expand coverage and reimbursement for DecisionDx-Melanoma, develop and commercialize other products, and successfully obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement for such products, our revenue and our ability to achieve profitability would be impaired, and the market price of our stock could decline substantially.
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Billing for our products is complex and requires substantial time and resources to collect payment.
Billing for clinical laboratory testing services is complex, time-consuming and expensive. Depending on the billing arrangement and applicable law, we bill various payors, including Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance companies, private healthcare institutions, and patients, all of which have different billing requirements. We generally bill third-party payors for products and pursue reimbursement on a case-by-case basis where pricing contracts are not in place. To the extent laws or contracts require us to bill patient co-payments or co-insurance, we must also comply with these requirements. We may also face increased risk in our collection efforts, including potential write-offs of accounts receivable and long collection cycles, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Several factors make the billing process complex, including:
differences between the billing rates and reimbursement rates for our products;
compliance with complex federal and state regulations related to billing government healthcare programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE;
risk of government audits related to billing;
disputes among payors as to which party is responsible for payment;
differences in coverage and information and billing requirements among payors, including the need for prior authorization and/or advanced notification;
the effect of patient co-payments or co-insurance and our ability to collect such payments from patients;
changes to billing codes used for our products;
changes to requirements related to our current or future clinical studies, including our registry studies, which can affect eligibility for payment;
ongoing monitoring provisions of LCDs for our products, which can affect the circumstances under which a claim would be considered medically necessary;
incorrect or missing billing information; and
the resources required to manage the billing and claims appeals process.
We use standard industry billing codes, known as CPT codes, to bill for our products. If these codes were to change, there is a risk of an error being made in the claim adjudication process. Such errors can occur with claims submission, third-party transmission or in the processing of the claim by the payor. Claim adjudication errors may result in a delay in payment processing or a reduction in the amount of the payment we receive.
As we introduce new products, we may need to add new codes to our billing process as well as our financial reporting systems. Failure or delays in effecting these changes in external billing and internal systems and processes could negatively affect our collection rates, revenue and cost of collecting.
Additionally, our billing activities require us to implement compliance procedures and oversight, train and monitor our employees, and undertake internal audits to evaluate compliance with applicable laws and regulations as well as internal compliance policies and procedures. When payors deny our claims, we may challenge the reason, low payment amount or payment denials. Payors also conduct external audits to evaluate payments, which add further complexity to the billing process. If the payor makes an overpayment determination, there is a risk that we may be required to return all or some portion of prior payments we have received.
Additionally, the ACA requires providers and suppliers to report and return any overpayments received from government payors under the Medicare and Medicaid programs within 60 days of identification. Failure to identify and return such overpayments exposes the provider or supplier to liability under federal false claims laws. These billing complexities, and the related uncertainty in obtaining payment for our products, could negatively affect our revenue and cash flow, our ability to achieve profitability, and the consistency and comparability of our results of operations.
In addition to the complexities noted above, we rely upon third-party service providers and third-party software applications in the administration of our billing and collecting process. We are transitioning from a third-party billing service provider and have added additional headcount to move our billing process in-house using a third-party software application starting January 1, 2021. Any significant disruption or deficiency in the design or implementation of the new billing process could adversely impact our ability to generate and send invoices, calculate revenues, track payments and collect our accounts receivable.
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Additionally, any failure in the design or operation of our internal controls related to our billing and collection processes could adversely impact our ability to conclude on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.
We rely on third parties for tumor sample collection, preparation and delivery. Any defects in sample collection or preparation by such third parties and any delays in delivery of such samples could cause errors in our test reports and delay our ability to deliver test reports in a timely manner, which could significantly harm our business.
The tumor tissue samples that we test are biopsied, preserved, prepared and delivered to us by third parties, including dermatopathologists and laboratory facilities. As such, we rely on these third parties to prepare, label and deliver the tissue samples that we test in compliance with applicable laws and guidelines, and in a timely manner. Therefore, the accuracy and correctness of the test reports that we deliver are dependent on proper chain of custody and appropriate methods of sample collection or preparation utilized by these third parties, and our ability to timely deliver reports is dependent upon the ability of these third parties to provide these samples to us in a timely manner. The ability of these third parties to provide these samples to us in a timely manner could be delayed by events beyond our control, including but not limited to natural disasters and public health epidemics, such as the COVID-19 crisis. Any errors in any part of the sample collection or preparation process could cause us to deliver incorrect test reports, potentially resulting in harm to patients whose physicians implement a change in treatment decisions based upon our test report. If we are unable to timely deliver test reports, physicians may be less likely to recommend and order our products. The occurrence of any of the foregoing could significantly harm our reputation and our results of operations, causing significant harm to our business.
We rely on our database of tumor samples for the development and improvement of our products. Depletion or loss of our tumor samples could significantly harm our business.
The development and validation of accurate products is a complex process that requires access to tumor tissue specimens and long-term outcomes data. Our research and development efforts to improve our existing products and develop new products may require the depletion of our existing database of tumor samples. If our tumor samples are lost or destroyed, or substantially depleted before we are able to generate meaningful data, we may be unable to improve our existing products, continue the development of pipeline products or validate product candidates. While we have historically been able to create and maintain a large sample bank to expand the clinical use of our products and develop new products, we may be unable to do so in the future. If we were unable to maintain or replenish our sample bank, we may be unable to improve our products or develop new products.
If our primary clinical laboratory facility becomes damaged or inoperable or we are required to vacate our existing facility, our ability to conduct our laboratory analysis and pursue our research and development efforts may be jeopardized.
We currently perform all of our testing and store our database of tumor samples at our primary clinical laboratory facility in Phoenix, Arizona. Our facility and equipment could be harmed or rendered inoperable by natural or man-made disasters, including war, fire, earthquake, power loss, communications failure, terrorism, burglary, public health crises (including restrictions that may be imposed on businesses by state and local governments under stay-at-home or similar orders and mandates) or other events, which may make it difficult or impossible for us to perform our testing services for some period of time or to receive and store samples. The inability to perform tests or to reduce the backlog of sample analysis that could develop if our facility becomes inoperable, for even a short period of time, may result in the loss of revenue, loss of customers or harm to our reputation, and we may be unable to regain that revenue, those customers or repair our reputation in the future. Furthermore, integral parties in our supply chain are operating from single sites, increasing their vulnerability to natural disasters and man-made disasters or other sudden, unforeseen and severe adverse events.
In addition, the loss of our tumor samples due to such events could limit or prevent our ability to conduct research and development analysis on existing tests as well as tests in active pipeline development.
While we have a business continuity plan in place, and have completed the build out of an additional laboratory facility in close proximity to our primary facility to support our growth and provide certain operational redundancy, our facilities and the equipment we use to perform our testing and research and development could be unavailable or costly and time-consuming to repair or replace. It would be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to rebuild our facilities, to locate and qualify a new facility, replace certain pieces of equipment or license or transfer our proprietary technology to a third-party, particularly in light of licensure and accreditation requirements. Even in the unlikely event that we are able to find a third party with such qualifications to enable us to resume our operations, we may be unable to negotiate commercially reasonable terms.
We carry insurance for damage to our property and the disruption of our business, but this insurance may not cover all of the risks associated with damage or disruption to our business, may not provide coverage in amounts sufficient to cover our potential losses and may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all.
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Our current or future products may not achieve or maintain significant commercial market acceptance.
We believe our commercial success is dependent upon our ability to continue to successfully market and sell our products, to continue to expand our current relationships and develop new relationships with healthcare providers, to expand and maintain coverage for our products, and to develop and commercialize new products. Our ability to achieve and maintain commercial market acceptance of our existing and future products will depend on a number of factors, including:
our ability to increase awareness of our products through successful clinical utility and validity studies;
the rate of adoption of our products by physicians and other healthcare providers;
our ability to achieve guideline inclusion for our products;
the timeliness with which we can provide our clinical reports to the ordering physician;
the timing and scope of any regulatory approval for our products, if such approvals become required, and maintaining ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements;
our ability to obtain and maintain positive coverage decisions for our products from government and commercial payors;
our ability to obtain and maintain adequate reimbursement from third-party payors, including Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans and BlueCross BlueShield plans, which accounted for an aggregate of approximately 93% and 84% of our total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively;
the impact of our investments in research and development and commercial growth;
negative publicity regarding our or our competitors’ products resulting from scientific publications, or defects or errors in the products; and
our ability to further validate our products through clinical research and accompanying publications.
We cannot assure you that we will be successful in addressing each of these factors or other factors that might affect the market acceptance of our products. If we are unsuccessful in achieving and maintaining market acceptance of our products, our business and results of operations will suffer.
New product development involves a lengthy and complex process, and we may be unable to develop and commercialize, or receive reimbursement for, on a timely basis, or at all, new products.
We continually seek to develop new product offerings, which requires us to devote considerable resources to research and development. For example, before we can commercialize a new pipeline product, we will need to expend significant resources in order to conduct substantial research and development, including clinical utility and validity studies, and further develop and scale our laboratory processes and infrastructure to accommodate additional products.
Our product development process takes time and involves a high degree of risk, and such development efforts may fail for many reasons, including failure of the product to perform as expected, failure to successfully complete analytic and clinical validation, or failure to demonstrate the clinical utility of the product.
As we develop new products, we will have to make significant investments in research and development, marketing, selling, coverage and reimbursement activities. Typically, few research and development projects result in a commercialized product, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully develop new products that can be commercialized. At any point, we may abandon development of a product or we may be required to expend considerable resources conducting research, which would adversely affect the timing for generating potential revenue from a new product and our ability to invest in other products in our pipeline. If a clinical validation study fails to demonstrate the prospectively defined endpoints of the study or if we fail to sufficiently demonstrate analytical validity or clinical utility, we might choose to abandon the development of the product, which could harm our business. In addition, competitors may develop and commercialize competing products or technologies faster than us or at a lower cost.
We may experience limits on our revenue if we are unable to increase and support adoption of our products by physicians and other healthcare providers.
Physicians and other healthcare providers may be unwilling to adopt our products due to their reliance on existing traditional clinical and pathology staging criteria and our ability to generate revenue from our products would be significantly impaired if we were unable to educate physicians, healthcare providers, patients and third-party payors about the benefits and advantages of our products. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted our in-person healthcare interactions, such as field-based sales and medical affairs, and we have had to convert visits, programs and projects to be performed online and by telephone. Due to the
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uncertainties surrounding the duration, extent and lingering impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, our in-person healthcare interactions may continue to be limited and this may impact the effectiveness of our efforts. We will need to continue to educate physicians and pathologists about the benefits and cost-effectiveness of our products through published papers, presentations at scientific conferences, one-on-one marketing efforts by our sales force and one-on-one education by our medical affairs team. However, physicians and other healthcare providers may be reluctant to adopt our products in circumstances where our products are not incorporated into the current standard of care or practice guidelines. For example, while clinical utility of DecisionDx-Melanoma has been demonstrated in peer reviewed publications, the SLNB surgery is the most widely used staging tool for determining a cutaneous melanoma patient’s metastatic risk. Whether healthcare providers adopt DecisionDx-Melanoma as a complementary or triage diagnostic method relative to the SLNB surgery will depend on our ability to increase awareness of DecisionDx-Melanoma and its clinical validation.
In addition, our testing services are performed by our certified laboratory located in Phoenix, Arizona, under CLIA, rather than by local laboratory or pathology practices. Accordingly, it may be difficult for us to collect samples from pathologists, and pathologists may be reluctant to support our testing services.
We rely on limited or sole suppliers for some of the reagents, equipment, chips and other materials used by our products, and we may not be able to find replacements or transition to alternative suppliers.
We rely on limited or sole suppliers for certain reagents and other materials and components that we use for our products. Some of these items are unique to these suppliers and vendors. While we have developed alternate sourcing strategies for these materials and vendors, we cannot be certain whether these strategies will be effective or the alternative sources will be available when we need them. If these suppliers can no longer provide us with the materials we need, if the materials do not meet our quality specifications or are otherwise unusable, if we cannot obtain acceptable substitute materials, or if we elect to change suppliers, an interruption in laboratory operations could occur, we may not be able to deliver patient reports on a timely basis, or at all, and we may incur higher one-time switching costs. Any such interruption may significantly affect our future revenue, cause us to incur higher costs, and harm our customer relationships and reputation. In addition, in order to mitigate these risks, we maintain inventories of these supplies at higher levels than would be the case if multiple sources of supply were available. If our testing volume decreases or we switch suppliers, we may hold excess supplies with expiration dates that occur before use which would adversely affect our losses and cash flow position. As we introduce any new products, we may experience supply issues as we ramp test volume. If we should encounter delays or difficulties in securing, reconfiguring or revalidating the equipment, reagents or other materials we require for our products, our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation could be adversely affected.
If our products do not meet the expectations of physicians and patients, our operating results, reputation and business could suffer.
Our success depends on physician and patient confidence that we can provide reliable, high-quality information that will improve treatment outcomes, lower healthcare costs and enable better patient care. We believe that patients, physicians and other healthcare providers are likely to be particularly sensitive to defects and errors in our products, including if our products fail to accurately predict risk of metastasis with high accuracy from samples, and there can be no guarantee that our products will meet their expectations. As a result, the failure of our products to perform as expected could significantly impair our operating results and our reputation, including if we become subject to legal claims arising from any defects or errors in our products or reports.
If we are unable to compete successfully, our business will suffer and we may be unable to increase or sustain our revenue or achieve profitability.
We face competition from companies and academic institutions that have either developed or may seek to develop products intended to compete with our products. Potential competitors within the broader genomics profiling space based on tissue sample collection include laboratory companies such as Laboratory Corporation of America and Myriad Genetics, and other companies which have strong infrastructures capable of supporting the commercialization of diagnostic services.
In addition, competitors may develop their own versions of our solutions in countries where we do not have patents or where our intellectual property rights are not recognized and compete with us in those countries, including encouraging the use of their solutions by physicians in other countries.
Some potential competitors may have longer operating histories, larger customer bases, greater brand recognition and market penetration, substantially greater financial, technological and research and development resources and selling and marketing capabilities, and more experience dealing with third-party payors. As a result, they may be able to respond more quickly to changes in customer requirements, devote greater resources to the development, promotion and sale of their products than we do or sell their products at prices designed to win significant levels of market share. We may not be able to compete effectively
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against these organizations. Increased competition and cost-saving initiatives on the part of governmental entities and other third-party payors are likely to result in pricing pressures, which could harm our sales, profitability or ability to gain market share. In addition, competitors may be acquired by, receive investments from or enter into other commercial relationships with larger, well-established and well-financed companies. Certain potential competitors may be able to secure key inputs from vendors on more favorable terms, devote greater resources to marketing and promotional campaigns, adopt more aggressive pricing policies and devote substantially more resources to test development than we can. In addition, companies or governments that control access to testing through umbrella contracts or regional preferences could promote our competitors or prevent us from performing certain services. If we are unable to compete successfully against current and future competitors, our business will suffer and we may be unable to increase market acceptance and sales of our products, which could prevent us from increasing our revenue or achieving profitability and could cause our stock price to decline. As we add new tests and services, we will face many of these same competitive risks for these new tests.
The sizes of the markets for our current and future products have not been established with precision and may be smaller than we estimate.
Our estimates of the total addressable markets for DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-UM, DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma are based on a number of internal and third-party estimates, including, without limitation, the annual rate of patients with the applicable form of skin cancer, the list price of our products relative to the reimbursement we expect to receive from third-party payors and the assumed prices at which we can sell our products in markets that have not been established. For example, we estimate that the total addressable market for DecisionDx-Melanoma is approximately $540 million, which is based, in part, on our review of multiple publications which show that diagnosis of melanoma is underreported by 30% to 72%. While we believe our assumptions and the data underlying our estimates are reasonable, these assumptions and estimates may not be correct and the conditions supporting our assumptions or estimates may change at any time, thereby reducing the predictive accuracy of these underlying factors. As a result, our estimates of the annual total addressable market for our current or future products may prove to be incorrect. If the actual number of patients who would benefit from our products, the price at which we can sell future products, or the annual total addressable market for our products is smaller than we have estimated, it may impair our sales growth and have an adverse impact on our business.
The diagnostic testing industry is subject to rapid change, which could make our current or future products obsolete.
Our industry is characterized by rapid changes, including technological and scientific breakthroughs, frequent new product introductions and enhancements and evolving industry standards, all of which could make our current products and the other products we are developing obsolete. Our future success will depend on our ability to keep pace with the evolving needs of physicians and patients on a timely and cost-effective basis and to pursue new market opportunities that develop as a result of scientific and technological advances. In recent years, there have been numerous advances in technologies relating to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. There have also been advances in methods used to analyze very large amounts of molecular information. We must continuously enhance our existing products and develop new products to keep pace with evolving standards of care. If we do not update our products to reflect new scientific knowledge about cancer biology, information about new cancer therapies or relevant clinical studies, our products could become obsolete and sales of our current products and any new products we develop could decline or fail to grow as expected.
Risks Related to Reimbursement and Government Regulation
We currently have limited reimbursement coverage for our lead product, DecisionDx-Melanoma, and if third-party payors, including government and commercial payors, do not provide sufficient coverage of, or adequate reimbursement for, our products, our commercial success, including revenue, will be negatively affected.
Our revenue depends on achieving broad coverage and adequate reimbursement for our products from third-party payors, including both government and commercial third-party payors. If third-party payors do not provide coverage of, or do not provide adequate reimbursement for, a substantial portion of the list price of our products, we may need to seek additional payment from the patient beyond any co-payments and deductibles, which may adversely affect demand for our products. Coverage determinations by a third-party payor may depend on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, a third-party payor’s determination of whether our products are appropriate, medically necessary or cost-effective. If we are unable to provide third-party payors with sufficient evidence of the clinical utility and validity of our products, they may not provide coverage, or may provide limited coverage, which will adversely affect our revenues and our ability to succeed. To the extent that more competitors enter our markets, the availability of coverage and the reimbursement rate for our products may decrease as we encounter pricing pressure from these competitors.
Since each third-party payor makes its own decision as to whether to establish a policy to cover our products, enter into a contract with us and set the amount it will reimburse for a product, these negotiations are a time-consuming and costly process,
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and they do not guarantee that the third-party payor will provide coverage or adequate reimbursement for our products. In addition, the determinations by a third-party payor whether to cover our products and the amount it will reimburse for them are often made on an indication-by-indication basis.
In cases where there is no coverage policy or we do not have a contracted rate for reimbursement as a participating provider, the patient is typically responsible for a greater share of the cost of the product, which may result in further delay of our revenue, increase our collection costs or decrease the likelihood of collection.
Our claims for reimbursement from third-party payors may be denied upon submission, and we may need to take additional steps to receive payment, such as appealing the denials. Such appeals and other processes are time-consuming and expensive, and may not result in payment. Third-party payors may perform audits of historically paid claims and attempt to recoup funds years after the funds were initially distributed if the third-party payors believe the funds were paid in error or determine that our products were medically unnecessary. If a third-party payor audits our claims and issues a negative audit finding, and we are not able to overturn the audit findings through appeal, the recoupment may result in a material adverse effect on our revenue. Additionally, in some cases commercial third-party payors for whom we are not a participating provider may elect at any time to review claims previously paid and determine the amount they paid was too much. In these situations, the third-party payor will typically notify us of their decision and then offset whatever amount they determine they overpaid against amounts they owe us on current claims. We cannot predict when, or how often, a third-party payor might engage in these reviews and we may not be able to dispute these retroactive adjustments.
Under ASC 606, we recognize revenue at the amount we expect to be entitled, subject to a constraint for variable consideration, in the period in which our tests are delivered to the treating physician. We have determined that our contracts contain variable consideration under ASC 606 because the amounts paid by third-party payors may be paid at less than our standard rates or not paid at all, with such differences considered implicit price concessions. Variable consideration is recognized only to the extent it is probable that a significant reversal of revenue will not occur in future periods when the uncertainties are resolved.
Variable consideration is evaluated each reporting period and adjustments are recorded as increases or decreases in revenues. Variable consideration for Medicare claims that are not covered by an LCD, including those claims subject to approval by an ALJ at an appeal hearing, is deemed to be fully constrained due to factors outside our influence (i.e., judgment or actions of third parties) and the uncertainty of the amount to be received is not expected to be resolved for a long period of time. For these fully constrained claims, we generally recognize revenue in the period the uncertainties are resolved, if favorable. In June 2017 we submitted to the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals, or OMHA, a request to participate in an appeal program developed with the intent of providing appellants a means to have large volumes of claim disputes adjudicated at an accelerated rate. We submitted 2,698 DecisionDx-Melanoma claims dating from 2013 through spring 2017 for adjudication on a consolidated basis. In March 2020, OMHA issued a decision denying payment on all of these claims. In accordance with ASC 606 and consistent with prior periods, we have not recognized (fully constrained the variable consideration) any revenues attributable to these claims in our financial statements pending the outcome of this matter. We have appealed this decision, but there can be no assurances regarding the timing or the outcome of this or any other appeal decision. Due to potential future changes in Medicare coverage policies and appeal cycles, insurance coverage policies, contractual rates and other trends in the reimbursement of our tests, our revenues may fluctuate significantly from period to period.
Although we are an in-network participating provider with some commercial third-party payors, including several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, and certain large, national commercial third-party payors, including Aetna, other commercial third-party payors have issued non-coverage policies that currently categorize DecisionDx-UM and DecisionDx-Melanoma as experimental or investigational. If we are not successful in obtaining coverage from third-party payors, in reversing existing non-coverage policies, or if other third-party payors issue similar non-coverage policies, this could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
Palmetto, the MAC responsible for administering MolDX, the program that assesses molecular diagnostic technologies, issued a final LCD for DecisionDx-Melanoma, which became effective on December 3, 2018 and issued a final expanded LCD effective November 22, 2020. This LCD provides for coverage of DecisionDx-Melanoma for certain SLNB-eligible patients with cutaneous melanoma tumors with clinically negative sentinel node basins who are being considered for SLNB to determine eligibility for adjuvant therapy. The final expanded LCD also covers use of DecisionDx-Melanoma by physicians for assessment of appropriate treatment plans, regardless of the decision to undergo or avoid the SLNB surgery. Similarly, Palmetto issued a final LCD for DecisionDx-UM effective July 10, 2017. This LCD provides for coverage of DecisionDx-UM to determine metastatic risk in connection with the management of a patient’s newly diagnosed uveal melanoma and to guide surveillance and referral to medical oncology for those patients. We worked with Palmetto to obtain these positive coverage
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decisions through the submission of a detailed dossier of analytical and clinical data to substantiate that the tests meet Medicare’s medical necessity requirements. Per their joint operating agreement, Noridian, the MAC responsible for administering claims for laboratory services performed in Arizona, has adopted the same coverage policy as Palmetto for DecisionDx-UM and DecisionDx-Melanoma. This coverage process is lengthy, time-consuming, has changed over time, may change in the future and requires significant dedication of resources, and as we develop new products, we may be unsuccessful in receiving LCD determinations for those products or in maintaining our current LCDs. On a periodic basis, CMS requests bids for its MAC services, and MAC jurisdictions have changed in the past. A change in our MAC, or future changes in the MolDX program, the elimination of the program, or a change in the administrator of that program, may affect our ability to obtain Medicare coverage and reimbursement for products for which we have coverage, for products for which we do not yet have coverage, or for any products we may launch in the future, or delay payments for our tests.
Under Medicare, payment for products like ours is generally made under the CLFS, with payment amounts assigned to specific procedure billing codes. In April 2014, Congress passed PAMA, which included substantial changes to the way in which clinical laboratory services are paid under Medicare. Under PAMA, certain laboratories are required to report to CMS commercial third-party payor payment rates and volumes for each test they perform. CMS uses this data to calculate a weighted median payment rate for each test, which will be used to establish revised Medicare CLFS reimbursement rates for the test. Laboratories that fail to report the required payment information may be subject to substantial civil monetary penalties. We bill Medicare for our products, and therefore we are subject to reporting requirements under PAMA.
On May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-UM meets the criteria for “existing ADLT” status. This means that beginning in 2021, the DecisionDx-UM Medicare rate will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. Note that our rate for 2020 was set by Noridian, our local MAC, but our rate for 2021 for DecisionDx-UM will be $7,776 based on the median private payor rate. Also, on May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-Melanoma meets the criteria for “new ADLT” status. Accordingly, from July 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020 the Medicare reimbursement rate was equal to the initial list price of $7,193. From April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021, CMS notified us that the rate will also be $7,193, which was calculated based upon the median private payor rate for DecisionDx-Melanoma from July 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019. Beginning in 2022, the rate for both DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. For example, the rate for 2022 will be set using median private payor rate data from January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
In the second quarter of 2020, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx-SCC to Palmetto and Noridian. In early 2021, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma. We expect that draft LCDs for each of these tests will be posted in 2021. However, there is no assurance that the timing of any draft LCD or final LCD will match our expectations or our historical experience with LCDs for our other tests.
If we are unable to obtain and maintain adequate reimbursement rates from commercial third-party payors, this may adversely affect our Medicare rate. It is unclear what impact new pricing structures, such as those adopted under PAMA, may have on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
The U.S. federal government continues to show significant interest in pursuing health care reform and reducing health care costs. Similarly, commercial third-party payors may seek to reduce costs by limiting coverage or reducing reimbursement for our products. Any government-adopted reform measures or changes to commercial third-party payor coverage and reimbursement policies could cause significant pressure on the pricing of, and reimbursement for, health care products and services, including our products, which could decrease demand for our products, and adversely affect our sales and revenue.
In addition, some third-party payors have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, laboratory benefit management programs, often using third-party benefit managers to manage these programs. The stated goals of these programs are to help improve the quality of outpatient laboratory services, support evidence-based guidelines for patient care and lower costs. The impact on laboratories, such as ours, of active laboratory benefit management by third parties is unclear, and we expect that it could have a negative impact on our revenue in the short term. It is possible that third-party payors will resist reimbursement for the products that we offer, in favor of less expensive products, may require pre-approval for our products or may impose additional pricing pressure on and substantial administrative burden for reimbursement for our products.
We expect to continue to focus substantial resources on increasing coverage and reimbursement for our current products and any future products we may develop. We believe it may take several years to achieve broad coverage and adequate contracted reimbursement with a majority of third-party payors for our products.
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However, we cannot predict whether, under what circumstances, or at what payment levels third-party payors will cover and reimburse our products. If we fail to establish and maintain broad adoption of, and coverage and reimbursement for, our products, our ability to generate revenue could be harmed and our future prospects and our business could suffer.
Our products are currently marketed as laboratory developed tests, and any changes in regulations or the FDA’s enforcement discretion for laboratory developed tests, or violations of regulations by us, could adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations or financial condition.
The diagnostics industry is highly regulated, and we cannot assure you that the regulatory environment in which we operate will not change significantly and adversely in the future. In many instances, there are no significant regulatory or judicial interpretations of these laws and regulations. Although the FDA has statutory authority to assure that medical devices are safe and effective for their intended uses, the FDA has generally exercised its enforcement discretion and not enforced applicable regulations with respect to in vitro diagnostics that are designed, manufactured and used within a single laboratory. These tests are referred to as LDTs. We currently market our products as LDTs.
The FDA has adopted a policy of enforcement discretion with respect to LDTs whereby the FDA does not actively require premarket review of LDTs or otherwise impose its requirements applicable to other medical devices on LDTs. However, the FDA has stated its intention to modify its enforcement discretion policy with respect to LDTs. The FDA could ultimately modify its current approach to LDTs in a way that would subject our products marketed as LDTs to the enforcement of additional regulatory requirements. Moreover, legislative measures have recently been proposed in Congress that, if ultimately enacted, could provide the FDA with additional authority to require premarket review of and regulate LDTs. If and when such changes to the regulatory framework occur, we could for the first time be subject to enforcement of regulatory requirements as a device manufacturer such as registration and listing requirements, medical device reporting requirements and the requirements of the FDA’s Quality System Regulation. We may be required to conduct clinical trials prior to continuing to sell our existing products or launching any other products we may develop. This may increase the cost of conducting, or otherwise harm, our business.
Moreover, even if the FDA does not modify its policy of enforcement discretion, the FDA may disagree that we are marketing our LDTs within the scope of its policy of enforcement discretion and may impose significant regulatory requirements. While we believe that we are currently in material compliance with applicable laws and regulations as historically enforced by the FDA, we cannot assure you that the FDA will agree with our determination. A determination that we have violated these laws and regulations, or a public announcement that we are being investigated for possible violations, could adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations or financial condition.
If the FDA begins to actively regulate our diagnostic products, we may be required to obtain premarket clearance under Section 510(k) of FDCA or a PMA. The process for submitting a 510(k) premarket notification and receiving FDA clearance usually takes from three to 12 months, but it can take significantly longer and clearance is never guaranteed. The process for submitting and obtaining FDA approval of a PMA is much more costly, lengthy and uncertain. It generally takes from one to three years or even longer, and approval is not guaranteed. PMA approval typically requires extensive clinical data and can be significantly longer, more expensive and more uncertain than the 510(k) clearance process. Despite the time, effort and expense expended, there can be no assurance that a particular device ultimately will be cleared or approved by the FDA through either the 510(k) clearance process or the PMA process on a timely basis, or at all. Moreover, there can be no assurance that any cleared or approved labeling claims will be consistent with our current claims or adequate to support continued adoption of and reimbursement for our products. If premarket review is required for some or all of our products, the FDA may require that we stop selling our products pending clearance or approval, which would negatively impact our business. Even if our products are allowed to remain on the market prior to clearance or approval, demand or reimbursement for our products may decline if there is uncertainty about our products, if we are required to label our products as investigational by the FDA, or if the FDA limits the labeling claims we are permitted to make for our products. As a result, we could experience significantly increased development costs and a delay in generating additional revenue from our products, or from other products now in development.
If the FDA imposes significant changes to the regulation of LDTs it could reduce our revenues or increase our costs and adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations or financial condition.
We conduct business in a heavily regulated industry, and failure to comply with federal, state and foreign laboratory licensing requirements and the applicable requirements of the FDA or any other regulatory authority, could cause us to lose
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the ability to perform our tests, experience disruptions to our business, or become subject to administrative or judicial sanctions.
The diagnostics industry is highly regulated, and the laws and regulations governing the marketing of diagnostic tests are extremely complex. Areas of the regulatory environment that may affect our ability to conduct business include, without limitation:
federal and state laws applicable to test ordering, documentation of tests ordered, billing practices and claims payment and/or regulatory agencies enforcing those laws and regulations;
federal and state fraud and abuse laws;
federal and state laboratory anti-mark-up laws;
coverage and reimbursement levels by Medicare, Medicaid, other governmental payors and private insurers;
restrictions on coverage of and reimbursement for tests;
federal and state laws governing laboratory testing, including CLIA, and state licensing laws and accreditation requirements;
federal and state laws and enforcement policies governing the development, use and distribution of diagnostic medical devices, including LDTs;
federal, state and local laws governing the handling and disposal of medical and hazardous waste;
federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules and regulations; and
HIPAA and similar state data privacy laws.
In particular, the FDCA defines a medical device to include any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including a component, part, or accessory, intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, in man or other animals. Our products are considered by the FDA to be subject to regulation as medical devices, and marketed under FDA’s policy of enforcement discretion for LDTs. Among other things, pursuant to the FDCA and its implementing regulations, the FDA regulates the research, testing, manufacturing, safety, labeling, storage, recordkeeping, premarket clearance or approval, marketing and promotion, and sales and distribution of medical devices in the United States to ensure that medical products distributed domestically are safe and effective for their intended uses. In addition, the FDA regulates the import and export of medical devices manufactured between the United States and international markets.
We are also subject to CLIA, a federal law that regulates clinical laboratories that perform testing on specimens derived from humans for the purpose of providing information for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of disease. CLIA regulations establish specific standards with respect to personnel qualifications, facility administration, proficiency testing, quality control, quality assurance and inspections. Any testing subject to CLIA regulation must be performed in a CLIA certified or accredited lab. CLIA certification or accreditation is also required in order for us to be eligible to bill state and federal healthcare programs, as well as commercial third-party payors, for our products.
We have a current CLIA accreditation under the College of American Pathologists, or CAP, program to conduct our tests at our clinical reference laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona. CAP maintains a clinical laboratory accreditation program. While not required for the operation of a CLIA-certified laboratory, many private insurers require CAP accreditation as a condition to contracting with clinical laboratories to cover their tests. In addition, some countries outside the United States require CAP accreditation as a condition to permitting clinical laboratories to test samples taken from their citizens. CAP accredited laboratories are surveyed for compliance with CAP standards every two years in order to maintain accreditation. Failure to maintain CAP accreditation could have a material adverse effect on the sales of our products and the results of our operations.
Therefore, to maintain our CLIA accreditation, we have elected to be subject to survey and inspection every two years by CAP. Moreover, CLIA inspectors may make random inspections of our laboratory from time to time.
Our most recent CAP inspection occurred in the fourth quarter of 2020 and our CLIA accreditation certificate expires on December 20, 2022.
In addition, certain states require our laboratory to be licensed in such states in order to test specimens from those states. Accordingly, our laboratory is also licensed by California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Other states may have similar requirements or may adopt similar requirements in the future.
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Although we have obtained licenses from states where we believe we are required to be licensed, we may become aware of other states that require out-of-state laboratories to obtain licensure in order to accept specimens from the state, and it is possible that other states currently have such requirements or will have such requirements in the future.
In order to test specimens from New York, LDTs must be approved by NYSDOH on a test-by-test basis before they are offered. Our laboratory director must also be separately qualified to be a laboratory director in New York. DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-UM and DecisionDx-PRAME have each been formally approved and we have been granted conditional permission by NYSDOH to offer our DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma tests in New York while our applications under review. Our laboratory director has been qualified by NYSDOH. We are subject to periodic inspection by the NYSDOH and are required to demonstrate ongoing compliance with NYSDOH regulations and standards. To the extent NYSDOH identified any non-compliance and we are unable to remedy such non-compliance, the State of New York could withdraw approval for our products. We will need to seek NYSDOH approval of any future LDTs we develop and want to offer for clinical testing to New York residents, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to obtain such approval.
We may also be subject to regulation in foreign jurisdictions as we seek to expand international utilization of our products or such jurisdictions adopt new licensure requirements, which may require review of our products in order to offer them or may have other limitations such as restrictions on the transport of human tissue samples necessary for us to perform our tests that may limit our ability to make our products available outside of the United States. Complying with licensure requirements in new jurisdictions may be expensive, time-consuming and subject us to significant and unanticipated delays.
Failure to comply with applicable clinical laboratory licensure requirements may result in a range of enforcement actions, including suspension, limitation or revocation of our CLIA accreditation and/or state licenses, imposition of a directed plan of action, onsite monitoring, civil monetary penalties, criminal sanctions and revocation of the laboratory’s approval to receive Medicare and Medicaid payment for its services, as well as significant adverse publicity. Any sanction imposed under CLIA, its implementing regulations, or state or foreign laws or regulations governing clinical laboratory licensure or our failure to renew our CLIA accreditation, or a state or foreign license, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Even if we were able to bring our laboratory back into compliance, we could incur significant expenses and potentially lose revenue in doing so.
The FDA may modify its enforcement discretion policy with respect to LDTs in a risk-based manner, and we may become subject to extensive regulatory requirements and may be required to conduct additional clinical trials prior to continuing to sell our existing tests or launching any other tests we may develop, which may increase the cost of conducting, or otherwise harm, our business.
If the FDA changes or ends its policy of enforcement discretion with respect to LDTs, and our products become subject to the FDA’s requirements for premarket review of medical devices, we may be required to cease commercial sales of our products and conduct clinical trials prior to making submissions to the FDA to obtain premarket clearance or approval. If we are required to conduct such clinical trials, delays in the commencement or completion of clinical trials could significantly increase our product development costs and delay commercialization of any currently marketed testing that we may be required to cease selling or the commercialization of any future tests that we may develop. Many of the factors that may cause or lead to a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to delay or denial of regulatory clearance or approval. The commencement of clinical trials may be delayed due to insufficient patient enrollment, which is a function of many factors, including the size of the patient population, the nature of the protocol, the proximity of patients to clinical sites and the eligibility criteria for the clinical trial.
The FDA requires medical device manufacturers to comply with, among other things, current good manufacturing practices for medical devices, known as the Quality System Regulation, which requires manufacturers to follow elaborate design, testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance procedures during the manufacturing process; the medical device reporting regulation, which requires that manufacturers report to the FDA if their device may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury or malfunctioned in a way that would likely cause or contribute to a death or serious injury if it were to recur; labeling regulations, including the FDA’s general prohibition against promoting products for unapproved or ‘‘off-label’’ uses; and the reports of corrections and removals regulation, which requires manufacturers to report to the FDA if a device correction or removal was initiated to reduce a risk to health posed by the device or to remedy a violation of the FDCA caused by the device which may present a risk to health.
Even if we were able to obtain FDA clearance or approval for one or more of our products, if required, a diagnostic test may be subject to limitations on the indications for which it may be marketed or to other regulatory conditions. In addition, such clearance or approval may contain requirements for costly post-market testing and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of the test.
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In addition, the FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approvals. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing authorization that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability, which would adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Interim, topline and preliminary data from our clinical studies that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.
From time to time, we may publicly disclose preliminary or topline or data from our clinical studies, which is based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the data related to the particular study. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Topline data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, topline data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. From time to time, we may also disclose interim data from our clinical studies. Interim data from clinical studies that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as more patient data become available. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our reputation and marketing efforts.
Further, others, including healthcare providers or payors, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate or product and our company in general. In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study is based on what is typically extensive information, and you or others may not agree with what we determine is the material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure, and any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding our business. If the topline or interim data that we report differ from actual results, or if others, including healthcare providers or payors, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to commercialize, our product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition.
Changes in health care policy could increase our costs, decrease our revenues and impact sales of and reimbursement for our products.
In March 2010, the ACA became law. This law substantially changed the way health care is financed by both government and commercial third-party payors, and significantly impacted our industry. The ACA contains a number of provisions that are expected to impact our business and operations, some of which in ways we cannot currently predict, including those governing enrollment in state and federal health care programs, reimbursement changes and fraud and abuse, which impact existing state and federal health care programs and will result in the development of new programs. Among other things, the ACA required medical device manufacturers to pay a sales tax equal to 2.3% of the price for which such manufacturer sells its medical devices, and began to apply to sales of taxable medical devices after December 31, 2012, but was suspended in 2016. Further, the 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the medical device tax and “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminated the health insurer tax.
Since 2016, there have been efforts to repeal all or part of the ACA, and the previous administration and the U.S. Congress have taken action to roll back certain provisions of the ACA. It is unknown what actions, if any, the current administration and the U.S. Congress may take regarding the ACA.
Additionally, on December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the tax penalty on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year, commonly referred to as the ‘‘individual mandate,’’ was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or the TCJA. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. The United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing this case. It is unclear when a decision in this case will be made. It is also unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other such litigation and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the ACA and our business.
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On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 was signed into law, which, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to providers by 2% per fiscal year, effective on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2030, unless additional Congressional action is taken. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act enacted on March 27, 2020, also known as the CARES Act, which is designed to provide financial support and resources to individuals and business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and extended the sequester by one year, through 2030. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, extended the suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester through March 31, 2021.
We anticipate there will continue to be proposals by legislators at both the federal and state levels, regulators and commercial third-party payors to reduce costs while expanding individual healthcare benefits. For example, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Certain of these changes could impose additional limitations on the prices we will be able to charge for our products, the coverage of or the amounts of reimbursement available for our products from third-party payors, including government and commercial payors.
We are subject to numerous federal and state healthcare statutes and regulations, and complying with laws pertaining to our business is an expensive and time-consuming process. If we are unable to comply, or have not fully complied, with such laws, we could face substantial penalties and a material adverse effect to our business and operations.
Physicians, other healthcare providers and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation of our products. Our arrangements with healthcare providers, third-party payors and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that affect the business and financial arrangements and relationships through which we market and sell our products. The laws that affect our ability to operate include, but are not limited to:
the AKS, which prohibits, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of an item or service reimbursable, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The term ‘‘remuneration’’ has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value, such as specimen collection materials or test kits. There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, however these are drawn narrowly. Additionally, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. Violations are subject to civil and criminal fines and monetary penalties of up to $100,000 for each violation, plus up to three times the remuneration involved, imprisonment of up to ten years and exclusion from government healthcare programs. In addition, the ACA codified case law that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the FCA;
the Stark Law, which prohibits a physician from making a referral for certain designated health services covered by the Medicare or Medicaid program, including laboratory and pathology services, if the physician or an immediate family member of the physician has a financial relationship with the entity providing the designated health services and prohibits that entity from billing, presenting or causing to be presented a claim for the designated health services furnished pursuant to the prohibited referral, unless an exception applies. Sanctions for violating the Stark Law include denial of payment, civil monetary penalties and exclusion from the federal health care programs. Failure to refund amounts received as a result of a prohibited referral on a timely basis may constitute a false or fraudulent claim and may result in civil penalties and additional penalties under the FCA;
federal civil and criminal false claims laws, such as the FCA, which can be enforced by private citizens through civil qui tam action, and civil monetary penalty laws prohibit individuals or entities from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented through distribution of template medical necessity language or other coverage and reimbursement information, false, fictitious or fraudulent claims for payment or approval by the federal government, including federal health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim, or knowingly making a false statement to improperly avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government. In addition, a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the AKS constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the FCA. Private individuals can bring False Claims Act ‘‘qui tam’’ actions, on behalf of the government and such individuals, commonly known as ‘‘whistleblowers,’’ may share in amounts paid by the entity to the government in fines or settlement. When an entity is determined to have violated the federal civil False Claims Act, the government may impose civil fines and penalties, plus treble damages, and exclude the entity from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs;
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the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018, or EKRA, prohibits payments for referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, and laboratories. EKRA’s reach extends beyond federal health care programs to include private insurance (i.e., it is an “all payor” statute). For purposes of EKRA, the term “laboratory” is defined broadly and without reference to any connection to substance use disorder treatment. The law includes a limited number of exceptions, some of which closely align with corresponding federal Anti-Kickback Statute exceptions and safe harbors, and others that materially differ;
HIPAA, which, among other things, imposes criminal liability for executing or attempting to execute a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a healthcare benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation, in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Like the AKS, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;
HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and their implementing regulations, which imposes privacy, security and breach reporting obligations with respect to individually identifiable health information upon entities subject to the law, such as health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and certain healthcare providers, known as covered entities, and their respective business associates, individuals or entities that perform services for them that involve individually identifiable health information as well as their covered subcontractors. Failure to comply with the HIPAA privacy and security standards can result in civil monetary penalties, and, in certain circumstances, criminal penalties. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in U.S. federal courts to enforce HIPAA and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;
state laws that prohibit other specified practices, such as billing physicians for tests that they order or providing tests at no or discounted cost to induce physician or patient adoption; insurance fraud laws; waiving coinsurance, copayments, deductibles, and other amounts owed by patients; billing a state Medicaid program at a price that is higher than what is charged to one or more other third-party payors employing, exercising control over or splitting professional fees with licensed professionals in violation of state laws prohibiting fee splitting or the corporate practice of medicine and other professions; and
federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers;
the federal transparency requirements under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under the ACA, which requires, among other things, certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies reimbursed under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to annually report to CMS information related to payments and other transfers of value provided to physicians, certain other healthcare professionals, and teaching hospitals and physician ownership and investment interests, including such ownership and investment interests held by a physician’s immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, applicable manufacturers also will be required to report such information regarding their relationships with physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives during the previous year. Failure to submit required information may result in civil monetary penalties for all payments, transfers of value or ownership or investment interests that are not timely, accurately, and completely reported in an annual submission, and may result in liability under other federal laws or regulations. We believe that we are exempt from these reporting requirements. We cannot assure you, however, that our regulators, principally the federal government, will agree with our determination, and a determination that we have violated these laws and regulations, or a public announcement that we are being investigated for possible violations, could adversely affect our business;
the prohibition on reassignment of Medicare claims, which, subject to certain exceptions, precludes the reassignment of Medicare claims to any other part;
state and foreign law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws, that may impose similar or more prohibitive restrictions, and may apply to items or services reimbursed by any non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers; and
federal, state and foreign laws that govern the privacy and security of health information or PII in certain circumstances, including state health information privacy and data breach notification laws which govern the
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collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not pre-empted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
As a clinical laboratory, our business practices may face additional scrutiny from government regulatory agencies such as the Department of Justice, the OIG and CMS. Certain arrangements between clinical laboratories and referring physicians have been identified in fraud alerts issued by the OIG as implicating the AKS. The OIG has stated that it is particularly concerned about these types of arrangements because the choice of laboratory, as well as the decision to order laboratory tests, typically are made or strongly influenced by the physician, with little or no input from patients. Moreover, the provision of payments or other items of value by a clinical laboratory to a referral source could be prohibited under the Stark Law unless the arrangement meets all criteria of an applicable exception. The government has been active in enforcement of these laws as they apply to clinical laboratories.
We have entered into consulting and scientific advisory board arrangements, speaking arrangements and clinical research agreements with physicians and other healthcare providers, including some who could influence the use of our products. Because of the complex and far-reaching nature of these laws, regulatory agencies may view these transactions as prohibited arrangements that must be restructured, or discontinued, or for which we could be subject to other significant penalties. We could be adversely affected if regulatory agencies interpret our financial relationships with providers who may influence the ordering of and use of our products to be in violation of applicable laws.
The scope and enforcement of each of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform. Federal and state enforcement bodies have recently increased their scrutiny of interactions between healthcare companies, healthcare providers and other third parties, including charitable foundations, which has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. It is possible that governmental authorities may conclude that our business practices, including our consulting arrangements with physicians, as well as our financial assistance programs, do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations, agency guidance or case law involving applicable healthcare laws. Responding to investigations can be time and resource-consuming and can divert management’s attention from the business. Any such investigation or settlement could increase our costs or otherwise have an adverse effect on our business.
Ensuring that our business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations is costly. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other current or future governmental laws and regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could substantially disrupt our operations. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs.
We are subject to certain U.S. anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations and may become subject to their similar foreign equivalents. We can face serious consequences for violations.
U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations, or collectively, Trade Laws, prohibit, among other things, companies and their employees, agents, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors, and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting, or receiving, directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from recipients in the public or private sector. Violations of Trade Laws can result in substantial criminal fines and civil penalties, imprisonment, the loss of trade privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm, and other consequences. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations. We also expect that we may engage in non-U.S. activities over time. We expect to rely on third-party suppliers and/or third parties to obtain necessary permits, licenses, and patent registrations. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents, or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities. Any violations of the laws and regulations described above may result in substantial civil and criminal fines and penalties, imprisonment, the loss of export or import privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm and other consequences.
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Our collection, use and disclosure of individually identifiable information, including health and/or employee information, is subject to state, federal and foreign privacy and security regulations, and our failure to comply with those regulations or to adequately secure the information we hold could result in significant liability or reputational harm.
We and any potential collaborators are subject to federal, state, and foreign data protection laws and regulations (i.e., laws and regulations that address privacy and data security). In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including federal health information privacy laws, state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws, and federal and state consumer protection laws (e.g., Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act), that govern the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of health-related and other personal information could apply to our operations or the operations of our collaborators.
In the ordinary course of our business, we collect and store sensitive data, including PHI, PII, credit card and other financial information, intellectual property and proprietary business information owned or controlled by ourselves or our customers, payors and other parties. We manage and maintain our applications and data utilizing a combination of on-site systems, managed data centers, and cloud-based data centers. We utilize external security and infrastructure vendors to manage parts of our data centers.
The secure processing, storage, maintenance and transmission of this critical information is vital to our operations and business strategy, and we devote significant resources to protecting such information. Although we take measures to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, use or disclosure, our information technology and infrastructure may be vulnerable to attacks by hackers or viruses or breached due to employee error, malfeasance, or other malicious or inadvertent disruptions. Any such breach or interruption could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed by unauthorized parties, publicly disclosed, lost, or stolen. Any such access, breach, or other loss of information could result in legal claims or proceedings, and liability under federal or state laws that protect the privacy of personal information, such as HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and regulatory penalties. Notice of breaches must be made to affected individuals, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and for extensive breaches, notice may need to be made to the media or State Attorneys General. Such a notice could harm our reputation and our ability to compete. Although we have implemented security measures and a formal, dedicated enterprise security program to prevent unauthorized access to patient data, such data is currently accessible through multiple channels, and there is no guarantee we can protect our data from breach. Unauthorized access, loss or dissemination could also disrupt our operations (including our ability to conduct our analyses, provide test results, bill payers or patients, process claims and appeals, provide customer assistance, conduct research and development activities, collect, process, and prepare company financial information, provide information about our products and other patient and physician education and outreach efforts through our website, and manage the administrative aspects of our business) and damage our reputation, any of which could adversely affect our business. In addition, we may obtain health information from third parties that are also subject to privacy and security requirements under HIPAA, as amended by HITECH.
Further, various states, such as California and Massachusetts, have implemented similar privacy laws and regulations, such as the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, that impose restrictive requirements regulating the use and disclosure of health information and other PII. These laws and regulations are not necessarily preempted by HIPAA, particularly if a state affords greater protection to individuals than HIPAA. Where state laws are more protective, we have to comply with the stricter provisions. In addition to fines and penalties imposed upon violators, some of these state laws also afford private rights of action to individuals who believe their personal information has been misused. California’s patient privacy laws, for example, provide for penalties of up to $250,000 and permit injured parties to sue for damages. The interplay of federal and state laws may be subject to varying interpretations by courts and government agencies, creating complex compliance issues for us and our clients and potentially exposing us to additional expense, adverse publicity and liability. Further, as regulatory focus on privacy issues continues to increase and laws and regulations concerning the protection of personal information expand and become more complex, these potential risks to our business could intensify. Changes in laws or regulations associated with the enhanced protection of certain types of sensitive data, such PHI or PII along with increased customer demands for enhanced data security infrastructure, could greatly increase our cost of providing our services, decrease demand for our services, reduce our revenue and/or subject us to additional liabilities.
Compliance with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could require us to take on more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to collect, use and disclose data, or in some cases, impact our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions. Failure to comply with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (which could include significant civil, criminal, and administrative penalties), private litigation, and/or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights, failed to comply with data protection laws, or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are
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not found liable, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.
Ethical, legal and social concerns related to the use of genetic information could reduce demand for our products.
Genetic testing has raised ethical, legal, and social issues regarding privacy and the appropriate uses of the resulting information. Governmental authorities have, through the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act of 2008, and could further, for social or other purposes, limit or regulate the use of genetic information or genetic testing or prohibit testing for genetic predisposition to certain conditions, particularly for those that have no known cure. Ethical and social concerns may also influence governmental authorities to deny or delay the issuance of patents for technology relevant to our business. While we do not currently perform genetic tests for genetic predisposition to certain conditions, these concerns may lead patients to refuse to use, or clinicians to be reluctant to order, our genomic tests or genetic tests for somatic mutations even if permissible. These and other ethical, legal and social concerns may limit market acceptance of our products or reduce the potential markets for our products, either of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, or results of operations.
Risks Related to Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain and maintain sufficient intellectual property protection for our technology, or if the scope of the intellectual property protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize diagnostic tests similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our products may be impaired.
We rely on patent protection as well as trademark, copyright, trade secret and other intellectual property rights protection as well as nondisclosure, confidentiality and other contractual restrictions to protect our brands and proprietary tests and technologies, all of which provide limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep any competitive advantage. If we fail to protect our intellectual property, third parties may be able to compete more effectively against us. In addition, we may incur substantial litigation costs in our attempts to recover or restrict use of our intellectual property.
As is the case with other life science companies, our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain protection of the intellectual property we may own solely or jointly with others or in-license from others, particularly patents, in the United States and other countries with respect to our products and technologies. We apply for patents covering our products and technologies and uses thereof, as we deem appropriate. However, obtaining and enforcing life sciences patents is costly, time-consuming and complex, and we may fail to apply for patents on important tests, services and technologies in a timely fashion or at all, or we may fail to apply for patents in potentially relevant jurisdictions. We may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications, or maintain, enforce and license any patents that may issue from such patent applications, at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection.
We may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the rights to patents licensed from or to third parties. Therefore, these patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business.
Our patent portfolio includes five issued U.S. patents and six pending U.S. patent applications, with foreign counterparts. It is possible that none of our pending patent applications will result in issued patents in a timely fashion or at all, and even if patents are granted, they may not provide a basis for intellectual property protection of commercially viable tests or services, may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be challenged and invalidated by third parties. It is possible that others will design around our future patented technologies. We may not be successful in defending any such challenges made against our patents or patent applications. Any successful third-party challenge to our patents could result in the unenforceability or invalidity of such patents and increased competition to our business. Even if our patents are held valid and enforceable, they may still be found insufficient to provide protection against competing products and services sufficient to achieve our business objectives. We may have to challenge the patents or patent applications of third parties, such as to counter infringement or unauthorized use. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, or may refuse to enjoin the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. Even if we prevail against an infringer in a U.S. district court or foreign trial-level court, there is always the risk that the infringer will file an appeal and the initial court judgment will be overturned at the appeals court and/or that an adverse decision will be issued by the appeals court relating to the validity or enforceability of our patents. The outcome of patent litigation or other proceeding can be uncertain, and any attempt by us to enforce our patent rights against others or to challenge the patent rights of others may not be successful, or, if successful, may take substantial time and result in substantial cost, and may divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business.
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The patent positions of life sciences companies can be highly uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions for which important legal principles remain unresolved. No consistent policy regarding the breadth of claims allowed in such companies’ patents has emerged to date in the United States or elsewhere. Courts frequently render opinions in the life sciences field that may affect the patentability of certain inventions or discoveries, including opinions that may affect the patentability of methods for analyzing or comparing DNA sequences.
In particular, the patent positions of companies engaged in the development and commercialization of genomic diagnostic tests are particularly uncertain. Various courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have rendered decisions that affect the scope of patentability of certain inventions or discoveries relating to certain diagnostic tests and related methods. These decisions state, among other things, that a patent claim that recites an abstract idea, natural phenomenon or law of nature (for example, the relationship between particular genetic variants and cancer) are not themselves patentable. Precisely what constitutes a law of nature is uncertain, and it is possible that certain aspects of genetic diagnostics tests would be considered natural laws. Accordingly, the evolving case law in the United States may adversely affect our ability to obtain patents and may facilitate third-party challenges to any owned or licensed patents. The laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, and we may encounter difficulties in protecting and defending such rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of many other countries do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to life science technologies, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents in such countries. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial cost and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business.
To the extent our intellectual property offers inadequate protection, or is found to be invalid or unenforceable, we would be exposed to a greater risk of direct competition, and our competitive position could be adversely affected, as could our business. Both the patent application process and the process of managing patent disputes can be time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, if a third party has intellectual property rights that cover the practice of our technology, we may not be able to fully exercise or extract value from our intellectual property rights. The following examples are illustrative:
others may be able to develop and/or practice technology that is similar to our technology or aspects of our technology, but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or control, assuming such patents have issued or do issue;
we or our licensors or any future strategic partners might not have been the first to conceive or reduce to practice the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own or have exclusively licensed;
we or our licensors or any future strategic partners might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions;
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;
it is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents;
issued patents that we own or have exclusively licensed may not provide us with any competitive advantage, or may be held invalid or unenforceable, as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;
our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive tests for sale in our major commercial markets;
third parties performing manufacturing or testing for us using our products or technologies could use the intellectual property of others without obtaining a proper license;
parties may assert an ownership interest in our intellectual property and, if successful, such disputes may preclude us from exercising exclusive rights over that intellectual property;
we may not develop or in-license additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;
we may not be able to obtain and maintain necessary licenses on commercially reasonable terms, or at all; and
the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.
Should any of these events occur, they could significantly harm our business and results of operations.
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Changes in patent law in the United States and other jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
As is the case with other life sciences companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents relating to our research programs and products. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the life sciences industry involves both technological and legal complexity and is therefore costly, time consuming and inherently uncertain. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States or the USPTO rules and regulations could increase these uncertainties and costs. Patent reform legislation in the United States and other countries, including the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the AIA, signed into law on September 16, 2011, could increase those uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents. The AIA includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and provide more efficient and cost-effective avenues for competitors to challenge the validity of patents. These include allowing third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent in USPTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings. For applications filed after March 15, 2013 that do not claim the benefit of applications filed before that date, the AIA transitioned the United States from a first to invent system to a first-inventor-to-file system in which, assuming that the other statutory requirements are met, the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether a third party was the first to invent the claimed invention. The AIA and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications, our ability to obtain future patents, and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations.
Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. courts, the USPTO and the relevant law-making bodies in other countries, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.
Our in-licensed intellectual property has been discovered through government funded programs and thus may be subject to federal regulations such as ‘‘march-in’’ rights, certain reporting requirements and a preference for U.S.-based companies, and compliance with such regulations may limit our exclusive rights, and limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. manufacturers.
Intellectual property rights that have been in-licensed pursuant to our license agreement, or the License Agreement, with WUSTL have been generated through the use of U.S. government funding, and are therefore subject to certain federal regulations. As a result, the United States federal government may retain certain rights to intellectual property embodied in our current or future product candidates under the Bayh-Dole Act. These federal government rights include a ‘‘nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license’’ to use inventions for any governmental purpose. The Bayh-Dole Act also provides federal agencies with ‘‘march-in rights.’’ March-in rights allow the government, in specified circumstances, to require the contractor or successors in title to the patent to grant a ‘‘nonexclusive, partially exclusive, or exclusive license’’ to a ‘‘responsible applicant or applicants’’ if it determines that (1) adequate steps have not been taken to commercialize the invention, (2) government action is necessary to meet public health or safety needs or (3) government action is necessary to meet requirements for public use under federal regulations. If the patent owner refuses to do so, the government may grant the license itself.
The U.S. government also has the right to take title to these inventions if the licensor fails to disclose the invention to the government or fails to file an application to register the intellectual property within specified time limits. Intellectual property generated under a government funded program is also subject to certain reporting requirements, compliance with which may require us to expend substantial resources. In addition, the U.S. government requires that any products embodying any of these inventions or produced through the use of any of these inventions be manufactured substantially in the United States, and the License Agreement requires that we comply with this requirement. This preference for U.S. industry may be waived by the federal agency that provided the funding if the owner or assignee of the intellectual property can show that reasonable but unsuccessful efforts have been made to grant licenses on similar terms to potential licensees that would be likely to manufacture substantially in the United States or that under the circumstances domestic manufacture is not commercially feasible. This preference for U.S. industry may limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. product manufacturers for products covered by such intellectual property. To the extent any of our owned or future in-licensed intellectual property is also generated through the use of U.S. government funding, the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act may similarly apply.
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Issued patents covering our products and related technologies could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged.
The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability. Some of our patents or patent applications (including licensed patents) have been, are being or may be challenged at a future point in time in an opposition, nullification, derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference action in court or before patent offices or similar proceedings for a given period after allowance or grant, during which time third parties can raise objections against such grant. In the course of such proceedings, which may continue for a protracted period of time, the patent owner may be compelled to limit the scope of the allowed or granted claims thus attacked, or may lose the allowed or granted claims altogether. Any successful third-party challenge to our patents in this or any other proceeding could result in the unenforceability or invalidity of such patents, which may lead to increased competition to our business, which could harm our business. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, regardless of the outcome, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future diagnostic tests.
We may not be aware of all third-party intellectual property rights potentially relating to our products. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until approximately 18 months after filing or, in some cases (e.g., U.S. applications for which a request not to publish has been filed), not until such patent applications issue as patents. We might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by each of our pending patent applications and we might not have been the first to file patent applications for these inventions. To determine the priority of these inventions, we have and may have to participate in interference proceedings, derivation proceedings or other post-grant proceedings declared by the USPTO that could result in substantial cost to us. The outcome of such proceedings is uncertain. We can give no assurance that all of the potentially relevant art relating to our patents and patent applications has been found; overlooked prior art could be used by a third party to challenge the validity, enforceability and scope of our patents or prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. As a result, we may not be able to obtain or maintain protection for certain inventions. No assurance can be given that other patent applications will not have priority over our patent applications. In addition, changes to the patent laws of the United States allow for various post-grant opposition proceedings that have not been extensively tested, and their outcome is therefore uncertain. Therefore, the validity, enforceability and scope of our patents in the United States and other countries cannot be predicted with certainty and, as a result, any patents that we own or license may not provide sufficient protection against our competitors. Furthermore, if third parties bring these proceedings against our patents, we could experience significant costs and management distraction.
Our commercial success depends significantly on our ability to operate without infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties.
The life sciences industry is subject to rapid technological change and substantial litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights. Our potential competitors in both the United States and abroad, may have substantially greater resources and are likely to make substantial investments in patent portfolios and competing technologies, and may apply for or obtain patents that could prevent, limit or otherwise interfere with our ability to make, use and sell our products. Numerous third-party patents exist in fields relating to our products and technologies, and it is difficult for industry participants, including us, to identify all third-party patent rights relevant to our products and technologies. Moreover, because some patent applications are maintained as confidential for a certain period of time, we cannot be certain that third parties have not filed patent applications that cover our products and technologies.
Patents could be issued to third parties that we may ultimately be found to infringe. Third parties may have or obtain valid and enforceable patents or proprietary rights that could block us from using our technology. Our failure to obtain or maintain a license to any technology that we require may materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, we would be exposed to a threat of litigation.
From time to time, we may be party to, or threatened with, litigation or other proceedings with third parties, including non-practicing entities, who allege that our products, components of our products, and/or proprietary technologies infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their intellectual property rights. The types of situations in which we may become a party to such litigation or proceedings include:
we may initiate litigation or other proceedings against third parties seeking to invalidate the patents held by those third parties or to obtain a judgment that our products or technologies do not infringe those third parties’ patents;
we may participate at substantial cost in International Trade Commission proceedings to abate importation of products that would compete unfairly with our products or technologies;
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if a competitor files patent applications that claim technology also claimed by us or our licensors, we or our licensors may be required to participate in interference, derivation or opposition proceedings to determine the priority of invention, which could jeopardize our patent rights and potentially provide a third party with a dominant patent position;
if third parties initiate litigation claiming that our products or technologies infringe their patent or other intellectual property rights, we will need to defend against such proceedings;
if third parties initiate litigation or other proceedings seeking to invalidate patents owned by or licensed to us or to obtain a declaratory judgment that their products, services, or technologies do not infringe our patents or patents licensed to us, we will need to defend against such proceedings;
we may be subject to ownership disputes relating to intellectual property, including disputes arising from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our products and technologies; and
if a license to necessary technology is terminated, the licensor may initiate litigation claiming that our products or technologies infringe or misappropriate its patent or other intellectual property rights and/or that we breached our obligations under the license agreement, and we would need to defend against such proceedings.
These lawsuits and proceedings, regardless of merit, are time-consuming and expensive to initiate, maintain, defend or settle, and could divert the time and attention of managerial and technical personnel, which could materially adversely affect our business. Any such claim could also force us to do one or more of the following:
incur substantial monetary liability for infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the diagnostic test or technology at issue infringes or violates the third party’s rights, and if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay treble damages and the third party’s attorneys’ fees;
stop manufacturing, offering for sale, selling, using, importing, exporting or licensing the diagnostic test or technology incorporating the allegedly infringing technology or stop incorporating the allegedly infringing technology into such test or technology;
obtain from the owner of the infringed intellectual property right a license, which may require us to pay substantial upfront fees or royalties to sell or use the relevant technology and which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all;
redesign our products and technologies so they do not infringe or violate the third party’s intellectual property rights, which may not be possible or may require substantial monetary expenditures and time;
enter into cross-licenses with applicable third party, which could weaken our overall intellectual property position;
lose the opportunity to license our technology to others or to collect royalty payments based upon successful protection and assertion of our intellectual property against others;
find alternative suppliers for non-infringing technologies, which could be costly and create significant delay; or
relinquish rights associated with one or more of our patent claims, if our claims are held invalid or otherwise unenforceable.
Third parties may be able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, intellectual property litigation, regardless of its outcome, may cause negative publicity, adversely impact our business, cause delays, or prohibit us from marketing or otherwise commercializing our products and technologies. Any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise additional funds or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation, financial condition or cash flows.
Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, which could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock. The occurrence of any of these events may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation, financial condition or cash flows.
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We depend on information technology systems that we license from third parties. Any failure of such systems or loss of licenses to the software that comprises an essential element of such systems could significantly harm our business.
We depend on information technology systems for significant elements of our operations, such as our laboratory information management systems, including test validation, specimen tracking and quality control, our bioinformatics analytical software systems, our test report generating systems and billing systems. Essential elements of these systems depend on software that we license from third parties. If we are unable to maintain the licenses to this software or our software providers discontinue or alter the programs on which we rely, it could render our test reports unreliable or hinder our ability to generate accurate test reports, among other things. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.
We rely on licenses from third parties, and if we lose these licenses or are not able to obtain licenses to third-party technology on reasonable grounds or at all, then we may not be able to continue to commercialize existing diagnostic tests, be subjected to future litigation and may not be able to commercialize new diagnostic tests in the future.
We are party to certain royalty-bearing license agreements that grant us rights to use certain intellectual property, including patents and patent applications, in certain specified fields of use. Although we intend to develop products and technologies through our own internal research, we may need to obtain additional licenses from others to advance our research, development and commercialization activities. Our license agreements impose, and we expect that future license agreements will impose, various development, diligence, commercialization and other obligations on us.
In the future, we may identify third-party technology we may need, including to develop or commercialize new diagnostic tests or services. In return for the use of a third party’s technology, we may agree to pay the licensor royalties based on sales of our solutions. Royalties are a component of the cost of our products or services and affect our margins. We may also need to negotiate licenses to patents or patent applications before or after introducing a commercialized test. The in-licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing strategies to in-license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights for technologies that we may consider attractive or necessary.
These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. Furthermore, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. In addition, we expect that competition for the in-licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights for technologies that are attractive to us may increase in the future, which may mean fewer suitable opportunities for us as well as higher acquisition or licensing costs. We may not be able to obtain necessary or strategic licenses to patents or patent applications, and our business may suffer if we are unable to enter into these licenses on acceptable terms or at all, if any necessary licenses are subsequently terminated, if the licensors fail to abide by the terms of the licenses or fail to prevent infringement by third parties, or if the licensed patents or other rights are found to be invalid or unenforceable.
In spite of our efforts, our licensors might conclude that we have materially breached our obligations under such license agreements and might therefore terminate the license agreements, thereby removing or limiting our ability to develop and commercialize tests and technology covered by these license agreements. If these in-licenses are terminated, or if the underlying patents fail to provide the intended exclusivity, competitors or other third parties might have the freedom to seek regulatory approval of, and to market, tests identical to ours and we may be required to cease our development and commercialization activities. For example, we license certain intellectual property from WUSTL that is incorporated into DecisionDx-UM. In 2020, we provided nearly 1,400 test reports for DecisionDx-UM. If this license agreement were terminated, we would be unable to continue to issue test reports and thus sales of DecisionDx-UM. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.
Moreover, disputes may arise with respect to any one of our licensing agreements, including:
the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues;
the extent to which our products, technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;
the sublicensing of patent and other rights under our collaborative development relationships;
our diligence obligations under the license agreement and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;
the inventorship and ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our partners; and
the priority of invention of patented technology.
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If we do not prevail in such disputes, we may lose any of such license agreements.
In addition, the agreements under which we currently license intellectual property or technology from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations.
The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected diagnostic tests, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.
Our failure to maintain such licenses could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any of these licenses could be terminated, such as if either party fails to abide by the terms of the license, or if the licensor fails to prevent infringement by third parties or if the licensed patents or other rights are found to be invalid or unenforceable. Absent the license agreements, we may infringe patents subject to those agreements, and if the license agreements are terminated, we may be subject to litigation by the licensor. Litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management. If we do not prevail, we may be required to pay damages, including treble damages, attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses, royalties or, be enjoined from selling our products or services, including DecisionDx-UM and DecisionDx-Melanoma, which could adversely affect our ability to offer our products or services, our ability to continue operations and our financial condition.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on our products in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive. The requirements for patentability may differ in certain countries, particularly developing countries, and the breadth of patent claims allowed can be inconsistent. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, and we may encounter difficulties in protecting and defending such rights in foreign jurisdictions. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own tests or products and may also export infringing tests or products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as in the United States. These products may compete with our products. Our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.
Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of many other countries do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to life science technologies, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents in such countries. We do not have patent rights in certain foreign countries in which a market may exist. Moreover, in foreign jurisdictions where we do have patent rights, proceedings to enforce our patent rights could result in substantial cost and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing, and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license. We may not be able to stop a competitor from marketing and selling in foreign countries tests, products and services that are the same as or similar to our products and technologies, in which case our competitive position in the international market would be harmed.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, the value of our technology could be materially adversely affected and our business could be harmed.
In addition to pursuing patents on our technology, we also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. We take steps to protect our trade secrets, in part, by entering into agreements, including confidentiality agreements, non-disclosure agreements and intellectual property assignment agreements, with our employees, consultants, academic institutions, corporate partners and, when needed, our advisers. However, we cannot be certain that such agreements have been entered into with all relevant parties, and we cannot be certain that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. For example, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and, once
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disclosed, we are likely to lose trade secret protection and may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Such agreements may not be enforceable or may not provide meaningful protection for our trade secrets or other proprietary information in the event of unauthorized use or disclosure or other breaches of the agreements, and we may not be able to prevent such unauthorized disclosure. If we are required to assert our rights against such party, it could result in significant cost and distraction.
Monitoring unauthorized disclosure is difficult, and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to prevent such disclosure are, or will be, adequate. If we were to enforce a claim that a third party had illegally obtained and was using our trade secrets, it would be expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome would be unpredictable. In addition, courts outside the United States may be less willing to protect trade secrets.
We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our confidential proprietary information by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems, but it is possible that these security measures could be breached. If any of our confidential proprietary information were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, absent patent protection, we would have no right to prevent such competitor from using that technology or information to compete with us, which could harm our competitive position.
We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties.
We do and may employ individuals who previously worked with universities or other companies, including potential competitors. We could in the future be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants, or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed alleged trade secrets or other confidential information of current or former employers or competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants and independent contractors do not use the intellectual property, proprietary information, know-how or trade secrets of others in their work for us, we may become subject to claims that we caused an individual to breach the terms of his or her non-competition or non-solicitation agreement, or that we or these individuals have, inadvertently or otherwise, used or disclosed the alleged trade secrets or other proprietary information of a current or former employer or competitor. Although, we are currently not subject to any such claims.
While we may litigate to defend ourselves against these claims, even if we are successful, litigation could result in substantial costs and could be a distraction to management and other employees. If our defenses to these claims fail, in addition to requiring us to pay monetary damages, a court could prohibit us from using technologies or features that are essential to our products, if such technologies or features are found to incorporate or be derived from the trade secrets or other proprietary information of the current or former employers. Therefore, we could be required to obtain a license from such third-party employer to commercialize our products or technology. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.
Moreover, any such litigation or the threat thereof may adversely affect our reputation, our ability to form strategic alliances or sublicense our rights to collaborators, engage with scientific advisors or hire employees or consultants, each of which would have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.
We have not yet registered certain of our trademarks in all of our potential markets, although we have registered, among others, DecisionDx, DecisionDx-UM, DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-SCC in the United States. Our current or future registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or descriptive determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names or may be forced to stop using these names, which we need for name recognition by potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. During trademark registration proceedings, we may receive rejections. Although we would be given an opportunity to respond to those rejections, we may be unable to overcome such rejections. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many foreign jurisdictions, third parties are given an opportunity to oppose pending trademark applications and to seek to cancel registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings may be filed against our trademarks, and our trademarks may not survive such proceedings. In addition, third parties have used trademarks similar and identical to our trademarks in foreign jurisdictions, and have filed or may in the future file for registration of such trademarks. If they succeed in registering or developing common law rights in such trademarks, and if we are not successful in challenging such third-party rights, we may not be able to use these trademarks to market our products in those countries. If we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. We may license our trademarks and trade names to third parties, such as distributors. Although these license agreements may provide guidelines for how our trademarks and trade names may be used, a breach of
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these agreements or misuse of our trademarks and tradenames by our licensees may jeopardize our rights in or diminish the goodwill associated with our trademarks and trade names.
We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship of our patents and other intellectual property.
We or our licensors may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in our owned or in-licensed patents, trade secrets or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. For example, we or our licensors may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of employees, consultants or others who are involved in developing our products. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or our or our licensors’ ownership of our owned or in-licensed patents, trade secrets or other intellectual property. If we or our licensors fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, right to use, or right to exclude others from using, intellectual property that is important to our products. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. Our assignment agreements may not be self-executing or may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various required procedures, document submissions, fee payments and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents and/or applications must be paid to the USPTO and various governmental patent agencies outside of the United States at several stages over the lifetime of the patents and/or applications. We have systems in place to remind us to pay these fees, and we employ an outside firm and rely on our outside counsel to pay these fees due to non-U.S. patent agencies. The USPTO and various non-U.S. governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us comply, and in many cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. However, there are situations in which non-compliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction, such as failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. If we, or our licensors, fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our products and technologies, potential competitors may be able to enter the market without infringing our patents and this circumstance would have a material adverse effect on our business.
Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our products for an adequate amount of time.
Patents have a limited lifespan, and the protection patents afford is limited. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest U.S. non-provisional filing date. Various extensions may be available, but the term of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our products are obtained, once the patent term has expired, we may be open to competition from competitive tests or products. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of potential new tests or products, patents protecting such tests or products might expire before or shortly after such tests or products are commercialized. As a result, our owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing tests or other products similar or identical to ours.
Risks Related to Employee Matters and Managing Growth and Other Risks Related to Our Business
We are highly dependent on the services of our key personnel.
We are highly dependent on the services of our key personnel, including Derek J. Maetzold, our President and Chief Executive Officer. Although we have entered into agreements with them regarding their employment, they are not for a specific term and each of may terminate their employment with us at any time, though we are not aware of any present intention of any of these individuals to leave us.
Our research and development programs and laboratory operations depend on our ability to attract and retain highly skilled scientists and technicians. We may not be able to attract or retain qualified scientists and technicians in the future due to the
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competition for qualified personnel among life science businesses, particularly near our primary laboratory facility located in Phoenix, Arizona. We also face competition from universities and public and private research institutions in recruiting and retaining highly qualified scientific personnel. We may have difficulties locating, recruiting or retaining qualified salespeople. Recruiting and retention difficulties can limit our ability to support our research and development and sales programs. All of our employees are at-will, which means that either we or the employee may terminate their employment at any time.
Our employees, clinical investigators, consultants, speakers, vendors and any current or potential commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, clinical study investigators, consultants, speakers, vendors and any potential commercial partners. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct or disclosure of unauthorized activities to us that violates: federal laws and regulations or those of comparable foreign regulatory authorities, including those laws that require the reporting of true, complete and accurate information; manufacturing standards; federal and state health and data privacy, security, fraud and abuse, government price reporting, transparency reporting requirements, and other healthcare laws and regulations in the United States and abroad; sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct; or laws that require the true, complete and accurate reporting of financial information or data. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical studies, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. We have adopted a code of conduct applicable to all of our employees, as well as a disclosure program and other applicable policies and procedures, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional integrity reporting and oversight obligations, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.
We may be unable to manage our future growth effectively, which could make it difficult to execute our business strategy.
We have experienced significant revenue growth in a short period of time. We may not achieve similar growth rates in future periods. You should not rely on our operating results for any prior periods as an indication of our future operating performance. To effectively manage our anticipated future growth, we must continue to maintain and enhance our financial, accounting, laboratory operations, customer support and sales administration systems, processes and controls. Failure to effectively manage our anticipated growth could lead us to over-invest or under-invest in development, operational and administrative infrastructure, result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, systems, or internal controls, give rise to operational mistakes, losses, loss of customers, productivity or business opportunities, and result in loss of employees and reduced productivity of remaining employees.
We also anticipate further growth in our business operations. This future growth could create strain on our organizational, administrative and operational infrastructure, including laboratory operations, quality control, customer service and sales organization management. We expect to increase headcount and to hire more specialized personnel in the future as we grow our business. We will need to continue to hire, train and manage additional qualified scientists, laboratory personnel, client and account services personnel, and sales and marketing staff and improve and maintain our technology to properly manage our growth. If our new hires perform poorly, if we are unsuccessful in hiring, training, managing and integrating these new employees or if we are not successful in retaining our existing employees, our business may be harmed.
In addition, our anticipated growth could require significant capital expenditures and might divert financial resources from other projects such as the development of new diagnostic tests and services. As we commercialize additional diagnostic tests, we may need to incorporate new equipment, implement new technology systems, or hire new personnel with different qualifications. Failure to manage this growth or transition could result in turnaround time delays, higher costs, declining quality, deteriorating customer service, and slower responses to competitive challenges. A failure in any one of these areas could make it difficult for us to meet market expectations for our products, and could damage our reputation and the prospects for our business.
We may not be able to maintain the quality or expected turnaround times of our products, or satisfy customer demand as it grows. Our ability to manage our growth properly will require us to continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls, as well as our reporting systems and procedures. The time and resources required to implement these new systems and procedures is uncertain, and failure to complete this in a timely and efficient manner could adversely affect
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our operations. If our management is unable to effectively manage our anticipated growth, our expenses may increase more than expected, our revenue could decline or grow more slowly than expected and we may be unable to implement our business strategy. The quality of our products and services may suffer, which could negatively affect our reputation and harm our ability to retain and attract customers.
We may engage in strategic transactions, such as the acquisition of businesses, assets, products or technologies, which could be disruptive to our existing operations, divert the attention of our management team and adversely impact our liquidity, cash flows, financial condition and results of operations.
From time to time, we may consider strategic opportunities and engage in transactions such as acquisitions of businesses, assets, products or technologies, as well as technology licenses or investments in complementary businesses. Any such transactions may entail numerous operational and financial risks, including:
delays, difficulties and higher than expected costs associated with integration activities, such as those involving operational processes, regulatory and licensure compliance, personnel and information technology systems;
disruption of our existing business operations and diversion of management’s time, focus and attention;
decreases in our liquidity and operating cash flows, increases in our overall operating costs, substantial amounts of amortization expense, increased capital expenditure requirements and non-recurring charges, including possible impairments of acquired assets;
incurrence of substantial debt or dilutive issuances of equity securities, the assumption of additional liabilities and exposure to unknown liabilities;
inability to retain key personnel of any acquired businesses; and
failure to realize all or any of the anticipated revenues, synergies, efficiencies or other benefits of a transaction within our estimated time frame or at all.
We are unable to predict the timing, size or nature of any future transactions, whether they will be completed or financed on favorable terms, if at all, or what the impact of those transactions might be on our financial results, including if such transactions are not effectively and profitably integrated into our business. Our failure to successfully complete the integration of any business that we acquire could have an adverse effect on our prospects, business activities, cash flows, financial condition, results of operations and stock price. Additionally, since we have not historically completed any such transactions to date, our ability to successfully integrate, manage and derive benefits from any acquired business, asset, product or technology is unproven.
Our ability to use net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes to offset future taxable income may be subject to limitations.
At December 31, 2020, we had federal net operating loss, NOL, carryforwards of approximately $55.9 million, of which $42.0 million will begin to expire in 2033 if not utilized to offset taxable income, and $13.9 million may be carried forward indefinitely.
Under the TCJA, as modified by the CARES Act, federal NOL carryforwards generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 may be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of such NOL carryforwards in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020 is limited to 80% of taxable income. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the TCJA or the CARES Act.
In addition, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and corresponding provisions of state law, if a corporation undergoes an ‘‘ownership change’’ (which is generally defined as a greater than 50% change (by value) in its equity ownership over a three-year period), the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change NOL carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes to offset its post-change income or taxes may be limited. We have experienced an ownership change in the past and we may also experience additional ownership changes in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership, some of which may be outside of our control. If an ownership change occurs and our ability to use our NOL carryforwards is materially limited, it would harm our future operating results by effectively increasing our future tax obligations. In addition, at the state level, there may be periods during which the use of NOL carryforwards is suspended or otherwise limited, which could accelerate or permanently increase state taxes owed.
Our business could be negatively impacted by cyber security threats.
We are increasingly dependent upon information technology systems, infrastructure and data to operate our business. In the ordinary course of business, we collect, store and transmit confidential information (including but not limited to intellectual property, proprietary business information and personal information). It is critical that we do so in a secure manner to maintain
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the confidentiality and integrity of such confidential information. We also have outsourced elements of our operations to third parties, and as a result we manage a number of third-party contractors who have access to our confidential information.
Despite the implementation of security measures, given their size and complexity and the increasing amounts of confidential information that they maintain, our internal information technology systems and those of our contractors and consultants are potentially vulnerable to breakdown or other damage or interruption from service interruptions, system malfunction, natural disasters, terrorism, war, public health crises and telecommunication and electrical failures, as well as security breaches from inadvertent or intentional actions by our employees, contractors, consultants, business partners, and/or other third parties, or from cyber-attacks by malicious third parties (including the deployment of harmful malware, ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, social engineering and other means to affect service reliability and threaten the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information), which may compromise our system infrastructure or lead to data leakage. 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 reputational damage and the further development and commercialization of our products could be delayed.
While we have not experienced any such system failure, accident or material security breach to date, we cannot assure you that our data protection efforts and our investment in information technology will prevent significant breakdowns, data leakages, breaches in our systems or other cyber incidents that could have a material adverse effect upon our reputation, business, operations or financial condition. For example, we maintain a tumor specimen database comprised of over 60,000 samples some of which were used to develop and validate DecisionDx-Melanoma, some of which are currently being used to improve on the test and some of which will be used in the future. If we were to lose this database, our ability to further validate, improve and therefore maintain and grow sales of DecisionDx-Melanoma could be significant impaired.
Furthermore, significant disruptions of our internal information technology systems or security breaches could result in the loss, misappropriation, and/or unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of, or the prevention of access to, confidential information (including trade secrets or other intellectual property, proprietary business information, and personal information), which could result in financial, legal, business, and reputational harm to us. For example, any such event that leads to unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of personal information, including personal information related to our patient samples or employees, could harm our reputation directly, compel us to comply with federal and/or state breach notification laws and foreign law equivalents, subject us to mandatory corrective action, and otherwise subject us to liability under laws and regulations that protect the privacy and security of personal information, which could result in significant legal and financial exposure and reputational damages that could potentially have an adverse effect on our business.
Product or professional liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and could limit our commercialization of our products.
We face an inherent risk of product and professional liability exposure related to our products. The marketing, sale and use of our products could lead to the filing of product liability claims were someone to allege that our products identified or reported inaccurate or incomplete information, or otherwise failed to perform as designed. We may also be subject to liability for errors in, a misunderstanding of or inappropriate reliance upon, the information we provide in the ordinary course of our business activities.
If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our products caused injury or otherwise failed to function properly, we could incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability claims may result in:
decreased demand for our current tests any tests that we may develop, and the inability to commercialize such tests;
injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;
reluctance of experts willing to conduct our clinical studies;
initiation of investigations by regulators;
significant costs to defend the related litigation and diversion of management’s time and our resources;
substantial monetary awards to study subjects or patients;
product recalls, withdrawals or labeling, or marketing or promotional restrictions; and
loss of revenue.
We currently carry product liability insurance. However, the amount of this insurance may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise.
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International expansion of our business exposes us to business, regulatory, political, operational, financial, and economic risks associated with doing business outside of the United States.
While we currently accept orders from customers outside of the United States, our historical business strategy has been directed toward customers within the United States. Our long-term business strategy contemplates potential international expansion. Doing business internationally involves a number of risks, including:
multiple, conflicting and changing laws and regulations such as privacy regulations, tax laws, export and import restrictions, economic sanctions and embargoes, employment laws, regulatory requirements and other governmental approvals, permits and licenses;
limits in our ability to penetrate international markets if we are not able to perform tests locally;
logistics and regulations associated with shipping tissue samples, including infrastructure conditions and transportation delays;
difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;
failure to obtain regulatory approvals for the commercialization of our products in various countries;
complexities and difficulties in obtaining intellectual property protection and enforcing our intellectual property;
complexities associated with managing multiple payor reimbursement regimes, government payors, or patient self-pay systems;
financial risks, such as longer payment cycles, difficulty collecting accounts receivable, the impact of local and regional financial crises on demand and payment for our products and exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations;
natural disasters, political and economic instability, including wars, terrorism, and political unrest, outbreak of disease, boycotts, curtailment of trade and other business restrictions; and
regulatory and compliance risks that relate to maintaining accurate information and control over sales and distributors’ activities that may fall within the purview of the FCPA, its books and records provisions, or its anti-bribery provisions.
Any of these factors could significantly harm our future international expansion and operations and, consequently, our revenue and results of operations.
Requirements associated with being a public company will increase our costs significantly, as well as divert significant company resources and management attention.
We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act or the other rules and regulations of the SEC and any securities exchange relating to public companies. Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as rules subsequently adopted by the SEC and The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, or Nasdaq, to implement provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley, impose significant requirements on public companies, including requiring establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and financial controls and changes in corporate governance practices. Further, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, the SEC has adopted additional rules and regulations in these areas, such as mandatory ‘‘say on pay’’ voting requirements that will apply to us when we cease to be an emerging growth company. Stockholder activism, the current political environment and the current high level of government intervention and regulatory reform may lead to substantial new regulations and disclosure obligations, which may lead to additional compliance costs and impact the manner in which we operate our business in ways we cannot currently anticipate. Compliance with the various reporting and other requirements applicable to public companies requires considerable time and attention of management. We cannot assure you that we will satisfy our obligations as a public company on a timely basis.
We expect the rules and regulations applicable to public companies to substantially increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time-consuming and costly. If these requirements divert the attention of our management and personnel from other business concerns, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. The increased costs will increase our net loss or decrease our net income, and may require us to reduce costs in other areas of our business or increase the prices of our products. In addition, as a public company, it may be more difficult or more costly for us to obtain certain types of insurance, including directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, and we may be forced to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. The impact of these events could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified personnel to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as executive officers.
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If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
We, and the third parties with whom we share our facilities, are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Each of our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological and radioactive materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. We could be held liable for any resulting damages in the event of contamination or injury resulting from the use of hazardous materials by us or the third parties with whom we share our facilities, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research and development. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
Our business could be adversely affected by natural disasters, public health epidemics and other events beyond our control.
Although we maintain crisis management plans, our business operations are subject to interruption by natural disasters and other events and catastrophes beyond our control, including, but not limited to, earthquakes, floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, power or other utility outages, telecommunications failures and public health crises. Further, outbreaks of epidemic diseases, such as the COVID-19 pandemic discussed above, or the fear of such events, could provoke responses, including government-imposed travel restrictions that could impede the mobility and effectiveness of our sales force, disrupt our operations or those of our suppliers and service providers. The ultimate impact of any of these or similar events is highly uncertain and could have a material adverse impact on our operations.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock
The stock price of our common stock may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance, and you may lose all or part of your investment.
The market price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly in response to numerous factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:
our operating performance and the performance of other similar companies;
our success in marketing and selling our products;
reimbursement determinations by third-party payors and reimbursement rates for our products;
changes in our projected operating results that we provide to the public, our failure to meet these projections or changes in recommendations by securities analysts that elect to follow our common stock;
regulatory or legal developments in the United States and other countries;
the level of expenses related to product development and clinical studies for our products;
our ability to achieve product development goals in the timeframe we announce;
announcements of clinical study results, regulatory developments, acquisitions, strategic alliances or significant agreements by us or by our competitors;
the success or failure of our efforts to acquire, license or develop additional tests;
recruitment or departure of key personnel;
the economy as a whole and market conditions in our industry;
the extent and duration of the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic;
trading activity by a limited number of stockholders who together beneficially own a significant percentage of our outstanding common stock;
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the size of our market float; and
any other factors discussed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
In addition, the stock market in general, and diagnostic and life sciences companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our securities, regardless of our actual operating performance. In the past, stockholders have filed securities class action litigation following periods of market volatility. If we were to become involved in securities litigation, it could subject us to substantial costs, divert resources and the attention of management from our business and adversely affect our business.
If there are substantial sales of shares of our common stock, the price of our common stock could decline.
The price of our common stock could decline if there are substantial sales of our common stock, particularly sales by our directors, executive officers and significant stockholders, or if there is a large number of shares of our common stock available for sale and the market perceives that sales will occur. Shares held by directors, executive officers and other affiliates are subject to volume limitations under Rule 144 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act.
Certain of our stockholders have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or our stockholders. We have registered shares of common stock that we have issued and may issue under our employee equity incentive plans. As a result, these shares will be able to be sold freely in the public market upon issuance.
The market price of the shares of our common stock could decline as a result of the sale of a substantial number of our shares of common stock in the public market or the perception in the market that the holders of a large number of shares intend to sell their shares.
We have broad discretion in the use of working capital and may not use it effectively or in ways that increase our share price.
We cannot specify with any certainty the particular uses of working capital, but we currently expect such uses will include: funding selling and marketing activities, including expansion of our sales force to support the ongoing commercialization of current and future products; research and development related to the continued support of our current products as well as the development of our product pipeline; and other general corporate purposes, including the additional costs associated with being a public company. The failure by our management to apply our working capital effectively could adversely affect our business and financial condition. Pending its use, we may invest working capital in a manner that does not produce income or that loses value. These investments may not yield a favorable return to our investors.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our common stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our common stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our common stock could decrease, which might cause our common stock price and trading volume to decline.
Our disclosure controls and procedures may not prevent or detect all errors or acts of fraud.
We are subject to the periodic reporting requirements of the Exchange Act. We designed our disclosure controls and procedures to reasonably assure that information we must disclose in reports we file or submit under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to management, and recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the rules and forms of the SEC. We believe that any disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls and procedures, no matter how well-conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met.
These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty, and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistake. For example, our directors or executive officers could inadvertently fail to disclose a new relationship or arrangement causing us to fail to make any related party transaction disclosures. Additionally, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people or by an unauthorized override of the controls. Accordingly, because of the inherent limitations in our control system, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected. In addition, we do not have a risk management program or processes or procedures for identifying and addressing risks to our business in other areas.
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We are an emerging growth company and a smaller reporting company and we cannot be certain if the reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an emerging growth company as defined in the JOBS ACT, and we intend to take advantage of some of the exemptions from reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including:
being permitted to provide only two years of audited financial statements, in addition to any required unaudited interim financial statements, with correspondingly reduced ‘‘Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations’’ disclosure;
not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements in the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting;
not being required to comply with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements;
reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation; and
not being required to hold a non-binding advisory vote on executive compensation or obtain stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved.
In addition, as an emerging growth company the JOBS Act allows us to delay adoption of new or revised accounting pronouncements applicable to public companies until such pronouncements are made applicable to private companies. We have elected to use this extended transition period under the JOBS Act. We may take advantage of these reporting exemptions until we are no longer an emerging growth company. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) December 31, 2024, (2) the last day of the fiscal year (a) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion or (b) in which we are deemed to be a ‘‘large accelerated filer’’ as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30th, and (3) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.
We are also a smaller reporting company as defined in the Exchange Act. We may continue to be a smaller reporting company even after we are no longer an emerging growth company. We may take advantage of certain of the scaled disclosures available to smaller reporting companies and will be able to take advantage of these scaled disclosures for so long as the market value of our voting and non-voting common stock held by non-affiliates is less than $250.0 million measured on the last business day of our second fiscal quarter, or our annual revenue is less than $100.0 million during the most recently completed fiscal year and the market value of our voting and non-voting common stock held by non-affiliates is less than $700.0 million measured on the last business day of our second fiscal quarter.
We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we will rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
As of March 5, 2021, the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeded $700.0 million. If the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeds $700.0 million as of June 30, 2021, we will cease to be an emerging growth company effective December 31, 2021. Additionally, in such case, we expect to no longer qualify as a smaller reporting company beginning with our first Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022.
We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.
We have never declared nor paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings to finance the operation and expansion of our business, and we do not expect to declare or pay any dividends in the foreseeable future. Consequently, stockholders must rely on sales of their common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any future gains on their investment.
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The concentration of our stock ownership will likely limit your ability to influence corporate matters, including the ability to influence the outcome of director elections and other matters requiring stockholder approval.
Based upon shares outstanding as of December 31, 2020, our executive officers, directors and the known holders of more than 5% of our outstanding common stock, in the aggregate, beneficially owned approximately 33% of our common stock. As a result, these stockholders, acting together, will have significant influence over all matters that require approval by our stockholders, including the election of directors and approval of significant corporate transactions. Corporate actions might be taken even if other stockholders oppose them. This concentration of ownership might also have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control of our company that other stockholders may view as beneficial.
Delaware law and provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make a merger, tender offer or proxy contest difficult, thereby depressing the trading price of our common stock.
Provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may delay or discourage transactions involving an actual or potential change in our control or change in our management, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares or transactions that our stockholders might otherwise deem to be in their best interests. Therefore, these provisions could adversely affect the price of our common stock. Among other things, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws:
permit our board of directors to issue up to 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock, with any rights, preferences and privileges as they may designate (including the right to approve an acquisition or other change in our control);
provide that the authorized number of directors may be changed only by resolution of the board of directors;
provide that the board of directors or any individual director may only be removed with cause and the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% of the voting power of all of our then outstanding common stock;
provide that all vacancies, including newly created directorships, may, except as otherwise required by law, be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of directors then in office, even if less than a quorum;
divide our board of directors into three classes;
require that any action to be taken by our stockholders must be effected at a duly called annual or special meeting of stockholders and not be taken by written consent;
provide that stockholders seeking to present proposals before a meeting of stockholders or to nominate candidates for election as directors at a meeting of stockholders must provide notice in writing in a timely manner and also specify requirements as to the form and content of a stockholder’s notice;
do not provide for cumulative voting rights (therefore allowing the holders of a majority of the shares of common stock entitled to vote in any election of directors to elect all of the directors standing for election, if they should so choose);
provide that special meetings of our stockholders may be called only by the chairman of the board, our Chief Executive Officer or by the board of directors pursuant to a resolution adopted by a majority of the total number of authorized directors;
provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if and only if the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware lacks subject matter jurisdiction, any state court located within the State of Delaware or, if and only if all such state courts lack subject matter jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware) will be the sole and exclusive forum for the following types of actions or proceedings under Delaware statutory or common law: (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (ii) any action or proceeding asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our current or former directors, officers or other employees to us or our stockholders; (iii) any action or proceeding asserting a claim against us or any of our current or former directors, officers or other employees, arising out of or pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our certificate of incorporation or our bylaws; (iv) any action or proceeding to interpret, apply, enforce or determine the validity of our certificate of incorporation or our bylaws; (v) any action or proceeding as to which the Delaware General Corporation Law confers jurisdiction to the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; and (vi) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our directors, officers or other employees governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in all cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and subject to the court’s having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants; provided these provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws will not apply to
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suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction; and
provide that unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States of America shall be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, subject to and contingent upon a final adjudication in the State of Delaware of the enforceability of such exclusive forum provision.
The amendment of any of these provisions, with the exception of the ability of our board of directors to issue shares of preferred stock and designate any rights, preferences and privileges thereto, would require approval by the holders of at least 66-2/3% of our then-outstanding common stock.
In addition, as a Delaware corporation, we are subject to Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. These provisions may prohibit large stockholders, in particular those owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock, from merging or combining with us for a certain period of time. A Delaware corporation may opt out of this provision by express provision in its original certificate of incorporation or by amendment to its certificate of incorporation or bylaws approved by its stockholders. However, we have not opted out of this provision.
These and other provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and Delaware law could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirors to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by our then-current board of directors, including delay or impede a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving our company. The existence of these provisions could negatively affect the price of our common stock and limit opportunities for you to realize value in a corporate transaction.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for certain disputes between us and our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if and only if the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware lacks subject matter jurisdiction, any state court located within the State of Delaware or, if and only if all such state courts lack subject matter jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware) will be the sole and exclusive forum for the following types of actions or proceedings under Delaware statutory or common law: (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (ii) any action or proceeding asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our current or former directors, officers or other employees to us or our stockholders; (iii) any action or proceeding asserting a claim against us or any of our current or former directors, officers or other employees arising out of or pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or amended and restated bylaws; (iv) any action or proceeding to interpret, apply, enforce or determine the validity of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws; (v) any action or proceeding as to which the Delaware General Corporation Law confers jurisdiction to the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; and (vi) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our directors, officers or other employees that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in all cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and subject to the court’s having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants; provided these provisions would not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act, or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. This provision would not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act. Furthermore, Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all such Securities Act actions. Accordingly, both state and federal courts have jurisdiction to entertain such claims. To prevent having to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions and the threat of inconsistent or contrary rulings by different courts, among other considerations, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws provide that unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States of America shall be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, subject to and contingent upon a final adjudication in the State of Delaware of the enforceability of such exclusive forum provision. While the Delaware courts have determined that such choice of forum provisions are facially valid, a stockholder may nevertheless seek to bring a claim in a venue other than those designated in the exclusive forum provisions. In such instance, we would expect to vigorously assert the validity and enforceability of the exclusive forum provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. This may require significant additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions and there can be no assurance that the provisions will be enforced by a court in those other jurisdictions.
These choice of forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees and may discourage these types of lawsuits. Furthermore, the
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enforceability of similar choice of forum provisions in other companies’ certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that a court could find these types of provisions to be inapplicable or unenforceable. If a court were to find the choice of forum provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
None.
Item 2. Properties.
We have a lease agreement for approximately 23,700 square feet of office space in Friendswood, Texas that will be used as our corporate headquarters. This lease commenced on December 1, 2020 and has a 60-month term, with an option to renew for one additional five-year period. Additionally, we lease approximately 7,100 square feet of other office space in Friendswood, Texas under an agreement that is on a month-to-month basis. We also lease approximately 27,100 square feet of laboratory and office space in Phoenix, Arizona under two agreements, one of which expires on July 31, 2027 and the other expires on March 31, 2028. Each of these leases provide us with two optional renewal periods of five years each. We believe our existing facilities will be sufficient for our needs for the foreseeable future.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
From time to time, we may be involved in legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business. We believe there is no threatened litigation or litigation pending that could have, individually or in the aggregate, a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.
Not applicable.
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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Market Information
Our Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share, began trading on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “CSTL” on July 25, 2019. Prior to that date, there was no public trading market for our common stock.
Holders of Record
As of March 5, 2021, there were approximately 108 stockholders of record of our common stock, which does not include shares held in street name.
Dividend Policy
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings for use in the operation of our business and do not anticipate paying any dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on, among other factors, our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements, contractual restrictions, general business conditions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.
Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Our Equity Compensation Plans
Information regarding securities authorized for issuance under our equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Item 12, “Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters” of Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Performance Graph
Not required for smaller reporting companies.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Equity Securities
On December 11, 2020, we issued 209,238 shares of our common stock to SH Castle Biosciences, LLC upon the net exercise of a warrant to purchase 209,243 shares of common stock at an exercise price of approximately $0.001 per share. Additionally, we paid $41 in cash to SH Castle Biosciences, LLC for the value of a fractional share of common stock computed in connection with such net exercise. The net exercise was based on a fair market value of our common stock of $59.16 per share and did not result in any cash proceeds to us.
On December 29, 2020, we issued an aggregate of 31,814 shares of our common stock to OTA LLC upon the net exercise of certain warrants to purchase an aggregate of 35,237 shares of common stock at an exercise price of approximately $7.10 per share. The warrants were originally issued to Oxford Finance LLC on March 31, 2017 and November 30, 2018, but were later transferred to OTA LLC in August 2020. We paid an aggregate of $58 in cash to OTA LLC for the value of fractional shares computed in connection with such net exercises. In accordance with the terms of the warrants, the net exercises were based on the fair market value of our common stock on the business day immediately prior to the date of delivery of the exercise notices, in each case $73.05 per share, and did not result in any cash proceeds to us.
The issuances of these shares of common stock were deemed to be exempt from registration under the Securities Act in reliance on Section 4(a)(2) (or Regulation D promulgated thereunder) in that the issuance of securities was to an accredited investor and did not involve a public offering. The recipient of securities in each of these transactions acquired the securities for investment only and not with a view to or for sale in connection with any distribution thereof and appropriate legends were affixed to the securities issued in these transactions. The recipient of the securities in these transactions was an accredited investor under Rule 501 of Regulation D.
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Use of Proceeds from IPO of Common Stock
On July 29, 2019, we completed the initial public offering of our common stock, or the IPO, pursuant to which we issued and sold 4,600,000 shares of our common stock, including 600,000 shares associated with the full exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares, at a price to the public of $16.00 per share.
The offer and sale of all of the shares of our common stock in the IPO were registered under the Securities Act pursuant to our Registration Statements on Form S-1, as amended (File Nos. 333-232369 and 333-232796), which were declared or became effective on July 24, 2019. SVB Leerink LLC and Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated acted as joint book-running managers for the IPO and as representatives of the underwriters. Canaccord Genuity LLC and BTIG, LLC acted as co-managers for the IPO.
We received gross proceeds from the IPO of $73.6 million, or net proceeds of $65.9 million after deducting $5.2 million in underwriting discounts and commissions and $2.5 million of offering expenses. None of the underwriting discounts and commissions or offering expenses were incurred or paid, directly or indirectly, to any of our directors or officers or their associates or to persons owning 10% or more of our common stock or to any of our affiliates.
There has been no material change in our planned use of the net proceeds from the IPO as described in the final prospectus filed with the SEC on July 26, 2019 relating to our Registration Statements on Form S-1 (File Nos. 333-232369 and 333-232796).
Since the effective date of our registration statement through December 31, 2020, we have not used any of the net proceeds from the IPO. Pending such uses, we have invested, and plan to continue to invest, the balance of the net proceeds from the IPO in cash and cash equivalent securities or highly liquid investment securities.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
None.

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.
Not required for smaller reporting companies.

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
You should read the following discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations together with our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion and other parts of this Annual Report on Form 10-K contain forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties, such as statements of our plans, objectives, expectations and intentions. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those discussed in the section titled “Risk Factors.”
Overview
We are a commercial-stage dermatological cancer company focused on providing physicians and their patients with personalized, clinically actionable genomic information to make more accurate treatment decisions. We believe that the traditional approach to developing a treatment plan for certain cancers using clinical and pathology factors alone is inadequate and can be improved by incorporating personalized genomic information. Our non-invasive products utilize proprietary algorithms to provide an assessment of a patient’s specific risk of metastasis or recurrence of their cancer, allowing physicians to identify patients who are likely to benefit from an escalation of care as well as those who may avoid unnecessary medical and surgical interventions. Our lead product, DecisionDx®-Melanoma, is a proprietary GEP test that predicts the risk of metastasis or recurrence for patients diagnosed with invasive cutaneous melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. This test has two current clinically actionable uses. The first use immediately following diagnosis predicts a patient’s likelihood of having a sentinel lymph node negative biopsy result so that physicians and patients can discuss the risk and benefit of undergoing SLNB surgery. The second use is to inform the appropriate treatment plan, regardless of the decision to undergo or avoid the SLNB surgery. We estimate more than 130,000 patients are diagnosed with invasive cutaneous melanoma each year in the United States. We launched DecisionDx-Melanoma in May 2013.
On August 31, 2020, we commercially launched our cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma proprietary GEP test, DecisionDx®‑SCC, and on November 2, 2020, we commercially launched our proprietary GEP test for suspicious pigmented lesions, DecisionDx® DiffDx™-Melanoma. These two indications are areas of high clinical need in dermatological cancer and, together, represent an addressable population of approximately 500,000 patients in the United States.
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We also market DecisionDx®-UM, which is a proprietary GEP test that predicts the risk of metastasis for patients with uveal melanoma, a rare eye cancer. We launched DecisionDx-UM in January 2010.
Based on the substantial clinical evidence that we have developed, we have received Medicare coverage for DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM, which represents approximately 50% of the addressable patient population for both of these tests.
We have processed over 70,000 clinical samples since our inception. Our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $62.6 million, compared to $51.9 million for 2019 and $22.8 million for 2018.
The numbers of DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-SCC, DecisionDx-DiffDx and DecisionDx-UM test reports delivered by us during the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 are presented in the table below:
Proprietary Dermatologic GEP Tests
 DecisionDx-
Melanoma
DecisionDx-SCC(1)
DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma(2)
DecisionDx-UMTotal
Q1 20204,574 — — 361 4,935 
Q2 20203,008 — — 306 3,314 
Q3 20204,404 57 — 318 4,779 
Q4 20204,246 428 73 410 5,157 
For the year ended December 31, 202016,232 485 73 1,395 18,185 
Q1 20193,232 — — 360 3,592 
Q2 20193,691 — — 376 4,067 
Q3 20194,126 — — 356 4,482 
Q4 20194,480 — — 434 4,914 
For the year ended December 31, 201915,529 — — 1,526 17,055 
(1)We commercially launched the DecisionDx-SCC test on August 31, 2020.
(2)We commercially launched the DecisionDx DiffDx on November 2, 2020.
While we continue to see new clinicians order the DecisionDx-Melanoma test for the first time, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, the number of new ordering clinicians (first time ordering the test) for our DecisionDx-Melanoma test decreased by 14% as compared to the same period in 2019. We believe these decreases in the number of new ordering clinicians are the result of physician office closures and limited physician access due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as discussed further below. Our commercial team is using a combination of in-person and virtual promotional efforts.
For additional information on the metrics we disclose, refer to “Information about certain metrics” below.
Since our inception in 2008, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, discovering product candidates, conducting clinical study activities to generate evidence demonstrating the clinical validity, clinical utility, economic benefits, and patient outcomes of our products, and commercialization activities for those products. We currently market four proprietary GEP products and generate substantially all of our revenue from DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM.
The principal focus of our current commercial efforts is to distribute our molecular diagnostic testing products through our direct sales force in the U.S. The number of test reports we generate is a key indicator that we use to assess our business. A test report is generated when we receive a sample in our laboratory, the relevant information relating to that test is entered into our Laboratory Information Management System, the genomic profile of the sample is performed and a report providing the results of that profile is sent to the physician who ordered the test.
We bill third-party payors and patients for the tests we perform. The majority of our revenue collections is paid by third-party insurers, including Medicare. We have received LCDs, which provide coverage for our DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM tests that meet certain criteria for Medicare and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, representing approximately 60 million covered lives. As it relates to DecisionDx-UM, we have contracts or have received positive medical policy decisions from additional payors representing approximately 83 million covered lives. A ‘‘covered life’’ means a subscriber, or a dependent of a subscriber, who is insured under an insurance policy for such an insurance carrier.
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Palmetto GBA MolDX, or Palmetto, the MAC responsible for administering MolDX, the program that assesses molecular diagnostic technologies, issued a final expanded LCD for DecisionDx-Melanoma, effective November 22, 2020. With this expanded LCD and the accompanying billing and coding articles, we estimate that a significant majority of the DecisionDx-Melanoma tests performed for Medicare patients will meet the coverage criteria. Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC, or Noridian, the MAC responsible for administering claims for laboratory services performed in Arizona, has adopted the same coverage policy as Palmetto and also issued an expanded final LCD for DecisionDx-Melanoma, effective December 6, 2020.
On May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-UM meets the criteria for “existing ADLT” status. Accordingly, in 2021 the DecisionDx-UM Medicare rate will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. Note that our rate for 2020 was set by Noridian, our local MAC, but our rate for 2021 for DecisionDx-UM will be $7,776 based on the median private payor rate. Also, on May 17, 2019, CMS determined that DecisionDx-Melanoma meets the criteria for ‘‘new ADLT’’ status. Accordingly, from July 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020 the Medicare reimbursement rate was equal to the initial list price of $7,193. From April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021, CMS notified us that the rate will also be $7,193, which was calculated based upon the median private payor rate for DecisionDx-Melanoma from July 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019. Beginning in 2022, the rate for both DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM will be set annually based upon the median private payor rate for the first half of the second preceding calendar year. For example, the rate for 2022 will be set using median private payor rate data from January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
In the second quarter of 2020, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx-SCC to Palmetto and Noridian. In early 2021, we submitted our technical assessment dossier for DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma. We expect that draft LCDs for each of these tests will be posted in 2021. However, there is no assurance that the timing of any draft LCD or final LCD will match our expectations or our historical experience with LCDs for our other tests.
To date, in addition to the revenue generated from the sale of our products, we have financed our operations through our July 2019 IPO, follow-on public offerings of common stock in June 2020 and December 2020, private placements of preferred stock, convertible promissory notes and bank debt. We believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash generated from sales of our products will be sufficient to fund our operations for the foreseeable future. However, we have based these estimates on assumptions, including those related to the impact of COVID-19 on our financial condition, that may prove to be wrong, and we could utilize our available capital resources sooner than we expect.
Our net (loss) income may fluctuate significantly from period to period, depending on the timing of our planned development activities, the growth of our sales and marketing activities and the timing of revenue recognition under ASC 606. We expect our expenses will increase substantially over time as we:
execute clinical studies to generate evidence supporting our current and future product candidates;
execute our commercialization strategy for our current and future products;
continue our ongoing and planned development of new products;
seek to discover and develop additional product candidates;
hire additional scientific and research and development staff; and
add additional operational, financial and management information systems and personnel.
Furthermore, we expect to continue to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company, including significant legal, accounting, investor relations and other expenses.
Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic
We are continuing to closely monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and are taking proactive efforts designed to protect the health and safety of our workforce, continue our business operations and advance our corporate objectives. We are providing the following update with respect to the impact of COVID-19 on our business:
We have maintained and expect to continue to maintain uninterrupted business operations, with adequate access to reagents and consumables needed for testing patient samples and normal turnaround times for our delivery of test reports. We have implemented adjustments to our operations designed to keep employees safe and comply with federal, state and local guidelines, including those regarding social distancing.
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we began experiencing declines in orders and test report volume. For example, in the second quarter of 2020, test reports delivered for our lead product, DecisionDx-Melanoma, decreased 18.5% compared to the second quarter of 2019. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our growth in DecisionDx-Melanoma test report volume was 4.5%, compared to year-over-year growth of 29.1% for the year ended December 31, 2019. We believe the adverse impacts to our test report volume growth are linked to delays and/or cancellations in
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patient visits, resulting in reduced diagnostic biopsies and thus reduced diagnoses of cutaneous melanoma in response to COVID-19.
Our future results will be dependent upon the extent and duration of the COVID-19 crisis as well as the impact of ongoing state and local government restrictions, which are beyond our control, and which may be eased and/or reinstated from time to time depending on the circumstances, potentially impacting the flow of future patient visits. Even with the easing of state and local restrictions, patient visits and diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma may be impacted by continued apprehension regarding possible exposure to the virus. For example, our analysis of third party data indicates that during 2020, cutaneous melanoma diagnoses were down more than 20% compared to 2019.
We continue to believe our cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash to be generated from sales of our products, will be sufficient to fund our operations for the foreseeable future.
As conditions are continuously evolving, we are unable to predict how our future test report volume will be impacted or the extent to which our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, or other future public health crises. Accordingly, the test report data presented above is not necessarily indicative of our results of operations that can be expected for future periods. For more information on the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, see the risk factors included under “Risks Related to Our Business” and the other risk factors included in Part I, Item 1A., “Risk Factors,” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Factors affecting our performance
We believe there are several important factors that have impacted and that we expect will impact our operating performance and results of operations, including:
Report volume. We believe that the number of reports we deliver to physicians is an important indicator of growth of adoption among the healthcare provider community. Our revenue and costs are affected by the volume of testing and mix of customers. Our performance depends on our ability to retain and broaden adoption with existing prescribing physicians, as well as attract new physicians. In the near term, our report volume may continue to be negatively impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the crisis evolves, as discussed above.
Reimbursement. We believe that expanding reimbursement is an important indicator of the value of our products. Payors require extensive evidence of clinical utility, clinical validity, patient outcomes and health economic benefits in order to provide reimbursement for diagnostic products. Our revenue depends on our ability to demonstrate the value of our products to these payors.
Gross margin. We believe that our gross margin is an important indicator of the operating performance of our business. Higher gross margins reflect the average selling price of our tests, as well as the operating efficiency of our laboratory operations.
New product development. A significant aspect of our business is our investment in research and development activities, including activities related to the development of new products. In addition to the development of new product candidates, we believe these studies are critical to gaining physician adoption of new products and driving favorable coverage decisions by payors for such products.

Information about certain metrics
The following provides additional information about certain metrics we have disclosed in this Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation.
Test reports delivered for DecisionDx-Melanoma, DecisionDx-UM and DecisionDx-SCC represents the number of completed test reports delivered by us during the reporting period indicated. The period in which a test report is delivered does not necessarily correspond with the period the related revenue, if any, is recognized, due to the timing and amount of adjustments for variable consideration under ASC 606. We use this metric to evaluate the growth in adoption of our tests and to measure against our internal performance objectives. We believe this metric is useful to investors in evaluating the volume of our business activity from period to period that may not be discernible from our reported revenues under ASC 606. We also sometimes present, on a limited basis, data on the number of orders received. We believe order data can provide additional insight on current demand trends, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and with respect to new product launches, when considered in conjunction with test report volume. However, orders received in a particular period do not necessarily correspond with actual delivered test reports or reported revenues for the same period or subsequent periods.
New ordering clinicians for DecisionDx-Melanoma represents the number of clinicians who ordered the DecisionDx-Melanoma test for the first time during the reporting period specified. We believe this metric is useful in evaluating the effectiveness of our
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sales and marketing efforts in establishing new relationships with clinicians and increasing the adoption of the DecisionDx-Melanoma test. We also believe this metric provides useful information to investors in assessing our ability to expand the use of the DecisionDx-Melanoma test. Since this metric is based upon the reporting period in which an order is placed, it does not necessarily correspond to the reporting period in which a test report was delivered or in which any revenue was recognized.
Components of the Results of Operations
Net Revenues
We generate revenues from the sale of our products. Currently, our revenues are primarily derived from the sale of DecisionDx-Melanoma and DecisionDx-UM. We bill third-party payors and patients for the tests we perform.
Under ASC 606, we recognize revenue at the amount we expect to be entitled, subject to a constraint for variable consideration, in the period in which our tests are delivered to the treating physicians. We have determined that our contracts contain variable consideration under ASC 606 because the amounts paid by third-party payors may be paid at less than our standard rates or not paid at all, with such differences considered implicit price concessions. Variable consideration is recognized only to the extent it is probable that a significant reversal of revenue will not occur in future periods when the uncertainties are resolved. Variable consideration is evaluated each reporting period and adjustments are recorded as increases or decreases in revenues. Variable consideration for Medicare claims that are not covered by an LCD, including those claims subject to approval by an ALJ at an appeal hearing, is deemed to be fully constrained due to factors outside our influence (i.e., judgment or actions of third parties) and the uncertainty of the amount to be received is not expected to be resolved for a long period of time. For these fully constrained claims, we generally recognize revenue in the period the uncertainty is favorably resolved, if at all. Due to potential future changes in Medicare coverage policies and appeal cycles, insurance coverage policies, contractual rates and other trends in the reimbursement of our tests, our revenues may fluctuate significantly from period to period. Additionally, our ability to recognize revenue for our recently launched tests, DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma, is dependent on the development of reimbursement experience and coverage decisions for these tests. Due to limited reimbursement experience, we are currently recognizing revenues for these two tests on the basis of actual cash collections.
Our ability to increase our revenues will depend on our ability to further penetrate our target market, and, in particular, generate sales through our direct sales force, develop and commercialize additional tests, obtain reimbursement from additional third-party payors and increase our reimbursement rate for tests performed.
Cost of Sales
The components of our cost of sales are material and service costs, personnel costs (including salaries, bonuses, benefits and stock-based compensation expense), equipment and infrastructure expenses associated with testing samples, electronic medical records, order and delivery systems, shipping charges to transport samples, third-party test fees, and allocated overhead including rent, information technology costs, equipment depreciation and utilities. Costs associated with performing tests are recorded when the test is processed regardless of whether and when revenues are recognized with respect to that test. As a result, our cost of sales as a percentage of revenues may vary significantly from period to period because we do not recognize all revenues in the period in which the associated costs are incurred. We expect cost of sales in absolute dollars to increase as the number of tests we perform increases. Additionally, we expect cost of sales to increase with the expansion of laboratory capacity and staffing in advance of anticipated growth of our recently launched tests.
Gross margin, calculated as net revenues minus cost of sales, and gross margin percentage, calculated as gross margin divided by net revenues, are key indicators we use to assess our business.
Research and Development
Research and development expenses include costs incurred to develop our genomic tests, collect clinical samples and conduct clinical studies to develop and support our products. These costs consist of personnel costs (including salaries, bonuses, benefits and stock-based compensation expense), prototype materials, laboratory supplies, consulting costs, regulatory costs, electronic medical records set up costs, costs associated with setting up and conducting clinical studies and allocated overhead, including rent, information technology, equipment depreciation and utilities. We expense all research and development costs in the periods in which they are incurred. We expect our research and development expenses to increase in absolute dollars as we continue to invest in research and development activities related to developing enhanced and new products.
We expect to use a portion of the proceeds from the June 2020 and December 2020 follow-on public offerings to further support and accelerate our research and development activities, including two important studies that we have recently commenced to support our DecisionDx-Melanoma test. The first is the PERSONALize study, in which we are evaluating DecisionDx-Melanoma for interactions with adjuvant therapies. The second is the CONNECTION study, which is collecting long-term outcomes for up to 10,000 patients who have been tested with DecisionDx-Melanoma.
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Selling, General and Administrative
Selling, general and administrative, or SG&A, expenses include executive, selling and marketing, legal, finance and accounting, human resources, billing and client services. These expenses consist of personnel costs (including salaries, bonuses, benefits and stock-based compensation expense), direct marketing expenses, audit and legal expenses, consulting costs, training and medical education activities, payor outreach programs and allocated overhead, including rent, information technology, equipment depreciation, and utilities. We expect continued increases in SG&A expenses related to compliance with the rules and regulations of the SEC and Nasdaq, investor relations activities and additional insurance expenses. Other administrative and professional services expenses within SG&A are expected to increase with the scale of our business, but selling and marketing-related expenses are expected to increase significantly, consistent with our growth strategy.
Other Operating Income
Other operating income consists of an automatic payment received from HHS for provider relief funds pursuant to the CARES Act.
Interest Income
Interest income consists primarily of earnings on cash and cash equivalents, primarily money market funds.
Interest Expense
Interest expense is attributable to borrowings under our term debt, revolving line of credit and the convertible promissory notes issued in January and February of 2019, or the Q1 2019 Notes, and also includes the amortization of debt discount and issuance costs.
(Loss) Gain on Extinguishments of Debt
The loss on extinguishment of debt is associated with the early repayment of our term loan facility in December 2020 while the gain on extinguishment of debt is associated with the settlement of the Q1 2019 Notes in connection with the IPO.
Other Expense, Net
Other expense, net reflects changes in the fair value of (i) a convertible promissory note we issued to an investor in July 2019, or the July 2019 Note, (ii) our convertible preferred stock warrant liability and (iii) the embedded derivative associated with the Q1 2019 Notes.
Income Tax Expense
Our financial statements do not reflect any federal or state income tax benefits attributable to the net losses we have incurred, due to the uncertainty of realizing a benefit from those items. As of December 31, 2020, we had federal net operating loss carryforwards of $55.9 million, of which $42.0 million will begin to expire in 2033 if not utilized to offset federal taxable income and $13.9 million may be carried forward indefinitely. Also, as of December 31, 2020, we had state net operating loss carryforwards of $41.6 million, which begin to expire in 2028 if not utilized to offset state taxable income.
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Results of Operations

Comparison of the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019
The following table summarizes our results of operations for the periods indicated (in thousands, except percentages):
 Years Ended December 31,Change
 20202019
Net revenues$62,649 $51,865 $10,784 20.8 %
Cost of sales9,685 7,310 2,375 32.5 %
Gross margin52,964 44,555 8,409 18.9 %
Gross margin percentage84.5 %85.9 %
Operating expenses and other operating income:
Research and development13,256 7,385 5,871 79.5 %
Selling, general and administrative48,132 29,842 18,290 61.3 %
Other operating income(1,882)— (1,882)N/A
Total operating expenses, net59,506 37,227 22,279 59.8 %
Operating (loss) income(6,542)7,328 (13,870)(189.3)%
Interest income373 312 61 19.6 %
Interest expense(2,634)(4,571)1,937 42.4 %
(Loss) gain on extinguishments of debt(1,397)5,213 (6,610)(126.8)%
Other expense, net— (2,933)2,933 100.0 %
(Loss) income before income taxes(10,200)5,349 (15,549)(290.7)%
Income tax expense84 72 12 16.7 %
Net (loss) income$(10,284)$5,277 $(15,561)(294.9)%

The following table indicates the amount of stock-based compensation expense reflected in the line items above (in thousands):
 Years Ended December 31,
 20202019Change
Cost of sales$1,049 $170 $879 
Research and development1,492 165 1,327 
Selling, general and administrative5,768 914 4,854 
Total stock-based compensation expense$8,309 $1,249 $7,060 

Net Revenues
Net revenues increased by $10.8 million, or 20.8%, to $62.6 million primarily due to higher per-unit revenues as well as an increase in overall test report volume, partially offset by reduced revenue adjustments related to prior periods. The overall revenue increase is primarily attributable to DecisionDx-Melanoma test revenues, partially offset by lower DecisionDx-UM test revenues. Our 2020 per-unit revenues benefited from having the “new ADLT” status for our DecisionDx-Melanoma test, effective July 1, 2019, which resulted in a higher Medicare reimbursement rate for the test, as described above, for the full year in 2020. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we experienced an increase in DecisionDx-Melanoma test volume of 4.5% but a decrease in DecisionDx-UM test report volume of 8.6%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2019. For these two tests, while we saw a year-over-year increase in test reports delivered of 37.4% during the first quarter of 2020, we experienced year-over-year (decreases) increases in test reports delivered of (18.5%), 5.4% and (5.3%) during the second, third and fourth quarters, respectively, of 2020. We believe the adverse impacts to our test report volume growth are linked to delays and/or cancellations in patient visits, resulting in reduced diagnostic biopsies and thus reduced diagnoses of cutaneous melanoma in response to COVID-19, as discussed above. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we recorded net positive revenue adjustments of $0.2 million and $2.5 million, respectively, related to tests delivered in previous periods, associated with changes in estimated variable consideration. The positive revenue adjustments include the recognition of revenue for
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certain tests delivered in prior periods for which no revenue was recognizable originally, but was recognized upon cash collection of payments for the tests in the respective periods.
Cost of Sales
Cost of sales for the year ended December 31, 2020 increased by $2.4 million, or 32.5%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to increased costs of supplies and services, attributable to the higher activity levels, as well as higher personnel costs due to additional headcount in our laboratory testing operations. The additional personnel costs included a year-over-year increase in stock-based compensation expense of $0.9 million. Our gross margin percentage was 84.5% for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to 85.9% for the same period in 2019, reflecting the expansion of laboratory staff in preparation for both launches of DecisionDx-SCC and DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma as well as anticipated further volume growth for DecisionDx-Melanoma. Due to the nature of our business, a significant portion of our cost of sales expenses represent fixed costs associated with our testing operations. Accordingly, our cost of sales expense will not necessarily increase or decrease commensurately with the change in net revenues from period to period.
Research and Development
Research and development expenses increased by $5.9 million, or 79.5%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily associated with increases in personnel costs and costs incurred in our clinical studies. Personnel costs increased due to expansions in headcount in support of our growth, including higher stock-based compensation expense, which increased by $1.3 million.
Selling, General and Administrative
SG&A expense increased by $18.3 million, or 61.3%, for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019. Approximately 68% of the increase is attributable to higher personnel costs, particularly due to increased headcount, which includes salaries, bonuses, benefits and stock-based compensation. In early 2019, we expanded our sales organization from 14 territories to 23 territories and implemented an additional expansion to 32 territories beginning in December 2019. Further, we expanded our sales organization headcount in the third quarter of 2020 in preparation for the commercial launch of our DecisionDx DiffDx-Melanoma test. The higher personnel costs also reflect expanded headcount in our administrative support functions. Stock-based compensation expense included in SG&A expense was $5.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to $0.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2019, reflecting both higher post-IPO stock option valuations as well as additional awards outstanding due to growth in headcount. The remainder of the increase in SG&A expense was primarily associated with higher marketing expenses, professional fees, board of director compensation, insurance expense and other general increases.
Other Operating Income
Other operating income of $1.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 consists entirely of the automatic payment received from HHS pursuant to the CARES Act for provider relief funds. We initially recognized income attributable to the payment in the second quarter of 2020 based on our expectation of meeting the requirements to retain the funds. However, due a change in requirements of the program in the third quarter of 2020, we reversed this income. However, in the fourth quarter of 2020, a legislative change was enacted affecting the program, under which we concluded it is reasonably assured we will qualify to retain the funds. Accordingly, we recognized the income again in the fourth quarter of 2020. See Note 2 to the financial statements for additional information.
Interest Income
Interest income increased by $0.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, as a result of higher average balances of cash and cash equivalents, largely offset by the effect of lower interest rates. The higher average balances of cash and cash equivalents were primarily attributable to proceeds from the IPO in 2019 and two public offerings of common stock in 2020.
Interest Expense
Interest expense decreased by $1.9 million, or 42.4%, for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019 and was primarily attributable to interest expense on the Q1 2019 Notes during the year ended December 31, 2019, which was $1.7 million, and consisted of the accrual of the contractual 8% interest plus the amortization of issuance costs and debt discount. The outstanding principal amount and accrued interest on the Q1 2019 Notes converted into shares of common stock in connection with the IPO in July 2019. The decrease also reflects lower interest expense on our banking term loan facility primarily due to lower average balances outstanding. We terminated and repaid all amounts due on the term loan facility in December 2020, as discussed further below.
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(Loss) Gain on Extinguishments of Debt
We recorded an extinguishment loss of $1.4 million during the year ended December 31, 2020 related to the early repayment and termination of our banking term loan facility. The extinguishment loss was attributable to the write off of the unamortized discount and issuance costs as well as early termination and prepayment fees. During the year ended December 31, 2019, we recorded a non-cash extinguishment gain related to the Q1 2019 Notes totaling $5.2 million, which was associated with the conversion of the Q1 2019 Notes into shares of common stock in connection with the IPO that was considered an extinguishment for accounting purposes. See Notes 6 and 7 to the financial statements for additional information on these extinguishments of debt.
Other Expense, Net
Other expense, net for the year ended December 31, 2019 consisted of losses associated with changes in fair value of the July 2019 Note, the liability for convertible preferred stock warrants and the embedded derivative associated with the Q1 2019 Notes of $2.1 million, $0.6 million and $0.2 million, respectively. These liabilities were adjusted to their current fair values each period, but effective with the IPO, the July 2019 Note and Q1 2019 Notes automatically converted into shares of common stock and we reclassified our liability for convertible preferred stock warrants to stockholders’ equity. Accordingly, no further changes in fair value for these items are reflected in periods after the IPO date.
Income Tax Expense
We recorded minimal income tax expense in both the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, because the income tax (benefit) expense of net (loss) income in both periods was largely offset by changes in the valuation allowance on net deferred tax assets, as we have determined that it is more likely than not that these benefits will not be realized.
Stock-Based Compensation Expense
Stock-based compensation expense, which is allocated among cost of sales, research and development expense and SG&A expense, totaled $8.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to $1.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. We expect material increases in stock-based compensation expense in future periods, reflecting both higher post-IPO stock option valuations as well as additional awards outstanding due to growth in our headcount. As of December 31, 2020 we had 201 employees compared to 135 as of December 31, 2019. As of December 31, 2020, the total unrecognized stock-based compensation cost related to outstanding awards was $57.1 million, which is expected to be recognized on a straight-line basis over a weighted-average period of 3.4 years. We expect to continue granting stock-based compensation awards, which we expect to further contribute to increases in stock-based compensation expense in future periods.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Sources of Liquidity
Our principal sources of liquidity are our cash and cash equivalents and cash generated from sales of our products. As of December 31, 2020 and 2019, we had cash and cash equivalents of $409.9 million and $98.8 million, respectively. To date, in addition to the revenue generated from the sale of our products, we have financed our operations through the IPO, two follow-on public offerings of common stock in June 2020 and December 2020, private placements of preferred stock, convertible promissory notes and bank debt.
On December 14, 2020, we filed an automatically effective shelf registration statement on Form S-3 (File No. 333-251331) with the SEC as a “well-known seasoned issuer.” The registration statement allows us to issue an indeterminate number or amount of common stock, preferred stock, debt securities and warrants from time to time in one or more offerings. However, there can be no assurance that we will complete any such offerings of securities. Any future offerings under this registration statement will be dependent upon, among other factors, market conditions, available pricing, our financial condition, investor perception of our prospects, our capital needs and our ability to maintain status as a well-known seasoned issuer.
Public Offerings of Common Stock
In connection with the closing of the IPO on July 29, 2019, we issued and sold 4,600,000 shares of our common stock, including 600,000 shares associated with the full exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares, at a price to the public of $16.00 per share. We received approximately $65.9 million in net proceeds, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other offering expenses payable to us.
On June 29, 2020 and July 2, 2020, we issued and sold 2,000,000 and 300,000 shares, respectively, of our common stock in a follow-on public offering at a price of $37.00 per share. We received $79.5 million in aggregate net proceeds, after deducting
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underwriting discounts and commissions and offering costs. The shares issued and sold on July 2, 2020 reflect the underwriters’ exercise in full of their 30-day option to purchase additional shares at the public offering price, less underwriting discounts and commissions.
On December 18, 2020, we issued and sold 4,600,000 shares of our common stock in a follow-on public offering at a price of $58.00 per share. We received $250.5 million in aggregate net proceeds, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and offering costs (excluding $0.4 million in offering costs that were incurred but not paid as of December 31, 2020). The shares issued and sold includes the underwriters’ exercise in full of their 30-day option to purchase additional shares at the public offering price, less underwriting discounts and commissions. On December 21, 2020, we used a portion of these proceeds to repay, in full, our outstanding term loan credit facility. See “Long-Term Debt” below for additional information.
As mentioned above, we expect to use a portion of these proceeds to further support and accelerate our research and development activities, including two important studies that we have recently commenced to support our DecisionDx-Melanoma test.
Medicare Advance Payment
On April 16, 2020, we received an advance payment of $8.3 million, or the Advance Payment, from CMS under its Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, which was expanded to provide increased cash flow to service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have recorded the Advance Payment as a liability, consisting of both a current and noncurrent portion, on our balance sheet as of December 31, 2020. We will reduce the balance of the Advance Payment as it is applied to claims or is otherwise recouped by CMS. Under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, enacted on October 1, 2020, the recoupment of the Advance Payment will commence in April 2021. For the first eleven months of recoupment, CMS will apply 25% of the Medicare payments otherwise owed to us against the balance of the Advance Payment. After that eleven-month period, CMS will recoup at a rate of 50% of the Medicare payments otherwise owed to us for an additional six months. If the Advance Payment is not fully recovered by CMS after this recoupment period, we will be required to repay any remaining balance.
Funding Requirements
Our primary uses of capital are, and we expect will continue to be, compensation and related expenses, clinical research and development services, laboratory operations, equipment and related supplies, legal and other regulatory expenses, general administrative costs and, from time to time, expansion of our facilities in support of our growth. We anticipate that a substantial portion of our capital resources and efforts in the foreseeable future will be focused on the commercialization of our existing products, the development of our future product candidates, the potential commercialization of our product candidates, should their development be successful, and general administrative costs. We may also, from time to time, consider various strategic opportunities, which may involve using a portion of our capital resources to fund acquisitions of businesses, assets, products or technologies.
Since our inception, we have generally incurred significant losses and negative cash flows. For the year ended December 31, 2020 we had a net loss of $10.3 million and an accumulated deficit of $62.5 million as of December 31, 2020. Our ability to generate revenue sufficient to achieve profitability will depend heavily on the successful commercialization of our currently marketed products and the products we plan to launch in the future as well as our spending on research and development activities. We expect to incur additional expenses and losses in the future as we invest in the commercialization of our existing products, the development of our future product candidates and the commercialization of our product candidates. We believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash generated from sales of our products will be sufficient to fund our operations for the foreseeable future. However, we have based these estimates on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could utilize our available capital resources sooner than we expect. There are numerous risks and uncertainties associated with developing genomic tests, including, among others, the uncertainty of:
successful commencement and completion of clinical study protocols;
successful identification and acquisition of tissue samples;
the development and validation of genomic classifiers; and
acceptance of new genomic tests by physicians, patients and third-party payors.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with research, development and commercialization of product candidates, we are unable to estimate our exact working capital requirements. Our future funding requirements will depend on
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and could increase significantly as a result of many factors, including those listed above as well as those listed in Part I, Item 1A., “Risk Factors,” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We do not currently have any committed external source of funds. In the event additional funding is required, we expect that we would use a combination of equity and debt financings, which may not be available to us when needed, on terms that we deem to be favorable or at all. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, the ownership interest of our stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect the rights of common stockholders. Debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making acquisitions or capital expenditures or declaring dividends. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis and actions taken to slow its spread, the global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme volatility, including diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic growth, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability. There can be no assurance that further deterioration in credit and financial markets and confidence in economic conditions will not occur. If equity and credit markets deteriorate, it may make any necessary debt or equity financing more difficult to obtain, more costly and/or more dilutive. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings or other arrangements when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product discovery and development activities or future commercialization efforts.
Long-Term Debt
Our long-term debt balances are presented in the table below (in thousands):
Years Ended December 31,
 20202019
Term debt$— $26,688 
Unamortized discount and issuance costs— (1,566)
Total long-term debt— 25,122 
Less: Current portion of long-term debt— (5,833)
Long-term debt, less current portion$— $19,289 
We had a Loan and Security Agreement, or the 2018 LSA, with Oxford Finance LLC, or Oxford, as collateral agent, and Oxford and Silicon Valley Bank as equal syndicated lenders. The 2018 LSA consisted of a $25.0 million secured term loan credit facility, or the Term Loan. The Term Loan bore interest at a floating rate equal to the greater of (1) 8.55% and (2) the 30-day U.S. LIBOR rate as reported in The Wall Street Journal on the last business day of the month that precedes the month in which the interest will accrue, plus 6.48%. The applicable interest rate on the Term Loan was 8.55% as of December 31, 2019. We were permitted to make interest-only payments on the Term Loan through May 31, 2020. As required, we began to repay the principal in 30 equal monthly installments of $833,333 each beginning on June 1, 2020. All unpaid principal and accrued and unpaid interest was to be due at maturity on November 1, 2022. However, on December 21, 2020, we terminated the 2018 LSA and repaid in full all amounts due, which totaled $21.6 million as of such date, including the outstanding principal balance, the final payment amount, early termination and prepayment fees and accrued interest.
For additional information on the 2018 LSA, refer to Note 7, “Long-Term Debt,” in the accompanying notes to our audited financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Operating Leases
We have entered into various operating leases, which are primarily associated with our laboratory facilities and office space. Total future minimum payment obligations under our operating leases as of December 31, 2020 totaled approximately $6.8 million. The leases expire on various dates through 2028 and provide certain options to renew for additional periods. Refer to Note 8 to the financial statements for additional information on our leasing arrangements.
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Cash Flows
The following table summarizes our sources and uses of cash and cash equivalents for each of the periods presented (in thousands):
 Years Ended December 31,
 20202019
Net cash provided by operating activities$9,865 $7,015 
Net cash used in investing activities(4,748)(937)
Net cash provided by financing activities305,890 88,288 
Net increase in cash and cash equivalents311,007 94,366 
Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year98,845 4,479 
Cash and cash equivalents, end of year$409,852 $98,845 
Operating Activities
Net cash provided by operating activities was $9.9 million for the years ended December 31, 2020 and was primarily attributable to net non-cash charges of $10.5 million (consisting of $8.3 million in stock-based compensation expense, $1.4 million of loss on extinguishment of debt, and $0.8 million in amortization of debt discount and issuance costs), the receipt of the Advance Payment of $8.3 million, increases in accrued compensation of $3.3 million and decreases in accounts receivable of $1.7 million, partially offset by the net loss of $10.3 million and increases in prepaid expenses and other current assets of $2.8 million, other assets of $1.4 million and inventory of $1.0 million.
Net cash provided by operating activities was $7.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 and was primarily attributable to net income of $5.3 million and net non-cash charges of $1.7 million (consisting of $2.1 million of fair value adjustments, $1.9 million in amortization of debt discount and issuance costs, stock-based compensation expense of $1.2 million, preferred stock warrant fair value adjustments of $0.6 million, and $1.1 million of other items, partially offset by $5.2 million of a debt extinguishment gain).
Investing Activities
Net cash used in investing activities for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 consisted entirely of purchases of property and equipment. The increase in purchases of property and equipment for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019 was primarily associated with the expansion of our facilities.
Financing Activities
Net cash provided by financing activities was $305.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 and consisted primarily of $330.0 million of proceeds from two common stock offering (net of underwriting discounts, commissions and issuance costs), $1.6 million of proceeds from contributions to the employee stock purchase plan and $1.6 million of proceeds from exercise of common stock options, partially offset by repayments of term debt, including extinguishment costs, of $27.4 million.
Net cash provided by financing activities was $88.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 and consisted primarily of $65.9 million of proceeds from our IPO (net of underwriting discounts, commissions and issuance costs), $11.7 million of net proceeds from the issuance of the Q1 2019 Notes, $9.2 million of net proceeds from the issuance of the July 2019 Note, $1.8 million of net proceeds associated with an increase in the 2018 Term Loan in connection with an amendment to the 2018 LSA and $1.2 million of proceeds from the exercise of stock options, partially offset by principal repayments of $1.8 million on our line of credit.
Contractual Obligations and Commitments
Not required for smaller reporting companies.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We do not currently have, nor did we have any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined in the rules and regulations of the SEC, during the periods presented.