10-K 1 form10-k.htm

 

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

  [X] ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 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 No. 000-53832

 

VITALITY BIOPHARMA, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in charter)

 

Nevada   75-3268988
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
  (IRS Employer
Identification No.)

 

1901 Avenue of the Stars, 2nd Floor    
Los Angeles, California 90067   (530) 231-7800
(Address of principal executive office, including zip code)   (Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
     
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:   Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None   Common Stock, $0.001 par value

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes [  ] No [X]

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes [  ] No [X]

 

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 [X] No [  ]

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted 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 and post such files). Yes [X] No [  ]

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. [  ]

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer [  ] Accelerated filer [  ] Non-accelerated filer [  ] Smaller reporting company [X]
   

(Do not check if a

smaller reporting company)

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes [  ] No [X]

 

As of September 30, 2016, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $13,109,135, based on the closing price of $1.08 for the registrant’s common stock as quoted on the OTC Markets Group’s OTCQB tier (“OTCQB”) on that date. For purposes of this calculation, it has been assumed that shares of common stock held by each director, each officer and each person who owns 10% or more of the registrant’s outstanding common stock are held by affiliates. The treatment of these persons as affiliates for purposes of this calculation is not conclusive as to whether such persons are, in fact, affiliates of the registrant.

 

As of June 27, 2017, there were 22,265,180 shares of the registrant’s common stock, $0.001 par value per share, outstanding.

 

 

 

 
 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

  Page
PART I  
Item 1. Business 4
Item 1A. Risk Factors 15
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments 29
Item 2. Properties 29
Item 3. Legal Proceedings 29
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures 29
   
PART II  
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities 30
Item 6. Selected Financial Data 31
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations 32
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk 40
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data 40
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure 40
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures 40
Item 9B. Other Information 41
   
PART III  
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance 42
Item 11. Executive Compensation 44
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters 46
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence 47
Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services 47
   
PART IV  
Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules 48

 

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This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements relate to expectations concerning matters that are not historical facts, and are generally identified by words such as “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “intend”, “strategy”, “may”, “will likely” and similar words or phrases. A forward-looking statement is neither a prediction nor a guarantee of future events or circumstances, and our actual results could differ materially and adversely from those expressed in any forward-looking statement. The forward-looking statements contained in this annual report are all based on currently available market, operating, financial and competitive information and assumptions and are subject to various risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict, any of which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties may include, without limitation, risks related to general economic and business conditions; our ability to continue as a going concern; our ability to obtain financing necessary to operate our business; our limited operating history; our ability to recruit and retain qualified personnel; our ability to manage any future growth; our ability to research and successfully develop our planned products; our ability to successfully complete potential acquisitions and collaborative arrangements; and other factors including those set forth below under the caption “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7, and elsewhere in this annual report, as well as in the other reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they were made, and, except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statement for any reason.

 

Unless the context otherwise requires, all references to “we,” “our,” “us,” “Vitality Biopharma,” and the “Company” in this annual report refer to Vitality Biopharma, Inc., a Nevada corporation and our consolidated subsidiaries. We do not currently hold any trademarks, and all trademarks used in this annual report are the property of their respective owners.

 

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PART I

 

Item 1. Business

 

Company Overview

 

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Nevada on June 29, 2007 as Legend Mining Inc. On October 10, 2011, we completed a merger with our wholly-owned subsidiary, Stevia First Corp., whereby we changed our name from “Legend Mining Inc.” to “Stevia First Corp.” Also on October 10, 2011, we effected a seven (7) for one (1) forward stock split of authorized, issued and outstanding common stock. As a result, our authorized capital was increased from 75,000,000 shares of common stock with a par value of $0.001 to 525,000,000 shares of common stock with a par value of $0.001, and issued and outstanding shares increased from 7,350,000 to 51,450,000. On July 15, 2016, the holders of a majority of our outstanding common stock and our Board of Directors approved 1) a name change whereby our name was changed from Stevia First Corp. to Vitality Biopharma, Inc., 2) a reverse split of our outstanding common shares whereby each 10 shares of common stock will be exchanged for 1 share of common stock and 3) an increase in the number of shares of authorized common stock from 525,000,000 to 1,000,000,000. These changes became effective on July 20, 2016.

 

Business Overview

 

Vitality Biopharma is unlocking the power of cannabinoids for the treatment of serious neurological and inflammatory disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome, a form of severe opiate-induced bowel dysfunction.

 

Vitality Biopharma has developed a new class of cannabinoid pharmaceuticals known as cannabosides, which were discovered in 2015 through application of the company’s proprietary enzymatic bioprocessing technologies originally developed for stevia sweeteners. Cannabosides are cannabinoid glycoside “prodrugs,” which means that they are medications or compounds that, after administration, are converted within the body into a pharmacologically active drug, which already has a long history of clinical investigation and use. A classic prodrug example is Aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, which was first made by Felix Hoffmann at Bayer in 1897 and is a synthetic prodrug of salicylic acid. Because there already exists independent verification of the active drug’s safety and efficacy, prodrugs may receive marketing approval more quickly than others, and in some cases may receive drug approvals through completion of small clinical studies evaluating bioequivalence or bioavailability. At the same time, a prodrug can have many commercial advantages, including that they can be proprietary and patentable compositions of matter, unlike cannabinoids themselves, or older pharmaceutical formulations where patent protection has already expired.

 

Cannabosides are more stable and soluble than cannabinoids, and upon oral delivery, cannabinoids pass through the digestive tract and release within the large intestine or colon. This enables targeted delivery of cannabinoids for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Cannabosides enable the reduction or elimination of systemic delivery of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) into the bloodstream and brain, reducing psychoactive side effects, and enabling higher concentrations of compounds to be used for treatment of pain and inflammation. Targeted delivery with limited psychoactivity may be especially useful for treatment of pediatric conditions. Because passage of cannabosides through the digestive tract is likely to occur over several hours or longer, there is a sustained or delayed release of cannabinoids, which may provide patients with long-lasting or overnight relief, a desirable attribute that is unavailable with medical marijuana or with current cannabinoid pharmaceutical formulations.

 

We have produced more than 25 novel cannabosides so far and have patent applications that include composition of matter claims for prodrugs of cannabinoids that have been studied extensively in clinical trials worldwide, including THC, cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarin (CBDV), and other phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Upon successful patent prosecution, protection would extend until 2035 and be available in all major markets worldwide. In addition, we have filed composition of matter claims on vanilloid glycoside compounds that target the TRPV receptors, which mediate pain relief, and on the use of TRPV1 agonists for effecting neural repair. We aim to develop and approve our proprietary molecules as pharmaceuticals using a low-risk regulatory strategy that is available for prodrugs, and to amplify the benefits that have been seen in independent clinical trials describing the use of cannabinoids for treatment of neurological and inflammatory conditions.

 

A key part of our strategy will be to take advantage of a more efficient FDA review and approval process that is available for prodrugs, which reduces the need for large and expensive clinical trials. Expedited regulatory processes may be available for our cannabosides because in the U.S. and internationally there have already been many independent preclinical and clinical studies completed using the reference cannabinoid drugs we are studying, and so existing clinical data may be submitted to drug regulatory agencies as supporting evidence of our compounds’ safety and efficacy.

 

We are initially developing our cannabosides drug formulations for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease as well as narcotic bowel syndrome, a severe form of opiate-induced abdominal pain.

 

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For inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), there have been independently-conducted preclinical and clinical studies that have demonstrated the benefit of cannabinoids, and many U.S. states now permit the use of medical marijuana for IBD, including for treatment of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis patients. Independently-run retrospective clinical studies have found that in 56 patients who used cannabinoids with IBD that 83.9% of patients reported improvement in abdominal pain and 76.8% of patients reported improvement in abdominal cramping. In addition, in a prospective trial that was independently-managed and placebo-controlled, it was found that 45% of Crohn’s disease patients achieved remission through only 8 weeks of treatment. Patients reported improvements in sleep and appetite with no significant side effects, and some patients were able to eliminate use of corticosteroids and opiate pain medications. Patients experienced benefits with cannabis treatment despite being non-responders to traditional front-line therapies, such as corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and biologic TNF-alpha inhibitors.

 

In early 2017, we obtained new data about the anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties of cannabinoids, including evidence that cannabinoids provide cytotoxicity against cell lines of colorectal cancer and C.difficile, a drug-resistant microbial infection that colonizes the large intestine. Both colorectal cancer and C.difficile infections are more prevalent in IBD patients than in the general population. Both of these conditions are more prevalent in IBD patients than in the general population.

 

Narcotic bowel syndrome (NBS) is a severe form of opiate-induced abdominal pain. In studies, more than half (58%) of opiate users have reported chronic abdominal pain. When opiate-induced abdominal pain is overlooked or misdiagnosed, potentially due to common gastrointestinal side effects like opiate-induced constipation, it may lead to a vicious cycle of dose escalation. While seeking pain relief, increasing the dose of opiate medications could lead both to worsening abdominal pain and to more severe drug addiction. Studies have reported that approximately 6% of opiate users have NBS, and that patients afflicted with this disorder report a quality-of-life that is worse than patients with quadriplegia. Independent preclinical studies have reported that endogenous opioid peptides may play a role within the intestinal tract in the development of inflammation, and that they act in a synergistic manner to cannabinoids for pain relief, meaning that cannabinoids could enable opiate dose reduction without sacrificing pain relief. Independent clinical studies have confirmed this effect, where it was reported that cannabis provides additional pain relief to patients taking stable doses of opiates for chronic pain management, and that they also were reported to reduce the severity of common opiate withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea. Independent clinical studies have also found an inadequacy in current treatments for narcotic bowel syndrome, showing that 45.8% of patients had returned to using narcotics within only three months.

 

We plan to complete preclinical studies necessary to commence clinical trials in 2017, which will focus initially on evaluating the clinical pharmacokinetics and safety of cannabosides, as well as then evaluating their utility for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome. We plan to conduct additional preclinical studies also, which will evaluate the utility of cannabosides as a chronic therapy for treatment of additional conditions such as neuropathic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, C. difficile infections, muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and opiate-induced bowel dysfunction.

 

Our primary operations are based in Yuba City, California, where we originally developed our proprietary bioprocessing methods. The Company’s research and development facilities include laboratories and a manufacturing suite that will be used for pharmaceutical-grade production of cannabosides for clinical trials. These facilities have been registered with and approved by the DEA as well as the State of California.

 

Our Operations

 

For the year ended March 31, 2017, we reported revenue of $163,363, recorded a net loss of $5,219,380, used cash in operations of $1,384,697, and as of March 31, 2017 we had an accumulated deficit of $17,735,939. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016, we reported revenue of $248,348, recorded a net loss of $141,325, and used cash in operations of $1,685,841. We do not expect to generate significant amounts of cash from our operations for the foreseeable future. These and other factors raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm, in their report on our March 31, 2017 audited financial statements, raised substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.

 

We will need significant additional funding to support our operations and business plans and we have no commitments for future capital. The continuation of our business is dependent upon our ability to obtain loans or sell securities to new and existing investors or obtain capital from other alternative sources. We will need to raise additional funds in order to continue operating our business and pursue and execute our planned research and development and commercial operations. We expect that we will seek such funding through equity and debt financings with our existing stockholders and other qualified investors. We do not have any commitments for any future financing and sources of additional funds may not be available when needed, on acceptable terms, or at all. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Liquidity and Capital Resources”.

 

Over the 12 months following the date of this report, we aim to increase the scale of our pharmaceutical development efforts. As of June 27, 2017, we had seven full-time employees. Total expenditures over the 12 months following this report are expected to be approximately $3,000,000. We expect to have sufficient funds to operate our business for at least 9 months. However, our estimate of total expenditures could increase if we encounter unanticipated difficulties. In addition, our estimates of the amount of cash necessary to fund our business may prove to be wrong, and we could spend our available financial resources much faster than we currently expect. If we cannot raise the money that we need in order to continue operating and/or advance our business, we will be forced to delay, scale back or eliminate some or all of our proposed operations. If any of these were to occur, there is a substantial risk that our business would fail.

 

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Product Development Plans

 

For each of the pharmaceutical products in our pipeline, the active cannabinoid pharmaceutical agents have either been independently approved by regulatory bodies, or are now in late-stage clinical trials, and there is extensive clinical data already available related to drug safety and effectiveness. Because of this, we will in general benefit from the increased familiarity of clinical investigators and regulators with these compounds, which may enable abbreviated paths towards clinical testing and eventual approval of our pharmaceutical products.

 

Cannabinoids are known to be effective anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agents, and as of 2016, U.S. states containing 87% of the U.S. population have enacted medical marijuana laws to permit access to medical cannabis for treatment of a variety of conditions, including at least use of CBD, which is not intoxicating. The approved disease indications include ones directly related to the drug indications we are targeting, as well as many others. The list includes chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy, wasting disorders, multiple sclerosis and muscle spasticity disorders, glaucoma, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s disease, nausea, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, and more. Cannabinoid pharmaceuticals are increasingly being approved as well, including primarily synthetic and botanical extracts of the two major constituents of Cannabis sativa, which are THC and CBD. Dronabinol is a synthetic THC drug that has been approved for treating nausea and for stimulating appetite. Nabiximols is a blend of two cannabinoids, THC and CBD, which has been approved in more than 20 countries for treatment of muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and also for treatment of cancer pain in certain countries.

 

CBD is not intoxicating, has established antianxiety and antipsychotic effects, and beyond its inclusion in nabiximols, is also being investigated independently by clinical researchers as a stand-alone agent for epilepsy, schizophrenia, inflammatory bowel disease, opiate dependence, and a variety of other neurological and inflammatory conditions. We intend to obtain marketing authorizations in one or more of these disease indications, while focusing initially on inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome.

 

Short Term Development Targets

 

  Complete preclinical efficacy and toxicology trials to support clinical development of cannabosides
     
  Complete additional preclinical efficacy and pharmacology studies of cannabosides and cannaboside drug formulations that support lead drug indications as well as novel therapeutic applications
     
  Complete the manufacture of cannaboside formulations that will be used in initial clinical studies
     
  Obtain regulatory approval for first-in-man clinical studies to evaluate the pharmacokinetics of cannabosides, and to obtain preliminary data about their efficacy for providing relief of key symptoms that are common to inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome

 

We believe that our long-term commercial success and profit potential depends in large part on our ability to develop and advance proprietary cannabinoid prodrugs that are strongly differentiated from both medical cannabis and existing cannabinoid drugs, and to do this more quickly, efficiently and effectively than our competitors. Another critical factor that will determine our success is our ability to obtain and enforce patents, maintain protection of trade secrets, and operate our business without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. As a result, we are dedicated to the continued development and protection of our intellectual property portfolio. See “Intellectual Property” in this report for a further discussion.

 

Product Pipeline

 

Our pipeline includes drug formulations of cannabosides, which are cannabinoid glycoside prodrugs. Prodrugs are medications or compounds metabolized by the body into a pharmacologically active drug. We have patents pending for more than 25 of these novel pharmaceutical compositions including prodrugs of THC, CBD, and CBDV, which are cannabinoids that are either marketed and approved as pharmaceutical products today, or that are currently under investigation in independent clinical trials. Prodrugs can optimize the marketability of a drug because they can be patented and proprietary, and yet still be approved through an abbreviated regulatory pathway.

 

VITA-100 is an oral cannabinoid formulation containing cannabosides that is being developed for acute treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome. VITA-210 is an or cannabinoid formulation containing cannabosides being investigated in preclinical studies for chronic administration, and which may be applied towards treatment of neuropathic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, C. difficile infections, muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and opioid-induced bowel dysfunction.

 

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We believe that through a process called glycosylation, the solubility and stability of a drug can be significantly improved. Cannabinoid glycoside prodrugs and their use in drug formulations that we are currently developing are designed to enable significant benefits, including:

 

  1. Administration of cannabinoids in a convenient oral formulation;
     
  2. Targeted delivery of compounds to specific tissues or organs, especially targeted delivery of cannabinoids to the colon or large intestine, which can reduce or eliminate the delivery of psychoactive compounds into the bloodstream and brain;
     
  3. Improved solubility, leading to oral formulations that are easy to manufacture and that improve the taste of products through reduction or removal of harsh organic solvents;
     
  4. Improved stability, preventing conversion of CBD to unwanted byproducts including THC in the acidic stomach environment, or other forms of degradation, and therefore enabling higher doses to be administered orally; and
     
  5. Delayed release, enabling long-lasting and overnight relief for patients, rather than having to administer treatment repeatedly throughout the day and requiring additional sleep aids.

 

Drug   Treatment Indications   Status
         
Cannabosides - VITA-100   Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Narcotic Bowel Syndrome   Phase 1/2 Trial Expected to Initiate in 2017
         
Cannabosides - VITA-210   Neuropathic Pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colorectal Cancer, Clostridium Difficile Infections, Muscle Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis & Rare White Matter Disorders, Opiate-Induced Bowel Dysfunction   Phase 1 Trial Expected to Initiate in 2017
         
Additional Cannabosides Formulations   Epilepsy, Schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, Guillain-Barré   Preclinical

 

We also have licensed intellectual property that seeks to protect methods for treatment of multiple sclerosis and demyelinating disorders using TRPV1 agonists. These compounds may be tested either as standalone agents or in combination with our cannaboside drug formulations in order to establish treatment regimens that provide regenerative effects for patients with serious neurological and inflammatory conditions.

 

Additional Operations

 

Our glycosylation technology in the past was applied primarily to production of better tasting varieties of stevia through enzyme bioprocessing, which was developed in concert with additional technologies designed to improve the taste and yield of stevia sweetener derived from the stevia plant. We have an intellectual property portfolio related to stevia, as well as commercial operations related to the manufacture and sale of research products that commenced in 2014. We intend to sustain these operations and technologies in a manner that is cash-flow neutral or better and to commercialize them primarily through new out-licensing arrangements or strategic partnerships.

 

Glycodiversification Technology for Prodrug Development

 

The biosynthetic process of adding additional glucose molecules to compounds is called glycosylation, and we originally developed related production technologies in order to modify the taste and enable low-cost and reliable industrial production of steviol glycosides. These molecules are better known as stevia, a zero-calorie, high-potency sweetener that is derived from the stevia plant, and that has been adopted widely within the food and beverage industry. It has recently become appreciated within the pharmaceutical industry that glycosylation can act to generate novel natural product libraries with improved drug properties. It is generally accepted that attaching a glyosidic moiety, a glucose or sugar molecule, to a compound that is typically found without one, known as an aglycone, will make the product more water-soluble. This increase in water solubility influences the pharmacokinetic parameters of the respective compounds, including modification of their bioavailability within certain tissues and body fluids.

 

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The process for modifying natural products through glycosylation to provide libraries of new molecules that may have more desirable attributes is called glycorandomization, or glycodiversification. Reliable production of glycosylated natural products must be done in a directed way to enable production of purified individual compounds, after selection of those with the most desirable commercial attributes. Synthesis is typically performed either using chemical or enzymatic methods. Production of chemical intermediates known as cofactors, which enable the glycosylation reaction to occur, has historically been expensive and has made it challenging to produce diverse natural product libraries, or to enable their economical industrial production. We have developed multi-step enzymatic biosynthesis methods to recycle cofactors and to reduce the overall costs of glycoside production. These methods have most recently been applied to production of cannabinoid glycosides (“cannabosides”), which are metabolized differently from cannabinoids and can enable their use as pharmaceutical prodrugs.

 

A prodrug is a medication or compound that, after administration, is metabolized (i.e., converted within the body) into a pharmacologically active drug. Prodrugs are often designed to improve bioavailability of a drug, or to improve how selectively the drug interacts with cells or tissues that are not its intended target. In general, prodrugs are often used to make a drug better tolerated by patients and to reduce any of its adverse or unintended effects.

 

Cannabinoids prodrugs are designed to overcome challenges that may be necessary in order to ensure cannabinoid pharmaceuticals can be effectively marketed and commercialized, including overcoming including problems with the taste and tolerability of formulations, improving their bioavailability, extending their duration of action, and also strengthening the intellectual property protection of follow-on pharmaceutical cannabinoid formulations. Many of the most commonly accepted barriers that prodrugs may overcome include: insufficient chemical stability, poor aqueous stability, offensive taste or odor, irritation or pain, low oral absorption or systemic exposure, marked presystemic metabolism, a short duration of action, unfavorable distribution in the body, inadequate site specificity, drug toxicity, or drug patent life expiration.

 

Upon ingestion, delivery of bioactive compounds is known to occur naturally through liberation of aglycone compounds from poorly absorbed plant glycosides. Many of these glycosides pass through the stomach and upper intestine without appreciable loss due to absorption or degradation by stomach acids. Once a prodrug reaches the lower intestine, or colon, the polar sugar residue is released by the hydrolytic activity of glycosidase enzymes that are produced by gut bacteria, enabling site-specific delivery of the active pharmaceutical ingredient to the large intestine. In addition, some glycoside compounds have been found to undergo active carrier-mediated transport across membranes and into specific tissues, such as the brain. Such technology could also more broadly enable site-specific delivery of prodrugs through use of mechanisms that are typically used by the body to increase absorption of glucose as an energy source to various tissues.

 

Commonly known and ingested compounds that are glycosides include many flavonoids, or polyphenols, present in fruit and vegetables. Flavonols are the most ubiquitous flavonoids found in foods, and these compounds are typically present in glycosylated form. Fruit often contains 5 or 10 different flavonol glycosides. A single glass of orange juice may contain between 40 and 140 mg of flavanone glycosides. In leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage, the glycoside concentration is more than 10 times higher in the green outer leaves as in the lighter, inner leaves. There are also FDA-approved drugs that are glycosylated, including sennosides, or Ex-Lax, an over-the-counter drug that has been sold in the United States since 1906. Sennosides are on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system, and exert their effects through targeted delivery of the active pharmaceutical ingredient to the colon over the course of six to 12 hours.

 

Pharmaceutical Use of Cannabinoids

 

The legal cannabis market in North America was projected to be $6.9 billion in 2016 and to rise by more than 34% since 2015, according to Arcview Market Research. Cannabis is one of the most popular recreational drugs, where worldwide an estimated 178 million people used it at least once in 2012. Cannabis was included as a controlled drug in the United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and its use is illegal in most countries.

 

As of 2016, more than 20 U.S. states representing 87% of the U.S. population have enacted medical marijuana laws to permit access to cannabis for treatment of a variety of medical conditions, including use of cannabidiol, with the approved conditions in certain states including chronic pain, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, wasting disorders, multiple sclerosis and muscle spasticity disorders, glaucoma, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s disease, nausea, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, and more. A concern with the increasing use of medical cannabis is that patients and physicians are unable to know the precise chemical profile of these products, and that they desire a safe, well-tested pharmaceutical product that can be treated as any other medicine, which includes a list of ingredients, effects, and side effects. Regulatory approval of pharmaceutical cannabinoid products could dramatically increase the chance that health insurance companies would pay for them, and their use could be further legitimized through approval by governments, insurance companies, and physicians.

 

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There are already several approved cannabinoid drugs internationally, including dronabinol, nabilone, and nabiximols. In 1985, the FDA approved both dronabinol and nabilone, which are synthetic forms of THC, and a THC analog, respectively, which are approved for management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and for wasting conditions related to AIDS and cancer. Sales of these drugs are currently relatively weak, with dronabinol capsules in 2014 estimated to be only $133 million in the United States, according to IMS Health. Data from more than 40 clinical trials of cannabinoids have been published, including evaluations of their use for treatment of chronic pain, neuropathic pain, epilepsy, and muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. As of March 2015, there were:

 

  Six (6) trials that examined chronic pain including 325 patients;
     
  Six (6) trials that examined neuropathic pain including 396 patients;
     
  Twelve (12) trials that examined multiple sclerosis including 1,600 patients; and
     
  Multiple small clinical trials that examined use of CBD for treatment of rare forms of childhood epilepsy.

 

Several of these trials had positive results indicating that the drugs could be effective.

 

The American Academy of Neurology published evidence-based guidelines that recommend oral cannabis extract as having the highest level of empirical support for reducing patient-reported symptoms of spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the myelin and glial cells of the nervous system. As of 2014, nabiximols, which is the world’s first prescription medicine made from cannabis extracts, was approved for use in multiple sclerosis in more than 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Australia. The American Academy of Neurology also published a systematic review suggesting that nabiximols, a spray that contains both THC and CBD, as probably effective in treating spasticity, central pain, and urinary dysfunction associated with multiple sclerosis.

 

The main non-psychotropic component of cannabis is CBD, which has established antianxiety and antipsychotic effects, acting to mitigate the high from THC, as well as neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabidiol has demonstrated therapeutic effects in clinical trials for serious neurological conditions including rare seizure disorders in children, and the FDA has granted orphan drug designation to an oral liquid formulation of plant-derived CBD for a clinical trial investigating its effectiveness in Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. An open-label trial found that CBD reduced seizure frequencies in doses up to 25 mg/kg in multiple drug-resistant forms of epilepsy and seizure disorders and independent results of a placebo-controlled trial were announced in 2016 that found cannabidiol was effective in treating a rare form of childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. The average age of trial participants was 10 years old and the treatment group that included use of CBD achieved a median reduction in monthly convulsive seizures of nearly 40%, compared to 13% with a placebo, achieving a highly statistically significant effect that was sustained during the treatment period. CBD was generally well tolerated in the study, however, somnolence or drowsiness was reported, and historically is present in nearly 20% of these patients, which may be as a result of degradation or conversion of CBD to THC within the acidic stomach environment.

 

Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders, Including Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease

 

Inflammatory bowel disease (“IBD”) is a progressive inflammatory condition where parts of the digestive system become sore and inflamed. The disease can lead to currently irreversible damage to the gastrointestinal tract and require surgical removal of the intestine and affected areas. Two major forms of the disease are Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the digestive system, and ulcerative colitis, which often affects the rectum and the colon or the large intestine. IBD is a chronic condition, meaning that it is ongoing and typically lasts throughout life in those that are afflicted. As with multiple sclerosis, the disease is often unpredictable, and there are periods of remission where there are few or no symptoms, which alternate with periods where symptoms are very active and debilitating. The peak incidence of onset of IBD occurs between the ages of 15 and 30 years. Clinicians caring for children and adolescents afflicted with pediatric IBD must treat the underlying disease while also monitoring growth, puberty, cognitive development, while minimizing hospitalization time.

 

Different classes of drugs are used to treat IBD, including anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids, biologics, and immunosuppressants, antibiotics that treat or help prevent bacterial infections that result from gastrointestinal disturbances, and also drugs that relieve the symptoms of the disease such as diarrhea, constipation, and pain. A market research report by Visiongain predicts that in 2017 drug revenues for treatment of IBD will reach $9.6 billion. The ultimate goal of clinical treatment of IBD is to obtain complete disease control and to stop disease progression. This includes remission of disease without use of steroids, normalization of inflammatory markers in the blood, and also healing of the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which typically leads to better clinical outcomes, reduced healthcare costs, and an improved quality of life.

 

In gastroenterology, cannabis extracts are known for their anti-vomiting, appetite-stimulating, and anti-diarrheal effects, which are thought to be useful for symptomatic relief of IBS and IBD. In a recent survey, more than half of patients with IBD in the U.S. use or have used cannabis (51.3%), and 16.4% of patients had used cannabis to treat IBD-related symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. In an independent observational study of patients with IBD, 83.9% of the 56 patients using cannabis reported improvement in abdominal pain, 76.8% reported improvement in abdominal cramping, and 48.2% reported improvement of joint pain. In a Canadian population in 2011, chronic abdominal pain was reported as the primary reason for self-medication with cannabis, including in patients with a history of abdominal surgery. In a 2013 clinical trial of use of cannabis in Crohn’s disease, complete remission was achieved in 5 out of 11 subjects (classified as Crohn’s Disease Activity Index < 150). There were considerable clinical benefits including patients reporting improvements in sleep and appetite, with no significant side effects reported, and certain patients were able to wean themselves off use of corticosteroids and opioid pain medications.

 

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Patients with IBD are at an increased risk of colorectal cancer and opportunistic infections such as C. difficile, often due to the side effects of immunosuppressive therapies used as frontline medications. In 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates that 50,260 deaths will occur due to colorectal cancer, making it the 3rd leading caue of cancer-related death for women, and the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death for men. The most common type of colorectal cancer is adenocarcinoma, which accounts for more than 95% of all cases, and arises from epithelial cells that line the colon and rectum. Clostridium difficile was estimated by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) to infect almost 500,000 Americans in 2015, and to be directly responsible for 15,000 deaths. C. difficile infections are also linked to sepsis (which some call “blood poisoning”). Sepsis is a disorder where some researchers have now hypothesized the gut plays a central role, where a failure of the integrity of the gut barrier leads to infections throughout the body and can lead to septic shock and multi-organ failure. Each year, sepsis affects more than 750,000 Americans and is responsible for more than 210,000 deaths. Up to 50% of all hospital deaths have been linked to sepsis. It is the most expensive reason for hospitalization in the U.S., where in 2011 the U.S. spent more than $55 million each day in direct healthcare costs treating it. Prevention methods are being developed, which include treatments that may help prevent sepsis altogether, or prevent patient deterioration from sepsis to severe sepsis, or from severe sepsis to septic shock. Independent preclinical studies have already found that a lack of cannabinoid receptors leads to increased incidence of multi-organ failure, and that treatment with cannabidiol can lead to a significant reduction of mortality.

 

Studies have shown that activation of cannabinoid receptors can decrease inflammation, gastric acid secretion, and modulate intestinal motility, which are disrupted in a wide variety of digestive disorders. Internal studies have shown that cannabinoids have direct anticancer and antimicrobial effects, including against cell lines of colorectal cancer and C. difficile. In addition, independent studies have also shown that cannabinoids may have potential to reverse the disordered intestinal permeability that is associated with intestinal inflammation, which may indicate that cannabinoids can promote effective mucosal healing or wound repair following intestinal inflammation and injury.

 

Cannabinoids for Neuroprotection, and for Treatment of Central and Enteric Nervous System Disorders

 

Cannabidiol is one of the key cannabinoid constituents of the Cannabis sativa plant and may often account for up to 40% of cannabis extracts. Contrary to THC, which has some therapeutic benefits but also important adverse effects, CBD is not psychoactive. It is well-tolerated and exhibits a broad spectrum of therapeutic properties, which have been studied at both the molecular and clinical level extensively. CBD is often used alone or in combination with other phytocannabinoids, and has noted anti-inflammatory effects, making it useful for neuroinflammatory disorders. Independent studies have already confirmed its effectiveness in treatment of multiple sclerosis in preclinical studies. Based on its anticonvulsant properties, CBD has also been proposed for treatment of epilepsy and sleep disorders. Moreover, CBD may also serve as an antipsychotic making it a promising compound for the treatment of schizophrenia, as well as for treatment of anxiety and depression.

 

Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, CBD has an established neuroprotective role, and therefore may have broad spectrum utility in neurological disorders affecting the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, including indications such as neonatal ischemia or Huntington’s disease. For the same reasons, CBD and other cannabinoids may also benefit disorders that involve the peripheral nervous system and enteric nervous system, which governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Conditions that have been linked to disruption of the peripheral and enteric nervous systems include multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and narcotic bowel syndrome, a severe form of opiate-induced abdominal pain.

 

The therapeutic value of CBD, either given alone or in combination with THC, may be due to it providing neuroprotection through multiple mechanisms of action at the molecular level, making it a rare compound. Its combination of anti-glutamatergic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant effects cover nearly all aspects of neurotoxicity that are present in neurodegenerative diseases, including inflammatory responses, excitotoxicity, and oxidative injury. The therapeutic properties of CBD do not appear to be exerted by the activation of key known molecular targets of the endocannabinoid systems such as the CB1 or CB2 receptors. CBD has negligible activity at these cannabinoid receptors, and so is likely to exert effects through other mechanisms. In almost all clinical studies performed, CBD has enhanced the effects of THC however, and so at least some of its biological and clinical activity is linked to enhancement of the endocannabinoid and related cellular signaling systems.

 

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune condition affecting the body’s nervous system and that afflicts more than two million people worldwide, approximately 450,000 in the United States. MS involves degenerative changes characterized by inflammation and demyelination of the central nervous system (CNS). Most people with MS experience relapses and remissions of their symptoms, particularly early in the course of the disease, and symptoms are typically associated with areas of CNS inflammation. Typically over time, the disease will gradually worsen, independent of acute inflammatory attacks, and progressive or degenerative changes occur. People with MS have many debilitating symptoms that vary over time, including muscle spasticity, impaired mobility, mood and cognitive changes, pain and sensory problems, fatigue, visual disturbances, and therefore there is a significant impact on quality of life for patients and their families. MS typically makes it difficult to live an independent and autonomous life, and often young adults that are diagnosed are then faced with needing to adapt their life to an unpredictable disease that requires frequent healthcare visits, extensive laboratory testing, and costly medications. Compared to patients with other chronic diseases, those diagnosed with MS experience limitations in social roles, and have diminished ratings in physical function, health, and vitality.

 

Muscle spasticity, or muscle stiffness, is one of the more common symptoms of multiple sclerosis and affects approximately 80 percent of patients. Sales of muscle relaxants that have effects similar to spasticity medications were estimated at roughly $780 million annually from 2000-2007, and were part of the broader market for pain medications that had total annual sales of $17.8 billion annually during this period. Spastic colon is another name for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a gastrointestinal disorder that is characterized by abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. The term of “spastic colon” refers to the contraction of muscles in the small and large intestines that are often associated with the disorder. IBS has similar symptoms to IBD, but the underlying disease process is quite different. IBD is characterized by inflammatory attack and destruction of the gastrointestinal wall. IBS is typically a gastrointestinal disorder where no apparent cause can be found, and is very common, with up to 25% of the U.S. population reporting symptoms of IBS.

 

Another condition believed to largely be neurological is narcotic bowel syndrome (NBS), a severe form of opiate-induced abdominal pain. It is believed to be linked to central sensitivity disorders, potentially involving both the enteric and central nervous systems. More than half (58%) of opiate users have reported chronic abdominal pain in independently-conducted clinical studies. NBS is the most severe form of this disorder, where abdominal pain paradoxically increases despite continued administration of narcotics to treat the pain. When undiagnosed, patients or physicians continue to escalate dosages, which temporarily relieves pain, but leads to addiction and also worsens the abdominal pain. Narcotic bowel syndrome has dire consequences for opiate users, as their quality-of-life has been reported to be worse than patients with quadriplegia. The primary management system today for treatment of NBS is a structured opiate withdrawal program involving a wide variety of medications that act on the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, as well as the gastrointestinal tract. These medications include centrally acting agents for pain, anxiety, depression, and prevention of withdrawal effects, and additional drugs to treat constipation and other GI disorders. Current structured withdrawal or detoxification methods are considered grossly inadequate, as evidenced by independent clinical trials where it has been shown that nearly 50% of patients return to narcotic use within only three months.

 

Competition

 

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are highly active and dynamic, where many companies compete with a strong focus on advancing new technologies and developing proprietary products. We believe our product candidates, technology, scientific acumen, facilities, and additional capabilities provide us with a significant and sustainable competitive advantage, but competition exists today, and new competitors may arise from multiple sources, including especially from major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, researchers at non-profit institutions, and government-sponsored researchers. Successfully commercialized products must compete not only with existing therapies, but also with new agents that are currently in development or that may become available in the future.

 

Cannabinoid pharmaceuticals are approved and marketed currently, with more in development, from companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals PLC (“GW Pharma”), Insys Therapeutics Inc. (“Insys”), Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Zynerba”), and others. GW Pharma is developing botanical extracts including THC, CBD, CBDV, and blends of these compounds, including the current development and marketing of nabiximols, branded as Sativex®, which is approved in more than 20 countries internationally. GW Pharma is also developing cannabidiol, branded as Epidiolex®, for use primarily with epilepsy and rare seizure disorders, and that is being developed in a liquid spray formulation that must be administered multiple times daily. A similar synthetic CBD product is being developed by Insys. Zynerba is developing synthetic forms of THC and CBD, or related prodrugs, which are being developed for use within formulations to be used as a topical gel or transdermal patch, rather than by oral delivery. There is additional competition from companies that supply alternative synthetic cannabinoids, which may influence cannabinoid signaling, as well as from medical marijuana and botanical extracts that are increasingly available to physicians and patients.

 

The global market for drugs treating IBD is predicted by Visiongain to reach $9.6 billion in annual revenues in 2017. The main types of drugs used commonly in IBD include anti-inflammatory drugs, drugs that provide symptomatic relief, and also antibiotics. Drugs used in IBD come in different forms, and may be administered in different ways, including orally, through topical treatments, and also through injectables or infusions in order to obtain an immediate response to a severe inflammatory attack. Primary drugs used in treatment of IBD include aminosalicylic acids, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and tacrolimus, and newer biologics such as infliximab (Remicade®) or adalimumab (Humira®) that target TNF-alpha, a mediator of inflammation. There are a variety of drugs available for treatment of common symptoms such as pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Current drugs that reduce painful abdominal cramps or spasms by relaxing the intestinal muscles are medications such as mebeverine, hyoscine butylbromide, and alverine citrate, which are often recommended for symptomatic relief of IBS but may also be helpful for IBD.

 

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The global market for multiple sclerosis drugs is currently estimated at $17.2 billion in 2014 according to GlobalData, with drugs marketed and in development from major pharmaceutical companies including Biogen, Teva Neuroscience, Genzyme, Novartis, Pfizer, Bayer Healthcare, as well as smaller development-stage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Disease-modifying medications appear to slow down the accumulation of disability, and can reduce the frequency and severity of relapses or clinical attacks, as well as reduce the accumulation of lesions, which is damage to the brain and spinal cord as seen on magnetic resonance imaging scans. None of these currently-marketed medications is a cure or will prevent recurring symptoms of the disease, although agents that effect functional repair of the nervous system are in development by various companies, including Biogen that is developing a first-in-class remyelinating drug that is a monoclonal antibody and is administered intravenously. Muscle spasticity is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis for which there is no cure either, but symptomatic relief can be obtained through use of medications such as baclofen, tizanidine, and through use of less common alternative such as diazepam (Valium®), nerve blocking agents, and botulinum toxin (Botox®).

 

Government Regulation

 

Due to our development of pharmaceutical products, we are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA, and other federal, state, and local regulatory agencies. Although most regulation described within this document focuses on the United States, the largest market in the world for pharmaceutical products, we anticipate seeking approval for, and marketing of, our products in other countries as well. Generally, our activities in other countries will be subject to regulation that is similar in nature and scope, although there can be meaningful differences.

 

The FDA is the main regulatory body that controls pharmaceutical and biologic drugs in the United States and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDC Act) governs most of the requirements for the development and marketing of our products. Pharmaceutical products are also subject to other federal, state and local statutes. A failure to comply explicitly with any requirements during the product development, approval, or post-approval periods, may lead to administrative or judicial sanctions. These sanctions could include the imposition by the FDA or an institutional review board (IRB), of a hold on clinical trials, refusal to approve pending marketing applications or supplements, withdrawal of approval, warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, or even civil penalties or criminal prosecution. The FDA also inspects manufacturing facilities periodically in order to ensure adequate compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (“GMP”), which may require substantial record keeping requirements and equipment maintenance.

 

Drug Approval Process by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration

 

The steps required before a new drug may be marketed in the United States generally include: completion of preclinical studies of drug safety and efficacy, as well as chemistry, manufacturing, and controls studies to characterize the production of the drug; submission to the FDA of an Investigational New Drug (“IND”) to support human clinical testing in the United States; approval by an independent research panel before each clinical trial may be initiated; performance of well-controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the drug for each proposed clinical use; submission of an New Drug Application (“NDA”) to the FDA; satisfaction of any periodic reviews or inspections; and FDA review and approval of the NDA. After regulatory approval of a drug is obtained, a company is required to comply with a number of post-approval requirements, which may include ongoing testing, additional clinical trials, and surveillance of the drug’s clinical use in order to continue assess tis overall safety and efficacy profile. In addition, companies with marketed drugs are required to report adverse reactions and manufacturing issues to the FDA, and to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotional labeling for any of its products.

 

The FDA and other federal agencies closely regulate the marketing and promotion of drugs through, among other things, standards and regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising, communications regarding unapproved uses, industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and promotional activities conducted online. A pharmaceutical product cannot be commercially marketed before it is approved by the FDA. After approval, product promotion can include only those claims relating to its safety and effectiveness that are consistent with the product labeling approved in advance by the FDA. Physicians and other healthcare providers are permitted to prescribe drugs for “off-label” uses, which deviate from the specific use described on the product labeling, because the FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine. However, FDA regulations impose stringent restrictions on drug manufacturers regarding the ability to market or promote such off-label use.

 

Beyond seeking approval for a drug through an NDA, applicants may apply for an abbreviated new drug application (“ANDA”), and also through an abbreviated 505(b)(2) application. An ANDA provides for marketing of a generic drug product that has the same active ingredients, same strengths and dosage form, as a listed drug and has been shown through PK testing to be bioequivalent to the listed drug. Other than the requirement for bioequivalence testing, ANDA applicants are generally not required to conduct, or submit results of, preclinical studies or clinical tests to prove the safety or effectiveness of their drug product. 505(b)(2) applications provide for marketing of a drug product that may have the same active ingredients as the listed drug and contains full safety and effectiveness data as an NDA, but at least some of this information comes from studies that were not conducted by or for the applicant. Upon approval, depending on the type of drug approved, and the indication it was approved for, it may receive additional periods of marketing exclusivity during which the FDA cannot approve any alternative versions of the drugs. In addition, the FDA may grant three years of marketing exclusivity for a 505(b)(2) application if the NDA includes reports of clinical studies beyond bioequivalence testing.

 

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Additional special programs are available through acts of the FDA, including use of patent term extensions, which can extend the life of a patent as compensation for lost time during the FDA review and approval process, as well as alternative regulatory paths. This includes the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 and the FDA Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, which for example provides for a Breakthrough Therapy Designation. Through obtaining a Breakthrough Therapy Designation, a Company may be able to obtain accelerated approval for one or more drugs if they meet the qualifying criteria, which includes treatment of a serious or life threatening disease or condition, and having preliminary clinical evidence that the treatment will provide a substantial improvement over existing therapies.

 

Drug Coverage and Reimbursement by Third-Party Payors

 

Upon marketing approval, there still remains extensive uncertainty over the ability for any drug to obtain insurance coverage and reimbursement for use of any products from third-party payors within the healthcare system in the United States and internationally. Sales of any products depend upon their acceptance and use by physicians and other healthcare providers, but also their availability from wholesalers and agreement to provide reimbursement from third-party payors, including private health insurance firms, managed care providers, and government health administrative agencies. Any or all of these groups may limit coverage to specific drug products on an approved list, or formulary, which might not include all of the FDA approved drugs for a particular indication. In addition, third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price and examining the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of medical products and services, in addition to their safety and efficacy.

 

Alternative pricing and drug reimbursement mechanisms exist in other countries. Some jurisdictions may not allow marketing of a drug until market prices have been established. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval, some of these countries may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies. Countries of the European Union are permitted to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use.

 

The marketability of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale may suffer if the government and third-party payors fail to provide adequate coverage and reimbursement. In addition, an increasing emphasis on managed care in the United States has increased and will continue to increase the pressure on providing cost-effective pharmaceutical treatments. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time.

 

Controlled Substance Regulations

 

We are developing and performing research on compounds that have been classified as “controlled substances” within the Controlled Substances Act, and that are monitored in the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). The DEA actively monitors and helps establish procedures that are in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act, and this involves a company having to register itself, and to adhere to certain reporting and security practices in order to prevent and mitigate any loss or mishandling of controlled substances used on the premises. The State of California has similar requirements, and we must maintain registration with a panel with disclosure of planned studies and our practices in order to conduct our operations.

 

The DEA regulates controlled substances using different schedules, where Schedule I substances by definition have high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States and lack accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Schedule I and Schedule II substances are considered to present the highest risk of abuse, and Schedule V substances the lowest risk. THC, CBD, and purified synthetic forms are listed by the DEA as Schedule I substances, although some FDA-approved pharmaceutical versions of these products are now listed as Schedule III substances.

 

A quota system controls and limits the availability and production of controlled substances in Schedule I or II. This includes manufacturing of pharmaceutical products. The DEA establishes annually an aggregate quota for how much product may be produced in the United States based on the DEA’s estimate of the quantity needed to meet legitimate scientific and medicinal needs. This limited aggregate amount is allocated among individual companies, who must submit applications annually to the DEA for individual manufacturing and procurement quotas.

 

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DEA registration is required for any facility that performs research, manufactures, distributes, dispenses, imports or exports any controlled substance. The registration is specific to the particular location, activity and controlled substance schedule. The DEA typically inspects facilities to review the premises in advance of issuing a formal registration, in order to assess the adequacy of their security and internal controls. Security measures differ based on the specific type of application and controlled substance, but generally include physical control of inventory, surveillance cameras, and ensuring there is no diversion or loss of material through record-keeping and inventory monitoring. Reports must be provided to the DEA on the use of materials, as well as immediate reports of theft, loss, or suspicious activity.

 

Research and Development

 

During the fiscal years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016, we incurred $893,960 and $613,119 in expenses that were allocated to research and development activities.

 

Intellectual Property

 

In September 2015, October 2015 and July 2016, we filed three U.S. patent applications, titled “Cannabinoid Glycoside Prodrugs and Methods of Synthesis”, including an initial filing and two expanded filings. In September 2016, we filed an international Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) patent application covering these applications, which describe more than 25 cannabinoid glycoside prodrugs, or cannabosides, which are designed to overcome the deficiencies of existing cannabinoid pharmaceuticals. The patent applications include, but are not limited to, prodrugs of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive component of medical marijuana, as well as the non-psychotropic compounds cannabidiol and cannabidivarin. The patent application also includes description of its glycosylation platform, which enables the efficient manufacture through of cannabosides and other glycosylated small molecule compounds through enzymatic biosynthesis.

 

In June 2015, we filed a U.S. patent application titled “Method for Production and Recycling of UDPG”, which describes methods for recycling and economical production of a key cofactor necessary for biotransformation of steviol and cannabinoids through glycosylation. We previously licensed rights to a U.S. patent application titled, “Compositions and methods for producing steviol and steviol glycosides”, which was related to microbial production of stevia, and terminated this license in May 2016 in favor of pursuing internally developed methods.

 

In March 2016, we were assigned rights to a U.S. provisional patent application titled “Methods for Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and Demyelinating Disorders” from the Myelin Repair Foundation, which described methods for treating multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases through use of FDA-approved drugs that can be repurposed for their utility in effecting remeylination, a form of nervous system repair or regeneration. In March 2017, we converted this patent application to an international PCT patent application focused on use of TRPV1 agonists for treatment of demyelinating disorders. These drugs along with others including our cannabinoid glycoside prodrugs may be administered in oral or injectable forms.

 

In May 2017, we filed a U.S. patent application titled “Antimicrobial Compositions Comprising Cannabinoids and Methods of Using,” which described compositions and methods of use involving cannabinoids that are able to provide antimicrobial activity including against Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.

 

Our internally developed patents now include multiple non-provisional international PCT patent applications covering novel compositions of matter for cannabinoid prodrugs known as cannabosides, compositions and methods of use for cannabinoids to treat microbial infections, methods for biosynthesis and medical applications of cannabinoid prodrugs, biosynthesis methods for steviol glycosides, and methods for efficient biosynthesis through glycosylation. If successful in prosecuting patent claims, we would obtain patent protection through 2035 or beyond, and which may be extended through patent term adjustments.

 

Employees

 

As of June 27, 2017, we had seven full-time employees, including five dedicated to research and development. We also utilize the services of a network of consultants that contribute on a part-time basis, which gives us access to additional scientists and engineers that focus on research and development activities. We expect to increase the number of our employees and contractors as we expand our operations, and the number of employees dedicated to marketing and sales support as we begin to commercialize additional products and intensify our sales efforts.

 

General Information

 

We maintain a corporate website at www.vitality.bio. Information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference in this annual report. We file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and make available, free of charge, on or through our website, our annual reports, quarterly reports, current reports, proxy and information statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”).

 

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

 

The following risk factors should be considered carefully in addition to the other information contained in this annual report. This annual report contains forward-looking statements. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and stock price could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks.

 

Risks Related to Our Business

 

We are not profitable and may never become profitable. The Company’s independent registered public accounting firm has issued a report questioning our ability to continue as a going concern.

 

In the fiscal year to March 31, 2017, we generated only $163,363 in revenue, which is not currently sufficient to sustain our operations. From inception through March 31, 2017, we incurred an accumulated deficit of $17,735,939, which includes non-cash expenses. These circumstances raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern, as described in the explanatory paragraph in our independent auditors’ report on our financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2017, which are included in this report.

 

We expect to incur substantial losses for the near future, and we may never achieve or maintain profitability. Even if we succeed in obtaining regulatory approval to market our products, we may still incur losses for the foreseeable future. We also expect to experience negative cash flow for the near future, as we plan to use all available resources to fund our operations and make significant capital expenditures. As a result, we would need to generate significant revenues if we are to achieve and maintain profitability. We may not be able to generate these revenues or achieve profitability. Our failure to achieve or maintain profitability could negatively impact the value of our common stock and you could lose some or all of your investment.

 

We will need to raise substantial additional capital to operate our business. If we cannot obtain the capital we need to continue our operations, our business could fail.

 

We will likely need to raise additional funds in order to continue operating our business. Since inception, we have primarily funded our operations through equity and debt financings, such as our issuance and sale of 1,500,000 shares of common stock that we completed on March 9, 2017, for net proceeds to us of approximately $1,500,000. We expect to continue to fund our operations primarily through equity and debt financings in the foreseeable future. If we issue equity or convertible debt securities to raise additional funds, our existing stockholders may experience substantial dilution, and the new equity or debt securities may have rights, preferences and privileges senior to those of our existing stockholders. If we incur additional debt, it may increase our leverage relative to our earnings or to our equity capitalization, requiring us to pay additional interest expenses. Obtaining commercial loans, assuming those loans would be available, would increase our liabilities and future cash commitments. If we pursue capital through alternative sources, such as collaborations or other similar arrangements, we may be forced to relinquish rights to our proprietary compounds, technology or other intellectual property or marketing rights, which could result in our receipt of only a portion of any revenue that may be generated from a partnered product or business. Moreover, regardless of the manner in which we seek to raise capital, we may incur substantial costs in those pursuits, including investment banking fees, legal fees, accounting fees, printing and distribution expenses and other related costs.

 

We expect our total expenditures over the 12 months following March 31, 2017, to be approximately $3,000,000. However, our estimate of total expenditures could increase if we encounter unanticipated difficulties. In addition, our estimates of the amount of cash necessary to fund our business may prove to be wrong and we could spend our available financial resources much faster than we currently expect. Further, we expect that our operational expenses will increase substantially during our current fiscal year if we pursue our current operational goals, continuing our research and development activities, and otherwise seek to ramping-up our business. If we cannot raise the money that we need in order to continue to develop our business, we will be forced to delay, scale back or eliminate some or all of our proposed operations and/or forego other attractive business opportunities that may arise. If any of these were to occur, there is a substantial risk that our business would fail. Sources of additional funds may not be available on acceptable terms or at all. Weak economic and capital markets conditions could result in increased difficulties in raising capital for our operations. We may not be able to raise money through the sale of our equity securities or through borrowing funds on terms we find acceptable, or at all. If we cannot raise the funds that we need, we will be unable to continue our operations, and our stockholders could lose their entire investment in our company.

 

We currently face, and will continue to face, significant competition.

 

Our major competitors for the development of pharmaceutical products related to cannabinoids, and related to neurological and inflammatory disorders include major pharmaceutical companies, smaller companies, and academic research groups that are devoted to biological or pharmaceutical research either independently or by providing contract research services. A number of multinational pharmaceutical companies are developing products in similar therapeutic areas, including but not limited to Biogen, Teva Neuroscience, Pfizer, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Genzyme, Novartis, Bayer Healthcare, and additional companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics, and Zynerba Pharmaceuticals are developing cannabinoid pharmaceuticals for treatment of various clinical indications. See “Competition” in this report for a further discussion.

 

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Our limited operating experience could make our operations inefficient or ineffective.

 

We are an early-stage company with only a limited operating history upon which to base an evaluation of our current business and future prospects and how we will respond to competitive, financial or technological challenges. We only recently commenced operations in the development of pharmaceutical products, our primary business focus. As a result, we have limited experience with these activities and the revenue and income potential of our business is unproven. In addition, because of our limited operating history, we have limited insight into trends that may emerge and affect our business, and limited experience responding to such trends. We may make errors in predicting and reacting to relevant business trends and we will be subject to the risks, uncertainties and difficulties frequently encountered by early-stage companies in evolving markets. We may not be able to successfully address any or all of these risks and uncertainties. Failure to adequately do so could cause our business, results of operations and financial condition to suffer or fail.

 

We may not be able to manage our expansion of operations effectively.

 

Our success will depend upon the expansion of our operations and the effective management of any growth we may experience, which will place a significant strain on our management and on our administrative, operational and financial resources. To manage this growth, we must expand our facilities, augment our operational, financial and management systems and hire and train qualified personnel. Our management will also be required to develop relationships with customers, suppliers and other third parties. Our current and planned operations, personnel, systems, and internal procedures and controls may not be adequate to support our future growth. If we are unable to manage our growth effectively, we may not be able to take advantage of market opportunities, execute our business strategies or respond to competitive pressures.

 

If we are unable to hire and retain qualified personnel we may not be able to implement our business plan.

 

As of June 27, 2017, we had seven full-time employees, including five dedicated to research and development. Attracting and retaining qualified scientific, management and other personnel will be critical to our success. There is intense competition for qualified personnel in our area of activities, and we may not be able to attract and retain the qualified personnel necessary for the development of our business. In addition, we may have difficulty recruiting necessary personnel as a result of our limited operating history. The loss of key personnel or the failure to recruit necessary additional personnel could impede the achievement of our business objectives.

 

We may choose to hire part-time employees or use consultants. As a result, certain of our employees, officers, directors and consultants may from time to time serve as officers, directors and consultants of other companies. These other companies may have interests in conflict with ours. In addition, we expect to rely on independent organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services, including product testing and construction. The services of these independent organizations, advisors and consultants may not be available to us on a timely basis when needed or on acceptable terms, and if they are not available, we may not be able to find qualified replacements. If we are unable to retain the services of qualified personnel, independent organizations, advisors and consultants, we may not be able to implement our business plan.

 

If we are unable to market and distribute our products effectively, we may be unable to generate significant revenue.

 

We currently have limited sales, marketing or distribution capabilities. We intend to build these capabilities internally and also to pursue collaborative arrangements regarding the sales and marketing of our products, including steps necessary to commercialize our pharmaceutical products and our legacy stevia products and technologies. However, we may be unable to establish or maintain any such collaborative arrangements, or if able to do so, they may not provide us with the sales and marketing benefits we expect. To the extent that we decide not to, or are unable to, enter into successful collaborative arrangements with respect to the sale and marketing of our proposed stevia products, significant capital expenditures, management resources and time will be required to establish and develop an in-house marketing and sales force with appropriate expertise. We may not be able to establish or maintain relationships with third party collaborators or develop in-house sales and distribution capabilities. To the extent that we depend on third parties for marketing and distribution, any revenues we receive will depend upon the efforts of such third parties and there can be no assurance that such third parties will establish adequate sales and distribution capabilities or be successful in gaining market acceptance of any approved product. If we are not successful in commercializing any product approved in the future, either on our own or through third parties, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

 

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We are largely dependent on the success of our products, which are still in preclinical development and will require significant capital resources and years of clinical development effort.

 

We currently have no pharmaceutical products on the market, and our product candidates are still in preclinical development. Our business depends almost entirely on the successful clinical development, regulatory approval and commercialization of our product candidates, and additional preclinical testing and substantial clinical development and regulatory approval efforts will be required before we are permitted to commence commercialization, if ever. The clinical trials and manufacturing and marketing of product candidates will be subject to extensive and rigorous review and regulation by numerous government authorities in the United States and other jurisdictions where we intend to test and, if approved, market our product candidates. Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of any product candidate, we must demonstrate through preclinical testing and clinical trials that the product candidate is safe and effective for use in each target indication, and potentially in specific patient populations. This process can take many years and may include post-marketing studies and surveillance, which would require the expenditures of substantial resources beyond our current resources. Of the large number of drugs in development for approval in the United States and the European Union, only a small percentage successfully complete the FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) regulatory approval processes, as applicable, and are commercialized. Accordingly, even if we are able to obtain the requisite financing to continue to fund our research, development and clinical programs, we cannot assure you that any of our product candidates will be successfully developed or commercialized.

 

Because the results of preclinical testing are not necessarily predictive of future results, our products may not have favorable results in our planned clinical trials.

 

Any positive results from our preclinical testing of our products may not necessarily be predictive of the results from our planned clinical trials in humans. Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in clinical trials after achieving positive results in preclinical development, and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. These setbacks have been caused by, among other things, preclinical findings made while clinical trials were underway or safety or efficacy observations made in clinical trials, including adverse events. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials nonetheless failed to obtain FDA or EMA approval. If we fail to produce positive results in our clinical trials, the development timeline and regulatory approval and commercialization prospects for our products, and, correspondingly, our business and financial prospects, would be materially adversely affected.

 

Failures or delays in the completion of our preclinical studies or the commencement and completion of our clinical trials could result in increased costs to us and could delay, prevent or limit our ability to generate revenue and continue our business.

 

To date, we have not commenced any clinical trials. Successful completion of such clinical trials is a prerequisite to submitting an NDA to the FDA or a marketing authorisation application (MAA) to the EMA. Clinical trials are expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and are uncertain as to outcome. A product candidate can unexpectedly fail at any stage of clinical development. The historic failure rate for product candidates is high due to scientific feasibility, safety, efficacy, changing standards of medical care and other variables. The commencement and completion of clinical trials can be delayed or prevented for a number of reasons, including, among others:

 

● delays in reaching or failing to reach agreement on acceptable terms with prospective clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different clinical trial sites;

 

● delays or inability in manufacturing or obtaining sufficient quantity or quality of a product candidate or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials due to regulatory and manufacturing constraints, including delays or an inability to hire appropriate staff or consultants with requisite expertise in chemistry and manufacturing controls for pharmaceutical products;

 

● difficulties obtaining IRB, DEA or comparable foreign regulatory authority, or ethics committee approval to conduct a clinical trial at a prospective site or sites;

 

● challenges in recruiting and enrolling patients to participate in clinical trials, including the size and nature of the patient population, the proximity of patients to clinical trial sites, eligibility criteria for the clinical trial, the nature of the clinical trial protocol, the availability of approved effective treatments for the relevant indication and competition from other clinical trial programs for similar indications;

 

● severe or unexpected toxicities or drug-related side effects experienced by patients in our clinical trials or by individuals using drugs similar to our product candidates;

 

● DEA or comparable foreign regulatory authority-related recordkeeping, reporting or security violations at a clinical trial site, leading the DEA, state authorities or comparable foreign regulatory authorities to suspend or revoke the site’s controlled substance license and causing a delay or termination of planned or ongoing clinical trials;

 

● regulatory concerns with cannabinoid products generally and the potential for abuse of those products;

 

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● difficulties retaining patients who have enrolled in a clinical trial who may withdraw due to lack of efficacy, side effects, personal issues or loss of interest;

 

● ambiguous or negative interim results; or

 

● lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.

 

In addition, a clinical trial may be suspended or terminated by us, the FDA, IRBs, ethics committees, data safety monitoring board or other foreign regulatory authorities overseeing the clinical trial at issue or other regulatory authorities due to a number of factors, including, among others:

 

● failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical trial protocols;

 

● inspection of the clinical trial operations, clinical trial sites, or drug manufacturing facilities by the FDA, the DEA, the EMA or other foreign regulatory authorities that reveals deficiencies or violations that require us to undertake corrective action, including the imposition of a clinical hold;

 

● unforeseen safety issues, including any safety issues that could be identified in our ongoing toxicology studies;

 

● adverse side effects or lack of effectiveness; and

 

● changes in government regulations or administrative actions.

 

We intend to focus on prodrugs for certain indications, and may fail to capitalize on other product candidates or other indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

 

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we are focusing on research programs relating to our proprietary products for certain indications, which concentrates the risk of product failure in the event the products prove to be unsafe or ineffective or inadequate for clinical development or commercialization. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that could later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on proprietary research and development programs relating to our products may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for our products, we may relinquish valuable rights to our products through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to our products.

 

The regulatory approval processes of the FDA, the EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities are lengthy, time-consuming and inherently unpredictable, and if we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our business will be substantially harmed.

 

We are not permitted to market our product candidates in the United States or the European Union until we receive approval of an NDA from the FDA or an MAA from the EMA, respectively, or in any foreign countries until we receive the requisite approval from such countries. Prior to submitting an NDA to the FDA or an MAA to the EMA for approval of our product candidates we will need to complete our ongoing preclinical studies, as well as Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials. We are still conducting preclinical studies and have not yet commenced our clinical program or tested any product in humans. We plan to submit NDAs for our products to the FDA upon completion of all requisite clinical trials. Successfully initiating and completing our clinical program and obtaining approval of an NDA or MAA is a complex, lengthy, expensive and uncertain process, and the FDA or EMA may delay, limit or deny approval of our product candidates for many reasons, including, among others, because:

 

● we may not be able to demonstrate that our product candidates are safe and effective in treating patients to the satisfaction of the FDA or EMA;

 

● the results of our clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical or clinical significance required by the FDA or EMA for marketing approval;

 

● the FDA or EMA may disagree with the number, design, size, conduct or implementation of our clinical trials;

 

● the FDA or EMA may require that we conduct additional clinical trials;

 

●the FDA or EMA or other applicable foreign regulatory authorities may not approve the formulation, labeling or specifications of our product candidates;

 

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● the contract research organizations, or CROs, and other contractors that we may retain to conduct our clinical trials may take actions outside of our control that materially adversely impact our clinical trials;

 

● the FDA or EMA may find the data from preclinical studies and clinical trials insufficient to demonstrate that our products’ clinical and other benefits outweigh their safety risks;

 

● the FDA or EMA may disagree with our interpretation of data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

● the FDA or EMA may not accept data generated at our clinical trial sites or may disagree with us over whether to accept efficacy results from clinical trial sites outside the United States where the standard of care is potentially different from that in the United States;

 

● if and when our NDAs or MAAs are submitted to the FDA or EMA, as applicable, the regulatory agency may have difficulties scheduling the necessary review meetings in a timely manner, may recommend against approval of our application or may recommend or require, as a condition of approval, additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, limitations on approved labeling or distribution and use restrictions;

 

● the FDA may require development of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, which would use risk minimization strategies beyond the professional labeling to ensure that the benefits of certain prescription drugs outweigh their risks, as a condition of approval or post-approval, and the EMA may grant only conditional approval or impose specific obligations as a condition for marketing authorization, or may require us to conduct post-authorization safety studies;

 

● the FDA, EMA, DEA or other applicable foreign regulatory agencies may not approve the manufacturing processes or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract or DEA or other applicable foreign regulatory agency quotas may limit the quantities of controlled substances available to our manufacturers; or

 

● the FDA or EMA may change their approval policies or adopt new regulations.

 

Any of these factors, many of which are beyond our control, could jeopardize our ability to obtain regulatory approval for and successfully market our products.

 

Even if our products receive regulatory approval, they may still face future development and regulatory difficulties.

 

If we obtain regulatory approval for our products, such approval would be subject to extensive ongoing requirements by the DEA, FDA, EMA and other foreign regulatory authorities related to the manufacture, quality control, further development, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, safety surveillance, import, export, advertising, promotion, recordkeeping and reporting of safety and other post-market information. The safety profile of any product will continue to be closely monitored by the FDA, EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities. If the FDA, EMA or any other comparable foreign regulatory authority becomes aware of new safety information after approval of any of our product candidates, these regulatory authorities may require labeling changes or establishment of a REMS, impose significant restrictions on a product’s indicated uses or marketing, impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly post-approval studies or post-market surveillance or impose a recall.

 

In addition, manufacturers of therapeutic products and their facilities are subject to continual review and periodic inspections by the FDA, the EMA and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities for compliance with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, regulations. Our current facilities and full-time staff have never undergone such inspections, and we currently rely upon outside consultants and advisors to provide guidance on chemistry and manufacturing controls for pharmaceuticals products. Further, manufacturers of controlled substances must obtain and maintain necessary DEA and state registrations and registrations with applicable foreign regulatory authorities, and must establish and maintain processes to ensure compliance with DEA and state requirements and requirements of applicable foreign regulatory authorities governing, among other things, the storage, handling, security, recordkeeping and reporting for controlled substances. If we or a regulatory agency discover previously unknown problems with a product, such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured, a regulatory agency may impose restrictions on that product, the manufacturing facility or us, including requiring recall or withdrawal of the product from the market or suspension of manufacturing. If we, our product candidates or the manufacturing facilities for our product candidates fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency may, among other things:

 

● issue untitled letters or warning letters;

 

● mandate modifications to promotional materials or require us to provide corrective information to healthcare practitioners;

 

● require us to enter into a consent decree, which can include imposition of various fines, reimbursements for inspection costs, required due dates for specific actions and penalties for noncompliance;

 

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● seek an injunction or impose civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines;

 

● suspend or withdraw regulatory approval;

 

● suspend any ongoing clinical trials;

 

● refuse to approve pending applications or supplements to applications filed by us; or

 

● require us to initiate a product recall.

 

The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our ability to commercialize our product candidates and may otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our products will be subject to controlled substance laws and regulations; failure to receive necessary approvals may delay the launch of our products and failure to comply with these laws and regulations may adversely affect the results of our business operations.

 

Our products will contain controlled substances as defined in the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). Controlled substances that are pharmaceutical products are subject to a high degree of regulation under the CSA, which establishes, among other things, certain registration, manufacturing quotas, security, recordkeeping, reporting, import, export and other requirements administered by the DEA. The DEA classifies controlled substances into five schedules: Schedule I, II, III, IV or V substances. Schedule I substances by definition have a high potential for abuse, have no currently “accepted medical use” in the United States, lack accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and may not be prescribed, marketed or sold in the United States. Pharmaceutical products approved for use in the United States may be listed as Schedule II, III, IV or V, with Schedule II substances considered to present the highest potential for abuse or dependence and Schedule V substances the lowest relative risk of abuse among such substances. Schedule I and II drugs are subject to the strictest controls under the CSA, including manufacturing and procurement quotas, security requirements and criteria for importation. In addition, dispensing of Schedule II drugs is further restricted. For example, they may not be refilled without a new prescription.

 

While cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance, products approved for medical use in the United States that contain cannabis or cannabis extracts must be placed in Schedules II - V, since approval by the FDA satisfies the “accepted medical use” requirement. If and when our products receive FDA approval, the DEA will make a scheduling determination and place them in a schedule other than Schedule I in order for it to be prescribed to patients in the United States. If approved by the FDA, we expect the finished dosage forms of our products to be listed by the DEA as a Schedule II or III controlled substance. Consequently, their manufacture, importation, exportation, domestic distribution, storage, sale and legitimate use will be subject to a significant degree of regulation by the DEA. The scheduling process may take one or more years beyond FDA approval, thereby significantly delaying the launch of our products. Furthermore, if the FDA, DEA or any foreign regulatory authority determines that our products may have potential for abuse, it may require us to generate more clinical data than that which is currently anticipated, which could increase the cost and/or delay the launch of our products.

 

Because our products will contain active ingredients of Cannabis, which are Schedule I substances, to conduct preclinical studies and clinical trials with our products in the United States prior to approval, each of our research sites must submit a research protocol to the DEA and obtain and maintain a DEA researcher registration that will allow those sites to procure necessary materials from suppliers, and to handle and dispense our products. If the DEA delays or denies the grant of a research registration to one or more research sites, the preclinical studies or clinical trials could be significantly delayed, and we could lose and be required to replace clinical trial sites, resulting in additional costs.

 

We will also need to identify wholesale distributors with the appropriate DEA registrations and authority to distribute our products to pharmacies and other healthcare providers, and these distributors would need to obtain Schedule II or III distribution registrations. The failure to obtain, or delay in obtaining, or the loss of any of those registrations could result in increased costs to us. If our products are Schedule II drugs, pharmacies would have to maintain enhanced security with alarms and monitoring systems and they must adhere to recordkeeping and inventory requirements. This may discourage some pharmacies from carrying the product. Furthermore, state and federal enforcement actions, regulatory requirements, and legislation intended to reduce prescription drug abuse, such as the requirement that physicians consult a state prescription drug monitoring program, may make physicians less willing to prescribe, and pharmacies to dispense, Schedule II products.

 

We may manufacture the commercial supply of our products, or necessary raw materials, outside of the United States. If our products are approved by the FDA and classified as a Schedule II or III substance, an importer can import for commercial purposes if it obtains from the DEA an importer registration and files an application with the DEA for an import permit for each import. The DEA provides annual assessments/estimates to the International Narcotics Control Board which guides the DEA in the amounts of controlled substances that the DEA authorizes to be imported. The failure to identify an importer or obtain the necessary import authority, including specific quantities, could affect the availability of our products and have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, an application for a Schedule II importer registration must be published in the Federal Register, and there is a waiting period for third party comments to be submitted.

 

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Individual states have also established controlled substance laws and regulations. Though state-controlled substance laws often mirror federal law, because the states are separate jurisdictions, they may separately schedule our product candidates as well. While some states automatically schedule a drug based on federal action, other states schedule drugs through rulemaking or a legislative action. State scheduling may delay commercial sale of any product for which we obtain federal regulatory approval and adverse scheduling could have a material adverse effect on the commercial attractiveness of such product. We or our partners must also obtain separate state registrations, permits or licenses in order to be able to obtain, handle, and distribute controlled substances for clinical trials or commercial sale, and failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements could lead to enforcement and sanctions by the states in addition to those from the DEA or otherwise arising under federal law.

 

Product shipment delays could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

The shipment, import and export of our products and raw materials may require import and export licenses. In the United States, the FDA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and in other countries, similar regulatory authorities, regulate the import and export of pharmaceutical products that contain controlled substances. Specifically, the import and export process requires the issuance of import and export licenses by the relevant controlled substance authority in both the importing and exporting country. We may not be granted, or if granted, maintain, such licenses from the authorities in certain countries. Even if we obtain the relevant licenses, shipments of our products and materials may be held up in transit, which could cause significant delays and may lead to product batches being stored outside required temperature ranges. Inappropriate storage may damage the product shipment resulting in delays in clinical trials or, upon commercialization, a partial or total loss of revenue from one or more shipments of our products. A delay in a clinical trial or, upon commercialization, a partial or total loss of revenue from one or more shipments of our products could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Failure to obtain regulatory approval in jurisdictions outside the United States and the European Union would prevent our product candidates from being marketed in those jurisdictions.

 

In order to market and sell our products in jurisdictions other than the United States and the European Union, we must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. The regulatory approval process outside the United States and the European Union generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA and EMA approval, but can involve additional testing. We may need to partner with third parties in order to obtain approvals outside the United States and the European Union. In addition, in many countries worldwide, it is required that the product be approved for reimbursement before the product can be approved for sale in that country. We may not obtain approvals from regulatory authorities outside the United States and the European Union on a timely basis, if at all. Even if we were to receive approval in the United States or the European Union, approval by the FDA or the EMA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions. Similarly, approval by one regulatory authority outside the United States and the European Union would not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions or by the FDA or the EMA. We may not be able to file for marketing approvals and may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our products in any market. If we are unable to obtain approval of our product candidates by regulatory authorities in other foreign jurisdictions, the commercial prospects of those product candidates may be significantly diminished and our business prospects could decline.

 

Healthcare legislation, including potentially unfavorable pricing regulations or other healthcare reform initiatives, may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates.

 

In the United States there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities or affect our ability to profitably sell any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval.

 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, or Affordable Care Act, among other things, imposes a significant annual fee on companies that manufacture or import branded prescription drug products. It also contains substantial provisions intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of healthcare spending, enhance remedies against healthcare fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for the healthcare and health insurance industries, impose new taxes and fees on pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, and impose additional health policy reforms, any of which could negatively impact our business. A significant number of provisions are not yet, or have only recently become effective, but the Affordable Care Act is likely to continue the downward pressure on pharmaceutical and medical device pricing, especially under the Medicare program, and may also increase our regulatory burdens and operating costs.

 

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In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since passage of the Affordable Care Act. The Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to recommend to Congress proposals in spending reductions. The Joint Select Committee did not achieve a targeted deficit reduction of an amount greater than $1.2 trillion for the fiscal years 2012 through 2021, triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to healthcare providers of up to 2.0% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2025 unless additional Congressional action is taken. In January 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several categories of healthcare providers and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. If we ever obtain regulatory approval and successfully commercialize our products, these new laws may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, which could have a material adverse effect on our customers and accordingly, our financial operations.

 

We expect that the Affordable Care Act, as well as other healthcare reform measures that have been and may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product, and could seriously harm our future revenues. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may compromise our ability to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products.

 

We may seek orphan drug status for our products for the treatment of certain diseases or conditions, but we may be unable to obtain such designation or to maintain the benefits associated orphan drug status, including market exclusivity, which may cause our revenue, if any, to be reduced.

 

Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and European Union, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. The FDA may grant Orphan Drug Designation to drugs intended to treat a rare disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals annually in the United States, or, if the disease or condition affects more than 200,000 individuals annually in the United States, if there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the drug would be recovered from sales in the United States. In the European Union, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products grants Orphan Drug Designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting not more than five in 10,000 persons in the European Union community. Additionally, designation is granted for products intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in the European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the drug.

 

In the United States, Orphan Drug Designation entitles a party to financial incentives, such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax credits for certain research and user fee waivers under certain circumstances. In addition, if a product receives the first FDA approval for the indication for which it has orphan designation, the product is entitled to seven years of market exclusivity, which means the FDA may not approve any other application for the same drug for the same indication for a period of seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving a different drug for the same disease or condition, or the same drug for a different disease or condition. In the European Union, Orphan Drug Designation also entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and ten years of market exclusivity following drug approval. This period may be reduced to six years if the Orphan Drug Designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified.

 

As a result, even if our products receive orphan exclusivity, the FDA or EMA can still approve other drugs that have a different active ingredient for use in treating the same indication. Furthermore, the FDA can waive orphan exclusivity if we are unable to manufacture sufficient supply of our products or the EMA could reduce the term of exclusivity if our products are sufficiently profitable.

 

We may seek orphan drug designation for our products, but exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan designated indication and may be lost if the FDA or EMA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. In addition, although we may seek orphan drug designation for our products, we may never receive such designation, or there may be a delay in receiving such designation that would impact our expected timeframe for clinical development.

 

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Even if we are able to commercialize our products, the products may not receive coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors, which could harm our business.

 

The availability of reimbursement by governmental and private payors is essential for most patients to be able to afford expensive treatments. Sales of our products, if approved, will depend substantially on the extent to which the costs of these products will be paid by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or reimbursed by government health administration authorities, private health coverage insurers and other third-party payors. If reimbursement is not available, or is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our products. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment.

 

In the United States, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, or Medicare Modernization Act, established the Medicare Part D program and provided authority for limiting the number of drugs that will be covered in any therapeutic class thereunder. The Medicare Modernization Act, including its cost reduction initiatives, could decrease the coverage and reimbursement rate that we receive for any of our approved products. Furthermore, private payors often follow Medicare coverage policies and payment limitations in setting their own reimbursement rates. Therefore, any reduction in reimbursement that results from the Medicare Modernization Act may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors.

 

There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, as CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree.

 

The intended use of a drug product by a physician can also affect pricing. For example, CMS could initiate a National Coverage Determination administrative procedure, by which the agency determines which uses of a therapeutic product would and would not be reimbursable under Medicare. This determination process can be lengthy, thereby creating a long period during which the future reimbursement for a particular product may be uncertain.

 

Outside the United States, particularly in member states of the European Union, the pricing of prescription drugs is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations or the successful completion of health technology assessment procedures with governmental authorities can take considerable time after receipt of marketing approval for a product. In addition, there can be considerable pressure by governments and other stakeholders on prices and reimbursement levels, including as part of cost containment measures. Certain countries allow companies to fix their own prices for medicines, but monitor and control company profits. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various European Union member states and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. In some countries, we or our collaborators may be required to conduct a clinical trial or other studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of our product candidates to other available therapies in order to obtain or maintain reimbursement or pricing approval. Publication of discounts by third-party payors or authorities may lead to further pressure on the prices or reimbursement levels within the country of publication and other countries. If reimbursement of any product candidate approved for marketing is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects could be adversely affected.

 

Our relationships with customers and third-party payors will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.

 

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our future arrangements with third-party payors and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute our products for which we obtain marketing approval. As a pharmaceutical company, even though we do not and will not control referrals of healthcare services or bill directly to Medicare, Medicaid or other third-party payors, certain federal and state healthcare laws and regulations pertaining to fraud and abuse and patients’ rights are and will be applicable to our business. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations that may affect our ability to operate include the following:

 

● the U.S. federal healthcare Anti-Kickback Statute impacts our marketing practices, educational programs, pricing policies and relationships with healthcare providers or other entities, by prohibiting, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid;

 

● federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws impose criminal and civil penalties, including through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, claims for payment that are false or fraudulent (including through impermissible promotion of our products for off-label uses) or making a false statement or record to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;

 

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● the U.S. federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program and also created federal criminal laws that prohibit knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services;

 

● HIPAA, and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, establish federal standards for maintaining the privacy and security of certain patient health information known as Protected Health Information, or PHI. As amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, HIPAA establishes federal standards for administrative, technical and physical safeguards relevant to the electronic transmission of PHI and imposes notification obligations in the event of a breach of the privacy or security of PHI. In addition to adhering to the requirements of HIPAA, entities considered “covered entities” under HIPAA (such as health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and certain healthcare providers) are required to obtain assurances in the form of a written contract from certain business associates to which they transmit PHI (or who create, receive, transmit or maintain PHI on the covered entity’s behalf) to ensure that the privacy and security of such information is maintained in accordance with HIPAA requirements. HITECH made changes to HIPAA including extending the reach of HIPAA beyond HIPAA covered entities to business associates, increased the maximum civil monetary penalties for violations of HIPAA, and granted enforcement authority to state attorneys general. Failure to comply with HIPAA/HITECH can result in civil and criminal liability, including civil monetary penalties, fines and imprisonment;

 

● the U.S. federal physician payment transparency requirements under the Affordable Care Act require applicable manufacturers of covered drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies to report annually to HHS information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians, certain other healthcare providers, and teaching hospitals, and ownership and investment interests held by physicians and certain other healthcare providers and their immediate family members and applicable group purchasing organizations; and

 

● analogous state laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers. Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government and may require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and certain other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures. Additionally, state and foreign laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA/HITECH, thus complicating compliance efforts.

 

Comparable laws and regulations exist in the countries within the European Economic Area, or EEA. Although such laws are partially based upon European Union law, they may vary from country to country. Healthcare specific, as well as general European Union and national laws, regulations and industry codes constrain, for example, our interactions with government officials and healthcare practitioners, and the handling of healthcare data. Non-compliance with any of these laws or regulations could lead to criminal or civil liability.

 

Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found to not be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs.

 

Also, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar worldwide anti-bribery laws generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to non-U.S. officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Our internal control policies and procedures may not protect us from reckless or negligent acts committed by our employees, future distributors, licensees or agents. Violations of these laws, or allegations of such violations, could result in fines, penalties or prosecution and have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and reputation.

 

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Our products, if approved, may be unable to achieve broad market acceptance and, consequently, limit our ability to generate revenue from new products.

 

Even when product development is successful and regulatory approval has been obtained, our ability to generate significant revenue depends on the acceptance of our products by physicians and patients. The market acceptance of any product depends on a number of factors, including the indication statement and warnings approved by regulatory authorities in the product label, continued demonstration of efficacy and safety in commercial use, physicians’ willingness to prescribe the product, reimbursement from third-party payors such as government healthcare systems and insurance companies, the price of the product, the nature of any post-approval risk management plans mandated by regulatory authorities, competition, and marketing and distribution support. Any factors preventing or limiting the market acceptance of our product candidates could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

If we receive regulatory approvals, we intend to market our products in multiple jurisdictions where we have limited or no operating experience and may be subject to increased business and economic risks that could affect our financial results.

 

If we receive regulatory approvals, we plan to market our products in jurisdictions where we have limited or no experience in marketing, developing and distributing our products. Certain markets have substantial legal and regulatory complexities that we may not have experience navigating. We are subject to a variety of risks inherent in doing business internationally, including risks related to the legal and regulatory environment in non-U.S. jurisdictions, including with respect to privacy and data security, trade control laws and unexpected changes in laws, regulatory requirements and enforcement, as well as risks related to fluctuations in currency exchange rates and political, social and economic instability in foreign countries. If we are unable to manage our international operations successfully, our financial results could be adversely affected.

 

In addition, controlled substance legislation may differ in other jurisdictions and could restrict our ability to market our products internationally. Most countries are parties to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, which governs international trade and domestic control of narcotic substances, including Cannabis extracts. Countries may interpret and implement their treaty obligations in a way that creates a legal obstacle to us obtaining marketing approval for our products in those countries. These countries may not be willing or able to amend or otherwise modify their laws and regulations to permit our products to be marketed, or achieving such amendments to the laws and regulations may take a prolonged period of time. We would be unable to market our products in countries with such obstacles in the near future or perhaps at all without modification to laws and regulations.

 

Our products will contain controlled substances, the use of which may generate public controversy.

 

Since our products will contain controlled substances, their regulatory approval may generate public controversy. Political and social pressures and adverse publicity could lead to delays in approval of, and increased expenses for, our products. These pressures could also limit or restrict the introduction and marketing of our products. Adverse publicity from Cannabis misuse or adverse side effects from Cannabis or other cannabinoid products may adversely affect the commercial success or market penetration achievable by our products. The nature of our business attracts a high level of public and media interest, and in the event of any resultant adverse publicity, our reputation may be harmed.

 

If we fail to protect or enforce our intellectual property rights or secure rights to the intellectual property of others, the value of our intellectual property rights would diminish.

 

We expect to continue to develop our intellectual property portfolio as we increase our research and development efforts. We may be unable to obtain patents or other protection for any technologies we develop, because such technologies are not coverable by patents or other forms of registered intellectual property, because third parties file patents covering the same claims earlier than we do, or for other reasons. If we are able to obtain issued patents, we cannot predict the degree and range of protection any patents will afford us against competitors, including whether third parties will find ways to invalidate or otherwise circumvent our patents. Others may obtain patents claiming aspects similar to those covered by our patents and patent applications, which may limit the efficacy of the protections afforded by any patents we may obtain.

 

Our success will also depend upon the skills, knowledge and experience of our personnel, our consultants and advisors as well as our licensors and contractors. To help protect any proprietary know-how we develop and any inventions for which patents may be unobtainable or difficult to obtain, we expect to rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements. To this end, we expect to require our employees, consultants, advisors and contractors to enter into agreements which prohibit the disclosure of confidential information and, where applicable, require disclosure and assignment to us of the ideas, developments, discoveries and inventions important to our business. These agreements may not provide adequate protection for our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information in the event of any unauthorized use or disclosure or the lawful development by others of such information. If any of our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information is disclosed, the value of our trade secrets, know-how and other proprietary rights would be significantly impaired and our business and competitive position would suffer.

 

25
 

 

If we infringe the rights of third parties we could be prevented from selling products and forced to pay damages or defend against litigation.

 

If our products, methods, processes and other technologies infringe the proprietary rights of other parties, we could incur substantial costs. In that case, we could be required to:

 

  obtain licenses from such third parties, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all;
     
  redesign our products or processes to avoid infringement, which may not be feasible;
     
  stop using the subject matter claimed in the patents held by others;
     
  pay damages; and/or
     
  defend litigation or administrative proceedings, which may be costly whether we win or lose, and which could result in a substantial diversion of our valuable management resources.

 

Any of these outcomes could divert management attention and other resources and could significantly harm our operations and financial condition.

 

We use hazardous materials in our business. Any claims relating to improper handling, storage or disposal of these materials could be time consuming and costly.

 

Our research and development efforts and our manufacturing and agricultural processes may involve the controlled storage, use and disposal of certain hazardous materials and waste products. We and our suppliers and other collaborators are subject to federal, state and local regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of materials and waste products. Even if we and these suppliers and collaborators comply with the standards prescribed by law and regulation, the risk of accidental contamination or injury from hazardous materials cannot be eliminated. We may not be able to obtain and maintain insurance on acceptable terms, or at all, to cover costs associated with any such accidental contamination. In the event of such an accident, we could be held liable for any damages that result, and any liability could exceed the limits or fall outside the coverage of any insurance we may obtain and exceed our financial resources. We may incur significant costs to comply with current or future environmental laws and regulations.

 

We may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our products in response to product liability lawsuits.

 

If we are able to develop and commercialize our proposed products, we could become subject to product liability claims. If we are not able to successfully defend against such claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit commercialization of our proposed products. If we are unable to obtain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability, claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of products we develop, alone or with corporate collaborators. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.

 

Government regulation of our products could increase our costs, prevent us from offering certain products or cause us to recall products.

 

The processing, formulation, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, advertising and distribution of our products is subject to regulation by one or more federal agencies, and various agencies of the states and localities in which our products are manufactured and sold. These government regulatory agencies may attempt to regulate any of our products that fall within their jurisdiction. Such regulatory agencies may not accept the evidence of safety for any new ingredients that we may want to market, may determine that a particular product or product ingredient presents an unacceptable health risk, may determine that a particular statement of nutritional support that we want to use is an unacceptable drug claim or an unauthorized version of a food “health claim,” may determine that a particular product is an unapproved new drug, or may determine that particular claims are not adequately supported by available scientific evidence. Such a determination would prevent us from marketing particular products or using certain statements of nutritional support on our products. We also may be unable to disseminate third-party literature that supports our products if the third-party literature fails to satisfy certain requirements.

 

In addition, a government regulatory agency could require us to remove a particular product from the market. Any product recall or removal would result in additional costs to us, including lost revenues from any products that we are required to remove from the market, any of which could be material. Any such product recalls or removals could lead to liability, substantial costs and reduced growth prospects.

 

If any of our products contain plants, herbs or other substances not recognized as safe by a government regulatory agency, we may not be able to market or sell such products in that jurisdiction. Any such prohibition could materially adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. Further, if more stringent statutes are enacted, or if more stringent regulations are promulgated, we may not be able to comply with such statutes or regulations without incurring substantial expense, or at all.

 

26
 

 

We are not able to predict the nature of future laws, regulations, repeals or interpretations or to predict the effect additional governmental regulation, if and when it occurs, would have on our business in the future. Such developments could, however, require reformulation of certain products to meet new standards, recalls or discontinuance of certain products not able to be reformulated, additional record-keeping requirements, increased documentation of the properties of certain products, additional or different labeling, additional scientific substantiation, or other new requirements. Any such developments could involve substantial additional costs to us, which we may not be able to fund, and could have a material adverse effect on our business operations and financial condition.

 

We have material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If we fail to create effective controls and procedures and an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud.

 

We have material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting and ineffective disclosure controls and procedures, related to insufficient segregation of duties in our finance and accounting functions due to limited personnel and insufficient corporate governance policies. These material weakness result in ineffective oversight in the establishment and monitoring of required financial and other controls and procedures.

 

Currently, one person often performs all aspects of our financial reporting process, including, but not limited to, preparing underlying accounting records and systems, posting and recording journal entries and preparing our financial statements. As a result, there is often no review of our financial reporting process, which could result in a failure to detect errors in spreadsheets, calculations, or assumptions used to compile the financial statements and related disclosures as filed with the SEC. These control deficiencies could result in a material misstatement of our interim or annual financial statements that may not be prevented or detected.

 

Our Board of Directors is currently comprised of three directors, Mr. Robert Brooke, our Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Avtar Dhillon, and Dr. Anthony Maida III. Our Board of Directors has designated Dr. Maida as a designated audit committee financial expert, and we have established an audit committee that is currently comprised solely of Dr. Maida. Neither Mr. Brooke nor Dr. Dhillon would be considered independent for purposes of membership on an audit committee pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rules. Further, Mr. Brooke, who currently serves as our principal financial officer and principal accounting officer, has some professional experience in finance and accounting but does not have professional credentials. We expect to appoint additional independent directors with experience in finance and accounting and hire additional dedicated finance and accounting staff as we increase our operations, as resources permit and as we identify and recruit qualified candidates for those positions. However, until we have done so, we may be unable to establish or maintain effective internal control over financial reporting. As a result, we may discover additional material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and/or disclosure controls and procedures, which we may not successfully remediate on a timely basis or at all. Any failure to remediate our reported or any future material weaknesses, implement required new or improved controls, or further difficulties encountered in their implementation, could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations or result in material misstatements in our financial statements. Inadequate internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative impact on the trading price of our common stock. Moreover, as we continue and aim to expand our operations we will be required to expend significant resources to design, implement and maintain a system of internal controls that is adequate to satisfy our reporting obligations as a public company. The costs associated with external consultants and internal resources to accomplish this are significant and difficult to predict.

 

Risks Related to our Common Stock

 

Our common stock is illiquid and the price of our common stock may be negatively impacted by any negative operational results and factors unrelated to our operations.

 

Our common stock is quoted on the OTCQB and has limited trading history. Trading on the OTCQB is frequently highly volatile, with low trading volume. We have experienced significant fluctuations in the price and trading volume of our common stock, which may be caused by factors relating to our business and operational results and/or factors unrelated to our company, including general market conditions. A sufficient market for our common stock may never develop, in which case it could be difficult for stockholders to sell their stock. The market price of our common stock could continue to fluctuate substantially.

 

Trading of our stock is restricted by the SEC’s “penny stock” regulations and certain FINRA rules, which may limit a stockholder’s ability to buy and sell our common stock.

 

Our securities are covered by certain “penny stock” rules, which impose additional sales practice requirements on broker-dealers who sell low-priced securities to persons other than established customers and accredited investors. For transactions covered by these rules, a broker-dealer must make a special suitability determination for the purchaser and have received the purchaser’s written consent to the transaction prior to sale, among other things. These rules may affect the ability of broker-dealers and holders to sell our common stock and may negatively impact the level of trading activity for our common stock. To the extent our common stock remains subject to the penny stock regulations, such regulations may discourage investor interest in and adversely affect the market liquidity of our common stock.

 

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (known as “FINRA”) has adopted rules that require that in recommending an investment to a customer, a broker-dealer must have reasonable grounds for believing that the investment is suitable for that customer. Prior to recommending speculative low priced securities to their non-institutional customers, broker-dealers must make reasonable efforts to obtain information about the customer’s financial status, tax status, investment objectives and other information. Under interpretations of these rules, FINRA believes that there is a high probability that speculative low priced securities will not be suitable for at least some customers. FINRA requirements make it more difficult for broker-dealers to recommend that their customers buy our common stock, which may limit your ability to buy and sell our stock and have an adverse effect on the market for our shares.

 

If we issue and sell additional shares of our common stock in the future, our existing stockholders will be diluted and our stock price could fall.

 

Our articles of incorporation authorize the issuance of up to 1,000,000,000 shares of common stock, of which, as of June 27, 2017, 22,265,180 were outstanding and 337,616 were reserved for issuance under our stock incentive plan or outstanding options, warrants or other convertible securities. As a result, we have a large number of shares of common stock that are authorized for issuance and are not outstanding or otherwise reserved, and could be issued at the discretion of our Board of Directors. We expect to seek additional financing in the future in order to fund our operations, and if we issue additional shares of common stock or securities convertible into common stock, our existing stockholders will be diluted. Our Board of Directors may also choose to issue shares of our common stock or securities convertible into or exercisable for our common stock to acquire assets or companies, for compensation to employees, officers, directors, consultants and advisors, or to fund capital expenditures. Additionally, shares of common stock could be issued for anti-takeover purposes or to delay or prevent changes in control or management of the Company. Our Board of Directors may determine to issue shares of our common stock on terms that our stockholders do not deem, that may not enhance stockholder value, or that may ultimately have an adverse effect on our business or the trading price of our common stock. Further, the issuance of any such shares will cause further dilution to the ownership interest of our current stockholders, reduce the book value per share of our common stock and may contribute to a reduction in the market price for our common stock.

 

Our directors and officers control a portion of our outstanding common stock, which may delay or prevent a change of control of our company or adversely affect our stock price.

 

As of the date of this prospectus, Dr. Avtar Dhillon, a director of the Company, beneficially owns approximately 6.9% of our outstanding common stock and Robert Brooke, a director and Chief Executive Officer of the Company beneficially owns approximately 5.5% of our outstanding common stock. As a result, they are able to exercise a degree of control over matters requiring stockholder approval, such as the election of directors and the approval of significant corporate transactions. These types of transactions include transactions involving an actual or potential change of control of our company or other transactions that non-controlling stockholders may not deem to be in their best interests and which could result in such stockholders receiving a premium for their shares.

 

We are subject to the reporting requirements of federal securities laws, compliance with which involves significant time, expense and expertise.

 

We are a public reporting company in the United States, and, accordingly, are subject to the information and reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and other federal securities laws, including the obligations imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The ongoing costs associated with preparing and filing annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC in the ordinary course, as well as preparing and filing audited financial statements, are significant and may cause unexpected increases in operational expenses. Our present management team is relatively small and may be unable to manage the ongoing costs and compliance effectively. It may be time consuming, difficult and costly for us to hire additional financial reporting, accounting and other finance staff in order to build and retain a management team with adequate expertise and experience in operating a public company.

 

We have never paid dividends on our capital stock, and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future.

 

The continued operation and expansion of our business will require substantial funding. Investors seeking cash dividends in the foreseeable future should not purchase our common stock. We have paid no cash dividends on any of our capital stock to date and we currently intend to retain our available cash to fund the development and growth of our business. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend upon results of operations, financial condition, contractual restrictions, restrictions imposed by applicable law and other factors our Board of Directors deems relevant. We do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation of their stock, which may never occur.

 

28
 

 

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 2. Properties

 

We currently lease office and laboratory space at our operational headquarters in Yuba City, California. Our lease agreement for our laboratory space expires on May 1, 2020, and requires rent payments of $2,600 per month.

 

We believe that our current facilities will be adequate for our research and development needs for the next 12 months, although we may lease additional property for additional research and development space.

 

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

 

From time to time, we may become involved in litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business. Neither we nor any of our property is currently subject to any proceedings the adverse outcome of which, individually or in the aggregate, would have a material adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations.

 

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

 

Not applicable.

 

29
 

 

PART II

 

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Market Information

 

Our common stock has been quoted through various over-the-counter quotation systems at various times since 2009. However, no shares of our common stock traded on any over-the-counter market until March 5, 2012. Our common stock is currently quoted on the OTCQB under the symbol “VBIO”, but there is a limited public trading market for our common stock. The liquidity of our shares on the OTCQB is extremely limited, and prices quoted may not be a reliable indication of the value of our common stock.

 

The following table sets forth the range of reported high and low closing bid quotations for our common stock for the fiscal quarters indicated as reported by the OTCQB or another over-the-counter quotation system on which the common stock was then quoted.

 

   High   Low 
         
Fiscal 2016          
First Quarter ended June 30, 2015   4.50    3.40 
Second Quarter ended September 30, 2015   3.90    3.30 
Third Quarter ended December 31, 2015   4.50    3.00 
Fourth Quarter ended March 31, 2016   4.40    3.40 
           
Fiscal 2017          
First Quarter ended June 30, 2016   1.00    0.50 
Second Quarter ended September 30, 2016   1.08    0.50 
Third Quarter ended December 31, 2016   4.09    0.95 
Fourth Quarter ended March 31, 2017   3.10    1.52 

 

Transfer Agent

 

The transfer agent and registrar for our common stock is Island Stock Transfer, Inc., 15500 Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 301, Clearwater, Florida 33760.

 

Holders of Common Stock

 

As of June 26, 2017, there were 31 holders of record of our common stock.

 

Dividends

 

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends or distributions on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to support operations and to finance expansion and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future.

 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

 

On March 9, 2017, we issued an aggregate of 1,500,000 shares of the Company’s common stock (collectively, the “Shares”), at a price of $1.00 per Share.

 

The issuance and sale of the Shares, have not been registered under the Securities Act and the Shares have been sold and were issued in reliance on exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act afforded by Section 4(a)(2) thereof and Rule 506 of Regulation D thereunder based on the following facts: each of the Purchasers has represented that it is an accredited investor as defined in Regulation D and that it is acquiring the Shares for its own account and not with a view to or for distributing or reselling the Shares and that it has sufficient investment experience to evaluate the risks of the investment; the Company used no advertising or general solicitation in connection with the issuance and sale of the Shares; and the Shares were issued as restricted securities.

 

In April 2017, we issued 50,000 shares of our common stock to a consultant as compensation for services valued at $100,000. The issuance of this common stock, has not been registered under the Securities Act and the shares of common stock were issued in reliance on exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act afforded by Section 4(a)(2) thereof and Rule 506 of Regulation D thereunder based on the following facts: the consultant has represented that it is an accredited investor as defined in Regulation D and that it is acquiring the shares of common stock for its own account and not with a view to or for distributing or reselling the shares of common stock and that it has sufficient investment experience to evaluate the risks of the investment; the shares of commons stock were issued as restricted securities.

 

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Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans

 

On February 3, 2012, our Board of Directors approved and adopted the Stevia First Corp. 2012 Stock Incentive Plan (as amended, the “2012 Plan”), and a majority of stockholders of the Company executed a written consent approving and adopting the 2012 Plan. In February 2013 our Board of Directors approved, and on April 11, 2013 at our 2013 annual stockholder meeting our stockholders approved, an amendment to the 2012 Plan to, among other things, increase the number of shares of our common stock available for issuance thereunder from 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 shares. In March 2014 our Board of Directors approved, and on June 9, 2014 at our 2014 annual stockholder meeting our stockholders approved, a second amendment to the 2012 Plan to increase the number of shares of our common stock available for issuance thereunder from 10,000,000 to 18,000,000 shares. On May 4, 2016, our Board of Directors and stockholders of the Company, holding a majority of the outstanding shares of our common stock, executed joint written consents in lieu of a special meeting approving the amendment of the Plan by increasing the number of shares of the Company’s Common Stock available for issuance under the Plan from 1,800,000 (after adjusting for the Reverse Split) to 3,600,000 and adding an evergreen provision which, on January 1 of each year, increases the number of the Company’s common shares available for issuance under the Plan by a number equal to 10% of the number of shares of Common Stock previously available for issuance under the Plan (the “Evergreen Provision”).

 

Except as listed in the table below, as of March 31, 2017, we do not have any equity based plans, including individual compensation arrangements, that have not been approved by our stockholders. The following table provides information as of March 31, 2017 with respect to our equity compensation plans:

 

Equity Compensation Plan Information

 

Plan Category  Number of
securities to be
issued upon
exercise of
outstanding
options, warrants
and rights
   Weighted-
average exercise
price of
outstanding
options,
warrants
and rights
   Number of
securities
remaining
available for
future issuance
under equity
compensation
plans (excluding
securities
reflected in
column (a))
 
   (a)   (b)   (c) 
             
Equity compensation plans approved by security holders   2,952,384   $1.25    337,616 
Equity compensation plans not approved by security holders      $     
                
Total   2,952,384   $1.25    337,616 

 

(1) As of March 31, 2017, 337,616 shares of our common stock remained available for future issuance pursuant to the 2012 Plan.

 

Item 6. Selected Financial Data

 

Not applicable.

 

31
 

 

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

Certain statements contained in this annual report are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act, and are subject to the “safe harbor” created by these sections. Future filings with the SEC, future press releases and future oral or written statements made by us or with our approval, which are not statements of historical fact, may also contain forward-looking statements. Because such statements include risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Some of the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements can be found under the caption “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A, and elsewhere in this annual report. The forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date on which they are made.

 

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with the financial statements and the accompanying notes for the years ended March 31, 2016 and 2017 appearing elsewhere in this annual report. Our actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A.

 

Company Overview

 

We were incorporated in the State of Nevada on June 29, 2007 and commenced operations as a mineral exploration company. On October 10, 2011, we completed a merger with our wholly-owned subsidiary, Stevia First Corp., whereby we changed our name from “Legend Mining Inc.” to “Stevia First Corp.” In February 2012, we substantially changed our management team, and began pursuing an agricultural biotechnology business plan.

 

In May 2016, we received shareholder and board approval for a name change to Vitality Biopharma, Inc., an exchange of one (1) share of the Company’s common stock for each 10 shares of common stock outstanding or exercisable under any outstanding warrants or option agreements and an increase in the number of shares of authorized common stock from 525,000,000 to 1,000,000,000. These changes became effective on July 20, 2016.

 

Our common stock is currently quoted on the OTC Markets Group’s OTCQB tier under the symbol “VBIO.” There is only a limited trading market for our common stock.

 

Plan of Operations

 

Vitality Biopharma is unlocking the power of cannabinoids for the treatment of serious neurological and inflammatory disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome, a form of severe opiate-induced bowel dysfunction.

 

We have developed a new class of cannabinoids known as cannabosides, which were discovered in 2015 through application of the company’s proprietary enzymatic bioprocessing technologies originally developed for stevia sweeteners. In 2016, we received approvals from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the State of California to initiate studies and manufacturing scale-up at its research and development facilities in order to develop cannabosides as a new class of cannabinoid pharmaceuticals.

 

Cannabosides are cannabinoid glycoside “prodrugs,” which means that they are medications or compounds that, after administration, are converted within the body into a pharmacologically active drug, which already has a long history of clinical investigation and use. A classic prodrug example is Aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, which was first made by Felix Hoffmann at Bayer in 1897 and is a synthetic prodrug of salicylic acid. Because there already exists independent verification of the active drug’s safety and efficacy, prodrugs may receive marketing approval more quickly than others, and in some cases may receive drug approvals through completion of small clinical studies evaluating bioequivalence or bioavailability. At the same time, a prodrug can have many commercial advantages, including that they can be proprietary and patentable compositions of matter, unlike cannabinoids themselves, or older pharmaceutical formulations where patent protection has already expired.

 

Cannabosides are more stable and soluble than cannabinoids, and upon oral delivery, have been documented to pass through the digestive tract and release within the large intestine or colon. This enables targeted delivery of cannabinoids for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Cannabosides enable the reduction or elimination of systemic delivery of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) into the bloodstream and brain, reducing psychoactive side effects, and enabling higher concentrations of compounds to be used for treatment of pain and inflammation. Because passage of cannabosides through the digestive tract is likely to occur over several hours or longer, there is a sustained or delayed release of cannabinoids, which can also provide patients with long-lasting or overnight relief, a desirable attribute that is unavailable with medical marijuana or with current cannabinoid pharmaceutical formulations.

 

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We have produced more than 25 novel cannabosides so far and have patent applications that include composition of matter claims for prodrugs of cannabinoids that have been studied extensively in clinical trials worldwide, including THC, cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarin (CBDV), and other phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Upon successful patent prosecution, protection would extend until 2035 and be available in all major markets worldwide. In addition, we have filed composition of matter claims on vanilloid glycoside compounds that target the TRPV receptors, which mediate pain relief. We aim to develop and approve these proprietary molecules as pharmaceuticals using a low-risk regulatory strategy that is available for prodrugs, and to amplify the benefits that have been evidenced through use of cannabinoids or medical marijuana for treatment of neurological and inflammatory conditions.

 

A key part of our strategy will be to take advantage of a more efficient FDA review and approval process that is available for prodrugs, which reduces the need for large and expensive clinical trials. Expedited regulatory processes may be available for our cannabosides because in the U.S. and internationally there have already been many independent preclinical and clinical studies completed using the reference cannabinoid drugs we are studying, and so existing clinical data may be submitted to drug regulatory agencies as supporting evidence of our compounds’ safety and efficacy.

 

We are initially developing our cannabosides drug formulations for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease as well as narcotic bowel syndrome, a severe form of opiate-induced abdominal pain.

 

For inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), there have been independently-conducted preclinical and clinical studies that have demonstrated the benefit of cannabinoids, and many U.S. states now permit the use of medical marijuana for IBD, including for treatment of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis patients. Independently-run retrospective clinical studies have found that in 56 patients who used cannabinoids with IBD that 83.9% of patients reported improvement in abdominal pain and 76.8% of patients reported improvement in abdominal cramping. In addition, in a prospective trial that was independently-managed and placebo-controlled, it was found that 45% of Crohn’s disease patients achieved remission through only 8 weeks of treatment. Patients reported improvements in sleep and appetite with no significant side effects, and some patients were able to eliminate use of corticosteroids and opiate pain medications. Patients experienced benefits with cannabis treatment despite being non-responders to traditional front-line therapies, such as corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and biologic TNF-alpha inhibitors.

 

Narcotic bowel syndrome (NBS) is a severe form of opiate-induced abdominal pain. In studies, more than half (58%) of opiate users have reported chronic abdominal pain. When opiate-induced abdominal pain is overlooked or misdiagnosed, potentially due to common gastrointestinal side effects like opiate-induced constipation, it may lead to a vicious cycle of dose escalation. While seeking pain relief, increasing the dose of opiate medications could lead both to worsening abdominal pain and to more severe drug addiction. Studies have reported that approximately 6% of opiate users have NBS, and that patients afflicted with this disorder report a quality-of-life that is worse than patients with quadriplegia. Independent preclinical studies have reported that endogenous opioid peptides may play a role within the intestinal tract in the development of inflammation, and that they act in a synergistic manner to opiates for pain relief, meaning that cannabinoids could enable opiate dose reduction without sacrificing pain relief. Independent clinical studies have confirmed this effect, where it was reported that cannabis provides additional pain relief to patients taking stable doses of opiates for chronic pain management, and that they also were reported to reduce the severity of common opiate withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea. Independent clinical studies have also found an inadequacy in current treatments for narcotic bowel syndrome, showing that 45.8% of patients had returned to using narcotics within only three months.

 

We plan to complete preclinical studies necessary to commence clinical trials in 2017, which will focus initially on evaluating the clinical pharmacokinetics and safety of cannabosides, as well as then evaluating their utility for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome. We plan to conduct additional preclinical studies also, which will evaluate the utility of cannabosides for providing symptomatic relief of chronic conditions such as neuropathic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and opiate-induced bowel dysfunction.

 

Our primary operations are based in Yuba City, California, where we originally developed our proprietary bioprocessing methods. The Company’s research and development facilities include laboratories and a manufacturing suite that will be used for pharmaceutical-grade production of cannabosides for clinical trials. Use of these facilities for our pharmaceutical development has been approved by the DEA as well as the State of California.

 

Our Operations

 

Product Development Plans

 

For each of the pharmaceutical products in our pipeline, the active cannabinoid pharmaceutical agents have either been independently approved by regulatory bodies, or are now in late-stage clinical trials, and there is extensive clinical data already available related to drug safety and effectiveness. Because of this, the Company will in general benefit from the increased familiarity of clinical investigators and regulators with these compounds, which may enable abbreviated paths towards clinical testing and eventual approval of its pharmaceutical products.

 

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Cannabinoids are known to be effective anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agents, and as of 2015, more than 20 U.S. states have enacted medical marijuana laws to permit access to cannabis for treatment of a variety of conditions. The approved disease indications include ones directly related to the drug indications we are targeting, as well as many others. The list includes chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy, wasting disorders, multiple sclerosis and muscle spasticity disorders, glaucoma, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s disease, nausea, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, and more. Cannabinoid pharmaceuticals are increasingly being approved as well, including primarily synthetic and botanical extracts of the two major constituents of Cannabis sativa, which are THC and CBD. Dronabinol is a synthetic THC drug that has been approved for treating nausea and for stimulating appetite. Nabiximols is a blend of two cannabinoids, THC and CBD, which has been approved in more than 20 countries for treatment of muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and also for treatment of cancer pain in certain countries.

 

CBD is not psychoactive, has established antianxiety and antipsychotic effects, and beyond its inclusion in nabiximols, has also been investigated independently by clinical researchers as a stand-alone agent for epilepsy, schizophrenia, inflammatory bowel disease, opiate dependence, and a variety of other neurological and inflammatory conditions. We intend to obtain marketing authorizations in one or more of these disease indications, while focusing initially on inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome.

 

Short Term Development Targets

 

  Complete efficacy and toxicology studies necessary to support clinical development of cannabosides
     
  Complete additional preclinical efficacy and pharmacology studies of cannabosides and cannaboside drug formulations that support lead drug indications as well as novel therapeutic applications
     
  Complete the manufacture of cannaboside drug formulations that will be used in initial clinical studies
     
  Obtain regulatory approval for first-in-man clinical studies to evaluate the pharmacokinetics of cannabosides, and to obtain preliminary data about their efficacy for providing relief of key symptoms that are common to inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome

 

We believe that our long-term commercial success and profit potential depends in large part on our ability to develop and advance proprietary cannabinoid prodrugs that are strongly differentiated from both medical cannabis and existing cannabinoid pharmaceuticals, and to do this more quickly, efficiently and effectively than our competitors. Another critical factor that will determine our success is our ability to obtain and enforce patents, maintain protection of trade secrets, and operate our business without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. As a result, we are dedicated to the continued development and protection of our intellectual property portfolio. See “Intellectual Property” in this report for a further discussion.

 

Product Pipeline

 

Our pipeline includes pharmaceutical formulations of cannabosides, which are cannabinoid glycoside prodrugs. Prodrugs are medications or compounds metabolized by the body into a pharmacologically active drug. We have patents pending for more than 25 of these novel pharmaceutical compositions including prodrugs of THC, CBD, and CBDV, which are cannabinoids that are either marketed and approved as pharmaceutical products today, or that are under investigation in independently-managed clinical trials currently. Prodrugs can optimize the marketability of a drug because they can be patented and proprietary, and yet still be approved through an abbreviated regulatory pathway.

 

VITA-100 is an oral cannabinoid formulation containing cannabosides that is being developed for acute treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and narcotic bowel syndrome. VITA-210 is an oral cannabinoid formulation containing cannabosides being investigated in preclinical studies for chronic treatment of neuropathic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and opioid-induced bowel dysfunction.

 

We believe that through a process called glycosylation, the solubility and stability of a drug can be significantly improved. Cannabinoid glycoside prodrugs and their use in drug formulations that we are currently developing are designed to enable significant benefits, including:

 

  1. Administration of cannabinoids in a convenient oral formulation;
     
  2. Targeted delivery of compounds to specific tissues or organs, especially targeted delivery of cannabinoids to the colon or large intestine, which can reduce or eliminate the delivery of psychoactive THC into the bloodstream and brain;
     
  3. Improved water solubility, leading to oral formulations that are easier to manufacture and formulate, and that improve the taste and tolerability of products through removal of harsh organic solvents;
     
  4. Improved stability, preventing conversion of CBD to unwanted byproducts including THC in the acidic stomach environment, or other forms of degradation, and therefore enabling higher doses to be administered orally; and
     
  5. Delayed release, enabling long-lasting and overnight relief for patients, rather than having to administer treatment repeatedly throughout the day and requiring additional sleep aids.

 

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Drug   Treatment Indications   Status
         
Cannabosides - VITA-100   Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Narcotic Bowel Syndrome   Phase 1/2 Trial Expected to Initiate in 2017
         
Cannabosides - VITA-210   Neuropathic Pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colorectal Cancer, Clostridium Difficile Infections, Muscle Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis & Rare White Matter Disorders, Opiate-Induced Bowel Dysfunction   Phase 1 Trial Expected to Initiate in 2017
         
Additional Cannabosides Formulations   Epilepsy, Schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, Guillain-Barré   Preclinical

 

We also have licensed intellectual property that seeks to protect methods of use of certain FDA-approved drugs for treatment of multiple sclerosis and demyelinating disorders. These drugs are being tested in combination with our cannaboside drug formulations in order to establish treatment regimens that provide regenerative effects for patients with serious neurological and inflammatory conditions.

 

Additional Operations

 

Our glycosylation technology in the past was applied primarily to production of better tasting varieties of stevia through enzyme bioprocessing, which was developed in concert with additional technologies designed to improve the taste and yield of stevia sweetener derived from the stevia plant. We have an intellectual property portfolio related to stevia, as well as commercial operations related to the manufacture and sale of research products that commenced in 2014. We intend to sustain these operations and technologies in a manner that is cash-flow neutral or better, through a combination of restructuring of existing agreements and entering into new licensing arrangements or strategic partnerships.

 

In May 2014, we purchased the assets of a Percipio Biosciences, Inc., which produced and sold research products, and which we continue to sell under their existing brand names. These products are sold primarily to research universities and companies in the United States and through a network of research product distributors internationally. The tests enable measurement by life science researchers of biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative signaling and stress. The kits and products include antibodies, enzymes, as well as specialty chemicals.

 

Critical Accounting Policies

 

Our financial statements and accompanying notes have been prepared in accordance with United States generally accepted accounting principles applied on a consistent basis. The preparation of financial statements in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting periods.

 

We regularly evaluate the accounting policies and estimates that we use to prepare our financial statements. In general, management’s estimates are based on historical experience, on information from third party professionals, and on various other assumptions that are believed to be reasonable under the facts and circumstances. Actual results could differ from those estimates made by management.

 

We believe the following critical accounting policies require us to make significant judgments and estimates in the preparation of our financial statements.

 

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Use of Estimates and Assumptions

 

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the period. Actual results could differ from those estimates. The more significant estimates and assumption by management include, among others, estimated allowances of uncollectible receivables, the fair value of equity instruments issued for services, and assumptions used in the valuation of derivative liabilities.

 

Stock-Based Compensation

 

We periodically issue stock options and warrants to employees and non-employees in non-capital raising transactions, for services and for financing costs. The Company accounts for share-based payments under the guidance as set forth in the Share-Based Payment Topic of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”), which requires the measurement and recognition of compensation expense for all share-based payment awards made to employees, officers, directors, and consultants, including employee stock options, based on estimated fair values. The Company estimates the fair value of share-based payment awards to employees and directors on the date of grant using a Black-Scholes-Merton option-pricing model, and the value of the portion of the award that is ultimately expected to vest is recognized as expense over the required service period in the Company's statements of operations. The Company accounts for stock option and warrant grants issued and vesting to non-employees in accordance with the authoritative guidance whereas the value of the stock compensation is based upon the measurement date as determined at either a) the date at which a performance commitment is reached, or b) the date at which the necessary performance to earn the equity instruments is complete. Stock-based compensation is based on awards ultimately expected to vest and is reduced for estimated forfeitures. Forfeitures are estimated at the time of grant and revised, as necessary, in subsequent periods if actual forfeitures differ from those estimates.

 

Revenues

 

Revenue is measured at the fair value of the consideration received or receivable and represents amounts receivable for products and/or services that have been delivered in the normal course of business, title has passed, the selling price is both fixed and determinable, and collectability is reasonably assured, all of which generally occurs upon shipment of the Company’s product or delivery of the product to the destination specified by the customer.

 

The Company determines whether delivery has occurred based on when title transfers and the risks and rewards of ownership have transferred to the buyer, which usually occurs when the Company ships the products. The Company regularly reviews its customers’ financial positions to ensure that collectability is reasonably assured. Except for warranties, the Company has no post-sales obligations.

 

Derivative Financial Instruments

 

We evaluate our financial instruments to determine if such instruments are derivatives or contain features that qualify as embedded derivatives. For derivative financial instruments that are accounted for as liabilities, the derivative instrument is initially recorded at its fair value and is then re-valued at each reporting date, with changes in the fair value reported in the statements of operations. For stock-based derivative financial instruments, we use a probability weighted average Black-Scholes-Merton models to value the derivative instruments at inception and on subsequent valuation dates through the March 31, 2017 reporting date. The classification of derivative instruments, including whether such instruments should be recorded as liabilities or as equity, is evaluated at the end of each reporting period. Derivative instrument liabilities are classified in the balance sheet as current or non-current based on whether or not net-cash settlement of the derivative instrument could be required within 12 months of the balance sheet date.

 

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

 

Please refer to Footnote 2 of the accompanying financial statements for management’s discussion of recent accounting pronouncements.

 

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Results of Operations

 

Fiscal Years Ended March 31, 2017 and March 31, 2016

 

The following table sets forth our results of operations for the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016.

 

    Twelve Months Ended March 31,  
    2017     2016  
             
Revenues   $ 163,363     $ 248,348  
Cost of goods sold     108,255       149,478  
Gross profit     55,108       98,870  
                 
Operating Expenses:                
                 
General and Administrative    

2,605,097

      2,196,922  
Rent and other related party costs     27,600       30,600  
Research & development     893,960       613,119  
Loss from operations     (3,471,549 )     (2,741,771 )
                 
Other income (expenses)                
Cost to induce exercise of warrants     -       -  
Interest expense     (1,010 )     (363 )
Change in fair value of derivative liability     (1,746,821 )     2,600,809  
                 
Net loss   $ (5,219,380 )   $ (141,325 )

 

On May 16, 2014, we entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Percipio to purchase certain assets of Percipio for $50,000, which was allocated based upon the fair value of the acquired assets, as determined by management. As a result of the acquisition, the results of our operations utilizing those assets were included in the Company’s financial statements since May 17, 2014.

 

During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, we generated $163,363 in revenue, compared to sales of $248,348 during the year ended March 31, 2016. Our cost of goods sold were $108,255 and $149,478, resulting in gross profit of $55,108 and $98,870 for the year ended March 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively.

 

Our net loss during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 was $5,219,380 compared to a net loss of $141,325 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 (an increase in net loss of $5,078,055).

 

During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, we incurred general and administrative expenses in the aggregate amount of $2,605,097 compared to $2,196,922 incurred during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 (an increase of $408,175). General and administrative expenses generally include corporate overhead, salaries and other compensation costs, financial and administrative contracted services, marketing, consulting costs and travel expenses. A significant portion of these costs are related to the development of our organizational capabilities as a biotechnology company, including costs such as legal and advisory fees related to intellectual property development. In addition, during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, we incurred research and development costs of $893,960 compared to $613,119 incurred during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 (an increase of $280,841). During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, we incurred related party rent and other costs totaling $27,600 compared to $30,600 incurred during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 (a decrease of $3,000). Also during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, we incurred stock-based compensation totaling $1,762,725 compared to $906,256 incurred during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 (an increase of $856,469), which are allocated between general and administrative expenses and research & development expenses during the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016.

 

This resulted in a loss from operations of $3,471,549 during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 compared to a loss from operations of $2,741,771 during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016, (an increase of $729,778).

 

During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, we recorded total net other expense in the amount of $1,747,831, compared to total net other income recorded during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 in the amount of $2,600,446. During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, we incurred interest expense of $1,010 compared to $363 incurred during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 (an increase of $647). We recorded a loss related to the change in fair value of derivatives of $1,746,821 during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, compared to a gain of $2,600,809 during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016. This resulted in a net loss of $5,219,380 during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 compared to a net loss of $141,325 during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 (an increase of $5,078,055).

 

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The increase in net loss during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 is attributable to loss related to the change in fair value of derivatives and higher general and administrative and research and development expenses.

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

As of March 31, 2017, we had recorded revenues of $163,363 from sales of products or services. We have incurred losses since inception resulting in an accumulated deficit of $17,735,939 as of March 31, 2017, and further losses are anticipated in the development of our business. In their report on our annual financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, our independent auditors included an explanatory paragraph regarding concerns about our ability to continue as a going concern, which means there is substantial doubt that we can continue as an on-going business unless we obtain additional capital or generate sufficient cash from our operations. Our financial statements have been prepared assuming that we will continue as a going concern and, accordingly, do not include adjustments relating to the recoverability and realization of assets and classification of liabilities that might be necessary should we be unable to continue in operation.

 

The continuation of our business is dependent upon us raising additional capital and eventually attaining and maintaining profitable operations. We do not have any firm commitments for future capital. We do not presently have, nor do we expect in the near future to have, material revenue to fund our business from our operations, and we will need to obtain all of our necessary funding from external sources in the near term. We may not be able to obtain additional financing on commercially reasonable or acceptable terms, when needed, or at all. If we cannot raise the money that we need in order to continue to develop our business, we will be forced to delay, scale back or eliminate some or all of our proposed operations. If any of these were to occur, there is a substantial risk that our business would fail and our stockholders could lose all of their investment.

 

As of March 31, 2017, we had total current assets of $1,175,022. Our total current assets as of March 31, 2017 were comprised of cash in the amount of $1,152,766, accounts receivable, net, of $19,198, and prepaid expenses in the amount of $3,058. Our total current liabilities as of March 31, 2017 were $800,654, represented primarily by accounts payable and accrued liabilities of $373,696, accrued compensation of $151,667, accounts payable to a related party of $34,500, and derivative liability of $240,791. The derivative liability is a non-cash item related to our outstanding warrants, as described in Note 2 to our financial statements. As a result, on March 31, 2017, we had a working capital of $374,368. We had no long term liabilities as of March 31, 2017, or as of March 31, 2016.

 

Sources of Capital

 

In May 2015, the Company entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement with seven purchasers for the sale of an of aggregate of 500,000 shares of the Company’s common stock, and warrants to purchase an aggregate of 1,250,006 shares of the Company’s common stock for total gross proceeds of $1,500,000, or a sales price of $3.00 per share (the “May 2015 Offering”). The May 2015 Offering closed on May 11, 2015. The Company incurred $208,426 direct costs, fees and expenses in connection with the Offering, resulting in net cash proceeds to the Company of $1,291,574. The warrants to purchase an aggregate of 1,250,006 issued to the purchasers in the Offering were issued in three tranches: Series A Warrants to purchase up to an aggregate of 500,002 shares of the Company’s common stock, with exercise price of $4.50 per share, and a term of 5 years; Series B Warrants to purchase up to an aggregate of 500,002 shares of the Company’s common stock, with exercise price of $3.50 per share, and a term of 9 months; and Series C Warrants to purchase up to an aggregate of 250,002 shares of the Company’s common stock, with exercise price of $4.00 per share, and a term of 1 year; all of which are exercisable immediately (the Series A Warrants, the Series B Warrants and the Series C Warrants, collectively, the “Warrants”). The Company also issued warrants to purchase up to 40,000 shares of the Company’s common stock (the “Placement Agent Warrants”) to H.C. Wainwright & Co., LLC as placement agent to the Offering. The Placement Agent Warrants have an exercise price of $3.75 per share, a term of 5 years, and are exercisable immediately.

 

On August 19, 2016, we filed a resale registration statement on Form S-1 (“Form S-1”) with the SEC to register 2,650,000 shares of our common stock and 7,950,000 shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of certain warrants. We received a letter from the Washington D.C. office of the SEC dated December 10, 2016, stating that the staff of the SEC was conducting a Section 8(e) examination with respect to this Form S-1 and that the Division of Corporate Finance would not take any further action on the Form S-1 while the examination was pending. We received subpoenas to produce documents dated December 14, 2016, and January 23, 2017, and a further subpoena for testimony and any supplemental production of documents dated June 5, 2017. The document requests were primarily in connection with this matter. We have complied with all document requests and the Company’s CEO will provide testimony in July 2017.

 

On March 9, 2017, we entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement with certain accredited investors, pursuant to which we issued to the purchasers an aggregate of 1,500,000 shares of the Company’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share at a price of US$1.00 per share, for the aggregate purchase price of US$1,500,000, which closed on March 9, 2017.

 

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We have generated $163,363 in revenue during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017. We believe that revenue in the near term, will be less than necessary to support our business and pursue our operational plans without obtaining additional financing. We currently have no commitments for any future funding. As of March 31, 2017, we had cash in the amount of $1,152,766. As discussed under the heading “Plan of Operations” above, our total expenditures over the 12 months following March 31, 2017, are expected to be approximately $3,000,000. As of the date of this annual report we expect to have sufficient funds to operate our business over the next 9 months. However, our estimate of total expenditures could increase if we encounter unanticipated difficulties. In addition, our estimates of the amount of cash necessary to fund our business may prove to be wrong, and we could spend our available financial resources much faster than we currently expect. If we cannot raise the capital we need in order to continue to develop our business, we will be forced to delay, scale back or eliminate some or all of our proposed operations. If any of these were to occur, there is a substantial risk that our business would fail.

 

Since inception, we have primarily funded our operations through equity and debt financings. We expect to continue to fund our operations primarily through equity and debt financings in the foreseeable future. However, sources of additional funds may not be available when needed, on acceptable terms, or at all. If we issue equity or convertible debt securities to raise additional funds, our existing stockholders may experience substantial dilution, and the new equity or debt securities may have rights, preferences and privileges senior to those of our existing stockholders. If we incur additional debt, it may increase our leverage relative to our earnings or to our equity capitalization, requiring us to pay additional interest expenses. Obtaining commercial loans, assuming those loans would be available, would increase our liabilities and future cash commitments. If we pursue capital through alternative sources, such as collaborations or other similar arrangements, we may be forced to relinquish rights to our proprietary technology or other intellectual property and could result in our receipt of only a portion of any revenue that may be generated from a partnered product or business. Moreover, regardless of the manner in which we seek to raise capital, we may incur substantial costs in those pursuits, including investment banking fees, legal fees, accounting fees, printing and distribution expenses and other related costs.

 

Net Cash Used in Operating Activities

 

We have not generated positive cash flows from operating activities. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, net cash used in operating activities was $1,384,697 compared to net cash used in operating activities of $1,685,841 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016. This increase is due to a loss related to our derivative liability in the 2017 period compared to gains during the 2016 period offset by larger costs related to vested stock options in the 2017 fiscal year. Net cash used in operating activities during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 consisted primarily of a net loss of $5,219,380 and offset by $1,746,821 related to the change in fair value of derivative liability, $1,762,725 related to stock-based compensation. Net cash used in operating activities during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 consisted primarily of a net loss of $141,325 and $2,600,809 related to the change in fair value of derivative liability, offset by $906,256 related to stock-based compensation.

 

Net Cash Provided By Financing Activities

 

During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, net cash provided by financing activities was $2,442,030 compared to net cash provided by financing activities of $1,391,544 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016. Net cash provided by financing activities during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017 consisted primarily of $1,665,030 received from the sale of common stock and warrants and $777,000 received from warrant exercises. Net cash provided by financing activities during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 consisted primarily of $1,291,574 received from the sale of common stock and warrants.

 

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

 

We have no significant off-balance sheet arrangements that have or are reasonably likely to have a current or future effect on our financial condition, changes in financial condition, revenues or expenses, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures or capital resources that would be material to stockholders.

 

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Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

The financial statements required by this item are set forth at the end of this annual report beginning on page F-1 and are incorporated herein by reference.

 

Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 9A. Controls and Procedures

 

Disclosure Controls and Procedures

 

Under the supervision and with the participation of our principal executive and financial officer, our management conducted an evaluation of our disclosure controls and procedures, as such term is defined in Rule 13a-15(e) under the Exchange Act, as of the end of the period covered by this report. Based on this evaluation, our principal executive and financial officer concluded that as of March 31, 2017, our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective to provide reasonable assurance that information required to be disclosed by us in reports we file or submit under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms, and is accumulated and communicated to our management, including our principal executive and financial officer, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosures. The conclusion that our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective was due to the presence of material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting, as that term is defined in Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f) under the Exchange Act. In light of the material weaknesses identified by management, we performed additional analyses and procedures in order to conclude that our financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2017 are fairly presented, in all material respects, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

 

Description of Material Weaknesses and Management’s Remediation Initiatives

 

As of the date of this report, our remediation efforts continue related to each of the material weaknesses that we have identified in our internal control over financial reporting, and additional time and resources will be required in order to fully address these material weaknesses. We have not been able to complete all actions necessary and test the remediated controls in a manner that would enable us to conclude that such controls are effective. We are committed to implementing the necessary controls to remediate the material weaknesses described below as our resources permit. These material weaknesses will not be considered remediated until (1) the new processes are designed, appropriately controlled and implemented for a sufficient period of time and (2) we have sufficient evidence that the new processes and related controls are operating effectively. The following is a list of the material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting identified by management as of March 31, 2017:

 

(1) Insufficient segregation of duties in our finance and accounting functions due to limited personnel .During the year ended March 31, 2017, we internally performed all aspects of our financial reporting process, including, but not limited to, access to the underlying accounting records and systems, the ability to post and record journal entries and responsibility for the preparation of the financial statements. Due to the fact that these duties were often performed by the same person, there was a lack of review over the financial reporting process that might result in a failure to detect errors in spreadsheets, calculations, or assumptions used to compile the financial statements and related disclosures as filed with the SEC. These control deficiencies could result in a material misstatement to our interim or annual financial statements that would not be prevented or detected.

 

(2) Insufficient corporate governance policies. We have only one independent member on our board of directors, resulting in ineffective oversight in the establishment and monitoring of required internal controls and procedures.

 

We intend to take appropriate and reasonable steps to make the necessary improvements to remediate these material weaknesses and we intend to consider the results of our remediation efforts and conduct related testing as part of our next year-end assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.

 

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Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, as such term is defined in Exchange Act Rule 13a-15(f). Under the supervision and with the participation of our management, including our principal executive and financial officer, we conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of March 31, 2017 based on the criteria set forth in Internal Control—Integrated Framework issued in 2013 by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. Based on this evaluation, our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was not effective as of March 31, 2017, and identified the material weaknesses described above.

 

This annual report does not include an attestation report of our independent registered public accounting firm regarding internal control over financial reporting. Management’s report was not subject to attestation by our independent registered public accounting firm pursuant to the rules of the SEC that permit us to provide only management's report in this annual report.

 

Changes in Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

Other than the ongoing remediation efforts identified above, there were no changes in our internal control over financial reporting during the fourth quarter of our 2017 fiscal year that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.

 

Inherent Limitations on Internal Control

 

A control system, no matter how well conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. Further, the benefits of controls must be considered relative to their costs. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that all control issues and instances of fraud, if any, have been detected. These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision making can be faulty, and that breakdowns can occur because of simple errors. Additionally, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people, or by management override of the control. The design of any system of controls is also based in part upon certain assumptions about the likelihood of future events, and there can be no assurance that any design will succeed in achieving its stated goals under all potential future conditions. Because of the inherent limitations in a cost-effective control system, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected.

 

Item 9B. Other Information

 

None.

 

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PART III

 

Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

Set forth below is certain information regarding our current directors and executive officers:

 

Name   Position   Age   Director/Executive Officer Since
Dr. Avtar Dhillon (2)(3)(4)   Chairman of the Board of Directors   55   August 2011
Dr. Anthony Maida III (1)(2)(3)   Director   65   March 2012
Robert Brooke (5)   Chief Executive Officer and Director   37   January 2012

 

(1) Member of Audit Committee

(2) Member of Compensation Committee

(3) Member of Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee

(4) Member of Financing Committee

(5) Currently serves as our only executive officer.

 

Business Experience

 

The following is a brief account of the education and business experience of our current directors and executive officers:

 

Dr. Avtar Dhillon has served as the Chairman of our Board of Directors since January 31, 2012 and has served as a director since August 17, 2011. Dr. Dhillon also served as our Interim Principal Executive and Financial Officer from August 17, 2011 until January 31, 2012. Dr. Dhillon has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of OncoSec Medical Incorporated (NASDAQ: ONCS) since March 2011, and of Arch Therapeutics since April 2013, after serving as a director since May 2011. Dr. Dhillon served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (formerly Inovio Biomedical Corporation) (NASDAQ: INO) from October 2001 to June 2009, as President and Chairman of Inovio from June 2009 until October 2009, as Executive Chairman from October 2009 until August 2011, and as Chairman from September 2011. During his tenure at Inovio, Dr. Dhillon led the successful turnaround of the company through a restructuring, acquisition of technology from several European and North American companies, and a merger with VGX Pharmaceuticals to develop a vertically integrated DNA vaccine development company. Dr. Dhillon led multiple successful financings for Inovio and concluded several licensing deals that included multinational companies, Merck and Wyeth (now Pfizer). Prior to joining Inovio, Dr. Dhillon held roles of increasing responsibility with MDS Capital Corp. (now Lumira Capital Corp.), one of North America's leading healthcare venture capital organizations, from August 1998 until September 2001. In July 1989, Dr. Dhillon started a medical clinic and subsequently practiced family medicine for over 12 years until September 2001. Dr. Dhillon has been instrumental in successfully turning around struggling companies and influential as an active member in the biotech community. From March 1997 to July 1998, Dr. Dhillon was a consultant to CardiomePharma Corp. (“Cardiome”), a biotechnology company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. While at Cardiome, Dr. Dhillon led a turnaround based on three pivotal financings, establishing a clinical development strategy, and procuring a new management team. In his role as a founder and board member of companies, Dr. Dhillon has been involved in several early stage healthcare focused companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange, which have successfully matured through advances in their development pipeline and subsequent merger and acquisition transactions. He was a founding board member in February 2004 of Protox Therapeutics, Inc. (“Protox”), now a publicly traded specialty pharmaceutical company known as Sophiris Bio Inc. Dr. Dhillon maintained his board position at Protox until the execution of a financing with Warburg Pincus in November 2010. Dr. Dhillon currently sits on the Board of Directors of BC Advantage Funds, a venture capital corporation in British Columbia, and has held this role since November 2003. Dr. Dhillon brings extensive experience in biotechnology companies to our Board of Directors, as well as significant experience with obtaining financing and pursuing and completing strategic transactions. He has valuable experience serving on the Board of Directors of other publicly traded and privately held companies.

 

Dr. Anthony Maida, III joined our Board of Directors in March 2012. Dr. Maida has served on the Board of Directors of OncoSec Medical Incorporated since June 2011 and currently serves as the Chair of its Audit Committee and as a member of its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Dr. Maida has served on the Board of Directors of Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ GS: SPPI) since December 2003 and currently serves as the Chair of its Audit Committee and a member of its Compensation Committee, Placement Committee, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and Product Acquisition Committee. He is currently Senior Vice President – Clinical Research (from June 2011) at Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc., a company focused on the development of therapeutic DC cell based vaccines to treat patients with cancer. Dr. Maida serves as Principal of Anthony Maida Consulting International (since September 1999), providing consulting services to large and small biopharmaceutical firms in the clinical development of oncology products and product acquisitions and to venture capital firms evaluating life science investment opportunities. Recently Dr. Maida was Vice President of Clinical Research and General Manager, Oncology, world-wide (from August 2010 to June 2011) for PharmaNet, Inc. He served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Replicon NeuroTherapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the therapy of patients with tumors (both primary and metastatic) of the central nervous system, where he successfully raised financing from both venture capital and strategic investors and was responsible for all financial and operational aspects of the company, from June 2001 to July 2003. He was also President (from December 2000 to December 2001) of CancerVax Corporation, a biotechnology company dedicated to the treatment of cancer. Dr. Maida also served as Vice President of Finance for Lockheed DataPlan, a subsidiary of Lockheed Corporation and Senior Control for Lockheed Missiles and Space, MSD. He has been a speaker at industry conferences and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for Cancer Research, the Society of Neuro-Oncology, the American Chemical Society and the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer. Dr. Maida received a B.A. in History from Santa Clara University in 1975, a B.A. in Biology from San Jose State University in 1977, an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in 1978, an M.A. in Toxicology from San Jose State University in 1986 and a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of California, Davis, in 2010. We believe that his financial and operational experience in our industry will provide important resources to our Board.

 

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Robert Brooke has served as a director and our Chief Executive Officer since January 31, 2012, and previously served as our Vice President of Business Development beginning in October 2011. Mr. Brooke was a founder of Lion Biotechnologies, Inc., formerly Genesis Biopharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: LBIO), a cancer drug development company, where he also served as Director, President and Chief Executive Officer from March 2010 until February 2011. Mr. Brooke is a co-founder of Intervene Immune, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company focused on immune regeneration, and since March 2014 has served on a limited part-time basis as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Brooke was the founder of Percipio Biosciences, Inc., a privately held research diagnostics company that manufactures and distributes products related to oxidative stress research, and served as its President, on a limited part-time basis, from 2008 until its assets were acquired in June 2013. From 2004 to 2008, he was an analyst with Bristol Capital Advisors, LLC, investment manager to Bristol Investment Fund, Ltd. (“Bristol”). During this period, Bristol financed over 60 public healthcare and life science companies and was listed by The PIPEs Report in 2005 as being the most active investor in private placements by public biotechnology companies. Mr. Brooke earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2003 and a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from UCLA in 2005. Mr. Brooke provides our Board of Directors with public and private capital raising experience, as well as experience in leading early stage biotechnology companies.

 

Term of Office

 

In accordance with our Bylaws, our directors are elected at each annual meeting of stockholders and serve until the next annual meeting of stockholders or until their successor has been duly elected and qualified, or until their earlier death, resignation or removal.

 

Committees of the Board of Directors

 

On August 24, 2012, our Board of Directors established an Audit Committee, a Compensation Committee, a Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, and a Finance Committee, each of which has the composition and responsibilities described below.

 

Audit Committee

 

The Audit Committee of our Board of Directors consists of only Dr. Maida, who serves as Chairman. Our Board of Directors has determined that the sole member of our Audit Committee is independent within the meaning of applicable SEC rules and Nasdaq Listing Rules, and has determined that Dr. Maida is an audit committee financial expert, as such term is defined in the rules and regulations of the SEC, and is financially sophisticated within the meaning of the Nasdaq Listing Rules. The Audit Committee has oversight responsibilities regarding, among other things: the preparation of our financial statements and our financial reporting and disclosure processes; the administration, maintenance and review of our system of internal controls regarding accounting compliance; our practices and processes relating to internal audits of our financial statements; the appointment of our independent registered public accounting firm and the review of its qualifications and independence; the review of reports, written statements and letters from our independent registered public accounting firm; and our compliance with legal and regulatory requirements in connection with the foregoing. Our Board of Directors has adopted a written charter for our audit committee, which is available on our website, www.vitality.bio.

 

Compensation Committee

 

The Compensation Committee of our Board of Directors consists of Dr. Dhillon and Dr. Maida, with Dr. Dhillon serving as Chairman. Our Board of Directors has also determined that Dr. Maida is independent within the meaning of applicable Nasdaq Listing Rules. The duties of our Compensation Committee include, without limitation: reviewing, approving and administering compensation programs and arrangements to ensure that they are effective in attracting and retaining key employees and reinforcing business strategies and objectives; determining the objectives of our executive officer compensation programs and the specific objectives relating to CEO compensation, including evaluating the performance of the CEO in light of those objectives; approving the compensation of our other executive officers and our directors; administering our as-in-effect incentive-compensation and equity-based plans; and producing an annual report on executive officer compensation for inclusion in our proxy statement, when required and in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. Our Board of Directors has adopted a written charter for our compensation committee, which is available on our website, www.vitality.bio.

 

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Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee

 

The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of our Board of Directors consists of Dr. Dhillon and Dr. Maida, with Dr. Dhillon serving as Chairman. Our Board of Directors has also determined that Dr. Maida is independent within the meaning of applicable Nasdaq Listing Rules. The responsibilities of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee include, without limitation: assisting in the identification of nominees for election to our Board of Directors, consistent with approved qualifications and criteria; determining the composition of the Board of Directors and its committees; recommending to the Board of Directors the director nominees for the annual meeting of stockholders; establishing and monitoring a process of assessing the effectiveness of the Board of Directors; developing and overseeing a set of corporate governance guidelines and procedures; and overseeing the evaluation of our directors and executive officers. Our Board of Directors has adopted a written charter for our nominating and corporate governance committee, which is available on our website, www.vitality.bio.

 

Financing Committee

 

Dr. Avtar Dhillon is the Chairman and sole member of our Financing Committee. The Financing Committee does not currently have a charter. The Financing Committee has responsibilities relating to our efforts to obtain adequate funding to finance our development programs and operations.

 

Family Relationships

 

No family relationships exist between any of the directors or executive officers of the Company.

 

Code of Business Conduct and Ethics

 

Our Board of Directors has adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics as described in applicable SEC rules that applies to our principal executive officer, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer or controller, or persons performing similar functions, as well as our other employees. The Code of Business Conduct and Ethics is available for review on our website at www.vitality.bio.

 

Section 16(a) Beneficial Ownership Reporting Compliance

 

Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act requires our executive officers and directors and persons who own more than 10% of a registered class of our equity securities to file reports of ownership on Form 3 and changes in ownership on Form 4 or Form 5 with the SEC. Such executive officers, directors and 10% stockholders are also required by SEC rules to furnish us with copies of all Section 16(a) reports they file.

 

To our knowledge, based solely on our review of the copies of such forms received by us or written representations from certain reporting persons that no other forms were required for such persons, we believe that, during our fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, our executive officers, directors and 10% stockholders complied with all applicable Section 16(a) filing requirements.

 

Item 11. Executive Compensation

 

The following table summarizes all compensation recorded by us in each of the fiscal years ended March 31, 2017 and March 31, 2016 for (i) our current principal executive and financial officer, and (ii) our next most highly compensated executive officer other than our principal executive officer and principal financial officer serving as an executive officer at the end of our 2017 fiscal year and whose total compensation exceeded $100,000 in our 2017 fiscal year (of which there were none).

 

Summary Compensation Table

 

Name  Fiscal Year   Salary ($)   Stock Awards (non-cash)   Total ($) 
                 
Robert Brooke, Chief Executive Officer (principal executive and financial officer)   2017    150,000    184,940(1)   334,940 
                     
    2016    150,000    -    150,000 

 

(1)  Includes amortization of an option to purchase 415,000 shares of common stock a grant of 510,585 shares of restricted commons stock both granted in July 2016.

 

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Employment Agreements

 

On January 31, 2012, our Board of Directors appointed Robert Brooke as our Chief Executive Officer, Secretary, Treasurer, and director. On January 31, 2012, we entered into an Executive Employment Agreement with Mr. Brooke. Under the agreement, Mr. Brooke received an initial annual base salary of $100,000 and is eligible to participate in the benefits made generally available to similarly-situated executives. His annual base salary increased to $125,000 in March 2013 and to $150,000 in July 2013. The agreement further provides that if Mr. Brooke is terminated other than for cause, death or disability, he is entitled to receive severance payments equal to six months of his base salary. If Mr. Brooke terminates his employment with us with good reason following a change of control, Mr. Brooke is entitled to receive severance payments equal to 12 months of his base salary. Severance payments will be reduced by any remuneration paid to Mr. Brooke because of Mr. Brooke’s employment or self-employment during the applicable severance period. The Executive Employment Agreement had an initial term of two years.

 

Under the Executive Employment Agreement, termination for “good reason” means a termination by Mr. Brooke following the occurrence of any of the following events without Mr. Brooke’s consent within six months of a change of control: (a) a change in Mr. Brooke’s position that materially reduces his level of responsibility; (b) a material reduction in Mr. Brooke’s base salary, except for reductions that are comparable to reductions generally applicable to similarly situated executives of the Company; and (c) relocation of Mr. Brooke’s principal place of employment more than 25 miles. The term “change of control” is defined as a change in ownership or control of the Company effected through a merger, consolidation or acquisition by any person or related group of persons (other than an acquisition by the Company, a Company-sponsored employee benefit plan or by a person or persons that directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with, the Company) of beneficial ownership (within the meaning of Rule 13d-3 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934) of securities possessing more than 50% of the total combined voting power of the outstanding securities of the Company.

 

Outstanding Equity Awards at Fiscal Year-End

 

As of March 31, 2017, 1) Dr. Dhillon held an option to purchase 50,000 shares of common stock, which vested and became exercisable in full on April 1, 2012, and an option to purchase 40,000 shares of common stock, 10,000 of which vested and became fully exercisable on each of November 21, 2015, May 21, 2016, November 21, 2016 and May 21, 2017; 2) Dr. Maida held an option to purchase 10,000 shares of common stock, 2,500 of which vested and became fully exercisable on each of November 21, 2015, May 21, 2016, November 21, 2016 and May 21, 2017, and an option to purchase 92,559 shares of common stock, 23,140 of which vested and became fully exercisable on January 1, 2017, and 23,140 of which will vest on each of July 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018, and 23,139 of which will vest on July 1, 2018. ; and 3) Mr. Brooke held an option to purchase 40,000 shares of common stock, 10,000 of which vested and became fully exercisable on each of November 21, 2015, May 21, 2016, November 21, 2016 and May 21, 2017. and an option to purchase 415,000 shares of common stock, 103,750 of which vested and became fully exercisable on January 1, 2017, and 103,750 of which will vest on each of July 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018, and 23,139 of which will vest on July 1, 2018.

 

Compensation of Directors

 

We have no formal plan for compensating our directors for service in their capacities as director, although directors are entitled to reimbursement for reasonable travel and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with attendance at meetings of our Board of Directors.

 

Dr. Dhillon and Dr. Maida served as our non-employee directors during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017. Dr. Avtar Dhillon, the Chairman of our Board of Directors and of several of our board committees, received total cash compensation of $110,000 for such services during our fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, and Dr. Maida received $30,000 total cash compensation for his services as a director during our fiscal year ended March 31, 2017.

 

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Director Compensation Table

 

The following table shows compensation paid to our non-employee directors during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017:

 

Name  Fees earned or paid in cash   Stock awards (non-cash)(1)   All other compensation   Total 
                 
Dr. Avtar Dhillon (1)  $110,000   $198,340   $-   $308,340 
                     
Dr. Anthony Maida (1)  $30,000   $16,622   $-   $46,226 

 

(1) As of March 31, 2017, the aggregate number of stock and option awards held by each of our non-employee directors was as follows: (i) Dr. Avtar Dhillon held a stock award of 925,585 shares of our common stock and option awards to purchase 90,000 shares of our common stock, and (ii) Dr. Anthony Maida, III, held a stock award of 10,000 shares of our common stock and option awards to purchase 102,559 shares of our common stock.

 

Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

The following table sets forth certain information regarding the beneficial ownership of our common stock by (i) each person who, to our knowledge, beneficially owns more than 5% of our common stock, (ii) each of our directors and named executive officers, and (iii) all of our current executive officers and directors as a group. Unless otherwise indicated in the footnotes to the following table, the address of each person named in the table is: c/o Vitality Biopharma, Inc., 1907 Avenue of the Stars, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, California 90067. Shares of our common stock subject to options, warrants, convertible notes or other rights currently exercisable or exercisable within 60 days after June 27, 2017, are deemed to be beneficially owned and outstanding for computing the share ownership and percentage of the person holding such options, warrants, convertible notes or other rights, but are not deemed outstanding for computing the beneficial ownership percentage of any other person.

 

Name of Beneficial Owner  Number of Shares Beneficially Owned   Percentage Beneficially Owned (1) 
Directors and Named Executive Officers:          
Dr. Avtar Dhillon (2)   1,530,585    6.9%
Dr. Anthony Maida, III (3)   112,559    * 
Robert Brooke (4)   1,222,835    5.5%
Current Directors and Executive Officers as a Group (3 persons)   2,865,979    12.9%

 

*Less than 1%

 

(1)

Based on 22,265,180 shares of our common stock issued and outstanding as of June 27, 2017. Except as otherwise indicated, we believe that the beneficial owners of the common stock listed above, based on information furnished by such owners, have sole investment and voting power with respect to such shares, subject to community property laws where applicable. Beneficial ownership is determined in accordance with the rules of the SEC and generally includes voting or investment power with respect to securities.

   
(2) Includes an option to purchase 50,000 shares of common stock, which vested and became exercisable in full on April 1, 2012, an option to purchase 40,000 shares of common stock, 10,000 of which vested and became fully exercisable on each of November 21, 2015, May 21, 2016, November 21, 2016 and May 21, 2017, and a grant of 925,585 shares of restricted common stock, 462,793 of which will vest on January 1, 2018 and 463,792 of which will vest on March 1, 2018.
   
(3) Includes 10,000 shares of restricted common stock granted to Dr. Maida on July 30, 2012, 3,334 of which vested on January 1, 2013, and 3,333 on each of January 1, 2014 and January 1, 2015, an option to purchase 10,000 shares of common stock, 2,500 of which vested and became fully exercisable on each of November 21, 2015, May 21, 2016, November 21, 2016 and May 21, 2017, and an option to purchase 92,559 shares of common stock, 23,140 of which vested and became fully exercisable on January 1, 2017, and 23,140 of which will vest on each of July 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018, and 23,139 of which will vest on July 1, 2018.
   
(4) Includes an option to purchase 40,000 shares of common stock, 10,000 of which vested and became fully exercisable on each of November 21, 2015, May 21, 2016, November 21, 2016 and May 21, 2017, an option to purchase 415,000 shares of common stock, 103,750 of which vested and became fully exercisable on January 1, 2017, and 103,750 of which will vest on each of July 1, 2017, January 1, 2018, and July 1, 2018, and a grant of 510,585 shares of restricted commons stock, 255,293 of which will vest on January 1, 2018 and 255,292 of which will vest on March 1, 2018.

 

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Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans

 

Please see the information disclosed under the same heading in Item 5 of this annual report.

 

Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

Transactions with Related Persons

 

On April 23, 2012, we entered into a lease agreement with One World Ranches LLC pursuant to which we lease from One World Ranches LLC certain office and laboratory space located at the address of our principal executive offices. That lease agreement commenced on May 1, 2012, was extended from May 1, 2017 to May 1, 2020. Our rent payments thereunder were $2,300 per month until May 1, 2017 and increased to $2,600 per month on May 1, 2017.

 

One World Ranches LLC is jointly-owned by Dr. Avtar Dhillon, the Chairman of our Board of Directors, and his wife, Diljit Bains. The lease agreement was approved by our Board of Directors while Dr. Avtar Dhillon abstained from voting.

 

On August 18, 2012, we entered into a lease agreement with Sacramento Valley Real Estate, which is jointly-owned by Dr. Avtar Dhillon, the Chairman of our Board of Directors, and his wife, Diljit Bains, pursuant to which we agreed to lease space located at 33-800 Clark Avenue, Yuba City, California. The month-to-month lease began on August 20, 2012 and was terminated on May 31, 2015. Our rent payment was $1,000 per month. On August 22, 2012, we paid $1,000 as a refundable security deposit under this lease.

 

On May 16, 2014, the Company entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Percipio to purchase certain assets of Percipio for $50,000. The Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Brooke, owned 20% of Percipio. At March 31, 2016, $11,950 of the purchase price remains unpaid and is included in accounts payable on the accompanying balance sheet.

 

Except as described above, during the fiscal years ended March 31, 2016 and 2017, and through the filing of this annual report, there have been no transactions, and there are no currently proposed transactions, in which we were or are to be a participant and the amount involved exceeds the lesser of $120,000 or one percent of the average of our total assets at year end for the last two completed fiscal years and in which any related person had or will have a direct or indirect material interest.

 

Director Independence

 

Our Board of Directors has determined that Dr. Anthony Maida would qualify as “independent” as that term is defined by Nasdaq Listing Rule 5605(a)(2). Mr. Robert Brooke would not qualify as “independent” because he currently serves as our Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Dhillon also would not qualify as “independent” under applicable Nasdaq Listing Rules.

 

Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm’s Fee Summary

 

The following table provides information regarding the fees billed to us by Weinberg & Company, P.A., our independent registered public accounting firm, for services rendered in the fiscal years ended March 31, 2015 and 2016. All fees described below were approved by our Board of Directors:

 

   For the years ended March 31, 
   2017   2016 
Audit Fees  $50,301   $59,474 
Audit-Related Fees   -    - 
Tax Fees   11,839    11,735 
All Other Fees   -    - 
Total Fees  $62,140   $71,209 

 

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Audit Fees. The fees identified under this caption were for professional services rendered by Weinberg & Company, P.A.for the audit of our annual financial statements. The fees identified under this caption also include fees for professional services rendered by Weinberg & Company, P.A. for the review of the financial statements included in our quarterly reports on Forms 10-Q. In addition, the amounts include fees for services that are normally provided by the auditor in connection with regulatory filings and engagements for the years identified.

 

Audit-Related Fees. The fees identified under this caption consist of assurance and related services reasonably related to the performance of the audit or review of financial statements and not reported under the caption “Audit Fees”.

 

Tax Fees. Tax fees consist principally of assistance related to tax compliance and reporting.

 

All Other Fees. These fees consist primarily of accounting consultation fees related to potential collaborative agreements. We incurred no such fees in during the fiscal years ended March 31, 2017 or 2016.

 

Pre-Approval Policies and Procedures

 

Our Audit Committee's charter requires our Audit Committee to pre-approve all audit and permissible non-audit services to be performed for the Company by our independent registered public accounting firm, giving effect to the “de minimis” exception for ratification of certain non-audit services allowed by the applicable rules of the SEC, in order to assure that the provision of such services does not impair the auditor's independence. Since the establishment of our Audit Committee on August 24, 2012, the Audit Committee approved in advance all services provided by our independent registered public accounting firm. All engagements of our independent registered public accounting firm for 2012 entered into prior to the establishment of the Audit Committee were pre-approved by the Board of Director

 

PART IV

 

Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

(a) (1) The financial statements filed as a part of this annual report are as follows:

 

  Report of Independent Registered Accounting Firm F-2
  Balance Sheets as of March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-3
  Statements of Operations for the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-4
  Statements of Stockholders’ Equity (Deficiency) for the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-5
  Statements of Cash Flows for the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-6
  Notes to Financial Statements F-7

 

  (2) Schedules are omitted because they are not applicable or the required information is shown in the financial statements or notes thereto.

 

  (3) The exhibits filed with this annual report are set forth in the Exhibit Index included at the end of this annual report, which is incorporated herein by reference.

 

48
 

 

Signatures

 

Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized.

 

  VITALITY BIOPHARMA, INC.
       

Date: June 28, 2017

By: /s/ Robert Brooke
    Robert Brooke
    Chief Executive Officer
    (Principal Executive Officer, Principal
    Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer)

 

KNOW ALL PERSONS BY THESE PRESENTS, that each person whose signature appears below constitutes and appoints Robert Brooke as his or her true and lawful attorney-in-fact and agent, each with full power of substitution and resubstitution, for him or her and in his or her name, place and stead, in any and all capacities, to sign any and all amendments to this report and to file the same, with all exhibits thereto and all documents in connection therewith, with the Securities and Exchange Commission, granting unto said attorney-in-fact and agent full power and authority to do and perform each and every act and thing requisite and necessary to be done in and about the premises, as fully to all intents and purposes as he might or could do in person, hereby ratifying and confirming all that such attorney-in-fact and agent, or his or her substitute or substitutes, may lawfully do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report is signed below by the following persons on behalf of the Registrant and in the capacities and on the dates indicated.

 

SIGNATURE   TITLE   DATE
         
    Chief Executive Officer and Director   June 28, 2017
/s/ Robert Brooke   (Principal Executive Officer, Principal Financial Officer and  
Robert Brooke   Principal Accounting Officer)    
         
/s/ Avtar Dhillon   Director   June 28, 2017
Dr. Avtar Dhillon        
         
/s/ Anthony Maida   Director   June 28, 2017
Dr. Anthony Maida, III        

 

49
 

 

Index to Financial Statements

 

  Page
   
Report of Independent Registered Accounting Firm F-2
Balance Sheets as of March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-3
Statements of Operations for the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-4
Statements of Stockholders’ Equity (Deficiency) for the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-5
Statements of Cash Flows for the years ended March 31, 2017 and 2016 F-6
Notes to Financial Statements F-7

 

F-1 
 

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

To the Board of Directors

Vitality Biopharma, Inc.

Los Angeles, California

 

We have audited the accompanying balance sheets of Vitality Biopharma, Inc., (the “Company”) as of March 31, 2017 and 2016, and the related statements of operations, stockholders’ equity (deficiency), and cash flows for the years then ended. These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements based on our audits.

 

We conducted our audits in accordance with standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. Our audits included consideration of internal control over financial reporting as a basis for designing audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

 

In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of March 31, 2017 and 2016, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the years then ended, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

 

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared assuming that the Company will continue as a going concern. As discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements, the Company has experienced recurring operating losses and negative operating cash flows since inception. These conditions raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Management’s plans in regard to these matters are also described in Note 1 to the financial statements. The accompanying financial statements do not include any adjustments to reflect the possible future effects on the recoverability and classification of assets or the amounts and classifications of liabilities that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

 

/s/ Weinberg & Company, P.A.  
Los Angeles, California  
June 28, 2017  

 

F-2 
 

 

VITALITY BIOPHARMA, INC.

BALANCE SHEETS

 

    March 31, 2017     March 31, 2016  
Assets                
                 
Current Assets                
Cash   $ 1,152,766     $ 95,433  
Accounts receivable, net     19,198       30,396  
Inventory     -       6,470  
Prepaid expenses     3,058       2,500  
                 
Total Assets   $ 1,175,022     $ 134,799  
                 
Liabilities and Stockholders’ Equity (Deficiency)                
                 
Current Liabilities                
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities   $ 373,696     $ 215,562  
Accrued compensation – officers and directors     151,667       29,375  
Accounts payable - related party     34,500       6,900  
Derivative liability     240,791       401,127  
                 
Total liabilities    

800,654

      652,964  
                 
Stockholders’ Equity (Deficiency)                
Common stock, par value $0.001 per share; 1,000,000,000 shares authorized; 22,215,180 and 7,911,708 shares issued and outstanding, respectively    

22,214

      7,912  
Common stock issuable, 999,700 shares     -       99,970  
Additional paid-in-capital    

18,088,093

      11,890,512  
Accumulated deficit    

(17,735,939

)     (12,516,559 )
Total stockholders’ equity (deficiency)     374,368       (518,165 )
Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity (deficiency)   $ 1,175,022     $ 134,799  

 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements

 

F-3 
 

 

VITALITY BIOPHARMA, INC.

STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

 

    Year Ended March 31,  
    2017     2016  
             
Revenues   $ 163,363     $ 248,348  
Cost of goods sold     108,255       149,478  
Gross profit     55,108       98,870  
                 
Operating Expenses:                
General and Administrative    

2,605,097

      2,196,922  
Rent - related party     27,600       30,600  
Research and development     893,960       613,119  
Total Operating Expenses     3,526,657       2,840,641  
                 
Loss from operations     (3,471,549 )     (2,741,771 )
                 
Other income (expenses)                
Interest expense     (1,010 )     (363 )
Change in fair value of derivative liability     (1,746,821 )     2,600,809  
Total other income (expense)     (1,747,831 )     2,600,446  
                 
Net loss   $ (5,219,380 )   $ (141,325 )
                 
Net loss per share - Basic and diluted   $ (0.38 )   $

(0.02

)
Weighted average number of common shares outstanding, basic and diluted     13,591,137      

7,541,983

 

 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements

 

F-4 
 

 

VITALITY BIOPHARMA, INC.

STATEMENTS OF STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIENCY)

YEARS ENDED MARCH 31, 2017 and 2016

 

    Common Stock     Additional Paid-in-     Accumulated     Common stock,        
    Shares     Amount     Capital     Deficit     issuable     Total  
Balance, April 1, 2015     7,296,892     $ 7,297     $ 11,288,637     $ (12,375,234 )   $ -     $ (1,079,300 )
                                                 
Amortization of common stock issued to employees with vesting terms     -       -       161,936       -       -       161,936  
Common stock issued for services     114,816       115       275,885       -       -       276,000  
Fair value of vested stock options     -       -       286,248       -       -       286,248  
Fair value of vested warrants granted to employees     -       -       182,072       -       -       182,072  
Issuance of stock and warrants     500,000       500       (403,577 )     -       -       (403,077 )
Extinguishment of derivative liability     -       -       99,311       -       -       99,311  
Common Stock issuable, 9,997,000 shares     -       -       -       -       99,970       99,970  
Net Loss     -       -       -       (141,325 )     -       (141,325 )
                                                 
Balance, March 31, 2016     7,911,708       7,912       11,890,512       (12,516,559 )     99,970       (518,165 )
                                                 
Issuance of stock and warrants     4,150,000       4,150       1,760,850       -       (99,970 )     1,665,030  
Common stock issued for services     552,500       552       658,549       -       -       659,101  
Shares issued upon warrant exercises     8,189,262       8,189       768,811       -       -       777,000  
Amortization of common stock issued to employees with vesting terms     1,436,170       1,436      

339,814

      -       -       341,250  
Fair value of vested stock options     -       -       762,374       -       -       762,374  
Extinguishment of derivative liability     -       -       1,907,158       -       -       1,907,158  
                                                 
Cancellation of unvested restricted stock     (25,000 )     (25 )     25       -       -       -  
Adjustment to common stock in conjunction with reverse split     540       -       -       -       -       -  
Net Loss     -       -       -       (5,219,380 )             (5,219,380 )
                                                 
Balance, March 31, 2017     22,215,180     $

22,214

    $

18,088,093

    $ (17,735,939 )     -     $ 374,368  

 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

 

F-5 
 

 

VITALITY BIOPHARMA, INC.

STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS

 

    Years Ended  March 31,  
    2017     2016  
Operating activities                
Net loss   $ (5,219,380 )   $ (141,325 )
Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash used in operating activities:                
Fair value of vested stock options     762,374       286,248  
Fair value of vested common stock issued to employees     341,250       161,936  
Fair value of vested warrants granted to employees     -       182,072  
Fair value of common stock issued for services     659,101       276,000  
Change in fair value of derivative liability     1,746,821       (2,600,809 )
Changes in assets and liabilities:                
Accrued compensation – officers and directors     122,292       29,375  
Accounts receivable     11,199       31,199  
Inventory    

6,470

      2,008  
Prepaid expense     (558 )     -  
Accounts payable - related party     27,600       5,900  
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities     158,134       81,555  
Net Cash Used in Operating Activities     (1,384,697 )     (1,685,841 )
                 
Financing activities                
Proceeds from exercise of warrants, net     777,000       -  
Proceeds from Common Stock issuable     -       99,970  
Proceeds from sale of common stock and warrants, net     1,665,030       1,291,574  
Net Cash Provided by Financing Activities     2,442,030       1,391,544  
                 
Net increase (decrease) in cash     1,057,333       (294,297 )
Cash - Beginning of Period     95,433       389,730  
                 
Cash - End of Period   $ 1,152,766     $ 95,433  
Supplemental Disclosure of Cash Flow Information:                
Cash paid during the period for:                
Interest   $ -     $ -  
Income taxes   $ -     $ -  
                 
Non-Cash Investing and Financing Activities:                
Fair value of warrants issued with common stock, recorded as derivative liability   $ -     $ 1,694,651  
Extinguishment of derivative liability   $ 1,907,158       99,311  

 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

 

F-6 
 

 

VITALITY BIOPHARMA, INC.

NOTES TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FOR THE

YEARS ENDED MARCH 31, 2017 AND 2016

 

1. BUSINESS OPERATIONS AND SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES

 

Vitality Biopharma, Inc. (the “Company”, “we”, “us” or “our”), was incorporated in the State of Nevada on June 29, 2007. The Company’s fiscal year end is March 31.

 

In 2015, the Company developed a new class of cannabinoids known as cannabosides, which were discovered through application of the Company’s proprietary enzymatic bioprocessing technologies originally developed for stevia sweeteners. In 2016, the Company received approvals from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (the “DEA”) and the State of California to initiate studies and manufacturing scale-up at its research and development facilities in order to develop cannabosides.

 

In May 2016, we received shareholder and board approval for a name change to Vitality Biopharma, Inc., an exchange of one (1) share of the Company’s common stock for each 10 shares of common stock outstanding or exercisable under any outstanding warrants or option agreements, and an increase in the number of shares of authorized common stock from 525,000,000 to 1,000,000,000. These corporate changes became effective on July 20, 2016. All share and per share information contained in these financial statements has been adjusted to reflect these changes as if it had occurred in the earliest period presented.

 

Going Concern

 

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis, which contemplates the realization of assets and the settlement of liabilities and commitments in the normal course of business. As reflected in the accompanying financial statements, for the year ended March 31, 2017, the Company incurred a net loss of $5,219,380 and used cash in operating activities of $1,384,697. These factors raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year of the date that the financial statements are issued. The financial statements do not include any adjustments that might be necessary should the Company be unable to continue as a going concern.

 

The ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on the Company attaining and maintaining profitable operations in the future and/or raising additional capital to meet its obligations and repay its liabilities arising from normal business operations when they come due. We estimate as of March 31, 2017 we will have sufficient funds to operate the business for the next 9 months. We will require additional financing to fund our planned future operations, including the continuation of our ongoing research and development efforts, seeking to license or acquire new assets, and researching and developing any potential patents and any further intellectual property that we may acquire. Further, these estimates could differ if we encounter unanticipated difficulties, in which case our current funds may not be sufficient to operate our business for that period. In addition, our estimates of the amount of cash necessary to operate our business may prove to be wrong, and we could spend our available financial resources much faster than we currently expect.

 

We do not have any firm commitments for future capital. Significant additional financing will be required to fund our planned principal operations in the near term and in future periods, including research and development activities relating to stevia extract production, developing and seeking regulatory approval for any of our stevia product candidates, commercializing any product candidate for which we are able to obtain regulatory approval or certification, seeking to license or acquire new assets or businesses, and maintaining our intellectual property rights and pursuing rights to new technologies. We do not presently have, nor do we expect in the near future to have, significant revenue to fund our business from our operations, and will need to obtain most of our necessary funding from external sources in the near term. Since inception, the Company has experienced recurring operating losses and negative operating cash flows, and we have funded our operations primarily through equity and debt financings, and we expect to continue to rely on these sources of capital in the future. However, if we raise additional funds by issuing equity or convertible debt securities, our existing stockholders’ ownership will be diluted, and obtaining commercial loans would increase our liabilities and future cash commitments. If we pursue capital through alternative sources, such as collaborations or other similar arrangements, we may be forced to relinquish rights to our proprietary technology or other intellectual property and could result in our receipt of only a portion of any revenue that may be generated from a partnered product or business. Further, these or other sources of capital may not be available on commercially reasonable or acceptable terms when needed, or at all. If we cannot raise the money that we need in order to continue to develop our business, we will be forced to delay, scale back or eliminate some or all of our proposed operations. If any of these were to occur, there is a substantial risk that our business would fail and our stockholders could lose all of their investment.

 

Use of Estimates

 

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the period. Actual results could differ from those estimates. The more significant estimates and assumptions by management include, among others, reserves for accounts receivable, the fair value of equity instruments issued for services, and assumptions used in the valuation of derivative liabilities and the valuation allowance for deferred tax assets.

 

F-7 
 

 

Revenues

 

Revenue is measured at the fair value of the consideration received or receivable and represents amounts receivable for products and/or services that have been delivered in the normal course of business, title has passed, the selling price is both fixed and determinable, and collectability is reasonably assured, all of which generally occurs upon shipment of the Company’s product or delivery of the product to the destination specified by the customer.

 

The Company determines whether delivery has occurred based on when title transfers and the risks and rewards of ownership have transferred to the buyer, which usually occurs when the Company ships the products. The Company regularly reviews its customers’ financial positions to ensure that collectability is reasonably assured. Except for warranties, the Company has no post-sales obligations.

 

Accounts Receivable

 

The Company evaluates the collectability of its trade accounts receivable based on a number of factors. In circumstances where the Company becomes aware of a specific customer’s inability to meet its financial obligations to the Company, a specific reserve for bad debts is estimated and recorded, which reduces the recognized receivable to the estimated amount the Company believes will ultimately be collected. In addition to specific customer identification of potential bad debts, bad debt charges are recorded based on the Company’s historical losses and an overall assessment of past due trade accounts receivable outstanding.

 

The allowance for doubtful accounts and returns and discounts is established through a provision reducing the carrying value of receivables. At March 31, 2017 and 2016, the allowance for doubtful accounts and returns and discounts was approximately $50,500 and $17,500, respectively.

 

Financial Assets and Liabilities Measured at Fair Value

 

The Company uses various inputs in determining the fair value of its investments and measures these assets on a recurring basis. Financial assets recorded at fair value in the balance sheets are categorized by the level of objectivity associated with the inputs used to measure their fair value. Authoritative guidance provided by FASB defines the following levels directly related to the amount of subjectivity associated with the inputs to fair valuation of these financial assets:

 

Level 1 Quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities.
   
Level 2 Inputs, other than the quoted prices in active markets, that are observable either directly or indirectly.
   
Level 3 Unobservable inputs based on the Company’s assumptions.

 

The fair value of the derivative liabilities of $240,791 and $401,127 at March 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively, were valued using Level 2 inputs.

 

The carrying value of cash and accounts payable and accrued liabilities approximates their fair value because of the short maturity of these instruments. Unless otherwise noted, it is management’s opinion that the Company is not exposed to significant interest, currency or credit risks arising from these financial instruments.

 

Derivative Financial Instruments

 

The Company evaluates its financial instruments to determine if such instruments are derivatives or contain features that qualify as embedded derivatives. For derivative financial instruments that are accounted for as liabilities, the derivative instrument is initially recorded at its fair value and is then re-valued at each reporting date, with changes in the fair value reported in the statements of operations. For stock-based derivative financial instruments, the Company uses a probability weighted average Black-Scholes-Merton models to value the derivative instruments at inception and on subsequent valuation dates through the March 31, 2017, reporting date. The classification of derivative instruments, including whether such instruments should be recorded as liabilities or as equity, is evaluated at the end of each reporting period.

 

F-8 
 

 

Income Taxes

 

The Company follows the asset and liability method of accounting for income taxes. Under this method, deferred income tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the estimated tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying values and their respective income tax basis (temporary differences). The effect on deferred income tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized as income (loss) in the period that includes the enactment date.

 

Stock-Based Compensation

 

The Company periodically issues stock options and warrants to employees and non-employees in non-capital raising transactions, for services and for financing costs. The Company accounts for share-based payments under the guidance as set forth in the Share-Based Payment Topic of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”), which requires the measurement and recognition of compensation expense for all share-based payment awards made to employees, officers, directors, and consultants, including employee stock options, based on estimated fair values. The Company estimates the fair value of share-based payment awards to employees and directors on the date of grant using a Black-Scholes-Merton option-pricing model, and the value of the portion of the award that is ultimately expected to vest is recognized as expense over the required service period in the Company’s statements of operations. The Company accounts for stock option and warrant grants issued and vesting to non-employees in accordance with the authoritative guidance whereas the value of the stock compensation is based upon the measurement date as determined at either a) the date at which a performance commitment is reached, or b) the date at which the necessary performance to earn the equity instruments is complete. Stock-based compensation is based on awards ultimately expected to vest and is reduced for estimated forfeitures. Forfeitures are estimated at the time of grant and revised, as necessary, in subsequent periods if actual forfeitures differ from those estimates.

 

The Company periodically issues unvested (“restricted”) shares of its common stock to employees as equity incentives. The Company’s restricted stock vests upon the satisfaction of a recipient’s service condition, which is satisfied over a period of number of years. The restricted shares vest over certain period and remain subject to forfeiture if vesting conditions are not met. The Company values the shares based on the price per share of the Company’s shares at the date of grant and recognizes the value as compensation expense ratably over the vesting period.

 

Basic and Diluted Loss Per Share

 

Basic loss per share is computed by dividing the net loss applicable to common stockholders by the weighted average number of outstanding common shares during the period. Diluted loss per share is computed by dividing net loss applicable to common stockholders by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding plus the number of additional common shares that would have been outstanding if all dilutive potential common shares had been issued. Diluted loss per share excludes all potential common shares if their effect is anti-dilutive. The following potentially dilutive shares were excluded from the shares used to calculate diluted earnings per share as their inclusion would be anti-dilutive:

 

    March 31,  
    2017     2016  
Options     2,820,489       907,500  
Warrants     372,421       2,002,719  
Total     3,192,910        2,910 219  

 

Research and Development

 

Research and development costs consist primarily of fees paid to consultants and outside service providers, patent fees and costs, and other expenses relating to the acquisition, design, development and testing of the Company’s treatments and product candidates. Research and development costs are expensed as incurred.

 

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

 

In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. ASU 2014-09 is a comprehensive revenue recognition standard that will supersede nearly all existing revenue recognition guidance under current U.S. GAAP and replace it with a principle based approach for determining revenue recognition. Under ASU 2014-09, revenue is recognized when a customer obtains control of promised goods or services and is recognized in an amount that reflects the consideration which the entity expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. In addition, the standard requires disclosure of the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers. The FASB has recently issued ASU 2016-08, ASU 2016-10, ASU 2016-11, ASU 2016-12, ASU 2016-20, and ASU 2017-05, all of which clarify certain implementation guidance within ASU 2014-09. ASU 2014-09 is effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017. Early adoption is permitted only in annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2016, including interim periods therein. The standard can be adopted either retrospectively to each prior reporting period presented (full retrospective method), or retrospectively with the cumulative effect of initially applying the guidance recognized at the date of initial application (the cumulative catch-up transition method). The Company is currently in the process of analyzing the information necessary to determine the impact of adopting this new guidance on its financial position, results of operations, and cash flows. The Company will adopt the provisions of this statement in the quarter beginning April 1, 2018.

 

F-9 
 

 

In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-02, Leases. This update will require the recognition of a right-of-use asset and a corresponding lease liability, initially measured at the present value of the lease payments, for all leases with terms longer than 12 months. For operating leases, the asset and liability will be expensed over the lease term on a straight-line basis, with all cash flows included in the operating section of the statement of cash flows. For finance leases, interest on the lease liability will be recognized separately from the amortization of the right-of-use asset in the statement of comprehensive income and the repayment of the principal portion of the lease liability will be classified as a financing activity while the interest component will be included in the operating section of the statement of cash flows. ASU 2016-02 is effective for annual and interim reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018. Early adoption is permitted. Upon adoption, leases will be recognized and measured at the beginning of the earliest period presented using a modified retrospective approach. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of the adoption of ASU 2016-02 on its financial statements and related disclosures.

 

Other recent accounting pronouncements issued by the FASB, including its Emerging Issues Task Force, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Securities and Exchange Commission did not or are not believed by management to have a material impact on the Company’s present or future financial statements.

 

2. DERIVATIVE LIABILITY

 

Under authoritative guidance issued by the FASB, instruments which do not have fixed settlement provisions are deemed to be derivative instruments. In May 2015, the Company issued certain warrants which included an anti-dilution provision that allows for the automatic reset of the exercise price of the warrants upon future sale of the Company’s common stock, warrants, options, convertible debt or any other equity-linked securities at an issuance, exercise or conversion price below the current exercise price of the warrants. The Company determined that the exercise prices of the warrants were not fixed because they are subject to fluctuation based on the occurrence of future offerings or events, and certain fundamental transactions. In accordance with the FASB authoritative guidance, the conversion feature of the warrants was separated from the host contract and recognized as a derivative instrument and is re-measured at the end of each reporting period with the change in value reported in the statement of operations.

 

At March 31, 2015, the balance of the derivative liabilities was $1,406,596. During the year ended March 31, 2016, the Company recognized additional derivative liabilities of $1,694,651 related to the issuance of new warrants, recorded a decrease in derivative liability of $2,600,809, and recorded an extinguishment of $99,311 related to warrants that were exercised. At March 31, 2016, the balance of the derivative liabilities was $401,127. During the year ended March 31, 2017, the Company recorded an increase in derivative liability of $1,746,821, and recorded an extinguishment of $1,907,158 related to warrants that were exercised. At March 31, 2017, the balance of the derivative liabilities was $240,791.

 

At March 31, 2017 and March 31, 2016, the derivative liabilities were valued using a probability weighted Black-Scholes-Merton pricing model with the following assumptions:

 

   March 31, 2017   March 31, 2016 
Conversion feature:          
Risk-free interest rate   0.19%   0.19-1.04%
Expected volatility   125%   105.06-124.77%
Expected life (in years)   1 to 3 years    .01 to 4 years 
Expected dividend yield   -    - 
           
Fair Value:          
Conversion feature  $240,791   $401,127 

 

The risk-free interest rate was based on rates established by the Federal Reserve Bank. The Company uses the historical volatility of its common stock to estimate the future volatility for its common stock. The expected life of the warrants was determined by the expiration date of the warrants. The expected dividend yield was based on the fact that the Company has not paid dividends to its common stockholders in the past and does not expect to pay dividends to its common stockholders in the future.

 

F-10 
 

 

3. STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY

 

Equity financings

 

On March 9, 2017, we entered into a securities purchase agreement with certain accredited investors, pursuant to which we issued to the purchasers an aggregate of 1,500,000 shares of the Company’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share at a price of $1.00 per share, for the aggregate proceeds of $1,500,000.

 

In May 2016, the Company entered into a securities purchase agreement providing for the issuance of 2,650,000 shares of the Company’s common stock and warrants to purchase 7,950,000 shares of the Company’s common stock, at a price of $0.10 per share for aggregate proceeds to the Company of $265,000. The warrants were all exercised prior to their expiration date on February 4, 2017 (see Note 5).

 

In May 2015, the Company entered into a securities purchase agreement with seven purchasers for the sale of an of aggregate of 500,000 shares of the Company’s common stock, and warrants to purchase an aggregate of 1,250,006 shares of the Company’s common stock for total gross proceeds of $1,500,000, or a sales price of $3.00 per share. The Company also issued warrants to purchase up to 40,000 shares of the Company’s common stock to its placement agent.

 

Common stock issued to employees with vesting terms

 

The Company has issued shares of common stock to employees and directors that vest over time. The fair value of these stock awards are based on the market price of the Company’s common stock on the dates granted, and are amortized over vesting terms ranging up to three years.

 

During the year ended March 31, 2017, the Company issued an aggregate of 1,436,170 shares of its common stock to one officer and one director. The aggregate fair value of these awards was approximately $718,000, which will be amortized over the 1.75 year vesting term of the awards.

 

At March 31, 2015, the accumulated vested balance of stock awards was $449,280. During the year ended March 31, 2016, the fair value of stock awards that vested was $161,936. At March 31, 2016, the accumulated vested balance of stock awards was $611,216. During the year ended March 31, 2017, we recorded expense related to the fair value of stock awards that vested of $341,250. At March 31, 2017, the accumulated vested balance of the stock awards $952,466. At March 31, 2017, the amount of unvested compensation related to these awards is approximately $410,000, and will be recorded as expense over 1.25 years.

 

Shares of restricted stock granted above are subject to forfeiture to the Company or other restrictions that will lapse in accordance with a vesting schedule determined by our Board. In the event a recipient’s employment or service with the Company terminates, any or all of the shares of common stock held by such recipient that have not vested as of the date of termination under the terms of the restricted stock agreement are forfeited to the Company in accordance with such restricted grant agreement.

 

The following table summarizes restricted common stock activity:

 

    Number of Shares  
Non-vested shares, April 1, 2015     208,333  
Granted     -  
Vested     (39,167 )
Forfeited     -  
Non-vested shares, April 1, 2016     169,166  
Granted     1,436,170  
Vested     (2,500 )
Forfeited     (166,666 )
Non-vested shares, March 31, 2017     1,436,170  

 

Common stock issued for services

 

During the year ended March 31, 2017, the Company issued a total of 552,500 share of common stock to three consultants as payment for services and recorded expenses of $659,101 based on the fair value of the Company’s common stock at the issuance dates.

 

F-11 
 

 

During the year ended March 31, 2016, the Company issued a total of 114,816 share of common stock to four consultants as payment for services and recorded expenses of $276,000 based on the fair value of the Company’s common stock at the issuance dates.

 

4. STOCK OPTIONS

 

A summary of the Company’s stock option activity during the fiscal years ended March 31, 2016 and 2017 is as follows:

 

   Shares   Weighted Average Exercise Price 
Balance at April 1, 2015   632,500   $3.30 
Granted   277,500      
Exercised   -      
Cancelled   (2,500)     
Balance outstanding at March 31, 2016   907,500   $3.30 
Granted   2,263,821      
Exercised   -      
Expired   (285,000)     
Cancelled   (65,832)     
Balance outstanding at March 31, 2017   2,820,489   $1.27 
Balance exercisable at March 31,2017   965,626   $1.70 

 

A summary of the Company’s stock options outstanding and exercisable as of March 31, 2017 is as follows:

 

    Number of Options     Weighted Average Exercise Price     Weighted Average Grant-date Stock Price  
Options Outstanding, March 31, 2017     1,710,821     $ 0.50     $ 0.50  
      153,000     $ 0.96     $ 0.96  
      130,000     $ 1.00     $ 10.00  
      10,000     $ 1.50     $ 1.50  
      647,500     2.00 – 2.79       $ 2.00 – 2.79  
      123,334     $ 3.10 – 3.80       $ 3.10 – 3.80  
      45,834     4.00 – 4.70       $ 4.00 – 4.70  
      2,820,489                  
Options Exercisable, March 31, 2017     427,708     $ 0.50     $ 0.50  
      37,500     $ 0.96     $ 0.96  
      130,000     $ 1.00     $ 10.00  
      5,000     $ 1.50     $ 1.50  
      201,250       $ 2.00 – 2.79       $ 2.00 – 2.79  
      118,334