Achieve Life Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHV) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

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Achieve Life Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHV) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript March 16, 2023

Operator: Hello and welcome to the Achieve Life Sciences Fourth Quarter 2022 Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It's now my pleasure to turn the call over to Nicole Jones with CG Capital. Please go ahead, Nicole.

Nicole Jones: Thank you, operator and thank you to everyone for joining the call. Today from Achieve, we have John Bencich, Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Cindy Jacobs, President and Chief Medical Officer; and Jerry Wan, Principal Accounting Officer. Achieve management will be available for Q&A after the prepared remarks. I'd like to remind everyone that today's conference call contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations. These statements are only predictions and actual results may vary materially from those projected. Please refer to Achieve documents available on our website and filed with the SEC concerning factors that could affect the company. I will now turn the call over to John.

John Bencich: Thank you, Nicole and thanks everyone for joining us today. In 2022, we achieved significant milestones that were crucial to advancing cytisinicline and to meeting our key objectives for the year. We are proud to have executed successfully on numerous critical activities, including the completion of our first Phase 3 trial for smoking cessation, which yielded highly positive efficacy and safety results. This outcome confirmed our belief that our new cytisinicline dosage and regimen has the potential to become the new gold standard for treating nicotine dependence. We secured grant funding to initiate our first vaping cessation trial, which exceeded our expectations in completing enrollment early due to the great enthusiasm at the sites and with study participants who wanted to quit vaping.

We also strengthened our intellectual property position, concluding the year with a total of 15 granted patents and 46 pending patents, including expirations extending out until 2042. Along with our partner, Sopharma, we completed the build-out of a new API facility, expanding our global manufacturing capacity to meet expected commercial requirements. In 2002, we also engaged in numerous productive strategic discussions with potential partners. And finally, we secured capital to ensure completion of our upcoming development milestones. We take great pride in completing these critical activities with the team of only 20 full-time Achieve employees. These accomplishments speak greatly to the expertise of our team in the various roles and their commitment to advancing cytisinicline to make a meaningful impact for public health.

We are grateful for their efforts and for the support we continue to receive from our external stakeholders. We made significant progress in 2022. And now we look forward to the year ahead, which promises to be even more exciting. With that, our focus turns to the upcoming milestones and priorities for 2023. Next quarter, we will have two trials reporting top line results, first, ORCA-V1, our Phase 2 trial for nicotine vaping cessation, followed by ORCA-3, our second Phase 3 trial for smoking cessation. Beginning with ORCA-V1, in approximately 4 months of initiating enrollment, ORCA-V1 had randomized 160 adult users of nicotine e-cigarettes across 5 clinical trial sites, partially funded through grant support from NIDA and NIH, ORCA-V1 aims to explore this population for two reasons.

First, we believe that cytisinicline will be as effective in vaping cessation as it is in smoking cessation given its mechanism of action on the nicotine receptors in the brain; and second, there is a significant and growing unmet need in this area. Our clinical trial findings thus far demonstrate that cytisinicline significantly improves smokers' chances of overcoming their addiction to nicotine as compared to placebo. We believe this effect will be applicable to other modalities of nicotine administration more broadly, including vaping. Additionally, we have demonstrated that cytisinicline has a very well-tolerated side effect profile, which may be particularly important for treating €“ treatment compliance and ultimately successful outcomes.

Cigarette, Smoke
Cigarette, Smoke

Photo by Nafis al Sadnan on Unsplash

The use of e-cigarettes, in particular, among adolescents is a growing concern. According to data released by the CDC in November 2022, approximately 2.5 million high school and middle school students in the U.S. were using e-cigarettes. It has also been reported that adolescents who use e-cigarettes are 7x more likely to try combustible cigarettes in the future. Our vaping study, ORCA-V1, focuses on adult users of e-cigarettes, of which there are an estimated 9 million in the U.S. alone. While we are not currently seeking a pediatric indication, it may be a potential consideration for future research, presenting another opportunity for cytisinicline to make a significant impact on public health. The ORCA-V1 trial will be important in showing the effects of cytisinicline treatment in adult vapors and understanding the issues around stopping nicotine e-cigarette dependence.

This study population is clearly a younger one, and we will learn a lot from the results of this trial. Similar to the smoking cessation trials, the primary endpoint is biochemically verified continuous abstinence during the last 4 weeks of treatment. However, in these trials, the biochemical verification is based on systemic cotinine levels, which is a metabolite of nicotine. The last subject of ORCA-V1 received their final dose in February and the last subject visit was completed earlier this month. As previously stated, we are on track to report top line results in the second quarter. Also expected next quarter, our results from our second Phase 3 trial of cytisinicline for smoking cessation. The ORCA-3 trial randomized 792 subjects across 20 clinical trial locations in the U.S. We announced in January that the last ORCA-3 subject had been dosed.

ORCA-3 mirrors our previous Phase 3 ORCA-2 study in evaluating efficacy, safety and tolerability of 3 milligrams cytisinicline dosed 3 times daily for either 6 or 12 weeks compared with placebo. Subjects are being monitored through 24 weeks post randomization and receiving standard behavioral support for the duration of the trial. Identical to ORCA-2, the primary endpoint is biochemically verified continuous abstinence during the last 4 weeks of treatment. Each treatment arm will be compared independently to the placebo arm, and the trial will be determined to be successful if either or both of the cytisinicline treatment arms show a statistical benefit compared to placebo. Similar to ORCA-2, ORCA-3 was designed with approximately 95% power to be able to demonstrate a continued abstinence benefit compared to placebo at the long-term follow-up comparison at 24 weeks.

The ORCA-3 trial aims to replicate the positive results observed in the ORCA-2 trial, which continue to be well received and have been submitted for publication. Earlier this month, additional analyses from ORCA-2 were presented by Dr. Nancy Rigotti at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Annual Meeting. Her presentation highlighted the successful abstinence rates observed by smokers who received cytisinicline compared to placebo. The abstinence benefit was observed in subgroups of smokers who received cytisinicline regardless of age, gender, smoking history, previous quit attempts or prior treatments. Prevalence data was also presented and provide additional insights on the consistent abstinence behavior at multiple time points throughout the 24-week study.

Subjects who received cytisinicline demonstrated consistently higher rates of abstinence when compared with placebo at all time points measured throughout the trial. Due to the study being under review for publication, we are not able to provide more specific details outside of the Medical Congress. However, these data continue to affirm our belief in the potential of both 6 and 12-week dosing of cytisinicline for a wide demographic of smokers who are at various stages of their quit journey. Moving beyond the highly anticipated trial readouts, our team is also fully engaged in preparations for New Drug Application, or NDA, filing in the U.S. To lead and organize this process, we have recently hired a full-time regulatory team member who possesses significant experience with NDA filings.

With a robust amount of data in hand, particularly non-clinical, we are beginning to draft select sections of the NDA while we await final clinical data. At this time, I'd like to turn the call over to Jerry for our financial update.

Jerry Wan: Thanks, John. As of December 31, 2022, the company's cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments and restricted cash were $24.8 million as compared to $18.2 million as of September 30, 2022. The increase in cash over the prior period was due to our private placement, which closed in November 2022, providing incremental net proceeds of approximately $17.9 million. As stated at the time of the financing, we continue to believe our current cash balance is sufficient to provide runway into late 2023. Now turning to our statement of operations. The company incurred a net loss of $11.2 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2022, as compared to a net loss of $7.2 million for the same quarter of 2021. Total operating expenses in the fourth quarter of 2022 increased to $10.9 million as compared to $7.1 million for the same quarter of 2021.

Operating expenses increased for the quarter ended December 31, 2022, as we fully enrolled in both the ORCA-2 Phase 3 trial and the ORCA-V1 Phase 2 trial. We anticipate our operating expenses to remain elevated during the first quarter of this year and then decline in the second quarter in line with the completion of both the ORCA-3 and ORCA-V1 trial. As a reminder, approximately half of the cost from the ORCA-V1 trial are expected to be funded through a grant from the NIH. That concludes my financial remarks. I will now turn the call back to John.

John Bencich: Thanks, Jerry. To wrap up, we made great strides in advancing cytisinicline in 2022. The months ahead promised to be even busier and more exciting for Achieve. We will maintain focus on delivering top line results from two important trials during the second quarter of this year, continuing our preparations for the NDA and furthering partnering discussions once data is in hand. Like many of you, we have faith in the potential of our product to make a significant impact in the lives of smokers who are struggling with nicotine dependence and searching for alternative solutions. The impact of smoking affects millions each year resulting in over 400,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Approval of cytisinicline would introduce the first new treatment option in nearly 20 years, with the potential to positively transform the lives of millions.

We remain committed to advancing our mission. We look forward to sharing our data results with you soon and sincerely appreciate your ongoing support. Thank you for joining us today, and we'd now like to open the line for questions. Operator?

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