Relief Therapeutics - Acquisitions, Approvals and Revenue
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Based in Switzerland, Relief Therapeutics Holdings (OTC: RLFTF, SW: RLF) is a biopharmaceutical company that has developed patented products for the treatment of rare diseases. Their focus is on the treatment of metabolic, dermatological and pulmonary diseases several products currently on the market, including ACER-001 to treat inborn errors of metabolism, Aviptadil for rare pulmonary diseases and a pipeline of products acquired via acquisitions in 2021.
Relief, along with Acer Therapeutics, was excited to announce recently that ACER-001 was granted orphan medicinal product designation by the European Commission. This designation is given to medicines that treat rare diseases, and provides several benefits to the company including potential market exclusivity for ten years, reductions in EMA application fees and access to study assistance. This designation was previously granted in the U.S. The company believes ACRE-001 will be beneficial in the treatment of Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD) and Urea Cycles Disorder. Adrian Quartel, Chief Medical Officer of Acer noted the challenges faced by MSUD sufferers, stating, “Currently, the only treatment option for patients with MSUD is a lifelong, protein-restricted diet, however, they still remain at serious risk for a wide range of life-threatening complications.”
RLF-100 is treatment for COVID-19 and is currently in clinical trials and has shown promise for use with critically ill patients. RLF-100 is actually a medication that has already existed under the name Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP) and has a two-decade history of safe use in humans. Twenty-five U.S. hospitals and 175 patients have enrolled patients in an Expanded Access Protocol. While vaccines are still being made available to everyone around the world, and many will refuse to get vaccinated, the ultimate market for a COVID treatment is hard to determine. If serious infections continue to be a problem over the long term, then Relief will have a potentially large market. However, if better vaccines are developed and widely accepted then the value of such a treatment may be limited. In addition, competition could be intense due to the amount of research and testing performed by other drug companies.
While many OTC traded companies are in the pre-revenue phase, Relief Therapeutics started earning revenue in 2021 which totaled $3.3 million. While this represents a big step toward financial stability, the cost of revenue was over $19 million. In addition, operating expenses surpassed $18 million and net income was -$34 million. Clearly the company has a long way to go in order to provide a return to shareholders. The stock price currently sits at about 3.5 cents per share with a 52-week high of 21.8 cents and a low of 2.4 cents. As of 6/14/2022 there were 4,416,334,617 shares outstanding with 73% in the public float, 6% held by insiders and the remainder held by institutions.
Shareholders are hoping Relief Therapeutics can further monetize their existing drugs and those in the pipeline as well. As with any pharmaceutical company this is somewhat of a gamble as competition is fierce, research and development costs are high, and getting approval for use of new drugs is a costly, time-consuming process that many times results in failure. Investors in this sector should be aware of these challenges and understand the industry and specific drugs they are counting on to drive a return on their investment.