Placebo effect sinks Corcept depression drug

Shares of Corcept Therapeutics went into a meltdown Friday morning after the company announced that its Corlux depression drug had failed the first of three late-stage trials. Its shares plunged about 74 percent to 93 cents. While the data demonstrated that 30.5 percent of the volunteers taking Corlux responded to the therapy--a relatively good rate compared to existing depression therapies--28.6 percent of the people taking a placebo responded as well. The therapy also failed two secondary endpoints in the study for psychotic major depression.

"There was an unusually high placebo response rate in this trial," noted Robert L. Roe, M.D., Corcept's president and head of development. "At Day 56, for example, approximately 80 percent of the patients in both of the arms of the study were responders as measured by a 50 percent improvement in BPRS PSS score." Data from the second Phase III trial is due out next month with the third study coming in late this year or early next.

- check out this AP report on the trial results

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