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Sage Therapeutics Plunges After Depression Drug-Trial Results

Sage Therapeutics shares plunge following disappointing test results for its depression drug Zuranolone that it is producing with drug giant Biogen.

Sage Therapeutics  (SAGE)  shares plunged on Tuesday after the biotechnology company revealed disappointing Phase 3 test results for its depression drug Zuranolone that it is producing with drug giant Biogen  (BIIB) .

Sage Therapeutics fell more than 11% in early trading after results of its late-stage study with partner Biogen showed that Zuranolone met its main goal of showing an improvement on depression symptoms but raised questions about the longer-term efficacy of the treatment.

Specifically, Sage noted that the once-daily oral drug showed a waning effect over a two-week period, while a secondary goal on an impression score of the severity of the illness failed to reach statistical significance on day 15.

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The results sparked concern that a lack of durability could make the drug’s commercial viability more challenging, even if it is approved, though Dr. Anita Clayton, chair of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences with the University of Virginia School of Medicine, noted that the drug could be effective as a “short-course” form of Major Depressive Disorder therapy.

“This will empower my patients to think differently about their depression and treatment, and to rapidly return to their life,” Clayton said. “Depression is not an identity; it's an episodic disorder that we hope in the future to be able to treat quickly with treatments that are well-tolerated and with benefits that last."

The data alongside a recently scuttled program for Vertex Pharmaceuticals  (VRTX)  and an approval for Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug have been among the most anticipated events in the biotech sector this year.

At last check, shares of Sage were down 11.5% at $64.48. Shares of Biogen were down 0.18% at $405.42.