Sage's depression drug study results show improvement in symptoms

(Reuters) -Sage Therapeutics said on Tuesday its experimental depression drug showed a statistically significant improvement in symptoms in a late-stage study after two-weeks of therapy compared to placebo.

The 543-participant study assessed Sage’s once-daily oral drug, zuranolone, as a two-week course for depression episodes, after which patients can return to work or their normal life.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has been developing zuranolone with partner Biogen Inc. Biogen tied up with Sage in a deal worth over $1.5 billion plus milestone payments in November to co-develop drugs for depression and other neurological disorders.

Major Depressive Disorder, known more commonly as clinical depression, affects over 16 million American adults every year, and impedes patients’ ability to carry out daily activities such as work, school or social interactions.

There is a shortage of treatment options for the condition, which is mainly treated with antidepressants such as Eli Lilly and Co’s Prozac and Pfizer Inc’s Zoloft.

The drugs could take up to six weeks to show effect and patients are typically required to continue treatment for months after.

Zuranolone was generally well-tolerated in the study and showed a safety profile consistent with its previous clinical studies, Sage and Biogen said in a joint statement.

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