National Editor

Taking significantly less from the deal than hoped for, Corcept Therapeutics Inc. priced its initial public offering and raised $54 million by selling 4.5 million shares of stock at $12 each.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm's stock (NASDAQ:CORT) closed Thursday even at $12.

Corcept had targeted a top amount of $80 million when the IPO prospectus was filed in February. Two years earlier, Corcept had aimed to go public in the range of $63 million to $72 million. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 12, 2004.)

A spokesman said the company was in the SEC-required quiet period and could not comment.

At the front of Corcept's pipeline is Corlux, a cortisol blocker licensed from Stanford University for psychotic major depression that works by acting at the GR-II receptor. Corlux, granted fast-track status by the FDA, is in Phase III trials with two pivotal studies expected to complete by early 2006. The drug also is being evaluated in its first clinical trial as a potential Alzheimer's disease therapy for patients in the mild to moderate range.

Corcept aims to make more of its GR-II antagonist platform. The firms owns or has exclusively licensed patents for the use of such compounds to treat disorders including early dementia, mild cognitive impairment, psychosis associated with cocaine addiction and weight gain following treatment with antipsychotic medication. Patent applications are filed for their use in nine other diseases.

At the end of 2003, Corcept had about $11.6 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, and has incurred losses every year since its inception in 1998. Net losses in 2001, 2002 and 2003 were about $7.5 million, $18.5 million and $9.8 million, respectively. The deficit as of the end of last year totaled about $37.9 million.

IPO underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to 675,000 additional shares to cover overallotments, if any. Representatives for the underwriters in the offering are Thomas Weisel Partners LLC, of San Francisco; Piper Jaffray & Co., of Minneapolis; and Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc., of Baltimore.