By Brady Huggett

Corcept Therapeutics Inc., with its psychotic major depression product C-1073 in Phase III trials, is looking to put its private days behind it, filing for an initial public offering estimated at $90 million.

In its prospectus, Corcept, of Menlo Park, Calif., said it would use net proceeds to fund clinical trials, preclinical testing and other research and development activities as well as sales and marketing expenses, and for working capital and other general corporate purposes. Although it estimated the amount of the offering to be $90 million, it has not set the number of shares or a price-per-share amount.

Corcept completed its Series C funding in June, pulling in $27 million, and had raised $1.8 million prior to that. At the time of the Series C round it said it would use the money to fund its Phase III trials for C-1073, trials that were scheduled to begin within weeks of the completed financing round. Depending on how well those trials progressed, Corcept¿s CEO Joseph Belanoff said then, Corcept might consider itself ready to tackle the public markets. (See BioWorld Today, June 21, 2001.)

That comment suggests the trials are progressing well. The two double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III trials for C-1073 in the treatment of psychotic major depression (PMD) have been initiated and will be conducted at more than 25 centers in the United States, each trial involving about 200 patients. Endpoints will be based on psychiatric rating scales used to support regulatory approval of antipsychotic and antidepressant medications. Corcept said in its prospectus it expects to complete the analysis of the first Phase III trial by the end of 2002 and the second a year later.

Corcept¿s product is also known by its generic term, mifepristone, or RU486, the French abortion pill. It was approved in the U.S. in September 2000 as a method of abortion. However, it works by a different mechanism to treat psychotic depression. It selectively blocks the binding of cortisol to one of its two known receptors. Elevated levels and abnormal-release patterns of cortisol have been implicated in a broad range of human disorders, including PMD, Corcept said in its prospectus.

Corcept had cash and cash equivalents of about $24.7 million as of Sept. 30. The company lost about $2.6 million through the first nine months of the year, or about 41 cents per share on a basic and diluted basis. It lost 20 cents per share over that time frame using pro forma figures, basic and diluted.

The majority shareholder in Corcept is Sutter Hill Ventures, of Palo Alto, Calif., with about 22.3 percent of the company. Behind Sutter Hill are entities affiliated with Maverick Capital Investment Partnership, of New York, holding about 8.5 percent. The third largest stockholder is entities affiliated with Alta Partners LLP, of San Francisco, with 6.8 percent. However, directors and executives in the company, some in association with venture partners, hold 90 percent of Corcept¿s stock.

Underwriters for the offering are US Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc., of Minneapolis; CIBC World Markets Corp., of New York; and Thomas Wiesel Partners LLC, of San Francisco.