Cambridge NeuroScience Inc. on Wednesday said that it isbeginning pilot Phase III trials of Ectapram, which is thought toreduce unwanted side effects of electroconvulsive therapy(ECT).

Cambridge NeuroScience plans to run two consecutive studiesof Ectapram (pramiracetam), which has been granted orphandrug designation. However, if the first study on 100 patientsprovides evidence of effectiveness, the company can completethe efficacy requirements for a new drug application and asecond study on 200 patients won't be required, saidspokesman John T. Smith.

In Phase II studies, Ectapram has been shown to be anootropic, which is a class of compounds that improves certaincognitive functions. Although the mechanism is unknown,Ectapram has been shown to reduce memory loss and confusionresulting from ECT treatments, according to the company. Thedrug is administered orally prior to treatment.

ECT use to treat depression is increasing by 10 percentannually in the United States, according to the company. Smithestimated that 100,000 U.S. patients receive ECT courses eachyear, with the annual market for Ectapram at $25 million to$50 million.

Cambridge NeuroScience licensed development and marketingrights to the drug from Warner-Lambert Co. last year. Thecompany's stock (NASDAQ:CNSI) closed unchanged at $8.75. --Holly Ganz

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.