NEW YORK (AP) -- A Piper Jaffray analyst downgraded shares of Corcept Therapeutics Inc. on Thursday, saying he expects weaker sales of the company's endocrine disorder drug Korlym because of concerns about its side effects and future competition.
THE OPINION: Analyst M. Ian Somaiya downgraded the shares to "Neutral" from "Overweight" and trimmed his price target to $3 per share from $5. Somaiya said the side effects of Korlym will be a particular concern for women. He said physicians may have a difficult time reaching the correct dosage for a patient and managing Korlym's other side effects, which can include low potassium levels.
Korlym was approved in February as a treatment for high blood sugar in patients with Cushing's syndrome. Cushing's syndrome occurs when tumors or another factor causes a person's body to produce too much of the hormone cortisol, and high blood sugar is one of its symptoms. Corcept said about 20,000 people in the U.S. have the disease, primarily women between the ages of 20 and 50.
Somaiya said Novartis AG will launch its own Cushing's syndrome drug in early 2013, and in a few years it plans to market a once-per-month version of the drug. Korlym is taken once per day. He now thinks sales of Korlym will reach $225 million in 2018, the year before the drug loses marketing exclusivity. Previously he said sales would peak at $249 million.
Korlym is contra-indicated in pregnant women and in women with a history of unexplained vaginal bleeding, as its side effects include termination of pregnancy, endometrial thickening and vaginal bleeding.
THE STOCK: Shares of the Menlo Park, Calif., company rose 7 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $2.88 in afternoon trading. Corcept Therapeutics shares have traded between $2.50 and $4.90 in the last 12 months, and the stock is down 37 percent since July 11.