Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Health Care

Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated (CORT) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

CORT Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated (NASDAQ: CORT) Q3 2021 earnings call dated Nov. 03, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Atabak Mokari — Chief Financial Officer

Charles Robb — Chief Business Officer

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Sean Maduck — Chief Commercial Officer

William Guyer — Chief Development Officer

Analysts:

Chris Howerton — Jefferies — Analyst

Matt Kaplan — Ladenburg Thalmann — Analyst

Tazeen Ahmad — Bank of America — Analyst

Arthur He — H.C. Wainwright — Analyst

Alan Leong — BioWatch — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Corcept Therapeutics Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host today, Mr. Atabak Mokari, Chief Financial Officer. Sir, the floor is yours.

Atabak Mokari — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you. Good afternoon and thank you for joining us. I’m Atabak Mokari, Corcept’s Chief Financial Officer. Today, we issued a press release announcing our financial results for the third quarter and providing a corporate update. The copy is available at corcept.com. The complete financial results will be available when we file our Form 10-Q with the SEC. Today’s call is being recorded. A replay will be available at the Investors Past Events tab of our website.

Statements during this call, other than statements of historical facts, are forward-looking statements based on our plans and expectations that are subject to risks and uncertainties which may cause actual results to differ materially from those such statements express or imply. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, our ability to operate our business and achieve our goals and conduct our clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic and to generate sufficient revenues to fund our commercial operations involving COVID.

The availability of competing treatments, including generic versions of Korlym, our ability to obtain acceptable prices or adequate insurance coverage and reimbursement for Korlym, risks related to the development of our product candidates, including their clinical attributes, regulatory approvals, mandates and oversights and other requirements, and the scope and protective power of our intellectual property. These and other risks are set forth in our SEC filings which are available at our website and the SEC’s website.

On this call, forward-looking statements include those concerning the safety, efficacy and other clinical and commercial attributes of relacorilant, exicorilant, miricorilant, CORT113176 and our other selective cortisol modulators for the treatment of patients with solid tumors, liver disease, hypercortisolism, anti-psychotic-induced weight gain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS and other disorders, the progress, enrollment, timing, design and results of our clinical trials, our revenue guidance, cash flow and expected growth, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our commercial operations and asset performance, clinical development programs as well as on physicians, payers and patients and on our anticipated financial performance, and clinical development activities after the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, the timing, costs and outcome of litigation including our lawsuits against Teva and Hikma Pharmaceuticals have us appeal of its defeat in the post grant review, or PGR, before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board, or PTAB, and may include other forward-looking statements during the course of the call. We disclaim any intention for duty to update forward-looking statements.

Our revenue in the third quarter of 2021 was $96.1 million compared to $86.3 million in the third quarter of 2020, an increase of 11%. Third quarter 2021 GAAP net income was $30.5 million compared to $21.6 million in the same period last year. Non-GAAP net income, which excludes non-cash expenses related to stock-based compensation and the utilization of deferred tax assets together with the latest income tax effects was $37 million in the third quarter compared to $30 million in the same period last year. We have tightened our 2021 revenue guidance from $365 million to $375 million compared to previous guidance of $355 million to $385 million.

Our cash and investments totaled $495.2 million at September 30, an increase of $23.6 million from June 30. The balance at September 30 reflects the repurchase of $28 million of our common stock in the third quarter, 1.2 million shares pursuant to our share repurchase program and about 200,000 shares in connection with the net exercise of employee stock options. Over the term of the share repurchase program, we purchased 4.3 million shares of our common stock at a cost of $98.2 million.

And now, Charlie Robb, our Chief Business Officer, will provide the legal update. Charlie?

Charles Robb — Chief Business Officer

Thanks, Atabak. In March 2018, we sued Teva in Federal District Court to prevent it from marketing a generic version of Korlym in violation of our patents. Trial was originally scheduled to start in February of this year, although that date was vacated by the court. A new trial date has not been set. In April, the court granted us permission to file for summary judgment regarding Teva’s infringement of our 214 patent. Teva responded by filing its own summary judgment motion with respect to the same patent.

Summary judgment is a procedure whereby courts can decide a case without holding a trial. We believe the court has all it needs with respect to the 214 patent to decide the case in our favor. Having lost its action before the PTAB, which I will talk about more in a minute, Teva can no longer challenge the 214 patent’s validity in the District Court case. Teva can only argue that its proposed product would not infringe, a position we believe has no legal or factual support. If the court grants our motion, we will have won the case. Teva would be banned from marketing generic Korlym until 2037 when the 214 patent expires. If the court rules in Teva’s favor, we will proceed trial some time next year. There is at present no timetable for the court summary judgment ruling, no trial date and no schedule for any trial-related activities.

In parallel with the district court action, Teva petitioned the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse its PTAB loss, which I referred to earlier, a request we believe has no merit. Briefing is complete and the court heard oral argument on October 5. We expect a decision in the next quarter or two. On March 12, we sued another hand defiler, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, in the same Federal District Court that is the adjudicating our case against Teva. In the Hikma case, the court has set a fact discovery deadline of July 1, 2022, next year. Nothing is scheduled after that. With respect to both Teva and Hikma, we are confident in the strength of our lead position.

I’ll now turn the call over to Dr. Joseph Belanoff, our Chief Executive Officer. Joe?

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thank you, Charlie. The strong growth of our commercial business in the third quarter reflects the continued easing of COVID-related public health restrictions. This has enabled physicians to see their patients more frequently, improving their ability to diagnose and treat patients with Cushing syndrome. The business translation of more patients benefiting from Korlym treatment is a new record-high in our quarterly revenue.

We expect our growth to continue as pandemic conditions recede. Leading endocrinologists increasingly believe that there are substantially more patients with Cushing syndrome than was once assumed. For many of these patients, Korlym is an excellent treatment. We remain very optimistic about the future of our Cushing syndrome business because it is built on a strong foundation, an effective life-saving medication promoted by a dedicated commercial team that puts the interest of patients first.

Our clinical development programs are another cause for optimism. We have created a library of more than 1,000 proprietary cortisol modulators, many of which are attracting candidates for development. Like Korlym, these compounds bind strongly to the glucocorticoid receptor, or GR. Unlike Korlym, they have no affinity for the progesterone receptor and so don’t cause some of Korlym’s most serious off-target effects.

Beyond sharing the qualities of strong cortisol modulation and not perturbing the progesterone receptor, preclinical and clinical testing have shown that our molecules behave differently from one another in important ways, some cross the blood-brain barrier, others do not, some perform best models of solid tumors, others are more potent in models of metabolic disease. Some appear to be tissue specific while others have more global effects.

These diverse qualities allowed us to initiate clinical trials in a wide variety of disorders, including ovarian, adrenal and prostate cancer, antipsychotic-induced weight gain, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH and, of course, Cushing syndrome. We’re also planning to start a Phase 2 trial in patients with ALS in the first quarter of next year and have additional compounds in Phase 1 and preclinical development. Korlym’s commercial success has provided the funds to advance all of these programs.

Before I provide an update on our development programs, I’d like to introduce you to Bill Guyer, who recently joined us to lead our clinical development activities. Bill experienced tremendous success over his 20-year career at Gilead and we have already benefited from his expertise and leadership. Bill joins us on this call and will be available during the Q&A session.

Our oncology program is testing three anti-cancer mechanisms; first, postulated by investigators at the University of Chicago and confirmed by other prominent researchers. One mechanism is increasing apoptosis. Apoptosis is the programed cell death that chemotherapy is meant to induce, cortisol suppresses apoptosis. in our successful trial in women with advanced ovarian cancer addition of the selected cortisol modulator relacorilant enhanced the effect of chemotherapy likely by blunting cortisol’s antiapoptotic effect.

The results presented at the recent European Society for Medical Oncology, ESMO Congress clearly demonstrate the benefit experienced by the women who received relacorilant delayed disease progression without increased side effect burden. As a reminder, our Phase 2 trial is a controlled multicenter study of 178 women with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer were randomized to one of three treatment arms. 60 women received a higher dose of relacorilant on the day before, the day of and the day after they received nab-paclitaxel, we call this the intermittent arm; 58 women received a lower daily relacorilant dose in combination with nab-paclitaxel, we call this the continuous arm; and 60 women received nab-paclitaxel alone, the comparator arm. The trial’s primary endpoint was progression-free survival or PFS. The women who participated in our study were very ill, including platinum-refractory patients. All had experienced disease progression despite prior lines of therapy. The median number of prior treatments was three.

It’s clear that relacorilant provided benefit to many of these women. Those who received relacorilant intermittently exhibited a statistically significant improvement in PFS compared to the group that received nab-paclitaxel monotherapy. Their hazard ratio was 0.66 with a p-value of 0.038. Their median PFS was 5.6 months, 1.8 months longer than the nab-paclitaxel monotherapy group, which is 3.8 months. The women in the intermittent arm also experienced statistically significant improvement in their duration of response relative to those in the comparator arm, 5.6 months versus 3.7 months, with a hazard ratio of 0.36 and a p-value of 0.006. While the overall survival, or OS, data collection had accumulated only 63% of the target of 120 events at the time of the database cut off, the women in the intermittent arm experienced a median OS of 12.9 months compared to 10.4 months in the comparator arm.

Safety and tolerability in the two groups were comparable. We expect that the primary analysis of the OS data for this study will be available in the first quarter of next year. Based on these statistically significant and clinically meaningful results, we have received extremely positive feedback from leading gynecological oncologist regarding the promise of relacorilant as a potential treatment for women with this dire disease. Their premise is simple and powerful, delay disease progression without increase side effect burden is an important medical advance. We are planning to meet with the FDA in the coming months to discuss the optimal path forward.

A second mechanism by which cortisol modulation may prove useful is by blocking an important tumor growth pathway. Cortisol stimulation is a major reason why patients with metastatic prostate cancer treated with the widely prescribed androgen receptor antagonist enzalutamide eventually experience resurgent disease. Deprived of androgen stimulation, their tumors switch to cortisol activity to stimulate growth. Our hypothesis is that adding a cortisol modulator to androgen deprivation therapy will close this tumor escape route. We are conducting a dose-finding study of our selective cortisol modulator exicorilant, combined with enzalutamide in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer and expect to select an optimum dose by the end of this year.

A third oncologic mechanism recognizes cortisol’s suppression of the immune system, a quality that likely blunts the effectiveness of immunotherapy. We are conducting an open-label Phase 1b trial of relacorilant plus the PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab, Merck’s drug Keytruda in patients with advanced adrenal cancer whose tumors produce excess cortisol. These patients suffer the effects of adrenal cancer and Cushing syndrome, a usually quickly lethal combination.

Pembrolizumab is rarely effective as monotherapy in these patients. We believe that these patients’ cortisol excess may be countering the intended effects of pembrolizumab, which is to stimulate the immune therapy. So just let me say that a little bit more briefly. Cortisol suppresses the immune system, immunotherapy increases the activity of the immune system and by dialing back cortisol activity, we think that immunotherapy may become significantly more effective.

Our trial is evaluating whether relacorilant can treat these patients’ Cushing syndrome by reducing cortisol activity and by reversing cortisol-induced immune suppression, allow pembrolizumab to achieve its full cancer-killing effect. We plan to enroll 20 patients at five sites in the United States. The primary endpoint is objective response rate with secondary endpoints including progression-free survival, duration of response and overall survival.

I will now turn to our program’s metabolic disease and the recent findings of proprietary selective cortisol modulator miricorilant in patients with NASH, a serious liver disorder. Patients who received miricorilant in our Phase 2 trial exhibited large rapid reductions in liver fat, but also substantial transient elevations of the liver enzymes ALT and AST. The improvement in liver fat in these patients was greater and occurred much more quickly than we had expected and are rarely seen over any period of treatment.

As a reminder, the trial’s primary endpoint was a 30% reduction in liver fat after 12 weeks of treatment. In fact, patients exhibited reductions in liver fat ranging from 38.5% to 73.8% after receiving miricorilant for just one month. It may be that the rapidity of miricorilant’s fat reducing effect caused ALT and AST to rise. One way, the liver sheds its lipids is by metabolizing them into fatty acids, which in excessive amounts irritate the liver. Interestingly, liver — levels of serum lipids in these patients did not increase with treatment, providing support for the idea that miricorilant leads to the excess fat in the liver being rapidly metabolized immediately within the liver. We will present these results to the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, AASLD, Meeting later this month. The presentation is now available in the Publications section of our website.

Our recently initiated Phase 1b dose finding trial in patients with presumed NASH will evaluate if miricorilant can produce significant reductions in liver fat without causing liver irritation. We’re also evaluating miricorilant as a potential treatment for patients with another serious and widespread disorder, antipsychotic-induced weight gain. In the United States, 6 million people take antipsychotic medications such as olanzapine and risperidone to treat illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

While these drugs are very effective, they exact steep price in the form of rapid and sustained weight gain, which leads to cardiovascular and metabolic disease. The average life expectancy in patients in the United States who chronically take antipsychotic medication is decreased by 20 years frequently due to increased cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.

We are conducting two double-blind placebo-controlled Phase 2 trials of miricorilant in patients with this disorder, GRATITUDE and GRATITUDE II. These trials seek to build on the positive data from our study of miricorilant in healthy subjects. Last year, we completed a trial in which 96 healthy subjects received olanzapine and either 600 milligrams of miricorilant, 900 milligrams of miricorilant or placebo for 14 days. Subjects who received miricorilant gained significantly less weight than those who received placebo. They also exhibited a smaller increase in triglycerides and an ALT and AST, which typically exhibit sharp transient increases at the start of olanzapine therapy. A paper describing these results was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

The GRATITUDE trial is evaluating whether miricorilant can reverse recent antipsychotic induced weight gain. 100 patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder will receive, in addition to their established dose of antipsychotic medication, either 600 milligrams of miricorilant or placebo for 12 weeks. GRATITUDE is being conducted at 30 centers in the United States.

Our GRATITUDE II study is testing miricorilant as a treatment for long-standing antipsychotic-induced weight gain. 150 patients with schizophrenia will receive in addition to their established dose of antipsychotic medication either 600 milligrams or 900 milligrams of miricorilant or placebo for 26 weeks.

GRATITUDE II is being conducted at 35 centers in the United States. The primary endpoint in both studies is reduction in body weight. Other important measures of metabolic activity will also be examined. We expect to complete enrollment in GRATITUDE II by the end of this year and in GRATITUDE in mid-2022.

As many of you know, relacorilant is our planned successor to Korlym for the treatment of hypercortisolism. We are evaluating it in two Phase 3 trials, GRACE and GRADIENT. Like all of our proprietary molecules, relacorilant is a selective cortisol modulator. Like Korlym, it achieves its effect by competing with cortisol at the glucocorticoid receptor. Unlike Korlym, it does not bind to the progesterone receptor, PR for short. It is not the abortion pill and it does not cause other PR-related side effects, including endometrial thickening and vaginal bleeding. By a different mechanism, relacorilant also does not appear to cause hypokalemia, low potassium, serious side effects experienced by 44% of patients in Korlym’s pivotal trial.

Korlym-induced hypokalemia is a leading cause of Korlym discontinuation. Relacorilant Phase 2 efficacy and safety data were strong. Patients experienced meaningful improvements in hypertension and glucose control as well as a variety of other signs and symptoms of Cushing syndrome. There were no relacorilant-induced incidents of endometrial thickening or vaginal bleeding and no drug-induced hypokalemia. The trial results were recently published in Frontiers in Endocrinology

Our GRACE trial has a planned enrollment of 130 patients with any etiology of Cushing syndrome. As a reminder, GRACE has a randomized withdrawal trial design. All patients received relacorilant for 22 weeks in an open label phase. Those who meet response criteria for improvement in glucose control hypertension or both are randomized to continue treatment with relacorilant or placebo for 12 weeks. While the pandemic has and continues to impact the execution of this trial, we and our investigators are eager to take race to the finish line. We expect GRACE to serve as a basis for our NDA submission in Cushing syndrome, which we remain on track to submit in the second quarter of 2023.

Our second Phase 3 trial, GRADIENT, is studying relacorilant’s effects in patients whose Cushing syndrome is caused by an adrenal adenoma or adrenal hyperplasia. Patients with this etiology of Cushing syndrome often experience a less rapid decline, but ultimately their health outcomes are poor. GRADIENT has a planned enrollment of 130 patients and is being conducted at many of the sites participating in GRACE. GRADIENT is the first controlled study in patients with this type of Cushing syndrome. While we do not expect our NDA in Cushing syndrome to depend on data from GRADIENT, we do expect that its findings will help improve the care of these increasingly recognized patients.

Finally, a brief word about CORT113176, which has shown promise in animal models of ALS. We are in discussions with leading clinicians and the FDA regarding our development plans and plan to initiate Phase 2 trial by early next year. While the pandemic dampened our commercial results for more than a year, our business is growing as pandemic conditions improve. And remember, even in the most challenging periods of the pandemic, our commercial business generated more than enough cash to fund our advancing development activities.

We believe cortisol modulation can help treat many serious disorders. Korlym for patients with Cushing syndrome is one example of cortisol modulation’s benefit. The data generated by our ovarian cancer NASH and antipsychotic-induced weight gain programs provide increasing proof of cortisol modulation’s broad worth. Currently, our oncology program is evaluating two of our proprietary cortisol modulators in three tumor types; ovarian, prostate and adrenal. Our metabolic program is following up encouraging clinical data in NASH and antipsychotic-induced weight gain. We continue to enroll patients in our Phase 3 trials of relacorilant in Cushing syndrome. Early next year, we plan to start Phase 2 trial using another of our proprietary compounds, CORT113176, to treat patients with ALS and more proprietary early stage compounds advanced towards the clinic.

This is an exciting time at Corcept and I’d like to thank our employees for their tremendous effort and dedication. In the coming months, we plan to expand our teams to support what we believe as an increasingly broad and strong pipeline.

I’ll stop here for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question is from Chris Howerton of Jefferies. Your line is open.

Chris Howerton — Jefferies — Analyst

Excellent. Thank you very much for taking the questions. And I agree a lot going on, Joe, in an exciting time for the company. For me — thank you. And two questions, I suppose, from me. One would be, as you’re kind of seeing the hays from the pandemic clearing and obviously the acceleration, as you indicated, what do you think are going to be the key drivers for the commercial business in Cushing’s next year? Any thoughts on things like sales projection, guidance or what the key drivers are that you guys are looking forward to from a commercial’s perspective next year?

The second question that I would have is that like how do you anticipate the overall survival data from the ovarian cancer cohort, I think it’s from the Phase 2, how will that impact the ultimate design and do you believe there is still any opportunity for an accelerated approval using an alternative endpoint outside of OS? Thank you.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thanks, Chris, I think we got both of those questions. And to save my voice a little bit, I’m going to pass you over to eminent Head of our Commercial Group, our Chief Commercial Officer, Sean Maduck, to answer the first question.

Sean Maduck — Chief Commercial Officer

Hi, Chris. Thanks for the questions. In terms of 2022, we expect that growth will continue. We do not provide guidance at this time and we’ll provide guidance early next year for the ’22 numbers. In terms of what the drivers of growth will be, stepping back a little bit, Joe talked about the pandemic sort of lifting and what we know is that physician visits matter, right, for both patients and our clinical specialists. And during the pandemic, those all went to zero.

Beginning of this year and sort of increasingly throughout the year, as restrictions have eased, things have opened up and patients have gone back to their physicians. And we’ve been able to actually interact with physicians. And as a result, we see more patients are being prescribed Korlyms, so things have started to return to normal and we’re optimistic that that improvement is going to continue, but just want to state we’re not there yet –probably there we’re not there yet. And reality is that some things may never return to how they were pre-pandemic.

So, in terms of next year, one thing we’ve done very diligently and methodically over time is look at sort of our sales force and potentially increasing the size, if we believe, there is opportunity to get to more physicians. And we started with 15 at launch, we’re at 50 today, and we’re planning to get to around 60 by next year. And just to be clear, it takes time to find the right territory that makes sense, it takes time to find the right talent and then it takes time to get that clinical specialist trained up to a place where they can be effective in the field.

So, I wouldn’t expect the extra 10 heads to start providing value early next year. But throughout the year, we’d expect to see some ramp-up from that. So, we really are continuing to explore ways that we can continue to educate on disease education and on Korlym reach as many physicians as we possibly can.

And just to sum it up, I mean, we have more physicians — more prescribing physicians than we’ve ever had and we’ve got more patients than probably we ever had. So we expect to continue that trend into next year.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

And I’d like to now introduce all of you to Bill Guyer. Bill is our Chief Development Officer and recently from a long successful career at Gilead. And I’d like to have him answer the question — on your second question, Chris, related to ovarian cancer study.

William Guyer — Chief Development Officer

Great. Thank you, Joe. And thank you for that question. So, while your question was around OS, I do want to kind of bring you back to beginning of the trial. With our Phase 2 study, we met our primary endpoint. And we’re very excited that we met our primary endpoint because we saw statistical significant improvements in progression-free survival and duration of response by approximately two months. And the good thing is, for that Phase 2 study, we saw overall results that were very strong and we didn’t have to look at subgroups to see a response for relacorilant plus nab-paclitaxel. So I think that’s a very positive piece.

And after the presentation that Joe mentioned at ESMO, we’ve had many conversations with gynecological experts around the world and they’re just as excited with those primary results from our Phase 2 study. Based on those results, we are actively planning with meeting with the FDA and we’ll talk about the most relevant information to come away with an optimal design for our path forward. When it comes to OS, we’re evaluating OS and at the time when we did the first data cut we had 63% of OS events and at that time we saw a trend towards an improvement of OS about 2.5 months. And I think that’s also very positive, but yet the good thing is that women are living longer in this trial and that’s the ultimate goal of hopefully what we can achieve with relacorilant plus nab-paclitaxel. We will report next analysis when we hit that final data cut of 120 events.

We are actively planning for a Phase 3 study and we plan to move forward and we’re working with a leading organization called GOG, which is the Gynecological Oncology Group. And as we work with them, they’re very excited about the results as well and are actively working with us to help guide us for our path forward related to our Phase 3 study or any other path forwards with the FDA.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thank you, Bill. And Chris, I know sort of import of your question and, look, I think everyone should get, same people are setting here in previous calls that your expectation should be a Phase 3 study, certainly our expectation we’re setting up to do that. But data will come along over the next few months and we will have conversations with the FDA and go from there. Of course, a lot of it was missed [Phonetic]. Thanks for setting that. [Phonetic].

Chris Howerton — Jefferies — Analyst

Okay. All right. Well, nice to meet you, Bill. And thanks a lot for answering the questions.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thanks, Chris.

Operator

Your next question is from Matt Kaplan of Ladenburg Thalmann. Your line is open.

Matt Kaplan — Ladenburg Thalmann — Analyst

Hi. Thanks for taking the questions and congrats on a strong quarterly results. Just wanted to — I guess, in your development programs, you mentioned ALS and your plans for 113176. Can you give us a little bit of detail in terms of the mechanism of action and why you think CORT, this molecule could play a role in ALS?

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yeah. Matt, let me take that question because, again, to provide a little bit of context one of the things that really from the beginning of Corcept, we do a little bit differently than other pharmaceutical companies is we’ve always had extensive academic collaborations really throughout the world, half in the United States, half outside of the United States, half preclinical, half clinical. And frankly, it was the only way I thought we could get to the really broad platform of cortisol modulation.

And just before I answer your question about ALS, everyone should understand that the initial data for the oncology programs that we have came out of a long-term collaboration with the University of Chicago. The programs that we have in metabolic disease, particularly in NASH, came in at long-term collaboration that we have with the University of Leiden in The Netherlands. And what it really provided for us was a great farm system; not all research works out, but when it does work out, we’re able to move it back in-house and make it go much more quickly.

And one of our collaborating researchers is actually in Buenos Aires in Argentina, a long-term ALS investigator. And fortunately, as I know you know Matt, it really hasn’t been much success in ALS ever. In any event, in working with sort of the standard animal models in ALS, he really was able to show that cortisol modulation and specifically — I mean he has ideas really where it’s working in the brain in these animal models, not just slow the deterioration of ALS but at least in the period from which he studied the animals actually improved things. It actually clinically improved the animals and it also, from a pathological point of view, increased their muscle fiber strength and muscle function, so it’s a very intriguing finding.

Now, ALS is like Mount Everest. I mean, that is not an easy mountain to climb, it’s a dire need, many, many companies have tried to work on it. And all I can really tell you at this point is that the best evidence for its success are these successful animal testings, which has now been repeated several times. And as we last studied the articles, we can find the results all have been published in peer-reviewed journals. So we’ll see. What I can tell you is that there is a group of investigators who are very interested in this mechanism, they’re very interested in taking it forward. We’re very excited to give it a try, it’s a difficult area to work in, but wouldn’t it be cool if we can actually provide some help for these patients.

Matt Kaplan — Ladenburg Thalmann — Analyst

Sure. That’s helpful. And then, secondly, in terms of castrate-resistant prostate cancer program, what are the next steps after you select the optimal dose? Is that movement into Phase 3?

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

I think it’s actually moving into Phase 2. I think it’s really at that point — this is really a Phase 1b study. I just want to remind again, Matt, you may know this with the whole audience that it’s a really intriguing idea. It has very good science behind it, out of great places, and basically, as I said before, it’s blocking a critical escape pathway where men who are receiving androgen modulation but it’s no longer effective. So that’s the concept.

The other practical point I want to remind everyone is that we are running a study with exicorilant, which is one of our cortisol modulators, the University of Chicago is actually running a very similar study with relacorilant. And we expect that both of these to approach kind of their dose finding finish line about the same time towards the end of the year and then we will make a selection as to which of those compounds we bring forward into Phase 2.

Matt Kaplan — Ladenburg Thalmann — Analyst

And — that’s helpful. Thank you. And then, last question, in terms of Korlym, you had great success in the third quarter. What are you seeing in the fourth quarter early on here in terms of — are you seeing continuing of that momentum in terms of new patient as it starts?

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yeah. We don’t comment on quarters in progress, but we see — I think I’m okay saying to you. We see no diminution of the trend we have previously seen.

Matt Kaplan — Ladenburg Thalmann — Analyst

Thank you. And thanks again for taking the questions.

Operator

Your next question is from Tazeen Ahmad of Bank of America. Your line is open.

Tazeen Ahmad — Bank of America — Analyst

Hi. Good afternoon, guys. Thanks for taking my questions.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Sure.

Tazeen Ahmad — Bank of America — Analyst

A couple on Korlym, if I could. Can you give us a little bit more detail about what the contribution of price and volume were to growth this quarter?

Atabak Mokari — Chief Financial Officer

So, I mean — so we took a 5% price increase in March 1 of last year or beginning of this year.

Tazeen Ahmad — Bank of America — Analyst

And I guess — yeah go ahead.

Atabak Mokari — Chief Financial Officer

I was going to say it’s from a year-on-year growth perspective around 60% of the growth, which was due to volume and 20% due to pricing.

Tazeen Ahmad — Bank of America — Analyst

And I guess, as this year has progressed, has that contribution from volume increased despite the COVID headwinds?

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yeah. As — Tazeen, as Sean mentioned earlier, we now have more patients taking Korlym that have ever taken it and more physicians are prescribing it.

Tazeen Ahmad — Bank of America — Analyst

Okay. And if I guess we can move on to ovarian cancer, for your trial design for Phase 3, are you expecting that you will only have to do one Phase 3 study or would there be a need for two? And did you have an official end of Phase 2 meeting with FDA before designing the study as it stands now?

William Guyer — Chief Development Officer

Well, thank you for that question. This is Bill Guyer. So, we are actively planning to meet with the FDA. And when we have all the information to have that discussion, we will within the next few months, as I think Joe said. At this time, we’re planning on a Phase 3 trial that’s looking at the intermittent dose because that’s where we saw the most successful dose of relacorilant plus nab-paclitaxel. We plan on doing a controlled study and that’s a controlled study versus an investigator choice of treatment.

While that study will be larger than our Phase 2 study, we basically just want to replicate the great results we saw in Phase 2 where we saw statistically significant improvement in PFS as well as DOR, duration of response. And so we’re going to actively work, as I said earlier, with a leading organization here in the United States that has a global connection, it’s called the GOG, the Gynecological Oncology Group. And they’re collectively just as excited as we are, if not actually sometimes more excited than we are to progress this study forward and also help us with the FDA and other regulators.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

And so just — I’m just going to sum up, this was in there [Indecipherable], our expectation is a single study.

Tazeen Ahmad — Bank of America — Analyst

Right. I was assuming that because of the undermet need that should be sufficient. So, thanks for confirming. Okay. Thanks guys.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

You’re welcome.

Operator

Your next question is from the line of Arthur He of H.C. Wainwright. Your line is open.

Arthur He — H.C. Wainwright — Analyst

Good afternoon, gentlemen. This is Arthur for R.K. Thanks for taking my question. So, I guess, I want to touch on the NASH Phase 1 study for the miricorilant. Could you guys give us more color on the study design as well as the patient inclusion criteria? And when could we expect initial data from that study?

William Guyer — Chief Development Officer

Yeah. Great question. And as I answer the question, let me just back you up a little bit because patients with NASH have lived with that disease and progressed over decades. They typically start with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and then progress to NASH where they have fibrosis and sometimes progress to cirrhosis. And the goal is to reverse that live fat accumulation and reverse fibrosis over time and it’s common in NASH development programs to achieve those goals over the course of a year. And in our Phase 2 study, again I’ll get to your answer on Phase 1b, but I’ve got to remind you of the Phase 2 study that Joe had talked about, what we saw really was with miricorilant unprecedented results for fat loss.

When we looked at miricorilant 600 milligrams and/or 900 milligrams, we saw reductions in liver fat for 40% to as much as 75%. We actually saw one patient have complete resolution of liver fat in just four weeks. And that resulted though unfortunately with a consequential rise in ALT and AST. And so, as we look at those endpoints, we’re trying to now design that Phase 1b study, which we have done so and then has started and we’re actively recruiting that study. And that Phase 1b study is going to have four different cohorts looking at lower doses of miricorilant starting at 150 milligrams, 300 milligrams and 450 milligrams, as well as a dose escalation scheme is one of the cohorts starting at 150 milligrams and up to a maximum dose of 600 milligrams. And each cohort is gated by an evaluation of safety and efficacy every four weeks and will continue up to 16 weeks. This is an open label trial. So we’ll look at the safety and efficacy results as they come in for each cohort and will plan accordingly as we interpret those results.

Arthur He — H.C. Wainwright — Analyst

Thanks for the color. So, I just wonder, so for the endpoint evaluation, are you guys trying to use the image or is there any biopsy involved for the NASH study?

William Guyer — Chief Development Officer

No biopsies involved in this study. We’re using MRI PDFF, which is a MRI version to look at liver fat. And that’s what we did in the Phase 2 study as well.

Arthur He — H.C. Wainwright — Analyst

Okay, thanks. And then, we could expect the initial data from in next year probably?

William Guyer — Chief Development Officer

As I said, we’re going to be looking at the data for each cohort and there’s four-week gates. And so we’ll be looking at that data as it comes along. It’s basically a six-month trial so — but internally at Corcept, we’ll be seeing the data as it comes in on a regular basis.

Arthur He — H.C. Wainwright — Analyst

Okay. Thank you. And my next question is a regarding the capital allocation. So, with almost half bidding cash in hand, beside their internal pipeline development, are you guys contemplating any business development target? Just curious, thanks

Atabak Mokari — Chief Financial Officer

Hi, Arthur; it’s Atabak. Thanks for the question. We are cognizant of our large cash position and regularly evaluate our capital allocation alternatives, but nothing newer updates for the quarter this time.

Arthur He — H.C. Wainwright — Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yeah. Just to underscore that though, yes, we really are aware of how successful the business has shown — the run has been. We’re continuing evaluating where we would like to put the cash we don’t need for our clinical programs. Obviously that’s the first priority. So, it is an active topic really at all points. And should we have updates, you’ll be right on the list to know. So, thank you, Arthur. Thanks for the question.

Arthur He — H.C. Wainwright — Analyst

Yeah. Sounds great. Thank you. Thank you for taking my question.

Operator

Your next question is from Alan Leong of BioWatch. Your line is open.

Alan Leong — BioWatch — Analyst

Thanks for taking my questions. Joe, Charlie, Atabak and Sean, good to hear from you. And we are pleased to meet your make your acquaintance. Congratulations on the quarter. I want to go back to something that was mentioned earlier. More patients for Cushing’s than previously thought, wonder if I could have some color on this? This reflected more severe patients the classic case for patients or is it the endocrinologists are beginning to lump in less severe cases?

Sean Maduck — Chief Commercial Officer

Yeah. Thanks. Alan, this is Sean. I’ll answer that. And Joe, please add any color that you would like to. But I’m going to talk a little bit about sort of the historical data around this disease. So, the population data that is often referenced and has been around for many years suggest that the prevalent patient population is around 20,000 patients a year, half of whom are cured by surgery. I think something that’s important though to note about that data and you just touched on it is that 70% of those patients have Cushing’s disease. And for those that aren’t as familiar with the illness, that’s patients with disease of pituitary origin.

And what’s happened really over time and most recently, I would say, in the last five plus years is, there’s really mounting evidence showing that there may be more patients with adrenal hypercortisolism than previously thought. And, there really is a large amount of any kind of research or publications, which we’d be happy to share that support this. So, there’s not a million hypercortisolism patients and this is tariffs, still a rare disease, but could there be 30,000 or 40,000, yes. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were. And as education increases, physicians are screening more, awareness is being raised. I think we will see that evolve over time and there will be a better understanding of what this market really looks like.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

No, I have nothing to add.

Alan Leong — BioWatch — Analyst

Okay. I’ve got that, I suspect you’re GRADIENT trial is going to be key.

Sean Maduck — Chief Commercial Officer

Yeah. It’s really, Alan, very nice to be able to do that. That is the first controlled study in patients with this specific form of Cushing’s syndrome. And we’re able to do it in the standard kind of double-blind fashion, because many of these patients are not treated at all for their hypercortisolism. At this point, they’re just treated with seven different medications for seven different symptoms. So, I’m really looking forward to add that to scientific literature and hopefully be helpful in clinical care very quickly.

Alan Leong — BioWatch — Analyst

Got a couple of more questions, but they tend to more philosophical. I want to follow up on Matt Kaplan’s question on CORT113176, really on how your portfolio maybe apply to CNS and neuromuscular diseases? Because I’m watching this and cortisol has this regulation and metabolic [Indecipherable] are prominent mutation. And I’d like to see the drug be successful for CNS mechanism, but it’s still not evident. But I look at your drug and if I would do is help mitigate their metabolic problems that are still huge. So, I don’t know if you have color on it?

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

I’ll give you — I can give you the five-hour version of that. I’m sure it is enough for you. Look, as you know, Alan, I’m a psychiatrist by training. I think the brain is the most sensitive organ in the body to hormonal dysregulation, specifically cortisol dysregulation, but historically psychiatric and neurologic studies have been among the most difficult to do. And as you know, many large companies have foundered in that area and programs have been cut and so on and so forth. And so, I have a great intellectual interest in going in that area. I think there is tremendous need and possibility, I know as you know, there is — we have a study now in push-traumatic stress disorder that’s being run by BA [Phonetic]. There’s good animal data in another neurological disease, Huntington’s disease.

So, I’m really hoping that in sort of the five to ten-year zone, we will really be back in a serious way into CNS disorders. It would really be wonderful to give some help to these patients and cortisol modulation has lots of good reasons to give it a try. So, sort of one thing at a time, we have a very full plate as it is, but I do think that over time we will be feathering in CNS disorders as we have more information. So, cross your fingers.

Alan Leong — BioWatch — Analyst

You do have a full dinner plate. And that’s what I call it. And you can see the clinical phase quickening and the portfolio expanding. It’s very interesting for a small company, and yet you’re opening up about two new drugs to the clinic. Is this what you envision as a game planner growing clinical portfolio in, say, even fatter than today, but you still hope you can introduce the new drug roughly every year?

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

That really is the goal. And cortisol modulation is a very broad and important — it just is a very important platform and we don’t want to overstep. We really think very hard about what we can actually get done. Yes, I really do think that’s a fair statement of our goal, which is to add a compound a year. And if the evidence is therefore to add a disorder a year, can’t promise if that’s going to be the case of all the evidence where it goes. But I think that we’re really on to something. I think the cortisol modulation is a big area and we’re first.

Alan Leong — BioWatch — Analyst

Thanks for answering my questions. I hope it comes true. You’re kind of interesting — it’s an interesting situation being such a small company but trying to create and execute a large portfolio. Thanks and good luck.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yeah. And we’re not as small as we used to be, Alan, you remember that right.

Alan Leong — BioWatch — Analyst

Over are the days.

Joseph K. Belanoff — Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

All right. Well, listen, I’m going to stop here. Great to talk to all of you. Obviously as we have news, we will put it out. Otherwise we’ll talk to all of you next quarter and hope you enjoy what’s left of the fall and the early winter. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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