Results From 2 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Studies of the Novel NK1 Receptor Antagonist Casopitant in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder

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Clinical study results for neurokinin (NK) receptor antagonists in the treatment of depression have been mixed, with Phase III studies failing to fulfill the early promise demonstrated in Phase II studies. Casopitant, a selective NK1 antagonist that achieves nearly complete receptor occupancy was studied in 2 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, Phase II trials in depressed outpatients to test the hypothesis that nearly complete NK1 receptor occupancy is required to achieve antidepressant efficacy. Study 092 used an interactive voice response system to recruit depressed patients with baseline Hamilton Depression (17-item, HAMD17) total scores higher than 24 who were randomized to fixed-dose casopitant 30 mg/d, 80 mg/d, or placebo for 8 weeks (n = 356). Study 096 required Carroll Depression Scale-Revised self-assessment scores of higher than 24 for randomization to casopitant 120 mg/d, paroxetine 30 mg/d (both reached via forced titration), or placebo for 8 weeks (n = 362). In study 092, casopitant 80 mg but not 30 mg achieved statistically significant improvement versus placebo on the primary outcome measure, week 8 last observation carried forward change from baseline HAMD17 (difference = −2.7; 95% confidence interval, −5.1 to −0.4, P = 0.023). In study 096, neither casopitant nor paroxetine achieved statistical separation from placebo at end point on HAMD17 (casopitant difference = −1.7; 95% CI, −3.8 to 0.4, P = 0.282). Casopitant and paroxetine were generally well tolerated in most patients. These studies suggest that NK1 antagonists that have nearly complete receptor occupancy may be effective in the treatment of depression.

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