Efficacy and Safety of Mifepristone in the Treatment of Male US Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Phase 2a Randomized Clinical Trial

Julia A. Golier, Xue Li, Marcel Bizien, Robin A. Hurley, Brendan W. Bechard, Timothy Kimbrell, Janine D. Flory, Dewleen G. Baker, Rachel Yehuda, Domenic J. Reda

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2 Scopus citations


Importance: To date, no psychopharmacologic treatment has been found to be uniformly effective in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); novel targets and approaches are needed to treat this disabling disorder. Objective: To examine whether treatment with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist mifepristone yields a signal for clinical efficacy in male veterans with PTSD. Design, Setting, and Participants: This phase 2a, double-blind, parallel-group randomized clinical trial was conducted from November 19, 2012 (accrual started), through November 16, 2016 (final follow-up), within the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Participants were male veterans with chronic PTSD and a screening Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale score of 50 or higher. A total of 181 veterans consented to participation. Statistical analysis was conducted between August 2014 and May 2017. Interventions: Participants were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to mifepristone (600 mg) or matched placebo taken orally for 7 days. Main Outcomes and Measures: The clinical outcome was whether a veteran achieved a clinical response status (a reduction of ≥30% of total Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale score from baseline) at 4- and 12-week follow-up. On the basis of a binary statistical selection rule, a difference in the proportion of treatment vs control group responders of 15% would be a clinically relevant difference. Self-report measures of PTSD and associated symptoms were also obtained. Neuroendocrine outcomes and plasma levels of mifepristone were measured. Safety was assessed throughout the study. The primary analysis was based on a multiple imputation technique to address missing outcome data; thus, some participant numbers may not appear as whole numbers. Results: A total of 81 veterans were enrolled and randomized. Excluding 1 participant randomized in error, 80 were included in the modified intention-to-treat analysis (41 randomized to mifepristone and 39 to placebo). The mean (SD) age was 43.1 (13.7) years. A total of 15.6 (38.1%) in the mifepristone group and 12.1 (31.1%) in the placebo group were clinical responders at 4 weeks in the analysis using the multiple imputation technique. The group difference in the proportion of clinical responders (7.0%) was less than the predefined margin of 15% indicating signal for clinical efficacy. In an exploratory analysis, the difference in response to mifepristone vs placebo in the subgroup with no lifetime history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) (7.0 [50.0%] vs 3.0 [27.3%]; difference, 22.7%) exceeded the efficacy margin at 4 weeks and was sustained at 12 weeks. In contrast, in veterans with PTSD and lifetime TBI, the response rate to mifepristone was lower than placebo at 12 weeks (7.4 [27.4%] vs 13.5 [48.3%]; difference, -20.9%). Conclusions and Relevance: This study did not detect a signal for efficacy for mifepristone at 600 mg/d for 1 week in male veterans with chronic PTSD. Thus, this study does not support a phase 3 trial in this population. Future studies of mifepristone for the treatment of PTSD may be of interest in those without a history of TBI or in samples with a low base rate of lifetime head trauma. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01946685.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2310223
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


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