By Robb M. Stewart

Cara Therapeutics' shares plummeted on Monday as the biopharmaceutical company made the decision to discontinue its clinical program focusing on pruritus associated with atopic dermatitis.

In recent trading, the shares were down 49% to 63 cents, marking a significant decline of 94% so far this year. The stock reached a new 52-week low of 61 cents earlier in the session.

Cara revealed that the dose-finding part A of its study, which aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of oral difelikefalin as adjunct therapy to topical corticosteroids for moderate-to-severe pruritus in adult patients with atopic dermatitis, did not show a meaningful clinical benefit when compared to using topical corticosteroids alone.

However, Cara pointed out that oral difelikefalin was generally well tolerated and exhibited a safety profile similar to previous trials. The company also expressed confidence that this outcome does not have any implications for other late-stage clinical programs involving oral difelikefalin as a monotherapy without topical corticosteroids in different indications and patient populations.

The late-stage oral difelikefalin clinical programs for pruritus associated with notalgia paresthetica and advanced chronic kidney disease are progressing as planned, with important data readouts projected in the second half of next year, according to Cara.

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