Postpartum Depression is a most common and lingering mental health issue in many moms right after pregnancy, but for the first time ever the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a pill to treat postpartum depression. This therapy, called Zurzuvae is available at specialty pharmacies, and can be prescribed and shipped to post-natal mothers, according to a statement from the pill's maker.
Zurzuvae is given as two 25-milligram capsules per day for 14 days to treat adults with postpartum depression or PPD, a serious mental illness that can develop in about 1 in 7 new mothers after childbirth. The medication is not cheap however. It will cost $15,900 per course before insurance, keeping it out of reach of PPD proned mothers who desperately need it. Pharmaceutical companies Biogen and Sage, makers of the pill launched a patient support program called Zurzuvae For You that includes financial assistance, such as a copay assistance program, as well as medication at no cost for mothers who are eligible.
The drugmakers noted that people taking Zurzuvae in clinical trials had higher reductions in their depressive symptoms compared with those taking a placebo, and the reductions were seen within three days and, in a Phase 3 clinical study, lasted through at least 45 days. This pill is obviously a gamechanger in the lives of many women experiencing PPD. The trials and evidence showing it "can work at Day 15 and improve symptoms in as early as three days" led to the FDA greenlighting its use.
Postpartum depression symptoms can be debilitating and may include sudden bouts of crying, mothers having trouble bonding with their infants, sleeplessness and feeling hopeless. Daily tasks and routines become challenging in cases of severe postpartum depression, and women often have recurring thoughts of suicide, self-harm or harming their infants, which require immediate attention.
Other options to treat postpartum depression orally are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, antidepressants, but these take weeks before effects are seen and must be taken daily for at least six to 12 months according to Dr. Katrina Furey, a psychiatrist in private practice in women’s mental health and reproductive psychiatry at Yale University. Zurzuvae is very expensive when compared with these medicines, Dr Furey said. SSRIs, which include the generic versions of drugs like Prozac and Zoloft, typically cost less than $20 a month, according to data from GoodRx.
She noted, though, that the $15,900 price tag is less than half that of an earlier postpartum depression drug from Sage called Zulresso. Priced at about $35,000, that drug is given via IV infusion over the course of 60 hours in a hospital.