Biogen and Sage Therapeutics’ collaboration to develop Zurzuvae has proved fruitful. The FDA approved the oral pill specifically for the treatment of postpartum depression (PPD), making it the first of its kind in a class of antidepressants intended specifically for new mothers. According to research by the CDC, one in eight women will experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Symptoms of PPD can occur quite intensely after birth and can be dangerous because it can interfere with a new mother’s ability to function. The long-awaited approval comes thanks to two randomized, double-blind studies that proved the efficacy of the drug.
A key hallmark of Zurzuvae is that the medication is expected to work within just a few days and is meant to be taken for up to two weeks. Before this once-daily oral pilll, the most common treatment plan for PPD required an IV injection. That meant administration by a healthcare provider in a hospital or healthcare facility was necessary. With this approval, Zurzuvae will be able to expand access and reach to more women on their way out of hospitals.
The catch is the drug can impact a patient’s ability to drive and cause extreme drowsiness. Additionally, the warning label for the drug highlights that, like most antidepressants, the drug can cause an increased risk for suicidal ideation. To top it off, Zurzuvae may also cause fetal harm. Patients on the drug should use contraception while taking the pill and for one week after taking Zurzuvae.