FDA approves first drug for postpartum depression

6 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, March 21 2019 Mar 21, 2019 Thursday, March 21, 2019 3:21:00 PM CDT March 21, 2019 in News
By: Matthew Unthank and Nikki Ogle, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug designed to specifically treat postpartum depression.

The drug, known as Zulresso, is the first of its kind to target postpartum depression. It is taken over the course of 2½ days via an IV injection in the hospital. According to a Dr. Kim Brandt of MU Health Care's perinatal psychiatry unit, it’s effective.

“So far, the data shows, basically, that about a month out that benefit is still there,” Brandt said. “Even a month after getting the infusion, without any other treatment, moms still have relief of that depression.”

Sage Therapeutics Inc., which developed the drug, found in a study that half of the women who were suffering from postpartum depression symptoms who also took Zulresso reported their depression ending after only a couple of days. The drug costs $34,000 without insurance, and it will be up to insurance companies to decide whether or not they want to cover the cost.

Postpartum depression symptoms are common in the U.S., affecting about one out of every nine women nationally, according to research done by the CDC. While some mothers overcome the depression a few weeks after giving birth, the more severe postpartum depression can linger with other mothers for years. Regardless, Brandt says the depression is not as simple as people may think.

“Sometimes, it’s not as much feeling [depressed] as it is much more anxiety, much more feeling like they’re restless, they can’t sit still, they’re worried something bad might happen to their babies,” Brandt said.

Fathers, though less common, can also develop postpartum depression.

Brandt said MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital screens all moms for postpartum depression symptoms.

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