The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever pill for treating postpartum depression, called Zurzuvae (zuranolone).
The makers of the new pill, Sage Therapeutics and Biogen Inc. have said that the drug will be commercially available in the fourth quarter of this year, as soon as October.
A potentially life-threatening condition, postpartum depression affects hundreds of thousands of new parents across the US every year. It will have an impact on one in seven people who give birth in the weeks after delivery, and can seriously disturb the health of the parent and child. The only treatment available prior to Zurzuvae was Brexanolone, an expensive drug that had to be administered via IV for 60 hours. On the contrary, the new pill has to be taken once a day for 14 days.
Unlike antidepressants, Zurzuvae does not target neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. It is a derivative of progesterone that can be unbalanced in the body after birth. The pill was tested on people with severe postpartum depression, and not on milder cases.
The pill — to be taken once a day for 14 days — has shown promising results in two company studies, with some patients seeing benefits after just three days.