FDA approves drug for postpartum depression treatment, but it comes at a hefty price

FDA approves drug for postpartum depression treatment

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Zulresso is a drug that was approved by the FDA on Tuesday, and it’s advertised as a treatment for postpartum depression.

“It’s the first drug of its kind and it’s the newest drug that we’ve had in the last 30 years for postpartum depression,” said Dr. Rachael Morris of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Postpartum depression is a very common problem, according to Dr. Morris. In fact, 15 to 20 percent of mothers will experience this problem in the postpartum phase.

That’s about 400,000 women per year.

“Women think that, when they’re having a baby, that they’re supposed to be super heroes. And they start having symptoms of postpartum depression, and they don’t want to talk about it. They keep it to themselves but it affects everyone -- the baby, the their families, but most importantly themselves,” said Morris.

She said that unlike other depression medications, Zulresso works almost immediately.

"The drug from the recent studies that they have suggest that almost immediate improvement. Within 24 hours of administration of the drug."

However, Zulresso is not yet cost effective.

“It’s an extremely expensive drug. My understanding is that the drug costs anything from $20,000 to $35,000. It is a single dose administration, single cost, however that is not going to be available for most individual people," said Morris.

Zulresso is administered with the use of an IV bag.

“It is a drug that has to be administered in the hospital so it’s not something a mother could do at home. And it’s a 60 hour long infusion. It’s not approved for breastfeeding at this point,” said Morris.

It's a primitive time for the drug but Doctor Morris is hopeful.

“We might not all be able to use this drug. Hopefully, again, with exciting times, more drugs will become available that will be more applicable to all patients and that’s certainly the goal,” she said.

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