The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first oral medication to treat postpartum depression. The drug, called zuranolone, is a once-a-day pill and will be branded as Zurzuvae by drugmakers Sage Therapeutics and Biogen.
Postpartum depression is a major depressive episode that typically occurs after childbirth but can also begin during the later stages of pregnancy. Until now, treatment for PPD was only available as an IV injection given by a health care provider in certain health care facilities.
“Postpartum depression is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in which women experience sadness, guilt, worthlessness—even, in severe cases, thoughts of harming themselves or their child. And, because postpartum depression can disrupt the maternal-infant bond, it can also have consequences for the child’s physical and emotional development,” said Tiffany R. Farchione, M.D., director of the Division of Psychiatry in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Having access to an oral medication will be a beneficial option for many of these women coping with extreme, and sometimes life-threatening, feelings.”
As with other forms of depression, PPD is characterized by sadness and/or loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy and a decreased ability to feel pleasure. It can present with symptoms such as cognitive impairment, feelings of sadness or inadequacy, loss of energy or suicidal ideation.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Zurzuvae can impact a person’s ability to drive and perform other potentially hazardous activities. Patients also may not be able to assess their degree of impairment. To reduce the risk of harm, patients should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 12 hours after taking Zurzuvae.
The most common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, fatigue, nasopharyngitis (the common cold), and urinary tract infection. Use of Zurzuvae may cause suicidal thoughts and behavior. Zurzuvae may cause fetal harm. Women should use effective contraception while taking, and for one week after taking, Zurzuvae.
This article is not an endorsement for Zurzuvae. This release is from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration