The American Medicines Agency (FDA) announced on Friday that it was authorizing for the first time a tablet dedicated to the treatment of postpartum depression, a situation encountered by many women after childbirth, but long shrouded in taboo.
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Zurzuvae, from Sage Therapeutics Laboratories, is “the first oral drug to be indicated for the treatment of postpartum depression in adults,” notes the FDA in a press release.
Physical and psychological shock that can last several months, postpartum depression is a “serious and potentially fatal situation, during which women feel sadness, a feeling of guilt, of uselessness”, recalls Tiffany Farchione, responsible in psychiatry at the United States Medicines Agency.
Every year, about half a million American women experience postpartum depression.
“Having access to oral medication will be a beneficial option for many of these women who are dealing with extreme, and sometimes even life-threatening, feelings,” including leading to suicidal thoughts, Tiffany Farchione added in the statement.
According to two double-blind studies cited by the FDA, patients who received Zurzuvae “showed much better improvements in their symptoms than those in the placebo group.”
Authorities recommend taking one 50 mg tablet every night for 14 days. Its price has not been disclosed.
Today, about one in eight women who have given birth experience symptoms of postpartum depression and, of these, only a quarter receive treatment, recalls Asima Ahmad, medical manager for the company Carrot Fertility.
And if there “are a lot of drugs that treat depression, zuranolone (the active ingredient), studied as a treatment for postpartum depression, has a faster effectiveness and a shorter duration of treatment than others drugs already available,” writes the specialist.
Zurzuvae can start working after just three days of treatment, she points out.
The Medicines Agency advises against driving during treatment due to side effects.
Asima Ahmad specifies that another drug, brexanolone, already exists, but requires an intravenous injection over 60 hours, whereas with oral administration at home, Zurzuvae “could improve ease of access for certain populations”, especially ethnic minorities, who are less aware of the risks.