For the first time, the FDA has approved a new drug exclusively for the treatment of postpartum depression. The new drug, Zulresso (brexanolone) is only available in injection form, given over sixty hours and requires an inpatient stay. At 34,000 dollars per treatment, many experts worry about the accessibility of the patients most in need. Until a pill form of the drug is available, patients can expect to spend sixty hours in a hospital or medical facility while the drug is administered.
Postpartum depression conservatively affects one in nine American women. It is a major cause of maternal death in the first year following the birth of the baby. Often women are prescribed SSRI’s or other forms of antidepressants which can take weeks for symptoms to subside. These drugs mainly work on neurotransmitters. The makers of Zulresso, have taken a different approach. The promising new drug affects changing hormonal levels in postpartum women. It helps to stabilize estrogen and progesterone after the birth of the baby by utilizing the help of a synthetic form of the hormones.
At this time the cost of the treatment is not covered by insurance companies. A primary goal of the drug’s proponents is to see it approved by medicaid. A major discussion among OBGYN providers and psychiatrists about how the drug will be delivered, where and by whom. This will continue to be a cause for concern as the logistics of the new drug are worked out. For some women, it’s a minor inconvenience to spend two and a half days in treatment when weighed against the benefits of the drug. For women in lower socio-economic levels, access to this kind of support may be troublesome.
Although some major hurdles still need to be addressed,
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