Zuranolone must be taken once a day for two weeks. Relief from symptoms may begin to be detected from the third dose onwards.
Postpartum depression now has its first approved pill in the United States specifically for its treatment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of this country has given the green light on Friday to the use of the drug zuranolone for this condition that affects one in seven women after childbirth, and more generally, for the treatment of severe depressions.
The medication, which will be marketed under the name Zurzuvae, is consumed in a daily dose of fifty milligrams for two weeks, according to FDA recommendations. Clinical trials indicate that the pill begins to act quickly and relief from symptoms can begin to be detected within three days of starting treatment.
“Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can potentially be life-threatening. In it, women experience sadness, guilt, a feeling of worthlessness. In severe cases, they can have thoughts of harming themselves or their baby. Having access to an orally administered medication can be a beneficial option for many of these women who face extreme and sometimes life-threatening feelings.”Tiffany Farchione, the director of Psychiatry at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Postpartum depression can last for months or even years if left untreated, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It is estimated that 400,000 babies are born in the United States each year to mothers who develop this condition, which can lead to suicidal ideation. Self-inflicted deaths represent 20% of deaths that occur after giving birth.
Until now, the treatment applied to this mental condition included psychological therapy and the use of antidepressants, but there was no pill for postpartum depression. Additionally, unlike the new drug, traditional antidepressants can take time to take effect.
In 2019, the first specific medication for this condition, brexanolone (marketed as Zulresso), had been approved, but its use is not widespread: it is administered by drip for 60 hours in a medical center and causes certain side effects such as headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, and even sudden loss of consciousness.
Both brexanolone and zuranolone are versions of a substance generated by the human body, a steroid related to the hormone progesterone. Levels of this substance can increase during pregnancy and drop drastically after childbirth, which can trigger depression. Administering these medications can restore levels of the steroid and alleviate the condition.
According to the agency, taking this medication may generate side effects such as dizziness, diarrhea, fatigue, or urinary tract infection. Its ingestion can harm the fetus, so women who use the drug are recommended to use effective contraceptive methods for up to a week after finishing treatment. The FDA also recommends that those who consume the pill wait twelve hours before driving or operating heavy machinery.
Original source: This information was Initially covered by Elpais and has been translated for our readers.