FDA Approves Postpartum Depression Drug Zulresso, But Concerns Arise Over Cost

FDA Approves Postpartum Depression Drug Zulresso, But Concerns Arise Over Cost

In mid-March, the FDA approved the postpartum depression drug brexanolone, providing an option to millions of women who suffer from postpartum depression.

Brexanolone is the first federally-approved drug of its kind to be designed specifically to treat postpartum depression. The federal approval is seen as a trailblazing move that will lead to the approval of other treatments for the debilitating condition.

Sage Therapeutics, which manufacturers brexanolone, will market it under the name Zulresso™.

Indicators of Success in Treating Postpartum Depression

A human trial of brexanolone published in September showed that the drug could dramatically improve postpartum depression symptoms within just days.

The trial tested brexanolone of 246 women suffering from postpartum depression. Researchers quantified the results using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), in which a higher score indicates higher severity of depression.

Researchers found that within 60 hours the HAM-D scores of the group in the trial receiving brexanolone had fallen by a much greater rate than those of the group receiving a placebo.

The researchers also found the effects of brexanolone to be long-lasting. 30 days after the trial, the HAM-D scores of the trial participants had still not returned to baseline, and they remained lower than the HAM-D scores of the placebo group.

Barriers to Using Brexanolone for Everyday Women

Despite the indicators of success in treating postpartum depression, some critics have expressed concern at two aspects of brexanolone. Namely, cost and time.


  • Time-consuming treatment – brexanolone is administered by intravenous infusion over 60 hours
  • High price tag – currently $34,000 a treatment


Critics see these barriers to access as huge hindrances to brexanolone’s potential as a life-saving drug. Additionally, many scoff at the idea that an average new mother could dedicate 60 hours and $34,000 to receive treatment.

Despite these concerns over access, the federal approval of Zulresso—or any medication for postpartum depression—is a positive step. AZZLY® follows innovations in behavioral healthcare treatment and will be here to report on any new developments in treating postpartum depression.

AZZLY has created a behavioral health and addiction treatment specific electronic health record and revenue cycle management software platform to improve clinical and business outcomes for behavioral health and addiction treatment organizations. Our clients include organizations that treat pregnant and postpartum women.

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