Postpartum depression drug offers hope for women, doctors

Kristin Thorne Image
Friday, October 5, 2018
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Kristin Thorne has the details.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the application for a new medication, which, if approved, would become the first drug specifically indicated for postpartum depression.

The medication called brexanolone, which is manufactured by Sage Therapeutics, is composed of a synthetic hormone related to the sex hormone progesterone. Progesterone is critical for brain health and drops off dramatically after a woman gives birth. One in eight women in the US suffers from postpartum depression.

"We think that the brain chemistry and the brain circuit is not making the changes it needs to to maintain health functioning," said Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis, the director of Women's Behavioral Health at Northwell's Zucker Hillside Hospital.

Dr. Deligiannidis is helping to run locally a national study of the medication. She is also an associate professor with the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Dr. Deligiannidis said patients with moderate to severe postpartum symptoms were given brexanolone in a 60-hour IV infusion. She said half of the women who received brexanolone displayed no depressive symptoms within 60 hours of receiving the infusion, and most started feeling positive effects within 24 hours.

Patients were depression-free for 30 days, which is when the study ended.

"This truly is targeted to what we believe are the underpinnings of postpartum depression," Dr. Deligiannidis said.

Farmingville resident Tamara Oliver said she would have loved to have access to a medication like brexanolone after suffering from postpartum depression for years.

"I would have loved to have had it, to just have that relief in that quick amount of time would have been amazing," Oliver said.


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