OLATHE, Kan. — A new, first-of-its-kind oral pill to treat postpartum depression, which affects 1 in 7 women, comes with a hefty price tag.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Zurzuvae in August, but the company who manufactures the drug just announced the shocking sticker price this week: $15,900 before insurance. That has many doctors and mothers wondering how new moms will be able to afford the drug.
Megan Reed lives in Olathe with her husband and 20-month-old daughter. Like many women, she suffered from postpartum depression.
“It was a really hard time,” she said.
The depression lasted most of her pregnancy but intensified after she gave birth.
“In times that were supposed to be joyful and exciting and adventurous, it was dark. I truly felt hopeless.; everyday had suicidal thoughts. I did not want to exist at all,” she added, which is when she knew she needed to seek help.
The Mayo Clinic says postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first, but the symptoms are more intense and last longer.
Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth but may start earlier or later, and include: depression, excessive crying, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with your baby, withdrawing from family, loss of appetite, insomnia, energy loss, intense irritability, fear that you’re not a good mother, hopelessness, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
Megan said her symptoms included depression and dark thoughts. She eventually got help after giving birth and several months later things improved. (Although, she admits she doesn’t know if it was the antidepressants or time, since she never really felt a difference on medication).
Still, a doctor prescribed her antidepressants, which can take weeks to kick in. However, the new drug from Sage Pharmaceuticals and Biogen, Zurzuvae, is said to improve depressive symptoms in as little as three days. At least, that’s what two clinical trials found earlier this year, according to a press release from Sage Pharmaceuticals.
However, given its $15,900 price tag before insurance, some wonder who can actually afford the first-of-its-kind drug.
“I think it’s kind of wild that the cost of that pill is more than it costs to actually have the baby,” added Megan. Not only that, but antidepressants like Zoloft only cost $20, according to Good Rx.
Yet, Sage CEO Bryan Greene said in a news release Tuesday, “The two companies (Sage and Biogen) are working to enable women with PPD, who are prescribed Zurzuvae, to be able to access treatment with minimal restrictions and, where possible, with little to no co-pay regardless of financial means.”
So far, it’s unclear just how much of the drug insurance companies will cover or if they’ll require women to try other treatments before being prescribed it.