New drug that could treat postpartum depression completes clinical trials

New moms suffering from postpartum depression have new hope because of a drug that just completed clinical trials.

Sage Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, administered a medicine called brexanolone, which showed positive results in helping new moms with their depression.

Board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Amit Vijapura told us it's critical new moms who are suffering get immediate help.

“Many women have suffered postpartum depression, but they don’t talk about it,” Vijapura said.

The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of emotions, but for some new moms it may result in depression. Postpartum depression is a biological complication of childbirth affecting a subset of women and typically commencing in the third trimester of pregnancy or within four weeks after giving birth.

Vijapura said right now, there isn’t any medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for postpartum depression.

“If we have a specific medicine for a specific disorder, it’s going to give a much (more) solid treatment option for us,” Vijapura said.

He said a drug targeted to treat the effects of depression for a new mother is better for her and the baby.

“I’ve seen cases where they (the mothers) try to clean them many times, or cover them up to protect them, or hide them away from society,” Vijapura said.

In the trial of the medication, brexanolone was given to patients intravenously in a controlled environment for 60 hours. Vijapura told us the results show women’s depression significantly decreased.

“This could be a major breakthrough in treatment for postpartum depression,” Vijapura said.

He said postpartum depression affects approximately 15 percent to 20 percent of women giving birth in the U.S., and up to half of these cases may go undiagnosed without proper screening. Vijapura said suicide is the leading cause of maternal death following childbirth.

“We are very excited and we are able to show that there is hope to our patients,” Vijapura said.

The FDA still has to review the research data, and it will take at least six months to determine whether the drug is approved.