Conference Coverage

VIDEO: Novel postpartum depression drug effective in phase 3 trial



– A novel therapeutic agent shows promise for postpartum depression in a phase 3 trial presented at the annual clinical and scientific meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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Brexanolone, administered intravenously, differs from other antidepressants currently used to treat postpartum depression. It targets GABAA receptors, according to presenter Christine Clemson, PhD, senior medical director at Sage Therapeutics, the company developing brexanolone.

The randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study enrolled 138 women who were 6 months postpartum or less, and had been diagnosed with a major depressive episode during the third trimester or at 4 or fewer weeks postpartum, and had a 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) score of 26 or greater.

They were randomized to either brexanolone 60 mcg/kg/hour or 90 mcg/kg/hour administered intravenously over 60 hours as inpatients, or placebo. All three groups were an average aged 27 years old, the majority were white, and they had a HAM-D score between 28.4 and 29.1 at baseline.

After the first 60 hours of treatment, patients in the brexanolone group had mean reductions in the HAM-D score of about 20 in the 60 mcg group (P less than .01) and 18 in the 90 mcg group (P less than .05), compared with almost 14 in the placebo group. This was the primary endpoint,

Patients retained improvement through day 30, while those in the placebo group experienced a slight swing in the opposite direction.

Adverse effects in the brexanolone-treated groups were minimal; the majority of events reported were headaches or dizziness. However, Dr. Clemson said that some patients had to stop breastfeeding for a week.

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