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Sage Therapeutics Experimental Drug Could Eliminate Postpartum Depression

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An experimental postpartum depression drug quickly eased the condition's symptoms among women in a trial. The drug also yielded no side effects or remissions among the study participants.

According to drug manufacturer Sage Therapeutics, their experimental drug SAGE-547 delivered postpartum depression relief in 70 percent of the female participants within 60 hours from the start of treatment. The beneficial effects also lasted for at least 30 days.

The drug maker's phase 2 trial of the SAGE-547 drug is not part of the approval application by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Apart from determining the ideal drug doses, Sage Therapeutics is also working on developing an oral version of the experimental postpartum depression drug.

According to Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody from the University of North Carolina, this could be one of the most significant clinical results in postpartum depression's pharmacologic treatment so far. The university is one of the 14 sites where the clinical trials were held.

Meltzer-Brody added that the experimental drug's fast action seen in the clinical trials were unlike the other observations available in the field.

The research team enrolled 32 female patients with severe cases of postpartum depression based on their test results on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. The team focused on the women who scored above 26 on the scale. These women developed the condition during their third trimester or within the four weeks following childbirth.

The team matched 21 female patients with participants for a one-to-one placebo trial. They found that the women who received the SAGE-547 drug responded to the treatment within 24 to 60 hours.

These women also showed a 20-point average reduction in their Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) score. This reduction was seen in 7 out of 10 patients who received the experimental drug — a huge feat compared to the 1 out of 11 among the placebo group.

About 30 days after the trial, 7 out of 10 patients in the drug group continued to show the reduction in the symptoms of postpartum depression. Another huge achievement compared to the 2 out of 11 in the one-to-one placebo trial group. In this group, the participants experienced more side effects including insomnia, anxiety and abnormal dreams.

"The unmet need in the PPD patient population cannot be overstated," said Sage's Chief Executive Officer Jeff Jonas, M.D.

The researchers hope the data could lead to a new information about postpartum depression and toward the development of new and effective treatments.

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