Feb 15, 2024 - Health

Prescriptions for postpartum depression pill off to "promising" start

Photo illustration of Sage Therapeutics logo on a smartphone.

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

At least 120 prescriptions were written for the first pill treating postpartum depression in the days following its launch, drugmaker Sage Therapeutics disclosed in its year-end earnings report on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Postpartum depression affects an estimated 500,000 people each year. But with a launch price of $15,900 for the drug Zurzuvae, analysts had expressed uncertainty about its potential market and how insurers may cover the treatment.

By the numbers: Zurzuvae, which Sage markets with Biogen, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August but didn't become available until around mid-December.

  • 50 prescriptions were shipped and delivered that month, generating $824,000 in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2023, Sage said.
  • The drug was prescribed by a range of providers, including psychiatrists, primary care doctors, and OB/GYNs, company officials said on an earnings call.
  • Sage CEO Barry Greene told analysts the company is optimistic as payers have picked up the tab for a majority of prescriptions.
  • The company is also "starting to see [postpartum depression] recognized as an urgent medical condition," including by women asking providers about it and providers willing to prescribe the drug, he said.

What they're saying: These are "solid early patient numbers" wrote RBC Capital analyst Brian Abrahams and senior associate Joe Kim in a note. Early metrics around who's prescribing the drug, insurer coverage, and anecdotal experiences are "promising," they said.

  • RBC raised its forecast for Zurzuvae sales this year from about $20 million to $37 million, though the analysts cautioned there's still limited data. Insurers may still be figuring out how they're covering the drug, RBC mentioned in a previous note.
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