Kimberly Yonkers, MD, discusses brexanolone

June 6, 2019

Although the development of a PPD medication is commendable, Dr. Yonkers also notes there are several hurdles which need to be addressed.

Dr. Yonkers: Well, I think the first thing to mention is the company that has developed brexanolone is to be commended for developing the first medication for postpartum depression.  So that’s good.  

There are some problems with it.  You alluded to the price.  The price of $35,000-$40,000 for the medication alone is a handsome price and will put it out of reach in all likelihood for many women who may need it. We’ve had a lot of discussion in this country about the cost of prescription medications and one could say that this could be a case study in how not to price a new medication.  

The second thing about the medication is the really good news is it’s rapid, so it has a rapid onset of action.  It needs to be administered in a medical setting such as a hospitalized setting and moms need to be separated from their babies for the infusion period which is 60 hours.  It’s not an insignificant period of time but the data show that it endures for 6 months, so that’s good.  It’s rapid. Not so good mom has to be separated from her baby and it lasts for 6 months but we don’t know if it lasts beyond 6 months.  So, I think what we’ve seen is we’ve seen a lot of innovation, but we also see some hurdles that need to be addressed.