$16,000 Postpartum Depression Drug Can Harm Fetus, Cause Suicidal Behavior, Yet Receives FDA Approval

Views 145

In a shocking display of corporate greed, Sage Therapeutics and Biogen are set to charge $16,000 for a 14-day course of their new postpartum depression drug, zuranolone, despite the availability of safe, affordable, and time-tested natural alternatives.

The Dangers of Zuranolone

The recent FDA approval of zuranolone has raised serious concerns about the drug's safety profile. The FDA label itself contains a boxed warning, stating that "zuranolone can impact a person's ability to drive and perform other potentially hazardous activities."1 Even more alarming, the use of zuranolone "may cause suicidal thoughts and behavior,"1 the very symptoms it is supposed to alleviate. Furthermore, the drug "may cause fetal harm,"1 putting the health of both mother and child at risk.

The most common side effects of zuranolone, as listed in the FDA press release, include "drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, fatigue, and urinary tract infections."1 These adverse reactions raise red flags, especially considering the vulnerability of postpartum women.

The Exorbitant Cost of Zuranolone

Sage Therapeutics and Biogen plan to charge an astounding $16,000 for a mere 14-day course of zuranolone treatment. This exorbitant price tag is particularly egregious when considering the availability of safe, affordable, and time-tested natural alternatives for postpartum depression.

As reported by Kirstin E. Leitner, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine, "If cost is a barrier, you could widen disparities to a clinical problem that already disproportionately affects people who have less access to traditional treatments like therapy."2

Safe and Effective Natural Alternatives

The Greenmedinfo.com database houses a wealth of research on natural alternatives for postpartum depression, with over 1,600 studies on 374 natural substances. These natural approaches offer safe, affordable, and effective alternatives to expensive and potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs like zuranolone.

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, have shown promising results in reducing the risk of postpartum depression. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that "omega-3 fatty acids were effective in preventing depressive symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum."3

Saffron, an ancient spice, has been found to be as effective as conventional antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression, including postpartum depression. A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials concluded that "saffron had large treatment effects and, when compared with antidepressant medications, had similar antidepressant efficacy."4

Lavender aromatherapy has also been shown to alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression. A study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research found that "lavender scent can be used as a complementary medicine for reducing depression in high-risk women during the postpartum period."5

Breastfeeding itself has been associated with a lower risk of postpartum depression. A study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal reported that "women who breastfed their babies were at significantly lower risk of postpartum depression than those who did not breastfeed, or who stopped breastfeeding early."6

Regular exercise during the postpartum period has also been found to improve mood and reduce the severity of postpartum depression symptoms. A study protocol published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth noted that "exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing depression in the general population."7

The Need for Change

The approval of zuranolone and its exorbitant price tag highlight the urgent need for change in how we approach postpartum depression treatment. Instead of relying on potentially dangerous and expensive pharmaceutical drugs, healthcare providers should prioritize safe, affordable, and evidence-based natural alternatives.

Policymakers must also take action to ensure that new mothers have access to these natural remedies and are not left at the mercy of profit-driven pharmaceutical companies. By promoting the use of safe and effective natural treatments, we can support the mental health of new mothers during this challenging time without exposing them to unnecessary risks or financial burdens.


The promotion of zuranolone, with its concerning side effects and astronomical cost, is a shameful example of how the pharmaceutical industry prioritizes profits over patient well-being. It is crucial that we stand up against such unethical practices and advocate for the use of safe, affordable, and evidence-based natural alternatives for postpartum depression. By doing so, we can ensure that new mothers receive the compassionate care and support they deserve during this vulnerable period, without being exploited by corporate greed.

To learn more about postpartum depression, visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject here


1 "FDA Approves First Oral Treatment for Postpartum Depression," U.S. Food and Drug Administration, August 4, 2023, https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-oral-treatment-postpartum-depression.

2 Kaitlin Sullivan, "Clinicians See Zuranolone as an Effective PPD Treatment With Potentially Significant Barriers," Medscape, November 22, 2023, https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/984706.

3 Kuan-Pin Su et al., "Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Major Depressive Disorder During Pregnancy: Results from a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial," Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 69, no. 4 (2008): 644-651, https://doi.org/10.4088/jcp.v69n0417.

4 Heather Ann Hausenblas et al., "Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and Major Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials," Journal of Integrative Medicine 11, no. 6 (2013): 377-383, https://doi.org/10.3736/jintegrmed2013056.

5 Maryam Kianpour et al., "Effect of Lavender Scent Inhalation on Prevention of Stress, Anxiety and Depression in the Postpartum Period," Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research 21, no. 2 (2016): 197-201, https://doi.org/10.4103/1735-9066.178248.

6 Cristina Borra, Maria Iacovou, and Almudena Sevilla, "New Evidence on Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: The Importance of Understanding Women's Intentions," Maternal and Child Health Journal 19, no. 4 (2015): 897-907, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-014-1591-z.

7 Amanda J. Daley et al., "The Effectiveness of Exercise as a Treatment for Postnatal Depression: Study Protocol," BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 12, no. 1 (2012): 45, https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2393-12-45.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

© Copyright 2008-2024 GreenMedInfo.com, Journal Articles copyright of original owners, MeSH copyright NLM.