The lowdown on zuranolone and America’s depression treatments
Out of this one in seven, “50% will experience a second [depressive episode]. Of those that experience a second episode, 70% will experience a third. Of those that have a third episode, 90% will experience a fourth. In many instances, it’s a chronic relapsing condition.” At any time, it’s thought that 3-4% of American adults are depressed, they highlighted.
The specialist went on to explain the most common treatments, depending on the episode’s severity. A less frequently used remedy, they commented, is ketamine, which has “powerful” antidepressant effects, particularly against suicide, although these only last a matter of days.
“[Ketamine] has no FDA approval for treatment for depression, but the way that FDA regulations are written, the FDA does not presuppose to regulate physician practice of medicine. It only regulates the manufacturer and how they can advertise drugs, so physicians are free to prescribe and use drugs in whatever way they see fit.”
Moving on to the topic of Biogen and Sage’s zuranolone, the specialist discussed how this is different from anything else on the market. As an episodic drug, it’s used for a short period of time, with the benefits lasting beyond this. Although there is another episodic treatment available, it’s administered by IV infusion and takes 60 hours.
“The idea of using neurosteroids, which is what zuranolone is, is a novel idea, and is likely to capture and put into remission patients that simply aren’t going to respond to one SSRI after another.”
However, one of the biggest challenges for this kind of treatment would be gaining timely approval. “I would need quick access to it. If I had to go through a lengthy authorisation process where it’s going to take me a month to get the drug, that’s not going to be too helpful for episodic treatment.”
Other topics discussed include how placebos affect clinical trials, reimbursement dynamics, and an assessment of transcranial magnetic stimulation.
To access all the human insights from Third Bridge Forum’s Depression market – Biogen-Sage’s zuranolone & new therapeutic options Interview, click here to view the full transcript.
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