Sage Touts Strong Launch for Postpartum Depression Drug Zurzuvae

PPD_iStock, AndreyPopov

Pictured: Unhappy woman with her head in her hands in front of her baby's stroller/iStock, AndreyPopov

Despite launching with just days left in 2023, Sage Therapeutics’ postpartum depression therapy Zurzuvae (zuranolone) made $1.6 million in sales, the Massachusetts-based biotech reported in Wednesday’ s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings results.

CEO Barry Greene in an investor call said that Zurzuvae launched in mid-December 2023, “giving us about 10 days in 2023 where women with [postpartum depression (PPD)] in need of treatment could access” the drug.

In that short amount of time, Sage was able to deliver approximately 120 prescriptions of Zurzuvae at the end of the fourth quarter. In the U.S., Sage is looking at a market of around 500,000 women who experience PPD after giving birth each year.

“It’s early but I do believe that Zurzuvae is the key to unlock the blockbuster potential of PPD, enabling us to help many women suffering from postpartum depression,” Greene said during the call, adding that the company expects the market to grow even further as the industry and healthcare system increasingly recognize PPD as an urgent and serious medical condition.

Greene also reported “encouraging developments across the treatment landscape,” including a specialty distribution network that delivers Zurzuvae to patients’ homes, ongoing conversations that lower PPD stigma as well as patients themselves advocating for Zurzuvae.

“We’re early in launch days, and there are aspects of launch we certainly need to optimize, but the initial response and uptake are highly encouraging,” Greene said.

Zurzuvae is an orally available neuroactive steroid that works by binding to the GABA-A receptor, modulating its response to the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Sage is developing and commercializing Zurzuvae in partnership with Biogen, with which is splits the revenues.

Approved in August 2023, Zurzuvae is the first pill cleared for PPD. At the time, however, Zurzuvae missed out on the FDA’s greenlight for major depressive disorder, which would have given it access to a much larger market.

Following that FDA rejection, Sage’s shares tanked and the company reduced its workforce by 40% weeks later.

Sage appears to have recouped some of its losses since then, but it has yet to fully recover. During the fourth quarter of 2023, the biotech reported a net product revenue of nearly $1.99 million, down from nearly $2.87 million during the same period the prior year. Sage’s net revenue in the quarter sat just below $78 million, driven heavily by a $75 million license and milestone boost from Biogen.

By the end of December 2023, Sage had over $753 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, down from the nearly $1.3 billion it had in 2022.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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