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Sage Therapeutics CEO: Have to weigh investor returns but will price postpartum drug ‘fairly’

  • Sage Therapeutics has to balance two competing interests when it comes to pricing its postpartum depression drug, CEO Jeff Jonas says.
  • "We understand that access to medicines is a very important social issue," he says.
  • "But you have to balance that with the fact that we're funded by private investors. They expect a return."

Sage Therapeutics has to balance two competing interests when it comes to pricing its postpartum depression drug, CEO Jeff Jonas told CNBC on Wednesday.

The biopharmaceutical company hopes the medication, called brexanolone, hits the market in 2019. It expects to submit a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration this half of the year.

"Pricing is always an issue for us. And we understand that access to medicines is a very important social issue. But you have to balance that with the fact that we're funded by private investors. They expect a return. So that's a balance we always have to pay attention to," Jonas said on "Power Lunch" from the CNBC Healthy Returns conference.

The theory behind the postpartum treatment is that the condition is caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, he explained.

Sage Therapeutics believes brexanolone "corrects that rapidly and acutely."

In trials, after 2.5 days of the intravenous therapy, almost 70 percent of the women had a "complete remission" of their postpartum depression, he said.

"We think this drug is going to be very effective if it's approved. We think it will make a big difference. We'll price it for value, but we'll price it fairly," said Jonas.

Postpartum depression occurs in about 15 percent of births, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.