When an FDA Drug Approval Makes Mainstream News: The Announcement of Zulresso, A Media Case Study


  • Moira Gunn




Media coverage following U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug approvals is generally found in two sectors: bioindustry news and the financial markets. The March 19, 2019 FDA announcement of its approval of the postpartum anti-depression biopharmaceutical Zulresso from Sage Therapeutics also elicited unusually high levels of media response in the mainstream media. This case study (1) details the total media news response following the FDA approval announcement regarding Zulresso, (2) compares that media response with the mainstream media coverage for Aimovig, a Novartis and Amgen treatment, which received the most mainstream coverage in the group of 2018 FDA novel drug approvals, and (3) compares the media coverage for three recent FDA drug approvals, Mayzent, Dovato and Evenity, to demonstrate a normative media response pattern. Findings include demonstration of Zulresso coverage across all major mainstream media outlets, well in excess of its mainstream media comparator, Aimovig. The three recently-announced comparators received the anticipated media coverage in the bioindustry and financial markets segments, while the two mainstream candidates, Zulresso and Aimovig, both received more and/or more timely media coverage in the bioindustry and financial markets media sectors three recent drug approval comparators. No determination could be made as to whether the mainstream media response to Zulresso was a singular incident, or the signaling of a sea change due to the maturation of the biotechnology industry.