FDA Approves ‘Ketamine-Like’ Nasal Spray To Treat Depression

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Treatments for depression are getting more and more innovative by the day. The Food and Drug Administration has just added another new treatment option to the list: A ketamine-like nasal spray that will help to treat drug-resistant depression.

According to CNN, the drug is actually esketamine, which is “the chemical cousin of ketamine.”

The drug was put forward by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., under the Johnson & Johnson brand, after extensive research last year showed promising results with regards to treating the condition, per a previous report by The Inquisitr.

Although it has been approved, there are still restrictions on the use of the drug, with patients having to show that they have tried other methods to treat their depression and that they are failing to do so with other medications. If approved for the use of the drug, an oral anti-depressant must still be taken in conjunction with the esketamine, which is being marketed as Spravato.

It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of people who suffer from depression feel no relief from either the available drugs or speaking to a therapist on a regular basis, which means this new drug could drastically change the lives of thousands of people.

“There has been a longstanding need for additional effective treatments for treatment-resistant depression, a serious and life-threatening condition,” Dr. Tiffany Farchione, acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said.

Another caveat on the drug is that patients will not be allowed to take it home with them. CNN reports that patients will have to visit their local healthcare practitioner in order to make use of the nasal spray.

“Because of [safety] concerns, the drug will only be available through a restricted distribution system and it must be administered in a certified medical office where the health care provider can monitor the patient,” Farchione said.

Professionals in the industry have hailed the new drug as a much-needed innovation in the industry that will provide depression sufferers with a new option that could prove to be far more effective than existing options such as Prozac or Xanax.

While ketamine, a general anesthetic, has been used previously for depression, it’s typically too expensive for most patients given that the FDA has not approved it for that purpose. This is where esketamine could prove to be a lifesaver, as the entire purpose of the nasal spray is solely to treat drug-resistant depression.

Patients who are approved to make use of the drug will have access to it either once a week or once every two weeks, depending on the severity of their depression.