A Thursday ProPublica report claims that Donald Trump‘s endorsement of the “risky antidepressant,” Spravato, chemical name esketamine, has sparked an investigation into three of his Mar-a-Lago friends.
The three men in question are Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, lawyer Marc Sherman, and physician Bruce Moskowitz, all of whom Trump reportedly gave “sweeping influence” over the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) despite no relevant experience.
According to the report, House Democrats have requested the trio’s emails and financial records to determine whether they had any stake in Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical company behind the drug.
The trio deny playing any role in the VA’s consideration of Spravato, which comes as the federal government faces scrutiny for veteran suicides.
“Our volunteer activity was motivated solely by a desire to see America’s veterans get the best possible care from the VA,” they said, via a spokesperson.
“We had no authority over decision making, rather we offered advice for VA leadership to accept or reject as they saw fit. We did not seek or receive any personal or financial gain.”
Despite their claims, experts are reportedly curious about the approval of the drug, which received the green light from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 5, 2019. According to ProPublica, some experts claim the data from the clinical trials is “weak” and point to shortcomings in the methodologies of such research.
The esketamine spray, sold as Spravato, will be available to depression patients who have tried at least two other medications without success. pic.twitter.com/hjjtezbKi3
— Dose (@dose) March 6, 2019
Erick Turner, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University and the Portland VA, claimed that the FDA approval came after fewer trials than is the standard. Not only that, Turner claimed the results from one of the trial sites provided results that were barely statistically significant.
“For any other drug they would have said, ‘Oh, this doesn’t meet our criteria and we’re not going to approve it,’ but they bent over backwards for this one.”
In one trial, six people died while on the drug. Most alarmingly, three of the deaths were the result of suicide.
“The effect sizes are small at best and may even be exaggerated,” said Jess Fiedorowicz, a University of Iowa professor who served on the advisory panel that reviewed Spravato.
According to Johnson & Johnson spokesman Ernie Knewitz, the company never discussed the drug with President Trump.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Spravato is a ketamine-like nasal spray that is being studied to treat drug-resistant depression. If the drug is approved for use, it reportedly must be taken in combination with a traditional oral antidepressant.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.