Ketamine might have a reputation as a “party drug,” but its chemical cousin now doubles as a legitimate treatment to fight depression. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.‘s esketamine, which is marketed as Spravato. Spravato is a nasal spray that may be used by patients with treatment-resistant depression. In other words, candidates must have a history of depression and have tried at least two other medications without success. For best results, it should be taken as a supplement to a prescribed oral antidepressant.
The drug may be used once a week or once every other week, depending on the severity of depression in the patient. The nasal spray must be administered inside a doctor’s office or a medical clinic, or self-administered under supervision of a health care provider. It cannot be taken home. Side effects include: “dizziness, nausea, vertigo, anxiety, lethargy, increased blood pressure, vomiting, feeling drunk, decreased sensitivity, sedation.” Also, “dissociation, a feeling of being temporarily ‘disconnected’ from your body and your mind.”
More info straight from the press release: “Esketamine is the s-enantiomer of ketamine. Ketamine is a mixture of two enantiomers (mirror image molecules). This is the first FDA approval of esketamine for any use. The FDA approved ketamine (Ketalar) in 1970.” According to a report, current depression treatments are considered ineffective in a staggering 30 – 40 percent of cases. Symbyax is the only other FDA-approved medication for treatment-resistant depression.
Read the full press release via FDA.