FDA Approves Ketamine-Derived Antidepressant

Benjamin Olsen | @benpleasestop

The FDA just approved a new antidepressant, the first of its kind. Unlike other antidepressants, this one is a nasal spray. Esketamine, under the brand name Spravato, is developed by Johnson & Johnson and has been in testing for the past 2 years. The drug has seen remarkable success. This success is interesting because the drug is closely tied to the club drug “Special K.” Related to MDMA, Special K is known as Ecstasy. This marks the first major breakthrough in the treatment of depression since the 1980s.

The Associated Press reports that Spravato will retail “between $590 and $885”. The drug will be prescribed alongside an oral antidepressant. Further research is being conducted into psilocybin, the active agent in magic mushrooms, and its effect on treating depression in humans. The tests so far are proving effective and the later stages are beginning.

In the FDA’s press release, Tiffany Farchione, M.D., acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, was quoted as saying, “There has been a long-standing need for additional effective treatments for treatment-resistant depression, a serious and life-threatening condition.” The FDA also noted that the spray will not be taken home and will be administered in a health care setting.

This guideline seems to be in response to the addictive nature of the derivative of a club drug.  Reported side effects of the antidepressant reported include dizziness, nausea, and dissociation, all of which are very common effects in the club drug variant.  

No matter the side effects and administration procedure, this marks a drastic change in depression treatment and with further research into the effects that other recreational drugs have on depression, we can hope to see further developments to treat the depression epidemic.


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