Esketamine Approved for Treatment-Resistant Depression

J&J nasal spray gets U.S. approval as first new type of anti-depressant in decades

Tuesday's approval comes after an FDA Advisory Committee recommended the approval of Spravato in a 14-to-2 vote in favor of the drug in February.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a mind-altering medication from Johnson & Johnson to treat the patients with severe depression and other mental illnesses.

The anti-depressants available at present of the likes of Eli Lilly and Co's Prozac impact the neurotransmitters - serotonin and norepinephrine.

The FDA approved Spravato, known chemically as esketamine, based on study results that showed patients taking the drug experienced a bigger improvement in their depression levels than patients taking a sham treatment, when measured with a psychiatric questionnaire. "This has implications for treatment-resistant patients who have not responded to standard antidepressants, as esketamine potentially offers a better chance at achieving remission than traditional medications". Esketamine and ketamine work by targeting glutamate, unlike now used antidepressants that target serotonin, and doctors were already using ketamine off-label to treat depression, according to the AP. In comparison, many antidepressants now available can take weeks, or even months, to have an effect. Ketamine was approved for use as an anesthetic in the 1970s.

Dr. Murphy also says the approval of "Spravato" could be revolutionary for those who suffer from depression, and hopes Ketamine treatments become more widespread. Researchers are conducting late-stage trials of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and MDMA, a euphoria-inducing club drug, as potential treatments for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Unlike ketamine, psilocybin and MDMA have no legal medical use. After receiving a Spravato dose, a patient must be monitored by a healthcare provider for at least two hours. "Doctors will have to be very judicious and feel their way along", he said.

However, the panel members echoed concerns raised by FDA staffers regarding the increased risk of sedation, dissociation and higher blood pressure observed in the study.

Now available anti-depressants such as Eli Lilly and Co's Prozac work on neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, but most drugs take at least four weeks to show effect and fail to produce an adequate response in about 30 percent to 40 percent of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Patients will inhale the drug under supervision at these centers once or twice a week. These clinics often administer the drug in an intravenous infusion that can cost more than $500 per treatment. Ask your doctor for more information.

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