The new nasal spray uses the anesthetic ketamine, and it’s a fast-acting treatment is said to relieve depression symptoms in a matter of hours.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. developed the spray called esketamine, but will be sold under the brand name Spravato, and the drug could potentially provide a lifeline to the millions of people that suffer from treatment-resistant depression.
The drug will only be available to patients who have tried two or more antidepressants with little or no success, and patients will only be able to get the spray under supervision at a treatment center.
Ketamine as a treatment for depression is not new, and the anesthetic has been shown to help alleviate symptoms.
Although the generic version of ketamine was previously only available as an anesthetic, doctors have prescribed it to patients with depression, according to NPR.
Esketamine is similar to ketamine which is a mind-altering drug that has become a popular party drug and can sometimes cause out of body experiences and hallucinations.
There is potential that users could abuse esketamine, so the makers and distributors of the drug are working to ensure that patients only take the right dose.
One extremely promising effect of the nasal spray is its reported ability to quell suicidal thoughts. It’s also been to shown to treat anxiety as well.
“What seems remarkable is that the drug also seems to help domains other than depression, like anxiety, suicidal thinking, and anhedonia,” Dr. Carlos Zarate Jr., chief of the N.I.M.H. experimental therapeutics and pathophysiology branch, told the New York Times. “It seems to have more broad effects, on many areas of mood.”