Ketamine nasal spray can fight depression, suicidal thoughts

Maricruz Casares
Abril 16, 2018

During the study, 68 people who were on the verge of committing suicide were treated with anti-depressants. Using ketamine via nasal spray led to "significant" improvements in depression in the first 24 hours after use, according to the study. The research team stated the results of the phase 2 study provide a strong case for the nasal spray esketamine to be used as a fast-acting and effective treatment for depressive symptoms in patients assessed to be at imminent risk for suicide.

Researchers from the Yale University and Janssen Pharmaceutica conducted the experimental research on antidepressant esketamine, which shows that it can be more effectual to overcome the lengthy treatment with conventional antidepressants that lasts for a number of weeks longer for being completely effective. In this double-blind, proof-of-concept study, researchers examined the efficacy and safety of intranasal esketamine vs. placebo for the rapid reduction of depressive symptoms and suicidality in patients with major depression. However effects levelled out at 25 days.

Those who used esketamine had a much bigger improvement in depression symptoms over the first four weeks of treatment, but at 25 days, the effects had evened out. Clinician global judgment of suicide risk scores were not notably different between treatment groups at any time point.

Ketamine nasal spray shows promise in the fast treatment of major depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts, a new study revealed. The most common events among those receiving esketamine were nausea, dizziness, dissociation, unpleasant taste and headache. "The results of this study reinforce the potential of esketamine as an acute treatment for patients in crisis".

If approved for use on the NHS, Stone said, the spray "would be aimed at people with severe depression as a second or third line of treatment if other drugs haven't worked", including as a potential alternative to electroconvulsive therapy.

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However, AJP gave caution to the drug's potential for abuse and the need for effective controls.

However, the researchers, as well as members of the AJP Editorial Board, acknowledged the risky potential for abuse that surrounds the drug.

The editors added that steps should be taken to make sure ketamine-based treatment will "continue to be available to those with need, while the population that is at-risk for abuse is protected from an epidemic of misuse".

Disclosures: Canuso is an employee of Janssen Research & Development and holds company stock and/or stock options in Johnson & Johnson.

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