Faster and more efficient antidepressant medication approved by FDA
Ketamine was first developed five decades ago as a safer alternative to the anesthetic phencyclidine, otherwise known as PCP. The problem that arises with ketamine is that since the 1980s and ’90s, it has been notorious as a party drug causing out-of-body and hallucinogenic properties when administered. The FDA had not approved ketamine as a treatment for depression despite the World Health organization labeling it as one of its essential medicines since 1985. This meant that if you wanted to use this approach to combat your condition, you would have to pay out-of-pocket, though there were and still are hundreds of clinics across the country that offer intravenous ketamine treatment.
The failure of the most common antidepressants Prozac and Paxil have had a tremendous negative impact on individuals suffering from depression including:
- when first launched these medications were way over-hyped and glamorized
- the science behind these drugs didn’t align with the marketing hype they first received
- they take weeks to be effective, and to many, the medication isn’t effective at all
We now jump to the 1990s when the fascination of ketamine took off as a means to treat depression. As the New York Times states “a government scientist Phil Skolnick urged the importance of looking into targeting glutamate pathways the primary ‘excitatory,’ or neuroactivating, brain process- could produce antidepressant effects.” In 2000 Dr. Robert M. Berman led a team of Yale University researchers along with the Connecticut Mental Health Center, their concluding findings were that ketamine provides quick relief to depression, unlike current anti-depressant medications. To further the excitement of the impact of ketamine on patients six years later a team of researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health lead by Dr. Carlos Zarate Jr. found that 18 treatment-resistant patients who had received the drug intravenously reacted positively within hours. Even more promising is that not only did it aid in depression, but it also seemed helpful in other domains, like anxiety, anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) and suicidal thoughts.
That now brings us to the newest manufactured drug Spravato (Esketamine). To prove the efficiency of this new drug a one month long clinical trial was conducted on treatment-resistant patients. Each patient was given a new antidepressant medication and received a course of either Esketamine or a placebo. A second trial was conducted per the request of the FDA to test relapse rates, which resulted in the following:
- Esketamine reduced their depression levels on a 60 point scale by 21 points, placebo patients reduced by only 17 points.
- Only one-quarter of the patients who received the new drug relapsed compared to 45 percent of those who received the placebo.
The desperate hunt for treatment for those suffering from treatment-resistant cases has a promising future. The one downside to this new treatment Dr. Glen Brook, anesthesiologist states is that “in his experience, the infusions quickly reduced symptoms for teenagers and young adults, but seemed to be less effective for people over 50.” Data given to the FDA also states that’s patients over the age of 65 received about the same results as patients who received the placebo. For patients under 65 who suffer from treatment-resistant conditions, there seems to be a much better and faster alternative to Paxcil and Prozac.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and would like a medical second opinion, WorldCare offers mental health second opinions. For more information contact us today.