There’s tons of excitement in psychiatry after the US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recently backed esketamine, an intranasal form of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. This is an exciting and hopeful advancement because there hasn’t been a different pharmacologic depression treatment target approved by the agency in decades (Think: Prozac’s arrival in 1986). Like any new drug, the excitement and hope surrounding esketamine needs to be weighed by risks and benefits. Here are a few things you need to know about esketamine.
Administration Of Esketamine Is Important
Like ketamine, esketamine needs to be administered in a healthcare setting and under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Clinical trials of esketamine indicate patients were more likely to experience side-effects (if any) within two hours of treatment. If the FDA approves esketamine, two hours of supervision within a healthcare setting will likely be mandated following administration.
Ketamine and esketamine are considered a first in class of acute treatments and are revolutionary because of their abilities to provide rapid relief for depression. Unlike traditional antidepressants, these new treatments can exert effects in hours to days in patients that have difficult-to-treat cases of depression. There hasn’t been a class of drug that’s works so quickly and effectively for treating depression and this brings new hope to many patients.
It’s Not A First Choice
It’s important to understand that advanced treatments like ketamine and esketamine are not considered as the the first recommended antidepressant choice for treatment. Currently approved antidepressants like Prozac have shown success and safety in treating depression and should be tried first. Ketamine and esketamine are reserved for people who don’t get relief from traditional forms of medication. Regretfully, many patients with depression do not receive full resolution of their symptoms and are considered treatment resistant. Ketamine and esketamine are for those who are so crippled by the burden of depression and are effective treatments that provide rapid relief. These revolutionary treatment options can target symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression and renew hope.
Our COPE supported centers are monitoring the exciting developments surrounding esketamine so we can continue to provide leading care for patients with treatment-resistant depression and other common mental health disorders.