Monday, 23 April, 2018

Acting benefits of ketamine for depression and suicidality

Depression Treatment Ketamine Nasal Spray Could One Day Be Used As A 'Fast Acting' Treatment For Severe Depression
Anna Jefferson | 17 April, 2018, 09:27

Ketamine is perhaps best known for being a popular recreational drug and a powerful medical anesthetic, but an increasing body of research showed that the compound may also be effective in treating psychiatric disorders such as depression.

Researchers said the results of the study support nasal spray esketamine as a possible effective rapid treatment for patients who are deemed at imminent risk for suicide.

The double-blind study compared the standard treatment plus an intranasal formulation of esketamine, part of the ketamine molecule, to standard treatment plus a placebo for rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression, including suicidality, among individuals at imminent suicide risk.

Researchers in the USA treated people with the drug via a nasal spray, and said they found a "significant" improvement in symptoms in the first 24 hours.

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.

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All the participants received treatment throughout the trial and researchers recorded their observations after four hours, 24 hours, and 25 days from the time the anti-depressants were given. However effects levelled out at 25 days.

The new AJP study is the latest piece of research showing ketamine to be a promising treatment for depression. Esketamine could be an important treatment to bridge the gap that exists because of the delayed effect of most common antidepressants.

This study was a proof-of-concept, phase 2, study for esketamine; it must still go through a phase 3 study before possible FDA approval. In an accompanying editorial published along with the study, reports of abuse (including cases of prescribed ketamine) were noted.

The nasal spray is now going through phase three trials which it has to pass before it can be licensed for treatment. "Protection of the public's health is part of our responsibility as well, and, as physicians, we are responsible for preventing new drug epidemics", said Dr. Robert Freedman, the current editor in chief for the AJP. In addition, to date, clinical ketamine trials have been small, and the researchers note that future studies will need to include a larger pool of participants to validate these early findings.

The study notes that more research is needed to analyze the potential for dependence and substance abuse of the drug before can be approved for use as a depression treatment.

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