The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug that can relieve depression in hours instead of weeks. Esketamine is similar to the anesthetic and party drug ketamine represents the first truly new kind of depression drug since Prozac hit the market in 1988.
Esketamine works through a mechanism different from those of drugs like Prozac, Charney said. And that is probably why studies show it can often help people with a major depressive disorder who haven’t been helped by other drugs. Johnson & Johnson is taking steps to make sure esketamine will be used only as intended, Billington said.
Even so, the FDA, according to its press release, will require a warning label that says patients “are at risk for sedation and difficulty with attention, judgment and thinking (dissociation), abuse and misuse, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors after administration of the drug,” – FDA
Multiple studies have shown that that old-fashioned ketamine is more potent as an antidepressant than esketamine. The cost to patients is still unknown. The generic version has been administered in the United States. The cost of ketamine treatment can reach cost above $500 per treatment at clinics treating “treatment-resistant disorders. Doctors have been using this treatment for quite some time. The FDA has noted that their advantages over its generic version.
Patients will inhale the drug under supervision twice a week. Esketamine presents its own challenges due to its similarities to ketamine. High doses of both drugs has led to sedation and out-of-body experiences. Ketamine, often called Special K (not the cereal) in its illicit form, has become a popular party drug. Doctors can legally prescribe it for off-label medical uses.