Researches and extensive studies continue to contribute to the field of clinical science. The discovery of Prozac was an example of another breakthrough in its time, and after 25 years since its invention, there was no significant new treatment that has been developed.
However, another innovative treatment for depression is introduced recently, and it caught the attention of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panels. They eventually recommended the drug as a new depression treatment also known as an experimental drug in the form of a nasal spray which has a compound similar to the ‘club drug’ ketamine.
The influential panel voted for 14-2, with one member abstained from voting, in favor of Johnson & Johnson’s drug esketamine, a medical cure developed to treat major depression in patients who are not getting any improvement from at least two different therapies. According to the panel, the benefits of the nasal spray overshadowed the risks or side effects which include dizziness, nausea, and an unwanted feeling of dissociation.
Esketamine is a variation of the anesthetic ketamine which is treated as a recreational party drug with the cover name as ‘Special K.’ In many occasions, infusions or administering of ketamine into the vein have been revealed to help people with severe depression who usually have suicidal tendencies. However, researchers believe that the nasal spray will save people more time and be easier to use.
The nasal spray acts quickly after four hours, unlike other drugs which take more time to take effect. The primary goal why this research has is created to help 30 to 40 percent of patients with major depression who usually are resistant to anti-depressants, most of which take almost four weeks to see the development or result. Today, the only drug which is approved by the FDA for treatment of depression is called Eli Lilly’s Symbax.
For Walter Dunn, a panel member who voted for the approval, the said anti-depressant drug has the potential to be a game-changer in the treatment of depression. However, the FDA also needs to address the issues on the cost and accessibility of patients to this drug.
Based on the NBC news report, major depressive disorder (MDD) affects over 300 million people around the world, and 20 percent of the general population who have this condition attempted suicides. With the growing number of suicides due to depression, researchers feel the need to act as soon as possible to prevent further deaths.
The FDA, although not mandated to follow the panel’s recommendation strictly, will announce its final decision regarding esketamine on March 4 this year.