FDA approves controversial drug for depression

The FDA this week approved a controversial drug to treat depression. While it is a novel antidepressant for people who do not respond to other treatments, it has also raised concerns of potential for its abuse.

The drug, esketamine, which will be sold by Johnson & Johnson as the nasal spray Spravato, has been highly anticipated by psychiatrists as a powerful new tool to fight intractable depression, according to The Washington Post. The spray acts within hours, rather than weeks or months as current antidepressants do.

But a component of the drug, the anesthetic ketamine, a once-popular party drug known as Special K, has sparked concern about its long-term use.

The FDA approved the drug with restrictions to address those concerns. First, the antidepressant will only be available at a physician's office or clinic. After receiving a Spravato dose, a patient must be monitored by a healthcare provider for at least two hours.

Additionally, Spravato will carry a black box warning cautioning users that they could experience sedation and problems with attention, judgment and thinking.

Read the full report here.

 

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