Trump orders VA to buy controversial J&J drug to curb vet suicides

President Donald Trump said he instructed the Department of Veterans Affairs to make a large purchase of Johnson & Johnson's Spravato, a controversial antidepressant approved this year by the FDA, according to the Military Times.

The drug, a nasal spray, was touted by the drugmaker as a powerful new tool to fight intractable depression because 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. Other medical experts questioned its true effectiveness.

President Trump said the drug has shown a positive effect in early testing, and he is optimistic it can help prevent veterans suicide.

"This is a form of a stimulant where, if someone is really in trouble from the standpoint of suicide, it can do something," President Trump said ahead of his remarks at a veteran's national convention, according to Military Times.  "It's pretty well known, it just came out. We have calls in to Johnson & Johnson now, we've been talking to them for two months on buying a lot of it."

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that President Trump was pushing VA officials for quicker adoption of Spravato as a mental health treatment. In June a VA medical advisory panel declined to put the drug on its list of VA-approved medications. The move doesn't ban the use of the drug, but requires physicians to justify why patients need the treatment. 

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