This nasal spray can help treat the worst cases of depression—and it’s made of a chemical similar to the anesthetic ketamine.
Spravato was approved by the FDA on March 5 and patients with treatment-resistant depression are eligible, meaning at least two prescribed antidepressant treatments failed to treat their symptoms.
Unlike other treatments that might take weeks of months to act, the effects of Spravato are said to be felt within hours.
A key component of the nasal spray is the chemical esketamine. It is similar to the anesthetic drug ketamine, which is also a popular club drug known as “Special K.”
Spravato will carry a black box warning cautioning possible risks including the risk of sedation, abuse, and suicidal thoughts. It can only be administered in a certified doctor’s office or clinic and must be taken simultaneously with an oral antidepressant. Researchers hope that treatment can offer much needed hope for patients experiencing the most severe cases of depression.
An estimated 16.2 million adults in the U.S. live with depression. Approximately 5 million of them haven’t been helped by traditional treatments.
The estimated Spravato dosage is twice a week for four weeks. The provider Janssen, a branch of Johnson & Johnson, said it is working to educate, certify, and stock treatment centers.