Researchers at Yale University developed ketamine nasal spray for rapid relief from depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a report published on April 16, 2018.
The clinical trials using ketamine nasal spray showed that the drug has the potential to tackle severe depression and suicidal thoughts. A major improvement in symptoms of patients who were classed as being at high risk of suicide was observed by the doctors and patients in few hours. The conventional antidepressants require weeks to be fully effective and according to the researchers, this nasal spray will bridge that gap.
Esketamine, which is a part of the mind-altering ketamine molecule has been designated a ‘breakthrough therapy’ by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As the clinical trials were successful, development process of the drug will speed up and will be soon available in the clinic. 68 patients who were at imminent risk of suicide were included in the study. These patients were randomly assigned to use eskatamine or a placebo nasal spray twice a week for four weeks. The trial was ‘double blind’, so neither patients nor doctors knew which treatment was being given to whom. Later, they found significant improvements in the ketamine group’s symptoms four hours after the dose and 24 hours after, as compared to the placebo.
Researchers have to complete phase three trial of the drug with a large group of patients for it to get licensed. However, minimizing the risk of harm and abuse will be a hurdle that will be faced by the researchers. Dr. Robert Freedman, AJP editor said, “Protection of the public’s health is part of our responsibility as well, and, as physicians, we are responsible for preventing new drug epidemics.”