MAR 11, 2019 02:54 PM PDT

Fast-Acting Drug For Depression

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Many individuals going through depression gain little benefit from treatments whether drugs or talk therapy. Depression represents one of the greatest unmet needs in psychiatry. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a fast-acting prescription antidepressant: a nasal spray version of the widely used anesthetic drug ketamine.

A colored positron emission tomography scan of the brain of a depressed person, highlighting regions (in red) where blood flow and metabolic activity are unusually low. CreditWDCN/Univ. College London, via Science Source.

“Thank goodness we now have something with a different mechanism of action than previous antidepressants,” said Dr. Erick Turner, a former F.D.A. reviewer and an associate professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. “But I’m skeptical of the hype, because in this world it’s like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown: Each time we get our hopes up, the football gets pulled away.”

The newly approved fast-acting drug, now called esketamine, will bring on a shift from the Prozac era of antidepressant drugs. The spray was developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a branch of Johnson & Johnson, and will be marketed under the name Spravato.

“These are exciting times, for sure,” said Dr. Todd Gould, an associate professor of psychiatry in the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We have drugs that work rapidly to treat a very severe illness.”

Spravato (esketamine) “works in a different way than traditional antidepressants,” with results in a matter of hours.

Credit: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Esketamine provides renewed hope in treating serious mood problems. Current drug treatments, like Prozac and similar drugs, work to enhance the activity of brain chemical like messengers like serotonin—however, these drugs take weeks or even months for their effects to be felt.

“We’ve had nothing new in 30 years,” said Steven Hollon, a professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at Vanderbilt University. “So if this drug is an effective way to get a more rapid response in people who are treatment resistant, and we can use it safely, then it could be a godsend.”

Learn more:

Source: NY Times

About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
NOV 21, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 21, 2019
Does TruBrain Really Work?
TruBrain is a mix of different substances claimed to help people increase verbal fluency, avoid distractions, and boost their mental output. Created by a t...
NOV 21, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 21, 2019
Adderall is Almost Identical to Crystal Meth
Adderall has a reputation for giving people a feeling of euphoria, increasing energy levels and enhancing abilities to focus and concentrate. And coinciden...
NOV 21, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 21, 2019
Genital Herpes Vaccine Works in Rodents
A recent vaccine was developed by scientists at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that protects against genital herpes. The vac...
NOV 21, 2019
Immunology
NOV 21, 2019
Treating Celiac Disease May Be Possible
Delivering gluten to the body in a friendly, harmless package may be the way for people with celiac disease to finally have a sandwich again. A new clinica...
NOV 21, 2019
Neuroscience
NOV 21, 2019
Does New Chinese Alzheimer's Drug Made from Seaweed Work?
It has been almost two decades since the last drug for Alzheimer’s was approved. Now, Chinese reglators have granted conditinal approval for a new dr...
NOV 21, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 21, 2019
Cannabis Can't Simply Replace Opioids for Pain Management
According to the research, cannabis is not effective when it comes to treating individuals struggling with opioid use disorder. While some may have conside...
Loading Comments...