Print Edition - 2019-03-07  |  Health and Living

Treating depression with nasal spray

  • Drug discovery

Mar 7, 2019-

Over 300 million people globally live with major depressive disorders, and the incidence of attempted suicide in people with this condition is about 20-fold higher than that among those without the disorder. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a Johnson & Johnson nasal spray antidepressant for people resistant to other treatments but placed restrictions on use of the drug, which it warned could be misused and abused. The approval of nasal spray esketamine marks the first new type of treatment for depression in more than 30 years and has raised hopes for its relatively fast action and ability to treat some otherwise unreachable patients.

Esketamine would be sold under the brand name Spravato and is a chemical mirror image of anesthetic ketamine, which is also abused as a recreational party drug and goes by the street nickname ‘Special K’. Spravato is absorbed by the lining of the nasal passages and into the blood stream and will be used along with a newly prescribed oral antidepressant, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. During clinical trials, Spravato was found to relieve depression symptoms within 24 hours in some patients.

The drug is also being tested in patients with depression who are at a high risk of committing suicide. Recent research shows that depression involves deterioration of the quality and number of nerve cell connections in areas of the brain related to mood. J&J’s drug helps restore these nerve cell connections in the brain, leading to an improvement in depression symptoms, according to the company.

Published: 07-03-2019 12:12

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