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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently licensed a form of ketamine – esketamine – as a treatment for depression which is resistant to other treatments. It is administered as a nasal spray in a clinic, initially twice a week, then weekly or fortnightly. Regular doses of the drug are necessary to prevent relapse.

Esketamine

In the US, patients who start esketamine ($600 a dose) are asked about whether they have previously taken ketamine ($10 a dose), but not the other way round.

Associate Professor Rupert McShane, University of Oxford, says,

"History teaches us just how important it is to track patients who switch from one potentially addictive drug to another. European and UK regulators urgently need to ensure that treatments with ketamine, and other potentially addictive drugs, are all tracked in the same system along with esketamine. This same logic applies to people who are self-treating without a prescription. This sensible precaution would help prevent esketamine from suffering the same fate as benzodiazepines: overuse, backlash and stigma."

 

Patients' experiences matter – this sort of data platform will give them a voice. - Associate Professor Rupert McShane.

 

Read the full article authored by Rupert McShane and Adam Winstock.