By Asma’u Ahmad
United States authorities have approved the use of a ketamine-derived nasal spray to treat depression in instances where other drugs have failed.
The new Spravato spray can only be used in conjunction with an oral antidepressant and is only for those who have “treatment-resistant depression,’’ the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, the spray can cause “sedation and difficulty with attention, judgment and thinking (dissociation), abuse and misuse and suicidal thoughts and behaviours,’’ it added.
Patients will therefore only be able to use the spray, developed by Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Janssen, in a certified medical office and will not be allowed to take it home.
“There has been a long-standing need for additional effective treatments for treatment-resistant depression, a serious and life-threatening condition,’’ Tiffany Farchione of the FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research said.
Ketamine has long been used by doctors and veterinarians as an anaesthetic. It is also commonly used illegally as a party drug.