FDA approves ketamine-derived depression drug

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new depression drug, esketamine, for patients who have not responded to other antidepressants. The treatment, a nasal spray related to the party drug ketamine, will be the first fast-acting depression drug on the market.

Unlike most older antidepressants, esketamine (which will be marketed as Spravato) lifts patients’ moods within hours where other antidepressants available now can take weeks, if they work at all. The drug, developed by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary, is intended to be used with another antidepressant, and only by people who have already tried two and don’t feel better.

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